Posts Tagged ‘ All ’

In Late October Comes The First Rain

I wake to
the steady downpour
of the first rain
of Winter.
It’s light fingers
spread across roof
then spank the streets.
water spills
from the eaves
thumping the leaves
Pelting the tin shed.
Thunder punctuates
the heavenly orchestration
like deafening cymbals,
turning the falling curtain
of rain into a whispering chorus
that’s gentle to the mind,
Awakening the senses
that life is far more
than just a pleasant dream.

End

by

Boots LeBaron

 

 

 

WITHIN EVERY ‘THEE’ HIDES INSPIRATION!

ARE YOU SOLELY YOU, TOO?

Proudly I am solely me.

My search for understanding

is a never-ending spree.

The gift I treasure most is

the wisdom that belongs to thee.

If your thoughts are only dubious,

that’s enough to stir up

a ruckus in my tuchis.

Sure, I’m somewhat of a

gullible fool who

failed in school.

Through life, dyslexia

has been my anchor.

No way can I take reading

comprehension to the banker.

Yet I’ve always felt free

to think as I please,

soliciting knowledge from

you modern day Socrates.

Even when reliability

turns to dust, I trust.

For me, believing in the

worthiness of others is a must.

Writing essays, poetry and human

interest stories about people

such as thee, has proved

to be my fait accompli.

Despite society’s judgemental rule,

a learning disorder has always

been my inspirational tool.

It’s a stubborn confidence

I have found. At times

I’ve run it into the ground.

Listening to the rantings of others,

you might discover thoughts so profound.

Naturally, there’s no guarantee that

such philosophies will astound.

If it happened to me,

it could happen to thee!

 

 — Boots LeBaron —

I AM ME!

THE HUMAN RACE

 

     THERE’S MEANING IN EVERY BRIEF LIFE

 

I am searching

I am lurching

I am caring

I am daring

I am hellish

I am selfish

I am hypocritical

I am satirical

I am realistic

I am spiritualistic

I am beat

I am obsolete

I am abrupt

I interrupt

I am radical

I am lackadaisical

I am long-wedded

I am embedded

I am bent

I am spent

I am adorable

I am deplorable

I am dyslexic

I am artistic

I am curseless

I am hearseless

I am heathenistic

I am egotistic

I am headstrong

I am woe-be-gone

I am ancient

I am patient

I am quick-witted

I am dip-shited

I am non-racist

I am essayist

I am happy

I am pappy

I am my children

And they are me!

     — Boots LeBaron —

OLD PRO WRESTLER RELIVES THE GOOD OLD DAYS

YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW

DANTE  GRAPPLED WITH IMMIGRATION;

EVEN BEAT MAN MOUNTAIN DEAN ON THE MAT!

by Boots LeBaron

    More than a half century ago Leonardo Rica, a 22-year-old Italian-born immigrant accompanied by his mother and younger brother, arrived by ship in New York Harbor.

     Like millions of foreigners who come to America, their mission was to find a better life. They spoke no English, only Italian and Spanish.

     Leonardo, a ruggedly handsome, mustachioed 225 pounder who grew up in Argentina and trained as a Greco-Roman wrestler in Buenos Aires, was determined to become a professional wrestler.

     With no command of the English language, finding his way around New York City was at times difficult. “If I was in Brooklyn asking directions to 33rd Street and someone would call it, ‘toity-toid’ street, I’d be lost,” said Leonardo, laughing.

     A long time resident of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Leonardo had initially intended to compete as a wrestler in the Olympics. Instead, he began “free-style” wrestling in Argentina before coming to America.  

     His childhood hero was Argentine Rocca, a world famous “no nonsense” champion known as the Bare’footed Warrior. Rocca helped bring his young protegé Leonardo into the profession where even in those days theatrics sold tickets.

     It was a non-steroid world dominated by a collection of powerful characters using box office monikers like Gorgeous George, Man Mountain Dean, The Great Moto, The Destroyer, Killer Kowalski

The Strangler, The Syrian Assassin, Chief Blue Eagle, Mr. America, Kayo, Mister Terror, The Jumper and Gentleman Jim (who was anything but a gentleman).

