Friday, August 31, 2018

More Dancing Man of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada




Pat sent me a couple more videos he took of the dancing in Gore Park, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Gore Park is located directly outside the renovated Royal Connaught Hotel, where Pat has his luxurious condo on the fourteenth floor.  

Several days each week a band and/or singer performs for free at Gore Park for the entertainment of the locals and visitors, like I will be in two weeks.  

Pat was so impressed with one gentleman dancer that he sent me a couple of short videos last week.  I too was impressed and made a short movie of this gentleman dancer, who I think dances like Fred Astaire.  I posted that video to You Tube and also on my blog. If you saw it, you'll notice that I had an intro to that video.  Looking at that video now, I realize my intro was too long and actually unnecessary.  Thus I have made another movie without the intro.  When you look at the video you'll see that no intro is necessary.  I love this guy free spirit!

I will be in Hamilton visiting Pat from September 16th through September 23rd.  I hope to meet this gentleman dancer.  I am curious if he was a professional dancer sometime in his life.  I find him vastly more entertaining that any of those showboats on Dancing With The Stars. 

I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I did making it.

Have a great day!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Canada - Here I Come!

Pat and I having breakfast at John's restaurant in downtown Hamilton, Ontario Canada


Two weeks from this Sunday I will be making my annual trip to my northern neighbor Canada.  

I am taking a flight from Philadelphia International Airport to Buffalo, New York.  Pat, my Canadian Travel Buddy, will take the forty-mile trip from his home in Hamilton and cross the border to Buffalo to pick me up.  I fly to Buffalo because it is cheaper and a LOT LESS stressful than flying into Toronto’s Pierson airport. And now that Pat lives in Hamilton, the mileage to Buffalo to pick me up is less than if he had to drive to Toronto to pick me up.


Pat and I waiting for the bus to the Toronto airport last year

This is my fourth trip to Canada to visit Pat. The first two years I visited Pat at his home in Toronto. Last year I visited Pat at his new home in downtown Hamilton.  Pat sold his home in Toronto and bought a fantastic condo, with spectacular views of downtown Hamilton, at the historical Royal Connaught hotel, which is in the process of converting to luxury condos. 

Pat and I get together four times a year.  Every quarter. 

At the end of December Pat and I meet in Philadelphia.  I rent a suite at the co-op of my longtime friend and former co-worker Don McKenzie.  I used to live and work in Philly and love visiting and reliving old memories. Pat loves Philly. And we both like Don very much. 

Don, Pat and me at Marathon restaurant on Spruce Street in Philadelphia, PA

In February Pat and I take a two-week trip to California. One week in West Hollywood where we make another try to get on “The Price is Right”.  We spend a second week in Palm Springs. I’ve always wanted to punch a hole in the winter cold by spending a few weeks in warmer climes. Now that Pat and I together, I can realize this long-held dream of mine. Pat brought a condo in Palm Springs last year. He has it rented out for two years but after that rental obligation is up we may stay there in the future. I would love to spend a winter month in Palm Springs. Another dream of mine I hope to realize some day.

In the spring Pat takes a bus from Toronto to Philly.  He rents a car in Philly and drives down here where I live in lower slower Delaware.  We spend a couple days here, visiting Bill and our favorite restaurants in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach and Lewes, then we both make the trip back to Philly and that rental suite of our friend Don.

I am so happy that I can make these trips with Pat.  Many years ago, when I was young and full of energy I used to make trips to Provincetown, Massachusetts. I started out one week in the summer, but when I ended going up four times during the summer. The last time I visited Provincetown for a three week stay (1986), I returned to my job to find out I was job eliminated. I haven’t been back since.  I hope to return at least one time before I check out, with Pat. There are no furniture stores in Provincetown, but they have a great Tea Dance and fabulous restaurants. Now to figure out how to convince Pat to add a fifth trip to our annual adventures.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Family Skeletons

Alfred Hickman with his mother Ethel Hickman Hadfield and her sister Grace Hickman Weaver; behind Ethel is her husband (and my grandfather) George Hadfield and Grace's husband H. Ralph Weaver. The child is my aunt Grace Hadfield Tinder Wagner.  Photo taken 1916 in Downingtown, Pennsylvania


Yesterday I received a letter from my cousin.  I know what is in the letter. I choose not to read it.  

Two weeks ago I received a letter from her in which she requested that I remove the information about our maternal grandmother that I had posted on Ancestry.com.  I wrote her back telling her the reason I had to turn down her request. I'm pretty sure the letter she wrote back to me is either chastising me for refusing her request or disowning me. Either scenario is not one I wish to engage in at this time.  Thus, that letter from my cousin will remain unopened indefinitely.

Now that I have you intrigued as to what is the subject of my cousin's consternation, I will now divulge the family skeleton I discovered whilst doing my family research.

After I left my job at First Fidelity Bank in Philadelphia, and had a period of unemployment, I began a log postponed project of researching my family tree.  I began with my paternal Tipton relatives. I got very involved and unearthed a lot of family history and a few skeletons.  

My Mother observed with interest my total involvement with my paternal family history and wistfully said "I guess you're not interested in my family history." She had a point, I had done very little research on my maternal family tree.  I told her "I will research the Hadfield's too."   She said "While you're at it, could you find out who Uncle Afred was?  Every time his name came up every one would clam up. There was something strange about him that no one wanted me to know."  

My Mother told me that Alfred Hickman was raised at her mother's (my grandmother) brother. But she doubted that he was her brother. 


