The Starr of The Beatles

I was approached by my blogger buddy, Max, from the PowerPop Blog recently and asked to contribute something for his “Beatles Week” feature. In truth, it will probably go longer than a week as there are many talented writers participating with me. I think his original thought was to have each of us write about a favorite Beatles song, but then he allowed us to pursue something “Beatle themed.”

I think I have mentioned in the past that it would be extremely difficult for me to pick one favorite Beatles song. There are just too many great ones to choose from. I could spend hours talking about the fantastic harmonies of the group or the amazing songwriting contributions of Lennon and McCartney. I could also examine the way George Harrison’s guitar playing matured as the group got older. Instead, I chose to focus on the Beatle that I connected with as a young fan discovering the band – Ringo Starr.

As a kid, I discovered the Beatles through their cartoon series (as well as albums that my dad had). While the boys didn’t voice the characters themselves, it featured many of their songs and put them in silly situations. Ringo always seemed to be the goofball and I guess I found him to be the funniest.

As I began to buy Beatles albums on my own, I often found that the “Ringo” cut of each album tended to really stand out as a favorite. Let me be clear, it is not that I disliked the other guys, the opposite was true. I loved them! However, the “Ringo” cut just really had a different sound to it.

As many know, Ringo was not the original drummer for the band. Pete Best was the guy. The rumors were that he was pretty good looking and a fan favorite, so they got rid of him. How true that is, I don’t know. The boys recruited Ringo from another band (Rory Storm and the Hurricanes). Once the group got their recording contract and started sessions with George Martin, Ringo was dissed a bit. Martin felt that he was not a good enough drummer to do studio work. Eventually, Martin came around and not only was he in the recording sessions, he occasionally got to sing on a song or two.

In total, Ringo Starr sang lead vocals on 11 Beatles songs. The first was “Boys,” which was a cover of a Shirelles song. The song was one that the Beatles had been playing in their live shows for some time. Pete Best used to sing it in shows. Ringo knew the song and had performed it many times with his previous group. When the band was in the studio cutting the 1963 album “Please Please Me” he sang it in one take.

The group had been playing “Boys” for years before it was ever recorded. It was the only song that Ringo sang lead on and his loyal fans wanted to hear more. John, Paul, and George were getting tired of the song and when it was time to record their second album, Lennon and McCartney worked together to write a song for Ringo that would replace “Boys.” The song would be “I Wanna Be Your Man.”

Before they went into the studio, another British group approached Lennon and McCartney and asked if they had a song that they might record. They decided to give them “I Wanna Be Your Man.” That song became the first “hit” for Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones!

Carl Perkins was responsible for Ringo’s next two vocal songs. First, was “Matchbox” which Perkins had a hit with in 1957. This song (and his next vocal) was responsible for the association of Ringo with rockabilly/country music. Word is that Perkins was in the studio while the Beatles recorded his songs.

For the 1964 album “Beatles For Sale,” Ringo contributed the lead vocal to Perkins’ “Honey Don’t.” Carl Perkins influenced a lot of Liverpool bands and Ringo was playing this one in his prior group before joining the Beatles. It was another song that Pete Best sang lead on in early live performances. John Lennon began singing it after Best left, but the band agreed that it was a perfect Ringo song for the album.

Ringo had decided that he wanted to have a bit more input in the songs that he was to sing. During the recording sessions for “Help” in 1965, he came upon the Buck Owens song “Act Naturally.” He brought it to the band and said he felt it would be a great song for him. They all agreed and cut it. This would mark the first Beatles cover song that they had not already been playing at live shows.

Ringo, while not best known for his song writing, did write a few for the band. By this time, John, Paul and George were all churning out songs. The three seemed to be doing everything and Ringo felt like he was being left out and maybe even someone who could easily be replaced. He went to the group and voiced his concerns. This led to his first song writing credit on a Beatles song. The song was What Goes On. The song was not all Ringo, as it was actually a song that John had originally written and Ringo tweaked and contributed to.

