This story explains an encounter in an Ohio airport with a woman at a wine bar and our Co-Founder, John Toracinta. Her husband sent us this email that explains how us meeting that day, changed the course of their lives and how their beloved 1964 Cadillac – Emma Jean - hasn’t been the same since. It truly reminds us all that you never know the kind of impact you can have on someone else and their journey through life. Never stop inspiring.
My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I will try and give you the abridged version of my story and why I asked for fifty NOSOLO bracelets. It began in the fall of 2020 when I came up with the idea to drive Route 66, the Mother Road, 2,448 miles, Chicago to LA, the legend of America known throughout the world. The plan was to convince my wife, Pam Popp, and another couple to make the journey with me. I knew the only way to do this journey properly was in a vintage 60’s Cadillac convertible. When I approached Pam with this plan, her response was different than most spouses presented with a crazy dream. Without hesitation, she said let’s do. And so, the search began. We found the perfect red 1964 Cadillac Deville convertible. We named her Emma Jean after my aunt who lived an amazing life and recently passed away at the age of ninety-six. Aunt Emmy was a gracious, loving, and adventurous spirit. After completing her first Master’s degree in English in 1950, she won a Fulbright scholarship to study in Australia. But I digress, that is another story.
The car is amazing, she has her own personality. What we realized was that when driving her you are never alone. She puts a smile on everyone’s face who sees her, from school crossing guards to truck drivers. Emma Jean doesn’t judge, doesn’t criticize, doesn’t care who you are or what baggage you carry with you (you can fit a Prius in her trunk), she just makes you and everyone around her feel good. Every day, I make the same commute to work in the same black car at the same time. I see the same faces of the same people who dare not look over, save they will have to acknowledge that I exist. But when I’m driving Emma Jean to work everything changes. Those same people open up and are willing to share a smile, better yet, at a stoplight, they put down their window and engage in conversation, “I love that car, my grandfather had one just like that, I’ve been told I was conceived in the back seat of a 64’ Cadillac!”
It was then that we knew we couldn’t keep this bottled up, that Emma Jean wasn’t ours, she belongs to anyone who needs her. We decided that we would share her with family, friends, anyone who needed an “Aunt Emmy.” Take her for a long weekend, a week, or a month. It doesn’t matter, the only requirement is that everyone keeps a journal of their journey in Emma Jean and to chronicle the people they meet along the way. Everyone has a story, a great story, and they are willing to share that story with people who are genuinely interested. The journal doesn’t have to be The Greatest American Novel but, It is amazing what comes out on paper after a long day in a red 64’ Deville convertible with the top down and a good glass of wine. Thus began “The Cadillac Chronicles,” we are going to chronicle these journeys and write a book about them.
Oh yah, I promised the abridged version; In May of 2021, my wife, Pam had the amazing opportunity to fly to Ohio and play in The Memorial Pro-Am at Muirfield Village. What a fabulous event. She was the guest of Nationwide and they pulled out all the stops to ensure their guests had the experience of a lifetime. It was no exception for her. She played with Jon Rahm, Gale King of Nationwide, and Adam Bahner (another Nationwide guest).
This story is about what happened after that amazing day on the course.
Rather than stay for another day, Pam was in a hurry to get back home as she was hosting her brothers for a weekend of golf and fun. So, she headed to the airport for an early evening flight. Since no one else was leaving Dublin OH that day - they were all flying IN for the tournament - the airport and airport bars were blessedly uncrowded.
You probably don’t remember that day, but it changed our lives. Pam made her way to the wine bar adjacent to her gate and there was only one other person sitting at the bar. In the post Covid-world, she sat a respectable distance away - maybe 3 seats - and ordered a glass of wine. When, with nothing else to occupy her attention, she passively listened on the phone conversation her bar mate was conducting. He was dressed in golf attire and was having an animated conversation peppered with the only first names - names that could have been fraternity brothers, work associates, or pro golfers. Not knowing which, but hoping for a good story, when he ended his call, Pam asked him if he had been out at the tournament.
For the next 30 minutes they had one of those great airport bar conversations where they learned a lot about each other's businesses and talked golf...golfers, golf courses, golf tournaments, and golf shoes. It turns out her bar mate was you, John Toracinta. As a marketing specialist for FootJoy, you had been at the tournament getting feedback on new shoes from the pros, and your work continued at the bar as you peppered Pam with questions about the shoes she wears (Air Jordan), hat she liked or didn't, and what style of FootJoy would afford her the most comfort.
One question Pam asked you was about the hat you were wearing. NOSOLO. You proceeded to tell her the story about the brand, the mission and the support of NAMI. Little did you know that the story would touch Pam as deeply as it did and lead to a personal support of the brand. You see, the message of NOSOLO hits close to our hearts because of the struggles our son had when he was a teenager. He got in with the wrong crowd, made some drug and behavioral decisions that threatened his education, mental health, and feared for his life. While he is strong and healthy now, the process of healing also taught him to trust in others and understand that he was never alone. He even had a couple of tattoos inked on his arms that reflect the message of support from others. He once described the tattoo message to Pam as reminder to himself that he is never alone.
When you told Pam the story of NOSOLO, it struck a deep chord in her and she knew then that she, we, wanted to support it. In our family, we all have NOSOLO golf hats, winter stocking caps, wrist bracelets, and key chains. We are waiting for the t-shirts and sweatshirts to come out! We have even created a vanity license plate for Emma Jean that says NOSOLO - which is now the theme behind our purchase of the car. Which brings us to why we want to purchase the bracelets, we want everyone who rides in Emma Jean to wear them and hand them out. We're excited about the journey and want NOSOLO to be a part of it.