A Voice Silenced. A Friend Lost. A Legend Remembered.

In my radio career, I have been lucky enough to work with some fantastic people. Pictured with me above are two of them. Sadly, I received word just after Christmas that the silly guy holding the coffee pot, passed away. Richard D. Haase was one of a kind.

Readers of this blog may remember that I have blogged about him in the past. Last year, I posted the following:

Richard was a fantastic mentor to me. His guidance, advice, and coaching made me a better on air personality. His love of humor, bad puns, old jokes, and silliness helped us to become instant friends. I used to love sitting in the Honey Radio office listening to him on the air. I would anxiously await the “Keith Allen” joke of the day. Sometimes there were more than one. “My part time secretary and full time airhead, Lulu, said the last time Keith was on the air he sounded funny. She thought he had a worm in his Adam’s apple!”

Later in the same show he quipped – “I’m pretty sure the year that song came out was the same year that Jon Ray (pictured to my left in the first picture) got kicked out of grade school. He was caught drawing naked pictures of Wilma Flintstone on his Etch-A-Sketch”

In past blogs I have written about Richard:

From the blog “World Radio Day Thank You” written 2-14-2018:

WHND – Honey Radio

Before I say any more, let me say that working at WHND was not work at all.  It was like play.  We had so much fun.  Anyone who tuned in and listened to this station could tell that the DJ’s were having as much fun as the listeners.  Honey was the first “Oldies” station in America.  I was honored to work here and honored to work with everyone here.

Richard D. Haase: Richard D. remains to this day one of the guys who offered me some of the most amazing advice.  I was probably a big pain in his ass.  I was always asking him something.  I had this want and need to be better.  I wanted to be the best.  I was forever asking him to listen to my show tapes and offer criticism and advice, which he did always.

One of the things I learned from him, was the importance of talking to one person.  To create the illusion that it is just me and you listening to our favorite songs and hanging out together.  I understood what he meant, and began to drop phrases like “everyone”, “all of you”, and “out there”.  He also connected me with a mentor who would take that premise and continue to grow into a better personality, the late Jay Trachman.

Richard’s show was full of “benchmarks”.  Poor Richard D’s Almanac (This Day In History), The Off The Wall Record (a rare song that he played each day), and “The Top 12 at 12” (His countdown of the top 12 local songs from a specific year).  He also featured many characters on the show that were sometimes referred to and never heard (another gimmick of old time radio).

His show was also filled with insanely bad jokes.  I often kidded him that even Milton Berle (who was known for stealing others jokes) wouldn’t touch his stuff.    He often poked fun of the other DJ’s on the station, which I found to be a unique way of cross promotion.

There were many days that we’d sit in his office and talk about radio, computers, and life in general and we’d laugh until tears rolled down our faces and our sides hurt.  Richard was a legend who had been on the air for many years, a far cry from being young!  Yet, when we worked together, we were like a bunch of elementary kids laughing and hooping it up.

From the blog “Some Old Radio Stories – Part 1” written 8-21-2018:

Richard D was one of the funniest men I ever worked with. He gave me lots of direction and I have talked about him in previous blogs, as well. I was producing his show the Top 12 at 12, which was an hour of his show which featured the Top 12 songs in Detroit from local charts from different years. It was a fun show to produce. It included new stories, TV and movie clips, old commercials, info about how much things were from that year, etc…

Richard had to play the 12 songs and sometimes there was extra time and we’d give him songs that were on the charts from that week to play as “extras” if he needed them. He was doing a countdown from 1966 and I had put a Dean Martin song in there as an extra and he played it. He made some comment about it not being the greatest song or something and moved on. I went into the studio, as I often did, to give him crap.

I said something along the lines of “Why are you messing with Italians! Dean was Italian and so I am I! Look here you Old Bastid (a term of endearment), If I were you, I’d watch what you say about Dean Martin … and Frank Sinatra for that matter!” and left the room as he laughed hysterically. After the next song he said on the air, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I must offer an apology. A little while ago I played (whatever the song was) by Dean Martin and made some negative remarks about it. Well immediately after that, Keith Allen came in here with about 12 goons who roughed me up a bit and told me that my comments were distasteful. So I must now publicly apologize. I really had no idea that Keith Allen was the President of the Dean Martin Fan Club!”

From that day on, I always tried to find a way to sneak a Dean Martin song into my show, so I could say I was President of the Dean Martin Fan Club. When Honey went off the air, I received a package from a listener named Sandy (who I remain friends with to this day), who sent me a membership to the REAL Dean Martin Fan Club with a note that read: “I thought you might actually want to be a member of the Fan Club you claim to be President of….”

From the blog “More Musical Memories” written 3-2-2018:

WHND

Richard D. used to have a feature called The Off-the-Wall Record. He’d say, “To my right is a wall. On the wall is a peg. On the peg – records. When I take one of the records of the peg on the wall and play it on the air, it becomes a Tricky Dickie Off-The Wall Record”. When he did this feature it usually consisted of rare or obscure tunes. One day I gave him Stormy Weather by the Spaniels to play. He LOVED it. He told me that was one of his favorites.

He often spoke of the group the Hi-Los and told me about the “tight” harmonies that they had. He was right. Good stuff! As a fan of the big bands, I let him listen to The Spitfire Band’s version of Cherokee, which featured an AMAZING trombone part. Again, he loved it and I think of him when it plays on the iPod.

Tying in with the Dean Martin story above:

After his last show on Honey Radio, a listener suggested I play a Dean Song in Richard’s honor….I chose “I Will”. The first line of the song is “I don’t wanna be the one to say I’m gonna miss you, but I will…” it fit the somber occasion.

I found this article was posted on the Motor City Radio Flashbacks page and is from the Detroit Free Press. It is from March of 1981, one year after he took the reigns of WHND.

There were things in that article that I didn’t even know. He mentioned his accident briefly in a conversation once, but he didn’t want to dwell on it. He spoke a lot of his days at CHUM and WXYZ. I loved listening to those stories! I remember the young Keith sitting there in awe of the legend. He spoke of long lines for autographs at remote appearances, hanging with celebrities, and performing magic with vinyl records and reel to reel tape machines. I hung on his every word!

