I didn't know Ron Higgins. There are some Savannahians who believe this to be impossible. After all, Ron was "Hollywood." Until recently, though, I knew him only as "that guy we met at (mutual friend) Michael Gaster's party several months ago." There is, I believe, a difference between meeting someone a couple of times and knowing them. I had indeed spoken to Ron on a couple of occasions, most recently an impromptu conversation that turned unexpectedly in-depth a few weeks ago. I decided then that getting to know this guy better, which I was certain would happen, would be a joy. Now, of course, I am learning much about Ron. I am learning it after he is gone. After all, who knew?
Most everyone has read the obituaries and tributes and now knows the basic info - how Ron left home to attend UCLA film school, went on the road with boyhood hero Michael Jackson, then came back to Savannah and created some fantastic tours of his home town. He started his Savannah Movie Tour because, as Ron told Connect Savannah's Bill DeYoung, he was a passenger on a trolley tour that only mentioned three movie locations out of about 70 he knew the tour had passed. After our most recent talk, I realized I had forgotten to ask Ron about a 1920 Rudolph Valentino silent movie I had watched on TCM called "Stolen Moments", part of which was filmed in Savannah (which, of course, looked very similar as parts of Savannah look today). In hindsight, I suppose I wish I could have stumped him on a Savannah movie location. Yes, I realize this would have been an exercise in futility.
You and I know there is much more to Ron than the Hollywood tour and the Ghost Tour and his latest creation, the Martini Tour. That is evident by the outpouring from mutual acquaintances and on Ron's Facebook page, where his friends numbered in the thousands. I'd like to add my goodbye, but how do you do that for someone who you wanted to get to know, who you meant to get to know, but didn't?
That last conversation with Ron was at the Chamber of Commerce's Taste of Downtown. For an ironic 15 minutes, we stood in front of the tables from Vic's On The River and Marco's Pizza talking about dietary changes we had made, Ron because he had lost someone close to a sudden heart attack and me because of my father's quadruple bypass and heart valve replacement. Having been in Savannah for only three years and only having met Ron for the first time less than a year ago, I had no idea that Ron had lost so much weight. He looked marvelous, especially considering he wasn't much older than me. When we said our goodbyes, we told each other we were sure we'd meet up again at the next Gaster party. Who knew?
Doggone it, Ron, why'd you have to go?