Northbound

The bus made a stop at a Love’s/McDonald’s/Subway in St. Paul, Ind.  (As odd as Megabus’ routes are, it is not inconceivable to think I’d be going to St. Louis by way of St. Paul, Minn.).  I’m sated (Quarter Pounder with cheese and two apple pies) and, unfortunately, wide awake.  Still no personal lights on the bus, and dawn is two hours away, so I’m blogging again.  I was quite proud of the fact that I managed to post my entry at 11:59, so I did manage to post an August entry in here.

Currently en route to Indianapolis.  The Cincinnati leg of the journey included two stops in the city itself.  One was at the corner of Fourth and Race, and the other was on W. University Ave. on the University of Cincinnati campus.  It was quite fascinating to pass through Over the Rhine, the neighborhood just north of downtown Cincinnati, which was an impoverished, crime-ridden ghetto during the late 1980s to mid-1990s, when I was living and working in the Queen City.

Now the word is gentrification.  I am all for making the neighborhood safer, and for making it attractive for people who work downtown to want to live there, especially if they can save some fuel money by walking to work.  The question remains: Will this come at too high a cost for longtime residents to be able to afford to live there?

Many of the landmarks I recognized during the time I lived in Cincinnati are gone.  This means quite a few of the actual buildings are gone, many of them now serve different purposes.  As the bus went north on Vine St., I saw the building that housed a dive bar called the Bank Café is now a restaurant.  During my many journeys northbound on Vine St., I passed (but never entered) a store named Glossinger’s.  Its Pepsi sign, hanging over the sidewalk, advertised:

GLOSSINGER’S
WINE          BEER       CIGARS
Also gone were many of the storefront churches that clustered, sometimes several to a block, in Over the Rhine.  I particularly noticed the absence of one such place, where a wooden folding chair always sat in the front window.  Above the chair was a sign that said, “This seat reserved for you!”, above an arrow pointing to the sign.
A sad commentary was a little store at Vine and Liberty that had a Realtor’s sign in its window, but it was too obvious that the place was closed, and had been for some time.  A sign reading THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATRONAGE still hung above the door.  When I had lived in Cincinnati, it was a place to buy money orders, cash checks, and send or receive Western Union funds.
For personal reasons, I grieved the loss of the St. Francis Bookshop, across Vine St. from St. Francis Seraph Church.  The Saint Anthony Messenger paid me $35 for a poem I mailed them in 1996.  It was called “I Want to Live Above the Catholic Bookstore,” and I had written it on the spur of the moment, when I walked past the St. Francis Bookshop one day and saw a FOR RENT sign in the window above the store.  (Sadly, now there is one in the store window itself.)  I took out my small pocket diary and ballpoint pen, and wrote the whole poem in less than five minutes, right there on Vine St., using a newspaper vending box for a desk.  It took me another year and a half–by which time I had moved to Columbus–to type up the poem and mail it to The Saint Anthony Messenger.
As the bus reached the top of the hill at Calhoun St., I saw the outline of St. George’s Church, and I still need to remind myself that both steeples are gone forever.  Above is a video clip from WLWT-TV, Channel 5, showing the 2008 fire that destroyed both steeples.
At this very moment (4:38 a.m.), we are sitting in downtown Indianapolis, discharging and taking on passengers.  The only prominent landmark I could see was the headquarters of Eli Lilly and Company.  The only businesses that seem to be open are bail bond offices.  Haven’t seen an all-night diner, or even a convenience store.
There were more nightclubs and late-night restaurants open in downtown Cincinnati than I remembered during the years I lived there.  They seemed to be full, and many people were walking from club to club.  (I saw two young women in dresses who were carrying what looked like very uncomfortable dress shoes, walking barefoot up W. 4th St. and crossing Race.)
We are now heading out of downtown Indianapolis.  Still no sign of life other than the bail bondsmen, many of whose offices are brilliantly lit and staffed.  I guess there are enough people being arrested that it is worth staying open 24/7.
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Radio, Reunion, and Rain

Many black-and-white “B” horror movies from the 1940s and 1950s concluded with the words THE END filling the screen in big runny capital letters.  These words would then disappear, and then a huge ? would dominate the screen.  While Susie, Steve, and I were headed down Interstate 71 yesterday for the 26th Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention, all the while I was composing a fitting tribute to the convention, its denizens, and the many times I have attended.