Every day, listeners tuned in to “The Richard D Wireless Act” to hear The Top 12 at 12, Tricky Dickey Off the Wall Record, Tricky Dickey Trivia, facts from the Poor Richard D’s Almanac, and hoped to be Richard D-clared a winner. Watching him work in the studio was like watching a kid in a candy store. He was constantly moving, constantly writing, constantly thinking. He often laughed to himself just before cracking the microphone because of whatever line popped into his head. He was a master.

I’ve said before that the man you heard on the air was also the man that he was off the air. His quick wit and ad-libs were brilliant. I marveled at how his mind was able to come up with those things. In later years, I found myself mimicking his on air delivery because it was just so “personal.” He understood talking to one person and connecting with his listener. I took away a lot from his coaching and from listening to him.

Honey Radio went off the air in 1994. I was lucky enough to keep in contact with Richard through Facebook. As the years went on, life offered many changes for both of us. For me – a divorce, second marriage and new life. For him – the sad loss of his wife Pam. He spoke of her often on the show (calling her “Oldielocks”) and off air, too. In our last phone conversation, it was obvious that he missed her very much.

My heart breaks for his children and grandchildren. As a fellow Honey co-worker stated when I shared the news of his passing, “He is now reunited with the love of his life in heaven.” There is comfort in knowing this.

I hope that his family and friends will always remember the fun he had. I hope that they recall the happiness that filled a room when he was there. I hope that they remember the love that he had for each of them.

Thankfully, there are many recordings of his show available online. His voice will live on. His memory will live on. His jokes will live on (this could be a good thing or a bad thing!). You can enjoy some of them here:

https://mcrfb.com/?cat=736

What a blessing it was to have shared the same studio with Richard. I am thankful for the many laughs we shared over the years. I am forever grateful for his guidance and support. I only hope that he knew just how much he meant to me.

I’d like to think that there was an opening at God’s radio station and he needed Richard’s talent for the heavenly airwaves. I am going to miss my friend very much, but I will look back on our friendship fondly.

Rest easy, Richard.

Turntable Talk #8 – Best Year In Music?

Once again, Dave from A Sound Day has asked some of us music lovers to participate in another round of Turntable Talk. This time around was a bit of a challenge for me. Dave’s e-mail stated:

Put your thinking caps on and go through your stacks of records (or scroll thru that I-pod) and … come up with what you think the best year for music was. A tough call of course, thankfully there have been more than a few good ones! I’m interested in what you pick and don’t worry if yours duplicates someone else’s , you still have your reasons which might be different.” He goes on to say, “I think I have a guess on a couple of years that might come up more than once, but we’ll wait and see.

This particular blog will be one of the last ones to be featured and I do not know if my year will be or has been featured. I plan on writing this KNOWING that the year I have chosen very well may be one that comes up in another post. Before I tell you the year I picked, let me tell you that I had a very difficult time narrowing it down.

My first thought was to go with 1956/1957 because those years were always so unique. You had the birth of rock and roll mixing with pop standards. When I worked at Honey Radio, I loved doing the Top 12 at 12 show when those years popped up because there was such a big variety in what was played. You could go from Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis to Pat Boone or Nelson Riddle. When I looked at the list of songs, however, were they really the BEST? No.

The same thing can be said for some of the years in the 70’s decades. I looked through many lists and while there were many great songs, there were also a lot of really crappy songs! I just couldn’t really come up with the conviction to pick a year in that decade as the BEST.

One year kept coming up every time I started thinking about it – 1964.

I want you to know before I continue that I was dead set AGAINST 1964 when I read Dave’s e-mail. Why? Well, I felt that it would just be too Beatle heavy and loaded with British Invasion stuff. And it is. On the Top 100 Chart, The Fab Four nabbed 9 spots. 18 spots were held by other British Invasion acts. In total 27% of the Top 100 were British acts. When I really looked at the chart, the more and more I felt like this WAS the year.

1964 really was the year of the Beatles, so let’s discuss them first. They were present almost right from the start as their “Introducing The Beatles” album was released in America on January 10th of that year.

This album preceded Capitol Records “Meet the Beatles” by 10 days and there was a lawsuit surrounding that whole issue. Capitol Records won an injunction and Vee-jay Records was not allowed to put out any more Beatles recordings.

In February of 1964, the Beatles arrived in the US and appeared on Ed Sullivan’s show three times (2/9, 2/16, and 2/23). In March of 64, Billboard magazine stated that the Beatles were responsible for 60% of all single record sales! In a feat that has yet to be matched, on April 4, 1964, the Beatles held the Top 5 spots on the Billboard chart!

A week later, the boys held 14 spots on the Hot 100 Chart! That broke the previous record of 9 spots held by Elvis Presley in 1956.

In May, The Beatles Second Album was released and in July, they would release A Hard Day’s Night in theaters. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” wound up being the #1 song for the whole year of 64 (“She Loves You” was #2) To say that they played a small part in the music of 1964 would be a huge understatement.

Among the other artists that came over from “across the pond” in 64 were Manfred Mann (Do Wah Diddy Diddy), Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (Little Children and Bad to Me), The Dave Clark Five (Glad All Over, Because, Do You Love Me), Peter and Gordon (A World Without Love), The Animals (House of the Rising Son), The Honeycombs (Have I The Right), Dusty Springfield (Wishin’ and Hopin’), Gerry & The Pacemakers (Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying and How Do You Do It), Chad and Jeremy (A Summer Song), The Kinks (You Really Got Me), and the Searchers (Don’t Throw Your Love Away and Needles and Pins). It is interesting to note that the Rolling Stones debut album was released this year, but no songs appear in the Top 100 for the year.

Once you move away from the British artists, the chart has a nice variety of pop, rock, folk, country, soul, and even a few novelty songs. I think that is what made me ultimately choose this particular year.

It was nice to look over the Top 100 and see Motown represented with some classics. The Supremes hold two of the six Motown songs (Where Did Our Love Go and Baby Love), Motown was female heavy as Mary Wells (My Guy) and Martha and the Vandellas (Dancin’ In The Street) grabbed the next two spots, and the male gender was represented by The Four Tops (Baby I Need Your Loving) and The Temptations (The Way You Do The Things You Do).

