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Good bye to Jerry

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May 09, 2009, 18:38
Good bye to Jerry
I am sorry to report that Jerry has died today. Daniel emailed me and said that he found this quote in one of his books on Buddhism: "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." That sounds just like him, doesn't it?

I just said to Shu today how much I've been missing our Jerry on the chats.

Jerry first joined Wordcraft, after a little nudging by Wordcrafter, on October 19, 2002, with this post. . It was about his beloved "The Raven." He had been getting the word a day and had emailed Wordcrafter that he knew the answer to the challenge. Wordcrafter urged him to join our discussion board and post his answer.

His last post, as has been pointed out, was a bit eerie, considering what happened after that.

I'll always remember the fun we had with Jerry, his puns, his using bold letters for our names, and how he loved his coffee on his lanai.

We will dedicate our chat next week to Jerry. I hope many of you will be able to join us.
May 09, 2009, 20:43
Richard English
That is so sad. I was unable to get on the chat today as I explained elsewhere, but while I was trying I commented to Margaret about Jerry and how he was always having his breakfast as we chatted.

I knew he wasn't a well man, but nevertheless it's still a shock.

Richard English
May 10, 2009, 01:59
I wish that I had had a chance to meet jerry. In our private correspondence he sent me a number of longer pieces that he had written and I was always greatly impressed by them. I once, rather tentatively, compared his writing style to the pleasant easy-going anecdotal style of Garrison Keeler. I was tentative because I know that while I like Keeler, many don't. Jerry, I'm pleased to say was very happy with the comparison.

Half the time jerry's posts left my chuckling for hours, half the time they left me utterly baffled. All of the time they entertained me.

I shall miss him.

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.

My current blog.
Photographs to accompany Anyone Can DO It available from www.lulu.com
My photoblog The World Through A lens
May 10, 2009, 05:18
Goodbye, Jerry. You and your light-hearted posts will be sorely missed.

Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
May 10, 2009, 07:38
A sad event. I have been thinking about JT since you told us that he was in the hospital. He was at his best, I believe in his PMs and emails. I shall miss him.

Ceci n'est pas un seing.
May 10, 2009, 11:39
I just logged on to see if there was any update on Jerry's health only to find this thread. Wow. He went really fast. I mean he was posting a month ago...

This site will be less without him.
May 10, 2009, 12:33
Chris J. Strolin
Jerry was an OEDILFer only briefly but I considered him a friend.

His passing serves as a reminder, if any is needed, that life is all too finite. Jerry seemed like the kind of person who squeezed all the enjoyment possible out of each and every day. In a world so filled with wonder and amazing experiences, that's a damn fine quality to have.
May 10, 2009, 12:45
<Asa Lovejoy>
I'm sorry to learn of his death. I enjoyed his with very much.

May 10, 2009, 17:57
Would JT want us all to look grim?
His life’s cup was full up to the brim.
And now Heaven is bright
‘Cause, to God’s great delight,
Jerry’s making Him laugh with a lim.

Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
May 10, 2009, 19:57
This is so sad to hear. I chatted with Jerry often when I was new to the board, and we became good friends. He was so funny and whimsical. I loved his story of meeting Kalleh at the airport, and telling her "You know, I could be an axe murderer", or something like that. Jerry was a true delight. I'm glad he had his good friend Daniel, and I'm sure his other friend, Danny, with him at the end. He started a college scholarship fund in his old hometown, too, did you all know that? Fascinating man. He is already missed.

Proof - I'm glad you wrote a lim for him. I'll try to muster up the creativity for that soon. Tonight, I am just feeling quiet (odd for me).

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
May 10, 2009, 20:39
Oh, CW, I had forgotten about that college fund he had started. I was thinking about making a donation in his name somewhere, and that would be the perfect place. I will ask Daniel about it, and I will post the information here in case anyone else is interested.

Yes, his meeting me at the airport was priceless. I have to say, had it not been for that twinkle in his eye, I might not have gone. It was a bit unsettling at first, particularly because he ushered me into this big old truck, much like I'd expect from an axe murderer! But, he turned out to be a gentle, considerate host. He made dinner, including homemade bread, and had lots of friends over to meet me. He drove me all over, showing me the volcanoes of the big island. We shared some private moments, like when we chuckled about one of his guest's double dactyl name.

It's nice of you to stop by, CJ.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Kalleh,
May 11, 2009, 00:17
I was so sorry to hear this news in an email from Kalleh last night and sadder still to read all these messages, which just proves what he meant to all of us and how much we have lost. If Kalleh hadn't spent the better part of a couple of days tracking down Daniel, we might still be wondering where JT was, and that's proof of the level of caring among friends here. Thanks for the Buddhist quote too, Kalleh.

May 11, 2009, 14:45
Kalleh -
I wonder if Daniel would be interested in seeing this thread, and seeing how important Jerry was to us all.

Dear Jerry, you oft made me giggle
told stories with wit and with wiggle
you loved to quote Poe
you ne're knew a foe
you're a good friend, a good man, fer-shiggle.

I just pray that Marijuana is legal in heaven. Wink

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
May 11, 2009, 18:57
I just pray that Marijuana is legal in heaven

I like to think that right now he's smoking out Louis Armstrong and Carl Sagan.
May 11, 2009, 19:20
I wonder if Daniel would be interested in seeing this thread, and seeing how important Jerry was to us all.
Great minds think alike, CW. I sent Daniel the link to this thread last night, and I hope he will access it because there are so many great comments here.

It's times like this when I feel so proud of our community.
May 12, 2009, 03:27
The mention of marijuana made me think of this poem:


Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work--

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and the passengers ask the conductor:

Carl Sandburg

Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
May 13, 2009, 22:27
Kalleh told me of Jerry’s illness when I met her in Chicago and I’m really sorry to hear of his death. These are lovely tributes. Jerry's posts used to make me laugh - he seemed like such a free spirit and I know he’ll be missed.

