Lafayette square was visited this week by a peace-and-love themed RV owned by Al and Terrie Jakalski of the Watertown, TN area.
The vehicle, though small for an RV and compact enough to park in normal parking spaces, is fully outfitted with a convection oven, shower, toilet, sink, and DVD player with surround sound. It gets 20 miles per gallon.
The couple has used it for travel since 2008, when they purchased and covered it with flower and peace images, as well such musical messages as “Your love is lifting me higher,” “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother,” “Where have all the flowers gone,” “WAR—what is it good for,” and “Jesus is just alright with me.” They’ve made many trips between Florida and Michigan, two of their favorite areas of the US.
Al, a Vietnam veteran, said he is on full disability, with pins in his legs and a head injury, as well as serious emotional struggles and trouble sleeping.
Al was shot down in a helicopter three separate times, and was one of only seven in his 189-man unit who made it back alive. “It wasn’t a good time,” he said. “What’s hard is that I have grand kids now—and I killed little kids when I was there, because I carried a machine.”
Terrie is currently working on a book called “The Wife of a Vietnam Vet,” telling Al’s and others’ stories and discussing the emotional difficulties of a veteran that a wife must learn to cope with. “There’s a lot of suicides happening, even now with Afghanistan vets,” said Terrie. “That’s just not kosher. That’s not all right, at least not with us.”
Al was also at the original Woodstock in 1966; he hitchhiked from Chicago in order to be there. “I don’t remember much,” he admitted, smiling. A few moments later, though, he mentioned offhand that he hugged and kissed Janice Joplin.