’37 Chev Master Deluxe

“Steve – get up!”  Mom didn’t have to say anything to wake me because I was already up and ready for school.  I was a junior in high school in 1971 but had gotten my driver’s license a year earlier on my sixteenth birthday.  I was already on my third car.

37 chev 3_4 view front and back

My love of cars continues to this day. I used to change them – sometimes two in the same year, and, I imagine each one was beautiful for some untold reason.  Nowadays I get five years out of a car before getting the itch to buy a new one.  I always bought in extremes, you know, from an older one to a newer one – from a big one to a small one – a foreign one to bigger and more comfortable domestic model – from a luxury, large “vette-looking” ’66 Olds Toronado to a tiny, but brand new Datsun B210.

Somewhere along the line a group of us thrill-seeking kids began playing chicken with our cars.  You know how the game is played? Two people in two different cars aim them at each other and floor it…the first one to veer off is a chicken. We played a different version.  We drove through the five car wash bays – in different directions and as fast as the cars would allow.  The first to back speedily away was chicken.  I had more guts with the older cars, but this new one didn’t have a scratch or dent on it.  I was chicken, but not for myself.  I wanted to protect the new car.  Nobody was afraid of that lightweight thing.  I earned my quick reactionary defensive driving skills from that time.

My next venture was naturally the other extreme though I hung onto the new car and bought a beat up ’57 Chevy pickup with a half-inch steel plate for the front bumper with three rubber tires wrapped vertically on it.  I riveted window-wells for fenders in the back and spray-painted it all a cloud grey. Now who wants to play chicken? Nobody did.

I sold the pick-up and bought the 1937 Chev Master Deluxe four-door with the gangster (real gangster) running boards.  The suicide-doors were a real touch of class. style. The car was, as far as I could tell, all original except that it was painted with a  flat grey primer just waiting for the lustrous paint job.

A small hump ran the width of the trunk and down to the bumper. The windshield wipers were vacuum powered and worked ridiculously. I mean, if you gave the car gas they would swish furiously, but otherwise there was a long pause in between swipes.

No, Mom didn’t need to wake me that morning all those years ago.  That was the first day Dad allowed me to drive that car to school so I was readily excited.  I went to pick up my friend, Jerry. Just as I pulled into his long driveway the gangster car killed.   Jerry had been my friend since we were in diapers. His mom used to change them while we were in the nursery at Hayden Height’s Baptist Church.

“Hey Legs…” my nickname when driving this car.  Legs in actuality was a nickname for  Jack Diamond.   “Legs Diamond” was one of the celebrated gangsters from that era.  Diamond was known for leading a flamboyant lifestyle, and he enjoyed being seen at nightclubs. He was a womanizer, and his best known mistress was showgirl and dancer Marion “Kiki” Roberts. The public loved Diamond, and for a time he was a media darling.  Legs Diamond

It’s unclear how he obtained the nickname “Legs,” but it’s generally believed it was derived either from his being a good dancer or from his uncanny ability to escape his enemies. I liked a photo of him wearing a suit with a diamond stick pin in his tie. I wanted the whole 30’s gangster look while driving the car.  I even wore a white fedora to keep up appearances.

I told Jerry how the car had killed when I pulled in his driveway and that I couldn’t get it started again.  We, or I got out and stood next to Jerry looking at the antique engine.

He said, “You get back in and when I tell you to turn it over go ahead and try it.”

His dad sauntered out of the one-car tiny garage and came over to see what was going on then told me, “I used to have one of these back in ’39.  What seems to be the problem?”

He probably did have one back then.  Jerry’s dad, John, was seventy years old. Heck Jerry’s oldest brother was my dad’s age (about 40). Dad was often looked upon as my  brother and when customers said that aloud he would always quip, “Yeah and I’m the youngest!”

Jerry’s dad was calm about the situation. If it were my dad, hands would have been flying to accompany his swearing tongue and no doubt the car would have been punched many times. My dad was a helluva guy but he didn’t have patience nor did he desire to do so much as change the oil on a car.  Dad paid to have all automobile work done and he liked it that way.  He commanded good fees for his services and never complained about what another charged.  He was a true-blue capitalist.

John asked me if I still had the crank for it?

“Really? It’s got a crank? I didn’t think they made them for a car this new.”

“Aaah, I used one many times on this model.”    We rummaged through the trunk and sure enough, he found one.

John had me and Jerry try it per his instructions, but we couldn’t do it.

Then I noticed him smelling the air and he matter-of-factly said, “It’s flooded. Let it sit for about five minutes and then try it again.”

He cranked it after positioning it just right and a couple cranks later – vroom, vroom. I was excited and thanked him.

John said, “I better follow you boys to school in case it breaks down again.”

He had just given it a fast, temporary fix but it held to get us to school and to make some rounds through the parking lot with kids jumping on the running boards and jumping off at the door to school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dizzy Time

Another wonderful Wednesday evening.  We will be returning our books to the library in Ozark tonight at their convenient library drop box, after our Wednesday evening Bible teaching.  And after all the years that have passed (well over fifty) I began recalling library thoughts of some of my youngest years.

I spent hours at the Hayden Heights Public Library on the East Side of St. Paul while in grade school. I read many classics (they were classics to me) like, “The GashouseGang:   How Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Branch Rickey,  Pepper Martin, and

Image result for gashouse gang's uniform in world series season

Their Colorful, Come-from-Behind Ball Club Won the World Series—and America’s Heart—During the Great Depression.”  Yeah, that was a real classic to a ten year old boy who loved playing ball!