     As a professional wrestler, the Italian kid from Argentina became Dante.

     “I liked that name because it sounded evil. Most of the hundred or so matches I had on the East Coast, I was the straight man.”  

     Playing the bad guy, he said, “was part of the act. If the audience booed, hissed, or even threw objects into the ring, it was a successful performance. One time, a little old lady was so mad, she climbed into the ring and hit me over the head with an umbrella.”

     For Leonardo, “that was like an Academy Award nomination. Just like today, there was eye gouging, arm twisting, body slamming, lifts and drops — all sorts of spectacular moves.”

     Of course, he noted, the “big guys” who dominate the sport today could overpower most of the pros when I wrestled.

     “In those days, we didn’t rely on steroids. My enhancement drugs came from Argentina: Beef, beef, beef and more beef.

     “We were gladiators just like they are now,” he said. “We were like a team. You helped an opponent lift you over his head. He knew how to slam you to the canvas or throw you out of the ring. And you knew how to land. I can’t tell you how many times I was thrown out of that ring. More than a dozen.

     “We didn’t have mats at ringside. So the safest way to be thrown out of the ring was to land on the audience.”

     Man Mountain Dean was one opponent he couldn’t lift or heave anywhere. He sported a black beard, wore dungarees, weighed 450 pounds and was built like a Sumo wrestler.

     “I wanted to beat him,” said Leonardo. “Believe me, I tried. But lift him onto my shoulders! Are you kidding? When he finally pinned me and the referee counted me down, he refused to get off of me. When the crowd started booing, they gave me the match. So I beat Man Mountain Dean.”

     Although he wrestled on the same card with the legendary Gorgeous George, who climbed into the ring wearing a golden cape accompanied by a corner man who played the violin, Leonardo never locked arms with the glitzy celebrity who was also known as “The Orchid Man”.

     “Before every match, George would have his hair curled. Like Argentine Rocca, women were crazy about him. He’d strut around the ring pulling bobby pins out of his hair tossing them to lady admirers. They scrambled after them like hungry sharks.”

     But Dante was developing his own fan base. “Kids would circulate in the crowd selling my autographed photos for $2. That was a lot of money in those days.” Despite only a year of professional wrestling, in 2008 he was inducted into the New York State Wrestlers Hall of Fame.

     So his promising career as grappler ended abruptly in 1954 when he was drafted into the Army. When the Korean war veteran was honorably discharged, instead of returning to wrestling, he went into the wholesale jewelry and the photo-finishing business in Yonkers, New York.

    A memory he would forever cherish was the sight of the towering Statue of Liberty that greeted his family when they arrived in New York Harbor from Argentina.

     “I’ll never forget that beautiful lady holding the torch,” said Leonardo. “If she wasn’t so big, I would have hugged her. What do you expect, I was an immigrant, born in Belvedere Marittimo, a small village about 30 kilometers south of Naples in southern Italy.  

     “I was only five when my mother (Victoria), who did without to feed and cloth me, brought me to Argentina so we could be with my father (Francisco).   My mother meant everything to me. We were very poor. As an infant, she would chew up the food and spit it into a bowl to feed me.

     “She sacrificed so much. My father was a decent man with ways of the old country. He taught me to rely on common sense. Throughout life, I have tried to do that.”

     “I was an immigrant twice,” he noted. “Once as a very young boy coming from Italy to Argentina. Again, as a young man immigrating to the America. I can identify with people from any country wanting a better life.  

     “We open the door for them,” he went on. “Finally, they have something to eat, money to raise a family. Yet, there are those who complain: ‘They are taking my job!'”

     What he would tell immigrants arriving in the U.S.A. today?

     Here’s his quick reply: “You want to live an honorable life? Welcome to America! If you are a criminal, GET OUT! Never come back. Never!

