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To my memories of his childhood
I remember the day he started speaking Spanish about age 7. The cleaning lady came to his bedroom and he instructed her, "No cleano my roomo!"
One day I drove to the local high school to pick up Jos. I arrived to find him at the main entrance amidst a flock [ pool photo, beach photo, track team photo ] of beautiful young maidens:
"Hey guys! Here's my Dad. Would you believe I sprung from those loins?"
One summer Jos went off to Ecuador to visit his brother in the Peace Corps. The photo shows me greeting Jos on his return. He always took special care to get nice gifts for his mother and me. He knew I would like this Ecuadorian hat, and I really do. He knew my size. He kept a pretty good diary of his summer.
In high school, he enjoyed track. He liked long distance running and was a "500 miler". He gave up extensive running when his feet began to bother him and fancy shoes didn't help. Here is a track team photo where we see that Jos has the girls.
Jos liked to come up with ideas for inventions and then build them immediately. He was concerned about wheel-chair people going up slopes. They need to PUSH forward on the wheel rings. Jos wanted to design a wheel chair with the more natural motion to PULL to go forward and up. We talked about gears and belts. Finally we got the idea of a chain that would be crossed. To test it, we crossed a bicycle chain into a figure eight. This bicycle would need to be peddled backwards to go forwards. It worked pretty well. The chain hardly rubbed at all where it crossed itself at the center of the eight. It was easy to ride and the bike lost little speed or power. I used that bike to go to work for a couple weeks before we uncrossed the chain to get a normal bike again.
When he graduated from high school, I asked what he would like as a graduation present. He selected the "Complete Works of William Shakespeare". True, he had been studying it in school and he enjoyed quoting a verse from memory whenever it would fit the conversation. On the other hand, I knew how quickly his enthusiasms develop and how quickly they became overrun by new enthusiasms so I was afraid that I'd fork over the $50 only to have him lose interest and have the book cluttering up his room gathering dust. But I thought to myself, "How many fathers would be thrilled beyond imagination to have their son request a graduation present of such fine quality?" I bit my tongue; and I purchased Shakespeare's Complete Works. It's here now.
One day I helped Jos and Camilo move to a new apartment. We had to disassemble and reassemble the fancy space-age console desk and the ergonomic chair he was so happy with. "You know, Popster, you once gave me this advice, 'be tight-fisted, except on things you use a lot'. This desk and chair I use a lot."
I remember Jos being born. We had expected a girl; and we had run out of boy's names. A few days after we left the hospital, they phoned us and said we had better choose his name now because if we didn't, we'd have to visit the courthouse when we did. So we rushed into the name "Jeremy" which he never liked.
When he was little, one of his big brothers would usually be in his bedroom while the other was usually away with his friends. But Jeremy's first choice of things to do was to jump on my lap and talk. I had a nice deep barrel chair, orange, and in a sunny spot. It was always a pleasure having Jeremy on my lap in the chair, but sometimes I would try to convince him to get off and play with his toys for a while.
He introduced us to television programs that we would not otherwise have watched. I liked Simpsons and King of the Hill. Mumsie liked Buffy.
He brought home a video "Six Degrees of Separation" that he said meant a lot to him. I couldn't see why. He said he identified with the hero, a black man with a lot of grace and charm who pretends to be someone he is not.
Mumsie has many happy memories of Halloweens and birthdays, because she was the organizer and Jos was the organizee.
Being the oldest of the group, I always thought a generous a restaurant tip was a full 10% of the bill. Mumsie would insist on 15%. After Jos worked at Pepper's Restaurant in D.C. he'd advocate 20%. To avoid having this discussion every week, I paid the bill and Jos left the tip.
The picture shows Jos bicycling in Alaska the summer before he graduated from high school. We sent him to summer school to learn about college life by studying Japanese language for six weeks. Although he didn't write about the bike trips he enjoyed so much there, he did write about his part-time job in a bike shop.
He accepted our ten year old Toyota and kept it working fine and useful in his life. A glitzy car was not for him.
There is a Schwinn bicycle (with big handlebars, no gears, balloon tires) parked outside my window. It is like a "Pee-Wee Herman" bicycle, but not so grand that anyone would want to steal it. It has no gears. It's got the biggest, highest handlebars Jos could find. Riding it feels like gliding thru the air. He rode it to work.
[added in 2003] Jos registered some web domain names. TOESSEL.COM OUT OF CONTROL goes to his toessel site at spies.com; "webscissors.com" was given to some WebTV friends who manage it; "chucklehound.com" went to a college friend. He registered claerbout.org. He also registered grammarbot.com which I passed along to one of his friends. Perhaps to remain anonymous but more likely in the spirit of silliness that preceded the dot.com bust, he registered these domains under the name of "Jose Caribou". In the land rush to register domain names, there was a rumor that he had cooked up a raunchy name for potential use in the "adult entertainment industry". He likely did, but the bills come here and no such bill ever arrived.
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