Monday, April 30, 2012

Gay Headstones?

Me standing over my two cemetery plots at Northwood Cemetery

As regular followers of this blog know, I am a long time member of FAG. For those of you who don't know what FAG is, it is Find a Grave.  I am a Find a Grave volunteer.  I take pictures of gravestones and post them to the Find a Grave website.

I am now at the point in my life where I am going to choose my own headstone.  However, I have a dilemma.  Do I order one of those dual headstones that so many married couples have?

In my cemeteries wanderings I have seen literally thousands of these "married" headstones.  I have wondered, what kind of headstones do gay couples have after they die?  Of course back "then" there were no gay couples.  "Back then", gay couples stayed in the closet, even in the cemetery.

Well, I think it is time for all of use to come out, even in the cemetery. Sure, one has to take into consideration that a headstone with two male names on it would be a prime object of cemetery vandalism.  Yes Virginia, gays are fair game for bashing even in the cemetery.

So it was with great interest that I came across this headstone this morning as I was posting my latest cemetery information to FAG.

So here we go folks.  I discovered this dual headstone of two men, approximately the same age and obviously not brothers.  I researched these names on and discovered that Lester Webb was listed as "single" on the 1940 U.S.Census. He lived in his sister's house with her husband and family.  Could Lester be the gay uncle?  Ah ha!

The only information I could find on Joseph Hayward was that he lived in Sussex County, Delaware.  I could find no U.S. census information. I could find no wife.  I could find no family for Joseph Hayward.  Could it be that Joseph was Lester's "friend?"

Just this weekend, as Bill and I were looking for two FAG requests at the Odd Fellows' Cemetery in Milton, we discussed what type of headstone I should choose.

After my father's death in August of 2000 I purchased two cemetery plots at the Northwood Cemetery on a hill overlooking Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  At that time I was not ready to purchase a headstone for Bill or myself.  Bill always said he wanted one of those metal military plaques on his grave.  We both like those plaques and I had even briefly consider having one of those myself.  However, I have since decided that I want a more substantial headstone.  I am not one of those people who decided that I want no trace of myself when I leave this earth.  I want a remembrance for which I do not apologize.  

I like these military grave markers but I think I have decided what I'm going to do.  We're going to go the way of Joseph and Lester and have a dual headstone.  

What do you think?

My marker at Northwood Cemetery

Raison d'être Redux

Is Bill wondering why he puts up with me?

  1. Of a topic, restored, brought back, revisited

Here I am back addressing the meaning of my life...again.  My last post explored raison d'être or the meaning of life.  

After I published that post I realized I left out the main reason for my existence.  How could I?  Only one of my blog followers caught my error.  Thanks Scott of "Bigger Than My Heart".   

Of course my reason for existence is to provide security, peace and happiness for the love of my life, Bill Kelly.  

Too often I take this wonderful man for granted.  Too often I assume that my life of having the total love of a man such as Bill as normal state of affairs.  Then I look around and see other gay men I know who are either in dysfunctional relationships or alone.  

In my hubris I assume a lot of these guys are alone because they are douches, not very nice people.  Actually most of them aren't.  They are selfish, grasping, opportunistic and self-serving.  I look at them and think "You deserve to be alone because you're just not very nice."  

But then I take a good look at myself and see many of the same characteristics that I deride in so many of the gay men I know.  Notice that I don't call them my friends because they are not my friends, just men I know who happen to be gay.  I don't have any gay men who I can call true friends (bloggers are in a different category). 

Now this is how fortunate I am.  I have Bill.  Bill loves me in spite of all my faults, of which I have many that I am not ashamed to admit.  God knows no one else would put up with me the way Bill has for the past forty-seven years.  Hey, I wouldn't put up with me!

So to correct my last post which addressed my reason for living:  Bill Kelly.

I've been told many times over the years that I don't deserve Bill.  I have always attributed these remarks to jealousy on the part of the person making that statement.  

Perhaps I don't deserve Bill.  But I'll tell one and all this one fact, I have and always will provide for Bill and happy, secure and peaceful life.  Bill is my raison d'être.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Raison d'être

Raison d'être  is a French phrase meaning "reason for existence."

Do you know the reason for your existence?  

Most folks, straight folks that is, state that their reason for existence is to have children, grandchildren, et al.  Fine and laudable goals for sure.

So what do we gay folk have a reason for existence?  Except for those few of us who chose to fake it and have children of our own by the normal biological methods (lots of fantasizing necessary need to impregnate a woman guys), or adopting children.

Why are we gays here?  

