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How do you say goodbye to someone who has unfailingly entertained you for almost 20 years? If someone else knows let me in on the secret because I'm having a really hard time with it. But goodbye is so final a word, and Jim has a lot of fight in him. From the second I read the news on one of the various internet sites last week, I was very very saddened. I was first "introduced" to Hacksaw Jim Duggan when I was a child. No more than 10 years old I guess. The loud boisterious, rowdy, tough guy that you see now weilding a 2x4 and kicking butt and taking names was one of my childhood hero's. In the ring he took no prisoners. His feuds were legendary, his titles were numerous. I remember fondly his feud with "Hacksaw" Butch Reed, to determine the TRUE Hacksaw. His on again off again friendship with Ted DiBiase. But probably the feud that I remember best, was his LENGTHY Feud with General Skandar Akbar and the Ugandian Warrior Kamala.

I'll never forget the first time I met Jim Duggan at a "Mid South Wrestling Fan Appreciation Night". The loud tough guy you saw in the ring was the kindest gentlest most generous man I had ever seen in my life. He quiet and reserved. Friendly and wonderfully sweet. He spent hours with the fans before the show signing autographs, taking pictures. Kids loved him,, still do for that matter. He always had a kind word to the children, including me because I was all of 13.

And that kind man didn't appear just in the arena setting. Its a small town here, and faces that frequented the dressing room area of the coliseum on a regular basis were usually recognized in non wrestling settings. Including local resturants and shopping centers. Always a smile and a wave.

I remember very well one public appearance during the summer of 1984. My friend and I begged her mother to take us to see Jim at a Tire store he was signing autographs at before the matches that night. I was on crutches (where I spent most of my summers because I was somewhat of a clutz) Jim's eye was "burnt" during a match with Kamala and Akbar the week before on TV. And I dont know but if anyone else remembers that match it was totally horrifying. The crowds were huge and my friend and I were having trouble getting to the front of the lines because everyone was pushing and shoving. I had lost one crutch and was struggling to stay balanced, when out of the corner of his "injured eye" he must have spotted me, because the next thing I know, I hear his big loud voice going calm down guys, let her through. I got to the front of the line, got a hug and a kiss, he ruffled my hair and I got his autograph and a few pictures and we were on our way. It is memories like that that endear a entertainer to our hearts forever.

I was one of the many fans who welcomed Jim home on July 30, in what was probably his last ring appearance here. And I'm so glad I did. I would have hated to know that I missed seeing him in his glory one last time. I dont know what Jim is going to choose to do once he heals up from his surgery. I for one hope it means coming back in some capacity to the sport he loves. I know he'll probably never be able to get in the ring again. One thing is for certain. The mark he made on professional wrestling will never be erased. And at least in this house, oh heck, this whole darn state, he'll always be ours!

So, "Tough GUY" take care of yourself. Our thoughts and prayers go with you through this time. And I for one will darn sure be leading the USA chant if that will help you recover!

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