He Who Gets the Last Laugh, or That Dog Looks Just Like You

You know you’re big time when my mum names a dog after you. Bob Krall, or Papa Bob, as he was known in our house, passed away a few years back, but he lives on in the giant white fluffball that occupies a substantial corner of my mother’s heart. This is the canine version of Bob.

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One of the many incarnations of Bob

Bob the person was a big, rangy man with hands the size of dinner plates. He grew up in Pennsylvania, but then started a westward move with a stop in Michigan to play college football for Michigan State. He eventually found his way to Montana, and that was where he stayed. His love affair with football, both college and professional, continued. During autumn weekend afternoons, it was a given that Bob would be in his recliner, feet up, volume up even more, with the sainted Pearl in his lap. He loved that dog nearly as much as she loved him.

Bob was also a good friend. He shared Pearl with my parents, helped mum change lightbulbs and hang plants, and joined them for many a dinner and holiday meal. He was good for an emergency airport run (and in my family, that happens a lot) and to run errands while in Billings with my mum. But he was always, always glad to see us.

As rumor has it, mum and Papa Bob were in Billings at one of the junkyards, looking for a replacement door for my dad’s beloved 1952 Ford F1 pickup. (Coincidentally, this truck is named the Merlyn Harry Thrasher or the MHT, after my mum’s own dad. My parents name everything. EVERYTHING.) They sat waiting, chatting, while the poor young man forced to manning the steel treasure trove was out back, combing the hulking, rusted-out shells for a suitable replacement door. At long last, he trudged across the field back to the office, dragging the replacement door behind him.

Bob looked at the door, looked at mum, and then looked at the kid and asked, “Do you have it in a different color?”

The kid blanched while mum nearly swallowed her face in a failed attempt to not laugh. Bob guffawed, paid the kid for the door, and helped him wrestle it into the back of the truck. I have no doubt that mum nearly peed, laughing with Bob over the look on that kid’s face, as they drove home.

Bob passed away a few years ago, and we all still miss him around the dinner table, at the holidays, at biscuit time with the dogs. He comes back for a bit though, when we all remember the MHT’s replacement door and share a good laugh.

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