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Reviewing a Lifetime
(A Psychotherapist's Nightmare)
by John D. Sedory

Copyright©2014 by Daniel B. Sedory, Editor. All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 35A
Retirement, Leaving Orange County
and New Friends in the High Desert

 

 

Retirement from The Broadway

    April 1, 1988: My last day at the Broadway, and what I'd hoped would be my last work day ever, was interesting.

    My regular assignment that day was changed from whatever it was supposed to be to something quite different. I was to check all the fire extinguishers in the building through a complicated charting system. This was something which had to be done on a fairly regular basis to make certain the pressure of the charge was sufficient to handle a fire.

    Finding the locations was something else, "confusing" might be a better way to describe it. But it was an easy assignment, and I figured I'd finish my last day there at the Broadway doing the best I could, as quickly as I could.

    However, around lunch time I was called to our security office from which I was accompanied down the hallway to the location of the party. I really was quite surprised and pleased, maybe "numbed" at such a farewell arrangement.

    I didn't think security management thought enough of me to have a farewell party, but they did. Frankly, I think Bob Fujisaki, who was now in the personnel department and who was one of my former managers, is the one who initiated it and even provided the cake (a beauty!) and the beverages, etc. There may have been some other snacks as well, but I don't recall for certain.

    As I think back about that party, the company policy really was one which required a person to have a minimum of fifteen years service in order to get full retirement benefits and all that went with it—including that great farewell party to which everyone who was able could attend. And yet they had one for me though I only accumulated about 6 1/3 years of service (a bit more). I agonized over the mixed emotions I was experiencing when receiving congratulations and best wishes from some of those I'd thought of as being less than friends at that party. "Maybe I'd been reading too much into what I called 'lousy assignments' and hard feelings. Perhaps they weren't nearly the jerks I sometimes thought of them as being." Those and other thoughts crossed my mind as I felt, "Maybe it's been worth it after all."

    A huge basket of beautifully arranged fruits covered with a tinted see-through wrapping and a bow and ribbon was also a part of my farewell gift. It almost caused me to become misty-eyed, maybe out of sheer guilt for the feelings I'd had for some of those who may have contributed to the costs involved in that party (I can't be certain Bob Fujisaki of personnel footed all the costs).

Our Son Daniel Moves to a Room in a House

    April 2, 1988: Our son Daniel moved from the Sepulveda apartment (neighborhood less than wonderful) to a full-size home. Another bachelor Daniel heard of through his church wanted someone to help foot the costs in that home. So Daniel got his own room and bath, along with kitchen privileges, etc. And the community was much nicer too—Granada Hills.

Our Move to the High Desert in San Bernardino County

Before the retirement date, Eleanor and I had been packing boxes for quite a long time, trying to be ready for what we now knew was to be a mid-April move-in date in Banning. All the paperwork (escrow) was completed except for the final settlement just before move-in.

    April 16, 1988: Our kids all took part in our move. Jack rented the truck, Tim and Daniel moved the heavier furniture and belongings, and Jack and Tim did most of the arranging for loading the truck. As I recall, Terri (Jack's wife) and Ronda (Tim's wife) may also have helped in last minute packing.

    The moving day was dreary in Santa Ana, but in Banning it looked like rain. We moved as quickly as we could to try getting everything off the truck and into the house before the rains came.

    Did you ever stop to think of all the Lord takes care of for us? Yet, I'd bet it was some time before we thought of His grace and mercy in keeping that rain from falling until the job was complete.

[Editor's Note: This new place was in a mobile home park (Space 81) at 5700 West Wilson St. in Banning, CA 92220.]

The Lost Knives

    Eleanor and I had moved many times before, and this time was no different from the rest as far as the number of cartons of "stuff" we had. The count was something like 60 to 65, some accurately marked as to contents, while others needed unpacking to find what was inside. It was the usual mess which was going to take time to straighten out.

    It must have been about two years that Eleanor kept saying I must have thrown her set of knives (special and inherited knives) out with cartons of packing material. I really felt bad about possibly having done that—up until that day a couple years later.

    Though I'd looked into all kinds of smaller boxes dozens of times in search of those knives (as did Eleanor), this one day I came upon a longer, narrower box which wasn't supposed to be what the knives had been packed in. It was jammed between other smaller boxes in the pantry.

