Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I intended to honor a fallen friend today --- and I will. But something turned my frown around.

(From Pages 67-68, QUADALAJARA - The Utopia That Once Was)

The news of Bobby's death left me emotionally numb. The reality took days to sink in. I was given permission to attend the wake and funeral by an empathetic medical staff. Stage three of my unusual medical procedure would have to wait, and any possible damage to what had already been reconstructed didn't matter. Everyone understood.

Subconsciously, perhaps, I wasn't ready to accept that my close friend was forever gone. Memories of competing in basketball, baseball, football, and all around horseplay that bonded Bobby and I were running through my head. I remembered leisurely walks down Prospect Street past Memorial Hospital on our way downtown on Saturday afternoons in hopes of meeting girls, hanging out on the West Side with the girls from St. Mary's Parish, and double dating with Denise and her sister Eileen. I had so many fond memories; memories that would last a lifetime for me, but were stolen from my friend at only twenty years of age....

.....I remained in my brother-in-law Alan's car for the funeral service. He was able to park close enough for us to be merely a few yards behind the crowd of mourners. Family, friends, and just about everyone from Bishop's Bend came to say goodbye to the first resident of our neighborhood to give his life in service to our country since World War II.The tragically sad and solemn funeral service was punctuated with the crackle of the twenty-one gun salute that filled the cold morning air. The finality this military tradition signaled was too much for Denise, as she collapsed and was caught by Bobby's cousin.

After composing herself, Denise walked over to Alan's car. We talked for a few minutes before Denise left and a few other friends stopped by to greet me. Ironically, Denise's sister Eileen, who once told me, “If you join the Army, I'll never speak to you again,” was not among them.

After returning to my all-too-familiar bed at the VA hospital, a few more days passed. I was watching the Saturday afternoon college basketball game—a game in which Notre Dame defeated the seemingly invincible UCLA Bruins—when tears began to flow from my eyes like water pouring uncontrollably from leaky faucets. Reality finally thawed my previously numb emotions. Bobby Taylor was dead.

July 5, 1949 - February 27, 1970

Rest in Peace, My Friend.....

* * * * *

Upon returning from lunch earlier, I was greeted by a quite unexpected email. No further words from me are necessary:


Just wanted to say thanks. I've been trying to locate my father (Herbert Rhoton) for 35 years now. I purchased your wonderful book last year and it led me to finally find him. He is 81 now and still lives in Chapala. If it weren't for the clues that you provided me with, I'd still be looking. BTW, I loved the book and the insight it gave me about my Dad's life.

Bless you,

M. Rhoton"

Monday, February 11, 2008


Taylor and Sons --- Joe Taylor (top right) with sons --- Mike (front row left) and Bobby (front row right)

(From yesterday's - February 10th - BLOG post that didn't get posted on time!)

As some of you know, Mike and I left Providence College in the Fall of 1967, opting to fulfill our military obligation sooner -- rather than later -- with the idea of returning to college in the future under the GI Bill.

Those were difficult times for young men coming of age during the Vietnam War and just at the onset of the "Sexual Revolution". If you didn't have a military deferment, such as those afforded young men in college, Uncle Sam would be calling about the time you were a 'grown man' of 19 years, 7 months --- give or take a month or so.

Rather than applying for student loans and having all that debt weighing us down, and a seemingly endless war awaiting our participation after graduation, Mike and I weighed the merits of enlisting in the Army --- and getting it (our birthright of being young, free, patriotic and duty-bound to defend our country young men) over with. The discussion gained both momentum and others in similar circumstances and spilled over to the embankment overlooking our playground basketball court. The site of many epic battles of teenaged boys hooping it up for countless hours almost daily --- even while snow made the footing a 'bit' difficult --- was our 'ground zero' in discussions that would alter the course of our lives.

When everything was said and done, Mike, Charlie, Paul, myself, and a friend of a friend, joined the Army on the "Buddy System" (where they promise to keep you in training together for as long as possible. And they did!) --- and left home weeks later: Halloween Nite 1967!

Among those opting out of our plan to enlist and, hopefully, get a better gig with Uncle Sam than those he went calling for (and yes, Mike and I did go to Vietnam), was Mike's younger brother, Bobby. "I'll take my chances with the draft", declared the then 18 year old kid. I'll always remember Bobby's words. He was killed in action on February 27, 1970 in Vietnam --- at the ripe 'old age' or 20!

My last visit to Guadalajara was in 1993. A phone call from Mom brought with it the tragic news --- Mike Taylor had died of a heart attack after playing basketball with a group of guys in their 20's and 30's.

That was 15 years ago, today!

Michael Dennis Taylor
February 16, 1948 - February 10, 1993

Robert Thomas Taylor
July 5, 1949 - February 27, 1970

Rest in peace, my friends...

Saturday, February 02, 2008


QUADALAJARA --- The Utopia That Once Was

(Excerpt from Chapter Three)........... I awoke with the sunlight. Lee was asleep next to me. As I focused on the clock that said 11:00 a.m., I couldn't help but think that in a little over twenty-four hours I would be packing for my return flight to Vietnam. These carefree nights in Thailand were nothing but a pleasant distraction from what awaited all of us GIs. How could the time have passed so quickly? Why couldn't Bangkok be reality and the war just some sick fantasy? I wondered for the first time how many guys had lost their lives in the war while I was here having a good time. At least I knew I would be returning to an area in Vietnam where there normally wasn't much action. What about those guys who put their lives on the line every day and night out in the boonies--guys like the crazy GI who was about to pull a knife on me because of Lee? ... (related photo under Myspace "pics")