My Best Friends

By Gordon HammondMay 2022

          I recently wrote about my Uncle Joe. He was my best friend when I was 10 years old. My next best friend was my roommate at Philips Andover Academy, Billy Ming-Sing Lee. He had recently arrived from China. He needed help with the English language and some other local puzzles. The school closed for the holidays. My family in Hampton, NH invited Billy for Christmas. He enjoyed the visit and playing with my sisters. I showed him how to play hockey and he showed me some soccer tricks. He now lives in California as a retired architect. We use e-mail to keep in touch frequently. I just now sent this article to him for his website: <>.

          My next best friend was Leon Henley, a cotton farmer from North Texas, also known as  ‘Tex.’  He was in my squad in the 180th Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division. We were together from training in Louisiana to Korea. If we didn’t like an order, one of us volunteered to cover the job. Tex had a family and he was drafted into the Army. He hated military life, but I was a volunteer so I couldn’t gripe. Many years after Korean War, marriage, and work at the Laboratory, Polly and I and the kids took a long auto vacation trip around  the U.S.  On the return to home, we passed Tex’s ranch in Childress, Texas. My son Bruce wanted to drive the tractor. Tex said OK.  Bruce drove through Mrs. Henley’s flower garden. We took everybody out for pizza that night.

          Golf had been my exercise until my lumbar discs disintegrated. Now I work out at the YMCA. When Dede and I moved to Florida, I joined a senior golf association that played weekly tournaments around Central Florida. I was frequently paired with Henry Heufner, a snowbird from Cleveland, Ohio. We became good friends and Dede did with Marion, his wife. Henry was a wealthy, retired business man, with an airplane, a yacht, and a condo in Pinellas County. In the Summer time, we liked to meet and play golf in North Carolina. Our favorite area was Pinehurst and Southern Pines. A favorite golf course was the Pit. This was the course that had an island green and I fell in the lake, raking the sand trap walking backwards. Henry laughed so hard all he could do was fish my hat out of the lake with his putter. When we got to the 18th green, I bent over to get my ball out of the hole and my soaked shorts fell down and I mooned the people who watched from the club house. Alzheimer got Henry at an early age.

          At an Episcopal golf outing, we met in the club house for dinner. The men around a table introduced themselves. I said I was an astronomer. Another man said he writes for the Tampa Bay Times. He asked me if I would do an interview with him. Later he called and I said OK. The Times sent a photographer, and I chatted with Dr. Prof. Edward Cifelli. The interview centered on our golf games and we played Scotland Yards several times. Now we go to breakfast every 2nd Friday, we celebrate each birthday, and our wives are good friends. He is my best friend. And I must include Dede as my best friend, also. She takes notes of my phone calls and she takes care of all our meals at home, and she lets me pay the bills. I love her.


Gordon. indeed, is one of my best friends as well. He was the one who helped me without my asking. He helped me adapt myself to the new environment when I came to the U.S, to study at Phillips Academy Andover. He was like a BIG BROTHER to me – very caring with a unique sense of Humor. Thanks, Gordon, for your friendship and for supporting my Friendshipology Initiative !