Relay for Life

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 28, 2005

I took a walk last Friday night, twice around the gym floor at Nansemond Academy as a cancer survivor. It was a rainy night. I was not alone…there were 100 or more survivors and the lady dragging me around was Lynette Brugeman. While her tourist department is often a point of my city financial concern, she is a talented friend to whom I have given flowers for her garden…in return she gave me a barrel of chicken poop for mine. We were part of a large group who have weathered, or are weathering the C word. The &uot;relay for Life&uot; brought in much needed money for the cancer cure search. Our thanks to those who attended and especially those who arranged the &uot;party&uot; and contributed so much of their time. Francis Carr, cancer survivor coordinator, and co-chairmen Jeanne Banks and Lynn Pope. Many others assisted them. I can’t recall the name of the very lively band of musicians but they beat the devil out of chamber music, but not the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy chorus. Good food, great company, and a good feeling that cancer will one day be just another disease conquered by man as was polio.

Amazing news, the police are underpaid. There it was in the headline of the SNH, a headline that said, &uot;We told you so.&uot; Did it really take a $50,000 study to come up with what the cops have been telling us for eons? Apparently, and Dr. Liverman must be smiling about how the council flung another big chunk of money his way. It was easier to placate him than argue. If you would like to see a much-needed study that could save taxpayers millions, call in a few professionals to analyze our system of education. There are such people and they work their wonders on all sorts of businesses. One result would be that teachers would be tested for worth and paid likewise. And there would be very startling news about how to deal with the miscreants who infest the halls and classrooms.

Remember when our savvy Economic Department speculated and put up a 50,000 square foot building south of town in Obici Industrial Pak? There was much concern about it ever being occupied. Well it is and the team should start another building, to be ready for any incoming firm in a hurry to get going. This one is the Corporate Headquarters of Amadas Coach, manufacturer of luxury motorhomes that will knock your socks off. These have been built for the likes of Garth Brooks, Fleetwood Mac, Kiss, James Brown, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, Alabama, and many, many others including corporations that want their employees to live the good traveling life when the leave the Lear jet. There were half a dozen grand; you could call them busses (they are at least as big as any Greyhound but that doesn’t begin to describe them) lined up in various stages of development. No two alike. I assure you.

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We were there doing another TV show for Roundtable Talk, starring Andy Damiani. He was talking with Jimmy Adams III, President, and Shannon Adams, Marketing Manager. These are two very bright and attractive young persons, he is 32. It was very depressing to climb back into my 1995 Buick, luxurious as it may be. My Buick was paid for a long time ago but those motorhomes probably start at about a million plus. One is always ready to roll, wet bar included, long soft leather seats on each side, complete bath, dining facilities, TV, and a driver, probably a snob wheeling around in that palace on wheels. None of us, Andy, me, and the camera crew were in a hurry to leave.

Memorial Day coming up and I’d give a lot to sit down with a bunch of World War II survivors just so we might talk about those we lost during the war. While waiting for my wife to reappear from the aisles at Walmart I sat on that bench by the front door. There was an old duffer sitting there and I asked if he would mind if I joined him. &uot;Sure,&uot; he said, &uot;have a seat.&uot; He looked about my age so I asked if he was old enough to have been around during that old war. Sure enough, he had seen many bloody combat months in the Philippines. I was in Europe but it doesn’t make any difference in which theatre you served, you served during that time between 1941 and 45. That’s a bond.

We had both been in the Army, he an infantryman, me a combat engineer. We carried the same kind of rifle, were married to it, same heavy backpack, and were late in receiving the new type combat boots. We had both thrown away our gas masks, not needed, and both were happy to get cookies and stuff from home. We had both seen enough bad weather, he had rain, and I had that and snow. It was amazing how much we thought alike as we sat there like two old friends, lamenting what has happened to the country since those days. We had both read that letter in the Pilot where the &uot;lady&uot; complained about how we were not such a &uot;great generation&uot; and compared us to Hitler. We agreed to participate in her lynching.

He had lost track of his old &uot;buddies&uot; and I have only one. But we agreed that we probably wouldn’t recognize any of them anyway and most likely there were not many left. He did get excited when I told him of the new veterans cemetery out on Lake Prince and he vowed to see it before he was put there. He remembers not liking the idea he was to take part in the invasion of Japan; it would have been a bloody mess. I told him I was on a ship headed that way when Truman dropped the big ones. We were really getting into it, comparing our rifles to the famous BAR, a bigger rifle that kicked forward. Then our wives showed up and now I wish I had his name and phone number. Before we parted we did speak of the thousands of American boys that never came home from either place. We had both recently visited our almost too late Memorial in DC and gaped at the four thousand gold stars on the wall, each representing a hundred dead, over four hundred thousand that never had a chance to experience much life. He and I are among the lucky ones and will think about it again on Memorial Day.

Will you?

Robert Pocklington is a regular columnist for the News-Herald. E-mail him at