Minutes to memories

Days turn to minutes and minutes to memories.

Life sweeps away the dreams that we have planned.

So sang, and wrote, John Mellencamp.

On Friday June 1st, I gathered my radio memories after 11 years at 97.7 the Beach (don’t worry, I now work from home and write radio ads for The Beach and other Bayshore Broadcasting stations).

And, in my box of name tags, obsolete plugs and connectors, business cards, pins, maracas and other weird things only a radio guy would keep, I found this photo.

On the left, my longtime friend and one of most colourful, talented and inspiration coworkers I’ve ever had…I became Johnny Maraca due to his band, The Black Holes…

Sean Anderson.

And on the right.

On the right…my eyes are watering as I type this.

Back in the late ’90s and early 2000s I sat across from Sean in the creative (commercial writing) department and we had a 19-year-old co-op student named Angela Cook.

She was actually a sales co-op student but, much to our delight, Angela spent many hours in our room.

And…

A few months after Angela’s co-op term had finished I returned home from my Saturday morning tennis session to hear a voicemail (in the days before texts and emails) that floored me.

Angela had been killed in a head-on collision with a truck.

DISBELIEF

Her boyfriend had fallen asleep at the wheel on Highway 10 near Dundalk. From what I’d been told, Angela laid down on the bench seat of Mike’s pickup and, we can only hope, she was killed instantly and did not experience even one second of the impact.

On the Monday that followed, I was a zombie.

My fingers touched the keyboard and the world stopped. Angela. She was gone and I could not, in the words of the Offspring, deal.

What made Angela’s tragedy even worse was that it wasn’t the first loss for her mother, Jackie.

I spoke at a memorial for Angela, in front of hundreds of her classmates at OSCVI. I was in my late ’30s but The Offspring tune “Gone Away” seemed fitting.

I was a journalism student in the early ’80s when nurse Susan Nelles was (falsely) accused of killing several infants at Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital. One of those babies was Justin Cook.

One of my journalism instructors was married to a nurse working in Toronto and he told us back then that Nelles was innocent. It reminded me of the Stephen Truscott case from the early ’60s. You are our only suspect so you must have done it.

No.

DOMINIC, FIGHT, YOU CAN DO IT

And, as my fingers glide…stumble…across the keys I’m dealing with another horrible accident, this time involving Dominic Pugilese.

Dominic has worked as a bartender the past few years at Bananas in Wasaga Beach and last week, he was involved in a head-on collision. Dominic was riding his motorcycle and it collided with a car, between Wasaga Beach and Barrie.

The last I heard, Dominic was in coma. Had a leg amputated.

Dominic has always treated me well. Beach bars serve many tourists but I’m a local and he always made a point of saying hello, shaking my hand and saying, basically, you’ve been here before so welcome back, nice to see you.

Minutes to memories.

I can picture Angela Cook holding her newborns, doting on them and making them feel glad to be alive.

Go back 19 years or so when that 19-year-old aspiring radio sales person, on-air personality or whatever Angela may have become and…

There’s me, sitting at my desk trying come up with an opening line for a car dealer, garden centre or hardware store, pushing back on my chair and I lock eyes with Angela.

She pauses…and sticks her tongue out.

My worries disappear. The seriousness has been shattered and suddenly I only have one thought in my head,

It’s good to be alive. Nothing else matters.

Make the most of your minutes and memories.

About johnnymaraca

host of Johnny Maraca's Rock & Roll Riot, the rockingest show on the radio. 60 years of rockin' rhythm and blues, from the late '40s pioneers like Louis Jordan to Elvis, Chuck Berry, CCR, Stray Cats, Ramones and tons more. Friday and Saturday nights at 7 on 97.7 the Beach, listen live at http://977thebeach.ca, and WRSG in Middlebourne, West Virginia, Tuesdays 6-8 pm.
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