It’ amazing how you remember something and it leads to remembering something else.
This realization came to me in writing a story recently on senior citizens and a doctor at the local hospital. Pausing for a moment my recall flashed back to my own grandparents from the ‘40s to the ‘60s and the good times we had together.
There were things I thought were long forgotten like the metal hot water canister that my grandmother, on my mom’s side, had brought with her on a steam ship from Germany in 1900 at the turn of the century. She explained its purpose to me years ago — a way to keep warm at night — snuggling up to it in a small bunk on a cold ship. Her two sisters settled in Bakersfield and Santa Rosa with her starting her family in Los Angeles.
There are fond but latent memories coming back about my one grandmother when we drove up into the San Gabriel Mountains just to give her a change of scenery on the weekends. We made a bad decision in taking a fire access road and getting stuck in the sand behind a 6-foot-high boulder. Only choice was to get out were the bumper jack and lifting the car up as high as it would go and knocking it to the side away from the gigantic rock. Probably did that a total of 20 times. Grandma didn’t say a word — she had faith in me. That was in the day before cell phones and CB radios.
The thought of a nurse reminded me of an early RN at Doctors — Frances Purvis. She was the only nurse on night duty when we had two of our three boys. Frances delivered babies for the few doctors at that time in Manteca in the ‘60s. She pretty much had a system of not getting the docs out of bed until the baby was crowning. Whoops, the baby was already here when they arrived in delivery. “You’re too late,” she usually snapped. She had been a military nurse and knew how to order the doctors around to her liking.
Thinking back about the military and Army hospitals, I had surgery for a hernia some 50 years ago in San Francisco. The docs said there was no hernia just like they had said I didn’t have flat feet when they inducted my into the army in 1958. Stationed at a helicopter and fixed wing aviation unit at Stockton Airport, I was given a flight down over the Delta and toward the Golden Gate Bridge in a large single engine plane.
The lieutenant at the controls asked me to watch for other aircraft traffic we might not want to face too closely. Approaching the Crissy Field landing strip near the bridge I wondered how he was going to line up for the approach. Less than 50 feet — or so it seemed — from the top of the bridge, he drops his left wing and we dove straight down toward the water, leveling out at like 20 feet above the end of the strip for a perfect landing. My heart was in my mouth.
After the hernia surgery the doctor, an army captain came, by my bedside and said, “Son, you were right, you did have something of a hernia.”
Darn, if that doesn’t open the memory to another couple stories. One had to do with chasing a kite for some kids down the block on my motor scooter when I was 15. Got to the kite some six blocks away where I climbed a brick fence and fell over face first and tore open my nose and lip with my wire rimmed sun glasses. Still remember watching the doctor stitch up my face — Dr. Pollard.
In addition there were the near death experiences that I somehow detoured around — obviously with the help of my Guardian Angel. One was getting off my motor scooter at 17 and onto a motorcycle with different transmissions and conflicting twists on the handle grip for speed. Went out the driveway wide open seeing the neighbor’s curbing and bay window looming up at me along with a large Sycamore tree — trying to take evasive action in just seconds. Managed somehow to miss everyone and rode within inches of the tree flipping the bike on another neighbor’s lawn across the street. Totally unhurt and very fortunate there was no cross traffic.
Gasoline tankers burning in a fog shrouded freeway was another thing that almost did me in back in the early days at The Bulletin. There were two incidents three weeks apart when the visibility was less than 50 feet and the tankers were fully engulfed. Both times the large trucks’ set of double tires exploded with the rubber shrapnel missing my body — walking next to them.
Golly, here’s another I had forgotten about in my youth — about 7 or 8 years old trying to get home on my bike. Neighborhood bullies were in a house at the corner throwing rocks at anyone who dared to ride by. It was a T-intersection. Thought I could get past them if I rode fast enough. Left one thing out of the plan — traffic on the cross street. A car doing an estimated 45 miles an hour that I didn’t hear passed the rear of by bicycle by inches.
That brings up another thought back when I was biking about a mile to a bus stop to go to a Saturday afternoon movie in a nearby city. A car making a right hand turn didn’t expect to see a kid on a bike. He was looking to the left as he turned right and punted me and my bike to the middle of the street where I ended up hold my handle bars by the grips that had separated from the bike. Remember well how much I was hurting sitting in that theater seat.
And the one recalled memory that members of St. Anthony’s Church might enjoy involved Fr. Clinton Farabaugh during the Harvest Festival years ago. Someone came running through the crowd at the carnival saying there had been a horrible accident on West Yosemite at the fast food place on the corner of Walnut. A car had rolled over and an entire family was involved — a priest was needed fast. Fr. Farabaugh jumped into my car and we raced to the parish house on Yosemite to pick up the holy oils and raced through town to find a family visiting Manteca — and were only looking for directions.
Of course there was the more recent surprise in the “fate department” when I was riding in a diesel engine taking pictures through the windshield from behind the seated engineer. Leaning back and physically lowering my vantage point with the camera, I didn’t realize the handle of the outside door was there and it flew open — but one more time I’m still here kinda-sorta to my surprise.
To contact Glenn Kahl email email@example.com.