  • Surely("and don't call me Shirley") it is not to have the biggest and gaudiest drag show in town, although God knows some of my gay brethren work for hard at this goal.
  • Surely it is not to see how many sexual partners we can accumulate in our lifetime (although I did have a go at that goal myself during the Orgasmic Seventies myself). 
  • Surely it is not to descend into an alcoholic stupor each day we get older because of a perceived failed life to obtained a partner.  
  • Surely it is not to substitute food as your friend because of loneliness.  

Each of us has something to offer as a reason for our existence on this earth.  

Some of us don't know or don't realize what it is they have to offer.  

Now I know there are some bad people on this earth and bad people who have come into and (hopefully) exited our lives.  Even those people have a reason for existence if for no other reason than we learn a lesson from them.

That lesson could be how to treat other people, because you know the hurt these people inflict by their selfish ways and you don't want to do that to other people. 

I look at some of these vapid celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and think "What good do they do for anybody other than feed their own selfish egos?"  To me they make me appreciate that my life isn't as selfish, empty and useless as their life.

I look at the current version of the Republican Party and their lies and their selfish goals to turn this country over to the rich and the rest of us be damned.  Good versus evil.  

I look at myself and others like me who counterbalance such evil in this world to protect those who are weaker than us.  And no, I do not apologize for saying this about myself.  Too long in my life I have apologized whether by word or action because someone or some people didn't like me or what I stood for.  No more.  

One of the really wonderful things about getting older is that I can see clearly now.  I can see through all the lies and deception and what is true and right.  

Thus my raison d'être, I am a counter balance to the bullshit.  

What is your raison d'être?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Carrot Cake - Cracker Barrel Style

The best carrot cake I've ever had in my life was a slice I had at Cracker Barrel a few years ago.  One bite and I felt like I was entering heaven.  I HAD TO HAVE that recipe.  I called Cracker Barrel and they graciously told me the recipe was on the Internet for all to share.  I copied it, got the ingredients and made it and turned out just like the piece of heaven I had at Cracker Barrel.


I have made this recipe a few times since then but only on special occasion but it is quite a chore to make.  Set aside at lest an hour for preparation.  But oh is it ever worth it.  


Today is my neighbor Bob's birthday.  He and his wife Barbara love carrot cake.  What better birthday present?  So in about an hour, after Babs gets up (late sleep she is), Bill and I will traipse over to their manse and present Bob with his birthday present.  

Here is the recipe should any of my readers care to make their own cake for a friend or a favorite neighbor:

Cracker Barrel The Old Country Store Carrot Cake

Recipe Type: Dessert, CopyKat Recipe
Total time: 1 hr 10 min
Serves: 10
This cake is just like moms!
  • CAKE:
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped English walnuts
  • 2 cups finely shredded carrots
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple (8 ounce can with juice)
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup raisins that have been soaked in water until plump and then drained
  • 1 and 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans for garnish
  1. Cake: Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix the vegetable oil, sugars, vanilla and eggs until smooth and fluffy. Add pineapple, walnuts, coconut, carrots, and raisins and blend well. Gradually add flour mixture a half at a time until blended through.
  2. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9x13 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 40-50 minutes. Test with toothpick for doneness. When cool, frost with cream cheese frosting.

  3. Cream Cheese Frosting: Blend cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and a little powdered sugar at a time until all has been blended well. Turn mixer on high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy. Spread frosting over the cooled cake and sprinkle with pecans.
  4. Yield: 24 servings

Friday, April 27, 2012

Serenity at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

On Wednesday morning I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep.  Normally my wake-up time is between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m.  For some reason unknown to me I was wide awake at 3:30 a.m.

Rather than try and go back to sleep I decided to take advantage of this opportunity.  I would get up, have my breakfast and take an early morning walking on the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach.  I haven't taken an early morning walk "on the boards" in Rehoboth this year.

Rehoboth Beach is about ten miles from where I live right off of Route 1 which is also known as "Coastal Highway."  I have found out that if I get on Route 1 early enough I miss the early morning rush.  I leave in the dark and arrive at the boardwalk just as the sun rises.

Last year when I got my new 2010 Subaru Forester, I used to go down to the Rehoboth boardwalk almost every day.  I did that for about three months until I noticed that I was really racking up the miles on my new car.  This car has to last me so I decided to cut back on my trips to Rehoboth.  Plus, I didn't like the heavy traffic when I left Rehoboth after my walk on my return home.  By the time (7 a.m. and later) the traffic has picked up,  I'm back "driving with the crazies on Route 1."  No, it's much safer taking my daily walk in Oyster Rock, the development behind where I live.  Maybe not as interesting and certainly not the ambiance of the rising sun, the squeal of sea gulls, and the splashing of the waves of the Atlantic Ocean rolling onto the Rehoboth Beach, but I still get my exercise in.  Still, I miss walking on the boardwalk in Rehoboth.  I think this year I'll go down once or twice a week.  I always enjoy mingling with the early morning board folks and being one with the sights, sound and smell of the edge of the eastern continent which is Rehoboth Beach.