My grandmother, Ethel Hickman Hadfield

Alfred Hickman was born in 1911, when my grandmother was fifteen years old.  Alfred died in 1922, at eleven years of age of diphtheria. My Mother was born in 1923.  She said Alfred was always a "mystery."  

I started my research on uncle Alfred by asking my Mother's older sister "who was Alfred Hickman?"  My Aunt Grace, who was slipping into dementia at that time and would die a few months later said "Oh!! Uncle Alfred!  We DON'T talk about him!"  Upon further questioning, she told me that Alfred was indeed my grandmother's son born out of wedlock and raised as her brother.

Now to prove this fact.  I got Alfred's death certificate from Ancestry.com.  His death certificate listed my great grandparents as his parents. 
Alfred Hickman 1911-1922 photo taken 1916


I decided to get Alfred's birth certificate. That was no easy task that I was to discover. I wrote to the Pennsylvania Department of records. They responded back to me that only direct descendants (children) could obtain his death certificate. Since Alfred died at eleven years old he had no children. I wrote back to the Pennsylvania Department of records and explained that Alfred didn't have any children because he died at eleven years old and that I was his great nephew. They sent me his birth certificate. When I read his birth certificate I discovered a different name listed as Alfred's father. The name listed was Harold Griffith Sutton.  Ah ha, the family skeleton was exposed.

Harold Sutton was eighteen years old at the time of Alfred's birth. My grandmother was fifteen years old. Both worked at the Lloyd estate in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. My grandmother was listed as a "governess" which is the same as a baby sitter. Harold was a gardener at the Lloyd estate. I think you can figure out what happened here. In 1911 a birth out of wedlock was a scandal. In fact when I graduated from high school in 1959 such a birth was also a scandal, that's why one of my classmates didn't graduate with us, she was pregnant. 

I posted this correct information to my family tree which I maintain on Ancestry.com. I told my cousin that I had discovered this information about  our grandmother. She advised me not to post the information to our family tree.  She said "grandmother would have wanted it that way."  Uh, really?  All the parties involved are long dead. My grandmother died in 1923 at the age of 29 years old from complications from an incomplete abortion. Yes, another "skeleton" I discovered about my grandmother which will be the subject of a future blog post.  Harold Sutton lived a long life and died in 1983 at age of eighty-nine years of age. He married in 1919 to a woman named Sarah and they produced six children. Harold was a college professor who lived his life in Connecticut. I don't know if he family knew about his love child, Alfred Hickman. But they probably will now since I have posted the Truth to the Internet.  My grandmother married my grandfather in 1915. They had five children (my Mother being the youngest) before my grandmother died in 1923 from her incomplete abortion. My Mother was a motherless before she was two years old because of a decision my grandmother made.

Now, some may agree with my cousin that I keep this information about my grandmother a secret forever.  I cannot do that.  I will not lie about my grandmother.  I will not lie about my uncle Alfred. His memory deserves the truth of who his real father was. I will not participate in perpetuating a lie. 

We all make decisions in life. My cousin suggested that perhaps our grandmother was raped. How does she know that?  Still, history deserves to know the truth. 


My maternal grandparents 1921 - my grandmother was pregnant with my mother,  she is hiding her pregnancy behind her oldest child Grace
My Mother at the Birmingham-Lafayette Quaker cemetery in West Chester PA at the grave of her grandparents William and Esther Hickman - the small headstone flush with the ground at her bottom left is of Alfred Hickman, her uncle who was raised as her mother's brother by William and Esther Hickman.  Bill is in the background in the two tone brown jacket.  This photo was taken by me April 7, 2002 when I used to take photos of headstones in cemeteries for my Find a Grave account. At the time I did not know who Alfred Hickman was, he was always a mystery to the family and his secret would not have been known forever until I discovered the Truth.  Alfred will no longer be forgotten.









Monday, August 27, 2018

Turning Points In My Life - Choices After Graduation



U. S. Post Office Coatesville, PA

After I graduated from high school in June of 1959 I had a major life choice to make. Do I get a job or do I get my service obligation out of the way?  

When I graduated from high school in 1959, all young men had to register for the draft after they turned eighteen years of age.  I was seventeen years old when I graduated.  I wouldn't turn eighteen until the following November.  

I had some time to make a decision. Initially I tried to get a clerical job. This was no easy task. 

Back in the Fifties, the help wanted column listed "Male" and "Female" jobs. The clerical job I wanted was listed under the Female column. Gay boy that I was (and am), I was doomed from the start (apparently). One job I briefly considered was airline attendant but that job choice was also out of consideration for me being a male. Back then there were airlines only hired women as stewardesses.  Remember that quaint term?  

I applied for jobs at a several offices that listed Help Wanted in Downingtown. I was turned down at every one, including the company where my father work, Gindy Trailers.  I thought maybe I had an "in" there since I cleaned their offices part-time but no, I was dead meat to every business in Downingtown. Apparently Mr. King and my high school had blackballed me from getting any clerical job in my hometown. 

My only option left was to join the service and get that obligation out of the way.  I feared getting drafted and being sent overseas to shoot at somebody and be shot at.  I did not want that. However, I did want to get my service obligation out of the way and since I had no job prospects, I decided to join . . . . the Navy.  Yes, I wanted to "see the world" so I decided to join the Navy. 

