The Facebook “Memories” feed can be a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes, I am reminded of times in my life where I was just going through the motions, pretending that all was right in my world, when it wasn’t. Sometimes I get sad to see picture of my son’s as toddlers and am reminded of how fast they grow up. Sometimes, I will smile at things from my past radio career and sometimes I smile as I see reminders of the good things that have happened over the past few years.
This blog is just over a year old, and this week I was reminded by Facebook that I asked my Facebook friends to ask me questions they wanted me to answer. I looked back through my blogs and realized that the last time I did a “Q&A” blog was in October, so I once again asked for Questions…..what follows is the answers to those questions. (If a non-Facebook friend and follower ever has a question you’d like answered, feel free to ask in the comments.)
Melanie was my next door neighbor in Flint, MI. Our street was literally behind K-Mart. Her question, which was probably meant as a joke, is “Do you miss living behind K-Mart in Flint?” I say she probably meant it as a joke, because the neighborhood, which used to be a very nice one, is a far cry from what it used to be. The crime level in that part of town is much higher than it was when we were living there.
I have to be honest, I do miss that house. It was the first home I ever bought. It is also the home I brought my first son home to. I remember painting the nursery in tan and putting up all the Noah’s Ark themed borders, building the crib, etc. I remember watching my dad and son play catch in the backyard. I remember my mom, who was still in the middle of her cancer treatments, laying on the floor and playing with my son. I have so many great pictures of her with him in that house.
I remember the old shed in the back and the swing set I built for him. I remember almost setting the house on fire with the barbecue and ripping out the fence that was between our house and Melanie’s old house. I also remember pulling my son in his birthday wagon around the neighborhood on summer days.
I also remember the great neighbors we had. As I said, Melanie and her husband lived next door and were always good neighbors. On the other side, Jerry lived there with his daughter Terry Sue. Her kids Jerry and Stephanie would often come over and they’d play with my son. I would often talk with their Aunt Diane, too, who lived just down the street. Jerry was a nice man. He was always willing to loan me a tool if I needed one, or help me with my lawnmower. He’d often be the guy who cleared my driveway with his snow blower in the winter. Sadly he passed away shortly after we moved in.
Next to Jerry was Harry and Myrt. They were an elderly couple who were from down south. Harry loved to talk politics. Myrt always made us candy at Christmas time. You could always find them on the porch drinking sweet tea, and always a pleasure to talk to. Another elderly couple lived across the street when I first moved in, Ed and Margie. They were such great people, he was always riding his bike around the neighborhood and always smiling. We were so sad when he and Margie passed away.
When Melanie moved away, we were blessed with another wonderful couple as neighbors – Jamie and Jason. Their plan was much like ours, this house was kind of our starter house and we had hoped to move once our son came. They moved before we did and that was when things started to go bad. Their old house had a milk chute. It was next to their side door. The guy who moved in was probably about 24, and he was up at all hours of the night. He was renting the house from his aunt and we found out he was using the house to sell drugs. There were people up and down the driveway all night. They’d drop their order in the milk chute and come back to get it later. He never threw anything away and there were bags of trash all over the back yard. I’m still not sure what exactly happened to the guy, but he suddenly disappeared. I have heard rumors, but never really found out more. It wasn’t long after that, we moved away.
Again, probably meant as a joke, but he wants to know my “take on breakdancing”. Here is my take – I can’t do it. I can do the Curly Shuffle and the Box Step (thanks to high school gym class). I am amazed that people can do this. There is talk of it being an Olympic Event, so it must something that interests people. If I had the chance to take dance lessons, I would opt for ballroom dancing over break dancing.
Marcia is a dear friend from elementary school and always loves to ask questions. Today, she asks “Who was your favorite teacher at Carlson (our school) and why?”
I moved to the district in 2nd grade. Any time a kid moves and had to change schools, there is stress involved. I remember Mrs. Cook being a very sweet lady and made the transition much easier. I only had her for about half a year, and remember that I liked her very much. However, if I had to pick a favorite elementary school teacher, (meaning someone who’s class I was in) it would have to pick Mrs. Gallop.
I remember her being very fun. While I don’t remember many specific things, I remember she made me laugh a lot. I had a great respect for her and I remember not wanting to ever disappoint her. Two distinct memories I have of her class both involve reading. I remember she read many books to us. It was one of my favorite things about the class. I remember her reading us “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” by Judy Blume. There was a sequel she read to us to about the main character’s brother Fudge. She always was very animated when she read them. I have those books on my shelf, as I bought them for my sons.
I also remember her reading James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I remember there was a swear word in it (ass or damn, I think) and she prepped the whole class. “There is a bad word in this story. I really don’t want to read it, but if I do, remember that it is not nice to say words like that.” When she said it, some gasped and some chuckled. She just kept on reading …
Fourth grade was probably my favorite elementary school year. Mrs. Gallop was instrumental in that. She was so much fun and made learning fun. Years after I graduated, I was working for the district as a custodian part-time. She had moved up to either principal or assistant principal at the middle school. She was in her office and I remember walking in and saying hello. I told her she probably wouldn’t remember me, but when I told her my name, she said “Of course I remember you. You had just got your glasses over the summer and you told me that you were so glad you could see the board, and your friends, and me!” How she remembered that, I really don’t know. I assumed she was just saying she remembered me to shut me up, but I had gotten my glasses over the summer, so she remembered.