     “As for sending millions back to poverty — good people who work our fields, cut our lawns, build our highways, do so many menial tasks for so little money — punishing these innocent men, women and their children is un-American. Come on! It’s so unfair to turn them away. They come here like so many of us with hope in their hearts.  

     “I believe in amnesty. They deserve it,” said Leonardo. When we met, he had three sons, grandchildren and was divorced. He lived with his brother, Carlos, an aerospace/missile scientist, in Palos Verdes, Calif.

     He died in 2012 at the age of 83. Leonardo recalled the words written by Emma Lazarus inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning

to breathe free…”

 

 

(THE HUMAN RACE, written by Boots, is an

inspirational self-help book interspersed

with stories about people, essays and light

poetry. It’s available on Kindle as well

as in paperback on Amazon)

 

A STARK VIEW OF LIFE, HOPE, MIRACLES AND DEATH THROUGH THE EYES OF TWO HEART SPECIALISTS

NOTE: I WROTE THIS STORY TWO DECADES AGO. IT’S ABOUT TWO GREAT CARDIOLOGISTS WHO ARE STILL SAVING LIVES, INCLUDING MINE.

 

CARDIOLOGISTS JACKSON AND KISSEL REVEAL INTIMATE REALITIES OF THEIR PROFESSION

 

by Boots LeBaron

                                

     Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, even Muhammad Ali, couldn’t take the kind of punishment that Gary L. Kissel and Bruce K. Jackson have endured over their 18-year partnership in Redondo Beach.

     God knows how many times they’ve been on the ropes, or found themselves flat on the canvas, struggling to get back on their feet, trying to save a life before the ten count.

     Rolling with the punches simply doesn’t work when you’re in the business of invasive cardiology.  

     Whenever Jackson, 48, is asked what he does for a living, rather than talk about the trauma of a Code Blue, or the frantic seconds of trying to save the life of a person who’s in the midst of a massive heart attack, he prefers to tell strangers that he’s a pump mechanic.

     “We fix broken pumps and broken hearts,” he’ll say. Besides, who wants to hear about implanting pacemakers, intra-aortic balloon pumps, angioplasty or other intra-cardiac procedures at a cocktail party?  

     Jackson, a man with an outrageous sense of humor, confesses that “in this business, you’ll go nuts if you don’t have a sense of humor. Cardiology is stressful. It’s painful. It’s a hell of a lot of fun. I’d pay good money to do this. There’s absolutely nothing in life I’d rather do.

 

     “During my second year of practice,” said Kissel, 53, “I felt a real burnout. I wept for a couple of days. I didn’t know if I could cope with so much life and death. I still break down when my patients die. Crying is a way to relieve grief and express your own sorrow. But I feel truly blessed to be in this business.”

     “Double ditto for me,” said Jackson. “Sometimes when a patient dies, I go home; shed a tear for them; toast the ghost, and wish them off to a better place than they’ve been. I try very hard to leave the sorrows and heartaches back in the office. Sometimes that doesn’t work worth a hoot.”

     Unlike people suffering from cancer, AIDS or other fatal diseases, Jackson noted that cardiac patients “have a notorious habit of dying at very inconvenient times. Very suddenly and dramatically. It’s like god suddenly snatches them away.”

     For Kissel and Jackson, practicing cardiology is like flying through hell on angels’ wings. The view is miserable but enlightening, tragic but captivating, mystifying but miraculous.       “Almost every day of my life, I see tragedy,” said Jackson. “Tragedy is dying alone, being sick without anyone to hold your hand to comfort you. Ironically, people handle stress best under pressure. When we’re squeezed against the wall, we’re forced to be courageous.”

     Many times, says Kissel, as a patient is dying, “when they are gasping for breath or are on a respirator and are incapable of talking, they speak with their eyes.

     “Looking into their eyes, you know what they’re thinking. Their eyes tell you, ‘I know you’re trying, but I’m dying.’ Their eyes show compassion, fear, resolve and courage. They say, ‘Thanks,’ or, ‘It’s okay, I’m ready to go.’ Or, ‘To hell with all this. I give up.’

