aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Cartoonist John Callahan dead at 60

Well, this is a real loss. John Callahan has died.

He was a cartoonist who was also a quadriplegic. When he was 21, he left a topless bar, drunk, and drove 90 miles an hour into a telephone pole. Many of his cartoons were about the handicapped, and earned him a lot of hate mail from folks who were also handicapped (and who usually had no idea he was).

You can see examples of his cartoons here: http://www.callahanonline.com/index.php

I met John years ago when I worked at the front desk at Good Samaritan Hospital (not a dream job for a college graduate, but there were no jobs at all, much like it feels today). In his autobiography, Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot, he talked about the many times he had been trapped in the bathrooms at the hospital, because he needed someone to open the main door to the bathroom, and once he was in the bathroom the person who let him in often forgot to let him out again.

I was responsible for a lot of that trapping. I winced when I was reading the book, waiting for my name to come up, but he didn't out me.

Several years after I got a better job, I ran into John in Northwest Portland. He was stopped at a street corner. With a look of embarrassment, he asked if I could push him home - his battery-powered wheelchair had died. Those things are freaking heavy. They're not meant to be pushed at all, let alone uphill. I tried not to let on how hard it was.

I hope John is walking in heaven.

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