Two names that really don't go together, except this week.
Today Duane, my father-in-law, is being interred at Woodlawn Cemetery, Elmira, New York. He is entitled to a site at the attached National Cemetery, but chose instead to purchase his grave in the regular one, so that the love of his life, Carol Kelly Olthof, can someday be placed alongside him. They will lie together as long as this world will last.
The funeral was short and sweet, as befits the style of this regular guy and his wife. Just two hours of visitation, and a short talk by his pastor. Only then did I finally cry. We all have been shoring up each other to get through these last five weeks. Carol has not wept publicly.
Just a good guy. He and I agreed on very few things, except family, especially the children and grandchildren. Nevertheless, we loved and respected on another, and he will be sorely missed.
As for Dale, well, the 10 year anniversary of his death is this Friday. After Ernie Irvan, he was my favorite racer. I was working the night of Irvan's crash, and I remember handling his photo for publication and whispering "Please don't go." He didn't.
By the time I worked on anything for Dale, he was already gone. Dale's Number 3 is the only racing souvenir that I have: on a belt buckle.
Racing goes way back for me, in a very casual, once-in-a-while way. The Westboro Speedwaywas the local big-time venue when I was a teenager. I went once to watch funny car racing and was astounded that anyone could use nitroglycerin in a car. Until then, funny cars were simply collectible models my brothers built.
After moving to Elmira, New York, it was inevitable that Watkins Glen got into my psyche. I have never again attended a race, because I do not wish to ever witness a fatal accident. Still, I kept an eye on a few racers, Irvan and Earnhardt.
I thought Irvan was dashing, and Earnhardt daring. Now both are gone, Irvan from racing, and Earnhardt from amongst us living. I am still brokenhearted over both, but especially Dale.