Definitely, the atmosphere at the convention was more funereal than I have ever seen.  Soon after the flyer appeared online, all of us on the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio email list received word this would be the final convention.  Susie and I had discussed the possibility of going on Friday, auditioning for the broadcast re-enactment, and spending the night.  I finally decided against that because I did not want to spend the extra money for a hotel.

Around 10:30 Saturday morning, Steve, Susie, and I pulled into the parking lot of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blue Ash, the convention headquarters.  We headed straight to the dealer room, which is the nucleus of the daytime activity.  (There are workshops and talks held in conference rooms here and there in the hotel, but the dealers are the heart and soul of the show.)  There were a lot of people greeting each other, many people moving from table to table, and laughing, joking, and reminiscing.  However, it did not escape me that the festivities were more akin to a wake, than to a reunion.

Susie did quite well.  Many vendors were looking to unload lots of merchandise, so she came away with several books and DVDs at below sticker price.  One man is sending her a complete set of all the Harry Potter movies, since she did not have enough cash on hand.  He said try ’em out for a few days, if you like them, send me a check.  I anticipate mailing him a check really soon.

Even in misunderstanding, there was charity and good will.  A man laid out a table of free goods, including eight-track tapes (which I ignored; I never owned an eight-track player even when they were in vogue), albums (mostly 101 Strings and Mantovani), and even a prerecorded cassette or two.  (I took Neil Diamond’s soundtrack from The Jazz Singer and a Liberace tape.)

On the adjacent table, the man had an assortment of cassettes, of everything from my beloved CBS Radio Mystery Theater to The Catholic Hour to Journey to Freedom.  I grabbed a handful of several tapes, including Nick Carter, Master Detective.  (I have a personal connection, a <6 degrees of separation situation with that show.  Its star, the late Lon Clark, had lived in my W. McMillan Street apartment in Clifton during his years as a studio musician for WLW-AM and his job at the Cincinnati Summer Opera.  (Mutual hired him for Nick Carter during World War II.  Another WLW studio singer, Doris Day, once played gin rummy in the same apartment.)

A little while later, I took another tape to give Susie, and the man told me the tapes were $.50 apiece.  I apologized, and began unloading all the tapes from my bag, explaining that I thought the freebies extended to both tables.  He put up a hand.  “Keep the ones you already have,” he said.  I thanked him.

Cassette sales got cheaper and cheaper the last few years, especially with the advent of MP3 disks.  Why pay $1 or $2 for a single episode of a show, when you can pay a dollar or two more and get the show’s entire run on a single disk?

Steve bought the complete run of Night Gallery, and I surprised myself by getting two MP3 disks of a radio game show, Information Please.  (I remembered the title because my parents had given me an Information Please Almanac for 1974 on my tenth Christmas.)  I had heard excerpts from the show before.  A panel of experts discusses questions mailed in by the listening audience, and if they could not answer the question, they relied on humor and double entendres instead.

All three of us posed for pictures with one of the Radio Convention’s demigods, Bob Hastings.  Bob has had a long career in radio and television.  His most memorable radio performance was Archie Andrews, where he played the title character.  (The late Hal Stone, who played Jughead, attended the convention annually until his death in 2007.)  The first year Susie went to the convention, she borrowed my microcassette recorder and interviewed Hastings for a school project.

Your faithful blogger and Bob Hastings.

Bob Hastings is also in this 1971 All in the Family episode, “Judging Books by Covers.”  He plays Tommy Kelsey, the bartender.  (The episode is memorable because three ABC-TV soap opera stars are in this scene: Hastings, who would play Captain Burt Ramsey in General Hospital; Steve is portrayed by Philip Carey, who became Asa Buchanan on One Life to Live; and Roger was played by Anthony Geary, who played Luke Spencer, America’s sexiest rapist, on General Hospital.)

