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Three score and ten or more

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Tulip time in Oregon

I mentioned below that I went to a Tulip Festival at the Wooden Shoes Tulip farm in Oregon. As usual blogger would let me post as many of the best of the pictures (I tried Picasa this time, I still can't get pictures anywhere but at the top. These are small but they give the idea. There were as many colors and as many types of tulips as you could imagine. It was truly lovely. Except for politics there seems to be some wonderful things in Oregon. I'm going to Bend the first of the week. I have a guy that wants to sell me an apartment building there. (Not likely, but who knows?)

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Washington (state of) Experiences
Gas mask finished mask

Raw materials, copper wire, clothes line wire , tubing and elk hide,

Well, I arrived in Washougal and attended the rehearsals and managed to keep my mouth shut except when I was asked to open it. It was a bit of a challenge.

I have some reservations about children performing Shakespeare, only because the language is difficult and young people tend to get caught up in the melody and forget that words have limited function except to transfer meaning. Young actors tend to speak the longer Shakespearean lines as if they are notes on a page of music, losing the meaning. Preventing that, with young inexperienced people, takes very careful and innovative direction. This director didn’t, or couldn’t, really provide that, so that some characters with long lines were very difficult to follow. He had a very interesting concept, placing the play in an urban modern setting, and he has an interesting sense of how the pictures work on the stage, but only a few characters in this production really made clear sense of their words and emotions. To those who know Midsummer Night’s Dream, the pivotal characters of Demetrius, Helena, Lysander and Hermia were among the strongest in the play, and without that, it would have been a disaster. Bottom (Who just HAPPENS to be my grandson) and the other “rude Mechanicals” were quite good and made the end of the play very funny. I found myself somewhat pained that a cast with almost amazing potential considering that the age range of actors ranged from six to sixteen years old were not given the direction that would/ and could, have made this performance truly remarkable. I would like to have seen this cast with a director more conscious of how to get the most out of the youth, and I would like to have seen a production by this director utilizing actors with more maturity and experience.

I will say that the director provided a really interesting “pre-show” which clarified the use of language and and was very entertaining while basically providing the audience with the core of the plot. This really made the show much clearer and much more interesting for any member of the audience who were unfamiliar with Shakespeare and the Dream.

Now, having done my review I need to tell about my part in the play. For those who don’t know, the character Bottom, is changed by Puck into an Ass (the donkey kind). This is accomplished by giving him a head mask, and in some performances, hoof shaped gloves on his hands. On the day before final dress rehearsal, the mask disappeared. No one knew whether the actor mislaid it or a cast member swiped it or if a high school student attending class in the theatre (they use a high school auditiorium) had found it and kept it as a souvenir. At any rate, it disappeared, and calls to all nearby costume places failed to locate one. What would any sculptor/thingmaker/puppeteer do but volunteer to make one?

I did! (forethought has never been my forte). The obvious thing was to buy some one- half-inch foam (like rug padding) and just make a mask. Since I was starting this mask thing at about 10:30 P.M., a craft store wasn’t handy, so I plundered through my son’s garage to find some foam. (Plundered is the word, you should see his garage. I would have asked him, but he was in Japan on business at the time.) I found some foam but it was strange stuff, and after I did most all of one of these I could see that it wasn’t going to be satisfactory. My daughter came up with a gas mask (don’t ask), and we toyed with putting ears on a gas mask, but when she put it on the eye holes fogged up, I deemed it unworthy for the stage. I sat with a full elk hide on my lap for a few minutes (My son had purchased it for two dollars at a yard sale, he finds things at yard sales that are unbelievable.) , but I couldn’t figure out what I could do with it in the time allotted. Then, I tried working with a Halloween type donkey mask that had been purchased for rehearsals, but it was hopeless, so, without consulting the director, (it was the middle of the night) and since it was set in a “modern” urban environment, I decided that an art-deco mask would be interesting since I found some interesting looking clothes line wire (it was by then about two A.M., and my brain had slipped partly out of gear.) It was a little frail so I decided to do the same thing I was doing with the clothes line wire with some heavier copper wire if I could find some in the morning. I have pictures of some of these failures that I will post if blogger is kinder to me than it has been recently every time I try to post pictures

My next attempt was to insert the clothes line wire into ¼ “ plastic tubing, but for some mystic reason it didn’t work for me. The “final” decision was to insert number 8 copper ground wire into 3/8” polyethylene tubing, making something that looked a little like unlit neon tubing but which was strong.. I bent it and joined it into a shape that I liked, and even glued ears to it, but I couldn’t get it into a form that was comfortable on the head and that had stability, so I ended up fastening it to the crown of an old derby hat. It fit on the head and was stable and comfortable, but the felt hat broke up the “art deco/neon sign” lined of the wire and tubing so I draped in a lovely silver gray mesh fabric , fastened on the ears and eyes then covered all the mistakes with faux fur in black, white and grey. By this time, it was almost time for rehearsal, and it wasn’t till the thing was out of my hands that I realized that I had not place the eyes in the right place. (People have eyes in the front of the head, donkeys eyes are really on the sides, this masks eyes were in the front.)

