Friday, November 24, 2017

Big Philly Trip




Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. Whfft! 
Now we descend into the Christmas season. 

Well folks, this weekend I'm gearing up for my Big Philly Trip. That's right, my Canadian Travel Buddy is taking the overnight bus from Toronto and will meet me in Philadelphia, PA this Sunday. 

Again this year we have rented the guest suite at my friend Don McKenzie's co-op in center city Philly. Twice a year Pat and I visit Don, once in the spring and once in the fall.  

Usually Pat and I just bounce around in Philly, exploring different restaurants, vintage furniture places and occasionally an apartment open houses.

Those of you who have followed my blog for these past seventeen years will know that I used to work and live in Philadelphia from 1966 through 1980.  Those were the Glory Years for me.  I always wanted to live in center city Philly so I could walk to work and to the gay bars. And folks, that is what I just did.  This was before the AIDS epidemic, which just started to take hold in 1980 when Bill and I moved out to the country in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. I didn't move because of AIDS, I moved because I grew tired of living in the city and the Constant Hunt for Mr. Right in the gay bars.  Good timing huh?

These days I like to go back to Philly and visit my old haunts, many of which are almost unrecognizable. But I still get that warm feeling of good times of my glorious past.  Plus, Pat and I always have a good time together, wherever we go.

For the visit this year I've actually made plans. Next Thursday we're going the Kimmel Center to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra play Mozart. We have good seats!

The next day (Friday) we're going out to Downingtown to attend a Christmas dinner with some of my former high school classmates. Also while I'm in Downingtown I'm going to visit an old friend (everyone I know is OLD) and my former boss who I named executor of my will. I haven't seen him in years.  I'm looking forward to introducing Pat to my former classmates, friends and former boss.  Photos will be taken of course.

The adventure continues!




Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Bill Kelly - our first Thanksgiving together 1965 Pennsuaken, New Jersey

Wow! Another Thanksgiving!

Wasn't it just a few weeks ago we were celebrating the end of summer?  And new we're here at Thanksgiving.  Is it me or does each year seem to go by faster?  

This year I will be working Thanksgiving Day at the hotel. I don't mind, I usually work Thanksgiving Day at the hotel. I meet the nicest people during that holiday. Almost all of our hotel guests are grandparents who are visiting their children and grandchildren in the area. I understand why they stay at the hotel, nice visiting the grandkids but have to get away from all those screaming high energy grandkids. I can't imagine.

I have to admit the one thing I do admit I miss on Thanksgiving Day is a nice turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Years ago I used to "do" Thanksgiving at home for just me and Bill.  Yes, I got caught up in the holiday tradition that this is what you do for Thanksgiving. But that was just too much food for the both of us. 

Neither Bill or I like to do the many guests thing. For a while we would have a one friend over, who was also alone on Thanksgiving. But that tradition fell by the wayside too when we had a fallout with that friend. 

For a few years I used to attend my friend Bob McCamley's Thanksgiving dinner that he and his partner Jim gave for us single gay men who had no other place to go.  That was fun and the dinners were always fabulous.  At times Bob and Jim would have as many as twenty-four single gay men over for dinner. But Bob died a few years ago and Jim is in an assisted living facility now.  

Another few times a former classmate would take pity on me and invited me over to dinner at his family's house along with other sad folk like me who had no other place to go for Thanksgiving. His wife and daughters prepared the traditional Thanksgiving dinners which were fabulous. If I lived in Pennsylvania I would probably be invited again. 

Those time are in the past folks. Good memories but now is now. Tomorrow I work at the hotel.  I'll meet some nice folks. I'll have an egg salad sandwich for dinner and at the end of my shift at 11 PM another Thanksgiving will be history.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who reads this, especially those who are alone this Thanksgiving, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Della Reese




One of my all time favorite singers died a few days ago. 