Part of the joy of the radio convention is the excuse to venture into Clifton, the neighborhood near the University of Cincinnati where I lived in the early to mid-1990s.  Susie was excited because we would be seeing her friend Cynthia, whom she met at a Unitarian youth conference at our church two years ago.  Cynthia lives in Westwood, and she and her parents braved the rain (which was almost constant by this point) to come to Clifton and meet us for lunch at Chicago Gyros.  Susie and Cynthia were overjoyed to see each other, and it was a good time meeting her parents.
Steve headed back to Columbus because he had a meeting to attend, so I flipped open my laptop and bought Susie and myself two seats on the 6:30 bus back to Columbus.  The bus ride was a comfortable one, heading north under gray and wet skies.  Susie was frustrated because the bus’ Wi-Fi seemed to be DOA, so she listened to her iPod and I dozed a little.
I am glad I checked my email once we were back in Columbus.  At the convention’s closing ceremonies, Bob Burchett, the founder, announced that he has decided there will be a convention next year.  The board has been very active with discussions and debate about logistics, finances, etc., but the consensus is that no one wants to see the tradition die.
I was very happy to receive this news.  So, I predict that an April 2013 entry will talk about the next convention.  Stay tuned.

Pulp Non-Fiction

This afternoon, I spent several hours at the Ramada Plaza on Sinclair Rd. at the 40th annual Pulpfest, moving from vendor table to vendor table in the hotel ground floor.  I’ve become much more choosy at events such as these, and gone are the days when I could blow an entire paycheck at something like my beloved Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention in Cincinnati.  It would have been impossible for me to scrutinize every book, DVD, poster, and pulp magazine for sale, but I am pretty sure I got a pretty representative picture of what’s available.

There was a we’ll-look-back-on-this-and-laugh moment during the convention.  A seller from Michigan specializes in manuscripts, first editions, and signed copies.  On his table, he displayed a two-page handwritten letter (circa 1928) from H.P. Lovecraft, creator of the Cthulhu Mythos.  I asked how much it cost.  “Twenty-five,” he said.

My friend Steve wrote his master’s thesis on Lovecraft’s body of work, so I went outside and texted him immediately.  (Cell service is nonexistent in the ground floor of this hotel.)  I texted, 2pp Lovecraft letter (handwritten) on sale for $25!.  He texted back, Wow.  Authenticated?  He was wise to ask this, because I went down and spoke to the dealer, and this brief discussion brought me back down to earth.  I went back upstairs to where there was cell reception, and sent another text message, Never mind.  It’s $2500!”  Steve texted back, That sounds more like it. 😀.  Lovecraft died in 1937, and any of his papers, hand- or typewritten, appreciate more and more annually.

I was able to keep my spending reasonable.  When I was going to St. Mary’s Middle School, I gave a speech in my forensics class (a classy way of saying “public speaking”) on my growing book collection.  Among other gems (nothing particularly valuable or collectible), I showed a double novel, They Buried a Man.  The husband and wife who own and operate Hooked on Books in Bolingbrook, Ill. had the book.  (My copy disappeared in the many moves from Marietta to Boston, Cincinnati, Athens, etc. over the years.)  So, for a mere $5, I now own They Buried a Man once again.  Ace Books published an entire series of “Ace Giant Double Novels.”  They’re the size of a typical paperback of the period (1955), selling for $.50.  Mildred Davis was the author of both They Buried a Man and the other novel, The Dark Place (G-543).  When you finish reading one novel, you would turn the next page, and the final page of the other book would be there upside down.  Two covers, two complete books, two for the price of one.

