Archive for the ‘Childhood Memories’ Category

duke

Not Duke but awfully close.

Looking back, growing up in the small southern Ohio town of Bourneville wasn’t a bad way to go. Everybody knew everybody else, everyone looked after each other, and we were sort of unaffected by what was going on in the turbulent 1960’s. Oh, I knew about the Vietnam War and all the protests, but that was mainly because of my oldest sister Karen. Sis, always the rebel, made sure her little bro knew about the injustices of the world. As far as the Civil Rights movement down south, my father had made all that clear to me years earlier during our vacations to Florida. I distinctly remember him pointing to the “Whites Only” signs over bathroom doors in Georgia and explaining how it was wrong. All-in-all though, my daily life was pretty idyllic, to be honest.

I say all that because it’s pertinent to the story that follows.

For a few years in the mid-60’s I had a dog named Duke. Unlike all the dogs I’ve owned as an adult, Duke was an outside dog. We didn’t really know what kind of a dog he was, he sort of looked like a Greyhound with longer, collie-like hair. He was light brown with some white on his face and tail, and he could run like the wind.

How do I know this, you ask? Because he chased every car that drove by our house. Pull in our driveway? Fine. Drive on past? Get chased.

Anyway, Duke was a great dog.  He went with me everywhere, followed me whether I was on my bike or walking. He’d wait patiently outside the local store or gas station while I was inside, hang with my friends and I, or just generally be a great companion for a kid growing up in Southern Ohio.

And everyone in town knew my dog Duke.

Then one day, for some reason I was all by myself at home. This wasn’t unusual, parents left their kids home all the time back then. Hey, we could fend for ourselves. Compared to now it was a totally different world.

Anyway, the phone rang and it was the guy who owned the gas station in the middle of Bourneville. He basically said to get down there, that Duke had been in an accident. Obviously, I was distraught. I raced down there on my bike, and as I rounded the corner I saw a group gathered, maybe 8-10 people. When I got near they sort of separated so I could see, and there, on the ground, was Duke.

He looked normal, no visible injuries at all, and no blood. He was breathing normally and just looked very at ease and peaceful. Still, something was clearly wrong.

What happened next could only happen in a small midwestern town. Somebody backed up a pickup truck, and some of the men helped me place Duke gently in the bed. Somebody put my bike in as well, and we were driven back to my house where we carefully lay Duke on a blanket on my garage floor.

At that point everybody sort of backed away and left, leaving me there with my buddy.

And so here I was, a 10 or 11-year old kid, sitting on my family’s garage floor, with my dying dog’s head on my lap.

After maybe 10 or 15-minutes Duke sort of gave a sigh, and I knew he was gone.

I then held Duke, waited for my father to get home, told him what had happened, and he and I proceeded to bury Duke in our backyard.

Was it a tough moment for a kid my age? Hell, yes. But it was a different time, a different era. What happened wasn’t unusual for a small midwestern town in the 1960s. While people looked out for each other, ultimately you had to be independent and deal with life on your own.

And I did.

And in the end, I was better off for it.

 

Back when I played high school basketball I had a coach that I dearly loved. No, he wasn’t my high school coach, but an assistant. He was always there for me, counseling and giving advice when I needed it.

And God, did I need it.

Anyway, he was the guy who I knew always believed in me, saw the best in me, and I’ll never forget it. He never let me down. However, there was one time I let him down, although I didn’t know it at the time. Here’s the dizzle . . .

It was just before a game, and we’d finished our pregame warmups. We all went to the huddle to listen to our head coach’s final instructions, and it was then I smelled trouble.

And when I say smelled, I literally mean smelled.

Because in that huddle, I distinctly caught the smell of alcohol. Listen, I was no angel when I played high school basketball. Not even close. But at the time, I was pissed that one of my teammates had been doing some pregame drinking. It was a big game and I was upset that somebody hadn’t been taking the moment with the seriousness it deserved. How dare they? I proceeded to let everyone on the team know how disappointed I was in their behavior, their attitude, and their general disregard for commitment to our team.

Anyway, we went on to lose the game and I never did find out who had let me down that day, the guy who had downed a couple pregame totties, the player who had spat in the face of sportsmanship and all that was sacred to high school athletics.

That is, until later.

