The story of Mr. Goudas' Horrible Accident
What follows was recorded at 2:00 am one early morning:
What follows was recorded at 2:00 am one early morning:
One late night in the Editing Studio of Mr. Goudas and after a few shots of greek brandy a tipsy, Mr. Goudas decided to record the storytelling of when he broke his leg and how it crippled his leg and by extension his livelyhood.
First, he had to get in the mood and so Mr. Goudas played some of his favorite melodies from his "813" Club Music Library.
He used the melodies as background music while telling his story to an audience of the tape recorder, and his loyal irish settler dog Irma.
When he finally finished recording, Irma was exhausted.
For quite a while the record was forgotten, until one day "Dr. Love" a radio Broadcaster came to do some Radio Editing work at the studio of Mr. Goudas and discovered the recording.
Dr. Love couldn't resist his curiousity and secretly borrowed the tape so he could listen to it at home.
Dr. Love was inspired by the story and decided to air it on his radio show on the Eve of Christmas 1993, to the complete surprise of Mr.Goudas.
Dr. Love aired the entire Story on his "Dr. Love" show on the Chin Radio station and after the story he had a segment where listeners called and expressed their views and opinions about the show.
Fitzroy "Dr. Love" Gordon claims that the segment featuring Mr.Goudas' recording was the best show he ever had in his broadcasting career.
The audio is 45 minutes long for your listening pleasure.
Please dim the lights, take a refreshing drink, grab a seat and rest your legs.
Remember Mr. Goudas still has his leg and it all worked out because he never gave up hope.
If you don't have real player, you can read the text below.
The sound of a popular Caribbean children's song plays in the background as Peter carries out a series of mike checks and prepares to tell his story. He's also making sure that his dog Irma is comfortable before he starts sharing his life story with her.
As he starts to relate his story, he changed the background music to one of Ben E. King's, lending a much softer tone to the atmosphere.
The time now is 1992 and he tries to remember at 2:00 a.m. after a couple glasses of brandy what happened sometime in the past.
Irma now is very comfortable and is an excellent listener, prepared not to give him any interruptions.
As you read the story, please keep in mind that Mr. Goudas is self-taught in English, and throughout his rich entrepreneurial life he has not had any time to attend an English language school.
This story has been typed exactly how he told it in order to portray accurately and without any changes what he had in mind that night, in 1992.
Peter is now telling his story:
I would like to go back as far as 1978:
In the month of August 1978, at Goudas Foods Company, we produced certain amount of products. Five to six years prior to that we were just starting to deliver food products in the chain stores. Then, I also owned and operated the "813 club" which at that time was the number one club. In fact, it was the number one West Indian club in North America.
I have to tell you a story about who was playing the music at the club later on.
I know that I was too busy running these two places (Goudas Foods Company and 813 Club) and I decided in 1975 or 1976 to purchase one of the busiest country and western taverns in the city of Toronto called the Columbo Tavern in the Queen and Dufferin area (close to the Exhibition Place).
I changed the name the first week I went there and called it the "Our Place" restaurant. The location was exactly on the Southwest corner of Queen and Dufferin.
Now the place was not big enough; it could hold probably 400-500 people.
The crowd that I had sometimes exceeded the amount of people I was able to accommodate in the club so I decided to purchase the building next to the tavern.
There was a driveway between the two buildings and so I put a roof between the driveway - support and everything else.
I knocked out the adjoining walls and made a huge place out of that.
It now had a 1500 seating capacity. (At that in order to acquire a liquor license you had to have at least 15 sq. ft. per person.)
Now, at that point I was able to invite big bands from Nashville, Tennessee to come and play at the Tavern.
Also some of the biggest names in Canadian Country and Western music would sometimes play at the tavern including Lucille Star, George Hamilton from the Fourth, Crystal Gayle and Sweet Daddy Siki.
I can't remember all the names that I had appear there but it was a very busy place.
I can tell you it was the busiest place in the city of Toronto.
I had twenty four waitresses, two or three bartenders, four or five bouncers.
The reason I had the bouncers was because it was not the easiest place to work with - because as I've said before - because of the Country and Western atmosphere people came there and drank a lot, enjoyed themselves a lot, they had a little bit of excitement, a little argument sometimes and before you knew it I had half a dozen fights every night of the week.
