As next-door neighbors beginning in 1995, John and Nancy had our key, but they’d knock anyway. I always teased him that a slow, aging print guy couldn’t possibly hang with us fast-throughput television and Internet types—especially as we subscribed to the NY Times and Wash Post and avoided the WSJ. And we actually called him John; he called me “Dawg” or “Dude” and Jessica “Girl.” Instead of borrowing a cup or two of cooking materials, he was invariably in search of the powerful tonic of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, usually from the early Seventies, from my downstairs vault (or our DirecTV feed of a Red Sox game).
We’d repair to the grilling area, with Generous John frequently foisting a prime piece of meat upon us and assuming the grill control position, pick out an appropriate high-hopped ale, accompanying music, and converse. The ongoing poolside discourse that has occurred since we moved three miles from the Wilkes back in 2000 will continue but it will lack the sublime yet forceful guidance of John’s insights. He demurred to those with more strident opinions yet betrayed more wisdom behind his words for those with perceptive intellects, from fellow travelers to the occasional nattering nabob of negativism.
Saturday night the Dead played their final concert at the Philadelphia Spectrum, including the elegiac “He’s Gone,” originally penned in 1972. John Wilke was hot as a pistol but cool inside. We miss him dearly.
Tim and Jessica and Jordan Rockwood