A Lifetime of Service to our Country


Jerry Bullock, a Marine Corps veteran, at home at National Church Residences Lincoln Village in Columbus.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                                lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – Really, the only people out there who can poke fun at a Marine and get away with it are other Marines.

Jerry Bullock, a resident at National Church Residences Lincoln Village, joined the Marine Corps in 1962 when he and two friends decided to sign up together.

“Me and a couple of other guys at Marion-Franklin High School went in on the buddy system,” Bullock said. “We went to boot camp together, but we were never in the same Quonset hut.”

Bullock excelled as a Marine and began training in Advanced Infantry. It was the location of the boot camp, however, that got them their nickname.

“We went to boot camp in San Diego, California,” he said. “They called everybody who went to San Diego a ‘Hollywood Marine.’”

While he may have jokingly been ‘Hollywood’ at first, Bullock proudly served his country as a Marine, and later a member of the Navy and the National Guard, before a post-military career in civil service.

The memories of his long career?

“I wouldn’t trade them,” Bullock said.

His military experience truly began when after boot camp he was stationed in the Pacific.

“I went to Hawaii where I went into the weapons platoon,” he said. “Anti-tank assaultman. We trained and learned to fire the 3.5 inch, well, they call them bazookas now.”

Essentially a small rocket launcher, Bullock recalls the aftermath of repeatedly firing the weapons.

“I didn’t care for shooting them,” he said. “Wires would hit you in the face after they fired. You’d spend days picking those wires out of your face.”

Bullock spent two years in Hawaii – which was considered overseas duty at the time, even though Hawaii was a state. He followed up his time there for a brief training in Okinawa, Japan, before rotating back to the United States mainland.

“I ended up being an MP (Military Police) at Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station,” he said. “I was a Desk Sergeant in the Military Police.”

Bullock became part of the team that raised and lowered the flag every morning and night and also assisted other Marines with keeping their military IDs up to date. And then there were also the regular duties that came along with being an MP.

“You had to go to the enlisted club where the guys would get rowdy,” he said. “Have to go and keep them from breaking stuff up.”

With his four years of active duty coming to an end, Bullock was transferred back to southern California and Camp Pendleton.

“They wanted to send me to Vietnam,” he said. “But I only had seven months left to serve, so they kept me at Pendleton.”

There he was tasked with helping train Marines to swim while wearing their full equipment.

“It was to simulate abandoning a ship,” he said, adding that he had to act as a lifeguard on more than one occasion when soldiers struggled to stay afloat. “Lots of them. We let them take a little water first. If you don’t, they’ll grab onto you and drown you.”

Bullock was discharged in October 1966 and served two years of inactive duty before joining the Ohio National Guard and then the Navy for a year.

“When I came home I got a job in construction building the new post office here in Columbus,” he said. “With the weather the way it was and construction, I was only working about two days a week. So I took the post office exam and I passed in both Columbus and Grove City.”

Bullock accepted the position with the Columbus Post Office, where he would spend the next decade.

“I carried mail for 11 years until I injured my knee slipping on the ice. So I got disability from the post office. While I was in the Marines, with all the shooting we did, I lost hearing in my ears. So I get a pension from both the post office and the VA.”

The Happiest Place in Housing! Dayton’s Lyons Place II

Lyons Place Horizontal

Lyons Place II Property Manager Shari Hoosier (center) and her happy residents. Lyons Place II, located in Dayton, Ohio, has the best overall resident satisfaction rating in all of National Church Residences affordable housing properties.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                                 lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

DAYTON, Ohio — Walt Disney may not appreciate calling it, “The Happiest Place on Earth,” but it is certainly the most satisfied spot in all of National Church Residences.

Lyons Place II, a 55-unit affordable senior housing facility managed by National Church Residences located on the campus of the Dayton (Ohio) VA Hospital, celebrated its first anniversary in April with the knowledge that it has the highest overall customer satisfaction rating in all of the organization’s properties.

“Imagine that,” said Francis Jensen, a Navy veteran and the very first resident of Lyons Place II.  “This is a wonderful place to live. From the get-go it’s been a Godsend. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

A nationwide survey based on nine components – readiness to solve problems, responsiveness, property appearance/condition, quality of management services, quality of leasing services, quality of maintenance service, property rating, relationship rating and renewal intention – gave Lyons Place II an overall satisfaction percentage of 97.1 percent.

