Those People You Meet
Today, as I shopped at my favorite grocery store for the coming week, I saw one of my favorite employees of the store there. She’d just gotten off duty. Pearl. I adore her. As I’d stopped to say ‘Hi’ to her and ask how she was doing, and her I as well. We began to chat. Pearl wanted to know what I was writing about next. So, I let her in on the details of my next fiction series.
Minutes later, after we were in laughter, a large man well over six feet in height arrived. Pearl perked up, “Oh, Jody this is Lou. He’s a musician.” Here was a man wearing a light-colored baseball cap, standing much taller than Pearl and I. He wore workday clothing, glasses, eyes looking sharp, and had a mostly full white beard that was grown in approximately two inches below his chin. As we were introduced. Pearl told me a little bit about Lou. He had a son in Marines, and he himself had been in the Army.
Then Pearl told Lou about me. So, I asked, “What type of music do you play and or sing?” Lou answered, “Folk Music. And I can play the guitar.” I volleyed back, “What type of guitar?” Lou began to tell me of the travel guitar made by Taylor. I replied in kind, “My husband had the same model you just described. He sold it about two years ago. He’s got a Gibson and something else now. Can’t remember the other brand name.”
Then I found out he was seventy-three years in age. He seemed quite well for his age. He told me he was in Vietnam and elaborated some, “You know what the Tet Offensive was?” I responded, then inquired, “Yes. Very well so. You were in then?” Lou continued, “Well during the Tet I was on the mission. We did twenty-seven pickups (military word) and rescued one hundred Marines.” Lou continued and told me where he took fire, he was shot through part of the lower portion of his face, and two other areas as well. I was stunned and in awe. Then we spoke about his son who’d entered the Marines right out of high school. As Pearl and I listened to Lou, his peaceful essence filled the invisible circle that surrounded us. It was as if, we were the only three standing in this privileged room, yet the grocery store was quite busy. People walked by and pushed carts on their way to wherever. Yet hearing this piece of history from Lou was all encompassing. The life experiences he delivered, were unforgettable.
Lou was the kind of man you could listen to forever. So, of course then I wanted to know about his musical work. He was not only part of “The Hurdy Gurdy Band” in the Meadowlands. He started the words of a song I knew all too well. I expressed to him that I was a fan of Classical and Folk Music. As we shared musical stories. His of course had more ‘WoW!’ Power than mine. I asked him after I had touched on the birth of Pete Seger. I inquired, “So, stuff like Pete Seger. The one born in 1901, right?” Lou replied, “Yes. My mother actually knew Pete Seger.” Soon, it was time to part and continue shopping. Lou and I shook hands, and Pearl and I hugged. I thought about this as I loaded the grocery bags into my car. I remained in a ‘Wow!’ moment, that still hasn’t left me.---Jody-Lynn Reicher