I kept all these bouncers and I constantly pointed out to them, "I don't want you to fight, I want you to separate the fights."
"And if you can take one or two fighters out of the club that would allow us to work for the next half an hour before the next fight" he jokes.
Now when you have to deal with two chefs, cleaning people, bands, payroll department, two or three managers and all the waitresses, as i say that was not an easy thing to do; especially when you are running a business in the daytime and a club on the weekend.
Even so, I was able to cope with the situation and I have been very successful. I had raised the salaries of all the employees to the point that I can say they almost all of them were happy except two or three waitresses.
Now, it wasn't the point of the money but the waitresses made an enormous amount of tips from the club and the restaurant.
I can say that each girl (waitress) would be walking home with $150 to $200 worth of tips (big money at that time).
Don't ask me how they made it but they always use to make it. For instance, if a guy orders two beers, lets say the two beers were $2.20 cents or $2.30 cents.
He would give them five dollars and the waitresses never gave him back change - they would say "Thank you very much" and went on to the next patron.
I don't know how they did it but they used to do it.
Now, two of the waitresses encouraged some of the other waitresses to sign up for the union and in August of 1978 there was an application for certification within the restaurant.
Without going through all the details of what happened but let me give you some examples of the problems I had: One waitress that joined the union attacked another non-union waitress as she was carrying two trays of beers to the customers.
As a result of the altercation the trays toppled over and everything the waitress was carrying fell to the ground.
The situation was of such that the union waitresses did not get along with the non-union waitresses and vise versa. The chefs would do the same: the non-union chefs could not get along with the chefs in the union.
The customers took sides because some of them were union and some weren't.
They wanted to be served by union or non-union whatever the case.
Then there were another set of customers that were union and it was constant chaos.
So, I don't know how they cooperated for the next two or three months; every day of the week or every night of the week I was just about ready to make a decision to close the tavern down.
The arguments and tension at the tavern was unbelievable because don't forget I had to have a clear mind to run the other businesses as well.
I wanted to close one business so I could keep the other two going.
Now It was just about two weeks before Christmas of 1978 and my night manager, Tony Palermo, (an italian fellow) asked me, "Mr. Goudas, are we not going to have a Christmas party this year like we had last year and the year before?"
Now every Christmas, I used to have a Christmas party for all my staff.
Between the tavern, the club and Goudas Foods and some friends there were at least 500 people and I have tried over the years to make that party the best because I used to know about the music, about the service, about everything so I tried to make all my staff and everybody as happy as they can be on that night.
Anybody can say all they want against me and do anything they want. Some of them have brought their wives over, children over, their grand father over. It was something beautiful.
It was the most beautiful thing that happened for years prior to that and Tony just reminded me it was two weeks till Christmas. I was so upset that nobody was able to come anywhere near me and talk to me because I didn't trust anybody - whether union or non-union.
I had one thing on my mind: to shut the damn place down, shut it down once and for all; lose all the money I ever had (he reflected with some anger).
(Irma at that point noticed the anger in her master's voice and started barking).
In any case, I don't know how I coped with the situation. Christmas was fast approaching.
It was maybe a week before Christmas or a few days before Christmas and Tony was looking for an answer. I asked myself should we do it before Christmas, should we do it between Christmas and New Years or should we do it on New Year's day? Whatever it is Peter we have to do something for the people; we have to (he repeated for emphasis)! Let's forget about the Union, let's forget about the whole thing; let's do something.
It was just between Christmas and New Year's and I still hadn't made my decision.
And then I said to myself, Tony is absolutely right. Why should I leave myself with the situation, that I have so many innocent people - whether or not they like me and like my company and they want us to grow.
I didn't have only the pressure from Tony Palermo, I had pressure from two or three or four-dozen people that worked with me. Finally, I said to Tony, "Tony arrange the Christmas party although it's late and I am sorry about that.
On the 14th of January 1979, I want you to arrange games for all the children; I want you to still maintain the Christmas decoration; I want you to get all the members of the "813 Club" to come down, all the members of Goudas Foods including Union or non-union down at the tavern and let them all have a good time.
So, (long pause) the time was approaching and Tony arranged everything so beautifully.
Everything was going nicely until that party and Sunday I was still working at my factory at Goudas Foods at 131 McCormack St., a couple stoplights north of St. Clair and Weston Road.