At the beginning of this post I feature a short video that I took of what I experienced last Wednesday.  Watching and listening to this video of the sun rising over the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean at Rehoboth Beach this past Wednesday perhaps you can share my sense of serenity that I often enjoy here in southern Delaware.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Me, First Grade - 1948

Bullying has been in the news lately because of some tragic suicides by young gay men. 

I've been giving the subject of bullying a lot of thought lately. 

When I was young (five years old, first grade) I was bullied a few times because I was a shy and timid kid.  The first time I was bullied was when I was trying to enter the building where my first grade class took place.  I lived three blocks from the school and I walked to school everyday.  One of my classmates would wait for me and push me to the ground, preventing me from going to school.  Ironically we're friends how and he sometimes reads this blog ("Hi Jack!")  He says he doesn't remember bullying me. Years later when we reconnected at a class reunion he apologized for bullying me. 

Me (far right) with Jack (far left) at a class reunion 54 years later -  2002

He only did it a few times.  I don't remember exactly how I stopped the bullying but I do remember telling my Mother and father when I went home at the end of the day.  I assumed my father would confront my bully and put an end to it.  He did not.  I don't think it was because he was afraid, he just wasn't involved in my life.  I don't think he wanted kids (he had three sons).  He just didn't want to be bothered.  So I had to take matters into my own hands.  As I said, I don't remember what I did but the bullying stopped.

The next time I was bullied was when I was twelve years old and in high school, seventh grade.  Our class was next and we were standing outside Mrs. Rogers' science classroom, waiting for the previous class to empty the room so we could enter.  Kenny, one of my classmates and a football player (I wasn't a football player) started shoving me for no apparent reason.  He said "I hate you rich kids who think you’re better than anyone else!" or something along that line.  Rich?  That was a laugh.  I was probably poorer than he was. I was still very shy so maybe he thought I was stuck up, which I wasn't. 

When he saw I didn't do anything after the first shove (I never react immediately), he shoved me again.  Still I did nothing so he shoved me a third time.  This time I turned around and shoved him back.  Then the fists started to fly.  We were soon grappling on the floor.  Mrs. Rogers came out of her classroom in hysterics.  Someone pulled us apart and we were sent to the principal's office.  My first visit to THE PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE!  Mr. Emery, the principal, wanted to know what happened. I told him.  I don't remember what Kenny said but it must have been pretty lame because the principal believed me.  Kenny had a reputation as a bully and apparently I was to be his next victim.  After our visit to the principal's office, Kenny never bothered me again for the rest of our years in high school.  The first class reunion I attended was my 20th.  I wanted to see Kenny and laugh about our "experience" back in 1954.  Kenny wasn't at the reunion.  He died in Vietnam in 1963.  Oddly, I felt guilty.  Wonder why?

Me, Sousaphone player in Marching Band - 1957

My next bullying experience was in ninth grade.  We were in a class showing a film on one of those old projectors.  One of my classmates, who I thought was a friend thought it would be funny to walk up to the teacher's desk and on the way back slap me in the face. The first time he did it I was caught by surprise.  He returned to his seat to the titters of some of our fellow classmates.  He did it again.  We went up to the front of the room and returned to his desk, slapping me a little harder this time.  As he returned to his desk I heard him and his friends laughing again.  By the way, he was also a football player.  I wasn't.  I was in the band.  Maybe that had something to do with it.  He was having a grand time so he decided to go up to the teacher's desk again and on the way back he gave me another good slap.  He returned to his desk and the titters of his friends.  This time I got up from my desk and went back and "slapped" him but I forgot to open my hand.  What I actually did was slug him with my closed fist so hard that I knocked him from his desk to the floor.  No tittering this time from his friends.  Now we were grappling on the floor.  I remember that we knocked over the projector and the teacher was hysterical.  Again, we were pulled apart and another visit to the principal's office.  Again, my explanation was accepted and Lewis (his name) never bothered me again. 

