Maybe you will remember the Winklers better by this. They were the ones that opened up Wink’s Shake Shoppe on the top of Russell Hill. Wink’s Shake Shoppe was very popular with the Little League baseball crowd since it sat across from the old Little League Ballpark. Anyway, the Winklers were a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
Mike’s house was at least a quarter of a mile from mine by the way the crow flies. Anytime we were playing, Mike’s dad would summon him home in a unique way. Mr. Bob Winkler had the ability to whistle so that it could be heard from hundreds of yards away. Right in the middle of an outdoor game of hoops at my house, we would all freeze as we heard the ominous whistle of one Bob Winkler. Mike would immediately – and I mean immediately – mount his bicycle and head for home. Back then parents didn’t count to three waiting for you to mind. They expected you to comply when told to do something.
I will never forget one rainy afternoon Mike and I spent throwing darts in my garage. I threw my set of darts first and went to the board to extract them. As I was taking the last one out, Wink let fly. He thought I was clear of the board. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. He threw a bull’s-eye that stuck right in the middle of the back of my right hand. No worries, however. I braced my hand on a plank and Wink quickly pulled the dart loose. I guess Wink sort of performed a little minor extractive surgery right there in the garage.
Guess what Wink would go on to become? You got it. A plastic surgeon. Mike Winkler lived in Oklahoma and was a successful plastic surgeon. If someone was in a catastrophic accident, he was the guy that put his or her face back together.
When I was informed last Monday that Wink was really not doing well, I tracked down his cell phone number and tried to call him. When he didn’t answer I left a message. I tried again the next night with the same results. I never got to speak to him again. If I had, I would have told him this: “Wink, you were a really good friend during a great time in our lives. We were young, the days were long and our responsibilities were few. Thanks for the memories. Farewell, Wink.”
Mike Winkler is survived by his parents, sister, wife and two young daughters, ages eight and ten.
OT: Mike Winkler had colon cancer.
Double OT: My golfing for a cure tour starts this week.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to email@example.com.