Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Passing of a Dear Old Friend

I received the sad news this evening that Steve Erickson from Cameron Wisconsin, a friend for nearly 50 years, died last night from bladder cancer. If you look in this picture of the 1967 Cameron High School baseball team (damn we were good) Steve is in the backrow at the left side.

When I received the word of his passing I became very sad. There aren't many other people I have known who were so selfless and so focused on making others smile and laugh as was Steve.

I will always remember him for his sliver incisor (left one on the upper jaw as I remember) that I wonder if he ever got fixed! In 5th grade Steve had this black jacket that he wore all winter long. I'm not sure what the exterior was made of but it was very slick. I can't count the number of times we would be outside at lunch time and be sliding on the snow down the hill toward the south end of the football field. While most of us used a piece of cardboard and sat on it to slide, Steve would get a running start and hit the snow and slide down face first on his stomach laughing all the way.

Steve sat next to me in Agriculture class our freshman year where we collectively came up will all sorts of ways to make life miserable for Mr Murray. Then in our sophomore year we had Mr. Sauerman. One day Steve asked Sauerman how to spell some word. Visibly non-plussed at the time, Sauerman told him to "look it up in the dictionary." Without batting an eye Steve replied, "Well if I dont know how to spell it how am I supposed to look it up in the dictionary?" Not having a good response, Sauerman just let it slide and never answered.

Steve was also a master at making up nonsensical words. One of those I remember best was him counting out numbers and then getting to "eleventy-eight". Last week when I was talking with my oldest daughter she was commenting on driving somewhere and I asked her how far it was. She said, "Oh, I dont know, probably eleventy-eight miles or so." I asked her where she got that word from and she said that I always said it when she was a little girl and I was trying to make her laugh.

When I saw that his funeral would be in Faith Lutheran Church in Cameron I thought back to when we were all confirmed in the Lutheran Church there - I think in the 6th grade. One day in a confirmation class Pastor Vocke was admonishing us to use good morals and especially when it came to girls. He told us boys that we should "never do anything with a girl that you wouldn't want someone to do with your sister." Steve reached over to me and whispered in my ear "well, what he doesn't know won't hurt him."

The world is certainly a much sadder place this evening with Steve gone. But at the same time he made a lot of us happy that we knew him. So long, Steve.

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