While they were not “oldies” at the time, there were some classic songs that are still in hot rotation today on the oldies stations across the country. Roy Orbison had a smash with Pretty Woman in 64, and also had a hit with It’s Over. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons grabbed three of the Top 100 with Rag Doll, Dawn and Ronnie. The Beach Boys only entry in the Top 100 was I Get Around.

1964 brought us classics like The Drifters Under The Boardwalk, Chapel of Love by the Dixie Cups, Suspicion by Terry Stafford, It Hurts to Be In Love from gene Pitney and Come A Little Bit Closer by Jay and the Americans. Johnny Rivers had a hit with Chuck Berry’s Memphis, Bobby Freeman invited us to C’mon and Swim, Detroit’s Reflections offered up Just Like Romeo and Juliet and the Shangri-Las told us the story of the Leader of the Pack.

Car songs were well represented in 64! Ronny and the Daytonas had GTO, while the Rip Chords sang Hey Little Cobra, and the Hondells had Little Honda. Jan and Dean told us the stories of The Little Old Lady from Pasadena and Dead Man’s Curve, while J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers told us the tragic story of a Last Kiss.

Soul music is represented by The Impressions (I’m So Proud and Keep on Pushing), Joe Hinton (Funny How Time Slips Away), The Tams (What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am), Jimmy Hughes (Steal Away) and Nancy Wilson (How Glad Am I). If you throw Blues into the “Soul” mix, the great Tommy Tucker song “Hi Heel Sneakers” was out in 1964.

Instrumentally, Al Hirt had a monster hit with Java, The Ventures had Walk Don’t Run 1964, The Marketts had The Outer Limits, and Robert Maxwell had the incredibly cheesy lounge version of Shangri-la. While novelty songs included Jumpin’ Gene Simmons (Haunted House), The Trashmen (Surfin’ Bird) and Roger Miller (Chug-a-Lug).

While Rock was dominant in 1964, there were still some pop (and even folk) songs that made the Top 100 – one of them, doing the “impossible.” Two of the biggest pop hits of the year couldn’t be more different from each other. The third biggest hit of the year belonged to Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong and his Dixieland hit “Hello, Dolly!” Barbra Streisand (who won Album of the year at the 1964 Grammy Awards) had the 11th biggest hit of the year with “People.”

Pop/Folk was also represented by Gale Garnett (We’ll Sing in the Sunshine), The Ray Charles Singers (Love Me With All Your Heart), Dionne Warwick (Walk On By), Al Martino (I Love You More and More Every Day), and Andy Williams (A Fool Never Learns). But the biggest surprise came from an artist who hadn’t had a top 40 record since 1958!

Dean Martin didn’t care for Rock and Roll. With the British Invasion in full swing, there was very little chance of him ever having another hit. His kids loved the new artists. His son, Dean Paul, loved the Beatles. Dean told his boy, “I’m gonna knock your pallies off the charts!” On August 15, 1964 – he did just that with a song that became his NEW theme song, “Everybody Loves Somebody.” (It replaced That’s Amore as his theme song)

The song knocked the beloved Beatles A Hard Day’s Night out of the number 1 spot! It went on to stay at #1 on the Pop Standards Singles Chart for 8 weeks. It also became the theme to his weekly television show in 1965.

I picked 1964 for a few reasons. Despite my initial worry about it being British act heavy, it was the year that introduced us to the Beatles (who changed the music scene forever!). It is also the year that one act held the top 5 spots on the charts (a record that remains in place). It is also the year that my favorite singer of all time bumped the biggest group in music out of the top spot.

It is also a year that encompasses such a vast variety of music. While there may be better songs that appeared before and after 1964, it truly represents a unique time in history. America was still recovering from the loss of a beloved president, there were still Civil Rights issues, and a war in Vietnam. The music of 1964 was a welcome escape from so many things.

Was it all good? No, and that is true of every year. However, as I look at the 100 biggest songs of the year, there are a lot of great songs that have gone on to become classics. There are so many songs that are still looked at as pivotal in the music scene. The fact that many of these songs are still getting airplay today is a statement to just how good they are.

Thanks again to Dave at a Sound Day for allowing me to be a part of this feature. I can only hope that my contribution is worthy of an invite to participate in the next round.

Friday Photo Flashback

Its time for another edition of my Friday Photo Flashback. I stumbled upon a photo that brought back many memories making me happy and sad at the same time. Take a peak:

If I was going to put a date on this, it is probably around 1996 or 1997. It looks like it was taken at a home I lived in with my then girlfriend and future ex. It is a terrible picture of me, as I am obviously caught by surprise here. I still have hair and am still wearing glasses. I’m also sporting one of the T-shirts I had made for my DJ business. But it is not me (or the big honking computer monitor) that catches my attention – it is the stuff I can see in the background.

A lot of it I can make out just by looking at it. However, I viewed it by zooming in and a lot caught my attention. The bookshelves alone are full of fantastic memories! The book shelf on the left side of the picture holds a boat load of VHS tapes. On the top shelf I can make out some Soupy Sales Show videos and some videos we must have recorded off TV (hand made lables). On the shelf below that I can make out the VHS tapes of the Three Stooges shorts, Jack Webb’s Dragnet movie, and the Jack Palance version of Dracula. Each shelf would hold two rows of VHS tapes. So I can only see the front rows of what is on the shelf. It seems like the third shelf down is also holding video tapes, but the three hole punch on top of the computer monitor is blocking it.

This photo is obviously taken after 1994. That is when Honey Radio went off the air. Honey stuff is all over this room! Right above the three hole punch, you can make out a black and gold Honey Radio coffee mug. On the top shelf of the right book case, I can see the the Billboard Top 100 Chart book and Pop Singles book. These were part of the Honey on air studio. Behind me on the wall is a chalk caricature that was drawn of me while I was out doing a remote broadcast. I LOVED that thing, and it is long gone now. (This may be the only photographic evidence of it). Next to that is a wooden sign with the Honey Logo on it. Below that sign are two frames. One contains one of the last Honey Happenings newsletters (which has my picture in it) and the other is a shot of me and my old morning show partner.

