If you're lucky you will cross paths with a real life hero in your lifetime. Jimmy was probably a hero to anyone that had the good fortune of knowing him. For sure my dad was my family hero and probably my brothers to some extent. Jimmy though, was a person that I greatly admired for basically one reason, his zeal for life in spite of the fact that he was a double amputee. Cancer had claimed both of his legs from the knee area down. Jimmy was well liked by all, a gentleman's gentleman. I first met Jimmy in the mid sixties in a tavern in Mill Valley, California where I worked as a bartender. He would come in the bar at cocktail hour (around six p.m.) when the construction workers from around the area as well as the commuters from San Fransisco would be arriving. It was game on, dice that is. Liars dice, reds away, etc. Loser bought the round. Although Jimmy seldom played he was always included in the round. If he had reached his limit of Oly beer (which was three or four) he took his bootie in Blue Diamond smoked almonds. On extended stays the pockets of his brown khaki pants housed so many bags of nuts they pooched out like chipmunk cheeks. In the years to come myself and many of those customers became hunting and fishing buddies with Jimmy. There is no doubt in my mind that everyone of them admired Jimmy for his tenacity both in hunting and fishing in spite of his handicap.
Jimmy was a meticulous individual and I might add, a bit of a penny pincher. He usually paid for his first beer himself. Observing the exchange of monies was humorous. There was pause one, when reaching for his wallet to see if perhaps I would like to purchase the brew, no sale. Then there was pause two, which came in the form of a fumble around technique as he searched through the many compartments in his wallet for the money, still no mercy from me. Pause three, he would slowly retrieve a neatly folded one dollar bill from its hiding place and slide it across the bar in sloth mode. At that point I felt like a criminal taking the money but I always made it up to him through the evening. He knew that too, but it was still worth a try. Back to the meticulous part of Jimmy. I think the purest example I can give would be his fishing tackle boxes. We fished the San Fransisco bay quite a bit. Jimmy always brought two large tackle boxes. One housed every kind of tackle known to man, the other every kind of snack food known to man. Each little compartment had a delicacy in it. Capers, small sandwich's, various pickles, hot peppers, liverwurst, smoked salmon, sardines, smoked oysters, to mention a few. Trust me, there was much more. We never knew what was in there because we weren't invited. If you fished or hunted with Jimmy you brought your own grub. Now don't get me wrong Jimmy would give you the shirt off his back, just don't ask for his lunch. I remember one deer hunt that my dad, Jimmy and I went on. I had it all planned out. Dad and I would make the hunt up the draw, Jimmy would be on stand back at the Blazer. Dad shot a nice buck at the top of the steep draw. It was afternoon before we got back to where Jimmy was. We were famished. However, we had taken too much time. Jimmy had eaten his lunch and then commenced on ours. I'm not so sure that there wasn't intent on Jimmy's behalf. Dad always made sure to bring extra after that. Jimmy was always the first to praise dad for the wide variety of lunch meats, cheeses, pickles, rye bread, and of course the hallowed Grey Poupon mustard, which Jimmy claimed was the only mustard that belonged on any respectful sandwich.
Jimmy was very proud of his fresh Pesto on spaghetti. He always brought a batch of it to hunting camp. We had set up our elk hunting camp on Van Ridge in Idaho's high country. We had one large tent dedicated for cooking and eating. Hungry from the long day of travel and setting up camp we all settled down at the table in the cook tent. Jimmy had announced early in the trip that he had dinner covered. He promptly began placing plates heaped with noodles drenched in green colored pesto sauce. Now Old Jake, a good friend of mine, had come on the hunt. For the biggest part Jake was great to be around, but he did have his sour moments. Jake grew up in the Mugeon Country in New Mexico. He was a bonified old time cowboy. Everyone but Jake had eaten Jimmy's pesto and loved it. I really didn't think much about it when Jake announced that he had to relieve himself. Even the fact that he took his dinner plate didn't tip me off. After a few minutes Jake came back through the tent flap and sat back down. His dinner plate was empty. Jimmy saw that and promptly grabbed the plate. He was overjoyed that Jake had obviously liked the pesto dish. " I'll get you some more Jake," Jimmy said. Jake jerked the plate from Jimmy's hand. " Don't put anymore of that crap on my plate!" The honeymoon was over at that point. All the two of them did after that was argue about geographical pronunciations concerning certain areas in New Mexico where both had apparently spent time. We all had a big laugh about it though.
Jimmy never let his handicap get in front of his sports, or life its self. He hunted big game, dove, ducks and loved to fish. He was a testimony to all. No matter how hard your situation is, you can beat it. Jimmy passed away at a rip old age, he had done it all. We'll see you on the big hunt Jimmy.