Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween In Rehoboth Beach 2009

Halloween in Rehoboth Beach this evening wasn't what I thought it would be.  Maybe it because I went to the wrong party.  Maybe it was because I'm now thirty years older than the last time I went out on Halloween night with my good friend Big Bob.  Big Bob went out with me tonight and it was much different from our Halloween outing thirty years ago in center city Philadelphia, PA.

I had my costume, the Red Masque of Death.  Bob had his costume, a variation on Jason from Friday the 13th.  After scaring the neighbors, off we went to Rehoboth Beach this fine Halloween Night.  The weather was perfect.  A full moon rested in the sky with occasional dark clouds floating by it's luminous surface. 

I had a new appreciation of women and their clothing after maneauving myself in my car and attaching my seat belt without out tearing my long black Halloween fright night gown. 

We arrived at Rigby's Grill in Rehoboth.  It wasn't too crowded so we took a walk down Rehoboth Avenue to the boardwalk.  Along the way we encounted another Jason.

Along the way I gave several diners at the restaurants that line Rehoboth Avenue something to remember for the evening.  I stop and hovered around their dining tables.  They seemed to like that.  There were a multitude of smiles.  Apparently everyone was in a good mood this Halloween Night.

Then we reached the boardwalk.  The evening breeze was refreshing, coursing through the Spiderman type nettting on my face mask.  We saw some rowdy kids on the boardwalk so we didn't stay too long.  We didn't want to provide a handy target for any testostrone charge adolescent seeking to make his mark into manhood by bashing a fag.  Little red warning flags were popping up all over.

Back up Rehoboth Avenue and my friend Big Bob is running out of steam. We finally reach or destination of Rigby's Grill only to find it now packed shoulder to shoulder, elbow to elbow and ass to ass with like minded gay guys out tonight celebrating Halloween, some in costume.

As luck would have it I ran into two of my estranged neighbors, Don and Al. I had to go around them to get to the bar to order my drink. They looked and hesitated. How many tall (I'm 6'3") black hooded, blacked caped, red Masque of Deaths did they know? And, the fact that I wore the very same cape (I like wearing capes) last year might have given me away. But, Don hesitated, unsure of whom I was and let me pass without comment.

I reached the bar and thus began my long wait to order my Appletini martini. I'm standing at the bar in full costume, including the Red Masque of Death. How was I going to drink this martini? Very carefully.

I finally get my Appletini martini, with a straw. Uh huh, I tried to take a sip before I left the bar but only succeeded in getting most of the first gulp down the front of the black silky cloth hanging from my Red Masque of Death (oh, I love that name. Can you tell?)

As I worm my way from the bar to the back smoking (I don't smoke but I needed space) area outside so I could do some serious Martini sipping, I spilled about a quarter of my drink on some pour soul's head. Thank goodness I had my Red Masque of Death on. He looked at me and said "Is this part of your shtick?", or words to that effect. Now I'm down to half an Appletini martini. I needed air soon so I made a concerted effort to completely outside, past the designated smoking area to where the cars are parked.

I slurp down the rest of my Appletini martini and ask Big Bob, "Had enough?" He said he did. So, it was back to the car, make a left to Rehoboth Avenue, then a quick right before I could make another left in the traffic circle. I zipped through the circle (not too "zippy" though because the ever present Rehoboth Beach police was on duty to the side of the circle.) With the smell of a recently gulped down 2/3 rd's of an Appletini martini sloshing around in my stomach, I didn't this it a wise move this evening to take a sobriety test. Maybe some other time when the only liquid in me is ice tea or an occasional glass of water.

I take Big Bob home (he doesn't like to travel at night.) I come home. And here I sit writing about it. It was a good Halloween night but not as good as 1979. Maybe next year. Speaking of which, did the Phillies win?

Halloween 2009

The last time I went out on the town for Halloween was 1979.  I'm going out tonight. As in 1979,  I'm going out with my friend Big Bob, the same friend who I went out with back in 1979.  At that time I lived in Philadephia.  Big Bob lived in a suburb of Philadelphia.

I dressed in two different costumes:  The Wolfman and Scary Monster.  Bob dressed as Frankenstein both times.  We scared the bejusus out of many a patrons of the gay bars along the strip in Philadelphia last Halloween of the 70's.  Actually, the end of the 70's was the end of the Golden Era of gay bars.  The early 80's was when the Gay Plague (AIDS) entered the scene. 

Tonight we're going to try replicate that wonderful, carefree night out on the town.  Only this time we won't get drunk.  I'm driving.

Happy Halloween to one and all! 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Taking Sides

During my long life (67 years) I have encountered the situation of friends of mine having a falling out with each other. When this has happened, I have never taken one side over the other. Sometimes I felt as if I was expected to take sides. I just don't do it. Why should I?

Unless either one of the individuals give me cause to discontinue their friendship with me, I continue to be friends with both parties.

Recently I have encountered this situation with friends from different parts of my life. As regular readers of this blog will remember, recently I attended my 50th high school class reunion. The reunion was a wonderful success with much camaraderie and goodwill. Now in the aftermath of the reunion I find that one of the organizers of one of our previous reunions is feuding with the organizer of the last reunion. Harsh words were exchanged. Of course all this is about power and control. Politics.

Yesterday this former classmate of mine sent me an e-mail detailing her grievances with the current class reunion committee. She is looking for reinforcement from me what she sees as slights and disrespect to her. I am not playing this game. No thank you. I had a good time and the reunion and I am looking forward to the next reunion. I will not take time for the petty back and forth bickering.

Last night I had dinner with a friend of mine at a local eating establishment. We had a very enjoyable dinner. The food was excellent and the camaraderie of friendship better. My friend had originally wanted to go to new restaurant in town. Instead we went to the restaurant I suggested. Later I found out through a Facebook posting, that if we had gone to the new restaurant he suggested we would have ran into his former partner and his new love. That would probably have been an awkward situation.

