Sunday, April 15, 2007

Zoomie On the Road: The Indiana Kid Pays Respects to His Late Uncle

April 13, 2007

Hey all. I'm here in the deep south, NASCAR country, representing for open wheel. Kinda. I'm wearing one of my custom Zoomie shirts, and trying not to cause another civil war, or something. I'm 20 miles from Talladega, Alabama, because my cool uncle died. He was a hoot too. Here's more about him.

ANNISTON — Memorial and Holy Eucharist Services for Dr. David Edward Johnson, age 70, of Anniston, will be at on Friday, April 13, 2007 at 2 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church with The Reverend Robert Childers officiating. The family will receive friends from 12:30 p.m. until the service hour in Tyler Hall at the church. Dr. Johnson died April 11, 2007 at Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center.

A native of Bedford, Ind., Dr. Johnson received his B.A. in Anatomy from Indiana University in 1959, M.A. in Anatomy and Physiology from Indiana University in 1963, his M.D. from Indiana University School of Medicine in 1967, was a Professor of Gross Anatomy at IU School of Medicine, Indianapolis from 1966-1967, and received the Lieber Distinguished Teachers Award.

He served his internship and residency in Internal Medicine and Pulmonary Disease at Brooke Army Medical Center, Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, from 1967-1972. He was the Unit Commander of the 2nd General Hospital (now Landstuhl Regional Medical Center) Landstuhl, West Germany; the Pulmonary Consultant to Chief Surgeon, U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army from 1972-1975; Unit Commander at Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Ft. Gordon, Augusta, Ga., from 1975-1976; and Pulmonary Disease Consultant, Noble Army Medical Center, Ft. McClellan, in 1976.

He resigned from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1976 and was promoted to Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. He served as the Unit Commander/Internist for the U.S. Army Hospital, 121st ARCOM, Birmingham from 1976-1984.

Dr. Johnson began a private practice at Anniston Medical Clinic, specializing in Internal Medicine and Pulmonary Disease in 1976 and served in that capacity until his retirement 2003. He also served as the physician to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Boy Scout Troop 2, First United Methodist Church, and was the team physician for the Donoho School football, basketball, and soccer teams.

Dr. Johnson was a volunteer at Anniston Soup Bowl, was a Lay Eucharist Minister and Lector at Grace Episcopal Church, and was on the Cursillo Staff, Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Ala.

Dr. Johnson is survived by his wife, Lectora (Tora) Kessinger Johnson; his two sons, Stuart Yates Johnson and Edward McFarland Johnson and his wife, Cathy Still Johnson; two granddaughters, Alyson Kessinger Johnson and Catherine Scott Johnson; and a brother, Paul Thomas Johnson and his wife, Paula W. Johnson.

We will miss him....

If I get a chance I might go see the race track later on. There's gonna be a bunch of rich southern boys out there today racing their souped up Mercedes Benz road cars. I talked to one of the drivers and he said they can get up to 155 mph on the high banks!

The south is cool. The people are very friendly and they say y'all a lot. I bet I could live down here and have fun and be warmly received. Maybe. I will not now, or ever, however, eat grits. It wouldn't be prudent!

It is warm here and not snowing like it was in Indy when we left yesterday.

The funeral for my cool uncle is later on today. I will wear a new and expensive suit and look dashing, and I will get reacquainted with my cousins who I haven't seen in ages. If funerals are ever fun, it is because you get to see people you haven't seen in a long time.

That's about all I have for now. I'm vibrating like a Chevy push rod because I've had lots of coffee. I have my Kodak Instamatic. I may or may not have some pics for you later on.

Stay tuned, and if you get a chance, say a little prayer, or something, for my uncle and my aunt and my cousins.


Pretty much.

April 14, 2007

Hey, y'all. I'm back in Indy, safe and sound after the banzai run to Alabama and back. The trip was uneventful due to the fact that I am a professional driver and stuff.

I didn't take any pictures of anything because it just didn't feel right or cool to do so for such an occasion. Or maybe I was just too tired and lazy. Who's to say for sure?

I saw an establishment called Boobie Bungalow along a southern Tennessee interstate. One can only imagine the quality of the clientèle, let alone the exotic performers, that one might find at such a business. I must report, sadly, that I was not able to stop and give a full report covering the goings on at the Boobie Bungalow. Maybe next trip...

Moms rode with, and we got to spend quality time together...something we haven't done forever. Except for about 3 minutes due to some severe weather we encountered north of Birmingham, we never even turned on the car radio. We talked a lot about family and old times and it was cool too!

Spent some time with my cousins and family and had many cold beers and told lies and had fun. I gave my aunt lots of hugs and told her I loved her, and she and her sons kept thanking me for coming all that way to be with them. I told them it's what families do, and to think nothing of it. Pretty much...

My aunt is an angel. She is one of the sweetest persons you could ever meet. I completely understand how my uncle fell in love with her. She is the epitome of a southern lady, and there really is nothing better than a real southern lady, if you stop and think about it for a minute.

My aunt's late dad was a West Pointer and a one-star Army general and was an aide to both Eisenhower and Bradley in WW2! Wow! I met him once a long time ago when I was a kid after he retired from the Army. I remember he made cherry Kool-Aide for us kids and didn't put any sugar in it...probably because he thought sugar was an un-needed and extravagant expense, and that we unruly brats needed some discipline in our lives!