The four branches of service recruiters were located in the basement of the U.S. Post Office in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, a town six miles west of Downingtown, where I lived. My Mother drove me to the post office.  I entered the building and walked down the stairs to the basement. Four desks were located in the basement in a quadrangle. The first desk was the Marine recruiter. Are you kidding? Never in a million years would I join the Marines. Not that there is anything wrong with that but me in the Marines?  Picture that and try not to laugh.

The next desk I saw was the Air Force recruiter's desk.  No, the Air Force held no interest for me either. Too bland, although Bill (Kelly my now husband) would vehemently disagree with me since he was in the Air Force for eight years). 

The third desk was the Navy recruiter's desk. He was in and that's who I wanted to see. The desk directly next to the Navy recruiter's desk was the Army recruiter's desk. The Army was out for me too. Too much like the Marines.  Way too butch for my sensitive young self at that time of my life, all that shooting and being shot at. 

I sat myself at the side chair of the Naval recruiter's desk. I told him I wanted to join the Navy. I wanted to see the world and I figured the Navy was how I was going to see it.  I wasn't too thrilled about the Naval uniforms but I considered that a small price to pay for traveling the world.

The Navy recruiter filled out my paperwork. Since I wasn't yet the age of consent (18 years of age) I had to take the papers home to have my parents' sign them.

The next day I returned to the Post Office and the Navy recruiter's desk with my signed papers. He was out to lunch. While I sat at the side chair of his desk waiting for him to return from lunch, the Army recruiter asked me why I was joining the Navy. I told him "Because I want to see the world."  He told me "You know you can see the world also if you join the Army but you would only have to serve three years."

I was intrigued.  I got up from my chair at the Navy recruiter's desk and sat myself down at the side chair at the Army recruiter's desk.  The Army recruiter was Master Sergeant Theodore Syphard. 



He explained to me that the Army had a department called the Army Security Agency in which 98% of the graduates from the Army Security Agency school went overseas.  And I would only have to serve three years and not four years like the Navy enlistment.  I was sold.

Me, leaving for Army Security Agency training school April 1960

By the time the Navy recruiter returned from lunch I had signed up to join the Army.  I didn't realize it at that time, but I had just chose a totally different direction which would affect the rest of my life, including where I live now in Delaware.

Now here is the irony of my choice. I went to the Army Security Agency school at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts for six months. I graduated sixth in my class of twenty-seven student/soldiers.  We could choose where we were assigned based on our standing in class.  The class before us had almost all foreign allocations.  Our class had an unusual number of stateside allocations.  There were only five foreign allocations. Two were in England, which I would have loved.  Of course they were both immediately chosen.  The other three were in Turkey.  I didn't want to choose that allocation because I had heard it was at a very isolated location in the mountains and they didn't have fresh milk.  Yes, that's what I said fresh milk.


Me (kneeling lower left) with my buddies Bill Allen, Dick Egan, Bob McCamley, Duane Often and Roland Hagerstrom at Army Security Agency school at Ft. Devens, Mass June 1960

Back then milk was my beverage of choice and I just couldn't imagine drinking powdered milk for the remaining two and a half years of my enlistment at a remote location in the mountains of Turkey.  

The remaining allocations were Ft. Meade, Maryland; Ft. Bragg, North Carolina; and Two Rock Ranch Arizona.  My best friend was Bob McCamley. I wanted to stay with him for my remaining two and a half years.  I told him I would choose Ft. Bragg so I could be with him.  He told me that he was going to choose the Ft. Meade, Maryland allocation (of which there was only one left) if I didn't choose it.  He wanted to choose Ft. Meade because it was close to his home in Norwood, Pennsylvania and he could go home every weekend.  Only later did I find out he wanted to go to his home because he was having an affair with a guy name "Phil", but that's another story for a future blog post.  I didn't even know my best friend was gay at that time, nor did he know I was gay.  

I didn't want to go to Ft. Bragg by myself (all that paratroop jumping, more "butch" stuff I wasn't prepared for) so I choose Ft. Meade, Maryland.  I went home almost every weekend (a two hour drive) instead of my best friend Bob.



  


He went to Ft. Bragg and yes, had to qualify by jumping out of a plane.  God, can you imagine me doing that?

Thus, by choosing to join the Army, the direction of my life took a whole new course.  I made all new friends, including a new best friend, Ron Hampton. Seems, I was always able to make a best friend wherever I was at in life.  I've been lucky that way.  

For the next two and a half years I worked at the National Security Agency at Ft. Meade, Maryland.  I worked with all members of the armed forces and civilians.  I had a great job.  And I didn't have to jump out of a plane.








Saturday, August 25, 2018

Turning Points In My Life - Rebellion

Me as a senior in high school 1959 - rebel (no smile)


My class schedule card 12th grade

Like most teenagers I made my period of rebellion. 

Up until my senior year, I was a quiet, go along student. I was a "good boy" and did as I was told. I wanted every one to like me and the best way I could do that was obey my superiors, even when I sometimes had questions about their judgement. 


Me as a junior in high school 1958 - my "good boy" phase, before I rebelled for being wrongly accused of cheating

I almost got through high school with my "get along, go along" attitude until an incident in my second year bookkeeping class.

Bookkeeping was a requirement of the commercial course I chose. I wasn't a big fan of bookkeeping, this wasn't the sexy and interesting job choice I had hoped for my life. But even at that time I knew I had limited talents and realized that I had to acquire certain skills to get a job after graduation since I wasn't going to college.  

Our school had a program in the senior year in which we could work outside school during part of the school year.  Sort of an apprentice type job. Thus when I graduated from high school I could transition right into my office clerk job, probably a bookkeeping job.