Last night after I returned home I sent my friend an e-mail telling him of the "near miss." He was surprised that I was Friends on Facebook with his former partner and new love. He said it was "interesting." I don't think my friend expected me to take sides in his relationship. I think he knows me well enough to know that I won't take sides. Unless someone does me a wrong or does not want to be friends with me, I am friends to all. That is just my nature. I don't hold grudges. Not that I don't discontinue friendships, I do. If someone shows me that they don't respect me or appreciate my friendship, then I'm gone. But I hold no animosity towards them. It just takes too much work to hold that kind of hatred. I'm too lazy for that kind of activity.

So I will continue on my merry way making friends, losing friends and trying to avoid stepping on toes along the way. As they say "Every day is an adventure."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Then and Now

Here is one of those posts that provide an insight into my personality and life. Again, this is an idea I stole from a friend of mine because I'm just not that creative or original. But it is fun:


1) Age: 47

2) Romantic Status: Living with Life Partner for 25 years (with open relationship options)

3) Occupation: Trust operations manager at a big city bank (Philadelphia, PA)

4) Fun night out: No "nights out", too tired from daily commute to Philadelphia

5) My BFF's: My partner, Big Bob

6) I spent way to much time: Commuting to work in Philadelphia, PA

7) I spent not enough time: With my life partner

8) I wanted to be when I grew up: Senior Trust Operations Manager

9) Biggest concern: Amount of time spent commuting to job in Philadelphia

10) What my biggest concern should have been: Spending time with my life partner

11) Where did I live: Downingtown, PA

12) Dumbest thing I did that year: Risked life and limb to go to work in Philadelphia during an ice storm and never got reimbursed for the comp days when I left the bank

13) If I could go back now and talk to myself I would say: Quit the job in the city and get a life closer to home

Now - October 2009

1.) Age: 67

2.) Romantic Status: Living with Life Partner for 45 years (with open relationship options)

3.) Occupation: Retired, work part-time as hotel front desk clerk in Lewes, DE

4.) Fun night out: Dining out with friends in Rehoboth Beach area

5) My BFFs: My Life Partner, Bob C. (no longer Big Bob, who is fading away with dementia), and Wayne

6) I spend way too much time: Traveling back and forth to Pennsylvania

7) I spend not enough time: Spending time with my partner

8) I want to be when I grew up: I am exactly where I want to be at this time of my life

9) Biggest concern: My living expenses outpacing my fix retirement income thus the need for a part-time job

10) What my biggest concern should have been: Spending more time with my partner

11) Where did I live?Milton, Delaware

12) Dumbest thing I did this year: Continuing my friendships with selfish and inconsiderate people just because I've known them for a long time - these aren't "friends" and I have discontinued the relationships

13) If I could go back now and talk to myself I would say: Quit the job in the city and get a life

This was revealing to me as well as to the readers of this posting.  I think the biggest change in my outlook on life from 20 years ago and now, is that things I used to consider important (like what people thought of me) are no longer important and things I didn't consider important (spending time with my partner) I new realize are very important.  The only constant is change.  I can't imagine what my life will be like 20 years from now.  Oh yes, I do plant to be around 20 years from now.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ruminations About the Class Reunion

Well, here it is a week later already and my 50th class reunion is now history. This time last week, my neighbors and friends Jack and Judy (Judy being a former classmate) and I were barreling our way up Rt. 1 and I-95 to Pennsylvania in Jack's Lexus. Last weekend a Nor'easter hit the east coast and I was reluctant to drive in that wind and rain. I posted a Facebook comment to that effect. Judy saw it and offered me a ride up with them. Of course I accepted immediately. I am so thankful to have such wonderful and gracious friends as Jack and Judy. This is just another reason why I love living in Delaware.

Arriving in Pennsylvania, we decided it was best that I stay where Jack and Judy were staying, with another one of our former classmates whose name is also Judy. I'm telling you, I'm blessed to have such friends.

I'll jump right to the reunion. I'm one of these people who have absolutely no reluctance about going to my class reunions. I think all of my friends (other than some of my former classmates) have never gone to any of their reunions. They all give the same reason. Each one of them has had some bad experience while they were in high school and they don't want top revisit that time. This is something I don't understand. Who hasn't had a bad experience in high school? I certainly had my share of experiences that I wish had not happened. But that is all in the past. I guess we're all different. I try not to let the past dictate how I act in the present. But that's just me. There is a lot I "don't get." I don't lose much sleep over it though. In fact, I don't lose ANY sleep over past wrongs.

Our class had 114 graduating members. We also invited to our reunion former classmates who spent most of their school years with us but didn't graduate from our high school because they had moved to another school district.

Of the 114 graduating members of our class there are 20 that we know have died. There are 12 that are missing. 40 class members and 3 non graduating class members attended the reunion, most with their spouses or Significant Others. My Significant Other (aka Bill Kelly) chose not to attend.....again.

All of the class members had a wonderful time! This was the best class reunion I've ever attended.

The class reunions in the past that I've attended were:

20th Class Reunion held at St. Anthony’s Lodge in Downingtown, Pennsylvania

This reunion was a blur to me because it was so crowded and noisy (with the guest DJ), that I only had a chance to talk to the classmates who sat next to me at the dining table.

25th Class reunion held at the Waynebrook Inn in Honey Brook, Pennsylvania

Again, this was another very noisy class reunion that I had to shout to talk to anyone. The DJ was painfully loud. What was with that anyway?

35th Class Reunion held at the Italian Social Club in West Chester, Pennsylvania

This was a fun class reunion. The room was big and we had time to walk around and become acquainted with our former classmates. We also had a DJ but he didn't dominate the proceedings like the previous two class reunions.

