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.

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I Should Know Soon if "The Authorities" Snoop in My Email

People who belong in padded cells have long believed that the CIA, FBI, or any other agency of so-called “intelligence” have special bureaus and agents who exist for the sole purpose of invading their privacy–wiretapping their phones, opening their snail mail, reading their emails, etc.  (This type of thinking has often led me to believe that paranoia is a manifestation of narcissism.  My dad told me that a paranoid person is someone watching a football game on TV who thinks the players in the huddle are talking about him.)

Well, if anyone is reading my email, I’ll know about it really soon.  I’ve exchanged some in the last week that you could construe as cryptic.

First, a little background.  If you read the fourth paragraph of this entry, from the time when LiveJournal hosted this blog, you’ll read about when I purchased Penguin, the dehumidifier, at Target, when Steph complained of how dry the bedroom was.  It was obviously designed for a child’s room, but it was cheaper than the “adult” models.  (The other choice of children’s model was an elephant, and the last Republican I would have voted for was assassinated in 1865.)  Here’s a picture of Penguin:

Christmas night, my friend Steve’s stepdaughter Ramona (Susie’s first babysitter) posted on Facebook that she had tipped over her dehumidifier and broken it.  I replied to her one-to-one by offering to loan her Penguin.  Steve, Susie, and I were going to see Santa Claus Conquers the Martians with Fritz the Nite Owl that night, so I told her I’d send Penguin back with him after the movie.  She was open to this, and thanked me effusively.

Ramona and her baby daughter went back to Kentucky soon after New Year’s, so I emailed Steve to ask him to send Penguin home with Susie after choir practice, on one of the nights I was working at Columbus State’s bookstore and wouldn’t be with her.  Sure, no problem, he said.  She caught a ride with the mom of one of her fellow Rising Voices.

When I opened the bag, Penguin didn’t have a head–like Wednesday Addams’ Marie Antoinette doll.  This was important, because the steam came from a little hole in his beak.  (Our dear, departed feline David could stare Penguin down indefinitely–you almost wanted to cue up Hugo Montenegro’s theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly when you saw this–but he would be laid low whenever Penguin blasted a little steam in his face.)

I emailed Steve, saying that “I looked in the bag Susie brought home, and all that was there was Penguin’s body.  Would you look around your car and see if his head is still in there?”

He replied that Penguin’s body was intact when he returned Susie’s bag to her.  Maybe the head was in the other car she rode in that night.

So, Saturday before church, I emailed the mother who drove Susie home from choir practice that night.  She’s a good friend, and I was happy she was willing to drive out of her way to get Susie home safely.  So I knew I could trust her when I asked her to check her car to see if there was a disembodied head loose in her car anywhere.  If so, could she bring it back to us?  We had the rest of the body at our house.

After church yesterday, the mother reassured Susie that yes, she would bring Penguin’s head to choir practice tomorrow.  (On a silver platter?  See Matthew 14:6-11.)

How many Keystone Kops with far too much free time have been wearing down shoe leather and going without donuts trying to figure out who “Penguin” represents?  Has to be a code word for a yet-undiscovered murder victim, doesn’t it?

P.S.–Abstained from food and drink (except water) since 9 p.m. last night and went to the doc this morning for the blood draw.  They filled up a test tube and dispatched it to Riverside Hospital’s lab.  Now I wait for a phone call from my doctor once the results return.

Washington Beckons

Now I’m watching the clock waiting for 11:30 to get here, so I can be en route to the One Nation Working Together march tomorrow in Washington, D.C.  My original plan was for Susie to come with me, but another road trip, especially one this long, was too much, coming on the heels of the trip to North Olmsted last week.  Additionally, Susie is the stereotypical “Are we there yet?” kid when it comes to travelling.  If she was getting impatient for the two-hour journey to Cleveland to end, the seven-plus hours to Washington would be excruciating for her.  She told Steph on Monday that she really didn’t want to go.

I made a few phone calls, trying to fill the seat.  We have a donor who provided the bus free of charge (I’m not sure who), so I was working the phones and the email trying to find someone to go with me.  Steve was tempted, but he declined; big work week, so he was looking forward to spending the weekend staring at the ceiling.