I was on that course until this "incident" happened in my second year bookkeeping class one morning.

Mr. Vincent King was my bookkeeping teacher. He was a World War II veteran who walked like a penguin. This was the result of his toes being frozen off.  Mr. King was a very serious teacher. I don't ever recall him smiling or joking with the class. No one ever questioned Mr. King. 

I was a fair bookkeeping student. Mostly B's and a few C's. I don't think I ever got an A.  I found bookkeeping boring but as I said before, I knew it was course I had to take to survive and get a job after I graduated from high school.  If I didn't take an office job I would have to get a job at Lukens Steel Mill.  That's where most of my fellow male students, who didn't go to college, would get a job. Lukens Steel, the only game in town for well paying jobs in my little town of Downingtown, Pennsylvania (population 5,000).

Now for the incident that changed the course my life was about to take:

That spring morning in 1959, I arrived at my second period bookkeeping class. As I was sitting down at my desk and taking out my bookkeeping book, I realized I had forgotten and left my homework at home. This was the first time I did this. I don't think I ever forgot my homework before.  

As I and my fellow students settled ourselves at our desks, Mr. King walked into the classroom.  He told us to pass up our homework.  I raised my hand and told him that I had forgotten my homework. He immediately verbally attacked me and accused me of loaning my homework to fellow students.  I was shocked. I had always gotten along with Mr. King. Sure, he was distant and not particularly friendly with students but I put that to his injuring he suffered during World War II, his missing toes that affected the way he walked. No students ever made fun of him like they did other teachers who had unusual characteristics. No one dared.

I was shocked that he would accuse me of cheating.  I never cheated in high school.  Never.  I know that's hard for many to believe (which I have since found out since I've told this story to others).  No, I have NEVER cheated.  Even back then in my ignorant teenage days, I didn't see the value in cheating. You either learned the subject or didn't, what was the value in cheating?  

Mr. King knew others were cheating in his class. Looking back on it now I think he was disappointed in me that he thought I was part of that cheating ring. I knew other students in my class who copied other's homework but that wasn't me. I never loaned out my homework. I have a lot of flaws and I am far from perfect but one thing I don't do and never have cheated or help others to cheat, which sometimes caused me to lose friends. 

When Mr. King yelled at me in front of the class I yelled right back at him that I didn't loan my homework out to others. He continued to berate me in front of my fellow students.  I couldn't believe that he didn't believe me. I got up and walked out of the class.  I was mad. 

I don't remember exactly where I went next but I do remember that I was going to quit his class. I had enough credits to graduate so I didn't need his class.  



My high school report card

I told my Mother what happened. I told her I was going to quit Mr. King's class.  She advised me not to.  I disagreed with her.  She advised me to see the guidance counselor, Mr. Kline.  I didn't like Mr. Kline.  I considered him weak and a loser and   ineffectual. When I saw him I told him I was quitting Bookkeeping because I couldn't be in a class where the teacher falsely accused me of cheating without any proof.  Of course Mr. Kline sided with Mr. King.  This was the first time in my life I realized that right doesn't win, power does. 


Mr. Kline with my classmate Marlene Alwood. Ironically I was there when this picture was taken for our yearbook.  Marlene and I were on the yearbook staff to take pictures of different scenes.  Of course I refused to be in this picture with Mr. Kline because I didn't like or respect him. I stood off to the side while the photographer took this picture for our yearbook.


There was no way I was going back to Mr. King's class under those circumstances which in effect would acknowledge that I did cheat by loaning out my homework papers. I refused to go back.  An Army couldn't get me to go back.  Of course my father didn't care. He quit school in 8th grade.  My Mother quite school in her senior year after she eloped to get married to my father.  At least I wasn't going to quit school. As I said before I had enough credits to graduate.

Mr. Kline and the school administration took me out of the bookkeeping class and put me in place put me in study hall.  When my Mother found that out she said "You're not wasting your time in study hall, you're going to take a course that will help you to get a job."  The course she wanted me to take?  TYPING! I told her I was already taking Typing. She made me double up on my Typing course, in place of the bookkeeping periods that I would no long being taken. She did not want me wasting my time sitting in Study Hall.  She was adamant. I doubled up on Typing.  Best decision she/I ever made. I always struggled with Typing.  That's just what I needed, a double dose of Typing. 

Now, the result of me quitting bookkeeping that changed the course of my life.  Since I quite bookkeeping I wasn't eligible for the work/student program that our school had for commercial students.  That meant when I graduated from high school I didn't have a job.  

After I graduated from high school I tried to get a job.  I was blackballed from all office jobs in Downingtown, Mr. King had his revenge.  Downingtown was a small town then and word got around that I was a rebellious student and not for hiring.  Lukens Steel was my only choice.

Lukens Steel Co., Coatesville, PA - where I didn't want to work after graduating from high school

And being the sensitive young gay boy I was at that time, that kind of butch job wasn't a realistic option for me.  That was when I decided to join the Navy.  And that folks was when I encountered another major turning point in my life. I will tell that story in my next "Turning Points In My Life" installment.  






Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Medical Update



This morning I had my first visit with my ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor. This is address my phlegm problem that I've had over a year.

The good news is that I don't have some fatal or chronic disease. Phew, that IS a relief! 

