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In Memoriam: Joseph F. Sandy, Sr.

Shooting the Moon with 4 Pinochles On Tuesday, May 25, 1999, Joe Sandy, my father, "shot the moon" and won his last game. No, it was not the game of pinochle, which he loved and taught his children to play. However, he is no longer suffering from black lung, stroke, and colon cancer.

A pinochle is the queen of spades and the jack of diamonds. In a double pinochle hand, a player who gets all four pinochles possible in one hand automatically wins the game no matter how far behind he/she is. This hand is called "shooting the moon."

My father was six years old when the Great Depression began, and fourteen when he began working in the West Virginia coal mines. At age sixteen he helped build cabins for Yellowstone National Park, the nation's first national park, with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Take time to read this good online historical book, CCC and the National Park Service. With the United States' entry into World War II after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the CCC was discontinued, and he enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he joined the U. S. Army to serve in the Occupation Forces located in Japan.

There he met a young Japanese woman, named Mineko Takeuchi. They fell in love, married, and had two children while he was stationed in Japan. I am the oldest of those two children.

Following his army service, they settled in Baxter, West Virginia, a little coal mining camp with company houses that lacked running water or indoor plumbing, where they had two more children. Dad went back to work in the coal mines for the next forty years, taking time out to serve in the Korean War.

In the spring of 1963, Dad was involved in a mining accident that claimed his right arm just below the elbow. With his "never-say-die" attitude, Dad learned to write, carpenter, weld, fish, and hunt with his left arm and hand. He was fitted with a prothetic arm and hand but preferred to wear just a sock over his stump. He often teased children that "a tiger had jumped out of the gasoline tank to eat his arm." This was during the same time frame as the Exxon (then Esso) commercial about a "tiger in your tank."

Joe Sandy & Mineko Takeuchi

Joe Sandy was the son of Lester Ray and Maddie Maude Wright Sandy. He was one of fourteen children. He is survived by his brother, George of North Carolina, and four sisters: Thelma from West Virginia and Icie, Katie, and Dorothy from Ohio. Both his first wife--my mother, and his second wife Patty survive him. His second wife brought him four step-children. He had ten grandchildren, five step-grandchildren, one step-greatgrandchild, and many nephews and nieces. After his death, one of my cousins wrote to tell me that he was one of her heroes.

One of our friends, Eugenia Boyce, wrote the following poem to express her feelings at his death:

At the dining room table, there now stands an empty chair,
And we no longer listen for his footsteps on the stair.
Now, nobody answers if we should call his name,
But we still can feel his presence just the same.

For the sound of his laughter still lingers in the air,
And the ache we feel inside our hearts reflects the love he would share.
He was a servant to his country, a son and father, brave and true,
A brother, friend, and husband, and a grandfather, too.

We find that time may dull the pain I know we all now feel,
And dreams he dreamed, remembered now, we know they still are real.
And always, in our hearts, if his memory lives on,
He is just beyond our sight and we know Joe is not gone.

by Eugenia Boyce
on May 27, 1999

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