As they left for rehearsal (I stayed behind, I wasn’t too thrilled with the look, and didn’t want to hear what the director had to say), Janet turned to me and said, “After all that work, I’ll bet that the original mask ‘shows up’ and that they use it after all.” She was right. When they arrived for rehearsal the original donkey head was lying on a seat in the auditorium. The director liked my mask (or didn’t want to offend me) enough that it is used in the “pre-show”, and my grandson, who is playing Bottom, will bring it home as a memento when the show is over. I will post this, then come back and try to insert picture using the edit function. I will have one more post from Washington. My daughter in law took Janet and me, along with our grandchildren to attend a tulip festival in Oregon. I took a lot of tulip pictures and will post them along with a minor travelogue.

To Patrick and those who live in Oregon, I spent two weeks reading the Portland Oregonian, and found my self severely temped to break my resolve not to get deep into Politics again. If the Oregonian is even close to the truth, Oregon is truly a STRANGE state with a political system that would make Machiavelli proud. I thought we had some weird things happen in Georgia, but we aren’t even in the same league with Oregon.
(blogger hates me, so I was not able to post the best (or enough) pictures)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Just had to reflect a little bit after a looooong day. I am now out in Washougal, Washington. Yesterday, I surrendered to my taxes and sent in the request for automatic extension (Otherwise know as the procrastinator's crutch), and sent a bunch of money to the IRS, hoping to avoid penalties when my anti-procrastination gene finally puts in an appearance. I finished up some business here in the house that included ordering another phone from Alltel (mine didn't make it home from Hilton Head Island), packing some clothes, and otherwise getting ready to see my Washinton grandchildren (and their parents too, but that is probably incidental). I finally schlepped off to bed at about 11:30 knowing that I had to get up in time to get an early morning plane out of Jacksonville (I fly out of Jacksonville, Atlanta, and Savannah, depending on who is getting good reviews from Expedia, Travelocity, Cheap Seats, Hotwire, and whoever else is haunting my computer.) Savannah doesn't often win because, though closer, it is usually more expensive, and whatever else I am, I am a tightwad. At about 12;30 in the morning, the doorbell rang.

It was Carl, the homeless guy who owns the franchise on me. (I think there is some hidden label somewhere on my person that lets people know that I am almost incapable of turning down someone who puts the touch on me. Carl isn't usually so bad because he always offers to cut the grass, wash the car, (my cars have never been so clean) etc., etc., and HE ACTUALLY DOES IT, (not too carefully, but hey?) which is more than many of my "clients" have done over the years. But, this was almost one o'clock A.M. and I needed to get up before two and drive to Jacksonville. "Hello, Mr. J. can you do me a favor?" This means he wants money. I stomped angrily into the kitchen, took a pound of deli ham out of the fridge, stuck it in a plastic bag with four slices of whole wheat bread, and apple, four little fast food package of mustard and an apple, shoved it at him and told him to go away. He had a number of arguments about how money generated hot food, but I've know him long enough to know that it means that he is desperate for a package of cigarettes and/or a beer. I 'm almost always good for something to eat, but I draw the line at getting out of bead after midnight to provide cigarettes, so I told him to make the ham sandwiches and go away and that if he came back again after midnight, I would call the cops. He grinned knowingly and walked away.

I went back to bed for an hour, took a cold shower, drove to Jacksonville, got on the plane, and arrived here about two o'clock in the afternoon (Pacific time), periodically thinking bad things about Carl, but otherwise just napping, reading and looking out the window.

Like any teen age fan I spent a few minutes giggling because Ted Danson (Cheers,etc.) was wandering around at our gate at the Dallas airport where we changed planes. I had met him once about two hundred years ago, but was careful not to reintroduce myself. He was casually enjoying no fans in the area.

I don't believe I mentined how we happened to decide (we, heck!!) to come to Washington. My seven (almost) year old grand-daughter was talking to her grandmother on the phone. (grandpa listens on the phone, I am not a good phone conversationalist). She said, casually "Grandmother, you have never seen me be a fairy, have you? " Janet casually answers "No, I don't believe I have "(not true, if you schlepp through my moribund webb page at www.puppenrich.com you can find her being a fairy where her father is being- something with horns--.) "Well, I am being a fairy in Midsummer Night's Dream, and you certainly are invited". Her grandmother bought tickets so fast you wouldn't believe it. Anyway, that's how I got drafted into this trip. (Couldn't you see me struggle?).

