Road Trip

I’ve received a few requests to tell my spring break trip to Florida with Kate and Connie. It was a time when we were partying like rock stars.

I had decided I was going to start college in the fall, so I thought this was going to be my last vacation for a few years. My last vacation? I had only been to Las Vegas with Mike and Florida with Brother John the year before. Up until a year ago a trip to Green Bay was a vacation for me.

This trip to Florida was going to be the maiden voyage in the 1984 brown Ford van. The previous fall I was at Danny Joe’s garage when he was preparing his brown Dodge van for the Crandon Brush Run 101 off road race. It’s called the Brush Run 101 because the original dirt race track was 25 ¼ miles long and they raced 4 laps. Over the years, they built new race tracks that were fan friendly. Instead of having the racers complete only four laps through the countryside to win, they race on a track that’s much shorter and most of it’s in full view from almost any seat on the hillside.

I got a ride to Crandon on Saturday morning by a guy named Dave. I ran across Dave at Danny Joe’s the day or two before. Danny Joe was showing me his van. How it had an air mattress in the back with drawers underneath for storage. He showed me how he had two coils so if one failed all he had to do was switch a wire and the van would run again. He carried spare engine belts and other parts. He told me he didn’t wait until the parts failed before he’d replace them. Every 25,000 miles he’d replace the wear parts with new stuff then carry the old used parts in the van. To this day, I have a used (but in good shape) engine belt and distributor cap in my current van.

Anyway, Dave showed me a different route to Crandon then most people take. When I say most people, there were weekends when 100 people from the Marquette area would go to the race. I just realized I have too many stories about Crandon. I’ll post them another time. I guess my main point was I slept in big John’s tent on the ground that first weekend. It wasn’t fun. I went home and ordered the 1984 brown Ford van within a few weeks later. I was never going to sleep on the cold uncomfortable ground again.

The van came in a week after I lost my driver’s license, but since it was completely empty inside, I had several months to install the wheelchair lift and interior. Designing and getting the van ready was fun. I’d design and purchased the materials and my family and friends did the work. About a month before I was going to get my driver’s license, probably February I received a post card in the mail. It said, 4 night and 5 days in a plush resort in sunny Ft. Lauderdale Florida for only $49. A few days later I received a second post card from another plush resort offering the same deal. My guess is somewhere along the line when I was down there the year before with my brother John these two outfits got my name and address.

After a quick call to my buddy Jim to see if he wanted to go to Florida and I was making reservations. I was getting my driver’s license back on whatever day, so I made the reservations for the eight days the two days after that. Then it was just a matter of getting the van ready for the trip. It was less than a week before our scheduled departure date when Jim bailed on me. I must have told my mother I wasn’t going to go, because a day or so later she told me a young lady, Kate and her friend Connie would go with me. I never met Connie before and Kate only once or twice, but sure the trip was back on. But now it was like oh crap. I had quit working on the van. It was midnight the night before we were going to leave when Jay Are finished installing the hand controls so I could take the van for a 5 minute test drive. I’m not kidding. It was really only a 5 minute test drive around the parking lot at midnight and in the morning I’m leaving to Florida with two young attractive women.

At 9am sharp, just like we agreed, Kate and Connie showed up at my house on East Ridge Street. I already had my van packed with everything I thought I might need, plus, which included a complete set of tools; Tools that did come in handy on the trip. And of course the rose colored suitcase with a store bought shower/commode chair that folded up and fit in the suitcase. Yes they make them.

Now we agreed to leave at 9am, because that’s when the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles or Secretary of State’s office as it’s called in Michigan) opened, but I drove right past it on my way out of town. I had a letter from the Secretary of State (SOS) saying all I had to do was to pay $15 or so to have my license reinstated. Finally in mid afternoon in Bay City Michigan I told Kate and Connie I had to stop for my driver’s license. They were a little shocked, but when it took me less time in the SOS office to get my license than it took me to transfer into my wheelchair and exit the van that their fears quickly faded away. Plus we had lunch and probably filled the van up with gas.

I pretty much drove straight through to Florida with a four hour break to give my rear a rest somewhere during the early morning. I’ll never forget this. I woke up somewhere in Northern Florida at a gas station. I quickly jump into the driver’s seat while the girls pumped the gas. If I remember right, Kate hated traveling in a vehicle. I did almost all the driving. This four hour stretch was one of only two or three times Connie ever drove. I leave the gas station and turn right on to the four lane city street. Within two miles it’s a two lane city street. Within a mile or two we were on a country road driving through an orange grove. Hey Connie, by chance, did you take an exit off the freeway when you stopped for gas? Oh, you did! That’s good to know. Can you grab the map and see if we should stay on this country road (I read off the road sign we just passed), or should we turn around and head back to the freeway. For most if not nearly all of the trip I drove and they read the map, which worked out well. We found the freeway within 10 miles or so.  Without turning around

Ok, we arrived in Ft Lauderdale to find our resort to stay in except it wasn’t in Ft. Lauderdale and it wasn’t a resort. It was in Deerfield Beach Florida and it was a common 20 room motel on the side of the road and our room wasn’t wheelchair accessible like they promised. But we were three young 20 something Michiganders who just hours earlier were living in a town with snow covered streets. We were there to party. Now before I go any further, this was back in the mid 1980’s when the drinking age in Florida was probably still 18 years old, Florida was the place to go for spring break and Neither Kate, Connie nor I had quite grown up yet. We were teenagers in adult bodies who were still as carefree as they came.

We found a bar/club just a few blocks from the motel while exploring the town during the afternoon. After dinner and dressing in their best party clothes, remember I was with two women who had to change to go out after dinner, we showed up at the club ready to go. Well, I thought I was. I don’t think we made it ten feet into the club when the manager came over and introduced himself to us. I guess we had that look. I think it was still only a Sunday night, but the place was packed. I remember some kid with acne all over his face came up to Kate and Connie. Now, like I said, I never met Connie before 9am the day we left and barely knew Kate, so I wasn’t remotely prepared for Kate and Connie on alcohol. The poor guy with acne was told to leave pizza face I believe that’s what they called him. But it was when two guys dressed like actors from that TV show Miami Vise tried buying the girls a drink that I was introduced to Kate and Connie. These two women had tongues on them sharper then razor blades. If they thought a guy was a player, they’d cut them into little pieces faster than a wood chipper with a jet motor.

