In reviewing the Web Webster interview for Sunday’s “From the Archive,” we ran across this jewel from Web about Floyd “Q-ball” Pearce. Here Web tells a story from his days as Handicraft Staff member at Stahlman in the early 1980s about Q-ball and his wife Tillie. The story seemed appropriate to share on Valentine’s Day…
[From a 2003 interview with Web Webster… Story has been edited for content and clarity.]
[Q-ball] was big in the OA and big in Scouts…[He] had crossed into this other plain of Boy Scout consciousness, if you will. I mean he won every award there was to win. He was a Silver Beaver. He was Woodbadge… I do not recall if he was an Eagle Scout or if he…I don’t remember, but there was not a whole lot else he could do and it was sort of like, as a mystic, he had risen beyond the point of where any rewards, any badge, any ranking that the Boy Scouts could give him wouldn’t really have any meaning. He was Q-ball. [H]e was Boy Scouts. Because he was.. He was almost up into a realm of the theoretical and the abstract, as opposed to a Ragsdale or a Barr or a Barnett or some of the other guys that I worked with who were, they still living it; Q-ball was in the abstract.
And yet, now as a grown up, I realize that in some ways he was living it more than any of us were in the way that he was, in the way that he carried himself and the realms of honesty, and integrity, and living out the Scout Laws. That’s just who he was.
I think the other thing is that, and this is one of those things you don’t notice until you talk it through for a little while, he was married to the same woman and had been married to the same woman [for a long time]… and he always so spoke so fondly of her. I mean just, his face would light up when he talked about her.
And I, you know, having been born when I was and being the age that I am was right in the husk of the first group of kids to grow up in divorced families. My mom and dad aren’t divorced, but I would say that the majority of my friends at the time moms and dads were divorced and it was already beginning to be, seem a little bit strange to be in a family that had a mom and dad who were still married to each other.
Beyond my grandparents and my parents, here’s this guy who was still as clearly in love with his wife at eighty some odd years old as he was when they first met. And I think that had a very subtle influence on sort of how I looked on what relationships with women could be. It was like, up until that point it was like ok, yeah you date, get married, then turn boring like my parents and then you die. And here all of a sudden was this guy who once a year left his wife for six weeks to hang out with some kids to tear up tools and loved this woman and would go back and see, and would go back.
You know you pick up lessons; you pick up important things in very small ways. As I have gotten older, camp sort of helped me realize this, epiphanies tend to be very quiet and if you’re talking too much you could miss them. And Q-ball said, “you should love your wife and treat her with respect.” He could have said that all day long, but it wasn’t nearly as powerful as here was this guy who was ancient, ancient beyond all belief, and…they were still married and still, you know, just as much man and wife as someone who had just gotten married. That was subtly important.