Thursday, May 31, 2012

Arlo and the Garbage Trail

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

In May of this year I decided to join Arlo Guthrie’s Historic Garbage Trail to Massacree HD. This is a yearly charitable event where you have people sponsor you to walk the seven mile trail made famous by Arlo.

My wife and son joined me. On a beautiful sunny, Sunday morning we piled into the car at 5 AM for the three hour drive to the Berkshires of Massachusetts. On arrival, we did some picture taking.

We met Arlo just after he rolled out of bed while enjoying his first cup of coffee. Then we registered, were given free commemorative t-shirts, and loaded up into VW Micro-Busses for the ride into downtown Stockbridge and the sight of the former Alice’s Restaurant. The busses would also patrol the route during the walk for anyone requiring assistance.

There we were treated to a free breakfast. Assembling along Main Street afterwards, Arlo said a few words of thanks to us all, and with that we were off! 

Our first stop was the Police Officers Station where we were cordially greeted by Chief Wilcox (Obie passed away back in 1994).  He gave us souvenir pens that say “This Pen Was Stolen from the Stockbridge Police Department.” Thanks! I think.

From there we trudged on to the “Scene of the Crime” where a group of volunteers known as the Dump Divas awaited us with water and other goodies such as candy, ice cream and watermelon to keep us both hydrated and nourished. They were also stationed throughout the walk. 

The route was meandering and scenic, following the Housatonic River for a good period of time. A black bear was even seen watching the walkers from a safe distance into the woods; a really good thing because by then I was beginning to feel the strain of the walk and couldn’t have increased speed if my life had depended on it.

I have a “bad” knee, and knew it would slow me down but still felt confident that I could manage the walk at a slow pace. My wife and son were soon far ahead of me when a problem like a cramp in the calf of my good leg arose. 

This necessitated my slowing down to the point that a driver of one the VW micro busses asked if I needed to ride. I declined, determined to walk the entire route.

After a while I was really hurting but figured it wasn’t much further; I could make it. When I spotted Chief Wilcox watching traffic from an intersection I asked “So about another mile maybe?”  He replied “No, closer to two.” I berated him, saying “Couldn’t you have lied and made me feel better?”  The chilling reply: “I did, it’s closer to three”. My spirits dropped considerably, but I continued to plod along.

Finally, I came to the very last water station and the final mile, where I had water. They offered pickles: Now I know it’s been said before and far better than I could say, but “I didn’t want a pickle! I wanted to ride a motorcycle!”

Finally I managed the last few painful steps and there was my wife and son along with many other walkers. I’m happy to report I wasn’t the last to arrive back at the church! Arlo was there patiently having his picture taken with anyone that wanted; I took my turn. Inside the church Arlo’s son Abe’s band was entertaining the crowd and there was enough food to feed a small army.

We partook of the food and ice cold lemonade and the entertainment for a while before making our way outside where we bid our host a fond farewell and loaded back into the car for the long ride home. At least we were sitting.

The walk raised more than 10,000 dollars in the fight against Huntington’s disease and my muscles have finally forgiven me. It was a wonderful experience and I’m glad I was able to participate. In fact it was so satisfying, 

I plan to put my body through it again next year! Although, this time I plan to do some walking prior to, and be better prepared. 
See you next May, Arlo!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Reflections: The Bee Gees

Photo from

The Groovy Reflections team looks back on some Bee Gees memories: 

Gerry: As a young child I had no clue as to what the song “U.S. Mining Disaster 1941” was about. And wait: Wasn’t the name of the song “Mrs. Jones”? 

Fast forward a few years. I got chills whenever the mournful tugs of “Run to Me” came on the radio.  And in 1975 when Main Course came out, my oldest brother bought the LP…did we wear that one out! It was catchy, poppy; a little disco-y in places, and singing along and trying to hit those falsetto notes was fun! 

In 2001 I discovered the Bee Gees all over again. Don’t recall where I first heard “This is Where I Came In”, however, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the CD. And I wasn’t disappointed; been playing it for the last few days now. My heart goes out to Barry Gibb for and the families of Robin and Maurice for their loss. Now, to download the “Main Course” album and a few others!

Paul: In 1967 when “N.Y. Mining Disaster 1941” and “To Love Somebody” were hits I was just entering my senior year of high school. I bought their album Bee Gees 1st and discovered that Maurice and Robin were the same age as me! It struck me as amazing; that could be me! Okay, except for the whole lack of talent thing!

