Monday, May 17, 2010

A Can of Sardines

How did a smelly, oily tin of tiny fish, called sardines or pilchards, and a relative of herring, became the central theme of an Aberdeen (NC) annual international festival?---largely because of the idea of one man.

My husband's (H) sister (one of my 3 sister-in-laws) [SIL] married a man named Randall. As best I can remember, I met Randall the sum total of three times in their 18 years (I think) of marriage.

The first time I met Randall, SIL and I were wrapped up in Weight Watchers program, along with one of Randall's daughters. Our conversation about meals was totally engulfed with points, ad nauseum to Randall and H. At one point Randall suggested we put our unused "points" up for auction on eBay. It became the informal humorous idiom of our visit when SIL or I mentioned "points;" his gentle wit was endearing.

Hmm....I wonder if eBay and Weight Watchers would allow selling of unused points? The incentive might provoke more weight loss....but I digress.

Randall and SIL had been married a few years before we made our first visit to NC to meet him. Not knowing what to expect, we were apprehensive. He set us both at ease, almost the moment we set foot in their lovely home, which he built.

Distance between Arkansas and North Carolina, as well as the advancing march of years on us all, prevented many visits, between us.

March 25th Randall departed this earth to be with His Savior and Maker. He is one of very few persons (my Dad being one also)  I personally know, who did not fear death and professed he was "ready." [photo in above obituary link as well as more details than I provide in this post]

It did not take many visits to realize Randall was a man comfortable in his own skin--a kind, generous, humanitarian, even-tempered man with wit and understated humor,--a man who overcame and conquered his own weaknesses to become a stalwart example for others afflicted with similar weaknesses.

Besides serving in the Army in the Philippines during WW II, Randall was a building contractor until retirement. He served as a deacon in his chosen faith. He had a very large vegetable garden, sharing his produce with many friends, neighbors and needy persons.

Like many retirees, he and a group of friends met at a local spot for coffee weekday mornings, his spot of choice - Bojangles. Randall served as chairman and referee for the diverse group whose discussion ran the gamut of coffee shop topics including politics, the daily obituaries, etc. Randall subscribed to newspapers that marked the military obituaries with an American flag. It was his contribution to the daily banter to report the number of "flags" in the morning daily newspaper's obituaries. Now he has his own flag....

If there is a single sentence of my personal impression of Randall it would be this: a man who made a difference every day wherever he was, as opposed to the wider emphasis on one day per year.

The Brainchild of the CEO an Editor of USA Weekend Magazine in 1992 Make A Difference Day became symbolic of activist volunteerism. The initial concept was to set aside a day to do something nice for your neighbor. But why one day a year? Randall simply served others every day in any way wherever he found himself.

One of his activities after retirement was helping his daughter (D) in her business for a few hours several days/week. During lunch hour, he had a propensity for sardines and saltines which is the crux of this post.

The malodorous drift of a seaside open fish market was not the  preferred air freshener in a place of business, especially when the owner could not tolerate the odor! She suggested he eat lunch across the street in a park by Aberdeen Lake. Soon his friends joined him.

The simple act of partaking lunch, the menu of which was sardines, RC Colas, saltine crackers and Moon pies, evolved into a festival in the self-same park, named the International Sardine Festival, held on a Friday in October. The event has grown to include crowning a Sardine Queen on the back end of Randall's pickup truck.

One of my shirts in my favorite color!
Food is free but donations are encouraged. Caps and tee shirts with the Sardine Festival logo were sold.

October 2009 was the 17th year of the event which has grown from a small group of sardine/RC Cola/Moon Pie lovers to over 1000 attendees.

Shirts available in  multiple colors
and sizes. Caps with adjustable
band available in multiple colors.
As the festival grew, the donations and revenue from sales also increased to where significant donations were given to various worthy causes, usually related to youth.

Remember my earlier mention of the Bojangles crowd? They were the Sardine Festival Committee! How many committees do you know that meet nearly every day?

Randall was the Sardine Festival, according to many friends. Two years ago he relinquished the reins, but still attended the Festival, as guest celebrity.