Because a few years on I ran into my old assistant coach, the man I admired and had moved on to another school somewhere in northern Ohio. Here’s the conversation that transpired:

“Shoe, do you remember when you tore into the team that night after you smelled alcohol on somebody?”

“Uh, yes. I was pissed. I couldn’t believe somebody could be so damn dumb.”

“Well, that somebody was me. I’d had a couple drinks before the game that day. You just about sold me out, man.”

Uh-oh. Well, hell. Little did I know the guy I looked up to more than anyone on the court was the guy who’d tipped a couple back pegame.

Hey, was he right to do that? No, he was not. But it was a different time. Hell, we also had a high school administrator that kept a bottle of whiskey in a desk drawer.

In retrospect I shouldn’t have been so self-righteous, handled it another way, and kept my mouth shut.

Alas, I did not, and in the process I almost outed my favorite coach.

Oops.

cub_scout_1968

Not me but damn close.

The following story took place a long time ago, during my 2nd grade year. Yep, way back in 1963. Here’s how it all went down . . .

We were sitting in class at Twin Elementary when our teacher told us that somebody wanted to talk to all the boys. In walked a guy, I can’t remember who, who proceeded to tell us all about the Cub Scouts. It sounded great. There would be hiking, camping, building model cars, all kinds of cool stuff to do. My buddies and I were all amped up. Couldn’t wait! All we had to do was go home and get the forms signed by our parents, which we couldn’t wait to do.

Of course, with my father there would be stipulations.

After I excitedly told him of the opportunity, he sat me down and we had a talk. Number 1, he thought the Cub Scouts would be a great idea. Number 2, he said there would be no quitting once I started. One full year would be completed, no excuses, end of discussion. Hell, that wasn’t a problem with me. I was stoked!

I couldn’t wait to get back to school to tell my buddies I was in, and it turns out they were too. It was gonna be fantastic.

We had our first meeting at the local church, the Cub Scout guy explained everything, and it all sounded great. Then he brought out the uniform. Hey, it was a little different with the little hat, scarf and knee socks, but what the hell, we’d all be wearing it so it’d be cool. I was ready to roll.

Not so fast Scout Boy.

Here’s what I heard from my friends when I got to school the next morning:

“No way I’m wearing that uniform, man.”

“That uniform looks stupid. I’m not wearing that thing.”

“Sounded good but I’m out. I quit.”

Wait. What? You’re quitting because of the uniform? After one meeting?

Turns out they were. My closest friends were out. The only other kid in my class who stayed in was a nerdy little kid named Quincy (name changed to project the nerdy).

Did I ask my Dad for a reprieve so I could stick with my buddies? I did not. I was dumb but not that dumb. A deal was a deal, man.

So, as it turned out every Tuesday Quincy and yours truly wore the uniform to school as required by the Scouts, and every Tuesday I was ridiculed, mocked, jeered, belittled and spat upon.*

*OK, nobody spit on me but it seemed like it at the time. It was 2nd grade hell I tell ya. 

On a related note I’m pretty sure that was the year I learned to fight.

Anyway, at the next meeting we learned who our pack leaders would be, and it turned out mine was a new guy who had recently volunteered.

That man was my father.

Did he join because he knew I was going through a tough time? Did he know it would help me get through it if he was around?

Probably, but if it was true he never said a word.

Bottom line, pretty soon we were doing cool stuff like building and painting little cars to race down a ramp, constructing airplanes to fly, even going on all-night camping trips. It wasn’t long before my non-Scout friends wished their parents hadn’t let them quit, and in fact they joined up the next year. Hey, maybe it was how cool I looked in that uniform. Chicks dig uniforms, ya know.

All-in-all it was fun, and we did it all while learning about being leaders, being responsible and providing service to others.

But what I learned the most was to never, ever quit.

Thanks Dad.

Hey, I taught all through the 90’s, plus I had a kid who was born in 1988. Hence, I remember all this stuff. Do you?

 

So I’ve been getting up early every morning, grabbing my sturdy walking stick, bournevilleoh1and embarking on 3.5 mile brisk walk through and around the neighborhood.

I begin when it’s still dark, and I’ve mapped out a route that takes me down every street and alley that is the old town of Bourneville, Ohio.