She (yes, I have my first female doctor and thank goodness for the upper part of my body) said my I have gastroesophageal reflex (GERD) condition.   At least that's what I think she said, she was pretty fast. She prescribed Zantax (ranitidine) pills.  She found this condition in me after inserting a camera through my right nostril (nose) down to my throat. Yes, that's what I said . . . . a camera through my nose.  It was on the end of a long, flexible tube.  It didn't hurt but was uncomfortable.  Sort of.  

Inserting cameras into bodies seems to be the latest thing doctors do.  I've turned down two offers in the past ten years to have a camera inserted up through my penis into my bladder to check for bladder cancer.  No thank you, I don't need any unnecessary medical procedures like that, especially THERE.

Well, she inserted that camera before I had a chance to really discuss it. But it was worth it because she quickly identified my problem. I was surprised that she prescribed Zantax, which I already have a prescription for though my VA facility.  Occasionally I get acid reflux if I eat greasy food (which I try to avoid) or extra spicy food. She also prescribed a nasal spray.  I've never used a nasal spray before in my life, probably because Bill in the past used nasal spray, a lot, and now has lost his sense of smell. 

I filled that $41 prescription at Walgreen's.  I'm to take that twice a day. I already took it once and it has already had an effect.  It loosened my mucus so I'm not feeling like I'm suffocating.  It also has a side effect of making me slightly light-headed.  Seems like I'm getting light-headed a lot lately.  


I'm feeling fragile these days folks.  I feel like I'm playing Whack-a-Mole with my health issues. But I always consider that things could be a lot worse. And thank goodness it is not.  For a seventy-six year old man, I'm in basically pretty good health. But I realize sooner or later something will eventually catch up with me. As my brother John told me a few weeks ago when I called him to inquire about his health, he said "Ronnie, we all get our turn."  My  turn isn't yet. 

Have a great day every one!






Sunday, August 19, 2018

Turning Points In My Life (continued)

Typing class from my school 1958 - unfortunately I wasn't in this picture but these are my classmates.  I don't know where I was that day!

Picking up where I left off in my previous post of "Turning Points in my life":

A big turning point in my life was when I entered ninth grade and had to choose what educational course to take.

Of course I preferred the Academic course which was the college preparatory course. But when I told my Mother I was going to choose this course she told me "We're not going to pay for you to go to college.  You choose a course where you can get a job after high school."

Of course I was greatly disappointed because most of my friends were taking the Academic course. And remember how class conscious were were in high school, those who took the Academic course were the preferred students. The chosen anointed students. I wanted to be in that group. Plus, those who went to college and obtained a college degree were almost always assured of a good paying, interesting job, Mom gave me a reality check, I wasn't going to be a part of THAT group. Thus, what little self confidence took yet another knock.

I briefly considered getting scholarship but I knew I wasn't that smart. I was mostly a B student with a few A's and an occasional C.    

Another alternative was working my way through college. How was I going to do that?  I had no idea nor enough self confidence.

Another problem I had was that I had no car. Back then in the Fifties, one needed his or her parent's approval to buy a car before their 21st birthday. My parents would never sign for me. They told me that. Think they would buy me a car? Even a used one?  Out of the question.  So if I did go to West Chester State college, the nearest college to my hometown of Downingtown, how would I get there?  The obstacles were too great for me to overcome, at least I thought so at that time with my low self-confidence.

I had to choose another course. The options left to me are the following:

Commercial
Agricultural
General

Actually, it was no choice. I had to choose the Commercial Course.  The course the "girls" choose.  Some guys chose the Commercial course but it was mostly girls. Well, I was one of the "girls", by default.

The other two remaining courses were totally out of the question.  The Agricultural course was for farmers. FARMERS. I don't know about the school you went to (in the Fifties), but being called a "farmer" was about the greatest insult a teenager in high school could be called.  No female ever took the Agricultural course. The guys who took it looked like farmers and generally smelled like farmers (always slight manure smell they had about them). And of course those guys lived on farms while going to school and were expected to return to their farms after graduating from high school.  I was a "townie".  That is, I lived in town.  I didn't live on a farm.  Taking the Agriculture course would be totally useless for me.

The last course was the General course. Everyone knew the General course was for the losers. And as much low self esteem I had, I didn't consider myself a loser. Not that kind of loser, with the greasy ducktail haircut and don't give a f-ck attitude.  

Now to make something perfectly clear. I have since become wiser in my old age and I now realize that the Agriculture course and General course were fine courses for those who took them. But back in those days, when peer pressure was very effective, I looked down on the guys who took those courses (and there were always guys who took the Ag course) as beneath me.  My bad.

Commercial course it was for me. 

One thing, I wasn't going to take shorthand. No was I going to be secretary.  Maybe a bookkeeper but not a prissy secretary.   Shorthand was out. In hindsight, that was a wise decision. Do you know of anyone who uses shorthand today? Neither do I.

I did take typing though. Reluctantly. And I had problems with typing. My first year I got D's. Barely passed. I just didn't get it.  Funny thing happened though, my second year of Typing class, I excelled and was awarded "Best Typist" in class. Of course I'm typing now. Typing is a skill I've used all my adult life and I use all my fingers, not just my two forefingers. My WPM (Words Per Minute) were 77.  And that was on a manual Underwood typewriter. That's why I think I would probably excelled at piano playing, one of my great regrets that I never learned to play the piano,

In my Commercial class there were only four of us guys. Me, Glenn M., Jim R., Don S. Three gay guys and one straight (found out later in my life). In fact Jim R, was a boyfriend of my Bill before I met Bill).  All the rest in my Commercial class were girls. Me and the girls, that was tough for the low self-esteem, very self conscious teenager that I was at that time. Just another chapter in my life that I felt I wasn't good enough. Of course later in my life I realized that I was good enough, I just chose a different course with some very fine people. And as it turned out I chose the right course.

