Month: November 2009

Remembering Johnny Roventini….

While in the “remembering” mode I thought with the anniversary of his death just a couple of days away, it might be an appropriate time to jog a few memories with regard to an advertising icon who many of my visitors will be familiar with from their pasts. Many of you may not remember Johnny Roventini by his given name but nevertheless, you will surely remember him as an advertisement icon from the 1930s into the 1960s. That of course is assuming that you are around fifty-years old or older.
morris_03
Johnny was only twenty-two years old working as a hotel bellboy when he was “discovered” by an advertising mogul using him in a Philip Morris cigarette as a page yelling, “Call for Philip Morris”. Johnny was a dwarf only forty-seven inches tall and weighing some sixty pounds but he soon became the product spokesman for Philip Morris. A Philip Morris executive once described Johnny as a “living trademark”.

Many say he is probably best remembered in his and Philip Morris’ association with the “I Love Lucy” show in the early fifties which enjoyed immense popularity. Below is just one of many memorable Philip Morris commercials from that show….

Lucille Ball was one of those unfortunate entertainers who got singled out by the “House Committee on Un-American Activities” in 1953 being accused of having communist ties. Those charges were eventually disproven after a long, hard fight but during that time Johnny traveled to the Desilu Studios in Los Angeles and stayed there giving Lucy his complete support and that of Philip Morris itself. It is said that Lucy very much appreciated that support during those times.

Johnny passed away of natural causes at age 88 on November 30, 1998. You can read more about Johnny by clicking going to “Johnny Roventini – Wikipedia”.

johnnycalling

The Perk of all Perks….

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.

SWM looking for SWF who enjoys… yada, yada, yada.

“Close Encounters of the Personal Ad Kind”

Personal Ads 2Sometime in the mid-1980’s I found myself contemplating doing something I had never done. In fact, contemplating something I said that I would absolutely never do! And that was to put one of those seemingly ridiculous ads in a newspaper’s “Personal” ad section. As many of you know, in day’s gone by doing such seemed to be cause for intense ridicule and embarrassment.

Nevertheless, one cold and lonely fall day a good friend of mine, who happen to be female, suggested that she and I do this “thing”, but do it together to alleviate any sense of guilt or embarrassment along with the purpose of giving each other support to include covering each other’s back if necessary. I’m not sure how serious either of us really was about finding love everlasting but a little experimentation here and there is just part of human nature I suppose.

Now the way this particular local newspaper handled their ‘personal’ ads for their clients was as follows; you go down and give them the ad you want published, they publish it, any responses were mailed to them and then you would go down to their office and pick up the responses. This of course was to eliminate the disclosure of anyone’s address or phone numbers and eliminate having to rent a post office box.

Finally after my friend and I agreed to do this, we both spent a day or two composing this infamous ad we were going to publish. Then I was elected to take them down to the newspaper office, pay the fee and do the associated business.

I should add that among other information about the individual responding to the ad contained in the letter you would receive, there would also be a phone number where you could contact them if you so desired to take the introduction any further.

Surprisingly enough it didn’t take all that long for either of us to get responses. This way of doing one’s bidding for dates had to be the ultimate scenario for “blind dates” in my opinion.

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The First Encounter

I read this ladies response and she seemed really nice with a good attitude about the whole “personal ad” thing so after a day or two I gave her a call using the enclosed number in her response. After a half-hour or so conversation we decided to meet at the local Mall at a small restaurant type facility.

We had decided to meet like mid-afternoon so the small restaurant wasn’t crowded. I got there first, sat down in a booth near the front and in a while I noticed a lady walk in who seemed to be looking for someone so I walked over and introduced myself. She was a fairly nice looking lady I guess but there was an immediately noted distraction. I don’t know what bra size comes after triple-D but I’m reasonably sure she was wearing it. She ordered a salad and I think I ordered French fries. Admittedly it was difficult to carry on a conversation with this lady given the fact I had to peer over her breasts to communicate. And you know how women hate men who stare at their breasts. To compound my reservations about her chest size; almost from the beginning of our light meal she had smeared salad dressing on the side of her mouth and never once reached for a napkin. Hello sweetie….we have napkins!!

