View from the Tracks

Lee Man—The Ice Man Departs by Dee Baby

Watermelons have always been synonymous with the tiny town of Forestburg, but also the Hinker family who were our classmates, friends and neighbors. This week we sadly say our farewell to Lee Hinker, a native son. I would like the focus to be not on his ending days but on the journey of his life.
Lee was always a budding entrepreneur, thinking of new ways to build a business. After going to school for refrigeration, he was our local go to guy when your air conditioner went on the blink. As so often happens, they tend to break down on the hottest days of the year. Even on the Fourth of July, you could count on Lee to drop his plans to come to the rescue with a grin and maybe a promise of a cold beer.
Only Lee could have come up with the idea of a traveling hot tub that he would transport on a trailer to party locations. Evidently back then, we had no fear of germs as multiple people used it over and over. He was a pioneer for party planners.
Broadening his horizons in 1983 with his good friend, Mark Snedeker, they purchased the old brick school at Lane, and transformed it into THE place to be on the weekend, bringing in bands to play. They brought us the “Leap to Lane” concerts with headliner Johnny Holmes to sell out crowds – our version of Woodstock in the middle of a field. (I don’t remember if we even had port-a-potties!)
It was there at Lane that we celebrated his wedding to Janet Authier. I still remember how tiny and exquisite she looked in her dress. Lee returned to his Forestburg roots and entered into the farming operation and his watermelon and tomato business. Lee and Janet welcomed their son, Drew, to this world, and every Christmas card featured Drew and usually their beloved dogs.
Lee was a friendly competitor in the melon world. He loved to stop along the road and “shoot the s_ _t” and see whose melons were doing the best or what hail catastrophe had wreaked havoc on whose field. Lee’s staked out melon territory was Aberdeen for pumpkins and tomato crops.
I personally cannot think of pheasant season without thinking of Lee, Milt Authier and the Minnesota boys. Hunting season was the best time of the year for friends to enjoy. After the local Ducks Unlimited banquet, Georgia and I could count on their group to pay us a visit at Don’s Silver Dollar. Every year, they questioned me on what I was saving my tip money for. They loved the fact that one year I was saving for an air conditioner for my bedroom. (I lamented the fact that it was too hot to have sex!) They came to my rescue and I had enough for a lovely little 110. My love life was saved.
Lee also came up with the phrase “The Baysinger Stomp” to describe me when I had my temper up. He would do a windup with his leg similar to a pitcher on the mound much to everyone’s delight to mimic me. I could never stay angry after watching a few times.
During everyone’s life, we all choose a different path with wrong choices, oftentimes one that your family cannot help you divert from, even with their love and support. So it was with Lee. It was not how we wanted it to end for our friend.
Thinking of the
good times,
Dee Baby

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