Remembering the Fool

This is from MadDog:


Got a recorded message on my voice mail today from none other than Kerry Vandegrift, AKA the Fool, one of the co-founders, co-conspirators, of/at the original BALTA tennis tournament held at the court outside the BA Fire Station in 1969. (Among others present in addition to Fool & Maddog were Hannan, Bill Maus, the Raven = Lance Boyer, Kutscher, and Armstrong. The semi-finals were rained out and we proceeded to take up the javelin toss, which was followed by the exploding hotdog event in the BA Post Gym.)

The message on my phone today said, “I don’t know if this is the right number, but in any case, if it is then you’ll understand when I say: One quick move by the enemy will jeopardize six fine gunboats.” That was all.

I called the number 215-673-9449, and the poor Fool answered. He’s had a pretty rough life! He survived the javelin throw at BA, Vietnam, the Last Chance, and now the deaths of his wife and daughter. He’s not in very good shape. He suffered a fall in February and is just now able to get around using a walker. He’s had both knees replaced. His wife, Arlene, died about a year ago. His daughter died when she was twelve. Now he’s all alone. I asked him how he got my number. He answered, “Information.” I told him it was nice to hear from him, and I asked him, “But why have you waited so many years to get in touch? Some of us are dead, or if not, then almost dead.” His answer: “It’s the first time I’ve been able to start thinking back on my life. I thought of you because you are crazy. I’ve been calling up people I knew in my old neighborhood when I was in grade school. I told my therapist that I wouldn’t be needing his advice anymore. My parting words of advice to him were, ‘Just remember this: When the cars stop, the lights have turned red. And when the trees wave their arms, then the wind is blowing.'”

I was somewhat stunned. What could I say? It had been 36 years since he’d shown up at my door unannounced wearing a seer-sucker, pin-stripe suit, and carrying an umbrella, and wanting to go pan gold in Montana. “Gee, I thought Montana was close to New Mexico,” he said, after I told him that Montana was at least two full days north by car. He’d come all the way from Philadelphia via bus and taxi. That was in the summer of 1972. That was the last I’d heard from him until now, May 19, 2008.

We talked for the better part of an hour. Kerry has no computer, no e-mail. He said that he will have a computer in a couple weeks. He’s on disability. Retired from HUD. He lives in Philadelphia and wants to hear from people. He has that phone number above (215-673-9449). His address is:
Kerry Vandegrift
2661 Willits Rd Apt S 105
Philadelphia PA 19114

Mentioned that he’d hung-out for a spell with Gleason in Indianapolis. They worked on a political campaign for someone who lost in a primary. He never said how long ago that was. It sounds like he has heard from Steve Cosby more recently. Kerry said that Electricity Man, Chris Blum, lives in Alaska; and that P. J. McCormick lives in Canada. The Fool has a pretty good memory, and I recognized his laugh. But nothing else is good much good with him. He asked about a lot of you, in fact, most of you! He still has a sense of humor. The Fool knows who you are! He remembers Nickolashkas and some of the Brits’ cheers I’d forgotten. I don’t think Kerry will be doing any more traveling though. He also asked about some people whose names I’ve forgotten totally.

We talked about a saluting, cardboard skeleton that he’d once placed in his bunk bed for a white-collar-bunk room inspection. And about the plastic yellow bananas that he’d hung above the US Flag on his flag display that protruded on a little pole from the air vents of his wall locker; and about the display of his reading material, The Works of Chairman Mao, on his night stand. Those displays were all for the same room inspection! He said that he only got a slight reprimand for doing them.

