Saturday, April 5, 2008

Because I Met Sam

Closing time one night at The Oyster Bar Joanie and I agreed to meet our friends Sam Northington and his wife Judy at the Eat-Rite diner. It was 1985 I think. By the time we left Joanie decided it was late and she was too tired to go.

Around 4:30 in the morning we received a phone call from our friend Richard. Judy had been killed in the parking lot at the diner. We went to Sam’s house on Russell.

They had been sitting in their car with the windows rolled up eating burgers. A would be purse snatcher swung a brick that was attached to a rope through Judy’s window. The brick shattered her jaw and one of the shards severed an artery. Judy died instantly. The killer was caught because apparently he was already being sought for murdering a homeless man who was asleep in an alley.

Sam was inconsolable. In tears he kept asking what he was going to do without Judy in his life. Sam had just retired from a long, hard career at Mcdonnell Douglas. He was instrumental in the development of one of their fighter jets. I believe it was the F-14. He blamed the stress of this for his first heart attack. Sam would have a history of heart problems.

Joanie and I began to spend a lot of time with Sam.

Judy’s sister, whose name escapes me at the moment, married a man named Peter Morgan. He was part of the Morgan family who own the department store chain in Canada.

Sam talked us into visiting them in Toronto. Judy’s sister looked exactly like Judy, it was eerie.

They had a beautiful place on a lake. Their kids had their own island with a fort. The kids impressed us with their ability to ski barefoot. Peter decided we should take a trip to Montreal and stay with his relatives.

The place in Montreal was a castle. Their nearest neighbors were the Goldwyns of MGM.

The perimeter of the property was surrounded by a stone wall. I can’t remember if they were French or English but they had a cannon pointing out at the St. Lawrence seaway to defend against the other side during our revolution.

There was a guest cabin at the water’s edge where Joanie and I stayed. It had a huge window that faced the water where I would swing from a hammock. Hammocks are my favorite sport.

Their attic was a museum filled with relics from the turn of the century. Someone in the family raided Egyptian tombs. There was a mummy’s head in a small glass case. Our hosts pointed out steam on the glass in front its nostrils. They gave me an old Egyptian knife I was to smuggle across the border and give to Sam as a gift. Apparently the Egyptian government wants all their artifacts back.

When we left they gave us a diamond tipped pen to sign one of the glass panes that surrounded their front door. There were hundreds of autographs on the window. They pointed out signatures from German guests they were harboring when World War I broke out.

I remember coming across the U.S.-Canadian border at Detroit. I think I was visibly trembling with fear about the antique knife I was smuggling.

Years later when I got married and lost touch with my old friends I learned Sam had gone on a serious drinking binge. His heart was failing as he waited for a new one for transplant. During this time he married a Soulard friend of ours named Michelle.

After 2 years on a waiting list Sam finally got his heart. Shortly after this he slipped in his shower and died. The service was held in a church in Soulard. Danny Spell gave one of the most beautiful eulogies I’ve ever heard. I don’t know how he was even able to stand. He was so drunk.

I ran into Michelle at Mardi Gras party last year. She told me about an antique Egyptian knife she’d inherited from Sam.


Anonymous said...

I remember I told Sam I would meet them at the Eat-Rite to but I never went.Would things had been difernt if we all showed up that night? John Gorski

Doggie said...

Yeah, Ive always wondered.

Twedie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Twedie said...

I am Danny Spell's cousin. I found your blog while searching for genealogy on my entire family.

If you want to tell the story about your friends, tell the story only about your friends. Do NOT degrade others in order to get something "published" online in hopes you might get a few hits.

In my opinion, you are a jerk to make a comment about my cousin who, you say, was so drunk he could barely stand while delivering the most beautiful eulogy you ever heard.

Danny honored your friend. But you disgrace my cousin by writing such a degrading thing on the Internet. regarding the man who spoke truly from his heart to lift up Danny has always been the type of man to speak lovingly from his heart. He was honoring another human being's memory. Perhaps you were you mad because you were not chosen to give the eulogy? Jealous? Still burns after all these years?

Danny is also a published writer who has never written such hatefulness, and never have I ever heard him speak grudgingly of anyone.

According to what you have written here, seems to me, you also have a history of freeloading off of people you don't know. And you like to name drop to feel important.

Yeah, I can make observations, too. Too bad this wasn't the most beautiful blog I've ever read...

October 3, 2011 10:54 AM