After finishing our meal we parted company and after getting back home, I accidently on purpose lost her phone number.

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The Second Encounter

The second attempt began in a similar manner as the first with a phone call. We eventually agreed to meet at a particular fountain/rest area at the same Mall as my previous encounter. I had decided no more meals with a total stranger until I had determined they had some measure of table manners.

This time I had gotten with my cohort in crime who had gotten me into this personal ad thing and we contrived a plan. This time we would go to the Mall together and pose as a couple and just hang around near where I was to meet this lady. After checking her out, if she looked reasonably human and civilized, then we would part company and I would proceed with going over and introducing myself.

I remember this meeting place was just outside the entrance to JC Penny so we stood by a table right at the front entrance to the store looking at some various sorts of kitchen ware on sale while I scoped out the loitering women. Finally I spotted what must have been her. My friend said, “Go on – don’t make her just sit there and wait!” Well, I froze in place like a deer in a headlight. It wasn’t as though I had noted any problems (isn’t that a terrible thing to say), it was just that I had lost my nerve. She may have been the grandest female in the Mall, but I bolted and ran, so to speak. My friend, on the other hand, spent the rest of the evening laughing her ass off……Bitch!

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The Last and Final Encounter

I figured the “cut-and-run” incident, tacky as it may have been, was the end of my personal ad escapades. I got one more call from the newspaper saying we had a few more letters so I went down to pick them up. Well, as luck would have it, there was a particular letter that I found quite intriguing. Little did I know it was “pay-back” in disguise.

The response I received was from a lady who really caught my attention for reasons I don’t remember now. I eventually called her and talked with her on the phone and she seemed really nice. Even played tennis which was something I enjoyed doing at the time. We eventually agreed to meet at a local Shoney’s Restaurant (I figured maybe the Mall was bad luck) but we had agreed that we were just going to have coffee and chat.

Well, it actually went fairly well and before we parted she mentioned that some organization she belonged to was having a dance at a local indoor pavilion the following weekend and although it wouldn’t be a date in the technical sense, I was welcome to come and join her and her friends at their table.

I agreed and that Saturday evening I attended the event. Obviously I felt a little awkward and out-of-place not really knowing anyone, including her in a real sense. But as the night wore on and the drinks became more numerous I found myself getting more comfortable and relaxing a bit. As I recall I think I danced with her one time and then eventually started leaning toward the door thinking this was enough stress for one evening. I left, completely sober I might add, and headed home.

The next evening before turning in I thought I would give the lady a call and tell how much I appreciated the invite and how much I enjoyed the evening. That phone call was about to bring my world crashing down around me along with creating a few dark weeks in my life.

As soon as she answered I began my short spiel about the night before and thanking her. After finishing there was this deafening silence on the other end of the phone. I can’t recall her name now but I called out her name and asked, “Are you still there?” She immediately responded with the fact that she could not believe I had the nerve to call her again after what I had said to her the night before on the phone. I questioned her as to what phone call and she said, “Don’t play dumb with me, you know what phone call! The one I got at three o’clock this morning….the obscene one!” At this point I was dumb-founded. What in the world was this woman talking about?

She went on to say she knew it was me that had called and she couldn’t believe the things I was saying on that call. During that conversation I did everything I could to try and convince her it wasn’t me but she was seemingly convinced and the reality was, if she thought it was me I had no way of proving otherwise.

I can’t relate the complete helpless feeling of being accused of something that you were completely innocent of doing. After a couple more phone calls that week and a letter I might add, it was obvious that my pleas of innocence were falling on deaf ears. She was apparently convinced that it was me and there was absolutely no way at all to prove my innocence by any shadow of doubt.