Yellow Submarine appeared on the 1966 Revolver album. It was a big song for Ringo as it went to #1 in the UK and #2 in the US. In Alan Clayson’s book, “Ringo Starr: Straight Man or Joker,” he says that the song was “conceived as a song that would appeal primarily to children, while recalling the band’s roots in Liverpool.” The song was written mostly by Paul McCartney and it is said that Donovan also helped (while being uncredited).

If you had to pick a “signature” song for Ringo, it would be “With a Little Help from My Friends.” The song is the second track on the Sgt. Pepper Album. The album itself was sort of a concept album where the band is playing … well, another band. In the album’s opening track, the character of Billy Shears is introduced. Even Ringo has stated that for the cut he is “taking on” the character of Shears to sing the song. The song was one that was written specifically for Ringo by John and Paul.

Ringo’s next vocal feature was one that he wrote. “Don’t Pass Me By” was one that came to him while sitting at the piano. He claims to only know a few chords on the piano and guitar. He says that while he plays around, if a melody comes to him or some words, he just keeps playing around. This is supposedly how “Don’t Pass Me By” came to be. There is some confusion as to when exactly the song was written, and while it may have been written as early as 1964, it was never recorded and released until 1968 on the White Album.

Alan Clayson says in his book that Ringo had unknowingly plagiarized music from a Jerry Lee Lewis song. It was only when George Martin was experimenting with different effects and orchestration that the song was able to be released (now sounding very musically different from it’s original version).

The song “Good Night” from the White Album was written by John Lennon. He wrote it for his five year old son, Julian. Lennon was very insistent that the song be sung by Ringo. What is interesting is that Ringo is the only Beatle who performs on the song. The music is provided by classical session musicians under the direction of producer George Martin.

Ringo’s last songwriting credit for the band appears on the 1969 album, Abbey Road. Many compare “Octopus’s Garden” to “Yellow Submarine.” Other’s compare it to an amazing and peaceful under-the sea world. This song, however, was written by Ringo at a time when things were less than peaceful with the group.

The story goes that Ringo was so angry that he walked out of a recording session because he was angry at Paul McCartney. Paul had reportedly been making comments about Ringo’s drumming, and so he left. He spent time relaxing on the Italian island of Sardinia. While there, he became fascinated by the ocean and sea life. This led to him writing the song.

When Ringo returned to the Abbey Road studios, he found that the rest of the band had decorated his drum set with flowers and found a gift from John, Paul and George as an apology. He showed the song to them and George Harrison worked with him to get the song ready to record.

After the Beatles broke up, each went on to have solo hits. Ringo enjoyed success with “Back off Boogaloo,” “Photograph,” “You’re Sixteen,” “The No No Song,” and “It Don’t Come Easy.” He continues to tour with his All-Starr Band and sells out venues.

“Peace and Love” – Ringo Starr

Perhaps if world leaders, politicians, and people in general listened to Ringo, the world would be a better place.

Trying to Unblock Writer’s Block

I’ve been struggling to write. I’m sure it is because I have had a lot of things on my mind over the past couple weeks. The things on my mind are not necessarily things I want to write about. It’s hard to be in this place. I’m still struggling to get through it, and pray that everything will be ok. That being said, I decided to sit and write about some happy things from the past few days.

“Raising Gamers?”

I usually only play on the X-box when the kids are asleep. Recently, I was in the middle of a game and Andrew woke up from his nap. I paused the game, went and got him, and spent two minutes finishing the silly car race. He loves the controllers of the game. Another time, Ella was done with her nap and came in to the bedroom where she saw me playing “the car game.”

Now, Andrew will grab a controller and point to the bedroom. He wants to play the game. Ella does, too. So I pulled the batteries out of two controllers and they hold them while I drive around. They, of course, think they are playing! It’s fun to watch them.

Too Many Tonies?

Remember a while back I mentioned the Tonie that the kid’s Aunt Margaret sent? We have ordered a few more to play on it. I guess we didn’t realize how many we had until we lined them up on the mantle.

Many of them have songs, some have stories, and some have both. It has been so nice and has helped keep the TV time down to a minimum. If you have little ones, it is worth every penny!

