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Holiday memories. .

January 1, 2020
Eddie in one of his halloween masks. This was his tamest, least scary mask.

December 29, 2019

My sister-in-law saw our Christmas tree.  Said it reminded her of Eddie.  Asked me if I missed him.  Yes, I said, especially at Christmas.

I have many memories of the holidays with Eddie.  Most people knew him as “Snow Bird,” but for some reason Eddie asked me to call him “Eddie.”  I remember long ago, I was with Eddie and the driver of the Urban Health Clinic van.  I can’t remember the man’s name, but he was older than I was.  Eddie asked me for a ride back to Billings.  I told him “sure.”  The driver eyed me, “You’ve got yourself a boy, now.” 

Sure. Fine with me, I thought.  I figured the driver was just being dismissive of my friend.

Little did I know how fortunate I was to have a bona fide super hero friend.  We formed a friendship that stretched from about Fall of 1992 until Summer, 2019.  Twenty-seven years.  

He was frugal with paying for necessities, but lavish when he bought fireworks or halloween accouterments.  At one point, when Eddie was facing homelessness because he didn’t want to pay $500/month rent, I suggested that he move under a bridge, a place he had stayed during the warmer months of 1992.  I felt frustrated by his anxiety about housing, on the one hand, and his unwillingness to spend money for it. He had long-term projects, though.

Eddie giggled.  He did take a room in the Colonial Apartments, and I visited him there, on the third floor.  I don’t know the history of the Colonial, but it looks like a huge white wooden bungalow, at least three stories high, with hallways running its length.  In 2003 the Billings Gazette published Ed Kemmick’s piece with great descriptions and history. Ed noted that the Colonial had a reputation for being the housing of last resort, a place where someone might soon be a victim. Some of the 28 rooms had heavy padlocks and the hall had the sweet smell of urine, according to Ed.

Some weeks later Eddie peddled to our house with his tape recorder.  He said a drunken man had cursed at him.  Eddie had had the presence of mind to tape record a truly foul, racist, slurred rant studded with expletives against Native Americans in general and Eddie in particular.  As I recall, several of us urged Eddie to report the incident, but instead, I think Eddie moved to a basement apartment near Billings Clinic.  Or maybe the one across from Goofy’s Bar.  In any case, Eddie was such a hoarder he basically trashed every place he lived.  Part of it was that he documented things carefully, with photographs, tape recordings, newspaper articles, official papers protected in clear plastic at Kinko’s, in multiple copies.  Tape Recorder batteries littered the small paths of floor through the trash bags of other goods at his place.  

His kitchen stove was like a peninsula midst a sea of junk, bespattered with grease, a cheap avacodo-green non-stick frying pan on top with a quarter inch of fat and a pancake turner.  I don’t remember that Eddie got sick from his own cooking.  In fact, he seemed to never get sick at all.  I worried about fires, but none broke out.

I’d know if he had had a fire, but maybe I wouldn’t know if he got sick. He popped into my consciousness in his own time. Generally, whenever we had company. And his birthday. And Crow Fair. Good times.

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