Today's thoughts

Category: Storyworth (Page 1 of 7)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Emmett’s New Home #2520

In the lazy world of retirement, this is the start of a “busy” week. I picked up my son and his wife from their Virginia weeding trip at the airport late on Sunday night, following an afternoon performance by a Venice Symphony trio, and had a nice visit with my sister yesterday. Hopefully, she’ll become a new reader of this blog, primarily interested in my Storyworth category of posts. She drove down from Leesburg Florida, her winter home, and my son treated us for lunch at Chili’s. We exchanged some family heirlooms, our grandfather’s photography photo for my grandmother’s painting of circus clown, Emmett Kelly. (See Post #2438) and (Post #1778). Emmett and his character “Weary Willie” have come home, at least on canvas, to Sarasota/Venice, FL where he performed.

Our new puppy, Fosse, seemed happy to meet her while my wife was substitute teaching. We all then got together in late afternoon for some additional conversation, promising to visit each other next year. I try to check-in on her every Monday, like a good brother, but she made the more personal effort this time.

Today I have active cardio rehab for the first time, outside of the initial paperwork sessions. I’ll come home for lunch and then head to the cardiologist. We hope to get to the bottom of what is causing Charlie Horses in my thigh, blood pressure swings, dizziness, and loss of balance. My GP has already ruled out the inner ear through an MRI, so I’m expecting an Ultrasound examination and a review of my medications. It’s all critical follow-up from open heart surgery sixteen weeks ago.

Afterwards, I may treat myself at the baseball card shop. I have some new Shohei Ohtani baseball cards to add to a collection of over 200 that they are selling for me. Plus, I want to check on the value of some Connor Bedard, Chicago Blackhawk, hockey cards that I would like to trade-in. I’ve promised myself to sell more than buy this year, but I still enjoy opening a fresh pack in treasure-hunt fashion. 

I’ve stayed true to my daily swimming pool workout since walking has become a painful chore. It entails about forty-five minutes of jogging in place, stretching, marching, and step-ups. It’s the best I can do to burn off some calories, since the water resistance seems to put less pressure on my sore thigh. Visits to the chiropractor are part of my schedule this week, along with “Date Night,” a Mazda Miata rally, Bank of America appointment, and an evening with the band Dukes of Brinkley.

Retirement is not without Hassles: On Hold #2464

Three more runs to go – or maybe not. As I completed my “Runella” this morning (See Post #2463), I got a call from Tampa General Hospital Financial Services claiming that my insurance had yet to be approved. Without confirmation by 3 p.m. this afternoon my surgery could be delayed. Just the kind of stress that a heart patient doesn’t need. I might need to cancel my transportation and accommodation plans and if so, “The Streak” continues. 

At the same time, I received two hard copies of my Storyworth contribution, “My Life in Black & White” in the mail. It’s 408 pages with photographs and a project that I’ve worked on since last Christmas. I’m finally published but not in the manner that I always expected. This was a wonderful gift from my family, and I personally autographed each one. Maybe someday I’ll be an “official” author, but at least my story is written and in book form. 

On another note, when I was a teenager, I would never have imagined running every day. I hated to run, so it’s even more remarkable that I’ve done marathons, races, and developed an uninterrupted daily running habit of over 15-years. I did expect at that age, however, that push-ups would become a daily endeavor. It was a Florida retiree and friend of my grandparents that was the inspiration. I admired his motivation in telling me at this vulnerable age that he had does push-ups every morning. As I watched, I decided to make the idea mine, and as a result do a short exercise routine of stretching, sit ups, and push-ups before my run each morning. In fact, I can’t remember a time in my life, running or not, that I didn’t do a regimen of push-ups. I currently do over 90 a day, but this habit will also soon be disrupted. 

