Thursday, September 19, 2019

What did you gain or lose by taking a risk?


This weeks topic is another result of my recent adventures traveling across country and attending a 52 year/70th birthday party reunion for my high-school class. Taking the trip was a risk.

Anyone that is more than a casual reader of this blog knows i was a multi-sport jock in  high school. I continued on with sports activities until I could no longer do so because of a combination of age and infirmities. My knees are both shot and I regularly admonished by friends to have them replaced. That's  not something I am even remotely interested in doing. Irrational? Perhaps even as irrational of my fear of flying? Probably. That just does not jibe with the self image I have always had of myself. I am from the walk-it- off generation. Just get up and walk it off, whatever "it" is. Tough it out.

Yep - that's me. Tough guy jock. Okay -maybe once upon a time, but certainly not at the ripe old age of almost 70 with very gimpy knees. There comes a time when you have to stop being or acting like something you are not. What the heck. Isn't a dose of reality a good thing? - a couple of face plants, struggling to get around and feeling like the class clown all conspire against you - reality check time. And just maybe a few new funny stories to tell.

But why does getting a more accurate picture of yourself have to be a negative thing? Isn't it a better idea to know your limitations and live accordingly?

Nobody at the reunion cared that I was in a wheel chair - even those who pushed. Like everyone, we were just plain happy to see some old friends and acquaintances and - as they say in Hawaii - talk story? Remember this event? Did you really do that? Remember the A&W Root Beer Stand on Harder Road? Whatever happened to Prings? Did you hear that the Class of 68 had Creedence Clearwater Revival at their Senior Ball? 

All because we pushed the envelope and had the first ball off campus in the school's history. And you know what happens to the cattle when that barn door is opened- LOL.

I gained a more accurate view of myself on my recent cross-country adventure. I opened myself up to whatever might happen - including those face plants. They did not even leave marks - LOL. I rolled with the punches and made the very best of eac.h situation that presented itself. Especially that hugs and kisses party right near the entrance to the hotel.

Be sure to check Ramana's Musings .

See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel.





































































































Thursday, September 12, 2019

Re Locating - 2-on-1 1/12/2019


 

I somehow knew Ramana would be in squeeze mode about my recent move  - that is he wants to squeeze out of me every bit of info, and he did not disappoint. I am the inspiration for this week's topic. If I had elected to go sailing with my old friend Gary Hall last Monday the topic  likely would have been you can't water ski  behind a sailboat. Of course Gary could have said he was trolling for sharks as there is a substantial great white breeding ground just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge. At any rate, having experienced several re locations himself, be sure to check Ramana's Musings for his take on the subject.

Back in May 1994 Lynn and I hit major speed bumps on the path we were following. We had both been laid off from good jobs and as luck would have it what new jobs that were becoming available were going to recently laid off Silicon Valley PHDs.  I couldn't say I resented the employers - hound one within a week, how often do you get to hire a PHD? So off we went to Texas, hoping to find a couple of jobs. Success! I had one upon arrival and Lynn found one within a week of her and Sean's arrival. 

This was our fourth re location, not counting moves to new apartments, houses and the like. Sean and Lynn had stayed behind to complete the sale of our house - Jamie stayed with her grandparents to finish high school. Side bar - when a friend says movers will pack anything not glued down  they are telling you the truth. Unfinished breakfast plates were packed - good old Mayflower.

Re location number one was 1976 when Lynn established and managed the New England office for our company in Hartford, Connecticut. Number two was Connecticut to Hermosa Beach to work in the home office. Number three was moving back to the SF Bay Area when I worked for RadioShack. We were seasoned veterans at re locating.

Skip ahead 25 years, RadioShack - the neighborhood electronics store filed for bankruptcy, Lynn had passed away and someone had the bright idea to move to North Carolina. Jamie and Sean were flush with cash since they'd each inherited a substantial sum of money when Lynn's mother passed away shortly after Lynn's passing. Jamie stayed in Ft Worth, Sean packed up and headed for North Carolina. I tagged along.