I found myself looking out the window for that last part of the trip, the vast plains of north Texas and what appeared to be parts of Kansas and Colorado, checker boarded with straight north-south and east-west road dividing the lands into sections (a quarter section is 360 acres, a section is four times that) marked by the strange partial circles created by modern irrigation, and slashed periodically by both dry and wet riverbeds. Gradually these give way to desert, followed by the first foothills of the Rockies, then the snowcovered crags with mottled scabs of pine, cedar and other evergreen forests.

I was born in Idaho, and though I haven't lived there since 1961, I forget how much I miss the mountains till I stare our the window and find my throat constricted and tears running down into my beard.

I dont know much about flying. My flights have been passenger flights, a few helicopter rides, and a brief stint training to be a smokejumper (not one of my most successful vocational efforts), but I was struck by the seeming irrationality of the route from Dallas to Portland. North to Eastern Colorado then over beside the mountains with a left turn to take you over Pocatello, Idaho (my home town), then west through the Snake River country to the eastern Washington/Oregan border. The route then went north of the Snake River gorge and parallel to the Columbia up between Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens (Mount Ranier was near as well, but I couldn't see it through my window).

How the airplane flies certainly isn't what I was taught as a boy to be "how the crow flies." If I were to draw a line from Dallas to Portland on the map, it would certainly cover different territory. The weather was beautiful though, and when we finally slipped out of Washington into hard left U turn, to touch down at PDX (Portland International) my heart was so full I could hardly breathe.

I was in a play many years ago, wherein a teenager was agonizing about his lack of talent, good looks and intellect when his grandmother (I think) challenges him with the assertion to stop running himself down because (she says) "God don't make junk". That same sentence came to me as I looked down a wide dry river bed that had filled up with farms and a couple of small towns, and again when this plane slipped down quite low over the North slopes ofMount Hood. Indeed, no matter how we try to spoil it all, God don't make junk.

I going to go over to a rehearsal of the play now, stuffing my mouth with cotton to keep from side-coaching actors that are working for another director.. I'll let you know how it comes out.

Sunday, April 16, 2006



Well I’m back for a few moments.  I spent the last week at Hilton Head Island in a time share that we own. (somewhere in my archives I have a post that tells you more than anyone wants to know about the good and bad aspects of time share).  We really would prefer to rent this one out.  Our time in it is during Heritage (Harbor Town, Verizon etc.,) golf tournament week and it is usually rentable, but not this time, so we went to use it rather than let it sit empty.  The unit has three bedrooms, three baths (with two Jacuzzis)  a heated swim pool a hundred yards away (over a lagoon bridge, lagoon has seven alligators and lots of mooching turtles) and an unheated pool (cold in the morning, good in the afternoon) with a hot tub, just downstairs.  Talk about overkill.  Two seventyish arthritics wandering around all that space. (I intended to take pictures, but like most of my good intentions- - - - -)  We had a good time, did an hour of water aerobics every morning in  the heated pool, ate at some good restaurants,  did not watch golf (We are both too crippled up for golf, which is too bad because the unit includes free green fees for four for four days), shopped at some outlet stores (I went insane and bought five pairs of Eddie Bauer slacks for 12.99 each- - but they were fifty and sixty dollar pants,  now Janet is haunting me to throw away every thing else in my closet).   I don’t have HBO at home and discovered that I don’t miss it.  Most of what I saw on HBO was the same treacle I see on regular cable with the insertion of a lot of “F” words into really strange parts of the dialogue (there must be a rule that there be so many per hour).  I discovered that if I had taken my laptop, they have a new internet center that I could have used but----Oh Well.

I will leave on Tuesday morning for Washington State where three of my grandchildren have roles in MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.  We couldn’t miss that.  At least I have internet access (my son is a computer type for Sharp Electronics, and if it (computer stuff) exists, and he doesn’t have it, it is an oversight.)

Regarding bastard socks, it is still my contention that the other socks “cohabit” in either the washer or dryer, and that the singles are offspring.  The reason they look familiar is that you have been wearing one or the other of the parents, so they seem familiar.  Well I have got to finish my taxes so that I can leave Tuesday.  See ya in a couple of days.  Thotman has a post up right now that might irritate those of you who think the country is going down the tubes, but I found it interesting and enlightening.  I don’t ever successfully make links within the post, but there is a link at right.