But, I will not be travelling alone.  Amelia, Steve’s 20-year-old daughter, is coming with me.  I think it’s her first time in Washington.  The only road trip I’ve ever taken with her has been to Mineral, but I’ve been with her and her dad locally for several events, such as the Isaiah 58 rally at the State House and the Ramadan trip to the mosque.  I’m sure she’s enthusiastic about the trip.

During some idle time at the computer, I went on Google Maps and calculated how much I will have traveled between Friday night and Sunday morning, when Amelia and I return to Columbus.  The total will be 1372 miles.  There was the trip to and from North Olmsted last week, and last night Pat and I went to the Winchester Tavern in Lakewood to see Allan Holdsworth in concert–the third time I’ve seen him.  (What amazed me about that little junket was how comparatively early we were headed back to Columbus.  The concert began at 9 p.m., and there was no opening band.  The show was over by 10:30.  Pat and I stopped to get gas and pick up some burgers before we left Cleveland.  I think my clock radio said 1:15 when I came back to my bedroom/study.)

Before I promise an illustrated blog entry upon my return, I need to conduct an experiment here.  Sunday night, after coming home from North Olmsted, I tried to load some additional pictures from the Con.  Blogger.com was not cooperating, and I understand from other bloggers they were experiencing the same thing.  (The problem is not in your set!)  So, I am going to try and load a picture below:

 Susie and her friend Harriet back up their friend
Florida (at microphone) during the talent show at North
Olmsted last Saturday night.  They were insurance against
stage fright or chickening out.

Houston, all systems are go and all lights are green!  This is the picture I tried to post Sunday without any success.  Now I know that the malfunction with Blogger.com and loading pictures has been repaired, so I’m taking the Kodak EasyShare with me to document the march.
My fellow bibliophile and collector of arcane knowledge Robert Nedelkoff is meeting us for lunch at 1:45 at Tonic at Quigley’s Pharmacy, a restaurant and bar located on G St., NW in Foggy Bottom.  It’s always good to see him; this will be our third in-person meeting, and I believe I will meet his wife Rene this time.  I have never heard of this eating establishment.  The building hasn’t been a pharmacy for years, but the name is too normal for a Washington, D.C. pharmacy.  Two chains (since defunct) in Washington had names that always brought a chuckle to me.  One was Drug Fair, which was absorbed by Walgreen last year.  (Drug Fair could also have been the name for Lafayette Park after dark.)  The other was Peoples Drug, which always made me think it was a huge methadone clinic.
Right now, I just glanced at my watch.  It’s 11:08 p.m., and Steve and Amelia will be coming around to pick me up soon.  I’m packing light–camera, diary, the latest New Yorker, and a copy of On the Road (my equivalent of carrying a St. Christopher’s medal, I suppose).  Just like the New Jersey trip, I will handwrite the blog in a pocket date book (scrambling around my desk to find one), and then post backdated entries in here, assuming Blogger.com’s ability to load pictures doesn’t crash while I’m gone.

Making the Transition From Office to Office/Bedroom Permanent

I moved permanently into my study a few weeks before Steph and I decided that we would end our marriage.  However, I’ve decided to take advantage of the long weekend to give the office a long overdue cleaning, which made me more Indiana Jones than Molly Maid.  Before Steph and I sent the Google Document I cut and pasted into an earlier entry, Susie helped me move a twin mattress into the study.  This is a small room, so when I’m not sleeping, I upend it against one wall, Murphy-bed style.

Pictures will follow.  The project is not yet completed.  I marvel at my ability to generate clutter.  I am an incorrigible Oscar Madison, which is one reason why I’m sure that I’d be a bad roommate, as well as a bad spouse.  The room is now a bachelor pad of sorts, and the phrase has two connotations.  You either conjure the image of a total pigpen, barely fit for habitation, and the other is a lair for seduction (à la Glenn Quagmire on Family Guy).  I’d like to strike a happy balance between the two.

I have never been much for elegantly decorated living quarters.  The only reason I gravitate toward larger dwellings is because of my books.  I know that there are such things as Kindles and iPads, but they’ll never take the place of the feeling of being surrounded by literally thousands of volumes.

Because of financial necessity, in my late teens and 20s, I often lived in single rooms, such as dormitories, rooming houses, or the YMCA.  I was always willing to settle for less than optimal conditions in exchange for the chance to live alone.  While I was moving crates of books, I found a copy of Straight Talk from Prison, the autobiography of Lou (“The Convict Writer”) Torok, written while he was at the Chillicothe Correctional Institute in the 1970s.  In one of the early pages, there is a picture of Torok in his cell.  The cell looked almost like the room I rented in the Elmwood Place neighborhood of Cincinnati:

I corresponded with Torok while he was confined
at the Luther Lockett Correctional Facility in
Kentucky (where he died in 2000).  Ironic, when you
consider that one of the captions in the book said: 
“Lou at work in his cell.  Looming in the foreground,
his typewriter stands as a symbol of rehabilitation for
‘The Convict Writer.'”  Guess not!

While switching this room over to full-time living quarters, I took another step away from tokens of marriage.  On the wall to the left of my desk, I hang a large United States map that came from National Geographic.  Next to that was a framed needlepoint that Steph gave me on St. Valentine’s Day 1997, just after we learned she was pregnant with Susie.  It says: “Paul, You are my forever Valentine.”  I’ve put that in a drawer, and replaced it with a Beatles poster (the Abbey Road cover) which came from the Really, Really Free Market last Sunday.
I went to the Main Library downtown yesterday, and realized, after I checked online, that I needed to pick up something at Whetstone as well as downtown.  I thought about hoofing it the whole way (a little over six miles), but I didn’t because the temperature was in the 50s, and I wore a short-sleeved shirt.  So, for want of a hoodie…
And I wish I had walked it, autumn temperatures or no.  I rode most of the way up High St. on the bus with a guy who worked with me at Medco, and had a reputation as the plant’s resident malcontent.  He no longer has the job–mostly because of his being himself a little too often–but he still has a chip on his shoulder the size of the Leveque Tower about the place.  He holds me in awe because I was able to go “over the wall” and escape to a better job.
I needed a big walk today, and even though it’s midnight right now, I’m thinking about walking to and from Whetstone Library as soon as I publish this entry.  (That’s about 4½ miles round trip.)  I found some CDs that aren’t overdue yet, but I’d better return them before they’re buried again.

I needed a big walk because I had a big breakfast.  Most of the congregation of First Unitarian Universalist Church is at the Labor Day retreat in the Hocking Hills.  This is also the last three-day weekend that will feature really nice weather, so when I considered those two factors, I knew church would be a ghost town this morning.  So, Susie and I went to breakfast at the Clintonville Resource Center, where I generously partook of sausage casserole, scrambled eggs, potatoes, apple juice, and a pastry.  Not only did Susie eat less than I did, she burned most of it off working in their garden planting carrots and radishes.  I walked back with her and then took a siesta for several hours in the afternoon.  By comparison, I had a small and late dinner of two tuna sandwiches and milk.

According to the icon from The Weather Channel on my monitor, it’s 57 degrees outside.  So I’ll dress sensibly for the walk–either a hoodie or a windbreaker.  Monday also marks the end of the season at Olympic Swim and Racquet Club, and Susie wants to be there, even if she’s digging slush out of her ears after the final dive.  (Last year, when they announced the pool was closing for the season, a lot of the kids joined hands and dove en masse into the pool from the sides, which is a no-no per the pool’s rules.)

Susie and I were last there Thursday evening, after Steve came over to help Susie with her geometry homework.  (He ended up as baffled as she was, although he did better than I did.)  I had brought my Memorex MB1055 cassette recorder along, because I was in the midst of taping a letter to a friend.  (The friend doesn’t have a microcassette recorder, so I didn’t bring Diane.)  Yes, recording a letter from poolside smacks of John Cheever, but I wanted it to be in the mail before the long weekend.  I didn’t get very far, because the lifeguards decided to blare the OSU-Marshall football game over the loudspeakers.  They tuned the radio to 97.1 FM The Fan and put the microphone up against it.  I couldn’t concentrate with that blasting in my ear, and I’m sure my friend wouldn’t be able to pay attention to me with that in the background.

And so to walk…

A DOA Literary Experiment

Over our lunch at Wok and Roll (formerly the boarding house of Mary E. Surratt) in Washington, D.C. last spring, my friend Robert Nedelkoff said that he had Googled my name and found a Usenet post (circa 1996 or 1997) in which I asked, “Are there any newsgroups where one can post diary/journal entries?”  Since you can’t copyright an idea, I’m not going to wring my hands about all the wealth that could’ve been mine.

Recently, I heard somebody say that most bloggers blog about… blogging.  While I enjoy keeping this record up to date, and welcoming the incoming comments of everyone who reads it, my first love as far as record-keeping is concerned is my diary.  Late in the afternoon, Susie and I walked up to Olympic Swim and Racquet, and I was grateful when everyone flocked around the diving platform, because it gave me some time to commune with my composition book and my ballpoint pen.  (I am down to the last 13 pages in this particular volume.  Once I finish it, my journal continues in the volume pictured below.)
Maybe I should start using blank books that
would look better in museum display cases.

Elsewhere in this blog (and its predecessor on LiveJournal), I have sung the praises of the late Reverend Robert Shields, a retired United Church of Christ minister and teacher who kept a diary of everything he did from the moment he awakened (indicated as “GOD–Genesis of the Day”) until he finally fell asleep.  This included everything he ate, bought, excreted, thought, read, or saw, complete with sales slips, business cards, and other evidence.  He kept a whole arsenal of IBM Wheelwriters on his back porch office, in case he ran out of ribbon or one of them broke down, and the diary kept him, not vice versa.  This dominated his life until a stroke partially paralyzed him in 1997.  He passed away in 2007.
In the same league, although I don’t think he suffered from the hypergraphia that dominated Shields’ life, was former U.S. Senator Bob Graham (D-Florida).  He was briefly on Al Gore’s short list for Vice Presidential candidates in the ’00 campaign, but his penchant for writing down everything in his life in small spiral-bound notepads soon became a running joke and a late-night TV punch line.  This article in the St. Petersburg Times covers Senator Graham’s extensive note-taking and need to chronicle.  When this 2003 article appeared, Graham had already filled 4000 notebooks.  When the North Carolina Paper Company discontinued this particular size (about the size of a deck of playing cards), he bought the company’s leftover inventory of them.
Lord knows I am envious of men like Shields and Graham, and hypergraphia is one psychological condition I wish I could develop.  As I sweat blood over a single short story–which I think may be ready to try on some unsuspecting magazine editor later this week–and have to force myself to the keyboard to work on my novel, Graham and Shields cannot shut off the flow.
So, one day in June, I decided to chronicle one day the way that Graham and Shields had done.  Sometime in May, I bought a green Mead spiral memo book, which I had carried in my over-the-shoulder bag without ever marking in it.  Very early one morning, I decided to put it to use.  Here is how I grandiosely marked the cover:

The “Genesis of the Day” that day was about 2:30 a.m.  The smoke detector had beeped at 30-second intervals, which meant the nine-volt battery was on its last legs.  Once I went downstairs and tended to that, I was just too wide awake to sleep.  I logged onto my laptop and read a Slate article about Graham from 2003, and that was when I decided to do it.

I won’t share the entire day with you, but here are some of the early notations from the morning, many of them made on the fly.
B/R is bathroom.  I wasn’t going to elaborate on that.  The 6:45
notation alludes to my returning the Bible to my shelf.  I had
plumbed its pages for a verse to use as an epigraph for something
I was outlining at the time.

I tried like mad to keep a record of everyone who
boarded and disembarked from the bus between
Clintonville and downtown.  I listed the male (♂)
and female (♀) symbols as a shorthand in lieu
of writing out the words.  S/B is southbound.