Me - Army Private - 1960
The third time I was bullied was in basic training in the Army when I was 18 years old.  This was another "Ken".  His last name was Rondeau.  For some reason he didn't like me and made my life miserable by setting little booby traps for me.  I won't to into all the things he did to me (like stealing the top of my water canteen so when I was out on the range I got soaked) but it all came to a head one night.  I had Fire Watch, which was guard duty for the barracks.  Of course I had the worst time, 2 am to 4 am.  After my watch was over I went to go to bed and found it full of shaving cream.  I head muffled laughter (titters again) from the darkened barracks.  I knew who did it.  I was furious.  The barracks were two stories high. My bunk was located on the first floor.  Rondeu's was located on the second floor.  I wanted to kill him.  I would have taken my rifle but it was locked in the gun rack at the end of the barracks along with my fellow trainees.  I looked for something else to use as a weapon to do damage to Rondeau.  I found it, a mop.  I unscrewed the mop handle from the mop and went upstairs looking for him, ranting and screaming all the way.  Someone turned on the lights in the barracks.  With the mop handle in my hand I found Rondeau's bunk but it was empty. I'm still ranting (lots of F words, believe me).  The barracks sergeant wanted to know what was going on.  Someone must of told him because I didn't.  I was still furious shouting "Where the f*k is Rondeau?  I'll kill him!!!!"  This time I was taken to the captain's quarters.  I remember him very clearly.  His name was Captain Green and he was a black man, very black.  They tried to calm me down.  The master sergeant told me to sit down.  Eventually I was calm enough to tell what happened, that someone put shaving cream in my bunk and I knew who it was.  I also told them that Rondeau had been sabotaging me for weeks and I finally had enough.  Captain Green sat and listened to me with his hand on his chin.  My barracks sergeant and the sergeant major were standing listening to me.  After I finished my explanation Captain Green said "Private Tipton, go back to your bunk.  We will take care of this."

Fort Dix, New Jersey - Chow Line for Army Basic Training Recruits - 1960
I don't know what they did or said to Rondeau. However for the remaining three weeks of basic training he stayed clear of me.  He didn't even make eye contact with me.  I was very lucky in this instance because I really did want to kill Rondeau.  I understand how people get in trouble when they are pushed to the edge. 

Those are the three times that I was physically bullied.  I responded the only way bullies understand, with force and telling someone in authority exactly what happened.  I did not internalize anything.  I am incapable of internalizing.  Maybe I'm lucky that way.  I can put up with a lot of bullying but eventually when I have enough, I put an end to it.  I think I get this trait from my Mother because she was exactly the same way.

I feel for those who are incapable of standing up for themselves.  I don't understand it but I guess some internalize the hatred that is directed towards them and internalize it into self hatred and feel they must destroy themselves or they see no way out and they just want the pain to end.

The bottom line is that the best way to deal with bullies is to confront them.  My father probably did me a favor all those years ago by not sticking up for me.  Because I had no one to protect me I decided my only alternative was to stick up for myself.  

I  sleep better at night too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hold It!

Willard M. Rommney - Flip Flop King 

Hey folks, I changed my mind again.  After much anguish and frustration, I have decided to stay with Blogger.  I will keep my Word Press blog, but I will continue with Blogger.

I have decided to learn the new Blogger interface.  I still don't understand why Blogger felt the need for this so-called upgrade but I don't have much of a choice.  I've worked too long on my account at Blogger to give it all up over this momentary frustration with the changes at Blogger.

Yesterday I dipped my toe in my Word Press blog and I find Word Press even more difficult.

I was so upset by this situation that yesterday I took it out on Bill.  I was bitchy.  I was short with him and hurt his feelings.

I couldn't sleep last night.  I got up this morning at 3:30 am and was on the Rehoboth boardwalk at 5:30 am.  This is the first time I have been to the Rehoboth boardwalk this season.  Walking the boardwalk gave me a chance to clear my head.  My head is clear.  I'm staying with Blogger.

Yep, I'm flip flopping.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I'm making the change folks.  Today I decided that I will make my blog on Word Press my main blog.  I'm tired of trying to keep up with all the "improvements" and changes with Blogger.

Remember the "new Coke?"  That went well didn't it?  More recently a website that I used to use a lot called Playlist "improved" things.  The end result is that I no longer use it.  Just as well.

It's a shame because there are many features that I like with Blogger like being able to change my background photo.  Ironically, the photo I have now (which I took this morning of roofers in Milton) is probably a good metaphor of what I am doing now, changing blogs.

The photo of the change in my hand is also an apt metaphor.  This is the change I received a few minutes ago from my single purchase at the Food Lion supermarket.  I normally pay with my Discover credit card but since I only got one item, broccoli, I paid for it with cash.  Thus that rare "thing" in my hand, change.

