Friday Photo Flashback

Time for another Friday Photo Flashback. I was going to say that I am not digging too deep for this week’s picture, but when I realized that it is probably at least 10-15 years old. Is that considered old? You decide.

This is one of my favorite photos of me with my dad and brother. This photo used to come up for both of them if they called me. With each new phone and contact transfer, the photo got more and more pixilated. I wasn’t even sure I still had a copy of the original until I found it saved on a hard drive.

My brother, as you may recall, lives in Ohio. He usually gets up to Michigan a couple times a year. This was taken during one of those visits.

We had obviously gone to lunch or breakfast at Leo’s Coney Island, because we are in the parking lot there. My dad and brother must have drove up to see us. If I had to guess this may be around 2009 because I am wearing my B95 coat (and I still have some hair). I’m guessing that this was springtime as the trees in the background are still green.

What I love about this picture (and many subsequent ones of the three of us) is that there is no doubt we are all related. The older my brother and I have gotten, the more we started looking alike. The older we get, I also feel like we look more like my dad.

What I hate about this picture is knowing when it was taken. I was still with my ex and I’m sure that any time I was allotted to see my brother and father was based loosely around whatever she had to do or wanted me to do. My time with them was never as much as it should have been. To this day, I look back and wish I knew then what I know now. I lost out on a LOT of time with my family.

On the bright side, I feel like my relationship with both my father and brother are stronger now than they have ever been. For that, I am glad. I love this picture and love them both.

Friday Photo Flashback

It’s another Friday Photo Flashback! Here is today’s photo:

I am unsure of the year on this photo, but I’m going to guess I am 6 and my brother is 4. We are in pajamas, so I am guessing that we are at our house, possibly in our kitchen. I guess that because of the flooring. I know we had paneling in our basement, but before they painted I thought there was paneling in the kitchen, too.

Outside of the terrible paneling, the first thing that jumps out at me is the extremely cheesy smile on my brother’s face. As a matter of fact, that’s why I chose this picture. I chuckled out loud when I saw it. The laughter was brought on partly by his grin and partly by the fact that we are dressed as cowboys in PJ’s!

I love that my brother is wearing sleeper “footie” pajamas! It seems to me that I am wearing some socks that don’t match as part of my ensemble. I’m truly a hodgepodge of whatever was available to wear it seems. I would think that my brother’s hat would match my outfit better, but it must have been too small.

I am almost 100% sure that the guns we are holding were made of metal. These would have been smaller than the ones I would play with when I was 11 or 12, but metal none the less. I have to crack up at the ridiculous looking belts with holsters. I am sure that they made of cheap plastic and probably ripped from the belt after a few times of placing the guns in them.

I don’t recall if these were a Christmas or Easter gift, but I’m sure that they were received on one of the two holidays. I wish I knew more of the story surrounding this photo.

Friday Photo Flashback

It is time for another edition of my Friday Photo Flashback. If you are a new reader to my blog, this feature started with a writing prompt that asked for you to find a picture that brought about memories or emotions and post the picture with comments about it.

Today, I am posting a picture that is over 20 years old. It is one that I haven’t seen in probably that long. I stumbled on a long forgotten folder on my hard drive which contained some scans from my dad. He had scanned this picture of my oldest son, Dante’. This came from a 1st birthday photo shoot.

I believe that we had these pictures taken at Walmart. Do they even do photos anymore? I don’t think so.

It is crazy to see him this little! I remember those deep brown eyes and him parting his hair like that. I remember how cute I thought it was that he was holding his arm like that for this picture. It is really hard to even begin to express the feelings I had when I saw this one again.

It was around this time that we noticed some developmental delays. We had him evaluated and got him into some therapy early, which really helped him as he grew up. I remember starting with a Developmental Delay diagnosis, then an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, finally an Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis. Thanks to early intervention, and therapies, he is doing very well. Nothing can stop him! He has a good job, he has his own vehicle and he is going to college. I couldn’t be more proud of him.

