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.

wfbe

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.

Call #1

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.

j4

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!

c02e5001a9c2e791f86fdb12cce9be0e

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.

 

 

 

Knowledge is Power!

shr

As a kid, we lived for Saturday mornings! We never slept in because we knew that all morning long we had our choice of back to back cartoons! There was Scooby-Doo, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Hong Kong Phooey, Blue Falcon & Dynomutt, The Laff-O-Lympics, The Flilntstones, The Pink Panther and many more! It was great! We’d sit and watch these shows all morning long with a big ole bowl of cereal and laugh away!

One of the things I remember most about Saturday mornings was also one of the things that helped me in school – School House Rock. These little musical features helped me learn multiplication, history, and English. If that it what they set out to do, it worked. Oh, how many times did I find myself singing those songs in school!

Multiplication Rock

Learning the times table is one of those things that ALL kids absolutely hate! God, I hated those 60 second tests where you had to write the answers to as many problems as you could. The stress of that was awful for an elementary student. School House Rock helped!

Let me start with the most memorable. I remember when I had to help my son learn his times tables, I sang the “ready or not, here I come” song which helped you count by 5. This little song centered around a game of hide and seek, and they had to count to 100 by fives while the rest of the kids hid. To this day, when I have to count by fives – I think of this song!

cAYR

Counting by twos was illustrated by Noah and the ark. The biblical account talks of Noah bringing all the animals on the ark in pairs. So throughout this number, Noah answers his son’s question of how many animals were on the ark by counting the animals two by two as the exit the boat.

twos

The first song that was recorded for the series was “Three is a Magic Number”. The story goes that creator Bob Dorough’s son could remember “every lyric to a Rolling Stone’s song, but could not remember his multiplication tables”. If it truly is a magic number, what better way to illustrate it than with a magician?

3_crop_340x234

What child didn’t do a bit of daydreaming in school? To remember how to multiply 8, all we had to do is think about the little school girl who daydreamed she was a figure skater. She skates her figure 8 and the song told us how.

Figureeight

Grammar Rock

English was one of my best subjects. I remember being in 5th or 6th grade and going to something called the Academic Olympics. Schools within the district had these little game show like contests with teams for Math, Science, English, and History. I was chosen to be on the English team. I certainly never had an issue with the parts of speech because of School House Rock.

Well every person you can know,
And every place that you can go,
And anything that you can show,
You know they’re nouns.

Yep! Thanks to SHR, the little girl and her dog – we knew a noun was “a person, place or thing”!

noun

What’s happening? Verb! That’s what’s happening! The coolest “action” hero? Well, I don’t know about that, but a verb shows action….and I always remember him!

I get my thing in action (Verb!)
To be, to sing, to feel, to live (Verb!)
(That’s what’s happenin’)

A verb expresses action, being, or state of being. A verb makes a statement. Yeah, a verb tells it like it is!

Why do I remember this? Because the music was cool. The character was cool. We didn’t even know they were trying to teach us something!!! We were learning and it was cool!

verb

And what about describing a noun? Well all you had to do was unpack some adjectives…but watch out for the scary, hairy bear!

Adjectives and adverbs were so hard for some kids to get. I could not ever understand why. I got it pretty quickly … because of a little girl and her trip. You see, her friends ask her to describe her camping trip. She said that all she had to do was unpack some adjectives.

We hiked along without care.
Then we ran into a bear.
He was a hairy bear,
He was a scary bear,
We beat a hasty retreat from his lair.
And described him with adjectives.

adjectives

Moving on to Adverbs, I had help from SHR and also The Electric Company (which was mentioned yesterday). On the Electric Company, they turned to Tom Lehrer (who is pretty darn funny and has some comedy albums you can still get today). He created the simple song “L-Y”. Why? Well, most adverbs end in “ly”.

patiently

School House Rock’s song about adverbs was memorable because it was just a fun little song that takes place in (where else?) an adverb store! Need an adverb – shop at Lolly’s! The brilliance of this song is it is like a commercial for the store…and they really sell it! Hell, if I really needed to go buy and adverb – I would shop at Lolly’s!! After all … they are family owned!

Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your adverbs here.
Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, got some adverbs here.
Come on down to Lolly’s, get the adverbs here!
You’re going to need
If you write or read,
Or even think about it.

adverb

I still remember learning about interjections for the first time. I also learned about the punctuation that followed it …

Interjections (Hey!) show excitement (Yow!) or emotion (Ouch!).
They’re generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point,
Or by a comma when the feeling’s not as strong.

This song was full of characters – the kid with the flu who needed a shot, the gal getting asked out on a date, the fans at the football game, and others who were all full of interjections!

The chorus of this song is one of the most well known, so sing along:

So when you’re happy (Hurray!) or sad (Aw!)
Or frightened (Eeeeeek!) or mad (Rats!)
Or excited (Wow!) or glad (Hey!)
An interjection starts a sentence right.

yow

While all of these are memorable, probably the most memorable Grammar Rock song is about three small words and a small little train conductor. The bluesy swing song with the repetitive refrain and the amazing vocal talents of Jack Sheldon makes Conjunction Junction one of the all time BEST sing a longs.

Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?
Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.
Conjunction Junction, how’s that function?
I got three favorite cars
That get most of my job done.
Conjunction Junction, what’s their function?
I got “and”, “but”, and “or”,
They’ll get you pretty far.

Ask any child of the 70’s to give you a conjunction and they will spout off “and”, “but”, and “or” immediately! That’s a sure bet!!

conjunctionwords

America Rock

Moving forward, and wrapping up with History, we come to America Rock. Some of the biggest events in US history were brought to life in 3 minutes of musical perfection!

Interest in American History is still abounding today. Recently, there was an AMC series called Turn! which was about the Revolutionary War and George Washington’s spies as well as an HBO series on John Adams and the role he played in the Independence of America. Let’s start there.

No More Kings was a silly little song about the colonists coming to America and being taxed for everything. This leads to the Boston Tea Party and America wanting no part of King George (who can see what’s happening through his telescope).

They wanted no more Mother England.
They knew the time had come
For them to take command.
It’s very clear you’re being unfair, King,
No matter what you say, we won’t obey.
Gonna hold a revolution now, King,
And we’re gonna run it all our way
With no more kings…

Hence the colonization of America!

no more kings

What followed was the Revolutionary War. Which got it’s own song called The Shot Heard Round the World, which of course is then followed by the Declaration of Independence, which got it’s own little song … and Fireworks.

The Declaration of Independence
In seventeen hundred seventy six
The Continental Congress said that we were free
Said we had the right of life and liberty,
…And the pursuit of happiness! (You totally saw the guy chasing the gal when you read that line right?!)

Thanks to School House Rock, today I can still recite:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,
That all men are created equal
And that they are endowed by their creator
With certain inalienable rights.
That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

fireworks

Who doesn’t sing the “Fireworks song” on the 4th of July??!

Then, of course, after we declared our independence, we had to have a Constitution. Memorizing the Preamble of the Constitution was no problem for me in school … I had it set to music!

We the people,
In order to form a more perfect union,
Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
Provide for the common defense,
Promote the general welfare and
Secure the blessings of liberty
To ourselves and our posterity
Do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

preamble2

There have been many Amendments to the Constitution, and the 19th was a biggie! It allowed women to vote! It is hard to imagine that they didn’t have that right until 1920!! The right was referred to as Women’s Suffrage. School House Rock Tackled this historic occasion with the song “Sufferin’ Until Suffrage”.

Women were American’s too. They wanted the right to vote. The video for this song is part cartoon and part black and white pictures of women throughout history. It’s a rocking number that gets the point across and you can here the “victory” in her voice in this “gospel”-ish song.

Oh, we were suffering until suffrage,
Not a woman here could vote, no matter what age,
Then the 19th Amendment struck down that restrictive rule.

sufferin

Throughout history, we’ve seen many inventions that have made our world a better place. “Mother Necessity” was the character who is in this song and the “mother” of the inventors of these wonderful things. We hear of the Wright Brothers and their airplane, Thomas Edison and the light bulb, Eli Whitney and the cotton gin, Samuel Morse and the telegraph, Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone and a few others.