Relocating is relatively complex - especially if you have school-age  children. I was once one of those school-age children - when we moved to California from Colorado. Because our new home was not finished in Hayward we stayed for a while with my grandparents in Los Altos, giving us a 45 minute to one hour commute to and from school.

Then there is the "find a suitable place to live" - and often times you have no idea where a suitable neighborhood is. In the move to Connecticut I selected a new condominium complex -a safe choice. Lynn was terrified about me being forced to select colors and patterns.We survived my choices. I was actually quite proud of them, Lynn was simply relieved. Movers packed and headed east.

A year later we moved back to Southern California - and again a moving company packed us and headed west.

We lived in Hermosa Beach for just under a year before things took a bad turn and we both ended up unemployed. Lynn and Jamie moved back to Northern California and I took a job with RadioShack with the provision that when I had established myself I could transfer to Northern California. Lynn and Jamie lived with my parents.

We bounced around for  few years in the Bay Area, again both gainfully employed in jobs we enjoyed. While technically we re-located several times I do not count them since they were all local. They were your typical gather the family and friends, rent a truck, order lots of pizza and beer moves.

In 1994the economy headed south, and we were again in jeopardy. We sold our house, lost nearly all of our equity and Lynn and Sean stayed and closed the house sale while I headed off to Texas, to be joined a month later by Lynn and Sean. Jamie finished her senior year in high school while living with my folks.

Texas was certainly culture shock but a friendly, decent place. Fort Worth is a great place. As most readers know, however, Lynn was diagnosed with Huntingtons Disease shortly after we moved there. She survived until 2014. In 2015 I followed Sean and moved to North Carolina.

Relocating is never easy, always an adventure. It is up to you to decide whether the adventure is a good one or a bad one. I recently completed my last relocation. It was the adventure of a lifetime and involved a cross-country train excursion, a 5-day layover in Cleveland - a remarkably friendly, pleasant place, a visit to the rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a Zombies concert, a 52 year High-School reunion which we called a 70th birthday celebration, and ended with my move to Brentwood, CA. I am at last where I was meant to be. My Brother and his family took me in. I do indeed have California bloodlines in my heart.

My 86 year old father is here as well and Mike and Margie will have a new grand child - due betwen Mikes's (9/22) and my birthday (9/26). The dogs like me and I have met 5 new grand nieces. Life is good. The adventure is described in blogs and in my friend and traveling companion Jim Furr's numerous photographs.In the list on the right side of this blog under August if you are interested simply open August and read the following titles:

See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Ready to Go!!

Well - the reunion break is over, as is the cross-country train ride. It's back to business as usual and that means if it is Friday it is 2-on-1 blog time. There is one slight change from times  past - I now reside in Brentwood, California. I am as they say home. No  more North Carolina. Maybe there is a God after all. My kids are still safely ensconced in Hickory along with my cat and dog. Not to worry, There are two dogs here - and aging Jack Russell terrier named Mac  and a poofy little Yorkie named Mickey. I have an as yet unvisited friend named Conrad - he  of the lovely wife Carol in Hayward but as I am without wheels (the final price of my getaway) as the kids needed them more than I - that meeting will be in the future. Several times, I am sure. 

So this week's topic is Ready to go.  The reunion was more fun than anticipated. Cleveland was great fun - especially the Rock and Roll HOF  visit capped off by a Zombies concert. Here they are earlier in the year at the Rock Hall - it ws a great show, 70 year rock stars laughing, singing and thoroughly captivating the audience
 Cleveland was a very pleasant surprise. It was fun - friendly people,  a waiter as well versed in the music of the sixties and seventies as Jim and I and the kid is 26. Oh - the food was great too - The Chocolate Bar. Then there was the great haircut caper  - check that out on Facebook along with the bevy of reunion beauties Bobby's haircut attracted to yours truly.
 
The reunion itself was what they all should be - old friends reconnecting and sharing lives. No cliques or nonsense, just plain old FUN. Then there was the completion of the adventure - moving to Brentwood where i now reside with my Dad, brother and sister-in-law. Oh - and my niece Sammy is pregnant - due date sometime  between 9/22 (Mike) and 9/26 (me). Guess we batter root for 9/22 - Sammy and her hubby live nearby.

