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God's Home column: Werner and Elvis coincidentally tied?

9:29 AM, Aug. 21, 2013  |  Comments
Steve Raap
Steve Raap
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Old Guy has some facts to relate. Whether they're interesting or not, I'll leave that for you to judge. They've come to mind this past week as I was thinking about two of the fallen heroes in my life: Elvis and Werner.

Now, Old Guy isn't one who thinks all that often about Elvis Presley - at least not lately. But it was the online news reminder of the day he died that caused the memory of my old man, Werner Raap, to come a'flashing across my mind.

On Aug. 16, 1977, Elvis breathed his last. On Aug. 16, 2001, Werner did, too.

This may be more than a coincidence. Here's why.

When Old Guy was a very Young Kid, Elvis was the rage. And if a 5-year-old loved Elvis, you can bet his parents did, too.

That has to be why Sweet Young Mom bought me an Elvis suitcoat and plastic guitar. And that's why the folks put up with my swivel-hipped imitation of Elvis's redition of "Hound Dog" week in and week out for years.

Oh, Werner feigned disinterest in the King of Rock & Roll at the time. But I now know better. For it was Old Guy who discovered in my old man's personal affects after his death the tool box that he had fashioned into a tackle box; it was the one which had accompanied him on many a fishing expedition during my younger years.

And inside that tackle box was the evidence of Elvis' influence on Werner. For there, right next to a large bobber that had discolored to a pinkish hue, was a half-used tube of Brylcreem. You know, the hair gel that advertised "A little dab'll do ya!" (Just imagine how many tubes were sold on that slogan! Was it marketing genius? Or Elvis' influence on the male culture?)

So I pulled out that tube of Brylcreem and discovered that, guess what? The remaining contents were not only moist and even slicky, the goo was even now ready to be applied to male tresses with the hair-holding power only half a century in the dark confines of a tackle box could preserve!

I resisted the temptation to apply the stuff to my own head, for fear that it might just wipe out what's there. But, I couldn't help but laugh at the vision of my old man applying Brylcreem in the middle of Devil's Lake, just so his hair would look good after fishing.

Then I had another thought entirely. Perhaps Brylcreem was his secret bait addition for catching big fish fast! But, no, it had to be the Elvis influence that put that tube in his tackle box for eternity - and for me to find 50 years later.

And speaking of departed souls, many years ago I wrote in this column of inheriting my dad's 1951 Shopsmith woodworking tool. I reminisced at the time: "This woodworking machine from hell caused more fear in 10-year-old Young Boy than the scariest movie I'd just seen - 'The Day of the Triffids.' In retrospect, Impatient Dad always had a 10-foot-long board that needed cutting length-wise. And it was Young Boy that always stood on the receiving end of the board as Dad pushed it through those blood-seeking teeth of the whining saw blade. Perhaps it was the mix of gloomy basement, screaming Shopsmith and yelling father insisting that I not pinch the cutting blade lest it break off and injure one of us, that caused me so much fear. Fear of reprisal. Fear of failure. Fear of death."

Today I fear no more, for today I sold that Shopsmith to my new old friend, Al Nelson of Wisconsin Rapids. For a $100 bill, Al got himself a ruggedly built machine that probably will last another 60 years, even if neither Al nor I won't. In the meantime, Al will have a useful tool to help him finish the many woodworking projects he has planned.

So now the circle is complete. Elvis and Werner are gone, each on Aug. 16. And Al and I are still here, joined forever by a piece of classic machinery best suited to be owned by one who knows how to use it.

I wonder if that tube of Brylcreem will fit into MY tackle box?

Old Guy's weight last column: 223 pounds. This week: 222 pounds. Total loss since Feb. 19, 2012: 9 pounds. (A little dab'll add a pound!)

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