40th Class Reunion held at the Downingtown Country Club in Downingtown, Pennsylvania

This was an "Okay" class reunion. I personally felt too much time was spent by the organizers thanking one another and giving out prizes. I wasn't sure whether I was at the one of those self aggrandizing awards ceremonies that the Hollywood stars give each other or a class reunion. We had some time to mingle with our former classmates but way too much time was spent giving out those prizes (like "best buns." Again, what was that all about?)

45th Class Reunion held at the Sheraton Hotel in Frazer, Pennsylvania

Up until the class reunion last week, this is the reunion I liked the most. The accommodations were great (I stayed overnight at the hotel in very comfortable room and bed) and we had plenty of time to wander around the room and reacquaint ourselves with our former classmates. In fact, I don't remember any "prizes" being handed out at all (thank goodness.)

50th Class Reunion held at the Whitford Country Club in Exton, Pennsylvania.

This reunion was the best! We had classmates come from great distances to be reunited with former classmates that they had not seen in fifty years. There was Jane and Marlene from Florida. Fred came in from Illinois. Ted came in from Oregon. Kathy came in from Las Vegas, Nevada. Don and Jeanne came in from upper New York State. Duer and Nanci came in from Tennessee. John came up from Virginia. And Bonnie, my first date (Soph Hop 1956) came in from Detroit, Michigan. The rest of the classmates came from the Downingtown area or nearby states (like Jack, Judy and me, 2 1/2 hours away in lower Delaware.)

We had music at this reunion but it was a juke box that didn't dominate the premises. We had some classmates speak from the podium. Duer gave the invocation. Denny said a few words about the growth of the Downingtown School District since we graduated (not surprisingly it has grown greatly.)

Frank, our former class president same something but I don't remember what he said. Not much has changed since our high school days because I never remember what he said then either. Sorry Frank, no disrespect but you would have made a great politician. The lips move, sound comes out but after you're done talking, I don't know what you said. That's all right Frank, we all love you anyway.

Then it came time for Patty. If you're not of our class, it's hard to explain Patty. Let me try to explain. Patty is our "entertainer." No one cannot help but be amused when Patty "does her thing." Patty is the one who in the past has passed out the "awards." When I saw Patty tippy toe to the podium I thought, "Oh no, here come the awards." All I could think of was "Please Patty, not more 'Best Buns' awards. Al got it the last time, he doesn't need to get it again. We get it. " Thank goodness she wasn't giving out those joke awards. However, she was giving out gold stars. Her goal was to give everyone a gold star. The gold star was sort of like an award. Old habits are hard to break but this seemed harmless.

Then Carole, the organizer of the reunion, came to the microphone. She had a wonderful idea. Pass the microphone around and let everyone has their say. Oh joy. Exactly what I did not want to do. That damn microphone. Even though the reunion committee rented it, doesn't mean it has to be used. But Carole was not to be deterred. She handed the microphone off to John up from Virginia Beach. John spoke awhile about what he's been doing the past fifty years until Carole said "That's enough!" and took the mike back (in the kindest way possible of course.) I think even Carole realized that if everyone was going to get up and speak about what they did the past fifty years, we were going to be at the country club way past our closing time of 11 PM.

Carole then passed the mike around the floor to those class members who don't usually attend the reunion. It was interesting hearing them but I think a lot of us really didn't want the mike thrust into our face. I know I didn't. I know my friend Bill didn't. Hey, I came to the reunion to reacquaint myself with my former class members, not to do the Academy Award thing of thanking every one from my kindergarten teacher to my agent. But then, that's just me. What can I tell you?

After the Passing Around of the Microphone, came time to mingle with the classmates again. We did that until about 11:30 at which time some of the class members started to head to the coat roams to get their weather gear to venture out into the Nor'easter rains whipping around outside the country club. All too soon another class renion was coming to an end.

This is probably our last formal class reunion. We're at an age now that more of us won't be around for the 55th class reunion. And also, the "55th Class Reunion" doesn't have quite the ring of a 25th, 35th, 40th, 45th or 50th does it? No, I think what we're going to do as far as class reunions in the future is to have informal annual class reunions. We have done this in the past. Usually it is a picnic at a classmate's backyard in the summertime. One year we even went on a night time dinner cruise out of Philadelphia. Those picnics and the cruise were very popular. I will suggest this course to the reunion committee.

I think that is the way to go in the future. One good thing about those the informal, picnic reunions is there are no awards handed out.

By the way Patty, I didn't get a gold star.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Day at the Beach

Today I did something I haven't done since I retired to the Rehoboth Beach area of Delaware in November of 2006.  I walked on the beach. 

That's right, I left the boardwalk and put my sneakered feet on the sand at the beach. 

Years and years ago, before I was diagnosed with acinite keratosis (a pre skin cancerous condition) I used to lay for hours on the beach.  That youthful folly went out the window after I was warned I could develope skin cancer by prolonged exposure to the UV rays of the sun.

I did not move to the coastal shore of southern Delaware for the beach.  I moved to Delaware for many reasons, the main ones being that Delaware is very tax friendly to a senior citizen like me.  The other reason is that the Rehoboth Beach-Lewes-Milton area of Sussex County has a large gay population.  While I haven't made too many friends within the gay population (I can count on one had the gay friends I have made), I am more comfortable in a community where I don't engender stares when I shop or dine with my life partner Bill.  There are just too many same sex couples in the Rehoboth Beach area of Delaware to make the appearance same sex couples in public seem unusual.

I love living near the ocean.  Living near the ocean has always been my goal.  Three years ago I was finally able to realize that goal when I retired to Delaware.  But something unusual happened when I retired to Delaware.  I found that I spent very little time at the beach. 

