Gourd Ahead And Make Fun of Me

One of the milestones you reach as a baby is when you move up from formula or breast milk to jarred baby food. Now, of course, the food comes in little plastic containers. When I was a baby, however, they came in jars.

It’s actually funny to look at that picture. I remember my parents talking about Blueberry Buckle! I see lots of “bananas” in the picture, which makes sense, because my mom told me I loved bananas and so did each of my children. We all loved carrots, too!

In doing a search for pictures, I saw the one below and was amazed at the stuff that was available to babies in the 70’s.

Bacon was in some of them!! I can’t imagine liking tuna as a kid, but Ella eats it in mac and cheese, so maybe it was popular.

There were some weird ones, though …

EGG YOLKS?!?!?!

And I truly hope no good parent ever fed their baby this:

LIVER!!! EEEEEWWWWWW!!!!!

Here is one of my favorite personal baby stories:

When I began eating jarred baby food, my mom told me I loved squash!

It was one food she never had to fight me to eat. Now whether or not she fed me a lot of it because I wouldn’t eat other foods, I don’t know. What I do know is I ate a lot of it!

One day, my mom thought I looked very jaundiced. I was bright orange. She was so freaked out by it she took me to the doctor. Of course, the doc asked her what I was eating and when she mentioned squash, he told her that was the reason I was “jaundiced!”

For whatever it is worth, I still love squash! Growing up, my mom used to buy the frozen squash at the store. I remember it came in a package as a big frozen block!

As I remember, the block we used to buy came in a silver wrapping.

She would throw some butter in a pan with the frozen squash and cook it up. I could eat a whole pan! As a matter of fact, when I moved away for a radio job on the west side of the state, that was one thing that was always in my freezer.

Since Ella started eating baby food, I have been looking in the freezer section of the grocery store for these blocks of squash, but have not been able to find them. I asked my dad about it and he said he hadn’t seen it in the store lately either. I’m not sure if they stopped making it like this or what. I can tell you I really wish I could find it.

They do have it “cubed” in the freezer section, and I am sure I could probably mash it up when it is cooked and it would probably taste the same. I just have fond memories of mom cooking up that block of squash for me.

I guess it is safe to say that I am “out of my gourd” over squash!

Library Memories

Yesterday’s blog about taking Ella to the library led to various conversations that brought back many of my own library memories.

My first trip to the library was of course during grade school. We always had a day during the week where we could go and check out a book. There were some occasions where we got to go to the library and listen to audio cassettes or record albums. I remember they had the worst headphones for listening to things in the library!

The above picture is close to what those headphones looked like, but I think the ones at school had very little cushion to them. They were either so tight that they left your ears red, or so loose that the never stayed on. It was rare to every find a pair that were “comfortable.”

On a trip to the library last year with my sons, my oldest wanted to play on the computers and asked for headphones. You guessed it – the headphones they gave him were almost identical to the ones we had in elementary school. Maybe they want them to be uncomfortable, so you won’t be on the computer too long?

My buddy Max reminded me that before the days of computers, you would take the book to the desk and they would stamp it with the due date. This was very similar to the way books were checked out in school, but in school, your name and the date showed up on the card.

Note the card had the date loaned, your name, and your classroom number … just in case they needed to hunt you down!
This one is a bit different in that it has the due date, homeroom and your name.

Today, you go into the library and do a search on the computer for a book. Back in the day, you had to use the card catalog!

With the card catalog, you could look up a topic, a title, or an author. As I recall, the cards were hand typed and in alphabetical order. You would then be able to find the section where the book was located using the Dewey Decimal System. You’d get the number, find the section, find the numbers, and hopefully the book was on the shelf. Each book had those white stickers with that info on the binder.

When I think about the library, two great childhood memories come to me immediately. Growing up, they used to play old radio shows on the radio. I was familiar with them because we used to check them out of the library on cassette tape! I was introduced to Jack Benny, Amos and Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly, Suspense, Dragnet, and so many other shows because of trips to the library. I loved checking them out and listening to them at night.