And that was how I filled up two thirds of that memo book.  At work, I had to make the notations somewhat furtively, like a spy sticking microfilm into his pocket, but I managed to do it.  That night, there was a Homeschool Dance and Luau at Whetstone Recreation Center, and I managed to drive Susie nuts (though I neglected to write that down) as I noted each intersection we crossed when walking to Wendy’s for dinner–since we arrived early at the dance.
So I managed to maintain this record for 24 hours, and it exhausted me.  Even as I left the William Green Building for the night at 5 p.m., I was chronicling like mad:
At the dance itself, Pat saw me writing and wondered if I was covering the dance.  Yes, but not for any journalistic media.  (He and his family came to the dance as well.  My head ached too much to go in the gym with all the loud music.  I’m just thankful there wasn’t a ’70s theme, which would have meant mirror balls and strobe lights.  I am not epileptic, but strobe lights, especially when reflected numerous times, wear me out.)
So, I’ve returned to sanity with my diary-keeping.  As the kids and parents clustered around the dive tower tonight at Olympic, I managed to write about the day, how I awakened fully intending to go to church, but the sound of the thunderstorm and wind outside made me decide to go back to bed for a few more hours.  I wrote about Sporeprint and the work they do, pretty much the same way I did here in the blog.  (Writing at poolside has such a John Cheever-esque ring to it.)
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in “The Crack-Up” that “In the real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning.”  I just heard my watch beep the hour, and when I glance down at the lower left-hand corner of the laptop screen, it says 3:03.  The digital clock sitting nearby is in agreement.  My friend Steve is driving Susie to Girlz Rhythm and Rock Camp in Lockbourne, and we’re leaving at 9 a.m.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to get the whole day off work, but couldn’t.  So once we drop Susie off, we’re turning right back around and heading back to Columbus, where the rest of my day (until 5 p.m.) belongs to the good people of the state of With God, All Things Are Possible.
And look how well I’m resting up for this busy day ahead.  I have many concerns on my mind right now–which I don’t want to publicize at this time–and they’ve kept sleep at bay for much of this weekend.

Last Week, I Was–Quite Literally–A Bean-Counter

Last Monday was Flag Day, and it is not one of the Federal holidays that government workers enjoy while most of the private sector still has to show up and punch in.  I took a vacation day Monday and made one of my semi-regular journeys down to Feed My Sheep food pantry in Mineral to help out with packaging and distributing foodstuffs.

I came there with two rookies–my friend Steve Palm-Houser and his daughter Amelia.  We made the trip down to western Athens County with only one casualty along the way–Steve’s tire.  He managed to travel the rest of the way from Logan to Mineral (New Marshfield, according to the U.S. Postal Service) on a doughnut, but we arrived shortly after 1 p.m.

Bean counter is a pejorative term for an accountant (per The Urban Dictionary), but it’s been extended to all civil servants.  Last Monday, I literally became a bean counter briefly, although I was mostly a pasta counter.  We arrived too late to stock the boxes of food in the back room of Feed My Sheep (a room off the sanctuary of Faith Believers’ Ministry), so we went to work filling Ziploc bags with pasta.  Amelia jumped right into this task with no trouble at all, helping Jacques Angelino’s 96-year-old mother, while Steve and I needed a few moments to get organized and get a pattern going.  Soon enough, we were scooping up pasta, filling bags, and adding them to boxes, stopping only when we ran out of bags.

Steve (back to camera), pasta, and me, at Faith Believers’ Ministry.

Amelia and Jackie bag pasta.

Mineral, and the poverty in Athens County, is an ongoing crisis.  In many ways, I would think that a natural disaster–such as Hurricane Ike or Hurricane Katrina–would be preferable to a resident of these areas than the grueling poverty and unemployment.  When a natural disaster strikes, the experience is hellish, but they end.  You can look around and see what has been damaged or destroyed, you can see what needs to be done, and then set about either doing it or finding the resources to accomplish it.  This is an ongoing crisis, and you come away thinking that your time is well spent, even if the help provided will be necessary again next week.  Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, is fond of quoting Talmudic rabbi Tarfon’s words: “It is not upon you to finish the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

I have posted the address elsewhere in the blog (both here at Blogspot and on my erstwhile site, the LiveJournal account), but if you are moved to generosity, please send a check or money order to:
Feed My Sheep Food Pantry
c/o Faith Believers Ministry
8137 St. Rt. 356
New Marshfield, OH  45766
I am hoping to make another trip down to the pantry sometime in the summer, possibly with Susie in tow.  She has gone before, and was quite a productive worker.
Amelia made a new friend while she helped out at Mineral.
A look at Faith Believers Ministry, which houses
Feed My Sheep Food Pantry, and boasts the
only soda pop machine in Mineral ($.50 a can,
quite a bargain!)

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.