Long Live Sparky

Inside Sparky's garage on Hall Street in Rochester, New York
Inside Sparky’s garage on Hall Street in Rochester, New York

In 1982 our next door neighbor had had enough. We were rehearing in our basement and it wasn’t the band noise that bothered him, it was our guitar player’s muffler. That and the coming and going at all hours. The houses on Hall Street were close together and equipment had to be unloaded at three in the morning. We found this letter taped to our back door.

I couldn’t imagine that we would ever be friends but we lived next door for twenty seven years. I wasn’t even able to tell him were were gonna move so I asked him if he wanted to go for a ride with me. When he got in the car I told him to turn around. The back of our car was loaded with furniture and boxes and took a drive tor new place. He liked it.

Sparky was born in Kentucky and Peggi and I spent a lot of time in Indiana so there was that hillbilly connection. I told him I played in a country band there and he claimed to be in a country band then. I never knew what to believe from Sparky. I knew he had a gun and he sat in the dark in his house on Halloween it nearby. He told us so. He claimed to to have shot a sewer rat out front. And we saw him hosing down noisy crickets at night. He only went to fifth grade and I spent an afternoon trying to teach him fractions. He raked his lawn in his pajamas while smoking a pipe. I started keeping track of Sparky episodes.

After we moved he regularly came to visit and we would stop by to check up on him. At the funeral services tonight we learned he stopped by people’s homes all over town. He seemed to get younger and happier each time we saw him. He bought homemade Polish sausage from a woman in Buffalo and we grilled it in the backyard. Did it really come from Buffalo? It was the best sausage I have ever had in my life.

I was happy to see some of my photos of Sparky on the board at the funeral home and a photo of my painting, “Sparky Goes To A Gig.” A country singer dressed in black with a wide brimmed hat and red scarf sang “The Streets of Laredo” and then a Johnny Cash medley. Sparky was ninety two, an age when all his friends should have been dead but the funeral home was packed. We told his daughter we would send her a link to this video that Peggi shot.


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