I also remember looking forward to the nights my dad rented the 16 mm projector from the library.

It was always fun to have dad set up movies and us watch them on the wall. He always checked out old Laurel and Hardy films, Three Stooges shorts, the Little Rascals and Smokey & the Bandit. This was in the days before any of these were out on video. It was awesome to be able to see these at home! I remember those nights very well. I was probably introduced to so many classics this way.

It’s been many years since I got my first library card. In that time the media used at the library had changed drastically. Instead of records and cassettes, today you can check out DVD, Blue Ray, and CDs. There are computers readily available for folks who have no internet. And, of course, there are millions of stories sitting upon the shelves in books. When I hear people say there is no need for the local library, it makes me sad, because it remains one of my favorite places to go.

First Trip To The Library

Between Sam and I, we easily read Ella 5-12 books a day. Usually after we finish one, she signs “more” because she wants to want to hear it again. She really needs a bigger book shelf, because it seems like we are always bringing new books home from the store for her.

We signed her up for the Summer Reading Program at our local library. The more she reads, the more prizes she can get. She earned her first reward and so we decided to take her to the library to get it. She’s never been to the library before, so she was pretty excited when she walked in.

The first thing she did, while I was talking to the librarian about her reading reward, was pull some books off a shelf (just like when she is at home)! I had to reshelf the books and she got to pick her prize. She got a rubber duck and a book. Then we went into the kids reading room. She was in heaven! There were so many board books!

I’ve been to our library a few times, but never had been in the kids area. I had to grab a picture of her by the mural.

Once we read about 20-30 books, we started to leave. She found a computer that had some easy drop and drag puzzles. She had to play with that for a while and loved every second of it. She’s looking like such a big girl now!

I am so happy that she loves to read. I will be sad the day she no longer wants me to read to her. That is something that I really love to do. There are plenty of stories and books to read!

Bezos, Branson, and Billionaires -Nostalgic Italian says “Who Cares?!”

With all of the coverage on TV of these Billionaires wanting to be astronauts, you would think that no one had ever been to space before! I am starting to think that these guys are getting more attention and media coverage than the astronauts of the past!

I also think this is all about ego. I mean, think about it, you have these guys with wads of cash all trying to show up each other. It’s ridiculous. Imagine the good that could be done with the millions of dollars that these clowns have wasted on trips to space that have lasted less than an hour.

I saw a graphic today that just made me chuckle. These guys literally shoot themselves up in the air and come down. Big deal! Does that really count for anything??!!

I don’t get what all the excitement is about. Maybe I don’t know the whole story, because, quite frankly, I stopped watching the news. I’m sick it. A half hour news cast used to actually contain news. Now it seems it is all Covid related with a dash of sports and weather. No thanks, all that does is take away from my happiness. I can find better things to do with my time than watch these billionaires waste their money.

Song Draft – Pick #1 – Mind Over Matter – Nolan Strong and the Diablos

This blog is part of the 2021 Song Draft hosted by Hanspostcard…. I have followed his blog, for some time and he always posts some great musical and movie stuff! His blog can be found here:

https://slicethelife.com/author/hanspostcard/

I’d like to thank Hans for allowing me to participate in the song draft (and Max for asking if I’d be interested).

In preparation for the draft, I went through years worth of Billboard charts, scanned my entire DJ library, and listened to all of the songs on my iPod (more than once). After going through a list of songs, I came up with my list. I have a few extras picked, just in case one of the other drafters pick one of mine.

My first draft choice is probably a song that many have never heard. I was born and raised in the Detroit area, and worked on the radio in Detroit for 10 years. Because of this, I decided to find a song that is not only a favorite, but showcases my hometown. The song is not a Motown song, but there certainly is a Motown connection to it that I hope you will find interesting.

When I first started at the radio station in 1988, my dad gave me a list of songs to put on cassette for him. They were almost all songs from his childhood that he couldn’t find in stores. While at the station, I searched for many of the songs on the list and heard them for the first time as I recorded them for my dad. The first song on the list was “Mind Over Matter” by Nolan Strong.

