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!

Prompt: First Dating Experiences

I enjoyed answering the questions last week, so I thought I would take part again this week. Read all about it here:

This week’s prompt is: Your First Dating Experiences

Here are the questions, along with my answers:

On your very first date, did you do the asking, or were you asked out?

I was actually asked out. I actually blogged about my first date once and you can read all about it here:


Were you typically stressed out before a first date? Did things seem to be easier the more you dated the same person?

I would say that I usually was stressed out before a first date. I think you just naturally want it to go well. The stress level is higher is you don’t really know the person. It would surely be easier if you had more dates with the same person. I believe that if you know the person, the date will be easy. When I asked my wife out on our first “date,” we had known each other for a while, so it was fairly comfortable.


What did you do to prepare for the date? Did you wear new clothes, or special outfits?

Well, you are obviously trying to impress on a first date. I don’t know that I went out and bought new clothes, but I certainly dressed nice. It also depended on where the date was. Dinner at a nice restaurant requires better dress than a trip to the movies.


How did you meet those first dates? Were your dates with friends of a family member, or friends of a friend?

My first dates were usually gals from school. After I graduated, I had a friend or two suggest taking one of their friends out. I once dated a radio listener who came up with her friend to drop off cookies or something. Her friend liked me, but I wound up asking her instead. One gal I took on a date I met at a mutual friends wedding. Many of those dates never led to additional dates.


Did you have a curfew on those early dates? Did you typically arrive home on time or were you constantly breaking curfew?

When I was in school, yes. I believe it was 11:00pm. My folks were pretty understanding and flexible, but I always made sure that my date was home when they were supposed to be. I don’t know that I was always late, and if I was it was only by a few minutes.


Did your parents insist on meeting whomever you dated?

I don’t know that they insisted, but if there was more than one date, I brought my dates to meet my folks. My very first date picked me up at my house and I think my folks were so excited that I was going out on a date that they embarrassed me by asking her a gazillion questions.


Where did you usually go when on a date? (movies, concerts, picnics, etc.)

Usually for a first date it was dinner and maybe a movie.


Did the boy/man always pay for the date or did you go Dutch treat?

I have been on plenty of Dutch treat dates, but I want to say that I paid for my date most of the time. I remember my dad asking if I had enough money to pay.


Were you typically the talker or the listener on a date?

I think both, but as a radio guy, talking came very naturally to me! I probably talked a little bit more.


What did you do if the date clearly wasn’t going well? (feign a headache, ask to go home, end the date early, etc.)

This made me laugh because I have had dates feign a headache, ask to go home and end the date early! Seriously, I only had a few dates where I felt that things were not going well. I am sure I finished the date and was just grateful that it was over.

A connection from the past to the present, if applicable. How long did you date your current partner before marriage?

I really don’t know that I can put a time to it. We were friends that became more than friends and then got married. I don’t think that either one of us didn’t feel right about it. We were in love and we got married. We were probably friends two to three years before getting married.


Bonus Question: Care to share a disasters first date??????

I don’t know that any of the first “bad” dates could qualify as a true “disaster.”

I would love to see YOUR answers to these questions.

Prompt: Nighttime Rituals

A few of the blogs I follow posted this yesterday. I guess there is a Throwback Thursday prompt each week by a couple sites I cannot remember off the top of my head. I thought this was a very neat set of questions to think back on and answer. After I publish this, I will go back and try to find the names of the original poster of these.

(UPDATED) The authors of the original post is Maggie, at From Cave Walls, and Lauren, at LSS Attitude of Gratitude. The idea of the prompt is for them to give us a topic and for us to write a post in which we share our own memories or experiences about the given topic. This week, Maggie asks us about our nighttime rituals growing up.

This week’s prompt is: Nighttime Rituals

You can either free write using these questions as inspiration or answer the questions as they are.

Did you share a room with a sibling, or did you have a room of your own?

