COARSEGOLD – We still miss him in Coarsegold, that guy who used to stand by the road and wave to the morning parade of commuters traveling south on Highway 41 toward the city.
On most weekdays during the early “rush hour,” William (Bill) Briggs endured the occasional middle-finger salute in exchange for the more common honks and hellos he received for his trouble.
Briggs and his wife Mary moved away last year, but he popped up recently to let foothill fans and friends know he hasn’t forgotten us, and he hopes we won’t forget him either.
“I miss it up there,” Briggs says, “and the nice people I had the privilege to meet.”
Briggs sent in a photo, explaining that he’s shown standing on a corner in the picture, just outside the mobile home park where he and Mary live now. Once the transplanted small town dweller decided to do his Waving Man thing again, he thought the reaction in San Jose would be tepid, based on early encounters.
“At first I was a little disappointed that people here are so involved with their fast pace, most of them won’t even respond when you say hi or hello, and I figured it would be the same with cars passing by.”
The retired military man and former Citizen on Patrol (COPs) member persevered despite seemingly unfriendly obstacles.
“I decided what the heck, might as well try, so I started waving about a month ago and now have a transit bus driver waving and several school bus drivers waving as well, plus a few people out jogging and riding their bikes are starting to say hi. Still makes me feel good, so I do it, for selfish reasons,” he laughs.
For the Briggs, some of San Jose’s main benefits are access to the small, bouncy people who make life so much fun.
“We are so glad to be closer to the grandkids, and be able to see them at various school and sporting events, instead of getting an e-mail about it. That, plus having them over from time to time, is super,” says Briggs with enthusiasm.
When the Briggs first moved to Coarsegold, one of the ways they made friends was to be involved in civic organizations, church groups and volunteer activities. It’s the same in San Jose.
“I have always loved to work with kids, and have done children’s sermons at church, and now have volunteered to help out at a local church school. I do whatever the teacher needs or wants me to do. Even at my age, I still love to sit on the floor with my legs crossed and have the kids gather around while I read to them.”
Briggs is hosting a Veterans Coffee Hour at the mobile community clubhouse, and has more plans for the future.
“I hope to get to know the veterans here in the mobile community. Maybe I can get enough veterans involved to start an extension of Caring Veterans of America in the foothills, where we help each other get the benefits each is entitled to, or if someone needs something we can have a group get together and help that vet who needs an extra hand.”
As for Briggs’ faithful companion Buddy, the dog is doing great, as well.
“Buddy seems to have gotten settled in here and is enjoying the attention of people walking by our home and who stop by and talk to him on our rear deck. I think more people know of him than Mary and me.”
Thanks for checking back in with Coarsegold, Waving Man. From here to San Jose, we’re waving back.