Friday, August 2, 2013

When Harry Met Cappy: Tribute to Harry

Worlds didn’t collide the day we met, and nobody said, “I’ll have what she’s having.” 

The year was 1990 and I had flown in from Los Angeles to attend my first SWA Conference. Delighted that I would be among Southern writers for a change, at the same time I was also apprehensive since I didn’t know what I was supposed to do once I arrived or where I was supposed to do it. Driving through the arched gateway to Epworth-By-The-Sea, how could I have known that the next five days would bring about a sea change in my life?

I flitted into the registration area like I knew what I was doing and bumped into Harry Rubin. He was giving instructions, aka the Army way. I would later discover that he was a retired Army Colonel who, after learning military methods at a young age, the Army way became Harry’s way

On the other hand, the flitter (that would me) having lived in California for years, felt the word organize was like setting the alarm clock so as not to be late for work. Harry took one look and thought: Kalifornia Kook. I gave him a look and thought: well, never mind what I thought. Suffice it to say that I stayed out of his way and he mine. When Harry met Cappy in 1990, they did not become friends, nor did they become enemies.

The following year, however, we both relaxed and were able to have decent conversations and a lot of laughs. Harry could always tell a joke the right way. I, on the other hand, always forgot the punch line. The shared laughter got us over the hump so that we could become friends.

Over the next few years, the hump got bigger and bigger and what had been a pretty good acquaintance was taken to a higher level: friendship. We found that we both loved sailing, good wine, cats, cooking and creative writing. We did not agree on everything and we disagreed on things, like politics. I was never in doubt as to where he stood on issues and he never gave up trying to change my mind. Are you getting where this is going?

Harry couldn’t understand why I was a peacenik and I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t. The Gulf War was going on at that time and the longer it raged, the supportive of it Harry became. He raged at Saddam Hussein and he delighted in calling me a lily-livered liberal. 

One of us finally suggested that instead of weakening our friendship with issues we had not control over, we should write our frustrations. Creatively. We penned limericks. Harry would write one to me venting his anger at Saddam, and I’d read it and respond with a limerick giving my own POV: Make love not war.  

Did he ever change my mind? No. Did I change his? Get serious. But we didn’t take pot shots at each other any longer. We accepted the other, warts and all because of the limericks emailed back and forth. As silly as it may sound, those little ditties saved a rocky friendship that has lasted for over twenty years. 

It would be nice if everyone could have what she is having both then and now. That would be the gift of Harry Rubin’s friendship, a man of integrity, courage and generosity.

~~ Cappy Hall Rearick

Cappy is a former president of SWA, a novelist, columnist and humorist.  You can read more about Cappy and check out her books on her website:

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