In the late 70s, I was surprised and happy to see an old friend walk into my establishment. It had been almost 10 years since I had last seen Bill. The last time I saw him he wore a full beard, so it took a “second-take” to recognize his new smooth face. He had moved to sunny California, so seeing him back in Indiana was a treat.
Before Bill had left Indiana, he had a very successful restaurant and night club called “The Chesterfield,” and my band enjoyed playing in his place. Now, 10 years later he came into my restaurant and night club.
Since I was not only the chef but the nightly entertainment, I didn’t have a lot of time to chat. Bill was leaving in a few hours to go back to his home in California so we talked briefly and said our goodbyes once again. He slipped his business card in my pocket and told me to visit him if I ever was in California. At that time I had no idea that a few years later, I too would move to sunny California.
So, sometime in 1981, I was settling into my new place in Newport Beach. I was arranging my office and came across Bill’s card he had stuck in my pocket back in Indiana. I had no idea what part of California he had moved to when we last seen each other in Indiana, so I was shocked to see his business card had a P.O. address for Newport Beach. I called him immediately. He lived two blocks away.
Within minutes he came riding up to my door on a big Harley chopper. Bill has always liked motorcycles, fast cars and good Scotch.
From that day on, we shared a precious friendship that a man feels lucky to have in his lifetime. I stayed in Newport for almost 18 years and we enjoyed many incredible adventures together. We rode dirt bikes in the desert, sailed the ocean, golfed hundreds of rounds, visited every restaurant in Newport and shared some fine Scotch.
Now we live a few hours apart but we still share some great times together. He and his wife love visiting us in Bako, and we do the CALM Christmas lights, the March Meets, the Basque food and the Bakersfield Symphony. When we visit then in Newport we sail, ride bikes, motorcycle around, and share some fine Scotch.
Today I’m wishing I could share some of Bill’s pain right now. He and his motorcycle had a spill and Bill left a lot of his skin on a Newport Beach avenue. He’s undergoing some skin grafting today and I’m thinking about him.
Tomorrow I’ll drive down to Newport and keep him company in the hospital. Knowing Bill as I do, he’ll probably be ready to jump back on his cycle as soon as he’s healed.
Oh, did I tell you he just celebrated birthday # 79?
Get well, Bill!