The party was at Queen and Dufferin area and I knew people started to show up there at 2 pm.
I had also arranged for one of the most beautiful bands for the evening and I knew the people would be there (the Christmas party) by 4pm. Meals would be served by 6 pm.
There would be cakes and all kinds of things, music and so forth.
It is now 5 o'clock pm and I'm still at McCormack Street. (It's customary for Mr. Goudas to be in the office on a Sunday). I'm still debating to myself 'should I go down there or not?'
Should I go there and face my friends and be happy and turn around to see somebody that upsets me?
Somebody may try to spoil the whole thing and I'd probably get upset and have a fight maybe.
It was now 7 o'clock in the evening and was still working at McCormack Street.
I made the decision to go down to the club; I still had quite a few friends there.
So, I took my car and I went down to the corner of McCormack and Weston Road and the light was red and at the last moment I thought the best thing to do it is not to go the tavern but go somewhere else; let the people enjoy themselves the best they can by themselves.
They are still going to have a good time. They had a good time 4 or 5 hours before me.
It's not going to be any different if I go there now - I may as well not go and with that thought I turned left and headed north and took the 401 East to Ellesmere Road.
I got somewhere on Kennedy Road South to a mall and I said to myself, "Let me buy a newspaper and a jug of milk". I used to drink a lot of milk at the time because I used to do a lot of exercise.
Now, I was planning to go to a friend's house in Scarborough; his name is Corado Accapoto.
This fellow accepts me any time, even 3 o'clock in the morning because he has a studio - a recording studio, and I was also involved in the club and in the recording studio myself.
We were so close and we always had such a good time that I used to go to his house at 3 o'clock until 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning because he had all the equipment that I liked to play. He had a recording studio and all this fancy stuff down in his basement; an enormous selection of different things.
I have to give you another tip here now: the temperature must have been 35 degrees below zero, the coldest night ever in that year - I don't think I can remember a night as cold as that.
The rain had fallen earlier that evening and immediately after the rain the temperature fell below zero which turned the rain to ice.
The entire Toronto was as if it were covered in ice.
If you touch the brakes of the car suddenly it would turn around a hundred times. There was no way you could hold the brakes.
I went to the store and parked my car just in front of the store.
I got out of the car walked to the store very carefully so as not to slip.
There I bought the newspaper and the milk and as I was ready to go into the car I thought to myself "let me phone my friend and tell him I'm on my way to his house".
It was only about 5 or 6 minutes away anyway - I'll just call him to tell him I'll be there.
He never expected me at eight o'clock at night although he's used to having me at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning.
So let's find out if he's still in the house.
The telephone booth was at the other side of the strip mall (outside mall) approximately 50 yards or so away.
As I was walking to the telephone booth I again noticed that it was extremely slippery.
I tried to be very, very, careful not to fall.
When I was very close to the telephone I notice a sewer - a city sewer drainage.
When the rain had started earlier, something like a sheet of ice had formed apparently, which I did not see.
Despite being very careful my left foot slipped into that little hole touching the metal frame (grill) of the sewer, it went up on the top of the other end and then I slipped and sat down on my left leg and crushed it.
I was in disbelief when I saw the entire (sole) bottom of my shoe come almost up into my hand.
I couldn't understand how this all happened.
I was in shock and didn't realize that I broke my leg.
I thought it was a joke (amusing).
I thought for a moment.
Any time now I was going to realize what had happened and faint .
The temperature was 35 degrees below zero.
I started sweating like I've never sweated before.
I wasn't able to hold my leg - I held my head because I had to crack the ice that formed on my face.
I started cracking the ice from my face.
I thought I was going to freeze due to the water coming from all over the place on my head.
I let go of my leg for a while.
It would start jumping on its own and made the bone in between the knee and the ankle break into small pieces.
While all this was happening I'm still sweating profusely.
I still don't know what to do. I don't know if I should pray or not.
Perhaps I shouldn't waste any time praying and just go to the car.
It was something that I couldn't describe.
I thought that I would faint any minute.
I had some kind of power somehow. Something inside tells me "if you faint right now you'll die."
"No body will find you here; no body will find you… just get up with one leg and get into the car."
Finally with one leg, I lie down on the floor just pushing one leg, trying to hang on but I am getting weaker and weaker.