The next chapter in my Turning Points was one of the most significant in my life.  Little did I realize at the time it was but a decision I made as a result of a misunderstanding put me on a totally different life course than I had planned for myself. A course which probably saved my life.  That I will write about in my next post. 


Friday, August 17, 2018

The Dancing Man of Hamilton Ontario Canada



This morning I put together these video clips that my Canadian friend and travel buddy Pat sent to me of the Dancing Man of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Pat lives in downtown Hamilton, in an old historic hotel which converted to condominiums.  Right outside his hotel is Gore Park. During the summer there are free concerts. Hamiltonians gather at the tables to enjoy the music and balmy summer weather.  Occasionally some get up and dance to the music (shades of Sly and the Family Stone).  This short movie I made of the video clips Pat sent to me over his iPhone is of one gentleman who has some real Fred Astaire dancing moves. 

I hope you get as much pleasure as I do from seeing this gentleman dancing. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Aretha



Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul,  passed away today.  

Aretha and I were of  the same age.  She was part of my life's Journey.

She will be missed greatly by many. But she will be remembered forever knowing her legacy will live on in her beautiful music.

Rest in peace dear lady.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Managing

Battalion Parade Ft. Devens, Mass

Last night I returned to work. I was a bit woozy but I made it through my eight hour shift. 

It was good to return to work. Of course I was very busy, this is the height of the summer season. 
But I didn't mind.  I am appreciative that I have this good job. 

Returning to work last night reminded me of an episode I had when I was in the Army at Ft. Devens Massachusetts. That was also a hot summer August day and I was very sick. I was very nauseous.  I think the cause was dried soap on the metal tray that I ate off in the mess hall.  

We had a battalion parade that afternoon.  There I was in my freshly pressed khakis and blue ascot, ready to march. As we were marching I felt bile coming up in my throat. I was about to throw up on the soldier marching in front of me. I couldn't do that. So I dropped out of the parade and sat down in the shade of a maple tree, waiting for the wave of nausea to go away.  I was sure I was going to be arrested and sent to the stockade for dropping out of the parade.  But nothing happen. 

After the waves of nausea passed and I managed not to throw up, I went back to my barracks.

Old barracks Ft. Devens, Mass

After I returned to the barracks I did vomit. I had "it" coming out both ends. The barracks was empty, this being a Friday and everyone was at the parade. The MP didn't come after me. 

The next day I was scheduled for KP.  I just couldn't imagine going on KP, feeling as I did.  I had never before went on sick call but decided to.  

After I got myself together, I went to sick call building. It was closed for the weekend.  What?  CLOSED?  What?  Soldiers don't get sick on the weekend?  I guess not.

The next morning (Saturday), I arrived at the battalion mess hall, reporting for KP.  Of course I was assigned pots and pans. I was sure I would die.  I didn't. I survived that fifteen hour shift, getting off at nine o'clock that night which my water shriveled hands. 

I think I sweated out the sick in me during the early morning hours in that hot and steamy kitchen, washing the pots and pans. I slowly returned to normal in the afternoon.  I got through it.  You know what folks, if I got through that episode, as sick as I was, last night was nothing. Still, I wouldn't want to chance going to work feeling like I did last Thursday morning.

Only a week to go until my appointment with my ENT doctor next week.  

Me with my buddies at Ft. Devens, Mass - 1960 (can you identify me?)


Monday, August 13, 2018

Going To Work Today


This morning I got up with trepidation. Afraid that my dizziness would come back. It didn't. 

I think my problem is that when I sleep on my back the infectious mucous collects and doesn't expel with coughing. Usually I cough up the mucous I've collected overnight. The day I was woke up very dizzy and nauseous, I wasn't coughing up any phlegm. Now I make sure to take the mucous thinning DM tablets. And to sleep on my right side. 

Next Wednesday (August 22nd) is my first appointment with my ENT doctor. I'm going to try and tough it out until then.

I'm looking forward to going to work today and getting back to my regular routine. 

Thank you everybody for your helpful comments and suggestions. I'll get through this latest medical challenge. Considering the alternative, I don't have a choice. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

No Dizziness Today



Today I woke up with trepidation, fearing the worst. I did lay on my right side all night, hoping that would "cure" the problem. Apparently it did because I didn't wake up with the extreme dizziness that I had on Thursday and yesterday.

I think what is causing this inner ear infection is my respiratory problem that I've been having the past year. Mucous builds up in my throat. I clear (cough) it out during the day.  Yes, I'm now one of those annoying people who is always coughing. Don't take me to any concerts.  

When I got up this morning I was still a little light headed but not that extreme dizziness that I had experienced previously, thank goodness.

I'm continuing to take my DM over the counter pills which breaks up the mucous. I've been coughing it up all day, unlike a few days ago when I coughed up nothing.  

I plan to go to work tomorrow.  I work the afternoon shift (3 pm to 11 pm).  I miss work, it is part of my regular routine. And at this time of my life I like a regular routine. 

I do plan to call my ENT doctor, who I have yet to see the first time (my appointment is scheduled for the 22nd of this month) and see if I can get an earlier appointment.  

