A Good Neighbor

It wasn’t long after our arrival in Galway that a storm passed through. As sometimes happens, the power went out, and in the darkness Martha and I heard a knock on the door. There, with lit kerosene lamp in hand, was our neighbor, Everett Hartman.  He had brought the lamp over to us for our use. I will never forget his thoughtfulness.

This was but the beginning of his kindness to us. Over the years, if something wasn’t working quite right (the furnace, the water heater, the water pump, bats flying in the house) Martha or the girls would say, “Why don’t you ask Mr. Hartman.”

Over would come Ev, with his store of Yankee know-how. There wasn’t anything that he didn’t know something about. He was a lot like my grandfather, not only handy around the house, but full of homespun sayings. He would quip that he was a “jack of all trades but master of none.”

The first winter here it got remarkably warm in February and being tired of the cold, I asked him if winter was about over. Ev just laughed.  We had such good times of conversation when the weather would break and we’d just be standing out in the yard talking and being neighborly.

Here are a few of his sayings. Whenever the snow failed to arrive in December, he said, “Green Christmas, full hospital.”  He told me many times with a twinkle in his eye, “The Good Lord loves fools and little children, and you know that I’m not a child.”   His house was between the  Methodist  and Baptist parsonages, so he’d have ministers on both sides. His comment on this was, “I’ m a rose between two thorns.”

In addition to sayings, Ev loved poetry. One time he quoted a whimsical poem to me he had learned when he was young. I couldn’t believe how long it was.

Everett Hartman was of German descent. He grew up in Schenectady. He’d tell me tales of horse drawn wagons and working beside his father as a  carpenter.  He  served his country during  the Korean War,  building airstrips in the service. After his military tour of duty, he married a beautiful Italian girl, Connie. Together they had two boys: Bill and Bob, and a daughter, Lisa. We came to Galway when Lisa, their youngest child, was in her last years of Galway High School. What a family! The children all adore their parents. It is a close knit family.

During the course of his life, Ev was a policeman and afterward worked at GE.  Upon retirement, he used his woodworking skills to make beautiful wooden pictures. The craft is called marquetry. Hanging in my study is a marquetry picture of the Bible Baptist Church that he made in 1993.

Coach Hartman, of the Galway Eagles – 1995

Ev was known community wide for coaching baseball. I asked him if he played ball in high school. He said no! He had not played ball.  I asked, “How did you become a coach?” He responded that one day while painting his house, a person who was coaching his son’s baseball team said Galway was going to have to forfeit the game because it did not have an umpire. When asked if he would umpire, Ev said that he had never umpired in his life. Being talked into the task,  Ev umpired that day and he loved it so much that over the years he went from being an umpire to being a coach. Hundreds of boys in Galway can be grateful for the day Ev was asked to leave his painting for baseball.

As her grandparents lived in Florida and Pennsylvania, one of our daughters, Heather, the tomboy of our girls, enjoyed hanging out with Mr. Hartman when he was working in the yard.  He became like a grandfather to her. I’ll never forget the day when Heather was chasing her older sister, Joy with a worm or bug of some sort from Mr. Hartman’s garden. I can still hear the laughter, and the screaming. O the joys of little children!

Another great memory was made the day I officiated at the wedding of Ev and Connie’s son, Bill. The wedding took place at dawn on Sacandaga Lake in a large paddle-wheel boat.  We set out while it was still dark. As the sun was rising the vows were exchanged. Then the boat scurried back to the dock to drop me off as I had to go to work in the Post Office. I am also a letter carrier in Schenectady.  I went up to the bridge and changed out of my suit and tie and put on my postal uniform. I felt like Clark Kent running into a telephone booth only to emerge as Superman.  It was definitely a funny moment! Everyone laughed at the transformation. After dropping me off, the boat went back out on the lake.

Everett has survived many hardships in his life: a heart attack, cancer, and a car accident that nearly took Connie and his life on Sacandaga Road south of Route 67. It wasn’t long after the car accident that the Hartmans sold their house and in moved a delightful young couple, Mark and Kelly Boudreau. The Hartmans moved to Greens Corners Road. Their children, now all married, live in the area.

Ev is now at Maplewood Manor and is facing one more challenge, Parkinson’s disease. He has got to be one of the most memorable persons that I’ve ever known. I’m glad this little booklet is now introducing you to one of Galway’s finest.

The only way to have a friend is to be one.

Advertisements

About lifeingalway

Ministry of the Bible Baptist Church of Galway in Galway, New York
This entry was posted in Issue One - Summer 2010. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s