I won’t lie to you, except when it was a nice guy, it was worth the price of admission to watch them every night. After watching Kate and Connie, even getting a free drink or two from some of the guys they liked (for a while) I wandered off to chat on my own. It wasn’t long when the drinks and lack of sleep hit me. All of a sudden the cute waitress told me to follow her. She said something about me being sweet and opened a closet door. Inside she sat on my lap, kissed me and said she’d be back in a few minutes. I’m thinking to myself I’ve got four hours of sleep in the past 36 hours (24 of which were driving to Florida) and this cute girl likes me. Crap, I should have taken a nap before coming out tonight. Then I start thinking I’ll go out to the van and get a little sleep and be back for closing. I was now feeling like I had been in a boxing ring for 10 rounds and I forgot to put my hands up. My brain activity was close to zero. It was only 10 o’clock or so. I needed some sleep. I suddenly realized I was facing away from the door in a small room. I tried to turn in my wheelchair to reach the door knob, but the room was too small. Oh crap, I thought I was following a cute girl thinking I was going to get laid and instead I’m trapped in a closet. I’m dead tired but I don’t want to be in a closet either, so I started moving the pails and crap around so I could reach the door knob. It was a round knob and hard for me to turn, but after several tries and moving more and more crap I was able to reach and turn the knob. But turning the knob and opening the door with my wheelchair next to it doesn’t work. I move more crap and I was about to put a broom handle in the opening of the door so I wouldn’t have to keep trying to turn the knob when the door suddenly opened. There in the opening was Kate, Connie and the waitress. Kate and Connie started laughing and I don’t blame them. Our first night partying in Florida and I get locked in a closet.

The next day, fully rested we go out again. That’s was our MO (modus operandi) hit the clubs until 2, 3, 4 one night 5am an hour North and two counties away from Deerfield Beach and then sleep in until 10 or so. Florida, at least in the 1980s didn’t have a standard last call for alcohol like Michigan. One night we kept hopping to the next county and the one after that had later and later last calls. At 5am one morning I said no more driving away from our resort motel. oh, the waitress that put me in the closet felt bad when I told her I was brain dead because I just drove straight through from Michigan and not because i was partying all day. She even gave me free drinks for several days.

Partying with Kate and Connie was entertaining to say the least. During the day we’d hang out and have fun. Every night I never worried about needed to drive them back to the luxury resort motel that had a pool that not even the alligators swam in for fear of diseases. First of all, they were two attractive single women that may meet a nice man for the night. Then they just may end up in jail. On the second night in a club, when the manager says, hi Jerry, Kate and Connie, you’ve made an impression. Not all of them were going to be nice. And finally, Kate and Connie’s tongues were sharp. There are people in Florida that don’t laugh.

After the first night of being locked in a closet, I tended to slow down as the night went on. Leave a full drink in your can holder and everyone thinks you’re drinking. We were leaving a club when Kate started pushing me. I’m trying to stop her but she pushed me right off the sidewalk onto the parking lot were there wasn’t a ramp. I was launched out of my wheelchair. I get myself to sitting when I see these two gentleman wearing full length coats in Florida. These guys had the look of having a 38 snubbed nose gun in one pocket, a switch blade in another, a straight edged razor blade in a third and you didn’t ask what was in the forth. But they walk up to me and ask if I need help. Sure! They help me back into my wheelchair. I’m thank them and hoping to get out of there before I know what’s about to come. I’m halfway back to the van when I hear Kate and Connie. I open the door, get the lift coming down before I even look back. I’m in a hurry. I’m on my way up when I see Kate and Connie running to the van and the two guys walking this way. Connie jumps directly into the driver’s seat. She tells me we need to leave now. She backs the van into something, I don’t have a clue. I was looking out the side window at the coldest blackest eyes you’ve ever seen. Eyes just a few minutes earlier were compassionate and helping me into my wheelchair. Every night we went out and every night I felt it was 50/50 whether they rode home with me. Every night was like an unwritten short story without an ending until the final moments when we got into my van. I was in y early 20’s and it was exciting. I guess I always knew I’d be writing my life stories. I just had to live long enough to write them.

The last of our eight days we had booked at the world renowned resorts my brother John came up to visit. After our trip the year earlier John loved Florida so much he moved down there. Kate and Connie instantly dubbed him Joe Miami. A shorten version of Joe cool and Miami Vice. I left Kate and Connie at a low budget motel and left for Miami. I told them it was going to be for two days, but it turned into four. Spenser was always a gracious host.

I had fun down at my brothers, but I was two days longer then I thought I’d be. I’m pulling back up to the no-tel motel I left them at hoping they’d still be there. I started to wonder on the drive back if they had any money left. What if they’re broke? I pull up to the Roach Motel. Sitting out front on their suitcases were Kate and Connie. I’m expecting a well deserved beat down, but both Kate and Connie both hugged me. We were strangers when we started, but best of friends (Kate and I) right then and there.

Oh, I almost forgot. Danny Joe also had moved down to Florida. I stopped and visited him as well. If I remember right, he made a few adjustments on the van to make it more user friendly and comfortable. Thanks Kate and Connie for a fun time and Danny Joe for teaching me so much.

Another tidbit, we just cross the Mackinaw Bridge, the third longest in total suspension in the world and the longest suspension bridge in the Western hemisphere when I get pulled over by the boys in blue with the cute little red light on the top of their car. I never drove over 4 miles over the speed limit on the entire trip, but i just passed a logging truck and was pulling back into my lane when he nailed me. I didn’t see any logging truck as he hands me a ticket which cost me my driver’s for a year this time. I think I had my 1984 brown Ford van for three years before I put 5,000 miles on it and I drove to Florida and back during those three years.

But if you’re not having fun, what fun are you?

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Thanks for reading my blogs. I’ve received several comments asking questions and asking for a reply. I’ve tried emailing but it’s not working on my end. If you have a question you wish me to answer, please email me at

jerry@jer177.com

thanks,

jerry

Some things I just don’t understand.

Two days ago the world lost the nicest man you’ll ever meet, Mark Arnett. I’ve been fortunate to know him since our days at school. But it was when Mark and his wife Jackie moved to California that I really got to know him. For most of my years here in San Jose, I’ve lived alone. I have no family here, so the first few Christmas were alone.  When Mark and Jackie moved here they invited me to share Christmas with them. I’ll never forget the first Christmas those so so many years ago. Mark prepared one of his usual 5-star multicourse meals. A typical meal for Mark would start with slow cooking a hug rack of ribs with his own dry rub in a wood smoker at 5am just to tenderize them. While you had to endure the amazing aroma for the hours before the ribs, Mark and Jackie would offer smoked salmon, sausage, which may have been homemade, trays of appetizers,  steam muscles, soups and more. A meal at Mark and Jackie’s was always a long joyful  culinary event never a race to the finish. Then on that first Christmas we exchanged gifts. It was a Mark made hardwood cutting board. When I told him it was a thing of beauty, he told me the next time he visited it better knife marks in it. It’s used often Mark. After the round of gifts, Mark went to the Christmas tree to start another round of gifts which included me. I felt ashamed because I didn’t have a second gift for them. it was on my 4th present from them that I finally understood it wasn’t the presents they invited me to their house on Christmas, it was the friendship. They didn’t care about the presents, they cared about me. Oh, the next year and following Christmas’ I did bring more than one present. And this wasn’t just Mark on Christmas, this was Mark every day of his life. I’ve often wrote on here I’m a lucky man because I’ve got great friends. I’m proud and honored to call you a best friend. Take care buddy. Jackie, I’m so so so sorry.