“This translates to happy residents and speaks clearly to our Mission,” said Pam Monroe, National Church Residences Vice President of Property Management. “This quality and level of service is a key factor in building customer loyalty and keep them at the property.”

Shari Hoosier was hired in February 2015 to become the Property Manager at Lyons Place II – bringing with her 17 years of experience in the housing field.

“My philosophy is to try to make it a place where I would want to live,” Shari said. “I wanted a place with a great quality of life and a peaceful environment where people get along and they help each other.”

Being located on the grounds of a VA hospital, Lyons Place II naturally attracted several military veterans to become residents.

“I came for an appointment at the VA and I saw they were building here,” said Melvin Garland, a Marine veteran who moved in last April. “I checked into it at the VA and they got me hooked up. It’s a good location. It’s a safe building. We look out for each other and we have a good time.”

Shari said that several of her residents had struggled with homelessness or had lived in places where they weren’t free to live the way they wanted.

“They did not have their independence,” she said. “This building gave them their independence back. It’s theirs. And it’s an independent environment.”

“The word ‘independent,’ that is a blessing. They don’t hover over you. They’re a helping hand when you need it,” said Harold Owens, Sr., who moved in shortly after the building opened.  “You can go to bed a 9 if you want. You don’t have to turn the TV off. I can watch SportsCenter as much as I want to. I do whatever I want to. For a few years you can say I’m doing it my way!”

Charles Wright, a retired business owner who just turned 80, said that he’d lived in other facilities in Dayton, but he never felt at home until he arrived at Lyons Place II in July.

“I couldn’t get acquainted with others (at the other buildings). I came here and within a week’s time I had the whole building around me,” he said. “My kids told me, ‘Dad, it’s really nice to see you happy again.’”

Shari said that a big part of what she and the rest of the staff at Lyons Place II try to do every day is to let the residents know they’re cared for.

“Showing love. Just the act of kindness. Asking how they’re doing. Asking if they need any help,” she said. “If they feel loved, they show love to each other.”

“I’ve been half-way around the world and that’s the one thing that is world-renowned: kindness,” Harold said. “One morning I was depressed and I was coming out of my apartment and I passed by the maintenance guy and he just said something nice to me. It uplifted me. I told him thank you. He didn’t even know why.”

Charles agreed that the staff at Lyons Place II makes all the difference.

“The staff here, no way in the world you could beat this staff. No good reason to even try,” he said. “If you have a problem, they’re on it like stink on a skunk.”

Shari said that when she accepted the position at Lyons Place II she prayed that the people who needed this positive environment the most would find it.

“I got the unique opportunity to meet every resident as they applied. I prayed that God send the people who truly need to be here,” she said. “Since we’ve been here, every service that we’ve needed we’ve gotten. People have donated clothes, food. Every need has been met. That’s a blessing.”

Thinking about the last year he’s spent at Lyons Place II, Francis had one final thought.

“I ain’t going nowhere else but here,” he said. “I’m home. That’s it.”

From ammo to ‘Doughnut Dollies,’ WWII vet hauled important cargo across Europe

Earl Todt, a World War II veteran at National Church Residences Bristol Village, hauled everything from ammunition to doughnuts and Red Cross girls across Europe.

Earl Todt, a World War II veteran at National Church Residences Bristol Village, hauled everything from ammunition to doughnuts and Red Cross girls across Europe.

By LANCE CRANMER                                           lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

WAVERLY, Ohio – Earl Todt recalls exactly where he was 71 years ago yesterday.

A truck driver in the United States Army during World War II with the 103rd Infantry, Earl was hauling ammunition and a gun crew across Europe in November 1944.

“We went up the Rhone River, up into the mountains of southern France. That’s where we met our first engagement with the Germans. We were shelled for the first time on Armistice Day,” he said, referring to the November 11 holiday that celebrates the end of World War I. “That’s a day I remember very well.”

Earl’s group survived the German attack and pushed further north toward the fighting.

