A Remembrance of David Lee Pulver
aka Dee; aka Ensign Pulver
For: Martha Jo, Sara and Matthew
It was around late August, 1956 when a bunch of young guys were nervously shuffling around the dayroom in Nelligan Hall. That was the men’s dormitory at LeMoyne College in Syracuse. Suddenly, with great relief, I spotted a high school buddy, Jim Mooney. He introduced me to his new roommate, a guy from “Nerk” with the funny name of Dee. That’s how I met your dad.
Le Moyne was just ten years old then with a very compact campus and a small enrollment. As a result, everyone more or less knew everyone else, not unlike a small town I guess. Dee majored in Industrial Relations and I was in Economics so our paths crossed sometimes in class as well as often in the dorm and most certainly down the hill at Wanda’s or Jimmy Benham’s – two of our regular hangouts. When we became upperclassmen, most of us escaped the dorm and its rigid rules and moved into apartments or houses. It was, as they say, the best of times.
While your dad and I were becoming friends, your mother had gone off in the other direction to Nazareth College in Rochester. There she became good friends with Martha Jo Rotoli so now you know why our families were so close if you haven’t already heard this before.
Fast forward to 1962 when Martha and I bought a home at 3955 Culver Road at the corner of Tamarack. At that time, we only had Rita. Joe and Susan followed soon after and Becky not until we had moved on to Webster. Meanwhile, guess who lived just a few blocks down the street on Culver Road? Yep, your mom and dad. We were back and forth all the time. Your dad and I even managed a few visits to the 4700 Club on Culver Road as well as some of the other neighborhood hot spots.
You have heard about the fantastic vacations when we would convoy up to East Brewster on Cape Cod. All ten of us would squeeze into the Small’s cottage. Dee and I would rent a Sunfish and I seem to remember we couldn’t take you kids out – mainly because your father insisted on inventing new ways to capsize the boat! This so amused the next door neighbor that he went out and rented a Sunfish too.
There are stories and stories about your dad who was deeply curious, very smart, and often argumentative but always exciting to be with. He could be difficult to keep track of when you were out with him because of his habit of disappearing!
The Caribbean cruise on the Flying Cloud schooner, a former Vanderbilt yacht, has achieve the status of legend, mainly due to your dad’s frequent re-telling and embellishment of this crazy adventure. One day, we were lying on the side deck, a bit seasick, and a woman passenger brought lunch to us thinking she was being kind. As soon as her back was turned, Dee heaved the tray, silver, glass and food overboard and muttered” I told her I wasn’t hungry!” You can probably imagine why this little vignette sticks in my mind. We had to leave the boat in Martinique to get back to work and our families. Later on we learned some of the passengers assumed we had been put off the boat!!! The sine qua non for that escapade was the story of the two cheeseburgers. Dee was convinced I could speak French because I told him so and he knew I studied it at Le Moyne. To prove my fluency, I read the newspaper to him (mostly making stuff up) when we landed in Fort de France, the capitol city. So, I was in charge when we entered a local bar and tried to order two cheeseburgers. After much commotion behind the bar, the owner came out front and said rather loudly, in English, “I understand you want two women?” At this, Dee exploded. “All I want is a %*#Gd* cheeseburger”, he screamed. Boy, he was really sore at me.
Random thoughts; Fishing in the Genesee for carp; car camping at Fair Haven; Cape Cod, of course; back yard pool parties. Dee was provocative, sometimes exasperating and always entertaining. He astonished me with his knowledge of bird behavior and inspired me to become an amateur bird watcher.
I’ll leave you with the one regret I have and you all will appreciate it more as you age. Dee and I drifted apart and finally lost contact before he moved to North Carolina. The lesson, I think, is that friendship is hard work and requires our attention or we realize belatedly that a friend has gone missing. I don’t want this to sound like a sermon, but keep your friends close and reconnect if you do get separated. In the end, it is all we have.