Places & Events

The Perk of all Perks…..

I can’t think of a more appropriate time than today when the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI to republish a post I published back in November of 2009 discussing perhaps one of the best jobs one could have ever had in one’s lifetime. And even though I was only with the company a very short time, it was quite the experience to remember and some may even say I need some sort of mental examination given the fact I quit the job….

Originally Published November 16, 2009

Atlanta Fulton County Stadium(Click on image to enlarge)

In late October of 1968 I was stationed at Warner-Robbins Air Force Base which is located near Macon, Georgia. After being honorably discharged from the United States Air Force on November 1st of that year I decided I would travel to Atlanta and see if I could get a job there.

I fortunately found a job quite quickly and ended up working briefly for a company named Baker Audio which was located in Atlanta, Georgia proper. The company, although small, was quite well known for its expertise in the realm of audio and among other things, had put in the sound system in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. This fact was soon to become a blessing in disquise as it turns out.

Not but a week or so after starting to work there my boss asked if I would mind working on an upcoming Sunday for a few hours. He noted that since it was Sunday I would be getting paid double-time. Well, I jumped at the opportunity. Especially given the fact I was only making like $90 a week to begin with. But the best news was yet to come

My boss then began to explain the essence of the job I had just accepted. The company, Baker Audio, had the maintenance and operating contract for the sound system with the Atlanta Stadium and anytime there was an event at the stadium requiring the sound system being used, that a Baker Audio sound system person had to be at the stadium to turn on the system and oversee any problems that might occur. My boss went on to say there was almost never a problem and if there was, they had backup available, normally equated to by simply flipping a switch.

He went on to say that the stadium had two heated and/or air-conditioned glassed-in booths. One was for the “rich and famous” and adjacent to it was the other booth which was for the operator of the electronic scoreboards and for the employees of the sound system company who were maintaining and running the sound system. The main sound system consoles were also located in this booth which is obviously why the employees were allowed in that booth.

On two different Sundays I accompanied my boss to the stadium to fulfill those responsibilities and learn how to turn on and run the system. Those two occasions involved football games being played by the Atlanta Falcon’s football team and their opponent for that week.

What this all meant in layman’s terms was that on the upcoming Sunday I was going to get paid double time for flipping a switch and sitting in a heated, glassed-in booth and watching a football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams or in case number two, watching them play the Detroit Lions a few weeks later. Does life suck sometimes or what?

That first Sunday I also found out that I was also allowed in the press area along with being able to partake in the food buffet set up for the press core and attending celebrities. I remember my boss and I getting a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon but everything was pretty much a blur to me. I was just completely mesmerized by the whole thing. Talk about a great job.

Below are a couple of gate passes I kept from the two games where I attended and worked so very, very hard. Some jobs have perks, but I have to say this was the perk of all perks! Being paid double time to watch a football game….at the stadium no less!

Atlanta Falcon Gate Pass 01a(Click on image to enlarge)

Atlanta Falcon Gate Pass 02a(Click on image to enlarge)

Believe it or not, I made one of those ‘life decisions’ only two months after taking this job to quit the company and return home to Arkansas. I think in the long run that was a good decision but it goes without saying how often I have thought back about that job and the fact that I could have been paid good money just to sit in a booth, flip a switch, and watch either the Atlanta Falcons or Atlanta Braves play their games season after season.

A Piece of “Middle Earth” Found In America….

Rivendell

As is reflected in the painting above, that wonderful secluded and picturesque cottage is located in “Rivendell” which is part of a quite fictional location known as Middle Earth which is located on the planet Arda. This locale was well documented in the film series “Lord of the Rings” as well as “The Hobbit” with which many are surely familiar. This particular cottage rendering has for some years now been the only physical representation of the location where I have so wanted to spend the final days of my life after retiring. A place especially inviting to someone like myself of a reclusive nature, fictional or not!

