Boomer Twilight

Mostly Humorous Observations of Most Anything, with a Boomer Slant

Who’ll Gimme Five?

with 9 comments

Only a few of you might recognize the guy in the picture. His name was Richard Rose. This past December I found out he died; just about a year after it happened. I felt really bad that I didn’t know it was coming. He was sick for a while, and I had no idea. Keeping up with friends isn’t that hard. In this case, I failed miserably.

On the debut of my job at the University of Maryland Computer Science Center in 1976, Richard Rose was one of the first people I met. I liked him as soon as I shook his hand. His smile was infectious under the mustache; with those eyes that kind of lit up when he grinned. You know what I mean. People just felt really comfortable around him. I was assigned to his shift and we went right to work. Richard didn’t mess around; always moving and helping. He was a great boss, who made you feel like an equal. What most people didn’t know was he had a passion for Auctioneering.

The setup at the Computer Science Center was Richard at the upstairs card reader console with several intercoms throughout the building, used by the IBM Card Reader Operators to communicate with him. The whole purpose was for the students, who were learning how to program, to have us run their jobs incessantly; sometimes to the point of boring. Then every once in a while you could hear coming from the intercom, “Who’ll gimme five? Who’ll gimme five dolla? Who’ll gimme five dolla, five dolla? Gotta five dolla, five dolla. Who’ll gimme ten? Who’ll gimme ten dolla, ten dolla? Gotta ten dolla. Who’ll gimme fifteen? De fifteen, de fifteen? Gotta fifteen. Who’ll gimme twenty?” Richard used different sing-song inflections and would go on and on into the whole rendition you might observe at a tobacco auction (where as a boy, he developed his fascination). The students loved it. We were all cracking up. Richard really was good.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Yeah, Richard goofed around with the rest of us; shooting rubber bands (we used them to wrap the output before giving it to the students) and playing practical jokes, but he was very serious about his job. When Richard died, he was Executive Director of the University of Maryland Academic Telecommunications System (UMATS) and USM Office IT. He was a Big Shot (not a reference to rubber bands).

There was more to Richard Rose than the hard-working Computer Guy/Auctioneer. When I ran for the Greenbelt City Council in 1977, he worked the polls for me. His beautiful wife, Carla, was the Executive Assistant to Maryland State Senator Edward T. Conroy, and Richard introduced me to Senator Conroy, who introduced me to Steny Hoyer (who at the time was the 38-year-old President of the Maryland State Senate), Delegate Leo Green and a couple of other local politicos. Even though their implied endorsements were helpful, I lost the election by 128 votes, ending my blip of a political career.

The next couple of years thereafter, Richard helped me with two money-raising Gong Shows (Ed Conroy was one of our Celebrity Judges at the first one). He never balked at lending support to people he liked. Later we had an auction for the American Cancer Society at the Greenbelt Town Center. Of course, the idea of an auction for charity was conceived with Richard’s hobby in mind. When the event took place, he was in his glory; “Who’ll Gimme Fivin'” all over the place. Richard was the show, and what a show he was.

My job at the U of MD ended in 1979, and I moved from Greenbelt in 1980. For a little more than a decade, Richard and I sort of lost track of each other. We talked on the phone a couple of times and I stopped in to see him once, while in College Park on business. That was about the extent of our “keeping up.” Then in 1991, I organized an auction for the American Heart Association of Carroll County. If you have an auction, who do you call? Richard Rose! He jumped at the opportunity.

In downtown Sykesville, Richard occupied the gazebo in the picture and the audience lined the street. “Who’ll gimme five? Who’ll gimme five dolla? Who will give me five dolla, five dolla? Gotta five dolla. Who’ll gimme six? Who’ll gimme six dolla? Who’ll gimme six dolla, six dolla? A six dolla, six dolla? Gotta a six dolla, six dolla. Who’ll gimme seven?” And on it went. Richard was smiling and chattering and the audience loved him.

When the auction was over, we came back to my house for some grilled steaks and conversation about the past. After dinner, Richard went home, and being the piece of crap I am, I never saw or talked to him again. On January 5, 2007 he died at age 59.

Don’t let a good friend leave you without having a chance to say goodbye.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

P. S.  Here is an update to this Blog.  Richard was recently honored

9 Responses

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  1. Incredible tribute to a friend. It made me cry.


    August 10, 2008 at 4:47 pm

  2. Nice Tribute.



    Your Mom

    August 11, 2008 at 9:24 am

  3. A very fitting tribute to your friend and good advice.


    August 14, 2008 at 3:11 pm

  4. Bake,

    That’s sad


    August 14, 2008 at 3:12 pm

  5. What a wonderful article.Uncle Richard would have loved it and dont be so hard on your self everyone gets busy in this world .Thank you for letting me know a litle bit more about him.You only live through the memories you leave behind and he left everyone with many to remember.Thank you,Jennifer

    His neice

    December 29, 2008 at 4:51 pm

  6. I must say I am am very pleased you read this. I was worried the tribute might get lost among all the other posts. Richard was one of the coolest guys I knew. If you knew him as I did you would know exactly what I mean. “Rest in peace, Richard Rose. The world was better when you were around, and a finer place after.”


    December 29, 2008 at 7:02 pm

  7. This is an incredible article and I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to read it. As I was reading it, I could see his radiant smile as he was doing his auctioneering. I can remember that during our childhood, and his spending most of each summer with us, one of his greatest joys was going to the local warehouses with my dad and his pa-pa to the tobacco auctionings. As you said, he was always so fascinated.

    It gives me great pleasure that all who knew him as I did, a wonderful person filled with caring, loving, and interest in everyone he met. I thought I was being partial because after all, he was my nephew. Somehow with us being so close in age I felt like he was my lil’ bro’.

    Thanks for such a lovely article and for sharing.

    His Aunt Faye

    Faye Stocks

    March 10, 2009 at 6:50 pm

  8. Aunt Faye,

    Thank you for your kind words. Every time I read this I get misty. The entire time I was writing it I felt very sad. My Blog is meant to be humorous, but this one post is an exception.

    When Mike Burke told me about Richard’s death I was stunned. Richard did more for me than just mentioned here. I have another post I’ve been working on about the Greenbelt City Council election in 1977. Richard worked the polls for me, and offered quite a bit of advice to a naive wannabe politician. Even though the odds were against my winning, Richard didn’t care about that. He just wanted to help.

    Again, thank you for stopping by. I’ll send you an update when I post the story.

    Take care.

    Bob Phillips


    March 10, 2009 at 8:08 pm

  9. […] One of my favorite watering holes was Town Hall, just outside the University of Maryland campus. I worked at the school, and after my shift was over, a few of us would stop at the bar, walk though the smashed peanut […]

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