Bob Schunk (1938-2013)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bob Schunk (1938-2013)

...and I am way late on this one, having just seen his obit in this morning's Southampton Press Western Edition.

His passing physically startled me... I jolted upright in my chair when I saw his smiling photo at the top of page A12, as he had sent me a brief E-mail just me several weeks ago calling attention to what an idiot Andrew Cuomo is.

We never attended school together... I was always some­where else during the school year... but he was one of the members of the local car club, the Westhampton Winged Wheels, I gravitated to when I traded-in my '53 Ford for a turquoise blue '57 Chevy Bel Air. Bob was one of two members1 of the club who bucked the Ford cult, with his green and white '56 two-door.

After I had twice burned through the PowerGlide automatic transmission, I tracked down a standard-shift (with over­drive, yet!) and assisted Bob with its installation one July 4th weekend in his backyard on Sunset Avenue.

(All the W³ guys knew their way around cars, of course... the Cozine brothers, Donny Wright, Bobby Goss, Lew Hallock, Harvey Luhrs, etc., but Bob was the one who seemed more adept at the "go" rather than the "show.")

I was unaware 'til I read the obit that Bob had his pilot's license and flew, but that makes perfect sense. He liked to go fast, and he liked that freedom of movement, especially in his later years when a progressive illness debilitated him.

But mostly he liked to go fast, or he did 50+ years ago... I still shudder thinking of the night be took the old Shinnecock Canal bridge at close to 100 mph in an effort to set a mark between Southampton and Westhampton Beach.

We were also Friday night regulars at the Palm Terrace2 on the Riverhead Plains which usually had a Country 'n' Western band to attract airman stationed at the base. Owners John and Mary would hold a talent contest, and Bob and I would get up and sing for a bottle of Champale. The first time Bob won, Bruce Cozine nicknamed him "Bobby Bela-schunky."

My condolences to Cynthia, Darryl and Allan. Damn!

  1. The other was Jerry Belson.
  2. Where the Sarnoff Preserve sign stands.


1. Charlotte Hulse Lander said...

Daddy was the "leader" of the group and I believe he was the one who organized it. How I loved those jackets they had. It would remind you of something out of "Grease."

Dode definitely was the founder and "spiritual leader," Chi. I don't know whether he was being proactive against potential juvenile deliquency... I have absolutely no recollection of that being any sort of issue around here at that time, so it must've worked.

(And if anyone looked like they were headed for trouble, local Justice of the Peace Harold Skidmore handled it with "Skiddy's Option:" "Be back here with your enlistment papers by Monday afternoon or be in the Riverhead pokey Tuesday morning! What's your pleasure?")

And while much of the W³ seemed to be centered around Jessup & Stevens garage and gas station on the corner of Mill Road and Sunset Avenue, where Dave and Bruce Cozine worked, Bobby Schunk seemed to spend a great deal of time at your Dad's place, Raynor's Garage, on Library Avenue. (Liz Duerschmidt did a wonderful painting of the place before it was razed.)

Of course it reminds you of "Grease," silly girl! It was set in the same period!

2. Scarlett said...

What could the two of you have possibly sung to win that Champale? [yuk!]

Madame turns up her fine Scandinavian nose at the prize for which we were vying?

It's a prize, an award... it's the symbol of the "contest," doncha know?!

My song of choice for such situations was George Hamilton IV's rockabilly flip-side to "A Rose and a Baby Ruth," his big crossover hit of 1956, "If you don't know...," always a pleaser due to the hot rod angle.

Bobby, as I recall, liked to do "Detour (There's A Muddy Road Ahead)," Paul Westmoreland's 1945 single covered by everyone from Spade Cooley with Tex Williams to Hank Williams to Patti Page(!) to Bill Haley & His Comets to Ella Fitzgerald and Duane Eddy.

Hey, we couldn't get the girls without dance moves like Jerry Belson, Billy Milligan or an airman named Ollie, so we had to do something! (Which, as I recall, singing wasn't it, either.)
– Dean

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