I want to be elected!

I finished my income tax class today. I submitted my test and just received my results. I got a 97%. I’m very happy with that. Income taxes are easy for me. The forms make sense. Don’t get me wrong, I think we pay too much in taxes, but it’s not the income tax returns I disagree with, although I’d be just as happy with a flat tax. It’s the U.S. Congress that spends the money I disagree with. Since I’m saying something about it, I now have to vote. I’ve never voted in my life. But I haven’t complained in the past. I’m happy with my life. I have great friends. I enjoy getting out and doing things. We have good roads, streets, law enforcement that allows for it. I even enjoy staying home and reading novels. I love the little circle of my life. But last year a credit rating agency lowered the credit rating of the United States. Being a finance person, I’m now scared. What does that mean? The U.S. government has always been able to borrow money at the lowest interest rates in the world because we’ve ALWAYS paid our debts. For the first time in my life I’m afraid the U.S. will go broke ‘’in my lifetime.’’ Jerry O’Dovero, living with disabilities, quadriplegic, wheelchair

You should be afraid; if you have children or are younger, you should be very very afraid. I can guarantee if the government doesn’t cut spending, soon, it will be too late. It’s very simple the law of compounding interest. Interest rates are at all time historic lows. They’re like at a teaser rate on a credit card. Spend all you want at less than 2%, but when the trial period ends the rates will be at 15% to 20%. I’m not going to stay on this subject much longer either you believe me, you don’t or you are like I was and don’t care.

The government isn’t borrowing money just from China; the largest owner of the U.S. debt is the U.S. government. The Federal Reserve has been buying most of the government bonds the U.S. government sells so it can spend the money on crap most of us don’t benefit from. Basically the U.S. government issued itself a credit card and has been spending trillions and trillions and trillions on it. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/biggest-holders-of-us-gov-t-debt.html That’s how they’ve been able to keep the interest rates so low. The rest of the world is letting us get away with it because the world is financially barely above water. In a few years the rest of the world will have its own financial houses in order. If we don’t, we’re screwed. Interest rates on the U.S. debt are going up someday to levels the U.S. won’t be able to afford.

OK one last rant on my soap box and I’ll quit. Today the U.S. is the largest economy in the world. The U.S. consumes something like 25% of all the world’s goods and services with only 4.5% (300,000,000) of the world’s population. In 10 to 20 years, China will have a middle class alone of 300,000,000 people. And more billionaires then the rest of the world combined. India isn’t that far behind. What does this mean? The world will no longer have to kiss our ass anymore so we’ll buy their crap. Someday in the not too distant future the rest of the world will be rich enough to buy the crap they make themselves. They won’t lend us money at cheap or very low interest rates. They won’t have too.

My advice, the people that have been reelected term after term after term have created this mess. They spend our money like drunken sailors. WAIT, that’s an insult to drunken sailors. When drunken sailors run out of money they have the common sense to quit spending.  DO NOT REELECT THEM at any level of government. Kick the bums out and put new bums in office. If we do this every election for the next 20 years they’ll get the message and start doing the right thing rather than selling their souls to get reelected.

Now, electing the president is a little different. The 22 amendment limits the president to two terms or 10 years. You should elect the president for two reasons; the rest of the crap is hot air. First, he/she is the commander and chief of our military. The most powerful military the world has ever seen. Is he/she going to keep us safe without starting WWIII? Second, the president appoints federal judges and most importantly the Supreme Court judges. The federal courts and especially the Supreme Court interpret the laws for as long as they stay a judge, in the Supreme Court, usually for the rest of their lives. You should pick a president with the same moral values you have regardless of their party.

Whether you believe me or not, these are the glory days. I’m going to finally start voting. I hope you do as well.

Know when to hold them and know when to run like hell

Two days ago I received a text message from a buddy of mine, Dino. It was his birthday and they were heading to a casino in Marina California. It’s an hour drive south of here. I’ve got great friends. I haven’t seen Dino in months. I don’t call him very often on the phone. Yet on his birthday he invites me to spend it with him and he knows I’ll drive an hour south for him. My friends Steve, Jackie and many others are the same. I have faults too many to start listing all of them now. One is I’m not the type to keep in constant contact but my friends still love me. I’m a lucky and fortunate man. Jerry O’Dovero, jer177.com, c-6 quadriplegic, living with disabilities

The last time Dino and I went to the casino I won over $100 dollars. I think that night he called me at 9 o’clock on a Tuesday night and wanted to know if I’d go. I’m not a gambler, I’m more of the ‘’give me a reason to leave my place’’ and I’m gone. That first time we went, I couldn’t do anything wrong at the casino. We were playing texas holdem. I think I had four suited cards after the flop on my second hand and a flush by the turn. Have you ever seen the movie, the color of money staring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise? Tom Cruise’ character was kind of a naive pool player that played pool for the love of the game. While Tom Cruise’ character had natural talent and often won because of it, his mouth would be yapping all night long about the dumbest things. That’s me when I leave my apartment. Once I start talking I can’t stop. Pat is right. Once I start talking the only way to stop me is to interrupt me. I laughed when he said that one day, because it’s so true. Well that first night at the casino I had three monster hands in the first 8 or 10. After that, no one could read me. I was just yapping about dumb things and raising – even when the cards didn’t go my way. People couldn’t scare me out of a hand because I acted like I didn’t care what their cards were. I acted like I had a monster hand and if they had a better hand then great. I’ll beat them the next time.

Now that first night at the casino with Dino I’m up $150 and having fun yapping. I’ve got a jack of spades or maybe even the queen of spades and another lower spade in my hand. On the flop comes three spades. All lower cards. Dino, who is sitting next to me raises, lady across from us raises and I do the same. Dino raises again, the lady raises and I do the same again. I don’t remember, but the raises were like $6. On the turn, the next card is another lower spade. Dino raises, the lady raises and I fold. I’ve got a queen high flush, but I fold. I knew someone had the ace. Last night Dino said I said it out loud at the table after I folded when I was telling this story to a buddy of his. Sure enough, when the dust settled and there was well over $100, maybe $200 or more in the pot someone had the ace of spades. Dino flips the ace of spades over with authority. If the card was made out of glass, it would have shattered when it hit the felt table. Dino turns to me and smiles. His emotions are high, his heart is pounding, but instantly we both turn to look at the lady across the table. As much as Dino and I wanted to high five, you don’t count your money while at the table, or is it you don’t count your chickens before they hatch?  Anyway the lady flips over two lower spades. I’m not wearing my glasses so I look at Dino then over to the dealer as he readjusts the cards. My look turns back to Dino as the massive high he just had turns into disappointment. The lady had a straight flush. While I knew my queen high flush was never going to win, I was so sure Dino had it with the ace.

