12.11.2019

Happy birthday, Larry!

We are thinking of our friend Larry today, on what would have been his birthday!

Larry wouldn't want any of us to be sad on this day, that's for sure - so, in true Larry fashion, we ask that you take a minute and strike up a conversation with a stranger, buy someone a coffee or a cookie... and make sure you are saving your money for future investments! ;)

If you missed the piece we wrote about Big Lar for the Plaza Review back in June, you can read it below.

Happy Birthday, Larry - we all miss you!

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Remembering our friend Larry


By Brande Jackson



Larry Watts was not one to make an unannounced entrance. In fact, much to the opposite, he typically walked through the doors with a loud “Larry is in the house!” before taking seat at his usual spot.
 

The world is a little quieter these days, as it lost one of its funniest and biggest personalities last month. We are sad to share that our friend Larry passed away after an extended illness in May. Larry and his wife Debbie have been an integral part of Country Roads for many years, and we’ll never forget his laughter, stories, and kindness.


A veteran of both the Vietnam War (he was drafted shortly after graduating from Fremont High School in Los Angeles in 1967) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, he and Debbie also went on to open a flower shop in Costa Mesa that they ran for several years before downsizing and joining us at Country Roads.



If you’ve stopped into our store during the last several years, you probably met ‘Big Lar’. He was the ‘unofficial greeter’ at Country Roads. You’d typically NOT find him helping out Debbie in her spaces, as there simply weren’t enough people to talk to back there, plus, doing “work work” meant less time to chat! Instead, you’d find him perched on the bench in the front of our counter, greeting everyone who came in - and we mean EVERYONE - with his trademark ‘hey, what’s going on?’ If you replied with something interesting? Well, you’d elicit his trademark “daaaammmmn!” in response!
 

You could also find him holding court in our garden, striking up conversations with everyone. I can’t tell you how many times I’d be working and notice Larry deep in talks with someone who had sat down and joined him. A half hour would pass, or maybe an hour. Later I’d ask him if an old friend had come by. ‘Nah, we just met!’ would always be the reply. We often use the expression ‘never met a stranger’ to describe someone – in the case of Larry, it was totally true.  Yesi remembers that “he connected and engaged in sometimes long conversations with customers. He loved to hear stories, and people enjoyed his as well.” He’d find something to connect with – stocks? news? weather? – and then it was game on!



If he wasn’t talking to people while at the shop, he was calling us - looking typically for Katie, Yesi or Carol, to just ‘check his sales’, but mostly just to shoot the shit. We’d be crazy busy, the phone would ring, and Larry’s name would pop up – uh oh, do we have time? There was no such thing as a short conversation with Larry! Carol says she will always remember “his laugh, and his big heart. He was always telling stories and making us laugh. You really didn’t even have to know Larry and he would still talk to you. He was a kind, beautiful person with a big heart.”



It’s those little things we’ll miss the most - his presence on that bench, entertaining us on even the busiest of days with his stories, his phone calls, and of course his constant unsolicited but useful investment advice! Katie says the trademark phrase she’ll always remember is “scared money ain’t going make you no money”, something his father taught him. I loved talking to him about his experiences growing up in south Los Angeles during the 1950s and 1960s. Larry could call things out as they were, but he always seemed to maintain his sense of humor and perspective about it all.



As his family described him at his memorial service, he was a champion of anyone who was working to better themselves - his experiences, it’s safe to say, had taught him that things aren’t always going to be easy, but put in the effort, and rewards will follow.

Likewise, if your kid is hustling and doing a fundraiser for school, Larry would be the first one in with a donation, no questions asked.  Yesi remembers that “he was always so good to me and the girls, he left us with many wonderful memories and stories, and was always there to encourage us to keep pushing, and work hard.” 
 

Larry would ‘share the love’ in other ways, too. He was very fond of the cookies at Blue Frog Bakery, sending Carol down with money to pick up a big bag to share with everyone. You simply couldn’t leave for the day unless you took one of his cookies!



We’ve decided the best way to celebrate Larry is to encourage people to live like he did: friendly, funny, and talkative. So, next time you are in our shop, take a seat at ‘Larry’s table’ in our garden, strike up a conversation, make a new friend, get someone to laugh and think. Maybe pick up some cookies from Blue Frog to share, too. Leave everyone you meet with his favorite farewell of  ‘peace’. Larry would have wanted you to!