Saturday, April 08, 2006



It happened again. The doggone fornicating, copulating, propagating socks are at it again. I opened up the sock drawer and there they were, whole batches of bastard socks, just staring up at me and daring me to do anything about them (For clarification, check the blog archives for Saturday, September 10, 2005). They don’t know it yet, but secretly I am gloating. I have puppetry workshops to give and those egotistical, smug little b*stards will all end up as glove puppets.

For what its worth, I am going to Hilton Head Island tomorrow morning (see my earlier post on timeshares), and unless I discover a yet untapped source I won't have computer access so you will (sigh) live without me for a week. (I'm not taking the darned -no pun- socks, their fate can wait,)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Mans Work is Never Done

A Man’s Work is Never Done

I must have spent most of the summer between my eighth grade and Freshman years caddying at the golf course. I had to give up the caddy job when I went up to the to my grandfather’s cabin at Island Park in the summer (also, somewhere in time, I got fired by Roy Horne, the pro, because my dad said I had to quit working on Sundays, and that is the big golf day). When I came home from the cabin, I went out for football, and I know that I spent quite a bit of time at the setting pins in the bowling ally during that Freshman year though I didn’t do it in the Fall because of football. (More about that when I try to make sense out of activities), and football didn’t leave much time for part time work. I’m sure that I worked as much as possible, because dad had made it clear that we didn’t get allowances when we could go earn money. I also know that I earned some because it was during my freshman year when I bought my own fly rod, automatic reel and creel to take up to the cabin. I think that I got my first exposure to brick work during the spring of my freshman year. My dad got me a job sweeping up and cleaning up a construction site for a masonry company. I worked on one job till I got some chance to mix mud and carry hod right at the end. (sometime later I spent some time laying brick as well). I had to quit that job and go out for track. If you were on the football team you were required to go out for either a winter sport or spring sport to stay in condition. Idaho didn’t allow spring football at that time.

One reason I am sure that I worked at the bowling alley that winter was a particular experience. (I think I may have posted this earlier, but I couldn’t find it in the archives). I know it was during my freshman year because that was the year my brother Doug was a senior, and it involved some of Doug’s friends who were still in high school. I am pretty sure Glenn Cameron was there (though I am not sure he ever worked in the bowling alley) but I don’t remember all the names any more. I am sure that Doug wasn’t there. We were walking home from the bowling alley and were walking down Center Street. I am not sure why we didn’t take a bus, but we were walking along, talking about nothing in particular till we came to the Rialto Theatre. The Rialto was the movie house that showed second run pictures and was cheap. We noted that the final feature must have started because we could hear sound from the theatre but the box office was empty. We looked around at the coming attractions and debated the wisdom of trying to sneak in, but decided that it was too late. We turned back to the street, and, parked in front of the theatre, was a really small foreign car. About that time, a number of little cars from Europe and Japan were showing up in the U.S. I have no memory at all of what kind of car this was except that it was not a Volkswagen. It was a little bitty, rectangular, station wagon. Someone made the comment that he bet that the six of us could pick it up. We put three in front and three in back, took hold of the bumpers and lifted. It came right up off the ground, so staggering a bit, we moved it backward a few feet and set it down. Someone noted that he thought that the car would fit behind the box office, in front of the main doors. As if on cue, we surrounded the car again and lifted it up on the sidewalk. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to us that any police cars roaming the area would notice a car on the sidewalk, but it didn’t (until later) and none came. We then stood the car up on its back bumper and slid it into the theatre entryway. We then carefully lowered the front of the car and it did fit. It blocked all of the front doors exiting the theatre, and scraped its side a little on the back of the box office, but it fit. We stood there debating about removing it an putting it back out on either the sidewalk or the street but, after trying a little we decided that the fit was too tight and we could never stand it up again, so we just walked on down center to fourth or fifth, turned left and went on home. I looked in the paper the next day to see if there was a story about the car that mystically blocked the doors of the theatre but nothing showed up. There was a lot of talk about it at school the next week (This happened on Friday or Saturday), and I was relieved that no one was dumb enough to brag about it. I still have a feeling that the Police would like to have known how that car got there, and who put it there. I would really like to know how they got it out. If there are still any people alive who got locked in the Rialto that day, and if this ever gets read by anyone but my children and my brothers and sisters, now those folks will know how it happened.