I may or may not have looked for her on Facebook, some teachers who have Facebook accounts don’t use it to connect to former students. At any rate, she is not my friend on there. I have written about teachers in the past, and I firmly believe that they make a difference each and every day in the lives of their students. They play such an important role. She was such a wonderful lady and I was lucky that I was in her class. If any teachers from the district still keep in touch with her, please let her know that I am forever grateful for the laughs, the learning, and for making me feel like I mattered.
Joe is one of my oldest friends. We met in band class in junior high. One of the things we have in common is our love for music. No surprise that his question is “What was your favorite piece of music to play in band?” I responded and asked if he meant concert or marching band. He said it was my choice and that he would “go easy on” me.
Trying to pick one song out of four years worth of music is quite a task. I thought about it a lot before writing this. I have narrowed it down, but cannot pick just one. I also looked at both marching band and concert band separately. I hope you don’t mind, Joe, but here are the Top 5 for each:
5 – The Seventies Medley
4 – Armed Forces Salute
3 – Hall of Fame March
2 – Tin Pan Alley
1 – Four of a Kind
5 – Washington and Lee Swing (for sentimental reasons)
4 – Artistry in Rhythm
3 – Doggin’ Around
2 – We Got the Beat
1 – Sing, Sing, Sing
It was far from easy to do this, Joe! I also realize I can probably write an entire blog about this.
Vince asks a question that I used to get often when I did Career Day presentations at schools while working in radio. He says, “Radio call in prizes … Ex: Caller #20 wins tickets …. are they legitimate? If yes, is there a strategy to calling in?”
The quick answer (at least in my experience) is yes. Before I explain, let me talk a bit about contesting. When I first started in radio, access to the internet was not really a thing. We used to have many trivia books and often asked musical questions or questions we found in those trivia books to give away prizes. When Trivial Pursuit came out, we had the boxes of questions in the studio to ask. It’s hard to do those kind of things today because so many people can Google the answers and it is just not fun to do any more. I’m not sure why the “be caller # ___” contests have become so popular, to be honest. I really dislike those contests. There is no entertainment value to it at all – and it is not fun for the DJ. When I was at Kiss-FM, we had 6 requests lines, today, it’s usually 3. So the DJ has to literally answer the phones, “You’re caller number 1 (click) you’re caller number 2 (click) you’re caller number 3 (click)” and so on….
Many stations use their frequency to pick the caller number – 95.5 looks for the 95th caller, 89X looks for caller 89, etc. How is this entertaining for the listeners who are not playing? The answer is – it isn’t. As far as a strategy, I don’t know of any. Back in the day, you used “speed dial” to get in and just keep redialing. Today, with cell phones, there is no speed dial. It’s the luck of the draw. There are people who we call “contest pigs” who literally sit and listen for radio contests up and down the dial. They spend all day dialing to win prizes. There are two things radio DJ hate about those winners – first, when they tell you “I was caller 1, 7, 18, 33, and ….” we usually edit that out of the call for play back on the air. We don’t want other listeners to know that they couldn’t get through because you and your family were monopolizing the phone lines. The other thing we hate is when we finally get a winner for a very cool prize and they act like they could care less. “Hey, Vince! You just won $15,000!” and their response is an unemotional “Gee, thanks. Do you like write me a check or something for that?” That’s the response you expect from “Congrats! You just won a free taco and tickets to the flower show.”
I don’t do radio full-time any more, so contesting is a bit different now. Many stations run company wide contesting now. They’ll tell you this in their promo mentions. Basically, a company who owns stations throughout the country, all the stations are giving away the prize and all the listeners from all the stations have a chance to win it. The odds are just a tad worse than when there is a local contest.
Of all the questions asked, Aaron asked the most difficult: “If you had to pick your top 5 or 10 1980’s (your choice) movies for a must see list what would they be?”
For the record, I literally went year by year from 1980-1989 thinking I could narrow it down to 5 or 10. Then I thought “I can’t do this!” and thought if I divided it into genre, I could make it easier. That actually made it more difficult. If anything, it made me realize how many great movies were made in the 80’s. It also made me realize that some could easily fall into more than one genre.
So, Aaron, from my list here are some “must see” flicks from each year:
1980 – Airplane!, The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack, The Shining, Somewhere in Time, The Empire Strikes Back
1981 – Arthur, Cannonball Run, History of the World Part 1, Night Hawks, Private Lessons, Porky’s, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Stripes, Zorro – The Gay Blade
1982 – 48 Hours, Creepshow, ET, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
1983 – A Christmas Story, The Dead Zone, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Trading Places, War Games, Doctor Detroit
1984 – Beverly Hills Cop, Footloose, Ghostbusters, Johnny Dangerously, The Karate Kid, The Natural, Police Academy, Revenge of the Nerds, Terminator
1985 – Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Clue, Fletch, A View to a Kill
1986 – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Golden Child, One Crazy Summer, The Three Amigos, Top Gun, The Color of Money, Aliens
1987 – Good Morning Vietnam, Fatal Attraction, La Bamba, No Way Out, Planes Trains and Automobiles, The Princess Bride, Robocop, The Untouchables, Adventures in Baby Sitting, Spaceballs
1988 – The Naked Gun, Rain Man, Scrooged, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Coming to America, Big, Beetlejuice
1989 – Batman, Dead Poet’s Society, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Weekend at Bernie’s, Tango and Cash, UHF, Uncle Buck
After spending way too much time trying to sort them….It was just easier that way. I had hoped to expand on all of these. I am sure that I left MANY off. I even edited the edited list to get to these. Some of them are on the list because they are personal favorites. How about you, Aaron (or any other reader)…if you had to pick 5 or 10, could you do it??
Thanks to those who sent questions! It’s always fun for me to answer them!