Saturday, November 29, 2014

Black Friday

Well, did you all get your shopping fix in yesterday, Black Friday? I didn't step out of this house . . . once.  Not even to take the garbage out . . . . NOT ONCE.

I remember the first time I was caught up in the Black Friday madness.  It was back in the early Seventies when I worked at Girard Bank in center city Philadelphia.  I was only a block away from the John Wanamaker department store.  

John Wanamaker Department Store (now Macy's) - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I often made lunchtime excursions to Wanamakers just to look around or buy a new shirt of tie if they were on sale.  On this particular Friday after Thanksgiving, I thought I would get a head jump on my Christmas shopping.  Back in The Day, I used to Christmas shop for all members of my family.  Something which I stopped doing years ago when I wised up but I digress. 

So there I was, flush with my bank profit sharing bonus (distributed two weeks earlier, another business tradition you'll never see again, profit sharing for employees), anxious to spend and make Mom, Pop, brothers and sisters-in-laws and especially my nieces and nephew burst in joy when they open their Christmas presents from Uncle Ronnie.

I finished my lunch at the bank cafeteria (yet another quaint custom which you won't find at businesses these days, a business subsidized lunchroom) and sauntered over to "Wannies".  I immediately noticed the crowded, frenzied aisles of the usually sedate department store.  "What is going on?" I thought.  "Some kind of sale?"

Ain't no sale worth diving into this crowd

Now when I mention crowded I mean crowded like a gay  bar on New Year's Eve . . THAT crowded. Elbow to elbow or more graphic . . . butt cheek to butt cheek. 

I work my way through the crowd like a fish swimming upstream.  I couldn't even get near any of the counters!  It didn't take me too long to realize that this wasn't going to be one of my browsing shopping days what with the mass shopping hysteria that I was witnessing in my formerly staid department store.  I decided to GET OUT.

Which way?  Looking behind me all I saw was a mass of people.  Looking ahead, same thing . . a sea of heads bobbing this way and that way.  

I had entered through the Chestnut Street side of Wanamakers.  I decided to make my getaway straight through the store and exit through the Juniper Street exit and GO BACK TO WORK.  Easier said than done.  

It took me about fifteen minutes to work my way to the Juniper Street exit.  When I finally got to the door I felt like I popped out. PHEW!  GET.ME.OUT.OF.THIS.STORE.

I arrived back to my desk at the back a good fifteen minutes late.  I wailed to anyone who would listen "What was THAT over at Wannies?"  Almost in unison several of my female co-workers shouted "It's Black Friday!"

Now believe it or not, I had never heard of Black Friday. I heard of Good Friday but Black Friday?  My friend Alice patiently explained to me . . . . "Ron, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving.  The biggest shopping day of the year.  The day when many items are drastically marked down. Didn't you know?"  Well . . . um . . no. My Fridays back then were more about relief that I had a few days off and I would be hitting the gay bars that evening (keep in mind I was young and callow and very pretty . . back in The Day). 

Folks, I learned something that day.  Not to shop on Black Friday and I never have since.  Of course now it's a moot point because I don't do any Christmas shopping.  Bill doesn't want any presents (he has everything, he has me).  My Mother, whose birthday was on December 24th, was the main reason I shopped but since she died four years ago I have no desire to shop for Christmas presents.  I gave up on my nieces and nephews years ago when they got older. Giving teenagers Christmas presents just wasn't the same as giving little kids Christmas presents.  

My nephew and nieces - Christmas 1975

So these days it is with some bemusement when I see television displays of frenzied and harried shoppers climbing all over each other to get the latest fad (I hear this year it is anything to do with the Disney movie "Frozen" . . whatever).  On Black Fridays this old geezer stays home . . . . where he belongs. And God bless anyone who has to work in retail.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Day After (Thanksgiving) Thoughts

Brother's Thanksgiving Photo 2014

Well, you all know the old adage that "the holidays are the saddest time of the year" for many.  That is the time of the year suicides spike up.  This condition is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  

Certain people may feel anxious of depressed around the winter holidays due to seasonal affective disorder.  