I won’t be allowed to lift over 10-pounds for at least two months after this surgery. Sit-ups will also not be possible, so it’s hard to say what my new life will be like. Will I eventually get back to doing these basic elements of fitness or turn into a slug? At this moment, everything is on hold!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: These Moments We Share #2458

It’s Christmas 2023, while fifteen years earlier (December 29, 2008) I was contemplating the start of a running streak that was originally planned for New Year’s Day. We flew into Indy from Austin, drove on icy roads to Elkhart to see my folks and had Christmas dinner at my wife’s sister’s home at Geist. We then traveled to Decatur to check on our unsold house and went to Bloomington to watch I.U. basketball lose in embarrassing fashion to unheralded Lipscomb. These were the days when Christmas was an absolute hassle, trying to spread our time between friends and family in three different states and four or five different cities. The bigger nightmare, however, was finding the Decatur home flooded from a broken pipe. I think I started my running streak a few days early to help deal with the stress of all this. I haven’t missed a Christmas morning jog since, still running away from my problems. 

This year’s Christmas was easy. Brunch at a neighbor’s and dinner with family at home. It rained during my morning run, but it was my son who was rushing with the kids from place to place instead of me. It’s, in fact, the very first time that my son, his wife, and the grandkids have been with me in our home on Christmas Day – a monumental occasion! I’ll get to see the look on my five-year-old granddaughter’s face when she beholds the Barbie Dreamhouse that I assembled in our garage. 

Earlier today, my wife opened her traditional Limoges box gift, a memory from our visit to King Tut’s tomb. I enclosed the following poem: 

These Moments We Share

We’ve seen the world,

And Buddha’s butt.

And visited the tomb,

Of pharaoh King Tut.

 

Our first might have been,

The Twin Towers on high.

The lights of Times Square,

And fireworks in the sky.

 

We’ve cruised the Nile,

Stayed in an overwater hut.

And at luxury resorts,

Shaded by the coconut.

 

We’ve heard prayers in mosques,

Synagogues and Churches.

And stood atop,

Some precarious perches.

 

Rocamadour comes to mind,

Or a rollercoaster ride.

I’m always much braver.

With you at my side.

 

Even at sunset,

It’s always proven true.

There is no better view,

Then looking at you.

 

We’ve been to the Pyramids,

Admired the Sphinx.

Stood in Monet’s Garden.

And by the statue that Thinks.

 

The Beatles and Big Ben,

Bourbon Street pubs.

Michelin Stars,

Vacation Clubs. 

 

Nantucket to Napa,

Hood to Coast.

Key West to Mackinaw,

All Bucket stops we boast.

 

Coronado Island,

Caribbean getaways.

Hall of Fame museums,

San Francisco Bay.

 

Traveled on cruise ships,

Flown in First Class.

Marveled at Glaciers.

And Chihuly glass.

 

Normandy’s white crosses,

Or atop the Eiffel Tower.

A slow Positano ferry ride,

To fast Hydroplane power.

 

Castles and Temples,

Too many to mention.

Or Palace Guards,

Standing at attention.

 

A Maui Luau,

Huatulco waves.

Mountains and Oceans,

Crypts and Caves.

 

From Route 66,

To the Champs-Elysées.

I sometimes take the wheel,

But you always point the way.

 

Amsterdam and Rome,

Santorini blue domes.

Overall, in five states,

We’ve owned homes. 

 

Petra and the Dead Sea,

Night Life on the Strip.

Our Bellagio Wedding,

It’s been quite a trip!

 

Planes, Trains, and Auto,

Ubers, Taxis, and bikes.

Despite my reluctance,

Even cliff-nics and hikes. 

 

Stonehenge seemed tiny,

After all that we’ve done.

And soon we’ll be basking,

In the Mallorca sun.

 

But the best place of all, 

Is in your arms.

Beholding your beauty,

Admiring your charms.

 

All would be meaningless,

If you weren’t there.

To hold me hand,

In these moments we share.

 

Christmas 2023

Copyright 2023 johnstonwrites.com

 

Sorry about all the formatting issues. 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Trivial Tidbits #2457

I honestly didn’t do much travel in my first marriage, except business trips to Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Boston until Marcia’s company arranged award travel to London, Hong Kong/China, Greenbriar, and The Breakers. As we were trying to raise a family, it was too expensive to see the world. However, as we settled into our careers, we were soon anxiously hooked on adventure, and prior to these international excursions, her friend Karen coaxed us for the first time abroad to experience regions like Tuscany and Burgandy. With Oregon friends we tackled Rome and the Amalfi Coast.