The Diablos with lead singer Nolan Strong was one of Detroit’s most successful early vocal groups. The group’s classic 1954 recording of “The Wind” would have probably been a national R&B hit were it not for spotty distribution by the tiny Fortune record label.

According to author David A. Carson, “In 1962 Fortune owner Devora Brown wrote a song expressly for Nolan Strong. Although only his name appeared on the label, the Diablos backed him up. ‘Mind Over Matter’ was an irresistible midtempo dance record full of sudden stops, starts, and vocal acrobatics, as Nolan sang about putting a hex on his girl to win her love.”

“Mind Over Matter” quickly shot to # 1 on the Detroit charts. Sheldon Brown, Devora’s son, remembered that Motown’s Berry Gordy was not pleased with Fortune suddenly having a # 1 record in his backyard. The story goes like this:

It’s early in the evening one day towards the end of September, 1962. The Temptations fourth single, “Paradise,” is being pressed up (along with a bunch of other new Motown records), ready for signing over to the distributors. The Motown rep who periodically comes to the pressing plant to check the print run notices stacks and stacks of boxes piled up in the corner, all full of seven inch singles.

The rep casually enquiring as to what’s going on, he’s informed that those boxes contain the complete inventory of the latest Fortune Records single, “Mind Over Matter” by Nolan Strong and the Diablos. The record was officially meant to have been released by now. It’s been getting some radio play, and indications across Detroit are that it’s going to be big. (For sure, the rep notes to himself, Berry Gordy Jr has remarked loudly and often how much he liked the record, and how he’d previously tried to sign Nolan Strong to Motown, with no success.) But some sort of organizational screw-up has meant that the distributors haven’t been able to get them out yet, so there they all are, still sitting in their boxes, still waiting to be taken away.

The Motown rep nods, makes his excuses, hurries out to a payphone and gets Berry Gordy on the line. Urgent, he says. Fortune Records has dropped the ball, he explains. The Nolan Strong record’s on the radio, but it’s not in the shops. Nobody can actually buy a copy. The rep doesn’t need to explain any further. Berry gets the point. Berry hangs up without a word. He’s got some calls of his own to make.

Gordy calls A&R. He calls the studio. He calls producer Clarence Paul. Got a top priority mission for you. Drop everything else you’re doing right now. Don’t care what group you cut it on. Just get me the damn record as soon as possible.

Within five days, Motown has its own cover version of Mind Over Matter recorded, pressed and in stores. That, in itself, it pretty amazing! What a turn around!!

A clip from the local paper shows how Motown tried to really capitalize on the fact that Nolan Strongs version was unavailable:

The story wouldn’t have a happy ending for Motown, as someone at Fortune got wind of the ploy and made sure the Nolan Strong record found its way into local stores, where – backed with Fortune’s undivided attention – it promptly flew off the shelves and became a regional chart-topper, squashing Motown’s competing version before it had had a chance to get started. But it’s illustrative of just how much could be achieved if Berry Gordy wanted it to happen badly enough.

The group Clarence Paul wound up recording Mind Over Matter were the Temptations, who (as noted above) already had a new single lined up; their record was due out on October 1st, and there was no point having two Temptations records out at once battling each other’s sales and damaging the group’s image. The quickly-recorded cover thus went out under an adopted name; enter “the Pirates”.

(The Gracenote CD database, and thus much of the Internet, insists that this group is actually white British novelty rockers Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, but that’s a bad mistake; these are the Temptations, under a stupid name, with Eddie Kendricks on lead).

Some people like the Temptations version better, however, there is something magical to the Nolan Strong version for me. Maybe it is the simplicity of it. I feel like his vocal is more solid than the Temps. Of course, maybe it is just because I never even knew that another version existed until a few years ago.

I’m not saying that the Temps version was bad, because it isn’t. Berry Gordy was an astute judge alright – and it came out as a decent single with a strong, driving groove, only to be denied a chart hit by the circumstances in which it came to be made. One cannot dent that the song is an important early record by one of Motown’s most important groups nonetheless.