Jer was witty and wise (sometimes wacky),
And he smoked (and it wasn’t just baccy).
Now, although he’s retired,
By his lead we’re inspired,
Cos he never would follow the packy.
May 13, 2009, 23:29
I only just realized that there are two threads about Jerry now and this one is more active. Here is a video I posted to the other thread a couple of days ago ...

May 16, 2009, 21:40
I have just come back online after a spell of computer repairs. I'm so sorry to learn of Jerry's death. What a lovely person he was. I'm glad I knew him (virtually of course), even though it was just for a year or so-- thank you so much for sharing that video. It was good to see and hear him. He made me feel so welcome when I joined the group, and we exchanged a number of friendly PM's on the subject of writing, and of teaching foreign language. His absence will be sorely felt here.
May 18, 2009, 23:11
John Thomas
Hi folks. Jerry was my best friend. He had told me about this forum over the years, and I visited once and certainly saw why he was so happy to post here. Danny and Daniel suggested I came by and I'm glad I did. For many reasons, not the least of which is that great video of Jerry.

Jerry and I met about 11 years ago online. We were both posting to the New York Times Drug Policy Forum (the NYT ended their forums about two years ago). He was a delight to converse with, possessing a keen wit, a deep literary knowledge and passion, and vast humanity. I think Jerry's idea of a 'G.I Bill' type re-integration for all those so wrongly marginalized by the marijuana prohibition fraud is a really great idea.

We corresponded a lot and I jumped at the chance to meet him when he traveled to Oklahoma where I was living at the time.

We became fast friends and enjoyed our common struggle to end the witch-hunt of marijuana prohibition. I had the great, good fortune of being able to celebrate my 50th birthday with a visit to Jerry in Hawaii.

If I had been impressed with Jerry before, I was totally smitten with him in his 'habitat' -
a wonderful community of friends surrounded his house a stone's throw from a beautiful black sand beach. When we visited him there, Jerry was a delightful host, giving us the great tour of Volcanoes, Hula dancing, fantastic beaches, and more! -- But about half-way through the visit, we decided our favorite spot was Jerry's lanai (porch) which was the center of life for his group of friends as eclectic as you can imagine.

Every morning - whenever Jerry felt like getting up - Jerry would fix a fantastic brunch of eggs, bacon, fresh tropical fruit, and wonderful breads that he would make! The "Punatics" would all wander in and another day on Jerry's lanai began.

The party he threw me for my 50th birthday was on that lanai with all Jerry's friends. It was an affair I'll never forget and couldn't possibly imagine a better way to celebrate that dubious milestone. -- I made many new friends there, but most especially, Daniel, who seemed to be always on the same wave length as me. We eventually discovered we had attended the same elementary school in San Francisco!

I also had the opportunity to travel with Danny Young and Jerry to tour Jerry's old stomping grounds in Colorado. Danny became another great friend, and we got to meet the other part of Jerry's world, friends and family, getting to know another wonderful friend of Jerry's, Ron. It was a great revealing to me of a state I thought I knew already.

Jerry was like a teenager again. He told us how, at 19, he got the job of driving the school bus in Estes Park and how he used to scare the kids by driving at top speed through winding mountain roads. I think we enjoyed the story too much, because, before you know it, Jerry was doing the Grand Prix on that very same road, scaring the bee-geesus out of Danny and me! 8^)

With Jerry, every day was an adventure and every night a celebration! I am a much luckier and ennobled person for having had a such a vibrant spirit for my friend.

Thank you so much, Jerry! I love you. Please give my daughter a big hug for me.
May 19, 2009, 11:42
My name is Danny Young, I knew Jerry since 1982 when he was teaching English in Providence University of Taiwan. He was my Spanish teacher too, then, we became very good friends. I respect him, admire him and love him very much.

Thank you Jerry for being a part of my life, thank you Jerry for the friendship and thank you Jerry for letting me know you are such a big hearted friend.
Like you said, “I know your name and you know my name, let us see each other in heaven” Love, Danny Young

我的名字是Danny Young,我在1982年認識Jerry,當時他在台灣的靜宜大學教英文。他同時也是我的西班牙語家教老師,自那以後,我們成為非常好的朋友。我尊敬他,崇拜他並且非常地愛他。

就如Jerry所說的:我知道你的名字,你也知道我的名字,讓我們在天堂再重逢吧!愛你的Danny Young.
May 19, 2009, 11:42
Dear Kalleh, the Chinese part was the translation of the above English I'd posted.
I'm honored of being a best friend of Jerry, much love...Thank you all for doing this for Jerry.
If there is anything I can do, please do let me know...I'm so glad that we did the trip to Vietnam last November..Lots memories.
May 19, 2009, 19:49
Thanks so much to arnie for making this a sticky thread in memory of Jerry. I've been going through my old emails to find either photos or stories that you might find interesting. If any of you have some, please post them. Here is a story he wrote to me about travel in the national parks:

This is an experiment in the use of links to illustrate a piece of writing.

In the spring of 1948 -- the day after my graduation from Galena High School, my family moved from Galena, Kansas, to Estes Park, Colorado. The second day we were there my mother signed a contract to be the
English Teacher in Estes Park High School. She taught there for the next eighteen years. My dad worked in the construction of the Colorado-Big Thompson Water Diversion Project,


and after its completion he worked many years for the Estes Park Light and Power company. He was an expert on the use of explosives, and to dig a hole for a power pole in (Rocky) Estes Park usually calls for dynamite. Here is some information about Estes Park -- my SECOND "Old Home Town."

Estes Park is on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, whose Headquarters used to be in the village (now it's in the Park) and the people who worked there were fully-functioning citizens of that small Village where everybody knows everybody.