    I pulled it out and uncovered the lid (shoebox size in length and width, but not as high). I stared in disbelief as I uncovered those "long-lost knives."

    Since I had been the culprit who'd committed that nearly unforgivable act, and since I had little rest over my "goof up" in throwing those knives out, I shouted to Eleanor when I saw the contents of that box.

    "Honey, come here! Look what I found! Now whose the guilty party for saying they were packed in something I'd thrown out with the packing material?" I guess I wanted to witness some form of penitence for those many months of accusation when I called to Eleanor; but as happy as she was to see the knives, I'm not so sure she properly apologized for what I'd been through all that time—maybe so.

Cousin Marilyn Visits Us

    April 19, 1988: We had unpacked much of the more necessary items from the cartons, but there were still quite a few stacked up in the living room when my cousin Marilyn (Brassfield) Sherod and her husband Bill arrived at our new home. They were on their way through California, having visited my sister Marie and brother Ed in Arizona (not absolutely certain they found Ed's place, though). The main purpose of their trip was to see their daughter who lived somewhere around L.A. International Airport, and also to check out California as a possible future retirement area. They had their camper and insisted on staying in it over night rather than staying in our home, [since they were] leaving early the next a.m.

Eleanor's Aunt Lil

    May, 1988: (No date shown) [May 7th according to official records]. Eleanor's Aunt Lil (Lillian Edgren) died while living in a Christian Retired People's home in or around Miami. She had never married. Lil was such a nice person and so concerned about the welfare of others, so much so that she stayed with her folks until they passed away many years earlier.

A Family and Friends Retirement Party

    May 14, 1988: We were invited to our son Tim's home (wife, Ronda) in the City of Orange. I've forgotten what the purpose of the visit was supposed to be, but I can say in all honesty I was thoroughly surprised to learn our kids had arranged to have old friends I'd not seen for a long time at what turned out to be my retirement party. People all over the house, gifts of all kinds, a huge cake, and food in abundance permeated that house! I was thrilled, humbled, and nearly brought to tears at how many had come to wish me a "happy retirement."

    Who was there? Friends from our former churches in Santa Ana and the San Fernando Valley: Nancy Carlton (she lived in Hoffman Estates where we lived for 12 years); Chet and Jean Mastin; Keith and Neva Peacock and their son; Bill and Jean Hill; Don and Elma Wilcox; Jeff and Windy Lindsay (Windy and I worked at the Broadway Stores together for a time); all of our sons and grandsons; the Robbins' ([daughter-in-law] Ronda's family); and who knows who else I'm leaving out?

    I guess the thing that made this party such a surprise was the fact I'd retired six weeks earlier, and this would have been the last thing in the world I would have expected.

 

A Foreshadowing of Chevy Troubles

    June 22, 1988: Eleanor, our son Daniel, and I took a ride to Idyllwild up in the San Jacinto mountains. It reaches a little over 6,000 feet elevation [5,413 ft.] in and around the town itself.

    Our 1982 Chevrolet Citation had always been a car which tended toward overheating in hot weather, especially with the air conditioning running. So this trip found us stopping often to allow the radiator to cool down, even spilling antifreeze out of the overflow. It really got hot on that trip, and we were concerned we'd burn the engine out.

    Instead of going back home over the route toward Banning (the way we drove to Idyllwild), we chose to try going down on the side of the mountain leading toward Hemet. Since it's almost all downhill from Idyllwild, there was no further severe overheating to worry about. All in all, it was a pretty good ride.

Parky the Parakeet

    June 25, 1988: Erana (mother-in-law) had a parakeet named Parky. This was one of many Parky's she'd had over the years, having brought this one along when she moved to California to live with us.

    Parky had a personality all his own, one which won the admiration of all who got to know him. He'd fly around and then sit on someone's head or shoulder when let out of his cage. He especially loved to peck at my eye glass frames, though he also would peck at ears, neck, hair, almost anything and everything.

    Parky's vocabulary of words which were easily distinguishable numbered into the dozens upon dozens. He'd jabber away constantly while in his cage, sometimes blurting out words he'd picked up while listening to others conversing.

    The date above is listed as June 25th, but this story began on the 24th, a hot day on which we had been in Orange County all day. Evidently we didn't expect it to get that hot, and we neglected to set the air conditioner thermostat sufficiently low (or maybe not at all).

