Wow. I never thought I would be writing this one so soon… Like many friends, I thought I’d have years yet. And I put it off as it seemed that once I wrote it, he'd really be gone. So it’s taken me days to accept, and then to process, Barry’s passing. I'm sorry it's taken this long to get something together. I could go back through the history of Stovebolt.com but I will leave that to another time. Suffice it for now merely to say that without Barry … without Barry
… there simply would be no Stovebolt.com. There would be none of this.
Whatever we have become, whatever it is that resonates with all of us who call this little way point on the great Internet, whatever that calls each of us to connect with each other to encourage, to help to share and to grow in this hobby … It all started with Barry.
I am shattered now on this day that I neglected to make this known to him. I am so ashamed at the opportunity lost. But here we are. We never know the day when one of us shall rise and the rest shall not.
It goes back to about 1992. I had just bought myself a basket case ’39 ½-ton. I had found a book in a bookstore (written by Tom Brownell – a future friend and another who left us too soon). In Tom’s book, I found a reference to Barry.
In those days, we had no Internet. Restoration was a singular experience. We were on our own for finding information the old fashioned way – either finding people in person or writing letters. In dealing with this derelict truck, recently dragged out of a Kansas Wheat field, I was so pathetically overwhelmed. I didn’t quite know it, but I was. I was in over my head.
But I wrote a letter to a guy I had found referenced in a book I chanced to find on a shelf in a book store and to my amazement ... He wrote me back. A lot.
The information exchange that ensued was … amazing.
The breadth of knowledge, and the generosity with which it was shared, was … at the risk of sounding hyperbolic (so be it, it’s the truth!) … inspirational.
Again, skipping over a lot of boring back story, it was something that a couple of years later I thought would make the basis of a rudimentary web site. A site meant to help other guys like me (and us!) over the hurdles we faced. And many of them we had no idea of.
The freely shared information that Barry had, gained from his years of restoration work, and his experience as a machinist, were priceless, yet he buried me with it. He just kept sending it. It amazed me. It still does.
So that info exchange formed the basis of the tech tips we crafted to build a little web site. But it was the spirit of that free sharing of knowledge and experience that forged the basic ethos of Stovebolt that (I assume) keeps us all here now – A bunch of old truck nuts helping each other enjoy a rich and rewarding pastime, and the joy and satisfaction of just helping the next guy being all the reward we need … well, that all started with Barry.
I could go on about Barry’s forging the role of Moderator that all of us have followed since. He was there at the beginning and helped define how the moderators were to function. He helped set down what things a moderator should do and, perhaps more importantly, what a Moderator should *not* do. He wrote the first Tech Tips that bench marked everything we tried to do since. He defined patience and quiet discipline that helped keep us in line, even after the first attempt melted down.
He was my first mentor in this hobby. He was my first spirit guide in forging whatever it is this site means to anyone. And in his own quiet, reserved and sometimes distant way, he was my friend. He leaves a void in my life that’s difficult to describe and to even wrap my own head around.
Whatever it is you think I’ve done to create and develop this site … it was Barry.
He shared freely. He cared deeply about this hobby and gave us so much of his valuable time and talent. He set a standard I hope we can carry on and live up to.
I will miss him greatly. In short, and to sum it all up, Barry was the quintessential/model/Benchmark Stovebolter. Each of us using this site today and benefiting from the knowledge sharing has been touched by Barry.
I’m not sure what his own personal music muses were, but this tune today made me think of him and moved me deeply. I share it with you for whatever you may get from it..
To Barry…The Parting Glass