I love to hear other people’s stories. I love to hear from people where they have been, who they are and what happened. I heard such a story yesterday. There is a restaurant in downtown Mount Dora, Fl. that is now called The Lost Parrot. Over twenty years ago it was not a restaurant it was a gas station and bus stop. Under the wood floor in the downstairs bar you can still find the old car lifts. At a table close to me was a gentleman looked over to me and said, “Years ago this used to be the bus station.” I told him I had heard that. “This is where I met Mr. Vickers.” He goes on to tell me the story of Mr. Vickers which I am going to relate to you.
According to Mark:
One day I was down the street at my restaurant and someone told me there was an accordion player at the bus stop. I walked up hill to see what was going on. There on the bus bench sat a man and next to him was an accordion case. He sat very still. As I watched him I realized that he was completely blind. Eventually I went up and introduced myself. We talked. I told him that he could come to my restaurant and I would make him a sandwich and get him a beer if he played for the customers. He did. Mr. Vickers was a wonderful accordion player. Several of my regular customers were local musicians and they loved to hear him.
I asked Mr. Vickers to meet me at the restaurant at eight o’clock the next morning. I showed up a half hour late because I had a few drinks the night before. As I pulled in I saw Mount Dora’s finest loading Mr. Vickers into the back of their patrol car. A little while later I called down to the police station and asked how much it would cost to get Mr. Vickers out of jail. They told me they hadn’t thrown Mr. Vickers in jail they took him down to the shopping center. I went down to the shopping center and there he was playing his accordion and he had a hat next to him filled with money. I asked Mr. Vickers if he would be interested in coming down to the restaurant and playing for a bit. He told me to come by and pick him up later. I did and he played and I fed him.
As I got to know Mr. Vickers, well know him as well as I could since he was very close- mouthed about his past, I learned that he had crossed the United States seven times without the benefit of a seeing -eye dog. He used his cane and his wits to find his way. Can you imagine that?
Mr. Vickers smelled something terrible. To remedy the situation a friend of mine picked him up one day and threw him in his shower. That Mr. Vickers sure could play his accordion and he drew people to my restaurant. Whenever he played my little place was packed. It was just a small sandwich shop but we had some good times there. Every once in a while as Mr. Vickers played I’d hand him a beer. The arrangement suited both of us.
I asked Mark if he stayed a long time and he told me, ”No it wasn’t very long, but I will never forget Mr. Vickers. I found him right outside here sitting on a bus bench.”
I just thought that was a nice story. Everyone has a story and if you pay attention you may learn something about them and maybe even yourself. I wonder if Mr. Vickers is still alive and still playing his accordion.