I was a good friend of Vince and worked out at Vince’s Gym the last few years that it was around.
Vince never took to liking too many people; but I was a skinny smart-ass who would stick up against Vince’s gruff and after awhile he took me under his wing. He taught me so many things in the next few years about lifting, nutrition and life.
I always said I was the last student of his; when he closed his gym I remained very close to him and his wife. It was somewhat sad how the whole closing and his life ended; at the end I was helping him and his wife so much because there were so many problems, mostly financial.
When he closed his gym he gave me his front sign from the gym and several lat-pulldowns, and other signs — like the mens locker room sign and the gym hours signs. He also had a penchant for war memorabilia, etc. and gave me some old civil war cannon balls. He always promised me old pics of his, but we never ever got to cleaning out his old garage once everything got hauled out of the gym.
I miss him; he (or his son) would work me out hard; then we would sit out in the back of the gym and hear his life stories. For those couple of years, he really was the father I never had — I know that sounds trite — but, we had a bond that wasn’t common for Vince. I miss him greatly.
There are so many stories over those couple of years. Most newcomers (including me, initially) were not well received.
Once, there was a photographer and writer from a large muscle mag. They were from Canada and had travelled to talk to Vince. They came in and out of the gym for two days until they finally found him behind his desk.
I can still remember when they introduced themselves to him and how he stood up and yelled out some gruff and threw them out of the gym after they asked for a photograph. Five minutes later, the photographer came back – practically in tears – yelling at Vince that he had travelled so many miles and how he admired Vince. It made no difference and Vince just walked out to the back.
I met up with him a few minutes after and found him smoking his pipe under our old oak. “Damn reporters — once they start asking you how you’re doing you can consider yourself dead.”
That was enough to keep me quiet on the subject.
Vince either hated you or loved you — there was nowhere in between — but if you were “in”, he was an incredibly loyal and intimate friend. A real gentleman with integrity (when his mood suited him) that just are very rare these days.