On the wall behind me in the photo is a beautiful framed photo of the Three Stooges. I received that for Christmas one year from my parents. Under that is the top of a Blues Brothers concert poster. At one point, I used that when my partner Steve and I would don our Blues Brothers hats when we DJ’d. And right below that are the Three Stooges dolls I wrote about in a previous Friday Photo Flashback. You can see the tag on the Curly just behind my ear.

Heading back to the bookshelves. The bookshelf on the right has SO many books that I wish I still had. There is a book on Bugs Bunny, a book on World War II that I had given my grandpa, a few books with Three Stooges scripts, an amazing biography on Curly, and the wonderful Ted Sennett book on the Art of Hanna Barbera.

On the second shelf, I can make out the Milton Berle Joke books I used when I was on the radio, biographies on Stan Freberg and Jackie Gleason, and books I had forgotten about. One example of this is when Thomas Chastain offered up a new Perry Mason novel –

Another example is the books by William Harrington series with Columbo as the star –

The next shelf contains books about movies and TV shows. I had books on Get Smart, Batman, Perry Mason, The Munsters, and more. The coolest of the TV show books were two with trivia and scripts from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

There are other little trinkets and treasures on the shelves I can see, but the ones on the top of the book cases are ones I wish I still had. I can see my prom glasses up there (yes, they gave high school kids in 1988 wine glasses!), I had two because I went to prom with a gal in my junior year and then my senior prom.

On the left, you can see the boxes that contained limited edition Blues Brothers dolls. I had both Jake and Elwood.

Also on the top of the shelf are Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton figures – limited editions, as well.

I had no idea there was an Alice figure that went with those two until I was searching for pictures.

Finding the photo with all of these memories was such a treat to me. I am sad to remember so many great books and things that are no longer in my possession, but the memories of them remain.

Looking Ahead …

A radio friend discovered my blog on accident. He was doing a search on Honey Radio and my blog came up. He messaged me and asked “Is this yours?” After messaging back and forth, I told him to let me know if there was any specific topics he’d like to see on the blog.

It’s been some time since I have done a “Question and Answer” blog, so I may do that again. I also am considering hosting a guest blogger. If you are interested, let me know.

There are a couple things on the way that I am excited for. First of all, next month I will be taking part in the Ultimate Decades Blogathon. It’s a cool idea where you can write on movies released in years that end in “2.” 1932, 1942, 1952, etc… You can imagine my excitement when I remembered that The Godfather was released in 1972.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the film. While I have eluded to it in many other blogs, I am excited to dedicate an entire blog to the movie. I plan on finishing a book that recently came out about the movie …

Watch for this blog in February. #UltimateDecadesBlogathon

I am also looking forward to the TV Show draft, which is currently on hold for a bit, but should be starting up soon. My first pick is a show that only lasted 6 shows and spawned a successful movie series. More on that soon.

Words of Praise From Tricky Dickie

One of the things I love about the Facebook Memory Feed is every now and then something pops up I forgot about. Today is one of those instances.

I am sure that I have the letter referenced in this writing somewhere in a box at home. I don’t know where it is off the top of my head because it is a letter of recommendation for a radio job. Since I am no longer working in radio full-time, I packed it away as a reminder of a good friend.

11 years ago, (7-1-2010) I wrote the following:

He’s Been Off The Air For Years, And He Still Makes Me Laugh

Cleaning up the basement, I found a box of old cassettes. Most of them are my old radio shows from my Honey Radio days. In the box was one labeled, “Another Crappy Richard D. Show” – I probably labeled it. You must understand that Richard is a legend. He was one of the greatest bosses I ever worked for. The atmosphere in that building was constant fun, mainly because of his attitude. We all joked with each other, and each one of us was the butt of someone else’s jokes. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

I had to go to the college today and so I brought the cassette with me. In listening to it, I was reminded of a time when radio was fun. It was brilliant magic, and Richard was the magician. Richard knew personality radio and was a master at it. As a listened, I heard many of the familiar phrases he’d use:

“I’ve got the monocle on my mind’s eye, and you’re looking good today”.

“I brought my cerebral compass, which is here in case I lose my train of thought, I can find my way back”

“I’m the silly DJ from Savage, Minnesota….where they just decorated the town square….they bought him a suit”

“To my right is a wall. On the wall is a peg. On the peg, records. When I take one of the records off the peg and play it on the air, it becomes a Tricky Dickie Off The Wall Record”

“If you will allow me to open up Poor Richard D’s Almanac…” (which looked at famous birthdays and This Day In History). After reading his facts (and jokes) it would be followed by some kids saying, “Wow, we didn’t know all that stuff Richard D”…to which he would respond, “Of this (long pause) I am aware”

Then there were references to his family and residence.

“Hurricane Hazel” – his mother in law

“Bee-Bop” and “Doo Wop” – his boys

“Oldielocks” – his wife.

“Lack of Drive in Warren Michigan” – where he lives

And of course, there were plenty of Keith Allen jabs…..”That was Drag City by Jan and Dean…Keith Allen went there once in a dress”, for example.

Radio brilliance from a time long since gone.

During my time at WHND, I pestered him constantly for advice and for stories from his CHUM and WXZY days. I was probably a big pain is his neck, however, I never had to wonder what he thought of me again after reading his letter of recommendation for me. Honey Radio was going off the air and I asked him to write something I could use in my search for my next radio gig. Here is his letter:

November 29, 1994

To Whom It May Concern:

In contemplating what I might write about one of the best employees ever to pass through these doors, my mind focused on qualities one might use to measure any worker. Some, though not all, are listed below.

Attitude: Keith Allen is one of the most cooperative, cheerful, and positive people I have ever encountered in the workplace. I never had to talk to him about attitude adjustment. He seems to be upbeat by nature, and is a pleasure to be around.

Work Habits: Keith is self starting and self directed. Rarely, during his tenure here, did I have to steer him. He accomplished voluminous amounts of work in short time spans, and his energy level was high. He always did what I asked him to, without complaining, even when the task was not something he enjoyed.

Dedication: During Keith’s time here, his total focus was on Honey Radio, and how to make it better. He displayed a fierce pride and loyalty toward WHND. More often than not, he came in early for his shift, and stayed hours after it, contributing in whatever area he was needed. One of Keith’s strongest assets is his total love of and commitment to radio broadcasting.

