Bobby Wilson had to be one of the toughest looking guys around when I was growing up on East Fourth street. With jet-black hair and piercing blue eyes, Bobby stood about six feet tall and was kind of husky. His jaw was as square as a pizza box from Korner and his head always looked like it was on the verge of exploding into a million pieces.
Yeah, if there was anyone who looked like they were going to kick some ones ass on my block, it had to be Bobby Wilson. Because Bobby just looked that scary.
Bobby also drove a tow truck for Al and Leo’s collision over on 36th street right off of Fort Hamilton Parkway. A bright yellow GMC with “Bobby” painted in script letters on the driver’s side door along with his kids names gracing it's big steel hood. Bobby Jr., Richie and Eileen.
Bobby would always park the truck in front of his house at 418 East Fourth Street too, right by the “Johnny Pump”. I could always hear the police scanner he had in his truck from my house, that’s because Bobby put it full blast while he was upstairs having lunch with his family. Just waiting to hear about an accident somewhere so he could quickly jump in his truck and chase it down.
You see in the days before the police outlawed tow trucks racing through Brooklyn at 70 miles per hour to be the first “hook” at an accident. Guys like Bobby Wilson were around doing just that. But Bobby never drove down our block that fast, no when it came to East Fourth Street, Bobby would never cross that line.
Now Bobby had to be about thirty-five years old at the time while we were all about seventeen. And we used to spend a lot of time hanging around on his stoop just to hear all his stories about Brooklyn and driving his tow truck.
Well, actually we used to just hang out with Bobby because we all really liked him that’s all. And besides, if your hanging out with him, there’s a much less chance that he’d kick your ass over something.
But the funny thing was that no matter how tough Bobby acted, it would all just melt away when he was around his kids, especially Bobby Jr., his oldest son. Bobby just loved Bobby Jr,. maybe it was all because he had the same dark blue eyes and long eyelashes as Bobby. I don't know, but Bobby just loved that kid the most, and we all knew it.
Yeah, those long black eyelashes and deep blue eyes, both Bobby and his son had the most beautiful eyes that would make any woman green with envy.
And Bobby loved his kids more than anything in the world, more than anything.
“You know Ronnie, if something ever happened to one of my kids I don’t think I could ever live” “I just don’t know how your mom can go on, I would have blown my brains out along time ago”.
Now Bobby was good friends with my mom and knew all about the fact that her son died when he was thirteen years old. And Bobby just couldn’t understand how my mom existed on this earth knowing that her son was dead and buried. Seeing him die a slow death in the hospital bed and then kissing his ice-cold face in a casket over at Pitta’s on McDonald Avenue.
No, there was no living if something happened to one of Bobby’s kids, and he always let me know it.
Now I always used to spend a lot of time in Bobby’s apartment too. Just hanging out and bull shitting about anything and everything by their kitchen table. And I guess I kind of liked Bobby’s wife Eileen too, I mean she was more than pretty and certainly caught my eye, even if I was only seventeen while she was thirty-five.
And I’ll never forget the night I was hanging around in their kitchen, Bobby and the family just got back from Lake George and Bobby junior was complaining that his head hurt during the whole vacation.
“Ah, the kid probably needs to get his eyes checked, I but you he needs glasses”
Bobby never worried about the headaches Bobby junior was getting, no it was all going to be all right because little Bobby just needed glasses that’s all.
But the headaches didn’t go away, and little Bobby who was about five years old at the time was told to see a doctor about the pain in his head. And Bobby Wilson’s life was about to be shattered.
And then something very strange happened on the block, Bobby wasn’t hanging around on the porch anymore and we didn’t see his tow truck that much on the block.
No, little Bobby was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and Bobby Wilson was planning his death. Because there was no way Bobby could live without his son, no there wasn’t.
Little Bobby died not too long after the doctors told Bobby Wilson about the brain tumor. The Wilson’s were never the same after then and neither was Bobby. There were no more visits to his house and no more stories on his front stoop. Bobby Wilson was dead, and you could see it in his face.
I’ll never forget the day I was coming home from work back in 1985. There were just a lot of people milling around on my block and a lot of people hanging around in front of Bobby Wilson’s house.
“Hey Ronnie, did you hear Bobby died?” “They found him upstairs in his bedroom”
The first thing I thought was that Bobby blew his brains out, just like he always said he would. But no, there was no gun and no suicide note, because according to the medical examiner Bobby died of a brain aneurism and nothing else.
And although Bobby left a gaping hole on East Fourth Street and in his family, at least he was with his son Bobby junior. Because he told me he could never live without him. And I guess he was telling the truth, because their both buried side by side over in Greenwood Cemetery.