So I begin the final chapter of my life with a bevy of new cuties calling me Uncle Bubba in an area I have always considered my home.  Politics be damned - I simply love Northern Calfornia and am delighted to be here. It is packed with old friends, new friends, and I am ready to create some fun new chapters. I hope you enjoy the ride. 

Be sure to check Ramana's Musings to see what Ramana has to say. Lastly, I can honestly say the romance is gone from long train rides. Sorry Tammy -  but any trip like this should require sleeper cars. But I would not trade this adventure for anything.

See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

The End of the Line

That's one for the books. An almost 80-hour train ride, a holiday in Cleveland capped by a Zombies concert and a kick-ass party in Sacramento visiting with old friends not seen in decades - like Lyn, Rich, Roger, Bonnie, Joyce and with so many more along with the new friends that were there all along, it just took something as basic as saying hello to start the ball rolling. Something so basic yet so tough years ago when some of us were so shy.

Who knew Don (aka Stu) Draughon could sing? And act? That Valerie Boyle - she of the huge ear to ear grin - is so silly, funny and such a joy to be around. How about the statuesque beauty from high school - Nona Thompson - now Nona Kim. Still a statuesque beauty and so very friendly and smiling as she talked to old friends and classmates?

I actually talked to a fellow I had been classmates with from at least 8th grade - Cameron Courtnage. I finally asked him why we always called him Randy (it was a family thing) and then I embarrassed him a little when I reminded him of the language he and Eric Niederost had created way back in the day. Randy said he'd hoped it was dead and buried LOL. Truth be told I suspect he was proud someone remembered it. Was it the original geek speak?

There was a special treat for Jack Thompson and I as our wrestling coach, Marv Rodriguez was there. Marv the Mighty Muscular Molecule - who was on the mat with me every day from first practice and coached me to 3rd in the HAAL my first year and 2nd in the HAAL, 3rd in the North Coast Sections and to the state tournament my 2nd year. To Jack, Marv was a surrogate father and mentor as well as a coach - a few tears were definitely shed by the three of us. Marv Rodriguez is one of the finest people I have ever known.

There is a general feeling, I think that reunions mean old cliques get together and reminisce and renew those old prejudice. If that was happening I certainly did not see it. The evening was filled with amiable reconnections and loud, raucous laughter. This was a collection of people thoroughly enjoying the turning back of time. 

And then there was the no longer with us wall so lovingly and respectfully maintained by Rudy Cayabyab. That wall continues to grow and it hurts so much to see it. Damn you Rudy. And then, as if by magic memories flood back and fill you with the good times shared with those friends. Bless you Rudy. Thank you Rudy. We need to remember our old friends no longer with us - they are part of what and who we are today. 

I have a special relationship with a certain short blonde classmate. It is our nature to each continually tease the other and has always been thus. This party was my first chance to meet her husband, so I stuck out my hand and said Hi Del - I'm Chuck McConvey. He smiled and said "so you're guy I have been hearing about all these years." He stood up, stuck out his hand and asked me what kind of beer I wanted. A really nice guy.

Then there was my new friend Vicki Martinez being a social butterfly - that came as a shock to her I think, Her grin was huge as she talked to people - lots of people. 

There were several old friends I hadn't seen in over 50 years - like Rich Adkins and Gary Hall. Nobody missed a beat - it was like we see each other all the time.

Then there is Jim Furr -the last time I saw him was New Year's Eve 1968, and he became  my partner in crime on this reunion trip - you have seen the results with his photographic talent. When we were freshmen some friends and I carried  Jim on our Blue Laws float.  I guess you could say payback was a bitch as Jim pushed me around Cleveland  and several hotels. But documenting our rail adventure has been some serious fun.

To make this something of a living, breathing document I'd like to hear your impressions and let you share any special reunion memories if you would like to. Send them to me via messenger or simply email me at shackman@gmail.com. I will add your memory to the blog. We can - and should, I think, share in the experience.
 