I recall doing both. There were times that my brother and I shared a room and times where we had separate rooms. I remember when we first moved to separate rooms being a bit scared of the dark (and probably being alone). I used to get up and turn the hall light on all the time. Then there were times that I’d call to my brother and have him come in my room, or vice versa.

There were plenty of times were we’d be up screwing around and laughing, which would ultimately cause my dad to have to get up from the living room and yell at us to stay in bed. I don’t know that my dad ever really had the chance to watch a show at night when we were in separate rooms. It seems like he was always coming in to yell at us.

Did you resist going to bed or did you go willingly?

My dad may disagree with me, but I think I went to bed willingly most nights. I think the issue was staying in bed. I’m sure that there were times I resisted, but I don’t recall many times where I fought to stay up.

Did someone put you to bed, tuck you in, or read you a bedtime story?

I am sure as a toddler my mom or dad read me bedtime stories. I remember many of them and have read those to my own kids at bed time. I remember my dad reading us Babar the elephant stories for some reason.

I guess both parents kind of alternated in putting us to bed. I recall my dad always putting us to bed after birthdays and Christmas. He always asked if we got what we wanted and if we had a good day.

Was there a religious component, like prayers, to your nighttime routine?

I remember saying prayers at night. As a kid it was usually the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer. At some point that began to freak me out. The line “If I shall die before I awake” began to scare me a bit.

As I got older and realized that prayers didn’t have to be repetitive and such, I actually began to pray and have a conversation with God. Those times meant more than the ones I said just to say them.

Did you go to sleep immediately, or lie awake?

I fooled around a lot. I almost never went right to sleep. I remember having a flashlight next to my bed or under my pillow. I would sometimes grab a book and read it with the flashlight on. I also had a small hand held radio with one of those white ear buds that only went in one ear.

I would plug it in and fall asleep listening to the radio – maybe a Tigers game or just music. Later, I had a portable cassette player and I would listen to Old Radio Shows like Fibber McGee and Molly, Dragnet, Jack Benny or Suspense.

Did you ever sleepwalk?

Not to my knowledge.

Did you remember having dreams? If you dreamed, did you ever have bad dreams? Do you remember any dreams specifically?

I do remember dreaming. I recall many times I would have bad dreams and end up crawling into bed with my folks, or my brother. The one dream I have had for years is the “tornado dream” which I blogged about before. You can read it here:

Were you afraid of the dark? Did you sleep with a nightlight or sneak into your sibling’s or parent’s room at night because you were afraid?

Yes. I’m not sure why, but I was very afraid of the dark. I always had a nightlight. I remember when my brother and I had to spend the night at my grandma’s house, they slept in complete darkness and I remember being scared to death. I was always used to hearing my folks up watching TV or talking on the phone. My grandparents would go to be when we went to bed. Complete darkness and eerie quiet. I heard all kinds of noises.

I often snuck into my brothers room or vice versa. Going into my parent’s room was not unheard of either.

Did you have or attend sleepovers or slumber parties?

I remember having sleepovers with a few friends as a young kid. Sometimes I went to their house and sometimes they came to mine. I remember having friends over to watch movies and such. As a teen, I remember one sleepover where a bunch of friends came over and we all slept in a tent in the back yard. My dad wound up cooking a HUGE breakfast for all of us.

How about you? What are your answers to the questions? I’d love to hear them.

One Photograph – Your Memories

I have a blog that I want to write, but can’t really bring myself to do it emotionally. I’m still trying to sort through the feelings and the best way to write about it. So, today, I have opted to go to the Daily Writing Prompts to find my blog topic.

Today’s Prompt:

“One Photograph – Glance through some old pictures. Write about the one that brings back fond memories.”

As a Nostalgic Italian, almost every picture causes me to reflect on it and remember the moment. The one that jumped out at me today was from when I was about 6 years old.

My Brother and I in front of Grandpa’s truck.

The photo above was taken in Ohio. It was taken on our trip to King’s Island. My folks, my brother and me all packed up my grandpa’s camper and went down for a family trip to King’s Island and Sea World.

The first thing that stands out in the picture is the shirts that my brother and I are wearing. It must have been Summer of 1976. Americans were celebrating the country’s 200th birthday that year. I am guessing that elementary schools throughout the country all ordered the same shirts only with their school’s name on them. I say this because while we were on this trip, there was a family that were wearing the same shirts sitting and eating at a table. I remember getting up and walking around in front of them until the mom said, “Hey! Nice shirt!”

I don’t recall how many days we were there, but at least one day was rainy. Other photo’s from the trip show my brother and me in jackets and the King’s Island “bucket” hats.

While we walked around, they had many of the cartoon characters walking around the park. The gang from the Banana Splits were out and we got a picture with one of them. I believe my brother hates this picture, but I thought it was funny.

I remember riding a lot of the kiddie rides there. One ride had you sitting in a boat and we went through this tunnel with all kinds of characters in it. The photo is long gone, but I remember asking my dad to take a picture of these two skeletons dancing. One had on a top hat. It was one of my favorite pictures, but it was lost in a move probably.

Going back to the weather, I remember this trip scaring the heck out of me. After we went back to the camper, it began to rain hard and then a strong thunderstorm came through. Along with it, came tornado warnings. The four of us were all inside my grandpa’s camper and I was scared to death. I was terrified of tornadoes (thanks to my grandma) and I thought one was going to come through and pick us up in the camper! It was crazy. That wind was tossing us back and forth and it was the worst storm I had ever lived through.

It’s funny how one picture can bring back so many memories. This was the only time I’ve ever been to King’s Island. A buddy was just there last weekend and posted pictures on his Facebook page. As I looked at the other photos from MY trip, I have to believe that Fred Flintstone is no longer there and the Banana Splits have probably been replaced with Sponge Bob or some newer character.

It may just be time for me to take the family there for a trip! Now, if I can only get someone to make me that shirt in a bigger size….

Cast the Movie of Your Life

The Word Press App on my phone will offer a daily writing prompt to bloggers. I subscribe to a few “prompt” emails and such, and they can certainly be thought starters. Today’s prompt was one I had considered before and I may have even been asked a similar question by a Facebook friend. The prompt:

They are making a movie about your life. Cast it. (Keith adds – with any actors living or dead)

My thoughts on this are to jot down what comes to mind immediately for some (not all) of my family, and a few friends (other friends may request I suggest an actor/actress for them if they really want me to). I will then continue to ponder the question and see if, after thinking it over, I would change any of my choices.

Me

Dom Deluise – No Brainer. This has always been my answer to this question!

My wife, Sam

This was tough. I tried to think of who might look like her and carry herself like Sam. Toss up between Charlize Theron and Olivia Wilde.

My Dad

I’m not sure there would be any better than Jackie Gleason to play my dad

My Mom

Who in the world could play my mom? Tough question and still not really sure, but I forced myself to pick someone. At times, Cathy Bates’ facial expressions remind me of her, so for now – that’ my pick.

My Brother – Chris

Really difficult pick. So just because it will either make him laugh (and he needs that, because he is recovering from Covid) or it will make him mad… William Shatner (Because I wanted to post this stupid picture!)

My Grandma and Grandpa P

Estelle Getty on Golden Girls WAS my grandma! I always felt Abe Vigoda looked like my grandpa, so there ya go.

My Grandma and Grandpa D.

I have always felt like at times, Betty White reminded me of my grandma. My grandpa was tall, a bit heavy, and always smiling. John Goodman reminds me of him.

My best friend, Jeff

Another no brainer. I’ve said for years that he reminds me of Robin Williams.

My friend Steve K.

Steve always has some sort of crazy fact that seems unbelievable to tell. So, he would be John Ratzenberger – but John Ratzenberger AS Cliff Claven from Cheers.

My friend Joe K.

