A Day Which Will Live In Infamy

So, on Saturday, Mike AKA Proof, suggested that I retell the story of when I was interviewing Miss America 1991. Saint Joseph’s University thought it would be a good idea to interview her while we were driven to the airport.

This story is a bit long, so you don’t need to read it if you don’t feel like it.

My best friend at the time was the Editor-in-Chief of The Hawk newspaper, and I was her second in command. I was the Features Editor for a while, and was writing stories and articles for the paper. I ended up being Editor-in-Chief in my junior and senior years.

So, the short version is below, a short post from the Los Angeles Times.

Miss America Marjorie Judith Vincent was frightened but not seriously injured when the van she was riding in hit a disabled tractor-trailer, authorities said.

Vincent had given a speech at St. Joseph’s University and was being driven to an airport when the accident happened Tuesday on U.S. 76. She was examined at a hospital and released with a bandage on her knee, said university spokesman Joseph Lunardi.

Her traveling companion, a university driver and two students also were examined at the hospital and released. Vincent and the others were “more shaken than injured,” Lunardi said.

My best friend was in the front passenger seat next to the driver. I was in the second row of the van (behind the driver), and sitting next to Marjorie. The escort was in the third row. We were driving along I-76 in Philadelphia, the fastest way to get to Philadelphia International Airport.

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Happy Birthday, Bill!

Today is my good friend Bill’s birthday. Considering we went to college together, and he was two years ahead of me, that would make Bill… um, 38. Yeah, that’s it.

Bill is one of the smartest people I have ever met. Great with numbers, breezed through his accounting exam, and one of the nicest, genuine people you could ever meet.

Bill is also Godfather to my son Erik, which I believe means he has mob ties, a penchant for lasagna and vino, and bags of cement in his shed.

All that aside, I am honored to have him as my friend. Happy birthday, Bill. I hope your day is above average – which is all we can ask for in these awful lockdown times.

Detective John Druding, 1974-2020

Detective John Druding, my coworker and friend, has lost his years-long battle with colon cancer. John passed away on his birthday. He was only 46 years old.

People say this all the time when someone passes away, but in this case it’s true: John was a very good man. After a stint in the army, he joined the SEPTA Transit Police, and eventually moved to the Philadelphia Police Department. He was promoted to detective and after a stint in Southwest Philly, he came to our division. John spent a few years in my squad before moving to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) where he handled shootings.

Suffice to say, he was always busy.

He was also always quirky. John wore the same outfit to work every day. Literally every day. White shirt, tan khakis, red tie. He used to tell us it was easier than picking out clothes to wear every day. When John first got his cancer results, the division held John Druding Day, where everyone wore the Druding Uniform that day. John’s son wore the Druding Uniform at last night’s viewing.

John was also usually the smartest man in the room. John knew the directives, the phone numbers of obscure units, and obscure charges no one would have known were on the books.

John was funny, but it was mostly straight-faced humor. Occasionally when he would answer the phone, you could tell how the conversation was going. When he answered a question then immediately reply, “Sorry, no follow up questions” and hang up, you know the call was not going swimmingly. John became a division legend when he poked fun at a coworker by imitating him in the Muppets’ Swedish Chef voice. We still have the audio, and it’s still hilarious.

When John got sick, he let everyone in the division know, but that was the end of it. He never talked about the colon cancer, rarely talked about his chemotherapy, and certainly never felt sorry for himself. John just kept coming to work, every day, and doing the job. He did, however, joke about his colostomy bag – often to me. On bad days, we occasionally suggested he go home early, and he patently refused. John was determined to continue working, and refused to be cowed by the cancer.

While it’s difficult to accept John’s passing, it’s obviously much more difficult for his family. John’s wife is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet, and they have a young daughter and son. At the viewing, they were both completely composed and mature beyond their years. John and Michelle raised them right. I cannot fathom how difficult this is for them. Even when you know it’s coming, you are never fully prepared.

John will be interred in Washington Crossing National Cemetery.

2020 has been the worst year of my life. In the span of six months, I lost my mother, my sergeant, and now John. I know they are all in a better place, but I do not understand the rationale of taking John home to God at the age of 46.

Rest in peace, John. We will all miss you terribly.

Happy Birthday Kevin!

Today is the birthday of one of my truly best friends.

Kevin – or Arizona Kevin to distinguish him from my son – and I have been friends for years and years, and yet he still talks to me. Amazing.

