Friday, September 19, 2014

Flu Shot

Sign on my barber's door yesterday when I first made an attempt to get a haircut

I had two goals to accomplish today:

Get a haircut (for my class reunion tomorrow)

Get a flu shot (for my Winter Experience)

I only got one accomplished.  I called my barber (best one I've ever had in my life) only to find out she wouldn't be in again today. Drat!  So I'll go to my class  reunion tomorrow as Old Shaggy Ron.  Oh well, at least I'll be one of the few with hair, shaggy or not.

My second goal was to get my annual flu shot.  

I've always been leary of getting these flu shots.  It seems as if every year I still get colds/flu regardless of whether or not I have gotten a flu shot.  Oh sure, I know there's a difference between colds and flu which I won't go into here.  All I know is that most years I've had something in the winter months that's really knocked me for a loop. 

A generic image - NOT ME but the way I felt

Thus it was last year I seriously debated whether or not to even get a flu shot, especially since I heard the year before that the flu vaccine was only 13% effective. Excuse me?  But, after some semi-relentless nagging from Bill I got the darn flu shot and wonder of wonders, last year was the first year in I don't know how long I actually did not have a cold. Now that was a pleasure.  Especially witnessing my friends Larry and Pat (neither who believe in or get a flu shot) endure all the stages of "I have a cold." 

Our flu shot appointment was at the Georgetown VA Outpatient Clinic at 1 PM today.  Bill and I arrived early (about quarter till).  It didn't take too long before more Old Vets like us started to show up and congregate.  It wasn't too long until I heard someone say "Here we go, hurry up and wait", that being the mantra all of us first were exposed to during our individual basic training exercises.  

The warriors gather for their annual flu shot this afternoon (snuck this with my iPhone)

I will give the VA Outpatient clinic credit though, they handled us (a bunch of old goats) very expeditiously and with respect, the way they always do.  

The gathering storm crowd at the VA Outpatient Clinic

We filled out our sheets and handed them in and it wasn't more than fifteen minutes until I heard my name called:  "RONALD TIPTON?"

That be be.  I parted through the Sea of Old Vets and made my way into the Needle Puncture Unit.  "Ed", the vet volunteer was sitting at the table with my papers and a heavy set black woman was getting my needle ready.  She said "Which arm?"  I offered up my right arm. She swabbed it and she brought the waiting needle up to my arm.  I, of course, looked the other way before the actual puncture.  There!  It was done.  I told her "I didn't feel a thing!"  She said "I didn't either!" Ah yes, that's what I like, a sense of humor.

Bill demonstrates where he wants his shot

Now for my class reunion tomorrow.  This one is my 55th (high school) class reunion. I would have liked to gone with a spiffy new haircut but it is what it is.  At least I'm inoculated.  

Pictures of the class reunion tomorrow. 

A selfie while Bill and I waited to get our flu shot

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday - American Bandstand 1958

Me at 15 years old the summer (August 1958) I went to American Bandstand

In 1958 I, along with several other teenagers from Downingtown, Pennsylvania won an essay contest.  The essay was on "Why we would like to appear on American Bandstand to promote Downingtown's bicentennial celebration."  I won! I won!  Not quite the same as winning the lottery but pretty exciting for a 16 year old kid from a small town in Pennsylvania.  Going to the big city to appear on TV!

The local newspapers clippings announcing the winners of the essay contest to appear on American Bandstand - my name is mentioned last (of course)

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of me or my fellow winners attending American Bandstand.  Back then, I had NO MONEY to buy film for a camera.  I had quite my paper boy job a year earlier and I received no allowance from my parents.  It is a shame that the adults who organized the trip didn't think to take a picture of our group either. Not everyone thinks the way I do, "take a picture!"  But, be that as it may.  The experience of being taken down to Philadelphia to actually appear on the MOST POPULAR program of the day has been indelibly imprinted on my mind forever.  

We "teens" were picked up in a station wagon by two adults (whose names are lost to history).  I do remember it was a very hot August (6th, 1958) day.  I was 16 years old.  The picture at the top of this blog, which I'm sure I've posted before, is of me at the grand and glorious (and most self conscious and shy) age of 15 years old.  Check out the pompadour.  I'm with our family dog "Nancy."   An interesting story on how we got Nancy.  She was a Mail Order Dog.  Yep, we ordered her through the Montgomery Ward catalogue.  Can you believe it?  At least I think it was the Montgomery Ward catalogue.  I did an Internet search and I can't find anything on mail order dogs but we did order Nancy through the mail and I picked her up at the Post Office.  Can you imagine such a thing today?  

