02/13/06 — Opinion - Standing room only

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Opinion - Standing room only

By Gene Price
Published in News on February 13, 2006 1:49 PM

We left home an hour early, my wife, Gloria, and I. There would be a considerable turnout for the 7 p.m. funeral services for my longtime friend, Mayron Pope. But this would give us ample time.

How utterly wrong we were.

When we arrived at Seymour Funeral Home, cars not only filled all of the parking lot but the surrounding streets as well. We finally found a space well into the adjoining neighborhood.

Inside, not only the chapel but the hallways were filled. There were friends, folks from longtime past and many people we did not know.

Never, in all our years, had Gloria and I seen so many people at a funeral service. Their common bond: Mayron Pope had a special place in their hearts.

In the standing-room-only crowd, I heard the Rev. Danny Smith tell those gathered that he would "leave it to Gene Price" to tell some of the great stories about Mayron.

They are far too numerous to be included in this column.

But let's share a couple.

Mayron and his good buddy Charles "Rabbit" Barnes were trout fishing out of New River Inlet. "Rab," as usual, was catching the most fish. Each time he pulled up a nice trout, he would wave it in Mayron's face: "Here's what we're after, Popie. Why don't you help me?"

"I'm warnin' you, Rab. Cut it out!"

Whereupon Rab hauled in the biggest trout of the day -- and again taunted Mayron by waving the fish in front of him.

As soon as the whopping, flopping trout went into the cooler, Mayron grabbed it, waved in under Rab's nose -- and tossed it overboard! Then repeated the performance. And Rab was silent for the remainder of the trip.

Mayron frequently called the area car races around the time karate was just emerging in Wayne County. At one race, a citizen who apparently was a beginning karate student, became irate over a call. He stormed the platform to confront Mayron.

Folks said the next thing they knew, Mayron had the fellow by the ankle and was swinging him around like the blades on a helicopter. "I don't know what happened," grumbled Mayron later. "First thing I knew, he was standing there on one leg, leaning way back and sticking his foot in my face. Only thing I knew to do was grab it." That was his introduction -- and response -- to karate.

Conversation during coffee break at Mayron's Southern Cafeteria ranged from politics to car-racing.

Among the regulars were Phillip Baddour Sr., who ran a little clothing store around the corner, and James Kannan who operated a fruit and salvage business when he wasn't serving as an officer in the National Guard.

Kannan had sold Mayron a couple of cases of canned food -- large cans, unmarked. "I'm informed these are cases of pineapple. I don't know if it's sliced or crushed," explained Kannan.

There was a lot Mayron could do with pineapple -- especially at the price he negotiated.

But later, when he opened the big cans, he found they didn't contain pineapple, but sauerkraut!

He offered it in all kinds of specials at the cafeteria. It was about as successful as his around-and-around bouts demanding a refund from Kannan who insisted that "all salvage sales are final." And Baddour, serving as ever-smiling, self-appointed "judge," backed Kannan's contention.

It did not diminish their friendships.

Mayron Pope's friendship not only was enduring but widespread. People not only enjoyed him, they loved him.

And that explained the standing-room-only attendance recently at Seymour Funeral Home.