When he thought he was having a heart attack he drove himself to the hospital.
"Red, why didn't you call. I would have been glad to take you there."
"No need. I know how to get there, and it was faster than calling anyone."
If there was an appliance or gimmick that you needed to acquire, it was wise to ask Red if he knew where you could get it before shelling out the money for a new one. If it wasn't in his remarkably stuffed garage, he probably knew someone who knew someone else, etc. We once visited a naval cadet. She must have visited the church in order for me to have contact with her, I don't remember just now. But she was this cute young girl who had a baby and was divorced and short of cash. In conversation she revealed her need of a washer and dryer in her new quarters at the local base. It was Red who located the machines which we delivered to her home. She was delighted, and I thought we were making points to be cashed in by getting her to church again (and perhaps getting her to come to Christ, Who was the real source of this blessing). But we never saw her again. When I called again two weeks later, I found she had taken off with a suitor.
When I knew Red, he was no longer red haired, but rather grey, including his scruffy facial hair. He could have passed for one of the homeless people he was forever helping. I'm not quite sure with which agency he was once employed, but I know he talked about when he used to carry a 45 to enforce the law. We became fast friends, and often found a lunch counter or diner to hang out together. Most places seemed to know Red, and were glad to see him. I think he had more friends in town than I ever did.
Red made a deal with the manager at a local supermarket and loaded day old bread and other goods in the back of his pickup which he distributed to homeless folks. He seemed to know where to find them all. At certain addresses of people who were scraping to get by, and in back alleys he knew how to give away all these leftover donuts, cakes, breads and other stuff. Red never considered himself an evangelist, but he made sure the recipients of his generosity were aware that these provisions came as the compliments of the "good Lord Jesus." He paid a little to obtain the supply, but he very seldom asked the church to reimburse him. Red always had his resources. He was a deacon long before the church finally ordained him a deacon.
I used to ride along with sheriff deputies. That's an interesting story all its own. But I remember one night we needed Red. We had a call that said there was a homeless man sleeping by a certain dentist office, scaring away the patients. Soccer moms who finally dragged their little ones to the dentist would park the car and had to walk by this scruffy, snoring dirt bag to get to the office. He had been chased out of there before, but just brought his shopping carts and vermin-infested mattress back in a few hours.
Neither the deputy nor I could form a plan that might disenchant this vagrant of his favorite sleeping accommodation. I recommended my street-wise deacon friend to this deputy, and we called Red out to help us. He took the lead like a drill sergeant, barking orders to this mumbling urchin. He told him to throw half his stuff in the trash bin at the grocery, and keep all his stuff in only one shopping cart. After hassling him, he was intimidated enough to stay away from the dentist's office.
Melford "Red" Gage was never confused as a Rhodes Scholar, but he was really a loving man who was interesting to engage in conversation and had street smarts, learned from his manifold experiences.