In those days, (late fifties and early sixties) we played the game on the street in front of the house.  We could do that because there were few cars parked there.  Not everybody owned a car, most did, but they usually parked them behind the homes in the alleyway, in or near their garage.

The only thing we had to worry about was the occasional ball going over the fence and into, “Old man Crabby’s” yard.  If he were feeling good he’d toss the ball back – right away – into the game, but there were a couple o’ times, we never saw them again. Or, if one of us smacked a grounder and a fielder couldn’t get to the ball before it rolled into the sewer, but we’d always get those back.  One of us younger kids always had to lift the heavy steel plate covering the top and jump in to retrieve the ball.  Those sewers were dry and surprisingly clean. When one of us retrieved the ball and hoisted ourselves back to the top a lot of cheering and teasing would ensue. It was a sewer, but a storm sewer to catch excess water runoff during bad weather.

Those were simpler times…duck and cover drills in hallways and under desks at school….sure, that would save us!  At times we were marched out onto the playground where we stood grouped together. At lunch we had to time how long it took us to reach our homes and safety. We kids were of the notion that whenever the warning sirens went off that they were air raids. Drills or not, I watched the sky.

Anyway Dizzy, I’ll bet if I tried I could be just like you and strike everybody out!  Well it wasn’t in the Card’s  – get the pun?  I joined a little league team called the Kansas City Athletics – remember that team?  It was after their move from Philadelphia but before their move to Oakland.  We had their colors (green with gold outlines) on a kelly-green t-shirt and emblem on the ball cap.

Other books read about him made Dizzy my idol.  He and his teammates pulled many shenanigans which made them fun to read about and I bet even more fun to watch. I felt like turning into a him when I pitched for the 1st Electric Little League team in Perryville, Arkansas.  Little league teams here in the south have a following with many people coming out to watch the games.

Dizzy also grew up in Arkansas, partly in Yell County (a neat name for a county) my daughter says, “Yeah that’s my county; I like that.”.  We had a professional-looking uniform – socks, pants, jersey, cap and I had a real pitcher’s mitt (at least that’s what I’d been told. In actuality, it was a right-handed first baseman’s glove.  I was proud of it and oiled the sweet spot with spit.  I rubbed it over and over into the leather glove!  I pitched a couple summer months for them.

I was told I looked good during my wind-up and that was great because there was a girl I wanted to impress…Regina, my southern belle.

That book led me to other sports minded reading and I was into the boxing world for a while. My interest in pugilism came about because of, Gillette’s Friday Night Fights.

.I remember watching those matches on our little, but beautiful, Philco cabinet T V.  Gillette would be advertising their foamy shave cream as the glamour girls paraded the numbers of each successive round.

Those televised fights kept Dad around a while longer on Friday nights so that encouraged me to read of the champions through the years…John L Sullivan,  (Gentleman) Jim Corbett, Jack Johnson (the Galveston Giant) 6’1″ I believe, Gene Tunney (The Fighting Marine), Jack Dempsey (Kid Blackie & The Manassa Mauler), Joe Louis ( The Brown Bomber) and undefeated – Rocky Marciano (The Brockton Blockbuster – The Rock from Brockton)! That is only a short list of some who stood out in my mind.

My brother and I could never get through an episode without fighting each other.  Then, when it was nearly over, Dad would join in and playfully thump us over and over before heading out the door to his card game.  Mom worried that my brother Fred and I would hurt each other but Dad told her, “They’re not old enough to hurt each other,” and away he’d go.

Nonetheless, Dad sat us doImage result for rocky-marciano picwn to impart words of wisdom – “You guys better not ever get into a fight with someone. But if you do – you better not lose or you’ll get it worse when you get home.   And don’t worry I‘ll find out!”

This kid was now in the seventh grade. My older brother, Fred was in ninth and Dad and I were driving down the alley behind our home searching for my brother who had run away, I mentioned to Dad, “I’m thinking of joining the Golden Gloves.”

I think he was in a heavy-hearted mood because he quietly said, “Ahh Steve, you don’t wanna do that.  You’re a good-looking kid.  You’ll wind up getting a broken nose and cauliflower ears.  You’ve seen Tommie’s flattened nose and ears haven’t ya’? He used to box while in the Navy.  Naa, you don’t wanna do that… We didn’t find Fred Jr. that night but soon thereafter he was home again.

Wednesday evenings while sitting in the pew thoughts and remembrances begin zipping through my head.  Not important or even interesting thoughts, but maybe good enough…for Facebook, maybe?

Pocono Mountains & Dent Magic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pocono_Mountains I had the cruise engaged, (I don’t normally do that, nor do I think you’re supposed to during rainfall) but the pitter and the patter of rain splashing on the car, the Stephanie sleeping and music playing low, a mostly instrumental background, just a hint of sound and the overwhelming sleepy green of the thousands of trees…I nodded off.

Thwack! My foot instinctively tapped the brake. My eyes immediately opened wide.  A rubber mile marker had slapped the hood of my, then, new car.

I turned the wheel away from the cliff. I pulled onto the shoulder, and got out of the car and cursed inwardly.  Not angry about the dent – but angry about my stupidity.  I took in some fresh air and woke Steph to see if she’d like to get out and stretch some? She sleepily and calmly nodded off again.  I drove to the nearest rest stop.  The park-like area was conducive to sleeping and I tried to snooze, but was unable…the sun had come out.

I woke Stephanie and gave her the zip-lock bag with her  toothbrush and paste.  We  strolled up to the rest-room area.  I told Steph to wash or at least splash some water on her face and brush her teeth.