At the end of the summer of 1954, after Bill Bennett and I had worked together all summer at Brodie's Market in Estes Park, we decided to take a vacation trip. Bill and his wife Helen, and Lucinda and me. Helen's father was the Chief Engineer for the Western Region of the National Park Service, so she knew lots of high-level Park Service. Bill's sister, Jean, was married to John Fonda, who was a Ranger at Grand Tetons National Park. He was a nationally recognized expert on mountain climbing and had been in the Army's mountain troops.
Our first destination was Grand Tetons National Park,

.... where John gave us lessons in rapelling. In the winter of 1960 John and three other Rangers were on a winter patrol. The ice on the Snake River broke, and the Rangers were on their skis. John drowned trying to save another Ranger who was in trouble. ..... anyway ..... after a few days at Teton, we did a quick tour of Yellowstone,

..... then we headed north to Glacier National Park, where Helen's parents were living that summer.


Somehow the idea suddenly came up that while we were there at the Headquarters of Glacier National Park, we might as well apply for Fire Lookout jobs for the summer of 1955. On our job applications we listed as References such good fellows as ..... Superintendent, Yellowstone, Chief Ranger, Grand Canyon .... Superintendent, Rocky Mountain .... and so on .... you get the idea ..... Fire Lookout jobs in Glacier National Park are very popular with young people who know about such things. Thousands apply for those jobs every year ..... and as our Good Luck would have it, we were hired. Perhaps our References had something to do with it.

In the Spring of 1955 we drove up to Glacier and spent a week in Fire School and Weather School. Then we went to our respective Lookouts. Bill and Helen were assigned to Swiftcurrent,

..... http://www.firelookout.com/mt/swiftcurrent.html

... and Lucinda and I were assigned to Numa Ridge. ...


I am delighted with this modern technology that allows me to show you pictures and give you good views of those exotic places where we spent the summer of 1955 and 1956 ...

For our second summer in Glacier, we were assigned to Apgar Lookout ...

Bill Bennett is now a retired anesthesiologist (MD) in Laramie, Wyoming. It was during his Medical School years that we worked in Glacier. Bill told this story of a visitor to Swiftcurrent Lookout. Sitting at his desk inside the Lookout tower, studying .... when Bill raised his eyes from the school work he was looking down the trail ... and one day he was having trouble with Calculus. It was a prerequisite for Physical Chemistry, but he had taken PC anyway. Now he was catching up, and he had reached a point where he could not go further into Calculus without help. Suddenly he saw that there were two visitors approaching. A man and his little girl. So they got into conversation and the man said he was a professor of mathematics from Harvard. He gave Bill the advice he needed .....

Early in our Glacier Natioinal Park career, Bill and I decided that since he and I were not getting paid for weekends (They paid our wives for the weekends -- avoiding paying us overtime) we really ought to go hiking. We would meet at Park Headquarters on Friday evening, and spend the next two days hiking and camping. In those two summers we hiked every trail in that vast park.

We greatly enjoyed our summers in Glacier and our long-time relationship with the National Park Service. Nowadays, the closest National Park to my residence is ...... Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.


Enough .... for now ....

So long till the next Installment ..
May 19, 2009, 20:04
Then Jerry sent me a link to this Cherokee County, Kansas, forum where he has posted a lot about his life.
May 19, 2009, 20:06
Then...here's another story that he sent me:

Where did I teach ?

Well ....... after graduating from Colorado State University (then called Colorado A&M College) I went to the American Institute for Foreign Trade for a year and got a Bachelor of Foreign Trade degree. That school had two great assets ..... probably the best foreign language school in the country, and a very effective Placement Service. Through the Placement Service I got a job upon graduation .... at Simmons Company, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I have been known to say that Wisconsin was the first foreign couintry I lived in...... ( men wore hats there, and carried umbrellas .... and rode on trains . )

Lucinda Swearingen (native of Estes Park, Colorado) and I got married in 1953 while I was in the Navy (second time ... recalled due to Korea) ..... that being my second time in the navy I was more aware of things than before. I requested a job change and became a Personnelman ..... when it came time to assign me to a duty station, despite my request for a Battleship or an Aircraft Carrier .... or Shore Duty in Hawaii ........ they sent me to a Destroyer which happened to be the sister ship of the one I was on in 1949. The other personnelmen I worked with in the Ship's Office heard my story of my brother's death just days before my recall to active duty. They suggested I apply for "Sole Surviving Son" status .. which I did .....(my brother was in the last stages of Jet Fighter Pilot training when he or his instructor pushed a wrong button and crashed and burned ........August 19 1952 )

So when that ship got ordered to combat in Korea, they transferred me to the Fleet Weather Central on Guam..... I went home on leave and got married .... then Lucinda joined me on Guam and we had a yearlong time there ...... on the beach every afternoon ., paradise ... she taught junior hi math in the Guam Public Schools.

October one, 1957 I started working at Simmons Company ...... I cared nothing about manufacturing Beautyrest mattresses, but Simmons had factories in foreign countries ,,,,, Australia, France, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela ...... and I was obsessed with the idea of living in some foreign country and learning foreign languages ......, .. eventually (1959) they sent me to be a production manager in Venezuela ....... our first baby ... Nicholas Paul was born in Kenosha ..... the second, Terence Philip was born in Caracas ..... by the time those kids were six, they spoke Spanish like natives.
in 1960 Simmons transferred us to Mexico, where we spent one year .... then they sent us to Buenos Aires, Argentina to manage their small old factory there.

The size of a corporation seems to determine how long it takes them to discover if an employee is utterly worthless. Simmons company was big enough that it took them five years to discover that about me. They asked me to resign and I did that ........

Lucinda was Guidance Counsellor at the American School in Buenos Aires, and earned enough to pay the rent on our house ...... I spent three months "doing a self-sponsored study of the unemployment situation in Buenos Aires" ...... (every morning i'd get up and put on my suit and take the train into the city and spend the day either sitting on a park bench reading poetryi or sitting at a sidewallk cafe table sipping beer ... all day long .....

One day I stumbled in to the office of the American Chamber of Commerce and put an ad in their weekly newspaper saying I wanted a job in sales or sales promotion or advertising ...... then forgot about that and went on reading poetry and sipping beer.

