Favorite Film – The 70’s

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I guess I saw this on Facebook some time ago.   Somebody had the idea to post a list of your favorite films.  The list was to consist of your favorites from each year of your life.  So, you start with your birth year and move ahead year by year and list all the films from each year.  I am SURE I have this idea written down in my notebook of “blog ideas”.  A post from the Avocado site came up in my “Reader” list of blogs that had the same principle, but with one exception – you can only pick one movie from each year. You can read that blog here:

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/73828787/posts/2442817483

I am going to say that narrowing down just one film from each year will be next to impossible for me.  I am going to attempt to do it.  I have a feeling that I will go back in a day, a month, or year from now and think, “No, I should have picked _____ instead!”  At any rate, some of these will be easy to pick, and some I will have to “eenie meanie miney moe” to pick just one.  Maybe this is a topic I revisit each year?  I don’t know.

I am going to break it down by “decade”, so each post will include 10 films.  Deep breath.  Here we go – back to the year I was born:

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Of the 1970 films that made my personal favorite list, many have “war” themes:  M*A*S*H, Kelly’s Heroes, and Tora! Tora! Tora!  Other films include Dean Martin in Airport! and the Mel Brooks comedy The 12 Chairs.  Of all of the films from the year of my birth, if I had to pick my absolute favorite, it would be the classic biopic, Patton.

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George C. Scott is brilliant as Patton!  He won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role.  The film won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.  It’s an amazing film.

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1971 was the year that George Lucas would release his film THX 1138, Gene Wilder starred in the classic Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Clint Eastwood starred in the film that scares all radio DJs – Play Misty for Me.  But it is another Clint Eastwood film that gets my vote for my favorite film of 1971, Dirty Harry.

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There are so many good Clint Eastwood films!  It doesn’t take long for Eastwood to establish what kind of character Dirty Harry is! Come on, you know the quote:

“I know what you’re thinking: “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”

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1972 was the year we saw Burt Reynolds in Deliverance, Charles Bronson in The Mechanic, and the all star cast of the Poseiden Adventure that included Gene Hackman, Shelley Winters, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons and others!  It was also the year that introduced many to two of the best known adult films, Behind the Green Door and Deep Throat.  1972 is probably the easiest year to pick a hands down favorite for me – no doubt about it – Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather.

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The novel is amazing.  The movie is just as powerful!  The cast (many unknown at the time) is just perfect!  It is hard to imagine anyone else as these characters.  Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Abe Vigoda, Richard Conte, Alex Rocco, and so many others star in this superb film about family and power.  I don’t think a week goes by without me quoting this film!  The film won the Best Picture Oscar and Brando won (and refused) the Oscar for Best Actor.

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While 1973 had some good films, in going through my list, they all are just “ok” to me.  In other words, there is no real “WOW” movie for me.  Charlton Heston is good in Soylent Green, Al Pacino is good in Serpico, The Sting had Paul Newman and Robert Redford (and the tune The Entertainer), Clint Eastwood is back for a Dirty Harry sequel called Magnum Force, and then there was the Exorcist.  I guess if I HAD to pick a favorite, it would be American Graffiti – because of two things (1) the music and (2) Wolfman Jack!

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1974 was a bit more difficult to narrow down to just one film.  The reason for this is that I have some classic favorites that were released in ’74 and “how do I just pick one?”  Two of my favorite Charles Bronson films, Mr. Majestyk and Death Wish, came out this year.  Also, two of my favorite Mel Brooks films were also released – Young Frankenstein (“That’s Frahn-kun-steen”) and Blazing Saddles!  It did, however, become clear that the one film that had to be at the top for 1974 was The Godfather Part II.

Al Pacino In 'The Godfather: Part II' Woody Allen And Mia Farrow In 'A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy' '

The first time I saw it, I hated it!  I can’t lie about that.  I was confused by the shifts from past to present.  However, it became very clear with a second and third watch that the shifting from past to present is what makes this movie SO amazing.  If you really must see it all in order, you can rent the Godfather DVD and watch it chronologically.  This movie is where you really see the genius of Francis Ford Coppola.  Robert Deniro is just amazing as Vito and Al Pacino’s portrayal of Michael is about as perfect as it can get.

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1975 was the year that had us doing the Time Warp, thanks to the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  The Sunshine Boys was supposed to star Walter Matthau and Jack Benny (there are clips of screen test shots on YouTube somewhere), but when Benny died, George Burns stepped in.  Jack Nicholson is “crazy” good in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Dean Martin starred in a forgotten favorite, Mr. Ricco.  The one movie that really stands out for me from 1975 is based on the Peter Benchley novel – Jaws!

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Like many, I couldn’t swim at the beach for some time after seeing it!  Now, they actually show it on a screen while people float in rafts and tubes on a lake in the summer time!  And who can forget the Jaws theme?

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In 1976, America celebrated it’s bicentennial year.  It was a very patriotic year and there were some good films in theaters.  The Watergate Scandal was the focus of All The President’s Men.  Clint Eastwood returned in another Dirty Harry sequel, The Enforcer and the western The Outlaw Josey Wales.  The wonderful Barbara Harris was featured in both Freaky Friday and Hitchcock’s Family Plot (two very opposite roles!).  Mel Brooks offered up Silent Movie, while an all-star cast (Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum, Glenn Ford, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, and Cliff Robertson) appeared in the war film, Midway. We were first introduced to Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa in Rocky and Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor were first teamed together in Silver Streak.  There are many reasons I could pick any one of these as a favorite, but I am going to go with one I already featured as my favorite – Murder By Death.  You can read that blog here:

https://wordpress.com/post/nostalgicitalian.com/856

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It’s such a fun film and I revisit it often.

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1977 was a year of great films!  There was Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.  Then George Burns first took on the role of God in Oh, God. John Travolta danced to the Bee Gees in Saturday Night Fever. We were introduced to the comedy of the Zucker brothers with Kentucky Fried Movie. Mel Brooks saluted Alfred Hitchcock in High Anxiety.  The “other” space movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, hit theaters, too.  From here, I was able to narrow things down to two faves, but as I said, I can only pick one for the year. While Star Wars could easily be the top pick for 1977, I am going with Smokey and the Bandit.

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Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed, Sally Field, and Jackie Gleason took us on a wild ride and this remains my favorite for a number of reasons.  First, it’s just funny.  Second, there are some very cool stunts.  Third, “East Bound and Down”.  Last, there are so many great quotes!

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Smokey JUST beats out Star Wars, probably because it’s a comedy.  Don’t get me wrong, Star Wars is a CLASSIC, and at some point I really need to blog about the influence of that film on me as a 7 year old kid!

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In 1978, we first meet Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s Halloween.  Peter Falk appears in the “sorta” sequel to Murder By Death in The Cheap Detective.  Robert Deniro and Christopher Walken star in The Deer Hunter.  Cheech and Chong go Up in Smoke.  Christopher Reeve first donned the cape in Superman.  Burt Reynolds starred as a stuntman in Hooper and tried to kill himself in The End.  We got chills that multiplied as we sang along with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease.  I’m honored to have Eddie Deezen (who plays Eugene in the film) as a friend on Facebook and he often shares cool stories about the film.  Time to pick my favorite from 1978.  It is yet another very quotable movie – a comedy – National Lampoon’s Animal House.

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Kent Dorfman.  Flounder.  Pinto.  Bluto.  D-Day.  Otter.  Animal House remains as funny to me today, as the first time I saw it.  John Belushi is just awesome in this film.  I have said before that Belushi can emote more with just his eyebrows than any other actor.  I also love John Vernon as Dean Wormer – he is such a great actor!  It’s amazing that “Shout” from Otis Day and the Knights is still requested at weddings 40+ years later.  One of my most quoted movies!

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“Zero.  Point.  Zero.”

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Closing out the decade, I see my list of favorites for each year growing more and more.  In 1979, Sigourney Weaver appeared in the first (of many) Alien films.  George Hamilton’s comedic take on Dracula was in Love at First Bite.  Sylvester Stallone appeared for his second “round” as Rocky in Rocky II.  Star Trek became relevant again, as it appeared on the big screen for the first time (with the original cast members) with Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  Steve Martin brought The Jerk to life.  Alan Arkin and Peter Falk are great together in The In-Laws.  Robert Stack, Eddie Deezen, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and so many others appeared in 1941 (It didn’t do all that well at the box office, but I still love this silly film). To me, my favorite of 1979 goes to the genius of Jim Henson – The Muppet Movie.  I STILL marvel at this one!

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This was such a breakthrough film.  For the first time we saw Muppets walking!  We saw them riding bikes!  The technological stuff that was achieved in this movie is still awesome to me.  This movie had tons of big cameos (including Edgar Bergan’s last film role) and just wonderful music.  I blogged about the music previously and you can read that here:

https://wordpress.com/post/nostalgicitalian.com/1218

What a “groovy” and “far out” list, huh?  I will have to move on into the 80’s next time.  I can tell you, it will be much more difficult to pick just one for every year in THAT decade!