“Mother Necessity where would we be indeed!”

mother

Finally, the School House Rock showed me how the legislation process happens…with our friend, Bill.

Bill is just that – a bill. How does a bill become a law? I learned how with this song. Performed again by Jack Sheldon (Conjunction Junction) perfectly, you learn about the whole process and lengths a bill goes through to be a law. Naturally, we all feel great when he finally becomes a law at the end!

I’m just a bill.
Yes, I’m only a bill.
And I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill.
Well, it’s a long, long journey
To the capital city.
It’s a long, long wait
While I’m sitting in committee,
But I know I’ll be a law someday
At least I hope and pray that I will,
But today I am still just a bill.

bill

Thank you School House Rock for helping me and many other children learn so much about so many things! Now, to end with an interjection….

Darn! That’s the end.

darn

Some of my childhood friends…

kids-playing-hens-chicks_nl9dxs

I’m sure if I asked you about your childhood friends, you could easily spout off many of them by name.  Me too!  As a matter of fact, I am lucky enough to still see and talk regularly with my best friend from elementary school.  Yesterday’s blog about Mr. Rogers got me to thinking on my way home from work about some of the other friends I had growing up.  These aren’t friends that I met personally, mind you, these are the TV friends who helped me learn my letters, numbers, parts of speech, and right from wrong.  Some of them were there to take me on adventures against bad guys.  From various kid shows, there were plenty of friends to keep me company on days when we were snowed in, days it was raining, or on days when you were home sick from school.

Sesame Street

“Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street”?  I spent many mornings with the gang from Sesame Street!  There were so many characters on that show.  Many are still there, while some are long gone.  The first “muppet” to appear on the show is still there – Big Bird.  Early on, he would talk about his invisible friend “Snuffy” Snuffalupogus.  We could see him, Big Bird could see him, but none of the humans on the show could.  Now, everyone can see him.

MV5BMzExODAyNDUzN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDc3MDYyMjE@__V1_

Kermit the Frog, long before he starred on and hosted The Muppet Show”, was a regular on Sesame Street.  He often showed up in a trenchcoat and reported the “news”.  He also popped in on music composer Don Music, who was often having trouble writing a song.  Word is Don was cut from the show cause he always banged his head on the piano.

hqdefault

Remember Grover?  He was voiced by Frank Oz … who literally used the same voice for Yoda in the Star Wars films!  Grover would crack me up as the waiter who always seemed to annoy that one guy who was always trying to order something at the restaurant.

grover

Ernie and Bert were pals.  They were much like my friends and me.  They could annoy each other, and at they same time, they liked each other.  They fished together, they built snowmen together, they each had their own interests and yet, they still got along.  Ernie was the trickster and Bert was usually the target.

untitled

Count Von Count was probably my favorite.  He was obsessed with numbers and counting.  He lived in a castle and his thoughts were often accented by thunder cracks and lightning! He loved counting so much, he often laughed afterward.  “Two knocks on the door…..ha ha ha (thunderclap)!”

count

Speaking of counting, anyone who watched Sesame Street remembers the pinball count.  It was your typical jazzy, funky music where an animated pinball rolled around in the machine counting to 12.  You can sing it right now, right?  So many great other songs were on this show: I Don’t Want To Live On the Moon, The Alligator King, The Ladybug Picnic, Rubber Duckie, It Ain’t Easy Being Green, C is For Cookie, and of course, Mahna Mahna!

I also remember Sherlock Hemlock (who solved mysteries like Sherlock Holmes), Roosevelt Franklin (an African American Muppet who was cut from the show because they felt it was too stereotypical), The Twiddlebugs (who lived outside in Ernie’s window box), and Guy Smiley!  There’s a name!  Guy Smiley!

