Olden Opportunity

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"I didn't even have enough money to buy a hot dog for a while," Ed says of the account seizure. "We had to use Lorraine's money, and for no good reason. I know exactly what I'm doing with my money."

During a January 12 hearing, county court commissioner Gary Donahoe quizzed Ed about his personal history, family and his assets. Before moving along, Donahoe asked Ed if he had any other assets.

"Just this one here," he immediately replied, gesturing toward Lorraine.
Ed passed the quiz. Donahoe lifted the freeze on the bank accounts, and appointed Dr. Pamela Willson, a neuropsychologist, to further evaluate Ed's mental state.

Concluded Willson in a report dated January 29: "Mr Gamble is . . . competent to make personal decisions . . . [He] has strong values, and marrying the woman he wants to be physically and personally close to is the proper thing to do, from his perspective. . . . He knows she has been married four times, knows about her recent DUI and related problems and has met her family; despite the difference in their ages and backgrounds, he says he is comfortable in her company, and indeed appears to be so."

Even ignoring the three-generation disparity between Ed and Lorraine Gamble, theirs is an unlikely match.

Hers has been a difficult existence, punctuated by four failed marriages, a near-fatal car wreck and chronic unhappiness.

"Lorraine has had a lot of awful things happen to her," says her mother, Phoenix resident Gloria DeJongh. "It's natural to think she's gold digging, and I understand why people think she is, but she doesn't have a cold-blooded nature, quite the opposite."

The public record reveals no evidence that Lorraine is a scam artist, as was suggested in a Sun City Independent article titled "Wedding Bell Blues." It said Lorraine's criminal history includes an "assault conviction as well as allegedly committing fraudulent schemes."

She was convicted last December of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and says that marks her only brush with the law other than a DUI conviction more than a decade ago.

To the contrary, Ed's life has been filled with professional and personal successes. No doubt he's old school--very old school. But, as Dr. Pamela Willson wrote of Ed in January, "He is a pleasant, feisty man with a keen, dry sense of humor."

Forget Ed's glaucoma, wobbly gait, anemia, near-deafness, his heart attack of several years ago. All things considered, he's doing fine.

He says he speaks three languages--"English, Spanish and profane." Asked how tall he is, he shoots back, "Right now, I'm pretty short," a reference to his reliance on a wheelchair.

His posture in the chair, by the way, is excellent. It outrages him that Justice of the Peace Anderson told the Republic he was "slumped over" at the aborted December 31 ceremony.

"Stooped over in a wheelchair?" he says, voice rising. "I was in a wheelchair, but not slumped over. I can sign things fine, but I can't see the lines, that's why my signature looks the way it does. The guy never even asked me a question, he just saw an old man in a wheelchair."

Ed riffs on:
"You never know what happiness is until you get married--and then it's too late. All kidding aside, marriage is a wonderful life, a wonderful institution, the foundation of everything. . . . But who wants to live in an institution?"

Since this is Ed's fourth marriage (he's been widowed twice, divorced once) and Lorraine's fifth, might the joke not be on them?

"I'm happily married," he says, done with the gags for the moment.
Ed Gamble was born near Safford, in southeastern Arizona, on November 30, 1899, one of eight children. The family later landed in Clifton, where his father worked as a train engineer in the copper mines.

Ed enlisted in the Navy in 1918, and was trained as a radio operator at a school near San Francisco.

"I'd go to the city every weekend to be with a girlfriend," he recalls. "That comes natural."

After Ed's stint in the Navy (he remained in the Naval Reserve for another 25 years), he moved to Los Angeles, where he found work as a railroad motorman earning 42 cents an hour.

"But I could live in a nice room for $2.75 a week, and go to a dance for 10 cents," he says, "so it wasn't all that bad."

During a stretch in the early 1920s, Ed says he found part-time work as a movie extra: "I was a cowboy and a sailor. I remember the 'big storms' they made up. Wild. I remember Geraldine Ferrar, a big star. I remember her breasts heaving--I mean, her bosom. I sure remember that part of it."

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin