Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Long View on Life's Oddities and Weird Moments

At my birthday party last night, a friend asked "What's the weirdest thing you've experienced over the years?"

The first thing that popped into my mind was an incident with one of my German Shepherds. We were hiking in northern Maine on a little used trail, we were miles from civilization. This was bear, moose, deer and black fly country. The dog was off leash, ranging ahead of me and he came trotting back with a pink thong in his mouth. You can imagine what kind of thoughts ran through my head!

Another weird thing took place in the Bugaboos in Canada. I was at the end of a 4 day climbing trip and we were staying in the climbers hut.

The first floor of the hut has tables, chairs a small library and a kitchen. The second floor has sleeping spaces marked on the floor. They fit a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag, they are about 6 inches apart.
After 3 nights of sleeping next to a fart master from Vancouver, the spot next to me was taken by a big, strong, gorgeous female climber from Poland. She and her partner had climbed every big mountain in Europe and South America and were planning a climb on K-2 and Everest. My climbing partner Lance and I shared a drop or two of whisky with the Polish girls after our freeze dried dinners. We went to bed at 10 or so and I zipped into my bag next to her. I was almost asleep when she rolled over and said. "Boob, ven you go home?" I said, we were hiking out in the morning. She said, "Too bat, I vas gonna take you up the small hut on de ice and ve make luf tomorrow night." She gave me a kiss on the cheek, rolled over and went to sleep. I was wide awake all night.

When I was the program director of WVBF in Boston, my afternoon drive guy, Magic Christian had a listener record the following: "Hi, this is Patti Hearst and whenever I'm hiding out in Boston, I always listen to the Magic Christian on 105.7 WVBF" the next day I was talking to three FBI agents.

When I was working with the amazing Chuck Riley, (you may remember him as Chuck Dann on CKY and KQWB) he bought an Avanti from the company that retained the rights to build the car after Studebaker went out of business. The cars were highly customized as far as paint and interior d├ęcor. Chuck ordered a chocolate brown with brown suede interior. One day in the parking lot he was yelling for help, he couldn't get out of the car! He had worn a suede top coat and it interacted with the seats like Velcro.

At WVBF we had 3 black women on staff, Choice Joyce our receptionist, Claudette, a sales secretary and I hired Pam Hamilton to do the all night show. Pam was from Long Island, an Emerson graduate, she played the violin and wasn't exactly soulful at the time. I overheard Joyce and Claudette talking one day about Pam. Claudette said to Joyce, "That sistah don't know she's a sistah!"

          I have many, many more...but I have a hockey game to get ready for! Go Broons!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Grandpa John, my Father's Day Thoughts

I started thinking about my Grandpa John. He was a remarkable man. 

John, the oldest of a huge family, was sent from Iowa as a teenager to farm land his father purchased, in North Dakota, He was a teenaged farmer, farming with horses and his strong back. John also had to supervise his younger brothers every summer when they were sent from Iowa to "help" him on the farm. Imagine it, a kid, farming for a long distance, cold and demanding father, who at the end of the year took his share off the top.

John was intelligent, quiet and unassuming, he farmed with allergies I've inherited, he wore a bandana over his nose and mouth and eventually a dust mask, it helped a little but not a lot.

His fields were perfect, the furrows were straight and he wasted nothing.

I remember driving back to the farm from Church one Sunday (he seldom went) we were all dressed in church clothes. Grandpa stopped his Oldsmobile when he spotted a lone, green piece of fire brush in one of his wheat fields. He and I got out of the car and waded through the long wheat waving in the constant North Dakota wind. Grandpa took off his suit jacket, gently pulled the fire brush out of the ground and wrapped it in his jacket. He didn't say a word, he put it in the trunk of the Olds and when we got back he burned it in the burn barrel. His fields never had any of that invasive brush that plagued his neighbors crops.

My abiding memory of him is watching him in his chambray shirt, bib overalls, sunglasses and a big straw hat walking in the field, his hands gently touching the full heads of grain to ascertain if they were dry enough to cut and then harvest.

