Throwing Shade

Kiln residents honor William, one of their favorite veterans

Justin Mitchell

jmitchell@sunherald.com

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COURTESY BROOKLYN COMPTON
William, a regular customer at Dolly's Quick Stop, is presented with a shirt honoring his service on Veteran's Day 2016.
COURTESY BROOKLYN COMPTON William, a regular customer at Dolly's Quick Stop, is presented with a shirt honoring his service on Veteran's Day 2016.

If you have ever lived in Kiln, chances are you know William, a former military man who lives in a veteran's home just south of the city's quaint "business district" that includes a hair salon, a hardware store, a couple of restaurants, a pharmacy, two gas stations and a Subway sandwich chain.

I was 15-years-old the first time William brought a drink up to the register at Dolly's Quick Stop, and he spoke to me like he had known me since I was an infant. He handed me some coins for his $2 beverage and sat down to enjoy it before walking down the road again.

There wasn't enough money on the table to cover the drink and the small cigar, but I quickly learned in my 10 years at Dolly's that William had an "account" that was paid for by the owners or the employees. If he was short on cash, it was always on the house, for he was one of our favorite customers.

William was a bright spot in the day of several employees at local businesses. He would often pop in at storefronts, say a few sentences, giggle, and let himself out. No matter the time of year, he often wore a leather jacket, jeans, combat boots and held on to his dog tags and military ID.

I brought William home at night a handful of times when the weather was bad, and he would always sing me a song, tell me a story about a celebrity or about give me intimate details about times on the battlefield.

William is a special man who tugs at the heartstrings at many in the Kiln, and it was emotional seeing what a current employee did for him for Memorial Day.

On Monday, Bobbie Westbrook -- with help from friend Charlene Moran -- presented William with a special shirt, thanking him for his former service, Dolly's employee Brooklyn Compton said.

She also had another shirt printed for another veteran customer who goes by the nickname Sarge.

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