The damage to the car had been done. I got an estimate when we returned to Minnesota from New York. I decided I could live with the dent because I couldn’t see it unless I was outside and the sun or clouds were just right to highlight the defect.

Six years later – a different, smaller city and the dent still there.  “They do superb work” said my good and fastidious friend, Don, about a Nixa business called: Dent Magic, http://www.dentmagictools.com/

Somebody put a “Ding” in his new truck with their door. He wanted it fixed right and so he took it to Dent Magic. They had it for a couple hours and Voila – where did that dent go? No patch and no paint. Fred (owner) or one of his employees massaged it away.

I was impressed. I took my car there for an estimate on that larger thwacked dent in my hood. A reminder of our trip to New York on the Pennsylvania turnpike.

But Fred of Dent Magic said he may be able to take most of the dent out and for only $100. They did what they could in the three hours they had it. But, that large and more flat dent could not be fixed with their modern technology.

“Absolutely no charge. Heck, we couldn’t fix it so I’m not going to bill you for it. We were able to straighten the edge some, though.”

I am glad I took it in to them and recommend their services to anybody who has almost any type of dent. Heck, take your car or truck to them and let them decide whether or not they can fix the dip, dimple, or crater.

Their courtesy and professionalism are worth doing business with them.

 

Introduction

 “A Day I’ll Never Remember”

Changed life – traumatic brain injury

A week prior to Dad’s car accident on July 31, 1988, I was having bad dreams about him.  I wasn’t having different dreams, it was always the same dream but it kept repeating itself over and over. The dream proved to be a premonition, but at the time I didn’t know what was going’ on and didn’t even know what premonition meant. When I think back to that day, I think God was preparing me for what was about to happen. I realize that some do not believe in, ESP, and I don’t think I do; but were those dreams just coincidental?

Mom was the petite and pretty housewife and a great cook. Dad the typical hard-working handsome dude who always strived for more and never slowed down even while driving. He was gone as much as he was home.  The home we lived in at that time was fit for a doctor, Mom said.   It was built in the country, on some acreage.  Dad was a painter…a house painter and paperhanger.

I was twelve soon to be thirteen – I’m Anna.  My sister, Angela, was thirteen but soon to be fourteen.  She is a year and eleven days older than me.

My dad worked all the time, though, a couple years before the wreck Mom talked him into taking a vacation. We drove in Grandpa’s fancy “Roman Wheels” van from our home in Wisconsin to the Ozark Mountains. We spent that first night at a motel with a swimming pool, in Harrison, Arkansas.

We went out to breakfast the next morning and then drove onto Dogpatch.  That was an amusement park near Harrison, Arkansas. The buildings were constructed to have a dilapidated look with roofs caving in, faded paint, splintered wood (not really, but built to look that way) and the hillbilly characters of the Li’l Abner comic strip brought to life.

But you know it didn’t matter what we did. I remember pulling weeds in the garden – come to think of it that was not fun, so maybe not that. Though, when Mom and Dad were down there with us even that was enjoyable…what a love they had! They were always joking and fooling around, kissing and hugging constantly.

Then one night after dinner we were all in the living room watching, “Family Ties.”  Mom and Dad were on the couch; Angie was doing homework on the carpeted floor and me next to her holding my head up with my hands watching television.

I began crying. Dad who was in his white work clothes yet asked, “What’s the matter Anna?” I sobbed harder.

“Come ‘ere Anna what’re you crying about?”

I couldn’t speak because I couldn’t stop crying. Dad rubbed my back and my head and that soothed me. I finally caught my breath and as I gasped between spurts of sobbing told Dad…

“I’ve been having some really bad dreams about you,” sniff, sniff, sniff.

“Oh yeah?” Dad questioned.

I thought he’d laugh at me but he didn’t.

Instead with interest he asked, “What were the dreams about Anna?”

Whew, I can breathe again. But I was afraid, afraid to tell him because maybe the dreams would come true then. The nightmares were so real.

I just bowed my head and cried even harder; I blustered, “I can’t say Dad.”

Dad assured me by saying, “Don’t worry, they were only dreams. Nothing’s going to happen to me because I’m your Dad!  I won’t let it and that’s a promise, okay? Now do you have homework too or just you Angie?  After this show I want both of you to do your homework, in your rooms.” Dad hugged me and told me he loved me, I felt better.

“I love you too, Dad,” I uttered.

I was anxious for the show to end ‘cause I was exhausted from the gut-wrenching sobs and, really, I just wanted to sleep. At last the Keaton’s half hour long tragedies and triumphs had come to an end.

“Okay kids, go to your rooms and do your homework – I’m going to watch the ballgame.”

Dad knew that neither one of us liked sports on TV. Mom didn’t either but she would just read; that’s if they could keep their hands off each other.

I put my pajamas on, lie on the bed and nodded off to sleep.   That wicked, evil nightmare returned.  This time it was real clear: I got off the school bus and walked up the long, brown-and tan, rocky gravel drive, to the house. Something was different; Dad’s truck was in the garage he loved.   It was more like a family room than a garage – with vehicles.

The big overhead door was open wide.  I called, “Dad – Dad,” but there was neither an answer nor even a sound, hmmm strange.

I continue walking toward the house, alone.  Angie isn’t with me for some unknown reason. I get close to the front door but decided to check the garage before going in…his truck is parked strangely at an angle and not pulled all the way inside.  I walked around the truck repeating; “Dad” but there was no reply.  As I got on the other side of the truck I became chilled so tried getting inside the house through the service door…it was locked.  Wondering to myself, “What’s goin’ on?” I walked out of the garage.  