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Spooky Flicks

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My friends Brian and Elaine look forward to October every year. They LOVE Halloween movies! They spend each evening in October in front of their TV watching a different horror movie. What a perfect way to work your way to Halloween! I liked this idea so much, I stole it.

I, however, do not care too much for the really scary or gory movies. I also don’t care too much for the “slasher” movies. While some people might prefer Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Freddy Krueger movies, I tend to watch what I call “the classics”. These would mostly be the movies that were put out by Universal studios in the 1930’s and 1940’s. I also like some of the comedy/horror films, which would fall in to the more “modern” category.

I thought you might like a list of my Halloween themed movie recommendations. Here now, in no particular order, are enough movies for you to get through the rest of the month (and then some), and that you can file away for next October:

  1. Dracula (1931)
  2. Dracula (1974)
  3. Frankenstein (1931)
  4. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  5. The Wolfman (1941)
  6. The Mummy (1932)
  7. Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)
  8. Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943)
  9. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  10. The Birds (1963)
  11. House of Wax (1953)
  12. The Invisible Man (1933)
  13. The Mummy’s Curse (1944)
  14. House of Frankenstein (1944)
  15. House of Dracula (1945)
  16. Son of Frankenstein (1939)
  17. The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
  18. Psycho (1960)
  19. Young Frankenstein (1974)
  20. The Shining (1980)
  21. The Sixth Sense (1999)
  22. Ghostbusters (1984)
  23. Beetlejuice (1988)
  24. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  25. Army of Darkness (1993)
  26. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
  27. Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951)
  28. Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)
  29. The Addams Family (1991)
  30. Addams Family Values (1993)
  31. Creepshow (1982)
  32. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
  33. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
  34. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
  35. Hocus Pocus (1986)
  36. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) (not really a movie, but a classic)
  37. Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
  38. Zombieland (2006)
  39. Alien (1979)

You’re list may differ from mine. You may prefer the REALLY scary ones. You may prefer the bloody and gory ones. These, however, are some of my favorites. I am sure I left some off the list … feel free to add yours.

Questions and Answers #2

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In my current full-time job, sometimes you get called off because patients cancel their appointments.  This can really suck, especially when you’ve slept all day in preparation to work all night long.  At any rate, on nights off, I usually read or write.  I had a bout of writer’s block and so I went to my Facebook friends and asked for questions they’d like answered.  They never fail to ask questions that force me to think, dig deep in my memory, or get creative.

Question #1 – Denise

Denise’s question is radio related.  “On average, how many of the songs you spin (love that she is speaking DJ here!) take you back to an exact moment in your memories and is there one particular song you avoid playing for that exact reason?”

ANSWER:  One of the things I love about music is that there are many songs that so exactly what you state in your question – “take you back to an exact moment”.  With the station I work on today, I would guess that 2-4 songs a show can do that.  If I were at a different format (like classic rock, country, or oldies) it would be more.  We play a lot of current songs where I am now, with a sprinkling of 80’s and 90’s.  The older songs can certainly do that, for example, a song from 1999 or Little Red Corvette by Prince can take me back to a high school dance.

I did country radio for almost half of my radio career, so there are plenty of songs that I can remember hearing for the first time.  I was the music director and had a hand in helping the program director pick the songs to play on the air.  My job was to listen to every new song that an artist put out.  It was exciting to hear a song and get a gut feeling about whether it would be a hit or not.  Sometimes I was right, sometimes I was wrong.  I would think many of those songs I can remember hearing them for the first time while sitting in my office.

Now regarding the second half of your question, all stations have a play list.  Sometimes, you have the freedom to play requests, but usually, you are playing from the list of songs that was scheduled for you on your shift.  That being said, there is one song that I have to turn down the volume when it plays – Daniel Powter’s Bad Day.

That was the song that was the ring tone on my mom’s cell phone in the last few month’s of her life.  I guess she used it as an anthem.  She battled breast cancer for 10 years.  She’d been through it all – chemotherapy, radiation, and countless painful procedures and tests.  She had good days and bad days – more bad than good.  She would still keep that positive attitude and often say “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, but cancer isn’t small stuff.  She related to that song.  “You had a bad day”… but she kept fighting.  She was one of the bravest and strongest women I have ever known.  I have to turn down the speakers, because when I hear it – I hear mom’s phone…

Question #2 – Marcia

Marcia and I have known each other since elementary school.  Our mom’s knew each other and it is no surprise that her question is about my mom.  “What’s your favorite memory of your mom?”