Actually there are several good reasons to get a fresh start with a new blog provider.  Since I'm not giving out my new blog address (it will have a different title than "Retired in Delaware"), not everyone will know where my new blog is.  For those of you who do want to know, you can find me through Spo Land.  Those of you in the know, know where that is.

I've had this blog since 2005.  Over those years I have had followers that I would rather not have.  I've lost several friends, or at least people I thought were friends, who took offense to some subjects I blogged about.  They tried to censor my blogs by telling me what to blog about and I threw their criticism right back in their face and they didn't like it so bye bye so called friends.

I also have some followers from where I work which restricts what I can write about in my daily life.  I can hardly write about work when I know my boss and co-workers are reading my blog.

I have made some good friends though.  For those of you who do not know the "Spo Land" reference, send me an e-mail and I'll send you the address of my new blog.

I'll still blog here occasionally but I will be posting daily to my new blog.

The past five years have been fun.  Lots of ups and downs, mostly ups.  I hope to make new friends at my new blog.  Be warned though, I have yet another learning curve to go through.  I'll admit at my age these learning curves are getting harder and harder to negotiate.  My new blog will be pretty bare bones until I can figure out all the bells and whistles.

Thank you everyone to all my faithful followers.  I appreciate you all.  To those who have ended our friendship because you couldn't control me, good bye.

The End of Blogger?

Folks, I may end my Blogger account.  I don't want to but Blogger is forcing me to end it with their so called "upgrade."  To me, this is just more aggravation and making my life more difficult.

For three days in a row now I have chosen to go back to the old Blogger interface only to find that Blogger has forced me into their new interface the next day.

I'm at the point now where like a friend person who is trying to force feed me his or her way of life that I'm going to say "f**k it!" and go with Word Press.

Frankly I don't find Word Press all that easy to navigate either.  My style is to post a lot of photos.  I also like some of the extras that I got with Blogger like tracking where my followers were coming from and the count of hits.  That kind of information either isn't available at Word Press or buried somewhere in their interface which frankly I'm not in a mood to try and figure out.

Here is something I'm trying to figure out:  is the reason I'm resistant to this change because I'm an old Fuddy Duddy or am I being realistic in knowing that I like working with something that I am familiar with and don't see the need for change because I'm not having a problem or missing something from the present format?  Is it me?  Or is it those faceless geeks people on the other side of the Great Divide who have to justify their existence to have change just for the sake of change?

When are these people going to realize that there is a great proportion of population out here that is non-geek and happy with the way things are?  Sure, provide change for those who want it but how about giving the rest of us the option to stay with things as they are until we ask for a change?  Is that so much to ask?

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Blogger Interface

All right folks, I've tried the new Blogger interface and it sucks!

I have a few questions:





Is Word Press breathing down their neck?  I've tried Word Press and I find it very hard to use.  My head hurts after navigate around Word Press's web site.

Could it be that Blogger is "upgrading" to justify the employment of Apple rejects?

Hey Blooger, the "upgrade" isn't EASY TO USE.

PLEASE, leave us old stuck in the mud folks an option to use the EASY BLOGGER INTERFACE.

Why force this "upgrade" down our throats?


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cemetery Hunting in Southern Delaware

Headstone for Mary Caroline Lynch Rickards - the Find a photo request that I fulfilled yesterday at the Lynch Family Cemetery in Williamsville, Delaware

Finally, some rain.  Late yesterday afternoon the clouds rolled in.  Last night from our backyard here at Casa Tipton-Kelly I could see lightening flashes in the West towards Maryland.  Fortunately, those thunderstorms didn't roll in over us but we did get some hard rain last night for our parched earth here on the eastern shore of Delaware.

The Lynch Family Cemetery near Williamsville, Delaware

The pollen count this spring has been atrocious, making breathing difficult and coating our vehicles with a fine, yellow dusting of pollen.  That "stuff" was also going into our lungs.  No wonder we were all choking around here the past few weeks.  Sneezing, watery eyes, gagging.

Bill waiting for me in our car while I take pictures of headstones in the cemetery

Yesterday Bill and I made our second run in as many days down to Selbyville, Delaware near the Maryland border.  I had a Find a request to take a picture of a headstone for an old family grave.  The Selbyville area is new to us and I wasn't familiar with the area.  Friday we went looking for the Lynch Family Cemetery but all we could find was the Red Men Cemetery and the Roxanna Cemetery.  Lots of Lynches in those cemeteries but not Mary Rickards, who we were looking for.

