Another One Gone
I first began going to Kings Hobby Shop in Austin some 18 years ago. The place was a revelation for a great many reasons but, as with most good hobby shops, the real treasure there had nothing to do with what was on the shelves, as impressive as that was. Nope, the thing that made Kings a special place was the people, from the owner and staff right down to the customers. It was a hard-core scale modeling sort of shop and the place to go if you were serious about the hobby. The vibe was a good one, with lots of friendly people on both sides of the counter. It was easy to do business and easy to make friends.
My visits there rapidly turned into an every-Saturday afternoon sort of thing and friendships were made in the process. On one such Saturday I was standing at the counter talking Airplane with Rudy and Brad when a guy wearing a basketball jersey, matching shorts, a huge grin, and carrying a largish box under one arm, came into the store. The box held an unfinished 1/32nd scale Hasegawa Me109G-6 in Italian markings, while the jersey and shorts contained Bryan Phillipson. The Gustav was an absolute revelation, way past museum quality in construction and finishing, and Bryan was an instant friend from the first moment. His grin said it all, with no guile and no self-interest other than building the best model airplanes he possibly could. He was an artist and in many respects a magician, and his modeling work was little short of amazing---I've known modelers who were as good, but I've never known anyone that was better.
Bryan and I shared an interest in model airplanes, of course, and also in fast cars. The Saturday runs to Kings quickly morphed into a run to Kings coupled with a trip to a local Mexican restaurant for an early and lengthy supper where we talked modeling and solved the polystyrene related problems of the world. It was a joy and a high point in my week. I got remarried somewhere along the way and Bryan became an instant friend for my new wife, a girl who'd moved to Texas from New England knowing nobody other than me and in need of a friend or two. Bryan was there for her, and her road became easier.
Bryan smiled all the time, and as far as I could tell he was almost always happy. It could be pouring rain outside but his world was full of sunshine, and it was infectious. You couldn't be unhappy around Bryan for very long. You just couldn't get him down, or keep him down.
Bryan became infected with Covid a while back. He got really sick too, but he beat it. Almost immediately after the bout with Covid he developed pneumonia, and he beat that as well, and then he caught the flu. It seemed that he was also going to beat that one but the other illnesses had greatly reduced his ability to fight a new disease and that put him in the hospital in intensive care. I spoke with him briefly while he was there, just before the nurse told him he couldn't talk to anyone on the phone anymore because the simple act of talking was compromising his ability to breathe. Shortly after that he was placed on a ventilator.
Bryan died last Saturday. I'm told it was peaceful, and I'm one of those folks who believe in a better place so I'm reasonably certain he's checking out the hobby shops in his new neighborhood as I'm writing this, but that doesn't make it any better. He was a friend, and he always will be, but he's not around anymore.
There's a lesson in his passing, because at the end of the day most of us have a Bryan somewhere in our lives and they're more important than ever in a world that seems committed to tearing itself apart. I think that's inspirational, and I truly believe friendships are something to be treasured. Maybe that's a reason to rethink things a bit regarding the relationships we have with others we hold near and dear? Maybe that's a silver lining?
Blue skies, Bryan....
That Boyer Guy
While we're discussing friends, and on a far happier note, I've been privileged to have a friendship with Paul Boyer, he of FineScale Modeler fame, for a great many years. Paul's a prolific modeler, and a darned good one too, and we'd like to take a couple of minutes to show you a bit of his work, all in 1/72nd scale.