Talent: Unless Keith Allen’s motivation level changes, he will be one of the great radio personalities of the future. He has the innate tools to master the art: a sense of what’s funny and what is not, great timing, a fantastic music background, and a good voice. If Keith doesn’t become a major talent someday, I’ll be very surprised.

Add it up: A person with a great attitude and disposition, a self starter with a high energy level, a person who loves the medium, an individual who is dependable and reliable, and a person with enormous talent. The sum is someone, I’m sure, you will want to add to your operation.

Sincerely,
Richard D. Haase
Program Director, WHND


Richard is still working in radio … as a tech guy now. I’m sure the atmosphere in his presence is still the same. (Very rarely was he in a bad mood.) He is like a 12 year old trapped in an adult body! Perhaps that’s why we got along – neither one of us have grown up. I’m honored to have worked for him and more honored to call him a friend.

Over 20 years later, and you still make me laugh, pal. Thanks!

11 Years Later – 2021

Richard is still around, though retired. Life has certainly changed for both of us over the years. I think of him often, and recently caught up with him on the phone. Though he is a bit older, his voice is still as strong as ever. In the time we chatted, it was obvious that his wit was quick as ever. It was great to just pick up where we left off.

Amongst the many boxes of radio stuff, I have some of Richard’s old WHND shows. The last time I listened to them was probably about 7 years ago. A mutual friend and co-worker and burned them to CD for me and I listened to them on my way into work. With every Keith Allen joke, every bad pun, and every silly laugh, I found myself back in 1994 and laughing at jokes he probably wrote in 1964! I’m sure if I popped those shows in today, I would still laugh….all these years later!

The Legendary Richard D!

Your Birthday #1

I have always enjoyed looking back at things from the past. When I worked at Honey Radio, I produced the Top 12 and 12 every weekday. We’d always have plenty of information about dates in history. No matter what year we were focusing on, we’d talk about how much a new vehicle cost or the price of milk or bread, the price of gasoline, or the cost of a new home. These pieces of information added extra nostalgia as we counted our way up to the #1 song in the City of Detroit on whatever day (and whatever year) we happened to be focusing on.

I mention that because our daughter Ella turned 10 months old this week.

It’s truly amazing how fast this time has flown by.

American Woman by the Guess Who was #1 on the pop charts when I was born. I guess I have known that for as long as I can remember. I decided to look and see what the #1 song was when Ella was born. Let’s just say that I hope she never really wants to know.

The song that was at #1 is called The Box by someone named Roddy Ricch. I’ve never heard of him and I’ve never hear the song. I looked it up. I read the lyrics. Sigh. Good Lord…

At any rate, if you don’t know what song was number on when you were born … you can find out here:

Looking back 25 years – WHND

WHND-Honey-Radio-Logo-BW-mcrfb

Monday, November 21, 1994.  6:00 AM.

My partner Rob Main and I walked into the studio of WHND to begin what would be the last week of live broadcasts from Honey Radio.  We had heard the news weeks prior to this that the radio station was going off the air in favor of Spanish programming.  When the station was not broadcasting from our studios, we were airing satellite programming from the Cool Gold Network, which was no longer going to providing services. Honey was no longer financially viable.

At the time, Honey Radio was the oldest Oldies station in the country.  While there were stations that played oldies in the Detroit market, none were focusing exclusively on the “first decade of rock and roll”.  We primarily focused on the songs that were hits from 1955-1965, while occasionally playing some of those earlier songs from the 1950’s, too.  I think that was one of the reasons I loved working at this station so much.  When you think of the music from that decade it included rockabilly, doo wop, surf music, Motown, British Invasion music, songs from the “Brill Building”, and early soul and R&B.

We not only played the hits from this decade, but we also played songs that were local hits from local artists that were not being played anywhere else! We played music from Nolan Strong, The Dynamics, Gino Washington, Jack Scott, and so many other local acts. We did a daily show (The Top 12 at 12), which focused on a different year of the decade and counted down the Top 12 songs in Detroit from that particular day.  We always used a local chart to count down the hits.  Those charts could be from The Detroit News, WJBK, WKNR, WXYZ, or other charts.  It was unique to our station!

Today’s radio is what many refer to as “liner card radio”.  The DJ’s on the air rarely have any content and read things from cards in the studio (usually promoting station events, station appearances, or sponsor information).  The most entertaining DJ’s are usually the morning show hosts, but even they are overloaded with sponsor reads and liners.  One of my radio mentors, Jay Trachman, used to say “People say that DJ’s talk too much.  This isn’t true.  The truth is that DJ’s tend to waste their listener’s time by not having anything to say. They don’t have any REAL content to share.” This is where Honey was different.

Honey Radio DJs were “personalities” – each unique.  Boogie Brian was the “Bard of Lincoln Park” and often spoke in Rhyme.  Richard D. was the “Silly DJ from Savage Minnesota” who now lived on Lack Of Drive in Warren with his wife Oldielocks and kids Doo Wop and Bee Bop.  Other personalities included Bill Stewart, Ron T., Greg Russell, Dr. Bob, “Young” Jon Ray, Scottie OJay, Rob (and every one of his characters), and me. Each of us had our “features”.  Scottie hosted the “Soul Patrol” show, Richard had the “Off the Wall Record” and “Poor Richard D’s Almanac”, Boogie had “Cruise Casts” and Boogie’s Forgotten Favorites”, and  the list goes on and on.  There was always something fun and unique happening on Honey.

Another thing I loved about Honey was the jingles.  Our jingles were PAMS jingles.  They were many of the same tracks/jingles that were used by local radio stations all across the country during the 60’s.  They were just re-sung with our call letters.  These jingles were just awesome!  Today, you can hear many of these same jingles on Sirius XM’s 50’s on 5 and 60’s on 6. I am lucky to have many of these jingles that were taken from the master tapes on CD in my collection.

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With Honey going off the air, many of us would be out of a job.  Rob and I had been working together off and on whenever I was on air for a while.  After Honey went off the air, we hoped to find a job doing mornings somewhere.  In order to do this, we needed some more “tape” of us together.  Richard D gave us permission to go on the air instead of the satellite show in the morning that final week.  We had free reign to “play around” and have fun on the air.  At the same time, we’d be getting hours of material that we could potentially use to try to get a show somewhere.