“From there we went various places north through France, wherever there were pockets of Germans,” he said. “During the Battle of the Bulge (which began Dec. 16, 1944) we were in reserve, just south of the Bulge. After that was over we went south in France along the German/French border.”

His unit crossed into Germany and made it safely to Innsbruck, Austria, where they met up with the forces led by Lt. General Mark W. Clark on May 7, 1945.

The journey across war-torn Europe was a daily challenge for Earl and his brothers.

“My closest experience to being injured was one night when our convoy was strafed by a German plane,” he said. “We were told to scatter in the fields on either side of the road. The fields were all filled with shoe mines. We didn’t know that until somebody hit one. The fella running with me was from Texas. He stepped on a shoe mine and it blew his foot off. We were laying there and he was screaming. I laid there all night. I didn’t move. I didn’t know what I would be stepping on. It was pretty messy.”

Earl, a Columbus, Ohio, native, had never intended to be a truck driver. After college he enlisted in the Army Air Corps where he was classified as a navigator.

“About that time, the Army decided they had enough in the Air Corps and they needed ground troops,” he said. “I ended up in the 103rd Infantry and got sent to basic training in the swamps of Mississippi. Then on to Camp Howze near Sherman, Texas.”

It was around this time that Earl’s calling as a driver came to be.

“I realized there was an opening for truck driver in my platoon, so I volunteered for that,” he said. “That became my vocation in the service. My division, after training in Texas, was shipped to New York and our division went to Marseilles, France, where we were part of the 7th Army.”

Many long months later, Earl was through the worst of the fighting and safely stationed in Austria.

While Earl’s services as a truck driver were still in demand, suddenly, his cargo took on a much different role.

“We were an Army of occupation in Austria for the summer. I had a break during that time. And then my truck and I were assigned to a new regiment,” he said. “We were assigned to haul doughnuts and Red Cross girls. I went from Army ammunition to hauling doughnuts and girls across Austria. What a transition.”

As part of morale building efforts, the Red Cross sent out the ladies, affectionately known as “Doughnut Dollies,” to visit the soldiers and pass out doughnuts and coffee.

“After hauling ammunition and a gun crew, the girls were the safest thing I ever transported,” Earl laughed. “I was the envy of our regiment. I never stopped getting razzed for that.”

Earl hauled his cargo for roughly two months through July and August before being transferred to Camp Lucky Strike near Paris.

Shortly after, he was transported home from England to New York City on the RMS Aquitania.

After being discharged in 1946, Earl returned to Columbus.

He retired to National Church Residences Bristol Village in Waverly in 2000.

Army Air Corps vets at Bristol Village share WWII memories

George Earll, left, and Hal Tripp, right, live in National Church Residences' Bristol Village today, but 70 years ago both men few bombing missions in World War II.

George Earll, left, and Hal Tripp, right, live in National Church Residences’ Bristol Village today, but 70 years ago both men few bombing missions in World War II.

By LANCE CRANMER                                            lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

WAVERLY, Ohio – During World War II in the early 1940s, Harold “Hal” Tripp and George Earll were stationed about 40 miles apart as members of the United States Army Air Corps in Italy.

George, a native of Elmhurst, Illinois, was a B-24 bomber crew radio operator and right wing gunner.

Hal, from Spokane, Washington, was a crew member on a B-17 bomber.

Seventy years ago, Hal and George never crossed paths.

Today, they share a neighborhood at National Church Residences Bristol Village.

“We were only 40 miles apart in Italy,” laughed Hal. “I don’t think either of us realized that.”

A few weeks back, National Church Residences organized a get-together designed to let the veterans in the community meet and share their stories.

Little did they know, George and Hal had a lot in common.

George Earll

George joined the Army in February 1943 and got the call that he was headed overseas in November 1944.

As part of a B-24 crew, George was sent on bombing missions over Nazi occupied areas in Europe. It wasn’t long before he and his crew drew the assignment that would stick with them for a lifetime.

“On the third mission we were over a town in Austria,” he said. “We bombed and we (were hit by enemy fire). We knew we were damaged but we were able to get back over Yugoslavia.”

As the crew began to assess the damage, they discovered it was worse than originally thought.

“We discovered the plan was damaged so badly that we had to bail out over Yugoslavia,” George said. “We were about 8,000 feet in the air. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon.”