My aunt also had a brother who was killed in Vietnam when his jeep hit a land mine. This sad loss hurt my aunt deeply.

I met the son of this late hero. He is about my age, and, like me, served during Gulf War 1, although he was in the US Navy and I was USMC. He and I actually look a lot alike, so much so, that many people confused me with him and vice versa! I bet he is gonna change his appearance considerably after this unfortunate turn of events. That's what I think.

I talked to a couple of interesting older people who had great stories to tell.

One guy was a Navy Corpsman in WW2, then was drafted as an Army medic in the Korean war. After his harrowing experiences in Korea, he decided to devote his life to medicine and became a doctor and was buddies with my late uncle. He apologized to me for telling old war stories and "boring" me, but I told him his stories were fascinating to me and then I shook his hand and thanked him for his service and stuff.

It was sorta like one of those Band of Brothers moments, except that I felt like a flea on a gnat's butt compared to this old gentleman!

Another cool person I talked to was a classy lady I met at the church for the funeral service. She was 80 years old if she was a day, but she was bright and intelligent and refined and the kind of person that just makes you grin and happy you know them!

She was originally from Britain, and she met and married a US serviceman during WW2. He brought her home to the US after the war. She said she was 15 and had just graduated from high school in England when she was set up on a blind date with the American.

She said British boys were very prim and proper on dates and would barely touch her when they danced and stuff, but when she went dancing on the blind date with the Yank, he held her so close and so tight that, in her words, "He was like an octopus!"

I said something charming like, "Yes! We Yanks are like that sometimes."

Apparently, she was impressed enough with her Yank to go ahead and marry him a little later. I asked her how her mum and dad felt about all that, and she said they were none too pleased...

Older folks are cool to have conversations with. I heartily recommend this activity, because younger dummies like me, and perhaps you, can learn a lot from them. Maybe.

I didn't have an opportunity to stop by at the Talladega racetrack, although I did drive by it on the way home. From the interstate it looked like they dug a huge crater out of a big field, then built up the ground around the rim and put massive grandstands around it. It looked pretty cool from the outside anyways...

Here's another story about my late uncle.

Anniston physician David Johnson dies at 70


An Army doctor from Indiana, who happily succumbed to a sales pitch on Anniston and subsequently carved out a niche of service to his church, his community and his profession, died Tuesday. Dr. David E. Johnson was 70.

A lieutenant colonel in the Army in 1976, Johnson was on an inspection tour of Noble Army Hospital when he happened to meet physicians of Anniston Medical Clinic. The clinic needed a specialist in diseases and conditions of the lungs, so the argument was put to Johnson that if he wanted to “leave the military and come into the real world,” they'd be glad to have him, recalls former clinic physician and colleague Robert Lokey.

Johnson, his wife, Tora, and their sons, Stuart and Eddie, moved to Anniston that summer.

“David was the first lung specialist to come to this town,” Lokey said.

Johnson, who also practiced internal medicine, was an asset to the medical community, Lokey said. Previously, advanced pulmonary treatment and diagnosis had to be performed by local surgeons or by a trip to Birmingham.

“The community needed that service,” Lokey said.

Johnson maintained his military connection through the Army Reserve until his retirement from the military in the mid-1980s. At one point, he had the chance for promotion to brigadier general in the Reserves, but the change would have demanded too much of his time away from home.

“Family was more important than rank,” said his wife of 46 years.

Johnson retired from medical practice in 2003 — giving him more time to fish at a favorite lake and root for his beloved Indiana University basketball squad. He had been a “team tutor” while an IU undergraduate in the latter half of the 1950s.

He served his internship and residence at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

Johnson's Anniston practice wasn't confined to office patients who, according to his nurse of 20 years, Shree Owens, were keenly loyal.

“He had a lot of patients who didn't want to see anybody but him,” she said. “He was just a super guy.”

Those patients included the scouting boys of Troop 2 at First United Methodist Church, players on the Donoho School's football, basketball and soccer teams, and even the actors and actresses of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, until it left town in 1984.

Johnson was active in the life of his church, Grace Episcopal in Anniston, where he was Lay Eucharistic Minister and Lector, and was a volunteer at the Anniston Soup Bowl, which his wife helped start in October 1984.

I'm sorry if I'm boring you with stories about my family, but they are pretty cool people in my book, I think.
I am proud of them.

While in the south, I was reminded of the following song you may or may not have ever heard before. With apologies to my grade school physical education teacher, the song goes a little something like this:

I've got my pistols in my pockets boys,
I'm Alabama bound.
I've got my pistols in my pockets boys, I'm
I'm Alabama bound.
Well, I'm not looking for no trouble
But nobody dogs me round.

Well, I'm going to fetch my woman, people
Tri-cities here I come.
Well, I'm going to fetch my woman, people
Tri-cities here I come
cause she was raised up on that cornbread
And I know she's gonna give me some.

When the kid hits Alabama, people
Don't you try and dog him round.
When the kid hits Alabama, people
Don't you try and dog him round.
cause if you people cause me trouble,
Then I've got to put you in the ground.

Well, I was born in Indiana
And I don't take any stuff from you
Well, I was born in Indiana
And I don't take any stuff from you
And if I hit you on your head
Boy, it's got to make you black and blue.

Well, I ride to Alabama
With my pistols out by my side
Well, I ride to Alabama
With my pistols out by my side
cause down in Alabama
You can run, but you sure can't hide.

Y'all be cool!

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