I learned about Pulpfest from mystery writer, law professor, and attorney Francis M. (“Mike”) Nevins, Jr., whom I met several years ago at the Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention in Cincinnati.  The convention came to Columbus in 2009.  It had previously been in Dayton, so I never attended until it came to the Ramada Plaza.  I am not surprised at the overlap between the old-time radio crowd and the pulp enthusiasts’ crowd.  I saw some of the same faces, and some of the same merchandise was available.  (There were very few audio recordings for sale, but several vendors sold DVDs of movie serials, 1950s TV shows, and B movies.)

Very interesting choice of music right now.  I’ve programmed my laptop to shuffle the music files stored there. Here I am writing about a convention for pulp fiction and genre enthusiasts–the theme is the 80th anniversary of The Shadow–and the song that came up just now was “Spooky,” by the Classics IV.  (When I was in high school, the Atlanta Rhythm Section’s cover was quite popular, but I admit I like the Classics IV version better.)

And now for a double whammy music-wise.  The next song that came up was  “Read ‘Em and Weep,” by Barry Manilow.  Besides admitting for all the world to read that I have a Barry Manilow album ripped to my laptop, I’ll ‘fess up the reason why this song hits me in the gut.  Steph and I were married 15 years ago tonight at Highbanks Metro Park in Powell.  In the eyes of the law, we are still married, but tonight we are over a thousand miles apart.  And now, it’s a thousand statute miles apart–we have been thousands of miles apart spiritually, mentally, and emotionally for much longer.  I know it’s best that we’re apart, and I think I’ve adapted well to single fatherhood (and this month of full bachelorhood), but that doesn’t make this date any easier.  Anyone who has suffered the bitter end of a relationship can appreciate the lyrics of this song.

I am not long back from dinner with Steve and Mike Nevins at Noodles and Company (I highly recommend their Wisconsin macaroni and cheese with meatballs, by the way), and later tonight I will make the three-mile trek to Grandview for the Return of Nite Owl Theater.  The film tonight is Teenagers from Outer Space.  I have never seen this, nor have I heard it before it appeared on Fritz’ Website.

I bought two DVDs at the convention at $10 apiece.  One was Barfly, a movie that had me in stitches when I first saw it in the early 1990s.  The only Charles Bukowski book I had read at the time was Post Office, a novel I loved but did not fully appreciate until I went to work at the main post office in Cincinnati in May 1992.  Barfly‘s setting reminded me very much of the 600 block of East Main Street in downtown Cincinnati, where I spent many afternoons and early evenings with Robert Lowry, the once-famous Cincinnati novelist who died broke and out of print in 1994.  I was a bit of a snob about where I drank, and I considered Lowry’s hangout, the Bay Horse Café, to be beneath my station–I was used to college bars, and thought they were a step up from Skid Row establishments such as The Saloon and the Bay Horse.  (The college bars were, after all, college bars, even if you had to step through a minefield of spilled beer, broken glass, and vomit to get from the bar to your seat.)

The other was Kill Me If You Can, a 1977 made-for-TV movie starring Alan Alda as Caryl Chessman, a career criminal executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin in 1960 for rape and kidnapping.  I was in junior high when I saw the movie for the first time, and it turned me into an opponent of the death penalty, and it led me to read the four books Chessman wrote while on Death Row, including his autobiography, Cell 2455, Death Row and his only novel, The Kid Was a Killer, published two or three months before his execution.  I have not watched the movie in its entirety, and I won’t tonight, but I am glad to finally have a copy.

Many of the vendors organized their products by genre, author name, or publisher, and many issues of Argosy, The Phantom Detective, and Dime Mystery Book were in chronological order.  That was good,  because I was on a mission to find a specific 1955 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for a friend.  (I came away with two “I have it, but not here”s, but I collected email and snail addresses from both vendors, and will contact them in the next day or so.)  At the same time, serendipity can be your friend as well.  I have lost track of how many books I now own by discovering them completely by accident while in search of something else.  I have prowled bookstores and a misfiled book just happens to me one I’ve tried to find for years.

Some typical PulpFest fare.