     “Eyes, soul, spirit,” said Jackson. “When people die, you can almost sense the physical departure of the soul from the body.    “In our business,” said Kissel, “you have to be blind not to recognize that there are unexplainable powers. There is a god!

     “Bruce and I sometimes joke about situations where patients, with no help from us, seem to miraculously regain their strength. After that, we say we gave them an injection of Lazarine mixed with a dose of Resurrectine,” said Kissel, referring to the biblical account of Lazarus being brought back to life by Jesus Christ.”

     “There are factors that go beyond our ability to heal,” added Jackson. “Many times, we could sure use a nice little vile of Lazerine and Resurrectine to make this experience more productive.” “We have a number patients who are walking miracles,” said Kissel. “For reasons we can’t explain, they have survived despite technology and expert opinion.”

     He recalled an elderly man who “already looked like a cadaver when Bruce and I admitted him to the hospital. We thought for sure he would die there. Next day, he was walking. Finally, he left the hospital and went on to live for a long time.”

     Jackson remembered a Code Blue when “This lady was in full cardiac arrest. She wasn’t breathing.

     “Had no heart beat for four minutes. We worked on her for about a half hour. Couldn’t bring her back. As I was telling her surgeon there was nothing we could do, she started breathing. Her heartbeat restored. She came into the office three weeks ago. Walking slower, but she’s fine now.”

     Kissel also had patients who are too busy to die. He recalled a middle aged stockbroker whom he admitted to the South Bay Hospital suffering from a heart attack. “He insisted on having a phone in his room. He acted like his heart attack was nothing more than a major inconvenience, seriously interfering with business. It was like, he simply could not afford to die.

     “When I visited him the next morning, he was on the phone chewing on a cigar. The bed was cluttered with papers. He actually waved me off, telling me to come back later. What a character.” Kissel laughed. “I’m sure he did just fine. Never came back.”

     Kissel believes that “people have a right to die. And under certain circumstances, withdrawing all treatment is not only logical but compassionate. If our culture reaches a point where it’s considered okay for a physician — like Dr. Jack Kevorkian — to assist a patient in dying, I’d find that extremely difficult.” The most neurotic patients, observes Jackson, are physicians themselves. “You run across one in the hall and he’ll say, ‘Got a minute? I got this pain in my chest. Make it go away, will you? “You have to grab him by the wrist and put him on a treadmill. “Believe me,” he went on, “doctors are more neurotic than regular patients who have no medical smarts. Of all people, they should know that denial will kill when you have heart disease.”

     Do the partners ever feel that since they literally hold the fate of their patients in their hands, they possess god-like powers?

     “Every day we are reminded that we are all in the same boat,” said Kissel. “We are no more invincible than our patients. We share the same feelings, we get just as sick as they do, and there’s no doubt that, inevitably, all of us will die.

     “I can only hope that what I do as a physician,” he continued, “will enhance the quality of someone else’s life and will give them a few extra years of happiness.”

     Although Jackson says that his wife, Susan, is his best friend, Kissel is more than a pal. “At 2:15 in the morning, when you’re double teaming, trying to bail a patient out of a deadly tailspin, and you look over and see your partner in action, that’s another view of the soul. No doubt about it, Gary is also my best friend.”  

     Some physicians, says Jackson, believe that the MD after their names stands for Minor Deity. “Luckily, Gary and I have made a clean getaway” from the god syndrome that plagues some physicians.

    “When I get up in the morning, I put my trousers on one leg at a time. I don’t know about Gary, but I’m getting old with as many twinges in the hinges as anyone else.

     “I can testify that I’m just as mortal as the next guy. Maybe even more so.”

     With partners Howard Abrams, Eric Castleman and Steven Weinstein — all cardiologists — Kissel and Jackson operate Cardiology Associates of the South Bay with offices in Redondo Beach, California.