It is pretty amazing to look at this one year old kid in the photo and know how far he has come and where he is at now. He looks way different now – glasses, beard, and I don’t think he bothers to part his hair! What a wonderful adventure it has been!

Friday Photo Flashback

I’m just under the wire for another Friday Photo Flashback. For this edition, we go back to Y2K!

The above photo was taken outside the Country Music Hall of Fame on either December 31, 1999 OR January 1, 2000. I was working at B95 in Flint, MI at the time. We had a huge promotion where we took a couple buses of listeners to Nashville to ring in the year 2000 with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. I believe Kenny Chesney and some other singer all were with them that night.

Kristine Turner, our morning show co-host, and I were the station chaperones. I don’t recall if the listeners bought tickets to go or if they won them, but the trip was quite a whirlwind and awesome time. I remember we left Flint at the crack of dawn and drove all the way to Nashville nonstop. I believe when we arrived at the hotel, we had time to check in, change and we left for the show.

The atmosphere in the arena was electric! For weeks, all the news could talk about was Y2K and all the potential issues and uncertainty that may or may not happen at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Y2K was the furthest thing from everyone’s mind at the show! It was a big party.

The year 2000 rang in to loud cheers, Auld Lang Syne, and couples kissing. Afterwards, the concert continued. We knew the buses were heading back to the hotel until much later, so we ventured out into downtown Nashville. All along Broadway, EVERY bar was hopping with activity. We stopped at almost all of them. Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, where singers like Terri Clark were discovered, was packed and we enjoyed some great music.

As we walked the streets of Nashville, people were coming up to us. I had worn my Detroit Tigers jersey to the show and people from Michigan kept stopping us asking us where we were from and then telling us what Michigan town they were from. There were many hugs and handshakes throughout that walk. I don’t think things closed down until like 4am that night. It was unreal how busy the town was that night.

The following morning, New Year’s Day, we had a few hours to walk around and take in some sights before the buses left to go home. We opted to go to the Opryland Hotel and walk through there. I won’t lie, I had no idea how big it was and just how much was in there. I remember thinking, “Wait. You are leaving our hotel … to go see another one?”

I was floored when I walked in. I remember seeing the boat that floated through the hotel. I couldn’t believe it. The hotel was obviously more than a hotel. I enjoyed walking through it and checking out the attractions. I may have gotten a caricature done while I was there. Years later, after we were married, Sam and I took a trip down to see her aunt in Kentucky. On the way home, we made a stop in Nashville and took that boat ride together.

On that trip, time was very limited, but it still was a lot of fun. We did have one “incident” on that trip. We stopped at one point, I can’t remember if it was to eat or maybe at a rest stop to just get out and walk for five minutes. One of the bus drivers actually locked the keys in the bus! This is the same bus driver who had taken us on a “tour” of Nashville at some point during the trip and got lost! I had to laugh, because I could see us stuck there for a while. Luckily, someone was able to reach in and get ahold of the arm that opened the door. It was no easy task, but we finally were able to get back on the bus and head home. That was a story I enjoyed telling on the air!!!

I have yet to actually walk through the Country Music Hall of Fame, so I think another trip to Nashville is in order.

Friday Photo Flashback

It is time for another installment of my Friday Photo Flashback. I had originally planned to post a photo of my parents at my aunt’s wedding. When I saw the date, however, I knew I had to go back and grab one from another wedding – theirs.

53 years ago this week, my parents were married. The above picture is one of many from their wedding photo album. There are other photos of the two of them together, but this one is my favorite. As I looked through their album, I saw a few people I didn’t recognize. This is where I wish my mom were still alive so I could ask who they were. I doubt that my dad knows them.

I love how they are off center in the picture to allow for the train of mom’s dress to be included in it. She is absolutely beautiful. I love that my dad is wearing a white coat with his tux. I always thought that looked sharp, and he looks dapper here. I am a bit surprised that he is not wearing spats. He did wear them to my first wedding.

I want to say that this photo was in a frame that sat in my grandparent’s front room for the entire time that they lived in their house. It may have made the move to their condo, but I don’t recall it being out on display.

