Little Blue Maverick

We haven’t heard from Gram here lately and I have been wanting to share this for some time. For those of you who haven’t been following, I found a folder after she passed away containing all sorts of tidbits of writing; everything from letters to the White House, poems and, what I cherish most, her innermost thoughts. In May of 1975, her only son, my favorite uncle, Gary Dordigan, died tragically and unexpectedly.

On May 10, 1975, the Los Angeles Times reported “William May Garland, 38, a wealthy real estate developer, was found dead Friday with instructor pilot Gary Dordigan, 32, in the charred wreckage of Garland’s twin-engine Skymaster light plane on Frasier Mountain 10 miles west of Gorman.”

I was in 2nd grade and living with my grandmother at the time. I will never forget the day she entered my classroom at Pinecrest School in Burbank to pick me up early. She didn’t speak, just took my hand gently and off we went. I didn’t really know what was going on and I am certain she was still in shock at the time. Back at our apartment all of her sisters and other family members had gathered and I remember a lot of quiet crying and hushed grown up talk.

This tragic accident left an irrepairable fracture in my grandmother’s heart. Gary was the “golden child”, the champion swimmer, dashingly handsome and charismatic in every way. He was the light in her life and definitely a big part of my world. It was the first time I ever experienced true sadness. Uncle Gary loved to draw and made wonderful sketches. I was given his sketch pads, markers, colored pencils and chalks. I carried them around with me for a long time.

The following is my gram writing from the perspective of Gary’s little Blue Maverick…

“Twilight was settling quietly over the parking lot at Golden West. The little blue Maverick sat waiting in its customary parking spot, dusk dulling its soft color. Shadows of night engulfed the little car as it silently watched and listened for the familiar step, the strong grasp of a hand on the door handle. It was very late. Where is he? He would not leave me here. Morning brings hope. Footsteps in the distance? Time and time again, the little car springs alert only to sink back into disappointment and the steps fade away, it’s not him. Other car doors open, other cars drive away. The little car is perplexed, worried. The second night approaches. He is again alone in the parking lot. The noisy activity of a busy day at Van Nuys Airport fade into the soft sounds of evening. Where are those jaunty footsteps, where is the cheery repartee with friends? Why has he not come to take us home?

A third night, the dim parking lot lights only emphasize the loneliness of the little car as it sits keeping its solitary vigil. Something has gone wrong. He would not abandon me. What is it? Gary? Gary?

Hope dims and flickers out as the steps of a stranger stop at the door of the little blue car. An unfamiliar hand turns the key in the lock. I will respond to the command of this stranger. It is not my Gary. My Gary is not coming back to guide me. Seven days ago I watched as he flew over me into the late afternoon sun. He was here, he has slipped away, out of the burning wreckage crushed on the side of the rugged mountain.

Via Condios Gary. Gary, Gary, Gary.”


11 thoughts on “Little Blue Maverick

  1. Thanks for reading Faline… he was a special guy. He took me flying when I was little, taught me to swim, came over on Saturday mornings to watch Scooby-Doo – very cool uncle.

  2. Hi Ed,

    Thanks for your comment here… It is interesting and a bit wondrous to me that you have found this little article about a person you knew from so long ago, and who was so very special to me. Based on current happenings in my life (all positive!) I have to believe that I was brought back here to re-read this myself today and, as strange as it may sound, acknowledge it as a distant hello from him.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!



    1. Hi Jen
      For some very strange reason I goggled your uncles name today, which led me to your website.
      How great to see that you still carry on with your uncles wonderful memories. I have a bunch of them as well, as Gary was my best friend in High School and continued being best friends until the end. Many fantastic memories of Martha and George as well. Have not heard anything about Sandy for a very long time. I hope life has been good to her.
      A little walk down memory lane with Gary. Gary and I met in High School and were in the club Athenians together. I was also on the swim team with Gary, nobody beat him,, he was the best. We were in the Navy at the same time, he went to Guam for two years I was on a ship.
      After the Navy we always stayed in contact with each other, either having lunch or dinner at least once a week, or double dating.
      Great times together, wonderful memories, and today I still miss him much
      Best wishes to you Jen, and yes, you had a very special Uncle.

      1. As I sat again this year and read through a box of Christmas cards Gram saved, including three from you Stephen Todd, I will say again, I would love an opportunity to be in contact with you. Hoping you’ll see this. You can e-mail me at Cheers and Happy Holidays to you.

  3. Hi Stephen!

    Thank you SO much for finding my dusty little corner of cyberspace and commenting. Once again, the timing of this communication is so interesting to me. He has been on my mind quite a bit the last few days – He is usually in the back of my mind somewhere, especially when I’m watching a cartoon with my kids…. Something he used to do with me.
    I have a box of Grams old Christmas cards – she saved quite a few and one of them was from you. There was a time a few years back when I was googling your name in hopes of hearing more about him myself!
    So happy to see your name here – would love to hear more at your convenience. My e-mail is
    Thank you for reading and all the best to you too!

  4. Jen: What a fantastic blog you have here! I am speechless! (well almost). I was laying in bed this cloudy Saturday morning w/your grandma.keeping her company while she naps during her recovery from pneumonia. She had been very sick this month. Got her home from hospital after a 6 day stay last week. I googled “Gary Dordigan” while reflecting on “your rich uncle Gary”. All this was found! Amazing stuff! Great job Jen!

    I love you.

  5. Gary was my first boyfriend and I still have a few letters from him when I was at the swimming nationals. We swam together at Kris Kristenson Swim School for many years. I lived in WLA and went to school with Deena, his cousin. I have a couple of photos also. This is a wonderful site, beautiful tribute. I would love to hear more about George and .Martha so. Thank you…Marianne

    1. Marianne! Oh my goodness!! I must tell you, this post has brought a few people out of the woodwork over the years. Your message has made my day and I would love to be in touch. Let’s e-mail: I look forward to hearing from you and learning even more about my beloved Uncle. I was so young when he died, but remember it so clearly. I think about him all the time. Sadly, Martha passed away in 1996 (far too soon as she was incredibly active and healthy) five months after her 96 year old mother – from breast cancer that metastasized into bone cancer. We were all devastated. She was basically my mother. George passed away in 2011 at 89 from congestive heart failure and was quite the character, living every day as if it was his last pretty much until the end… more soon. Look forward to your e-mail! So happy to hear from you here. Thank you for your kind words.

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