Joe is probably one of the smartest guys I know. At first, I couldn’t get Jeff Goldblum out of my head, and then I though Rainn Wilson is a bit more “Joe” to me.

My friend Steve M.

Steve and I wear our hair the same. My first choice was Vin Diesel, but then I though Michael Chiklis looked more like him (and he played Curly in a Three Stooges movie, so he wins).

My friend Margaret M.

She’s Italian. She’s fiesty. She is strong. She is an expert at inserting profanity into conversation. Without a doubt – Marisa Tomei.

My friend, Chris B,

Tall and funny = Conan O’Brien

Uh …… I’m Stumped

Now, as far as my kids …. I’m just not sure. My older boys (Dante’ and Dimitri) have personalities that are very established. Ella does in a sense as well. Andrew is just a smiling happy baby. How do I begin to pick who will play them? I just don’t know….

It’s my blog and my rules. Let me think a bit on this ….

If I left you out …. and you want me to think about who will play you – let me know. In the meantime ….

Go ahead and cast YOUR life. Who would play YOU?

Funny Photo Memory

Due to my lack of creativity this week, I have turned to a daily writing prompt to spark a blog idea. The prompt that struck me was this:

Find a picture that brings back a funny memory just by looking at it. Tell us about it.

I have no shortage of pictures I can chose from, but as I was searching through some older photos I found the one that made me laugh out loud. It is a professional photo of my first born son.

He is 3 months old in this picture. He is my first child and because he was a boy, we had many “sporty” type outfits that we bought or that were given to us. I love the fact that the Detroit Tigers hat matched this outfit. I believe the bat came from a game that I attended before he was born. As you can see, the props make the a cute picture, even cuter!

So what is so funny about this very cute picture? Well, it isn’t really what you can see in it, it is what happened at the shoot itself.

He is going to be 20 years old next month, so I cannot remember if the incident happened before the pictures were taken or after. I want to say afterward, because there is a picture of him in this same outfit on his belly, and I highly doubt we would have gotten that picture afterward.

We had the pictures taken at a professional studio. It may have been Sears, I don’t remember. At any rate, because he couldn’t sit up yet, they threw one of those things under the rug to help prop him up. If my memory serves me correctly, it was after this picture was taken that we heard him “explode.”

The day this picture was taken was the day of his first diaper blowout! I remember picking him up and there was poop all up his back. Wow, it was terrible. It was soaking through the back of this baseball uniform and I remember that it smelled awful. I don’t recall if we brought an outfit change that day. I remember being excited to have the pictures done in that outfit.

Every time I see this picture, as cute and as innocent as my son looks in it, all I can think of is that diaper blowout!

Inspired by Blogmas

A few blogs that I follow, started to talk about “Blogmas” a week or so ago. From what I can tell it is a list of 25-31 Blog post ideas. Sort of a daily writing prompt that are all Christmas related. I did a search for “Blogmas” and read through a few of them. The list seems to vary a bit, but mostly contains the same prompts. The idea is to blog about each of these prompts daily. Some of the lists stop at 25 (Christmas Day) and some end at day 31 (New Year’s Eve).

The ones I read yesterday were under the title “Christmas Tag.” In essence, you answer the 20 questions and then tag a blogger to answer the same. I won’t tag anyone at the end of this blog, since I am technically not officially committed to “Blogmas,” but I liked some of the questions on the list and thought they would make for good reading (even though I may have answered a question or two in more detail in past blogs). So here goes:

  1. When do you start getting excited for Christmas? I would say that I probably start getting in the Christmas mood right after Halloween. Many radio stations begin playing Christmas music then. I could listen to Christmas music any time of the year, but hearing it on the radio starts to get me excited for the season.
  2. Is Christmas your favorite holiday? I would say yes. I have so many wonderful memories of past Christmases. I love that people’s attitudes tend to be happier during the Christmas season. There just seems to be a lot more joy around Christmas.
  3. Do you prefer to stay at home or travel for the holidays? I guess I prefer to stay home – or close to home – for the holidays. When I read the question, travel seems to insinuate going out of state or a lengthy trip. Most of my family is within a 60-90 minute drive, so that really doesn’t seem like travel to me.
  4. Be honest: do you prefer giving or receiving gifts? Definitely giving. I love to see the look on a person’s face when they receive a gift from me. I wouldn’t consider myself the best gift giver (trying to buy anything for my wife is SO difficult). I like to have some sort of idea of what a person wants before I shop for them. As far as receiving gifts – I never really feel comfortable when someone buys me something.
  5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve? I have every year since I was a kid. We always went to my grandma’s house for Christmas Eve and opened all our gifts. During my first marriage, we always let my sons open one gift on Christmas Eve (usually Christmas pajamas). Today, my sons come over the day before Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve morning is our “Christmas.” They spend Christmas morning with their mom. My daughter and my son will have some gifts to open Christmas Eve morning with their brothers and then more for Christmas morning.
  6. Have you ever built a snowman? Yes. Quite a few actually. I remember loving when the snow was “good packing” and you could build snowmen and snow forts. Just recently, my daughter and I started a snowman, but she was so excited to play in the snow, he was never finished. Can’t wait for our next opportunity to build one.
  7. Do you decorate the outside of your home for Christmas? Yes. Usually the front and side porches. It is by no means the best on the block, but I’m happy with it. One day I hope to be courageous enough to climb up on the roof and do more. For now, I’m happy with it.
  8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake? Fake. In all my years, we’ve never had a real tree. I enjoy them when they are at someone else’s house, though. I enjoy the smell of the pine tree. I am not sure that if we ever got a real tree that I’d be comfortable with it. You know, fire hazzards, bugs or animals possibly still being in them, the fact that you have to water it each day, and stepping on pine needles for months after….
  9. Most memorable holiday moment? How does one even begin to answer this question?! I have so many from childhood, and now even more with each of my children. I just couldn’t narrow it down to one.
  10. What do you like to do over Christmas break? What break?! I have a couple days off and work the rest of the days in between. I wish that I could stockpile vacation time up so I could actually take more time off during the holidays so I could spend it with family.
  11. Which holiday traditions are you most looking forward to this year? One thing that I have come to really look forward to is driving through the Holiday lights display at Crossroads Village on Christmas Eve night. It doesn’t change too much every year, but I always love going through and seeing the lights.
  12. Best Christmas gift you’ve ever received? Urgh – again, very difficult to chose one. Maybe it was the Atari 2600. It also could be the cribbage board my grandpa gave me. Or it could be the gold trumpet charm from my mom. Stretch Armstrong? I just can’t narrow it down.
  13. What is your all-time favorite holiday treat? Toss up between Pignolata (loved when my grandma made this!) or cannoli. Both were staples at Christmas time (along with many many Christmas cookies).
  14. Your favorite Christmas movie? I would say A Christmas Story or any version of A Christmas Carol. (Christmas Vacation could easily be in there, too!)
  15. Your favorite Christmas song? Man, all of these “favorite” questions are just to difficult! Dean Martin’s Marshmallow World is a definite favorite! Santa Claus is Back in Town from Elvis, Mel Torme’ The Christmas Song, Doc Severinsen’s Jingle Bells, the list goes on and on!
  16. What makes the holidays special for you? Family! Spending time with my family is all that matters! Sharing those special moments with them is everything!
  17. What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season? I’ve never really been away for the holidays, but I know some places go all out. Disney, Branson, and so many other places really have some amazing things going on. Maybe one day we’ll be able to check them out.
  18. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you stick to them? I used to. I don’t really any more. I shouldn’t need a new year to want to make changes in my life. For many years, I would make them and would fail miserably at them.
  19. You have been granted one Christmas wish, what will it be? I would wish to make a difference. Included in the wish, I would wish to be a role model for my children, a good friend, a good husband, and a man whose faith helped lead others to the Lord.
  20. Who’s “it?” At this point on the list you are supposed to pick someone to answer the same questions. If you are so inclined, you may do so. If not, I hope you enjoyed my answers.