25 years ago today, Rob and I hit the studio with a few ideas, many voices, many characters, some great music, and had the best week of our career!  It was Thanksgiving week.  Music was scheduled for Monday-Wednesday and Friday.  Thursday we were supposed to air satellite programming.  Instead, we were on for 6 hours that Thanksgiving and played songs with a different theme each hour (Number songs, Songs with girls names or guys names, Instrumentals, Songs with body parts in the title, etc…)  Originally, those shows were recorded to cassette tapes.  Those tapes were called “Skimmers”.  The tape recorded only when the microphone was turned on.  Some time ago, I took those tapes and recorded them digitally and transferred them to CD.  I still pop them into my car and listen to that final week whenever I need a laugh.  I am guessing, I will need to pull them out to honor the 25th anniversary of Honey’s end.

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The only CD I have a difficult time listening to is the last show, from November 25, 1994.  It was the last day of live broadcasting.  We had friends visit us in the studio (South Bronx Johnny, Helen & Beverly, my dad, and others).  The calls we got from listeners that day were very emotional.  They made us feel so loved.  The last break of our show, Boogie’s wife had recorded a message for him that we played right before he went on the air.  He did the final four hours of live programming.  He had prerecorded a sign off that lasted about 15 minutes with his personal reflections on the station, the staff, the listeners, and the end.  I remember Rob, his girlfriend Mary, and I all listening to this and just sobbing. Boogie expressed what everyone was feeling and it was the perfect ending to an amazing station.

It is hard to believe that it has been 25 years since that last broadcast.  When I look back, I can’t believe I was lucky enough to work with those legends!  I can’t believe I was lucky enough to be a part of such an amazing station.  I had only been in radio about 6 years when I started at Honey, and I learned SO much from watching and talking to Boogie and Richard!  What an honor to have had them as coaches, mentors, and friends.

The one thing that I will always remember about working at Honey – is the laughter.  There was always laughter whether you were in or out of the studio.  There was laughter whether you were on air or off air.  I always seemed to leave the building with my cheeks hurting from smiling and my sides hurting from laughter.  Today, I can pop those shows in (or some of the Richard D shows I have on tape), and still laugh!

25 years later, Honey is no more.  That makes me sad, because the world could sure use some laughter!

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Too Early??

Halloween is barely behind us, and we are just a day or two into November.  Christmas is over 50 days away, however, it is everywhere! Even before Halloween, many stores had their Christmas displays and decorations up!

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For years, people have pondered, discussed, and debated the “how early is too early for Christmas” topic.  In September this cartoon was all over the internet:

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Just before Halloween, Sirius XM radio began adding their holiday channels to their line up.  Countless radio stations across the country flipped to “all Christmas” music yesterday and Facebook and almost every major news outlet had stories about it.  I really don’t know why people were acting so surprised by this, because it happens every year!  Is this the earliest stations have flipped?  No.  I recall a few years where some stations flipped to all Christmas BEFORE Halloween.

There was a time when Christmas music didn’t even start playing on the radio until Thanksgiving weekend.  I recall scheduling 3 to 4 Christmas songs an hour throughout that weekend, and then cutting back to 1 an hour after Thanksgiving weekend.  As Christmas got closer, the number of songs we played increased to 2, 3, and eventually 4 an hour.  We almost always went all Christmas music at 12 noon Christmas Eve and then would continue through 6pm Christmas night.  That’s not the case anymore.

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People inevitably ask me the question – “Why do stations go all Christmas so early?!”  The answer is a simple one – ratings!  Its not always the case, but most of the time, these stations who play all Christmas music do very well in the ratings books – which means more $$ for the station.  Some retail stores do not have the pre-recorded satellite music, so they will pipe the “all Christmas station” throughout the store.   That means more listeners to that particular station.

Is it good or bad?

So this brings me to a Facebook discussion some friends were having (after one person voiced his disgust at the fact that his station flipped to all Christmas) yesterday.  His argument was that “holiday music increases stress and is unhealthy for people.”  I knew exactly what he was referring to.

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A couple years ago, a psychologist named Linda Blair said that listening to Christmas music too early in the holiday season can have a negative effect on people.  She stated that it can affect mental health triggering “feelings of stress.”  She said that hearing holiday music is a reminder of all the things that you have to do to get ready for the holiday.  She said the music will cause you to worry about (and become overwhelmed by) the things on your “to-do” list like travel planning, shopping, and planning for parties.

She also said that people who work in retail, especially those who work at places like shopping malls, face a higher risk of what she called “Christmas music-induced stress”! “Hearing the same songs over and over each day could make workers struggle to ‘tune it out’ and they become ‘unable to focus on anything else,’ she said. “You’re simply spending all of your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing.”

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That story first hit the news in 2017, and has already be reprinted this year on many social media and news pages.  Blair never really cites any concrete evidence, or study results, so how do we know that this is actually the case?  Maybe she is just a Grinch who hates Christmas Music?? Who knows?!

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On the other hand …

In response to Linda Blair’s findings, there is another article (this one citing “scientific studies”) that says the exact opposite!  In those studies, it was proven that listening to “uplifting music”  – like Jingle Bell Rock, Frosty the Snowman and A Holly Jolly Christmas, to name a few – has been known to have a positive effect both physically and psychologically.

According to these studies, the feeling associated when listening to music can be sorted into two categories, perceived emotions (when we appreciate the emotional tone of the piece, but not feel that emotion ourselves) and felt emotions. Felt emotions are when we connect to the feeling behind the piece we are listening to and it can impact our emotional state.”

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As someone who has worked in radio for 30+ years, I know first hand the connection that music has to memories.  Do a google search on “music memory quotes” and there are plenty of them. One quote in particular holds true for the next point – from Michigan’s own, Stevie Wonder:

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“Music has a strong tie to nostalgia.”

This is why hearing a song from your childhood may bring back memories of elementary school, a high school dance, or a major life event like it was yesterday. It’s also why listening to certain Christmas songs can make people feel warm, fuzzy and child-like. Part of the reason why Christmas music is associated with joy is not necessarily the music itself, but the memories that come with it.

