Frank. He was our “orienteer” when we picked up The Rambler. Somewhat of a cowboy, he showed us the ropes of how to manage this new member of our family. We’ll always remember him as the “it’s just a gimmick” guy – he had a definite disdain for new-fangled rigs with all the things people can’t live without any more. He also claimed, condescendingly, his fondness for engineers which, of course, Bob is. No doubt Frank spotted the tell-tale signs right away – the pen in the pocket, the check-list in hand, the constant need for details… more details than Frank was prepared to give.
Frank was obviously a long time camper with many hours spent in the sun – leathery skin, blue eyes starting to cloud with cataracts, sun bleached hair. He was a long time smoker too, judging by the yellow stain spreading across his peppered gray mustache and the yellow stained fingers on his right hand. The smell of sweat and stale tobacco instantly filled the little space of the Rambler – not a bad smell – just earthy, friendly. He was a burly guy and quick to laugh and he had us laughing quite a bit as he showed us, from one end to the other, inside and out, how everything worked. We pretty much forgot it all in short order except his interesting tidbit about putting ice cubes in the black water tank while driving down the road to clean it out. This did not work, by the way, but that’s a story for another time!
Camping, according to Frank, just shouldn’t include TVs, air conditioners, ovens, etc. We agree but we were not buying The Rambler to camp in – she was going to be our home while we traveled across the country. He wasn’t interested in our story though. He just wanted to get us on our way as he had another “orienteering” to do shortly after us. Head ‘em up, move ‘em on – Raw Hide!
EASTWOOD – RV CAMP HOST
FRANK – NO GIMMICK COWBOY
Eastwood is one of the “hosts��� at a quaint little RV park where we stayed in Williams, AZ. He was a cowboy, comedian and good father all wrapped into one quirky, trail-worn character. He welcomed us with an off-beat sense of humor which we weren’t sure how to take at first but quickly realized was his way. From then on out, we enjoyed his off-the-wall style.
Eastwood was a genuinely friendly guy and wanted to make sure we enjoyed our stay. He let us know all the ins and outs of the area including the train to the Grand Canyon. He always makes sure to wave at the Grand Canyon train as it goes by their campground (this seems to be a tradition everywhere in town that the train passes). Very charming and welcoming.
He walked with a limp and we were curious but despite his being so friendly, we felt it would be too personal to ask him what happened. One day, the RV park owner mentioned some of Eastwood’s life story when we told her how helpful he was and how much we enjoyed his sense of humor. His injury was not from our imagined rodeo misadventure (remember, we thought he was a real cowboy), but was actually the result of a tragic tractor accident. So I guess he’s more of a farmer cowboy. He also rescued his young son from a drug abusing mother and was doing his best to raise his boy right. A really good guy who we had the pleasure of meeting.
JERRY ROWE – BELOVED BROTHER
Our dear brother Jerry [Skid] Rowe recently passed away from complications related to Pancreatic Cancer. It is an enormous loss and our hearts go out to his lovely wife Ana and his wonderful children, Jason and Jodi. Jerry was an amazing person and will be missed by many, many people. Below is what Bob said at his funeral which gives a glimpse of the special person Jerry was.
I was so very blessed to have Jerry for my big brother. He was older than me by seven years, so for most of my childhood he seemed grown up, more of an authority figure than a peer. We shared a room for most of the first eight years of my life, and Jerry was always a comfort when things got spooky late at night.
Sharing a room, I have memories of Jerry behind closed doors. I remember him rocking out to Buddy Holly on the radio, dancing on his bed while strumming a badminton racket like a guitar. He was so cool!
He put together a model of a “Visible V8.” That’s a clear plastic replica of a car engine. Jerry carefully stepped me through how an engine works; carburetor, cylinders, distributor, crankshaft, flywheel. When he turned a crank all the parts would work together. Jerry made me promise not to touch it, but that crank was impossible to resist.
He also assembled a “Visible Man.” Similar to a Visible V8, that’s a clear model of a human man, with lungs and heart and other parts. Jerry also made a “Visible Woman.” He wouldn’t let me look at that.
Jerry was the best brother a kid could have. Other than the occasional noogie, or an Indian burn or two, he never beat up on me. He was patient with me, would let me tag along much of the time, and he taught me a lot.
