Welcome to my site!
My name is John Vocale and I’ve led an interesting life. I was born in New York City, but lived most of my life in Florida, home of lightning strikes, hurricanes and blankets of humidity. Within the confines of a personal historical record, humidity owns millions of acres of land in Florida and I’ve been to each and every one of them.
I’m also a bit of a world traveler (jealous or xenophobic?). I’ve been to Europe on countless occasions (more like twelve), Australia, Thailand, South Korea, Cambodia and Dubai. While in Dubai, I visited a slave labor camp filled with Pakistani workers who had signed a “contract” for indentured servitude. In Australia, I dived and viewed the deteriorating Great Barrier Reef. In Sydney, I learned that the visually pleasing Opera House is covered in cheap ceramic tile to affect its pleasing appearance. In Cambodia, I shared a hut and an outhouse with Buddhists, living in dirt floor abodes and displaying a life of tranquility unseen in the United States. They have few material possessions and have replaced anger, blame and rage with an inner calm–quite an accomplishment from my perspective and exceptional considering the ongoing exorcism of the ghost of Pol Pot.
When I was three years old my father was murdered by the mob. Details of the murder are recounted in my novel, A Tale of Two Times. Shortly thereafter, my mother married a master check forger and my last name was changed to Baumel. Together they created my sister and we were often “locked” in the car for hours while our loving parents ate, drank and danced. I put quotes around “locked” (like this) because we could have escaped (you can’t lock somebody IN a car), but I was six years old and my sister was less than a year. She cried often so I was told to stuff a bottle in her mouth when she did. Foot traveling onlookers usually waved hello or ignored us and moved on. I never checked with law enforcement, but I assumed that stranding unsupervised children in automobiles was a common occurrence. It was a different time…
When Baumel stole the family car and departed, to never be heard from again, my mother married the cab driver that chauffeured her oft inebriated persona around Sarasota, Florida until she could afford a new mode of transportation. The hack’s name was Allen and mine was soon changed to match, yet again. Their volatile relationship resulted in several beatings to my mother and four consecutive marriages followed by four consecutive divorces. At fourteen I ran away from home, never again to be the son of the woman that bore me.
I sought refuge with my grandmother who welcomed me into her miniscule 8′ x 20′ house-trailer with open arms. I was the only child in a senior citizen trailer park community where the minimum age for acceptance was sixty-five. When my grandmother was ordered to oust me under the six-month visitation limits of the “no young whippersnapper rule,” she circumvented the age requirements by legally adopting me. Like the Cambodian Buddhists, we had nothing of material value, and I was never happier. My grandmother was and always will be my hero and the most giving person I have yet to meet. She saved my life.
At nineteen, after pissing away a chance at college, I was drafted into the military but elected to join the Air Force. When my grandmother became ill, they stationed me in Tampa to be close to home. When her conditioned worsened, I was granted an early discharge to help care for her. She died a few days later.
Immediately after her death the trailer was confiscated by park officials and I was homeless. I never got a straight answer on the confiscation because I was too dumb to ask. I could only presume that our trailer was a rental and without its signed lessee, I fell victim to the “no young whippersnapper rule” and was tossed to the curb.
As a master of internal locutions, a barbed voice in my head informed me that the least desirable aspect of becoming a penurious whippersnapper is finding a place to sleep. An order to seek employment followed immediately thereafter.
In the military I netted only $128.50 a month and, resultingly, I wasn’t much of a saver. Since I lived off base, I blew it on rent and food. Because of this aversion to parsimony, I had to reconfigure my long body to sleep in the backseat of my VW Bug. It was a contorted effort. On occasion, I was granted access to a couch or floor by some of my friend’s parents (thank you Mr. & Mrs. Frosch!). Luckily, in what some might call a forced expeditious maneuver, I was able to get a job as a carpenter’s helper where I met two former high school buddies who were looking for a roommate. I was off the street in a month!
Then, I met a beautiful …
I know–if you have made it this far, you’re probably thinking, boy, does this guy feel sorry for himself! Another thought might be, this is boring–I thought this guy was an author. I don’t need a surfeit of autobiographical babble. I want to know if his books are worth reading!
You’re right–I’ll try again.
Through the years, as I told my tale of woe to the one or two people that found it interesting, I kept getting the same reply that has been cast upon millions with a story to tell: “You ought to write a book.”
So, I did. I called it Don’t get Mad–The Ins and Outs of Getting Even as An Entry Level Assassin. And then I wrote another, the aforementioned A Tale of Two Times. Currently, I’m putting the final touches on my third novel, The Jewish Nazi.
If you read one or both, I hope you get a laugh or two. If you read The Jewish Nazi, I hope you empathize with the multiple plights of Benjamin Bauman and learn a thing or two about love, brutality, heroism and a history that should never be repeated.