The following summer is really vague to me. I am sure I spent at least a month up at the cabin, and I am pretty sure I earned enough money to buy a pair of waders. I still have the fly rod that I used that summer, a Shakespeare Black Widow, 10 ounce bamboo rod with two tips. I also have the Shakespeare automatic reel that I used. I have used it many times. I am also pretty sure that the summer of 1949 was the year I learned to lay brick, mix mud and do general brick work. The only reason I think so is that there is no other summer “unoccupied” by something else. The company I worked for built a church building over on the west side of Alameda and also built a school building of some sort.. I started out carrying hod (carrying mortar and bricks to the bricklayers), then got an opportunity to lay brick, I think because someone quit or got sick.) I remember that I never got to “lay up leads” on the corners, though I was taught how to do it, and that I laid a lot of brick “to line”, meaning that a line was strung from the corner leads and it was my job to lay brick so that the top front surface of the brick was straight on that line. One of the places we worked at had brick that were “pointed” with curved mortar, and one was straight and flat, so I had to buy two different pointing trowels to do my job. For “whatever reason,” I still have them, and have used them a lot, over the years.

Somewhere in that brick job I was assigned to build a fireplace out of flagstone and made a complete mess of it. The stones were so heavy that if you built more than two courses before your mud cured, it would squeeze the bottom course right out. It was knowledge that came in handy later in my life, but I sure hated it then, and was taken off the job before the fireplace was finished.

During my sophomore year in school I got started with what was a truncated “career”, but one of the most interesting of my life. I belonged to the “Radio Club” and once a month, the Radio Club would go over to station KSEI and do a program. This was back in the time when you could still listen to soap operas on the radio (Television hadn’t even thought of Pocatello, Idaho at that time.) And there were programs on the air like The Phantom, and Fibber McGee and Molly. KSEI was an NBC affiliate and ran all the NBC programs. The Radio Club programs were, more or less, knock offs of the network programs. We did mysteries, soaps, all kinds of things using dialogue and sound effects. It was fun. One evening after we finished the show the manager of KSEI came up to me and asked me if I had ever thought of being a radio announcer. Honestly, I said,”No, I hadn’t thought about it,” and asked him if he thought I could do that sort of thing. Before the conversation was over he had hired me as a substitute announcer. That meant he would call me anytime someone called in sick, or something like that, and I could come in and fill in. The job began more or less like a full time job, and I had to go in every night for a couple of weeks and learn the boards, how to cue records, and even more important, how to start transcriptions which were great big records about two feet wide, that ran at about 16 rpm and which contained many of the network programs. I also had to study and qualify for what was called, at that time, a class C license from the FCC. Class C licenses were required for on air work. Engineers and people who really ran equipment were delegated, if I remember right, to a class I license. I never did qualify for that. What I discovered was that there was a class of radio announcers that were called “Gypsies” because they went from station to station. They were really talented but many of them were heavy drinkers and they would get sloshed, and that’s when I got called in.. One of the guys who worked mostly days and was NOT a gypsy was a guy from our church. I can’t remember his name, but he had one of the most wonderful radio voices I have ever heard. He was homely to a fault, a really tall, skinny black haired guy with an adam’s apple that went out before him like a compass needle. He could do most of the standard radio sound effects vocally, and that was really impressive.

I passed my class C license test, but didn’t really get the class C. I can’t remember, but I think I needed to be sixteen to get it and was only fifteen – or something like that. I was legally on the air though (they assured me) because I passed the test.????? I really didn’t work there very often, it certainly wouldn’t have made me a union member, but I worked there a dozen or so times maybe more than that, but never more than once a week, and more like once a month during the year, and I got nothing but complements from the boss about the work I did. I never cued up anything late, I learned to do a rip and read (a broadcast term for pulling material off the teletype according to the number of minutes listed for each article, and assembling them quickly to make an “on the hour” newscast.) I don’t remember how much I made there, but I think it was probably less than a dollar an hour. I left there because I had worked enough that someone said I had to join the union (I am not sure, but it was probably AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, but I am not sure. Television was in its infancy at the time and radio may have had a separate union. ) You had to pay an up front fee to join the union, then pay dues monthly (I think) and I didn’t think I was making enough to make it pay. My boss said I wasn’t working enough to make it necessary, but my dad, who was a union man to the core, advised me to join or quit, so I quit.

I didn’t put it on my initial list of jobs but I am pretty sure that my most reliable source of income during my sophomore school year was baby sitting. I had two regular families, one of which is almost completely filtered from my mind except that one of the kids was almost as big as me. The other family (for which I don’t remember the name was the Stake Dance director and her husband. I am pretty sure that I baby sat almost every week for them, and sometimes twice a week. They had several kids, two of which were still in diapers, and I had the kids pretty well buffaloed so that we had a system and it worked pretty well. I remember at least once being called in to KSEI when I turned them down because I already had a baby sitting gig. (Of course I didn’t tell them why I couldn’t come, I am not sure they would have understood my priorities.)

