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ROUNDING THIRD: A tribute to a friend

John David Fay
Sentinel columnist
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Posted 8/7/22

I first met Andy Trinkaus about 25 years ago. I knew who he was all my life, but we becamefriends at that point. He walked into our office in Oriskany (Fays Two) where I print my paper, the O. Prior …

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ROUNDING THIRD: A tribute to a friend

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I first met Andy Trinkaus about 25 years ago. I knew who he was all my life, but we became friends at that point. He walked into our office in Oriskany (Fays Two) where I print my paper, the O.

Prior to that, he was Andy Trinkaus of Trinkaus Manor who worked for Congressman Sherry Boehlert, and I was just Oriskany’s brick-block Dave. Dan (Duncan), Ron Fay, my partner and cousin and I were sitting at a table having coffee before starting our day. He was with John Fiore and they asked what we were doing. We told them to grab a coffee and join us at the table. Andy picked out a seat and, for most of the next 23 years he sat there every weekday morning. If somebody else was there first, we asked them to move over. They did without question. He was, after all, the venerated Andy Trinkaus.

Andy and I became very good friends, and I will miss that man for the rest of my life. Andy provided me with more great stories of his life than I had a right to hope for. He told me of rounding Cape Horn on the way to the Philippines in WW II when the waves were so high that 90% of the men on the ship were sick — not Andy.

He told me of eating ice cream on the streets of Panama when the sidewalks were so hot it burned through the soles of your shoes. And he, reluctantly, told me of facing wave after wave of Japanese planes strafing and bombing them as he stood his ground with the rest and fired his Big 50.

Men died all around him — but, fortunately, not Andy. Oh — there was much, much more. One of my favorites is when Andy’s cannon (you remember it in parades) blew up and almost killed him. They were at 4th Lake and the ambulance was rushing him to the hospital in Utica. Halfway there, the nurse told the driver, “Slow down. I can’t get a pulse in his arm. I guess we’ve lost him.” The “unconscious” Andy sat straight up, held out his other one and said, “Try this arm!

He was something. He had a number of accidents throughout his life, but nothing got him but time. He passed at 99 recently, and we are all the worse for it. His charitable feats have been expressed in many other places — the numerous things he did for Oriskany and Rome. But I knew him as the funniest friend I had — who didn’t try to be funny — most of the time. Or maybe he did and was just conning us.

The last time I saw him he knew me but couldn’t remember my name. He just waved at me and said, “He’s the … the O.” Close enough my friend.

Keep that hat on so I’ll recognize you when I see you again, and we’ll both tell Sherry some “corny” jokes. Meanwhile, I’ll keep your old hat on my wall.

I’ve printed this poem before but I repeat it on this sad occasion.

Andy’s hat

This is the hat that Andy wore through sun and rain and snow.

Everywhere that Andy went, the hat was sure to go.

The hat was perched atop his head, the brim was bent just right,

We often wondered if he wore the hat to bed at night.

He wore the hat when he played golf; he wore the hat to dine;

Perhaps beneath this cherished hat a glowing pate did shine.

Whatever were his reasons, the hat remained in place,

And we were glad to see it, for it framed his smiling face.

One day, he came and took the hat and placed it on my chair,

And when I looked up in surprise, another hat was there.

It was the same — yet newer — than the one that left his head,

And when I wondered at the change, “It’s just worn out!”, he said.

So now upon my wall you’ll see the weathered hat is hung.

It holds in place the memories of when we all were young,

Reminding us that hats wear out — as also, so do men.

And, that those days when we were “new,” will never come again.

He wears his new hat proudly now, with much the self-same fold.

It is unique in all our realm — except the one of old.

He’s been a doer all his life; we’re all aware of that,

And if you should have any doubt — just look at his old hat. JDF

That’s all for this week. Someday down the road, I’ll print a little more humorous look at my friend in a poem called Andy Loves Candy (the confectionery version). For now — we’ll just call it a week. See ya! JDF

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