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Family, Friends to Mark Late Mickey Barlow’s Birthday

March 4, 2016 Community, Obituaries No Comments


By John Fitts

On the evening of Oct. 4, 2015, Mickey and Cathy Barlow took what would be the last of their daily walks.

But while Mickey’s heart failed him that evening, the Barlow family takes some comfort in the fact that his day had been filled with some of the activities he loved.

In the morning, he attended the Cartober Fest in New Hartford. After lunch, he and son Kevin screamed at the television set and were left elated as the New York Giants decided to stay in the game and beat the Buffalo Bills 24-10.

Later, he and Cathy went for their daily walk, a time-honored routine.

The ending was heartbreaking but Kevin Barlow is thankful the day included much of what his dad loved – the Giants, cars and family.

“He left on a very positive note,” Kevin Barlow said.

The unexpected death of Michael William Barlow sent shockwaves throughout town. He was 69, seemed to be in great shape, was still working and active.

For many it’s still hard to go into LaSalle Market, McDonald’s or out to the mailbox and not his fleck of white hair, twinkling eyes and mischievous grin.

Mickey wasn’t afraid to speak out on town politics and he was known to play a few pranks in his day but overwhelmingly family, friends and residents remember his generosity – the friendly conversation or a wave on the mail route, the time spent fixing someone’s car, the thought behind a food delivery and the care when visiting the sick or elderly.

“He was just really good with people,” said his wife Cathy. “He’d do anything for anyone.”

Mickey would have turned 70 on Sunday, March 6 and the family is inviting friends to share coffee and pastries and memories that morning at LaSalle Market in Collinsville.

“Hopefully people will sit around and tell some good stories or share memories,” Kevin Barlow said.

A life-long resident and 1964 Canton High School graduate, Barlow, over the years, was an auto enthusiast, youth soccer coach, a Canton Highway Department employee, chief and member of (what was then) the Collinsville Fire Department, a member of Canton Memorial Ambulance, Lobster fest volunteer and much more.

In more recent years, he loved to spend time with granddaughter Lily, the daughter of Mickey’s son Brian and his wife Sarah. They live out-of-town but would visit often.

“That was nice to see him so happy,” said Jessie Deloy, a family friend and LaSalle Market employee.

“He absolutely loved being a grandfather,” Kevin Barlow said.

Many, of course, met and knew Mickey through his mail routes for the U.S. Postal Service, where he worked for 42 years.

Barlow 00088“He liked the post office job because he was out on the road and could see people,” Cathy Barlow said. “He liked all of the people and most of the dogs.”

But Mickey was known to go much further than just a smile and a wave or a dog biscuit for his favorite canines.

Friend Lynn Brucker said he can recall so many examples of Barlow’s willingness to help others. One woman in town was on her own and had trouble with a snow blower, so Mickey fixed it.

“He was consistent in being kind, generous and helpful to people,” Brucker said.

It was a trait Brucker saw when he was approximately 10 years old and met Mickey as the two played sandlot football on Dowd Avenue.

“I recognized how kind and thoughtful he was,” Brucker said. “He cared about people and it was easy to see.

Fellow postal worker Gene Beaudoin remembers just how much Mickey was willing to help.

“We hit it off right away,” Beaudoin said. He was that type of guy that was friendly. He was very, very helpful to everybody.”

In those days, postal workers used their own vehicles. Beaudoin remembers a time when he was having car trouble. He found other work arrangements and received a surprise when he got home. Mickey was already there – ready to fix the offending vehicle.

“When I got home from work that night, he was waiting for me,” Beaudoin said.

Kevin Barlow said his dad often visited people who had been hospitalized or were going through short- or long-term rehabilitation.

“He’d take time out of his day to make sure they had something to smile about,” Kevin Barlow said.

Last August, Mickey twice visited Brucker’s mother after she had suffered some medical setbacks. Each time he stayed for an hour.

“He was sincere about spending time with her,” Brucker said.

Mickey was also a blood donor and Jessie Deloy at LaSalle Market and Deli remembers how he encourage others to do so.

“He’d come in and try to rally everyone working here,” she said.

Even in death, Mickey helped others as a donor. In December, the family received word that two people in South Dakota had received a sight restoration transplant.

Mickey had plenty of hobbies as well. He loved to attend his kids sporting events and activities and even coached. In younger years, he played sports himself, on the old “sandlots” and in pickup games. In later years, he played pickup and adult league basketball and volleyball games.

Mickey also loved woodworking. He and wife Cathy were known for their Christmas ornaments.

Through the years, cars were a big source of pleasure – and occasionally a little trouble – for Mickey.

Over the years, Mickey and a group of friends built and worked on modified stock cars in various locations, including Bahre’s garage, which was owned by Cathy’s uncle, Howard.