Being in the media business and doing promotional work took me to some out-of-the-way places. For example, we organized some day trips for listeners out of Indy to the Bahamas (hot) and Stowe (cold) on ATA.  Viewer ski trips took me to Breckenridge two years straight. In addition, our friends Tim & Irene suggested Isla Mujeres for a taste of rural Mexico, and we ventured to Las Vegas many times through the years, especially after our son left home. We did take him there for his birthday one year. I remember visiting some of her distant family in Arkansas and a night at Hot Springs, numerous ski junkets including Big Sky in Montana, touring Washington DC, and staying closer to home with weekends in Ann Arbor, Louisville, Cedar Point, Brown County, and Chicago. We fell in love at Mardi Gras and out of it in Honolulu during our 25th wedding anniversary.  As a side note, we did take the sheets and blankets from our hotel room, trying to keep warm while waiting for the sun to rise on Oahu’s Haleakala. I wanted to bike down – she didn’t.  

In the second marriage, we were constantly on the fly and dined at many famous chef restaurants.  Conventions and business meetings in NYC were common along with frequent dealings in Chicago, Detroit, Cape Cod, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Providence, Buffalo, Boston, Orlando, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Atlanta, the Big Island, and even Dayton. Vacations included Saint Lucia, Napa, San Francisco, Barbados/Jamaica, Dominican Republic, a Carnival cruise to Cozumel, and career moves to TV stations in Austin and Portland, following stints in Lafayette and Central Illinois. European stops were Paris, Rome, Positano, Cannes, Montpelier (where a daughter studied), Sorento, and Capri. 

Retirement meant the means of traveling more luxuriously and for longer periods of time. Viking Ocean and River Cruises became the staple with voyages to Normandy, Venice, Croatia, Santorini, Athens, Amsterdam, Vancouver, Alaska, Hawaii, and soon to come, a cross-Atlantic tour of South America, Africa (Casablanca), Gibraltar, and Spain/Mallorca. Marriott Vacation Clubs and Hotels took us to Wailea, Kauai, NYC, Washington D.C., Phoenix, Palm Springs, Tucson, Napa Valley, Las Vegas, Alabama, Orlando, Hilton Head, Cleveland, Nashville, Indianapolis, Austin, Miami Beach, Marco Island, Amelia Island, St. Augustine, Atlanta, The Keys, and many “points” in between. Long drives to Florida, Glacier National Park, Marfa, Walla Walla, and Mackinaw Island’s Grand Hotel, along with Hall of Fame Tours filled in the gaps. 

Movies keep us entertained when we’re hungry to get away from it all but don’t have the means or time. I don’t typically like to watch movies for the second time even though I never remember what happened the first time. Of late, travel documentaries have become more important in determining where to go next, plus the thrill of seeing the places on the big screen we’ve been to through the years. It always brings back great memories. 

With the world at our fingertips, I think back to childhood when all I knew was the neighborhood around me. We did some family trips to Florida, Yellowstone, the Black Hills, and Upper Michigan, but I had no idea how vast the world was or how much I needed to learn. As I learned to speak, there were odd phrases that I picked up from my parents that were mostly adaptions of “dirty,” profane, or cuss words. My Presbyterian Church upbringing made these words unmentionable, even in private conversation. I’ve since learned to cuss like a champion. They were often words you could switch to after the first syllable came tumbling out of your mouth or silly terms used instead of swearing:

“Go…sh da…rn, Holy Cow, Da…rn it, Pee-pee, Da…ng it, Jee…z, Sh…oot, Cr…ud, Tinkle Dance, Hamburger, He…ck, Fu…dge, Bottom, Cr…ap.

Writing stories like this gives me peace of mind. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come in life. Like everyone else, my life is unique. It’s rewarding to recap all the places I’ve been and the related experiences. It feels good to get this all on paper before I’m gone someday. Hopefully, the grandkids and their children, if they read this, will see the world through my eyes as I try to recap my childhood, career, marriages, and adventures through these spontaneous trivial tidbits. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Possessions, Traditions, and Memories #2456

As I finish the final chapters of my personal memoirs, Storyworth, the publisher, prompted me to list my favorite possessions, assuming that spouses and family members are not considered as such. I’ve made a list (not necessarily in order):

Antique 1915 National Cash Register – last compensation from the bankrupt Middlebury Independent, my first job out of college. They couldn’t make payroll, so I grabbed it from their adjoining restaurant, the Square Nail. 