Della Reese, probably more well known today as the actress who played an angel on the television series "Touched By An Angel."  But I will always remember Della from my youth in the Fifties as one of a handful of female singers that I so thoroughly enjoyed. Of course my favorite female singer of all time was Dinah Washington. But Della, along with Dakota Staton and Sara Vaughn were also there in my select group of female singers who gave me comfort whenever they sang.



I especially liked Della because of her strong voice and clear enunciation, something that is all too often sorely lacking with many of today's singers. I don't know but is it me who just doesn't understand what Mariah Carey is singing other than screeching at the top of her lungs?  I know Beyonce and Mary J. Blige are all the rage today but I can't understand them either.  

I guess you can put me in the Old Fogey bin because I like the "old time" singers like Della.  

Below is the one song, "Don't You Know?",  of Della's that is my very favorite. Every time I hear it I tear up. 

Songwriter Bobby Worth borrowed Puccini's "Musetta's Waltz" melody from his opera "La Boheme" and created a smash hit for Della Reese. This song was Della's biggest single hit ever. The extraordinarily talented Ms. Reese started in show business as a singer (discovered by Mahalia Jackson), and later branched out into acting ("Touched By An Angel", "Chico And The Man", "The Royal Family", etc.). This wonderful performance by Della was featured in the film "A Bronx Tale". Produced by Hugo and Luigi. Orchestra under the direction of Glenn Osser.






Rest in peace dear Della. You have brought so much happiness to so many in this world. You have your angel wings now.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wayne "The Cajun" Juneau

Wayne Juneau at Dos Locos Restaurant, Rehoboth Beach - The Host with the Most

Occasionally I feature friends, relatives and former co-workers who are no longer in my life on this very personal blog of mine.

Today, on this quiet, sunny, cold and windy Sunday I am posting about my friend Wayne "The Cajun" Juneau.  

Wayne departed from this life January 17, 2015 after a long illness. He died alone in a hospice in Milford, Delaware.

I met Wayne around 2005.  I was introduced to him by my longtime (and now departed) friend Bob McCamley.

Bob McCamley and Wayne at Kahlasa Jewelry store (where Wayne used to work before Dos Locos) 7-23-2009
 

At that time Wayne was in a long term relationship with Tom. Both Wayne and Tom moved to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware from their home in New Jersey some years previously.

I was looking for a home to move to for my retirement in the Rehoboth Beach area. Bob thought I would be interested in seeing Wayne and Tom's home.  One Saturday morning Bob took me over to Wayne and Tom's home in Rehoboth Beach. I liked their home's open floor plan.  I also liked Wayne and Tom.  


Wayne hosting a party at his and Tom's home on Old Landing Road - Wayne was the perfect host

Wayne's personality is what I would call a "Paul Lynde" personality. Very clever with the wisecracks and putdowns but done lovingly (at least I would like to think so).  I always enjoyed my time with Wayne.  


Wayne and me at the Purple Parrot restaurant in Rehoboth Beach - we used to meet there every Sunday night with friends - always good times - never forgotten

Then came a time when Wayne and Tom broke up. Tom found someone else new and left Wayne after a 34 year relationship. Of course as is usual in these circumstances almost everyone knew Tom was on the prowl except Wayne. Wayne was the last to know, which upset him greatly and he became very bitter. 

Their breakup was messy. I helped Wayne move out of their home. In the rain yet (wet mattress). 



Wayne and Violet at the Purple Parrot - oh how I miss those good times

Wayne got a room at another gay man's place. That didn't work out well and Wayne had to move again, this time to an apartment in Rehoboth Beach by himself. No more sharing homes for Wayne after his bad experience (it was also messy).  I helped Wayne move again, this time up three flights of stairs and you know I don't "do" stairs.

Wayne had to get a job to support himself which isn't the easiest thing to do when you're gay and of a certain age (over sixty).  I suggested a local hotel who was advertising for a front desk agent. Wayne applied and they wouldn't even talk to him.  Hey, I applied to SEVEN hotels when I first moved to Delaware and I couldn't even get an interview even though I had YEARS of experience and a Best Guest Service Award from the Hampton Inn. The job opportunities for older gay men is severely limited. 


With friends at the Purple Parrot restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

However, Wayne saw an ad for a host at the Dos Locos restaurant which was a block away from that stupid hotel which wouldn't even talk to him. Wayne got the job the same way I got my hotel job, a gay man saw my value even though I was an older gay man, and hired him the same way a gay man hired me.  

Wayne's job as a host at the Dos Locos was the perfect fit for him and the Dos Locos restaurant. 

Wayne worked there for several years and then his health began to fail. I do not know the exact nature of his illness (some kind of blood disorder) but Wayne became weaker and weaker. 

He had several different procedures, was put on a special diet and had several hospital stays. 

Then came a time when the hospital could do no more for him. Wayne wanted out of the hospital but had no place to go. His only family was a sister in New Orleans, Wayne's place of birth. She was also in poor to failing health. 

Wayne never asked me directly but I sensed that he would have appreciated if I took him in our home. But this is something I couldn't do.  First I am already a caretaker of Bill, my parter and husband of now fifty-three years (he's 89 years old now).  Secondly I just can't handle the stress. I can barely take care of myself and Bill let alone someone else. Of course I have always felt guilty that I didn't take Wayne in and feel guilty to this day. One thing that was good though was the manager of the restaurant where Wayne worked took care of all of Wayne's needs while he was in the hospital and when he was moved to the hospice.  I don't write about this folks seeking to assuage my guilt but just to tell you how it was at the end of Wayne's life. 

The last time I saw him he was not happy with me. But then he was very ill and I can understand. His last blog posting (which I had encouraged him to write a blog as therapy when Tom broke up with him) was a direct stab at me.  Something I wouldn't have done had I been in that situation but again, he was very ill and disappointed in life. He always said he didn't want to "relive the past" probably because of his bad memories and his failed relationship with Tom. I also think he wanted more than a friendship with me (one unexpected kiss on the lips when I dropped him off one night after a dinner we had with friends clued me into that fact.)  When I repulsed the kiss he said "I can't figure you out."  I replied "We're friends Wayne, no more than that. Can't we be gay and be just friends?"  Not to be full of myself but this isn't the first time I've encountered this problem with gay friends, you're friends and some of them take it the wrong way.  That's life when you're as damn attractive as I am (I'm kidding of course). 


Wayne and me at Old Time Photo in Rehoboth Beach

But I don't want to dwell on the negative but rather remember all the good times that we had during our ten year friendship.  But something strange happened the  day after Wayne died. I slipped and fell on the ice while leaving work at the hotel and tore my quadricep muscle on my left leg.  After an operation to tie the muscle back together, I was an invalid for twelve weeks while the leg tissue had to regenerate itself. I always suspected Wayne pushed me that cold and windy night as I rounding the corner from the hotel to get to my car.  Coincidence?  Maybe, maybe not. But I prefer to remember the good times. 


Me and Wayne at the Henlopen Oyster House in Rehoboth Beach, our last meal together - Wayne  health was deteriorating 

This Thanksgiving I remember good friends like Wayne. Below is from the memory card that was distributed at Wayne's memorial service.  It is perfect for Wayne's memory:


Afterglow

I'd like the memory of me
to be a happy one,
I'd like to lave an afterglow
of smiles when life is done.
I'd like to leave an echo
whispering softly down the ways,
of happy times and laughing times
and bright and sunny days.
I'd like the tears of those who grieve,
to dry before the sun of happy memories
that I leave behind when day is done.
Helen Lowrie Marshall


Thank you Wayne for all the wonderful memories - the way I will always remember you - laughing at life

Friday, November 17, 2017

Thank You Harvey!



Yes folks, I'm going to go there again. I'm "thanking" Harvey Weinstein but I'm going to give you a break and not post his ugly mug. 

I remember clearly the first time I heard my first "I  want to thank Harvey Weinstein" from Meryl Streep I thought "WHO IS HE?"  Then in subsequent Academy Awards all the "I want to thank you Harvey Weinstein's" got to be a joke, at least to me. Again I thought "Who is this Harvey Weinstein?"  Then I saw him.  To me this fat, sweaty, arrogant looking man looked with the stereotypical studio tyrant and sexual predator using the casting couch to cast his movies. Then I thought, "No, this is too obvious. He must be a sweet man."  Well, of course time has proven that ole Harvey was indeed the gross sexual predator and abuser of power from my first impression of him.

What I'm thanking Harvey Weinstein for is that the exposure of him as a gross sexual predator has created an avalanche and culture changing phenomena. Thank goodness.  This is way overdue. 

Imagine the hell these men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey (who always creeped me out) are going through now. Not only have they lost their careers (don't worry about their money, they still have millions) but they have lost their influence and power to abuse others.  

Imagine how frustrating it is for the Chief Sexual Perpetrator who resides in the White House who can't kiss women at will and grab their pussies (his exact words).  Oh sure, we now how "How about Bill Clinton?" How about Bill Clinton?  What he did wasn't right either and he paid the price (impeached).  

Now we're witnessing a child molester candidate for senator Roy Moore in Alabama.  Women have come forward giving witness to Moore stalking and assaulting them when he was in his late thirties and they were teenagers.  Moore says he doesn't know any of these women and the accusations are a "Democrat Clinton-Obama conspiracy" against him.  What is sad is that he knows he is lying and his Christian evangelicals know he is lying but they would rather elect a child molester to the Senate than a Democrat.  

Notice a difference in how the Democrats treat their sexual offenders and the Republicans?  The Democrats throw them under the bus (rightly) and the Republicans claim the women are lying.  Just to be clear, Al Franken shouldn't have taken advantage of his position and planted a deep tongue wet kiss on that woman or posed with his hands over her breasts in a photo thinking that was funny. It wasn't.  But at least he acknowledged his mistake and apologized. Unlike the cowardly Republicans who lie even in the face of obvious facts. 

Now women (and men) are taken more seriously when they make claims of sexual offenses against them.  Of course there is always the danger of false accusations and believe me that is a real possibility.  Twice in my working career I was accused of sexual harassment.  Both times I was disciplining a subordinate who worked for me and this was their was of deflecting attention from their failures.

The first time was a woman who worked for me. She wasn't doing her job. I gave her a written warning.  She went to personnel and accused me of sexual harassment. This was an interesting accusation since I am gay.  My boss knew I was gay and he didn't take her accusation seriously.

The second time (at a different bank) I was accused again of sexual harassment from a subordinate who was frequently absent. Now this charge was interesting because if I was going to sexually harass anyone it certainly wouldn't be him.  He was a redhead (I'm not into redheads) and had a big pot belly (he was an alcoholic).  He charge was based on a statement I made to him when we were both working one weekend at the bank.  I expressed disappointment that I couldn't attend a gay march on Washington with my friends.  That conversation happened about four months before his charge of "sexual harassment" from me.  His wife worked in personnel and apparently advised him that my conversation with him made him "uncomfortable."  Well, EXCUSE me.  This time I didn't have a friend in personnel and they came down on me for "sexually harassing an subordinate."  Of course I exploded and refused to sign the written warning I received.  This was when I realized that Personnel or Human Resources as that area is now known, isn't there to protect the employee but to protect the company from liability.  That was an eye opening experience for me folks and I have to say I was very disappointed.  I was naive enough to believe that Personnel was there for the employee but it isn't.  But again, what really got me was that ANYONE would think I would sexually harass that red headed, beer bellied alcoholic.  Man, if I'm going to be accused of sexually harassing anyone at least let it be my type.  

Well, I'm rambling on here folks.  Always interesting these trips down Memory Lane, even the bad memories. But to get back to the original intent of this blog, I'm thanking big, fat, greasy Harvey for bringing about this change in our culture so no longer women and men, will have to accept unwanted sexual attention from those in power above them. Poor Kevin Spacey, what is he going to do with his life now?  

