Thursday, December 28, 2006

MYSPACE --- 4 ME???

I can not believe that I actually launched a MySpace place! Don't need to become addicted to something else that will distract me from posting here and doing my real job promoting the book. My "Conquistadores" have already been eliminated from the Taunton Fantasy Football League playoffs and I have one more week to go in the "office" pool attempting to salvage an off year with a late season run at the TOP TEN. Truth be told, I took a Christmas break after a so-so December for book sales. But I still keep receiving "Thanks you" Christmas cards and letters from some of the folks who enjoyed reading QUADALAJARA --- The Utopia That Once Was. I even received a card and letter from Jim and Jane Hamblet whose tenure at the US. Consulate in Quadalajara ('67-'71) preceded my arrival on the scene. The Hamblet's were close friends of so many of my old friends. They used to be regular visitors to the Mexico PVA Clubhouse, from BINGO and game nights to our many fiestas, Jim and Jane were part of our closely knit "little" family. Back to MySpace: If it increases website traffic than it'll be well worth it. But if pictures of pretty girls keep popping up every time I attempt to do accomplish something, well..............

Sunday, December 24, 2006


I'd like to take a moment to wish all of my family, friends and those who stumble across this BLOG a FELIZ NAVIDAD!!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

QUADALAJARA --- The Utopia That Once Was $19.95

IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS we have adjusted the book's sale price to $19.95. Actually, family, friends and those who have contacted me directly via email or by phone have know this since Thanksgiving. The change will now be reflected on the website as well. I also want to thank everyone for the Christmas cards, emails and well-wishes. I continue to be blessed by the support of family, friends, new friends and special people who have so enthusiastically embraced my onetime "writing project". THANK YOU ALL!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I met Bill Bussear via email last June while we were each 'grounded' and recovering from the 'occupational' hazards of quadriplegia. Bill had responded to the Paraplegia News article about "Utopia Remembered". Apparently, he had found his own South-of-the-Border Utopia a decade before I found mine. Quite an interesting story! Short version: Bill met a pretty senorita and the love of his life in Cuernavaca, Mexico after escaping a frigid VA hospital in Cleveland, OH. Forty plus years later, Bill & Thelma are a few weeks away from opening their wheelchair friendly island resort, Freedom Shores. Words could not adequately describe this oceanside paradise in the Yucatan peninsula, but a clink on the link below may just lead to your next vacation getaway!

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Apparently, due to printer problems, the October/November 2006 Desert Oracle will only be available online at 000.pdf Announcement of Distinguish Book Award is on page 5 as you scroll down.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


SOMETIMES BEING an unknown author with an obscure publisher is akin to being stranded on a deserted island. But it kinda/sorta works in reverse. Instead of being like Gilligan and his friends who got stranded on what was supposed to be a "three hour tour" (repeat a few times to get the feeling that you're there or in front of the TV trying to figure out if you'd rather be stranded there with Ginger or Mary Ann........but I digress) --- jumping up and down from day one trying to get noticed every time a real or imaginary plane fly's overhead --- in this business, it gets lonelier and lonelier when you haven't had your book or yourself mentioned for a little while. Imagine, for a moment, being a laid back unassuming shy person. You incorrectly thought that your publisher or an ad in a magazine would generate interest and sales. So now you find yourself jumping up and down like Gilligan & his shipmates trying to get noticed. You go to workshops, join, meet other authors and network (me?) with folks in the publishing business. And you soon learn what no one bothered to tell you early on --- that writing the book was the 'easy' part, now the real work begins. But rather than get frustrated or feel defeated, you find yourself getting letters, notes, emails and phone calls from people who you knew before, as well as, folks who you never met. I went out to lunch yesterday, brought along a few articles and business cards (yes, I have 'em) and sold one book, got a couple of "I'm gonna order one", and the possibility of a well known restaurant chain putting up a local newspaper article about the book. This morning I received a phone call from David Lucier whose twin brother Eddie was a longtime Quadalajara resident (1963-2001) and close friend of mine (see November post). We talked about everything from Eddie to life for a quad living in Mexico during the "Quadalajara Era", as well as, filling him in on certain details and people whose names he remembered vaguely. David had just finished reading the book and had obtained my number by calling a cousin in Smithfield, RI who called my sister in Georgia who gave the number to my cousin who called David. (Some people still have listed phone numbers?) By the way, I keep forgetting to place a business card in each book I send out as a mini-bookmarker! That would have saved my new friend the hassle. And, I received my second and third Christmas cards from widows of some of the guys who I mentioned in the book. They always express their gratitude that the book helps preserve the memories of their husbands and what they accomplished. They are all so cool. GOD bless them! Anyway, back to the beginning. I've been, as I mentioned a week ago, working on the "Speak up or be forgotten" message that came from the website of a future speaker at the April 2007 AZ Authors meeting. I pasted his site below for any other shy author. Larry James' advice to shy people and those who feel uncomfortable speaking in front groups, "GET OVER IT!!!" In my case, it may take hypnotherapy?