1955 Sherm Lollar jersey – rare to find from this era and a gift from my wife, secured by our collector friend, Bill Allee. 

Steuben Glass water pitcher – gift from foreign business acquaintances of my father when he worked for Miles Laboratories in Elkhart

Dad’s Miles Lab 15, 20, 25, and 30-year service pins

1965 Mustang convertible model of Dad’s car that I drove to get my driver’s license in 1967.

Cuff Link box collection – sports, novelty, and antique that I stylishly wore to work each day along with a pocket scarf and suspenders. 

Framed 2016 Cubs World Series tickets.

I.U. Assembly Hall replica – gift from Adam & Eliza.

1911 Tobacco Cards including Cubs double-play threats Tinker, Evers, and Chance featured in the poem Baseball’s Sad Lexicon.

Framed photo of Lincoln Hot-Air Balloon trip with dad as part of the Indy 500 Festival.

Memory Box from 2017 Daytona 500 Race w/grands.

Mark Buehrle autographed ball from perfect game on July 23, 2009.

Coins and baseball cards – memories of my childhood Herzberg neighbors on Carolyn Avenue. 

Awards & Certificates – Running, Detroit Marathon, Crystal Business Journal Sales Eagles, and Toastmaster Honors.

Wrigley Field Brick – Three Generations: Mike, Adam, Gavyn – gift from my wife.

They also asked to briefly share some of what I remember about my grandparents Ross and Grace Hancher: 

My mom was their only child, so we spent more time with them than my dad’s parents, who spread their time between their three children. The Hancher’s had a mobile home at Corey Lake in Michigan, and another in Englewood, Florida, plus a home on North E. Street in Elwood, Indiana, their pit stop between the two locations. The two of them were constantly on the go from place to place. 

They took me to Benton Harbor Michigan to the Heathkit Factory so I could buy a walkie-talkie kit. However, they first forced me to pick blueberries with them before we could leave. I tried to speed up the process by stealing berries from their buckets to fill mine. 

Hours spent playing Scrabble, Yahtzee, and Uno or going shell collecting. I remember making shell creatures and going to the Shell Factory near Ft. Myer/ for supplies, as well as a trip to the nearby Thomas Edison home. 

Elwood Creamery and Mangas Cafeteria – buffet lunches together and ice cream. 

Raking leaves for “Aunt” Edna Pulver every year and watching the assembly line action in her Corey Lake kitchen of baking and freezing apple pies.

I was shocked to hear my grandpa swear when he took me fishing and pricked his finger on a bait hook. Also, the stench of cleaning fish in the screened lakeside booths. 

Late night trips through the woods to the Castle outhouse before they had flushable toilets in the trailer.

Photography was a hobby for both my mom and grandfather. They were never without a camera and used me too often as the subject. 

Corey Lake Sundays – Chicken every Sunday on the grill, and visits to YMCA Camp Eberhart.

Grandpa was the Elwood Postmaster. We had to wait to open Christmas presents because he was working. 

They took me to my first Florida beach in Englewood, near where we all now live. 

My sister and I often spent time with their friends, the Kaufman’s, who also lived in Bay Palms Trailer Court. 

Thanksgiving Day annual tradition with the Hizer’s in Frankfort, Indiana. 

On my dad’s side of the family, grandparents William and Mildred Johnston were also a big part of my life:

Unlike the Hancher’s, they were homebodies who rarely left the city of Elkhart. Dad and Aunt Norma both lived there but Uncle Bill was in New York state. 

After my grandmother died, I took my grandfather to the Indianapolis Speedway and to Gasoline Alley, followed by a visit to the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument. He liked Kellogg’s Corn Flakes for breakfast. 

There were always large family reunions on the Fourth of July at Simonton Lake, Cook’s Ranch or Oxbow Park. It’s how I got to know all my cousins. 

They lived on Maple Row house with big apple tree in the back yard that we liked to climb. 

Grandmother loved to play Scrabble and card games.

She worked in the JC Penny store while he owned a laundry called Hoosier Cleaners. 

These are all great memories and traditions that I treasure. I would not alter anything about growing up. My believe is that you can’t go back and change anything about life because it changes everything about the outcome.