9 months later, the lives of these two young lovebirds would change forever. I arrived in May of 1970 bringing them much joy and happiness.

Friday Photo Flashback

I have come to really enjoy this little feature. It began as a simple writing prompt that suggested going through some old photos and picking one that brought make a lot of memories or feelings. It has been fun to go back through some of the old photos from our family albums.

Today, we have a look back at “toddler” Keith …

If I had to date this picture, I’d say it is 1971 or 1972. I have to be 1 or 2 in it.

I have no idea if this is Christmas or my birthday, but I would guess Christmas. I don’t really remember much about this piano, except for these few pictures. Did it come home with us or did it stay at my grandparents? I just don’t know.

The first thing that jumps out at me in this picture is the VERY wide collar on the vest I am wearing. At least I think that is a vest. It certainly looks as though there is a long sleeve shirt under it, but it very well could be that the sleeves are attached to it.

This is one of my favorite pictures of me as a kid. As I look at it, I am still amazed at just how much hair I had as a kid! It’s a wonder that I ever grew into those big ears, too! The caterpillar eyebrows have been a thing with me since I was little, obviously.

The other thing that stands out is the smiles on the faces of (from left to right) my grandma, my grandpa, and my mom. I am sure that I am probably not playing Beethoven, or even Chopsticks for that matter! I am probably just pounding out some nonsensical and nonmusical noise, but here they are looking at me and smiling!

It looks like my grandma is holding the piano bench I should be sitting on, but as a toddler, I probably wouldn’t have sat there for long. It was probably easier for me to just stand and bang on the keys. Her beehive hairdo is not quite a beehive in this photo and the lenses of her glasses are much smaller than I was used to seeing as she got older.

My grandpa is holding something that I can’t quite make out. It almost looks like a cigar, but as far as I know, he never smoked them. Of course, it would be an ashtray he is holding. That wouldn’t be a stretch. In the picture, you can really see how crooked his nose was. You can see how it is bent to the right. (He broke it when it was hit by a crank that you used to start cars with.)

My mom’s hair looks more “beehive-ish” than my grandma’s. I love that smile on her face. I saw that smile many times in my life when she was beaming with pride over something I did. While a little blurry, I think it is safe to say that she is wearing some horn-rimmed glasses in the picture. My brother and I always made fun of her when we found pictures of her in those glasses. Glasses or not, she still looks beautiful in this picture.

That lamp in the background was one that grandma had for YEARS! I think she even brought it to her condo after grandpa passed away. The shade had hung upon the lamp for years and collected a deep yellow cigarette stain from the smoke exposure. On the table is a picture of me as a baby in yellow PJs. I’d have to find the original, but I think I am holding a baseball in it.

On the wall above my mother are two pieces of art that I do not recall at all. I always remember there being a big picture on that wall. I can’t even tell what those things are? The middle one looks like it’s a fox or something. This is where I wish I could enhance it more.

I remembered another picture taken that same day. I found it and here it is.

This piano may or many not have had a big impact on me as far as my love for music. I did take some lessons on the Hammond Organ when I was maybe 6 or 7 years old, but I really never learned how to play piano. For whatever it is worth, in the above picture, I seem to be faking it pretty good. I actually look like I know what I am doing!

Friday Photo Flashback

This is a “feature” I started a while ago with a Daily Writing Prompt, and I have enjoyed it so much, I have decided to keep doing it. This week – two for the price of one. I guess the common theme to these pictures is that they are both taken at my grandma’s house and they both contain … a couch.

It is hard for me to tell which photo is older. They look to have been taken relatively close together age-wise. I know that both of these pictures were favorites of my grandmother, the first one especially.

Photo #1 – Sleepers

In the first photo, I am wearing “sleepers.” I remember always having them for some reason. I was probably 4 or 5 when I finally wore pajamas without the “feet” in them. One thing I hated about them was that your feet were always hot and sweaty! URGH!!! Parents must have always worried about their kid’s feet getting cold because even after I started wearing pajamas where the feet were free to breathe, I always seemed to have a pair of slippers on or close by!

