Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Naughty or Nice?

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Back in my college days I participated in an annual fall event called “The Freshman Rush”. This event happens on virtually every college campus every year. It may have a different name but the premise is the same, the upper class guys tried to hit on the incoming freshman girls!

In my case the setup was that we upperclassmen would volunteer to help the incoming freshmen and their parents with their luggage and belongings, as they got settled into the girl’s dorm. As you may have figured out, it was just an excuse to be the first to meet the new girls.

I met this one girl I’ll call Penny. She was from my old hometown (an In!). A pretty girl, with long blonde hair. Penny was the quiet shy type; I could tell she was impressed that a sophisticated upperclassman like me was interested; so I asked her to next month's homecoming dance and she accepted!

Penny was very busy getting settled into the college routine and we didn’t see each other much the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile I was seeing a girl named Julie, just the opposite of Penny. Where Penny was the “girl next door”, Julie was “smokin’ hot”! Penny was demure and dressed conservatively, Julie was outgoing and wore tight blouses and very short mini skirts!

One day Penny approached me on campus and said she’d seen me with Julie and if I’d prefer to go to homecoming with Julie I could. Now I don’t know where that came from. I fully intended to go with Penny; I liked her and told her so, but I must not have been sincere enough because she refused, said goodbye, and ran off.

It bothered me but I must admit, not for long. There was still “hot” Julie! We did go to homecoming and on a couple of other dates. We were getting ‘closer” and one night she agreed to come to my apartment and listen to records!

My two roommates gave me high fives and vacated before she arrived, I had albums stacked on the record changer, lights down low and a really good year of Budweiser on ice! She arrived looking gooood as usual. We sat on the sofa and had some beer and she put her head on my shoulder.

Then, just when I was ready to make my move she did it! She said, “Paul, do you know why I enjoy being here alone with you?” Oh Oh! This can’t be good and before I could reply she said it: 
Because you’re such a nice guy.” Nice?! 
I feel safe with you.” Safe?! 
You’re not like the other guys.” I’m trying to be! Give me a chance! 
I know I can hang out with you and you won’t have your hands all over me. Thanks.” and she gave me a kiss on the cheek. It was official: I was a “nice guy”!

Okay, I realize now that’s a good thing but not then, I wanted to be bad. The next day was Friday and I had agreed to drop her off at her house for the weekend. When we got there, she leaned over and gave me another kiss on the cheek and said “thanks, see ya”, and before I could get out and walk her to the door like a nice guy, she jumped out ran up the steps and inside and I never saw her again.

In one case, I wasn’t nice enough and in another, maybe I was too nice. I don’t know but I hope Julie and Penny were as lucky as I was and found who they were looking for.

I finally did and she was a nice girl and I was a nice guy, that was more than forty years ago and I have no regrets on the way things turned out, we make our mistakes and we learn from them, I did, and figure being a “nice” guy worked out pretty good.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My First Backpack

By Guy Sharwood, Groovy Reflections Team Member

J.F. graduated Bullard High in 1970 two years before me. These days he lives in the foothills and plays with an acoustic group. I knew J.F.'s whole family of origin, including his brother Lee, who was my age. Back then, J.F. was already making a name for himself as a bassist/vocalist in a rock band that underwent various names and personnel changes.

About the last quarter of the '69-'70 school year, J.F. started strolling around the BHS campus with a canvas backpack strapped onto his shoulders. What was so unusual about this, one may ask? Simply that nobody else did this back then. We kept everything in those school lockers with combinations we had to memorize--a different one each year.

But two years later it was catching on and more students began carrying them around and I wanted one, too. For years now they're so commonplace that people like actress Lydia Cornell from Too Close for Comfort was making use of them. My wife Lynda uses one. But in 1972 it was still a comparative rarity.

I'm guessing J.F. might have picked up the idea of using one from reading Jack Kerouac, who started using one in the '50s (he called it "a rucksack") while keeping company with Gary Snyder ("Japhy Ryder" in The Dharma Bums). Then again, I could be wrong. J.F. himself discontinued the practice after a short time. But gradually, the concept caught on.