One of the reasons was that I did not venture into Rehoboth Beach at all during the tourist season.  From Memorial Day to Labor Day, I avoid Rehoboth Beach like the plague.  The reason I do this is that I don't enjoy sitting in traffic.  Yes, traffic on Route 1 in the summertime is a nightmare in Rehoboth Beach.  I've tried it once or twice and have vowed never again to spend two hours or more just to get in the lava flow that is called the Rehoboth Tourist on Rehoboth Avenue.  No way.

But one thing I have noticed over the years I have lived here is that there are many perfect weather day in the off season.  Today was such a day.  And I took advantage of it.

This morning, after ordering photos for my class reunion at Wal-Mart, I made a right turn out of the Wal-Mart parking lot towards Rehoboth Beach. Normally, I make a left turn out of the parking lot and head north on Rt. 1 to my home on the outskirts of Lewes. No, this morning I was going to the beach.

Traffic was light as I made the left hand turn into Rehoboth down Rehoboth Avenue. All the parking meters had hoods. No parking fees! I pull into my regular parking spot across from the Purple Parrot Restaurant. The time was 10 o'clock. I planned to kill two hours wandering around Rehoboth before taking lunch (by myself) at the Purple Parrot.

I walk down to the boardwalk and began my brisk walk. This would be my exercise for the day. I walked all the up to the south end of the boardwalk until I got to the part of the boardwalk under construction. Then I went down the path between the protected sand dunes and walked on the beach. I'm on the beach. My feet are in the sand for the first time in three years.

There were a few other people the beach. On the beach today were a group of five fishermen; a man with a metal detector and a young couple taking a lazy stroll on the beach.

The beach had big ruts from some kind of vehicle. On this day there were no sun worshipers with their brightly colored towels and soft bodies on the beach. However, there were a lot of clam shells that had washed in from the ocean. Some sea gulls were perched on solitary pilings in the water. I took my camera out and started to take pictures. Surely I'm not the first person to take a picture of a sea gull at the beach but it was the first time I have done it. This was a day for me.

After about an hour on the beach I decided to take a ride to Gordon's Pond at Cape Henlopen State Park and North Shores. My sun worshiping friends spend their summer days with their friends at North Shores. I wanted to see where they go. A friend of mine at work had told me about Gordon’s Pond and how beautiful it was. They were right. The Gordon’s Pond section of Cape Henlopen State Park is a beautiful, natural wetlands preserve. Under the bright sun hung in the crystal blue sky and 75 degree temperatures, I found a seat by the trail. And there I sat.

I made a phone call to my brother in Greenville, South Carolina. I wanted to tell him how relieved I was that my Mother now living with him and his wife and getting care that only other women can provide. Mom will spend her winter in South Carolina, away from the cold snow and ice of Pennsylvania. John and I had a good conversation.

My stomach was telling me it was time for lunch. Off I headed to the Purple Parrot in Rehoboth Beach. Again I pull into my regular parking slot (no parking meter fees, I love it) and saunter into the restaurant. Violet, the waitress brings a menu over to me. But I already know what I'm getting. I'm ordering a Wimpy which is actually large hamburger. I ordered my Wimpy with all the fixings (or as my friend Tom tells me "You look like you're ordering your last meal). I order a side of French Fries. I ate all of them except two.

Now I'm stuffed. A Wimpy hamburger isn't a wimpy hamburger. Stuffed as I am I wander up the street to see if my friend The Cajun is at Job #2. I don't see him. I go up the street and turn around. I look in again; he's not at his post. Oh well, I only wanted to stop in and say "Hi!"

I go to my car. It's nice not to have to worry about the parking meter time running out. I back out and head up Rehoboth Avenue on my way out of my Day at the Beach. I loved it. And to top of a perfect day, my meal at the Purple Parrot was half off. They have a special going on in the off season, every Wednesday all day half off all sandwiches. Now I know what I will be doing on my Wednesdays until Memorial Day next year. I'll be paying a weekly visit to Rehoboth Beach,weather permitting.  I love living in Delaware.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mom Moves South

On the same day I arrived in Pennsylvania (last Saturday, October 17th) for my 50th class reunion, my brother John and his wife took Mom back with them to their home in Greenville, South Carolina.

Mom is going to spend the winter with John and Barb in the warmer climes of the south. I feel so relieved now that Mom will be in a better environment than her small, dark, cluttered home in Downingtown, PA.

My other brother Isaac was living with her and taking care of her at her Pennsylvania home. But at this time of her live (she is 86 years old) Mom needs the help and companionship of another woman. She will get that at John's home with John's wife Barbara and his daughter Nancy, who also lives with them.

Mom will have her own full apartment located in John's house. She will even have her own deck. There is plenty of room for Mom to do her daily exercise with her walker. She wouldn't be able to do this if she stayed in PA for the winter. Once her driveway iced over in the depths of winter, she had to wait until the spring meltdown to get out and do her exercises.

Mom didn't want to move. She wanted to stay in her home in PA of 51 years. That's where she felt safe and comfortable. But it just wasn't working anymore. It was jut a matter of time before she fell in her cluttered house and broke something then we would have to move her. It's better for her to move on her own accord now than moving later to a nursing home because she fell and broke her hip. Plus, we also want to have more activity in her life. She was becoming very depressed and sleeping most of the day.

I feel so relieved now knowing that my Mom has finally made the move to a safer environment. The adjustment to her new surroundings will take some time but once she is settled in I am confident she will know that this is best for her.

I talked to John yesterday. He told me Mom hasn't stopped smiling since she arrived at his home. I knew the move was the right thing to do. I hope that if I reach her age, someone would do as much for me. I would love to winter in the south. But, I can't worry about that now. Right now, I’m very happy for my Mom.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Class Reunion a Success!

The Nor'easter rains that blanketed the eastern coast yesterday did not dampen the success of my 50th high school class reunion. The reunion was a resounding success!