Anyway, back to our original programming of my first and last trip to "American Bandstand."  Ah, I remember it well.  

Our station wagon (I rode backwards all the way to Philadelphia by the way, not fun) pulled up to the garage in west Philadelphia that was the studio for "American Bandstand."  I remember a long line of teenagers standing outside the garage.  I thought "I hope we don't have to stand in that line."  We didn't.  After unloading from the station wagon, we were ushered to another, much shorter line for "Special Guests."  This line also had the American Bandstand regulars.  We felt privileged.  

Inside the garage/studio, I was immediately taken aback at how small it was.  On TV it seemed much bigger.  The day we were there Dick Clark wasn't.  Julius LaRosa was subbing for Dick Clark (you'll see him briefly on the You Tube kinescope video below). 

The popular singing group "The Royal Teens" were the guest.  Whoopee!  Their hit song was "Short Shorts."  Below is a video of the day they were there and we were there, although you can't see me.  At least I can't see me. If you see me in this video, let me know because this has been 56 years coming.

I was excited to see the Royal Teens (I had a crush on all the guys, especially the tall one playing that sexy sax). However, I was disappointed that they lip-synched the song. They didn't play for real.  And I didn't get to meet any of my 15 year old school boy emerging raging hormones crushes.  Oh sure, the other guys were looking at the gal in the short shorts but I was looking at those skinny guys with the greasy hair.  Man oh man, eye candy for this teenager.

The Royal Teens on American Bandstand August 1958

The studio had bleachers where we teens could sit.  When the music began (all piped in, and not even stereo), most everyone got up and danced.  One thing I found very interesting was how clusters of dancers would follow the camera with the green light on.  There were three live TV cameras broadcasting the dancers, I found it amazing how the "regulars" knew which camera was on and they would move en masse to that camera.  A lot of peripheral vision was being employed that day.

The dance floor at American Bandstand - very small and in a garage

All too soon the adventure was over and we loaded in the station wagon and I was driven back home to Downingtown, backwards.

So there you go folks,my "Throwback Thursday" memory for this week.  Sorry I didn't have a more appropriate picture.  How many times I have wished I could go back in time with my now ever present iPhone with my digital pictures and videos!  Just think of what "yon teens" will have to show 56 years from now.  Oh well, I'll be long gone then and perhaps, someone will pull this blog posting from the dusty archives and read about this shy, gangly 15 year old who had a thrill of his lifetime in August of 1958 by appearing on "American Bandstand." The "American Bandstand" theme. I give it a 98. It's got a good beat and you can dance to it!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

You Can't Take It With You

This Saturday I am attending my 55th high school reunion in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  I'm going to let go of a few things.  Some memorabilia that I've been holding onto for the last fifty-five or so years.  You know what folks, I can't take this with me when I'm put in the box and placed six feet under.  

So this morning I went on the Facebook page for the Downingtown Historical Society and left a message that if anyone wants my junk high school memorabilia, to stop over at the Downingtown Country Club where we old folk from the Downingtown High School Class of 1959 will be gathering, checking to see who is still alive and if we can still recognize one another, and accept my donation.

Graduation -1959
First in my family to graduate from high school

Interesting finds going through my memorabilia box, my first driver's license.

I think I'll hang on to that memorabilia.  I'll ask to have it put in with me when I'm put on display at the funeral home.  Maybe slip it between my two fingers with a note saying:

"You may need this for wherever your going."

Bon voyage!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Belief

Stephen Hawking, (about see HERE) says "this is it."  

Stephen and I (and we're the same age, interesting coincidence) believe the same thing about life.

From my earliest consciousness (four years old), I felt like I was "returning" to this world.  From where, I do not know.  But for the past sixty-eight years I have felt like an astute observer and, of course, a participant in this thing called LIFE.  

I've often thought "Why are we here?"  Why am I here?"  

Sometimes I think I had the answer only to be dissuaded by events and people's actions.