    When we returned home, it was noted that Parky was acting strangely, fluttering down at the bottom of his cage, regurgitating, almost collapsing. This was a Saturday or Sunday, and we couldn't reach a veterinarian, so Erana used whatever techniques she'd learned in past years to try helping Parky.

    The next day (the 25th) Parky was really bad. It didn't appear there was much we could do for him, so Erana held him in her hand; and Parky died right then and there.

    I just remembered that our grandsons Kevin and Justin were staying with us for a couple days while Jack & Terri were away somewhere. They were there when Parky died. We all shed tears profusely, except for Justin, who didn't seem to understand the impact of Parky's passing.

    A coffin was constructed, Kevin drew a beautiful picture of Parky, and a graveside funeral was held as Eleanor read from the Bible. Had you been there to witness that scene, you'd have thought we were attending the funeral of a beloved member of our family—which, I guess, we were!

Our Son Jack and Family Move to Fresno

    June 26, 1988: Jack and Terri had been taking some drives up to Fresno, not being too free with information as to why they were going there. But I told Eleanor, "I'll bet Jack is thinking of moving up there." And sure enough, Jack's stepfather-in-law had sold his transmission repair shop in El Toro [now called Lake Forest, since the Marine Corps base there closed] and had been looking around to start another in Fresno—a town he'd lived in years before.

    They found a fairly large home to rent at what was a reasonable price compared with Orange County rates, and they placed a deposit on it. Eleanor was upset at the thought of having our son, his wife and two grandchildren leaving our area, and I'd say that was not so unusual that she should have felt as she did. So did I for that matter. I'm the original hard-shelled appearing person on the outside, but I'm a teddy bear on the inside.

Car Troubles

    August 6, 1988: We were on our way home from Orange County to see Tim, Ronda and kids, when our Chevrolet Citation began acting strangely. We were on Route 60 in East Moreno Valley approaching Theodore Street when the car suddenly just cut out and the engine died. Since I was traveling about 55 to 60 miles an hour, I coasted up the off ramp just about reaching the top at Theodore Street.

    Eleanor and her mother were in the car, so I told them the only thing I could do was to walk a few blocks down the road to an area of homes to see if I could call the American Automobile Club. This I did successfully.

    Returning to the car, the wait began. An hour or more went by with no tow truck showing up. Then a couple pulled up in an older Cadillac and offered to take Eleanor and her mother all the way to Banning, a distance of about sixteen miles. I had mixed emotions about having my wife going anywhere with strangers, but as the conversation progressed, we must have become more trusting of the couple, and away they went.

    My wait lasted for at least an hour and a half beyond their departure, and I'd begun to wonder if the dispatcher had forgotten me. It was when I was thinking of going back to that house to call again that I spotted a tow truck coming up the ramp, the one I'd been hoping I'd see over a couple hours before.

    The driver was an independent operator who handled Triple-A calls, and he apologized for the delay. He had one of those long bed vehicles on which cars are pulled atop it, rather than the regular tow truck types, so I had to ride in the cab on the way to Banning.

    Since I'd already had some work done on the car at Beasley's Auto Repair in Banning, I asked that he drop the car there. And being late at night, all we could do was to park it and hope it would remain intact (not the best overnight neighborhood to leave a car). The driver then drove me home after we settled the bill (something like fifty-odd dollars, near to sixty).

    When I got home I learned Eleanor and her mother arrived home safely and had a nice talk with the people who were kind enough to bring them there. They turned out to be Christians who also asked that we visit them sometime. Unfortunately, by the time we tried to do this, we learned they'd moved and had no way of contacting them.

    Beasley's had all the modern electronic equipment for testing cars to determine many of the sources of trouble, but evidently mine was one of those on which they couldn't solve the origin of the problem. They put on a water pump, changed the thermostat, flushed the system, set the cooler fan to run continually, changed the heat sending switch, and other things which I've forgotten. The bill in that stay and on other previous stays at that shop cost me nearly $600.00 (maybe the car wasn't worth much more by then). So I figured our planned trip to Fresno was going to be a trouble-free one.

Car Troubles Again!

