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John Mahoney's Free-fire Zone
John Mahoney
John Mahoney
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is editor of the Log Cabin Chronicles.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 01.01.09
Fool's Hollow, Quebec

JOHN MAHONEY

John Brigham
JOHN BRIGHAM, NEWPORT, VT
Nov. 5, 1935 ~ Dec. 30, 2008

JOHNNY, I'LL SEE YOU WHEN I SEE YOU

Johnny and I go way back. We started this journey together in the Great Depression, in the autumn of 1935. Our mothers used to walk us in our prams, most likely to keep us quiet, and to keep their sanity.

There were a number of us in that Indian Point Street neighborhood gang that started at the Eastside School:

Carol King, Jeannie Austin, Dean Blay, Buster Magoon, Johnny and I...

I moved away in 1947 but Johnny and I picked up right off when I returned in 1952 --I always looked forward to those noontime rides home for lunch -- we shared a lot of teenaged laughs back then.

We both served in the Cold War and came home to jobs and school. He stayed put, I moved away again.

In 1957, when I was broke and homesick in New York City, Johnny generously offered to front me the cash to move back home. But instead I moved to Boston, got an exciting job as a shooter in a photography studio, and met Jane.

When we moved back to Newport in 1959 to get married, Jane and I naturally gravitated to Johnny and Joyce. He was in our wedding party. I photographed their wedding. We had kids at the same time.

When it came to hammering and sawing in those days, I was all thumbs. Johnny -- the skillful one -- bailed me out more than once, including building much of my first darkroom. When he was building his first cottage, I tried to repay him by carrying stuff, and playing go-fer.

You all know how much Johnny did for his hometown over the years -- coaching peanut leaguers, the Boy Scouts, school boards, fire department, his church work, the Legion...

All his life he worked hard for his family -- one job never seemed enough for Johnny. As if that wasn't enough for any one man, he always found time to help out a friend or neighbor. With a smile. And no thought to cashing in on that good deed at a later date.

Johnny was not a guy for IOUs.

When our eldest son graduated from high school and wanted to move from our Quebec farm back to Newport, Johnny and Joyce warmly opened their home to him.

Jane and I went to say our goodbyes last year when we moved to Ontario to be nearer our grandchildren.

"Johnny," I said, "I'll see you when I see you. "

This past July we reconnected at the annual NHS reunion. It was my 55th. There's no telling if it will happen again.

I told him, "I'll see you when I see you. "

We started this journey together 73 years ago. He just got to the end before I did.

Johnny, I'll see you when I see you.

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