I just wish that had been the case while I was growing up. I never liked lugging a lot of books, plus my Pee-Chee folders and binder, underneath a single arm. It was especially a pain while trying to maneuver a bicycle. 

At one point I asked Dad if I could get a metal basket attached to the front. He said "No," baskets were "just for girls." Dad would never admit to it, but he was something of a misogynist and he didn't think "real men" should have a "feminine side." But witness these days how many guys ride "girl's bikes" with no one thinking anything of it. In fact, so have I.

But the compromise he came up with was a total farce. Namely a clamp fastened above the rear wheel. I hated that thing so much because my books would keep sliding out of it and falling onto the ground, leaving me to stop, stoop over, pick them up and put them back into the clamp--that is, until the next time they slid off of it!

I still remember the Saturday morning I woke up preparing to start the Freddy the Pig book (by Walter R. Brooks) that I had checked out from the library over on Fountain Way near my junior high school. So I began searching around and thought "Uh Oh." 

I got on my bike and rode it toward the school, using the same route I had taken going home. As soon as I'd gotten a block or two away from the school, I found the book, sitting in a mud puddle from a recent rainstorm. Mom had to pay the library a fine of $3.50.--thanks to that worthless clamp on my bicycle. And I never did get around to reading that particular book, fond as I was of the "Freddy" series.

I eventually started walking to school more, rather than bicycling. The distance to school wasn't that great. Not until I started High School, anyway.

So when my 18th birthday came up in the spring of 1972, my senior year, I requested and received my first backpack. I carried that thing around pretty much everywhere. It became something of an appendage. I eventually stopped using my locker at school, and that saved a lot of time for me getting around between classes. And I started bicycling to and from school again, having both arms free to maneuver the bicycle made a tremendous difference.

I don't even want to count up how many backpacks I've made use of over the years. Suffice it to say a lot of them. I still like to be able to lug a lot of different things around at once. I still like having both my hands free. Except when I'm holding my wife's hand.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Lunch Money!

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Back when I went to school hot lunch cost twenty five cents (a pretty good sum in those days) but one just couldn’t be seen brown bagging it, or worse carrying a lunch box. So every morning Mom left a quarter on the kitchen table so I could get my nutrition for the day.

Back then we didn’t have choices, you got a spoonful of whatever glop was on the menu! Okay, in all fairness, it was nutritious (I think), and some people actually liked them and sometimes when they had things like pizza, I did too! For the most part, I did not.

This actually worked out well, since I was also at the age where I wanted spending money but was too young to get an actual job. Fortunately the school I went to also had a “snack” counter where one could purchase an ice cream sandwich for a nickel. I might add that an ice cream sandwich, in those days, was more than three bites, unlike today’s.

Five cents for an ice cream sandwich that would tide me over till I got home and had dinner. Fortunately Dad worked the 8 to 4 shift and liked to eat by 4:30pm, so it wasn’t a long wait. That left me with 20 cents a day or a whole dollar a week! I was rich! Mom would not approve so I never mentioned it, although she did marvel at my appetite at dinner every night!

One of my first purchases was made after school when  taking the long way home (there’s a song in there some where). I stopped by Al’s corner market to purchase four packs of Beatles bubble gum cards, and kept going to Al's for more until I had the entire set. This is where that karma thing comes into play, some years later while I was at college, Mom threw them all away!

One time I saved up my 20 cents a day to buy Mom and Dad bedside lamps for their anniversary. Dad’s was in the shape of a ships anchor with a thermometer in the middle, cause he was in the Navy. Mom’s was some interwoven white plastic thing that was very “in” back then and maybe would be again today. They both liked them very much, or at least led me to believe they did.

With 20 cents a day saved by the end of the week you could buy two forty five rpm records for 45 cents each and have change left over! I remember buying She Loves You (yeah yeah yeah) on Swan records and Can’t Buy Me Love on Capitol on the same day! I still have them both.