So last night I pull into the parking lot of the casino in my 1994 polo green metallic 1994 Cadillac El Dorado. It’s a dark green color that looks black in the shade or at night. I had a forest green 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle with a pea soup green interior. I hated that interior color. I hated it so much I gave my brother Pete the car for free and promised myself I’d never buy another green car again. But then the green motor home came along and finally the green 1994 Cadillac El Dorado. The Cadillac was only $3,500. I need a little bigger 2 door car so I can fit my wheelchair behind the driver’s seat. Within 30 seconds of putting the car in park, Dino texted me. R u coming? I’m in the parking lot right now. I already had the wheelchair out of the car when Dino walked up. We go inside where Dino was playing pool with his buddy Jim. A little while later I’m playing pool.

I’ll never forget my first game of pool game after the accident. It was in Green Bay Wisconsin. Jay Are and I are down there in January. It was frigging cold. It was -10 to -15 degrees out. It was so cold the cruise control froze on on the ride down. The cruise control being froze on wasn’t a big problem.  It was weird though. Every mile or so the van would gain a mile an hour in speed. When we’d get near 5 mph over the 55 mph speed limit, Jay Are would brake the van down to 50 mph and start over. Things were going fine for an hour, but then all of a sudden a police car is following us. Soon the van is going 56 mph, then 57 mph, then 58 mph. We’re in Wisconsin, if you get a ticket in Wisconsin and you’re from out of state, you have to pay the fine on the spot. While we did have a cooler with some beer in it, Jay Are and I never drink and have open cans or bottles while driving. But does the cop give a ticket for something anyway? It’s our word against his. Jay Are says he needs to brake at 59 mph, only a minute away. Braking will put the brake lights on that’s what he didn’t want. Right as Jay Are is about to brake, the cop pulls to the side of the road so you can pull a u-turn on the road.

As cold as it was, I’ve lived through colder weather. One winter it never got above -20 degrees for a month. At times it was -40 degrees and colder during that winter. The city water at my house froze. The city water for most of Marquette froze that winter. They couldn’t thaw it out at my house so we got our water from my neighbor, Mrs. Zenti’s house through a garden hose. The garden hose was wrapped in insulation and buried under snow. Then we never turned the water off until spring. If you don’t know, running or moving water doesn’t freeze. That winter the city told everyone to let their water run in a sink until spring when it warmed up. No one in Marquette received a water bill that winter. So Jay Are and I drove my still empty (no interior) 1984 ford van to Green Bay to buy swivel bases for the captain’s chairs. I also bought a tri-fold electric sofa bed. Actually I bought two $350 plastic can holders and received a free bed. It’s a joke because I negotiated with the salesman for a half hour to give me the can holders for free if I bought the bed. Oh, that reminds me while I’m trying to get the free can holders, for fun Jay Are asks the salesman if they had a sliding glass window for a 1972 El Camino. It turned out they did.

After our fun at the custom auto parts store, we went to a sports bar for dinner. Jay Are asked me if I wanted to play pool. Jay Are was in a pool league and shot pool all the time. Me, if I said I played more than three games since the accident I’d be lying. But Jay Are’s a great guy, so why not. It wasn’t long into the game when the ball I wanted to shoot in was next to a pocket and the cue ball was inches away. It was a shot that most would lean across the table, maybe lifting a leg to really stretch for it and tap it in. that shot was never going to work for me – even with that stick that has the weird thing that kind of looks like the knuckle of a hand that you put your stick in to use as a guide wouldn’t work. I just couldn’t reach. Jay Are then says, why don’t you bank the shot. I laughed. Jay Are’s always been a comedian. Back in the 80’s he was the type that could remember jokes and tell them later on. He also could make up jokes on his own. He had a bunch of skinny jokes. Jay Are was skinny, probably still is I haven’t seen him in a while. I’m so skinny that when I wear a striped shirt it has only one strip. Or something like that. I can’t remember or tell jokes. Jay Are could. But the great friend Jay are is he walks over to the rail on the other side of the pool table, puts his finger on the rail of the table and tells me to aim my shot with the cue ball at his finger. I trust Jay Are, so I take the shot at his finger. I make the shot. It turns out my next shot was going to be a bank shot as well. Jay Are shows me with his finger where to hit the rail and I make that shot as well. Two or three shots later and I win the game. Then some guy walks up to the table and racks the balls. He had a quarter hiding on the edge of the table making him the next in line to play the winner – me. With Jay Are’s help, I win the game. The guy was nice about it, he didn’t mind Jay Are helping me. He even congratulated me and told me I played a good game. That night of playing pool changed my life. I now knew I could play pool. Thanks Jay Are. I’m sorry I don’t say it enough.

I moved to California in 1995, by myself. My first friend was a neighbor in my apartment complex. The door to his apartment was right across from mine. I open my door, look 20 feet and see his door. One Thursday night I get a knock on my door. It was Al. I had already prepared my dinner. I was about to make a salad and eat, but when he asked if I wanted to go to the Elks Lodge for prime rib dinner, I said sure. It was the first time Al ever knocked on my door. We said hi to each other from time to time, but nothing for more than a minute or two.

Al was a small skinny 80 year old Italian guy. Al was one of those kind of guys that was locked into his routine and he was never going to change. Ops, that a lie, but I’ll get to that soon this is a shorter story. I still have to get to gambling with Dino later night before you get bored.

Al was a member of the Elks lodge for years. As a member, he could invite a guest every night he went. That turned out to be me, for a year until I joined and became a member. Every Thursday night Al ate the prime rib dinner. The few times they had New York strip instead of the prime rib he complained about something. It was too tough, or over cooked or something was wrong every time. You had to love Al for who he was you weren’t going to change him. After dinner we’d play five or six games of pool on the Elks big regulation sized pool tables. If I couldn’t reach a lot of shots on a bar smaller tables, I was reaching a lot less on the Elks tables. I had to try bank half my shots. Oh, Al played pool hall rules, not bar rules. In a bar, once a ball is sunk in a pocket it’s out of play the rest of the game. Al’s pool hall rules were different. If you scratched you had to take a ball you already sunk and put it back on the table. Al’s rules for a scratch were not only when you put the cue ball in a pocket, but you also had to hit one of your balls when you shot. You also had to make a ball or hit a rail with either the cue ball or the ball you hit. You couldn’t just tap the cue ball into one of your balls to hide it so the other guy didn’t have a shot and would scratch if he didn’t his ball. To make a long story not as long as it could be, I often had a ball placed back on the table. There were times when they were several balls lined up because I’d keep scratching under Al’s rules. Oh, Al had two store bought pool cues. Well one he won playing pool in a tournament, and one his wife bought him. He hated the one his wife bought him. It was simple. Al was an old Italian that grew up during the recession. Al didn’t waste money. His wife gave him a pool cue for Christmas. What bothered him was she paid $400 for a cue stick he didn’t need. He had one. Al didn’t understand the concept of giving.

