I am confounded by social media. There are days I swear I’ll delete my FaceBook account and transform that wasted time into a productive hobby such as a search for a cure for dropsy or bilious fever. I am afraid to tally the hours I’ve squandered scrolling and re-scrolling through my “newsfeed” for… I have no idea. I can’t stand the viral posting that overflows (literally these days: Ice Bucket Challenge-Enough!) with the latest FB thing. Yet there are times I am so happy to have found and old friend or distant cousin that I haven’t spoken to in years. It allows me to keep in touch with my oldest son in Korea with little to no inconvenience to our lifestyle or bank accounts.
Today was the kicker. Today I shut my mouth. Today I stumbled upon something from my teen years that explained a man that was, as best as I can describe him, my first Urban Myth.
A picture of The Whistler. He was a guy who walked everywhere-I mean Everywhere. We would see him almost every day walking through our small town. Then several hours later, if we drove to ten miles to Worcester or fifteen to Clinton, we might see him again. Whenever we saw him, we’d beep or yell and he would respond with the loudest whistle I’d ever heard from a human being. Sometimes the whistle was quick, other times it was several notes and if he knew you, it was a ten second symphony. If I was riding my bike or with a group of my girlfriends, and waved at him, he’d whistle then yell, “You’re getting prettier every time I see you!” He never broke his stride, which was faster than most people jog, and he was in fantastic shape, as you can see by this T shirt which gives his name and age: Walter Barch, 60.
This is what his brother wrote over his picture: “He had a swagger like no other! Punchin light poles, and hearing his whistles from blocks away….he was a childhood memory….the Fox…The Whistler…Walter Barch“
He wrote his story on his clothes. Usually it was just his name, sometimes his age. He had one sign that said “HEYYYYY!” which made me think he liked Fonzie from “Happy Days”. Sometimes there he wrote a long paragraph but that was impossible to read because he was always moving too fast to see what he wrote.
This is a copy of the comments regarding Walter Barch. The photo was a TBT, or Throw Back Thursday photo, posted by his brother. The comments in italics are by his brother, all other comments are from people who remember seeing Walter Barch, or the Whistler around central Massachusetts.
45 People like this.“If only they had Nike trackers back then. I would see this guy all over central Ma. The good ole whistler!”“My favorite time was seeing him carrying wood on his shoulders walking down Rt 9!!”“We’d drive by and yell “The Whistler!” and he would blow us a loud whistle!”“Omg we would toot and yell and he would wave.”“I remember him”“He was cool…..I always love to see him because he would whistle for us”“OMG! He had his life story written on his clothes and body! He was also known as The Whistler! Remember him ________?”“There is a movie _____ called titicut follies a documentary on bridgewater st hospital. He is in it.. I remember him walking everywhere too…”“I remember him well!!!!”“Great picture. Where on earth did you get it?”“was wondering what happened to him.”“Worcester’s icon yes I always as a kid would love to see him walking down a street my father beep and see this man turn and bellow out the whistle you never forget…..”“Wow totally remember him punching light poles !! How the hell did u find him?”“Its called “throw back” Thursdays…or I like to call it a blast from the past…I don’t divulge my secrets….here’s a little bit about Walter…..he was a veteran, he was convicted of fondling a young girl and did 12+ years…when he got out he would always whistle to let people know he was coming and where he’s been so he’d always had can aliby and never be caused again. He lived on Eastern Abe in Worc. And was a Sgt. In the u.s. army….also a top boxer in the 50’s & 60’s….he was shot in the neck while serving time and part the cause for his memory loss and his “claw” hand. Did you ever notice he would swing his arms vigorously from side to side(and one hand was always bent)..that’s the claw….ohhhh now you remember huh????!!!He could hold a conversation with you while walking blindly backwards as well but you’d never see him not moving…..
Walter died in the fall of “95” and is burried in Otis Air force base’ National cemetary, Bourne Mass.
Walters favorite quote: your getting prettier and prettier every time I see ya!”“I loved the signs he’d wear hanging off his neck on his back….HEYYYYYYYY”“How about Angelo? White haired and beard up and down Route 9 with a grocery cart.”“And Reggie. Black guy with a Yankees baseball hat.”“Angelo…yes…we called him Moses…he lived under the bridge on rt. 9, lake quinsigamond…..
The yankee…died in a tooling house fire….That was rooming house! Lol““____! How do you know all this! WOW!”“He wasn’t just a friend…he was my brother““Wow! I remember him…the whistler. He would walk so proudly. Didn’t know the whole story. I do remember that he had his story written and he wore it. I can’t remember though if the story was about what happened to him. Thanks ____ for sharing.”“____, he was your brother truly? I used to think he was such a strong man…..I never knew his story either….. Remarkable! I want to see that swag from you too !”“he was accused and sentenced to a crime he never commited that was his cause for walking““Spent a long time locked up for bullshit“
There are times I am amazed by what I stumble onto on social media. Today is not a day that I’ll moan and groan about how stupid I think FaceBook is.
“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”