A year or so later I got a job bagging groceries for one dollar an hour, what it used to take me a week to save! From then on it was $2.99 albums! I was rich again! Oh how simple my needs were back then….sigh!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Breakfast Anytime

By Guy Sharwood, Groovy Reflections Team Member

My wife and I frequently order take out dinners from a neighborhood diner. One of my favorite dishes to order is a Primavera Omelette (eggs with cheese, mushrooms and vegetables), hash browns and a buttered biscuit.

Usually I order once I go in and sip ice water and read the newspaper while I wait. Often I'll watch the cook at work and I've noticed a lot of patrons like to order breakfast food for dinner, most often pancakes, eggs and sausages. Normally at least one customer will order breakfast food when I'm there, always in the evenings.

This is something I didn't always see, however, I never regarded it as any kind of real eccentricity. I love breakfast food and never have understood why it should be confined to mornings. And yes, that includes cereal, either hot or cold.

In the late 1970s, I worked graveyard shift at a self-serve gas station on Highway 41. This was during the so called "energy crisis" with the odd/even rationing on the horizon and ours was the only station open 24/7. Our night shift would close later as well. I lived by myself and frequently took my meals at a coffee shop about half a mile south of the station.

One evening I decided I'd like a cheese omelette with hash browns for dinner. After ordering, I sat sipping my coffee and heard some profanity from the kitchen. Most likely the cook.

Ok, close enough, right?
A few minutes later, the waitress brought my plate out to me. I noticed one very runny, unattractive egg adorning my omelette. I shrugged, ate, tipped, paid and mounted my bicycle to get to work.

So why didn't I complain about the runny egg, at least one reader must be asking. Good question.

I had to deal with the public too. For eight hours I took cash, made change, switched the pumps off and on, sold gas, oil, and cigarettes, and did my best, like Simon and Garfunkel, to "keep the customer satisfied." Not always easy. I wasn't always at my best. Sometimes of course it was the customers.

So maybe the cook thought "What's up with this nutcase? It's dinner time and he wants BREAKFAST? Do they all do that on his planet?" So I was feeling atypically generous that night, and if that was indeed the case, I could make an allowance for it. But it didn't stop me from ordering breakfast for dinner when I ate out. And I feel vindicated that these days it's more commonplace.

And on this note, I also love cold pizza in the morning.

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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best Toys Ever!

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Like many of you, I grew up without all the electronic gadgets of today. We made our own fun and if it was raining and we had to “stay in and watch TV”, it was like a punishment! Usually, I left the house right after wolfing down a bowl of cereal and didn’t come back till the street lights came on!

We didn’t need electronic gadgets to paint the picture for us. We had something even better; our imaginations! I remember one of the best toys I ever had. No one bought it for me; I went out in the woods and got it myself! It was a stick!

Sometimes my stick was a rifle as I rode the range out in the old West; sometimes it was the horse! It was a walking stick and a fancy cane and when I was done being a cowboy it made a neat baseball bat!

We played tag, 123 red light, red rover and the ever popular Simon says; no assembly required on any of those!

There were so many toys that required little or no money such as the coffee can for a spirited game of kick the can! You could usually get the whole neighborhood involved in that one, even the adults!

I would practice for hours with my 25 cent Duncan Yo Yo, “walkin’ the dog”, “rockin’ the baby in the cradle”, “loopin the loop” and of course “around the world”;  Didn’t even need friends to play that one.

Hop Scotch was pretty inexpensive, a piece of chalk and a flat rock and hours of fun and good exercise, don’t think I could get past two today!

Marbles could keep us occupied for hours or until someone said they were playing for “keeps” and then changed their mind after they lost.

I can remember playing “stoop ball” for hours on end, against an imaginary opponent! Still undefeated to this day and kind of amazing how that imaginary person never got tired of losing!

