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Friday, October 2, 2009

How D. And I Met: 40 Years Ago

Special Request by Becks

I'm getting ahead of myself with this "memoirs" thing, but what the hell!

I graduated from Villa Rica High School (Villa Rica, Georgia) in 1968 and having achieved "instant popularity" as the drummer in "The Watchmen", I was full of "piss and vinegar". (I told y'all I was arrogant, right? Well, keep that in mind as you read what is to follow).

My Dad had had just about enough of me running up his gasoline bill at Harold Smith's service station in downtown Villa Rica, and decided that, by God, I had better find some work!

This was around '69, I think, and I had some friends who worked as "orderlies" at what was then known as Tanner Memorial Hospital.

Anyone remember what "orderlies" are and what we did?

Only thing was, you couldn't just go "right to work" as an orderly. They needed you to start at the "bottom rung of the ladder", and then they'd talk to you about working at Tanner.

What was the bottom rung of the ladder?

You went to work at Pine Knoll Nursing Home as their orderly.

(Y'all are remembering the arrogant "German Boy"?, right?)

So I went to school at West Georgia College in the mornings, and worked 3-11 at Pine Knoll in the evenings.

There we were, me and just one other guy, Byron Jones, and our job was to give baths, clean up our male patients who had soiled themselves, change their beds if needed, get them out of bed and put them back in bed at the end of the day.

We also measured and emptied their catheter bags, re-inserted new catheters, and gave enemas when they became constipated (which was often, especially if they were para or quadriplegic) and if that was the case, we had to lift them out of the bed and then lift them out of the wheel chair and put them back into bed.

Do I need to tell you that at the end of that first day I was ready, right then, to go to Viet Nam? ANYTHING was better than "lowering" myself to THAT level!

But my Dad wouldn't hear of it, so I went the next day with every muscle screaming for relief.

I don't know how I made it through that first week! I puked, I cussed, I sweated and I swore to God if He'd get me out of this, I'd go to church every Sunday and Prayer Meetings on Wednesdays, but I guess God (and Dad) weren't having any of those promises, so I went back the second week.

What was minimum wage back in '69? I forgot, but that's all I made.

So I worked all week and played my drums on Friday (after work!) and Saturday nights.
My only off day was Sunday, and I spent most of that in bed.

I got to know some of my patients very well.

There was Gene, who liked to drink his own piss out of his urinal and would cackle like a hyena when I couldn't get to him in time, and there was Captain Robert McKay, who had both his legs shot off in Korea, and needed to talk.

He happened to be Gene's roommate, and hated being in the same room, but there was nothing we could do at the time: The place was full and Gene was the least demented of all the males who were there!

I still remember what Capt. McKay told me one day about about Gene: "There ain't a damn thing in this room he ain't pissed or shit on, Bill!"

Whenever I could spare a few minutes, I would sit and talk to Capt. McKay, and I hope it helped some. He died while I was still employed there, but he left an indelible impression on me.

I'm going to stop here and continue this next time, but y'all needed to know this about me to know the story about how D and I met.

This was Capt. McKay's favorite song and he used to like it played for him at the end of his day....



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Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Bill

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi DAB, thanks for responding to my nosey request. Actually, these are the type of posts I like to read about, seeing how people came to be where they are and what they are. I will be looking forward to the rest of the story.

It took me back to when I graduated from high school, same year as you, 1968. Some of the guys I graduated with were anti-war conscientious objectors. They had the choice of being drafted, leaving the country or goin to jail. Some were sentenced to work in non military hospitals doing the kind of work you did. It actually worked out well for some because with the training they went on to have careers in the medical field.

The minimun wage in 1968 was $1.60 and hour. WOO HOO rollin in the dough. But gas was 25 cents a gallon. I could fill my whole tank for five bucks.

I'd bet that even though you were seeing and caring for the old folks in the nursing home, you didn't even think about yourself getting that old and ill. I know I didn't then. But those memories and experiences come back and hit us head on when it's us that's facing it. I hate getting old.

OK, time for this old lady to get into bed or she will be cranky later.

Take care, Becks

Hee Hee, word for the day squarti.

Bill Craig said...

Becks?

That is NEVER going to be a problem, okay?

This is a WIDE-OPEN "Reality-Blog"
and no one need EVER apologize for asking me ANYTHING!

As far as me thinking about ever getting that old and ill?

No, I never did, but now that I AM that way, I have a better appreciation of it all.

Thanks

Bill