Too Many Ninis and the Genius of Andrew

From my wife’s Facebook:

Andrew is only suppose to have his pacifiers at bedtime. All of a sudden we were missing a TON of his pacifiers. There was none left in the diaper bag or his crib… yet all day long he would show up with one and we are constantly taking them from him.

Tonight while cleaning I found out that my brilliant child at 1 years old has hidden his pacifiers throughout the house. I have found 6 of his hiding places. I’m not even mad, I am truly impressed!

I swear, he is a genius. He plants them everywhere and knows exactly where to get one when we take one away!


Our photographer friend, Beth (From Enjoy the View Photography), had Spring “Mini” sessions this week. We booked a session for just the kids. Originally, we were going to have them dress up like in Easter attire. Sam decided that she was going to have Ella in the outfit she was in for her birthday, and match Andrew up with her in some overalls. They looked so cute together!

As a bonus, Beth had real live bunnies for the session. Ella was so excited when she heard about them. We didn’t really know what to expect, but I think we were able to get some good pictures. We’ll know soon. I snapped just one that has a funny story to go with it.

Beth had a bag of carrots to feed the bunnies. The carrot that is in Andrew’s mouth, was just in the bunny’s mouth about two seconds before I snapped this. Well, at least it is a healthy snack!

Fab Four Week

I took part in a feature hosted by Max at the PowerPop Blog about the Beatles. The feature continues for the next few days. His idea was to write about your favorite Beatles song – or anything Beatles related. My write up gives a nod to one of the boys. Which one? Watch for the post in the next day or two.

My Guest Ideas

Last week I mentioned that I was thinking about hosting something similar to what Max is doing and what Dave does with Turntable Talk. I am still trying to think about whether I want to do something music, movie or TV related. Stay tuned…..

A Big “Thank You” to “Mr. Puppet”

I believe the saying goes “A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet!” Thanks to this blog and social media, I have been able to connect with some friends who I have never met face to face. One of those friends is Mr. Puppet.

A few days ago, I posted a blog about random acts of kindness. Today, I need to thank Mr. Puppet for an act of kindness that I was the recipient of. Before I tell you about that, let me tell you about him.

Mr. Puppet is Bob Abdou. He is a ventriloquist and puppet master who has been entertaining folks for many years. As I sat here trying to recall just how I connected with him, I realized that it could have been quite a few ways (all of them on Facebook). For example, it could have been because we are both Beatles fans. I belong to a few Beatles group pages and I may have met Bob on one of those. Is Bob a big fan? Well, he has “a few” Beatles collectibles.

….and a few more ….

… and a few more

….and remember the famous Abbey Road album cover?? Yeah, his Beatles puppets actually walked Abbey Road!!

It could have been through a Beatles page I became acquainted with him. It also could have been one of the Batman pages I follow. He’s a fan of the Caped Crusader, too!

Of course, maybe it was through a love for Spiderman or Marvel comic characters…?

Or maybe it was on a site about collectible Lunch Boxes or Classic Movies or TV Shows?

A better guess might be through a Three Stooges page …

In all honesty, however, I think we met through a mutual love of the legendary Soupy Sales.

He even has an original White Fang puppet in his collection!

Before going on, I think it is apparent from the above photos (all stolen from his Facebook page), that Bob is quite a collector. While I have never been to his home, I understand that it is not an odd thing for people to stay overnight at his place. I would imagine from all of the many photos that I have seen, his house is more like a museum. This incredible collection is simply amazing!

He has amazing stuff from Happy Days that even Henry Winkler would find fascinating!

And I can honestly say, no one I know – except Bob – has a Welcome Back, Kotter collection!!

Back to Soupy and how we met. Bob can correct me if I am wrong, but on one of the Soupy pages on Facebook he posted that Soupy Sales attended his wedding! I couldn’t even imagine how cool that would be! He posted a picture of Soupy with him and his wife, June.

Bob actually remembers the first words Soupy spoke to him at the Friars Club. He has them hanging in his home.

You can learn more about Bob, his shows, and more by surfing to his website:

Thank You!