We had a lot of friends in Buenos Aires, and every Sunday we had a party in our large back yard ..... barbecue and lots of liquor .......... during one of those parties I heard the phone ringing and noticed the maid didn't answer it so I went in and answered. A man said he held the franchise for Dale Carnegie Courses for Argentina and Uruguay and he had been in New York and just returned and saw my ad ...... he wanted to talk to me so we agreed on an appointment for next day ......... I returned to the back yard and told my partying friends "a guy from Dale Carnegie wants to talk to me ... I don't know if he wants me to Take his course or to Teach it .........." hehehehe

He hired me as a Salesman and said he'd teach me how to be one ....... the only pay I would get would be a 23 percent commission on all the sales I made .... the idea was for me to sell people on the idea of improving their lives with Dale Carnegie training ....... and of course I started taking the course .... The Dale Carnegie Course in Effective Speaking and Human Relations ......... and I also took the Dale Carnegie Sales Course ...

Taking those two courses in Buenos Aires in Spanish was a major milestone in my acquisition of Spanish language ....... I became a Very Good Salesman and after a while I became Sales Manager ....... and I got trained as Instructor in both courses .......... In 1965 I joined Alcoholics Anonymous and that same year we came back to the U.S.A . We bought a house in Fort Collins. For the next few years I held the franchise for Dale Carnegie Courses in Northeastern Colorado ............. and I returned to the university and got certified as a teacher of Spanish language for the State of Colorado .....

In 1969 I felt I was becoming less and less effective as a salesman & manager ...... I told my boss, "My psychiatrist says I have a work inhibition."

The boss said, "I don't know what psychiatrists call it ..... I call it lazy."

Lucinda and I had more and more major disagreements and finally we got a divorce.

Lois Johnson had been my secretary for some time .... she and I got married when the required waiting period ended for my divorce.

I quit the Carnegie career and went to work at the Fort Collins Police Department as a communications person ..... after a while I rewrote the rule book and got Dispatchers' pay raised to that of Patrolman ..... and my own pay increased to that of Sergeant ...... I worked there for eight years, eight months, and eight days ........ One thing I did there was I made a Jerry Thomas version of the Dale Carnegie Course and taught it to the cops .....

Then I went to Real Estate School and spent a year dealing in Real Estate

Then I went back to the university and spent three years getting a Master of Arts degree in the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language.

Some Chinese friends supplied me with a list of colleges and universities in Taiwan, and I sent application letters and resumes to eight of them ...... which resulted in six job offers. Out of the six, I chose Providence College, which was the onlyi Women's College in Taiwan ...... they hired me ... and Lois ...... and off we went to Taiwan ..... we spent three years there ..

When I did my Poe Show in Galena I gave Amber Spencer a 3 X 5 card with a few notes about where I had been ,,, etc ... so she could introduce me ..... and at the end of the MOnday show there was time for Questions and Answers .... one kid asked if I would say something in Chinese ....... I thought it over for 30 seconds and sang the only song I know in that language ....... weeks later, back home in Hawaii, I recived a large sheet of paper that Amber Spencer and Brenda White had used for the students to write comments about my Poe Show ..... one kid wrote, "The BEST part was when you sang in Chinese."


When my great grandfather's first wife died in Columbus in 1870 or so, he already had several kids ..... he married Mary Thompson and they had three more ..... the oldest of the three was Isaac Newton Parvin, my grandfather ........ when his father died, the kids went to live with David Thompson in Crestline ......... I wonder if your husband is a descendent of that Thompson family ............ if so then you and I might be some sort of cousins ......

............... enough about me ........ tell me more about YOU ...
May 20, 2009, 06:17
<Asa Lovejoy>
From a PM:

Posted 22 Jan, 3:24 PM

9 July 1998

by Jerry Thomas

"There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold ... ... ..." Robert Service's popular poem boomed out from the sound system at the Akebono Theater last Saturday evening, heard by an audience of about 160 Punatics. Due to my hearing impairment, however, I heard nothing -- nothing but a loud roar. There are strange things done in Puna, too. Take for example R. J. Hampton's big Fourth of July 1998 party.

This is a report on that event, but first, a word (a sentence? a paragraph? a chapter?) about "Punatics.." Unlike lunatics, politics, nervous tics, and wood ticks, Punatics are mainly and uniquely found in Puna.

The Big Island of Hawaii -- Hawaii County -- consists of a number of "Districts," (clockwise from lower left) Ka'u, South Kona, Kona, Kohala, Hamakua, Hilo, South Hilo, and Puna. These "unincorporated" districts contain unincorporated towns. Such as Pahoa, in Puna. Many of the people in Puna "fit the profile" of Punatics. Like helium-filled balloons, most of us have no visible means of support.

Many Punatics draw "crazy pay" from various welfare departments. My friend and computer guru, OhZone, used to draw about $450 a month due to his "depression disability." When crazy pay was reduced last year his depression grew more severe. So severe that he flew off to Chicago, where he risked losing his "certified Punatic" status by getting a job! Last month he returned to Puna, and he's been my house guest ever since.

Pahoa hosts the only "needle exchange" program on the Big Island, and some say that's the reason so many suspected dopers congregate in Puna. An observant visitor once described a (fictional) Pahoa street dance as "four junkies arm in arm trying to make it across the street."

To balance the ever-popular annual Ironman Triathlon athletic event in Kona, it has been suggested that participants in the proposed Pahoa Triathlon follow these simple rules: Instead of swimming 2-1/2 miles, bicycling 112 miles, and running 26 miles, as they do in Kona, the Pahoa version's participants would all meet at Kaimu, in Lower Puna, inhale three fat joints, drink a 12-pack of cheap beer, and see who can be the first to hitch a ride for the nine miles into Pahoa for more supplies. When this idea was discussed, several of my Punatic neighbors "went into training."