These books were considered the epitome of risque fiction in the 1950s.  I did not see much gay or lesbian pulp fiction, but I am sure many of the vendors had it for sale.  Gotta love it: “It was a beautiful honeymoon–for four!”

I first became aware of Mike Nevins when I read his massive biography of mystery and suspense novelist Cornell Woolrich Cornell Woolrich: First You Dream, Then You Die.  I did not meet him for several years afterwards, and he was pleasantly surprised that I knew of his book about Woolrich.  Tonight at dinner, he signed the introductions he wrote for Woolrich’s posthumously published Tonight, Somewhere in New York and the Ballantine reprint of The Black Path of Fear.

One dealer was selling a $100 copy of Woolrich’s 75-page novella Marihuana (originally on sale in 1944 for a dime!), and alongside it was a title I found much more intriguing.  This was Frederic Brown’s The Case of the Dancing Sandwiches, both published by Dell.  The title did not intrigue me enough to fork over the price he wanted.  Just coincidentally, it was the same price as my electric bill, and I think Susie would like to come back to a house with electricity.

If I knew for sure it worked, I would have bought a big outdoor dial thermometer that advertised Blue Coal (“America’s finest anthracite”).  When I’ve streamed episodes of Suspense from Archive.org or listened to the disks and tapes I’ve bought over the years, Blue Coal came up quite often as a sponsor, as did Roma Wines and Autolite Spark Plugs.


It’s miserable out tonight, and the relative humidity is sky-high, as it has been for much of July, yet I will soon be lighting out for Grandview.  Susie and I wanted to go last month, but the post-Comfest traffic snarled all buses headed away from Goodale Park and the Short North, so we didn’t get to go.  (Susie didn’t want to walk, as I usually do, and as we did when we saw Dementia 13 in May.)

Next stop: Grandview.


"It’s Complicated" Doesn’t Sum It Up

Facebook’s choices of “Relationship Status” are quite limited.  In addition to “Married,” “Single,” “Widowed,” etc., it lists “It’s Complicated” as one of the choices.  Several people I have known–from Ohio University, from college, from former jobs–have listed their statuses that way.  Many times, I didn’t feel I was close enough to them to ask them to elaborate.

I now list my status as “It’s complicated.”  It will be complicated for some time to come, but I already know the outcome.
>Steph and I decided, calmly, without tears, raised voices, or words spoken only to be regretted later, that we will end our 14-year marriage as soon as it is practically possible.  Neither of us have been happy for some time, and what will ultimately constitute happiness in our eyes differs so radically that remaining together will ultimately breed only resentment.

I wish I had the answer to when this will come to pass.  In 1975, the group Tavares released a song that said, “It only takes a minute, girl, to fall in love.”  That is true, but to fall out of love takes many years and, in many cases, a few thousand dollars.  This will be an amicable divorce.  After we sign the paperwork, I can see Steph and me going out to lunch together.  We are not going to enrich lawyers, because we come to the table in full agreement regarding custody for Susie (Steph will retain full custody, but I will have very liberal visitation rights and will still have a voice in decisions that affect her life and well-being).  There isn’t that much joint marital property, since we don’t co-own a home, boat, or vehicle.

During the next few months, we will be settling financial matters, as well as making decisions regarding health and insurance.  We need to satisfactorily resolve these be for we set foot in the Clerk of Courts’ office to ask for the divorce paperwork.  No-fault divorce is the law of the land in all 50 states (except New York, but no-fault divorce will go into effect there next month), so we can end the marriage without any finger-pointing or negativity.

Indeed, no one is the villain here.  I have long realized that I would make a terrible spouse for anyone.  I married Steph because I held a glimmer of hope that maybe I was wrong about that, and I was shaken by the idea of spending the rest of my life wondering.  However, 14 years of marriage has proven to me that I am a person who should not be partnered.  I am also coming to wonder if partnered, not-partnered is hard-wired genetically, like being left- or right-handed.  When Steph and I married, many of the guests whom I invited came to the ceremony with a “This I’ve gotta see!” attitude.  When I made a visit to Cincinnati a month or two after my marriage, I stopped in a bar I used to frequent.  My former across-the-street neighbor was tending bar, and he said, “Paul, you’ll never believe this.  The craziest rumor’s been going around Clifton about you…”  He stopped in mid-sentence, glanced at the ring on my left hand, and said, “Oh, Jesus!  It’s true.”

