Mike says one should take a page out of The Mayor’s book of friendly

Public Spirit - - OPINION -

Given the re­cent po­lit­i­cal and do­mes­tic id­iocy, maybe it’s time for a col­umn about be­ing friendly.

And no­body I know epit­o­mizes the word “friendly” like my pal, Dick Turelli. I call him “The Mayor,” be­cause no mat­ter where we go or what we do, he in­evitably strikes up a con­ver­sa­tion with a to­tal stranger, and within a few min­utes, is shak­ing hands, slap­ping backs and grin­ning widely, just like he’s known that per­son all his life.

Al­though we’re both Illi­nois na­tives — he from the Chicago sub­urbs and me from near Peo­ria — Dick and I met in col­lege at the Univer­sity of Iowa, where we were team­mates on the base­ball squads of 1981 and 1982. He was our start­ing catcher, and al­though our coaches at the time didn’t desLgnDWH Dn RI­fiFLDO FDSWDLn, DLFN ZDV WKDW guy. HH ZDV RuU Rn­fiHOG gHn­eral and team leader. At least that’s how I saw it then.

In those days, we’d hang out and talk about the things that young men that age would talk about — base­ball and beer. There is a third thing that guys that age talk about — young women — but Dick didn’t par­tic­i­pate in those con­ver­sa­tions be­cause by the time I met him, he was al­ready com­mit­ted to the love of his life, Tia. They are still mar­ried, with two sons, and now liv­ing in Con­necti­cut.

Dick was gre­gar­i­ous and friendly then, but I don’t think I no­ticed just how friendly a guy he was un­til decades later, when we re­con­nected for base­ball re­u­nions and other ex­cur­sions.

A few years ago, Younger Daugh­ter and I were do­ing col­lege vis­its and had ven­tured up to Con­necti­cut, to eye­ball the Univer­sity of Hart­ford. Dur­ing our three days there, we had din­ner with Dick and his fam­ily in his town near Hart­ford.

We went to one of their lo­cal restau­rants, just a few miles from their home. Dick knew just about ev­ery­body in the joint, and he made the URunGV, SUHVVLng WKH flHVK ZHDULng a big smile. Those he didn’t greet be­fore he sat down came over to our ta­ble to say hello.

Last week­end, we con­verged on State Col­lege, Pa., to watch the Iowa base­ball team take on Penn State. Nat­u­rally, we were both decked out in our Iowa col­ors, so there was lit­tle doubt as to our alOHgLDnFHV. ,W LV nRW WKH fiUVW WLPH ZH have ven­tured to Happy Val­ley to sup­port our alma mater at a sport­ing event, and we’ve al­ways been treated with re­spect by the Penn State faith­ful.

This mu­tual re­spect that we have for the Penn State folks makes Dick even more friendly. I’m con­vinced that he’d be happy to stand out­side the football sta­dium and shake hands and say hello to ev­ery one of the 100,000 peo­ple go­ing to a game.

When we went for lunch at one of the more fa­mous wa­ter­ing holes in State Col­lege last week­end, he struck up a con­ver­sa­tion with our server, dis­cov­er­ing that she was a pro­fes­sor at the univer­sity who helped out at the bar be­cause her best friend owned it; that her hus­band was a base­ball player and still played in an old guy’s league (that was, of course, right in Dick’s wheel­house); and other as­sorted his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion about the bar and the neigh­bor­hood.

When we got to the ball­park, a Penn State stu­dent asked Dick to use her cell­phone to take a pic­ture of her and her fa­ther, and Dick happily obliged. Of course, that meant an­other con­ver­sa­tion, an­other hand­shake and an­other slap on the back.

One of the rea­sons I ad­mire Dick’s ap­proach to be­ing friendly is be­cause that’s the kind of guy my dad was. Pop was never a wallflRZHU, DnG ZKHn KH ZDONHG LnWR a room, it was a safe bet that he would be telling sto­ries and yukking it up within min­utes. It didn’t mat­ter to him whether he knew that per­son or not, he was al­ways their friend, at least for that mo­ment.

On our way out of town at the end of the week­end, Dick and I stopped for a late lunch. There weren’t many peo­ple in the place, and as the host­ess was lead­ing us to our ta­ble, I turned around and Dick was nowhere to be found. He had met a few peo­ple at the front door and was re­gal­ing them with tales of the col­lege base­ball game we had just seen.

“Where did your friend go?” asked the host­ess when we got to the ta­ble and only I sat down.

“Oh, he’s just be­ing The Mayor,” I said. “Mayor of what?” she coun­tered. “The Mayor of be­ing friendly,” I said.

Given the times we live in, maybe we all ought to take a page out of that book.

Mike Morsch is ex­ec­u­tive edi­tor of Mont­gomery Me­dia and author of the book, “Danc­ing in My Un­der­wear: The Sound­track of My Life.” He can be reached by call­ing 215-542-0200, ext. 415 or by email at msquared35@ya­hoo.com. This col­umn can also be found at www. mont­gomerynews.com.

Boys fill wheel­bar­rows with mulch at Hal­low­ell El­e­men­tary School.

Mike Morsch

Outta Leftfield

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