Friday, June 24, 2011

my friend jim

I met Jim when I drove out to look for apartment not too far from Art Institute of Atlanta.  I had talked to him prior on the phone after receiving a list from the school of new students looking for places to live like myself.

Jim Byrant was 19 at the time.  I was about 27 years old.  We met face to face for the first time at a fast food joint.  After a vague and uninformative meeting, we decided to look around together for a place to live.  I didn't quite know how to take the guy.  I'm sure it was just as obvious to him as it was to me that we had little in common and that we came from different worlds.  It wasn't just the age difference.

Jim offered to drive us around because he grew up in Newnan, GA and was acquainted with the streets in Atlanta more than I was. It wasn't long before we found a place to live at Cherry Hill Apartments on Bufford Hwy.  We ended up having another roommate, who was a little younger than I was.  I soon discovered that I was the 'old man' around the Art Institute.  Most of the other students looked like they were just out of high school.

Whenever Jim and our other roommate Jeff went out to party, I'd stay home and study, read a book or watch television.  I've always have been quite the homebody.  Jim started jokingly call me 'dad' when he would leave to do his gallivanting.  I'd follow by telling him to drive safe - keep it in the road.  Even though we started out absolute strangers - we quickly figured we'd get along just fine together.

I think the differences faded as classes got underway and we found ourselves in the same classes, bringing the same assignments back to the apartment.  At first, I didn't know why Jim even got into graphic design.  The thought was rolling in the back of my mind that he was probably going to lose interest any day. I never saw him draw much.  I wasn't really impressed with his sketches.  At the time I thought people had to have a capacity to draw in order to become graphic artists.

I was wrong.

Jim ended up surprising me.  He didn't have to draw.  Jim was phenomenal at layout.  He quickly got the hang of design work.  His projects were always sharp looking pieces.  Working together soon made us buddies.  He was great at design and slick presentation and I was strong on concept and handy when it came to original illustration work.  We became a good team, like peanut butter and jelly.   I've always worked kind of fast and loose and Jim made sure everything was tight and polished.  I loved working with Jim.  This young fellow made me a better artists.

We were a dynamic duo when it came to projects.  Usually when instructors gave us an assignment, he or she would tell us to go and purchase specific materials we HAD to use for each project.  This got expensive fast.  Teachers didn't seem to acknowledge the fact that students had to eat too.  So my diversion from the official rules started early.  I decided that in order to eat, I was going to have to break the rules.  I decided I was going to start saving some big bucks and start being creative with the ever growing art material scraps back at our apartment.

Now Jim wasn't in the same financial bind that I was.  He had resources.  Since we always ended up helping each other with our assignments, he got into the game too. We challenged each other to not use the required medium/materials required and ace the projects in the process.  We made each assignment as a pass or fail endeavor.  If we got caught, we'd fail.  If we didn't, we'd pass.  We never failed. We always seemed to break all the given rules and present our projects to where the instructors couldn't tell we made up our own rules.  I didn't see it as cheating. We were having to work harder, challenge ourselves, be more creative to pull it off.  Our design projects were at the top of the class.  We were never caught and always made A's.

Along the way, Jim befriended another fellow that later became our roommate, Troy Williams.  Troy was an incredible artist and had a great eye for design and business.  Troy soon became my friend too.

Jim Bryant didn't finish his art training in Atlanta.  His dad drove him up to check out Parson's Art School.  Jim moved up to New York to finished his design training.  I only saw him a handful of times since those days.  Troy and I became roommates and Jim was out of the picture.

Jim ended up living in Manhattan, working at a prominent Ad agency with national clients.  He kept moving up, eventually running the entire agency.  Years later Jim moved back down south and worked for another large agency.  He also became a graphic designer for Coca-Cola.  Eventually he ended up away from the design table and in marketing end of the business.  Sharp fellow.

We'd keep in touch from time to time down through the years - but not often enough.  Anytime we did talk, it was as if no time had passed at all.  We were still buddies as the decades passed.  He became a very successful designer, a very sharp Ad man.  He knew the business more than I did.  When we talked, his projects seemed so interesting and adventurous.  He had come a long way from that kid I met that first day.

I had not talked to my friend in a very long time.  I Googled  his name online late this afternoon, hoping to find his phone number.  I found his obituary instead.

Mr. James (Jim) Bryant III
We were so very different from each other,  and I am thankful that life put us together for that short while.
I stayed at the office tonight and searched for family members on-line.  I had to know what had happened to Jim.  I tried to find his dad, or one of Jim's siblings.  After many failed calls to phones that no one answered - I found his brother Don.  Don Bryant remembered me, and was kind enough to take the time to tell me what had happened to his brother - my old friend.