     It wasn’t until Kissel was attending the University of Washington on a football scholarship that he decided on pursuing a career in medicine. He began his medical career working in a M*A*S*H rescue unit as an Air Force flight surgeon in Vietnam. The only thing he found tougher than his two-year stint in Nam, which included flying into combat zones, is practicing cardiology in the South Bay.

     Vietnam, he admits, wasn’t easy. “But private practice is a different world. We are part of the community. We make lasting friendship with our patients. Unlike Vietnam, they are not strangers when they die.” Kissel is the father of two grown children.

     Jackson, also an Air Force surgeon, and his wife, Susan, an accountant, are both working on second marriages. Between them, they have five children and six grandchildren. “The reason we’re so young and have so many grandchildren is we started mating in grammar school,” he joked.  

     “I never realized it would require such personal sacrifice,” he said. “Yet, I feel blessed. I believe that what I’m doing is very important. It seems like you spend half of your life learning to become a doctor.”

     What he’s learned about life facing death is: “Whatever you do in life, whatever livelihood you pursue, it should make you happy. Don’t go strictly for the money, fame, power. None of those can buy happiness! I’ve seen too many people who realized that too late.’

     “Life is very fragile,” agrees his partner. “Very short. Very precious. It should be treated accordingly.”

     On Friday, May 6, both Kissel and Jackson, Associate Clinical Professors at the UCLA School of Medicine, will be honored by the American Heart Association at a fund-raising banquet at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza.

     Unless their beepers go off over the weekend, on Monday Kissel and Jackson will be back in the ring, dancing on the canvas soaked with their own tears, jabbing, weaving, bobbing and punching; hoping for a miracle and trying their damndest to knock their ominous opponents on the ropes one more time.

          ————————————-

Boots LeBaron is a freelance writer who lives in Manhattan Beach.

 

End

The Human Race by Boots LeBaron is available on Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Human-Race-Boots-LeBaron/dp/1494218526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1465608125&sr=8-1&keywords=BOOTS+LEBARON

WATCHING THE PREAKNESS: A THOUGHT ABOUT COURAGE

EX-JOCKEY LEARNED THE HARD WAY

 

     Stewart I. Haupman was petting a $2,300 cockatoo when I met him several years ago at his parrot shop in Redondo Beach, California. But he wasn’t always in the exotic bird business.

     He grew up in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, a tough tenement section brimming with poverty and controlled by gangs. At the age of seven, he sold magazines and sang on weekends at Jewish weddings to help support the family

     Sharing a small two-bedroom flat in a tenement house with his parents, grandparents and a brother who had polio, he slept on a cot in the hallway.

     When he turned 14, he quit school, forged his father’s signature, and became a stable boy at the old Jamaica Race Track. A year later, he became an exercise boy at Hialeah, a track in Florida.

     It was there he got his first mount as a jockey. The third horse he raced, won! Within eight months, he had won 127 races and had become a full-fledged jockey.

     Over a period of eight years, riding for Sonny Jim Fitzsimmons, whom he described as “the dean of trainers,” he had won 832 races. “Being a jockey, that was my education. I rode and I broke yearlings for the DuPonts, the Vanderbilts, the Whitneys… “I owe a lot to those people. They taught me to be a human being. I learned to function in an area of society I never even dreamed I could be a part of.”

     As a winning jockey, the kid from Hell’s Kitchen not only rubbed elbows with the rich and famous, but found a pride within himself. “The racetrack gave me self-esteem. I had a great time. Winning a big race is an unbelievable experience.

     “You hear the crowd yelling, screaming. And You’re whipping and driving. Well, it’s exciting. You wave at the judges in the winner’s circle. There’s smiles. Applause. The track gave me the feeling of being somebody special. Like a track star.”

     During a race at Hialeah, his mount “snapped an ankle” and Steward went down in front of the pack. Trampled by six horses, he was “busted up bad” and spent nine months in the hospital, gained weight and lost that competitive edge to win.

