At the breakfast group “TGIV —Thank God Its Veterans,” memories are made every week. Memories of the veterans are kept alive by making other memories. Everyone chips in with something unique.
In all our lives, we have a memory or two about Little League baseball. On April 1 at TGIV, a discussion of “Destiny’s Darlings,” a book about the 1954 Schenectady Little League World Series Champions, brought back vivid memories for a veteran.
Dave Vacca, a combat Marine Sargent in Vietnam, knew and competed with some of the stars of the book. Dave immediately knew the “Darlings” in the book, as well as the author. He said he would love to get the book. I told him I had a copy, but gave it to my dentist. I told him I would search the Internet and get him a copy. Within a week or so, I had the book, called Dave and rushed over to get it to him on a Saturday morning. He had a gleam in his eyes, and it was a memory for him, an old umpire.
On this same day at TGIV, Betty Clark, a 95-year-old World War II veteran, attended our breakfast. She came with a close friend, Jim Gilmer, and his friend, Marine Ken Wells, a Vietnam veteran. Betty has a fabulous smile, and it appears frequently, with the spirit to go with it. I call her “Steady Betty” for her steady disposition to go with that fantastic smile. When asked for her longevity secret (and she was a dietician, so I knew the answer), she said, “Eat right and live right.” Her goal is to be 100 years old. We discussed the Smucker’s jelly 100-year-old club made famous by weatherman Willard Scott, but he retired.
I met Wells for the first time. We hit it off because he was an umpire back in the early 1970’s with a group of “outlaw” umpires who covered the Twilight League in Albany. I made a 25-year career of umpiring, and I told him we started at the top of the sport doing Siena College and former minor league players. We had to learn quick and got paid a small amount, but it left many big memories.
Wells told the story about when he bought Jim Gilmer’s old Mercedes 8-cylinder engine car. He was driving and testing its speed and traveling about 100 mph. He then pushed it faster and had it up to 130. When a policeman stopped him after Ken lowered his speed, the cop told him he was following him at 100, “But when you opened it up to 130, you lost me.” Wells said he was not aware of the cop behind him. Being honest is the best defense, and he said he wasn’t given a ticket.
Joe Savoie, a Vietnam Army veteran, is always talking about taking day trips. Our first bus trip was with Vietnam veteran Russ Patrician and his nephew, Tom Dalton, to Turning Stone Casino. It was very rewarding socially, although not financially. Savoie has other ideas for day trips, so we made him the “travel agent” for TGIV.
On April 1, I noticed in Savoie’s eyes and felt in my heart his desire to visit the Statute of Liberty. It is something each person should see, and he and I have never gone. A day trip for TGIV to West Point is on his list, as is a short trip to the Saratoga Military Museum. We are starting to put together a notebook of trips and passengers.
Also, honor a veteran on Memorial Day and pay respect to the veterans who have given us our wonderful life in this country. Make a memory with veteran; it will be a nice gift and help keep their memories alive.
Come to TGIV Friday mornings at the Gateway Diner from 8 to 11 a.m.