I knew Larry for over 40 years. Yes, he and Vicki were my in-laws but they were also my friends. Prior to leaving Oklahoma in 1989, most weekends when Joe and Larry weren’t riding their motorcycles, we were playing couples “hand and foot” (similar to Canasta but an all night thing for one game…5 decks of cards….. first to 10,000 points.) It was always Joe and Larry against Vicki and myself. The girls stood a good chance to win as long as Vicki wasn’t sleepy. Once she started nodding all was lost.
The games continued until just before Joe died in 1999, 24 years ago today as I write. We played in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas. The games went from bi-monthly to once or twice a year depending on how many visits the Foree’s made to where ever we hung our hat. Just before our last few games, I learned that Larry and Joe had been cheating for years…….they implied that our team did the same thing so it was okay. This was one of those times when you realize how naive you really are, I thought they were just good…..maybe Vicki wasn’t really going to sleep, I just wasn’t reading her cheating signs!
Sometimes we played at their house and other times at ours. The plan often changed if one of our kids was grounded because we would have to stay home. Who is really punished when kids are grounded?
Vicki had a really sharp older model Cadillac. On one of those “grounded” nights, that beautiful Caddie was egged…nobody ever confessed and fortunately no permanent damage was done to the finish.
Every time we moved, we needed a telephone man. Doesn’t everyone have a telephone man in the family? The El Paso attic was the worst….hot, low and a high risk of scorpion stings. Wired telephones may be out of style, but I still have enough stuff to install a line and/or wall socket if needed. Doesn’t every girl need these skills?
Larry was my casino buddy (along with Dee and Darrel when possible). Joe traveled a lot so I had lots of frequent flyer miles back then. Sometimes they would drive and I would fly out to meet them. We visited so much we both had a lot of free nights at Circus Circus.
Once when Vicki and Larry visited us in PA, we decided to go to Atlantic City. Joe was working so it was just the 3 of us. It wasn’t all we expected it to be. The Taj Mahal Casino was beautiful but it wasn’t Las Vegas.
This trip was before GPS was on your phone or in the car. On the way home I was in the back seat sleeping. It’s really late at night and Larry drives through downtown Phillie to see the Liberty Bell. It was a little creepy. All kinds of people hanging around. They wanted to get out and walk around but being the chicken I was, didn’t want any part of it. They thought it was funny because I kept squawking about locking the doors. Trust me, they wouldn’t have gotten out of that car, they just wanted to see my reaction. I’m not sure how but we ended up going back to York PA from Philadelphia via Delaware. I think Vicki had the map. Hmm, I just looked at a map. Maybe I slept through it all and it was really just a bad dream…
The last trip to Vegas before I remarried was December 1999. Joe had passed in April and I didn’t want to stay home so I booked a flight and headed west to spend New Years with my cousin Donna and her (not now significant other). We saw the Eagles on my birthday and the next day Larry showed up. Vicki had decided not to go so he drove out alone. Driving through the mountains that time of year, not such a good idea but he sailed on through.
The “Y2k” bug was a bust even though we were all prepared. My cousin and her friend showed up with cases of water, canned food and who knows what else. I was scheduled to fly back the day after New Year. I had a restricted ticket with blackout dates but didn’t really want to stay the extra days alone so I rode back with Larry. It was a bit treacherous coming back through the mountains. I think I saw more snow and wind on that trip than during the entire time living in the Northeast.
It seems that we drove straight through because stopping could cause us to be stranded. I knew he liked to read paperback western novels and listen the audio book version while traveling but I had not had the experience. If you’ve never read “Lonesome Dove”, much less heard the narration, it’s interesting and a bit gross. I can sleep just about anywhere but I still couldn’t tune out parts of that book….so glad I don’t live in that time.
He dropped me in Dallas and headed home. I don’t recall the exact date but it was only a short time after we returned that Larry had the major heart attack from which, by the grace of God, he recovered. The shock of it was that his heart was a ticking time bomb which certainly could have failed on that long drive back from Vegas. Another blessing to acknowledge.
We had several trips to Louisiana for a long casino day and I never knew who else would join the trip. We also went to Mississippi to tour riverboat casinos. On one trip Larry was driving my van back to Dallas. I was sleeping in the passenger seat when a sudden “thump” caused me to wake. Must have been a deer….Larry didn’t stop, just kept on driving. When we finally stopped, my front bumper was quite a mess. That’s when I learned that vehicle damage by animals is covered under comprehensive. $50 co-pay is better than $500 any day.
A few years later, Vicki, Larry, Diane and Darrel joined me in Vegas when I married Mark. Larry walked me down the aisle. Okay, so it wasn’t my first but it was the only actual wedding that wasn’t performed by a justice of the peace. This was my last trip to Vegas. It was also the last casino adventure with Larry that I recall.
Whenever I could get to OKC, I’d call and Larry would meet me for breakfast or whatever meal was due. Sometimes, I’d see Vicki or Mark or Dee and Darrel or ……. I consider all of them to be family. Time spent with them over the last 37+ years lives in a special place in my heart.
Larry has now joined Vicki and the many others we’ve lost… They’re celebrating together waiting for the rest of us to get there. Love you brother!