Hudson Family Cemetery in the middle of a soybean field

I was determined to find her grave and that cemetery so we went again yesterday.  After finding a few two more cemeteries, one in the middle of a soybean field (The Hudson Family Cemetery) and a sad little neglected cemetery next to a gas station (The Bunting Family Cemetery) we finally found it.  Viola!

Bill looking at the sad little neglected Bunting Family Cemetery 

I cannot tell you how thoroughly enjoyable it is for me to go on these cemetery expeditions.  This is the one activity where I don't have some expert telling me what to do with my life and spare time.  I'm on my own.  I have no one criticizing me or telling me I'm wasting my time.  I am so tired of all these know-it-alls telling me how I should lead my life.  I visit a cemetery where all is peaceful and no one is looking for fault with me and I am doing something meaningful. I am helping the relative or a genealogical researcher by fulfilling their request. It makes me feel good by helping people like this.  Living my life this way is so much better than so called "friends" constantly carping and criticizing me and telling me how "disappointed" they are in me because I'm not dancing to their tune.

Me relaxing after taking pictures of all the headstones in the Lynch Family Cemetery

Next month Bill and I are headed south for our annual trip.  I plan to visit as many of these small family cemeteries as I can in those "hollers" of western North Carolina that border on Tennessee.  My father was born in those hills (The Bailey settlement, North Carolina near Tipton Hill) in 1920.  He and his family left those hillbilly populated hollers in the late 1920's for southeastern Pennsylvania for a better way of life.  There are many, many Tipton graves that need to have photos taken of them and recorded on Find a  I am so looking forward to this trip.

Me taking pictures of headstones in the Lynch Family Cemetery

All this twisting and turning is great exercise!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Brush With Dick Clark

The year was 1958.  Downingtown, Pennsylvania, the small suburb of Philadelphia (5,000) town in southeastern Pennsylvania where I lived was preparing to celebrate its bicentennial year of existence. 

One of the many events to celebrate the Downingtown Bicentennial was an essay contest offered to teenagers in Downingtown.  The essay subject was "Why I Want To Appear on American Bandstand to Celebrate the Downingtown Bicentennial."  I was a 16 year old senior at Downingtown High School.  I wrote my essay ( I liked to write even way back then) and entered the contest.  I won!

Along with several other teenagers who had also submitted winning essays, we boarded a station wagon on a hot and humid August summer day bound for American Bandstand in Philadelphia.  We were going to be on American Bandstand! 

I cannot tell you how thrilled we were to actually be on this television show that we all watched every day after school beginning at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon.  Big time thrill for our little contigent (seven of us) from the unsophisticated hick town of Downingtown. 

We were going to be on television! 

We were going to meet Dick Clark!

We were going to meet The Royal Teens who would sing "Short, Shorts!" 

Oh the excitement!  We could hardly contain ourselves.

Downingtown is 37 miles west of Philadelphia.  The ride to Philadelphia only took about an hour. 

We arrived at the garage in West Philadelphia neighborhood were American Bandstand was televised daily.  There was a long line outside of the big garage door.  At first we were somewhat disappointed.  First with the garage.  What was that?  It didn't look too glamorous.  Then the fact that we would have to stand in line.  Oh no.

But our worries were for naught because as soon as we got out of the station wagon we were lead to a side door to the garage for "special guests."  Ah ha.  Yes, this works!

Shortly after we entered the garage like building (I have no other way to describe it) we entered the studio where American Bandstand was televised.  This is where they danced!  Wow, it looks much smaller in person.  On TV it looks so much bigger.  But no matter, everything was there. 

The bleachers where the dancers sat which was called "The Peanut Gallery." 

The podium where Dick Clark presided over the day's televised dancing.

And the dance floor surrounded by three television cameras. 

A man spoke to everyone in the bleachers shortly before the live television show began.  I don't remember everything he told us because I was in such awe to actually be at THE DANCE FLOOR WHERE AMERICAN BANDSTAND WAS TELEVISED.  One thing I do remember though was that he told us Dick Clark wouldn't be there that day.  We were somewhat disappointed but not that much because this was before Dick Clark became a really big star. 

I forgot who the guest host was but he announced the first song and the dancing began.  I noticed immediately how the "regulars" (Justine and Company) immediately went onto the dance floor and moved towards the camera with the red light on.  Then I noticed in amazement that everytime the red light went off on one camera and went on in another, the whole dance floor would move like lava flow towards the camera with the red light.  And this when they were slow dancing!  I thought "They must have great periphal vision!" 

