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That’s what Bill H., my most memorable friend, liked to be called. Just Bill.
Bill became a student at the community college where I taught English after he retired in his sixties from his ceiling installation business. He was a working-class Master Carpenter who had grown up on Mission Hill, Roxbury (moving constantly to stay ahead of the landlords), during the depression. He remembered his parents dancing in the kitchen the night FDR won. After high school, he got his carpenter’s license and joined the union–he was a loyal union Democrat all his life. He also joined the army and fought in Europe, seeing men blown up just yards away. Later, he guarded Italian POWs somewhere in the South. He got to like them. Once he rode his Harley to my house to drive me in my Honda to the airport. As we took off he said, “You know, Jimmy, this is the first Japanese car I have ever been in.” Though he had served in Europe, he never forgave what happened to our POWs in the Pacific Asian theater.