I have to speed this story up. I have to get going pretty soon. Al and I played five or six games when at the Elks. Al won five or six games a night. A good night for me was when I won a game. On the rare nights I won two, oh my god I was the happiest guy on earth. Al never missed a shot on purpose. It wasn’t until years later when my brother Paul came out to live with me that Al started to miss. I knew he was missing on purpose because he’d miss by a country mile. Unlike Al, sometimes my friends Kip and Steve will miss a ball once in a while. I know they’re doing it. They know I know they’re doing it, but it makes the game last a little long and we all have fun. For us it’s about the fun first, winning third. Back at the Elks the three of us Al, Paul and myself would play cut throat where the three of us would play. Each of us would get 5 of the 15 balls. To win the game you had to knock in the other 10 balls while not yours. Basically, the guy with a ball on the table at the end won. For whatever reason, Al never played his A game once Paul moved here. Al never played his B game once Paul moved here. I often told Paul Al was a poll shark, but he didn’t believe me. One night at the Elks before we moved Al to the veterans’ center in Napa he said he was tired. I knew what that meant, so I told Paul to watch Al. between Paul and I, we had eight balls on the table. For Al to win, no for the game to end so Al could go home he needed to make eight balls. Al sunk all eight balls in a row. I don’t think it took him a minute. I think it was the way he controlled the cue ball that got to Paul. After the ball went in, the cue ball would roll forward, backwards or bounce off the rail to line up perfect for the next shot. Paul just gave me a look of dismay.

Even though I lost 90% of the games I played with Al, I loved going to the Elks with him. thanks Al for the wonderful memories.

Back to the casino with Dino the other night, I won a game of pool. OK the guy scratched on the eight ball, but he was up five balls on me right away before I made my first ball. Then I made the next five balls before he scratched, so I felt pretty good. But it got me thinking of my early pool days and it got me yapping. Then we went into the casino side of the building to play texas holdem. My yapping carried over. If you’ve never played texas holdem live with others, most of the time the room is quieter then church. Most of the players don’t says anything but check, raise or fold. Before I arrived at the table, I bet half the players didn’t say much more than that. Me, I was talking. Now if I don’t get lucky in the first 10 hands and win a big pot or two, I go into silent mode too. I didn’t have any money on me, so I told Dino I needed to hit a cash machine. Dino says not too that he had me covered. I got to the table and there was $100 in chips waiting for me. I’m not even completely pulled up to the table when the dealer dealt me two cards. Wait I said. He said, it’s a free ride, thought you wanted to be in? what? The blinds are right here (he points to someone else). The gray haired man with a gray beard sitting next to me says it’s fine I don’t have to put any chips in. OK. I look at the two hold cards that had nothing in common, throw them away when it’s my turn and say, it’s a good thing they were free. I won’t want to pay for them. On the third hand everyone stops and looks at me. The older gentleman next to me says I’m in the big blind. Ok how much? You owe $2. Oh OK! I look at my two cards that are dealt face down. I have a king jack suited and I’m in the big blind. That means my $2 are in the pot whether I like my cards or not. 4 or 5 of the 9 other players toss in $2 and call me. On the flop the first three cards the dealer flips over that everyone uses to make their hand is a jack and two lower cards. I’ve got top pair on the board, my jacks with a king kicker. The next card the dealer flips over is another lower card that doesn’t match up well with any of the other cards. By the time it came around to me there was another $24 in the pot and I had to pony up $6, which I do. The last card is a jack. I now have three of a kind. Again, by the time it was my turn there was more money in the pot and I owe $6 to stay in. I do. After everyone flips over their cards, I flip over the winning hand. As I’m pulling in my chips, the older gentleman next to me says, don’t be fooled by him (me) he knows how to play. That was beautiful. A couple of hands later I get dealt an ace queen of spades. On the flop are three lower cards and only one spade. Only two people before me stayed in with a $2 call. I raise to $6 and say something like it’s such a nice number. The next card was a ten and not a spade. Again I push in the $6 and say something. The last card was a two. I only had a king high. I hear a check. Without looking to see who even said it, I say $6 more for me. I didn’t even get the chips in the pot when I hear, I fold. If the others at the table think you’re a good player, it’s hard for them to know when you’re bluffing.

The night went on and I had fun. I won a few more hands, one with a full house and lost a few especially near the end. When Dino asked for trays to put his winnings in I did the same. Sorry everyone, he’s my driver, I told them even though I drove. I toss the dealer $5 in chips that Dino didn’t see because when he racked my chips he threw the dealer at least that many. I was told I won $30 when all was said and done. It was Dino’s birthday and I played with his money. I wasn’t taking a penny of it. I only wished it could have been more. I’m a lucky man. I have great friends.

Happy birthday Dino!!

Lay’s potato chips. You can’t eat just one

Jim and I woke up in a grass field on the outskirts of Sault Ste. Marie or as us Uppers like to call it, the Soo feeling pretty good. We’re going to see Mackinaw Island for the first time in our lives. This was before college, so we were there to party, look for women and have fun. We weren’t there with cameras taking pictures of the tourist stuff. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but there was a police chase before we took the ferry back to the mainland. Jerry O’Dovero, jer177.com, quadriplegic, living with a disability. (I think this is how Google tags my site. Not sure)

It’s funny how one will live next door to a tourist attraction and never visit it. I lived in Marquette Michigan for 32 years and never visited the Marquette Maritime Museum which was only 4 blocks from my house. In my poor attempt to give a weak excuse, my house on Ridge Street was several hundred feet above the level of Lake Superior and the museum was only 20 to 30 feet above lake level. The last block on Ridge Street drops the most. Going down the hill in a wheelchair is easy. You just put your hands on the brakes levers that brake the rear wheelchair tires and start rolling down – braking as needed well ALL the way down. It’s pushing the wheelchair back up the hill is the challenge. Now I have done it a few times when I was first injured. It would probably take me at least a half hour to an hour to make it up that one long steep block. Now that I’m old and turning gray, if God were to say, make it up that hill and you get a free ride into heaven, I’m in trouble. My advice is to take on challenges and push yourself to do things when you’re younger, because you may not be able to when you’re older with a disabled body.

It wasn’t until I moved to California that I started doing the tourist things in the Marquette area. I’d ask my brothers and sisters if I could borrow their children, my nieces and nephews for a day. We’d then go play tourists. We not only went to Marquette’s maritime museum, but the ski museum in Ishpeming, the iron museum in Negaunee and several other tourist sites as well. For me it was a blast. Not only was I being a tourist where I grew up, but I got to spend time with my nieces and nephews as well. The part I loved the best was how they changed from year to year watching them grow into teenagers from young children.