My neighbor and fellow classmate Judy and her husband Jack stopped by my house yesterday morning to give me a ride with them to attend the 50th Class Reunion of the Downingtown High School class of 1959. Judy offered me the ride after she read my Facebook comment of how I hate to drive in the rain. Am I lucky or what to have such dear and generous friends? Believe me, there is not a day that goes by that I don't appreciate my friends.

Judy's husband Jack is an excellent driver as he demonstrated again and again as he traveled north on Rt. 1 to the dreaded I-95 Interstate (which thankfully was light on traffic yesterday) and then Rt. 202. Jack was steady and cool all the way.  On the way up we made a pit stop at Trader Joes in one of the many shopping malls that line Rt. 202 just across the Pennsylvania state line.

My brother John from South Carolina was up at my Mom's in Downingtown (where I was originally going to stay), to pick her up and take her south with him and his wife to Greenville to spend the winter (don't I wish it was me.) Since I didn't have a car it was suggested that I stay with Jack and Judy who were staying with another classmate (who was also named Judy) rather than stay at my Mom's.  That sounded like an excellent idea to me so we were off to Judy's.

I have a feeling I'm starting to confuse things here so I'll fast forward a bit here.

At Judy's, fortified with a very robust martini (compliments of Jack), we dashed out of Judy's house into the darkness of the night and the relentlessly driving rain and into Jack's waiting SUV. We were on our way to the Whitford Country Club for an evening of spiritueux de fĂȘte and camaraderie with our former classmates and old friends.

Now I'll say one thing right here, the key to having a smashing good night is to have one of Jack's martinis before entering an event like this. My previous nervousness was gone replace by an ear to ear smile which was starting to hurt my face.

Once inside the country club, I headed to the cash bar and refortified myself with another martini (this time an Appletini martini) then I plunged into the 80 or so former classmates and their spouses (mine didn't attend, he's still shy after 45 years of domesticity with me.)

Carole at the reception desk gives me my reunion booklet (and that's another story, we almost had a disaster with the printer getting the completed booklet printed but I won't go into that in this posting), name tag (like no one would no who I was, big chance) and a big "Hi Ronnie!" We're off to the races!

The room was loud with the many conversations going at once of former classmates and friends catching up on the last 50 years of so of life. A professional photographer roamed around the perimeter of the crowd taking candid shots. No shy folks in this crowd.

As is usual at these events we look for the classmates who have never attended a reunion, anxious to see if we can still recognize them and, even more important, can they recognize us!

Ah, I heard Marlene was up from Florida. Marlene and I posed together in several yearbook photos as students playing the drums. Of course neither one of us has ever played either instrument then or since. But I digress.

I found Marlene and she was as lovely as ever! A classic beauty of who time has changed little.

And there was Bonnie. Bonnie drove down from Detroit, Michigan. My first date in high school (Soph Hop - I didn't have a car, my dad drove us, I was mortified that I didn't drive.)

Then there was Anne. Anne was one of the moral compasses in our class along with Jeanie, the other moral compass of our class who was also there last night.

There was Freddie from Illinois, now an evangelist preacher. I had a long and interesting conversation with Freddie. I talked more to Fred last night than I did all the years we played together in the high school band under Mr. Ifert. Fred is still the same as he was back in The Day, just less hair (which seemed to be a common theme among most of the guys, me included.)

Rose made it! Rosie was always one of my favorite gals in class (although she never seemed to notice me.) Her brother John (who was also in our class) convinced her to come. I was so glad to see her.

So may classmates, so little time. I'm running around like a hyper caffeinated photographer, getting as many pictures of my classmates and photos of myself with them as I could. Who knows, this may be the last time I see many of them. Some came from great distance and some came from Downingtown and nearby towns and countryside, the same area they have lived the past fifty years since graduating from high school.

At this reunion we're not talking about children, or even grandchildren as much. This one we're talking about great-grandchildren! How could this be? It just seems like a few short years ago that we were fresh faced, thin and clean shaven youngsters with full heads of hair (the guys) ready to take on life after graduating from high school as the Last Class of the Fifties.

Now the hairlines of most of the guys have receded (or disappeared altogether) and the waists have thickened. But what hasn't changed is the special uniqueness that we all felt as the last class of the Fifties to graduate from the old Downingtown Joint Junior-Senior High school building. Most of us have always felt that our class, whatever the social-economic backgrounds of the different students, was special in our camaraderie and caring for each other.

Last night was one of the best nights in my life.  I will never forget it.

"Bons amis longtemps de phase et bon temps!"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Anticipating the Class Reunion

This Saturday my 50th class reunion takes place at the Whitford County Club in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

I've attended the 20th, 25th, 35th, 40th and 45th reunion. But it is the 50th reunion is the reunion that I'm looking most forward to attending.

I am glad I'm still alive. Out of 114 graduating members of our class, 18 have died. I have survived even though the classmates listed alphabetically before and after me have died.

I am glad to say that I weigh the same now (160-165 lbs) the same now as I did when I graduated high school in June of 1959. However, my hairline is a few more inches above my eyebrows than it was 50 years ago.

A Nor'easter is scheduled for this weekend. I was dreading driving up to Pennsylvania in all that rain but there was no way I was going to miss my 50th class reunion. However, I was fortunate in that a classmate who lives nearby saw my posting on Facebook about me hating to drive in the rain. She called yesterday and asked if I would like to ride up to Pennsylvania with her and her husband. Would I ever! Absolutely! Now I can have a martini or two at the reunion and not have to worry about getting a DUI driving home.

I hear the rain beating against the windows of my home office as I type this blog posting. This is the beginning of the Nor'easter that was forecast for the weekend. I am so glad we had wonderful, sunny weather for last weekend's Equality March in Washington D.C. Things are going well. Life is good.

