My mother was truly a unique person.
I know that when speaking fondly of someone, it's a bit of a cliché to say that they are "one of a kind".
But Carol Versandi was that rare breed.
She was extraordinary.
One of a kind.
My mother didn't travel a lot but she made friends wherever she went.
When she went to Belgium to visit my brother, (he's stationed there in the Navy) she made Belgium friends.
If they took a side trip to Amsterdam, she made Amsterdam friends.
When she went to Dunkin Donuts, she made Dunkin Donuts friends.
My friends became her friends.
She once struck up a conversation with a man named Jimmy who worked at a local gas station ( Jimmy, the gas station friend ) and refused to get gas anywhere else after that. Every time I went to her house to pick her up for lunch, we had to stop at that particular gas station -whether we needed gas or not - just to see Jimmy.
She would say, and I can hear her voice as clear as if she's saying it right now, "We just have to stop and get gas and say hi to Jimmy".
And I would say "How do you know he's even working??"
And she'd reply, "He's working, he's working. I know he is".
And you know what?
He was always there.
And he was always happy to see her.
Anyway, the one thing all of these friends have in common, regardless of who they are or where they live, is that they all have at least two or three good "Carol Stories".
A "Carol Story" is a story that could only have happened either to, or because of her.
It's the kind of story that, while usually funny, is so astounding it could not possibly have ever happened to someone else.
It's the kind of story that when you heard it, you would say, "yea, that sounds like Carol".
Usually these stories involve impossible situations or characters that, to regular people like you and I, only exist in books.
Let me give you an example.
Back in the 70's we had a bunch of Sinclair Gas Sations on Long Island.
And on the roof of each Sinclair Gas Station was a 5 foot high, 7 foot long fiberglass Sinclair dinosaur mascot.
When my mom learned that Sinclair was going out of business in New York, she decided to try and get one of these dinosaurs. She offered the gas station owner $50 - he accepted, and the dinosaur was hers...except she had to get it off the roof and back home.
I don't know how she got if off the roof, but I do know she drove it home strapped to the top of a canary yellow 1971 Mustang Fastback
In other words,
she strapped this......
to the top of this.....
Which probably looked a lot like this....
and drove it home.
THAT'S a Carol Story.
Paul Bunyun and Pecos Bill had nothing on Carol Versandi.
And by the way, we still have the dinosaur.