R. J. Hampton is a Punatic, and she's full of energy and artistic talent. True to Punatic form, R. J. doesn't have a steady job. Chosen by popular demand to be MC at the Pahoa Christmas Parade and many similar events, she does an outstanding job. R. J. lives just down the street from me. She is in her late 30s or early 40s, very slender and tall, toothless, and until a few months ago she kept her head shaved; now her hair is slowly growing out. Before coming to Puna, R. J. lived in San Francisco, where she assisted her father in producing, directing, and performing on Public Television and in Grand Openings for galleries. She sings, dances, and is a talented stand-up comedienne. Her father passed away about four years ago. R. J. told me the main reason she loves performing is "I'm doing it for my father!"

My own father used to enjoy reciting poetry. Among his favorites was "The Cremation of Sam McGee. " To follow his example, I memorized the poem and have been known to recite it for almost any audience I can capture. Sometimes I remind myself of the old professor in "Night of the Iguana," who frequently asked his companion - guardian, "Do they want a recitation, Dear?"

At my birthday party last month when I gave a Sam McGee recitation, R. J. Hampton became one of my most devoted fans. She invited me to participate in the variety show at her Fourth of July party. Her invitation thrilled me, filled me with delight -- and a small measure of stage fright. "But that Canadian poet's creation has nothing to do with American Independence Day," I protested. "Call it Co-Dependence Day," R. J. said. "I'm depending on you."

So on the Fourth of July at about six p.m., OhZone and I headed for Pahoa in my 1974 Datsun pickup. R. J. Hampton has been publicizing the fact that she had managed to reserve the Akebono Theater for a big FREE Fourth - of - July Party; posters say "Admission FREE to the first 10,000!"

The party, "Freedom '98," was to start in the Akebono Parking Lot at noon, with a blessing by Sparrow Hawk, country music by Ernie Cruz, pastor of the New Hope Church & Fellowship, other music by a band called "Volcano," and a variety show on the Akebono's stage from 7:30 to 9:30.

To match my red face, white beard, and blue eyes, I chose to wear a red t-shirt, long white pants, and my blue Chinese cap, complete with its red star.

OhZone and I admired the scenery along the Red Road while we drove the three miles from Kehena to Kaimu --- Ohi'a trees loaded with red lehua blossoms, the vast blue ocean decorated with whitecaps in the moderate breeze --- and the towering steam-cloud landmark a few miles to the south west, marking the place where Kilauea's lava continues to pour into the ocean. Passing through Kaimu junction and starting up the six-mile-long hill on the highway to Pahoa I yelled at OhZone, "Clear for takeoff?" and OhZone answered, "Clear!" I accelerated, eager to see what R. J. had wrought.

I was feeling "cocky" about my 24-year-old Datsun. Just last week I had, alone and unassisted, fixed it. The alternator was not charging the battery, so I diagnosed its problem as a loose fan belt, which I had tightened -- simple for an experienced mechanic, but complicated enough to give me a feeling of personal pride for having accomplished it. All I had to do was loosen the nut holding the alternator in place, move the alternator, and tighten the nut. I had made that fan belt good and tight. My cockiness was tempered by a bit of mature wisdom brought on by my increasing age: Whenever I get TOO proud of myself, disaster strikes.

Reaching cruising speed, exceeding the 55-mph speed limit on Highway 130, we moved rapidly toward the 1,100-foot summit. And continuing my little "airplane pilot" game, I scanned my instruments. All normal. All, that is, except the temperature gauge, which was definitely NOT normal; its needle was moving rapidly toward an indication of HOT. "I smell something hot," OhZone yelled, and I slowed just enough to make a tire-squealing U turn.

We coasted back down to the Hawaii County roadside water spigot near Kaimu junction. We filled the empty radiator and a spare water jug , and headed up the hill. Just this side of the summit it heated up again, but we went on over the top --- it's all downhill from there to Pahoa's 500-foot level.

Coasting into Pahoa, I wondered where I was going to park, assuming that the Akebono Parking Lot would be overflowing (Punatics are known to turn out in great numbers for anything that's FREE), but we found the lot surprisingly near empty. Not quite as empty as my hot radiator, however. I parked and OhZone raised the hood, releasing a cloud of steam large enough to compete with Kilauea's steamy landmark.

Hot radiator water gushed from a hole in the lower radiator hose -- a hole worn by the alternator's pulley. While OhZone stood beside the pickup I went around to solicit some duct tape from whatever Punatics might have some. None did. I returned to the pickup just in time to see my neighbor, a professional auto mechanic, approaching. Surely he would help me solve my problem. He said something that to my deaf ears sounded like, "Mumble mumble mumble." I looked at him and yelled, "What?" He increased the volume of his mumble to ask what I had for sale. Everyone knows that if you park in the Akebono Parking Lot with your hood raised, it's a signal that you have some kind of dope for sale. By this time, the mechanic had peered into my engine compartment and was standing there wisely nodding his head.

"What would you do if you had my problem?" I asked. His wise giggle-inspiring answer: "GET A HEARING AID!" With that, he strolled away toward the porch of the Akebono where a young woman was busily painting clown faces on people. Then Gil Costa da Sa approached me, smiling. Gil is a recent arrival from Brazil. Years ago he was an exchange student and his English is perfect. As is his Spanish, and, of course, his Portuguese. Permiteme resolver tu problema," he said. Astonished, I replied, "No sabia que eras mecanico." He grinned and said, "I'm a Punatic."

Gil thrust his clean hands into the greasy bowels of my engine and said, "There's a big hole in this hose." Then he said, "I'll get you a new hose." Not meaning to dampen his enthusiasm, just being realistic, I wailed, "You can't! Everything's closed. It's the Fourth of July!"

Being anxious about my forthcoming stage performance, I told Gil I'd be right back and I went into the Akebono Theater. It's said to be Hawaii's oldest theater; like me, it reeks and creaks with old age. (On December 7, 1998, the Akebono Theater will be 81 years old). In the men's room, I got the grease off my hands. Pat Rocco, who has a long-term lease on the Akebono Theater, filled my spare water jug for me, and I delivered it back to the ailing pickup. No one was there, so I closed the hood.