This is really a difficult question.  Maybe for some people they could pick just one, but for me, there are so many special moments.  I could mention the many nights that she stayed up with what my dad called “The Warren Boys Club” and played pinochle until all hours of the night or how she used to stay up late on Saturday nights watching terrible Kung Fu movies on Channel 20.  I could also mention her falling asleep in the waiting room at the hospital as she waited for Dante’ to be born, a moment that is caught forever on film.  Instead, I have narrowed it down to three.

These three memories, in no particular order, are definitely in the top ten memories of mom.  To answer your question, I allowed myself to jot down three memories and stopped there.  Perhaps there are others that just weren’t lucky enough to pop into my head on command, but these three did immediately, so they appear as the answer to your question.

Mom memory #1 – I was 20, soon to be 21, when I moved to Ludington for a radio job.  I had ever been away from home before.  It was scary and yet my folks were supportive of the move.  Mom was pretty strong, even though I think it bugged her more than she let on.  After the first week, I think she missed me more than she wanted to tell me.  She used to send me a letter or a card a week.  It was usually something silly just to say she was thinking about me and that she loved me.

I remember the first night I was there.  I had a small apartment and every single noise kept me awake.  I remember the second day I was there, she called to ask how I was.  As much as I tried to keep it together, I couldn’t.  She listened to my cry and told me she was proud of me and that everything was going to be ok.  I remember coming home from the radio station at night and having messages on the answering machine from her.  What I wouldn’t give to have those letters and cards (ruined in a flooded basement) or the answering machine tape!

Mom memory #2 – Dante’ was 4 and loved trains.  He watched Thomas the Train all the time.  When mom found out that Thomas was coming near my house, she bought tickets for all of us.  This was probably in August, so it was two months before she passed away.  She was sometimes using a walker or a wheel chair to get around, but she was not going to let anything stop her from going for a ride with Thomas and Dante’!  As tired as she was, she sat next to him and sang the Thomas theme with him.  The day was captured in some of my favorite pictures, and even though the day is foggy for Dante’ today, he still looks at those pictures and remembers grandma.

Mom memory #3 – One year after mom passed away, my brother came home.  We were all going to go to the cemetery on the anniversary.  While at my dad’s house, I believe it was Chris who found a stack of envelopes.  Each envelope was addressed to members of the family.  They were letters that mom had wrote to each of us.  The letter to written long before Dante’ was born, so he wasn’t mentioned in it.  There was, however, a wonderful message from mom to me.  “Know that I love you” was the first line written to me.  It was a wonderful message from beyond the grave, that I still have locked away, so that I can read it whenever I need to.

Question #3 (in two parts) – Stephanie

Leave it to my friend Stephanie to give me a serious and silly question.  (1) “What comedy or drama movie would you make into a musical and what would be the name?” and (2) “What is something you recently realized that you can’t believe you didn’t realize earlier?”

Part 1 – As I thought about some of my favorite movies, I laughed at the possibility of them being made into a musical.  As you know Young Frankenstein was made into a musical, and so was Monty Python and the Holy Grail.    The Blues Brothers already is considered a musical, so I started to look at a few others.

Smokey and the Bandit would be hard to make into a musical. However, I think it would be fun to have Buford T Justice sing “Sum Bitch” in a song!  Airplane! is a comedy classic, but how do you make this into a musical.  Animal House might be one you could do as a musical – I could see Flounder singing about Bluto giving him that name or Dean Wormer singing a rant about Double Secret Probation.  I guess if I had to pick one, it would be Johnny Dangerously…because the name of the show would be easy:  Johnny Dangerously: The Fargin’ Musical!

Part 2 – I have an answer to this question that is kind of obvious, but because I am a bigger person, I will not use that answer.  What I will answer is this:  I realize now, just how fake some people can be.  It is sad to see how people are quick to judge you on the thoughts or stories of others.  They make their judgments based on those things without ever coming to you to see if they are true or hear your side of the story.  It is sad that so many people will pretend to be your friend and then as soon as you leave the room, begin to talk about you, label you and judge you.