Fun fact: Lewis Igo has the honor of being our first settler, having emigrated to the “Paint Creek Valley” in the autumn of 1797. The first baby born was the son of Lewis, named Tom. Oh, and Bourneville was platted in 1832 by Colonel Bourne, who the town was named after.

I’ve lived in Bourneville most of my life, although I did have a 14-year stint in Chillicothe and spent short periods of time in Columbus and North Carolina. Anyway, as I walk around the village a thought occurred to me, and it was this – I’ve been in nearly every house in Bourneville. Legally even. Seems weird I know, but as a kid my friends and I seemed to get around. Because of this nearly every house, street or building seems to hold a memory for me, many of which have been written about on this site.

But back to the walk. It begins down Taylor Street, past the houses of a few friends I grew up with including Billy and Richard. Richard was my buddy we all called Itch, short for Rich. As I recall his mom didn’t like that name, so being the kind-hearted kids we were, we quit calling him Itch. He henceforth went by the name of Scratch.

Kids, man.

As I round the corner past the house where Scratch use to live and head down the hill on Cropp Street, I’m reminded of the time I attended a Junior High party at the Ward house there on the left. Full disclosure: I had my first kiss in the driveway of that house, and it was spectacular (at least in my mind). I won’t mention names and I have no idea if she reads this site, but she knows who she is.

Past the Ward house and onto Keran Street, I wistfully leave my adolescent memories behind and roll onward. As I come to the base of a small hill where we used to race go carts, I recall the time I was run over by a truck. You read that right, kids. It’s all documented in a blog I cleverly entitled Run Over by a Truck. Fascinating reading I tell ya.

But hey, I lived so it’s all good.

As I come to the end (or beginning, depending on your perspective) of Keran Street I take a right on Upper Twin Road and pass the houses of two more of my childhood friends, Ted and Rocky. Ted, in particular, had my back on more than one occasion. He passed away at a too young age but I still think of him a lot.

The next turn is a right onto North Alley, which takes me through the backstreets of Bourneville. Oh, the memories of racing down that alley on my bike as a kid. I passed the back of my cousin Mel’s house, where many a shenanigan occurred. I once witnessed Mel shoot a kid square in the back with a pellet gun, then thoughtfully remove said pellet with a knife after heating it with a blowtorch. What can I say? It was a tough neighborhood.

Proceeding on westward through the alley, I walk past the former Maughmer family garage where the famous incident with Drano, Max and Grundy took place, all the way to the end and take a hard left to what is now the Valero Station. When I was a kid it did some time as a Sinclair Station, which had those cool dinosaur logos. Seriously, take a look at that logo over there. sinclair_oil_logo-svgAwesome, amirite? It was also known as Brook’s at one point and was also a Texaco. Anyhoo, as I head back down Route 50 I remember what a busy little town Bourneville used to be. Seriously, besides the Sinclair Station the following businesses operated on the main drag:

  • Springer’s: Located at the corner of Cropp Street and Route 50, this was an old country store that had those big jars of candy. Great place that sadly burned to the ground one night in the 70’s.
  • Lance’s: Lance’s was on the left heading east, smack dab in the middle of town. Lance’s was a store run by Jimmy Jack and his son Butch worked there a lot too.
  • Ted Wisecup also ran a very busy gas station right by the firehouse, and I believe it was a Sunoco. I do remember him beating my ass for repeatedly running over the tube that rang when somebody pulled in. He’d warned me a few times to stop, but being the punk that I was I continued. Next thing I knew I was pulled off my bike and whipped with a fan belt. Back then, any adult could beat your ass. ‘Twas a better time in many ways, I tell ya.
  • Where the Dairy Hut now stands, there once stood a beautiful church. I’ll never forget sitting on my porch talking with somebody one beautiful day back in the late 70’s (early 80’s?) when I heard the church bell ring. It was odd because the church hadn’t been in use for a few years. It was only later when I drove by that I realized I’d heard the last ring of that bell, because the church had been demolished and the bell had rung as it fell. Sad. Oh, and this is the corner where the legendary story entitled Harold, Max and Me took place.
  • Catty-cornered from that church stood Homer Ward’s Sohio station, a place where I played many a pinball game.

Like I said, it’s surprising that a town the size Bourneville used to support so many businesses, but support them they did. And as I walk memories of all these places come back to me.