On January 8th, I posted a small blurb on Facebook about it being Soupy’s Birthday. I included a couple links to past Soupy related blogs that I had written. I later discovered that I had received a private message from Bob:

“Hey Keith. Send me your home address. I have an item to send you soon. Thxs bob

Keep in mind, Bob and I have never met face to face. I know him through Facebook, we have chatted on occasion and we share a love for many of the same things (The Godfather, The Muppets, Dean Martin, Red Skelton, Hanna Barbera cartoons, and of course the other things I mentioned above). If it had been anyone else asking, I just would have ignored the message. But it was Bob, so why wouldn’t I send him my address? A few blogger friends have my address and have sent me books, Christmas cards, etc… So I sent it to him.

Today, I received the “item” he sent me. I was speechless. Truly. Included in the box was a note that reads, “Since we are both Soupy fans, I want you to have this special toy plaque.”

I have never seen this before. It is so cool! It is obviously Soupy doing his dance “The Mouse,” which was a number one song in New York City and a fan favorite.

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU, Bob! I will be sure to take good care of it! Your kindness speaks volumes of your character. I am so grateful to have connected with you. I hope to one day get to meet you in person, shake your hand, and compare White Fang impersonations. What a blessing it is to call you my friend! Thank you again!

Bob included his phone number with the package, and I plan on giving him a call in a few days to thank him personally, but for now, his generosity was something that I felt needed a place on the internet. (I also wanted to make sure I gave his website a plug!)

I also wanted to say that it feels good to be the person who performs random acts of kindness. However, when you are the recipient of one of those random acts, it really does feel extra special.

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.

This Little Piggy Likes to Rock and Roll

When Sam and I started dating, my wardrobe consisted of many “band” shirts. I had shirts from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, and many more. At one point she started wearing my shirts, so I made sure to get her a couple for her birthday. Band shirts has been an inside joke since almost the beginning of our relationship.

Last week, we went to the store to get some clothes for the kids. Ella and Andrew are outgrowing things SO fast. Sam has always been the one who buys clothes and outfits for the kids. She coordinates everything for family photos and more. However, as I was walking through the store, I found the coolest little outfit for Andrew. I held it up and said, “Come on! We have to buy this. It’s his first “band shirt!”

How cool is that?! A band shirt with matching pants!! He pulls it off pretty good.


Today, Sam asked me to run up to the store to grab a few things for dinner. Ella went with me. The list consisted of: chicken, potatoes, mac and cheese, and milk. I figured we’d be in and out pretty quickly. I am learning that this is not always the case with Ella.

As we walked through the small, she kept spying things that she wanted. I told her that we were going to do a big shopping trip tomorrow, so we could add the request to mommy’s list. With food items like cookies and fruit, it was no big deal. She was ok with that. Then she saw something at the end of one of the aisles.

There was a big basket of children’s hat/scarf combos that looked like animals. There were wolves, monkeys, bears, and more. She spotted a pig hat and said she wanted to put it on. I began to tell her no, and she looked me in the eyes with the “Oh, please, father. It would make me so very happy if you would purchase this hat that I really don’t need. You are the most wonderful man in the world and I know you wouldn’t want to break your daughter’s heart” look.

I said we couldn’t get it and the tears started. I had to avoid the 2 year old melt down as we hadn’t even gotten half of what we came in for. I let her wear the hat, thinking that I’d be able to get it off her and stash it on a shelf somewhere and she’d forget all about it. Nope. She wore it the rest of the time we were in the store and in the car all the way home.

I am adapting the nursery rhyme ….

This SPOILED little piggy went to market …

On the way out, some woman said, “I like your hat” to her. She responded, “I know! It’s just perfect!”

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

Recently, I did a blog based on a writing prompt that suggested finding a photo and blogging about the memories that it brings back to you. I enjoyed doing it and thought I would try to do one every Friday. I’m not sure I’ll have enough photos to post, but we’ll see.

The above photo is on my brother (left) and me (right) in our old house in Sterling Heights. The photo is probably taken around 1976. If I had to guess it is probably shortly after Christmas.