Don said that Jim had an elderly neighbor across the street who looked like he needed help cutting down some branches.  At one point the neighbor went in to cool down and rest a little.  Jim offered to continue with the work.  After a while, Jim's neighbor noticed that the chainsaw had stopped.  Jim's truck was parked at the end of the drive, and that it was running.  Don guessed that maybe Jim got in the truck to run the A/C a little in order to cool off.  Jim's  young son came across the street to find his dad unconscious.  The neighbor got someone to get Jim's son away from the truck and back home.  Jim neighbor tried to resuscitate him.  It was no use..

Jim was rushed to the hospital, but there was nothing anyone could do.  Jim had suffered a massive heart attack.  My heart goes out to the Bryant family.  I am sorry for their loss.  I feel the loss too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

one family under God

Our old '92 Mazda minivan went haywire two and a half weeks ago.  It was due to some kind of weird electrical thingamajig going bad.  Like most families, we have to be in different places at the same time.  Life has been a juggling act as of late.  My wonderful mechanic Bill Noah says he finally located the part needed to fix our van.  We are driving everywhere in my 1973 Super Beetle.  Needless to say we have been a closer family as of late.

We leave home earlier in the day and come back later in the day.  We zip around Etowah County and leave each other off to get stranded at places until someone comes along with the ride.  It's not so bad, but it it's not so good either.

I am very thankful that we do have the car we have.  We are daily inconvenienced but getting along.  I sure wish our mechanic will call soon to say the van is good to go.  For a while there, I thought I'd be getting a call saying the part is no more - making the van no more.  I was relieved to hear that reliable Bill eventually found the part.

RULE Np: 1  If you want something in life, you've got to make sacrifices.

Gina and I wanted to have a business together.  This has always been our dream.  We opened our clinic doors in July of 2006 after Gina became a certified lymphedema therapist.  The new healthcare laws have dramatically limited what we can do for our patients.  The laws also cut therapist reimbursement.  Once again our government has seriously challenged our business.  We are currently looking into other avenues to invest in our company's future.

Gina and I realized a long time ago that we can't have everything we want now.  Like most privately owned business today, going through a bad economy, we have to daily endeavor to persevere.  There are a lot of people, a lot of small businesses in the same boat that we are.  We are not the only ones trying to stay afloat these days.  We are still manning the wheel, controlling the yard, doing our best to keep a steady course.  I just wish those clowns in Washington would quit drilling holes in our hull as they try out their grand social experiments.

After all this endeavoring, all this effort, I look at my old vehicles  and hope they have enough miles left in them to get us over and past this hard road ahead.  We will continue to make whatever sacrifices to make it to safer waters.  I pray for my family, my business.  I also pray for your family and your business.  I am praying for my country too.

"But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”- Joshua 24:15

God bless America.  Let's all do our part to keep her under God's protective wing and protection.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

a new, old photo

Westbrook Finlayson & the Melodians
 Carrol Lee Melton, ?, Billy Duvall, ?, Ned Hickson, ?, King Reid, Jimmy Gainey, Steve Salvo, Charlie Adkins,  Westbrook Finlayson (crutches)

Beverly believes that Steve Salvo
is the fellow on the drums.
My cousin Beverly F. Triber, Wofford's daughter, just sent me this photo of one of dad's orchestra's.  This group preceded the H. Westbrook and His Orchestra.  Beverly jotted down some names beneath the photos with some guesses.  Pardon us if the names are wrong guesses.  Beverly said in her letter that these pictures were sent to her by the widow of a former band member, Steve Salvo.  You may recall that it was during a meeting with brothers Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey that it was suggested to change the name of Westbrook's band.  They felt that the name Finlayson should not be used, to pick a name that the public would not only be able to remember but to pronounce.

My uncle Pat died a little over a month ago.  Beverly found the above photo with a letter from Steve Salvo's wife.  It had been sent to him only months before Pat's passing.  The letter reads as follows:

Thomasine passed your letter along to me, I was so glad to hear from you and appreciate your words of sympathy.  Steve had a hard fight the last couple of years.  He always loved to talk about working at the movie with Jimmy and the rest of the crowd and playing with Westbrook's band.  I had a copy of the band made for you and Jennie Llew in case you do not have this picture.  I can remember the faces of the two boys in center back but not their names.  Some may have been substitutes - like Charlie Adkins for Fred Posten at the piano.

I guess at the end of the sweetest life long friends are the ones in our little class of 1938.  Hope  you are doing well.