Surely, I had no positive role models of marriage growing up.  My parents were monsters, people who had no business marrying, and even less business parenting.  I tried to take into consideration that not all marriages are like theirs, but they were so unavailable to me emotionally and spiritually that I learned to draw on my own resources, maybe to the point that I am either unwilling or unable to fully ask or receive that from anyone else.

The entries I post after this one will not all focus on the divorce.  Both Steph and I are maintaining our lives and our interests.  Steph is returning to the choir at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, singing at the 9:15 a.m. services.  I will continue to habituate the Sporeprint Infoshop and the events that interest me when I see them posted on the Columbus DIY message board.  We remain living together, although my office is now my bedroom.  (I have a twin mattress on the floor, which I upend when I am not sleeping.  Or at least I will upend it once I buckle down and clean this room–I’ve taken a page from Oscar Madison at his worst lately.)

While mustering the words to describe this turn of events, I went and pulled down my diary from the summer of 1996, the year we married.  Scotch-taped inside one of the pages, after an entry a week before the wedding itself, was a paragraph I clipped from The Discoverer, First UU’s newsletter.  We had mailed about a hundred invitations already, but in case we missed anyone from the church, we submitted this to the newsletter:



A similar announcement ran in the newsletter of 

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which Steph also 

attended at the time.  We had an Episcatarian service worthy of King’s Chapel in Boston.

We mailed out many wedding invitations, and people learned the date and time as soon as the next day, or a week to 10 days later, depending on the vagaries of the U.S. Postal Service and how far away from Columbus they lived.  But the news of the end of our marriage, because of the Internet, traveled to people we love at the speed of light.  This afternoon, Steph and I sat down, each of us in front of a laptop, and wrote the following Google Document, which we emailed to friends in our address books:

Dear Friends and Family,

It is with some sadness and some relief that we share news that we are ending our marriage as soon as it is feasible to do so, most likely within the next 18 months.  We will be sorting out some financial, health, and insurance matters before we even file for the divorce and expect THAT may take upwards of six months.  In the meantime, we consider ourselves to be single, simply roommates who happen to be co-parenting.  

 We have decided that our priorities are Susie and our respective roads to happiness.  That means there will be major changes ahead for all of us, but that we will try to keep things as level as possible for Su as we can, though, at some point, we will stop sharing the same home and that will mean huge changes in her life as well.  Luckily, we are all resilient as hell and will get through this just fine.  

 Before you all start guessing at the whys and wherefores, we will tell you that no one here has done anything really wrong.  Over many years together, we have grown apart and gone our separate ways, so much so that we now find our paths lead in opposite directions.  If you want to know more specific details than that, you are welcome to ask.  We will tell you whatever you want to know within the boundaries of our own abilities to know.  We do, however, ask that you not question Susie about any of these matters.  If she wants to talk to you, she will let you know and we would be glad she has reached out to someone.  But, please let her be the one to open the discussion.  

 One thing we can tell you for sure is that our daughter will be in Steph’s fulltime custody throughout these months and into the future.  Paul will remain her loving and devoted father with all the responsibilities and rights so accorded.  

 The divorce will be an amicable one.  While the marriage may be ending, the friendship and deep respect we have for each other is intact, if not stronger, for having made this decision.  We leave the marriage with no animosity toward each other.  We do not feel that our many mutual friends need to “choose sides”.  We will always be a part of each other’s lives.  We do ask that everyone show Susie the support and love that she will need during this difficult time to come.

 Peace to All and Blessed Be!

Steph & Paul

 That is about all there is to report at the moment.  There is a financial morass to sort out, because both of us want to emerge from this as unblemished as we can.  I would like to think we will sail through that, but reality is much more different.

