Today is my birthday. I woke up this morning, put my feet on the floor, and gazed down the valley formed by a shadowy pair of snow-kissed mountains, leading to a sun washed hillside in the state next door. A breathless voice inside my head whispered, “What a ride!”
I was blessed from the start by being born free in the greatest country on Earth, at a time when I’ve been privileged to witness many of the most significant changes in its history. I’ve seen everything from wooden trolley cars to rockets in space, crystal radios to laptop computers and tasted the whole enchilada in between! Oh, I’ve only caught the trailing edge of much of it. I only vaguely remember steam locomotives and the clanking of a milkman’s bottles or the clip-clop of his horse, for example — but however short the while, I’ve sampled some of the greatness.
Mom told me I was a breech birth and arrived in this world a week past due. I’ve been ass backwards and late for everything for more than six decades since. She always said I’d probably be late for my own funeral. That may already be true, since I’ve been sliced and diced during a couple of pretty serious surgeries and I’m still here to sport the latest in love handles at the beach on summer Sundays. Besides, as I’ve told friends so many times, “I have all of eternity to enjoy eternity but I’ve still got so much to do here, I’d like to stick around as long as possible.” Mom was in labor twenty-four hours without anesthetic because she was afraid they’d use instruments and my head would have an odd shape. I guess there wasn’t much she could do about the shape of anything inside it!
My youth was rooted in a simpler time when kids were still allowed to be kids. We actually played outside by day and sat around with the family, spellbound by the Golden Age of Radio at night. During my post-kidhood, it has been an honor to serve my country, exciting to be a ‘Jack’ of many trades, master of most — and a pleasure to have married two great women, the second of which still slips her slippers under her side of our bed every night. We’ve built the home of our dreams, and after nearly 32 years, I’m still lucky enough to fall in lust a couple of times per week and in love at least once daily. There are a bunch of pretty great kids running around this world too, just because I showed up and was finally smart enough to hand my heart to someone with a gentle touch.
I’ve experienced the challenge of managing some of the country’s sales elite and the delight of speaking to thousands of people, before it was mandated that radio D.J.s play “Ten more in a row with no unpleasant interruptions.” I worked with Tony Gallano who was the first cameraman to televise a major league baseball game — they had to lash him to the parapet at Yankee Stadium so he wouldn’t blow away! And with Barney Beck who did the sound effects for The Lone Ranger and The Shadow, as well as newsman Lester Smith who was reporting live when J.F.K. was shot — and later when he was buried.
I’ve met U.S. Presidents, theatrical royalty, legendary musicians, iconic athletes and even Fay Ray, who monkeyed around with that big ape that climbed the Empire State Building. At 85, she still had the bluest eyes I’d ever seen! It was all at the end of an era and, even if I was too late to be a part of the greatness, I was early enough to touch at least some of it before it was gone.
More than once I’ve stated that I have no regrets but this morning, as more than half a century flashed across my mind’s motion picture screen, I realized I’ve been wrong. I do have one. It all happened so damn fast! To paraphrase one of my true and trusted friends: If I can’t leave some kind of mark on this world, I hope someday I can leave at least a smudge.
Look for Bananas Crackers and Nuts Podcast links under
“Recent Podcasts”… also check out my Podcast Page for more.