John Travasity saw someone out in the water that looked to be struggling. He and a couple of his buddies saw this, and weren't quite sure what was going on. The year is 1960 at a beach in San Diego. There is no life guard, and John wasn't sure if the man needed help, but he wasn't gonna just stand there. He ran and jumped in to go save this man. Once he got there, the man had gone under. Yep, he needed help alright. He went under water and grabbed him to bring him back to shore. Yes, he saved him. Saved his life. Wait, remember I told you the year was 1960? Well John was a white man, and that guy he saved was my father. My father was so grateful for this man for saving his life. Come to find out they were both Marines. I asked my dad, "What happened? Why were you struggling out there?" He said" I just cramped up. I couldn't do anything with my body, and I just started splashing water. I thought life was over."
John and my dad became friends after that. As a matter of fact, John was from the State of Illinois as well. Well one particular leave they were on, my dad wanted to to get back to California. John told my dad that he would come and get my dad. Umm, the year is now 1961, and my dad is thinking this might not be a good idea to ride across country with John. Nothing against him, but it is 1961 ya dig... lol. My dad said, "Son I told him that if he's gonna come get me, it's gonna have to be at night, and I would sneak into his backseat." John wanted no part of that. John told him he ain't scared, and he was coming to get his friend.
So now they are on the road, traveling south from Chicago. Now hold up, if you have ever been to the state of Illinois, you know that once you get a little ways out of Chicago, you are no longer in the big city. Lol.
Well they are heading south and almost to Missouri when John's car breaks down. Oh boy!! This ain't good. So John tells my dad that he should stay in car while he walks to the next exit and hopefully finds a pay phone. 1961, southern Illinois, 10pm at night, and a black man is gonna wait inside of a broke down car on the road. Sure! No problem. That's easy right? ....and these are Magic Beans. My dad says John was gone for about 3 hours. He was starting to worry, and trying to decide what to do. Remember y'all, ain't no cell phones. lol. Then there are some headlights that pull up behind him. My dad says, "I ain't never been so scared. I knew this wasn't gonna be good at all. All I kept thinking was that I hope that me being a marine would help me in this situation."
It's John.. He was able to not only make a phone call, but was able to have someone in town come and pick them up. This man (another white man) took them to his house. John had it all planned out. He said to my dad, "Hey, we are just gonna leave that car here. My dad is gonna have us fly back (John's dad was one of those guys with connections). This guy will take us to the air force base in the morning and we will fly out from there." So as they are riding there, my dad is prepared to sleep in the car when they got there. He understood the times, and was ok with it. When they got to this man's house, my dad actually volunteered to sleep in the car. Then the man says, "You are welcome in my house. It's ok."
When they go in, the man's wife (hey, I never got the man's name, so that's why I keep calling him man) is inside. She offers my dad a room to sleep. She told him while walking him back there that this used to be my son's room. I asked my dad about her son, but he said he didn't want to ask any extra questions. Lol. Understood.
The smell of bacon woke my dad up that morning. When he headed in there, the man's wife had cooked up everything. Eggs, grits, bacon, and toast. My dad says, "It was this moment that shaped the way I look at the world. I knew then that there are good people all over the world and that you can't take other people's word for how people are. You just have to find out for yourself." My dad didn't remember their names, but he remembered that experience. He remembered John, because John not only saved his life a year before, but John looked out for my dad once again on that night in 1961. That morning they did make it to the Air Force base, and were able to get back.
John passed on in 2007. I never met John, but my father talked about him a lot. He told me that story so many times, but I didn't care. I loved hearing it. I loved hearing how grateful my dad was for John. He would say, "Champ, if not for John, you and your sister wouldn't be here." Yeah dad, you're right. Salute John. Thank you sir for being MORE during a time when you flat out didn't have to. You didn't care about the color of my dads skin. You must have saw in him what everybody else did. Well sir, you must have been an amazing man. RIP John. Now you and my father can see together what that day in 1960 meant when you saved my fathers life.
Thank you so much for reading, WE love ya for that..
Until next time,