Over the next several weeks feelings of both anger and hurt subsided very little to none. Then one evening the phone rang and it was her calling me…..out of the clear blue. She then related that she and several of the women who had attended the event were having a breakfast together somewhere just the day before and one of the women mentioned getting an obscene phone call the night of the subject event and dance we had attended from a man whose name she happened to know. The woman went on to say that he ended up calling several other of the women who had attended that same event, naming a couple of them she knew personally. Apparently whatever this creep was saying, he had repeated to all the women he had called. So my SWF then said it appeared that she had been wrong. She then went on to say that anytime I wanted to play tennis to just holler – she would love too! I said okay and followed up with a short goodbye. You can’t imagine how angry I was feeling after hanging up from that phone call and her attitude was just to blow if off in a heart beat like it had never happened.

Fact was, after living with this accusation and the associated feelings; it was obvious this woman had no idea what mental anguish she had wrought. There was no way in hell that I could play tennis with this woman, or anything else for that matter. She had gone from being a very possible relationship to an absolute nightmare that would be tattooed on my brain for life!

Forever The End of Personal Ad Relationships

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Although life in the ‘personal ad lane’ has drastically changed from those days, especially with the advent of the Internet, in those days it had been my experience that few people who actually engage in the “personal ad” venture rarely confess their actions. I suppose for some it may be the embarrassment of having to stoop to what they consider some seedy, dark and mysterious level in an effort to secure some measure of companionship. For me it really was more of wanting to experience the unknown of it as compared to being convinced I would perhaps find the love of my life. My three encounters were real enough and I suppose one could find their soul mate via the personal ads – but for me…..well it just wasn’t to be!

As for my friend, well she completely “wussed” out on me by never calling or arranging even one meeting. I think I may have been setting a bad example. The whole experience is a one hell-of-a-way to make a memory, I will say that! 🙁

Veteran’s Day – 2009

Veteran’s Day Observance

Veteran’s Day is the day this country sets aside to honor those who have served this country, both in peacetime and in times of crisis and war. Although it is a day set aside to primarily honor the living, it has also been our tradition to include those veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice in their duty to their country. In that vein, please click on the link below to see a fitting tribute created a few years back from USA Forever.Org……

God Bless Our Veterans

A Wordsmith Moment….

Wordsmith MomentI have always wondered what it would be like to be a ‘wordsmith’ and now I am left pondering the consequences of such mindless meanderings.

Has a word or phrase ever made an exit from your mouth and you have not the slightest idea as to what the word means nor from whence it came? Usually this happens in those moments of intense surprise or pain like hitting your finger with a hammer or getting a paper cut. Some word comes blurting out and sometimes even words of seemingly unknown language or origin.

Case and Point…..

Day before yesterday as I got up from my computer desk I felt a tad bit dizzy so I thought I would quickly check my blood pressure out of curiosity. My tester sits nearby so I grabbed it, wrapped it around my arm and clicked the start button and then immediately after seeing the strangest of readings, 85/64, there comes issuing forth from my mouth this extraordinary vocalized exclamation…..

“Yaba-Laba-Poo-Poo”

Yep…..“Yaba-Laba-Poo-Poo”(pronounced yah buh–lah buh–poo-poo) was the exact word or phrase that flowed forth when I saw the reading . The blood pressure reading was startling enough, but the word seemed to grab my attention even more. “Wow,” I thought, “was that a really, really strange word I just yelled or what!”

Although I am familiar with the term “speaking in tongues” I personally have never experienced the phenomenon. And I have never been associated with any religious group or denomination who subscribes to the speaking in tongues. Nevertheless, I am at a complete loss as to the origin or cause for such a foreign word to spew forth in a moment of extreme anxiety. I am reasonably sure it had no religious significance although when I saw that blood pressure reading I may have briefly caught a glimpse of St. Peter standing at them Golden Gates.

Well, the blood pressure reading was easy to deal with as it turns out. The batteries in my blood pressure checker simply were going dead, like me, and needed replacing. But as to the word the whole experience begat, I fear I am still stuck with that little jewel.