Note: the picture on this blog is me (really) and my date for my Senior Prom (1959) Jeanette Pritchard.
Cute couple huh?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Still on a High

Two days after the National Equality March in Washington, D.C., I'm still on a natural high. Of course that is the best kind of high one can attain (not that I would know of any other "highs.")

My friend Bob and I must have walked at least five miles around Washington on Sunday. Most of the marchers were in their early 20's. They can walk all day and dance the night away. That was not the case with these two marchers in their 60's (and I'm closer to 70 which is still hard for me to believe.)  If we tried that we would probably end up in the local emergency room.

Last night at work all the walking we did in Washington finally caught up with me. Both of my hip joints ached so much they made me light headed. I felt like they needed a shot of W-2. I was walking around like a man with a boom handle up his behind.

Man oh man; the old body just can't do what it used to do. When I was in my early 20's I remember times I would be up all night and not get to bed until 4 or 5 in the morning and go do work the next day at 8:30. How I ever did that I have no idea. If I tried that now I......well it would be impossible.

All morning I sat at the computer and reviewed my 230 pictures and videos of the Equality March. I will sort through those and put a nice album up on my Facebook account for all to share. I do have some rather nice iconic pictures to share. This is what I enjoy doing. I think I missed my mark in life; I should have been a photographer. Just more proof that one should follow one's heart when pursuing a lifetime career. Do what you enjoy doing. I've always liked taking pictures.

My friend Bob and I went out to dinner with our friend The Cajun at the Purple Parrot in Rehoboth Beach tonight.

We have our town back again. While we appreciate all the summertime tourists and all the money they bring into the local economy it is always nice to regain our town again. While it was a bit chilly sitting at the open air tables at the Parrot and the street traffic was light, that was a small price to pay to have the noise and crowds gone.

We ordered our usual Wimpy burgers (which are anything but "wimpy") and Happy Hour glasses of wine. Our cute waiter wasn't hassled by a crowded restaurant and was thus able to spend some time with the three Old Guys.

Yes indeed. Today was a good day which was topped off by a cute waiter. Life for me doesn't get much better than that. I’m good. Life is good.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

After the Equality March

What a day! The weather was just perfect. The skies above were crystal blue punctuated by white puffy clouds. The temperature hovered around 65 degrees and a slight breeze. We could not have asked for better day to have a march for equality for the GBLT community in our nation's capital.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, the first and only march I ever participated in was the first march on Washington D.C. for gay rights back on October 14, 1979. This march was different in many ways.

First, this march was much nosier. The 1979 march had many more people (over 100,000 versus the 40,000 or so that were at today's march) but we were all quiet. Remember this was the first ever gay rights march in Washington D.C.

Our route from the Washington Monument was lined by hundreds of police on motorcycles. That was for our protection. In 1979, there was so much tension in the air you could slice it. By contrast, today's March route was not lined by police motorcycles. In fact, we had no police protection at all other than the standard police protection afforded all citizens of this country. That's progress, now we of the GBLT community are being treated like all other citizens.

Today's march was boisterous. It was like a block party. There was no tension in the air. Oh sure, along the parade route there was the occasional religious bigot holding a bible up and shouting that we were all going to hell. But they were quickly shouted down, in the "nicest way possible."

Color abounded with the many rainbow flags. Laughter was heard all around. Even though the parade was somewhat disorganized (as most parades are), everyone was patient and good natured about the delays.

My only problem after walking the route from the White House to the Capitol Building was that my back was aching something terrible. My friend Bob and I had to sit on the capital lawn to recover.

Oh, I also lost one of my rainbow flags (I quickly purchased another) and my hooded sweat jacket during my walks. I especially miss my navy blue hooded sweat jacket but I'm sure it has found a new home. Hopefully the new owners will appreciate it as much as I have over the years.

Bob and I enjoyed out two hour plus outing on the cool, green grass of the Capitol Building grounds. I took the occasion to walk around and take pictures of the Capital Building and the demonstrators and I even met a few and exchanged e-mail address with them to send them copies of the pictures I took of them.

Then it came time to meet up with our little group that took the bus from the K-Mart parking lot in Rehoboth Beach earlier in the morning for our trip to Washington. We were to all meet outside of one of the buildings of the Smithsonian Institute.

Bob and I arrived early. Bob wanted to stop inside the Smithsonian to get a new booklet. I went in with him. I soon noticed that I was being given disapproving stares by some of the more conservative tourists in the building. One that I remember especially was a lady about my age (67) who was sitting outside on a bench with her husband. I nodded a friendly acknowledgement in her direction as I followed Bob into the building. She gave me a cold look and turned her head without acknowledging me. I mentioned this to Bob and he said "No wonder, you're waving your flag (the gay rainbow flag) all around." And indeed I was plus I had about eight strands of various colored bling (Mardi Gras necklace beads) draped around my neck. I was so caught up in my freedom that I forgot that I was entering a different zone when we went to the Smithsonian with all the regular tourists.

Well, not wishing to offend anyone's conservative sensibilities I quickly retreated to the Smithsonian men's room and furled my rainbow flag and took my many colored necklaces off and placed them in my camera bag. I emerged from the rest room a different man. I told Bob "I can always pass. I’ve been doing it for years"

I immediately noticed that I was no longer receiving disapproving glances from the folks now that I had put my beads and flag away. However, Bob did receive one or two “looks.” He was still wearing his Equality March T-shirt (which he layered over his other clothes earlier in the parade.) However, his T-shirt was plain white with printing on it. Not like me, a gay man proudly displaying his many colors. Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Something very interesting did happen during the parade. Just as we started someone shouted behind me "Look! There's a rainbow!" And sure enough, I looked up from the street to the sky above a nearby building and there was the rainbow. What really made this rainbow significant was because there was not a hint of rain today. The whole day was sunny. So, one has to wonder......were we receiving a blessing from Above? It sure did look like it.