Monday, December 11, 2006


AS I MENTIONED in a previous post, I started writing short stories in the mid-90's of experiences which I wished to preserve. At the time, I confess, I had no idea where it would lead to. In 1998 I met a social worker intern at the San Diego VA Medical Center named Mona Oge. During our bedside visit Mona was surprised to find that I knew so many of the spinal cord injured (SCI) patients who she had already met and interviewed. "How do you know Mr. Ziegler?" Followed by, "How do you know Mr. Lucier? Mr. Clifford?" And the Q&A continued..... Mona's half hour interview turned in to a two hour narrative by me, peppered by her curiosity and questions. I told her about a bunch of us who knew one another from our years spent living in Quadalajara. Other patients were mentioned in the conversation, mostly those living in the Phoenix area, who I knew and some of the collective experiences and network of friends we shared. Upon leaving, Mona said, "You should write a book. There's a screenplay there!" So I guess that's when the seed was planted. When I dusted off my 'writing project' in January 2003, I now knew where it would lead to --- I would collect as much info, including photos, that I could find and focus on preserving this unique place and time from being forever forgotten. It became an obsession of sorts. I now had a passion for doing this. Writing became a fun thing. It was as if the book was writing itself. I solicited info from friends and widows of some of the early Quadalajara settlers. I continued to interview survivors of this fading moment in time, collect info and photos from any source I could find, and dug through old documents discovered in closets and magazine achieves. Some of the final pieces of this puzzle fell into place in early 2005 --- Paraplegia News articles uncovered in January and photos from South-of-the-Border Quadalajara Pioneer Joe Cicero, and Eddie Lucier's long-time caregiver Gabriel Chavez, were obtained in April. A few more 'final' edits and the waiting process would now begin. Again, that would be another story for another day. Thanks Mona!

