It was especially sad to hear of the unexpected death of my old Admiral King High School Marching Band pal Scott Welko. Here’s the link to his obituary.
It’s funny how I became friends with Scott; it was almost an arranged friendship. My older brother Ken and Scott's older brother Jeff were good friends, and they both played trumpet in the marching band. So it was a foregone conclusion for Scott and me – both trombone players in the band – to be friends as well. It was that easy.
|A yellowing Polaroid from the early days;|
(Left to right: John Shaw, me, and Scott)
He also saved me from being a wuss. When he first started coming over to my house, all he wanted to do was wrestle. For me (a guy who liked to sit around and read books), this was something very different.
I used to wonder – as I lay gasping for breath on my front lawn, caught in the vise-like grip of his scissors hold – is this guy really my friend? Fortunately, we soon moved on to more peaceful pasttimes.
So I had a lot of fun with Scott back then. Together with our other friends, we played basketball, rode our bikes to Mill Hollow, shot pool in the Welko basement, listened to old Spike Jones and Stan Freberg novelty records and held sleepovers in pup tents in our backyards. We had a lot of good, clean fun.
But Scott had a good sense of mischief too. Several times during those sleepovers, Scott would convince us all to go for a bike ride around Lorain at three in the morning – just for the excitement of breaking curfew and evading police.Another time, we were sleeping over at his house, which was next door to Masson Elementary School. Somehow, he talked me into climbing up onto Masson’s roof with him. Unfortunately, his father spotted us running around on the rooftop from his yard and ordered us down, and sent me home.
So as you can see, Scott made my high school years fun, and with an element of mild danger.
Like my other friends, Scott had great parents that were fun to visit with and talk to. His father – Dan Henry – was a little intimidating, but was pretty funny. So was Scott's younger brother, Danny Lee.
College interrupted my friendship with Scott. I hung out with him a little after I returned to Lorain, but we eventually lost contact.
Strangely enough, in the late 1980s, I happened to walk into the employee lunchroom one day where I worked in Cleveland – and there sat Scott! It turned out he was working as a contract employee at the company that rented the lower level of our building. So our friendship was rekindled for a little while. He was still the same guy: friendly, funny and uninhibited with that goofy sense of humor.
Although I hadn’t seen him for many years since then, I’m sad that he’s gone. I feel lucky to have had him for a friend, as my life would have been a lot different if I'd never met him.
And a lot less fun.
I can only offer my heartfelt sympathy to his family.