     “To have success suddenly taken away from you — it was devastating! When you’re a kid, nobody paints you a rosy picture. Nobody tells you there’s a rose garden out there. You find it. Then, all of a sudden, it’s gone. It seems that nobody really teaches you that in life, you win a few and lose a few. You should never quit when you’re down.”

                                                               — Boots LeBaron —

 

 

A CHANCE MEETING WITH MY FAVORITE LEPRECHAUN

THE HUMAN RACE

 

  

A CHANCE MEETING WITH MY FAVORITE LEPRECHAUN

 

Not too long ago,

I was walking down the street minding me own business when

when I heard a rustling of leaves coming from high in a maple tree.

When I looked up, there was Francis Archibald O’Leary with

that waggish face beaming down at me.

He was trapped, clinging to a spindly branch that barely supported his portly Leprechaun frame.

“Top of the mornin’, chappy!” hecalled, tipping his topper.

Up to that point in my life,

I had been a logical kind of guy who believed that elves, mermaids, gremlins,

pixies, brownies, even gnomes were figments of our imagination. But I must admit that

I’ve known my share of Leprechaunic folk the size of Billy Barty.

So there high above me was Francis, oozing blarney winking down with

impish green eyes magnified by bifocals.

As sure as St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland, I had

never met a more whimsical character than the one whose coattail was

was caught in the branches.

“Before you forsake me,” he pleaded, “would

you be up to doin’ a kind deed?”

I shot him an skeptical glance.

“Wouldn’t you agree, it’d be unmerciful

to leave a body trapped in a tree on such a fine kite-flying day?” he rattled on.

“How’d you get up there?” I asked.

“Would you believe I was tryin’ to getcloser to heaven?” he snorted.

“If I help you down, will you give me an interview?” I asked.

“Yer pullin’ me leg,” he howled.

As I began to walk away,” he hollered after me:

“Unless yer interested in talkin’ to the descendent of Ireland’s King Timothy O’Leary?

That’s me, you see!”

No sooner did I help him down that he pushed

out his double chin and tossed me a cockeyed smile.

“Timothy O’Leary was not really a King,”

he explained showing no guilt. “He was more like the

chief of a clan in County Cork. But King

Leary did exist. And his same blood

trickles through my veins and those of

my sons, Shawn, Kevin and Bryan. They

are all sturdy lads.”

“Just where on the Emerald Isle do you

hail from?”

“Sad to say, I’ve never been to

Ireland. My father, Timothy

raised nine of us on an estate in Cambridge,

Mass. where he was a groundskeeper.”

“Are you truly one of the Little People?” I asked.

“Not only am I the largest leprechaun in the world,

I’m the only one with an engineering degree; one

who works with rainbows, pots of gold, taxes,

and has an enchanting wife named Allie who teaches

college calculus. Just think of me as an overgrown

elf with supernatural powers. That’s me!”

That spiel was the beginning of a friendship

that lasted far more than a blink of an eye.

Before we parted, I asked, using tax lingo,

“Francis, would you be up to granting your

rescuer three promissory wishes?”

“Brace yourself,” he said puffing up his

chest and pouching out his belly:

“May the road rise up to meet ya. There’s

one… May the wind be always at yer back…

And here’s me favorite: May you be in heaven

ten minutes before the devil knows yer dead!”

Right there in front of me, Francis vanished

in a puff of smoke leaving the scent of

Irish Spring in his wake.

Francis Archibald O’Leary was truly a happy soul.

Right now, I’ll wager he’s at a place, far above

the maple tree, shuffling his twinkle toes,

dancing a jig. The sight of him will surely cause

old St. Peter to open wide his gates.

And, may I add, leave the many friends he

left behind with heartfelt memories.

Toodleoo, old pal.

In Irish, that means good-bye.

 

— Boots LeBaron —

 

(Frank, a physicist and former U.S. Marine,died on Valentine’s Day last year when I wrote this story.

He was born in Cambridge,Mass. in 1927)

http://www.amazon.com/Human-Race-Boots-LeBaron/dp/1494218526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458011225&sr=8-1&keywords=boots+lebaron

 

 

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