Of course as one who has their feet firmly planted in reality, to dream and fantasize about such a place is at best all one can do. Or at least so I thought until a few days ago. It was then that I came right up against the moment when fantasy meets reality. My dream cottage did in fact actually exist and it wasn’t located in Middle Earth on the planet Arda but rather near Olalla, Washington on the planet Earth. And its present owners had it up for sale in all its glory for only $825,000.

But of course, as home costs go that is quite expensive but it seems quite a cheap price to pay for a dream. The pictures of the home almost don’t look real but they are quite real and oh my, so very inviting. See for yourself and be sure and click on the pictures to see a much larger version….

Middle Earth01
Middle Earth02
Middle Earth03

Middle Earth04
Middle Earth05
Middle Earth06

According to media reports the original owner built the home in stages beginning in the 1970’s. The most current owner who purchased the property in 2005 converted the home into a ‘bed and breakfast’ catering primarily to weddings. The property operated under the name “Storybook Cottage Inn” during its tenure as a bed and breakfast as I understand it. It is also known locally and referred to by recent media reports as “Snow White’s Cottage”.

And as previously mentioned, the property is now listed for sale for $825,000. Now granted I am not of such financial status that I can even in the least consider such a purchase but I have to say the price seems quite reasonable to me. But then it’s my kinda’ place! 🙂

Just for informational purposes only, I have included two very short videos below apparently created to advertise the property as a wedding venue, one showing mostly property assets while the other more of the interior. If you are as interested in the property as I was, then you can see the actual real estate listing “here“.

Do you remember where you were when…. ?

Do you remember where you were when…?

That, of course, is an all too familiar question that seems to have established its prominent roots surrounding the events of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November of 1963 and then notably again with events surrounding the World Trade Center’s attack of September 11, 2001.

The FugitiveBut in the late 1960’s there was a televised event that for many millions across the United States evoked that same question as time distanced itself from the event. There were several notable televisions shows airing during those years. Just to name a few, there was The Andy Griffith Show; Bonanza; The Flintstones; The Twilight Zone; The Beverly Hillbillies; Gunsmoke and The Ed Sullivan Show. But none of those shows would come close to competing for the intense drama that captivated the television viewing audiences as “The Fugitive”. And “The Fugitive” was so intensely popular and iconic in the day that it too was able to invoke the proverbial question of where were you when you watched the final episode? And to that end I submit my own personal account of the events leading up to the watching of that final episode in my life….

The Fugitive - David Janssen as Richard Kimble - 1963It was late August of 1967 and I sat down in front of my television the night of the 22nd as many other millions of viewers would do that night to watch the final 2-part episode of “The Fugitive”. The first part was to air on Tuesday evening of the 22nd and the second or final half on Tuesday evening of the 29th. As that first half of the final episode concluded on that evening of the 22nd my mind fast-forwarded to my upcoming wedding which was to take place in just 4 days. No time to ponder the fate of Dr. Kimble or the one-armed man for the moment.

I was still in the Air Force at the time and was stationed at Warner-Robbins AFB, Georgia which was near Macon, Georgia. I was about to be married for my second time and my new wife and I were planning on driving to New Orleans for our honeymoon, brief as it was to be. We were married in the afternoon on the 26th and spent our first night at a hotel in Columbus, Georgia. We drove on to Biloxi, Mississippi the morning of the 27th where we spent some time and ended up staying overnight at a motel there. Then the next morning, the 28th, we headed to New Orleans arriving late morning and stayed that evening at a hotel in the French Quarter.

David_Janssen_Fugitive_1967Now having already mentioned it would be a brief honeymoon, when we got up early Tuesday morning the 29th we both were acutely aware that the major event unfolding that evening was to be the final conclusion to “The Fugitive”. It was an 8-hour drive straight through to Macon, Georgia where we had rented an apartment and where we had planned on watching that final episode. It would be close but we decided we were up to the challenge so we headed for home.

Some eight hours later we found ourselves pushing the deadline. We were close but depending on traffic we could end up being a little late. So as we approached Macon we decided to divert to my wife’s parent’s home which we could get to quicker than we could get to our apartment. So that’s what we did and we arrived within fifteen minutes or so of when the last episode was to air.

And so it was that within the next hour or so the fate of Dr. Kimble and the one-armed man would be revealed to us all and after some four years the fans of the fugitive could finally breathe a collective sigh of relief… it was over.

Oh, and finally just for the record, it is interesting to note for the record the subsequent data that goes some distance in documenting the popularity of that final episode…

“Part two of the finale was the most-watched television series episode up to that time. It was viewed by 25.70 million households

(45.9 percent of American households with a television set and a 72 percent share), meaning that more than 78 million people tuned in. That record was held until the November 21, 1980 episode of Dallas, (“Who Done It”), viewed by 41.47 million households

(53.3 percent of households and a 76 percent share), which was later surpassed by the series finale of M*A*S*H, (“Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”), on February 28, 1983, viewed by 50.15 million households

(60.2 percent of households and a 77 percent share).”

Fill ‘er up!

Gas Station Service 01

Yep, “fill ‘er up” is sure not a term you hear anymore. And if you are anywhere near my age surely there was a time when you often bellowed it out to a service station attendant.

Gas Station Service 02I had planned sometime back to do a post on the service stations of old that I and virtually all my peers have visited on more than one occasion I’m sure. I was reminded of that this morning when reading the morning newspaper and the adjacent picture appeared in our local paper. Can you believe that in the UK they apparently still have service stations where attendants tend to your vehicle needs? I’ll bet they really don’t. This one service station is probably on some property belonging to the Buckingham Palace gang. 🙂

Admittedly I really miss the convenience of those days. Some may just call me lazy if I object to getting out of the car and pumping my own gas. No, I don’t think its laziness, it really did have to do with the service you received, especially if it was a good service station. Not to mention not having to deal with the weather conditions. And I would think in particularly that a lot of the ladies would sure like to have seen that service continue.

Gas Station Service 03You got your tank filled, your oil checked, your windshield washed and could even request them to check the air in your tires if you were concerned about that. As far as I know, the only place to receive service like that now days here in America is in your dreams. Most service stations that I am aware of don’t even have air pumps any longer while others are like vending machines where you put in a quarter for 2 minutes of air. And then of course there is the air gauge we all have to have because if we do have to check our tire’s air pressure we have something to do it with.

Surely you remember paying the attendant and if you didn’t have the correct change they would have to go inside the station to get the change. They weren’t always happy about having to do that as I recall, especially if it was bad weather. At some point many stations began having their attendants wear coin dispensers on their belts and carrying a stash of bills so they could make change right at the car.

Now back in the forties and fifties when I was growing up dad would drive the car up to the local service station almost every Sunday to get it washed and serviced. Now the service stations hand washed cars in those days. Normally you would go to your local neighborhood Gas Station Service 04station, they would drive you back home in your car then return to the station with your car and after the car was washed and greased, they would return to pick you up and you would then drive them back to the station and pay for your services. I don’t remember but I bet that was all for a lot less than five bucks! In those days cars needed more frequent oil changes and lubrication or grease jobs as we use to call them. Most service stations were extremely busy on Sundays with car washing, oil changes and grease jobs.

Found this photo of a service station attendant on the Internet. Wow… I never had a service station attendant that looked like that for sure. Must be one of those California girl attendants. If we had had lady attendants here in Arkansas they would have probably been able to beat the crap out of two men at the same time… know what I mean!

Gas Station Service 05

Well once again I find myself traveling down the old reminiscent trail of days gone by. I suppose if I face the reality of still having all those great drive-thru services the cost of gasoline would be even higher. And with all the cars on the road I doubt service stations need to provide such services to aid in increasing their bottom line. Well… at least we got to enjoy the good life for a while. 🙂

Brother-In-Law, what are they good for?

You know, for as long as I can remember it’s a known fact that when we talk about extended family the infamous “mother-in-law” has always topped our list of conversational topics and mostly gotten a bad-wrap to boot. There are certainly some beloved mother-in-law’s out there but we mostly hear about the mother-in-law from hell. But given my most recent birthday, I have given considerable thought to what is considered the standard norm when it comes to talking about individuals who are members of the extended family.

Now I have two brother-in-law and we all seem to get along fine when in each other’s company, or so I thought. In fact, I have always assumed that we actually enjoy each other’s company. However that assumption came to a screeching halt recently with the advent of my birthday.

Now you have to understand that my two brother-in-law don’t play golf together or have lunch with each other from time to time or just in general hang out together in any form or fashion. So I found it somewhat disturbing when I got birthday cards from each of them which were almost identical when it came to the birthday card’s cover art and subject matter. Now, either it is one of the most profound coincidences ever or they are both “ass” holes, to coin a term I was able to derive from the creature depicted on the cards I received. The damning card cover’s are shown are below….

Randy’s Jackass 2
Vergil’s Jackass 2

Of the hundreds of humorous cards that are on the market, what in this universe would have been behind such an unfathomable coordinated event? Astrologically I am a Scorpio but at the moment I feel like someone has bitten the tail off my scorpion. They think I’m a jackass?

Well, so be it I suppose but I must surmise that when I attend future family get-togethers or join my sisters and their husbands for dinner out… there will be a palatable chill in the air courtesy of this jackass brother-in-law as reflected in their loving birthday greeting! 🙁

The Little Stone House That Could….

Natural-Stone-House-Sample-2Can’t say why but I have always loved ‘natural stone’ houses similar to the one featured in the picture to the left. Just something about them that always catches my eye when I see one. I purchased my first and only little stone house back in the late 1970s and I hold very pleasant memories regarding the experience.

I was working in Missouri at the time during the construction of the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant and had rented a duplex pretty much out in the boonies. Actually it was located in New Bloomfield, Missouri which is probably some 15 miles or so north of Jefferson City in a very rural area. The population of New Bloomfield itself was probably around 450 people at the time.

Across the street from where I was renting was a one-acre tract of land with a very small little one-bedroom stone house located on it. It wasn’t much to look at and obviously quite small but nevertheless when it came up for sale I found myself very interested. The owner of the house just happened to be the owner of the duplex where I was renting. To make a long story short, given the love I harbored for stone houses I ended up purchasing the little house and the 1-acre of land it was sitting on for $10,000. Below are a few Polaroid snapshots of the place just prior to my purchasing the place. You can click on photos to enlarge….

Old-House-Duo-01

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Now granted, it wasn’t much to look at but I saw some potential there and let’s not forget, it was a natural stone house! The house certainly needed some work here and there but it was quite livable and functional from the git-go. Being a one bedroom it was going to be the smallest living space I had ever occupied but room was not a real issue with me being single. The duplex where I was living at the time was two-bedroom and I pretty much just used the second bedroom for storage and such anyway.

This was the first home I had ever owned so the freedom I felt to make changes and improve both the inside and outside of the house had me pumped up. The inside of the house was quite small of course so I was quite limited as to what could be done there. I did have the old grayish-white roofing removed and replaced with new brown shingles. The outside, being a one-acre plot on the other hand, was a different story and I have always enjoyed doing landscaping work.

And so it was that after deciding how I wanted to approach the landscaping of the property I was off and running. I would end up planting some ten small Scotch pine trees around the property; I would install a 2-rail pole fence around the entire property; I would redo the gravel driveway and enlarge my parking area; I would build numerous planters; I had a large concrete patio poured in the back of the house and had a network of decorative concrete blocks installed to finish off the changes; lastly I would tear down a large old outbuilding in the back of the property and replace it with a nice, large storage shed. Photos follow of the finished project and you can click on photos to enlarge….

New-House-Duo-01a

New-House-Duo-02a

I owned the home for about three years but eventually sold it as the job I was working in the area was coming to a close and I would be moving to a new location in the near future. It was a great life experience and I got much satisfaction from my endeavors. The house sold for a little over $20,000 when I sold it.

Sear’s ad gives birth to Christmas Eve tradition….

radar screenAlthough I have long been aware of the Christmas Eve tradition of tracking Santa Claus on radar, admittedly until now I was completely unaware of how this tradition actually began until reading and listening to a current back-story on National Public Radio. I assume, unlike me, that everyone else is well educated with regard to this subject. Nevertheless, just in case I thought I would share an overview of my latest enlightenment session. Besides… tis’ the season to be made aware!

Rather than just retype part of what you will hear on the short recording below, I will just defer for the moment to that subject recording regarding how that tradition began…

“How Tracking Santa with Norad Radar Began” – A National Public Radio Presentation

What more or less amazed me the most about this story was that I grew up during the Cold War and was actually 14 years old in 1955. Granted however, I was certainly past my Santa years at that age. Here is an image of the Sears ad referenced in the story you just listened to above.

And of course I would be remiss did I not honor the man who had the compassion to fulfill the dream of one small child, and then so many others so I have also enclosed his photo.

Colonel Harry Shoup

Better late than never I suppose….

Well here we are just entering the month of July and most folks have already shared their spring photos of their flowering yards and busy gardens. For most those thoughts of the season’s first flowers have long faded. But my flowers of choice are only now just making themselves known to the yard.

My yard got its first flower this past week and there is something rather special about that first flower of the season, regardless of when it makes its entrance into one’s year. It’s quite the relief when you see those first buds appear and fill with that flowering surprise.

DSC_0398b(Sugar Tip Rose of Sharon – Click to Enlarge)

My first flower of the season was produced and presented by one of my one-year old Rose of Sharon bushes. I have always liked the Rose of Sharon bushes but never had any of my own. Last year on one of my stops at “Lowe’s Home Improvement” I was pleased to notice they had some very healthy and robust looking young Rose of Sharon plants and I couldn’t help myself. I purchased four plants, two hybrids called Sugar Tip and two of the standard Althea plant.

They have done well and made it through their first pretty rough winter and my Sugar Tip produced its first bloom this year just last week. Of course I had to take a quick photo for posterity’s sake.

DSC_0401a(Sugar Tip Rose of Sharon – Click to Enlarge)

All four of my plants are currently sporting numerous blooms so I look forward to several months of flowering bushes and no doubt another photograph or two to share along the way….

The Adventures of Snake Boy….

I ran across something recently referencing the Chinese Zodiac which peaked my curiosity, so like anyone I suppose with any sense of curiosity and not knowing under which Chinese sign I was born… well of course I had to investigate. Low and behold I was somewhat surprised to find that I was born under the sign of the “Snake”.

Now granted, there may be a lady or two from my love life of days gone by who still bears some measure of ill-will toward me and would perhaps find some measure of gratification in such a sign being associated with me but for the purposes of this post, well… that is neither here nor there.

Chinese Zodiac Sign - Year of the Snake(Chinese Zodiac – The Year of the Snake)

Now the snake is not a critter that a very substantial number of folks want to hang out with, pet or fondle… or so I’ve gathered over the years. But finding out about my Chinese zodiac sign is an interesting discovery because oddly enough I have never really had any measure of disdain toward the creatures. And when I was a young boy I use to spend hours hunting snakes, small snakes for the most part, and putting them in my big jar which brings me to my autobiographical anecdote regarding the adventures of ‘Snake Boy’….

“The Adventures of Snake Boy”

It all began innocently enough from my point of view when I would, as a young boy around ten or eleven, bring snakes home in my “big jar” (an essential snake-hunting tool) that I had captured from my numerous snake-hunting adventures and then let them go in my backyard after making them miserable for a day two with a little stick-poking. Now all this was pretty much unbeknownst to mom of course, since even at that young age I wasn’t totally devoid of any sense.

With regard to these type adventures as a young boy, none are more memorable or hold a more enduring place in my heart than that which I will relate and in so doing, finally disclose publicly my true identity – hidden for these many, many years.

Snake Jar - 2

The Big Jar

Now, as previously noted, I did have a passion as a young boy for going out and hunting and catching snakes. Usually my victims were of the garden variety for the most part although….there were those few times when I would take on a small venomous critter and coral him into the “big jar”. And yep, I would let those go in the back yard also so you can see why I kept mom out of the loop on this issue.

Many of my “snake adventures” as a young boy use to take me into an area along High Street from Wright Avenue down to around 23rd Street where quite a few black families lived at the time. There was an old concrete storm drain about 10 foot wide with 6 or 7 foot high sides in ill repair that ran along High Street for a number of blocks tunneling under the side streets as it made its way to wherever it was going – Fourche Creek probably. There were lots of weeds and saplings growing within the old drain and little tiny ponds of standing water with all sorts of critters and tiny fish in them. This is where a number of my adventures took place. Some of the black kids use to follow me around when I was in the neighborhood walking inside the storm drain on my snake hunts. We would all be in the stealth mode in my quest for snakes but as soon as one of the creatures made an appearance I would find myself quite alone. This phenomenon actually became quite predictable.

First there was whispering amongst me and my companions….then silence as I would lift a large piece of wood or rock….then blood curdling screams in unison from my traveling companions when the snake would make its initial appearance. Even after I had safely secured the little critter in my “big jar”, my entourage was nowhere to be found. Later I might see one of my ex-companions sheepishly wave from their front porch but that was about it.

And now this is where this adventure takes on a “legend” proportion. It didn’t take any time whatsoever for the black kids to start calling the little white kid “Snake Boy”. And one can only imagine how my little head filled with visions from my new found fame and stature in the world. Every now and then I would make a trip down to High Street and none of the kids would show up. If after a little while no one showed up, Snake Boy would just drop his head and mope home totally devoid of any reinforcement of his true identity. The snakes would be safe this time from the dreaded Snake Boy!

Disappointingly as it turns out, in my own neighborhood I was simply known as “Alan” or “A.E” as mom used to call me. That was my first and middle initial. But just as Superman had to deal with his secret identity, I too had a like burden that had been thrust upon me at such an early age. The black neighborhood quickly became my favorite place to go for adventure needless to say. Sure, there may have been a Frank Buck, there may have even been a Tarzan, but there was only one Snake Boy!

My true identity has been well hidden for all these years but now as I reach the autumn of my life it is finally time to come out of the “Snake Boy” closet! Now that the world will come to know my true identity by these public disclosures there will surely be autobiographies and movie deals to clutter my life. And from now on even you will be able to brag to your family and friends that you really knew…..Snake Boy! In fact, if you go down to that area of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive even today there is still a portion of that storm drain in existence. Perhaps after reading my story, someone will suggest marking it with an historical marker…..you think?

Now, whether one can draw any conclusions with regard to the significance of zodiac signs such as this one, The Year of the Snake, which is part of Chinese culture or other astrological signs pretty much rests on each individual. But I believe that I am compelled to a degree to give some credence to my Chinese zodiac sign given the evidence presented here today.

Snake Boy

You Don’t Miss Your Water (till your well runs dry) – William Bell

I was elated when found the video below on YouTube. I had originally seen the performance as aired by PBS last year at the White House but never thought I would find what I considered to be the best performance on the show available for personal use.

Since the featured song and video in this post was filmed at the White House during a performance there, let me say this post is all about the music and the artist and has nothing to with politics so come on in, sit down and listen to some of the best of Memphis Soul you will ever hear… but leave your politics at the door!

In my opinion it doesn’t get any better than what you see and hear in this video. William Bell grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and recorded his first hit with Stax Records in Memphis titled “You Don’t Miss Your Water” which is a classic blues piece of music. That’s the song you’ll hear in the video and the man has only gotten better with the years considering he first recorded the song back in 1961. He was 73 years old when he performed on this video in 2013.

And I cannot fail to mention that the group backing up the performers on this particular night was led by none other than Booker T. Jones of Booker T. & The MG’s fame. It was in 1962 when that group recorded their rock anthem Green Onions” at Stax Records.