Monday, May 1, 2017

The One, The Only, Bob Hamm

This is my friend, Bob Hamm. That would be the late Bob Hamm; it's been some time since he abandoned the earth for greener pastures. I, and the earth, miss him quite a bit. 

If you wished to discuss 20th Century sorcerers lore, horror fiction, the War Between the Russians and the Germans, Aztec Gods, or the relative merits of imported beers, Bob was your go-to guy. He was dogmatic yet considerate; sophisticated yet innocent; strange yet never pathological. 

Bob was an extremist. He loved smoking, drinking and coffee. Of the smokes, he always had on hand Sherman's English Ovals, Galois, Kools and several bags of loose tobacco for hand-rolling. When he drank, he drank for several days, after which he was too sick to drink for a day or two, after which he would drink for several days. For coffee, never instant, he preferred Bustello (a Caribbean brand popular with Puerto Ricans), or various other very strong grinds. He kept several kinds of sugar around the house, because he felt like different coffees called out for different sugars. His favorite was a brand of sugar cubes imported from Jamaica, which consisted of the same sugar that was used in the production of premium Jamaican rum, which he also liked. Bob was a lively companion.

He was the only person that I ever knew who gave up coffee, cigarettes and drinking all at once. Of the coffee, he said that he'd had headaches for a couple of days but that was it. Of the drinking, he just noticed that he had more time on his hands, and got more reading done. The cigarettes he missed every day, a lot. I believe that the only vice that he returned to was the coffee, but without the mania. 

Bob had a way about him. He kept you guessing what might be around the corner. Here's a good story: one night in 1973 I was driving a Checker taxi around Manhattan. I was stopped at a light going south on Park Avenue, in the mid-50s. (Streets.) I hadn't seen Bob for a year or two at that time. A couple crossed the street right in front of me. The woman was tall and exotically black, a model or something; the man was bald and about Bob's height. He was walking with Bob's characteristic gait and smoking a cigarette, wearing a fur coat that went down to his knees. (It was winter.) I honestly wondered for a minute if it could be Bob. That's when I realized that nothing that he could do would surprise me. 

This picture was posted to me in a Facebook message from Bob's daughter. It was nice of her to think of me while she was scanning photos for her mom. I am of the firm opinion that there is no afterlife, but if there were such a thing, it would be nice to see Bob, and some others, again. And maybe it's set up so that you can avoid the people that you don't want to see ever again under any circumstances. It's idle speculation, I know, but we'll all find out soon enough. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Nice tribute to your friend. I have several I feel the same way about and hope for an afterlife to say hi one more time