If you were Al's friend like I got to be, you were better for it. People like Al are very rare. Al never once asked me for anything and always jumped up to lend me a helping hand. He was as genuine a human being that I have ever met.

When I moved back to New Milford a few years back, I moved into the apartment above Al. The first day, we got to talking, and I would spend every day thereafter speaking to him for as long as we lived there. Some days, it was three minutes and some days it was three hours. He would eat dinner with us, have drinks on the deck with my wife and I.

Al and I spent most of our time talking about politics and New Milford. He had such a passion for his hometown and I was happy to listen. He was a great story teller -- you always knew where he stood and he never pulled his punches.

The funniest thing I ever saw Al do was on a hot summer day. For those of you knew Al, you know he knew everyone in town. This one particular guy was sort of a pain in the ass. He only wandered onto our stoop when he needed something from Al. Al, to his credit, would always do what he could, but he had his limits.

Al and I had talked about the guy before, so when I saw him do what he did next, I was not surprised. Al was gardening in the front lawn, and this guy was perched on our stoop, begging Al for a beer. Al had the hose in his hand and said, "If you are so thirsty, have a drink!" and he sprayed this guy right in the face. We laughed and laughed. Then, Al being the caring person he was, got him a towel to dry off and the beer he requested.

Al became like a family member to us. He quickly became protective over my children and my wife, Erica. He took a real interest in our family, and we were more than happy to have him around. He obviously had a lot of love to give. I would tell people that he was my Cosmo Kramer. He would just walk into our apartment in the middle of a thought. We trusted him so much, we were OK with that.

Every once in a while, we would trick him into eating a hot meal. It took a lot to get Alan to eat, but he did like my wife's cooking. Al always helped me fix my broken things, and he never made me feel bad about not being a handy-man myself. He would not only help me fix things, but he would show me how to do it myself.

They say you should never judge a book by it's cover and I believe that. I feel bad for anyone who looked at Al's gruff exterior, long white beard, and tattoos, and did not bother to get to know him. He was truly a kind and giving soul.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family in their time of mourning. My prayers are with anyone who knew him. Thank you so much, Alan Scribner, for your friendship. The next time I drink a cold Budweiser can, I will hear your hearty laugh and I will smile.

P.S. I took that photo of Al laying on the green with us on a summer night when there was a free concert. That is how I want to remember him -- smack dab in the middle of the town he loved so much.

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