“Stress Test”

Viking Funeral


I no longer smoke tobacco. After two and a-half packs a day for forty years, I stopped while living in Youngstown when I almost stopped living in Youngstown. It was a Saturday night – May 16th, 1998. Something felt catchy in the middle of my chest.

There was an Irish anesthesiologist from Killarney with whom I was happily chatting until he whispered, “Here’s a little magic” and applied his craft, instantly initiating extensive orgasmic bliss. I thoroughly enjoyed my quadruple bypass.

In the almost eighteen years and five subsequent stents since, I have become remarkably consistent following doctors’ orders — more or less – faithfully losing fifty pounds of waddling weight in my daily walks up 425A and avoiding such former practices as ordering triple cheese pizzas with extra cheese, downing a full bag of barbeque chips with dip watching a single episode of “Cops” and drinking beer by the barrel.

I was heading for my annual stress test with Dr. Gen in Fresno on Leap Year Day when our 2001 Buick Park Avenue Ultra burst into flames heading up Deadwood, blocking traffic on Highway 41 for an hour or so and making it unnecessary we travel any farther for stress. Eileen and I escaped without a scratch. The Buick did not – concluding its earthly responsibilities in a spectacular, albeit self-inflicted Viking funeral.

I cannot adequately express our deep appreciation and heart felt gratitude for the extraordinary efforts extended on our behalf by Cal Fire Engine 4254, Madera County Engine 12, Madera County Sheriff’s deputies, the California Highway Patrol and total strangers who pitched in to help. We’re so glad we live where we do. Walt Disney was right. It’s a small world after all, especially in Oakhurst.

CHP Officer Chris Lutz was there on the scene helping to sort things out, direct traffic and make us feel safe on Deadwood, and it was CHP Public Information Officer Kaci Lutz who addressed a jam-packed, spellbound audience last Saturday at Denny’s for our March Meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club. We had to squeeze in extra chairs.

When Lt. Jason Daughrity became CHP Commander in Oakhurst in January of last year, a high priority item on his agenda was public outreach. Chris married Kaci after they met serving our country in the military. Lt. Daughrity chose Kaci to head up his community campaign. Both are to be congratulated on having made a brilliant decision.

As I mentioned to Kaci after I saw her address the crowd at Tom Wheeler’s Oakhurst Town Hall Meeting in January, if I was still running a radio group, she could write her own ticket in Sales. Residents of Eastern Madera County are most fortunate. Deciding to serve the public and write tickets for the CHP instead, Kaci is providing us with the services of an extraordinarily talented, highly dedicated professional. Her topic Saturday was “Cool New Things with the CHP!” Democratic Club members would put Kaci at the top of the list. And they’re a tough bunch to please. Trust me.

Kent Byers graduated from Yosemite High in 1981 and has since gone on to a remarkable career producing world class events involving decades of experience, including the presentation of halftime Super Bowl shows, the Golden Gate 50th Anniversary Celebration and Opening Ceremonies for the 1984 Olympic Games.

As Founder and CEO of “Events by Kent” headquartered here in Oakhurst, Kent enjoys a sterling national reputation for his expertise in staging projects big and small for clients such as United Airlines, Sony PlayStation, Nestle USA and the Seagram Company.

And he’s a fabulous Master of Ceremonies, so it was a particular honor working with him Saturday night at the Eighth Annual Yosemite High School “Nite on the Town.”

Yosemite High School Choir Director Christel Biasell and YHS Music Director Francisco Marquez are to be congratulated on staging a truly extraordinary event, as are the 100 students who directly participated, as well as their family and friends.

Paraphrasing The Beatles, although the rain came — no one minded. In fact — at YHS Saturday night — the musical weather was particularly fine.


2 Responses to ““Stress Test””

  1. Charles Walker Says:

    Very glad you and Eileen are OK. Its probably very fortunate that this event didn’t end up being one of those massive forest fires we read about in CA. I guess the recent rains may have reduced that risk. Truly unfortunate that your ’01 Grampamobile was worth a lot more to you than to the insurance company. I kept my last car 9 years and just decided on a 24 month lease to force me into a new one every two years so my car, unlike my body, will never be out of warranty again. And BTW, you are living proof that, “Parochial School Lives Matter!”

  2. petercavanaugh Says:

    Charlie — If this was “Fire Season” — the whole mountain would have gone up like a Roman Candle. That’s not an exaggeration. You could have seen it from Pluto.

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