Between my two marriages and raising a child we developed our own family traditions:

Siesta Key Fourth of July weeks with the McClure family games and special guests Julie and Kim. 

Dining as a group at Phillipi Creek, the Oyster Bar, and Captain Curt’s.

Driving to Ft. Wayne every year as a family to celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving until we eventually moved there. 

Learning to ski as a family at Timber Ridge with the Clarks. Trips to Cannonsburg, Monarch, Swiss Valley, Steamboat, Mount Bachelor, and Indiana’s own Paoli Peaks.

Calmly watching or going to IU games. 

Little league baseball games that lasted forever, BMX bike racing, and swim meets. 

In my second marriage, nearly every Thanksgiving and Christmas were spent in Indianapolis at her sister’s house until we moved away to Texas. 

Two Thanksgivings, one with each wife, were spent at the Maui Classic

Cubs game outings to Wrigley, Pittsburg, and San Francisco. Indy 500 race adventures and memories like Mud Man, or Garage Tours with Beth, Derek, Grif and Jacque. A day at the Daytona 500.

‘Marc’s Party at Mike’s house’ was more about my work family at WISH-TV but still involved all of us.

Currently, we have weekly restaurant Date Nights and have started a new neighborhood tradition of celebrating the Chinese New Year. 

I’ll pick this up in another post before I bore you with too many personal details. If you didn’t read this far then I’m sorry that I did!

 

Retirement is Not Without Hassles: Count Your Blessings #2455

I’m admittedly a bit bitter about this upcoming heart surgery. I want to feel sorry for myself and ask the question – Why Me? After all, I’ve sweated and strained all these years to keep myself in shape, and it seems all for nothing. However, my arteries were clear and weight gain controlled, even despite my reputation as the Cookie Monster. Diet has never been one of my strong points, since I eat everything in front of me, rarely close a snack bag once it’s open and ready for the trash and can’t get much satisfaction out of eating healthy vegetables. Give me ice cream, caramel, chocolate, or an Arby’s Jamocha Shake!

Outside of my parents and grandparents, who all lived long, healthy lives, I’ve never really lost someone close to me. If a friend passed away, they did so far away when they were not part of my day-to-day life. For example, I’m having trouble keeping track of the number of high school classmates that have recently died, but I haven’t seen or talked to them in years, outside of Facebook. All my cousins, aunts, nieces, nephews, kids and grandkids are present and accounted for. For this, I am very thankful. 

There is at least a dozen of my neighbors and friends that are currently recovering from knee, hip, and rotator cup procedures. I’m not alone when it comes to repairs. It’s all a part of growing old, so it’s not surprising that the odds have caught up with me on having to go through major surgery, especially after proudly avoiding hospital stays all these years. I’m a little depressed, knowing that I will soon have to give up my running streak after fifteen years of strenuous strutting and go through painful rehab. This will be a new challenge. 

I not currently comfortable in my sagging skin. I fight it with sit-ups, push-ups, and Chair Yoga, but I’ve gained some weight, especially after cutting my mileage back a third due to the hot summer mornings. Even though it’s cooled off a bit, I’m no longer motivated to go that extra mile. I’m also worried what will happen when the running addiction passes. Will I balloon into a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade attraction?

I’ve been advised that my diet will be forcibly changed after surgery. It’s probably best that I enjoy the Holiday trimmings before I turn into a skeleton. I’m thankful we have a pool that will be helpful in my recovery, and I won’t have to expose my scary scars to the public. I will have time for lots of reading, writing, and browning my relatively pale skin. It’s been cool of late, so I’m looking more and more like Casper the Friendly Ghost. A healthy tan, nutritious food, and swimming could turn me into an aging Greek God. I’m counting my blessings!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Got Gas? #2439

We’ve cut back on auto usage this year, after buying a used golf cart. We just have to carefully check each other’s schedule in operating with only one car. The 2005 Lexus Sc 430 convertible has about 117,000 miles on it, needing a tune-up, boot replacement, and rear struts. Granddaughter Nora calls it the “sweaty car,” stuck in the small back seat where the air conditioning is marginal. To her, the golf cart is the “go cart.” We sold the Toyota Solara convertible, knowing that it needed major work after the long drive from Portland. We will need to rent, borrow my son’s car, or buy a new one before we can carry 3 or 4 full-sized passengers or travel long distances. At least the golf cart holds four adults comfortably and one spoiled dog. 

