Discussion in 'Vietnam Stories: By John H. Wilborn' started by Guest, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    *Senior Chief Of Staff*
    Posts: 1514
    (12/15/02 5:14:59 am)
    THE OLD RADIO. I wrote this to sister-in-law Rita Day yesterday and mailed it to her---she is really having a problem dealing with the loss of her husband Jim---I hope it works somehow---what would you have me do for you if roles were reversed? Wilborn
    What?s it been---more than a month now, very near two, since we left
    Colorado. My intentions have been to sit down and write something
    about those long, sad days, we last spent up there with the family. Try as
    I might, just have been unable to string the words together and perhaps
    have them make any sense for anyone, let alone me, the teller of the
    I find when I write things, anything at all, it is easier for me to slip into
    the 3rd person---allow the ?I?s? and the ?Me?s? to be replaced with my
    description of someone else. It is usually an old man with faltering steps
    and liver-spotted hands who forgets important things of today, but
    remembers things that happened fifty years ago, with unfaltering
    accuracy. It happens that way for me, I assure you. Please allow this
    story that I am going to attempt to relate for you to develop along those
    They had driven non-stop, all the way from Phoenix to Grand Junction
    Colorado. That same early morning hour that the wife?s sister Rita had
    called them, they had been underway for the nine hour trip. Of course
    there had been conversation and plans made along the way as to the
    hows, and the whys, and the whats---the Old Man was taking it a great
    deal harder than his wife of 47 years---she had been a Hospice Nurse and
    had encountered death often---the Old Man still anguished and wept
    frequently about a single death that had been in his life in recent
    years--that of his beloved son Johnny who had died of the scourge of
    AIDS. It was a long trip and frequently the wife would interrupt her
    sewing and doze off to sleep. More than a few times as he drove, and
    watched the ribbon of highway ahead of him, the Old Man would think of
    something that had happened between he and Jim Day on their few visits
    and talks---perhaps he would unconsciously smile as he would recall a
    thing about a joke Jim had told or some unusual event the genial man
    had related for him---maybe the Old Fellow would recall some
    mechanical contraption Jim had shown and explained it?s
    function---there were even times that the two old warriors, Jim from the
    Korean War, and the Old Man from the Vietnam era war, had related
    chilling war stories of their encounters and survival in the heat of
    combat. There had been a visit to Colorado in August when Jim had
    confided in the Old Man that he was very concerned about his health and
    well-being---. As the Old Man drove, he recalled their having exchanged
    views about their own mortality---their acceptance or rejection and what
    it meant in the scheme of things. Afterwards, on returning back to
    Phoenix, the two men had exchanged letters, again on the subject of
    mortality. As the Old Man drove up through the awe and splendor of
    Monument Valley that morning, he bagan to weep. Eye stinging tears
    clouded the view of the long empty road ahead of him. He recalled the
    plain and simple words Jim Day had written to him in that final
    letter---those final words were the simple fact of Jim stating that he
    never considered himself any different than any other man---he had
    written these lines---?I put my pants on, one leg at a time?. They were
    not shoulder shaking sobs--they were not even sounds that woke the Old
    Man?s wife as she slept in her car seat along side of him---just feelings of
    a certain finality that this time in Colorado he would not be able to
    exchange friendly banter and words of wisdom with this fine man--.
    Perhaps the Old Man felt a begrudging sense of denial or being
    forsaken--not having the privilege of this wonderful person?s company
    again in this lifetime.
    Upon arrival in Grand Junction, both Mary and the Old Man felt a need to
    assist in whatever fashion they could. Friends and other relatives came
    and went but still, in the need to feel able and willing, the Old Man
    volunteered his servies to do handyman things around the house for Rita
    as she prepared for her life without her beloved Jim. A door repaired
    here, a stair railing there, some rubber tile to be reglued. In an area
    where Jim and the Old Man used to sit and visit, an area called Jim?s
    Place, the Old Man prepared wall surfaces for painting. There was an old
    piano there, a disconnected television set, a metal desk and chair, a
