Wish Laddie a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Laddie will be 77 years old. He lives alone. His birthday is March 25th. I would like to inspire you to send a card to Laddie. Read this whole thing. Grab a card, address it and send it to the address below.
For most of Laddie’s life, he has been picked on because most of his poor hearing and because of his limp (the way he lost his hearing and they reason he has a limp are less known – stay tuned). The impression is that Laddie is mentally handicapped, but he’s not. One can be a product of their environment. If he is treated dumb, then he may act that way.
He’s actually a lovable guy. I think by reading this, you’ll see the same. He has been supportive and helpful with his neighbors. My sister mentioned that he would leave vegetables for her friend with young children. Even on a limited income, he saves and has let others ‘borrow’. He still picks up sticks in my yard – or would ‘like’ to.
I also want to mention that he has broken both of his hips in the last 18 months! So, his mobility has been very limited (thus, he hasn’t been picking up sticks in my yard! Or, enjoying his morning walk, etc).
Everyone knows Laddie by his expressions. His favorite word has been KNUCKLEHEAD. It seemed like a day didn’t go by when was not calling someone a knucklehead. He has said it so much, it has become his OWN nickname. Another favorite of Laddie when someone tricks him is, “sneaky guy!”
He does screw up his words (intentionally, I believe, but he’s consistent with it). His speech is hard to understand. But, as I said, he is consistent.
- Insulation is “colation.”
- His friend Gina is, “Gino.”
- And, English Muffins are “English Mufflers.”
Many of those that know him can share many other ‘words’ of his that are Laddie Language.
He has certainly been a happy go lucky guy throughout his life, earning money by mowing lawns. People do though joke about him quite a bit. For example, people make him the butt of jokes. Laddie used to frequent the bars (get too drunk). Folks would knock his hat off – things like that.
But, I have noticed that when Laddie is treated with respect, he responds in kind. I remember one time at the Card Lake Inn (it was a bar in West Stockbridge), a deaf camp counselor came in. Laddie was engaged in conversation with her via sign language for the entire evening.
The two were one on one and face to face. At that moment, Laddie was in his element. His posture changed. His facial expressions changed. He didn’t act silly or Jerry Lewis-like. He had confidence. He only had one or two beers all night, also.
His friend, Victor (who has since passed away), was a school principal in Las Vegas for his lifetime. Victor spent a lot of time with Laddie (after he retired, he spent summers at home). Victor was a friend. He spoke with Laddie as an adult. They visited places that Laddie didn’t normally travel. Laddie even dressed well when with Victor. During those moments, Laddie felt respected. He clearly appreciated those moments.
I think you respect people because they are people. You don’t need reasons. But, if you do need reasons…
Everyone Has A History
Born in Latvia in 1939, at the age of about 4 years old, he was pushed onto a plane with his younger brother (Johnny 2 years old). The woman who pushed Laddie on the plane is someone Laddie called his supervisor.
I asked Laddie about his memories. He said he didn’t remember much because he was so young. And, in conversation with Laddie, I realize that his speech is hard to understand. But, I gathered a few tidbits about his growing up during World War II, the Germans and Hitler taking over his country.
He remembers that the Germans took Santa away. Santa was the one that was going to give him and his brother presents. Laddie also told me he remembers hoards of people – thousands fleeing.
He remembers peanut trees, lightening in the sky (which he learned later was bombs and explosions). He remembers the crowds people running. A scared man was riding a bike with through the fleeing crowd. That man on the bike knocked Laddie over.
He remembers someone with a gun. That gun came very close to him, waving over his head. He was scared. So, he hid behind a tree. His supervisor pulled him out of there, gave him one dollar and said to get home. But he had no home to go. His parents were gone. Ultimately, his supervisor pushed Laddie and his brother onto a plane headed for New York City.
As I said, his brother, Johnny, was 2 years old. Laddie remembers holding his brother close to him and had both arms wrapped around his younger brother. They were on their own – a 4 year old and a 2 year old headed to New York City.
The reason Laddie’s hearing has been damaged his entire life is that while flying, the two young boys were tossed next to the engine! So, the noise of the engine caused his hearing problems.
And a source of pain for Laddie is that he has not seen his brother since then.
Foster Families and Photo Albums
While growing up, he lived with probably 15 families. Some families were nice. Some were mean. He ended up going to Avalon school in Connecticut. Laddie has some photo albums. So, I looked at photos of various families, which he lived. There were some happy times, there were some frightening times. He remembers the kids, positively. He played basketball and football as a youngster. Although he was deaf, he was physically capable – that is until he was hit by a car in Great Barrington.
Since then, he has always lad a limp and a brace. So, he has appeared handicapped to people. He’s not. He just wants to be treated with respect. Regarding that photo album, when I was looking at it, I saw something cool.
Over the years, I send him Christmas cards, birthday cards and out of the blue stuff (photos – we’ll stop by on Thanksgiving with a meal and take photos – so those I have sent). Neatly organized in that photo album was every card and photo that I have sent him over the years.
His house is organized, the labels on the cans are facing forward like a grocery store shelf and his lawn mowing tools are hung and organized in his shed.
Send A Birthday Wish (or a Get Well Wish For His Hip)
100% of the time when I stop into visit him, he’s alone. How about sending something to Laddie? A birthday card. His birthday is March 25th. You can send something early or late.
Although, if you send it ‘late’ he’ll say, “You Knucklehead!” And tell you it’s that his birthday is the 25th. But it’s all good. Your card will put a smile on his face.
As far as mailing, when I send Laddie something to the small town of West Stockbridge (it’s a very small Post Office), I address it like this:
- Trailer Park
- West Stockbridge, MA 01266
Technically Laddie’s Address Is:
- Vladmir Lakotkins
- Gwen Lane
- West Stockbridge, MA 0126
- Happy Birthday!!
Anyone who has or can (could) find any information on his brother, Johnny Lakotkins, would be welcome. Thank you.