That awful yellow couch had an ugly green chair that matched it. I remember the fabric being sort of rough and it always made noise when you sat on it. It reminded me of corduroy pants and the noise they made when you walked in them. At some point, my folks inherited the couch (maybe the chair, too) and it wound up in our basement.

Just to the right of the blue pillow in the photo, I can see the three chains that held the weights of the cuckoo clock I can still hear in my head. In the upper right of the picture you can barely make out the handle to grandma’s fridge, which was always contained a carton of Half and Half (which she called “milk”), eggs, and cans of Altes beer. The stove is to the left of that and on the far wall the sink. There was always a yellow water cup – the yellow matched the color of the couch!

Coincidentally, my sleepers seem to match the cup and couch, too! My grandma used to laugh out loud when she’d see this picture because of how my leg is cocked. I really don’t know if this is the way I always stood around, or if this was a lucky candid snapshot, but it kinda makes me chuckle, too!

Photo #2 – cool and relaxed

The second photo actually makes me laugh out loud. Look at the attitude I am exuding in it! I know for a fact that I will still stand this way today. It isn’t odd to see me with my hand or arm up against a wall or something and my feet positioned with one crossed over the other. It’s obvious that I have been doing that for a long time.

It would not surprise me if that outfit was made out of corduroy! It sure looks like it. I would also wager a guess that those shoes I am wearing are Stride Rite shoes. My brother and I both had a pair. When my oldest boy was born, my mom made sure he had a pair too! I’m not sure that they were ever “bronzed” like my dad’s baby shoes were, though it is entirely possible.

My hair is a mess in both pictures and it’s odd to compare them because it seems that my hair is going one way in one photo and the other way in the other one. I really don’t know what the “lip pout” is about in this picture, but it seems I am pondering something.

What’s interesting about this picture is that it is taken in the front room of my grandma’s house. This was an “off limits” room for us. We just never played in there. We weren’t even really allowed to sit on the furniture in there. So why am I in there? Can’t tell you.

That couch I remember clear as day! There was at least one chair that matched it, maybe two. What I remember most about it was that it was on wheels, one of which you can see in the photo. The chairs had those wheels, too. If you were fooling around on them, they would move fairly easily. If that happened, my grandpa’s OCD would kick in and he would come in and put the chair back in it’s exact place – making sure the wheels went back into the spots by them in the carpet.

I remember those terrible pillows, which were obviously just for decoration, because they were scratchy as hell to the touch. I couldn’t imagine anyone ever wanting to sleep on one. If memory serves me right, there was an end table at each end of it. They would have had big ugly lamps on them and may have looked something like this:

Almost everyone had end tables that looked like that in the 70’s!!

The painting above the couch is one I recognize, but it may have been replaced with another as I got older. I went through some other photos and actually found one with the whole thing. I’m not sure exactly where this is supposed to be, maybe Hawaii? I don’t know, but it was almost as long as the couch!

I don’t want to sound like an egotistic jerk, but these two photos of me are among my top ten favorites. They bring back some good memories. It may seem weird to say, but as I look at them, I can almost smell the stale cigarette air that hung in every room of my grandma’s house. I’m sure that wherever those couches may reside today, they almost assuredly reek of Lucky Strike and Kool cigarettes!

Friday Photo Flashback

This is a “feature” I started a couple weeks ago with a Daily Writing Prompt. It’s been fun to find a photo to write about each week. This week’s gem comes from way back!

Yes, that is me! I’m going to guess I am about a year old in the picture. I don’t have a date on it, but judging by the grass and the fact that I am wearing a coat, I’d guess this picture was taken in the spring of 71 (although it could be Fall of 70).

Look at that fire truck! It was all metal! I can’t recall, but I think it had pedals (sort of like a tricycle) and you could “drive” it around. There are not many pictures of me with it, but I wish there were more. Somewhere my dad has old 8mm home movies and one of them has my mom pushing me down the hallway of our house in this fire truck.

I chuckle as I look at the bike horn attached to the hood of it. If you started honking it, no one would think “There’s a fire!” They’d think, “Hey! Here comes Harpo Marx!”

