Saturday, June 11, 2016

Wilbo Eavesdrops on a World War Two Veteran Who Holds Court in Muskegon's Newly Remodeled Burger King.

Eavesdropping is good today at Muskegon's co-officing facility with free coffee for persons with gray hairs. Man is wearing a "Ducks Unlimited" hat and he's holding court. He rings up friends and invites, "I'm at Burger King. Stop in and you can have what you want from Burger King". Men have stopped by his booth and he's regaled the visitors with stories. Before he departed to fight in World War II, he paid off his mother's house and still had three grand left. He put his brother-in-law in charge of his restaurant and lounge in Muskegon Heights, the Gay Nineties, where an offer of a free dessert packed in the diners. After the war, the brother-in-law offered to hire him. "But I own the business, son", was our war hero's answer to his brother-in-law.
He bought a funeral home for another relative, with a Greek man named George vouching for him at the bank. Actually, it's better than that. George visited the bank president and threatened to pull out his four million in deposits. Our man got his loan and his relative took possession of the funeral home.

Men and women who fought in World War II are treasures, great troves of historical lore. I would eavesdrop more, but he's taken off with one of his friends, a younger woman who sells trailers at a local park. "This is one of my many wives", he announces to his court, who chuckles. She holds the doors for him as he exits with help of his walker. She places the walker in her cargo and they drive off in a Buick minivan, nicely polished. Tail feathers shake in the second decade and even the tenth.

Our man holding court at Burger King is about to turn ninety-three, Monday the day, and he visits the hotel every morning to pick up his newspaper, bringing it by the King's air conditioned lobby to read. He uses a walker around the King's lobby. Apparently, a car brought him to the hotel. He couldn't have marched from his senior apartment near Ryerson Creek to the downtown hotel with help of a walker? Or could he? At Ninety-Two, he had his driver's license revoked, which accords with some law. He fought it through an established process, passing all tests with ace scores and receiving a clean bill of health from his doctor. 

I knew I liked this place, free wireless, free coffee, free electricity and a retreat from the heat a short distance from the lake. If the Frontier and the hospice building were out of the way, I could see the lake from here. During the week, it's where most of the releases from the county prison go to await their rides and maybe find a kind person to buy a breakfast. One morning, a man who had spent the day before in Muskegon and Oceana County's clinks borrowed my phone to call for a ride. He went outdoors with it, but I didn't follow him. Doubted he would run. Had to wave through the window to hurry him up because I didn't want to be late for a 8:15 AM appointment. I can see through the windows of the top row of cells from where I am sitting, just a glance to the right. Say, those cells have a lake view.
 — at Holiday Inn Muskegon-Harbor.

No comments: