Friday, October 23, 2009

@*#!* Wife Knows Everything II

I guess you should know that my wife has a bachelor's degree in psychology, which could explain why she knows everything. I'll use an example from this morning.

I'm fresh out of the shower and she tells me, "your eyes are red; you look like the devil." Then she notes that if our daughter was a four-year-old and heard that statement, she would have gone to school and told her friends: "my mommy said my daddy was the devil."

And because !#*#! wife knows everything, here's how she said the kids would have reacted: "wow, where does your dad keep his pitchfork;?" "can your dad turn his head around in a full circle;?" "what does he do with his tail when he puts his pants on?"

Well, we all know how kids are, and these things certainly "could" have been said. But because @*#!* wife knows everything, these words must be so.

I'm not sure how this links, but she then went on to tell me that the "new" thing now is "intuitive intelligence." (She's been reading 'O' magazine from cover to cover.) I asked her if intuitive intelligence could be what we know as the tool that seniors have used all of their lives to survive?

Her retort: "Yeah, I think it's just another way of saying trust your #*#@! instincts." Hmmm. I don't know.

Here's what Francis Cholle had to say about intuitive intelligence.

Which would you value most: the intuitive intelligence of today's seniors; or that of Mr. Cholle? (who I hadn't heard of until now)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

@*#!* Wife Knows Everything

I keep toying with the idea of writing an occasional blog on the topic, "@*#*! Wife Knows Everything." The title comes from a punch line of a joke that ends with @#!*@ Wife Knows Everything. Once my friend Angie Nolle returns from vacation, I'll ask her to retell the joke; I can't remember it. In the meantime, I think the title is so appropriate because my @#@*! Wife Knows Everything! (she's in on this, too, so no problem)

To give you an example of what I mean, six years ago or so she said why do we still have a land line phone; in a few years, more people will have cell phones than land lines. Well, I think recent news reports verify this claim. #@*! Wife Knows Everything!

We were talking about problems with education in general and public education in particular. A news report mentioned the benefits of home schooling. She said that she thought African-American kids could probably benefit from home schooling. I've never given that much thought, but given the dismal state of public education, maybe it should be considered. @!*# Wife Knows Everything!

Then the other morning as we were getting dressed, another story on the Rush Limbaugh saga airs. "He made that bed so let him lay in it," she says. See what I mean, #!#* Wife Knows Everything!

All of her statements have been natural and off the cuff. So once I told her about the idea of this blog topic, she tried to get all philosophical on me. So this morning she comes up with this: "which is best, wisdom or knowledge?" My retort: How can you have wisdom without knowledge? Then she goes into all the prophetic things our daughter use to say when she was 8 years old. "She didn't have a lot of knowledge, but she sure said some things that showed wisdom." Okay, I said. Maybe my friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter can help on this one.

So what do you think, folks: which is best -- wisdom or knowledge. Let us know.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Last Ride

In my previous post, I noted that the following day would be the last time to take my high school graduating daughter to school. It went down like this:

Allister and I were looking forward to the Last Ride. The I-Pod-free conversation (an achievement in itself) started immediately. There was a lot to cover, so we jumped right.

The "fish story" got first airing. Knowing that Allister had caught the biggest fish during the weekend competition among first graders, we (I) were looking forward to the big announcement and award ceremony during the morning convocation. But to our (my) surprise, it was announced as a "tie" for first place. Well, apparently little Susie "had" the big fish on her line, but it got off just before it could be snagged. Well, now it's decision time for father. Does he stop the proceedings in progress and make the point that the fish had to be "caught," or does he wait and approach the Headmaster with WTF! Thinking that it would be too haunting to wear the "angry fish father" moniker for the next twelve years, I let it go. But the scar, as I hope you can tell, is still there.

The next memory dealt with "brilliant academic sense" versus "plain ole common sense." The male parents were matched in a basketball game as a school fundraiser. So, here are these late 30s and 40 plus men going at it on the court. My team was up by at least 10 points by halftime, and my jumper was working from the top of the key (Yes!). And while we expected the students to have a cheering competition or maybe some musical entertainment for half-time, the administrators, instead, held a spelling bee competition -- for 45 minutes!! Yes, a spelling bee at half-time for more than 45 frickin minutes!! As our old ... posteriors were stiffening, we wondered if we could regain our momentum going into the second half. Low and behold, we eeked out a victory, by two points, but the lesson had been learned: Yes, the folks running the school had great "academic sense," but little "good ole common sense." We had a good laugh on that one.

We also talked about the Science Fair story -- too long for this post -- but bottom line: she didn't get to go for an overnight stay at the St. Louis Science Center even though her test scores were higher than two other students who were selected. We (wifey and I) called the Headmaster on the carpet for that one. (details later)

By now we were nearing the end of the Last Ride. A few comments about the most engaging teacher, or the wierdest one, as well as thoughts about friends who once attended the school but moved away. Given her academic success over the past 12 years, we began to realize how fortunate her journey had been by attending The Governor French Academy. Afterall, we concluded, it's a College Preparatory School, and after today's classes, she would be well-prepared to begin that journey in the fall.

It hasn't hit me until right now, at this very moment, how special it was during that Last Ride.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Driving Ms. Allie

My daughter graduates from high school this week. She has been an oustanding student, and a very amazing person. For twelve years, plus the daycare days, I have driven her to school. Tomorrow will be the last day for that drive, and I'm not sure what to make of it.

I can only recall one instance of a possible accident: it was raining and I had to make a quick stop to avoid the car ahead. I ended up bumping my tires against the boulevard and she, in a car seat in the back, never really knew what happened. So I've been very cautious, and blessed, in transporting my valuable cargo.

We have shared a lot of great moments during those rides -- too many to even begin to tell. And we've heard a lot of radio shows, at least before the I-Pod arrived.

Driving to work next week won't be the same. But, boy, what a drive it's been.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Background and viewpoints on attending SIUE

Copy and paste the above link into your browser to read this story from the SIUE Communicator. Never mind that my last name is spelled incorrectly.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From My 'Hood

I'll branch out from the family on this one and give you a sketch of my neighborhood.

The East St. Louis neighborhood I grew up in was called "Pollock Town." I didn't know the word was a slur to Polish people until I wrote a feature story in the Belleville News Democrat on Kermit "Boto" Haynes. My editor called me on the word, thank goodness, and it was abbreviated to 'Lock Town.

Anyway, it was a decent neighborhood during a time when neighbors knew you, your parents and your siblings. And, yes, adults were allowed to scowl at you as if they were your parents. There were many influences in that 12 to 14 block area.

There was, for instance, "Boto's," the local shoe shine parlor run by Kermit Haynes -- who was blind. He taught me and others how to shine shoes, but more important, he taught us what it meant to be a young man in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He had great wisdom and he was always there to listen to whatever was on your mind. He counseled and steered many of us away from the bad influences, and expected us to make something out of ourselves. He also would ban you from the shoe shine parlor if you acted like a dam fool. Before his blindness, Boto was a talented musician with the legendary jazz group, the St. Louis Crackerjacks, which did a lot of gigs in Kansas City during the Count Basie era. His brother was internationally famed concert pianist, Eugene Haynes. Eugene was a very nice man who marveled at knowing that he was the topic of a discussion I had, as a reporter, with former British Prime Minister, Edward Heath. (to be detailed later)

Other influences included the Y.E.W.O. (Youth Educational and Welfare Organization), one of the places where we would hang out and do all sorts of things. It was the main stage to showcase our talents in singing and dancing. It's where it all began for Phil Perry and the Montclaires! YEWO founder Larry Taylor was a reporter for the East St. Louis Crusader, and probably had something to do with me going into the field journalism. I recall going out on a few stories with him -- one a homicide. But as we found out later in life, he was not a man to be trusted.

Also among the influences in 'Lock Town was "the corner," where the lessons of street life were taught; "red hill," a toxic dump site that we used as a place of adventure; and Starlight Skating Rink, where I was taken to see Ike and Tina Turner. The neighborhood also had its fair share of accomplished people, including top city political leaders like Ester Saverson and Charles "Jew Baby" Myles. There were prominent teachers and doctors, too, as well as the city's best known undertaker, Marion Officer, whose son, Carl, would later become mayor of the city.

As a newspaper boy, I knew my way around the neighborhood. I made it a point to always be in good stead with the owners of local grocery stores and confectionaries. I even worked in a few of them, including Mr. Crisp's Confectionary and Margolis Grocery Store. It was always a pleasure to fill up on Root Beers along the way, either at Billups, a local pharmacy, or at Hudlins, a relative of the Hollywood movie duo, the Hudlin Brothers.

"The Bricks" were also a part of my 'hood. Long before people lived in public housing -- the projects -- there were the bricks. It wasn't pretty, but it was the reality of the times. As I look back on 'Lock Town, I can see that it was a diverse neighborhood, meaning that the poeple were at all economic incomes and status. Growing up in such an environment, I think, helped to prepare me for what would come later in life: a society with a broad spectrum of people, places and things.

It's a place that will live on forever in my mind, thoughts and actions.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Snapshot Number Two

I think you can tell a lot about a person if you know a little about the people who rear them.

My parents were hard-working people. Without ever saying it, they set the tone for what was expected in a life of work. My late father was a classic entrepreneur. Known throughout East St. Louis as the owner of "Honey Dew Hamburgers," (that's where I got my nickname, Honeydew) he was a genius. Ray Kroc may have made a fortune from his burgers, but they couldn't touch my dads. A fun-loving character and a committed father, he always stressed the value of education. He was a star pitcher on the Negro League circuit, (he could have played pro according to our neighbor, Negro League legend Sam Taylor) but it didn't happen. He did, however, produce at Triple Crown-winning Khoury Leaguer, me, who was destined to make it to the majors. That didn't happen either. But teaching me how to learn was one of his biggest gifts to me. (you'll have to wait for the book to hear more)

My mother, who we currently deem as a diva, is what every mother strives to be: loving and caring. As her "only son," she showed me, by example, how a lady earns a reputation for style and class. A beautiful and woman and a determined provider, she instilled the importance of respect -- for myself and for others. And if that respect wasn't properly shown, she was pretty good at placing the leather on the rear end. (sometimes a switch) As the #1 cashier at B&H Meats in East St. Louis, she was known city-wide for her quick wit and pleasant demeanor. All that experience has made her a top flea market saleswoman, whose never too far away from a stroll down the "runway" during her fashion diva moments.

Again, if you look at those who brought me into the world, you will see how I've acquired my outlook on the world. In a nutshell, it's work hard, do something significant, and have some fun!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Snap Shot

While my personal profile shares basic information about me, here's a little more.

A native of East St. Louis, I'm the only boy in a family of six. Yes, growing up with five sisters was interesting. I'm sure it had a lot to do with how I relate to women. Even though I didn't spend much time around the house as they watched "Dark Shadows" or the "Patti Duke Show," it wasn't a bad thing to see the girls in the neighborhood swing in and out of my home.

Like many boys back then, sports ruled the day. Living across the street from the 'playground,' it was easy to spend the entire day emulating Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle or Johnny Unitas. If it wasn't sports, then it was practicing to be the next Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, or James Brown. The neighborhood was full of talent, and we were always anxious to show it off.

Growing up in East St. Louis says alot about who I am -- and who I have become. There were many lessons learned. As I continue to write in this space, I'll share with you some of those important lessons.

Stay tuned.

False Start

Okay, so I made a false start with my first blog. (the title and the text were combined in the lede; just corrected.) Track runners make false starts, too, but they get do-overs. So I will get my do-over in the pipeline soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Getting Out of the Blocks

I'm here, finally. No longer will I urge others to create a blog and not have one myself. I've thought about it for a long time, so I'm way overdue. As I've noted on Facebook, a blogger needs to be established before he or she starts to spout off about the issues of the day. So in the coming days, I'll give you some information on who I am and what I'm about. In the meantime, I'll work on setting up my blog spot. I think my title page says it all: I'm stilllearning, everyday. So I hope to share with you what I've learned, and observed, over a career of some 26 years, and a life of 52 years.This should be fun.