Daniel Jerome Moore passed away on Friday, June 8th in the early hours of the morning. He was just a few weeks shy of his 70th birthday.
The life he lived was filled with times of joy and times of difficulty, as is any well lived life. Running through it all was what you might call a bit of a crazy streak. As someone who suffered from the mental illness of schizophrenia he faced a number of tribulations. But he was able to overcome the obstacles he faced with his incredible gift of laughter and his willingness to be helpful to his family.
I first got close to my Uncle Dan as a teenage cigarette smoker. He was one of the only smokers in the family, and he was always willing to share from his pack, as at the time I couldn’t really buy my own cigarettes. Dan said that he smoked his first cigarette when he was five years old. He said that he got some old leaves and wrapped them up in paper and smoked them. It was a habit he was uncompromising about until his stroke last summer prevented him from enjoying tobacco anymore. But he was much more than a smoker or a Pepsi drinker. His natural ability to share what he had with others was one of his enduring traits.
Over the years I’ve heard a lot of stories about my Uncle’s life and I’ve held them all very close to my heart. He came of age during the turbulent decade of the 1960’s when beatniks and hippies were rebelling against the establishment, making love and psychedelic rock music. When he turned 18 Dan got something in the mail that a lot of young men feared. He had been drafted into the Vietnam War. In the face of one of the most controversial conflicts our country has been involved in Dan showed bravery as a soldier in the U.S. Army. He showed up, went to boot camp, was sent to the other side of the world, and was in the middle of events that are hard to imagine for most of us. Some of what he did and saw there haunted his memories for the rest of his life. When he talked of the War, he may have had regrets, but he never seemed bitter or resentful about it. When the country called him to duty he answered the call with courage.
When he came home the 60’s were over but there was still a lot of fun to be had. In the summer of 1970, at the age of twenty-two Dan took my still underage dad up to the Goose Lake International Music Festival in Michigan for a weekend of good times. They got to see acts like Rod Stewart, Jethro Tull, the James Gang, Bob Seeger, MC5 and even the Stooges. The two of them partied with the 200,000 other rock and roll revelers who were there. The memories they had of this event were understandably blurry, but somehow they made it back alive.
It was in the early seventies that Daniel started showing signs of change in his psychology. A lot of veterans had been changed forever by the conflicts they been a part of. When he started building booby traps around the house, and doing other odd things, his parents, brothers and sisters begin to suspect something was wrong. The schizophrenia he had been born with was starting to make itself known.
This didn’t mean Dan stopped having fun or that he didn’t have good days. Only that he started having episodes. These were later brought under control after the doctors were able to diagnose him and give him proper treatment and medication. But he still had some adventures, girlfriends, and lots of fun. And the whole time he kept his smile and laughed through it all.
One of his adventures happened on a trip to Maine where his oldest brother, the late Jerome Moore had settled. At the time Jerome had opened a nightclub and bar in the town of Brunswick and Dan was doing some work for him there. As Dan and Jerome set up shop for the evening, putting the ashtrays out and making sure the kegs of beer were full, a group came in the middle of the day before the club was even open. They weren’t senior citizens on a tour bus but a group of bikers known as the Iron Horseman. Dan enjoyed riding a motorcycle himself. He had owned a Harley Davidson and a Yamaha 650. But he wasn’t an outlaw or member of any gang. The biker’s pretty much had the run of the place. Dan and his brother served up the Horseman beer after beer and drink after drink. By the time they were finished his brother’s stocks had been emptied out before the place was even open. They rode off into the sunset, leaving them both alive but shaken.
Around 1974 Dan got the idea to re-enlist in the service, this time the Marines. He owed Jerome some money, so he thought if he could get the signing bonus he’d be able to pay his brother back. By this time Dan had already made a few visits to the psych ward for his erratic behavior, but the Marines either didn’t mind or looked the other way. Dan still had a bit of the wild man in him when he got into boot camp and changed his mind about being a Marine altogether. Perhaps, when he went AWOL, he was inspired by the outlaw bikers he met in Maine because ended up stealing a taxi because he needed to get home. But Dan, being a friendly and generous man, ran into problems when he started picking up passengers. When he got caught, it ended his second short run in the military. Perhaps he missed a calling as a cab driver.
Dan did like to drive and go on joy rides. One time while he was at the VA hospital in Cincinnati he didn’t think he was being treated right. So he snuck into an ambulance and took it out for a spin. He didn’t just go around the block though. He got onto I-75 and headed for the VA hospital in Lexington, Kentucky where he hoped to get the treatment he deserved. He made it pretty far but was apprehended before he could get there. This was his last escapade as an outlaw.
For most of 80’s, 90’s and last two decades of this new millennium Dan’s life was pretty calm and serene. He lived at home with his parents. He became something of a chauffeur for Grandma and Grandpa as they eased into their golden years. As they continued to grow old he would run errands for them and pick up the groceries. For many years he helped Judy and Jess with their side gig delivering the weekly Door Store ads on the route they had. And he would also go over to my Dad’s house while he was working on a car or a home improvement project and help him out. Often this just meant that Dan was sitting in a lawn chair, smoking his cigarettes and drinking his diet pepsi while my Dad worked. This just meant that Dan was a good supervisor.
It took me a little longer to get my driver’s license than most of the guys in our family. When I was a teenager Dan would often drive me to places I needed to go. And when I finally did get my license he let me take the test in his car. A little bit later I started doing radio shows at WAIF, Cincinnati. Though I had my license I didn’t have my own car yet and Dan started going with me up the radio station in Walnut Hills a couple times of month. He really liked being there and listening to the music, and every once awhile getting on the microphone to say something. I started making him tapes and CDs of all kinds of music to listen to at home. And then he started going to concerts and shows with me at the Southgate House, the Northside Tavern, and other small venues. Dan got to know some of my friends in the local music scene. We bonded over the music and he enjoyed getting out of the house. If I went out to a see a band without Dan my friend’s would ask me where Dan was and wonder he wasn’t there. Long after I had my own set of wheels Dan continued come over to my house and drive me, my cousin Douglas and some of my friends up to the radio station on Thursday nights. He did this until the last year or two Grandma Moore was alive. When she was very frail he gave up these outings to stay home and make sure she was safe and do what he could to be a caregiver to her.
Dan was often more comfortable hanging out on the edge of things at gatherings or holidays. Yet his presence was always felt, even if he was sitting in the other room or out on the back deck when the rest of the family was inside. Now that he has returned home to God we can be assured that all the obstacles that blocked him in life have been removed. The stone has rolled away. And now he can be at ease, his full sanity and clarity of mind restored. He is now in loving communion with his father, mother, sister Joyce and brother Jerome and all the other family members and friends who have gone home before him.
–Justin Patrick Moore, June 11, 2018