Jim Dent, who owns Point Loma Electric, found out the hard way. He has an elderly client, Robert Ehmann, who asked him to come by his place on Orchard Avenue to do some electrical work. Jim and his assistant arrived, they went inside, and immediately stumbled out.
The stench was too bad. The garbage was too widespread. They almost refused to go back in. The elderly man, in his mid-80s, could hardly talk, was bent over and could barely walk. He begged they to do a couple of things.
That’s when Jim Dent realized what he had on his hands. He had a situation that he couldn’t just walk away from.
He had an elderly resident of the Peninsula in need, Robert Ehmann, with no one else to help him, no family, no available friends. But he has Ocean Beach – the community that always steps up and helps its own. Or at least that’s the reputation.
Jim Dent is testing this reputation. OB has stepped up in the past, he maintains, and helped out Willy the Shoeshine guy when his hut burnt down. The community stepped forward to assist Dago Choppers. He thought OB can help this guy. So Jim Dent began to organize a bunch of volunteers to clean up the place as best as possible, haul junk away, redo the electricity, plumbing, etc.
Jim Dent emailed Pat James, owner of James Gang, and a friend, and asked for help. Pat James then turned around and sent us an email asking the OB Rag to do something. We contacted Dent, and he told us:
This man sleeps on a mattress with rat holes chewed through to the springs. The carpet is rotted away to bare cement. I’m going to redo his entire electrical system at no charge, but only if I get some volunteers, donations, whatever it takes to get people in there to remove the unusable furniture and garbage. Not much garbage, just decayed personal belongings.
I’m going to put about $500 into electrical parts and install a new meter box and breakers before this place burns down. The all the wiring inside has to be gutted and replaced. It was never done right to begin with. The wires are all chewed through. It’s a time bomb and if anything were to happen I’d have to live with it.
Dent told us that Robert Ehmann is a renowned author and former research scientist. Ehmann balked at having anyone touch his various computers, as the hard drives contain his works, books, studies.
A week ago, the OB Rag carried a brief article about Jim Dent and Robert, and how Dent was moving to mobilize a bunch of volunteers to help Robert.
Since then he has been inundated with emails, queries, questions, offers. One guy told Dent he was bringing his entire apartment complex. Others pledged money, so much that Dent opened up an account at Wells Fargo in Ehmann’s name for donations.
Dent has had $800 in pledges. Yet, he only has had $25 placed in his hands. Pat James received another offer of $50. “I’m hoping people will come through,” he told me this morning, “as I have limited funds myself.” Jim hopes that all this is not hype.
Dent has organized a work party for this Saturday, October 31st. He hopes volunteers can show up at Ehmann’s residence at 4021 Orchard Avenue by 8:30 a.m. He will have tools, masks, and gloves, plus a trailer to haul away the junk.
Jim did open an account at Wells Fargo under the name of the Robert Ehmann Contribution Fund, which Jim will give you if you are able to donate. Cash would be a lot better, he said.
Jim needs to have the place emptied and cleaned before he can rewire it. He warns, ” I’ve said it 10 times and I’m going to say it again. It’s the smell.”
Robert Ehmann sent Dent a letter thanking him for his initial work. Here it is:
Please accept my profound thankfulness for your great work on Tuesday of October 20. What you must have had to overcome …. in order to do your work (ugh all that awful mess). But bravely you went on ! I had forsaken all hope of ever achieving a solution to electrical problems here. They have urged themselves for over 20 years.
My compliments to your instant and astute diagnosis of the many challenges. The complexities, amid the negative environmental factors, have put many hopes to grief. That you instantly perceived the extent of troubles and struggled to overcome them with your mighty courage and insight …. was heartwarming indeed. I owe you far more than your estimate. How can I now offer you more in fit proportion to how much benefit your work has wrought upon my life. I look forward to receiving your recommendation for a helping hand to upgrade my (ugh) kitchen to the majestic level of your magnificent installation. My first promise to you will be to keep the new stove in its present glory by careful dutiful attention! Yes! Cleanliness is next to impossible, sometimes, but I expect to summon my best to overcome.
Thanks for your efforts, your courtesy and heroic stance before the sorry condition of affairs. You are good men and true ! My second promise is to offer you first refusal on all tasks that are right for your exemplary profession. You have great perseverance in the face of difficulty. I owe you a favor for bringing the old stove out to the front yard and for bringing in the mail, which is getting more difficult to reach these days. Hopefully I will be able to sell something someday that could veritably fund the wondrous magic you have projected for a new j-box out front. This has been a banner day for me. The noise of your progress was a symphony of creativity. Who knows. Perhaps some day even the back rooms will have their own circuit …. even with a 20 watt Bathroom ! And a real water heater in a real first-rate electrical circuit. As you know, Einstein found a place for electricity in the cosmos of our world, but you have the power to give it a beautiful light and inspiration …. day after day! Point Loma Electrical forever!
Your most grateful and supportive client.
Dent just emailed us:
I just paid for a 10X7X4′ tall dumpster for $352 with my Visa . The donations will have to cover this. I’ll still need more cleaning stuff from Home Depot. The dumpster will arrive on Saturday sometime between 8 & noon and be picked up on Monday. No tires, appliances, car parts, electronics. Good deal.
Jim Dent, in his mid-fifties, has owned Point Loma Electric for 22 years, having lived on the Peninsula for 25 years. He has been involved with the community before, as he used to string the lights for the OB Christmas Tree for over a decade. He sat on the OB Town Council Board of Directors for much of that time. One of his proudest moments, he told me, was the year that he strung white holiday lights from Sunset Cliffs Boulevard all the way down to Abbott Street, on both sides of Newport.
Growing up in Virginia, Jim made it out to San Diego once during a vacation. He finally decided to move to San Diego, and eventually ended up in Ocean Beach, as he kept visiting friends at the beach, and decided to move his duds to our neighborhood.
Jim was amazed at what our blog did for his quest to mobilize volunteers to help Ehmann out. “How did I live so long here, and not hear about you guys?” he asked rhetorically.
And we’re amazed at Jim Dent. For not walking away from a bad situation. And for inspiring the rest of us to help an old lonely guy without anybody else – except us.
If you can help – contact Jim at 224-0672 or his email firstname.lastname@example.org . The best thing to do is show up at Robert’s house at 8:30 a.m. and be ready for the stench, and be ready to meet Jim Dent.