“Brrrr that was cold.”  

I walked on the covered sidewalk past the two windows to the garage and up the steps to the front door.  

“Dad”?  

I called at least three times.  I didn’t get an answer.  I took my jacket off and went to hang it up but when I opened the door, I found my dad, pale and pasty looking.  Hanged by his neck…I shook him and then screamed – Dadddd! I couldn’t wake him; he wasn’t sleeping.

The dream was so confusing to me.  Shaking and crying, ohhhh…..

Reality Setting In

Sirens blaring! Cedar Lake Speedway is just a quarter mile down the road.  Must be a pretty bad accident. The sounds though are a familiar noise on Saturday evenings.

That noise (what Mom & Dad call it) — is only heard when the wind is out of the north, (so Dad says.) and today there is no wind.  Today it’s just hot, 107° .

Angela and I were in the front yard when Angie gestured to me saying, “Look – here comes Gary!” Angie pointed in his direction. “He looks funny riding that thing!” Our friend, Gary Peterson, came speeding up the driveway.  Angie said, “No wonder you looked so funny – you have a flat, haha!”

Gary’s face was sad and heavy looking though. He jumped off the bike, let it roll and ran to us. He started talking from a distance…  “I think you two better sit down a minute.”

“Why,” Angie asked?

But I already knew that something happened to my dad.

“Your dad’s been in a bad accident, blood everywhere. He went off the road up there on double C and flew out of the car! His head hit a tree and he’s hurt real bad. The ambulance is up there right now by Goose Lake Road and double C.”

My mind had a weird, busy but blank feeling.  Gary kept talking but I was no longer listening, I mean, I was listening, but couldn’t hear anything he was saying. Do you know what I mean? Those first words out of his mouth were all I could hear over and over and over: “Bad accident, bad accident. Hit his head, hit his head.” How bad?

Angela erupted with tears flowing down her face – I began running – I had to get to Dad. Angela ran with me. We had to find our dad. Gary ran behind us, not able to keep up. We got to Dad’s car and many people were standing around whispering and pointing, we couldn’t see him anywhere.

“Your daddy left by ambulance to Holy Family Hospital in New Richmond,” the people said. Our neighbor Pam grabbed onto us and said, “Oh you poor little girls! Let me take you to the hospital, come on.”

By the time we got there Dad was gone again. He had already been taken by helicopter to another hospital, a bigger one. A way-off in Minneapolis somewhere.  Pam drove us back home and Mom was there. Pam spoke to Mom first and offered help in any way she could.  Mom grabbed onto us both and then she hugged us real hard.  

Then the hollering began, “Where have you two been? Your father’s been in a bad accident! Get your things right now! I’m driving you to Grandma’s for the night.”

I was afraid so I hurried as fast as I could. Mom drove me and Angela to Grandma’s in St. Paul.  She dropped us off then quickly left to see Dad at the hospital.

Angie lie on Grandma’s couch – screaming and crying. I can see it crystal clear as the scene has replayed itself in my mind year after year.

“Can you help me get Angela calmed down?” Grandma asked our Aunt Peggy. “And poor little Anna must be in shock,” grandma said.

She probably thought I was because I was just watching the T.V. screen, not really knowing what was on and not caring. I think I already went through my deep grieving in those dreams. As I look back on that time I think they all felt the most sorry for me.

“Here Peggy – wet this cloth with cold water again.” She peeled the cloth from Angela’s head and handed it to Peggy, “He’ll be all right Angela. Try to lie still. God is watching over him. Do you want something to drink hon,” she wiped Angela’s forehead with the freshened, cool cloth.

Through the years I’ve seen Dad’s life change in a dramatic way. Prior to the crash – Dad was a daredevil and always pushing things to the max. He had a motorcycle for a brief period of time, partial payment for a paperhanging job he did.  I heard him talking to Mom and boasting of how he sped along a straight stretch of road on County C…at 110 M.P.H.

“Nance it felt great, the hot weather, the wind against your body! It’s the first time I felt good riding that thing – I wanted to give it more and more gas — I didn’t want to stop.”

And Dad never wore a helmet. He seemed fearless… Mom would get mad at him for his antics, “You’re going to kill yourself on that thing Steve!”

“Aw Nance I know what I’m doing, but not to worry ‘cause I’m gettin’ rid of it. I don’t know how or why people like them so much. A car is more my style. Riding that bike is like smoking in the bathroom at school; it’s not relaxing at all. I don’t understand the fascination with them.  They’re uncomfortable. I’ll be selling the bike soon.” Then my dad just laughed. He took one too many chances though.

And one time when his friend, Nick, was over he told Dad the same thing, only about the car not the motorcycle because the car was sporty-looking too.  Was Nick prophetic because he told Dad in front of me and Angie, “You’re gonna kill yourself in that thing.”

Dad’s temper was scary… I remember Dad teaching me to ride my bike. His patience ran out and he said, “I think I’ll give this bike to a kid who isn’t afraid to learn Anna! You’re going to take a few spills! I did, everybody does! You have to get back on and try again. It’s all a part of learning to ride.”

I rode the bike home from the church parking lot a block away, Mom and Angie behind me. A whole block without falling! Dad was a little way from our house walking on the sidewalk.

I was riding proudly behind him on the street, “Hey Dad,” I yelled!

“That’s great Anna keep going, but be careful…you’re really doing good! Slow it down,” he shouted as I rode in front of the neighbor’s house.

