Wednesday, February 18, 2015


I read that Lesley Gore passed away on Monday.

For those who may not be familiar with her, she recorded such melodies as "It's my party", "Judy's turn to cry", "You don't own me" and a smattering of others. As sappy as these songs seem in this present day and age, they were extremely popular and meaningful in the '60's. And, to her credit, Ms. Gore blazed a trail for many female pop music singers whose success can be traced back to this dynamic young woman. The world has lost a true music pioneer.

That said, I must relate to you the following:

True confessions, she was my first teenage crush. I became obsessed with her. If I could have afforded bus fare, I would have camped out on her front lawn to get a chance to meet her. Someday, I knew that we were destined to meet.

My big chance came in 1964 (as I recall) when I entered a mail-in drawing to win a chance to meet Lesley Gore. Entry was by postcard only and I used up all my father's postage stamps to send them in. In all, I think I mailed in about 20 entries. Man, was my father upset at me. After all, postage was four-cents a card back then. I think that he put me on a ration of bread an water for a year for my wasteful spending ways.

But I'd show him a thing or two when my name was drawn for my big meeting with Lesley Gore. I just knew that I was going to win.

But I didn't.

I remember that I was completely torn apart by this apparent rejection by the girl who I was dying to meet. This was no silly infatuation; this was the real deal.

When I saw Lesley's picture on the news with the winner of the contest, I was beyond consolation. It was a misery that I had not known before or since. My misery turned to tears; the tears of a vulnerable teenager desperately in love for the first time. The crying lasted for days, weeks.

For those of you who are unable to identify with the degree of crying I did over Lesley Gore, all I can say is:

You would cry too if it happened to you.

Rest in peace, Lesley.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Monday, February 9, 2015


Most people my age have a bucket list, that is, a list of things to do before you croak. Truthfully, I've only had one item on my bucket list and it's been there for the last 50+ years. In high school my best two friends and I were very much into hiking and backpacking. We climbed many mountains in New Hampshire and enjoyed the state's outdoor splendor as rugged, youthful outdoorsmen.

There was one climb that we all vowed to do. That climb is the arduous 2,180 mile Appalachian Trail that stretches from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin, Maine.


Along came the military, college, family responsibilities and the onslaught of our later years when the body doesn't work as well as when we were 17. The "someday" that we'd do the climb has been passed over many times.

Now retired, I've decided that 2016 will be the year that I tackle the AT and cross my one bucket list item off. There's no turning back; damn the torpedoes and full-steam ahead beginning in mid-March of next year. The summit of Mt. Katahdin will be mine by mid-September. The first step was to do the obligatory research. I ordered two books from Amazon - the Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers' Companion and AWOL on the Appalachian Trail. They arrived on Saturday and I dug into them with a fervor that came from deep within my soul. This challenge makes me feel alive, more so than I've ever felt. There's something about new goals that keep one stimulated and engaged.

I'm all in.

Digging in to "AWOL", I learned what life on the AT is like. It starts out as a traveling frat party of sorts with many enthusiastic hikers crowding the limited campsite spaces. People sleep "asses-to-elbows" in the limited space. Twenty-five percent of those who start the trail drop out in the first 30 miles. Injuries take their toll. The hikers eat like locusts, devouring any edible items that aren't tied down. Eating a dozen donuts is a breeze. Three Big Macs is a snack.

I'm undeterred by these minor obstacles.

In the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina, snow is not uncommon well into April. In Virginia, bears are routine. Mice will do anything to steal hikers' food stash. Snakes regularly appear on the trail. Mosquitos in Pennsylvania, black flies in Maine.

Big deal.

I was undeterred by all of the challenges described in the book. That is, until I read the information about personal hygiene on the AT. To reiterate this information would only serve as a gross-out so I won't burden both of my readers with such drivel. I will, however, briefly allude to the passage that stopped me dead in my tracks. That was the fact that AT hikers normally travel with but one pair of underwear and wear them routinely for a span of two weeks.

As my 14-year old niece would say: "Ewwwwwww!"

Truthfully, the thought of my wearing undies for a two-week stretch doesn't bother me as much as being around people who do. Enough about that.

Through this brief vicarious journey into life on the AT, I have come to realize why they call it a "bucket list". It's a list of things that we should just throw in the trash bucket and go on, happily living our lives.

I've decided that, rather than hiking the AT, I'm going to donn my backpack every Wednesday and walk a mile to the brewpub for lunch and a cold beer. During the walk home I fully expect that I'll have to knock on the door of a stranger's house and ask them if I may use their bathroom.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


There's a disturbing trend in our country. It has to do with hysteria about the "illness du jour". Today it happens to be the measles. Next week - who knows.

I'm going to relate a story to both of my readers. It's true and factual, every word of it. I'm relating this story at this point in time because all of the instigators to whom I herein refer are no longer living and, therefore, cannot be prosecuted.

Let's rewind the clock to the early 1950's. The moms in our neighborhood were a very close-knit and smart group of women who often consulted among themselves regarding child upbringing and other marital-parental issues. One issue that reared its head from time to time was that of illnesses. Back then there were "the big four": measles, German measles, mumps and chicken pox. The women decided that it was a good idea, however miserable, to let their collective group of children get these diseases when the opportunity arose and "get it over with" when the kids were very young.

Inevitably, one of the toddlers in the group would get one of "the big four". Phones would start ringing in the neighborhood and arrangements would be made to have a small party for the kids. All of us kids would be assembled in a room and did what kids do - played, grabbed at each other, laughed, hugged and interacted.

Within a week, all of us had contracted the illness in question.

This scenario repeated itself with the inevitable appearance of the next of "the big four". Not surprisingly, I remember neither the children's parties nor the illnesses which were the result of them. All I know is that, through the collective wisdom of these remarkable moms, we acquired an early immunity to these illnesses at a very early age and were spared the discomfort of them in our later years.

I often wonder what would happen today if the authorities discovered that a group of moms were collectively conspiring to needlessly expose their children to the harmful effects of dangerous illnesses. There would certainly be inquiries and investigations involving Departments of Health, physicians and nurses, child welfare and law enforcement. The U.S. Constitution would certainly be invoked. The Supreme Court would weigh in on the matter. Liberal politicians would say that it is a case of individual freedom; conservatives would cite opposition on religious grounds.

Today, whether or not there is any merit to the arguments generated by those involved, they lack the foresight and wisdom of the remarkable, pragmatic, caring and wise women of our simple neighborhood.

Readers, enjoy your day.


Unless you've been living on the moon, you are certainly aware that The Seattle Seahawks lost in dramatic fashion to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. To the Patriots and their fans I offer my sincere congratulations.

The ending to this game was a debacle of immense proportion and, due to the pain involved in talking about it, I will not describe what happened. I would, however, like to offer an alternative ending to this story; one which is easier to bear.

We pick up the game at the New England 1-yard line, Seahawks have the ball, less than a minute to play, second down, two timeouts left. The play is called in from the sidelines. We go to the huddle where Seattle's quarterback Russell Wilson is communicating the play to his teammates.

"Listen up everybody. The coach sent in a pass play, a freakin' pass play!" [Groans from the team]. 

"SCREW 'EM! We're calling the shots on this play."

"Marshawn, can you punch this one in?" Lynch says "Give me a foot of room and I'm in."

"Here's the play." [Russell calls out the play - Marshawn straight ahead over tackle]

And, in this Hollywood ending, the Seattle Seahawks cap off a miraculous finish and beat the New England Patriots 31-28.

The Hollywood Ending.

If it could be. If only it could be.

Readers, enjoy your day.