I remember the string that attached to the bell. You pulled it and the bell clanged, much like what you’d see in a Little Rascals short. Of course, my truck was a lot more sturdy than the truck Spanky and the gang were riding on!

I look really interested in that steering wheel, which isn’t even a wheel at all. It’s a combination oval/rectangle. It looks like the string for the bell is actually tied onto it, which makes no sense to me.

I think I am wearing a pea coat here. At least that is what it looks like. I remember those brass buttons were kind of loose and hung from the string that held them to the coat itself. They had to be loose because the coat was thick and the buttons needed to fit into the button holes.

I love to see how much hair I had as a baby. If they trimmed my bangs the right way, I could look like one of the Beatles in ’64 here.

I also love to see those chubby cheeks. Over the years, the chubbiness moved from my cheeks to other parts of my body!

I love the look of that ridiculous grill on the fire truck! The fact that there are fake headlights cracks me up. Those wheels, too! I bet they each weighed about three pounds! They were that hard rubber with thick metal – built to last!

I know this was taken at my grandparents house. I recognize the lamp post to my left in the picture. While we didn’t play often in their front yard, I remember that the pole has this crossbar that went through it.

I think it was meant to hang the numbers or a name plate. My brother and I used to reach up and try to hang from it. It was only aluminum, so I’m sure my grandpa knew that eventually the weight of one or both of us would eventually snap it, so he’d yell at us to leave it alone when we played around it.

I should have reached out to my dad before I posted this picture. I do not know whose car is in the background. It may be ours, or it may be my grandfather’s. I know that they both owned their share of black cars in the past. I am not one of those guys who can look at the style of hubcaps and tell the make and model of the vehicle either. If dad sees this, maybe he can fill in the blanks on it.

What immediately stands out about the car, beside the color, is the HUGE bumper! Those old cars had these bumpers that were like 6 inches wide and solid. One time, my dad, my brother and I were at K-mart. He was backing out of a parking spot in a ’73 Impala. He hit some woman who drove behind us. Her car crumpled like a piece of tin foil while ours didn’t even have a scratch. At that low speed, the bumper destroyed her car!

As I look at the shiny reflection off the hood of this amazing fire truck, I can only imagine the thrill that I must have been experiencing as a child. I don’t know how long I had this, but I wish I still did so that I could pass this very cool toy down to my kids. I know today they have these battery operated 4 wheelers and such that all kids seem to want. But I can tell you one thing, put one of those up against this fire truck and those plastic things would crumble, just like that woman’s car in the K-mart parking lot!

Friday Photo Flashback

This is a “feature” I started a couple weeks ago with a Daily Writing Prompt. It’s been fun to find a photo to write about each week. I stumbled on a picture this week I didn’t know I had. It was one that I hadn’t scanned yet and it features one of the bravest and strongest young men I have ever met.

The photo above was taken during our first St. Jude Radiothon at B95. The young man on the right is Kyle. If I had to guess he is about 10 years old here. We are in center court of our local mall raising money for kids with cancer.

The St. Jude Radiothon was one of the most emotional and satisfying things I have ever done. I loved having the station out in public broadcasting live. Today, they do this all from the studio, but back then it was something really special.

The hardest thing for me was listening to the various pre-recorded stories of families who had both happy and sad outcomes connected to their visit to St. Jude. Not crying in public was quite difficult at times, but the radiothon was a rollercoaster of smiles and tears.

Our St. Jude reps would connect us to families in the area that had been to St. Jude to share their stories of hope. Knowing that local people were helped by St. Jude helped us raise money for our cause. I was happy to interview Kyle and his mother Vicky during my shift during that first radiothon all those years ago.

We’d meet other children, too, from year to year, but Kyle was the first one I met and holds a special place in my heart. His mother shared the story of how they discovered Kyle was sick as an infant. His first surgery was at 6 months old. He has since had at least 15 surgeries. She shared their story and stories of the people that helped them at St. Jude.

