Wrestling Bears, Drunken Dentists and Celestial Greeters

Family legend says Grandma’s oldest brother was the handsomest man in the logging town of Freshwater, California.  Also the strongest.  So when a traveling circus came to the little logging town in 1897 and offered $10 to any man who could win a wrestling match with a caged bear, well, it was pretty well ordained that Jerome would take a crack at the challenge.


The story is that Jerome won the contest, or at least managed to stay in the cage with the animal for the allotted time.  Being a personable fellow, he bought drinks for the whole town with his winnings.  Evidently $10 was a LOT of money back then, because three days later, still staggering from the booze, Jerome decided to use the last of his windfall to pay the town’s barber to pull a molar that had been giving him trouble for a while.

The barber, being one of Jerome’s drinking buddies, felt this was a wise use of Uncle’s remaining money and promptly sat him in the swivel chair and pulled the offending tooth.   Jerome staggered home, lay down on his bed and never woke up.

I was eight when I first heard this story.

On my way to have a molar filled.

Even at that age it occurred to me that Jerome’s three day drunk or perhaps, just a child’s thought, the earlier fight with a four hundred pound wild animal might have had more to do with Uncle’s death than a drunken dentist.  But, poking at family legend is more dangerous than wrestling a bear, so I kept my mouth shut.

Jerome is important to our family, not just as a cautionary tale about avoiding dentists, but because it is Jerome who, like a celestial greeter, welcomes our family to the great Walmart in the sky.

Great-grandpa Coltaldi was pronounced good-as-new after removal of his appendix Jerome paid him a visit and two hours later he was dead.  Grandma sat up in her hospital bed after being virtually comatose for weeks, extended her hand, spoke Jerome’s name and passed on the next day.

Ten years back and I had the good fortune to be able to talk to my dad on the phone just minutes before he died.  I knew he was dying, but didn’t know if he knew he was dying.

I wanted badly to ask him if he’d seen Jerome.

Instead, I told him I loved him.

And, really, isn’t that Jerome’s message?

That, no matter our bad choices in this world, despite drunken dentists or caged bears, love transcends time and space, love brings us back for those we love.


About Author and Speaker Pamela Foster

Pamela Foster is a speaker and author. Her first book, Redneck Goddess, is available at local bookstores and on Amazon. Her second book, Bigfoot Blues, will be available in August 2012.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Wrestling Bears, Drunken Dentists and Celestial Greeters

  1. Wonderful story. You have a superb blog and it should attract readers to your great books. With you and your work I run out of adjectives. Awesome comes to mind.

  2. Somewhere in my mother’s vast collection of black and white photos that I have yet to catalog there is one of my father in his younger days wrestling a bear at a carnival. I’m pretty sure he was drunk, too!

  3. nancyhartney says:

    Does a tale about drunken uncles and grandmothers merit eloquent as a descriptor? You bet it does.

  4. Jan Morrill says:

    Pam, we need to all sit around a campfire and listen to stories of your family. Seriously. I absolutely love them. And if we laugh as hard as we did with the bungee cord story, well, wouldn’t THAT be something to look forward to?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s