The winter holiday season, including Christmas, Hanukkah, and Thanksgiving, for most people is a fun time of the year filled with parties, celebrations, and social gatherings with family and friends.  But for many people, it is a time filled with sadness, loneliness, and anxiety.

I have to say that for most of my life I have been rather immune to SAD.  However, yesterday, perhaps for the first time I did feel a wave of sadness and loneliness wash over me.  

As is usual for me, I worked at my front desk job at the hotel.  I've been doing this for about thirteen years now.  In the past I've been so busy with my job that I didn't have time to sit and reflect on the "family" part of the holiday.  I was content to enjoy the "family" part of the holiday (Thanksgiving this time) by watching other families interact.  

So yesterday I was doing fine until I came across the photo at the top of this post.  It was posted by my niece to her Facebook page.  It is of her father (my brother) and her brother (my nephew) and her two children.  When I saw this photo for probably the first time in my life (that I can remember) I felt that Wave of sadness and loneliness.  Perhaps I shouldn't be writing about something as personal as this (no names lest I further embarrass members of my family) but this is how I felt then and how I feel now.  So I'm not exempt.

Why do I feel this way?  I'm estranged from both of my brothers and their families.  This event happened last year when Bill and I got married.  I sent out Christmas cards with our marriage photo on it.

Our wedding day July 2013 (on our 49th anniversary)

I did it on purpose, not only to announce our wedding to my family and friends but also to see who my friends were and who were not. 

This action on my part was very similar to what I did in the spring of 1963 when I came out as a gay man to everyone I knew.  I didn't want to live a lie and I wanted to sort out my true friends.  At that time I lost well over half of my "friends" and became temporarily estranged from my family.

Ironically it was a Thanksgiving dinner that brought back some kind of rapprochement with my family.  After my coming out (party), I lost contact with my family for about two years.  Then on Thanksgiving 1967 my Mother contacted me when I was living with Bill in Pennsauken, New Jersey.  She asked me to come to Thanksgiving dinner.  I thought about her invite and told her I would only come if Bill (who she had not met at that time) could come with me.  She relented and Bill and I had our first of many Thanksgiving dinners with my family.  

Bill and my parents - 1975

Ironically Bill and my Mother became very good friends as he did with my father.  But what I didn't realize at that time, I was living a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" existence.  They knew we were gay, just don't advertise it.  We were . . . . tolerated

Then came last year when I sent out the infamous Christmas card with our wedding photo plastered all over the front.  Apparently that did it.  Even with my other brother.  

So how do I feel about this folks?  Sad for sure but you know what?  I either have to be accepted for who I am, legally wedded and out Big Time, or not.  

I don't think I'll ever see my brothers again or their families.  Not that I don't love my brothers, I do.  But they and their families have a different view on marriage than I do and I will no longer be discounted as a human being because I am gay and had the audacity to get married . . . .and publicly and proclaim it.  How dare I? 

My brother, me and Bill 2012

Of course I realize that my brothers and their families are very conservative.  The "conservative" that hates Obama and everything about Democrats.  THAT conservative.  The conservative that says "You're okay to be gay just don't SHOVE it in our faces" (like getting married publicly, i.e., embarrass us)." 

Hey, I don't mind that they are conservative, we're all entitled to our own deeply held views and I respect that.  What I don't respect is anyone, especially family trying to put me into a box of their convenience. It isn't going to happen folks.  Not with me, not at this time or ever. 

So of course it was with an unexpected sadness that I saw those happy faces of some of my family yesterday.  I have to admit I was even surprised by my reaction.  Oh I'm sure some of my blog readers will urge me to "reconcile" but you know what folks?  On this I'm not compromising.  I've compromised for most of my life on who I am just to make others feel comfortable, especially family.  I'm at the age now where, on some things, especially on who I am, I don't compromise any more.  

So until I receive a "Congratulations Uncle Ronnie on your marriage to Bill", I will remain the gay uncle who used to take the family pictures at the holidays. Sad, isn't it?

