Don & Sandy Pyle, The Dry Christmas Tree and Random Memories.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
1. Don Pyle, 1987, was my Best Man!
2. Not convinced Dom & Sandy perished in the fire.


From CNN. Click to access. Google for 500 more!

I still find this hard to believe. That Don and Sandy supposedly perishing in a fire.

That Sandy kept a 15′ Christmas tree in the house three weeks past Christmas (to amuse the grandkids) does not surprise me. That is the kind of stuff that Sandy did. I can believe that in their hurly burly lifestyle she forgot to water it. But, I have to believe she had hired help and one of them should have remembered.

While the experts have come up with this verdict, I am a bit skeptical. I can’t see Sandy using anything other than the state-of-the-art LED lighting. Even if she didn’t ‘new’ lights have fuses in the plugs and new houses have hair-trigger circuit breakers. The other night a 150W light burnt out in our bedroom and that act of ‘blowing’ was enough to trip the circuit breaker. Their mansion was built two years prior to this house. So, I am not totally convinced though I do know how dry Christmas trees go up, WHOOSH, when they catch fire. Around March, when we still have plenty of snow on the ground, I burn the two 6′ trees we get each Christmas. That they go up, WHOOSH, at once cannot be doubted.

I have other questions too. A mansion that big would have had at least two staircases. Plus there had to have, by law, been multiple ways to egress the upper floor. I bought a waterfront house, on Lake Winnipesaukee (N.H.) in early 2001. Since it was ‘old’ I promptly proceeded to have it remodelled and updated. The biggest ‘grief’ that I got from the local building inspector was that he wanted me to put in bigger windows. It was the law. All the windows had to be big enough for egress, to the overhanging roof below! The mansion MUST have had decks. To me it does NOT compute. I remain skeptical and unconvinced.

Got me thinking. As a Brit, I grew up with this tradition that your Christmas tree had to be out of the house by the 12th day of Christmas — or it would be very bad luck. The 12th Day of Christmas, contrary to what many think, is not counted from before Christmas. It is counted as of Christmas. The 12th Day of Christmas is January 6 — Epiphany. I always make sure that we get the trees out by the 6th. This year we had the 2nd tree out about 6pm on the 5th. But after the news of the fire, it made me realize. This age old tradition was most likely to prevent fires from dry trees! I so wish Sandy had kept to that tradition.

But this should be a lesson for all of us.

In memory of Don & Sandy let us all resolve that henceforth we will get our Christmas trees out by the 12th Day of Christmas.


Got me thinking. We used to, by mail, exchange Christmas presents. I think it was Christmas 1987. Sandy sent a wicker basket full of wax infused pine cones. You put the pine cones into the fire and they made all sorts of lovely colors. [Today you can but plastic tubes of chemicals that do this, and Teischan loves them.] It was cute and a load of fun. Now I will never be able to look at a fire without thinking of Sandy.

Wednesday was January 28. The 29th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. I am always reminded of Sandy whenever the Challenger gets mentioned. We, CASE Communications, had a trade show in D.C. that week of the Challenger Launch. Sandy used to be the marketing person in charge of trade shows. I had been at the booth all day Monday. I was scheduled for the afternoon shift on Tuesday. I drove down to D.C., in the snow, from Woodbine, Md., where I was living. Just before I got close to where I was going to park I heard the news of the disaster. I bounded into the hall. It wasn’t very busy. The snow had kept most people away and it was close to lunch. I get to the booth. The only person at the booth was Sandy. So I tell her the news, breathlessly. She didn’t believe me. Called me sick pup, and walked away. Came back a few minutes later, in shock. She had seen a TV monitor. I always remember that. Her not believing me and calling me a ‘sick pup’.

Thinking back ‘sick pup’ was the term she used most when talking to me! I am sure that nobody, but nobody else, has called me a ‘sick puppy’ as often as Sandy did. But, I can’t complain. She called Don (‘Gomer’) ‘sick pup’ nearly as often. As I said in an earlier post, we were not in the office much. We both travelled extensively. But if we were in the office and we were together, and Sandy saw us as she walked by, she would, without fail go: “what are YOU two sick puppies up to now?” They were good times. We did have a lot of fun.

And I have to share this one memory because it is so special. There is only one time, as far as we know, that Sandy went dumpster diving. And she did it for me! About 4 hours prior to the wedding, where Don was my Best Man, we discovered that we could not find the marriage license. There were phone calls flying around and much finger pointing. It was supposed to have been in a bag with a knife to cut the cake. After 40 minutes of everybody tearing all the rooms apart and shouting at each other, Sandy decided that the bag must have got thrown out the night before. She was still dressed in jeans and she was determined she was going to find it. We had had one heck of a snowstorm the day before and there was lots of snow outside.

It appears that Sandy went to the kitchen got one of the waiters and went outside to where they kept the dumpster for the hotel waste. She then, per what soon became the talk of the ‘Inn’, proceeded to climb in. Climbed on to the rim and then lowered her self in! The snow helped. She found the bags that had been tossed the night before and one of them had the license. She marched back, a bit grungy, while the rest of us, including Don, were still ripping things apart holding it aloft, triumphantly, and saying: “I am not sure what you clowns are going to be doing, but I am going to take a shower”! That was Sandy.

Don misplaced the rings but that was minor. 

So, I have a lot to remember them by. It is a shame we lost touch. Partly my fault. I have a propensity to do that. I get busy and unless people stay in touch with me via e-mail I kind of drift away. Since Don & Sandy I have been trying to put that right. I contacted two mutual friends who I had not kept in touch with. So that at least was good. [That one of them, Patrice, left a comment on this post today is good.]

I have a great memory of Don but I can’t really spell it all out. It was a fancy old hotel in Pittsburgh. Don was dressed in a new black suit and had the jacket in his hand. It was about 11 o’clock at night and he was, head down, sprinting down the corridor ….

We had so much fun together. Overriding memory is of huge smiles, lots of laughs, flippant remarks, many a drink, driving to Philly in his Beamer and getting called a ‘sick puppy’.

2 thoughts on “Don & Sandy Pyle, The Dry Christmas Tree and Random Memories.

    1. aguruge Post author

      Thanks Patrice. Still seems unreal and a part of me still says they were not there! IF you want add your memories PLEASE do so. You could e-mail them and I could append them to my post, do a new one or post it here as a comment. All the best. I guess they will have funerals — and you probably will go. Let me know via e-mail. All the best. Anura


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