This inner ear infection where I lose my balance is one of the scariest things I have ever experienced in my life.  We take so much for granted with our health.  I can't imagine living like this permanently. At least I can get some relief by lying perfectly still on my bed.  Unlike when I was passing a kidney stone, where there was nowhere to seek relief and the pain only got worse.  

Bette Davis was right when she said:

"Old age is no place for sissies"

Tell me about it.

Thank you all who commented and gave me advice. However, I am declining to go to the emergency room. I don't know what they could do for me other than observe me and wait for my spell to pass. I will see my ENT for her advice.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Hit Again



This morning when I woke up I had the dizziness and nausea again. I couldn't believe it.

I got up and tried to go about my regular routine but my head wasn't having any of it. 

The only relief I got was to lie down in my bed and keep my head perfectly still.

I couldn't eat breakfast this morning. Several times I got up, hoping the dizziness would go away but no such luck. 

I stayed in bed, drifting in and out of a light sleep. 

At about 12:30 I got up to have a light lunch of soup and some corn chips with roasted red pepper hummus, my favorite lunch which I usually over indulge but not today.  Just a little bit to keep something in my stomach.  At least I didn't throw it up.  Then back to bed.

I'm sure what I have is an inner ear infection caused by my year long respiratory infection. Something I should have taken care of a long time ago but I thought if I ignored it, it would go away. It's not going away.

I texted by boss at work and told him of my situation. I'm scheduled to go into work Monday from 3 PM to 11 PM.  I miss work.  I hate to miss work.  I look forward to going to work.  I just don't want to work every day.  I can't go into work though with this condition. I can't even stand up straight. My head swims.

Monday I will call my ENT doctor and see if they can take me earlier than my now scheduled August 22nd appointment. I called last week when this happened and left a voice mail. They sent me a voice mail back advising me to see my primary care doctor. My primary care doctor is at the VA and not that easy to see on a show notice. But if I can't get an earlier appointment with my ENT doctor I'll try to climb that wall and get an appointment with my doctor at the VA. I use the VA primarily for semi-annual lab work and prescriptions. The VA doctors really aren't on call as primary care doctors they way we used to think of them in the Fifties when they visited your house with their little black bag and stethoscope. Does ANY doctor make house calls now?  

I'm falling apart folks. Just like an old car, an old car that has been well taken care of.  Even those old cars, the parts start going.  

This is the first time in my life I've experienced this inner ear problem.  It's scary. Totally immobilizes you, just as much when I tore my quadricep muscle in my left leg a few years ago. I couldn't around then and I can't now when this dizziness is in full effect.  To know what this is like, think of when you were a kid and played around spinning yourself very fast then trying to walk.  That's what it's like, only worse.  At least I can get relief by lying down in my bed and keeping my head perfectly still.  And thank God there is no pain.  But the nausea, I hate being nauseous. 

To bed early this Saturday night. I hope tomorrow brings relief.  


Thursday, August 09, 2018

Dizzy



This morning when I awoke and rose from my bed, my head was spinning. I was dizzy. 

Now I've been accused of being dizzy before but this was a different kind of "dizzy."  I felt like I did when I was a kid and spun myself around very fast with a blindfold on then tried to walk. I was off balance and fell. That's the way I felt this morning sitting on the edge of my bed.

I sat a while there, trying to get myself together. It wasn't happening. In fact I felt a sickening feeling in the base of my throat, I was nauseous. I hate feeling nauseous. 

The closest I've ever felt like this was when I've been drunk. I felt high but not a good high. 

I waited, sitting on the edge of my bed. The dizziness and nausea continued to wash over me in waves.  What was going on?

I had to go to work today. Also, I was expecting a serviceman to service our HVAC system today. And here I am, unable to stand up straight and feeling like I had to vomit.

I got my iPhone and typed in "dizzy and vomiting" symptoms. What I found was very interesting. Apparently I have an inner ear infection that is affection my balance. I've never had this happen before in my life. My Mother had this problem and I've known other people who have experienced this but this was a first for me. The information on my Google search said this inner ear infection could be caused by a respiratory infection. Ah ha!  I do have a respiratory infection. That is my mucus problem, which has gotten progressively worse this past year, especially the past two weeks. I have an appointment with an ENT doctor on the 22nd of this month, the earliest I could get an appointment. 

I got up and went to the bathroom, unsteady in my walk.  To the casual observer I probably looked like I was drunk. 

I thought if I got up and got into my regular morning routine this dizziness and nausea would go away.  It didn't.  

After my bathroom routine I went into the kitchen and said good morning to Bill and had my breakfast, even though I had no appetite.  I told Bill I wasn't feel well.

After breakfast I went for my morning walk, hoping that would clear things up. It didn't.  Any of my neighbors watching me walk would conclude I was drunk.  I must have looked a pretty sight.

I managed to complete my walk but felt no better. Returning back to our house I concluded that I couldn't go to work today. I wouldn't be able to drive my car because of my lightheadedness. 

I hate to call in sick to work. Something I rarely do.  But I did call in.  Not a good time to call in because we're in the height of the season, but I had no choice. I just couldn't drive into work and do my job in a competent manner, losing my balance and on the verge of vomiting.

I called my boss and told him I had an inner ear infection and was having balance problems and wouldn't be in to work. 

Then I went back to my bed. I found that if I laid down on my bed and didn't move my head I could ease my nausea. That I did for about an hour while I waited for the HVAC serviceman. 

The HVAC serviceman (person) arrived on time. I managed to greet him and take care of his visit. I explained to him that I had an inner ear problem and wasn't feeling well.  He said he understood, his father has had the same problem.