Once, while I was poking (keyboarding), he attached a carbon-paper tail to the back of my chair in operations, and then lit it with a cigarette lighter. I was aware of what he had done. Feeling the heat on my rear, I stood up, wheeled about, and calmly said, “You Fool!” Today we had another good laugh about that. He remembers that time that J. J. Wallace threw an old Kleinschmidt teletype machine over the railing and onto the concrete bay floor a story below in operations just as the Colonel was walking into the Operations Bay with Sergeant Coombs. The Colonel was really upset. He looked aghast at the destroyed equipment and asked Sgt Coombs what the hell was going on? Coombs answered in frustration, “Oh, those damn pokers again!” Besides the nickname, the Fool, (which he got because he acted like a Fool), he was also known as ‘Kerry Hippogriff, Queen of Homespun.’ He reminded me of that. I’d forgotten it.
Otherwise, just hope the reunion this fall is a good ‘n. Sorry that I cannot com dip my pickle in the Gulf. But this year we have a conflict with NPSNM annual meeting. HOWEVER, this is the last year I’m doing that crap. Ten years as a membership secretary for 1000 people is way too long. Besides, next year, Carolyn will be retired too. We’ve got our getaway passports. Till later. Adieu!

Horses ass! Cow’s titty! Carry on!

The Pterodactyl


5 Responses to “Remembering the Fool”

  1. dmills Says:

    From MadDog


    I doubt if Kerry would be angered by what I wrote about him. Knowing him as I do, he might feign a bit of anger. But more likely he’d just laugh a bit and be glad to have been recorded in the annals. Please consider calling him (215-673-9449) and inquiring if you’d like. Or I could do that, though I know he’d love to hear from someone else.

    Dee, I did tell him about you and the Blog. He was very interested. He remembers you. He asked me for the website. I gave him that, and also said that he could find it through Google. He told me that he will be getting a computer in a couple of weeks.

    He specifically asked about Mike Rodgers. He told me that he’d heard that he had been responsible for burning down the Chance! Is that true? He also asked about some people I don’t remember. I think that one of the names is Bob Page. I can’t draw a bead on that one.

    Mike, I told him that you lived on a bridge surrounded by a moat. I think you are safe. His comment was: “Sounds like he’s gone full circle.” He only remembers us as we were in the early 1970s. He said that Gleason stole his tennis racket. I filled him in on marriages, divorces, deaths, and some general info as to some peoples whereabouts. He asked about Jim Blevins too. I told Kerry that Albert Abuku is a big-time oil executive in Malaysia. Otherwise, he knew everyone I mentioned, except for those people and events that came into our circle after his time.

    Yours truly,

  2. dmills Says:

    From Sipper:

    Wow! That’s a tough story from the Fool. Life sure has it’s sucking side sometimes.
    As I recall, the First Pig thought Fool was going to dry and smoke the plastic bananas he had on display for that inspection.

  3. hog Says:

    I’ve got a b&w 8×10 of the ’73 reunion going his (foolish) way soon (the version with names attached) and a copy of the ’07 show for comparison.

    BTW: I was in Spain when the fucking Chance burned down. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

  4. FOOL Says:

    Well, now, everyone knows that the Fool is somewhat better now, at least physically, but certainly not mentally. The ne contact information, in cae anyone is foolish enough to care, is 215-788-0183 and 2505 Woodlawn Drive, Bristol, Pa. 19007.

    A few corrections to Maddog’s recollections of our converation–my daughter passed away a month shy of 24, not 12, and that a in 2003.

    Sipper was correct in my almost getting sent to jail for drying my plastic bananas, which the 1st schwein thought thought I was going to smoke because some guys in the 20 story building that the ASA had in Frankfurt dried some peels and smoked them.

    MD’s recollection of his annointing me with the title of The Fool is almost correct–I had stripped down to my underwear and slithered across the floor from BJ’s office, because prior attempts were thwarted by my buckle and fatigues causing noise which alerted the sensitive ears of the Dog–just as I was putting the carbon paper on hi belt–he did turned around, not calmly, but with a fierce look upon his face and baring his teeth, yelled, “You Fool”!!!

    SSgt. Coombs, did not reply to the Colonel as MD said–he just shook his head, gently, ad said, calmly and softly, “Those pokers, those pokers”.

    I realize that these corrections and rememberances are of no import (no import ???what the f), but I felt it necessary, as am, quite franly, a, if not the–Fool

    And, if the person who called me back in November (after the supermarket thing) is reading this, I wish that you would call again–you know who you are!!

  5. Fool Says:

    I don’t believe any of this either.

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