After a few years of being a tourist in the Marquette area with my nieces and nephews, our day outings morphed into a birthday outing. I always gave my nieces and nephews a birthday present. Even when I moved to California I’d send them something. Then one year I forgot my nephew Jimmy’s birthday. When he came up to me when I was back visiting and told me that, I felt bad, so I took him out so he could pick out a present. I bet I enjoyed it more than he did, so the next year I quit mailing birthday presents to the kids and took them all birthday shopping in Marquette when I was back visiting.

Now I know I had more fun than they did. At the time there must have been 10 or more kids at a wide range of ages. When I was buying the presents out here in California and mailing them, I’d spend $25 each time on the present and shipping, so when we went out in Marquette birthday shopping, I told them they had the same $25 each to spend. It was so fun watching them spending their allotted money and what each individual child would pick. Some would blow it all on one item like a super soaker squirt gun, a Zippo liter or other weapons of mass destructions. Some would buy a few less expensive items like Pokémon cards and toys until they hit $25. One niece would buy one large stuffed animal while another would buy more mature items like glass figurines that a woman would have displayed in her house. And how they spent the money was so different between each and every one of them. Some would buy one present for $20 and quit. Most would buy right up to the $25 area. It was fun watching them trying to do the math. Some could while others would say how much more do I get to spend Uncle Jerry? Then there was always the one that would push the limits, this costs $35 but I really, really, really want it, please, please, please Uncle Jerry! Do I need to write it? Or have you already figured it out I’d give in?

Crap! Side tracked again. Mackinaw Island with Jim. On the way to the ferry, Jim and I stopped and bought a pint of root beer schnapps and a 12 pack of wine coolers. Once on the island, we rented a hotel room right away. It was one of the older grander houses on the main drag that was converted into a? Well, I’d guess you’d call it a bed and breakfast. The room cost well over $100 for the night. The house had 10 steps or so to get to the front door. But that never bothered my family or friends. My family and friends have pulled me up 5 times that many steps on many occasions – without ever dropping me. I should say family and my very close best friends. I’ve been dropped by strangers, friends and even a few what I’d call good friends, but never by what I’d call my close circle of friends and family.

Once we secured a room for the night it was time to explore the island. Mackinaw Island is world famous for their fudge. If you go to Mackinaw Island for the first time without trying the fudge, you might as well go to the Vatican and not go to St. Peter’s square, Paris and not look at the Eiffel tower or New Orleans and not trying the Cajun food. Two other things Mackinaw Island is known for is the Grand Hotel and not allowing motorized vehicles on the island. The island is only 3.8 square miles, so bicycles, the horse drawn carriages, your feet or wheelchair or more than enough to tour the island.

Back in those days I used to have a hat collection. I’d buy a baseball style cap from all the places I’d visit. I had long since quit wearing them, but I still liked collecting them. I bought two caps, one tourist Mackinaw Island cap and one that was state police blue with the Michigan State Police badge on it. Jim bought the police cap and a FBI or CIA cap. I forget which one. We probably should have been wearing them later that night. It might have kept us out of trouble.

OK I lied! During the day Jim and I did the tourist things by checking out the shops and wandering up and down the streets checking out the sights. It was fun plus I’m a people watcher too. But I had to enjoy the sites with one eye and avoid wheeling on the horse crap on the streets with the other. They did a good job shoveling it up, but it would still get on my wheels which would get on my hands if I wasn’t careful. I think a few people thought I was touched in the head the way I’d all of a sudden wheel from my straight line down the center of the street to the curve and then back to the center of the street over and over and over again.

It was around 6 o’clock when we decided to head up to the Grand hotel for dinner. We both knew it was going to be a $100 meal and neither of us was rich, but again, you don’t go to New Orleans and not try the Cajun food. That’s why Jim and I bought the wine coolers and the schnapps. We were going to keep our alcohol cost lower and spend our money on the tourist things, but still party like rock stars. We were in ours 20’s, single, out of town and vacation. That reminds me, we might have bought a bottle of rum as well. Anyway, we put a couple of bottles of the wine coolers in my back pack and we’re on our way up the hill to the Grand hotel for dinner.

If there was a ramp into the hotel, I don’t remember, I’m pretty sure Jim didn’t give me time to look or didn’t care. Up the front steps we went. For those of you who don’t know much about Mackinaw Island or the Grand hotel, it was built in the late 1800’s. It’s a Victorian style building that five US Presidents, the Prime Minster of Russia, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison and many other famous people have visited. The first public display of Thomas Edison’s phonograph along with several others of his inventions was first displayed to the public there. If you’re a movie buff, the film ‘’somewhere in time’’ starring Christopher Reeves was filmed at the Grand hotel. It also has the longest front porch of any building in the world of 660 feet.

Jim and I weren’t in the hotel for more than a few minutes when we were asked to put on our dinner jackets. I believe after 6 o’clock in the evenings you’re required to be wearing a suit or dinner jacket. It probably was less than a minute later we were politely asked to leave. We said we would, but we didn’t. Jim suggested we should at least have one drink at the bar, which I thought was a reasonable request. The 20 something cute college student who was working her summers to pay for college at the hotel reluctantly gave in when we promised to at least leave the bar with our drinks so she wouldn’t get in trouble. She was sweet. She gave us the drinks for free and told us not to go in the direction we were heading but another. It didn’t help. We didn’t last too much longer when two very large gentlemen found us. I quickly asked them if they could kindly show us the way out that we had become lost. They did. At the door both Jim and I finished our drinks and handed them our empty glasses and thanked them for hospitality, in the tone of the lord of the house thanking his butler, and turned to leave. One smiled while the other looked at us like we weren’t the first smart ass college kids trying to run amuck in the Grand hotel and were shown the door. I am willing to bet we got farther than most. We were there for 15 to 20 minutes (after 6 o’clock at night without a dinner jacket), looked in several rooms and had a drink from the bar.

Leaving the Grand hotel for the main drag was easy. It’s all downhill. Since Jim started running, I free rolled it. It didn’t take us long to spot our next point of interest. There were three letters in bright neon that Jim seen and it was seven for me. Bar for Jim and it was seafood for me. Since it was only around seven o’clock the bar wasn’t too full yet. We made our way to the second room of the bar that was used later in the evening when the college students finished their day jobs and came out to party. The room was completely empty except for a cute blond hair girl behind the bar studying or reading a book. We still had my backpack filled with wine coolers, so Jim orders two ice waters. I’m starving so I asked what the specials are. The cute bartender tells me a dozen oysters for only a few dollars. Sure I said, let’s start with them. I think I ordered fish dinner as well. Jim didn’t order. He said something like not ruining a $40 drunk on a $5 meal. I had to eat. I was starving.