These days of when I see evil people cutting off other people's heads and posting this inhuman act of violence on the Internet for the world to see, I again think "Why are we here?"  "Why am I here?"

These days when I see a national institution like the National Football League look the other way when they know some of their biggest money making stars are committing horrific acts of violence against their families. When they're caught (by a videotape), they circle the wagons and defend the institution first.

Oh I know some in the religious community will knee jerk spout of the "God is a mystery" talking point and the "we should have faith."  I mean no disrespect to those who truly find solace and comfort in their religion (like I do with a good movie or a good meal), but come on.  Isn't that a cop out?  "Put your hands into God's."  

So here's the deal folks.  This life?  This is it.  Try and stay out of the way of the evil doers (to quote a former president of whose name I will not speak).

Try to find a little happiness in life.  And most of all try to find someone to love and if you're really lucky you'll find someone who loves you right back and doesn't beat or kill you.

So appreciate what you have folks and "Thank God" that you're not kneeling on some windy hot desert in an orange jump suit, reading a prepared text by a Muslim murderer who his about to saw off  your head.  Even better:

"Thank you Jesus" (it's a phrase folks). 

That's my belief folks.  And again, I reiterate, I mean no disrespect to those who find comfort in their religion and practice the good aspects of their religion which is to treat others as you want to be treated (all religions have that same basic premise).  However, all too often some extremists sometimes hijack a religion for their own personal benefit (power).  

Back to our regular programming tomorrow.


Betty Tipton - Washington Avenue, Downingtown, PA 1948

Four years ago today my Mother died.  She was 86 years old.  She died of complications from diabetes.  

Like many gay men, my Mom was my best friend.  I was her first born.  She always wanted a girl because she lost her mother before she was two years old.  She even had a name picked out for me:  "Louise", which was her middle name (no snarky remarks from my gay friends now).  

My Mom pregnant with me - Demi Moore copied this pose - my Mom was ahead of her time

When she was pregnant with me, her sister-in-law was expecting at the same time.  She wanted a boy who she was going to name "Ronald".  She had a girl (who was born four days after I was born) which she named "Louise" (of course).  

My cousin (and "namesake") Louise Tipton White - 2005
I'm not going to write my Mom's whole life history here, just a few memories that I have of her and post some of my favorite pictures (I have hundreds, she was my best friend after all).

The only sad fact, other than my Mom has been gone four years, is that during the last year or two of her life, when she was slipping into dementia, she became very angry at me. That always saddened me but my brother, who is a professional caregiver (along with his wife - how lucky was I?) assured me "That wasn't Mom, Ron."

So, this morning on the fourth anniversary of her death I am profoundly sad (again).  It is at times like this that I sense the feeling of letting go of my lifelong zest for life.  That I think when I do die I will no longer have this pain of knowing she is no longer around.  

Bill misses her too.  They were only four years apart in age and were good friends.

Bill and Mom October 5, 1975 Hopewell Road, Downingtown, PA
He has a picture of her above the chair in our sun room where he sits most of his days.  She is smiling in that picture.  I am so glad I insisted that she got that professional picture taken on that Labor Day weekend in 2005 on the rare occasion when both of my brothers were at her house in Downingtown. 

Me and my brothers and our Mother at J. C. Penney's for the family portrait - 2005

Mom (four years old) with her two older brothers George and Randy - they later tore the head off of her doll - 1928
Mom with her nephew Bill Tipton and her sisters-in-laws (and best friends) Mabel and Peggy Tipton - 1946
Me and Mom in her garden - she loved to watch me and anyone to work in her garden - LOVE to direct

Mom in her "director's chair" in her garden
Me and my Mom in her garden July 4, 2002
Me with Mom at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia - she's filing out the form before undergoing a medical procedure - she loved to have me go with her during the final years of her life when she was on the Medical Treadmill

I don't believe in Heaven.  I don't believe in an after life.  I think once we die there is nothing.  But if there is a Heaven (and wouldn't I be surprised?) I know my Mom will be there waiting for me.  And boy oh boy, do we have a LOT of gossip to catch up on.

God bless your soul Mom.  And thank you for making me the man that I am today. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Productive Morning

Well folks, I did it!  I ordered the new iPhone.  Yep, I sure did.  I'm not going to be left behind. 

Which one did I order?  The biggest . . . . of course. The cost? Don't ask.  I just extended my contract.  Yep, I'm on the hook for another two years.  Hope I'm around when that contract ends but I doubt it.  If I'm still alive I'll probably be wearing sweat pants, wearing a diaper, and drolling on some health care center.  Hopefully that won't be my fate but after seeing how my long time friend Bob M. has ended up.  Who knows?

A very productive morning this morning my faithful blog followers.  I also washed my buggy car.  Such a beautiful fall day how could I not wash it. I asked Bill to take a video with my now OLD iPhone (they'll call me when the new one comes in).  Bill still doesn't know how to use the iPhone to take pictures or videos.  It's all a learning process . . . . still.  But I'm a patient guy, sort of.

Ready For Winter?

Ron on the Russian Front at home in Delaware last winter

Are you ready for the cold winds of winter to blow down from the north?  I am.  

Spring and summer are great but I've had enough. Enough with the heat and humidity.  Enough with the summertime traffic making Route One a parking lot.  Enough with the crowds.  Enough.

Sometimes I wonder if we didn't make a mistake moving to a resort community. Basically in the summer we have to avoid the main thoroughfare (Route One) to do any of our chores including my ever increasing doctor's appointments.  Basically, we residents are trapped in our own homes until the summertime visitors go away.  

Now the first signs of fall are peeking around the corner.  Some of the leaves have started to fall off our triumvirate of river birch trees in the oval planter outside my bedroom windows.

This morning the temperature was 56 degrees.  Ah yes, fall is coming.

And what is on the agenda this week?  I'm gearing up for my 55th high school class reunion this Saturday at the Downingtown Country Club in (of all places) Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  This reunion is being held in the daytime (12 noon to 3 pm), because we old folk don't/can't drive at night. It seems like only yesterday we were 17 years old, going to live forever, and eager to explode onto the world with our youthful enthusiasm.  Now we're old and decrepit and counting the days until the next doctor's visit. 

The rest of my week will be taking it easy around the house here, catching up on my backlog of e-mails and trying to catch up on my favorite bloggers.  

It's all good folks.  I got out of bed this morning and put both feet on the floor.  Ron gets another day on this earth to tantalize, intrigue, impress and (occasionally) piss off someone with my strong opinions.  As a matter of fact I did piss off Someone yesterday with my strong opinion of a certain phony billionaire who is out to cure world hunger (in India mainly, like India with it's ever prospering economy can't take care of their own and this self-important, smudged glasses, still wearing his hair in bangs billionaire doesn't see the need to help out the hungry in this country but then that's not as sexy as CURING WORLD HUNGER.) 

Bill Gates, the biggest phony on the planet

Currently I am thoroughly enjoying the NFL billionaires flapping about trying to contain the damage done to their image by some of their thug players who beat their wives and children.  Maybe they could start with Roger Goodell, their grossly overpaid NFL commissioner who could donate part of his 42 MILLION DOLLAR SALARY (yes, you read that right) to help women and children who are abused.  Now that's putting your money where your mouth is.  But no, the NFL owners would rather put money into paying media consultants for damage control. But that's another subject for another blog at another time . . . perhaps. 

Enjoy the day folks, while it lasts anyway.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Larry's Sweet 16 Birthday Party - 1957

Larry is one of my oldest friends.  Actually Larry IS my oldest friend.  

I've known Larry since third grade elementary school when he outed me to Miss Ezrah, our third grade school teacher.

Miss Ezrah's 3rd grade class ( I am at end of third row on right in back, face partially blocked - larry is standing in front of Miss Ezrah) - 1950

The one and only theatrical production I was ever in - our sixth grade class operetta (we're scarecrows) - I'm in the back on the far left and Larry is in the back on the far right - 1953

From left to right - me, Miss Ezrah and Larry 2004 - at the Simpson Meadows Retirement Home - we couldn't believe Miss Ezrah was still alive! We thought she was old when she was out teacher back in 1953 - Miss Ezrahdied April 3, 2012 at 105 years old

How was I "outed"?  Miss Ezrah had given us an assignment to do a story and then stand in front of the class to tell our story.  I did my assignment and stood in front of the class and told my story.  After I sat down, Larry raised his hand and told Miss Ezrah "I know that story. It's from the Scrooge McDuck comic book I have."  

