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Friday, October 23rd, 2020
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Robert Conlon

One of the two people in the world I can legitimately call my mentors, Bob was street smart, hard as nails, and great fun to be around. He worked for Kolmar Laboratories most of the years I knew him, and consequently, he smelled better than anyone else I knew, all the time — Kolmar being a cosmetic manufacturer in Port Jervis, NY. Bob introduced me to motorcycles, big Harley choppers, as well as to fast cars. For a while, he drove an Oldsmobile 442 with a Hurst shifter that was really quite the monster. Bob taught me to be a gentleman, laid out very clear guidelines as to what that meant, and then simply expected me to get that handled — which I did, initially because I respected his opinion above all others, and later because it had become apparent the man was simply right on all counts.

I well remember one day when in a fit of good spirits, he gunned that Olds 442 across route 209 through a gap in traffic with a tight smile on his face, which evaporated like lightning when he suddenly recalled he had studded winter tires on the car. Had, past tense, being the term for the studs, which of course were ripped right out of the tires.

He loved fast cars; and he wasn't shy about driving them, either. One day his TR6, a beautiful little convertible, lost traction on a patch of ice at high speed on route 84 between Port Jervis and Middletown, and all he could tell us later was that when he woke up in a tangle of wreckage, unhurt, the only thing that was still unbroken on that car was the tape player, which was dutifully booming Black Sabbath into the winter air.

Another time, a friend and I walked from the playhouse in Ridgebury, NY, along route 6 and then down route 84 with the idea of walking to Port Jervis, about 12 miles. We started at about midnight, barefoot, and just walked and talked. By the time we were halfway down the mountain into Port Jervis, a long way from Ridgebury, our feet were quite sore. It was about 6am, and foggy. I heard a thrumming and stepped off the fog line where I was walking because it was easier on my feet, and who goes by at well over a hundred miles an hour? Bob, of course, in his Olds 442. He saw us, stopped, backed up a long way, and without asking any questions, opened the door and powered off with us. That was Bob. If nothing needed to be said, odds were, he wouldn't say anything. Most people just wish they were "cool." Bob actually was cool.

#bobc #friend

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