Kevin is godfather to our son Kevin, and we’ve been lucky enough to visit Kevin and his clan in Arizona twice. Gorgeous state, by the way.

As always, I try to give Kevin the gift of babeage, and since he’s a huge hockey fan, I think these photos fit the bill. I mean, if not, he can always ask for his money back. I’m good that way.

Happy birthday, Kev. I hope you have a terrific day.

Happy Birthday Kari!

Today is my friend Kari’s birthday; wife to one of my best friends, godmother to my son Kevin, and mother of three.

Kari lives in the fabulous state of Arizona and works at Grand Canyon University. Go ‘Yotes! When she isn’t recruiting and selling the university, she’s raising her kids and dealing with Kevin’s eternal nonsense. (Sorry Kev.)

In the meantime, she is a caring, sensitive presence in her family, while making sure everyone is happy and healthy- including her Marine son.

Since we can’t be in Arizona to wish her a happy birthday, the least I can do is post some photos to make her day hopefully a little brighter.

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A Very Sad Day

Donnajean Bachmayer, my sergeant, coworker, and friend, passed away yesterday afternoon. She was 52 years old.

Donnajean had given nearly thirty years of service to the citizens of Philadelphia, both as a patrol officer and a sergeant. She was tough, but fair, and not everyone liked her style because she – get this – expected her officers and detectives to do their jobs.

Donna was funny and sarcastic, so naturally we hit it off. We didn’t always agree, and we had it out once or twice, but there was always a sense of mutual self-respect. Her favorite term for me was “Freak,” and she would say that every time I muttered something dirty when a pretty girl walked by, or when I would say how much I loved coming to work. The response was always, “Freak!”

Years ago, Donna was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. The doctors gave her six months to a year. Donna fought harder than anyone could imagine and beat the cancer’s ass. The treatments took its toll, and a few months ago, she was told her T-cells were being “rewritten.” (Sorry, I don’t know the science.) The doctors said the only way to fight it was with blood transfusions every other day. Donna was reacting well to that, and she called me a week ago, saying she thought she could beat this, too.

She thanked me for all I did at work and for helping her through the bad days. She thanked me for being her friend, and said if she ever got too down, that I was to tell her to stop complaining, get up, and fight. It was the last time I would ever speak to her.

The only minor bright spot is she will be reunited with her father, a former Philly police officer, in Heaven. She always said her dad was her hero.

Donna leaves behind two children, a boy and a girl, both under the age of 25. I cannot imagine how they will cope with their mother’s loss at such a young age.

Goodbye Donnajean. Rest in peace. I am proud to say your were my friend.

Happy Birthday, Bill!

Today is the birthday of my friend Bill; college buddy, purveyor of goodies to my kids, and godfather to my middle son. It’s impolite to reveal a person’s age, but suffice to say, eh’s older than me. And isn’t that the important thing here?

Bill comes from a great family – his father was a genuine class act, and his mother may be the nicest person I have ever met – volunteers at his church, and rarely has a bad word to say about anyone.

Well, he despises the Pope, but that’s understandable. (Kidding, kidding!)

Here’s hoping he has a great day today, and in lieu of gifts, I have decided to give Bill a visual present.

Mmm… Lynda Carter….

happy birthday, Bill!

Happy Birthday Kari!

Today is my friend Kari’s birthday.

Kari is not simply a friend, mind you; she’s a hard-working mom, loving wife to my friend Kevin, and godmother to my son Kevin. In short, she’s family.

She was also our host in Arizona three years ago, where she made ridiculous breakfast burritos – the kids still rave about them – took us to the Grand Canyon, and welcomed us into her home.

The distance between Arizona and Pennsylvania kinda sucks, but we always stay in touch, and Kari’s husband Kevin – jerk that he is – won our fantasy hockey league Saturday night. So we can’t ever go back to Arizona.

Kari’s gift is below the fold…

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Happy Birthday, Bill!

Today is my good friend Bill’s birthday. Bill is my oldest college friend – not in age (well, yes in age) but also since we met. Bill is Erik’s godfather, and Bill’s mom is my surrogate mother.

Actually, she’s the Irish stepmother who feeds me like the Italian stepmother I never had.

It is my sincere hope Bill ignores today’s proceedings and focuses upon having a terrific day. He’ll stress, because he’s Irish-Catholic, but I hope he has a terrific day.

I found out about my biopsy on my mother’s birthday, and today is the biopsy. I gotta find a new family and friends.

Happy birthday, Bill!