After the Bourneville tour I head back up Twin Road and the hill where the Bicycle Wagon Train made its infamous ride. There may still be scars in the blacktop, man. Then, at the top of the hill, I once again pass The Post for the zillionth time, where it still stands proudly today.

Next I pass a cornfield where Twin School once stood. I not only attended the school in grades 1 through 8 but I taught 6th grade for 3-years there as well.

Heading on up Twin Road, I pass the cemetery and my Uncle Myrl’s old house where I sent many a summer day, take a left, and circle around the new housing development. As I cruise the back stretch I can’t help but remember the time my beloved Sparky tangled with the coyote there. On a related note, I’ve seen some eyes glowing in the dark a few times at that spot and I always have my walking stick at the ready. Hey, I know coyotes don’t attack people but better safe than sorry I always say.

And then, my 3.5 mile walk comes to an end. You know, it’s funny how much different walking the neighborhood is as compared to driving through it. You have time to see things and not just drive by without taking everything in.

As a result, it’s a great way to get back in touch with your town, and also a great way to awaken some old memories. And that’s a good thing, right?

As kids we all had our favorite foods, right? No matter the age, we all have memories of eating certain things we loved when we were little ‘uns. Seems like Ramen Noodles are sort of a staple these days, but when I was a kid other foodstuffs were more common.

Heck man, I could tear through a box of Cheez-Its in 20-minutes if I could have done it without Mom catching me. On a related note, nothing worse than your parents buying groceries and then not letting you eat certain things. I remember having a 6-pack of Pepsi in the fridge with the instructions that it had to last the whole week between my two sisters and I. Brutal, man.

Anyhoo, here are a few of my staples as a youngster:

Cheez Whiz

Are you serious? I still love Cheez Whiz. That stuff is the best, man. I used to put it on crackers, bread, pretzels, and I even used it as chip dip. And yes, sometimes I just ate it right out of the jar, quite often with my fingers. And you know it helps to fend off cancer, right? Cheez Whiz is golden, man.

cheez

Peanut Butter Sandwich

Oh yeah. Straight up peanut butter on white Wonder Bread. And I loved both the crunchy and smooth. Jif and Skippy were my favorites, hands-down.

peanut

Suzy Q’s 

Sweet Mother of God I ate these babies like they were going out of style when I was a kid. I’d ride my bike down to Lance’s Store, buy a 2-pack, and have them finished off long before I got back home. Tastilicious.

hostess-suzy-q

American Cheese

Sure, it was processed cheese that tasted a little like styrofoam, but it was way too convenient to pull out a slice, rip that plastic off, and scarf that baby down.

americancheese

Atomic Fireballs

Hey, any product that has a nuclear bomb on the box has gotta be good, amirite? I’d pop as many of these tasty little kerosene balls in my mouth as I could and let the good times roll. Woot!

fireballs

Mallo Cups

Hell, I eat Mallo Cups today. As a matter of fact, my 5th grade students used to bring them to me a couple times a week. It seems as if the scrumptious cups are becoming harder and harder to find and that’s a national tragedy. Mallo Cups > Reese’s Cups, all day, every day, every way.

mallo-cup-wrapper-small

Wax Bottles

Remember the little wax bottles filled with God knows what? You’d bite off the top and drink them? I don’t know what was in there but I loved it. And I was hardcore man, I’d chew on and eat the bottle like a boss.

waxbottles

Vienna Sausages

Vienna Sausages in barbecue sauce, to be precise. That was my staple mid-afternoon snack right there, man. I lived with a dude in college that made Mac & Cheese with Vienna Sausages and it was spectacular. Still love me some Vienna Sausages.

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Sardines

Oh, hells to the yah! Nothing says heaven more than a couple sardines on a cracker, man. Oh, and they have to be in mustard sauce, that’s a no-brainer. I lived on sardines as a kid.

sardines1

Oh, of course I had bologna and cheese sandwiches, frozen pizza, pizza rolls and stuff like that, but these were my favorites. Don’t judge, man.

Note: I have to give a shoutout to the greatest bubble gum of all-time, Bazooka. I followed the enclosed comic Bazooka Joe, too. No better gum, ever.

bazooka

grease

Yeah. Like this.