It was already calm there wasn't anymore knocking up and down so whatever bone I had to break was already broken.
My leg was so badly broken that it was held together by pieces of flesh.
I made it to the car and tried to open the car door - the door weighs a tonne and finally as I was about to open the door I realized that I had lost my keys at the place where I had fallen.
A new energy came into me and started crawling back to the place where I lost the keys.
I realized the keys had fallen into a hole in the ice.
Finally, I was able to get the keys to the car.
I went back to the car and I went in and was able to pull my leg up and hold it with my two hands.
My shoe and a piece of my leg were all over the place and I put them in the car.
I tried to start the car and managed to do so.
I backed up and I thought to myself I have to find the hospital, there has to be a hospital somewhere.
I lost my sense of direction - I did not know if I should go left or right.
The only thing on my mind was I have to get to a hospital as soon as I can.
I started coming up on red traffic lights and I started blowing my horn in case the police stopped me or tried to stop me.
But there was nobody around.
Half an hour later I arrived at the Scarborough General Hospital.
I didn't go to the emergency entrance. I must have lost my direction there.
It was 8 o'clock at night on Sunday when I reached the entrance and I blew my horn to make someone hear me.
It was so annoying to be disturbing all the patients there.
I was still blowing the horn when finally the nurses came over and asked me what happened and they opened the door and saw my leg and one of them almost fainted.
My leg was almost a foot longer than it used to be with a little piece of skin holding the pieces together.
One of the nurses called the other nurses from the other side and they came over and asked me to drive to the other side because they weren't able to do anything there.
I drove my car around from the front to the back of the emergency entrance.
The stretcher came out and they lifted me up and put me on the stretcher.
Right away they took me inside and everybody came over.
I remained alert (I did not faint) because I knew what was going on and one of the nurses who was supposed to take me for x-rays started shaking her head as if to say there is no time for x-rays just cut the leg off.
I asked the nurse, "Why do you want to cut my leg off? Wait and call a doctor".
At eleven o'clock that night the doctor arrived wearing a tuxedo and bowtie to the emergency - Dr Grosfield. I didn't know Dr. Grosfield then but he asked me my name and I told him "Peter Spyros Goudas". He asked me what kind of business I'm in and I didn't know what to say. Whether I'm in the club business, tavern business, food business, the canning business.
What business am I in?
The doctor said, "Peter, do you want your leg?' and I replied, "Yes".
He said, " That's what I'm here for. We'll try to do the best we can.
Let's see if we put the bones in the leg together.
"I'm not going to give you any anaesthesia but we have to try to put the little bone pieces together" He repeated and I gave him the answer (answered in the affirmative).
The nurse advised me that I would be in a lot of painbecause she still didn't give me an injection.
Soon I was on the stretcher. There was one guy sitting at my right shoulder, another guy sitting at my left shoulder, one guy pulling my hair so I felt enough pain there to distract me from the pain coming from my leg.
Two other guys were holding my hands.
One foot was tied down and by this time the doctor had already cut my pants and put underneath my leg something like a 180 degrees type of pipe cut half way through to support and keep the leg straight.
Dr. Grosfield began putting the pieces together.
Somebody referred to the pieces the doctor tried to put together as broken.
At four o'clock in the morning the operation was still underway.
The doctor kept talking to me.
He told me all kinds of stories and asked me to tell him my problems and everything else.
The pain was enormous but the conversation with the doctor allowed me to tell all the problems I've had with the union, the imports, the exports, the club business, the liquor control board and everything else.
I talked about everything to keep my mind off of what he was doing.
At 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning he had completed putting the bones together the best he could and began wrapping around something like white cement
(plaster of Paris). In Greek they call it Gypsum.
It felt so good; it was hot and I thought the doctor did a great job - he performed nothing short of a miracle.
I felt like nothing had happened and asked him if I would be able to go to work in the morning because I had a lot of things to do the next morning.
The doctor laughed at me and gave me some morphine to calm me down.
He told me not to worry.
He said, "you'll be at your office at 8 o'clock in the morning like new".
Dr. Grosfield gave me an injection but I don't think the injection was strong enough so he gave me another one and then took me over to my room.
I thought I was going to sleep but felt like I was going to pass out.