My family and our first holiday (Christmas) picture when Bill met them - 1969 (Bill took the picture, Bill was never in the holiday pictures because he was "just my friend" and didn't qualify as a spouse)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day 2014

Ron's Apple Pie - still warm!

With the smell of freshly baked apple pie wafting through the air here at Casa Tipton-Kelly I want to wish one and all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

I got up early this morning to bake an apple pie for our wonderful neighbors The Murphys.  The Murphys are the BEST neighbors we have ever had . . . . . EVER!  They're having family over today so I thought I would make one of my signature apple pies for compliment their Thanksgiving repast and to show our (me and Bill) appreciation for all they have done for us the seven years (this month) since we moved to Delaware.  

My lovely neighbor Barb Murphy - Frog Pond Rehoboth

Last night at the hotel wasn't too bad.  In fact, in spite of the wind and rain from the Nor'easter that tore through here, all the hotel guests were nice and pleasant.  I have found in my fifteen years of hotel work that the holidays almost always bring out the best in hotel guests and last night was no exception.

I go back to work today at 3 PM.  Nothing special planned for Thanksgiving dinner, just the same old same old.  I shared some forty year old family pictures on Facebook this morning which should please family that I haven't seen and probably will never see at Thanksgiving again in my life.  I am so glad I've taken these photos.

So to one and all, Happy Thanksgiving!

Nieces Vickey and Nancy Tipton - 1974
Brother Isaac and his family - 1974
Brother John and his family - 1974

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tomorrow is the day.  As usual, I'll be working at the hotel (from 3 PM to 11 PM).  I like working at the hotel during the holidays which I usually do each year.  I have found from past experience the nicest people check in at the hotel during the holidays. 

No disruptive and complaining wedding guests. 

No summertime guests asking "do you have a pool?"  

Just nice people.  Usually the grandparents or other relatives who come to town to visit relatives but can't take the kids 24/7.  I don't blame them.  I couldn't take screaming kids running through the house round the clock.  

My last sit down Thanksgiving dinner was at my friend Bob's house in 2002, twelve years ago (where does the time go?)  Bob and his partner Jim used to have Thanksgiving dinner for all us gay men who had no where else to go.  While the dinner was always chaotic it was nice to get together with the guys and have an old fashion Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.  And Bob did the turkey (two turkeys because usually the attendance was about to two dozen).  Bob is gone now and Jim lives in an assisted care facility.  That long tradition is ended.  I heard a new Thanksgiving dinner now takes place at the MCC church.  That's good. However, I won't be going.  I wish all those attending a wonderful time of fellowship and a hearty meal. 

Thanksgiving at Bob's - November 25, 2002
This year my Thanksgiving "dinner" will be my usual meal when working at the hotel, a package of Lance Nekot cookies.

Hey, don't knock them.  They're good plus they satisfy my hunger.  Besides, it's not important what I eat on Thanksgiving, what is important that I am thankful for my lot in life.  

To everyone have a very happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Men's Suits


A couple of weeks ago I donated half a dozen of my suits to a veterans' organization.  Those suits were from my former life as a bank operations manager.  I left my banking job over ten years ago. I haven't worn those suits since I left that job in 1998.

Me in business work drag at my last banking job - First Financial Bank Downingtown, PA

Out of habit I kept the suits hanging in my closet"just in case."  Ha!  Like "just in case" I got another banking job?  Fat chance of that ever happening. But still, those suits hung in my closet, taking up space and collecting dust for years.  That is until I faced reality that I'm never going to have a banking job again or any job where I have to wear suit work drag.

My present part-time job, which I will probably have until I can no longer function, I can wear just about anything short of tank tops and flip flops. I dress nice but I don't wear suits. 

I'm keeping a couple pair of dark Navy blue suits.  One to be buried in and one to attend funerals.  Ah yes folks, that is probably the only time I will wear a suit in my remaining years on this planet. 

Last week I saw a newspaper article about the new slim suits and how now all men are buying those suits.  Yikes!  Have you seen those suits?  What's that?  The Spiderman influence? 

