Today I heard of the passing last night of another friend and colleague from River Downs, H.M. “Humie” Johnson. Just a week or so ago we lost another member of that racetrack family, Jeff Riedel. Humie was a character of the racetrack, one of my favorite folks there. He was probably 70 or more years old when I got there in 2006 and his office as the “stall man” was right behind my desk where I took entries in the morning before the races. Humie was a long time trainer and eventually switched over to working on the backside at the track. He was ornery but extremely lovable. He took to me right away.
I’ll never forget a few days into me being there he said “Hey Mr. Announcer, come here,” summoning me to his office. “Where you from buddy?” he asked. I replied “I just moved here from Portland.” Humie sat back in his old creaky chair, I could tell he was going into deep contemplative thought. He replied, stone cold serious, “Portland, that’s up in Seattle right?” I died laughing. He thought Seattle was a state. I never corrected him, so I like to think he went to his grave thinking that.
Humie also gave himself the nickname “The Big Dicked Daddy from Cincinnati.” He claimed that all of his female admirers called him that but I’m pretty sure it was self diagnosed. He’d come strolling in “here comes the big dicked daddy from Cincinnati,” with a big grin on his face.
Humie kissed my mom’s hand when she came over to visit and he’d ask me all the time how she was doing with the look of love in his eyes. She was probably 25 years younger than him but he didn’t care.
He was a lovely guy and a total character. This has been a tough week with both him and Jeff’s passing. I had only talked to Humie a few times since I left Cincinnati in 2008 but each time I did he was always excited and we had a great conversation. I’ll really miss him.