Guy-smiley

The Electric Company

“Hey, you guys!” was often heard shouted by the great Rita Moreno in the opening theme.   This was just a “cool” way to learn!  While there are many different segments aimed at teaching kids things some of them stand out far more than others. For example, the Soft Shoe Sillhouette, as they were called, featured two people in silhouette pronouncing a word.  The first would say “Sh” and the other would say “ip”.  They would say it over and over until eventually, they would say “Ship”.  I remember how much that helped me learn to read by sounding out words.

ec sill

As far as my friends from the show, well I have to start off with Easy Reader.  He was played by none other than Morgan Freeman!  He was so cool and he thought reading was cool.  If reading was cool enough for Easy Reader – it was cool enough for me!

easy reader

Another character who helped me learn to read was Otto the Director, played by Rita Moreno.  She would try so hard to get the actors to remember their lines.  They would always forget the one word they had on the cue card.

ec_cast2

Then there was Spiderman!  Yes, Spiderman was on the Electric Company!   Spidey’s Super Stories featured Spidey on an adventure and he never spoke, well, audibly anyway.  He “spoke” in balloons, like in the comic books.  The audience had to read what he was saying.  Eventually a comic book called Spidey’s Super Stories was produced by Marvel comics.

left-danny-seagren-as-spidey-in-the-skit-on-pbs-s-the-electric-company-right-nicholas-hammond-wears-the-suit-in-the-amazing-spider-man-credit-disney-abc-

Captain Kangaroo

“Good Morning, Captain”.  The show would begin with a montage of celebrities and non-celebrities saying “Good Morning, Captain” and eventually, there he was – Captain Kangaroo – saying “Good morning” to you.  In an interview once, Bob Keeshan said the show was kind of like a “nice visit to your grandparents house”.

Some of the friends on this show included the farmer. “Mr. Green Jeans”, “Mr. Bunny Rabbit”, and “Mr. Moose”.  Mr. Moose was my favorite.  He always seemed to tell some kind of knock knock joke which led to a bunch of ping pong balls falling on the Captain.

MV5BMjQyMzE1NzI4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTE5NzQ1MDI@__V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1494,1000_AL_

One thing I remember about this show was the cartoon Simon.  It was a British cartoon about a kid who had a magic piece of chalk.  With that chalk he could create all kinds of things for some sort of adventure.  What I remember about it was the theme:  “Well you know my name is Simon, and the things I draw come true…”  Mike Meyers did a sketch on SNL based on this with Danny DeVito…a must see if you remember Simon.

The Kroft Super Show

So this show was one that I had kind of forgot about.  I was reminded of it after discussing some of the other shows with a friend.  I don’t recall what network it was on, but I seem to remember it being on before or after Land of the Lost.

Do you remember Dr. Shrinker?  Cheesy 70’s programming at it’s best!  Dr. Shrinker is some sort of mad scientist who shrinks a bunch of teenagers and they spend the entire episode running away from him and trying not to get caught by him or his henchman, Hugo.  Hugo was played wonderfully by the great Billy Barty!  What I remember most about this was how they had these huge oversized props behind the actors to show how “tiny” they were.

CKAgJElUwAA-n5w

You thought Batman 66 was cheesy??  This show introduced us to Electra Woman and Dyna Girl!  Electra Woman was played by Deidre Hall and Dyna Girl was Judy Strangis.  There were two crime fighters who posed as news reporters when not fighting crime.  They wore these huge things called ElectraComs on their wrists that allowed them to speak to each other and it also served as a gadget that got them out of pretty much any situation (just like Batman’s utility belt). Dyna Girl was basically a female Robin and instead of yelling “Holy (fill in the blank)”, she would yell “Electra Wow!” LOL!

electraw

A highlight of this cheesy show was their scientist friend, Frank Heflin.  He helped them by staying at the Electra Base (like the Bat Cave) and operated the CrimeScope (like the Bat Computer).  He was played by the great character actor Norman Alden.  He was in many movies, and provided the voice for Aquaman and Green Arrow on the Super Friends cartoon.  He also was the café owner in the café where Marty McFly meets his father at in the 1950’s in the classic film Back to the Future.

11395851-large

Next time … The Parts of Speech, History, and Musical Math …