Jerry taught me to ride a two-wheeler, and was very particular in making sure I knew how to properly brake to a stop. This may be because when he first learned to ride a bike, he had to stop by grabbing nearby telephone poles.
He taught me to play cards. Jerry told me that the dealer chooses the game, and that the oldest one is always the dealer. So he always chose “52 Pickup.” This game involves the dealer showing the player a card deck and saying “52 cards in a deck!” He would then scatter the cards everywhere while shouting “Pick ‘em up!” It took only four or five times for me to catch on.
Together we’d watch old World War II movies on T.V. When Mom wasn’t around, Jerry would let me watch the forbidden “Three Stooges.” In later years, we’d watch “Star Trek” re-runs and eat a tremendous number of tacos! Thank you Cindy, for all the tacos! [Cindy was Jerry’s first wife.]
We used to lay out on the grass at night, looking at the sky. Jerry would point out constellations: he showed me
the Big Dipper and the Hunter, which I could recognize, and the Seven Sisters and the Fish and the Lady on a Couch, which I couldn’t. He’d get especially excited when Sputnik would fly across. Over the years he showed me Sputnik many times. I never saw it. It wasn’t until long after that I realized Sputnik had been several years in the past. I don’t know if he was fooling me or fooling himself. At the time though, I thought “Gee, my brother has really good eyes!”
It was while outside at night Jerry taught me the really important stuff. He told me it was rude to look down a girl’s shirt. Didn’t explain why, but I eventually figured that out. He also taught me part of a song that went: “She has freckles on her but she’s my gal.” Jerry told me when I grew up more he’d teach me the rest. I guess I never grew up enough because he’s never given me the whole song.
When Jerry got out of Marine boot camp, he just had to share his new hand-to-hand combat knowledge. He taught me how to pull out eyeballs. First step was to knock your enemy down. Jerry demonstrated this by knocking me down. Next, you pin your opponent, which, again, he did to me. Fortunately, he simulated the following step, which is to force your index finger into the eye socket, hook it behind the eyeball, and pull it out. The most important step is the last: show the pulled out eyeball to the other eye.
Jerry and I roomed together until I was eight. He was fourteen or fifteen. We were living in India at the time, and Jerry left us to return to the States to attend High School. I missed him so much. Nights were a lot scarier and I was so lonely for him. And then, when Jerry went off to join the Marines, and especially when he went to Viet Nam, I worried about him. My worries didn’t ease when he got out of the Marines, either. Being a cop is just as hazardous.
Jerry’s nature was to assure the security of the country he loved, and to keep the people he loved safe. He contributed to the betterment and the stability of the world. He risked his own well-being uncountable times to keep others safe. Jerry exemplified a good guy. A tough good guy!
My son describes Jerry as “a guardian angel on two wheels.” From the Marines and from being a cop Jerry gained something precious. And he blessed hundreds of people that same precious gift. Jerry developed his brotherhood. He grew that brotherhood even more with the Untouchables.
Jerry was always strong, committed, always faithful, and would always stand by a brother. But few people ever have earned such a large, extended band of brothers. And for those in Jerry’s brotherhood; what an honor! Jerry was a brother with great integrity, strength and dignity, and with graciousness and a sense of humor. We all are so fortunate to have had Jerry in our lives.
I was glad when Jerry retired from the police department. I could stop worrying about him so much. But it was far too soon when his cancer was diagnosed, and I started worrying about him again. Now, that worry is over. But, just like when I was a young child, I miss my big brother. There will be a time when we’ll again be together, but for now we’ll just have to live without him.
I’d like to read a slightly modified version of the Biker’s Blessing that’s in the memorial card. Jerry, this is for you:
THIS IS A BIKER’S BLESSING FOR SKID
May the sun rise in front of you,
May the rain fall behind you,
And the wind follow beside you.
May the angels guard your travels,
For they know the road ahead.
Stay safe through
Swirling turns and rolling hills;
Let the eagle guide you
To the mountaintops.
Let the moonlight guide you
Through the night.
Let the air of spring
Breathe life into your soul,
To journey to another adventure
Out on the open road.
Ana and Jerry
Jerry and Bob