According to AARP, American Association of Retired People, like me, the national average cost of a gallon of gas today is about $3.88, but it varies, depending on where you live. When I was a kid in the 50s the average price of this basic expense was apparently about 18 cents! I got a 25-cent-per-gallon discount through Circle K and pumped a tank-full of Mid-Grade at $3.23, the lowest I’ve paid this year, even at Costco. The golf cart is plug and go, and we may have it licensed to utilize outside our neighborhood. 

Other cost of living statistics from my childhood (1962) provided by Seek Publishing included average income at $5,556 per year, a new house going for $12, 550, new car $2,924, average rent $110 per month, tuition to Harvard University $1,520 per year, movie ticket for a buck, and a postage stamp for 4-cents. A gallon of milk sold for $1.04 per gallon while bread was 21-cents per loaf, while today bread in the state of Florida averages $3.62. Got Milk? A gallon now sells for $3.97, ten cents more than an equal amount of gasoline and 35-cents more than a loaf of bread. 

We own an all-electric home but use propane for the outdoor kitchen. My wife prefers cooking with gas and was disappointed to find out that our only option here in Islandwalk was to bury a tank. Ironically, she used to handle the media buying for Citizen’s Gas in Indianapolis. She also worked with Coca-Cola that can result in a different kind of gas, if only it too could be bottled. We have a back-up supply, that can be very valuable after a storm. For example, a neighbor was stuck here in Hurricane Ian, while we were safely evacuated on a luxury cruise ship in Alaska. He frantically searched our snowbird-vacant homes for extra tanks to provide generator power and cooking needs during the lengthy power outage that we experienced. We sadly lost most of our freezer food while traveling.

We’ve somehow managed to miss both hurricanes since moving to Florida. During the most recent, Idalia, we were on our way back from Indiana after attending a wedding and funeral. We spent an extra night in Huntsville, Alabama as the storm hit Tallahassee. There were no damage issues with our house.  Before we decided to move here, my son and his family, who lives nearby, evacuated their home for Irma in 2017. They spent a few uncomfortable nights at a nearby schoolhouse, while we worried for their safety back in Portland.

While traveling in Alaska, we visited the site of the Exxon Valdez disaster, spilling 11-million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound and the surrounding cities. That was back in 1989, 25-years ago and 14-years after the first section of pipe was laid. Alaska oil production peaked in 1988 at 738 million barrels, providing about 25 percent of U.S. oil production. However, when you see the current state of Valdez, you can’t help but see that this led to severe consequences, while the pipeline has been the subject of years of controversy ever since. More than half the cost of filling-up a car is influenced by the price of crude oil. Oil and gas affect every aspect of our lives, like it or not. Got Gas?

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: The Photographers #2438

There is a tarnished gold trophy that stands about 8 inches high on my office shelf that was a prized possession of my grandfather Hancher. It was once proudly displayed in a glass case in his Elwood, Indiana home that now stands in my son’s living room. The trophy is fairly heavy in weight, unlike today’s awards. It was manufactured by Dodge, Inc. with offices in L.A., Chicago, Newark and Miami as inscribed on the inside of the base. There is one exactly like it on E-Bay for $30. This one was awarded by the Elwood Camera Club in Dec. 1956 for Best of Show Monochrome to Ross A. Hancher.

When I recently mentioned this item to my sister, she immediately asked if she could have it? I might trade her for one of my Grandma’s Emmett Kelly paintings. (See Post #1778). After all, this artwork belongs here in Florida, near where my grandparents had their mobile home in Englewood and near the area where this famous clown once performed. I had my eye on this trophy since I was a kid as an unwilling victim of my grandfather’s beloved hobby. I would spend hours in their Indiana basement where he had a studio set- up. I wore costumes, popped out of a laundry basket like a Jack-in-the-Box, and tried my best to sit still. My only reward is a series of baseball cards prints showing me in a Yankees cap poised with a bat. The rest of the photos he took, I’m not sure what to do with, some flat out embarrassing. 