In December Aberdeen proclaimed Dec. 12, 2009, Randall L. Moss Day for his humanitarian services. He was honored as Grand Marshal of the annual Christmas Parade.

Please click on the links I have provided, as I cannot tell this tale as well as those who have actually planned and attended it.

Remember the tee shirts and caps? I have several which I routinely wear in every casual setting. Inevitably, people read the  shirt's logo and ask: "Where in the world is there a Sardine Festival?" Being the lover of tall tales myself, I love to regale the story, probably with embellishments (after all I am a Texan), as I have not had the privilege to attend a single event.

Besides humor Randall loved pranks, both of his own making, and others who turned the tables on him. His brother and wife live next Randall. Both brothers had considerable gardening skills. The brother was more of a landscape type; Randall loved a huge vegetable garden. 

An Aberdeen group once awarded the brother an award for his efforts; I've forgotten the exact title or the group making the decisions. The brother was not at home at the time the sign was posted in his yard. Randall moved the plaque over to his yard. I am not sure how the brother became aware it was his award.

Later, Randall rightfully was awarded his own award for the awesome vegetable garden, in which his brother also shared some labor. The abundance was shared with many people.

Before his death from cancer in March he had lost his hearing and any useful sight, was diabetic and had other aging complications, all of which he endured without complaining. Now he, and those who believe in the Christian Life after death, has been made perfect and lives with his Savior. 

In true Sardine Festival tradition, I am told, Randall was buried with a supply of Sardines and RC Cola--don't know about Moon Pies. And after final rites at the cemetery there was a courtesy table of--you guessed it -- Sardines, RC Colas and Moon Pies--for the mourners.

A most remarkable man--everyone he met considered him a friend--an unassuming, humble man who made a memorable difference every day in every way, where he chose to live--a exemplary life for anyone, regardless of beliefs.


Addendum  to previous post, Bugs! Bugs! and More Bugs , I finally settled on Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 3-User purchased at . It was difficult to choose as I read a 2010 review of the top 10 antivirus programs and suites. Price was not a consideration.

I am approaching this problem with a more open view that no program promises or delivers 100 per cent protection. However, I am simply hoping for less problems in the area of installing and un-installing I have encountered by other name brand programs.


Dimple said...

Your BIL sounds like a wonderful person, how fortunate for everyone who knew him! And how many people would begin a festival over lunch!?

Thanks for the comment; I actually had a wonderful time and did very little blogging during my visit. However, I HAD to take pictures!

I hope you have a wonderful day!

lakeviewer said...

What a delightful story about a singularly good person. Glad to know sardines are valued with a festival.

Arkansas Patti said...

That was a delightful tale and a wonderful tribute to a very special man. Not everyone has their own festival.
Ebay for your points sounds doable. I can remember when there were times I would have bought some.
Hope you like Kaspersky, I do.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

I want to be like Randall when I finally grow up! He sounds like an amazing man...your SIL will feel such a void in her life...I am truly, truly sorry. But thank you for sharing his extraordinary story brought tears to my eyes and truly inspired me! Love you! Janine XO

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

What an interesting story! Your BIL sounds like a remarkable person. I'm sure he touched many lives.

Jeannie said...

I had the privledge of having this amazing man for my grandfather. He instilled in us to do your best and listen to your mamma. As an adult he taught us to "not spend more in a day than you make" and that we could "drive as fast as we could afford to pay." I remember hearing him tell my mamma when we were doing things that ought not be done to " leave us alone and they will come home." That was his was of saying that we knew right from wrong and would come around. Thank you PaPa for everything that you did for us and everyone else around you and for the lessons I continue to learn from you. I miss you everyday.

Pat - Arkansas said...

First, I like your new look. Methinks I have been absent from your blog too long.

I very much enjoyed reading about your BIL. I am particularly fond of sardines (in tomato sauce -- which are becoming hard to find... at least the tiny sardines like Underwood used to package). I would have loved to have had lunch with your BIL and his smelly sardines!

Liz said...

What a great person he sounds.

I love the idea of a sardine festival.