Last Night

This ‘cat’ used up one of his nine lives ! I had just left Song Mountain where I had played a private gig and had turned onto Lake Road heading to Route 81 on my way to The Landmark Theater in downtown Syracuse to take part in The musical tribute celebrating the Beatles 50th anniversary of performing on The Ed Sullivan Show. I was thinking to myself, ‘no hurry, plenty of time’, the sky was clear and the roads were dry when in an instant I saw 2 headlights come over the slight rise and swerve ∫directly in my lane. I was doing between 30 and 35 miles an hour, the other car considerably faster ,my only thought was ‘ they are going to hit me’, and they did. At approximately 6:15pm I was hit head on. There was a jarring sudden crash, the air bag deployed and unbeknownst to me my 2006 Toyota Sienna was totaled. I didn’t feel a thing, no pain, no blood, nothing broken, nothing wrong. I got out of the car and called 911, told them where I was, and what had happened. I checked on the woman in the other car who was non-responsive and told 911 she needed an ambulance. One of the first people that stopped happened to be a doctor and informed me that the woman who hit me was unconscious with a head injury and  did indeed need an ambulance. Within  minutes the first of what would be 3 different police cars arrived, all from different municipalities. Ultimately it was in the Onondaga County Sheriffs jurisdiction. All the officers involved could÷ not have been more professional or courteous. Several minutes later the ambulance came and the woman in the other car was taken away to the hospital with hopefully a non life threatening. injury. At this point  on Sunday afternoon, I don’t know her status but I will try to find out when the responding officer is back on duty. . I was taken in another ambulance where two attendants took my vital signs and said I was entitled to go to the hospital to be checked out if I wanted to. I really saw no reason to. I had called Diana who was on her way to the show with Debbie Loescher and old friend and they altered course to come and pick me up and my equipment that I didn’t want to leave in my former van that was going to be put on a flatbed and hauled to a garage in Tully. The Volunteer Fire Department showed up to block off the road and help clean up the debris. I filled out the required paper work and was again advised that I had the right to go to the hospital. Before the officer put me in the patrol car, I was patted down and asked if I had any weapons or sharp objects that could hurt them. I kinda felt like I was in an episode of ‘Cops’. I can’t say enough about the efficiency of the police, the quickness of the 911 folks, the ambulance drivers, the service of the local Volunteer Fire Department ( real public servants who are often overlooked and under appreciated ) and ‘the kindness of strangers’. A nice guy named Andy who had his young grandson also named Andy with him let me keep warm in his pickup truck and helped me load my stuff in Diana’s car. Friends that I know who were at  the Song Mountain gig offered to stay as long as I needed them and drive me to the Landmark if I wanted. I had given up hope about making that gig! When Diana and Debbie got there they texted the Theater and told them what happened and that I was ok. On our way home Debbie said “ They said to watch Joe for 24 hours, why don’t we watch him on stage “? We again texted the Landmark, they said they could rearrange the show if I felt up to it, so we voted 2 to 1 to get to the show. Diana was the dissenting vote ! Was it my night ? I guess so, the only parking place on either side of Salina Street was directly across from the theater. Ushers were waiting at the door for us, whisked me up to the dressing room, I took my horn out and walked on stage to a pretty big round of applause I might add ! I had started my career with The Dean Brothers and here I was 50 years later on stage with them singing a song we used to do 50 years ago ! The adrenaline stared to wear off and the pain that I was assured of started to set in ( the airbag hits you in the chest at 160 miles an hour ) so we left our fellow musicians and made it to the Sherwood for a late snack. I , unfortunately could not partake in one of Steve’s legendary Vodka tonics because the ambulance drivers said no alcohol for 24 hours. ( insult to injury ) What have I learned from this episode? Something that I’m sure many of you have already learned from a personal experience and that is your life can change or end in a heartbeat. Ironically one of the reasons I left Savoy Brown was that I was feeling uncomfortable about driving and riding so many miles in an overloaded van. I felt like I was ‘rolling the dice’ too often yet here I was, almost in my own back yard  in my lightly loaded Toyota when I ‘crapped out’. I guess you never can tell. What about the old adage ‘ the show must go on’? I’m reminded of my old pal and former band leader Bobby Comstock’s reply, he simply said “Why” ! It also brings to mind one of my favorite sayings, while sitting in the truck with the ‘two Andy’s’ I asked the grandson, “ How do you make God laugh ?” He didn’t know so I told him, “ tell him you have plans”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a lucky guy !

Linda Kelly