The Bee Gees sang words I could relate to. A favorite cut was “I Can’t See Nobody”; part of the chorus was “my eyes can only look at you”. I dreamed of singing that to the girl I was in love with that particular week. Later favorites were “Words” and “Massachusetts”, where I was living at the time. 

I bought every album up to the disco releases; my wife bought those! Between us, we have every U.S. album the Bee Gees ever released. We still play them and love them. Their music takes us back to when times were so much simpler. I am deeply saddened by the passing of Maurice and Robin but rejoice in the music and memories they left behind.

Joe: I always liked The Bee Gees. The first time I really noticed them was with "To Love Somebody". They disappeared after "I Started a Joke" in 1969. Two years later, I heard "Lonely Days". Thought it was John Lennon at first, but nope, The Bee Gees were back! Later in 1971 they did one of my all-time favorites, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart". 

After 1972 they disappeared again, came back strong in 1975, then dominated through the rest of the 1970's. I liked their music from "Saturday Night Fever" and so did John Lennon. They had great CDs in 1997 and 2001...great songs in "Alone" and "This Is Where I Came In". Maurice died in 2003, now his twin Robin in 2012. Barry and an awful lot of great music remain. Thanks, Brothers Gibb, for many years of joy through your music!

Maria: As a young child in the 1970's, the Bee Gee's gave me great insight about many things. My favorite song was "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart". Even at the tender age of six, I loved the words and the genuine heart of the Bee Gees. 

Their music was transcontinental in the fact that they were so loved by many. The inspiration of their musical word was felt deep and still is today. Robin will be missed greatly. Rest in peace Robin. Your life has been filled with international homages to your unique musical talent.

Guy: I have to say I really feel bad for older brother Barry. First it was Andy, then Maurice and now Robin. At least he has a lot of great memories to embrace of the Bee Gees' lengthy career. 

It was the summer of 1967 when I first heard New York Mining Disaster. Our local station didn't give it the exposure it deserved, but they made up for that with the hits that came later. The fan magazines were touting them as "The New Beatles" and that was very unfair to both groups. The Beatles weren't precursors to the Bee Gees either.

Pete: When I think of the Bee Gees my mind drifts back to the late 60's and early 70's. It seems my favorite songs then were sung by Robin. Songs such as I Started a Joke, Gotta Get a Message To You, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart and Massachusetts. Although Robin and Maurice were twins, they both had distinctive voices. 

I never got tired of hearing Robin's trademark falsetto and his signature song phrasing. Sadly, another great voice of rock and roll has been silenced by a horrible disease. Cancer has taken way too many of our favorites in the world of entertainment. In Robin's memory and in the memory of all of the family members I have lost to cancer, I have made a donation to the American Cancer Society. Perhaps you would like to do the same.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Picture This

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

The best pictures I’ve ever seen transmitted over the airwaves didn’t come from a big screen HD TV. They didn’t come from a state-of-the-art home computer either, nor from the smartest of smart phones. The best pictures I’ve ever seen came from a six transistor radio!

As a kid I was an avid baseball fan and watched every game that was broadcast on TV, however many games weren’t shown. When they played on the weekday afternoons it meant listening on the pocket transistor with an earpiece. Wearing a sweater was useful for helping hide the telltale cord from the prying eyes of teachers!

The picture? It was the best; the announcers knew how to paint, right down to the finest detail: When the pitchers “brought the heat”, the “high hard one”, or the classic “frozen rope”. Sometimes they even threw “smoke”! Any little leaguer worth his salt could see it just as clear as day.

When the slugger went up to bat you were there with them when they “crushed” the ball. You could see yourself jogging around the bases in his place with a proud as a peacock strut in your step.

It wasn’t just baseball games that I saw; that transistor let me see some of the greatest rock ‘n rollers ever: Elvis in all his pelvis gyrating glory, rocking around the clock with Bill Haley, and Chuck Berry doing his duck walk. Sometimes the pictures weren’t so pretty. I remember crying when I saw what we lost the day the music died.

My transistor went to bed with me. Sorry Mom. I lied all those times I said I turned it off. How could I? Man, then I’d miss seeing the smooth and sultry Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and the moves of the Four Tops. I’ll never forget the night Nancy Sinatra and her boots walked through my dreams; how could a picture ever be better than that!