    August 19, 1988: When going to Jack and Terri's in Fresno, we almost always travel up route 395 to Kramer Junction (some call it Kraemer's Junction); which is actually part of Boron, where we pick up route 58, sometimes stopping at a restaurant at that intersection for a snack. But most often we continue on until we reach Mojave where there's a MacDonald's. This day we took that usual route.

    Parking the car at MacDonald's in Mojave, I noticed antifreeze was leaking out of the overflow. In other words, it still had been overheating! The car had been Beasley-ized, but it had not been repaired enough to solve the overheating. The tune of the repair cost at $600.00 was getting more sour by the minute. And now I'd have to drive the remainder of the trip without the air conditioning running!

    From Mojave we headed to Tehachapi where there are some beautiful hills and mountains. Another forty or fifty miles took us to Bakersfield where we met route 99 and turned north toward Fresno which is about 125 miles farther up that route.

    All those details of routes, stops, and distances are of no importance, except that they lead to the story of what happened when we got to Fresno.

    We drove up Jack and Terri's driveway and parked the Citation. I'd stopped using the air conditioning because I knew it helped overheat the engine. So I'd been driving for some time with my window down slightly. And when I parked the car I tried to raise the window. Guess what? Apparently the window regulator had broken, as that window refused to budge, and I was now in a really bad mood as we began emptying the car of our belongings for our stay.

And Yet Another Car

    When Jack came home from work he heard my tale of woe. He told me he'd been seeing advertising on television where Decker Ford in nearby Clovis was offering some specials along with half payments for the first year. By that time I was an easy target for any auto dealer.

    August 20, 1988: This was a Saturday, the day after we arrived in Fresno. Jack and I headed for Decker Ford to check out their advertising to see what kind of gimmick might be involved. We looked around at various models, kicked tires, raised hoods, sat behind steering wheels, etc.

    By that time we'd gotten the attention of the sales force who realized they might have a "live one" here, and dialogue began along with serious bargaining. They had a one-only Taurus model for sale at over $2,000.00 off the list price. And in addition to that, they offered a $1,000.00 cash-back deal. "How could I go wrong?"

    The salesman took us for a ride in that "one only" sale model, the Taurus which had just about every conceivable extra one could wish for. And it rode real smoothly (Jack was driving). The only thing Jack noticed was that it didn't have the power his car had, and he asked what kind of engine it had. It turned out it was a four cylinder engine (the large one) which really is underpowered for a bigger car which has air conditioning.

    When we got back to the dealership, the next step was the trade-in process. I wanted $2,000.00 for the Citation, but I was told that was unrealistic, especially in light of the fact I was getting over $3,000.00 off the new model. And they couldn't afford to also lose on the trade-in, naturally.

    By about 10:00 p.m. or later, we finally had the paperwork completed, and the car was mine. The trade ended up going at $1,000.00, a steal for them I thought. And besides that, the finance charge rates were so high, they still won overall.

But that Car was a Lemon for Me

    The man-made proverb that hindsight is better than foresight surely would have applied when I bought that car. For ever since it was just under a year old and to this very day, it has been nothing but trouble. But had I been able to see what I was getting into, I'd never have made that purchase. I think I have been into the local dealership with that car about 18 to 20 times now, never getting it completely right.

    And that's not the worst part of going in for those repairs. It's all the negative ramifications such as: unloading the car each time; getting up early to get in line to get all the paperwork set up; maybe getting a rental or just being taken home and having to await a pickup later; getting the car back and finding it still isn't right, and hearing those encouraging words, "Bring it back"; and then there's the reloading of the car when I've thought it'd be OK. And should there be parts needed for a repair, parts they don't have on hand, it's another "Bring it back when the parts come in. " Isn't it wonderful to have such a car?

    I've had Ford products in the past, and they all seemed to follow similar patterns of dependability. For the first six to twelve months they are quiet and operate pretty decently. But in or around a year or so, the rattles, squeaks, little irritating things which need adjustment or repair begin showing up. This one was the worst of the bunch, however.

    Since Erana was sharing in the expenses by contributing one-third of the costs to live (space rent, mortgage, utilities, food, etc.), financially we were coming out decently—in spite of the fact we survived mainly on social security and a very small pension. But this is where I became "carried away" with the virtues of going into the mail order and multi-level marketing business.