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So, listening to Christmas songs may make you feel nostalgic for your childhood or just generally happy, because your brain has already created positive associations with the music. And it’s been proven – research conducted by researchers at McGill University proved that when people listen to happy, upbeat music, they can recall happy memories within a short amount of time.   The entire article can be found here:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170228131027.htm

“In the experiment, the researchers had participants listen to four different genres of original music they had never heard before: happy (positive, high arousal), peaceful (positive, low arousal), scary (negative, high arousal) and sad (negative, low arousal). The researchers found that when the participants listened to happy, upbeat music, it brought about happy memories.”

That being said, there are Christmas songs that can bring about sad memories, too.  So I guess there is that possibility, too.  For the most part, though, Christmas music is happy and upbeat.  That would suggest that listening to Christmas music brings about nostalgic thoughts which brings about happy memories and you being a happier person.

What’s my take on it?

While I don’t listen to Christmas music 24/7/365, I do have Christmas songs on my iPod.  When I am listening to it and a Christmas song comes on out of season, it depends on my mood as to whether or not I am going to listen to it.  There are some Christmas songs that I can listen to no matter what the season, because (as the latter study suggested) it makes me feel good or happy.

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I remember when I worked at Honey Radio in Detroit, we would throw in “summer songs” when it was summer time.  We’d play “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summmer”, “Wonderful Summer”, “Summertime”, and others and then cut back on them in the fall and winter.  I have never understood why songs like “Let it Snow”, “Winter Wonderland”, or “Jingle Bells” (which are basically winter time songs that never really mention Christmas) didn’t play throughout the Winter.

Final Thought

There are people who complain just because they like complaining.  Bottom line is this – radio is free.  You have many choices up and down the dial.  There are many other stations that are not playing Christmas music 24/7, so if you don’t want to hear it – DON’T!  Pop in a CD, listen to your Spotify, plug in a USB with your tunes on it, or find the satellite channel that plays the format you enjoy.  Problem solved!

I have always looked forward to the Christmas season.  People tend to be friendlier.  People seem to be kinder.  There is a sense of happiness that comes with the season.  Elvis Presely’s “Why Can’t Everyday Be Like Christmas?” captures that sentiment.  Just because you don’t want to listen to Christmas music, doesn’t mean that others don’t want to.  Christmas music and the holiday season bring about a joy that seems to be lacking today – don’t be a Scrooge!

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Voices of the Past

This weekend, I DJ’d homecoming dance.  For high schools, all my new music is on a hard drive and I play it from the computer.  When I do weddings or parties, I still bring some CDs.  Recently, I have been going through boxes of CDs in hopes of putting what I don’t have on my hard drive, on the drive.

While most of my CDs are professional ones containing albums and music, I have some homemade CDs of things that I have burned to CD from various places I have worked.  I found 2 CDs marked “B95 Stuff” and “More B95 Stuff” in a box and took them with me to listen to in the car.  I was unsure if these CDs were data or audio CDs.  When I popped them in the CD player, I was happy to find they contained audio clips.

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Most of the audio was phone calls from listeners.  I used to do an “impossible question” every day for prizes and there were many phoners of listeners guessing the answer.  One of my favorite calls was on the first disc.  A woman caller simply asked, “Yes, is the answer poop?  Going poop!?”  Like the word poop wasn’t enough … she had to explain “going poop”!  There were also many requests, as I did a request lunch show.

I also found some interviews with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tim Rushlow from Little Texas, and Terri Clark.  Some of the phoners were just silly things, I used to have listeners say things like “Keith Allen?  They let him out on parole?” or “I love every thing about this station, but Keith Allen!” or “Keith Allen?  Turn that radio off!”  There were a couple calls that took me by surprise.

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The first one was hearing a call with my friend, Marie.  If you read my previous blog, Marie was my friend who just passed away last week.

That blog is here: https://nostalgicitalian.com/2019/09/21/time-life-death-ripples/

There were actually 2 calls from her on that disc.  One of them she wins a contest I was doing, and another she called to talk about watching Trace Adkins rear end when he was in concert.  (There were other females who called to talk about his butt, as well.)

She was one of those friends who would do anything for you.  When my oldest son was born, she had this beautiful blanket made with his name on it and also had a small photo album made with an engraved nameplate.  When my youngest was born, she bought him one of my favorite outfits.  I spoke with her just a few days before she passed and she was asking what we needed for the baby.  She was always doing things for her friends.  While it was nice to hear us joking around about Trace’s butt on the CD, it was sad to remember that she has just passed away.  Her funeral is Wednesday.

Call #2

The second call was one from my friend Pat.  I always called her Pat, but I think most people called her Trish.  I also met Pat while at B95.  She was forever trying to win prizes.  She always came up to our remote broadcasts and talked with us.  She was a HUGE fan of the band Alabama.  She used to call up and say that she was lead singer, Randy Owen’s wife.  I used to kid her and ask is his wife knew about that!  She and I had a lot in common, and became good friends.  She was a huge Elvis fan and we often talked about him and his music.  I remember how excited she was when she told me she was going to Graceland.  I had been there while in Memphis for a St. Jude visit, and I told her how much she was going to love it.

The first time Pat won a prize from me she was SO excited.  “I won?!  OH MY GOD!!  WE DID IT!  WE WON!!!  THIS IS AMAZING!!!  (Laughter) I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!”  It was such a great response that I used to use that call as my “stunt winner”.  If we ever had someone win a prize who was not excited about it, I’d say “Bring in the stunt winner” and play Pat’s call!  The call on the CD was when she won some hockey tickets and she kept saying how much her boys were going to love it.  She passed away suddenly in 2014, leaving behind her four boys and a granddaughter who she spoke of so often.    She was such a wonderful person and we shared many laughs together.

Call #3

The third call that got me was a call I made to my grandma.  Phone calls from my grandma were a staple on the show.  I used to call her every Christmas Eve (if I worked on the holiday) or the day before.  Christmas Eve was ALWAYS at her house – I wrote a blog about it here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2018/12/24/the-ghost-of-christmas-eve-past-and-yet-to-come/

The phone call would consist of me asking grandma what was for dinner.  She would go on to talk about homemade ravioli, breaded steak and ammoglio (pronounced moy-gyoo) sauce, the many varieties of cookies, cakes, and cannoli, and the other items featured in the Christmas Eve Feast.  This call, however, was NOT about Christmas Eve, which is what made it even more special.

