Uncle Tom: Dylan's Words


There's a little green valley deep in the heartland called Echo Hill Ranch. It's there that many children and adults in waiting (many of us are still waiting) have such wonderful memories of Uncle Tom.

Tom has been an influence, mentor, and father figure to countless individuals over the last 50 years of Echo Hill's existence. I took the father figure to such an extreme, however, that I became a full time resident of the Friedman family couch for the entire decade of the 70's.

It was Tom's fault, really. He had sent me money in Singapore to bail me out of a rather unpleasant set of circumstances. I promptly overslept and missed my flight to the States. Three days later I caught one. Fortified on librium and Tiger Beer, I endured the endless flight to San Antonio. When I arrived, no one was there to pick me up. After an equally endless bus ride in the middle of the night, I found myself sitting outside the locked door in the Kerrville Greyhound bus station. Feeling that I was about to become a character in "Easy Rider", a 1965 Chevy pulled up. A large man with a cowboy hat and a Texas drawl got out and said, "Are you DY-LAN, boy?"

The drawl belonged to Roger Friedman. Roger took me to some flea bag motel on Water Street where Kinky informed me that there was no such thing as Echo Hill Ranch. The two years of stories he had told me when we were in the jungles of Borneo as Peace Corps volunteers was simply a hoax. I instantly believed him.

That following morning in July, 1969, I discovered that, yes Virginia, there is an Echo Hill. I also discovered Tom Friedman. Upon hearing this same rather long-winded story, Tom's only response was "Well, fine, pal."

Over the years, many of us Echo Hillers delighted in sharing Uncle Tom "well, fine, pal" stories. One of my favorites was standing in front of the lodge with Tom one beautiful Hill Country morning. The two of us were watching the arrival of a new counselor. We watched the car approach the causeway. We watched the car gently nudge the water cascading over the causeway. We watched the car drive off the causeway. Tom smoothed back his thinning hair, exhaled deeply in his trademark style, and said "Well, fine, pal" while walking calmly back to the lodge.

Well, fine, pal. You've left us here all alone. It's not your fault. It's just life and life only. You left us with a lot of great memories, a lot of great times, a lot of great talks, from politics to, more importantly, baseball.

I'll see you on the other side, pal. I'll be the one on the couch.

As we all know, it is traditional to reward someone who has done a great job by giving them a Big 1, 2, 3, HOW! Tom Friedman has done a great job of living life. Let's give him a Big 1, 2, 3, HOW!

Friedman is survived by his wife, Edythe; his sons, Kinky and Roger Friedman; his daughter, Marcie Friedman; and three grandchildren, Amanda, Michaela and David.