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Last Ride

Charles Borcherding, Sr. (highlighted) with General Eisenhower, grandchildren David and Susan Eisenhower, and Governor McKeldin. Brownstone Hotel, Chicago, Ill. Republican National Convention, July 7, 1952.

I was instructed at a young age never to skimp on the purchase of automobiles.

Charles H Borcherding, Sr. (“Mr. B”) was my Aunt Jean’s father-in-law and an ever-present character in my youth. The long-time head of the Federal Housing Authority in Baltimore and later president of a prosperous savings and loan, he was the first person in my memory that I would label a “big shot.” A leader in the small, but influential Maryland Republican Party, he was the guy with the pinky ring, pencil thin mustache, loud voice, and a unique brand of “schtick.” When I would see him, he would always hold out his right hand for a “shake” and when I reached for it, he’d pull it away and display a hitch hiker thumbing pose. It always made me laugh which guaranteed a repeat performance the next time I'd see him.

As one of the features of his big shot image, Mr. B always drove the largest, latest model Chrysler or Cadillac. Sleek, black, 1960’s cool, with seats as big as a Barcalounger, his arrival at our house always made a statement.

One memory of Mr. B has outlived all others.

I was standing under a shared umbrella with him at a family funeral when the long shiny hearse came by.

He said under his breath, “Johnny boy, don’t let your last ride be your best ride.”


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