If you were fortunate enough to live near water, a rock was useful to throw into the water and then dive in and find it!

Tossing trading cards to see who could get closest to the wall was fun. Trading cards were inexpensive; you got four plus a stick of gum for just a nickel. They had baseball cards, football cards and I remember collecting the westerns cards! Gunslingers and all the cowboys from our favorite television westerns! Marshal Dillon from Gunsmoke, Wyatt Earp, Sugarfoot, you had to be careful and be sure you were tossing cards of equal value! Wouldn’t want to lose a Paladin to someone tossing a Chester from Gunsmoke!

The girls played a lot of jump rope as well as Jacks! No self respecting boy would be seen playing those! Unless of course there was no other boy around to see him, then it was okay and if you got caught “I’m baby sitting her” was usually a good out!

Kick ball was another good one that could be played inexpensively and even the younger kids could compete. Bases were usually things like a fence post, the neighbor’s car, a tree, or whatever was near where we needed a base!

In those crazy, exhausting, carefree summer days only two things could ruin our fun; rain and street lights!

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Friday, December 14, 2012

A Very Special Christmas!

By Pete Frecchio, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Originally published June 18, 2012...because now this one fits the holidays to a t!

I was lucky that Santa thought enough of me to bring me nearly everything I wanted. That’s just part of my fond memories of Christmas time during my youth. Reflecting on those Christmas memories today I now realize my parents had to make many sacrifices to make sure that my sister and I had a very special Christmas. 

A particularly special memory is from the Christmas of 1970. My mom, sister and I lived in Tempe, Arizona. At ten years old and no longer believing in Santa Claus, Christmas was still a very magical time of year for me. I was looking forward to seeing two big items I wanted by the tree on Christmas morning: My own stereo and a Sears multi-colored three-speed bike. My old bike was purchased at a police auction three years prior and my sister didn’t like it when I tried to use her mono RCA phonograph. 

My dream stereo, a gold General Electric record player with two attached speakers, was at the local TG&Y variety store. After school or when shopping with my mom I’d stop by the store to look at the grooviest music machine I had ever seen. I kept the issue of getting my own stereo on the front burner, though my mom never seemed too excited when l showed her the stereo. That worried me. 

And the 3-speed stingray bike I wanted? It was in the 1970 Sears Christmas Wish Book. It had a boss looking chrome gearshift and small front tire that made it look really cool!  The paint job was a combination of metallic yellow, orange and red! And to make it COMPLETELY cool, the bike had a black imitation leather banana seat and chrome sissy bar just like Peter Fonda’s chopper did in Easy Rider!

My folks were divorced; I knew that if my mom bought the stereo, I’d have to work on my Dad in Michigan to get me the “street machine.”  In my Christmas letter to dad I included the page from the Sears catalog featuring the bike. 

As the big day drew near I wasn’t completely convinced that I would get either of the items on my wish list, but the odds were more likely that my dad would come though with the bike.  Money was a bit tight and my mom had other financial obligations to think about. Would this be the best Christmas ever? Time would tell.

When Christmas morning 1970 came, I was not disappointed. 

There, in our living room, next to our aluminum Christmas tree, was a stereo and a “street machine.”  And, an added bonus, Meet The Beatles and Let It Be LPs!! 

I couldn’t wait to call my dad and tell him how groovy my new bike was. Being that we lived in a mild climate I was able to head out the front door immediately and show off my new bike to the neighborhood.

We can't promise everything on your wish lists, however, we do have some pretty darn GRoovy hand tie-dyed t-shirts! Also GRoove with us at our website, on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Pinterest

Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Life in Trees.

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team member

Not talking about swinging from limb to limb. We had a giant pine tree in the background however; the lowest branches were too high to even think about climbing in, thanks to my dad sawing off the lower branches! I did climb a tree a few times in a friend’s yard though.

We’re talking about Christmas trees!

I vaguely remember an artificial tree that was white when I was really young. It had lots of shiny ornaments on it in yellow and red, with a few green glass balls and lots of blue! 

