Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Prank of a Lifetime

Walt and AngeloMy really good friend Walt writes a lot of really bad poetry. He also writes a lot of really good stories. I just bought his latest book, From Bugle Boy to Battleship: A Battle of Saipan and Guam Veteran’s Memoirs after reading this amazing story via Email. If I had a link, I'd share it.
Lloyd Glick got pranked.

And it was the best kind of prank. The kind of prank that, when he tells about it now, makes him break out in a wide smile.

Lloyd comes occasionally to the Ink and Bean coffeehouse where I spend my Friday mornings. A couple of weeks ago, he sat down across the table from me and my old Royal typewriter – the machine, by the way, that Lloyd gave to me, the same machine that is on display at the coffeehouse when I’m not using it.

Lloyd is 90, but he didn’t become a prankee because he is an easily duped 90-year-old. He’s as sharp as a bayonet.

I love when Lloyd comes into the Ink and Bean and tells stories about Los Angeles from the 1940s, about moving to Huntington Beach, about growing old ... happily.

He got pranked because the prankster, a guy named Walt Goodridge, did a really good job putting together some elaborate sleight of hand.

Last year, Lloyd and his wife, Judy, decided to celebrate his 90th by taking the cruise of a lifetime. They wanted to retrace the route Lloyd took aboard the USS North Carolina from June 1943 until the end of World War II in 1945. Seventy years ago, Lloyd Glick was a U.S. Navy trumpeter, and “Musician Second Class” was his rank. The birthday cruise would include stops in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, Okinawa and Yokohama and a drive to Tokyo.

Walt, the prankster, is a travel agent/tour guide/freelance writer. He set up the Glick trip just like they had dreamed. He just didn’t tell them what would be waiting for them when they got there.

In an email to Lloyd, Walt wrote: “So, while you might not fully appreciate nor feel the import and significance of those (WWII) experiences, thoughts and personal recollections ... trust me when I tell you that the rest of us can learn so much just from hearing how your thoughts flow from one to the next.”

In preparation for the trip, Walt kept writing emails to Lloyd asking about the World War II. Lloyd kept answering them.

The trip began Jan. 18 without any clue of what was coming. The Crystal Lines cruise ship Serenity stopped in Hawaii. The food and entertainment were great. But the prank didn’t start until the ship landed in Guam.

That’s when Walt took over.

Lloyd was met at the dock by local media and officials from the National Park Service, who presented him with a “WWII Valor in the Pacific” medal and a proclamation from the Guam government. He got his picture taken with three beauty queens from Guam. Later there was a reception at the National Park Service headquarters. The theme of the day was “The Return of the Liberator.”

“I really felt embarrassed by the attention,” Lloyd said. “I kept telling them that other than living to age 90 I really didn’t do anything special to deserve what they were doing.”

During that reception, Walt revealed that he had written a book “From Bugle Boy to Battleship: A Battle of Saipan and Guam Veteran’s Memoirs” about the correspondence he had with Lloyd as they planned his 90th birthday trip. Lloyd is sure he doesn’t deserve being written about in a book – but that’s just Lloyd.

After the reception, Lloyd couldn’t find Walt anywhere. Lloyd didn’t know it, but Walt had flown ahead to Saipan

When the cruise stopped in Saipan, Lloyd was given another medal and proclamation. This time, however, there were two busloads of appreciative local people waiting to congratulate Lloyd, who would correct anyone who called him a hero. He was interviewed on television and by local newspaper reporters – all set up by Walt.

When he sat across from me at the Ink and Bean, Lloyd laughed at himself for having no idea any of it was going to happen.

And in the last paragraph of his book, Walt Goodridge, who set it all up, summed up Lloyd Glick this way:

“And finally, I see you as a hero, because with all the evidence of bravery, noble intentions, personal sacrifice and lifelong service staring you in the face, you still don’t see Lloyd Glick the way others see him. By my estimation, that puts you in a league with the humble. And, my good friend, Lloyd, from where I stand, it doesn’t get any more heroic than that.”

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