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Reason & Remarks - Editor Cliff Crase ..........Utopia Remembered - "Did you have a hard and trying winter? Did you just pick up your Paraplegia News after pushing your cold-rimmed wheelchair through a snow bank? Why not get away from it all? Visit Sunny Mexico! The El Dorado of the Western Hemisphere! Mexico, a Paradise for Paraplegics!" The aforementioned were some of the intriguing introductions of numerous articles in PN in the mid-1950's, written by nomadic paralyzed veterans searching the tantalizing territory south of the Rio Grande for a warm climate. What was discovered were friendly folks, accessible housing, and affordable personal attendant care - a perfect place to vacation or settle down. In subsequent issues from the 1960's and 70's, appealing advertisements accompanied the "come hither" articles: "Why Mexico?...Because it offers a new kind of wheelchair living. Special facilities for quadriplegics and paraplegics mean that Guadalajara's famed hospitality, perfect year-round climate, and relaxed colorful living can be yours now - at an amazingly low cost for vacationers or long-term residents. Modest rates include personal care, wholesome meals, laundry, a private swimming pool, and chauffeur service. Nursing care available, sightseeing tours, and entertainment arranged. Accommodations from single rooms to family units."The claims in the ads were answered prayers to hundreds of wheelchair users who were holed up in a long-term medical facilities, inaccessible houses, or apartments up north, in many cases with limited funds. This definitely sounded like an affordable haven just south of the border. Decades ago one of the many reason Mexico was such an enticing destination was that a person could enjoy a comfortable life after surviving a catastrophic injury. Few World War Two veterans who incurred spinal-cord injuries (SCIs) on the battlefield could anticipate longevity. Subsequently, when PVA was founded the mission was to work with the medical establishment to address the lack of knowledge about the care, cure, and first-response treatment of SCIs, and, just as importantly, to strongly encourage Congress and the Veterans Administration (VA) to recognize the lack of facilities to accommodate paralyzed patients and their special needs. Thus, with the progress of modern medicine and vastly improved medical facilities, survival years dramatically increased. For those of us who never took advantage of the Mexico experience, and for the folks who were not around at the time and are just curious, we're in luck. A book coming off the press, QUADALAJARA --- The Utopia That Once Was, is written in first-person by Jack Tumidajski. Yes, so many quads flocked to the historic city of Guadalajara, 50 miles south of Mexico City, the gringos spelled their new-found paradise with a "Q" instead of a "G."Don't even think about correctly pronouncing Tumidajski. Don't even ask. I did, and...well, the Polish Kid took a deep breath and explained, "I was taught by my family 'Tum i dice key, ' accent on 'Tum.' But recently two Polish sweeties, one a therapy student in San Diego and the other a Red Lobster employee, pronounced it 'Tu may das key' and 'Tu me dice key, ' accent on 'Tu.'" Then, he mentioned how his siblings and cousins had their pronunciations Americanized. But I disagree. I gave up and just called him Jack. The book covers Jack's family life prior to enlisting in the Army, and his Vietnam experience, including the R&R trip to Bangkok. He survived combat action and the exotic Bangkok nightlife only to become a C6-7 quad as a passenger in a car accident while home on leave. Jack details his never-ending road to recovery, the multiple setbacks, and his longing for independence. After talking a couple of trips to Las Vegas to hone his gambling skills and, ahem, socialize with the locals, Jack continued to seek more independence from an existence that can only be experienced by someone who constantly has to rely on attendants. Jack headed for the border, where he found a whole different world and could live the good life paralyzed and in a wheelchair. He had plenty of good company and found his niche in the friendly community of Quadalajara. Jack takes readers through the creation and politics of the Mexico PVA Chapter, the success and eventual demise of the clubhouse known as Paradise Central, gambling gringos, and his and others' love affairs. The lad from Pawtucket, R.I., bundles up the saga with numerous photos, press clips, and a narrative that exudes a feeling that you were there - and, finally the migration north and adios, Mexico. To order a copy of Quadalajara: The Utopia That Once Was, go to