I could sense his feeling of pride but I yelled back, “I don’t know how!” I fell off the bike and crashed in our front yard.

Nowadays Dad leads a more careful life. Every time he goes for a ride in his car his seat-belt is always fastened and when I’m with him I have to wear one before he drives off.

“Since the accident I’m aware of the difference the belt makes,” Dad would tell me.

Mike, Dad’s friend who was in the passenger seat when the accident happened had his belt fastened and went to work the next day. Years later and my dad still can’t work just because he wasn’t strapped in.  When the car flipped end over end, Dad not being strapped in flew out the top of the car because the t-tops were off.

Dad’s always been a hard worker, but now, he also has patience. Dad can and does sit at the computer for hours writing his story. I’m so proud of him; when he first told me that he was going to write a book about what happened I said, “Sure Dad” but he did it – he stuck with it! Many people say they’re going to write a book but my dad accomplished his boast.  I tell him how proud I am of him, but it seems that he cannot accept praise, no matter how small.

Dad has come a long way since that hot summer day in 1988. He and I have grown closer since the accident; we can now have meaningful conversations, but prior to the wreck I was afraid to even ask him a question. I am not saying Dad was abusive in any way, no – far from that! I just didn’t feel as close to him as I did my mother. My sister Angela had a better relationship with Dad than I did. Maybe the reason I had a fear of him was because he was the disciplinarian.

There’s something about his life now that’s almost incredible…He’s lost family, friends, possessions, and even some physical abilities; most would have given up but not my dad! I never would have thought that we’d be sitting here together writing a story, Dad’s story…he is amazing!

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Grief and Loss                  

The control center…

A traumatic brain injury is a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of such an injury may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. A TBI can result in short or long-term problems with independent function.

The loss of self is often the real tragedy of traumatic brain injury. It is seldom addressed by the medical profession yet it is a loss so profound that many never recover from it. Brain injury strips away a lifetime of learning, of personal identity, and personal power. The loss is a soul shattering experience, intense and intimate. It is so intimate that society as a whole averts its eyes and closes its ears to the pain and despair of such a naked soul. It is a soul bedeviled by infantile demons, the very stuff from which neurosis and psychoses is made.

Grief over the loss of self is something every brain-injured person goes through. However, grieving often is not recognized for what it is because the resulting distractions, anger, fatigue, and other signs can be masked by or confused with the symptoms of post concussive syndrome or post traumatic stress disorder. Also, lack of insight, which may make you unable to correctly evaluate the impact the symptoms are having on your life, are typical aftereffects of traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately, the recognition of grief as a possible cause of post injury behavior has eluded many physicians and mental health workers, as well as STBI survivors themselves. Many doctors tend to attribute symptoms of grief following an STBI to the physical consequences of the injury.

I chose to interview a 51-year-old man named, Steve, who suffered a TBI 17 years ago as a result of a car crash. At the time of the accident, this man was 34 years old, married with 2 daughters, ages 12 and 13, had a home in the country, and was enrolled in school for blueprint reading to help his father run his business. Everything was great. Loneliness was not an issue.

The evening of the 31st of July, 1988 – that day lives on for him as the day he died – Steve and a friend were driving fast on a road close to his home on their way to Steve’s for a bar-b-q with Steve’s family. They were riding in a Dodge Daytona with tops off. Steve had no seat-belt on, but his friend did and was able to go to work the next day. Steve lost control of the car and was thrown out, smashing into the ground unconscious. From there he was transported to a nearby hospital and then airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center with swelling in the brain and life support started.  He was never able to work physically again so he writes continuously and constantly with the aid of a computer.

His mother had not wanted the life support as she considered his life was over and predicted a poor outcome should he survive. His oldest daughter would cry and plead over him to wake up, telling him how much she loved him. Almost as if she could will it to happen. His wife encouraged the life support and stated she would never leave him. His father blamed himself for the accident and dealt with the grief by listening to Steve’s voice on an answering machine.

Steve’s coma lasted two months, after which he spent time at  a few different hospitals and nursing homes, for various long-term therapies that lasted more than a year.  During this time his wife, after being named his guardian did leave him and all that they had achieved during his sixteen year marriage had been taken. He lost his family, home, and his sense of self. Because of one night that he will never remember, he lost it all, except for his life, and even that wasn’t familiar anymore.

Steve’s biggest struggle was the loss of self. He has stated that if he hadn’t changed so much his family wouldn’t have left. He struggles with attempting to get people to listen to him and respond to him as a normal person. Because he has speech impairment people will talk down to him and sometimes ignore him. But at the same time, people who have known him will criticize him for not having a job without realizing that a lot of his disabilities are invisible. He struggles with fatigue, memory loss, double vision and right-sided weakness.

He sometimes has no control of his right arm, especially when he is fatigued. He’s attempted to return to college but had to stop because of visual disturbances. He cannot read a line all the way to the end. Peripheral vision is affected. All these things contribute to the loss of self, depression and loneliness.  

He had tremendous difficulty letting go of the past, even after 17 years, and would drive out to his house many times. He would attempt to physically help people with things like moving, cleaning, etc., which would frustrate his mother, anger his father, and elicit pity from others. He was left without friends, a family that was too busy to give him the time he needed, and no one who really understood what he was going through.

In attempts to pursue full recovery and at the same time combat his loneliness he traveled to the Philippines, and did eventually marry a young woman there. They have a child together who, because of poor maternal care, was born prematurely

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and suffers from autism. His current family is now in the States and Steve has devoted his life to his 3-year old daughter, who is doing well with the attention he has given her. His TBI has allowed him to work with her in some of the same ways he has been helped.

