In 2 minutes, it will be midnight and October 20th. will arrive. On October 19th., 1966, I was riding a motorcycle on Pacific Ave. in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It had been rianing and crew practice was cancelled after school. I was on my way to help a friend repair a washing machine at his mother’s laundry in the Inlet at New Hampshire and Atlantic Aves. The Sunrise Wash-A-Mat was owned by Mrs. petlev and the commercial maytags were always in need of repair. I never made it to the laundromat. An elderly woman who could barely see above her dashboard made a left turn without seeing me and the passenger side quarter panel of her car struck my right knee and I went into the air and across the oncoming cars in the center lane, and landed in the crosswalk in the middle of the street on the other side of the intersection at Ohio Ave. Ohio Ave. was where the Atlantic City Medical Center was located. Insurance rules prevented the hospital from retrieving me on a stretcher; one has to be delivered to the hospital by ambulance. I was carried into the ER on a 2″ x 4″ from the Mt. Royal Motel construction site. One of the workers was leaving the job site and knew my older brother, Allen “Boo” Pergament. “Boo” was a widely known basketball coach and had played against the Harlem Globetrotters in his younger years as part of the Washington Senators and Atlantic City Seagulls with “Reds” Klotz.
Well; it’s after midnight – my right leg was knocked from my hip socklet, fracturing the interior socket, and my sciatic nerve was pinched and my lower leg was paralyzed. It also is my older brother, Bruce’s 68th. brthday. My motorcycle accident happened on his 17tgh. birthday and he had to come to the ER and not take his NJ Driver’s Test that day. I remember waking to a blurry room and Bruce standing over me wearing his bright red ACBP lifeguard varsity jacket. My adopted father, Lou Pergament, was standing to his right, next to my recovery bed after my leg was reset into the hip socket but before the paralysis was determined. A 5-pound round barbell weight was taped to my right leg and hanging off the bottom edge of the bed to keep my leg motionless. I lay in this position for 6 days before the doctors knew my leg was paralyzed. I then was rushed into surgery, awake, to hold my bent leg while the doctorm drilled through the leg above my bent knee to screw a long metal threaded rod through my leg to suspend it in a sling for the next 63 days while my hip socket interior fracture healed to not cause further paralysis.
51 years ago, my life changed drastically…
I was the head lifeguard at The Strand of Atlantic City; Summer 1966. I was varsity stroke for the 4-person crew team and varsity swimmer for 100 yd. butterfly and 100 yd. freestyle. I was a Junior (11th. grade) at Atlantic City High School in September 1966 and was struck by the car in October. I returned to ACHS in March 1967. I started to swim again in August 1967 and by 1972 I was playing tennis competitively. I had to end my athletics totally in 1978. I had been told in 1966 that I’d never run or jump or do anything again. I said, “Fuck you!!!” I started to learn how to walk with a lower leg spring-loaded brace below my knee and parallel bars. I had to climb three flights of stairs to my family’s 3rd. floor apartment when I came home from the hospital on December 22, 1966, sitting on the steps backwards on my ass, one step at a time. I use a cane today to allow me to walk outside and I can walk for 1/2 mile – a mile will exhaust me tremendously. I weighed 185 pounds in the photo at The Strand, above. I weigh 137 pounds today. I am 5′ 11″.
JEFFREY W. PERGAMENT, AUDIO-VISUAL ARTIST/DESIGNER/OWNER
VISUAL PHENOMENA STUDIO & PISCES PRODUCTIONS.
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