What's going to be interesting folks, is this years' Academy Awards Show. What kind of ribbons with be worn on lapels and fame designer gowns this year? Will there be the usual inside jokes about Harvey and Kevin?  Or will there be preachy acceptance speeches?  Or (get ready for it) will we hear one more:

"THANK YOU HARVEY WEINSTEIN!"  


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Big Costly Mistake




Ever have on of those ideas that you thought was just right?  An idea that is costly but you're willing to plunge right in because  you're convinced that it is the perfect solution? Sure you have. 

Here is my latest Big Costly Mistake. God, I hope this is the last one I have. I wasn't going to post about it because it is just to painful but being the kind of guy I am who writes about (almost) everything, here I am telling my Tale of Woe.

In our sun room and living room I have a wall of seven windows. I paid to have extra windows installed because I LOVE a lot of light. Also, our property is situated that we can see the sunset from those windows. But as with all grand ideas, there is a downside. During the late afternoon, when the sun comes through those seven windows, the sun glare is brutal. 

About eight years ago I bought wooden Casablanca style blinds. Bill installed them. It was expensive and time consuming to install them but it was necessary because of that brutal late afternoon sun glare.

We've been handling that late afternoon sun glare but closing the blinds. But then when those blinds are closed, I get claustrophobic. I hate that closed in feeling. Bill doesn't mind but I do.

For a number of years I've been looking for a solution.  And then this year I thought I found it.

While staying at Pat's new condo in Hamilton, Ontario, he had see through roll down screen installed on his wall of windows. 




I thought "How cool is that?"  Then last month when visiting my neighbor Marty, who has the excact same house that Bill and I have, she showed me her same roll down screen to block out that afternoon sun. She had the screens installed outside her windows. Note this important distinction.

After seeing her windows with the sun glare screen protection I thought "I now have the solution!"  Bill caution me not to do it. But being the bullhead I am I called our local window man (who is very good by the way) to arrange to have those sun glare protection screens installed.

He came two weeks ago and took measurements. He advised to have them installed on the inside because of the weather element. I agreed.

I made a down payment of $500.  He ordered the screen and came back this week to install them.  As he was removing the wooden blinds I said "Aren't you leaving them up?" He looked surprised and said "You want them too?  I can do that but they will stick out."  So I made an Executive Decision and said "No, let's just go with the screens."  

Fast forward about three hours later (as the video at the top of this post shows), he finished. He did a wonderful job.  Our living area was now transformed. It was more open and definitely different.  Since Bill was against this idea all along, he was downstairs in his bedroom during the hours long installation process.  

I paid the balance of the bill ($550).  My screen installed (no names, I hope he doesn't read this blog post) gathered up his things and left. He had already neatly packed up our blinds. He said he could "dispose" of them or I could. I suggested that I would give them to a thrift store.

After he left Bill came up to view the finished job. He didn't like it. I didn't like it.  The whole character of our living space was changed and not for the better.  Oh sure, we had a more "open" look and definitely could see our backyard landscaping and beyond much better but he cozy ambiance we had before was now GONE.  Gone, gone, gone.

I had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I just threw away a LOT of money for nothing. How could I be so stupid?  

I'm thinking to myself "Maybe I'll get used to this."  Buy in my heart I knew I wasn't ever going to get used to the new window treatments. With that Wall of Windows now open all the time I felt totally exposed.  Maybe those screen shades work in a minimalist modern condo unit like Pat lives in but Bill and I live in a more traditional house. 




The more I thought about it the more I realized that blinds have much more flexibility than these roll down screens.  

The first day I rolled the screens now. Oh sure, they block out the harsh sun glare rays and I could now see out instead of looking at the wooden slates of our previous window covering.  But to me looking out through those screens I felt like I was looking through a fly's eyes.


 
Nope, wasn't working for me.

It took me about a day to admit to myself that the new window coverings weren't working.  Something Bill new from the first minutes he saw the windows.

I told Bill that I would have them changed back and I would donate the roll down screens to our local Habitat for Humanity thrift store. He told me he would change them, after all it was he who put the blinds up originally.

