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I must go down to the sea again

“I must go down to the sea again”

By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji – Stands Up For Them)

One summer day in the early 1950s I got a call from my sister Lillian about a job available in the foundry where her husband worked out in Oakland, California. Sounded pretty good to me because I had just got an honorable discharge from the U. S. Navy and found out after I came home to Rapid City that there were not a lot of jobs available.

So I tossed a suitcase in my car and headed for California. I decided to stop in Pine Ridge and visit some friends and family before heading west. It was then when I ran into my first cousin James Willard “Heavy” Garnett. Heavy said, “Where you going?” I replied, “California.” He said, “Let me grab my gear and I’ll join you.”

And so we headed on our merry way to California. Heavy had also just been discharged from the Navy also so we had a lot to talk about. After driving all day it started to get dark so I told Heavy I was going to pull over so we could get a little rest. We were up in the hills in Nevada when I pulled my car to side of the road.

The next morning I heard what amounted to a scream and I sat straight up. There was Heavy standing at the car waving me over. I climbed out and walked over to him and he pointed down from the 1,000 foot cliff where I had parked and I saw immediately that I was only about 1 foot from the edge of it.

We made it to my sister’s house safely and found jobs working at an aluminum foundry the next day.

Heavy was happy working there and made friends easily, but he missed his girlfriend back in Pine Ridge so he decided to quit his job and go home. After a short while they got married and she got pregnant. One evening they were driving home from Martin when their car was sideswiped by a drunken driver. Heavy’s wife and unborn child were both killed and Heavy was paralyzed from the waist down.

He was never quite the same after that. He turned heavily (no pun intended) to religion and in a short while he became pastor of the Mother Butler Church. His friends said that his homilies were terrible. At any rate he was very serious about his new approach to religion.

He never did fully recover from the injuries he got in that car wreck and ended up in the VA Hospital at Hot Springs quite often. A couple of weeks ago he checked into the hospital and never checked out.

And so the Lakota people lost one of their really good relatives and I lost my first cousin. We will no longer hear the funny laugh he had that always us reminded us of the radio character known as “The Great Gildersleeve.” His laugh was identical and always made us laugh harder.

And so to the old sailor, James Willard “Heavy” Garnett we have a quote from a poem he loved. “Oh, I must go down to the sea again, to the beautiful sea and sky; and all I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by.” I bid a fond goodbye to my lifetime friend, “Heavy” Garnett. Sleep well my friend.

(Contact me at

One response to “I must go down to the sea again”

  1. Respect to author, some superb entropy.

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