Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 25, 2008
Fourth day of cardio rehab. While I was workin' out on the recumbent cycle, got to talkin' with Bill, the guy next to me, who, on my first day, said to me "I got to see a man about a horse." As we cycled along, he mentioned losing a lung at the Battle of the Bulge, to which I said, "Billy, you're too young to be a WWII vet." He laughed, adding, "My driver's license says I was born in 1925, so I think I qualify." Amazing, he's my dad's age, so I instantly liked him even more (he has the same style haircut those WWII guys prefer). He's in great shape. He's lost four brothers to heart disease and he has 20 stents! He's suffered multiple heart attacks ("I've had a couple"), he's from Kentucky, drafted right out of high school, missed D-Day by a month and was sent into France to join Patton's division as one of the "replacement troops." It was freezing cold with ice on the roads. He was in a ditch below a line of Sherman tanks in the Black Forrest, when they started up. A German unit just over the rise, heard the loud engines and zeroed in with 90mm mortars ("We didn't have anything that big, just 30s and 60s."). As the incoming rounds landed he sought cover between two tanks when a round landed near the first tank. The explosion and shrapnel sent him flying back into the ditch. Metal pierced his nose, his jaw (taking out virtually all his lower teeth), splitting his tongue and a nasty piece of shrapnel embedded in his lung. Medics hauled him and several other severely wounded soldiers to a rear area. When they asked him where he was hit, he couldn't answer because of his split tongue and he looked bloody awful. They put a blanket over him and moved on. Later a nurse came through and said, "We've got to move you, it looks like you're going to make it." He's one tough American farm boy. They evacuated him and others to the south of England (Hampstead? Or South Hampton?) where they operated and took out his lung. Bill attributes his survival to 20 years of coming to cardio rehab.

Amazing what you can learn on an exercise cycle. I told Bill I wanted to be just like him when I grow up.

Seriousness And The Ventures
"Went to the BBB blog this morning, to get my fix. Enjoyed Brian Neumeister's video clip. Loved the old TV set. It looked liked one we had in 1959, when we moved to Phoenix, except ours had a pair of vice-grips attached to the broken channel selector.

"Jimmy Alfonso (My Sicilian partner in crime) and I watched the clip together. It dawned on both of us, at how grim everyone looked. Not a smile in the house. It's a testament to the dedication of all the players, that the Ventures song sounded , well, like the Ventures. It's a lot easier to make your fingers move correctly, than to make your face smile, when a shadow is hanging over a truly loved and respected friend. Music is healing. Perhaps we lightened up in subsequent scenes.

"I hope we never have to go through that again.

"they're gonna put me in the movies. they're gonna make a big star out of me"
—Steve Paroni

For every difficult problem you face there is a positive possibility that is even stronger. Make it your mission to find those possibilities and realize them."
—Ralph Marston

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