Back in those days, photography required a great deal of patience handling cumbersome equipment and dangerous chemicals. It needed a willing subject, a steady hand, and hours spent in a dark development room. His basement was actually kind of scary with an old wringer washer, tiny windows, bright lights on stanchions, and a massive furnace that looked haunted. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, but there was always one more photo to take. My grandfather was a man of few words and endless patience, leading to hours of boring silence, much like going fishing with him. 

I would like to think that I was the subject of this award-winning photo. I’m sure I have it in my album collection, but I’m not quite sure which one it is. I’m surprised that my mom did not leave a note as to its whereabouts. She also caught the photo fever to further torment me, transitioning into video. I was apparently very photogenic at least in their eyes, while I became photophobic. She was seemingly never without a camera, recording everything from sunsets and food buffets. It eventually became a retirement business, The Calico Cottage, miniaturizing and framing personal photos for doll houses. Between father and daughter, I never wanted to see another camera my entire life. Then, came the I-Phone.

I have so many family photos in numerous formats, many of which are duplicates. They are in albums, on hard drives, on VHS tapes, CDs, and photo sticks. Now, they are also on my phone, as I have become more photo friendly. No more setup, processing, or storage problems – just point and click. Instant gratification instead of waiting for weeks to see if you got a good shot. In today’s world, we’re all expert photographers. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Moving #2437

I’ve made a lot of moves in life, thirty-two as noted in “My Life by the Numbers Part Two” (Post #2434). The first such move was changing neighborhoods between 5th and 6th grade. I already had been moved, with few belongings, from the adoption home to the Elkhart Indiana, Carolyn Avenue address, but this next action would take me away from my childhood friends, grade school, and familiar surroundings where I grew up. I was about to become a Beardsley Bomber instead of a Rice Krispie. 

I don’t remember a truck coming to pick up our things, or even a sadness about leaving. Many of our familiar neighbors had already moved to “nicer” neighborhood and ours was just across town. I got to pick my room, while my parents finally had a bedroom of their own after sacrificing their comfort on the fold-out couch in the living room. We really needed more space as a family of four. I let my sister have the bigger, corner room with two windows, while I for some reason preferred a smaller space. Maybe it was because I kept a messy room, so it was that much less to pick-up. 

I had to take the bus to school, so I met the new neighbor kids at the stop near our new house. A couple of them were older and bullies, so it wasn’t always pleasant to board. I was used to either walking or being dropped off by my parents. I was also pretty shy, short, and skinny with ears that I had yet to grow into. Everyone at the new school seemed bigger and stronger, and I was in fact too small to play basketball, whereas I had made the team at Rice the years before. I don’t remember ever talking to a girl, now separated from my first crush, Mary Lee Herzberg. I did, however, meet Tim Steffen who has become a lifelong friend. He was more confident and scrappier even with braces on his teeth. My parents were concerned about his fragile stature, a misnomer they would laugh about for years to come. 

Since I was destined to move a lot in the future, this major life change was probably a necessary learning experience. I had some newfound independence from my parents, learned to make friends or tolerate teasing, and somehow adapted to the new school, surroundings, and teachers. I would only be there for a year before moving on to yet another school and Northside Junior High. Finally, it was on to Elkhart High where I would be reunited with the friendships I made at Rice as well a those from Beardsley

I wouldn’t move again until it was time to go to Albion College four years later. I settled in Seton Hall East and then the Sigma Chi Fraternity before transferring to Indiana University midway through my sophomore year. Once again, I packed my bags, left friends behind and moved into Cottage Grove apartments with high school classmate, Alan Harper. We both moved back to Elkhart for the summer, adding more roommates the next year at Colonial Crest – Buzz, J.D., and Murph. Eventually, my wife to be moved in and life became a blur. Marriage and a child were soon to come, along with more moves from apartment-to-apartment, and eventually into the Eagle Lake House, then on to Coverdale Lake. New jobs, friends, and responsibilities soon came to pass. 

The next thing I knew I was in Fort Wayne, living with my mother-in-law in Woodcrest, before my wife at the time and I rented another apartment of our own at Winchester Woods next door to the Clarks. A year or so later, I had accumulated enough trade dollars to afford a nicer place at Candlelight. Without letting the grass grow under my feet, our next transition was to Indianapolis and related moves from the Signature Inn, followed by Pickwick Farms, and ultimately Christiana Lane, while working for WIBC Radio.