And the blue theme continued outside; in the front yard the small pine tree (maybe about eight feet high) was adorned with big blue bulbs. Yes, only blue, and the larger bulbs that were seven watts each. Hey, electricity was cheap! To bring a little more punch, 2 red wreaths with a sole red bulb were hanging in the two bay windows in front of the house. 

Sure, most homes decorated with a lot more color than we did!

Our family later graduated to an artificial tree in green. It was fun putting it together with the color coding on the tip of the metal rods. First we’d sort them by color and then go to town putting them into the poll. That tree wound up moving with me a few times and I lost it during a move. I may have given it away too.

When I reached adulthood, I had to try out having a real tree. I was really bad at watering it and pine needles were everywhere! At the time I on a tinsel kick, however, I gave that up when I realized that my dog was pulling tinsel off the lower branches, eating it, and then gracefully throwing it up. Ick.

A few years later I started discovering all things mid-century modern. Never mind that my house was Victorian! I started buying color wheels at garage sales for around $3 each. My first aluminum tree was $1. It is three feet tall and was in the original box with thin paper tubes protecting most of the branches. I happily (and stupidly) strung lights on it the first couple years I used it until someone told me that was dangerous! 

Then I hit the mother lode; a six foot high aluminum tree for $15! It even came with swanky turquoise tassels with gold trim (which I have never used on the tree!). 

Each year they are taken out of the box and assembled more aluminum falls off. Both are looking a bit shabby nowadays and were last used in 2010. 

About ten years ago I bought a three foot high light green tree; pre lit. That one goes into use as an accent tree nowadays, usually in the dining room.

2011 called for a change. Found a website where trees come in all colors and sizes! Debating on a color was hard; my brain kept saying “be practical and go for green or white”. While really digging the purple, then thinking that was too extreme, I settled on orange and haven’t looked back. 

Three pieces, pre-lit, (even the wiring is orange to match) ten minutes and it is up! Lots of colors look terrific on it! So there you have it; a new tradition.

Next year? Who knows? Maybe I’ll drag out the aluminum trees once again. Stay tuned.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Oh! Christmas Tree!

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member                         

The Christmas Tree: Green, pretty lights, Santa puts gifts under them, pretty simple; you’d think, see one you’ve seen them all. Wrong!

Growing up we always had a fairly traditional tree, tall, spaces between the branches for hanging ornaments with the old 5 watt bulb lights. Mother used to put aluminum foil around the base of the bulb so it wouldn’t touch the tree and possibly start a fire.

Of course there’s the tree topper: Angel or star? Tough decision; it was always star growing up but since starting my own family it’s been both depending on my wife’s mood.

Mother would spend some time at the Christmas tree place to pick out just the right tree, no bare spots, and must reach to almost the ceiling! Then when it was set up and the lights strung we kids would get to help decorate; mother would hand us the ornaments and help direct us as to where to put them.

Then came those aluminum trees with the color wheels. Some of the trees were even different colors, like pink or orange etc, lots of folks seemed to like them. I did not! Got to have a traditional green tree with multi colored lights.

In 1967 I was working part time after school, making a dollar an hour bagging groceries, and one day Mom said she wanted an artificial tree. All I could think of was those silver aluminum ones! So I said okay, but I’ll pick it out! She said, if you pick it out, you pay for it. That’s how one July day in 1967 we went to a Christmas store and I spent $120 on an artificial tree. That was a lot of money but it looked great, just a real hassle to assemble; each branch is color coded and you insert them one at a time from the bottom up!

After getting married and having children of my own, we’ve had lots of different types of trees. For a long time we had to have a natural tree, in October we’d go “tag” a tree at the Christmas tree farm, then go back and cut it down the day after Thanksgiving. We had some ornaments from my family and hers along with new ones purchased over the years. One year we even had the “country” tree complete with popcorn and cranberries strung as garland, and hand made ornaments from the kids.

