Bluford Johnson (1934-2011)

by Shawna Lewis

04/14/2012

Rachel Robinson remembers a lot of her father’s quirks—the way he’d shout “Judas Priest” when something upset him, the way he remembered the birthday and anniversary of everyone he knew, and the way he didn’t care for his own first name. Mostly, though, she remembers the movies.

Bluford Johnson was head over heels for the special effects and witty cracks of Hollywood motion pictures. His over-2,000-piece collection ranged from black and white to animated Technicolor, from Wolfman to The Little Rascals. When a person has experienced an injury due to the negligence of another party it is a very good decision to speak with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury. Long Island Personal Injury Lawyers ASK4SAM are available to assist their clients who have been injured as a result of carelessness of another person or business. These claims often include car accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, workplace injuries, and assault. They can also be filed when a consumer product is defective and causes physical injury. In a personal injury claim, a person can seek monetary damages based on the extent of the injury, whether it be physical, emotional or both. Personal injury claims also cover other items such as loss of wages or loss of work due to the injury. Not every lawyer specializes in personal injury litigation. It is necessary to find a lawyer that specializes in not only personal injury litigation but a specific injury as well. During litigation, the insurance companies will have their own lawyers who are completely knowledgeable in regards to personal injury laws. Therefore it is equally important for the consumer or injured party to have a lawyer who is just as knowledgeable. Experienced lawyers who specialize in a specific injury will be able to use this knowledge and their resources to handle the law suit. These lawyers will have access to medical experts who will help strengthen the case. They should also have access to legal cases that are similar to yours. Preparing for a personal injury case takes time. You will need a lawyer who is equipped to relieve the burden of waiting by filing the appropriate motions, gathering statements from witnesses, and handle the discovery process. For all the different types of these injury cases, there are specific lawyers to handle them. Medical malpractice law is a perfect example. This type of law is extremely complicated and very specialized. Therefore, it is essential to find a lawyer that specializes in a specific injury. Spinal Cord Injury and Brain Injury are very complex areas which would require a lawyer who only specializes in these types of injuries. When a person suffers from an injury as substantial as Brain or Spinal Cord Injury, often times they are not able to work again and need a lifetime of medical care. Sometimes, paralysis is a result of these injuries. The lawyer who represents these cases will need to be able to determine the cause, with the help of a medical expert, in order to prove the case. Not having the right lawyer with the right expertise can result in wasted time and loss of a substantial amount of money. There are lawyers who specialize in all types of accidents such as slip and fall, car accidents, construction accidents. There are those who specialize only in litigation that involves defective products. When speaking to lawyers, ask questions like: What areas of litigation do they specialize in? Have they previously worked on cases similar to yours? What was the final outcome of those cases? How many cases like yours have they handled? You will not be able to win a personal injury lawsuit without a qualified and experienced lawyer. Personal injury lawyers are there to provide the expertise and knowledge about the law that a regular person does not have. They will ensure that you are treated fairly and your claim is filed properly. Hiring a lawyer who specializes in your specific injury will alleviate the burdens of preparing for a lawsuit so that you can recover from your injury.

“In his little apartment, he had boxes crammed full of VHS tapes that were stacked high,” Robinson said, “and those plastic storage drawers full of them, too. Then there was a hutch, a DVD tower, and bookcases, for the DVDs. And then there were many that were lent out to friends. He was always so generous with everything he had to give—which wasn’t always much.”

Johnson was physically disabled for most of his life, after a work-related accident in July 1962.

“Dad was 28 years old and had a railroad job,” Robinson said. “He was shutting a railcar, and the door came off its tracks. It fell on him. When they finally got it off of him, his head was laying on his right ankle. It just bent him in two. It shattered his right hip, they had to put in a steel ball and a rod going down his femur. His shin was shattered, too. The doctors had to puzzle piece it together.

“It took him a long time to recover—and I don’t know that he ever really recovered from it fully. He was in a wheelchair for a long time, but my dad was determined to get out of it. He was not going to stay in that chair. Eventually he managed to walk with a cane or crutches. He was fiercely independent.”

Robinson says her father was covered by some insurance, but needed the help of a lawyer to obtain the full compensation he needed for medical expenses. “He was working with this great lawyer who was very old and actually died in the middle of the process. The next lawyer he got didn’t seem to have as much enthusiasm, and dad only ended up with a $10,000 settlement, even though he suffered from that injury for the rest of his life.”

Being forced to sit still and recover only heightened Johnson’s mammoth movie obsession. Having served eight years in the Naval Reserves and being a self-taught student of military history, he delighted in documentaries about the Second World War.

“My son also likes history, so that’s something they got to enjoy together. They would watch the movies together and my dad would comment with stories about his own experiences, or detailed trivia about other battles. It would mesmerize my son. My dad was always really proud of him. He said having a grandson would make him immortal.”

When Robinson’s kids signed up for karate lessons, Johnson dug out the VHS tapes of the original Kung Fu classics starring David Carradine. “He loved watching movies with his grandkids, and telling them everything about each one. We would be watching something together, and he would say, ‘This is the longest flight scene ever recorded.’ He would make notes on Ebert and Roeper’s reviews and be sure to watch the ones they said were best.”

Keeping up with the newest releases even into his last days, Robinson says his last movie was probably The Fighter. “Someone had given it to him as a gift, and he was so excited. When they handed it to him, he immediately rattled off the actors’ names, the praise it received, and all the trivia.”

“Charlton Heston, Kirk Douglas, Errol Flynn, and the old Tarzan,” she said, listing them from memory. “Those were probably his favorites, the good clean movies. He loved the classics. I can’t tell you how many VCRs he’d worn out.”