When Jim got the two glasses of ice water, he tried to be sneaky and dump the water out in a plant in the corner of the room. He then, again thinking he was sneaky took two bottles of wine coolers out of my back pack, filled the glasses then put the empties in a trash can without making any noise. The bartender looks at me. I shrug my shoulders and in a quiet voice tell her, yes he’s with me. She smiled and shook her head than looked back at her book to play along with Jim’s rouse. When the oysters came they were still in the shell. I guess that’s why they were cheap. Jim looks at the pail of unshucked oysters and said he doesn’t like oysters. The sweet bartender says she’s shuck them for me. I’m eating a dozen oysters by myself when Jim orders two more glasses of ice water. The bartender looks at Jim. In a ‘’you’re kidding me look’’ asks him if he’d rather just have glasses of ice? I answered yes please for him. When Jim took his full glass of ice and wine cooler to the other room in the bar to scout out the women, I look at the bartender and say, yes, he’s with me. She was a bartender in a college bar. I’m sure she’s seen a lot worse than Jim and I. At least Jim and I are happy drunks that never get in fights. I chatted with her while having my dinner. She was in her 2nd or 3rd year of college. She was from somewhere down state. I remember her saying she liked working on the island because she made good money.

After I had a good meal and Jim couldn’t find any girls to flirt with, we were off. As we passed the house with our room, Jim runs inside and grabs our pint of schnapps. I felt like I was at least two drinks behind him all night, so it sounded like a good idea. At the next bar we stopped at, before going in we take a swig off the bottle. Jim then comes up with the brilliant plan to hide the bottle behind the bar so the cops won’t find it on us later. Sure Jim, good idea. As we wandered the streets, Jim was on a roll. Me, it was my night to just sit back and enjoy the free entertainment. If you’ve never met Jim, he’s a happy go lucky guy that can be entertaining. I’m not just talking when he’s drinking. Jim doesn’t drink much anymore. He’s just a happy man. He naturally has the ability to talk to any and everyone. And this night on Mackinaw Island he didn’t stutter a word. He was putting a smile on nearly every girl he talked to. If she had a cool shirt on, pretty earrings or an interesting tattoo he had the perfect comment. Jim was flirting with girls that had boyfriends right next to them. While most didn’t mind, a few did. Jim would later say something like; it’s not my fault she’s with her brother. A bar or two later we find one that has live music. I think it was called the Pub. I think it had a long ramp in it. The place was pack. Since both Jim’s and my best feature is talking, places with loud music tend to slow us down. What I mean by that is in a church we are useless at talking to people when there is a loud voice coming from the pulpit that commands everyone’s attention. But once that loud commanding voice is gone, we both can greet, meet and become friends with everyone there. Since Jim was on a roll, a bar with live wasn’t going to be fun for long. Plus, the band sucked. The college kids in the band needed a new lead singer. Or at least play songs that he could sing. Jim had been lead singer in a band at one time. Soon he was singing out loud, better then the lead singer of the band. It wasn’t long; maybe another song or two when I was following Jim up the ramp to leave. About 2/3rd up the long ramp when all of a sudden the entire bar starts applauding. I turn my head to see what’s happening when I notice everyone in the bar; even the band stopped playing and was applauding us leaving. I yelled to Jim what was going on, which only fired him up all the more. He starts waving to the crowd like he’s Elvis leaving the stage. I’ve never had that happen before or since. It was definitely a once in a life time experience.

We’re wandering up the street, Jim still singing a song when he sees two cute girls without their brothers around. He quickly switches to a new song and starts serenading them. These girls start smiling and enjoying the attention. I’m thinking we might get laid. Jim you’re doing great – don’t screw it up. But within a minute or two – two cops show up and tell Jim to quit singing or he’s going to jail. Right away the girls leave as Jim gets read the riot act. The message was crystal clear, quit singing or jail. A block or so later and Jim spots two new girls without their brothers and tries it again. One girl had a punk look so he singing a more of a metal song and again they’re loving the attention. Jim doesn’t even finish the song when the cops show up again. OK you’re going to jail. The girls probably had pot on them because they are gone before I could even plead one word for one more chance. We’ve just been cock blocked twice in five minutes by these two cops. It was a lot of fast talking, but I get them to give us one more chance. We quickly leave before they change their minds.

To get Jim’s mind off of singing to girls on the street, I suggest we go to the bar where our bottle of schnapps was hiding and have a drink than go inside. I’m sitting in front of the bar when Jim runs around back to grab our pint. Of course our two friends who couldn’t get laid in a women’s prison with a carton of cigarettes quickly show up. Hey, your friend cannot go behind the bar to piss. I told them he wasn’t, but they didn’t care. They had decided Jim was going to jail and there was nothing I could say or do anymore to change it. Some people get locked into their holier than thou attitude and there is nothing you’re going to ever say or do to change it. Sometimes it doesn’t even pay to try.

I sit in front of the bar for 20 minutes waiting for Jim or at least the cops to tell me my buddy is arrested, but nope. No one returns. I finally go inside to wait. I’m chatting with a girl for 20 minutes, but there are 10 steps between the street level I’m now at and my hotel bed. I didn’t even ask her back to my hotel. I remember her asking me for my telephone number because she was going to be in Marquette later that summer. She did call me, but I had gotten that DWI on the 4th of July, so we never hooked up. I’ve never been a closer anyway.

I wheel back to the house I’m renting a room at for the night. I took a quick piss in the bushes just to piss the cops off then set about getting up the steps. I didn’t sit there for more than a minute when a large group of young men came walking up the street. I think my first impression was military, but they could have been college just as easy. Excuse me, my buddy is in jail and I need to get up these steps to go to bed. Yes I’m renting a room here. What do you need to do? OK I only need two of you. Who feels tough tonight? OK you grab my back handles here and pull me up the steps one at a time and you grab my front feet rest and make sure we only go up the steps one at a time and not back down. You don’t have to lift (talking to the guy who’s taking the feet rest) you’re job is to push the wheelchair into the step when he (the guy pulling me from behind) readjusts his feet up a step. And remember (in a half joking voice to the guy on the bottom at my feet rest) if we start coming back down we’re running you over. Your job is to NOT let that happen. Instantly the guy looked scared. Just as fast, another stepped forward saying he understood and he’ll take the feet rest (bottom end). Up and down steps isn’t that hard. The problem arises when the wheelchair rolls out of the step when the guy on the top is readjusting his feet up or down a step. Or more often, they try to go two steps without readjusting their feet. If you’re the guy on top, never, never, never try to raise and especially lower the wheelchair more than one step without readjusting your feet each step the wheelchair goes up or down. I don’t care how strong you think you are, you will fail and the wheelchair will fall down the steps out of control if you try going two steps without moving your feet up or down a step as well. But if you take your time and readjust your feet up or down a step for every step the wheelchair goes up or down one, it’s easy and safe. I’ve had two girls help me up two or more steps before. My sister Jean did it once all by herself. If it’s two or more steps, I ALWAYS go up backwards and down forwards. ALWAYS! If it’s only one step I usually go up forwards and down backwards. It’s a lot easier on the person helping doing it that way for only one step, plus they can’t screw up and drop you. Now if it’s family or a very close friend and I’m pointed out for one step down or vice versa and they want to continue that way, I never stop them. They know what they are doing.