After I few dances I got down on the dance floor myself and danced.  I tried to maneauver myself towards the camera with the red light on but I was no match for the regulars, they knew what they were doing and had me blocked at every turn.  It didn't take me too lone to realize that my attempts to be discovered by appearing on TV were in vain.  I settled back and just enjoyed the dancing and the show.

Then it came time for the special guests, the Royal Teens performing their hit song "Short, Shorts." 

Dick Clark's substitute (I wish I could remember his name but my mind is a blank, he was some nonentity) announced them and we in the Peanut Gallery all dutifully cheered.  Then the Royal Teens began to sing.  They weren't singing!  They were lipsynching!  OMG!  Fake!  Oh well, I got a kick out of seeing the slim boys with their slicked back ducktail haircuts (check out the sax player, my type!) and one woman (in short shorts although I would rather of seen the sax player in short shorts) lipsynching their way through this banal Fifties hit song. Lots of fun seeing them in person even if they were faking the music.  By the way, the above video was taken on that summer day in August of 1958 that I was at American Bandstand.  There is a quick shot of the Peanut Gallery.  I looked in but I couldn't see myself there.  I was one of the many who cheered the Royal Teens after they finished their number.  Listen carefully and you may here my 16 year old boy scream.  HA!  By the way, looking at this video I now remember that another one of the musical guests was Julius LaRosa, he of the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts fame.  I have to say we were all very disappointed because Julius wasn't cool at all to us young teenagers!

Too soon our adventure was over and we left the "studio" (which was still a garge in a West Philadelphia neighborhood) and lwith our adrenalain still pumped up, we loaded up in our station wagon headed back to our anonymous existence in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

When I got home I asked my Mother and brothers did they see me on TV. They said they didn't watch it.  My brothers (two younger one, you know how that goes) were up to some other mischief and I think my Mother said she had some rows of corn to weed.  No one saw me. 

So who knows?  Maybe there is some old kinescope out there in a now abandoned, dusty garage in West Philadelphia that shows me making my moves on the dance floor of American Bandstand on that hot and muggy August summer day in 1959.  And I never did meet Dick Clark.

Jeanette Pritchard - Ron Tipton 1959 - DHS Senior Prom

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dover Mall

Me at Macy's at the Dover Mall yesterday - HOME!

Back to something light again today folks.  My last posting was purging my system of some heavy thoughts.  Now that I have that out of the way, I'm back to the light fare.

We're having just some beautiful days here in southern Delaware.  Granted, we could use some rain.  The lack of rain, the wind and the heavy pollen count is producing some breathing problems here at Casa Tipton-Kelly.

Yesterday was Chore Day.  I had to take my 2010 Red Subaru Forester for a gas and oil change, tire rotation and checkup at the Dover Subaru Auto Mall.  I'm going to give a mini-commercial for Dover Subaru.  They have the BEST service department I've ever dealt with in my life, absolutely the best!  I'm used to surly or at best indifferent service from dealerships that I've dealt with in the past.  Let me tell you dealing with Dover Subaru is a very pleasant experience.  They know what service is about.  From the time I walked in and was greeted with a genuine smile from "Jimmy" from behind the service desk until I picked up my sparkling clean car about an hour later, the whole process was pleasant and NOT EXPENSIVE.  Their good customer service must emanate from the top.  Other businesses could learn from them.

My appointment was as 9:00 a.m.  Jimmy told me it would be about an hour wait so Bill and I took a walk over to the Dover Mall.  The mall didn't open until 10 a.m. but we could walk around inside.  Below are some pictures I took with appropriate captions.  By the way, Bill hates for me to take his picture so all of the pictures I took of him were unposed.  He's not going to be thrilled that I posted them on this blog but I  can deal with that (I think).

Bill strolling to the mall

Yep, that's me.  You didn't think I would post pictures of my blog without at least a couple of me did you?

What the mall looks like before it opens, only old people walking the halls getting their morning exercise
Bill patiently waiting for the mall to open - he eventually got chased away from this stool when the guy who owns the booth showed up - OOPS!

A window display of women's casual clothes - let me tell you that as a gay man looking at this hot outfit for a woman, I actually felt faint "stirrings" - OMG - maybe I'm not 100% gay!  But then I came back to reality because there is no woman on earth who has this kind of there?

Bill is drawn to Radio Shack like a magnet.  Put him in any mall and he'll find the Radio Shack store in minutes.

Me taking a picture of myself on the TV monitor - I've always been fascinated by these TV monitors in the window of stores that I pass in the mall - fascinated!

An empty food court at the Mall - won't stay that way for long!

J.C. Penney - yes, I made a purchase there yesterday.  I never go into a J. C. Penney's without making a purchase.  Thanks Ellen!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Thoughts On The Final Journey

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my Final Journey. If you haven't figured out what I mean by Final Journey, it means that when I die.