Now we have an artificial tree. It comes in three sections, is pre-lit, and takes all of ten minutes to set it up. Not the natural tree that I’d prefer but I must admit to having gotten older, and I like the easier part and at least it looks real!

Growing up, we put ours up one week before Christmas and it stayed up until January 2nd. Now I like to start the season early and begin feeling the Christmas spirit so it goes up the day after Thanksgiving and it comes down sometime around New Years. The advantage of the artificial tree; they last longer!

My wife does the tree trimming. She is into the whole Victorian look, to match our home, and I must admit she does a great job! And that 1967 tree? I set that up on the front porch and it still looks great!

Real or artificial; green or silver; star or angel; blinking lights or not; set up early or close to the day! Makes no difference. one of the great things about traditions, everyone has their own and there is no right or wrong.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Shopping for Vinyl at Joe’s Garage.

Joe's garage wasn't as nice as this one!
By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

If you’re thinking that this post is about a Frank Zappa song, well, it’s not.

It’s about a man who lived in a small town that years later I would also be living in. His name is Joe. When I met him he was retired. Don't recall his age but it was likely around 70. He was a reformed alcoholic who had no qualms telling me that Lou’s Bar was his former watering hole. I’ve never been in Lou’s Bar but we all know of those establishments where a chosen few were permanent fixtures on the stools, providing the main source of income for the proprietor. "Luckily", Lou's Bar was in easy walking distance of Joe’s home.

However, this isn’t about Joe’s past fondness for spirits. It’s about his establishment simply known as Hillsdale Record Treasures. It wasn’t even a legal business but the town didn’t seem to mind. The “store” was a early 1900's one car concrete block constructed garage crammed with records. Some were alphabetized and at table height while "just-in" platters were ready to browse through in boxes on the floor. 

The knees of my jeans wore out from all the floor crawling I had to do to satisfy my vinyl cravings. The denim also served as a cleaning device of sorts since the dust was practically up to my ankles. The floor I knelt on consisted of dried out rotting wood sporting threadbare rugs to cover the decay. 

More than three people in the small space proved challenging. I always went alone to Joe's and sometimes there would be a nerdy guy there with a serious look on his face. I never saw the same nerdy guy twice. And other females…fuggetaboutit! A GIRL collecting records was not the norm!

Joe was always perched on a bar stool next to the record player. There were always a few ashes on it, flicked there by the always present round of cigarettes he would consume. I’ve never been a smoker and found the smell of cigarettes offensive but for the good cause of record collecting I’d put up with it.

Joe and I had some great conversations. While Joe wasn’t a record collector himself (he was seeking money to live on) he did have a familiarity with much of the inventory. He was easy to talk to, possessed an upbeat, pleasant attitude, and wore the thickest coke bottle glasses I’d ever seen that rivaled the pair I shed at age 18 when graduating to contact lenses.

My biggest miss happened when a nerdy shopper pulled an album by The Knickerbockers out of a "just in" box. Joe had it marked it $4. Sold to the guy in with the sweater vest! It irks me to this day, however, I scored so many great 45s and LPs at Joe's Garage so who am I to complain? 

When I look through my 45s nowadays, I still see shades of Joe; he would write the artist and title on the sleeve (not the picture sleeves!) and the price too. Most 45s were $1; a tidy sum for a used three minute platter in the late 70’s / early 80’s before CDs became the new format.

I don’t remember why I stopped going to Joe’s Garage. Perhaps it was because of a new beau who wasn't a vinyl junkie or some personal struggles going on in my life. And eventually I moved away from the area. I've never stopped collecting records though the hunting and gathering slows to a trickle from time to time. And, yes, I did embrace CDs around 1987 despite balking at the cost compared to buying a new LP. 

Joe, I thank you for entertaining this young gal during those “in between boyfriend” periods. I thank you for providing a place to go on Friday nights where I could have a good time scoring treasures and conversing about a subject I love. You were truly a friend.