He is now too busy to feel lonely. He still mourns the loss of his children,

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who are now grown with children of their own, but he feels he has a second chance and is grateful for that.

Never forget that life doesn’t follow the plans we make just because we make them. We have to allow for change, prepare for it, and seek positive results from it. We have to understand that tragedy, sadness and unexpected challenge may wreak havoc at any time, and leave us facing hard work to recover a life.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with closed head-injuries. Many more go undiagnosed. And the frequency of the injury is rising.

Because closed head injury often reveals few, if any signs of injury, survivors and those around them-family, friends and co-workers may doubt the validity of the injury. This increases the risk that survivors will not receive proper treatment and adds to the devastating life disruption that head trauma delivers. Often the survivor must relearn the easiest tasks and devise new strategies to execute daily responsibilities.

Doubt and misunderstanding complicate the recovery, making it even more difficult for the survivor to accept, address and attack the challenges. When doubts and misunderstandings come from close family and friends, a crushing burden is added to the recovery process. I definitely see grief, loss of self, and depression as enormous issues for people who have suffered a head injury.

After speaking with Steve, and hearing the amount of losses suffered because of his injury: his family, his home, and very personally, his loss of self, it’s obvious that his losses are similar to what the professionals have stated as grief and loss in their journals, as well as those stated in personal stories of people who have suffered a brain injury, and the families that help care for the victims of those suffering from brain injury. Steve, as well as others who have suffered this type of injury experience, denial, grief, depression, and the struggle to regain a sense of self.  

God’s Miraculous Ways

Such a Good Year, 2015

Feeling sorry for myself I once asked Dad“Why can’t I have a miracle?”

Without hesitation he fired back, “You did have a miracle Steve… you lived.”

I was embarrassed. But what I had gone through at that point in time, living didn’t feel like a miracle, and it sure didn’t feel great to be alive.

I had to endure many more years of being alive before I was shown such wonderful peace and joy in 2015. And I can guarantee you it wasn’t through drugs or alcohol that enabled my serene attitude or spirit.

Dad’s words haunted me because I felt so small and pitiful at the time. The remainder of the ride home was quiet. I was so busy, as I’m sure Dad was also, trying to think of something to say. Though, words were no longer adequate.

I knew I should be happy to be alive; none will listen or care that inside I wanted to die. Oh, I didn’t want to die from the pain of the accident for I never thought of that as painful and I enjoyed working hard at the different therapies just to be able to stand, utter a word, or roll a ball to its target – I never missed one session.

Those days of happiness came to an end when I received a phone call at the stationary phone (remember those) up the hall from my shared room at the nursing home.

“Steve, you have a phone call,” the night-shift nurse said.

Right away I asked, “Who is it?” As if they would know.

“I don’t know…it’s a female.”

The phone was in the empty room across from the crowded and hazy, smoker’s lounge, “Hello,” I said.

“Steve…I saw an attorney today.” Those words coming from a wife could only mean one thing for us cripples.

I slammed the phone down wheeled around and began slapping my wheels all the way back to my room where I raised myself up and hurled my limp body onto the bed. There I stayed, wanting to squeeze or hit something. I started to get the crawls and I couldn’t do anything to release the anger.

Then one evening a few days later some Christians came to the nursing home where I was & asked if I knew Jesus Christ, I got angry.

I said, “Yeah, but I don’t believe in Him anymore! Don’t talk to me! I mean look at me – I’m a freak! My wife took my kids and left. I am useless I can’t even walk! My right side’s paralyzed. What will I do? You can have your God!”

Yes, I was cloaked in self pity. He really did it to me…in a crash that nearly ended my life, and in a nursing home at age 34 what else could possibly happen? I was soon to find out.

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” somebody once said and truer words have never been spoken.

A few weeks earlier I had given her guardianship over me. Everything had been taken that, together, had been accumulated over the last sixteen years. At the time, I was all – you know – “How could she do that to me?”

But now after raising a child myself, I condemn myself for my out of control gambling. I had gambled away most of our savings. I was behind on the house payment. I apologize to you, Nancy, for letting you down.

I contemplated what I could do to earn some money because even my first, paltry check from SSDI had been conned from me, by Nancy. Those things happened from 1989 through the early 90’s mainly. Then I had a period of growth both with my daughter’s who had been taken from me and financially as my small dabbling in the stock market was beginning to show real gains.

In ’92 I began seeing my girls again. Then my eldest needed a place to live…she needed a whole new beginning on life. We got her a job as a cashier at a local gas/convenience store. I let her live with me rent free for six months.

Seven months down the road and I could not support us anymore. I used up all the monies earned in the stock market. Broke again and with nothing. I found her a place renting the newly remodeled basement of my friend’s house. That proved to be one of the worst mistakes of my life.

But God hadn’t finished shaping me into who, or what I was created to be. Close friends began calling me – Job – because of the bad & evil things complicating my already disrupted life.

You know what I found out? God gives out many blessings and miracles daily. I know God exists because He gives so freely. And He is a loving God – an AWESOME, loving God.

An example: in September of 2002 I stopped smoking after 37 years of at least a pack a day. I was in the Philippines where they could be purchased for .25 a pack so it wasn’t the money. It was my time to quit and God knew that. I could never have done it on my own.

