Page 28: We Can’t Find Joe!

Ted arrived at the Aden farm just a little before supper time. He knocked on the door several times, but no one answered. He checked to see if the door was locked, which it wasn’t, so he walked right on in.
Ted had become just like one of the family since he and Joe had started hanging out.  It wasn’t unusual for him to come over any time he felt like getting away from the wife and kids. He had popped over plenty of times late in the evening only to have Evelyn put a full meal out on the table for him. 

Joe’s mom was about the nicest person on the planet.  Hard worker, too–seven kids in eight years–working right alongside John in the barn and in the field.  She was a pillar of strength after Tessie died, always saying how thankful she was that she didn’t lose two kids that day and how thankful she was that the good Lord took Tessie instead of her being a vegetable and Joe having to look at her every day as a reminder of what happened.  It was no wonder Joe loved her as much as he did.

“Hello? Anybody home?” Ted yelled as he cautiously walked through the kitchen. Water boiling on the stove and a roast in the oven, someone must be home, Ted thought. He walked around the corner and yelled down the hallway, “Hellloooo?”

Still no answer. Ted walked back into the kitchen and turned the burner off on the stove. The water must have boiling for while, Ted observed, because there was barely any water left in the pot. He opened up the oven door and peeked inside.  He saw that the roast was to the point of being burnt.

Ted went back outside. Both the family car and truck were in the yard. Sharon’s car was there, too.  As loud as he could, Ted yelled again, “Anybody here?” Just as he was getting ready to walk down to the barn, he saw Sharon running from the field, out of breath, panicking, “Ted, Joe took off, we don’t know where he is. We thought he was lying down.  Mom went in to get him up for supper, and he wasn’t in his room.”

“Maybe he just went for a walk. He’s a big boy. He’ll be fine,” Ted said reassuringly.

“No, he won’t be fine. Joe doesn’t remember anything so he’ll probably get lost. Plus, he was really upset earlier today.  I’ve checked all the buildings, and Mom is headed out toward the apple orchard.  Can you please help?”

“Yeah, sure,” Ted said begrudgingly.  “I’ll just take my car and drive around the section and then head towards town. I’m sure he’s OK, Sharon.  He probably just needed to clear his head.”

“Right!” Sharon said sarcastically. “Obviously you haven’t seen Joe since his shock treatments.  There isn’t anything in his head to clear!”  Sharon wasn’t trying to be funny, but Ted burst out laughing anyway. “It isn’t funny!” Sharon said  angrily.

“OK, Ok, I’m sorry,” Ted said as he tried to hold back a smile.  With that, he walked to his car, started it and drove off to help find Joe.

FACTS:  Joe would leave the house and get lost because he didn’t know where he was and couldn’t find his way.  

Page 27: Those High School Days

Even though Ted had known Joe ever since grade school at St. Mark’s, they were never, what Ted would call, close friends.  Joe just tried too hard to get everyone to like him, and because of that, Joe was teased something fierce. Always there, always around, always showing off, like a lost puppy dog that follows you everywhere no matter how hard you try to shoo it away. 

There was a lot of tension among Joe and the rest of the guys on the football and basketball teams. It just wasn’t fair that Joe could come in as a starter his junior year and play every game, the whole game. But even being a star football and basketball player didn’t win Joe any friends in high school.  He still was picked on by all the guys on the team.  One night they even beat Joe up after one of their football games. “Let’s see how tough you really are, Moose!” they taunted, as they started throwing their jabs.  Joe never fought back, and Lord knows, he probably could have killed them if he wanted.  He just stood there, tears in his eyes, taking blows to his body as if he was a human punching bag.  

That was over 20 years ago. Not a lot of Ted’s high school friends stayed in the Elsmore area, so he and Joe had become closer throughout the years, mostly by default—really no one else to hang out with.  The two of them had continued to play basketball for a city league, winning several championships. Ted had heard that Joe was not doing so well since he had been released from Mayo.  Rumor had it that Joe had lost all of his memory, didn’t even remember his mom or any of his family.  Ted was skeptical, thinking that maybe Joe was up to his old tricks of trying to get some attention. Ted decided it was time to pay Joe a visit and see for himself first-hand just how bad of a state Joe was in.

FACTS:  Joe was beat up after a football game in high school.  There was speculation among Joe’s friends that his memory loss wasn’t as bad as it was.  Joe did play on a Rochester city basketball league.

Page 26: Joe the Mechanic

It was no secret that Joe loved fast cars, from his Pontiac Duster that he used to drag race, to the Corvettes that he paraded around town.  It was probably his love for cars and their engines that made Joe decide to be an auto mechanic.  He took classes in the Twin Cities at Cummins headquarters and became a certified Cummins engine man.  Frank Stellar, owner of Stellar Motors in Elsmore, hired Joe on the spot. Joe had a reputation of working hard at whatever he did, so Frank knew that Joe would be a great asset to his shop.

As it turned out, Frank was right—Joe was the best diesel mechanic Stellar Motors had ever had.  It didn’t take long before Joe’s reputation spread throughout the region.  People came from hundreds of miles around because they only wanted Joe to work on their engines.  Not only was he a great mechanic, he had a memory like no one else—memorizing all the numbers in the auto parts manuals.  He never had to look up a single number—knew it right off the top of his head. 

People also came from miles around just to see how big and strong Joe really was. Legend had it that Stellar Motors didn’t need their truck jacks anymore because they had Joe. Many townspeople witnessed Joe picking up the rear end of a car by its bumper on more than one occasion.  In fact, one time, in high school, his friends saw him move a parked Cadillac Seville forward by at least a foot.

This was the Joe that Ted remembered, always showing off how strong he was, trying to be accepted as “one of the guys.”  During their high school days, in addition to picking up or moving cars, Joe would try to impress everyone by flexing his arm muscle and then slapping it so hard that another muscle would form on top of it. 

FACTS:  All true, according to stories told.
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