Formerly muddled 1972 IBM memories

my worst automobile accident

all muddled upThe found diary has somewhat clarified my previously muddled 1972 IBM memories.

One thing I know: I got arrested at IBM Poughkeepsie at an antiwar demonstration on May 10, and was found guilty on May 18.

One thing I gathered: According to the Okie, her father, who worked at IBM Kingston, was furious with me because of the arrest. He, or both of her parents, gave her some sort of ultimatum of either them or me.

Another thing I know, although I’m surprised how this played out: the Okie ended up living at my parent’s house in Johnson City starting on May 24. Eventually, she slept in my sister Leslie’s room when Leslie went to Mexico with our great aunt Charlotte and some of Charlotte’s siblings. But she must have slept on the sofa in the den, or somewhere before that.

I what?

The Okie and I were desperate to find jobs. When I failed to find anything else, I ended back at IBM Endicott. I was a good employee when I worked there in 1971. It might have been that I thought the war machinery was built in Poughkeepsie but not in Endicott, to my knowledge. But that was disingenuous thinking.

I started there again on Wednesday, June 6, from 5:12 pm until 4 a.m., sometimes longer. Initially, I was running a metal cutting machine, cutting copper for hours, and sometimes running an autoclave, none of which I recall. 

According to the diary, a guy named Rex had given me rides home a few times in ’71, and again early in ’72. Other folks (Pat, Pam) gave me rides home. While sometimes, the Okie or sister Leslie gave me a ride to work and occasionally picked me up, I also hitchhiked both ways sometimes. 

On June 20, going to work, “an older man picked me up, telling me how much he liked colored people, how he fought for colored people, how some of his best friends were… He insisted on shaking my hand and swerved off the road. When I suggested that he stay on the road, he got mad and said, ‘Well, if that’s the way you feel, get out!'” I did but fortunately got picked up by another driver, and I also hitchhiked home. 

The accident

Now, I did post here about my most serious car accident, except that I had gotten the week wrong. It was actually, on Wednesday, June 21.  Hitchhiking, “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 [McKinley Avenue], 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.”

“The ambulance took us to Ideal Hospital, where I had X-rays taken. They also took my pulse, temperature, and blood pressure a half dozen times before midnight. They gave me a shot of insulin and sewed up my three stitches. “

My parents, sister Marcia, and the Okie came to see me. “I couldn’t sleep and my very sore shoulder made turning over very difficult.” There are more details, about being in the hospital, in the same room as Charlie, for a day and a half. For one day June 30,  I went back to work. But when the family picked me up EARLY, at 2 a.m. – my arm gave way, and I ended up doing physical therapy for six weeks.


As I wrote a decade ago: “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.”

A couple of unrelated sidebars. Sunday the 25th: “Mother awakened me from a sound dream-filled sleep after the Okie had given me a back massage. I had to conduct the morning service including prayer, which supposedly brought tears to the eyes of my mother and [my sister Leslie’s godmother] Mrs. McElroy.  [The sermon was given by Beverly Thomas of the Urban League.]  

Monday the 26th: The Okie, Leslie, and I saw A Clockwork Orange, which I liked more in the immediate aftermath than I recall it now. 

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