George’s crew leapt from the disabled aircraft ready to parachute to the ground.

“The next thrill after telling us we had to bail out was that my chute didn’t open,” George said, changing from a serious look to a wry smile. “End of story!”

Though it definitely could have been George’s final chapter, he fought hard to make sure it wasn’t.

“Fortunately it was a chest chute,” he said. “I was able to finally get the chute out. But when I landed, I broke my ankle.”

The crew regrouped on the ground and found its way to a British mission.

“There was a hospital there, but they had no x-ray or medical equipment,” George said. “It took a month’s time, but they were eventually able to get a plane in to pick us all up.”

Once back to his base, George got the medical treatment needed for his ankle. And then went back to work.

“After I healed – and was treated for hepatitis – I got to fly another 22 missions,” George said. “Nothing quite as thrilling happened on the other 22 trips. It was always a little scary. A B-24 is a difficult plane to ride in. It’s not too reliable.”

In October 1945, just shy of one year after heading overseas, George was sent back to the United States.

He initially thought he would be sent to Japan, but the war had ended in August, so George was discharged.

What George did not know, however, was that back home in Illinois, his wife Patty had just received a letter in the mail.

“My wife got notified that I was missing in action just before Christmas,” he said. “It was tough on her, but she said that deep down, somehow, she knew that I was all right. She said she always knew I was out there somewhere. And I have believed in mental telepathy ever since!”

After retiring first to Wisconsin, the Earlls came to Bristol Village in 1993. Sadly, Patty passed away in 2008.

Harold Herbert Tripp, aka “Hal”

At 91 years old, Hal could probably still tell you details from each of the 50 missions his B-17 few over Europe in World War II. But it is Mission No. 1 that stands out.

“It was our first mission,” Hal said. “We took a direct hit and had to bring back a crippled plane.”

To make sure the B-17 safely made it back to the base in Italy, a fighter jet was sent to escort the crew home.

“We had never heard of the Tuskegee Airmen until after the war, but we all figured out that they were flying the escort that came back with us and got us back to Italy,” Hal said. “They came on the radio and said they were gonna take us home. You heard hear in their voices that those guys were from Mississippi. Boy they were good.”

Hal’s plane took a direct hit in the tail, but held together just long enough to get the crew safely back to base.

“If you want to know about Boeings and B-17s being indestructible,” Hal said, “It was a tough airplane.”

Hal few 49 more missions before getting sent back home, but what he learned on the first one stuck with him throughout the others.

“There were a couple missions that were probably more difficult,” he said. “But being your first one, so many things run through your mind. Should we jump out? Or fight it out on the ground? Or I give up?”

Hal has been a Bristol Village resident since 1991.

VA Secretary McDonald visits Commons at Livingston


VA Secretary Robert McDonald meets with Navy veteran and Commons at Livingston resident Lori Vanzant Tuesday morning in Columbus, Ohio.

By LANCE CRANMER                                        LCranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS, Ohio – United States VA Secretary Robert McDonald paid a visit to National Church Residences Commons at Livingston facility in Columbus Tuesday morning and thanked the organization’s leadership for the work it does at providing permanent supportive housing to veterans.

“As I go around the country, the places that are effective in eliminating homelessness are the communities that work together,” Secretary McDonald told a small group that included veterans from the facility as well as members of the National Church Residences leadership team. “That collaborating you have here is tremendous and very critical for getting the job done.”

McDonald received a guided tour of Commons at Livingston, which included a tour of former Navy firefighter Lori Vanzant’s apartment.

While visiting with Vanzant, McDonald, a retired Army Ranger, shared stories about their children, military experience, and traveling the globe while serving their country.

Later, McDonald met with Commons at Livingston resident Travis Goodman, a former Marine, who shared his positive experience about living at the facility.

“You get out what you put into it,” said Goodman. “It’s a blessing to get a second chance at life.”

Vanzant and Goodman joined McDonald as he met with National Church Residences senior leaders to discuss the organization’s mission and plans for the future in regards to veterans.

“Every study I’ve looked at … says the rate of return in getting people into housing first is undebatable,” said McDonald.