“It’s a Cop!”

Today’s writing prompt actually made me laugh: “Have you ever had an encounter with the police?” Yes. Yes, I have. I have had a few …. as a matter of fact …..

rosco

My First Ticket

It was probably my junior or senior year and there was a very cool record store in Ferndale called “Sam’s Jams.” They had everything, including some very hard to find vinyl albums. I remember finding old Soupy Sales albums, rare Tom Lerer albums, and stuff I didn’t even know existed on vinyl there. I spent many hours there before they closed their doors.

I was driving in my dad’s 1979 Caprice Classic (I loved that car!) through Royal Oak and Steve was with me. It was in November, so it was already dark out. The speed limit was like 30 and I was going a little faster than that. I remember when the flashers went on behind me – I was terrified! I had never been pulled over before. There were butterflies in my stomach and I was sweating as the policeman approached the car.

kpjak

He asked for my license, registration, and proof of insurance. He asked if I knew how fast I was going and if I knew what the speed limit was. I didn’t know either. He said he’d be back. I became more and more nervous the longer he was in his car. When he returned, he asked, “Do you know you are driving on expired plates?” My dad’s birthday is the first of November, and my dad insisted that he had until the end of the month to renew. I told the cop this and he said very sternly, “You’re dad is wrong. Are you aware that I can impound this vehicle? Where are you heading?” I told him we were going to Sam’s Jams. He told me, “No you are not. You are going home. I would recommend that you not do any driving until your dad gets these plates renewed.” He then handed me my ticket, and told me I was lucky he wasn’t impounding the vehicle. I turned around and drove home (where my dad insisted that he had until the end of the month to renew those tags!).

No stranger to tickets

Don’t take that heading the wrong way, I just have had a few tickets here and there in my 30+ years of driving. One of them came on Thanksgiving.

ERIK ESTRADA & LARRY WILCOX CHIPS (1977)

We were leaving my dad’s house and heading to my ex’s family’s house for dinner. We hadn’t been driving very long, because we were technically still in my dad’s neighborhood when I got pulled over. If my memory serves me correctly, we had stayed a bit longer than my ex wanted to at my folks house. When we left, she was angry and we were arguing in the car. I was driving in a 25 and probably doing 40-45. She was telling me that we were going to be “so late” and the more she yelled, the angrier I got.

The cop was going the other way and he swung around quick and turned on the flashers. This, of course, led to more of an argument. The cop walked up and asked for my information and I believe my ex said, “I knew he was going too fast, sir.” My son asked the cop if I was going to jail – LOL. I got a ticket and an earful that continued all the way to her family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

columbo

One ticket I got was while driving to work one night. There was an accident at the intersection of 12 and Woodward. I took Woodward to work every night and had to turn right onto 12 Mile. Driving toward 12 Mile, there was a wrecker with a vehicle already on it just before you reached 12 mile. The cop was on the other side of 12 mile and his flashers were on. There were cars going the opposite way on 12 mile, so when I got to 12 mile, I turned right. (So the cop is on my left on one side of 12 on Woodward, and the wrecker is on the right side of 12 mile on Woodward). As I pull into our parking lot at work, he zips in behind me and turns on the lights.

Keep in mind, there are no flares or cones or anything on the street AND there was nothing blocking me from making the turn, so I figured I was ok to do so. Nope. I was informed by the officer that I had drove through “an accident scene” which I guess is a TON of points. He wrote me up instead for “impeding traffic”, which was a little less points, but still a few more than I ever wanted on my record.

drebin

I am a creature of habit. I take the same way to work every day. I like to travel familiar roads. When the GPS has me take another way, or I am in unfamiliar surroundings, I start to get nervous. Especially when the roads are back roads that twist, turn and wind all over the place.