    closet with a lot of Jim?s cloths and tools, and in one corner of the room,
    an old black, portable radio. Over the years portable radios have come
    and gone, usually getting smaller and more compact, and with better
    sound quality and reception. This ancient old radio might have been
    forty years old---fake leather covering that was torn and snagged and
    smeared with paints of differing colors. The Old Man recalled when he
    and Jim would sit in Jim?s Place and share that strong, acrid tasting
    coffee, the old radio always seemed to be on---never music, just talk
    about politics and worldly events. When Jim would leave the area he
    never turned if off as the Old Man recalled from the past--Jim would just
    yank the plug out of the wall--. The Old Man remembered but never gave
    it a second thought until---.
    As the various little jobs were undertaken around the house, the Old Man
    finally made it to Jim?s Place with a big can of wall spackle---filling nail
    holes and cracks was certainly going to be a time filler, to say the least.
    The Old Man didn?t have the patience to try and get the televisions
    working so he plugged in the old black radio---he pondered sadly to
    himself that probably Jim had yanked the plug out of the wall the last
    time the old radio had played----. Crackling, biting, caustic sounding
    static emitted first, but finally the old radio warmed up and settled in to
    the talk show of the day. Again the Old Man surmised that short days ago
    his friend and brother-in-law had heard a developing news story that was
    now like history to be forgotten. As the Old Fellow patched the screw
    holes and wall cracks, he listened to the rambling, excited voice of the
    newscaster--something about law enforcement having caught the Beltway
    Sniper down in the Washington D.C. area---almost immediately the talk
    show host was taking calls from Negroes living in the immediate area
    claiming that their race was being singled out and profiled. Heated
    exchanges took place and even filthy names were called to the talk show
    host. It seemed as if this particular show had a call-in feature for a wide
    range of views were offered up---the host turned out to be a fellow by
    the name of Rush Limbaogh---. It become a test of wills over the
    airwaves and after awhile, the Old Man decided to listen to music. The
    knobs on the old radio did nothing---turn as they would, they had no
    effect on changing the radio stations---the needle moved uselessly across
    the dial face but did nothing---in exasperation the Old Man decided to
    turn the radio off, but again, no effect. He remembered that Jim used
    to yank the plug out so he yanked at the
    cord----nothing---nada---zip-point-zero. So the Old Man listened to the
    radio the rest of the morning and into the afternoon hours. He had
    never listened to Rush Limbough?s rantings and ravings up to this day,
    and try as he might to agree with this person?s views, the Old Man really
    formed a bitter and grudging admiration for the Mouthy Man that day.
    He has thought to himself that day that perhaps in his conversations with
    Jim Day, had he been more knowledgeable of folks referred to as Liberals
    or Conservatives, that he may have been a better, more informed
    Later on that day, when the Old Man and Rita had ventured down to
    Jim?s Room so he could show her what he had accomplished, there sitting
    in the corner where it always had been, was the old, black, beat-up
    radio---silent and no longer spewing the Rush Limbough tirades. Yup,
    sure enough, silent now as it had been earlier in the day, when the Old
    Man had plugged it in. Now it sat there, silent and unplugged. Who had
    unplugged that old radio---Jim was still around the Old Man had simply
    surmised----as a tear and a smile shared the wrinkled face of the
    Old Man. Wilborn
  2. Gamemaster 760

    Gamemaster 760 New Member

    Nov 2, 2010
    When Rush Limbaugh was a young man, he worked for a local radio station out of Pittsburgh PA.
    14 KQV
    His radio name was Jeff Christy and his boss was told to fire him.
    A month or two later - Jeff was still on air when the decision came down - either fire him or look for another job - at least that is what the program director said happened.
    They called him into the office and told him that he sucked as a radio broadcaster and that he would never make it in radio. They told him to go home and find a different vocation.
    Today 14KQV is a minor AM radio station in Pittsburgh, I don't even think you can pick it up 20 miles away from their transmitter. Yet Rush Limbaugh is still on the air.

    Back in the heyday of music AM radio - at night you could pick up 14 KQV the whole way down to Waynesboro VA at night - on the right night.