It is very easy to focus on the main action in the picture. We are obviously pulling on Stretch Armstrong. I remember seeing ads for Stretch as a kid and asked for it for Christmas or my birthday. It was one of my favorite toys. What I found interesting was looking at the things outside of the center of the picture.

At the bottom is a yellow airplane. I recognized it immediately. In one of my early blogs I talked about the Fisher Price “Adventure People.” The plane is from one of those sets.

What I remember about those “Adventure People” is that eventually, their heads wouldn’t stay up. They always fell down to the chest.

To the right of the plane are some boxes. I wish I could make out what they are. They certainly look like they may be from toys or gifts, which is why I think this might be around Christmas.

Behind me in the picture is yet another “Adventure People” set. It was hard to make out, but I remembered it once I realized what it was. It is the FP Rescue Truck. If you look carefully, you can see the red “bucket” ladder in the picture.

Behind my brother is a book case. On the bottom shelf, it looks like there might be some of my dad’s school books to the right. To the left of those is some series of books with white covers. I’m not really sure what those are.

On the next shelf up is a series of blue books which I remember well. I cannot remember if they were from Reader’s Digest or World Book or some company like that, but they had all kinds of historical stuff in them. Some were about cars, some where about movies and TV, and others were about politics. I loved looking through those and looking at pictures of old movie stars.

On the shelves above that one I can see book bindings from some of my mom’s “beauty” books, cook books, a three ring binder, a couple Bibles, and paperbacks. I’m not sure why there is a green teapot on there!

On the bottom left there was a cabinet. I want to say that is where you could find some of the family photo albums. One of them probably held the picture that is the subject of this blog.

Above the cabinet door is a shelf that is loaded up with 12 inch Vinyl records. Even though I can’t see them, I can name albums that are on this shelf! They were the ones my dad played often. The Beatles Let It Be, Roy Orbison’s Greatest Hits, Elvis In Concert, The Best of Lenny Dee, and about 20 compilation albums.

On top of the albums, there are some loose gloves (suggesting winter time), and what seems to be VHS tape holder. I know that is not what it is, because we didn’t even have VCR’s at this time. If I had to wager a guess, those drawers are probably holding 8-track tapes. (My dad used to record his own for us to listen to in the car.) The Phonograph turntable is probably on the shelf just above those albums with two speakers sitting next to it.

As I look at this picture I wish I could walk through it! While I don’t recall the layout completely, I do remember that my room was all the way at the end of the hall. I know behind me in the picture is the hall closet, my parents room would be at the end on the right, the bathroom is also on the right (you can kind of see the counter with a bottle of what looks like hairspray on it), and on the left across from the closet – my brother’s room.

I vaguely remember things about that house, as I was only there for 6 years of my life. I would love to be able to walk back through it and just take it all in. I’ve probably forgotten so much about it.

It’s actually neat to look beyond what was being captured on film. I wish that these old photos were clearer, so I could really dive into the things in the background.

Weekend Wrap Up

What a crazy weekend! As much as I hate not getting a lot of sleep, I have to admit that some of the funniest stories I write about are due to lack of sleep. Take Saturday for example:

We needed groceries and a few things, so Sam went to the store. On her way home, she texted me, “On my way. I have Easter things. Like bubbles and chocolate, so watch it unloading.” So when she got home, I go out to start unloading the van. She sent Ella outside because she has been cooped up inside. The first thing she sees is two books that Sam bought. She looks up and me as says, “Go inside and read books?”

So she walks in with the books. Sam looks at me like, “what the hell?” I told her she spotted them and wanted to come inside and read them. Sam told me that she was going to put them in her Easter basket. I had no idea.

A few days ago, Sam mentioned getting some rain boots for Ella so she could splash around outside. There was a pair in the back of the van and when I walked in I said, “Looks like mommy bought some rain boots” as I held them up. Sam shoots me another look and says, “Those were for Easter, too!” “Easter things” to me are chocolate, candies, etc… I had no idea the boots or books were Easter things.

Needless to say, she has worn her rain boots almost every day since!