After he left I went back to bed to try and get my nausea under control.  Now fourteen hours later I'm better but still a little woozy.  Actually, without the nausea it's kind of a high that isn't unpleasant but I can do without the feeling of the urge to vomit if I move too fast. However, I would prefer to be back to normal.

Just another day in the life of this 76 year old who is slowly falling apart. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Turning Points in My Life



As I enter my seventy-seventh year of life, I often reflect back on turning points in my life. Decisions I made at times of my life that I didn't realize would affect the direction the rest of my life would take. I have often wondered what my life would have been like if I had made a different decision. Would've, could've, should've; that's what one of my former bosses used to say. Alas, I made decisions that permanently put my life on the road where I am now. Do I have any regrets? Sure, but to use a tired old cliche, "it is what it is." I have to admit that I am at a good place in my life now, except for physical aches and pains, I am quite happy and contented. Now if I can just get rid of my latest phlegm problem. I have an appointment on the 22nd of this month with an ENT doctor.

Now for my list:

On Being Gay
When I was about four years old (1946), a teenage friend (Emmett) of my teenage Uncle Bruce (who used to live with us) would come over and get on all fours and us kids would play "horsey" with him. That is, we would climb his back and he would try and buck us off. Our little group consisted of boys and girls aged from four to six. We took turns riding Emmett's back. After a few rides on Emmett's back, I realized I was enjoying these "rides" a bit more than my little play friends.



Me about 1946 when I played "Horsey"

I didn't understand quite why I was "enjoying" these rides so much but I did know that I had to keep this to myself. About a year later when I was watching the old Flash Gordon serials on TV, I realized that I had a pleasurable intense feeling whenever Ming the Merciless would capture Flash Gordon (Buster Crabbe) and tie him up with his arms above his head and have him totally under his control to do who knows what? I knew these "feelings" I had were not to be shared. What I did know was I was experiencing for the first time a pleasurable feeling that was better than eating corn on the cob.

Self Worth

Growing up I was constantly put down by my father. He called me "Beak" (nose to big) and stupid and weakling. I was too tall for my age. I had no sense of self worth and didn't know there was an alternative, since this is the only input I ever had. Then came a time I was with my friend Larry (we were trading comic books) and I made some off hand reference to being so ashamed of my big nose.  I will always remember what Larry said to me (I think I have this right, if not Lar will correct me) "You're not ugly. You're good-looking."  Never in my life had I heard anyone say that to me. I think I was ten or eleven years old at that time. I was quite shocked that he would say that to me, because I just always assumed that I was defective and worthless. For the first time in my life I considered the possibility that I wasn't the ugly loser that my father had always depicted me. 


Me in back of the family "vehicle", a GMC pickup truck. My father got a great deal of pleasure humiliating me by having me ride in the back bed of the truck on our family outings. My father was a cruel, selfish man.

I didn't turn into an obnoxious narcissist that day but I did begin a new path in my life that perhaps I was a "normal" person and not quite as bad as my father had drummed into my head from my earliest memory.

Public Nudity

Entering high school I faced the scariest time of my life, gym.  I was scared to death that for the first time in my life I would have to shower naked with my fellow classmates. Up until that time the only naked males I had seen was my father and two younger brothers and one teenage uncle in perfectly innocent circumstances. This would be the first time in my life that I would be nude with others LOOKING at me. I was scared to death. Turns out I wasn't the only twelve year old seventh grader who was terrified of showering naked with my fellow classmates.



At my first gym class, our gym teacher called all us boys together and addressed this concern that many of us had. So I wasn't the only one!  He told us that he knew we had that concern and that we shouldn't because "they all look alike." Then he dismissed us to go out in the field and play soccer. At the end of the gym class we all filled back into the locker room and undressed and went into the showers.  Then I discovered for the first time in my life that (sometimes) adults lie because THEY ALL DIDN'T LOOK ALIKE. In fact, they all looked different. There were no two that looked alike. Okay. Later on in my life when I became more sophisticated about such matters I realized that my gym teacher was straight because to him, they all do look alike. But to my connoisseur's eye? Uh uh.

Inclusion - High School Band

During the summer of 1956, before I entered senior high school, our school's music director contacted me during my summer vacation and asked me if I would like to play the Sousaphone in the marching band?  I had never thought of joining the band but I was glad that an adult thought enough of me to ask. I agreed.  Then he told me I would have to take lessons to learn how to play the Sousaphone which consists basically of spitting into a large mouthpiece and playing three notes.  I wasn't happy about having my carefree summer vacation from school days interrupted with music lessons but I didn't want to disappoint him because he had placed so much faith in me. At the time I thought he thought I had talent. It wasn't until many years later I realized he probably only asked me because I was tall and I would be marching in the last row of the band where onlookers' could see the "H" (for DHS) screen over the big brass Sousaphone opening. 

Me, 1958 with my Sousaphone


But at the time being in marching band opened a whole new world to me. I got to go to all the football games, both home and away games. And I met my best friend Bill B. during this time. Bill B. played the bass drum. We both had to load our instruments last in the storage section of the bus.  Bill asked me to save him a seat. Thus we began a tradition for the following three years of bus trips to away football games. And it helped that I had a crush on this same person. And we're still friends to this day but the crush I had has long since been extinguished.

This post is getting much longer than I had intended. Apparently I can't squeeze in seventy-seven years of turning points in my life in one post. I will pick up this stream of memories in a later post.