I saw the Beach Boys in all their baggy wearing glory catch the last wave. I stood on that shore and watched as the British invaded with the Beatles, the Stones and Herman’s Hermits. All of them gave private concerts that could never compete with anything they did on television. I viewed Bob Lind chase that elusive butterfly with his nets of wonder, something never seen on the big screen!

I was in the capsule the day Navy Commander Alan Shepard Jr. rocketed into space. I crawled deeper under the covers for protection when the Russians pointed their missiles at us from Cuba. I saw a man’s dream from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and it was one of the spectacular pictures I’ve ever seen.

It’s certainly laughable in the face of the advanced technology of today but my little six transistor brought me the world in a way that the children of today will ever know. The imagination paints the greatest picture of all and I for one will never forget all the magical things that I watched on my radio!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Never Did See That School Play

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

Teenage experimentation. Good, bad, or indifferent, we've all experienced it. Nothing wrong with that, however, sometimes our choicest aren't always the wisest.

December in Northern New Jersey. Chilly, crisp, cold weather, holidays approaching, Friday night. Told my parents I wanted to go see the high school play with some friends. They groaned about it, but drove me to my high school, two towns away. I hooked up with Mary* there, just as I planned.

But we didn’t go inside our school despite the chill of the evening. Instead, we walked outside towards the back of the building to the rear parking lot where out of town kids like me were dropped off and picked up by big yellow buses. Hidden in a hibernating shrub, Mary retrieved a glass bottle with a substance that was yellow-green in color. We sat down by the stinky canal that reminded us our dear high school was built on a former swamp and was destined to sink into the soft ground eventually.

Mary had made a fine concoction of a sweet juice and vodka, roughly about 50/50. Pure poison for two young girls whose previous experience with beverage that had some “proof” was sipping a tiny bit of beer out of waxy Dixie cups.

Tonight it was straight out of the bottle; no fancy cups of any sort. We sipped. And sipped again. One of us sipped a bit too much, not realizing what the consequences might be. Young? Stupid? Ignorant? All of the above.

Eventually, I made an attempt to stand. The dark clear sky, filled with stars, started spinning. Amazing! Gibberish emitted from my mouth. Mary became concerned. At least she still had her wits about her and wisely started steering us back towards the school. She walked; I staggered. Somehow, we managed to get to a pay phone in the school, drop a dime in, and made a call for help.

We met our ride, and headed over to Mary’s house. Thankfully, her parents were out. With the addition of our rescuers, there were three people very concerned about me. Their solution?

Take me down into the basement, stick my head in the giant laundry room sink and sniff bleach as a supreme effort to snap me out of my stupor. I can tell you first hand that this will not resolve an issue such as this one. Only time will.

Meanwhile, the clock was ticking. I was expected home soon; the play was over and I had a curfew. My friends walked me to the car and put me in it. Twenty minutes later, I was entering the side door of the house. I went up the short flight of stairs and entered the kitchen. The lights were on, dazing me, and my parents walked in. My brain told myself to act like I don’t feel funny, to get myself upstairs and get into bed.

“Hi Mom. Hi Dad” I said in as normal of a tone I could muster. Seconds later, I collapsed, half falling into the seating below me, with my head winding up on the kitchen table.

No recollection as to what happened the rest of that evening.

The next morning is a clear as a bell despite a ringing headache pounding into my forehead. Assigned to “weed duty” I spent three miserable hours in pain as I plucked unwelcomed plants from the beautiful gardens surrounding our property. To make matters worse, my Step-Mom wet down the flower beds before I started my task. This was based on her theory that pulling weeds is easier when the ground is wet. It’s not, and it’s a mucky muddy mess.

The result? It taught me a lesson and I learned to be careful and responsible with certain beverages.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Love; What is It?

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

We use the word love a lot but what do we really mean? For example someone says “I love my car” do they mean the same as when someone says “I love my wife”? Would you give up your life for your car? Probably not.

So, I decided to think back on some of my first “loves”.

Of course there was Mom; she was my everything. Dad, he wasn't around so much, you know the working thing, so I think I must have known that I loved him then, but the memory isn't as strong.