The day became even more uncomfortable when I had to have a talk with my middle son. It was one of those “Dad/Teen” talks that made us both squirm as we talked. I remember my dad and I having a similar talk when I was about his age. It had to happen, I just wish I had been a little more prepared for it.

Andrew had his first taste of real food this weekend. Carrots to start. I was really surprised at how well he did. With each day, he gets better and better at eating. I loved seeing the “this stuff is so much better than the stuff in the bottle you keep giving me” smile!

Even though it hasn’t been that long since Ella was in the high chair, I had already forgotten just how messy feeding the baby can be!

At one point this weekend, Sam just happened to have both kids on her lap. I snapped this one and I just love it.

Monday morning, Ella walks over to me as I am sitting in the living room. “Daddy needs socks,” she says. Then she proceeds to put one of AJ’s socks on my foot and walks away. “You did it, Daddy!” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at how it looked!

Andrew has been getting up earlier than Ella the past week or so. Him and I were already out in the living room playing on the floor when I saw that she was awake in the monitor. So I went to go get her. As I brought her out to the living room and she says, “Play with Bubby (that’s what she calls him)?” So I put her down and she went over to his toy box and dumped it out. She sat down and started playing with him. It was truly a heartwarming moment!

Looking ahead

You may recall a while back that my buddy, Max, wrote a couple “guest” blogs for me. His topic was the Beatles. I have said to him numerous times that I want to write a Beatles-themed blog, but just haven’t had the chance to really think about what to write. There are so many things I could do.

Well, Max and I are taking part in some musically themed blogs with our friend Dave. He will offer a topic and we (and a few other bloggers) will be writing on those things. For the first topic – he chose the Beatles. He has a specific angle he is shooting for, but he is also giving us a bit of freedom within that theme. So I am sitting her scratching my head on just how to tackle it. That should be posting within the next week, so hopefully I have something ready by then….

Thanks for reading!

Sooner Than Later?

To quote the Beatles song, “It Won’t Be Long!” It’s been some time since I’ve given an update on our baby boy, and after today’s OB appointment, now is a good time to do so.

Sam has really had a rough time the last few weeks, and as we enter the final month her discomfort grows daily. She’s been having Braxton Hicks contractions for quite some time now. There are nights that I will roll over in bed and can tell that she is having them. Of course, (because I’m a dumb guy) I always ask, “Is it time? Do we need to go to the hospital?”

She had a visit to the OB today and it looks like he may decide to make an appearance sooner than later. The due date is October 13 (or 14, depending on who you ask), and the doc had already said that he would probably induce a week early to avoid either one of us being at work when Sam goes into labor. Today’s visit really made us realize just how NOT ready we are.

The doc said that baby seems to have turned and is getting into position for delivery. He is “sunny side up” or posterior. This is basically what happened with Ella. Being in that position leads to extremely painful back labor.

When the baby is in the posterior position, the baby’s head pushes against the mother’s back, which causes the pain. I remember how excruciating the pain was for Sam when Ella was in that position. We can hope and pray that he turns over before she goes into labor.

At her last OB appointment, the doc told Sam that the baby would probably be a little early. At today’s appointment, he said that the baby could be here as early as next week! This was quite eye opening for Sam and I, as we don’t even have a bag packed! Now that I think about it, we don’t even have a BAG! I think we loaned it to someone!!

Needless to say, I need to sit down and start looking at the “baby bag checklist” and get that bag packed! We also have to get a bag packed for Ella. She obviously can’t go to the hospital with us, so we’ll have a “sleep over bag” ready for her, too.

There were a few other things that we sat down and realized that we still needed to pick up to be ready for baby. We still have some bins in the basement with newborn stuff in them that I will need to go through ASAP to be sure that everything is upstairs and available.

I actually chuckled on my way in to work tonight because I remember how our living room was all about Ella when she was a baby. We had bouncy seats, floor time mats, stacks of burp cloths, the pack and play, and just about every other item in there. Today that room is literally Ella’s play room! There are toys all over the place! I laughed because I wondered just where in the world we are going to put all that other stuff!!

So the countdown is on … we are excited and anxious to meet the newest member of our family. Rest assured that you’ll be able to read all about it here – sooner than later!