One last thing. Rumor has it that the party was so successful our exceptional team of planners said something about a 75th birthday party to which I say not yes but HELL YES! Joyce, Betty and Mary have created a monster. It is only fitting that we feed the beast and so lets it again! Without the road trip, though.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Beginning of the End

Today is the day. The big 70th Birthday Soiree is happening - people are checking in,many already here. Jim and I were picked up at the Quality Inn by Joyce Van Kempen and her hubby in a snazzy maroon mini van where once again the magic of Mike , our fabulous cabby in Cleveland got my overly large framed happily ensconced  and ready to go. And the welcome kiss from Joyce helped LOL. Old memories came flooding back - tales of Barry Gilbert,our counselor and his kids - who were last seen diving from the sofa in their living room on to the large bear-like guy on the floor. Yes - even Brad Gilbert - future pro tennis player got in his licks. Barry was laughing at the scene along with my future wife Lynn, Mrs. G (Elaine) not so much.

Welcome to the Holiday Inn - a bigger  place than the Hyatt Rgency in Cleveland. We turned the first corner and entered a hug fest. Bonnie Hurlbut, Lyn Schuller, Vicki Martinez all got into the act and I saw my old friend Roger Hurlbut for the first time in 50 plus years. He and I reminisced about catching the bus to Longwood (6th grade) in front of his house and our combined 60 yard tackle eligible/lateral to the fullback play in a football game. Of course when I tell that story and Roger is not nearby, I gained 59 of those 60 yards and Roger bulled his way to one more. Ahem.

Of course Lyn and I immediately started teasing each other which we have done since the night we met as other people's dates at the Junior Prom. Funnily enough she still has that prom pic but the one of us at the Christmas dance is nowhere to be found. Probably has so many dart holes in it it has gone away. Some things never change. Nor will the warm feeling deep down for Lyn. BFF is a fitting label - in this case it is the truth.

And then there is my new friend Vicki Martinez. An equally aggressive hugger. We have gotten to know each other very well over the recent year or so. Turns out we had classes together s far back as 8th grade. We used to hang out at Kennedy Park at the same time - her kicking the boy's butts in race cars and me climbing on the blue jet pretending I was Jet Jackson or playing baseball. Facebook has been very very good to me.

What a long strange trip it has been.

We most assuredly did not ride the Cannonball Express. Nope - Jim and I spent about 70 hours on a series of Amtrak trains to journey from North Carolina to Sacramento. We met many friendly, wonderful folks on the trip. We spent a great 5 day stint in Cleveland capped off by the Zombies Not only did Jim occupy his time pushing me around, he took a vast array of photos which he posted as WiFi became available.Do not believe it when Amtrak says they have WiFi on all of their trains. Our experience was trains with double-decker cars for sight seeing had no Wi-Fi. That was most of our on-train time.

We left Cleveland at 3:30AM Tuesday morning. We were late - something that happens regularly we now understand. What the heck - our original 5 hour layover in Chicago was only 1.5 hours. Then we started the 50 h0ur jaunt to the left coast on The California Zephyr. No WiFi but some spectacular scenery as Jim has documented for all to enjoy. As soon as I saw the familiar scenery I had to hear Mr Deutchendorf play the song I have loved from the first time I heard it -

Once we cleared the Rockies we hit Utah and the first stop was
There were several small stops along the was but we also hit Provo - home of BYU, where Lynn (my late wife) went to school and then of course Salt Lake City.

Between Cleveland and Salt Lake City we saw more Amish than I had seen in my entire life. We asked of there was a conference or something and were very politely told no. They were quite friendly and open to questions about their lifestyle. But tight-lipped about why they were on the move LOL.

We hit Salt Lake City around midnight.Oh boy - more traveling in the darkness to follow but hey - as far as we were concerned we were entering the home stretch. And the first thing that popped into my head when we crossed into California was this

The two places I have  always considered home are Colorado (ages 1-9_ and California for 30+ years. This trip meant I was coming home.

As we were sitting at the Reno station watching passengers depart and new ones join the journey, Jim asked how long it normally takes to get from Reno to Sacramento. I guessed a couple of hours and Jim laughed. Amtrak makes it a 6 hour jaunt. Guess they are very proud of the scenery - LOL. Yep - it did indeed take 6 hours. But we rolled into Amtrak Sacramento and were  met by Dave Hitchcock, who promptly ensconced us in the Quality Inn and then took us out to dinner.

