Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Good obit

Paid obituaries are mostly dull recitations of imagined virtues of the deceased – how much she doted on her cat or how he loved sports – but occasionally one gets the flavor of the departed in a way that no staff-written obit could ever do. In illustration, I offer from the Chronicle the obit of Edward 'Coots' Matthews, half of the team of Boots and Coots, oil-well firefighters famous everywhere:
Upon his return home [after WWII], armed with the GI Bill, [Matthews] attended The University of Houston "for three days, until I found out how stupid I was." In truth, little money and no transportation sent him back into the work force. He opened a beer joint called "Cabin in the Pines" and he would tell you with great pride that he was the youngest person in the state of Texas to be issued a liquor license. While he was having a lot of fun, he was not making any money. In 1947, he sold his business and went to work for Halliburton. Coots worked for Halliburton for ten years as a roughneck, then cementer and finally a special tools operator. In 1957, Halliburton fired him over a dispute concerning his driving record. They said that he had wrecked seven cars in ten years, and they could no longer afford him. His version was that they worked him to death and he fell asleep at the wheel all seven times.

Read the rest here. Go on. It's worth the click. Edwards was a great American personality of a sort running short these days. It's a nice life and a nice piece of writing.


Pilot said...

Read it last week, and couldn't agree more. Fine piece of writing by a passionate friend, no doubt. We are lucky to be the last generation to know such people, and to have stories and accounts told to us by folks like this, and like my own Captain Boots. Generations who understand "elbow grease", flying by the seat of your pants, and having to gut it out and get the job done, are for the most part, gone when our ranks fade away. Henceforth, they'll have to Google it......

Edith Ann said...

That was a great obit!

I remember Boots and Coots and Rd Adair. My dad owned an oil field company, so those were familiar names. I am pretty sure Red Adair came to Refugio to put out a well on the Victoria highway when I was a kid in the 60's. Was teensy compared to the other we heard about, but I remember we drove out there to look.

But Boots and Coots--legendary!