Once safely inside the house I meet the caretaker. I must have that type of face, look or aura that tells others I like to talk and/or listen. Yes Pat, I sometimes listen. It was late, but I’m pretty sure this guy was in his late 80’s. The first thing he asks me is if I wanted a vanilla wafer cookie. I’m polite so sure. Now, the majority of the time I would have said no. Cookies are made with the wrong ingredients that cause weight gain. The 2nd reason is I try to never eat late at night, again because of gaining weight. I have to lift my body in and out of bed, the shower, my vehicles and even the floor when I fall out of my wheelchair. Gaining weight is bad for me.

I was out here in California for a year and a half when my mother came out to visit. After a few hours of chatting, my mother goes into the kitchen and starts looking for something. I asked her what she’s looking for thinking I know where everything is, but she doesn’t say a word. She just continues to look in each and every cabinet and drawer. She even starts looking in the cabinets above the counters, cabinets I being in a wheelchair cannot possible reach. She must know they are all empty? She knows I’m in a wheelchair and cannot reach them? As she’s looking, her search becomes more and more intense. It starts to resemble an FBI agent looking for weapons of mass destruction. Her search became so intense I begin to wonder if there is anything in the kitchen I don’t want her to find. It’s been decades since I smoked pot, so she won’t find that. I keep my condoms in the night stand next to my bed, so I’m safe there. I’m thinking hard, but I can’t think of anything that I wouldn’t want her to find or that would warrant such a though search of my kitchen. Finally after she looks in the last cabinet. The one above my fridge. I’ve only been here a year and a half. I don’t think the spiders have made it up there yet to make their cobwebs when my mother turns to me and asks where I keep my potato chips and cookies? You could have knocked me over and out of my wheelchair with a feather I was so at a loss for what just happened. Startled, I told her I don’t have any. When she looked at me like I was lying and just hiding them from her, I told her I never buy them. Soon my mother is off to the grocery store to buy cleaning supplies. My mother loves to clean. I’m sure my apartment isn’t her only child’s place she’s cleaned in the past. When she returned from the store with the cleaning supplies, she also had a big bag of bar-b-q lays potato chips and another type I forget. The first cabinet she opens, she finds my bowls. Lucky guess? After empting the entire bag into the bowl and placing it on the table, she grabs a pail and towels to clean my bathroom. It didn’t take me long to wander over to the chips and start eating. I probably ate a third of them before my dry mouth got the best of me. After pouring a tall glass of milk, I’m wheeling back to the table and chips. I see several of the bar-b-q colored chips on the floor. I look at my hand and see the coloring on my fingers. I lick my lips to taste the bar-b-q flavoring after I take a drink of milk when my mother comes out of the bathroom with a startled look. Jerry, I thought you didn’t like potato chips? She asks. Wiping the milk and chip power from my mouth with my sleeve of my shirt, I respond, I don’t say I didn’t like potato chips, I said I never buy them.

I found that if you don’t have food in the house to snack on, you can’t snack on food later at night when you NEED it the least. But I’m polite, so when this nice old man in an old victorian style bed and breakfast on Mackinaw Island at 1:30 in the morning offered me a hard old vanilla wafer cookie, I accepted.

Even though I’m ready to call it a night, especially since I had a late night at the Soo the night before and I needed to get off my rear. Sitting too many hours and getting pressure sores is always a constant threat. But for some reason I could tell this nice older man was alone in life. I’m guessing his wife passed away and the kids have lives of their own so they’re not around every day. Because he just started talking when he realized I was going to listen. He handed me two cookies and started talking. He offers me another two vanilla wafers, and he asks if I wanted a can of (Vernor’s) ginger ale. He then tells me the story of how Vernor’s ginger ale was invented in Michigan. He also told me stories of ship wrecks, a little history of the island itself and I believe some of his life. I’m sure I asked him about it. Finally after enjoying his wonderful interesting stories until 4:30am, I tell him I need to call it a night.

I start digging in my back pack for the room key when the nice older gentleman told me he’d open the door. I take the prescription pills I always take before bed, take off my shoes and transfer into bed. I wasn’t in bed for 5 seconds when there is a knock on the door. Since it must be the nice older man wanting to see if I made it to bed, tell me checkout is at 10am, but not to worry because we were up so late together or something like that, I softly yelled it was OK for him to open the door with his key. A minute or two later there is Jim standing there in the open doorway. Even though he didn’t really do anything ‘’that’’ wrong, the nice boys in blue (police) chased him into a park where he said he lost them. He then fell asleep under the bench or where ever he was hiding.

Like Jim, I’ve skated a thin line sometimes with the law. But I’ve never stole from anyone, beat up anyone or caused anyone any harm. I’d rather be happy in life and make those around me happy. I’ve had a few friends ask me to tell my Florida trip with Kate and Connie. That’s about where I am on my time line anyway so it will be next or soon.

comments….

I’d like to thank everyone for the positive comments and feed back. When I started this sight, I had no idea if anyone would read it, like it or even be interested. I just did what I do best, I just started talking (typing). Jerry O’Dovero  jer177.com

One comment said I don’t know what I’m talking about, and there is some truth to that. I won’t argue. And another claimed I was just whining. The truth is I kind of thought I was as well. The first few years after the accident was a new life I had zero experience in. I deleted a few stories because I thought I might be complaining or whining too much. But I left most of the stories for two reasons. 1) my target audience is persons with disabilities, their families and friends. I want them to know that even though I now travel across the country in a 36′ motor home alone, I felt alone and afraid for a few years after the accident. If I can tell it to the world on the world wide web, then it’s OK for everyone to be afraid sometimes. Not everyone is born with the confidence to be a cheerleader, captain of the football team or leader of the free world. But if you try and sometimes fail, life gets better, even wonderful. 2) my blog is not unlike a book. Although I might sound like I’m whining a little in the beginning, the first few chapters, it’s the foundation for the rest of the story or book.

I find once I accomplish something ”once” I’m never afraid of it anymore. I feel you’re up to speed on the early years after the accident. Now my stories will be a little more exciting.

Now, Several questions have been asked. I don’t know how the RSS feed thing works. I’m not a computer person. sorry. Or how the sight works or downloads. Sorry.

My web page is on Inmotion Hosting. http://www.inmotionhosting.com/ My page layout is through WordPress http://wordpress.org/ I don’t know how they work either. Sorry again. I had help from my friend Anne getting started. I was lost without her help.

My goal is to try write one blog a week.

I’m getting hungry and my brain starting to quit working. Thanks again everyone.