I remember the doctor saying he's seen some people break a finger and they faint, they break a thumb and they faint, and I broke my leg and was able to drive myself to the hospital.
The doctor saw that I was amazing; the doctor saw that I had a good will and I needed my leg so badly, so badly I needed this leg.
I said to myself, "now is the time to faint" because no matter what happened the doctor told me that I would be in the office at eight o'clock in the morning.
Just as I was about to fade into sleep I felt a tremendous pain coming on.
I started screaming and the nurses came over and tried to shut the door.
They gave me another injection to calm me down and called the doctor again.
I think I was screaming for about 4 or 5 hours.
Finally, the medicine took effect and I fell asleep.
I don't know for how long I was asleep.
I woke up the next morning or maybe two days after because I had lost tracjk of time.
I kept asking, "what happened?". I felt the tightness of the cement around my leg. I thought that they had cut my leg off because I didn't feel anything.
I thought to myself this doctor tricked me.
I took a peek at the front part of the leg that was open and I saw my toes.
I tried to pinch my toes but didn't feel any pain whatsoever.
I didn't know what to do or what to believe.
"Did I have a leg or was I dillusional?" The nurses came over and I asked, but they told me "your leg will be just fine".
Let's put it this way: I spent another fifteen days there and I didn't feel anything. (Some kind of interference occurs or his thoughts trailed off).
In the meantime the office had called several times and I didn't know what to do. A week later the bank heard the bad news about my leg.
Well, it was now almost a week later…(he paused and is now talking to his dog Irma).
About ten or eleven days later the bank knew that in the event the doctor cut my leg off I might not be able to repay the loan.
They decided to recall the loan because it was rumored that the doctor was going to amputate my leg.
If the bank were to recall the loan we would be officially out of business.
My secretary would usually come over to the hospital and stay with me for a few hours. She tried to keep me informed on the events of the day and would give me some suggestions and ideas of how to operate the tavern, the restaurant, the club, the food business, the imported canning business and everything else.
She also informed me that the bank was planning to recall my loan.
At the same time one banker gave hints of the situation of the tavern to another banker and before you knew it there was no payment of the hydro bill, the telephone service was interrupted the bands at the tavern did not want to play.
The liquor control board cut my credit off so - there was no liquor.
The suppliers didn't want to sell me anything even though they sent flowers to the hospital - some of them did anyway.
A few people and some of my friends would come over to visit me at the hospital and even the bank came to visit me to make sure everything was going all right with the operation.
All this time they were trying to decide whether or not they should proceed with the foreclosing of the loan.
It was seventeen days later and they have decided to cut my leg off because my toes had turned black (discolored).
I mean they were black like they were rotting.
I felt in my heart that I should get another chance.
I wanted to postpone the operation to another day to at least allow myslf some time to be mentally prepared for it.
I asked the guy who came around once in a while to cut the cast because I felt it was too tight around my leg.
I asked him to cut off a little bit at the top close to my hip so as to allow my leg to breathe a little.
I called my bouncer down at the restaurant - one of my bodyguards and a good man.
I told him to stay outside my door because I didn't want them to take me in the middle of the night and cut my leg off only to awake the next morning without a leg.
I told him to make sure nobody comes to interfere with me while I was sleeping. (Mr. Goudas was heavily sedated so he would hallucinate about such things happening while he slept).
Half an hour after, I asked the guy to cut the cast and I felt some kind of relief down in my toes.
I'm a heavy smoker and in the hospital there was no smoking.
I found a way to smoke anytime I want to without anybody interfering with me.
The nurses came over about two dozen times to find out where I hid the cigarettes.
They moved me from bed to bed to find out where I had the cigarettes hidden but couldn't find any cigarettes.
They only realized there was smoke present.
As I said, I was a heavy smoker then and now I'm still the same way.
However, I have one hiding place for my cigarettes and I may as well tell you now. (A well known song by Al Green is now playing in the background)
I have a Kleenex tissue box, which I opened at the bottom.
Between the bottom area of the Kleenex and a few Kleenex up I place my cigarettes and matches.
So I was able to do my smoking during the time the nurses were not there - nighttime or anytime.
A this point in time I had smoked a cigarette about half way down.
I thought to myself, "the leg is going to be cut off tomorrow anyway so let me see if it has any feelings".