As mentioned above, “Mind Over Matter” by Nolan Strong reached #1 locally around Detroit, but only made it to #112 nationally on Billboard. One of my favorite songs of all time!

According to author David A. Carson, “In 1962 Fortune owner Devora Brown wrote a song expressly for Nolan Strong. Although only his name appeared on the label, the Diablos backed him up. ‘Mind Over Matter’ was an irresistible midtempo dance record full of sudden stops, starts, and vocal acrobatics, as Nolan sang about putting a hex on his girl to win her love.”

“Mind Over Matter” quickly shot to # 1 on the Detroit charts. Sheldon Brown, Devora’s son, remembered that Berry Gordy was not pleased with Fortune suddenly having a # 1 record in his backyard. “Berry Gordy thought it was such a great record that he took the guys in the Temptations and they recorded a version of ‘Mind Over Matter’ as the Pirates for Motown, but Nolan Strong had the bigger hit.”

Mind Over Matter – Nolan Strong and the Diablos

My mind is made up ’cause you’re so cold
I want your love to have and to hold
I’ll have your love cause you are so fine
Mind over matter, gonna make you mine


And I believe that someone wants someone bad enough
The way I want you for you’re the one that I love
I’ll command all my powers to make you fall in line
Mind over matter, gonna make you mine

[Chorus]
I’ll put a spell on you, put a hex on you
I’ll make you love me too and I’ll be so nice to you
You have to fall ’cause I’ll be so dog gone kind
Mind over matter, gonna make you mine

(Instrumental Break)

I’ll put a spell on you, I’ll put a hex on you
I’ll make you love me too and I’ll be so nice to you
You have to fall ’cause I’ll be so dog gone kind
Mind over matter, gonna make you mine

Oh baby, so nice, ohh, you gotta be mine
Oh baby (fade out)

___

Here is the Temptations version, since it played so prominently in the story:

Thanks for reading – and listening!

My Time Telling Mouse!

LONG before the Apple watch was popular …..

Long before digital watches were popular ….

…we learned how to read the face of a clock and tell time. In math class we were even tested on clock faces!!

Once I learned how to tell time, my folks bought me a watch. I remember that watch so well. It was HUGE on my little wrist. It had a thick black wrist band and the watch had a thick, curved piece of glass over the watch face. When I did a search on Google, my watch immediately popped up. It was a Mickey Mouse watch.

From everything I could find, this model first appeared in about 1971, so it would have been a few years old by the time I wore it on my wrist. I remember having to wind it every day or it would stop working. You really can’t tell from this picture, but the glass covering the watch face is very thick and weighed a lot (for a watch). I remember how heavy my wrist felt when I wore it.

I would often find myself staring at the watch and waiting for the minute “hand” to move. I loved that Mickey’s hands were the hands of the watch! I had never seen anything like this, and it really helped me to tell time.

As weird as it may sound, I remember the smell of the leather band it was on. I remember having to tighten the band to almost the last notch for it to stay on my wrist. For some reason, I thought mine had a second hand on it, but all of the ones I found did not. Some of the watches I found had a small circle on the bottom that counted the seconds, but those were mostly stopwatches.

Word is that these watches are worth money today. I wish as a child I would have taken better care of my stuff. I have no idea whatever became of the watch. It remains a fond memory. I wish I still had it….

I Miss My Hammock!

Years ago, when I bought my first home, there was only one thing that I wanted for the back yard. We had a huge shade tree in the yard, and I wanted a hammock to relax in.

The hammock that I had, came with the rope hammock and a stand. It took a few tries for me to figure out how to get in and out of it without killing myself, but once I had it figured out, it was sheer heaven. I loved just laying in it. I found so much peace just relaxing in the back yard. Oh, how I loved to lay in the hammock with a good book! It’s probably my favorite place to read.

There are other types of hammocks, but I always found the rope ones to be more comfortable. I always found them to be cooler. Every summer I find myself longing for another hammock.

The truth is, with all I have going on in my life, I would probably struggle to find time to use it. There isn’t a whole lot of time available to relax. Ella keeps me busy on my days off, and when Sam and I are both off, that is the day we get everything done.

