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A fond farewell to a longtime good friend

Goodbye, my old friend.

I have known Leon Emo since high school, back in the early 1960s. We went through school almost together. He was two years younger than I was, but we still had a lot of good times.

One day, I was visiting another friend, Fred Jack, who is also gone how. Here comes Leon around the corner. He had a white, 1958 Ford convertible, which, by the way, had to be one of the ugliest cars I had ever seen. The top didn’t work, it had two different size tires, one hubcap, one white wall, and smoked like a mosquito abatement wagon. But the radio worked, and Leon liked it. So, we all got in. There was Leon, myself, Fred Jack and Fred’s two brothers, Steve and Mike. I wish I knew where those two were now. Anyway, off we would go. We all chipped in for gas, which was about 30 cents a gallon back then. And we were set for a night of cruisin’ Main Street (you could still do that back then). When the gas ran out, Leon took us back to Fred’s house. I got on my Honda 50, the Jack boys went inside, Leon left and I went home. The next night we did it all over again.

I saw Leon go through his hippie stage, his Army stage, and a couple of other stages. All this time, his gal, Vi, was right there. He took up with her some time in the mid-60s, and she was there until the end. I never saw him stray. I never saw her stray. When he got out of the Army and quit being a hippie, he married Vi, and they’ve been together ever since.

Leon had an auto body shop that he got from Vi’s father, Ted Sanderson. He ran that for several years and then went to writing for a small newspaper, the Madera County Times, and then to the Tribune. The rest is history.

When he started writing “Musings,” I must have emailed him 10 times a week. And, of course, he emailed me back. We have been emailing each other for several years.

One night, Leon, Vi, my wife and I went for dinner at a local restaurant. We all had a great time.

Leon and I went to several “gathering of the warbirds” shows. I took pictures of a Leon Look Alike Show at the park one day. When his first book came out, he got me a copy and signed it for me. So, I’ve been through a lot with Leon and enjoyed every minute of it.

I would like to see some of Leon’s other friends send in stories. I think that would be a great idea. So, like I said at the start of this goodbye, old friend, I’ll miss ya!

Joe Lakatos, Madera

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