He died when I was a Junior in high school, I spent some time with him the afternoon he died, but I can't picture him in the hospital, only in his fields. That's where he belonged.

My Dad, his only son, was a pilot in the Army Air Force, after the war, dad flew a Piper Cub out to the farm to give his parent's their first plane ride. When Grandpa John climbed aboard, he said, "Don't go too fast, Bobby." He loved it!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

I Love Hockey!

When I was a little boy, our next door neighbor Leo Fetig was the goalie for the Amerks a semi-pro hockey team. Leo had three girls. I was the one he taught to skate. I remember Leo after the games with black eyes, bloody noses and his wife Ruth working on his "Charlie horses".

My lifelong pal Gary Como and I were kids who helped Al Purpur with the ice at the University of North Dakota during the Sioux games, we did it for free tickets. We saw some great WCHA Hockey. Gary and I saw the Russian National team play the Sioux on their first US tour. We saw Harvard play UND for the first time on UND home ice. Bill Cleary gave me his stick after the game. Bill and his brother went on to play for the Gold Medal team in the ’60 Olympics. I met Cleary years later in Boston when he was the coach at Harvard, I brought up the stick and he remembered the game and the dumb kid after the game. After that I saw any Harvard game I wanted plus tickets to the Bean Pot. There were some great ones. Gary and I would do our ice scraping and then sit on the scoreboard supports to watch the game, perfect for Junior High boys. I watched Stan Pashcke play for UND and we cried at the sad story of Terry Casey. Later in life I got to know Stan and his eyes lit up when I told him I played at Pashcke Gardens (the rink at Central Park) when I was a kid. The UND play by play guy, Doug Teigmeir would always say when Stan scored a goal, “There’s another light in Pashcke Gardens” I later worked with Doug at KNOX and engineered UND hockey games. The story is always how the coach of the 80' Olympic team was the last cut on the 60 team, Stan was the cut just before Herb Brooks.

With the encouragement of our coach, Bob Peters, we formed a Midget A team and a Jr team at Central Park one year and won both leagues. Plus we played double the games our peers played. Peters later coached UND, then started the program at Bemidji State and won championships in D-3, D-2 and D-1. He was a college goalie drafted by the Redwings, opted to stay in school and to make a career in coaching. My biggest regret is not taking his offer to train me as a goal tender. Shoulda-woulda-coulda.

I played club hockey in college and had some fun. Later, I had a guy working for me whose Mom was in the head office of the North Stars and she got a pair of green and white North Stars skates for me. The next year they became the Dallas Stars.

I feel madly in love with the NHL when I lived in Boston, the Orr-Esposito Bruins were fantastic, the rivalries of the Original 6 teams, the upstart Flyers and Islanders, the Summit Series were great moments. Some friends and I even went to a game at the Montreal Forum. Later as I climbed the ladder in broadcasting, I had tickets to the Bruins, 3rd row, North end to the right of the goal. The perfect seats for hockey because you can see the entire surface of the ice. I had a “Jesus Saves and Esposito Scores on the Rebound” bumper sticker too. I got to meet and know Milt Schmidt, all star player for the Bruins, hall of famer, coach, general manager of the B’s and then started the Cap’s franchise. Just a wonderful guy. Miss our lunches.

George Johns, a Transcona kid and I took Jim Quall, another Transcona mug to the Boston Garden to see the Bruins. Jim played for the St. Boniface Bruins in Jr. Hockey, it was such a great night for the three of us. For Jim to watch a game in a building he’s only seen on Hockey Night in Canada for his entire life was just amazing. he still talks about it!

I got to know Dallas Smith from Winnipeg who played for the Bruins, Don Awrey, Bobby Orr’s defensive partner became a friend.

When I met Jan she didn’t know hockey from a handbag, now she stands in front of the flat screen with me and watches.

Living in LA, I think the Kings are such a great team, but my Bruins are back in the final and playing the Black Hawks for the Cup, could it get any better than this? Original 6!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!