Then I found R. J. Hampton, near the Akebono's back door, surrounded by a plethora of Punatics. As I tried to get her attention I felt that I was behind the scenes at a circus. Off to one side a juggler was rehearsing his act, juggling three or four two-foot-long scimitars; the face painting artist was now doing a clown face on the bald pate of a bearded old man who sat patiently erect while a queue of her potential clown-face clients stood waiting their turn; if an elephant had walked by or if a caged lion had roared I would have taken it for granted. Everyone was there except The Fat Lady, and although most Punatics are extremely slender, I saw a couple of possible candidates for that position.

R. J. and I went inside and tested my voice on the microphone. The house lights were up, and I could see that about one tenth of the theater seats were occupied by other potential performers. "That's good," I thought, remembering that the best prospects for a salesman are other salesmen. Unaccustomed as I am to ... ... using a microphone, I protested, only to learn that the microphone was necessary because the whole show would be recorded. "Just take it off its stand," R. J. said, "and make love to that microphone!" For a rare moment I was speechless, pondering that advice.

Outside the Akebono's back door the fireworks had begun. I saw people silhouetted against the midsummer sunset's afterglow, children swirling lighted sparklers, thick clouds of smoke; I heard the rat-a-tat-tat of exploding packages of firecrackers. It looked, smelled, and sounded like a war zone. What appeared to be a medic administering to a wound victim was really a Punatic masseur manipulating the muscles of a very relaxed client. Dr. "High-Strung" Hyson, the neurobiologist who talks to dolphins, walked by wearing a striped, star-spangled shirt, carrying his 7-foot-long didgeridoo as if it were a weapon. I looked forward to hearing him play it again.

When the variety show began I found an unoccupied seat in the second row. On the stage, R. J. went through a comic routine that left the audience well warmed up to welcome Christian Cullen, who had promised (threatened?) to create more than a hundred balloon animals in an hour. His assistant, Beth, started handing him one balloon at a time p from the huge heap of unblown balloons on the table at stage right. As he finished each "animal" in a flash, he hurled it over the footlights to group of waiting Punatic waifs. Meanwhile, R. J. did an intricate dance with a small paper American flag as a prop. Julia, aka/Butterfly Girl, the face-painting artist, by this time had set up her studio at stage left. At the climax of R. J.'s dance she lay on her back on Julia's bench, the little flagpole in her mouth, waving Old Glory from side to side with her tongue.

Next came David Sauer, the smiling juggler, who progressed from juggling tennis balls to Indian clubs to scimitars, ending with great balls of FIRE. Cindy, Chico's lovely (and stone-deaf) wife, performed beautifully, singing with a keyboard accompaniment, then with ukulele. And then?

And then R. J. was beckoning to ME!!! The time had come. My turn. I bounded up the steps at center stage, took the microphone that R. J. handed me, and faced my audience. A Black Hole! Because of the Akebono's excellent lighting system I could see nothing. Darkness there, and nothing more. "Turn on some lights!!" I screamed. "I have to see my audience!!" The full auditorium came into view. As I started "making love" to the microphone, telling it about my success in fulfilling my promise to Sam McGee, I was able to discern a few interested faces. Although I was hearing nothing but that loud roar from the resonating sound system, I pretended I was being heard and put all I had into it. When I had succeeded in warming up Sam McGee, R. J. gave me a hug and a kiss and I descended from the stage and zoomed up the aisle and into the lobby. There I was met by a glowing man who said Robert Service is his favorite poet. He shook my hand enthusiastically and I was glad to have reached at least one listener.

Out in the parking lot, Gil had removed the damaged radiator hose and had installed a brand new one. I started the engine, and the alternator's pulley immediately chewed a hole in it. Gil suggested I move the alternator a little, and while he did surgery on the hose and reattached it, I found a happy medium location for the alternator so that all systems worked in harmony.

I was delighted to have my pickup back in running condition. "It looked so hopeless," I said to Chico, who smiled and reminded me, "To a true Punatic nothing is hopeless."

Eight additional acts followed my own, including Smiley with her guitar singing two original songs, white-bearded John singing Nature Boy and Summertime, both a capella, Zipphra reciting an original poem on Love, Joy and Kunti with a belly-dancing demonstration, Pana playing the umbera, an instrument from Africa, and so on.

Dr. High-Strung told me he enjoyed -- once again -- hearing about Sam McGee. He was still carrying his didgeridoo and I asked why he had not performed. "Nobody invited me," he said, looking sad but hopeful.

R. J. joined us the next morning for coffee on my lanai. I told her I still had some doubts as to how well my recitation was received. "Didn't you hear the thunder of applause?" she asked. "No," I said. "I'm deaf.”



A few days later Dr. Hyson was here for the morning coffee session. I heard him say, "I have a rubbish service, too." I knew he was into all kinds of enterprises, but that one surprised me. I did a reality check, asking him, "Did you say you have a rubbish service?"

"NO," quoth he, " I said I love Robert Service, too!"
May 21, 2009, 20:16
In the photography thread Jerry had asked me to post photos of his grandchildren and son. Here is a link.
May 21, 2009, 22:08
Thanks for sharing all the old PMs. I absolutely loved the Punatics story!

September 09, 2009, 21:04
This was the lyric written by Jerry Thomas, sharing with everyone..

“I’m Like Love”
by Jerry Thomas

I’m like a home-made country song
I’ll do you every way but wrong
You can hear me in the twang
Of your banjo strings – Or the heartbreak songs a lonesome cowboy sings.

I’m like a country melody, and you can always count on me.
I can tickle up a chuckle, I can make you weep.
Or I can be the lullaby that sings your child to sleep.

I’m like an old-time country tune – the kind that won’t be over soon.
You can hear me in the whistle of the midnight train
And in the rhythm of the whisper of the falling rain.

I’m like a rustic rural rhyme
And you can call me any time.
You can hear me in the background
When you’re on a spree.
If you like my kind of music,
Come and dance with me!
September 11, 2009, 22:10
Thank you, Danny. That is precious.
December 09, 2009, 02:21
Myth Jellies
I suppose you gather a pile of Myths, extract the juice, add a little pectin, boil the mixture for a while, add a bit of sugar ... and that's how to make Myth Jellies ..... right ???