Growing up in a small southern Ohio town in the 60s was pretty idyllic, really. Sure, a lot of the country was being torn apart by civil unrest, whether it was caused by race, the war in Vietnam or the Battle of the Sexes, but here in Bourneville we were relatively untouched by all that upheaval. Sure, my older sister Karen, rabble-rouser that she was, eventually turned me onto what was going on on our country (man, did Dad hate that peace sign she taught me to exchange with her), but that was towards the end of the decade. For a large part of the 60s I was just an innocent kid enjoying life.

I have a ton of stories from those days, the most famous being Harold, Max & Me, a story that folks seem to enjoy because of its sheer insanity. I also told a story of a kid named Grungy who, although we teased him mercilessly, turned out to have a good heart. That story was called Grungy’s Revenge. Max was the central figure in another childhood escapade as well, in the story entitled The Bicycle Wagon Train Was A Bad Idea. And believe me, it was.

The story I’m about to tell involves both Max and Grungy, and I’ll steal fro my own writing to describe each. Let’s start with Grungy:

We had a kid in our neighborhood when I was growing up that was, shall we say, lacking in the looks department. Ah, what the hell, he was the ugliest SOB I’ve ever seen. He had a bulbous nose, elephantine ears, beady eyes, and his complexion was so bad it looked as if his face had caught on fire on somebody’d put it out with a rake.

God, I can be mean. But seriously, this dude’s parents had to tie a steak around his neck to get the dog to play with him.  I swear he had to sneak up on a glass of water to get a drink. Hey-O! I could go on forever.

In addition, he was really big for his class at school. Alright, so he’d been held back a couple of times. But he was still big for his age, and not just big-big. Humongously fat-big. Add some long greasy hair to the mix and I think you get the visual. Oh, and when Grungy got mad you best run for your life. Dude was a badass.

Next, my description of Max:

Max? Max was my age, small for his age and a Bourneville badass. I can never remember him not smoking, he always had a cig in his mouth from the day I met him, which was when we were probably around 6-years old. Max could whip any kid’s ass and was a con-artist deluxe. He’d have his friend’s mothers eating out of his hand, then turn around and cuss like a sailor around the rest of the kids in Bourneville.

So there’s your visuals for two of the principal subjects of my story. There were others, including yours truly, which you’re about to hear about . . .

One hot summer day a few of us Bourneville rapscallions and ne’re-do-wells were hanging around Max’s family garage, just shooting the breeze and probably planning our next hijinks.

The cast of characters included myself, Max, Grungy, Scratch, Fred, Ted, and a new kid in town we’d inexplicably christened with the name Drano.

Like I said, we were all sitting around the perimeter inside the garage, talking about God-knows-what. Max was sitting beside one of those big fish fryers that his family owned, and it had about 6-inches of nasty grease at the bottom. Max’s older brother said they never cleaned it because it made the fish taste better.

Anyway, sitting between Max and Fred was the new kid Drano, and I was sitting across the garage with Grungy, Ted, and Scratch. At some point Max, the ultimate instigator, decided it would be a good idea to reach in the fryer, grab a big glop of grease on his finger, and casually flipped it across the room toward us.

I think I was the only one who actually saw him do it, and as I recall the dollop of goo seemed to fly in slow motion through the air, directly toward its intended target . . . the prodigious cranium of Grungy.

As I watched in horror, the grease-ball made a soft plop, directly on the bridge of Grungy’s humongous schnozz. Everyone looked up, and for a few seconds there was silence as we contemplated the terror to ensue.

Grungy just sat there, and it would have been hilarious had we not been aware of the big man’s penchant for anger when tormented.

Slowly, he reached up and wiped the offending lard from his nose, flicked it away, and glared across the room, trying to figure out who committed the deed. Of course, the first guy he looked at was young Max, who silently pointed at the new kid sitting beside him.

Drano.

Poor Drano. He’d been in town for maybe a week and made the fateful mistake of sitting next to Max.

As Drano stood shaking his head no, waving his arms and basically looking like a kid staring down a charging rhinoceros, Grungy advanced across the room methodically and with a single purpose on his mind.

Revenge.

As we looked on in terror, Grungy picked up Drano like a rag doll, flipped him upside down, and unceremoniously dunked his head into the grease.

Stunned, we watched as Grungy held his head there for what seemed like forever, then slowly twisted his head in even deeper.

