Eye Patch

In this transcription of a recording, Patrick talked about cars and jobs in the late 1950s. The recording is from 19 November 2011 when I visited him in Spain.

JP: [We were talking about] Florida, Julian Street….

Patrick: Yeah, it was my third teaching job, Robert E. Lee Junior High School, Orlando. My car broke down, the tie rods gave out. The whole thing was shot really. And so we had to get another car. So what we got was a Bel Air two-tone.

JP: ’55?

Patrick: I think so.

JP: Or was it a newer one – was it brand new?

Patrick: No, no. No, it was used. Bought it Saturday from a used car lot. And he said the insurance is good till Monday, then you have to get insurance. Sunday we went for a drive. Your mom in the front seat with…

JP: Me in the back seat. I was sitting in the car seat with the steering wheel because I liked to honk the little plastic horn. I remember that.

Patrick: There were three kids already so Gretchen was in her lap and Jennifer was in the back seat as well and that’s when we had the crash.

Patrick: Two guys on my side of the road passing another car. On the left-hand side was like a 7 Eleven, no place to get out there. A car coming, a car coming at me. And on the right-hand side was a church with all the little black kids coming out in their pinafores. I couldn’t go there. The only thing to do was wait until we got right next to each other and then turned and swept side to side.

Patrick: So that was a total loss because I still had to pay for the car because they lied: there was no insurance. I should have known but I was 27, innocent.

JP: And the women in the car all went to the hospital and we were… I remember me being “Yeah, boys are tough, I just got a scratch, you know.” You and I weren’t hurt but I guess mom had, took a pretty good…

Patrick: Yeah, she got her knees smashed against the dash I think. It was because there were no seat belts in those days. It’s a wonder they weren’t smashed through the window. But I think it was turning that made it come this way [gesturing] rather than [another gesture about direction]

JP: Yeah, just to dissipate the energy a bit.

Patrick: Yeah, but a nice car. It was the beginning of the end. Soon after that I lost the night job at the newspaper.

JP: That was the typesetting?

Patrick: No, I was proofreading.

JP: Oh, proofreading.

Patrick: And then I lost the teaching job. Then I was hitching to Coco Beach, staying with Phyllis and… what was the name of her kid?

JP: Raymond was the eldest.

Patrick: Yeah, well there was one of the kids there then.

JP: There was Raymond, Donald, Jeff, and John; they were the four kids.

Patrick: I only knew Raymond.

JP: Okay, yeah, he was Jennifer’s age.

Patrick: I was working in… with Paula… Paula, I forget what her last name was, a red-headed piano player from Alabama I think. We had a little band, I played the bass in the band. Then I would hitchhike. I would stay there for the weekend, played the gigs. Then I would go back on Monday to Orlando to Winter Park, no job, and try to sort out getting my money back from the retirement system so we’d get some money. In the meantime, on the way back, I was picked up by this guy who was selling baby pictures. So before long I was off to Chicago.

JP: And then Chicago to New York?

Patrick: No.

JP: Chicago back to Florida?

Patrick: No, in Chicago I was there for long enough to build up a crew in the car that I bought from the neighbor across from your Little Grandma. A black Oldsmobile 88, great little car, 1950. Beautiful.

Patrick: So that got me to Chicago and I got a crew together and with Tom Mapes of “The House of Wisdom,” a guy who used to work for the carnival. Told fortunes and sold rocks and grants.

Patrick: So he…. We left Chicago to go to Toledo, Ohio, because nobody had been there recently to sell. Rainbow Studios did the pictures. And that’s where Coop, who was on my crew, he was a lawyer and a retired drunk [judge?]. I was saying that this friend was not selling enough. And I said “You have to sell twenty a day or I need somebody else on the crew.” And the crew didn’t agree and called me a communist and punched me in the face. My eye popped out. It smashed the bone. So I was wearing a black…

JP: The eye patch?

Patrick: Yeah, The eye patch and that’s when I met Mari.

JP: I remember the eye patch.

Patrick: Now it’s the iPod!

JP: Now there’s another [iThingie], iPad, as well.

JP: Let see the 19th of November 2011, 4:30 PM having just finished lunch at…

Patrick: Satualera. [?] It means the table.

You’re welcome to offer corrections to Chantal’s transcription.