This call actually helps me date the CDs.  This call was made July 24, 2001.  How do I know this?  I was calling grandma to wish her Happy Birthday.  During the call she offers up without hesitation that she is 77.  She goes on to talk about how my dad was razzing her about something and then asks when I am coming over.  She then went on to tell me how I needed to come see her “while my eyes are still open” because “I’m not going to be around much longer” as she often said.

It was emotional to hear her voice.  She was sharp as a tack for so long.  She was your stereotypical strong willed Italian woman.  Knowing that shortly after that call, she would develop dementia was sad.  She passed away in 2007, at age 83.  Hearing her say “I love you” one more time on the phone – was priceless.

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A Recovered Memory

I must have been doing a phone topic about teddy bears.  There was probably a story about people sleeping with Teddy Bears or something, which led me to ask “Who still sleeps with a Teddy Bear?” or “Who still has their Teddy Bear from their childhood?”.  The calls were about bears and toys that they had growing up.  I don’t remember what the caller is talking about, but I respond about something I had growing up that I had totally forgotten about.  This has a tie-in to my grandma, who I just mentioned.

It is funny how you can forget about things.  I will forever remember a Teddy Bear that I had when I was little.  I had it with me in the hospital when I had my tonsils out at 3 years old.  The thing I had forgotten about is something I probably had around 5-7 years old.  It was a hand puppet of Ernie from Sesame Street.  Today, PBS has tons of kid shows.  As I remember, Sesame Street, The Electric Company and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood were pretty much it on PBS.  On CBC there was Mr. Dress-up and The Friendly Giant, but that was it. Sesame Street was my “go to” show.  I think somewhere there is a picture of me with Ernie and Bert slippers!

What do I remember most about this Ernie puppet?  First, the head was not felt like the real Muppet.  It was a hard rubber/plastic.  This helped when you went to make him talk.  I guess I took him everywhere.  I remember I’d bring him over to my grandma’s house and she would tease me.  She’d put a lit cigarette in Ernie’s mouth and make him smoke.  I hated that!  “Ernie doesn’t smoke, grandma!  That’s bad for you!”  Grandma never said his name right.  She always called him “Arnie”.  I remember her telling me when I was older that when my brother and I stayed overnight there I used to make her kiss Ernie goodnight!  “I had to kiss that dirty old Arnie!”  I literally just chuckled out loud as I wrote that because I can hear her saying it!

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In Conclusion

I have CDs of my Honey Radio shows with my partner, Rob (https://nostalgicitalian.com/2018/04/26/get-a-load-of-this-guy/), which I listen to often.  I still laugh along with them.  He always made me laugh.  While I am sad that he has passed away, I think he’d be happy to know that I still listen to those shows and they are still funny 25 years later!

I’m glad that I decided to pop those CDs in and give them a listen.  Much like the CDs of Rob and me, these also made me chuckle, but also made me sad.  At the same time, they are a reminder of good friends and family, who continue to make ripples (see previous blog) long after they have gone.

 

 

 

The King is Gone

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May 1977.  The month I turned 7 years old, two movies were released that would have major influences over my childhood, and adulthood.  The movies were Star Wars and Smokey and the Bandit.  I can recall exactly where I saw each movie, too.

I saw Star Wars at Hoover 11 when the movie theater was still in the complex.  I don’t recall the exact date I saw it, but it was within a month of it’s release.  Eventually, the theater closed and became a TJ Maxx.  It was a one screen theater, and I remember the line was long.  I remember waiting in line for what seemed like forever and it being a full house!  I also remember not being able to sleep for a week, because Darth Vader scared the hell out of me.

I do remember the exact date I saw Smokey and the Bandit. August 16, 1977 – 42 years ago today.  I believe my folks had a station wagon at the time, and we drove to the Gratiot Drive-In in Roseville.

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When you saw a movie at the Drive-In, you always got their early.  You found a good spot where you could see the screen without obstruction.  The spot also was ideally close to the bathrooms and concession stands.  You had to pull up to the pole that held the speaker that you would hang from your window, so you could hear the audio of the movie.

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The movie never started until it got dark, so I remember bringing a baseball and mitt to play catch, or we’d go to an old playground that was up near the screen.

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As the sun began to go down, we’d go back to the car and dad would usually turn on the radio.  We had an AM radio in the car, and Dad turned on Honey Radio (where I would years later have the honor of working).  I remember the DJ (I don’t recall who it was) coming on and saying that Elvis had died in Memphis.  He was only 42.  They played Elvis music for the remainder of the time we listened.

I remember the news sort of putting a damper on the night.  My dad was a big Elvis fan.  I remember him watching the Aloha From Hawaii concert in the living room. I remember the many albums he had (including the Moody Blue album on blue vinyl). And I remember how he recorded the song Way Down on 8 tracks that we listened to on the drive to Caseville.  Dad would often put Elvis songs on the stereo and play his guitar along with them.

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I’m glad that we were at the movies to see a comedy.  I recall my dad being visibly upset by the news.  I don’t know that I had ever seen him that way before.  Once the movie started, I knew he was ok.  I recall the hearty laughter from him as Jackie Gleason shouted out profanity into the CB microphone.  Those scenes continue to make dad and me laugh out loud today – no matter how many times we’ve seen them!

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I remember in the days before VCR’s.  I used to record movies on cassettes so I could hear my favorite scenes.  I had no idea that in the future you’d be able to go out and buy your favorite movies on DVD and Blu-Ray.  Smokey and the Bandit was on cable one night at like 12:30am.  It was the last time that month that it was airing.  To me, it could have been the last time it ever aired!  I asked my dad to record it for me on cassette.  When I listened back to it, I could hear dad laughing at all of the Jackie Gleason scenes.  I was probably mad about it at the time, but looking back, I know I’d have done the same thing!

In everyone’s life, there are events that become etched forever in your mind.  For some, it was when they heard Buddy Holly died.  For others, it was when JFK or Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. Those become memories that when you look back on them, you remember exactly where you were, who you were with, and what you were doing.  I have a few of those memories – President Reagan being shot, the Challenger explosion, and, of course, 9/11. The first one that is forever etched in my mind, though, happened 42 years ago today.

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