The Actor James Marsden in the latest Hollywood decreed style 

Boy am I glad I don't wear suits anymore.  And when I do wear one of my loosely fitting suits, no one is going to notice because I'm either going to be laying in a coffin or milling around amongst the other mourners, sad faced, looking at the deceased layer out in shiny satin lined coffin.  Who wants to look like the latest Flavor of the Month movie star with one of THOSE ill fitting suits.  

Now is it me or do they look very uncomfortable?  First thing that comes to my mind when I see a guy sitting who is wearing one of those suits is that I'm reminded of the small two bedroom apartment where I grew up in Downingtown . . . . no ball room.

Put me down in the old fuddy duddy column but I'm sticking with my baggy suit.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Good Movies - "Breaking Bad" Redux

I've always liked a good movie.  Thing is, there are so few of them these days. 

Last night was an exception.  Last night I watched TWO DVD's (three episodes each) of "Breaking Bad."  The much acclaimed crime drama television series originally aired on the AMC network (can you believe it? AMC!) for five seasons, from January 20 2008 to September 29, 2013.  Below is a description of this much acclaimed series:

The main character is Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling crystallized methamphetamine, in order to secure his family's financial future before he dies, teaming with his former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). The show was set and produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Walter's family consists of his wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) and children, Walter, Jr. a.k.a. Flynn (RJ Mitte) and Holly (Elanor Anne Wenrich). The show also features Skyler's sister Marie Schrader (Betsy Brandt), and her husband Hank (Dean Norris), a Drug Enforcement Administration(DEA) agent. Walter teams up with lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), who connects him with private investigator and fixer Mike Ehrmantraut(Jonathan Banks) and in turn Mike's employer, drug kingpin Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). The final season introduces the characters of Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemons) and Lydia Rodarte-Quayle (Laura Fraser).
Breaking Bad is widely regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time. By the time the series finale aired, the series was among the most-watched cable shows on American television. The show received numerous awards, including sixteen Primetime Emmy Awards, eightSatellite Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two Peabody Awards and a People's Choice Award. In 2014, Breaking Bad entered the Guinness World Records as the highest rated show of all time.

Folks, this is the BEST TV series I have EVER seen in my life.  This is the BEST movie I have EVER seen in my life.  THE BEST!!!!!

I know, I know I've written a blog post about "Breaking Bad" before but this show is so good I have to write about it again.  

Everything and I mean EVERYTHING about this show is excellent.  Listed below are just some of the factors that make this the best show/movie ever:

Production values

The acting is superb. And by the way, it is such a pleasure not to have the Usual Suspects cast like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Tom Cruise.  Fine actors all but man oh man, don't we have a larger acting pool than that tired old bunch?

Thank God!  Not the usual cast of actors. BRAVO!

I like real movies about real people.  Leave the super heroes to others.  Leave the hobbits and the gremlins to those who want to escape into a fantasy land.  For me I have always been fascinated with the human condition, not make believe.  Real life conditions, not some unrealistic made up crapola that is fed to the masses.

They may look like cartoons but they are anything but - Walter, Hank and Skyler

When I watch real movie about real people I get involved because I can identify with these people.  I can't identify with cartoon characters (even though some of my non-fans claim that I can). There were more than a few times when Walter and Jesse got into a tight situation I so identified with their characters that I was sweating along with them, not knowing what was going to happen next.  With the usually Hollywood crap burgers, you know that the Good Guys are always going to win. In fact you could write the script.  The hobbits are going to slay the giant dragons.  Always.  

Just another day at the office

Perhaps that's why I always found W.C. Fields to be a much funnier comedian than Charlie Chaplin.  W.C. Fields was an Everyman.  Charlie Chaplin was a cartoon. Fake, phony.  If you like cartoons, fine.  For me the real drama and comedy is REAL LIFE.  Something I can identify with.  I have zero interest in Superman and hobbits from the middle earth.  It's just like movie musicals and Broadway show tunes.  All fake, phony. Zero interest.  But hey, that's just me folks.  Everyone to their own interests eh?  

"Who are you gonna call? SAUL GOODMAN that's who!"

The casting, even the minor characters is perfect.  Usually in movies the star doesn't want any of the other actors to outshine him/her so the supporting acting is mediocre or worse.  This show, all outstanding.  Just soooo good.