Wildman Lar in high school - 1959

I had forgotten this incident but Larry reminded me of it a few years ago.  He was afraid that I was going to beat him up when I approached him at the recess that followed that incident.  Instead he was much surprised when I asked him "You have Scrooge McDuck comic books?"  I probably in a previous blog posting too, pardon any redundancy but I feel like posting this story again this morning after coming across Larry's 16th birthday party invitation.  I'm gathering old high school mementos to share with my classmates at my upcoming 55th class reunion next Saturday.

Larry and me with his date Pam - 1959 (my date took the picture). This was me at my heaviest - I weighed 202 lbs, having undergone three operations for a hernia I gained a lot of weight over the summer - see the makings of a double chin - I'm still cute though - the girls all clamored after me (sure)

From that encounter in the East Ward Elementary school playground on that fall day in 1950, thus began a long relationship with my friend Larry.  

Larry and I were best friends up until 9th grade in high school at which time his family moved out of the school district.  We continued to be friends until and after I graduated from high school.

Larry with a date I arranged for him with Carmella Biggar - 1958 - it didn't turn out well - her father banned Larry from their house after Larry's friend Richard said something very rude to him

We had a falling out after I came out burst out of the gay closet in 1963.  Then resulted in a long period of not seeing each other except for one chance encounter on a Spruce Street in Philadelphia, sometime in the 70's.

Then 9/11 happened.  Coincidentally Larry had lost his long time job at Wilmington Trust.  Over the years I had always stayed in contact with his mother, exchanging Christmas cards.  She knew I had also worked for a bank (coincidentally both Larry and I had jobs at banks even though we didn't plan it that way) and had lost my job.  She said Larry was going through a rough time and, perhaps if I contacted him, I could help lift him from his depths of despair.  I know Larry is reading this and will say something about the phrase "depths of despair" and that he wasn't there but the was, believe me folks.

Now the question some of you are probably wondering about - no, Larry isn't gay.  He is 100% straight.  He is as straight as I am gay and you all know I'm 100% gay.  Nor have I ever been attracted to Larry and he certainly not to me. But we do operate on the same wave length.  With few exceptions (he's a poet and I'm not a poetry guy, I don't get it), and he's a dad and granddad and I'm gloriously single - well actually married now (but I still think of my myself as one of Nature's Bachelors), we think alike and have basically the same outlook on life.  Larry is more religious than I am, more in the what I can "man made religion" (organized religion).  I'm a spiritualist.  Something is There, I just don't know what it is and I'm not willing to accept someone else's interpretation.  That old Free Will that God supposedly gave us to test us but I digress. No point in getting into one of those endless and annoying religious discussions on this fine, autumn, Sunday morning.  

The above images from a few years ago when I took Larry out to lunch for his June birthday.  You just can't take the guy anywhere, he has the eye for the ladies that's for sure.  (Thank goodness his wife doesn't read my blog.)

This is a picture of a happy man who just eyed some major eye candy on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk.

Each year for Larry's birthday lunch I also treat him to an old time photo.  So what do you think of the two old time cowpokes?  Pretty good after all these years huh?

Larry and I have a long history.  We're both a lot older now (tell me about it) and experiencing the many facets of watching our bodies fall apart incrementally.  

Larry is one of the two persons I talk to frequently on FaceTime (you know who the Other one is).  

Larry the Sage, contemplating the state of the Universe

Just to show you that my blog postings are unrehearsed and I just sometimes let them flow, I started out this posting with the story of how my date to Larry's 16th birthday party left with another guy (who had a car, I didn't).  

Larry on his wedding day with his wife Lois - 1961.

Larry, Lois and I on the Spirit of Philadelphia cruise 2002

That girl, who is in charge of my 55th class reunion this upcoming Saturday claims she doesn't remember that happening but, of course, I was forever traumatized by her rejection of me as a date by going home with Charlie Crouse, the GUY WITH THE CAR.  

Charlie Crouse, the louse who stole my date back at Larry's 16th birthday party in June 1957.

Patty (woman in gold) at our 50th class reunion 2009 - she says she remembers nothing about ditching me - uh . . okay

Well now folks, wouldn't it have been something if I had ditched her and had Charlie take me home?  I bet she would have remembered THAT.