Divorce followed next and a new phase of life began with the promotion to a WISH-TV marketing position. Next door with a view from my new office was the former site of the Suemma Coleman Adoption Agency, my first home before these first 17 moves. However, I was only half-way there in terms of relocating. We had just bought a condo at the Jamaica Royale on Siesta Key with a retirement plan in mind, but our separation changed all those dreams. My ex-wife got both the condo and house in the settlement, while I happily arranged for Marriott hotels, apartments at River Run, that smelled like tacos, and Lantern Woods before moving in with my fiancé at her home on Linden Court in Fishers. 

We bought our first home together in Zionsville after eloping to the Bellagio in Las Vegas, compromising on my commute to Lafayette’s WLFI-TV and hers to WISH-TV. It was my first station to manage, while she continued her responsibilities in National and Local Sales. Soon, we would be partners in running WAND-TV in Decatur, Illinois, yet another need for a moving truck. Like previous transitions and more soon to come, we were in temporary corporate housing at both another Signature Inn and Twin Oaks prior to buying #1 Kenwood on Lake Decatur. This turned out to be a mistake as the Illinois real estate market collapsed, the station was sold, and I found myself without a job. More moves!

We traveled the long road from Austin to Portland, following my wife’s job promotions, and eventually to Florida retirement, but not until after making double house payments, selling the Decatur home for much less than we paid, staying in four more apartments, multiple hotels, struggling with moving companies and storage needs, until now finally settled where we are today in Venice. Was #32 the last move? Probably not, but I’ve come a long way, encompassing life in six different states, from Elkhart, Indiana’s Carolyn Avenue to our current Islandwalk Florida neighborhood. Along the way, I’ve made many friends/acquaintances that might not have been possible without that first childhood moving experience. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Life by the Numbers – Part Two #2434

I Love keeping lists and have kept a diary for the last 25-years, so it’s hard to argue the accuracy of my life data. This history is admittedly all about bragging rights, but a good way to summarize my amazing life at age 72. Hopefully, I can add to my list as time goes on. It is impossible to account for all the fine dining establishments I’ve frequented or all the movies and books that I’ve read. The countdown from a million to zero starts here:


Done at least 1,000,000 lifetime pushups. 

Countless Marriott Points used.

Logged over 16,000 lifetime running miles.

Achieved 5,500+ consecutive running days.

Written over 1000 poems.

Attended over 350 Sporting events.

Purchased 340 Limoges Boxes.

Saw over 300 Concerts.

Own 245 Sherm Lollar related collectables.

Watched over 200 Broadway Musicals.

Weigh 195 pounds. 

Have 190 Shohei Ohtani Topps baseball cards for sale. 

Own more than 150 pairs of cuff links.

Visited over 125 wineries and a couple distilleries.

100-Plus Toastmaster Speeches given to earn DTM.

Enjoyed 72 years of life and still counting.

49 States traveled, so far.

37 Baseball Stadiums (including Minor League).

35 Countries*

Moved 32 times.

Snow Skied at 26 Resorts.

26 visits to Disney/Universal.

Over 20 Racetracks.

15 times to Vegas.

11 times to Hawaii.

Sold ads on 10 different radio stations and 4 print publications.

Attended 9 Final Fours and 2 Maui Classics.

Only 9 cars owned, plus a snowmobile and golf cart.

Bought 8 different homes in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, Oregon, and Florida.

7 Cruises (5 Ocean 2 River).

Played in 6 different organized sports but not well.

6 Continents*

6 Dogs.

5 times to Italy and France.

4 Cats.

Worked at 3 TV Stations (ran 2)

Wrote 3 Unpublished Novels.

Studied at 3 Colleges to earn Marketing B.S.

3 Grandchildren nearby.

2 Marriages.

2 Marathons.

2 Grade schools.

2 Stepdaughters.

2 Cubs World Series games.

2 White Sox World Series games.

1 College World Series

Pledged 1 Fraternity (Sigma Chi)

1 Son.

0 Super Bowls.

 

*includes 2024 Cross-Atlantic Cruise.

 

 

 

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