Just saw this scene last night - I'm still wiping the sweat off of my forehead!

And here is the really big one - the writing.  When is the last time anyone has seen a show this well written?  Every episode, I'm glued to the screen, not knowing what will happen next. Gone are the usual Hollywood cliches where even a 10 year old can predict what's going to happen next in the script.

I think one of the aspects of "Breaking Bad" that draws me is the flawed nature of the characters.  Nobody is all good or all bad.  Three dimensional people just like in real life.  With all the reality shows around (which in fact are anything buy "reality", heavily scripted as they are), how refreshing to watch a drama (with some black humor even) about REAL people.

"Breaking Bad" has just raised the bar and set a new standard for making good movies - acting, writing, and casting - who would've thunk and all without Brad Pitt (or any of the other small stable of "stars" like Johnny Depp, et al)

For the past few weeks I've been stocking up on my Netflix "Breaking Bad" DVD's to watch at the Tipton Cinema.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights I settle in my Archie Bunker recliner in my private movie theater and watch the adventures of Jessie "Yo bitch!" Pinkham, Walter White, Walter White, Jr., Skyler, Hank, Gus, Marie, Hank and other assorted characters that populate the world of Walter White in the hot, sandy climes of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  But here's a problem, what am I going to do when I run out of DVD's.  When this series ends?  

Hey folks, I'm not a druggie but I will be going into withdrawal.  HELP! 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving Messages

Whoops!  Here we are at Thanksgiving Week.  Didn't we just have Halloween?  Folks, every year the days, weeks, months and years fly by even faster, and then after Thanksgiving this Thursday the Big Slide to Christmas.  

As regular viewers of this drama series blog know the Ron and Pat Show continues this year to LA, the City of Angels.  My birthday was a few weeks ago and Pat's is after Christmas before New Year's.  We celebrate our birthdays each year by making a trip to a Destination City.  This year's lucky city is Los Angeles, California.  I've never been to LA but Pat has and he recommends it highly for a visit. January 7th through the 17th, the Dynamic Duo will be on the Other Coast.  Pat is dying to see 77 Sunset Strip and meet Edd Byrnes.

What does this have to do with Thanksgiving you ask?  Hmmmm . . . . oh I guess something to be thankful about.  

I have so much to be thankful about.  Of course the first and foremost is Bill, my faithful and devoted partner and spouse of the past fifty years.  Bill is a saint.  Anyone who can put up with me and my shenanigans for FIFTY YEARS has to be incredible and Bill is.

Secondly I have my health or as much as I can have as a 73 year old, been round the block more than a few times, oldie goldie.  

Another big plus is that I don't have any bills (mortgages, medical bills, et al).  Mortgage free folks!  One of my lifetime goals . . . . achieved!

So what am I doing for Thanksgiving?  Working at the hotel of course.  I don't mind.  During the holidays we get the nicest folks visiting the hotel, usually the grandparents who are visiting their children and grandchildren but don't want to be subjected to the screaming and running around the house and the "Look at me! Look at me!" little darlings 24/7.  Kids are cute . . . . in small doses.

No late Thanksgiving day dinners with friends or family, especially not family since Bill and I had the gall and temerity to get married last year.  We're on the permanent outs now because of the embarrassment we have caused The Family.  Whatever.  It is what it is.  And it is a shame that we can't be accepted for who we are but I don't spend a whole lot of time dwelling on this sad fact of life. We live our life and they live their lives.  We're happy, they're not.  

I (we) actually do enjoy The Holidays and the goodwill that it generates.  We don't like the over commercialization but we get overlook that ubiquitous barnacle that comes with The Holidays.

I'll probably post another "Thanksgiving" post before the actual Turkey Day but I felt like posting this today.  

Okay, we're off to the store to buy some more egg nog.  Bill loves egg nog on is morning oatmeal.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday - 1959 - Senior Prom

Hey folks, I decided to do another "Throwback Thursday."  My earlier one today got a bit off the subject.  