There will be one additional blog tomorrow. It will be the 

Time to go help with the setup. Happy trails everyone,

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Long Live Rock and Roll

Well folks it definitely turned out in our favor to have waited until yesterday to visit the R&RHOF. This is from their induction ceremony - we were quite a bit rowdier but it gives you a taste of the Zombies - a great show and it is not clear who enjoyed themselves more - the band, or we rowdier onlookers. I'll call it a draw. Again I ask - will today's music sound as good in 50 years? Colin Blunstone is amazing.


No disasters to report. The Travel Gods were kind to us yesterday.  I hope they favor us again today as it is repack and relax day. We need to be at the train station today - well - tomorrow by 2A for the final two legs of the road trip. The last one is a 20 hour plus jaunt through the Rockies and the Sierras that ends in Sacramento.

Rest assured if anything fun or embarrassing happens your intrepid reporters will be there to capture it and report back to you.  They don't call us the Slipstream Media for nothing, you know.

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Gimp in a Strange Land aka What's Life Without a few Speedbumps Anyway??

Happy Friday y'all. Today began with a sleepless night and a great breakfast at the hotel  cafe. We decided tomorrow is to be our Rock and Roll HOF day. Surely Jann Wenner will be waiting with bated breath to see us. Ahem. At any rate we decided to  stick around again - Jim needs a Walgreens to refill his prescriptions and I need  a few things that missed my bags - toothbrush, hair brush, and also need to repair my crutches so..........

Back on the streets, Jim, the Gimp (aka Chuck) and our trusty steed the wheelchair. Clickity clack, rumble, thump BAM! oops - something brings us to a halt - a halt that almost sends the Gimp flying off the front end of our steed Nellybelle and startles Jim, the pilot and power. GRRRRR. We gather ourselves and off we go again. Hark - a CVS comes into view and the Gimp is happy as his needs can be met - Jim not so much as he needs the Walgreens. We wander the aisles and load up on Gimpy necessities and head back out to the street. The pilot and power - Jim - decides it is a nice day to sight see and maybe spot Walgreens so we head off in a new direction. BAM - another steed blocker rattles the Gimps teeth and startles Jim. Someone muttered damn but maybe it was just an on looker.  Hey - there is beautiful waterfront property near if anyone is interested. Ahem.

We reach another corner and BAM - grind. The left front wheel is in some distress. Not particularly surprising as even with the weight loss from all the hair Bobby C claimed the Gimp is a large fellow with several Xs in front of the L on his frame. But the Gimp can be clever and figures how to keep the wheel from being an issue so we trek back to the hotel. Success  seems within our reach. We stop for a break as the power part of Jim needs a break. After a 20 minute or so conversation we head to the elevator and a louder BAM ensues. Damn. (The Gimp fesses up this time and pleads guilty).

FUBAR time - effed up beyond all recognition. The left front wheel has  been Bammed to death. Literally. So here we are in the Cleveland equivalent of the Tijuana Jail - or so it seems. I am stuck with a crippled steed and left to guard the elevator - I mean I am stuck while Jim goes looking for the equivalent of AAA roadside service. He eventually returns with a hotel employee and a replacement steed but this steed is a mere pony. My new little pony. I manage to pop up and out of Nellybelle and wedge myself into the nameless pony but the wedging is is way too tight. We head back to the ranch that is room 239 to ponder what to do.  Having been joined by a suit and tie management type - very concerned and apologetic I might add - the Gimp finally comes up with an acceptable way to get off my damn little pony and into the more suitable new steed offered. I won't bore you with the engineering feat that freed the Gimp and elicited smiles and high fives all around but trust me when I say it was most creative. And now a very relieved suit and hotel employee retire to parts unknown, I suspect to celebrate being freed from a problem the had no idea how to handle. Great story to pass amongst the hotel employees for at least a week, I am sure.

Alas all is well that ends well. Jim is taking a nap while I write this and watch this weeks Yellowstone. Clearly the Duttons of Montana have larger problems than getting out of a much too small wheelchair LOL.