Thomas Dunker Bio (Real)

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Thomas Dunker was born in April 1933 in a small South Dakota town named White. When he was two his parents moved to a stock farm near Sioux Falls. He and his only sibling, Bob, rose at dawn to do chores, walked miles where they caught the bus to public grade school.

Tom was old enough to walk an extra mile when he was ready for seventh grade so he and his brother transferred to Cathedral Catholic school. His grades were usually A’s and when they weren’t his parents knew he wasn’t trying.  He won scholarships and decided to go to a small college in Minnesota. A year later he transferred to a seminary in Baltimore.

After two years of rigorous studies, (he did well in Greek and Latin simultaneously as well as other required studies) he realized much of his youthful indoctrination was nonsense.

He left and in a short time was drafted during the Korean war. He spent two years in the army mostly in Germany working in a water treatment section. When the war ended he enrolled at St. Louis University.

During the Easter vacation he had a chance to drive a new car to Texas for a dealer. Sometime in the night near a small town in Tennessee a semi-truck ploughed into the car he was driving and demolished it. Tom wasn’t found until the following dawn in a nearby cornfield, still unconscious.

He eventually ended up in the large veterans administration hospital in Memphis. There he was operated on and two of the higher vertebrae of his spine were fused and splinters removed, but the spinal cord had been damaged. They told him he was a quadriplegic for life and he would be lucky to reach the age of fifty.

After months strapped to a torture device called a Stryker frame he was transferred to a ward which he shared with many other veterans in various stages of paralysis. He regained some mobility and learned how to uncurl the fingers of his hands and type hunt and peck on an electric typewriter.

Years later he was well enough to transfer to the VA hospital in Sioux Falls.

After a year of trying to negotiate his wheelchair on ice and snow Tom decided to move to a different climate. He bought a car with hand controls and he and Bob drove to San Francisco. When they saw the steep streets in that city they continued south looking for a place they liked. They rented a house in Mar Vista for one year. Tom then decided to move to Guadalajara, Mexico to a wheelchair community.

The two drove to Guadalajara and Bob flew back, Tom kept the car with hand controls. Bob was living in a beach house in Hermosa Beach years later when Tom beeped outside happy to be back in the US. He enrolled in classes at UCLA and three times a week drove to and from classes.

The next year he enrolled full time at UCLA and lived in a dormitory there. He then spent many pleasant years in Hermosa Beach writing and the two published an anti-war magazine during the 60’s called Horseshit, The Offensive Review.

When the Viet Nam war ended their distributor went out of business and so did Horseshit. Tom then wrote two pocketbooks and a book called Live Longer Through Sex.

They then began investing in real estate. Tom did all the paper work and Bob remodeled. The timing was perfect, they eventually did well and moved to Huntington Beach. Tom lived in a pool home three blocks from the ocean. He could push his chair downtown and had time to write nearly every day. He was reluctant to publish but planned to someday.

Viruses plague invalids with little resistance but Tom managed to thwart all of them with the help of his assistants until December 2003 when pneumonia following a bout with a virus took his life. He lived 20 years longer than the Memphis doctors prophesied.

2 Comments for this entry

  • John Simpson

    You and Tom produced the the best publication ever to emerge from the ‘sixties. Even my 40+ year old children think so!
    RIP Tom – we shall not see your like again.

    Warmest regards,

    john simpson

  • George Mells

    I got the first three issues of Horseshit while in college in ’67 / 68. Never knew there was a fourth. I found the writing interesting and have always wanted to turn the teleplay “Group Therapy” into a video but got too old before the resources became available. As a long reader of “Mad” magazine I found “Horseshit” a far more adult and cynical expression of similar ideas. I am glad to hear that the brothers had good lives considering their writings and artwork that could have created considerable backlash.

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