Today I saw this on my friend Larry's blog entry.  Lar and I were best friends during our high school days.  I attended his high school senior prom back in those Eisenhower Fifties Days.  Back in those days when the only thing we had to worry about was an atom bomb being dropped on our heads (we were told to hide under our desks, remember that fellow oldies?)  Ah yes, we didn't have to worry about terrorists cutting off our heads and going viral on You Tube.

So here I am with my date, Suzy Cannell.  I don't remember how we danced but I know it wasn't cheek to cheek. By the way, I never did have a good Poker Face.  Take a look, don't I just seem thrilled?  Ah well, Suzy was very nice but there was no danger of her losing her virginity that night (or any other night for that matter). Just saying.  

My friend Larry with his date Pamela - 1959 - take a look at the expression on his face - looks like he definitely had something in mind more than just a fox trot of two

Throwback Thursday - First Cousins

My cousins Jack Tinder (far left), Elaine Reynolds Tyson and me - at her father's funeral 2005
the three oldest children of The Hadfield girls - we have that special "oldest child" bond

This week's Throwback Thursday isn't throwing back that far, only to 2005.

Picture above is me at my Uncle George Reynolds funeral in September of 2005.  I am seated with my cousins Jack Tinder and Elaine Reynolds Tyson.  We three are the oldest children (first born) of the "Hadfield Girls" as my cousin Jack likes to call his mother (Grace) and my Mother (Betty) and his Aunt Jeanette.  

My Mom (Betty), and her two older sisters (Jeanette Reynolds and Grace Wagner)  - September 2005
My Mom was the youngest of the five children my grandfather George Hadfield and his wife Ethel (Hickman) had.  She also had two brothers, Randall (Randy) and George, Jr.

My Mom with her two older brothers George and Randy - 1928

Both of my Mom's older brothers never had families.  George, Jr. never married.  I strongly suspect he was gay but have no basis for that other than he never had a girlfriend or anything close to it.  George was born the same year as my father (1920) and back in those days, if you were gay you stayed in the closet which is what I suspected Uncle George did.  Besides, who doesn't have a family who doesn't have an "Uncle George" in it?  Grace Kelly had a gay "Uncle George (Kelly).  

Uncle George L. Hadfield, Jr. - 1942 Army Engineers
My uncle Randy was a different story.  He died young in an automobile accident in 1942 (shortly after I was born) at the young age of twenty.  I heard a lot about Uncle Randy growing up, he was the star of the Hadfield family. A classic example of the good die young.

Uncle Randall L. Hadfield, Jr. - 1940
I've done massive research on my paternal genealogy (Tipton) line.  Some years ago while I was doing research my Mother gently reminded me "Aren't you interested in my line, the Hadfields?"  I sheepishly had to admit that I was not.  However, to assuage her and later to my great pleasure I started to research my maternal ancestral line.  What I found was most interesting.  Whereas my paternal Tipton ancestors first immigrated to this country (from Jamaica of all places!)

in the 1690's. I'm a ninth generation American from my father's side, my maternal Hadfield ancestors didn't immigrate to this country until the 1850's.  I used to tease my Mother that her line were almost "wetbacks" compared to my father's line.  

Me and my cousins visiting my Aunt Jeanette at Simpson Meadows - 2005

I have to stop myself now because I could go on days, and weeks and months once I start with the family genealogy but I thought this would be an interesting diversion for this week's "Throwback Thursday" (plus I've set in permanence part of my life history on the Internet forever so when I'm gone others in my family who follow me won't have to do the research that I've just done).

My grandfather George Lincoln Hadfield, Sr. and his family 1923 (my Mother is in this picture, she wasn't born yet but my grandmother was pregnant with her thus standing behind my Aunt Grace)
One of my very favorite pastimes is digging into my family history.  I love it! How about you?  

My father's side of the family - YEP! Hillbillies all.  Know how you can tell? The wringer washing machine is on the front porch - 1939 - my Uncle Sam, Bruce and Tip are in this classic photo

Caregiver Update

  Bill with his hospice nurse last week Regular followers of this blog have no doubt noticed that I haven't been posting on a regular ba...