I had a subsequent adventure with radio which must have come during the spring or summer of my sophomore year. I say that because part of the experience happened during the baseball season, and I was much too occupied with other work during the summer after my Junior year to have done this. It all started with a disk jockey at KWIK (this was the first reference in my memory to a disk jockey. At KSEI everyone was an announcer.) who developed a sort of pig latin code in his delivery which finished many of the nouns with “hogan”, so that Pocatello was Pocahogan, Bannock County became Banahogan County, etc. etc. After a period of time they had a contest and asked people to submit their own definition of “hogan”, specifying that no one could identify it as a type of Indian residence.. I submitted an entry, which I can’t remember at all, and was picked as one of the top twenty. All those who were in the top twenty were invited to come to the station to meet the DJ (name unremembered!) and at the “meeting” they announced the top three winners. (Of which I was not one). I don’t remember what prizes they gave but it seems like they were really nice. The whole promotion must have cost the station a fair amount of money and was really effective. The station was pretty new, had its studios in the lobby of the Bannock hotel, which was the best hotel in the area, and they adopted what was primarily a music and news format (which was pretty revolutionary in 1949 or 50 - which-ever it was at the time.) They did have a network affiliation (I can’t remember for sure what it was, but I THINK it was the Mutual Don Lee Network.). The only network shows I remember were band nights from dance halls, farm and home series early in the mornings, and the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Saturday mornings (Which we called, if I remember right, the Uncle Miltie show after the long time host of the Met broadcasts Milton Cross). At any rate, as a result of the contest I talked to the station manager (or the DJ, I am not sure) and mentioned that I had worked a little over at KSEI. He thought he remembered me and we chatted for a few minutes. After that, I began to hang out over at KWIK as much as I could, watching the guys in the control room and stuff like that. After a while they offered me a chance to audition, with the idea of being a fill-in as I had been at KSEI. I had to learn the board, and to set up music on the turntables and the tape recorders before they even let me audition. It was really a different type of gig than KSEI. At KSEI, almost everything I did was from script, sometime it had been written by the advertising people, sometimes by- - who knows?–, sometimes they were rip and reads, and even once in a while written by me.

At KWIK, there were written commercials, news that was pre-written or rip and read, and some commercials which were produced and on tape, but except when you were doing the network things what you did and said was pretty much improvisational, based on the character you were doing as a DJ. (They made it clear that you had to develop an identifiable character for on-the-air, and that you might have more than one - - Late night, Late night requests, early morning, Sunday morning lead ins to church broadcasts, Sunday Afternoon, working the station during ball games, etc.)

Probably my strongest memory of the break-in period when I was getting ready to audition was the tape recorders. They had reel to reel tape decks, I think they were Magnacorders, that had to be fast forwarded to cue up commercials, and had to be re-wound, and you did this constantly whenever there was music on the air. Those tape decks were about the scariest things I had ever experienced. When they fast forwarded they went at a speed that was terrifying, and the brakes on the reels seemed functionally non-existent. As you were running to a particular commercial, or music sequence, you had to have your hand almost touching the reel as it ran because when you stopped it, if you didn’t have your hand right there to grab the reel it would shoot tape all over the floor of the studio in great piles, and that did not make anyone happy. Some of the reels were really big, ten or twelve inches or so, and they could shoot a lot of tape out. The particular commercials and other things on tape (sometimes programs) were sometimes on individual reels, but most often they were on the big reel, separated by long translucent leaders of various colors, and you cued up the tape by counting the numbers of leaders or looking for a particular color of leader. It seems kind of jumbled up in my mind now but though it was complicated it didn’t take much time to figure it out. Transcriptions and records were cued up in the same was they had been at KSEI, so that was a snap.

My audition went fine and they offered me a part time job. I asked about the Union, and was told not to worry about it, so I didn’t. I worked for awhile before football season started, took most of the football season off, though KWIK broadcast some of the football games but I didn’t have anything to do with them, and did some work, that I will write about after the football season was over, but I quickly found out that there was really no such thing as a part time job on the radio at KWIK, and I quit, somewhat to the bosses disgust when I got a role in a musical that the school was doing, and it just seemed more important to me than the job. All in all, I really didn’t do a lot of radio, though I confess that I have given the impression to people over the years that I was a long time pro. Probably the best thing I got out of it was a sure knowledge that “I can do that” and it has affected choices I made all my life to know that, in a pinch, I could go in a studio, do the job well enough to be convincing and that if I ever needed such a job, I could probably get one. I did get calls occasionally from both KSEI and KWIK to come in for a day occasionally right up till I went on my mission. I don’t think I did more than four or five days work after I officially quit KWIK, but I sure used that experience while making sound tapes for the theatre, making commercials for Sanjay productions, taking some graduate courses in Broadcasting while working on my Masters, and doing innumerable talk shows to promote theatre productions that I had directed, was acting in etc.