Thursday, December 07, 2006


FAAST ( Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology ) contacted me earlier this week concerning publishing an article about the book and moi. It's always flattering when someone who you don't know or ever heard of thinks that your book and life experiences warrant an article. I have received very positive responses and reviews from reporters, editors and book reviewers which tend to lead to more interest in QUADALAJARA. Being basically a shy (yes, me) person works against you when you're supposed to be promoting your work. Thank GOD for websites and BLOGS! When my book finally came out (I received mine on April 24th) I was stuck in bed healing from a February hip fracture. I told my then "Administrative Assistant", Aqueela, that "if anyone calls concerning the book, tell them I'm busy. And if someone comes to the door that I'll just pull the covers over my head!" I wasn't joking --- well, maybe a wee bit? I actually expected that a FREE half pages color ad in the Paraplegia News magazine (circulation 30,000) was gonna generate enough response to keep her busy for 20 hours/week? If not for all the books that I gave (as belated Christmas presents) to faithful family & friends and some promotional freebies, the book orders would have only taken one hour to address, package and send out. If you ever find yourself in my situation, don't believe all the rosy senarios that your publisher paints for you. They tend to be an extremely optimistic lot. And, speaking of personality traits, I've decided to take the advice of both my web designer, Cherrie, and my new advisor-of-sorts, Mary, and become more aggressive in the self-promoting/book promoting area. AND, I'm gonna start tomorrow. I hope!!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I have been asked lately WHEN and WHY I wrote QUADALAJARA? As I mentioned in a previous post, I enrolled in a "Special Interest" evening class at Glendale Community College in 1995 titled, "How to Write Your Own Autobiography". "Fellow" author and accomplished writer, BetteLou Tobin, was the instructor. I have been fortunate to have traveled quite a bit in the not-so-distant past and, as the passenger, found my mind wandering to places and times that brought back fond memories. If only I could have penned that daydream into a short story, I thought to myself? And so I did. After class I would go back home eager to capture an interesting time or event on paper --- 1995, pre-computer days for me. I would stare at the blank page until a thought would pop into my head that triggered the creative juices to flow. Doctors, notorious for poor handwriting, wrote more clearly than I. After writing a few short stories, and with the writing class behind me, I soon lost interest. In 1997 I met someone I'll call "Leilani". I had lunch with Leilani one afternoon, and after listening to her talk about her life growing up in the Philippines, I decided to open an old album from my Vietnam days. I was soon busy typing at my new PC and wrote what turned out to be Chapters One, Two and Three of my book. I typed for two or three hours every afternoon and evening, glancing at old photos that brought back old memories. My new friend seemed interested in reading what I had put on paper. She fell asleep half way through my chapter about Bangkok and I lost interest once again. Fast forward to December 2002 --- four years ago this month. I made friends with a bright young lady from Mesa, AZ named Annelise. Reading and writing were high on her list of favorite things to do. We exchanged emails daily, and when Pop took ill on December 6th of that year, Annelise was there to "talk to" --- sometimes we emailed twice a day! As Pop's health continued to decline, Annelise was there whenever I needed her. Just an email away. The only way that I could talk about what I was feeling and the only person who I could talk to about it. "That's what friends are for", she told me. After Pop's passing and the worst December of my life, my friend from Mesa, AZ became my part time helper. I "gambled" by showing Annelise my now six year dormant "writing project". She took it home with her and called the next morning --- early! "Jack, this is great! Can I show this to my best friend and my brother?" It was then that I decided to dust off the old manuscript and do something constructive with my life. When I got bogged down writing chapters five and six, I found the perfect solution --- I emailed Annelise everyday telling her my story, the part that I had difficulty putting on paper. I would then copy and paste the emails into my MS Works manuscript. Whatever works!!! I guess that covers the HOW I wrote the book as well. The "Why I wrote the book, Part II" is another story for another day. Thank you Annelise Hopkins!

Sunday, December 03, 2006


THE AZ AUTHOR'S book signing this afternoon at the new Lennar / US Homes' Stetson Valley was my first. Although the 'crowd' could have been better, from the perspective of many of the authors, kudos to Toby Heathcotte and those folks at US Homes for the invite and making the event happen. A special 'Thanks' to Janet Swendson for making sure that I was comfortable and to a certain Green Bay Packer fan for keeping a lively and interesting conversation going during the 'slow' part of the afternoon. I had the opportunity to visit with my former instructor, BetteLou Tobin, and 'show off' what years of writing, procrastination, more writing and waiting for what the frustratingly interesting publishing business can ultimately produce. Ms. Tobin did indeed remember me (how could she forget?) and was pleased to hold in her hands my epic work about life in QUADALAJARA --- all 394 pages! BetteLou also became my first book purchaser, and I, hers. I only wished that I had thought back far enough (to 1995) when drafting my acknowledgement page. BetteLou's name deserves to be there. Thanks, Ms. Tobin!