We're all going to die. We just don't know when. Unless you murdered someobody and are on Death Row or have a terminal disease, none of us knows when we're going to die. The only other exception is dying by suicide. Then you know exactly when you're going to die.

When I was a young man of seventeen years old, I almost died. I did not know how close I was to death (a hospital error) until a few years after I survived a botched operation and our doctor apologized to my Mother because he didn't take seriously my complaints about the extreme pain I was going through. He dismissed my complaints by saying "He's just imagining things." His arrogance almost caused my death. For the record his name was Dr. Samuel Spector and his office was in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

After surviving that incompetent and arrogant doctor I've had good health in the past fifty-three years. I'm starting to go downhill now. Nothing serious, just aches and pains. My lower limbs (legs) swell with water now and I have to wear special socks to keep the circulation going.

I make regular visits to my dermatologist to remove precancerous (keratosis) skin lesions.

I have arthritis in my right hand.

My lower back aches all the time, sometimes when I'm at work it is almost unbearable. On a pain scale of one to ten it sometimes reaches a seven or and eight.

I have a high PSA score and could possible have prostate cancer but I have decided not to give the doctors and the hospitals another chance to botch an operation so I'm hoping to outlive prostate cancer, if I have prostate cancer. I know, it's a gamble but isn't life a gamble?

I could die tomorrow on Route 1 by having one of those crazy Pennsylvania drivers plow into my red 2012 Subaru Forester. More likely, one of the drug addled kids who live down here in Sussex County is probably more likely to run a red light and total my car and me. I stay off of Route 1 as much as possible.

Then again I could live to be 93 years old and in relatively good health like the father of my friend Bill P. who I was talking to on the phone yesterday. He says his father still lives alone and drives. That's my goal.

I think life and death has come to the fore in my mind again because of another friend of mine family situation. His parents have been living on their own. His mother is 92 and his father is 94. Last week his mother's health started to fail and she was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. My friend is now involved in making new living arrangements for his elderly parents. His mother will go to a "rehab" facility (they used to call them "nursing homes" until nursing homes got bad names). His father will probably continue to live alone as long as he can, at which time he will probably to to a VA facility (he's a World War II combat veteran).

I think of all the friends I used to have who are now gone. Ron and Sal, my best friends in the Army are gone. Ron died in 2005 and Sal died one month before we moved to Delaware in 2006. Several of my classmates have died since our 50th reunion. At the reunion they were in fine health. They are no longer here now. Gone like that. The loss that has affected me the most is the death of my Mother in 2010. I feel like a chunk of my life was taken away from me. I can't quite explain it but a lot of my reason for living died when she died. Things I used to care about, I just don't care anymore. I can't get worked up over things that I used to be passionate about. For instance, recently several people who I thought were friends proved to be otherwise. Normally I would be upset about that . Now? I just don't care. They don't matter. To be honest with you, I don't even care if I make new friends. I just do not care.

Bill (my spouse) is 83 now. He's in good health. I kid him that he may outlive me. He probably will. I worry about that because I take care of the household. He retired at 55 and his lump sum payment is long gone. He receives a modest Social Security payment but nothing on the scale to maintain our present state of living here in this wonderful neighborhood in southern Delaware. Our "lifestyle" (rich gays you know) is expensive. I just got the propane gas bill yesterday. Almost $1200. What used to be $1.99 a gallon is now $3.69 a gallon. That's just the propane gas bill. Then there is the electric bill, water bill, Comcast (which always goes up), Verizon, DirecTV, homeowner's association, insurance (homeowners, medical, car). Everything is going up except my fixed pensions and Social Security and when I die that goes with me.

I worry about Bill. He tells me "not to worry" if I die, he will take care of things.

So that's my situation now folks. Something I've been thinking about lately, especially since my Mother's death and my friend's parent's situation.

I'm not afraid of dying. I am afraid of a painful and long drawn out humiliating death. I would prefer to die in my sleep. But we don't have that choice do we?

One thing I do know, as I near The End, I see what is really important in my life and what isn't important. What is important is spending more time with people I care about and who care about me. What isn't important and what I can will no longer waste my time with are people who care nothing for me. I've wasted so much of my life trying to be what others think I should be so they would like me. If I have learned nothing else in my life I have learned this one thing, you have to be yourself. If someone doesn't like you then it's on them. Move on, don't waste your time with them. They don't matter. What matters are those who care for you. Give them your attention and let them know how much they mean to you. That is what is truly important in this life.

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...