A few of the occasions at KWIK were particularly interesting to me though I would find it impossible to sequence them chronologically. The first I will mention is not really even “my” experience, but the station was really into sports, particularly baseball and they had a guy calling the games who was really brilliant. One of the most famous comments that he made at home games was to refer to the McLelland Lumber Yard foul ball. These were fouls back over home plate that went over the stands. There was a lumber yard (yes, McLelland’s) right behind the baseball field and anything that went in that direction was a “McLelland Lumber Yard foul ball. I am pretty sure that McLelland’s paid a fee every time he referred to it, and it is my deep suspicion that a number of high fouls picked up the name though they never left the stadium. The most interesting part of his game, however, was his ability to ‘re-create the game”. Nowadays, it would be nothing for a radio station to pack a crew onto the busses and stay with the team, but our crew never traveled with the team. One of my most exciting experiences was to work in the studio during an “away” game. The guy who called the game (I wish anything I could remember his name, if he never became “famous”, he should have.)and the color guy would just sit down in the back studio. The results of each inning came in by teletype constantly and the play caller would cue up a “crowd noise” record, carry on a conversation with the color man who was also not at the game and, by hitting a pencil on the console or the mike, making verbal noises of pitches, (the color guy also did some sound effects with sand paper, and if it rained on the game, the rain noises and thunder were awesome). On the hour, they would switch back to the studio (me, when I was working there, that one time, for news or station identification) and the game sounded as real as home games where they were actually at the ball park. On away games when I wasn’t working, I used to try to slip back into the studio and watch, it was really terrific. I almost got fired the one time I tried to take a friend back to watch the re-creation. They had to identify, on air, that the game was a re-creation, but no one outside the studio was allowed to see what that meant.

Most of the other things that I remember were things that happened directly to me. I was assigned to a late night weekend job. It is funny that this was the assignment that convinced me that a part time job in radio and trying to play football, sing in the choir, be in the operetta (our substitute for musicals) etc., was just not a good thing, on the other hand it was the most fun I had had doing anything in years and continued to be one of my great memories. I went in to work at ten PM on Fridays to set up my program. I then went on the air at eleven and did on the air work for three hours. We went off the air at either one AM or two, I am no longer sure. I then shut down the transmitters (Not at first, but at about the two week term. It was illegal for me, with a class C license, to mess with the transmitters at all. That was the job of either a class one or class A engineer. That is not an either or, I just can’t remember which one). I then sacked out on a couch in the station (still being paid) and got up to set up a farmer’s journal at about four or five in the morning. I had a different character for each thing. The late night thing I kept sort of innocently sexy (Think Lou Rawls). In a low voice I would say things like “Sit back now, you are sitting in your car up on the west bench, slip your arm around her shoulders–Heck ladies don’t wait for him to get up the nerve, slip your arm around HIS shoulders sit, back, get in the mood with - - -then I would play a Sinatra tune or something else that was lovey dovey. I can’t remember whose (Billy something) arrangement it was but there was at that time a really up tempo version of I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU that really seemed right for this, though the tempo was wrong. I just laughed and laughed, and knew that if anyone at school knew that this was me, the show would be over in a minute. Here I was, a pimply faced high school sophomore whose only dates had been in elementary school and eighth grade, and had both been total fiascos, playing, what I envisioned as, a soft voiced Bartender getting everybody ready for the last dance and drink of the night. The boss kept visitors out of the studio when I was on the air and it was really kinky.

It was even more fun on Monday, because a lot of kids heard the program and one guy said his mother heard it and forbid him to listen when I was on the air. I have been racking my brains to remember what “handle” I used for that character. It might have been big John, but I remember starting with clock chimes from Big Ben in London, and I might have called myself Big Ben. I wish I had written about this twenty years ago when I still had a memory.

Anyway I would do that, nap for awhile, then open up the farm and home hour with weather, country music, commodities prices and fertilizer commercials (in a country persona). I got home early Saturday morning (once or twice, for some reason I stayed for the Metropolitan Opera show which, if I remember right, was transcribed, and all I had to do was station identification and to play a couple of commercials).

I then went back and did the same thing Saturday Evening, but I went home right after the show so I could make it to Sunday School in the Morning. The only outstanding memory that I have of the morning show was that once I was sitting at the console listening to hooiiit, hooiit, hooiit, over and over and woke up to realize that I had dozed and the needle was just hitting the end of a record over and over. I quickly put on another tune, and made some idiot comment to cover up. I checked my log (You had to keep a careful log of ever tune you played and every commercial played and at what time they were played. The radio station billed commercials and paid the music companies royalties based on your log) for some reason my log was really not up to date so I didn’t have any clue how long I had been asleep and I had to invent (read lie) a lot of stuff to fill in my log. I sure got an idea of how many people, including the boss, were not listening because I didn’t get a phone call or anything about the dead air. From that moment to this, no one except me, and whoever might read this has ever known about this stupidity.

