TRIBUTE: Jack White and Locker Number 1
By JOE VACCARO
American Legion Post 56 Commander
April 6, 2015
Members of American Legion Post 56 attended a funeral March 28 for our friend and fellow Legionnaire Jack White. Jack’s passing had many of his friends and family remembering all the good works he performed and the various committees he served on. They also recalled his great passion for the people of Northampton County and the shore in general — but for me it was a little more personal.
Over a decade ago I was a fresh arrival to the Town of Cape Charles from another garden spot of the world that I had recently served in. It took about two months to get back into the swing of things again and somewhere during that time I had the honor and privilege to meet Mr. Jack White at Rayfield’s. As I recall he was living close to the beach in those days and I was invited into his home to chat about my recent overseas adventures.
It was during one of these conversations that I learned that Jack served in the military during WW II with the Army Air Corps, the forerunner to today’s Air Force, but what he really liked to talk about was his brother who was a former POW in Germany. Jack’s eyes beamed when he spoke about his brother and he made it an emphatic point that his brother was in a “stalag” prison camp just like one depicted in the movie Stalag 17. Jack was proud of his military service and loved everything that America represented so it was just a matter of time before I’d see him at the newly revived Legion Post.
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After lying in slumber for some 40-plus years, Post 56 was re-opened in 2007. One of the first people to attend the meetings and events at this fledgling American Legion Post was Jack. He was there when we pre-opened the Post to the general public in May 2007 and he sat at the end of the bar that afternoon delighted to see old friends and neighbors.
Those were tough financial days and Jack asked me how he could support the Post — especially since the Post had more bills than members in those days. So it was decided right then and there that Jack would rent a locker space at the Post where he could leave a bottle of gin to accompany his tonic. Determined to lead the way, Jack rented Locker Number 1 at Post 56. He also enthusiastically encouraged other Legionaries to understand that the locker rentals were for a worthy cause. So it became evident that besides all of his other organizational expertise Jack was also a master salesman for Post locker rentals!
That was Jack — there was never a small project for him if it meant helping other people or an organization. He was the type of gentleman who always found the time to say hello to you no matter where he met you and usually addressed you by your military rank. He had a knack for making you feel like you knew him for dozens of years, and he remained buoyant despite his declining health.
After the funeral service, I went back to Post 56 and asked the bartender to look into Locker Number 1, where she discovered that Jack left a small bottle of gin. We didn’t move it and probably won’t move it for a long while. After all, Locker Number 1 was Jack’s locker and it’ll always be Jack’s locker whether that bottle of gin is in there or not.
Over the years I have found that there’s a multitude of traditions and cultures on the shore. Most of all there’s a healthy respect for the people who try to make this area better than they found it. Mr. Jack White was one of those people who made the shore better than he found it and we’re going to miss him a great deal at Post 56.
Locker Number 1 will always belong to Jack White at Post 56.