When he finally pulled him out and sat him back down, Drano’s hair looked like, well, like he had the first-ever mohawk, except greasier. The funny thing was, Drano just sat there, afraid to move.

Then Grungy just walked out of the garage and went home.

Of course, Max had to have the last word:

“See Drano, I told you not to make Grungy mad.”

 

PS: I distinctly recall handing Drano a dirty old rag from the corner of the garage, nice guy that I am. He proceeded to try and rub the gook out, only succeeding in making matters worse. Then his hair stood up all over, making him look like he was perpetually frightened, which incidentally he was from then on.

scared-little-boy-cartoon-7248295

 

 

 

spindle

Weird, but a lot of my readers won’t know what this is.

I was talking to a friend the other day about how much not only music has changed over the past 40-50 years, but how much we buy and listen to it has changed as well. After we talked I began thinking about music and how I became so involved in it, and my mind went back to the early 60’s, when I was just a young whippersnapper . . .

Mom and Dad always had records around, but they were by guys like Dean Martin and Al Martino. Then my sisters started bringing records home by Elvis and artists like Gene Pitney, Bobby Vinton and The Four Seasons. Of course, The Beatles arrived and changed everything, but I began to get really immersed when one of my sister’s boyfriends, Dave, started bringing 45s to the house and playing them for me. Not only would he play the 45s, he would describe the group to me and give me background he’d learned from music magazines and other sources.

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If this isn’t it exactly it’s pretty damn close.

In those early years I listened to everything on Mom and Dad’s massive stereo. It was one of those giant wooden ones with the lid that popped up, revealing the fascinating array of knobs and buttons with which to adjust the sound and volume.

Anyway, I was endlessly fascinated by Dave talking about the people behind the music, so as time went on I got into it more and more. I’d lie in bed listening to WLS radio out of Chicago every single night, just soaking up the sounds and imagining what the bands and singers looked like. I recall DJs like Larry Lujack and Wolfman Jack, and lying there, the music just seemed magical. It also, in my mind, came from exotic, faraway places.

That’s why I disliked music videos so much. They told us what to see, not what our imaginations could create. After MTV the song brought to mind the video, and that was sad to me. But back to my childhood . . .

As the late 60’s came along, so did my teenage years. Sometime around then I began buying my own records, and in the beginning it was always 45s. I remember going to Central Center with my father every other Friday to get  haircuts. I’d go first, and then I’d walk down to Woolworths where they sold records. They had a display where they’d have the Top 20 singles and I’d always go there first, followed by the “New Releases” section.

woolworths

Yep. Like this.

The 45s cost 79¢, and I usually had $5.00 that I had saved (I used to get an old guy’s mail that lived in Bourneville and he’d pay me a whopping $5.00 a week!) so I had to choose wisely. That’s six 45’s every 2-weeks for you non-Math folks out there. Sometimes I’d only buy 3 or 4 records so I could buy a Coke Float and Grilled Cheese sandwich over at the Woolworths soda fountain and bar. They has those cool stools and everything and I loved it.

Then I’d walk back up to the Barber Shop, meet Dad and head home. I could not wait to get there, take that record from the wrapper, drop it on the little turntable in my bedroom, close my eyes and let the music take me away. Man, you couldn’t beat the late 60’s groups like The Rascals, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Four Tops, and of course The Beatles and others.

Later, around the time I got my driver’s license I believe, I started buying albums, or LPs. See, in the early 60’s albums were basically one hit song and a bunch of filler tunes. The songs were all independent of each other. The Beatles changed all that by making concept, or theme albums. On these albums the songs were all connected, like on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Because of this you wanted the entire album, or at least I did.

I bought most of my albums back then at Hart’s department store and places like that. If I really wanted to buy stuff out of the mainstream I went to Columbus and visited places like the gloriously named Magnolia Thunderpussy to find hard-to-get music. Up through the early to mid-80’s you couldn’t find alternative bands like R.E.M. and The Replacements in regular department stores.

alice

Great LP cover. On a related note, I sat at a desk like this at the old Twin Elementary.