I realize now that there are some people who are not happy unless they are making others unhappy.  I realize now that there are people who feel the need to be in control of every situation, no matter what, and have to get their way.  They will say things to make you believe things that will work in their favor, even if it means alienating you from friends and family.

The biggest realization I have had recently is that before you can make others happy – YOU have to be happy.  It is not worth living a life to make others happy while you, yourself, continue a downward spiral into sadness, unhappiness, and depression.  You must weed out negative people in your life and live happily and positively!  You should be happy in your job, happy in your relationships, and happy with yourself.  The hardest, and best, decision I ever made was to find happiness and surround myself with it.

Question #4 – Connie

Connie asks another question that is difficult to answer.  Connie and I often spoke of Stanley nickels and Schrute Bucks in the office, and now she asks “What is your favorite episode of The Office?”

While there are MANY episodes that continue to make me laugh out loud, it is hard to pick just one.  At the same time, some episodes consist of brief moments that make me laugh like hell, but the rest of the episode isn’t as strong.

If I had to name a few episodes off the top of my head, I would start with Diversity Day.  We truly get a sense of Michael Scott and just how awkward he is in this episode.  The uncomfortable situations that he often creates really start to show with this episode.  Next I would say The Deposition.  Classic Michael/Jan tension.  The Dinner Party is also a great episode – the awkward relationship that Michael and Jan have is showcased here (snip snap snip snap!).

The Dundies is just a great episode!  The thought of an office party – well, an awards show – and Chili’s while real customers are trying to eat is hilarious.  So many great things about this episode.  Threat Level Midnight is another one I liked because it showcased some cast members who hadn’t been on the show for a while, and it shows you the incredibly bad movie Michael wrote.

Scenes I could watch over and over and over:

  • Michael screaming “No” over and over when Toby returns
  • Jim’s spot on impression of Dwight – Bears, Beats, Battlestar Galactica
  • Kevin’s famous chili
  • The Fire Drill scene (“save Bandit!”)

Question #5 – Hope

Hope and I talk music a lot.  She’s a Beatle fan and played trumpet in band.  It is no surprise that her question is musical. “Are there specific songs that remind you of your childhood?  If so, which ones and why?”

Absolutely!  Growing up, my dad played in a wedding band, so I heard him play a lot of songs and was exposed to a lot of genres of music.  One of the first songs I remember was “Dream Baby” by Roy Orbison.  My dad had it on a vinyl LP and I asked him to play it all the time.

My friend, Jeff, had this album of novelty songs called “Dumb Ditties”.  Every one of those songs cracks makes me think of when we were kids listening to it.  Dumb songs like “I’m a Nut”, “Gimme Dat Ding”, “Ahab The Arab”, “Purple People Eater” and “Charlie Brown” were on it as I remember.

Anything of Willie Nelson’s Stardust album and  Johnny Paycheck’s Greatest Hits (Volume 2) makes me think of summers at my grandparent’s trailer up in Caseville.  There is a blog I wrote about an old 8 track that is full of songs that remind me of road trips to Caseville, too.

I remember many songs from 1988 and my senior year of high school – Wild Wild West by Escape Club, Don’t Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin, and Bad Medicine by Bon Jovi Come to mind.  I remember buying Huey Lewis and the News Sports album for I Wanna New Drug.  Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley, Need You Tonight by INXS, Rock Steady by the Whispers, and The Final Countdown by Europe were all songs I remember from high school dances.

I remember the first slow dance I ever danced to was Crazy for You by Madonna.  I remember wondering if I was doing it right.  I mean, I was literally swaying back and forth.  “Is this right?!”  We used to go to dances and just stand around and BS.  When I was asked to dance, I really had NO idea what I was doing!

Question #6 – Joe

Joe and I have been friends since Jr. High.  We met in first hour band class.  His question is “How well do you remember that day we all met in junior high in the band room?”

I don’t recall much.  It was the first day of junior high and I remember being scared to death.  I remember Steve, Kevin, John, and Joe.  Yes, there were others, but those are the ones I remember from the beginning.  As far as the first day, I don’t recall much.  I remember getting chair assignments and lockers, but that’s about it.  The first day wasn’t the “…wanna be friends?” day, was it?  Your memory may be better than mine, so please feel free to fill in the gaps.

Conclusion

This is the second blog that I have written based on the questions that friends have asked me.  It’s actually something I really enjoy.  Thanks to those friends who served as the “thought starters” for this blog.  I hope I answered your questions and you enjoyed reading this as much as I did thinking about the answers and writing them.