That was Jerry first introducing himself to me. I am very sad to see this, and sorry I couldn't catch it in a more timely manner. Jerry also shared a story with me which I feel can now be shared with everyone.

another example of my "creative writing" ----- just for you ..... just for fun .... 3 October 2007 ~~~~~ jerry thomas

Learning English was a very popular thing for local people to do when we lived in Taiwan.(1982 - 1985). Frequently out in public we would be approached by complete strangers who would say something -- often inappropriate -- in English, and then explain, "I'm just practicing my English."

Our friend Peter Knight was from New Zealand and had a motorcycle. Often Peter would come by our house and we'd go downtown together -- me riding behind him on the motorcycle. He had been teaching at Providence College for 12 years and could speak passable Chinese. As I was getting off his motorcycle one time my pants caught on something and I nearly fell down. A young man standing nearby watching said, "That's dangerous." I said, "That's obvious." He said, "I'm just practicing my English." Peter said (In Chinese) "I'm just practicing my Chinese." And everybody laughed.

Another time when Lois and I had come out of the YMCA building after our weekly lesson in Chinese and were getting on our rusty rickety bicycles, a young man said, "What were you doing in there?" I said, "Why are you asking?" He said, "I'm just practicing my English." I said, "Here's something you can add to your vocabulary: It's none of your business." As we rode away he was still standing there, repeating "It's none of your business."

Our students at Providence College (Taiwan's only women's college) were all Chinese girls between 20 and 25 years old. Of course they didn't all look alike, but the hair styles of all the Seniors were alike, as were the Juniors, etc. So we could tell at a glance what year any individual was in. Most of our classes had 55 girls in them.

Once in a while an individual student would do something that set her apart from the rest ...... one of those was Crystal Fu, who was a Junior during our first year there. Crystal was outstanding in several ways. One day between classes she ran up to me as I walked toward my office. "Mister Thomas, Sir, I need to talk to you," "Is it something we can talk about here, or do we need to go to my office?" "Your office, please."

As was my policy I left the door open as we sat in my office and asked Crystal what was her problem. "I like you, Sir," she said, "and sometimes I think maybe I like you too much."

In Marriage Encounter I had learned a method for Quick Fix for problems .... called Ten / Ten ........ so I described the simple procedure to Crystal and she agreed to do it ......... each person spends ten minutes writing then they exchange notes and spend ten minutes reading the notes and talking about the problem ....... so we did that ....... and agreed to behave like proper mature adults ...... problem solved.

Next door to Providence College was a Taiwanese Army supply depot. The commanding officer hired me to go there for two hours every Wednesday and hold English classes for a Colonel, two Majors, three Captains and several Lieutenants. After several months of that, more and more frequently, the Lieutenant who was my major Liason with the Army would telephone me at home and say something like, "English class will be cancelled this evening because we have something important to do."

They also hired Crystal to translate Army documents to English, so she knew the Lieutenant. In casual conversation I told Crystal about their sudden cancelations and how that made mild problems for me because they seldom gave me time to plan some other activity for the evening .... Next day the Lieutenant phoned me and apologized and said he'd try to give me longer notice in the future. Next time I saw Crystal alone I must have been having a bad day ...... I told her I didn't appreciate her meddling in my business and I was learning to be careful what I said in her presence.

Before leaving Colorado I had gone to the bank and bought a few rolls of Susan B Anthony silver dollars. I used them for Special Awards for outstanding students in my classes. When Crystal's 21st birthday was approaching I took one of those dollars to a jeweler and asked him to make it into a necklace ...... as I always did in doling out the dollars I reminded Crystal of S B Anthony's motto ....... Failure is Impossible.

Time passed.

Crystal's family lived in Taipei, a three-hour train trip from Taichung, where we lived. One weekend Lois and I went to Taipei and got a room at the YMCA. Crystal and her younger sister were our Tour Guides for the day and we had dinner with her family. At the end of the day we were standing in a long line at the Central Station waiting for the bus that would take us back to Taichung. Long line ... hordes of people ........ after a while I said to Crystal, "I can see the door we'll go out, and I can read "Taichung" on the sign, and you and your sister can go on home now. We're safe.

Crystal looked shocked and said, "Oh no, Sir. I promised my mother that I would not leave you until you were on the bus. "Tell her we got on the bus," I said. and Crystal said, "Don't you want me to tell her the truth, Sir?"

As graduation approached, Crystal was very busy. She was Valedictorian and she was Editor of the Western Language Department's annual magazine and she had a major part in the English Play ...... and yet ....... and yet she took the time to make an audio tape cassette for me .....

On the tape she says, (in her voice that always reminds me of silver bells ringing) ....... Dear ... Mister ...... Thomas ........ do you remember, Sir, the day when we met on Fu Hsing (Prosperity) Road ..... we were both on our bicycles and you followed me to my dormit'ry ..... and we stood under the blooming frangipani tree and the blossoms fell on us as we talked and you said it reminded you of a line from a song ...... "A million tomorrows will all pass away ere I forget all the joy that is mine ...... today. " ....... now I will sing that song for you ....... (she accompanied herself on the piano)

She'd talk for a while, then sing another song ......... Twelfth of Never, You Are Always On My Mind, Bridge Over Troubled Waters (talk about how she felt that I was protective of her ....) ......and other songs ....... and she talked about the incident with the Army ...... "I was so innn-o-cent and ig-nor-ant ....... can you forgive me, Sir?" ............. She mentioned the silver-dollar necklace an how it inspired her. As you might have guessed the last song on the tape is "To Sir With Love." ..... as I listen t her singing . "I am losing my Best Friend -- a friend who taught me right from wrong and that's a lot to learn" ........ I remember, "don't you want me to tell her the truth, Sir?"

