The Independent News Column – JUL 2016
There was this guy when I was growing up in Michigan. I was about 8 years old and he was a Legend. His name was Popo Bobknock. I have no idea how to spell it but that’s what it sounded like.
Popo drove a beat-to-death old rusted pickup truck that always had something in the back. He always needed a shave, his hands and face was dirty. He didn’t talk much, but he could do anything. He was the go-to guy for the community that lived on and around Route 2. If you had a tree stump to get out, Popo would do it. You wanted a new roof, call Popo. Cleaned out the garage and had a bunch of junk? Popo would take it off your hands. We did not have a trash service where we lived, nobody did. You hauled your own to the dump. Popo went into business hauling trash which was well salvaged by the time the dump received it. Not much went to waste in Popo’s life.
My dad would tell stories to his buddies about how he saw under the hood of Popo’s truck and according to all internal combustion engineering, there is no way that truck should have been running. But Popo kept it going. I heard stories from others that a guy with a bat problem in his barn asked Popo to get rid of them and he did it with a catcher’s mitt, tin foil, and a 7 Iron.
This guy was the stuff of Legends. He could do anything and did. We dropped him off at his house once for some reason or other and it wasn’t so much a house as it was an area. There were school buses, assemblies resembling walls and roofs, barns, sheds, and metal buildings and they all seemed to be interconnected. It was there that I found out there was a Mrs. Popo and they had kids!… that looked like mini Popo’s. They were having a great time chasing a baby goat through the labyrinth of their “area” but I was not allowed out of the car because something was burning in a barrel not far away.
I don’t think Popo spoke English. There was always a lot of pointing, waving, drawings, big smiles and head nods. Everybody loved Popo.
Throughout my life I have known several Legends. These people are imprinted on my mind as better than the rest of us. Something about them is… more. Some of these folks can do things I could only dream of. Some have done things many years ago that goes beyond respect. Others make me want to try harder, be a better person, and a few inspire and confirm that adversity can be overcome.
I of course now know that Popo and his family were just trying to survive. They did whatever it took to earn a few bucks and get through their days picking through the world around them. As far as I knew, they were a happy family and never complained out loud. I can only guess but for some reason I do not think that anything was ever received by them without being earned. And they expressed gratitude to others with enthusiastic smiles and handshakes.
Blessings come from odd places and circumstances. I am blessed by the Legends in my life.