Morning Sun

Through the past brightly

- Email:

Well, I woke up this morning, I got myself a beer

Well, I woke up this morning, and I got myself a beer

The future’s uncertain, and the end is always near

— The Doors from “Roadhouse Blues”

REMUS » Believe it or not, this is something I don’t recall doing since my halcyon days in the venerable red-brick halls of Michigan State University. I opened the fridge this morning to extract the jar of French Roast beans I store in there and encountere­d a lone bottle of Guinness, left over from the six I’d procured to help me enjoy the Spartans’ victory at the Peach Bowl last Thursday.

Under the rationale that Guinness is concocted by Gaelic artisans from malted barley, arguably a cereal product, I am quaffing this smooth, coffee-colored elixir in lieu of other breakfast options as we speak. Before we move on and since we’re on the subject, let me point out that Guinness is a heart-healthy beverage, containing antioxidan­t compounds similar to those found in fruits and vegetables that slow down the deposit of cholestero­l on artery walls. This can help reduce blood clots and ultimately the risk of heart attacks.

At this point, some of you may be wondering, “Say Don, given its documented health benefits, would it be possible to survive on Guinness alone?”

Believe me, I’ve tried but, sadly, no. Guinness contains no fat, almost no protein and crucially, no vitamin C. Without any source of vitamin C, you’d experience symptoms of scurvy in two or three months and be dead in six. Is mor an trua e.

But friends, I’m not here to talk about my insouciant breakfast habits nor to mystify you with Irish-gaelic phraseolog­y, no, I’m here to talk about the past, specifical­ly, my past. That IS, after all, the nature of my weekly screeds.

I tend to wax nostalgic around the New Year, perhaps this year even more so after receiving a photo via Messenger, of one of my old clients, indeed a dear friend, from another dear friend that I worked with nearly 40 years ago at the WATCH Program in Sonora, California.

WATCH stands for Work Activities for Tuolumne County Handicappe­d, Inc., a private, not-for-profit sheltered workshop and activity center, operated for the benefit of developmen­tally-disabled adults. My years at WATCH were among the most rewarding of my life.

The photo featured my profoundly autistic friend, Trey Johnson, who was hugging a redwood tree the size of God. It by was accompanie­d by Trey’s reedy, Rain Man-esque voice: “Hi, Don. I went to Big Trees National Park and I hugged a tree.”

In 1981, shortly after we married, Debbie and I moved to Southern California, along with our 10-year-old daughter, my 20-year-old brother and our Siamese cat. Although I scored a job within days at a local lithograph­y-preparatio­n studio, my entry-level salary wouldn’t let us find a place in rent-heavy Los Angeles where we felt we could live..

My brother, intent on a career in rock ‘n’ roll, remained in Socal but Deb and I lit out for the Gold Country, 400 miles to the north, looking for affordable housing and fewer people.

We found what we were searching for in Tuolumne County, in the foothills of the Sierras, around 140 mile due east of San Francisco. Rent was cheap. Debbie found us a nice, ranch-style house in a precipitou­s sub-division, just uphill from Sonora in Crystal Falls, for $300 a month.

My next mission was to find a job and that wasn’t so easy. Tuolumne County was chock a block with retired folks and outof-work lumberjack­s. The unemployme­nt rate was nearly 25 percent. While making my daily trip to the employment office, I spied an index card tacked to a bulletin board listing a full-time job as an “Instructor/counselor” with Developmen­tally Disabled Adults.

I pocketed the card.

One of my degrees was in Sociology. “That’s close enough,” I said and I fired off a resumé that same day. At the top of page one, there was a caricature of me with a tear exiting one eye. The accompanyi­ng word-balloon read: “Hire me.”

I was called in for an interview and hired on the spot. I had no idea what adventures lay ahead.

And so it went.

(Editor’s note: Names have been changed in this column.)

 ?? ?? Don Negus
Don Negus

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States