The Morning of the Equality March

In a few short hours I catch the bus for the trip to Washington D.C. for today's March for Equality.

Thirty years ago on October 14, 1979 I also caught a bus on an early Sunday morning. This bus left from center city Philadelphia where I lived at that time. This bus left for Washington D.C. and the first ever gay rights march in our nation's capital. At that time I used to keep journal entries. Below is the journal entry I made after I returned from the trip:

Sunday, October 14, 1979


"I did it! Something I'm very proud of. Participated in the March on Washington for Gay Rights. Very spur of the moment but right!

I do regret not having took my camera. I thought I would be a tourist but everybody had a camera! And what a time to take a picture! And plenty of opportunity. I just wasn't thinking. Hope there's another one. I won't make the same mistake.

People, gay people, from all over the country! Amazing! Felt so good. Now to see what the news says about it. Wouldn't surprise me if they said nothing.

This is the first demonstration I was ever in and it was the right one. Met a guy I hung around with. Not my type but it was good not to be alone.

Saw Al from Provincetown. Bobby from San Francisco. Also Richard but he was very rude.

This is something. Be a long time until I get over this one. Wish Bob went with me."

It was very interesting for me to read this journal entry. I had not read it since I entered it thirty years ago. I didn't remember if I took my camera but now I know. Notice the importance I placed on having a camera with me. Oh how I wish I had taken a camera. But look at my reason, I was afraid They would think I was a tourist! When I got there I was stunned at how many people were at the march. Oh how I wish I had taken my camera. I won't make that mistake today. Today I take my camera.

Now I have to get ready for my Big Trip. I am excited, again.

Friday, October 09, 2009

National Equality March

The planets have aligned and I can go to the National Equality March in Washington D.C. this Sunday, October 11, 2009.

Ironically, the last and only time I ever march in a national demonstration of any kind was the very first gay rights March which also took place in Washington D.C. The date was October 14, 1979. It was called "The March on Washington."

The funny thing is I had not planned on attending either one of these marches. While I have been out since the spring of 1964 as a gay man, I have never participated in any kind of public demonstrations. That is not my nature. I've never even been to a rock concert let alone a public political demonstration.

How I happened to go on the first march in Washington to demand equal rights as a gay man was quite by chance. In 1979 I was living in an apartment on Spruce Street in Philadelphia, waiting for the construction of my home in Chester County to be completed. One Friday or Saturday (I forget which) I was in my usual spot at the 247 Bar, a leather and western bar down the street from where I lived.

I was with a group of fellow bar attendees on a night out of cruising when someone asked me "Are you going on the march tomorrow?" I said "What march?" He explained to me it was a march that was taking place in Washington D.C. to demand recognition for our civil liberties as gay men and women. My first response was "No." Then I thought, "Why not?" I wasn't doing anything the next day.

I asked, "How would I get there?" He said "A bus is leaving tomorrow from the front of the 247 Bar." How convenient. I asked "How much would it cost?" He said "There is no charge." How could I refuse? Put up or shut up. I decided to make myself known as a gay man in the most visible place in the world, the capital of the United States of America.

I made my decision right then and there. The bus was to leave at 8 am the next day. I slept little that night. I thought "What have I gotten myself into?" I remembered Harvey Milk was assassinated less than a year ago for publicly displaying himself as a homosexual. I myself had been threatened many times with violence for just exiting a gay bar, being on a gay beach alone, and walking on a darkened road to my motel room in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I've been chased with a baseball bat and had a gun pulled on me and, of course, had the standard invective hurled at me many times, "F*cking faggot!" I have also been very, very lucky and survived without injury.  I am not a religious person but I attribute my good fortune to my guardian angel.  He is always with me. His name is Don.

The day of the trip my knees were literally shaking. I was that nervous. I climb on the bus with other gay men that I didn't know. However, we all had one thing in common, we were going to demonstrate in our nation's capital that we too, were citizens of this country and deserved the same rights and respect that every other citizen in this country takes for granted.

The trip takes a little less than three hours to get us to Washington D.C. The day was overcast, with shards of sunlight occasionally slicing through the clouds. The first thing I notice was how many people were there. I never saw so many gay people together in one place in my lifetime. And I've been on Commercial Street in Provincetown in the height of the summer season. There were thousands and thousands of gay men and woman blanketing the Washington Monument Mall.

The next thing I notice is the wonderful, exhilarating feeling that is overtaking me. The only time I had that feeling before was the first time I visited Provincetown. The feeling was one of freedom. It sounds corny but the phrase that immediately came to my mind was "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty I'm free at last!"  I literally felt the weight of oppression lifted from my shoulders.  I stood straight and tall.

I had lived with the oppression of hatred and discrimination so much of my life that I didn't even realize how much it had oppressed me. But once on  October 16, 1979 in Washington D.C., I had that same feeling of euphoria.

Something else I noticed was that the police were protecting us! Our parade route was lined with Washington D.C. police officers on their motorcycles (rather small motorcycles I thought by the way.) There we were thousands of gay men marching down a route lined with uniformed, sun glass wearing, butch D.C. cops on motorcycles. Now if that doesn't make a gay man feel good, nothing will!

Well, to sum it that day was one of the best days in my life. Oh there were a few pockets of homophobes during the route of our parade looking at us with shock and disgust. One can only imagine what was going through their minds but they were outnumbered and they knew it. Now that truly was a rare feeling, to outnumber the straights.

During and after the parade I met a few guys I knew. I was really impressed with San Francisco contingent of the parade. I never saw to many men with such beautiful blue eyes. When I expressed my admiration for all those beautiful blue eyes someone next to me said "They're wearing contact lenses."

