Hello members of the Skilbeck family.My name is Tom Best (Thomas H. Best IV). I was a neighbor and friend of the Skilbecks, living next door.For some reason your father, grandfather and mother/grandmother, and Patrick (the dog) have been on my mind.I decided to look them up online and the first site brought me to this wonderful description of Mr. Skilbeck.I was born just after my parents moved into the house on Baylis Street.When we were children they were kind enough to let my brother, sisters and me play basketball in their yard.
As I grew into my teenage years Mr. Skilbeck became a friend of mine.He was already a wonderful neighbor and friend to my father. Into my early twenties I would spend time talking with him and from time-to-time my father and I would assist him/them with projects at their home, once at the cottage, and he would assist me with some of mine.I had the privilege of knowing and assisting his sister Mrs. Grace Ringhand as well, along with her entertaining Chihuahuas.
Ashamedly, I must admit that he would generously allow me the use of some his tools that I didn't yet possess. I used their garage (out house wasn't built with one) one winter to swap engines out of one car into the next "project" car. I was proud and pleased to share with him a ride in that car after it was completed. I believe he enjoyed it as well.
I must also proudly say that he taught me a number of things and I was the recipient of a few good stories of his as well as Mrs. Skilbeck's. I will never forget her wonderful "yoo-hoooo" call to catch the attention of whomever she sought.
But, he, as I remember him recounting, was a champion fly caster (Michigan state champion) using a wonderfully crafted bamboo fly rod of his own construction.He carefully carved it out of bamboo, cutting eight wedge shaped tapered strips more that eight feet long that were then glued and wrapped to keep them together. Unbelievably well done.
They had the most well kept gardens and yard of anyone who did the work themselves and better than most who don't. They had tall (8-9 ft) perfectly trimmed shrubs, flower beds that perimetered the yards, an ivy vine that covered the rear half of the house.
So, it is my pleasure to give a little outside insight on some wonderful and kind people who were quite the way I wish everyone was.These are the types of people who made Detroit great back when it was greater.I learned, directly and indirectly, a number of very valuable things from them both. There were no better neighbors. As a young person you are not always the person you will become. I may have had some, hopefully few, flaws as a neighbor and friend.But, I hope I have learned to be as good a neighbor and person as they.They are the standard.
Sincerely, Thomas H. Best IV Southfield, MI 313 407 6232