Friday, I was driving to an appointment and the GPS tells me that the road ahead is closed and has me get off and take another route. The roads are twisting and turning all over the place and before I know it, I am in a construction zone. The GPS is yelling at me to turn in like .2 miles and because I am not paying attention to my speed, you guessed it – here comes the Oakland County Sheriff.

He had every right to cop the attitude that he did. “Do you realize you are in a construction zone?” “You do see that there are workers present and that there is no concrete barrier, right?” My heart was pounding. I am always careful – especially in construction zones. My wife can tell you, I usually have the cruise control on. She even jokes about how slow I drive. I was given a break (thankfully) because I had no points on my record. I was told to slow down and he wrote me up for 5 over. I am one lucky guy!

My favorite encounter with the police – October 1987

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I have probably blogged about this before, but when I was a senior in high school the big thing to do was toilet paper houses. There were many groups that went out together – the cheerleaders, the football players, the choir members, and of course, us band people. The band was large and there were three or four groups that went out and TP’d. My group was the TP Bandits.

One of my best friends, Steve (the same Steve who was with me when I got my first ticket) had a birthday in October. He was dating a gal at the time and for his birthday, we decided that we were going to TP his house. When did our “drive by,” we could see him upstairs in his room watching TV with the gal. We parked the car just a bit down from his driveway and Margaret, Ronnie, and I went to work. The three of us used a ton of TP on this huge tree in front of his house, wrapped bushes, the mailbox, etc…. it was a beautiful job!

Once everything was finished, we stood in the middle of his lawn and sang “Happy Birthday” at the top of our lungs. He came to his bedroom window and laughed. After the last note was sung, we turned and ran to our car … but we didn’t get far. As we sung Happy Birthday, a cop car had pulled up in front of the house. Ronnie and Margaret ran away first and I was probably making faces at Steve or giving him the finger or something. All I remember hearing is Ronnie yelling, “It’s a cop!” I then felt a very firm grip on my shoulder and was told to get in the back of the Warren Police Cruiser.

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As the officer closed the door of the cruiser, I could see Steve’s mom running outside yelling, “It’s a prank! It’s ok! They’re ok! It’s just a prank!” Margaret, Ronnie and I sat in the back of this cop car and I kept thinking, “We’re never going to get to go to graduation!” “We’re being arrested for TPing!” “What the hell am I gonna tell my folks?!”

The cop in the car went one by one and asked us our names, our addresses, our phone numbers, and probably a bunch of other things. I don’t remember much of it, but I know I laughed when he got to Ronnie, because he totally started rattling off all his info as fast as I have ever heard him talk! The cop told us that we could go to jail because of vandalism or something and I thought, “It’s TP! Are you serious!?” When the other cop returned the vehicle, he played “good cop.” He told us that he had all our information. He wanted us to go out and clean up as much as we possible could. They were going to drive back by the house later and if it wasn’t cleaned up “we know where to find you!”

Steve got quite a laugh out of the whole thing. I think the cops asked if they wanted us to clean it up and he probably told them yes. It was a huge birthday backfire. I also remember coming to school the next day and waiting for people to razz us. A few people had heard what happened, but surprisingly, no one really said anything. I thought we were totally in the clear. During band class, we were in the middle of a song and all of a sudden, our band director, Mr. Shaner, cut us all off and proudly yelled, “Hey! Did everyone hear what happened to our TP Bandits last night?!” The band erupted with laughter and Margaret, Ronnie and I were red with embarrassment!

Yeah … I’ve had a few encounters with the police …. some were more fun than others!

A Memorable and Unique Gift

When I started writing my blog, I knew it would be a variety of personal stories, thoughts on music and movies, and blogs about whatever happened to be on my mind.  I wondered if I’d actually be able to write new material often enough to even keep a blog.  So, I signed up for “daily writing prompts” which come to my e-mail.  These can be good “thought starters,” but they are usually things like “write about a baseball player who is in a slump,” “Write a story using the following adjectives…,” and such.  This is more “creative” and “fiction” writing.  I’m sure if I really sat down and focused, I could probably do this, but I would rather write about things I know.

