40 Years Ago – June 14, 1972: Purgatory

For several seconds, I believe that I have died, and that the people around me are part of the Judgment.

After I was arrested and convicted of trespassing at the IBM Poughkeepsie (NY) plant, one or both of the Okie’s parents decided that it was either them or me; the fact was that the Okie’s dad worked at the nearby IBM Kingston plant. The particulars are now fuzzy, but somehow, my parents agreed to have my girlfriend stay at their house in Johnson City, NY that summer, where they had just moved from neighboring Binghamton. she was staying in the room of one of my sisters. (More on that eventually.)

The thing was that the only job I could find was at IBM Endicott, and while I don’t believe it was involved in the same war program as IBM Poughkeepsie, it was the same multinational. Nagged by one of my father’s friends, and perhaps the Okie, I went to work there about June 5. Unlike the previous summer, where I had three different tasks to do, I had this one job ALL night involving putting clips on circuit boards – boring doesn’t begin to describe it.

I don’t recall how I got to work every day, but at least on Wednesday, June 14, I hitchhiked. I got picked up by a guy named Charlie. I didn’t know him but he knew my father and recognized me in him. He drops me off at a corner, and I open the door then…

As I learned later, this woman who had some arthritic condition in her leg, and had high-risk insurance, as a result, plowed into the rear of Charlie’s car at 35 mph because her leg could not reach the brake. Charlie’s car was pushed forward into the car in front of his, but since the car in front was much heavier than Charlie’s, it threw us back. Charlie was of course in the driver’s seat, but I was halfway out of the car and was knocked unconscious.

Some period later, I am lying on the sidewalk and there are a bunch of people standing around me in a circle. For several seconds, I believe that I have died and that the people around me are part of the Judgment. But is it heaven or hell? Then I hear an ambulance in the background, and I realize that I am still in Endicott, which is more like purgatory.

We get transported to a nearby hospital. At some point, one or both of my parents arrive, as does the Okie, who burst into tears. She’s crying because she is glad I’m OK. I THINK she’s crying because my face was a ghastly, swollen mess, which, IMO, it was.

I was in the hospital a day and a half. I remember one night, my pillow fell off the bed, and I had to ring a nurse because my shoulder was too sore to pick it up.

Friday, my father picked me up and took us home. What I remember most was the Union-Endicott High School football field filling up because of all the rain we had received from Hurricane Agnes. I spent a week home, and then a week at work.

Friday, June 30, my mom, the Okie, and my sisters picked me up from work. Usually, I worked from 5:12 p.m. until 4 a.m. – 10 hour-days were the norm – but we were getting a long weekend, so I got out at 2 a.m. We went grocery shopping. I was carrying a fairly light bag with my left arm when suddenly, it just gave out. Fortunately, I was able to catch it with my right arm.

For the next six weeks, I ended up doing physical therapy and probably worked a couple more weeks in the end.

The thing is: it was wrong, FOR ME, to have worked at IBM that summer. I don’t want to say I was punished by God in the accident, but metaphysically/spiritually/whatever, it was just bad karma. And it only would get worse.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

5 thoughts on “40 Years Ago – June 14, 1972: Purgatory”

  1. Ten hours of putting clips on circuit boards – probably while standing. Your boss and coworkers would have to be AWESOME to make up for that.

  2. Did they look for signs of a concussion (I almost said “back then” like 1972 is ancient) or was that prior to doctors even caring about them? A day and a half in the hospital seems like a short stay after being knocked out by a car.

  3. 1972 IS ancient history. In the day, they observed you for even concussions. When I had gotten hit in the head by a hit baseball 0- I was pitching – and that was almost a decade earlier, my mother had to wake me every hour or two, in case I did have a concussion.

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