I prayed to Him the night before quitting and made a vow. I promised to never smoke again, but asked Him to please take away the desire. I never said “If” you take away… This was not a game that I was playing. I woke in the morning with no urge. He has made it so easy for me…patch humph! I have been smoke free since that day in September all those years ago and I don’t dare break that vow nor do I have a desire to.

New Living Translation (NLT)… Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 When you make a promise to God don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. 5 It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it.

2016 I believe, will be a year of jubilee for me! I made a decision to move to the great, “Show Me State,” with my daughter Stephanie and good things began happening once the move was made.

Nixa won out over Charleston, South Carolina and Tucson, Arizona. The main reason was because of Nixa’s wonderful school system.

Stephanie melded into the new school district with seemingly little effort and is an “A”student and is also on the, “Honors English” program. She loves the fact that most kids in the area are Christian.
I was asked this question by my daughter (as one of her first homework assignments) “Are you a Creationist or an evolutionist?”
“That’s a no-brainer,” I said, “A creationist.”
She gave our (hers was the same as mine) reply to the teacher, “We are Creationists.”
Stephanie’s remark to me at home later in the day is what we found so miraculous – “26 out of 29 kids answered the same as us, Dad. “
“Those numbers would be flip-flopped in liberal Minnesota,” I said. Stephanie has many more friends here because of her Christian beliefs and not in spite of those beliefs.
My sister once warned me not to move where we had no family, but hey, we have a solid church family at Riverdale so our family is here – a definite blessing.
“This was a great Christmas,” Stephanie said “Because of the friends that visited. And the delicious dinner they brought over, and the gifts”
Carroll has been a blessing to Stephanie and I for introducing us to Riverdale and to Mel & Joyce and for her friendship.
Things to be grateful for this 2015

  • A Bible believing church
  • A life free of government interference
  • A life with no admonishment for speaking conservative ideology
  • A life free from political correctness
  • A life nearly free of freezing temps here in Nixa and a warm population.
  • Great friends

God melted the hubris from my soul and molded this once sure person into a humble, soft, peace-loving man and it is with great anticipation we will embrace 2016…

Happy New Year Everybody!

God’s Miraculous Ways

Such a Good Year – 2015

Feeling sorry for myself I once asked Dad“Why can’t I have a miracle?”

Without hesitation he fired back, “You did have a miracle Steve… you lived.”

I was embarrassed.  But what I had gone through at that point in time, living didn’t feel like a miracle, and it sure didn’t feel great to be alive.

I had to endure many more years of being alive before I was shown such wonderful peace and joy in 2015.  And I can guarantee you it wasn’t through drugs or alcohol that  enabled my serene attitude or spirit.

Dad’s words haunted me because I felt so small and pitiful at the time.  The remainder of the ride home was quiet.  I was so busy, as I’m sure Dad was also, trying to think of something to say.  Though, words were no longer adequate.

I knew I should be happy to be alive; none will listen or care that inside I wanted to die. Oh, I didn’t want to die from the pain of the accident for I never thought of that as painful and I enjoyed working hard at the different therapies just to be able to stand, utter a word, or roll a ball to its target –  I never missed one session.  

Those days of happiness came to an end when I received a phone call at the stationary phone (remember those) up the hall from my shared room at the nursing home.  

“Steve, you have a phone call,” the night-shift nurse said.

Right away I asked, “Who is it?” As if they would know.

“I don’t know…it’s a female.”

The phone was in the empty room across from the crowded and hazy, smoker’s lounge, “Hello,” I said.

“Steve…I saw an attorney today.”  Those words coming from a wife could only mean one thing for us cripples.

I slammed the phone down – wheeled around – began slapping my wheels all the way back to my room where I raised myself up and hurled my limp body onto the bed.  There I stayed, wanting to squeeze or hit something.   I started to get the crawls and I couldn’t do anything to release the anger.  

Then one evening a few days later some Christians came to the nursing home where I was & asked if I knew Jesus Christ, I got angry.

I said, “Yeah, but I don’t believe in Him anymore! Don’t talk to me! I mean look at me – I’m a freak!  My wife took my kids and left.  I am useless I can’t even walk!  My right side’s paralyzed.  What will I do?  You can have your God!”  

Yes, I was cloaked in self pity. He really did it to me…in a crash that nearly ended my life, and in a nursing home at age 34 what else could possibly happen? I was soon to find out.

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” somebody once said and truer words have never been spoken.  

A few weeks earlier I had given my wife guardianship over me.  Everything had been taken that, together, had been accumulated over the last sixteen years.  At the time, I was all – you know – “How could she do that to me?”

But now after raising a child myself, I condemn myself for my, out of control gambling.  I had gambled away most of our savings.  I was behind on the house payment.  I apologize to you, Nancy, for letting you down.

I contemplated what I could do to earn some money because even my first, paltry check from SSDI had been conned from me, by Nancy.  Those things happened  from 1989 through the early 90’s. Then I had a period of growth both with my daughter’s who had been taken from me, and financially as my small dabbling in the stock market was beginning to show real gains.

In ’92 I began seeing my girls again.  Then my eldest needed a place to live…she needed a whole new beginning on life.  We got her a job as a cashier at a local gas/convenience store.  I let her live with me rent free for six months.  

Seven months down the road and I could not support us anymore.  I used up all the monies earned in the stock market. Broke again and with nothing.  I found her a place renting the newly remodeled basement of my friend’s house.  That proved to be one of the worst mistakes of my life.

But God hadn’t finished shaping me into who, or what I was created to be.  Close friends began calling me – Job – because of the bad & evil things complicating my already disrupted life.  

