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Sherri's Turn

Steve, Sherri & Jerome at Pikes Peak, Colorado, July 4, 1981

 

On a beautiful morning in early May we hopped in the car and set out for Springfield, Missouri.    We hadn’t seen our very good friend Jerome in many years and this trip was being made in his honor.

        A cross-country drive provides lots of time for reminiscing and deep thinking and we got right down to business. We remembered the Harley Davidson Jerome used to ride in the sand dunes at Buttercup. He made a unique picture cruising through the dunes on that bike outfitted in a corduroy sports coat and jeans. When he wasn’t riding he was contemplating plants, animals, rocks, and insects.

        I remembered one trip to Ocotillo Wells. It was just the three of us on that trip. The guy-in-the-garage and I were enjoying a wild ride around the mudhills in our little red dune buggy. Jerome was doing one of his most favorite things in the world. Hunting for fossils, unusual rocks and arrowheads. He walked through the desert with his head down scouring every inch of the ground. So engrossed in his search was he, that when we flipped the buggy just yards from where he was, he never even looked up to see what the commotion was about. And I don’t believe he even came over to help us tip it back upright.
        Another memory I gladly shared with the guy-in-the-garage that involved both Jerome and that little red buggy was the time it got stuck in deep mud in the canyon near our home. (Way back decades ago when there actually were canyons near homes!)

        The two of them had been out enjoying a run in the canyon after a heavy rain storm (back in the days when we actually had rain!). The buggy got stuck and stuck good and they had to walk home.

        The three of us then drove out to the canyon in the truck and got that buggy unstuck. By now it was dark and the guy-in-the-garage was going to have to drive the buggy, with no headlights, back on the streets to the house. He gave me instructions to drive the truck in front of him on the street that bordered both the canyon and the neighborhood. We had three streets we had to cover before we reached home.“Stop if you see any cars coming,” he told me because his great white hope was to get home without being spotted by the police.

        We headed out of the canyon and up the first street. Jerome was in the passenger seat of the buggy. Which was good. He had a front row seat to be an eye witness. Sure enough, just as I was approaching a street where we’d have to make a turn, I saw a car coming from the opposite direction. I stopped to let that car turn, so it wouldn’t be behind us after we turned. Unfortunately the guy-in-the-garage did not stop and he ran right into the back of the truck.
I jumped out of the truck. He jumped out of the buggy and he let me know in very definite terms that I was an idiot for stopping like that so suddenly. Then Jerome jumped out of the other side of the buggy and he let the guy-in-the-garage know that he had plenty of time to see me stop and he was at fault for hitting me. Jerome forever after became my favorite guy-in-the-garage friend.
It was Jerome’s penchant for taking up for the underdog that had caused the two of them to become fast friends in elementary school. The guy-in-the-garage was alone and under heavy rock attack from kids in this brand new neighborhood, when suddenly out of nowhere another new kid joined forces with him and together they scared off the offenders. It was the first of many adventures they’d have together over the next four decades.

        The reminiscing did not stop once we reached Springfield. It was only enhanced as we met with Jerome’s family members and other friends. We were all gathered there together at the little country cemetery where we bid good-bye to this dear loved one.
He died as he lived, helping others. In the last years of his life he helped people around the world who were suffering from the same form of cancer he was, through his extensive research, informative websites and email support groups.

        He will be sorely missed, but we are all blessed for having known him.