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    Phantom 26'

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    Jumptown (Orange, MA)
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  1. Hey you guys, Here's something I thought would be nice to share with you, in case you don't catch it. I just happened to see on the Jumptown Facebook private page some present day members talking about the Q boogie and Q, and never having met him. I ended up wring a comment in reply that got a lot out. I definitely sat here doing some laughing and crying as it went. I hope you enjoy it similarly. I also want to mentioned this as far as being a reply to Howard White's comment. Howard's been gone for several years now too, and I miss him quite a lot as well. He was fine guy and sometimes grump, but his bark was WAYYYY worse than any bite. In fact, I don't think he ever bit anyone :) Here's what I had for some recollections about Q: I was a student at UMass in the parachute club, at Turners Falls Airport, when Paul started jumping. I don't remember when he started getting called Q but whenever it happened, it stuck forever, after that :) We ended up having an unusual relationship. Just plain friends and acquaintences for many years, like everyone else and each other in your own skydiving family. Then we hit a few rough spots that really were only the result of mistakes people make with each other when the partying on Saturday nights gets a little too far out of hand and then someone gets pissed off about something! ;) At some point Q was the owner of a Jeep Wrangler. It became a favorite night time activity to take it out '4-wheeling' in the Montague Plains area near the airport. It's a lot of dirt roads in and around high tension power line towers and scrub and brushy terrain. One of those nights, in drunken stupors, I was sitting in the back area of the Wrangler and Q had the rag top folded down. We were driving along on the dirt roads through the dark and I must have become uncomfortable with the wind or the dirt or something and decided I'd put the rag top back up. I only remember trying and trying to get the thing to unfold from the way it was stowed down but I just couldn't get it to unfold and come up. And Paul kept hollering back at me about it but I was only paying half attention to whatever it was he was yelling at me. The next day I remember Paul was extremely unhappy and displeased because however the rag top had been retracted, I had ripped and/or destroyed the shit out of it trying to yank it up into position. I had no idea at the time that I'd done that but then the next morning when I realized that he'd been trying to tell me that at the time, I felt really bad I'd damaged it. And Paul was never very happy about it ever, even years later. Another time on Saturday nights, one of the favorite extreme pranks on several occasions became abusing those who'd had too much partying and become unconscious out in the open somewhere. One such form of abuse was shaving off someone's eyebrow. This happened to Paul at some point. Everyone later (except Paul) thought it was hillarious that for a few weeks he had to go around and go to work with a fake eyebrow drawn on with an eyebrow pencil so he didn't look like a circus sideshow freak. Well, no one ever forgets things that are so hillarious like that. So of course, probably a couple of years or two later, more partying, Q lost his eyebrow AGAIN. On this second occasion, it was me who thought of it, and goaded a more innocent accomplice (Joe Peterson), into actually doing the shaving. And everyone remembered all the details the next morning, of what happened and who did what. Even though I didn't wield the razor and shaving cream, Paul knew it was me who instigated it, and how I really coached Joe into getting a really nice, clean, close shave. Paul was so angry at me. But not so much at Joe, I don't think. I never did anything to Paul out of wanting to make him feel bad or being mean or picking on him. It was just the comedy of behaving outrageously, after the beer light went on, that led to these kinds of incidents. Another time, in the winter, Paul parked his Wrangler up on the very top of a maybe 8-10' tall pile of snow out in front of the clubhouse. It was quite a sight. Attracted a lot of attention. It was probably a lot of Jose' Cuervo that gave me the bright idea that I could dig out all the snow out from under all four wheels. It really worked just like it seemed it would have to. The Wrangler ended up completely resting on top of it's frame on the top of the snow pile. Again, everyone thought it was a real hoot. I don't know where I was when Paul had to get the thing off the snow pile, but I just remember that he was really pissed about it because it had been extremely difficult. And then of course, things can always go the other way. After what must have been at least several years later, one afternoon I was at Pepperell making some jumps. This was now during the period of time where Paul was jumping and hanging out at Pepperell most of the time. I think it was early afternoon and I was just out in front of manifest with the regulars, doing whatever, and not paying much attention to anything in particular. All of a sudden, before I knew what had happened, before I could really process it at all, I just remember hearing Paul saying really loudly and excitedly, "HAHA!! I got you back!!!" and he threw something on the ground in front of me. It was my pony tail of hair off the back of my head. Probably a good 8-10" long, at least. At the time, I realized that I'd felt something on the back of my head, and realized the sound I'd just heard was the scissors doing a couple of chops to my hair. I couldn't have told you beforehand how I'd have reacted to something like that. In hindsight I reacted as if I'd just been violently assaulted, and acted reflexively. The next thing I was consciously aware of was that people were grabbing my arms and keeping my hands from getting to Paul's neck. I can remember thinking that at that moment, all I wanted to do was have Paul on the ground on his back, with my hands around his neck and my thumbs in his windpipe, NOT to kill him, but, to look in his eyes and make him understand that I could, and almost wanted to, for doing that to me. But I never got even that far. Once I realized people were holding me back and I wasn't going to be able to do that, I just turned around and went straight to my vehicle and left. I went through shock for a few days and then just went on with life. But after that I didn't run into Paul very much anywhere, and we didn't really communicate. For a long time I was really angry at him for that, but eventually my hair grew back, of course, and I stopped feeling angry about it. I remember that we did at some point see each other again after that and were friendly enough to each other, and I even apologized for his eyebrow, but my recollection is we could have used some more time to work on that a little more. But then that never happened, because Q had the motorcycle accident. Nighttime Jose' Cuervo drinking, and the fun of zooming down a dark runway at a DZ in Florida, and not stopping in time for the end of the runway. My heart really ached after that. I wished we'd had more time to have some more fun together and mend the emotional bruises we'd given each other over the years. There's a vague, obscured line somewhere between good, clean, (sometimes or frequently substance enhanced) fun and games after jumping is over for the day, and taking it so far that it all goes wrong. And I think just fate, and chance both can cause the location of that line to shift around, too. The problem is no one ever knows when they're going to end up on the wrong side of it and lose everything. Everything seems fine and normal and a total scream of fun in the moment, but if something goes wrong, at the wrong time, then suddenly things go irreversably bad. Whenever I'm reminded of Paul's untimely death, I'm reminded of my heavy feelings and sadness that he's gone. But I also remember all the fun we all had out there at Turners Falls, for many years, back and forth at each other's expense sometimes, and just in general all the time. I hope these recollections help others feel like they've gotten to know a little bit of Paul himself, even if you never met him. I also hope it helps you think about and remember to check in with yourself now and then to consider where you are, generally, when it comes to that vague, obscured, shifting boundry line between outrageous fun and games, and exceeding the limits, and not surviving it. My days and nights at the DZ were some of the best fun and adventure and excitement of my life so far. And I'm also thankful that I'm still here to talk about it. I wish Paul were still here too. I think we'd both probably say something similar to you all at this point, about having lot's of fun, but also remembering to make sure to come away from it with the opportunity to come back again for more, the next weekend :) Blue Skies, all you guys and girls :) John Jackson (toad) D-12027