    The balance of 1988 went well. There was little sickness in our family, the car was in its new, trouble-free stage, and I was enjoying my retirement. Sure, we had Eleanor's mother with us, and she had frequent doctor and dental appointments, but I considered those trips as something to pass the time. And we often went out to lunch or dinner after those appointments.

Home Business Losses

    About the time we went to Fresno and had all that car trouble, ending up feeling we had to buy another, I'd just entered into the mail order/multi-level marketing business mentioned above. Having sufficient (and then some) cash each month to pay the bills, I began getting careless with my "business" to the point of finding at the end of the year that this was a costly venture. By January of 1989, I'd spent over three or four thousand dollars, always, of course, feeling confident I'd make it back and then some. It never happened!

    But as is the way of many "losers," I was certain this was just a learning and building stage. "One way or another I'll find the right combination and it'll pay off" was always my goal, wish, and determination.

 

Heart Attacks

    February 2, 1989: Whether it was from stress, poor dietary habits, or from hereditary genes, I again had chest pains and a burning sensation in my lungs. So on this day I began feeling the way I had when past heart-related problems showed up.

    The next day (the 3rd) I became nauseated and spent the day in bed. This went on until the 5th when the pain got so bad I had Eleanor take me to the Pass Memorial Hospital (half mile from our home), where the diagnosis of a mild heart attack was reached. I was admitted from the emergency room to ICU and spent over three days there.

    On the 8th I was moved to CCU, the next day (9th) being moved to the Redlands Community Hospital. This move resulted from our HMO plan which was from the Redlands Medical Group where they only used the Redlands Hospital. I'd only been kept at the Pass Hospital because of the life-threatening situation.

    I stayed at Redlands Community until the 12th, my cardiologist, Dr. Raphael, arranging for an angiogram test at St. Bernardine's Medical Center in San Bernardino on the 22nd of February.

    The angiogram done there was quite different from those I'd had before (four in total) inasmuch as it was handled on the production line method. There was one long room which had curtains around approximately 24 beds, patients being male and female (that's different in itself). One was taken to the operating room for the procedure and returned to this huge room afterward for recovery. Something like one gallon of water was then to be consumed in the next couple hours to flush the dyes used in the procedure from the system.

    Since I never was a water drinker to any degree, being asked to put that much of it down in that short period of time seemed an impossible task.

    But when I was faced with nurses who came around my bed regularly to check how well I was doing with that water (even being forced at times to drink it), I found it was possible to comply with their demands, and I was released later that afternoon.

Another Attack

    March 9, 1989: Back to Pass Community Hospital again with what I thought was near to my end, the pain was so severe. I was again in ICU for three days and in CCU until the 13th of March. This was termed a "near heart attack; unstable angina; and 'borderline heart attack'."

    If that last one was only "a near heart attack," I can imagine what a really severe one must be like!

    It was determined I again needed to have heart bypass surgery, and the cardiologist set in motion requests for a date of surgery at St. Bernardine's with the HMO. This was a long and weary period of waiting, as I'd begun to wonder if each day would be my last as things were going.

My Second By-Pass Surgery

    April 13, 1989: I was admitted to St. Bernardine's in the afternoon for pre-surgery tests and set up. The doctor who was to perform the surgery came into the room after all tests were completed and addressed Eleanor and I.

    Dr. Alan Malki was a nice-looking man in his lower to mid-forties, I'd say. He was unlike any other doctor I've ever seen in his approach. And what follows should reveal why I drew that conclusion.

    Dr. Malki began by speaking of my past bypass heart surgery twelve years earlier. He said there would be scar tissue with which to contend in this upcoming surgery, my age factor (54 the first time, and 66 this time), my lung capacity (always had weak lungs, it seems), and the nearly fully clogged arteries I now had. He seemed to be saying, "If you survive this operation, it'll be a miracle."

    How would you like to hear that from a doctor the night before you were to go under the knife? Eleanor and I could scarcely believe what this guy was telling us. "Is this ethical? Is it the best way to deal with such a patient as I was supposed to be?" We'd always heard doctors tried to build patients up mentally before they'd go into surgery, but this was not the case with Dr. Malki. I was faced with the thought that if I survived, it'd be a near miracle.

    April 14, 1989: As was the case in my first heart surgery in 1977, I was prepared for the operation early in the morning. I had already warned Dr. Malki I didn't want to experience what I had in 1977 by coming out of the anesthesia before the operation was over. And he assured me this wouldn't happen.