After the parade and the speeches, we milled around the Washington Monument Mall. I think I took my camera with me but I don't remember. If I did, I don't know what I did with the pictures if I took any. Remember, back in those Dark Ages days, many gay men and women didn't want their pictures taken for fear of being blackmailed. How times have changed.

Tomorrow morning at 8 am I board another bus for a gay rights march in Washington D.C. This time I'm 30 years older (67 now instead of a nervous and scared 37 year old) and I have my camera with me. There will be pictures taken. This time I am not nervous. This time I am not afraid.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Domestic Discord

One would think that after 45 years of living together, two individuals could work things out and not have so many disagreements. If one would think that as it applies to me and my relationship with my Life Partner Bill, one would be wrong. Again, Bill isn't speaking to me.

This is a pattern he has repeated with regularity in all our 45 years of living together. I used to think I was at fault. Then about ten years ago I saw him do the same thing to his friend Damon. Bill met Damon at the cancer clinic where he was taking my Mother for her radiation treatments. Damon works at the clinic as a radiologist. They struck up a friendship right away. Damon is a very handsome man with crystal blue eyes. Bill always was a sucker for blue eyes (I have blue eyes.) Bill met Damon's large family (ten now and growing) and fell in love with them. Now if Bill could get mad at Damon for the flimsiests of reason, then it's on Bill. Damon is one of the most unselfish, good hearted people I've ever met. That was when I realized that Bill had these periods of getting mad a people that he liked very much just to test them and see if they really liked him. Bill was doing the same thing to his new friend Damon that he had been doing to me for many years. Some have asked why I put up with this. That would be a whole another subject for a future blog posting. I don't want to go into those areas on this post.

Well, one day Bill comes home early from a Saturday with Damon's family. I asked him what was wrong. He said he wasn't speaking to Damon. I asked him why? I forget the reason, but it was something of small import. Which is interesting because of all the big fights or disagreements Bill and I have had over the years it is always of things I can't remember. But, that was the day I realized "Maybe it's not me and it's Bill. Maybe Bill is the problem."

This afternoon we're driving back from Milton. I made a quick run to the local super market. I always ask Bill if he wants to go along for the ride. He usually does. Unfortunately, Bill has a bad, bad habit of back seat driving. In this case he's sitting in the passenger seat.

Once, at a Milton intersection he almost caused me to have an accident. I was waiting to go straight through the intersection behind a car that was waiting to make a left hand turn. Bill told me to pass the car on the right. Just to keep him from yelling at me, I proceed to pass the car in front of me on the right, crossing the solid white line as I did. As I was passing the car I almost hit an oncoming car making a left hand turn through the intersection going the opposite direction! Phew! That was a close call. I should never have passed on the right let alone across a solid white line. I said that out loud to no one in particular, that's just how relieved I was not to have a head on crash through that intersection. That was cause for Bill not to speak for me for over a week. He vowed never to ride with me again.

He eventually got over that mad on and began going with me on my errands. Most times he keeps his urges to himself of telling me how to drive. I've told him I don't know how many times, there is only one person at a time that can drive a car. But Bill has such an urge to control everything I do, he can't help himself. God forbid if I should offer advice to him on how to drive. Hell, I can't even tell him when he's pulling in front of a car that is about to hit us. I have to keep my mouth shut which I usually do except when I see we're about to be hit by another vehicle.

Bill is the classic Road Rage driver. That's why I would rather drive. There have been too many times in the past when I have been embarrassed by his uncontrollable temper. It's a wonder he hasn't been arrested.

This is the incident today that caused his rage. To get to where we live off of Rt. 1.  I have to make a left hand turn on Rt. 1. I have to wait for a break in the north bound traffic on Rt. 1. Sometimes there are northbound vehicles (I'm southbound when I'm making my left hand turn) waiting in the center island to make a right hand turn. Today was such a day. Two large Sposato landscaping vehicles were waiting to make a turn. Bill tells me to also pull in the island. Normally I would wait until these to vehicles made their turns then I would get into the island so I would have a clear view. But today I listened to Bill (again to avoid him yelling at me) and placed my car in the island. Once there I could not see the traffic going northbound on Rt. 1. Bill tells me "Go!" I hesitated because I couldn't see the traffic. He yells "Go!" again. I tell him "I can't see." He says "When I say Go! Go!" I didn't. I tell him "What's the hurry? We'll still get home." What? A minute later? So what? As usual with Bill there is no discussion (he would lose the argument anyway.) He yells "Hush!" "Hush!"

When we get home he goes into his bedroom and locks the door. I put the groceries away and go down and knock on the door. He says "Leave me alone!" So here we are again. I'll get the silent treatment for about a week on this episode.

I've seen this movie before. In fact, I've seen this movie many times. It's not one of my favorite movies.

In the past, when I used to think it was my fault, I would go out and buy some things. Yes, I was a classic spendaholic. I can't do these days. I'm poor. Plus, since I know it's not my fault, I don't have the guilt feelings I have to assuage. Now what I do is housework. Thus tonight was a perfect time for catch up on my cooking. Bill wouldn't be in the kitchen complaining about what I had on TV (the MSNBC lineup of Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow) so I could cook up a bath of food for the following week. That I did. Here is what I cooked (all homemade):

Meat loaf

Orange cake

Mashed potatoes

Chicken salad

I'm set for the week now. If he's still not speaking to me by Friday, I'll shampoo the rugs (he hates it when I shampoo the rugs, he doesn't think they need shampooing.) If he's not speaking to me by Saturday, then it will be a good time for me to finally attack my storage room in the basement and finally finish unpacking the remaining boxes of our move to Delaware in November of 2006.

Say, I wonder if this isn't all a ruse to get me to clean out those boxes? Nah.

Random Observations on a December Morning

Late yesterday afternoon sun on our cozy home (in the background).    What? Yet another selfie of yours truly in a hoodie on his property in...