My brother got me a book of prompts that I like a bit more.  They are more personal.  I have gone through that book and have jotted the ones that I want to write about in the future in my “blog notebook.”  Occasionally, the daily e-mail will suggest a prompt that I have on my “future” list.  That happened today.  Today’s prompt:

“Write about a memorable and unique gift that was not given as a birthday or Christmas gift”

The Horn Mug

After I graduated high school, my parents threw me a graduation party.  I provided my parents with a list of people who I wanted to invite.  One of those people was my band director.  As I have stated in previous blogs, he was a great mentor to me throughout high school, and we have kept in touch since I graduated (31 years ago!). I invited him to the party, but he was unable to attend. He did, however, send a gift.

Growing up, I had read a lot of poetry, and was familiar with Rudyard Kipling.  I had read many of his poems, and was familiar with his poem “If.”  The card that accompanied the gift had Kipling’s poem on it.  I had never read it in the context of a graduate before, but as I did, it was even more meaningful.  Here it is:

If – Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; 
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
But make allowance for their doubting too; 
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies, 
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating, 
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise; 

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master; 
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim; 
If you can meet with triumph and disaster 
And treat those two impostors just the same; 
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken 
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, 
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, 
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools; 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, 
And lose, and start again at your beginnings 
And never breathe a word about your loss; 
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew 
To serve your turn long after they are gone, 
And so hold on when there is nothing in you 
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”; 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, 
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch; 
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; 
If all men count with you, but none too much; 
If you can fill the unforgiving minute 
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run– 
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, 
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

I opened the box that accompanied the card.  Inside was a pewter horn-shaped mug.  I had never seen anything like it before.  Inside the card, Tom wrote the many reasons why they enjoyed giving the mug as a gift.  He spoke of the various things that the horn stood for and things that it represented.  That, in itself, made it a very cool gift.  What made the gift so special to me was what was engraved on it.

I had seen the coolest shadow box one day.  I don’t remember where we were, but I told my mom that I wanted to get it and give it to my band director as a gift.  As I recall, it had musical notes on it and maybe a violin.  On the glass were the words “Where words fail – music speaks.”  Such a powerful quote!  I gave it to him toward the end of my senior year and included a note of thanks.

A few weeks later, I received his gift.  Engraved on the horn mug were the same words – “Where words fail – music speaks.”

It remains one of the most unique gifts I have ever received.

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31 years later and those words are just as powerful and the mug still is very special to me.

 

 

25 Things

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One of the daily writing prompts I read today asked to list 25 Things I’ll Never Do.  I grabbed a piece of paper and thought, “This will be easy.”  It was a bit harder than I thought.  I jotted them down one by one and stopped at 25.  I didn’t go any further.  I am sure if I thought more, I could expand the list.  For now, here at the ones that hit me immediately:

I will never ______

  1. Stop loving my wife and children
  2. Smoke a cigarette
  3. Go bungee jumping
  4. Stop writing
  5. Lose my faith in God
  6. Be perfect
  7. Beat my kids at that stupid Super Smash Brothers game
  8. Get a piercing
  9. Stop saying “I Love You”
  10. Take for granted someone’s presence in my life
  11. Give up on dreams
  12. Stop listening to music
  13. Intentionally hurt someone I care about
  14. Go downhill skiing
  15. Stop watching the Three Stooges
  16. Apologize for who I am
  17. Stop hugging my family and friends
  18. Forget those who have passed away
  19. Stop reading
  20. Sky dive
  21. Understand people who enjoy making other people miserable
  22. Act “my age”
  23. Ride in a hot air balloon
  24. Stop trying to make people laugh
  25. Realize how truly lucky I am to be living my life

How about you?  Can you list 25?  10?

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