As I look at this picture it seems that I am listening to Vicky, who is obviously not in the picture. She is probably right across from me. Looking at the photo, it is easy to get distracted by the equipment in it. The microphones and microphone stands were obviously lifted right out of the on air studios. One thing I noticed that I am wearing glasses. I had Lasik surgery around 2000, so I’m guessing the photo is from 1999 or early 2000.

I see the three ring binder which played a very important part of the radiothon. Each day had a folder. In the folder were all of the cue sheets for the recorded pieces we’d be playing on air. The basket the folder is sitting on is what our reps would put notes in. Those notes could be pledges (Bill from Flint is a Partner in Hope, Bob from Burton gave $500, and Flint Police have raised $3000), challenges (Steve from Saginaw will match all donations for the next 20 minutes, Nick has challenged all parents with baseball players to make a pledge), and notes about things that needed to be promoted or upcoming guests, or hourly tallies.

This photo brings back so many memories of a time when radio was fun to do. This was an event that made a difference and I was proud to be a part of it. I don’t recall how much money we raised that year, but knowing that it would help with research to find a cure for childhood cancer, it meant a lot to all of us.

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to still be in contact with Vicky and Kyle. As I have already stated, Kyle is one of the bravest and strongest young men I know. He’s had chemo, radiation and more! He’s had so many surgeries – as a matter of fact, he is currently recovering from another recent surgery and doing well. He’ll have another one coming up in a few months.

Knowing that the picture above is over 20 years old, it shouldn’t surprise me that Kyle will be turning 33 this year, he’s not the young boy in the photo anymore. This is really amazing, especially since they didn’t expect him to live long as a baby. He is a hero to me – a true hero. Knowing Kyle and his family has been a blessing for me.

A lot of time has passed since that radiothon. A lot of money has been raised, and many breakthroughs and treatments have been discovered and created to help kids with cancer. Somewhere in my pile of photos, I have a picture with our entire radio staff and Kyle holding a guitar from our final tally that day. I will have to find it and add it to this post in the future, or maybe I should just do another Friday Photo Flashback.

Friday Photo Flashback

This is a “feature” I started a couple weeks ago with a Daily Writing Prompt. It’s been fun to find a photo to write about each week. This week, I went looking through the “photo files” and found this gem:

Pictured in the photo from left to right: me, my brother, and my dad.

I am sure that this photo was taken in our old house in Sterling Heights. My brother looks to be about 6-9 months old here. My mom is obviously taking the picture. I have many wonderful memories of crawling into my parents bed on Saturday or Sunday mornings and reading books, or wrestling with dad.

The first thing that jumps out at me in the picture is the gold satin bed spread. I remember it so well. I remember sliding off the bed numerous times because of it. I don’t recall how long my folks used that bed spread, but I recall it being a staple in that old house.

I love the look on my dad’s face here. I almost feel like my mom interrupted some sort of silly game he was playing with us to take this picture. In one game, my dad would pretend to be a bear as we hid under the bed spread in our “tent.” He would roar and grab at the bed spread and we would scream “It’s a bear!!”

Today, if you put a picture of me and my dad next to each other – there is no doubt that I’m his son and he is my dad. As I look at him in the photo, I don’t really see “me” in his face. Ok, the eyebrows – we both have huge eyebrows.

My brother is so little in this picture. I can see a little of each of my boys as babies in this photo. Just like with my dad, the older we have gotten, the more we look alike. You just don’t see that in this photo. We look very different.

I chuckle out loud when I look at myself. I really have no idea what I am doing in the picture. The whole angelic “eyes closed and hand on my cheeks” thing … I wonder what I am thinking in this picture. I look back at all that hair I had and I miss it. I remember my mom giving us a bath and then blow drying my hair while running a brush through it to give me a poofy “Elvis” hair style. There’s the old joke that says, “I used to have very wavy hair … now all that is left is the beach!”

In the same folder as the “featured” photo is one taken the same day. Whether minutes before of after, I do not know. It is a picture that I had forgot about until recently. As much as my brother and I fought with each other growing up, I just love this picture of me laying on my back cracking up, while my dad hold him on top of me. It seems that the brotherly love began right from the get go.