I had this assignment for only about a month and a half or two months, and it messed up my life a lot. My grades were going down and, though I didn’t really HAVE much social life, what little I had became extinct, so my dad told me to quit the station. I told the manager, and as I mentioned he spent a while telling me what a good job I was doing, and how happy the advertisers were, an I explained that their joy didn’t equal my dad’s displeasure so he never gave me a regular assignment again. He asked, if he talked to my dad, if I could still do fill in work once in awhile, and I said “sure”, but it only happened a very few times. I can’t even remember specific instances, but, in the back of my mind, I think there were some. The only lasting reverberances from this period were the occasions, and they occurred now and then all through high school, when kids would comment on “Big Sam” or whatever I was, and make references to how cool he was. Everybody was sure he had left here to go on to the big time on the west, or east, coast.

The other job that must have come along about this same time was the job as ball-room dancing teacher. It began because I wanted to take some dancing lessons. I am not sure what spurred this sudden desire, because I was already a pretty good dancer. One of the things about being a young Mormon in this period of time was that in every Ward and every Stake there was a Dance Director, or more accurately a couple in the Ward or Stake who served as Dance Directors. What they did was drag us out of scout meetings and MIA Maid meetings, (young ladies class) take us up to the gym and teach ball room dancing. Mostly what they did was teach set Ball Room Dancing routines that would be used as floor shows (a performance during the intermission of larger church dances.) Over the years, everybody over twelve years old learned a polka, a couple of different samba routines, an elaborate fox-trot or two, a rhumba, a tango, etc. Although they were taught as routines where all the dancers were in a circle or some pattern and everyone did the same thing, when it was time for the church dance itself, most kids could transfer the steps from the routines into regular ball room dance. I don’t remember ever learning to jitterbug as part of these performances but that lack was taken care of by my female relatives of approximately my age. I remember my cousin Barbara taking me through the “jitterbug” in near despair, but I got fair at it.

This must have happened during my freshman or sophomore years, but I am not sure. I rather think that the first need to learn new steps came from something we called the “bop”, in which the dancers dances forehead to forehead and did a sort of one-step where you exchange feet with every beat of the music but didn’t move very much around the floor, and it could have been the need for some clarity on “jitterbugging”.

At any rate, I signed up for once a week dance classes that were held up stairs over the Paris department store. The studio had a name, and it might have been Arthur Murray or Fred Astaire, which were common ball rooms dance schools back in that time, but I don’t really remember the name. The classes were pretty much repeats (without the routines) of what I had learned at Mutual in the church. The exception was that we learned the Lindy Hop for what I had always (and in fact, after I finished the classes, continued) called Jitterbug. The Lindy, as it was taught had dozens of variations, turns, dips, jumps, etc. I really loved it, and the rest of the dances went well as well. I never did get a polka that was not a set routine, but the polka wasn’t a big thing in my crowd. After a few weeks, I pretty much had learned what I thought I would learn, and told the teacher that I thought I would quit coming. It was pretty expensive and though I was having a lot of fun, I wasn’t learning much that was new. She seemed quite concerned, asked me some questions about whether my parents were unhappy with the time commitment and stuff like that, then she told me that if I would help her, serving as a partner for some of the girls, and helping them with their steps, she would let me come to the classes without charge.

It was fun dancing, so I said Okay, and for the next couple of weeks I did that. After awhile she put me on salary for minimum wage (about eighty five cents an hour if I remember right) and I stayed with the class until that session of lessons was over. She taught me some individual stuff that the class wasn’t being taught and that was fun too, but I started to have other things take up my time, I am not sure what, now, but it could have been play rehearsals, a choir tour, football, I really don’t remember, but I quit. It was a good experience, once or twice a week for two or three months. I don’t think I ever learned to “Bop” very well, I am not even sure it was taught, and for some reason I learned first and second dance positions and how to pliey (however that is spelled) but I can’t for the life of me remember why. I did get a reputation at both church and school dances as a pretty smooth dancer, which comes in handy for someone deathly afraid of girls. (Sometime girls ask YOU to dance instead of the other way around, and it makes it easier for you to ask them.) The reason I place this as during my freshman and sophomore years is because, during my Junior year I finally asked a girl for a date, and after that, dance lessons were just handy to have had, but I know that they preceded my dating era.