Remembering Richard Barkley of the Joplin Boys Club

Here you can observe some fence cleaning at the Joplin Boys Club. When I was the Executive Director at the club I had three janitors and one was a very colorful one known as Richard Barkely who also just happened to serve as our night watchman. He had a small apartment within the facility. As for his watchman status, well, he wasn’t the best. On my second day at the club I came in at 5:00 am to clean up the storage room which was right next to Barkley’s apartment.

I probably made quite a bit of noise as I separated the junk from the material I wanted saved and through all that noise, Barkley slept right through it all.  When he finally woke up at 8:30 am, I said, “Some watchman we have here.  A crook could have cleaned out the whole place and you wouldn’t have heard a thing“.  

Now Barkley was also probably the only person I ever met who ate spagetti and ice cream at the same time.  As I looked in amazement as he took bites out of each in turn, he said, “Well it all winds up in your stomach at the same time doesn’t it?

He had a few other choice expressions such as, “Give me a long enough broom and a long enough mop and I”ll clean and sweep up the whole world”.   He once was a boxer with Golden Gloves and he had this beaut of a saying-  “I have a machine gun right and a bazooka left and if I hit you, you’ll sleep through the night“.  Yes, Richard Barkely was indeed a character.  He did happen to be an excellent custodian though always wanting to do things his way. 

We once went to a movie together that was called “Who is Killing the Great Chef’s of Europe?”  In the middle of the picture he stood up in the middle of the movie saying, “This is a filthy movie“, and then departed.  I thought he went out for popcorn but he actually left the theatre and walked three miles home.  The movie, by the way, was a classic comedy starring George Segal and Robert Morley. 

Yes, Richard Barkley broke the mold when he was born as there can’t be another like him in the entire world!

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