My husband joined the Army at 12 years old. Not the American Army, but rather Arnie’s Army. It was an exhibition at the Country Club of Virginia James River Course in Richmond where he could not contain his excitement, and he ran up to Arnie, who was walking up to his fairway ball, and asked for his autograph. Instead of being accosted by one of those red-shirted pole-carrying volunteers who keep order with the spectators, Arnie, walking with Lanny Wadkins, simply put his arm around this young man’s shoulder and said “Not now son. But find me later.” …or something to that effect.
And later, true to his word, Arnold Palmer gave my future husband an autographed photo and some more kind words, shook his hand, and made a consummate golfer out of yet another fan.
Somehow, and this is the way of life, that photo, which hung on his bedroom wall until he went off to college, went missing. Did his mom pack it away or inadvertently throw it out? She was a golf fanatic herself so the latter seems incomprehensible. But missing it went, and missing it stayed.
Through the years, having heard this story multiple times, I more than once wrote it on my”to-do” list to write to Arnie, remind him of that event, tell him about the missing photo, and ask for another one. But, and this is yet another one of those “way of life” things, I did not and now I can’t.
To me Arnold Palmer is like Atticus Finch, someone I would love to have had as a father. That is the highest praise I can give anyone. I am profoundly touched by this man’s passing.
Hit ’em straight, Arnie. We will all miss you.