My first cat, his name was Flubadub, from the Howdy Doody show. How I loved that big ‘ol slob of a pussy cat. Of course it was easy ‘cause I was so young and Mom had to take care of him; I just got to enjoy him, and of course love him. I don't know what ever happened to Flubadub, I was very young then and can't recall.

My first two wheel bicycle, all shiny red and chrome; oh how that bike could “fly”, plus it had multi-colored streamers on the handle bars! What wasn't to love? At least until it wasn't “cool” to ride a bicycle anymore.

My first crush, I'll never forget her. She was in my class in fifth grade and I had no idea why, but when I even thought about her my heart went pitt-a-pat! I loved her from afar until that fateful day in seventh grade when I finally got up my courage and asked her to the school dance. She shot me down! She just wanted to be friends. We were in the seventh grade; what the heck else were we going to be? Needless to say I was devastated, pretty sure my life was over. But the heart is a resilient thing; I got over her. I think.

My first guitar was an electric one. I was certain I would be the next Paul McCartney or at least Paul Simon. I loved that thing and the sounds that came out of it. I practiced day and night, at least until spring came and I could play baseball!

Did I say baseball? How I loved that game. I’d get up at dawn in the summertime so my friends and I could get to the field first; then if the big kids wanted to play they had to let us too! Growing up south of Boston most everyone was just naturally a Red Sox fan. I used to “watch” all their games on my transistor radio, sometimes under my pillow when I was supposed to be sleeping. Even went to a couple games with the Scouts, but we’re talking the 1960’s Red Sox here, like that was ever gonna last!

Then of course there was my first “real” girlfriend, my first steady. This was of course “true love” not “puppy love” like everyone said! We too drifted apart. Would I ever find that ever elusive “real love?”

I loved my car back then too! A 1966 Ford Fairlane Rag Top, with a four speed and 390 cubic inches under the hood. A state of the art eight-track tape deck made it perfect, but alas, economic times meant we too would be parted.

My first real love finally came along, forty-two years ago (as of 2012) and I finally found the answer to what is true love. Oh we've had our share of tough times but we got through them, together. We have five children and six grandchildren now, and I love them all, and of that I'm certain.

I guess sometimes you have to hurt a little before you know what real love is!

Of course I'd love to have that car back again. And don't get me started on Olivia Newton-John.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Purple Flair.

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

I never enjoyed writing with ball point pens. Sadly, there wasn't a choice when it came to school work. Sometimes they leaked and spewed ink on your hands. Combine that with my tendency to press really hard which could make my hand and wrist sore if I wrote too much. 

In my household growing up we always had Flair pens around the house. Not blue. Not black. Not red. Not green. Purple. It was my Dad’s signature pen. Nothing fancy for him. No 19 cent Write Brothers pen. No Bic. Nope. It was all about the color and the ease of writing. I took a keen observation to little things like this.

While my dad always told me to “be a leader, not a follower” there’s always an exception. In this case it's "like father, like daughter". My dad passed away many years ago, and I carry on a tradition he started today. Seeing purple Flairs makes me think of my dad. So in this case, I follow.

Dad would scribble on just about anything with his purple Flairs. He wrote on the inner walls of the garage. He’d also scribble in the top drawer of the ancient, unused desk in the basement. I found some powerful thoughts there that made me cry (that’s another story). He would write thoughts up high on the floor beams in the basement too. He wrote “Vaya Con Dios” there; one of his very favorite songs by Freddie Fender.

My dad even wrote on a brick. Yes; he wrote words all over a brick that we used to keep a door open. Well, okay, not all of his writings were with a purple Flair. It's almost impossible to write on a brick with one, so it had to be a Sharpie!

My dad never had a pocket protector but a purple Flair was often found in the pocket of his Dickies work shirt.  I usually don’t have pockets on my shirts so that doesn't work for me. So where do all of mine wind up? yesterday I grabbed a handful of "stuff" out of my purse that was making it too heavy and lo and behold, FOUR purple Flairs emerged.

No, they’re not the same as the ones that my dad had. They don’t even have ridges on the casing anymore and they don’t feel as nice when you’re writing with them. And you can’t even buy purple ones at a brick and mortar Staples; they're only available by ordering a box (12) online. Of course my last order was for three boxes of them; 36 in all! If they were edible I’d probably eat them, but even better every time I use one I have memories of my father. 

Flair was so groovy! 

And if you don't remember them, here's the 19 cent Write Brothers pen. Write On!