During the discussion, McDonald recalled a life lesson passed on to him by a pastor while he was living in Japan as an executive for Procter & Gamble about how life is all about the relationships we experience. He then related that to the relationships National Church Residences builds in communities that lead to innovative projects like the Commons at Livingston.

“It doesn’t surprise me that to do something this miraculous, it requires relationships at so many levels,” McDonald said.

He added that he would like to see more National Church Residences facilities like Commons at Livingston in other cities around the country to help eliminate homelessness for veterans.

“We will pretty much go where we’re invited,” said National Church Residences President and CEO Mark Ricketts. “We can do our mission work anywhere.”


McDonald5 McDonald10



Korean War vet overcomes racism, finds life’s true calling


By LANCE CRANMER                                         lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

In honor of Black History Month, National Church Residences put out the call to our thousands of employees and residents to share their amazing stories of success and overcoming adversity. This story came to us from Tonya Dillard, Property Manager at Pecan Villa, in Ruston, Louisiana, about one of her residents, George McCree.

“He is noble, quiet spirited, he won’t volunteer anything, but he shares with those he cares for, and I am honored to be one of those people,” said Dillard. “He speaks volumes without many words. He is humble and the most respectful person I have ever encountered.”

George Arco McCree joined the Army in 1949 as an 18-year-old man living in Los Angeles. Sent to Ft. Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina, for training, McCree found himself in an all-black platoon. However, as McCree noticed, all of his commanding officers were white.

McCree completed his eight-week basic training at Ft. Jackson and was rewarded with a 14-day leave. Once that was done, McCree was shipped out – headed for the Korean War.

“Corporal McCree saw many, many unspeakable things. Things that he continues to deal with to this day,” said Dillard. “Yet he shared with me that the young 18-year-old boy was now a real man, who had the opportunity to fight with all colors, creeds and religions without a second thought.”

McCree served his country in Korea for three years before returning home.

“Mr. McCree explained that, ‘color seemed insignificant,’ except for one consistency, ‘all the officers were Caucasian.’ There was no way that he would be an officer,” Dillard said. “He shared that, ‘I saw a lot of death and had to do a lot to survive.’ This still impacts him to this day. His duty was to fight – for his country and his life, with his fellow soldiers, with no regard for color, race or religion.”

When McCree arrived back in the United States, he was stationed at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas.

“It was there where his service in battle seemed to almost have no value,” he told Dillard. “It was the color of his skin that would determine his new war.”

In the still-segregated South, McCree went from fighting alongside his fellow Americans for a unified cause, to fighting for equal rights as an African-American man.

“Mr. McCree, for the first time, encountered the KKK, racist comments and bold racism daily, until it finally affected his rank,” said Dillard. “A decorated Corporal Sergeant, Mr. McCree was placed in the dark stockades for defending himself against a racist/bigot taunting him and he was demoted from Corporal to Buck Private. Yet he survived, and he stood strong and continues to stand strong. It didn’t break him.”

Following his time in the stockades, McCree eventually returned to his duties as a Drill Sergeant until his honorable discharge in 1956.

After leaving the military, McCree struggled for a time to find the right career path before finding a good job at Providence Hospital as a janitor.

“But that’s not where the story ends,” said Dillard. “Mr. McCree discovered that he had a desire to do even more, so he went to school and became a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant).”

In 1964, McCree fell in love with a woman named Patsy Ann, and two years later they were married. In the years that followed, the couple was blessed with two children, a daughter named Gwen and a son named Larry – who has since made the McCrees grandparents.

As McCree’s life flourished, his career did as well. He continued his education, first becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse and then a Registered Nurse as a graduate of San Francisco State.

In 1984, the McCrees made the decision to move to Louisiana.

“As he has told me often, a smart man will follow his wife,” said Dillard. “So that’s what he did. Upon moving to Louisiana, he worked at North Louisiana Regional Medical Center for years in the ICU/CCU and on the floor.”

Dillard said that McCree believes that working in the medical field was his calling from God. He continued working as a health care provider until it was time for him to retire.

“Eventually, the strain of days past started to wear on Mr. McCree. The Korean War and the pain of his military service continued to plague him,” Dillard said. “With the support of his loving wife, he decided to call Pecan Villa home in 1997 and has been a family member ever since.

