Dedicated to Barbara Sylvester and Larry Windley
Submitted by Nick
It was the summer of 1960. Larry Windley and I sat around the Long Beach Veterans Hospital Olympic size pool, playing cards, taking in the warm July sun.
Larry, cofounder of the world famous Maui Divers of Hawai’i, was a patient at the Long Beach VA, having suffered the BENDS while diving off Maui. He was transported to the V.A. and was undergoing rehab.He also helped discover “black coral.”
I was the pool manager, life guard and also a student-athlete at Long Beach State University.
Larry and I became the best of pals during that summer, sharing life stories, hopes and dreams.
We always talked about my going to Hawai’i one day to live.
We also made it a “kind of hobby” to eye and flirt with the female physical therapy interns when they came to the pool.
There was one in particular that we couldn’t keep our eyes off of. Her name was Barbara and she had just graduated from UCLA’s School of Physical Therapy.
Larry grinned at me. “It’s only fair we play one hand of showdown poker. Winner gets to meet her.”
I scratched my blond crewcut, glanced at our “newest find” and nodded with a goofy grin.
Larry shuffled and dealt out five cards each.
While the cards lay face down, I glanced over at Barbara and saw that she had replaced her starchy, white uniform with a black, one piece bathing suit. “Ohhmygawd!” She took my breath away.
Larry laughed and before I could look at the cards, he exclaimed with a wink, “You win! Go for it big guy!”
He grabbed the cards and slipped them back into the pack. I went over to meet her and it was love at first encounter.
Barbara and I dated and married a year and a half later.
Sadly,our pal Larry passed away a few years later after he had returned to Maui. He had taken a skiff from Lahaina to Lanai. The waters in the Channel were extremely choppy. The small craft capsized. Larry was never found.
Every now and then, Barb and I talk about Larry, remembering those wonderful times and, after all these years, we know that if Larry hadn’t stacked those cards in my favor, Barb and I probably wouldn’t have met, dated and married. Nor would we have had three great sons.
Later, Barbara and I moved to Honolulu with our two sons. Another son was born at Queens Medical Center. We lived in Honolulu 10 years, and now we are back on the mainland, living in Vero Beach, Florida.
On many clear nights, we gaze at the stars and thank Larry from the bottom of our hearts.
Larry’s “footprints on the sands of our time” will always be with us. Thanks Larry!
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