There’s Good News Tonight!

The title of this entry is an allusion many of my readers will miss.  It was the on-air greeting of Gabriel Heatter, a Mutual Broadcasting System radio commentator and reporter during the 1930s and 1940s.  Since Susie and I were in Cincinnati at the Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention today (technically, yesterday, since it’s now 1 a.m.), I thought this would be a good title for the entry.

My friend Steve Palm-Houser, whom I know from church, attended his first OTR convention this weekend.  I had talked it up to him all year, and he was sufficiently fascinated to make his first trip.  This was Susie’s third convention, and (at least) my seventh.  It was at a new location this year, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blue Ash,  a Cincinnati bedroom community.  Annually, I say this year I will audition for the broadcast reenactment, and I’ve batted zero on making good that vow.  (They use authentic working equipment, but the final product doesn’t go out over the air.)

We arrived late in the morning.  The Crowne Plaza is a totally new hotel to me.  Since Blue Ash has almost no public transit service, I may have been there twice in all the years I lived in Cincinnati.  When we came in the lobby, the ballroom immediately off the lobby was very full, but very quiet.  The easel just outside the door said that it was a pinochle tournament sponsored by the Cincinnati Yellow Jacks Pinochle Club.  The room had almost a churchlike, monastic silence about it, like I’ve heard can happen at chess and bridge tournaments.  The OTR people were quite boisterous.

I spent less money than I have in the past.  Most of the programs available on MP3s, or tape cassettes, or compact disks are now available free of charge, mainly from The Internet Radio Archive and other sites.  I bought a two-DVD set of ABC News’ coverage of the 1981 Reagan assassination attempt.  (The day it happened, I was watching CBS, so I am looking forward to seeing the late Frank Reynolds, on camera, blow his stack at his staff when he kept getting conflicting reports about whether Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, had died of his injuries.  I have never seen that, except for an out-of-context clip on YouTube.)  I bought a CD-ROM which featured Spider-Man’s first 10 appearances (in 1962; Amazing Fantasy #15 and the first nine issues of The Amazing Spider-Man).  That’s out of character for me.  I was never a big superhero fan, but when I was, I was more loyal to DC than Marvel.

I even managed to resist the usual stray impulse purchase of something I knew I couldn’t use.  It only took me 15 seconds to decide not to buy an old radio transcription disk.  This was a 16″ acetate recording disk, and radio stations used them extensively until magnetic tape emerged after World War II.  There was a time when I would have bought this disk (and more in the box), regardless of the fact that I have no phonograph that can play it.  The tone arm pivot would get in the way, and the grooves are wider than on a standard LP, which means the needle would skate constantly.

For those who think I’m still speaking in tongues, here is a picture of a transcription disk I downloaded from http://www.auldworks.com.

From Bob Gardner of Vintage Publishing, I bought a disk called News Program Collection.  Other than the fact that there are 134 episodes, I don’t know what is on it.  I’m just praying the files are labelled properly when I load the disk.

Susie didn’t come away empty-handed, but she was disappointed that the vendor who sold Archie comic books at previous conventions didn’t come.  She bought some MP3s of Fibber McGee and Molly.

Steve showed incredible restraint; for a moment, I thought he considered it a wasted trip, but he said he was trying to be prudent.  He bought Cornell Woolrich’s posthumously published Into the Night, which featured an Afterword by my friend mystery novelist Francis M. (“Mike”) Nevins, Jr.  That was it.