“Every morning he greets me with a smile and a, ‘Good Morning!’ What a blessing he is. Behind that smile, no one would know all the pain that he has endured or that he deals with on a daily basis. But it is evident that God gives him and extra dose of Grace to share that quiet spirit with us daily.”

(Cranmer is the Media/Public Relations Specialist for National Church Residences. Contact him at lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org)

‘Six Old Men’ at the Glade

NCR of Chillicothe

By LANCE CRANMER                                               LCranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Otto Tuttle glances around the table at his friends and speaks with a wry smile.

“If a guy starts a story at this table,” he said, “there’s six guys who finish it.”

“The problem with these guys,” adds Bill Cyrus, pointing out his friends one-by-one. “He can’t hear. He can’t hear. And he doesn’t talk.”

“I don’t have to talk,” Art Jones quickly replies in his defense. “He does all the talking.”

They call themselves the ‘Six Old Men’ at The Glade, the independent senior living community that is part of National Church Residences Chillicothe in southern Ohio.

Dick Miller, Ray Barber and Ken White, along with Tuttle, Cyrus and Jones, comprise the group, which ranges in age between 85 and 102.

The conversations drift from stories about family, to their friend “Preacher” – the Rev. Quentin Lockwood, one of the original “six” who passed away in March 2013 – to the war, to current (and sometimes not-so-current) events and everyday life.

But no matter the topic, there’s one defining theme.

“The objective of this group is to laugh,” said Cyrus.

Cyrus no longer lives at the Glade – opting instead to move back home with his son – but each morning he returns to spend a few hours with his friends.

“I can’t get away from these guys. This is the only thing I’ve got going,” he said with a grin. “They can’t make it through breakfast without my help.”

A while back, Cyrus decided to write a short story about the daily breakfasts shared at the Glade. That idea for a short story eventually developed into a poem titled “Six old men.”

In Ohio’s first capital city

where time and culture haven’t swayed

in a hotel not far from the center

live six old men at the Glade.


The Glade is their retirement facility

four stories and two on a grade

built for independent live alone living

are the six old men at the Glade.


These men are all World War II veterans

whose rooms have their trophies displayed

and these men enjoy breakfast together

these six old men at the Glade


The oldest is called the captain

at five score and two he is grayed

or maybe his face just got wrinkled

before he came to the Glade.


The other are not far behind him

at five score they will have a parade

whether they make it or not

their beliefs will remain unswayed


They huddle close around the table

since their hearing and seeing are frayed

they discuss was the world worth saving

these six old men at the Glade.


They admit there has been much progress

with housing and roads all remade

but promises this was the last war

have never been kept as conveyed.


They pray all things will get better

from the sacrifices they and others have made

they pray the world will become peaceful

these six old men at the Glade.

“I just wanted to do something, and I did it,” said Cyrus. “I wrote a story about us to start with. Then I wrote a poem.”

“Six old men,” both the poem and the men themselves, are popular at the Glade.

As friends come into the Glade for breakfast, each one stops at the table to say hello. At mention of the poem, a woman at a nearby table excitedly offers to go fetch her copy from her apartment.

Naturally, when the poem is discussed, the breakfast conversation smoothly converts from Cyrus’ writing to the experiences each of the six had in the war.

“Everybody here was in the Navy,” said Jones, who, as each of his friends will point out, was a veteran of five separate invasions in World War II.

“He,” Cyrus said, pointing to Miller, who at 102 years old is “The Captain” referenced in the poem, “was on a ship that was there when Japan surrendered.”

“As a matter of fact,” Miller replied, “I was on the first ship to enter Tokyo Bay after the war was over.”

The six old men can undoubtedly share a wealth of stories – frequently jumping in to finish each other’s.

“I can’t believe that it’s been 70 years,” said Tuttle.

No matter how serious the story, though, the six old men always find a way to interject humor.

Mid-conversation Cyrus reaches in his pocket and produces a SmartPhone. After a short conversation he hangs up at looks at his friends.

“If I don’t call my daughter every morning she calls me to make sure I’m still alive,” he said.

As usual, the six old men share a laugh.

“A lot of times when you get to this age, you don’t always feel very good,” said Miller with a grin on his face. “You can’t laugh so much because your stomach hurts.”