I remember someone asking him if people ever called him "Bob." He said, "No." Short and to the point. I used to own at least 20 Robert E. Lee candles. The best advice he ever gave me was pointing out that the man I was dating wasn't the right man for me. "How do you know?" I asked. "I've seen you dance," he said, with a twinkle in his eye.
Another piece from my old friend, the late Bill Heintzelman.
"Rumor has it he was an art professor in the U. Cal system. It's hard to imagine him with a schedule and a syllabus, he's a pretty unlikely candidate for that position. The man of a thousand candles, barrels of candles, some made to order. Ships at sea, a gull on a piling, and scenes from The Hobbit are live in wax. They're works of art made by a man named Robert E. Lee, and are sold to the public for the price of a bottle of wine. [I usually got mine for $5.00]
"Once in a Blue Moon," "The Grateful Dead," "Pink Floyd," he works the ticket lines at rock concerts. Somewhere there may be old candles of Bill Haley and the Comets or James Brown and the Famous Flames that never sold. Robert e. Lee is a master with a Xerox machine and fifty pounds of paraffin.
"He enters the tavern with his box of wares in front of him like a cigarette girl from the forties, his assistant shuffles along behind him watching hopefully. He stops at the bar; "Let me borrow your flashlight." They need a drink. Robert moves to the tables, people peer into the box. "Which one do you like the best," he asks the prettiest woman at the table. She points. It's as good as sold. He holds the flashlight over the wick and the logo takes on the glow of sunset. Life is breathed into the Dead. His gaze shifts to her date. "What do you think?" "It's neat," she says. "How much?" her date mumbles. "Usually I get about ten bucks for this one, but I need a drink. How about seven fifty and you buy me a glass of wine?" It's a deal.
"The wine is drunk in one big gulp. He gives his helper two fifty; "Why don't you get us a drink, I'll go talk to these people over here."
I went with my friend Sheelah to his funeral and kissed him goodbye. I should put him in a story some time. He'd like that.