Many people tuned into Internet radio heard Susie a little after noon.  Neal Ellis and Ken Stockinger of Maryland broadcast live from their table at the convention, on their Radio Once More Website.  (In 2008, when I casually mentioned to Neal that Susie was the youngest person ever to attend the convention, he immediately stopped broadcasting Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and interviewed Susie.  Here is the link to my LiveJournal entry of that day:  LiveJournal Entry, April 12, 2008.  In it, I did err and say Neal was playing Boston Blackie when he made the snap decision to interview Susie.)  Susie took her place at the microphone just as the live broadcast was beginning, and she was much more at ease and much less tongue-tied than when she spoke in 2008.  Frantically, I tried to get onto Facebook through Steve’s Verizon Wireless phone to post a notice Susie would be on the radio at noon, but I couldn’t connect to my account.  I managed to text a few–very few–friends by cell phone about 11:53 (per the phone’s log) and send them the URL.  As far as I know, only Ivan in Vermont was successful in hearing the broadcast.  He texted me back: “I’m tuned in listening to Sus.  She sounds really grown up!”

Susie during the interview.  Across the table from her is Neal Ellis
(with the beard) and Ken Stockinger.

Susie reunited with two members of the Riverdale delegation.  In the hotel’s food court, we saw Rosemary Rice and Bob Hastings sharing a booth.  Rosemary Rice played Betty Cooper in the NBC radio program Archie Andrews, based on the comic books.  Bob played the titular role.  At an earlier convention, I met the late Hal Stone, who played Jughead.  Susie interviewed both Hastings and Rice for a school project in 2008, using a microcassette recorder.  Bob told her of his day-to-day working life in radio, and spoke in his Commissioner Gordon voice to her.  (He voiced Gordon in The Cartoon Network’s Batman: The Animated Series.)  As I was never a fan of McHale’s Navy (where he portrayed Lt. Elroy Carpenter) or General Hospital (Capt. Burt Ramsey), the first time I saw Bob on TV was as Tommy Kelsey, the barkeep on All in the Family.

Rosemary Rice and Bob Hastings (both from NBC
Radio’s Archie Andrews), with Susie in the food court
of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, May 8, 2010.

Tangent alert: This YouTube clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zY7HqCYgpM&feature=related is from “Judging Books by Covers,” a first-season episode of All in the Family.  Bob Hastings, as Kelsey, is behind the bar, most clearly visible beginning at 3:18.  This is an “ABC soap opera” episode.  Both Bob and Anthony Geary (Roger) would appear on General Hospital.  Geary would play Luke Spencer (as in “Luke and Laura”), America’s sexiest rapist.  Philip Carey’s (Steve) long career as One Life to Live‘s patriarch Asa Buchanan ended only when he died in 2009.

Steve loves bookstores as passionately as I do, so when we decided we had seen enough of the convention, we drove into Clifton, my erstwhile neighborhood.  The neighborhood is a lot less shoddy than it was, but it has become so brand-named and cookie-cutter sterile, and is losing what made it vital and unique.  It is not the Clifton that I loved.

One of the holdouts against the big brand names taking over (or property seizure by eminent domain) is Duttenhofer’s Book Store.  I moved to W. McMillan St. for the express purpose of living near it, and I was there constantly, and I visited about a dozen times for each time I actually bought something.  Russell Speidel, the current owner, is a very good man, and was generous with me when I was broke, either loaning me small sums, or buying books of little or no value so I wouldn’t be totally broke.  There were quite a few times, I’m sure, when he thought of himself as Mr. Wilson and me as Dennis the Menace.

I was disappointed not to see him behind the counter.  I actually bought something, so that may have been too much for his heart.  I bought a Fawcett Crest paperback of James A. Michener’s Centennial for $.50 and two other books.  I got a kick out of the fact that a thick hardcover of The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh, which I sold him when I lived on W. McMillan, was still on the shelf, untouched for at least 15 years.  (I knew it was my copy because of a phone number I had penciled in the margin of one of the earlier pages of the book.)

All three of us were home by late afternoon, and I’ve maintained my good mood ever since, save for a battle with Facebook when I tried to load pictures I had taken in Cincinnati to my photo album.

It’s almost 3 a.m.  Susie and I are leaving for church a little after 8, since she’ll be singing at the 9:15 service.  I’ll be sleep-deprived, and I feel a little bad about neglecting the holographic diary, but I wanted to post my impressions here while they were still fresh.