Monday, March 26, 2012

World War II vet (true hero)

He is 93 years old and still has a gleam in his eyes. My wife and I took this WWII vet to a dinner theatre as a gesture for employing my wife for the sale of his house. We were going to see Oklahoma! We pulled up in front of his new residence and as he approached the car slightly bent over with a cane keeping him steady I thought of the great bald eagle. Our great American symbol. His eyes were sharp and full of knowledge. The slight crouch reminded me of the position right before take off. I couldn’t wait to talk to him. Wayne got in the car and off we went.

After our initial greeting my wife and Wayne began singing the first line to Oklahoma and maybe half of the next line. It was a treat for me to see that there was truly a friendship here, because up until now all I had heard was how nice he was. I had googled the Battle of Bastogne which Wayne was a part of. I wanted to be able to talk about it and ask some questions. Wayne had twelve tanks under his command and was part of the101st Airborne.

We arrived at the Candlelight and were seated. It’s a nice place and I was impressed immediately with it’s ambiance. The actors were your servers, which gave it a wonderful feeling of community. While waiting for lunch I got the chance to talk to Wayne about the Battle of Bastogne. I asked what role he and his tanks had in the battle. As I waited for the answer I saw him travel back to the battle through his eyes. He got there and then started to speak. He left 4 tanks over there and 4 more at another location. The 4 tanks he was with drove up to where the 101st was dug in at the tree line. They were completely surrounded by the enemy.

He spoke with the commander of one of his tanks and told him to move back so he could have a better line of sight. He walked away and came right back and the man had been cut in half by shrapnel. Then one of his men asked who he wanted in charge of that tank. He never answered because at that moment he was hit. Shrapnel came down right behind his left shoulder and bored a hole moving diagonally towards his right side. He asked his man how big is the hole? He rolled his shirt up and told him he could fit his fist in it. Well you better take me to the medics (he said).

Wayne also made it to the battle of the bulge and went on a rescue mission to save some of our men. He was praised and thanked by our nation and it’s president. The mission was a very big deal. My own dad was a WWII vet at Anzio Beachhead, I wish I knew more about his time there?

On the drive home from Oklahoma we sang some more! Actually remembered about two and a half lines J God love this country and the men and women who protect it. Thank you Wayne and Dad. Love one another!



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Hitchhiking Lady

It was a beautiful July day in Staten Island N.Y. It was around 1962. We were in our big brown 53 Chevy going down Manor road heading towards 4 corners. My mom was driving and my two sisters were there too. We got to the corners and were stopped by the red traffic light. To our right on one corner was the Sunnyside Club where people went for a few drinks. On the other corner (diagonally) was the A&P grocery store, which would be a bank in the future where I would get Frank Giffords autograph as he helped it’s grand opening.

While waiting at the red light my Mother said lock your doors because the Hitchhiking Lady hung out here and would just get right in your car. I was surprised and a bit terrified at this news. I couldn’t fathom that a person, especially a woman would just get in your car uninvited. My mind began to swim as I imagined what she must of looked like. I thought she must have had a wild look in her eye much like the lady from the original 101 Dalmatians’ in1961. She also had a very long coat but this one was tattered unlike the luxurious coat from the movie. It had to be tattered!! Surely the woman had to be down on her luck and not in her right mind to brazenly get into strangers cars. Her hands were very lean and showed every bone and vein in them. The type of hand that would be stirring a cauldron, and with a wicked laughter that sent chills down your spine.

This was a very inventive way to get us to lock our doors, yet I wonder why it was that way and not just (ok kids lock your doors). Maybe she was real? This warning was repeated several times by my mom, and always at 4 corners. After a while the warnings stopped and the Hitchhiking Lady disappeared from my mind. I thank my sister in law who posted on facebook about Mr. rubber toe, a fictional character that her daughter in law uses to keep her two boys in line. It sparked my memory of Hitchhiking Lady and also gave me a vivid memory of my wonderful Mom. Love One Another!!