You know what I found out? God gives out many blessings and miracles daily. I know God exists because He gives so freely.  And He is a loving God – an AWESOME, loving God.   

An example:  in September of 2002 I stopped smoking after 37 years of at least a pack a day. I was in the Philippines where they could be purchased for .25 a pack so it wasn’t the money. It was my time to quit and God knew that.   I could never have done it on my own.

I prayed to Him the night before quitting and made a vow.  I promised to never smoke again, but asked Him to please take away the desire.  I never said “If” you take away… This was not a game that I was playing.  I woke in the morning with no urge.  He has made it so easy for me…patch humph!  I have been smoke free since that day in September all those years ago and I don’t dare break that vow nor do I have a desire to.

New Living Translation (NLT)… Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 When you make a promise to God don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. 5 It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it.

2016 I believe, will be a year of jubilee for me! I made a decision to move to the great, “Show Me State,” with my daughter Stephanie and good things began happening once the move was made.

Nixa won out over Charleston, South Carolina and Tucson, Arizona.  The main reason was because of Nixa’s wonderful school system.  

  • Stephanie melded into the new school district with seemingly little effort and is an “A”student and is also on the, “Honors English” program.  She loves the fact that most kids in the area are Christian.
  • I was asked this question by my daughter (as one of her first homework assignments) “Are you a Creationist or an evolutionist?”
  • “That’s a no-brainer,” I said, “A creationist.”
  • She gave our (hers was the same as mine) reply to the teacher, “We are Creationists.”
  • Stephanie’s remark to me at home later in the day is what we found so miraculous – “26 out of 29 kids answered the same as us, Dad. “
  • “Those numbers would be flip-flopped in liberal Minnesota,” I said. Stephanie has many more friends here because of her Christian beliefs and not in spite of those beliefs.
  • My sister once warned me not to move where we had no family, but hey, we have a solid church family at Riverdale so our family is here – a definite blessing.
  • “This was a great Christmas,” Stephanie said “Because of the friends that visited.  And the delicious dinner they brought over, and the gifts”  
  • Carroll has been a blessing to Stephanie and I for introducing us to Riverdale and to the angels…Mel & Joyce .

Things to be grateful for this 2015

  • A Bible believing church   
  • A life free of government interference
    • A life with no admonishment for speaking conservative ideology
    • A life free from political correctness
    • A life nearly free of freezing temps here in Nixa and a warm population.
    • Great friends

God melted the hubris from my soul and molded this once sure  person into a humble, soft, peace-loving man and it is with great anticipation we will embrace 2016…  

Happy New Year Everybody!

Days Past and Days New

Me in the red shirt, age 13, Dad bending down to fit in picture aunt Peggy on Dad's right aunt Linda to his left with brother Dave in front. - 1968 - Ava on his left with uncle Tom kneeling in front.
Me in the red shirt, age 13, Dad bending down to fit in picture aunt Peggy on Dad’s right aunt Linda to his left with brother Dave in front. – 1968 –
Ava on his left with uncle Tom kneeling in front.

Watching the movie, “The Outsider’s” last night (it’s an old movie), I know, but I’d never seen it. The movie was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and also included up-and-coming stars, including C. Thomas Howell (who garnered a Young Artist Award), Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane. The film helped spark the Brat Pack genre of the 1980s.

Anyway Steph took a momentary break from her headphones and her room to come for a visit into the living room. We began talking and I mentioned that I was a greaser back then which ignited an interest from her.

“We’re reading that book in English now. Just wait ’til I tell Ms Ferguson you were a greaser!”

I am really ancient, I guess. I have actually been around since those halcyon days! However, I don’t remember the socs, only the Greasers and the Baldies (the more nerdy group, who have since become the more fashionable group).

My cousin named me a greaser while in the 6th or 7th grade because I already had long sideburns – like Elvis. And though I wasn’t allowed to wear Beatle Boots – I did have some black, pointy-toed shoes, that really stood out from my – ivory colored skin tight – stretch pants. That was the style in those days (early to mid ’60s.)

She asked about fights between the two factions.

I told her, “The fights were individual.”

I didn’t tell her of the brawl that was supposed to happen along the tracks, under the White Bear Avenue Bridge between the kids from the projects and their school Ames, and my school Hayden Heights. The two schools met at the larger Hazel Park Junior High earlier in the day for an orientation…that’s when the battle lines were drawn.

We, the tough kids from Hayden Heights showed up but Ames did not. That gave us a one up on them throughout junior high. And I bolstered my bad reputation by having 17 suspensions during those 3 tumultuous years for smoking and fighting. I hung out nightly with more greasers from the pool hall – A&D Billiards.

I ran away from home twice. The 2nd time I had run away with a girl past where I’m living now, Springfield. to Branson , Missouri. And Branson was not always a big entertainment site. Why when I was 16 and Carol and I were thrown in jail in Branson for speeding and driving a stolen car (they thought, but the car wasn’t stolen).

Junior high days were mostly spent trying to impress everybody – A friend told my oldest daughter that I was the “Fonz” of the school. I worked many a night and weekend for Dad. Nights were always spent at A&D and sometimes up at the trestle hopping trains — to nowhere and walking back to the trestle. Who would’ve known then that my 1st wife would have been met in the 8th grade? Or that I would meet with a tragic accident?

Always remember this kids, your life can change in the blink of an eye. There certainly are no guarantees. Up until my car accident I felt invincible but soon found out how wrong I was about many things.
https://philippinewanderer.org/2015/02/09/the-meeting-point/