Mickey and friends worked on at least two cars in that garage, first on their own and later for a race car sponsored by Henry Bahre, friends said.

For many years, Mickey was involved with a group that participated in Northeast Modified Dirt track racing in Lebanon Valley, Orange County and Devil’s Bowl.

In addition to the garage on Route 44, that love of cars brought Mickey and his friends to many locations throughout town.

Friend and life-long Canton resident Julius Fialkiewicz remembers how they would work in a neighborhood garage near lower East Hill Road. The revving engines bothered people at first but it became routine, Fialkiewicz said.

“It happened so often, the neighbors didn’t hear it after awhile,” Fialkiewicz said.

Duane Demski, who friended Mickey while the two were in high school, remembers a time a group went to Massachusetts to pick up a “quick change rear-end” for a race car. They had already purchased a vehicle from the seller, who told Mickey the part was free of charge if he could carry it across the street to his truck. The piece was several hundred pounds but Mickey picked it up and made it about two-thirds of the way.

Barlow 00006“Tough boy – good friend,” Demski said.

Demski also recalled the time when Mickey was driving a four-wheel pickup into his garage on Old Canton Road. The frame broke behind the cab but fortunately cables prevented it from rolling all the way down his steep driveway. Demski came over with a floor jack and the two got all the pieces into the garage.

“I was sitting there looking at the sky,” Mickey told his friend.

“When I needed help, he came to give me a hand,” Demski said. “When he needed help, I gave him a hand. It didn’t matter what time of night it was, or day for that matter.”

That helping spirit was common then, Demski said.

“It always didn’t make any difference who you were, you helped everybody,” Demski said.

There was certainly the more mischievous side among Mickey and his friends.

Speaking from his home recently, Demski shed some light on the smoke outs that were a common occurrence at the Polar Whip several decades ago. One end of a hose, equipped with a shut-off valve, was dipped in a 5-gallon can filled with drain oil and kerosene; the other was connected to the vacuum line on the carburetor.

“You’d open that valve up, rev it up and when it let off, it sucked that oil and stuff through right into the engine and blew smoke,” he said. “You wouldn’t be able to see the pillars on this front porch in broad daylight.”

“It was all clean fun,” Demski said, adding that it also a different time. In those days, Route 44 was generally devoid of traffic at 8 p.m., Demski said.

Fialkiewicz recalls the time, he and another friend were riding with Barlow, tossing M-80s out the window. Well one didn’t make it out, instead landing back in the box.

“Our ears rang for three days afterwards,” Fialkiewicz said. “We had an awful lot of fun but never, ever hurt anybody.”

The car stories were perhaps tamer in later years but it remained a passion.

For one, he and Kevin restored a 1967 Camaro. Mickey had owned one when he was younger and had always wanted another.

Additionally, Mickey was often found working in garage and yard, “tinkering” with wood or cars.

“That was the kind of stuff that was in his head,” Kevin Barlow said.

Mickey’s larger than life personality wasn’t limited to the car passion. While Mickey wasn’t a big drinker, Beaudoin recalled a time during a postal union meeting when someone had won a quart of Vodka. In true Mickey fashion, he raised it at the end of the meeting, proclaiming, “No-one’s leaving until this is gone,”

“He was a prankster,” Beaudoin said.

Mickey was known to be vocal on town issues but Kevin Barlow said he always had the town’s best interests at heart.

“He wanted what was best for town,” he said. “It wasn’t a personal agenda.”

Since Mickey’s death, townspeople and friends have offered an overwhelming amount of support, cards, calls and stories, family members said.

“I think it shows what a supportive town Canton is,” Cathy Barlow said.

“There’s so much support everywhere,” said Kevin Barlow.

Sunday morning’s event is in a fitting locale.

LaSalle Market and Deli, located on Main Street in Collinsville, was one of his favorite hangouts.

“They were like another family to him,” Cathy Barlow said.

“He liked the fact that he could go someplace and know everybody.”

During the week, he’d always be one of first people there, sharing morning coffee with a group of friends, Deloy said.

He’d generally return in the afternoon. For Mickey it was a social time but also one during which he wasn’t afraid to talk some politics or speak his mind about local events.

“He knew everything that was going on in town,” Deloy said. “He definitely gave his opinion on things.”

Sometimes he’d even overhear a customer with a gripe and Deloy had to keep a straight face as Mickey would sit and make faces.

“He would sit here and roll his eyes,” she said.

But like many in town, Deloy said she will remember his generosity more than anything.

“Everyone loved him,” Deloy said.

On Sunday, friends will share a few more stories from approximately 7 to 10 a.m. at LaSalle Market on Main Street in Collinsville. There should be no shortage of tales.

“In a typical small town, he was one of the characters,” Fialkiewicz said.

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