A Tavern, Vietnam Vet, and Jim The Greek

10 Jun

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Ya know, Nature gives us all the power of Freedom, and like the Wild Horses, many want to take that away and convince us that it is their perspective of Freedom that is the only Freedom.

Well, Nature and the Great Spirit gives us the choices of Wisdom and Compassion as well. Neither one of what Nature gives us agrees that freedom is only what corporations and our government give us.

This Natural Freedom is within us all. Reach deep, as it is hidden due to all the crap we have had and are right now being pumped into all of us. The Freedom in there is for all of us, and the Wisdom, Love, Integrity, and Compassion as well. – John Cox, The Cascades

In 1971, I come back from Vietnam. One evening and not long after getting back to the states, went down to the Pastime Tavern, with many friends since childhood — born and raised.  One beer and I needed some fresh air. The screen door slammed shut behind me, as I stepped out back.  I took a place and sat down, on the old and worn out brick and concrete sidewalk.  It that had been there, and never changed, for as long as I can remember. . .  Nothing really changes much in a small town.

Anyway, it overlooked the town’s park, and what I thought was simply a beautiful place to see, especially in moonlight.  Mostly, because I made it home in one piece, and as other friends who were killed in Vietnam, never had the opportunity to see their home-town again; which, I knew quite well and in my thoughts constantly.  Most Vietnam Veteran’s know exactly what I am talking about here.

While sitting, just gazing at the beautiful green-colors in the moonlight, in reality, the quiet never felt so good . . . I heard the tavern’s back door slam shut.  I turned and saw Jim The Greek walking toward me – indeed, an old friend.  He was a gambler, a older man and quite the gentleman.

He had known me since I was a child.  Been around town for a long time, Ol’ Jim, and a lot of gambling and knowledge reaped from all of it. He was an old philosopher, and just an all around descent person, and always said hello with respect, ever since I could remember.


He sat on the old sidewalk, nodded a hello, then gazed at the park, quietly.

Jim The Greek:  Glad you made it back. We were all worried about you.

He was a good man, I reached over to shake his hand; gladly I might add.

John:  Thank you, Jim. Good to be back.

We sat there for I do not really know how long, until Jim spoke again.

Jim The Greek: Beautiful, isn’t it. Ya know, I was in a war. It was tough. . . Not the war, really.  But being back.  Being alive. . . when all my buddies were killed.  That makes it tough, I know.

John: I know. It’s . . ..

Jim The Greek: (sitting looking over the park). . . Ya, I know.  You don’t have to talk about it.  I found later in life, the Blues. It dug me out of that ditch, and I could see sunlight. A little bit anyway. It’s the words they sing, like talkin’, it’s their story — but the guitar, the harp . . . It’s the guitar strings, the harp, that’s you’re story.  You gotta feel it, and when ya do, boy or boy . . . Light . . .

Jim got up, he stood for a minute and looked at the park, for one last and long moment.

Jim The Greek:  Beautiful, isn’t it — the moon, the trees, the green . . .

He then stepped over, reached down and put his hand on my shoulder.

Jim The Greek: . . . It’s your song, son.  All of it — and life itself. Standup.  Hell, stare at the sun if you want — and sing it . . . We’ll listen, for sure.  All of us, alive and dead.

Jim The Greek died two days later. I felt I was indeed the recipient of his last words of wisdom, his choice, and cherished them my entire life.  God Bless kind and compassionate people, always . . . as they know . . .

woods umpqua forest


Posted by on June 10, 2016 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “A Tavern, Vietnam Vet, and Jim The Greek

  1. Maggie Frazier

    June 10, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    Beautiful, John

  2. grandmagregg

    June 13, 2016 at 12:23 am

    Thank you for telling us this touching story John. Many many many young Americans did not come home and there is no going back in time to save them now but they are heroes not for their fighting but for their strength that they showed when enduring the tortures of war … but you and many others who endured war and came home and somehow still have the strength and compassion in their hearts and continue to fight for what America is supposed to stand for are amazing heroes to all Americans.
    Thank you.


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