Mexican Original: The Bill Parker I never knew | Street Jazz

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mexican Original: The Bill Parker I never knew

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2016 at 11:27 AM

I suspect that for the most part, Bill Parker considered me to be a pain in the ass. Such was the nature of our relationship at Mexican Original. Yet for all that, plant manager Bill Parker was still willing to share a beer with employees in the parking lot at night when work was done.

This was, of course, in the days before Tyson Foods took over MO in the mid-1980s. And that’s pretty much all I have to say on that particular subject.

Mexican Original was one of those jobs which you figured you’d stay with for a few weeks or months at most, till you found something better. My time at MO lasted just short of 13 years.

Yeah, go figure.

Most of the time Bill Parker and I had a fairly good relationship - he being plant manager, and me being a whole bunch of different things over the years, but there were times when we’d get snippy with each other. Still in all, he was pretty likable.

I left MO (notice I didn’t say Tyson Foods?) in the summer of 1993, and didn’t see him again until a few months ago one night when Tracy and I were leaving Harp’s, and there was an older gentleman who came up to me with a warm smile to shake my hand.

Bill Parker!

How folks change over the years. In December, not that long after our chance encounter, Bill Parker died at the age of 81 at the Willard Walker Hospice Home in Fayetteville.

As I read over his December obituary, I realized that there was a whole world to Bill Parker that I never knew, or suspected.

He was married to the love of his life, Corky (the former Patsy Feibleman) for 59 years, and she preceded him in death.

His first job out of high school was as a dishwasher at George’s Majestic Lounge, but he also served his country in both the Air Force and the National Guard.

From the humble beginnings of a dishwasher he rose to become plant manager of not just one, but two Mexican Original Plants, where both flour tortillas and corn chips were made. I suppose perhaps it was his working class background which made him more tolerant towards me, when I could become especially annoying.

And he loved to dance, even when diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the late 1990s.

He still danced.

What kind of man was Bill Parker? Even after our often acrimonious relationship, when we met that night in the grocery store parking lot, his greeting was as warm and effusive as if we were lifelong friends.

And as I write this, I feel like a real jerk for every unkind thing I ever thought or said about him in the Olden Days.

So this one is for you, Billy Eugene Parker. Just writing this piece changes my memories of Mexican Original just a little.


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