I proceeded to put the cigarette between my toes and believe it or not a terrible smell filled the air.
|I felt a little itch in my toes and I knew there was some kind of feeling down there.
I called my bouncer and I said, "Wayne I think my leg is good; I think my cast was too tight and there was not enough blood circulating'.
I said, "Wayne I think I have my leg back" and I told him to call the doctor.
He (Wayne) said "Peter, why don't you relax for the night?"
He thought that I had a nightmare.
I tried to explain to him that I have feelings in my leg.
I tried to explain to him that something has happened in my leg, the current has changed.
Wayne tried to tell me that the toes were still black and I told him there was a slight change in the color - the toes are looking different.
I said, "don't you see they have a better color? "
I said, "pinch me, do something" just to prove to him I have feelings back in my leg.
Anyway, I tried to persuade him but it was not possible and I fell asleep.
In the morning I was just about ready to go to the operating room to amputate my leg when I finally told the doctor what I did last night.
He then realized that something changed in my leg.
I told him that I felt circulation somewhere in my leg.
He examined my leg and made a decision to wait for another day or two.
I told you his name was Dr. Grosfield and he trusted me to tell him the truth and he did the best he could to save my leg.
He did not want to take any chances to cut it off now after all the suffering I had undergone.
He did allow me a few more days and my leg improved more and more each day.
On the 32nd day in the hospital I have lost maybe eighty pounds in a short period of time because I have been eating nothing.
I almost didn't have anything to drink and the worries and everything else made me lose all that weight and physical strength.
I said to the doctor, I have to leave to see what's going on with my business.
I think the bank has closed me down, I think the restaurant is gone and he said, "Mr. Goudas, why don't you let things happen normally? I can't let you go with your leg in this condition; it's against the rules".
I said, "doctor if I can prove to you that I can walk tomorrow on one leg with crutches will you allow me to go?" I begged.
He responded by telling me if I can do that, he'll let me go.
When the doctor left I tried to stand on the leg that was apparently the good leg and to my surprise it failed to offer any support.
The leg had grown thin and weak.
I started sweating all over again and I had to lie down.
About two or three hours later I tried to stand up again.
I repeated this all during the night.
Finally, I was able to stand up from my bed and I tried to walk from the bed to the door (with crutches).
I finally did it.
The next day when the doctor came up about 11 o'clock for my regular visit,
I demonstrated to him that I was able to walk at least that distance.
So he allowed me to leave the hospital for the day.
I now realized that the factory had been closed down because the bank took over the accounts receivable.
The suppliers did not supply me with anything, at least some of them.
All the chain stores except Miracle Mart, had given the shelf space section to somebody else .
Wayne Robertson was the manager of Miracle Mart. In fact he was the head buyer.
He said, "Peter I have to do this but when you get well and are able to walk again and serve our stores I promise I'll give you your shelf space back".
Based on that I went back to the hospital.
I stayed there another two months.
When I was finally out of the hospital, and obviously returned to the business I was trying in every possible way to reconstruct my business.
There was a lot of damaged merchandise resulting from the failure of sprinkler systems.
I needed to rectify a host of other problems that needed my immediate attention.
Since I was committed to do everything in my power to address all these issues I was taken aback when another tornado came out of nowhere in the form of Mr. George Hall, a representative of the Government.
His intention was to seize the plant because of the amount owing in municipality taxes.
The above story aired several times on different radio programs, in churches and different media; it is also a subject of discussion among hosts and guests on various radio programs.
Apparently this story has been an inspiration to many who have met similar fate and it has given them the will and hope to stay strong.
Over the years, Mr. Goudas has received hundreds of letters from people who had similar experiences and kept his story in mind as a source of strength during their difficult times.
Many people however, have interpreted the story to suit their objectives; in one instance, a large accounting firm criticized Mr. Goudas for not maintaining a back up system to operate his business in his absence.
They failed to realize that the bank acted out of fear as result of the rumor of the removal of his leg and not on the basis of his financial ratio, thus recalling the loan.
As you follow the life story of Peter Spyrous Goudas you will notice he was able to reconstruct his business through enormous effort, determination and perseverance.
Mr. Goudas has ultimately risen above many adversities and won the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Canadian Government in November of 1993.
Photo of Fitzroy Gordon "Dr. Love"