Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Miracle or Co-incidence Fifty-Two Years Apart

It was Wednesday, June 25, 1958. He was next in line waiting to be mustered out of the US Army. He was just under six feet tall and was a strapping One Hundred Seventy pounds. While in the Army they generally referred to him as "Big Lou". Carrying his duffel bag over one shoulder and his Trumpet under his arm he was dressed in his Class A's. Khaki's neatly pressed, cap in regulation upon his head which while not sporting the pompadour that was there two years earlier, he still sported a wave that he liked. The mustering out pay was only a couple of hundred dollars since he was a peace time soldier but it would be enough to get through the month since he was assured of his job starting the next Monday since this was the law. A few bills were a lot in 1958, it would be all he had for his wife and new born first child of only a week old. He was secure in the thought that he would be able to take care of his loved ones and was chomping at the bit to see them. He wanted to hold them both and make them feel secure in his arms. He would be their protector. The guy in front of him was dismissed and the Officer in charge yelled "Next!".

He snapped to and spouted rank, name, and serial number with a snappy salute. The ceremony was settled in a few minutes and he accepted the brand new bills folded so nicely, and his discharge papers. He snapped a salute made a crisp about face left the room and let out a cheer. He was a free man again and in a day he would see his beloved. He was convinced to take a train rather than fly. His mother and wife felt there was a greater possibility of an accident in the air than on the ground. Remember this was 1958. He took a hitch into town where he grabbed a bus to Atlanta where he boarded a train to New York. Secretly he thought the flight of a few hours would be better than the train ride of twenty-four, but why tempt fate. At the Atlanta train depot there was an hour and a half wait for his train. He wandered about the depot getting something to eat and generally wasting time. The announcement came to board the train some fifteen minutes before departure. Boarding the train he selected a window seat and got comfortable. He kept his money in a side pocket ever since the barracks were robbed and his wallet rifled. He was thinking about seeing his son and kissing his wife as he reached into his left side pocket just to get the feel of his money which was going to get them through the month. He reached in and felt nothing. He tried the other pocket, empty. He searched his wallet, nothing. He looked on the floor, under the seat, NOTHING, he panicked. He thought he must of lost it in the depot but the conductor was making the departure announcement. He ran to the conductor and pled with him to hold it up while he checked with the depot. He was dressed in his Class A's and in those days they respected the uniform. The Conductor held the train and summoned two station plains clothes men. They did what they could, checked with lost and found but----NOTHING! Now Big Lou was feeling very small as the train pulled out of Atlanta, in fact he was sweating profusely. He turned around and saw an old couple, remember he was Twenty-Four and upon recollection maybe they weren't so old, maybe mid fifties, and he accused them of finding the money and keeping it. No matter their assurances of innocence, he was unconvinced but short of beating this old guy to death Lou could do nothing. He took refuge between two cars and lit a Lucky Strike and drew in heavily. How could he explain this to his girl, his wife? How could he protect her and his son if he couldn't hold on to the means to providing. Big Lou felt like a little weeny. He then started to pray very deeply, first to St. Jude but since he felt it was lost item it was more in St. Anthony's purview. He lit up his third Lucky when the idea came into his mind to go back and check between the seats. He wasn't sure what this meant. He sheepishly passed the old couple as he sat down and noticed that the seats were covered with protective material. He forced his hand between the seats and pushed them a bit apart. Low and behold there was his money neatly folded being held by a string stretching across the seats. He picked it up and thanked St. Anthony. The apologies to the old couple were accepted. Now he could go home and be the protector he wanted to be and not the wuss he was going to be until St. Anthony  intervened. Fast Forward Fifty-Two years.

We find "Big Lou" standing in line at the local super market waiting to be checked out. Maybe the "Big" part had to be revisited. He was just under five feet ten Inches weighing in at 195 pounds. His cap sitting on his bald head was an old Yankee cap that needed to be turned in but he was sure it was his lucky hat that contributed to many Yankee victories while the losses were the fault of the manager or players. He wasn't dressed in what one would call class A's, maybe class Z's would be more apt, hardly a crease to be found except on his face. He got up to the check out where a girl who he thought was closer to 10 than 20, with purple colored fingernails checked him out. He had purchased some fill-in groceries and the bill came to Fifty-Five Dollars, thirty dollars less than the months rent on their first apartment. She packed the items as he took out his wallet and got his American Express card out ready to give her for payment. His kids, three of which were in their fifties and the others closing in on that age very quickly, now thought he needed protection. He who was the great provider now was the one who needed to be provided for. The check-out girl never seemed to look at him, like he wasn't there. He gave her the card. At least he didn't have to say his Rank, Name and serial number the equivalent was on the card. She handed the card back with the paper that needed his signature which if he signed mickey mouse would have passed through without question. He put the card back into his wallet and put the wallet in his back pocket. Three small bags of groceries felt as heavy as his duffel bag had once. He was on his way out when he heard a gruff voice bellow, "Hey!" which caused him to turn to see if he was the "Hey". There was this youngish guy, maybe middle Fifties, pointing towards the ground at what seemed to be Lou's wallet, "Your's", he bellowed. Sure enough it was. He bent over to pick it up for Lou which I guess was deference to the age differential. Lou thanked him profusely and shook his hand which engulfed Lou's as Lou's used to engulf others. "It will be a merry Christmas for me.", Lou exclaimed as the wallet had the credit cards, licenses and many other things which would take days to take care of. They left the store together and this guy proceeded to give Lou the advice not to carry his wallet in his back pocket. He told the tale of losing his wallet at a movie house and going back the next day and despite the objections of the house's manager he went to the seat he had the previous night and found the wallet in the rear of the seat as he pushed his hand down into the seat. The wallet was hanging on a thread, spread loosely with the thread supporting it.The moral offered was to carry the wallet in the side pants pocket. The moral taken was St. Anthony was reminding Lou that goodness is still around and even though there is nothing to protect or a wife to kiss, there still was purpose. Lou thought to himself that he should have asked that guy if he prayed to St. Anthony before returning to that movie house but he didn't and don't think St. Anthony didn't let Lou know he wasn't happy about that.
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