I still have the hammock stand in the garage. The rope hammock I bought years ago is still in a bag. It is too big for the stand I have. I tried to use it once and my butt hit the ground. Eventually, I will get one that fits and again enjoy those summer days in the shade. When I do, I will be sure to have a little table next to me for my iced tea, and my book….

A Quiet Fourth & Song Draft Update

How life has changed in only a couple of years! Every 4th of July, our town puts on a fireworks show that is literally in our back yard. We usually have a big back yard BBQ, bonfire, and invite everyone over to watch the fireworks. Last year, the show was cancelled because of Covid. This year, Sam’s family was up at their cottage, my boys were at their cousin’s house, and it was just Sam, Ella and me at home.

Last year, we got some really awesome pictures of Ella in her 4th of July outfit and we made sure to take some again this year. She’s obviously a whole lot busier, but we still got some great shots. The one that was more candid than any of them also got the most “likes” on Facebook. She was literally walking down the sidewalk when I snapped this one:

Sam’s grandma (and Ella’s great grandma) is in her 90’s. We decided to go and visit her in the afternoon. It’s always fun to watch Ella in a new environment. Despite the fact that we brought a huge bag of toys, books, and such for her, she still seems to find things to get into. Her grandma had a 500 or 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle that she is working on in her living room. It’s up on a table, but you know that Ella walked right over to it! I was waiting for her to just get one hand on it to pull it all down. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

When we arrived back at home, we made dinner and relaxed. Our plan had been to put Ella down for bed and then head outside to do a bonfire and watch the fireworks. Either Sam and I are getting old, or we are just exhausted, because Ella was in bed around 8:30 and we were both dozing on the couch. Both of us were in bed by 9:15!

Naturally, we were awakened by the fireworks show around 10:15. We probably could have gotten up and watched part of the show, but we decided that we would just listen to the booms from our bed and try to sleep. I’m not sure how I was able to fall asleep in between the bangs and booms, but I did (for a few seconds at a time). It was funny because we’d hear the booms, then we’d hear the echo coming from the baby monitor. We were both happy when the show was over and we were able to actually sleep.

My neighbor said that this year’s show was kind of lame, so I wasn’t sorry we were in bed!

Outside of some great family pictures, this is my favorite from the fourth:

I love the “Color Pop” filter on my phone!

Song Draft Update

Round one of the 2021 Song Draft is in progress. I believe that there are 13 of us participating with 10 rounds of picks. Each of us participating will offer up a pick for each round. You can follow the entire Song Draft at my buddy, Hans’ blog.

https://slicethelife.com

He is posting every pick. I will be posting my song picks here in my blog after he posts mine. My first pick is in and will be posting one week from today. It is a great Detroit oldie that has a neat Motown connection. Watch for it on the 15th…

I have my 10 picks ready and I am excited to be taking part in this Draft event. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Remember R-R-R-Raw Power?

When I was a kid, we spent our summers outside. If we weren’t playing baseball, we were riding our bikes around the neighborhood. Almost every kid I knew would ride their bike and pretend it was a car or a motorcycle.

I was six years old and I remember seeing an add for this thing you put on your handlebars and when you twisted it, it made a motorcycle sound. I had to have it! I think I ended up getting it for my birthday. Here is the ad I saw:

I remember loving that thing! I rode around the block revving that thing the whole time. I was the only one in the neighborhood with one. As a matter of fact, there was a kid who lived down the street from us who was a HUGE trouble maker! Timmy. I’m not sure, but if there was any kid who should have wound up in jail, it was probably him. He was forever breaking windows, stealing things, and such. We fought all the time.

I bring him up because every time I would park my bike somewhere, he always had to go and rev that thing on my handlebars. I knew that eventually HE would be the one who would break it. He wouldn’t leave it alone! As a matter of fact, one day my parents had taken us out to dinner. We were pulling into our driveway, and on the side of the house was this kid walking my bike down our driveway. Fear entered his eyes when he saw us pull up. He immediately dropped the bike and ran home. The kid broke into our garage and was actually stealing my bike!!! All because of that motorcycle thingy.

