With the conclusion of this year, amid the joy of the
season with all its gaiety, your faithful Peasant wishes
to pay tribute to an old friend, a fellow conservative,
and an avid reader of this blog who passed away this year;
Jeff Barta, a schoolmate from our days at Waukesha (WI)
Catholic Memorial High School, suffered from a heart
infection which proved fatal.
Jeff and I met when we were Spanish students at CMH
and went on a trip to Mexico for Easter vacation with
our fellow Spanish students, a few parents along for
chaperones, and the head of the Spanish Language
Department, Sister Virginia, a rather cheerful but
sometimes stern nun. We stayed at a decent hotel in
Mexico City, going on jaunts around the city and
farther out, such as visits to the Aztec temples of
the sun and the moon, both of which we climbed
to their very tops to enjoy magnificent views of
the Mexican countryside. We even attended a wedding
on Easter Sunday, held at Mexico City's famous
Cathedral, and got to meet the newlywed couple.
A trip to Taxco, the Silver Mining Capital of the World
as it is known, was on our itinerary as well, with
traveling through some of Mexico's desert land
thrown in. All great adventure and fun!
Jeff provided what I would come to recognize as his
inexhaustible good humor, an integral part of his easy-
going nature, which made an enjoyable trip even more so.
Always cracking jokes, especially on the dangers of drinking
water not in a sealed bottle so as to avoid the malady known
south of the border as "Montezuma's Revenge" ("Don't 'Zuma
now! Stay healthy!"), and involved in some delightful
horseplay, Jeff was the life of a very lively contingent of
travelers. One night Jeff and some of the fellows were tossing
water bombs (plastic bottles and water balloons) at passerby
outside our hotel. They hit a few people on the sidewalk, as
well as a few passing cars, one a police squad car! Finally,
someone in our group came to warn that the hotel management
was sending someone up to investigate the aquatic bedlam,
and everyone quickly disappeared -- no one got caught.
Your swiftly-thinking and moving Peasant fled to the
relaxing confines of the hotel bar, which was on the top floor.
One night I was in said bar, on my own, as we had the evening
free and could do as we wished. As is my wont as an experienced
traveler, desiring to sample as much of Mexico's life and
staple, I ordered a Tequilla Sunrise. Knowing that this drink
would be powerful and potent, I nursed it gently, taking all of
forty-five minutes to finish. But as I took the last swallow, I
felt a warm sensation in my gut -- and it was getting warmer.
I stood up, walked from my table, and went out into the hall
to the elevators. Once I got inside an available lift, my gut felt
like it was ablaze; I could barely remain standing. When I got
to my floor, I made my way to our room, unlocked the door,
made it inside, tried to reach my bed, but instead collapsed on
the floor next to it, and lost consciousness. when I finally
awakened it was morning, Jeff and my other roomies were in
our quarters, and I noticed that my pillow was under my head,
my blanket covering me, and my clothes still on. Jeff asked how
I was, saying that he saw that I was in a bad way so he took down
the pillow and blanket from my bed to make me comfortable.
He cared about my well-being, and figured that I had run afoul of
some of the local booze (damn straight I did!). I thanked him
profusely, and we cemented an already established friendship.
This was in my junior year, Jeff's sophomore year. After I
graduated we lost touch but got back together on Facebook.
Availing himself of the link I provide to this blog, Jeff became
an enthusiastic reader, enjoying my take on the political and
economic news on a regular basis until his sad and sudden demise.
If heaven has wi-fi you can bet Jeff is still enjoying my essays and
In recent years Jeff and his dear wife Joette owned and operated
a delightful cigar bar in downtown Waukesha, the city of our
alma mater, that they dubbed "A Nice Ash". Not at all a smoker,
I still enjoyed my visits there, and go there when I can. Many
of our friends frequent the establishment, and some of them
perform there in their bands. And I can feel Jeff's joyful presence,
especially when standing and chatting with friends enjoying some
of the fine cigars from the bar's walk-in humidor. I get a feeling of
comfort from it.
I miss you Jeff more than I can say, and I am told that I have an
impressive vocabulary! We'll catch up on everything when I
am invited up to partake of our Lord's hospitality as you have
been. And we'll enjoy His fine drinks together and maybe I'll
try one of His divine cigars in that heavenly cigar bar!
Thank you for being a wonderful friend and a grand part of
my life! Rest well, my friend and brother conservative!