I have made some efforts in translating the word or phrase and have made what I think is some progress with regard to the last half of the word. Certainly the “poo-poo” part of the word must have some inference as to one’s perceived severity of the endured experience. Similar to the phrase, “Boy, am I in deep poo-poo or what!”

But as to the ‘yaba-laba’ part, I remain at a loss. Fred Flintstone use to holler “Yabba-Dabba Doo” a lot but that always seemed to be an exclamation of joyous jubilation and fun. Besides, my word or phrase is both spelled and pronounced differently.

I did consult with Mr. Google with regard to yaba and laba and found that “yaba” could be a Thai word for “crazy medicine” referring to a tablet form of methamphetamine or it could be an acronym used in the popular act of text messaging which means “Yet Another Bloody Acronym”. “Laba”, on the other hand, would seem to be an acronym for either “Long Acting Beta Agonist” which is used in the treatment of asthma or it could mean “Los Angeles Ballet Academy”. None of that made any sense to me whatsoever so for now I am just stuck with my new word…..or phrase or whatever.

At any rate, next time you bang your elbow or spill a glass of whatever in your lap, instead of saying ‘damn it’ or ‘shit’, use my new word….’yaba-laba-poo-poo’ and see if it helps make you will feel a whole lot better! I haven’t copyrighted it as of yet so feel completely free to use it as often as necessary.

By the way, have you ever invented any new words like that?

Are you a dietary creature of habit?

Eating & MealsDropped by Pauline’s blog, Writing Down the Words, this morning where the discussion was about food, eggs in particular, and our individual reactions to the presentation imperfections of food. It’s a really enjoyable post so I recommend you dropping by and giving it a read. Her post got me for some reason thinking about the weekly menu at my house – if I be so bold as to refer to it as such.

I began to wonder if my eating habits themselves were also considerably weird as compared to other folks or if some folks were dietary creatures of habit just as I am. For years, with little variation, I pretty much eat the same things week in and week out. I live alone so I obviously will have a more limited menu than those of you with house mates, spouses or larger families. But a number of you are also single or widowed so you may also have a more limited menu as I do.

For the last four or five years I can honestly say the following dinner/supper menu has been followed week in and week out with only the noted exceptions:

Monday – Fish w/Rice (either catfish fillets or salmon patties)

Tuesday – Open Night (soup or eggs & toast or pancakes – always something quick and easy)

Wednesday – Open Night (same as Tuesday although I often bake myself a batch of pie crust – yep, love the stuff)

Thursday – Steak w/Rice (T-bone or porterhouse or filet mignon or whatever is usually on sale at the store)

Friday – Fried Chicken only (fried wings or fried legs or fried chicken tenders or grilled breasts)

Saturday – Steak w/Rice (same as Thursday)

Sunday – Cornish Hen w/Rice and Gravy (one whole Cornish hen – yum, yum)

Special dishes that may be substituted from time to time in one of the ‘open nights’ if the mood hits me might be a Macaroni and Cheese Casserole, Cube Steak with w/rice and gravy or Pork Chops with w/rice and gravy.

Obviously this menu routine can be interrupted by going out for dinner but normally I don’t eat out but maybe once every two weeks or so. And let me, in my case, emphasize the word routine because this menu of mine never changes, either with regard to content or sequence other than noted above.

I should note that for breakfast I always have one piece of buttered toast (usually rye) and for lunch I usually eat two or three hand full of tortilla type chips. So dinner/supper is my only “real” meal of the day.

So….like me, do you have a ritualized weekly menu or have you been set free to enjoy the many bounties that this earth provides?

The Tenderness of Motherhood….

The tenderness of motherhood exists throughout the world we live and we humans, as well as our animal counterparts, seem to honor and exhibit that tenderness of motherhood in exemplary fashion. A tenderness that is exhibited whether it is…..

Motherhood 1On A Riverbank….

Motherhood 2In The Artic….

Motherhood 3On the African Serengeti….

Motherhood 4In the Oceans….

Motherhood 5In the Jungles of India

Or…..

Motherhood 6At a City Park Near You