Take a look at the above picture – the thing only cost like $7! I’m sure his folks could have bought one for him.

I don’t remember if my dad when down and talked to his folks or not, but there was no love lost between us. One time he ticked me off and I picked up a rock and threw it at him. I wound up hitting him on the forehead right between the eyes. That rock was like embedded in his forehead. I didn’t think I threw it that hard, but obviously I did.

It wasn’t a proud moment for me. I think he needed a couple stitches and I would up grounded for a week. All I could do was sit in my room and look out my bedroom window. It is the first punishment I remember serving.

I’m sure kids today would look at this toy and think it is super stupid. That’s ok. To me, it was something that furthered my imagination and turned my silly bike into a Harley!

My “Go to” Karaoke Song(s)

It has been some time since a “Daily Writing Prompt” moved me enough to use it as a blog idea. Today’s though, was definitely one I could use. The Prompt? “What is your ‘go to’ karaoke song?”

I have to admit, I have sung a lot of karaoke. I did this mainly when I was in my mid 20’s to early 30’s. My friends and I had a couple places that we’d go and sing at. Looking back at it, I have to laugh because they were all dive bars.

I started singing karaoke with my old morning show partner, who actually COULD sing. He had a great voice and often sang ballads from the Great American Song Book. It was always funny because you’d have these people up there singing Johnny Cash, The Rolling Stones, Queen, and Prince. Then he would get up and sing something from Robert Goulet!

At one point, between radio jobs, I actually hosted karaoke, which I thought would be fun, but it really wasn’t. It was then that I realized there were plenty of people who “thought” they could sing, but couldn’t. They come up to you with requests like, “Put some reverb on my voice” or “Pitch the song up or down” or “Give me more volume on my microphone” … It was crazy! These people are up there thinking their Shania Twain or John Lennon or something.

I have never claimed to be a good singer. I have a handful of songs that I can sing and sing them well. I know which songs my voice will never be able to handle. I stick with the ones I know I can do without embarrassing myself. In my repertoire were songs like: The Wonder of You (the Elvis version), Bad Bad Leroy Brown, Bad Case of Loving You (Robert Palmer), The Lady is a Tramp (Sinatra) , Mack The Knife (Bobby Darin), And I Love You So (lol – yes! The Perry Como song!), and That’s Amore (Gotta do some Dean Martin!).

If I had to pick the 3 karaoke songs that people would associate with me, they would be:

#3 – Tutti Fruiti by Little Richard

The reason for this is that back in the day, I used to change the lyrics to this. The lyrics were … well, not clean. People always laughed when I did this, however, today, I couldn’t do that any more. It’s just not who I am. I actually kind of cringe when I think of some of the lyrics I sang.

#2 Delilah – Tom Jones

I’m not going to lie, this was always a hard song to sing. Tom has such a great and powerful voice. The end of this song is tough. The night is fairly high – and you have to hold it for some time. That high and long note was nothing for my old morning show partner. He used to do this song a lot. I am not sure how or why I started singing it, but it became one I was always asked to sing.

#1 – Secret Agent Man – Johnny Rivers

By far, one of my favorite songs to sing, and hence, my “go to” karaoke song. It was always a favorite of mine growing up. The Johnny Rivers single was recorded live (I think at the Whiskey A Go Go). I probably heard my dad play this hundreds of times on his guitar. It has such a great intro and awesome solo. I remember one time I brought a fedora and a trench coat to the place we were singing so I could wear them when I sang this. Yeah, I was quite the dork in my 20’s!

While I loved singing karaoke, eventually it got old. I felt like I was going out and wasting money on alcohol, and being forced to sing the same things every time. There were plenty of other songs I would have loved to try, but the people I was with always made me sing the ones they wanted to hear (“It’s my birthday! You HAVE to sing Bad Case of Loving You!” etc…) The karaoke “scene” just wasn’t were I wanted to be anymore.

If there was karaoke at a work party or back yard BBQ, would I get up and sing today? Yeah, probably, but I would leave the fedora at home!