After she graduated Crystal got a job in the Tourist Information section of Taipei International Airport ...... she was there when my son Terry came to Taiwan .... she had Terry comfortably seated at the conference table in her office sipping tea when we got there .... She grasped the back of the enormous chair at the head of the table and said to me, "You must sit here, Sir, because you are my King." (Lois often snickered at "Jerry and his girls")

Then she got hired by Cathay Pacific Airlines as a flight attendant an she moved to Hong Kong and I never saw her again.

we did talk on the phone a time or two and she asked if I would be her Tour Guide if she ever came to Hawaii ............. you betcha, Crystal !!

When I was in Hong Kong in early September 1991 on my way to meet Danny Young for our trip to Mainland China, I phoned the personnel department of Cathay Pacific .... they told me they had more than three thousand flight attendants and six of them were named Crystal Fu. I said give the message to all of them ...... my name .... the phone number of the condo in FuZhou where I would be with Danny ........ two days later in that condo the phone rang and Danny answered it ....... then he handed me the phone and said "it's for you. It's Crystal. .......... my heart went flippety flop ....as she told me about being married to a nice New Zealander airline pilot and she was about to move to New Zealand ..... i broke out in a cold sweat that caused my hearing aid to garble and I said "what i want more than anything else right now is to listen to your voice but it's getting hard to hear you so I am handing the phone to Danny" ......... they finished the conversation in Chinese .......

Here my fantasy takes over ...... I'm in some obscure corner of the world like Johannesburg South Africa ..... at the airport watching the airplanes come and go ....... and there's a Cathay Pacific airplane and the passengers get off and then the crew ..... and there's CRYSTAL ....... so I get her attention and invite her to a cuppa tea ......... and as we sip our tea I say, "Remember the tape?" "What tape?" >>>>>>>> 'The tape you made for me when you graduated ........ I have counted at least two dozen places on that tape when .... either in song or prose you tell me you love me ...... and i wonder if you have any comment on that now ........

With a dismissive wave of her hand Crystal says, "Oh That !! I was just practicing my English."

---- end ----

Myth Jellies
Cerebroplegia--the cure is within our grasp
December 09, 2009, 05:53
We certainly do miss jerry around here. It's good to be reminded of him once in a while.

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.

My current blog.
Photographs to accompany Anyone Can DO It available from www.lulu.com
My photoblog The World Through A lens
December 09, 2009, 10:43
Thanks for posting that, Myth. That piece is so very typical of Jerry!

Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
February 27, 2010, 13:42
With a tsunami headed for Hawaii right now (because of the Chilean earthquake), I am reminded of Jerry. It apparently is headed toward Hilo Bay, and they have evacuated 100,000 people. I flew into Hilo Airport when I met Jerry.

Coincidentally, on the chat today we mentioned Jerry, and I said that I miss him, both his chatting with us and also his posts. That was before I heard about this possible tsunami.
May 19, 2010, 01:43
It was just over a year ago that we lost Jerry. I realise that I am rather late posting this, but Jerry never gave the impression that he would be much fussed over a few days' delay ...

So, let's all of us who met Jerry, or "knew" him through the forum, take a short while to remember Jerry, and celebrate his life. Although most of us were never lucky enough to meet him in person, our own lives were enriched by our contact with him. He is sorely missed and fondly remembered.

Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
May 19, 2010, 20:22
Thank you for posting this, Arnie. Though I only knew Jerry [virtually] for a couple of years, he made such a warm and personal impression. He welcomed me to the group, and we continued our mutual 'special interests' (teaching foreign language/ creative writing} several times beyond the forum through private messaging. What a lovely person, I feel privileged to have gotten to know him a bit through the Wordcraft forum.
May 21, 2010, 14:16
I counted Jerry as every bit as much a friend as people I have known for forty years. To make that kind of impression on people solely through the medium of the internet takes a remarkable person. I am truly sorry that I never got to meet him in the real world but also truly happy that I did get to meet him here in the unreal world.
As arnie said, sorely missed and fondly remembered.

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.

My current blog.
Photographs to accompany Anyone Can DO It available from www.lulu.com
My photoblog The World Through A lens
May 21, 2010, 21:37
I was one of the lucky ones who got to meet Jerry. We had so much fun together! I remember him whispering in my ear that the friend he had just introduced me to had a double dactyl name. Oftentimes people are different in real life than on a discussion board like this. Not Jerry. He was exactly how I would have expected him to be.

Thank you, arnie, for reviving this thread.
August 18, 2010, 23:03
Sorry for my late condolences to his family he will be missed.
September 29, 2010, 21:59
I am in Las Vegas now, and I always enjoy stopping into Margaritaville when I'm here. Today they showed Jimmy Buffett at a live concert on TV in the bar, and it so reminded me of Jerry, for some reason. Love that song! Smile
July 29, 2016, 22:46
I am new to the forum and reading all of this about Jerry. I wish I had known him.

"Wishing in gladness and in safety, may all beings be at ease." ~from the Metta Sutta
July 30, 2016, 05:37
Jerry was very bright and witty. He was, alas, only one of several we've lost. Morgan and Wordmatic spring to mind.

Sattva, it's good of you to take the time to get to know this board and its participants! Thank you. Now, how about giving us a bit more about yourself in the personal profile section? We know you're female, and by inference from your screen name probably a yoga practitioner, but there must be more that you're willing to share.
July 30, 2016, 19:25
Jerry was one of a kind. One of a very good kind.

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.

My current blog.
Photographs to accompany Anyone Can DO It available from www.lulu.com
My photoblog The World Through A lens
August 02, 2016, 20:17
I got the chance to meet him in his home in Hawaii (the big island). He was hilarious. I remember he had a party where he was introducing me to his friends, one of whom had a double dactyl name (he loved double dactyls). He leaned over to me and whispered, "Did you notice his double dactyl name?" He was a doll. An excellent writer, too.

You are right, Geoff, about the others, too. Morgan helped to start this board, and our community page is dedicated to her. And Wordmatic and I used to stay up late at night emailing each other.

I was so luck to have met all three of them. I miss them!

Thanks, Sattva, for bringing up this thread. It brings back fond memories.