Useless Information Podcast Script
Original Podcast Air Date: October 23, 2014
ever wondered what it would be like to wake up one day and have forgotten your
entire past? No idea of where you live,
what your profession is, who your relatives are, or even what your name is.
story, titled A Life Forgotten, you will learn of one man who suffered such a
fate and how he ultimately found out who he really was.
this. You wake up on the side of the
road just outside of Craig, a small town in northwestern Colorado. Nothing seems familiar to you. You check and your wallet is gone. Suddenly you feel a sharp pain from your
badly bruised ribs. As you pull your
hand away from the wetness of your face, you discover that it is bloodied. A few feet from body lies a gun. You think to yourself: Is it my gun? Could I have shot someone with it? Or even worse, I kill someone with it? You try to replay the incident in your mind,
but you can’t remember even the slightest detail.
event did happen to a 24-year-old man in May of 1946. He truly had forgotten his entire past.
after wakening, he saw a car approach, so he hid the gun under his shirt and
tried to hitch a ride. The couple looked
at his battered face with suspicion, but they did give him a lift into
cleaning himself up as best he could, the young man went straight to the police
station and handed over the gun.
asked him his name and he suddenly realized that he had absolutely no
clue. He had a badly worn identification
bracelet on, from which he could make out a portion of what was left of the
engraving. It said Robert Sher…
Think of the
possibilities. Robert Sher, Robert
Sherwood, Robert Sherborne. He opted for
Robert Sherman, although he had no inkling as whether that was his real name or
to be arrested right there on the spot, but he wasn’t. Instead, the newly named Robert Sherman
walked out of that police station and right into his new life.
At first, he
assumed that his memory loss would be short-lived and didn’t worry about it
much. Without a penny to his newly
coined name, he obtained a job loading boxcars, but ultimately decided that it
was time to move on.
memory of his past, he fabricated one over time. He became Robert or Bob Sherman, an ex-Marine
from Texas, who had been a student at prestigious boy’s schools in both New
York and Omaha.
He worked at
a casino in Reno, Nevada and as a railroad detective in California. He even secured a job as a deputy sheriff in
Sherman was a man constantly haunted by his past. Just who was he and what was the deal with
that gun? When he was fingerprinted
while working at an aluminum plant, he expected the police to arrest him at any
moment. When the results of the
fingerprint search came back as a match, he was shocked to find out the name of
the man associated with them. It was…
Robert Sherman. Yes, he was identified
as being the man he was pretending to be.
He even went
as far as enrolling himself in some FBI training courses to have his
fingerprints checked against their records.
Again, once again, they pointed right back at Robert Sherman.
One day, while
working as a juvenile counselor in Sacramento, California, his supervisor
mentioned that there was a problem with his school transcripts and it needed to
be straightened out. That was the last
that they ever saw of Bob Sherman. He
hightailed it out of there and ultimately set up his own business in Los Angeles
as a deep sea diver.
As the years
passed, he did fall in love with several women that he wanted to marry, but he
always feared that his past would someday rise up and destroy both of their lives. Maybe he had a wife and possibly some
children out there somewhere.
moved on and then one day, about twenty years after he had lost his memory, he
just plain lost it. While driving
outside of Los Angeles one day, the stress of the unknown finally got the
better of him and he was forced to pull the car to the side of the road.
him there and took him to stay with a couple of friends for some rest. While sitting on their patio one evening, he
suddenly had a moment of clarity.
thought: Albany, NY. That’s where I am
from. My name is Robert Sheridan. Johnny and Dicky are my brothers. Lillian and Marjorie are my sisters.”
Now, as bits
of his memory slowly returned, he was afflicted with a sense of guilt for the
pain that he must have caused his family.
To make matters worse, he was unsure if he should abandon his current
life and go back to the old one or continue living the fictitious life that he
had assumed for the past twenty years.
mind in confusion and suddenly suffering from severe headaches, Bob decided to
seek medical help. With the help of a
psychoanalyst, he was able to piece together additional details of his life.
particular, he remembered the address of his parents’ home in McKownville,
NY. Coincidentally, I used to live right
in McKownville, but I have met very few people that even know that it
exists. Both SUNY Albany and the largest
mall in the region – Crossgates – are partially in McKownville. It’s just one of those places that is so built-up
today that you drive through it without ever knowing you had been there.
after twenty years, Bob Sheridan decided that it was time to head back east and
confront his past. Upon arrival at his
parents’ house at 19 Birkwood Avenue, he found out that they no longer lived
there. In fact, he suspected that after
so much time, they may no longer even be alive.
He turned to
the phone book and could only find the name of one person that he recognized –
that of an uncle. Bob made the call and
learned that his sister Marjorie was living in Syracuse, NY. He drove out to see her and together they
drove to Baltimore to see their brother John.
The last leg of his reunion took him to Largo, Florida to see his sister
Lillian and ultimately to his parents, who had retired to Indian Rocks Beach
near St. Petersburg eleven years earlier.
He learned that they were in very poor health.
when he really learned about his past.
Bob had joined the Navy at age 17 and served in the Atlantic before
being a part of five Pacific war campaigns.
As a result of the fighting, he suffered a severe mental breakdown and
was sent to St. Alban’s Naval Hospital in Queens, New York.
When the war
ended, so did his care. Against his
father’s pleas that Bob had not recovered, the Navy released him and he headed
for San Francisco to report for duty. He
article appeared in the Family Weekly on February 27th of 1966, Bob received a
phone call from a woman who claimed to be the girlfriend of the man who had
beaten him. “She said he had robbed me
and thought that he had killed me and wondered if I was going to press
charges.” She added that Bob had
wrestled the gun away from her boyfriend.
What this meant was that Bob could now be at ease knowing that he had never
shot anyone with that weapon.
eventually marry and after his parents passed on, the couple left Florida and
moved back to California.
Robert Sheridan died in Medford, Oregon on November 18th, 1994 at
the age of 68 years, 11 months, and 4 days. Other than the bits and pieces he
learned from others, he never did remember his childhood, teenage years, or the
war that he fought in. It was a life
I’ll leave that for you to decide.
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