    The next thing I remembered was hearing a male voice saying, "Come on now; don't struggle with your breathing. Calm down!"

    With that, pain and all, I thought, "I'm alive! I don't believe it! He said I didn't have much chance of survival, and here I am still alive!"

    That first day was a real struggle, I must admit. I felt like death warmed over (as the saying goes). I had tubes down my throat and my side, wires protruding from my chest, all kinds of intravenous bottles overhead, and who knows what else? I thought at that time I'd have been better off had the doctor's prognosis been correct, "Your chances aren't too good!"

    New technology since my first heart bypass operation included recirculating my own blood back into my system and implanting a wire into the heart muscle which was used to stimulate the heart should it become weak in electrical impulse. That meant no transfusions were needed, and the danger of electrical failure was eliminated or at least lessened.

    On April 17th I was sent to CCU, spending four days in ICU, and on the 21st I was on my way home, Eleanor driving, of course. Earlier I'd forgotten to mention that the hospital provided low-cost overnight housing in an apartment building across the street from the hospital for Eleanor (which they do for anyone interested in such an arrangement). I think she stayed there for two nights, but I'm not sure.

    My recovery this time around was slower and more painful. My arms were just about completely numb for many weeks, and I needed medication to ease the pain. The doctor later said the numbness might eventually go away, or it could remain the rest of my days. He said it was caused by the rib cage opening which puts pressure on nerves leading to the arms, pressure during the surgery.

    Another thing which told me I was not recovering very quickly was the fact I wasn't interested in "anything." And that wasn't the normal "me" at all!

Yet Someone Else Died of a Heart Attack

    April 26, 1989: We'd been having a Bible study at our home which was being taught by an elder from our church (Calvary Baptist of Beaumont at that time). The study began in the fall of '89, and this was the night for another study. And some night it was!

    First it rained, then hail stones fell, and this was followed by snow flurries. The streets looked like a typical Illinois winter night, rather than a Southern California end-of-April night. But there were quite a few in attendance at the study, and two folks from the church who'd not attended before stopped in. That was Ken and Mary Piper, a guy I really liked a lot, and Mary, too.

    Ken and Mary were to leave the next morning for their usual jaunt to Missouri where they owned a home and went back each year to stay and bring the place back into shape while there. I think the reason they attended the Bible study that night was because they had to pick someone up later who was attending some other affair in our area. Ken and Mary lived up on Mt. San Jacinto toward Idyllwild, so it was quite a haul for them to come down to our level.

    We said our goodbyes, especially to Ken and Mary, as they'd be gone until next fall again. And that would be the last time we'd ever see Ken on earth again.

    They made it to Missouri in good time, and Ken began cleaning up around the yard the next day after arriving. He'd been cutting grass and weeds and piled them up, setting them on fire.

    But the fire got away from Ken to the point it seemed it would spread toward the house, and evidently this led to anxiety and stress which brought on a heart attack, a fatal one. This was on May 4, 1989.

    Mary called the fire department and paramedics (I guess), but Ken was already gone. How tragic!

    Had you known Ken, you'd wonder how an active, physically strong, healthy-looking person such as he was could just "up and die" from excitement over a fire. But that's what happened—at least as I've heard the story told.

    June 12, 1989: My cardiologist arranged for me to attend a cardiac rehabilitation class at Redland's Community Hospital, one which was to last for something like six to eight weeks. The nurse was a young lady named Joni who was so caring and considerate and helpful, even hugging each patient as they arrived for and left each session. I've been in touch now and then with Joni, but I haven't stopped to see her as she requested, maybe because I've put on more weight than I want to display in her presence. Overweight, of course, is not in the best interest of a cardiac patient.

 

    June 15, 1989: Walt and Sally Hamer, church friends from Calvary Church of Santa Ana, visited with us for a couple hours.

    June 29, 1989: Jack and Terri and kids visited us, and they left Kevin (the older grandson, and the first we had) to vacation with us for a couple weeks. The plan was that when the two weeks were over, we'd take Kevin back to Fresno and visit them on that end.

    [Editor's Note: There will be more about Kevin's visit with his Grandparents in the next chapter 35B...]




 
 
 

Chapter 34

TOC

Chapter 35B