And kids today will have no concept of this, but there was nothing better than taking the cellophane off of an album and reading all the information on the back. It was even better if it was an album (usually a double album but not always) that opened up like a book. Often the lyrics were contained somewhere, either on the back of the album itself or maybe on the actual sleeve in which the record was contained. Posters could be in there, and some albums were really unique, like Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” LP which opened up like an old school desk. Cool. I’d spend hours going over everything on an album jacket, over and over and over.

eightSoon, LPs were pushed aside in favor of 8-track tapes. You couldn’t put much information on an 8-track, which sucked. 8-tracks had four sections and when the tape went from one to the other it made this clunky sound as it switched over. Sometimes, if the tape was dragging, you had to press a matchbook or something between the tape and player to tighten it up. I bet everyone who owned a tape player has done that a few times.

Next came the cassette. The cassette was even smaller than the 8-track, which led to even less information on it. Of course the CD followed, and by then you could go straight to a song without listening to other songs on the album. I remember hearing kids say, “Hey, play #4!” Hell, they didn’t even know the name of the song, let alone the background of it or, God forbid, the lyrics.

Alas, nowadays everything is downloaded from the internet and a lot of people don’t purchase the entire album. That’s sad because a lot of the time you have to listen to a song a few times before it grows on you. With an album you put it on and listened to everything, then you flipped it over and listened to Side 2. There was no fast-forwarding unless you wanted to get up and move the needle, man.

On a related note, LPs have made a pretty significant comeback. The sound is just different, and somehow better.

Bottom line, technology and the subsequent downloading of music has led to young people missing out on the depth and breadth of the music and the musicians that created it, you know? Nobody gets into the “Deep Cuts” anymore. And now that I think about it, isn’t that sort of describing the state of music today? That it’s lacking depth and breadth? It’s all tied together. Yep, it’s all becoming clear to me now.

Sigh.

Aw, maybe I just sound like an old guy lamenting the way things used to be. Then again, maybe not. I really believe that most of the changes have been for the worse. Advances like autotune, digital recording, even multi-tracking have cheapened the whole process.

Bottom line though? Even though I mostly prefer the older methods of recording and listening, I still love a lot of today’s recordings.

Why? Because it’s music, man. I couldn’t live without it.

It’s just an old cement post, and it stands probably 150-feet from my front door.

I FullSizeRender (6)currently live in the house I grew up in, so I’ve driven or walked by the post at least 100,000 times according to my estimations. I have no idea how long it’s stood there, but I’m guessing it could be at least 100-years old.

The Post was built during a time when people went the extra mile to make things the right way, so rather than just put a standard wooden post in the ground they took the time to pour a big, ornate concrete post as a cornerstone to their property.

People don’t do that type of thing anymore, you know? Everything is done quickly and as cheaply as possible nowadays. That’s one of the things that makes The Post cool to me. Somebody cared about its appearance.

The Post has stood there while the world rolled on through two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Kennedy Assassination, the Vietnam War, 9/11, and many other world and local events.

The Post was right beside Twin Elementary School, a building in which I spent at least 7-hours a day from the ages of 6 to 15. I remember kids sitting on The Post before and after school, either waiting to go in for the day or waiting on a ride home. I recall kids sitting on it after basketball practice at the school, waiting on mom or dad to pick them up.

On many a summer day I sat either on top of it or on the ground leaning against it, watching the occasional car go by as I talked with my friends.

And man, if I had a dollar for every bicycle that leaned against The Post I’d be a rich man today.

Hell, The Post was right there that warm summer day back in the late 60’s and served as a starting line for Max when he made his famous ride down the hill and into infamy. It’s also where the Bicycle Wagon Train began its descent into history.

Through it all, The Post has been a constant, standing tall day after day as the years went by.

I really don’t know why The Post fascinates me so much. As I said, it’s just an old cement post after all. But I love old stuff like this, and the fact that the man who poured the concrete and frame for The Post clearly took pride in what he was doing makes it special to me.

As I mentioned before, Twin Elementary School stood right next to The Post, and it was sadly and unceremoniously knocked down back in 2008. Right down the hill there once stood a beautiful old church, and it suffered the same fate.

I suppose one day I’ll come home and see that The Post is gone as well, and if that happens it will make me sad. Again, it’s just a concrete post, but somehow it’s more than that to me. It represents pride in workmanship, childhood memories, longevity, and much more.

Strange how you can become attached to an inanimate, soulless object, isn’t it?

Note: Sparky loves The Post too, but for other reasons.