Now I have a new appreciation for our wonderful Casablanca mood setting blinds. And I am glad I don't have to store these screens that I will never use and at least they will go in a home and be put to use. But I am still having a hard time reconciling the money that I put out for something that was totally unnecessary.

Last week I turned 76 years old. Like many of you (and you know - smile - who you are) I have made many mistakes in my life. Life decisions as well as monetary decisions, most of which I choose to forget, because the memories are just too painful.

Every time I make one of those mistakes I say to myself "Ron, don't EVER make that mistake again!"  Then I think, at what age will I stop making these mistakes?  Well, I've come to the conclusion that as long as I'm alive I'll make mistakes, hopefully not the same mistake. But as the old adage says "You live and learn."  I just wish some of my mistakes weren't so costly.  

Just for the heck of it, I brought four lottery tickets on Thursday. Two for the Powerball and two scratch off tickets. Maybe I could win some money to offset my stupid decisions.  The Powerball was 90 million.  I didn't win that one (of course, I never do).  But guess what?  I won on BOTH of my scratch off tickets!  $5.00 on one and $20 on the other tickets.  Hey, it's a start. Only $1,025 to go.






Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans' Day 2017

 
Today is Veterans' Day. This is the day in which we honor all those men and women who have given everything to maintain the freedom we have today in the free world.


Me, 1958 DHS Marching Band - Sousaphone player
Me, Army Recruit 1960


This is a day that is not only celebrated here in the United States but other free world countries like Canada, where this day is called Remembrance Day.  Just a few minutes ago I called Pat and he was at a Remembrance Day ceremony.
And just where do you think I got my inspiration for a beard? John Phillip Sousa of course!


I am not at a formal ceremony today but I did want to take this time to expressed my gratitude to all those men and women who have sacrificed so much so we can live as free people as we do today.

As a former marching band member, I always choked up when I marched and played John Phillip Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever."  

One of my very favorite movies from the Fifties was the movie "Stars and Stripes Forever" which was a biography of John Phillip Sousa, played by Clifton Webb.


Thursday, November 09, 2017

Seventy-Six Trombones - Happy Birthday To Me!




Today is my 76th birthday!

Wow, how did I ever get this old? 

Never in my whole life did I think I would live this long.

I have already outlived most of my friends.  Thank goodness I still have Bill, who turned 89 years old in September.  

Thank goodness I have new friends like my blogger friends like Pat, Spo, Ray and many others. 

I am so thankful for the life I have had. 

Like all of you who are reading this blog, I have had my ups and downs.  But considering the very humble beginnings I came from and my average intelligence (I was a B student in high school and college), I've done pretty good. 

Of course I started life with several major advantages being born an American citizen, a HUGE plus in this world. 

I was also born white and male and tall. More advantages.  Now don't anyone take this the wrong way, I'm just stating a fact and you all know what I mean.  

But I was born with several major disadvantages.  I was born gay, a fact I new I was "different" when my brain began first working and figuring things out.  This happened when I was four years old.  I know that for a fact because I "knew" before I went to first grade.

Another major disadvantage was that I didn't have much encouragement growing up.  My father consistently put me down so much so that I was pretty much totally beaten down by the time I joined the Army when I was eighteen years old.  

Joining the Army was the best thing that ever happened to me. Got me away from home and caused me to strengthened my self confidence.

Then after I got out of the Army I met the love of my life, Bill Kelly.  


Me and Bill

Fifty-three years later here I am entering my 77th year on this planet.  

I have this fabulous friendship with my Canadian Travel Buddy, Pat. 




I have a great part-time job.

I live in a fabulous house in a diversity friendly state of Delaware.

My health is good for my age.  I have survived prostate cancer. Several bouts of kidney stones. I'm managing my arthritis.  My brain is still functioning relatively well and I still have hair and that hair isn't snow white. 

Yes folks, life is pretty good and I am so thankful. With Thanksgiving coming up I have so much to be thankful for.  I've had a good life and I continue to have a good life.

Have a great day everyone!!