Don Locke: Lookin Thru Bifocals
One of my favorite writers is Eric Hoffer — I guess by now you know that, if you read this corner of the “rag” much.
Eric was fond of saying, “Sure I get some of my writings from books — ideas at least; but mostly from the “book of the world,” in which I live.” Hoffer was an itinerant California fruit and vegetable picker in his early life. When he left New York at the age of fifteen, he had regained his eyesight — he was blind ’till then. It was a God-send.
“I had no education,” he relates; however when my sight returned I became a voracious reader, I believe I carried a library card from each town I worked, up and down the Imperial Valley of California.”
After his stint as a vegetable picker, Hoffer worked as a longshoreman handling freight on the shipping docks of San Francisco, most of the remainder of his life.
Sometimes my own compositions fall right out of the sky (the book of the world) and conk me on top of the head. This happened recently.
I was sitting in the hospital waiting room across from a little man. He looked to be about my age. He was ten years older; he was ninety-five I found out; waiting for a new battery for his pacemaker.
I noticed his cap had several war medals on its front, along with naming three wars he had fought in: World War II, The Korean War, and Vietnam.
I kept trying to catch his eye. Finally his wife nudged him and pointed at me. When he saw me, I stood and rendered him the best salute I could muster. He returned my salute. His wife then pushed him out in a wheelchair.
As for Eric Hoffer, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983. He died a short time later.