Exactly 6 years ago, we first posted the following blog. Today, on New Year’s Eve morning, I was thinking about the first one we spent as a married couple, and think it’s a fitting time to re-visit New Year’s Eve 1979! Hope you enjoy!
In 1979, a little over three months after Susie and I tied the knot at C.W. Post’s Interfaith Chapel, it was time for our first New Year’s Eve together! As a newly married couple, we knew it had to be special. So, what did we do? Well, we attended a private party with some of our closest friends that was held in conjunction with a nationally broadcast event. It was held in a very private and intimate setting on the 8th floor of a Manhattan skyscraper that just happened to have a huge ABC logo on top of it. The truth…I had to work, as did a number of my other ABC friends, and we decided to have a bang-up holiday party on the 8th Floor of the ABC building, while on WABC, Howard Hoffman counted down the top 100 hits of 1979!! Significant others attended, as did some of our ABC friends who weren’t even scheduled to work that night – even our boss! We had a great time with great people, and didn’t leave till we saw the throngs of folks who had endured the ball drop in Times’ Square go down 53rd Street and pass the ABC Building.
There was food, booze, paper hats (courtesy of Susie and the NY Daily News), noise makers, and we were having such a good time, that when Howard’s shift ended at 10PM and we weren’t at #1 yet, he wouldn’t let the next DJ take over, and we continued the countdown. The next DJ (names will be withheld to protect the guilty) sat down and partied with us, and if the truth be told, was rather shit-faced by the time he finally got on the air. We all felt guilty about that, but luckily nothing came of his slightly inebriated air shift, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
So sit back now, and join us in Studio 8A of the ABC Building at 1330 Avenue of the Americas, as 42 years ago Susie and I celebrated our first New Year’s Eve as husband and wife, while Howard Hoffman counts down the top 100 of 1979, brought to you by Casablanca Records and Filmworks!
Wikipedia defines Bluetooth as “a short-range wireless technology standard that is used for exchanging data between fixed and mobile devices over short distances.” The first consumer Bluetooth device was a hands-free mobile headset that was launched in 1999. Those first Bluetooth headsets were large, but as the technology improved, the size dropped until Bluetooth Ear Buds became the norm. They are a great invention, that allow joggers, walkers, people at the beach, and others seeking privacy the perfect tool. No cords or huge headsets to get in the way of your activity, you don’t bother others near you, and small enough to be carried in your pocket when you are done with them. Back in the olden days, when I was still working at WABC, a set of Bluetooth ear buds made my twice daily Long Island Rail Road trips a bit more palatable. They were easy to use, small, and much better than a wired headset. They are indeed a great way to listen to music, podcasts, or the radio, if anyone still listens to the radio!
Then there is their other use…conducting a phone call while connected to your cell phone! I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of having someone at work, on the street, or in a store, say “Hello,” think they were talking to us and respond, only to then discover that they had a Bluetooth ear bud in one or both ears, and were in the midst of a telephone call! Sorry, but people doing that should be forced to wear a sign or some other outwardly obvious indication to those around them that they’re on the phone and that the rest of us should ignore all talk that comes from their mouth! I know that I have been caught multiple times, and frankly it is embarrassing once you are either waved off by the person, or you yourself realize what’s happening. There are also other issues I’ve discovered over the years. Here’s one, from my personal experience.
When WABC Radio moved to 2 Penn Plaza in early 1989 from 1330 Avenue of the Americas, the neighborhood around our new home was very different from what we’d enjoyed at 54th Street and 6th Avenue. Instead of being a block from ritzy Fifth Avenue with stores like Saks, across from the New York Hilton, and blocks from Rockefeller Center, we were now 17 floors above Penn Station and Madison Square Garden in a much older, undeveloped area. Rather than skyscrapers that housed Corporate America, we were across from the ancient Pennsylvania Hotel, 2 blocks from the Macy’s on 34th Street, and surrounded by small buildings with everything from Pizza places to Taxidermy Supply stores as tenants. New York City was a very different place in 1989, and on the average day, 5 people were murdered, there were 9 rapes, and 194 aggravated assaults. Then there was Penn Station in our basement!
The “New” Pennsylvania Station was basically a basement establishment, under 2 Penn Plaza and Madison Square Garden, having taken the place of the beautiful McKim, Mead, and White designed train station in the late 60s. On any given day, Penn Station looked more like a portal to a third world country than a prime transportation hub in New York City. If you came to work too early in the morning, you literally had to step over people, as hundreds (perhaps thousands) of homeless folks used it as a flop house! Many of them were pushed out into the surrounding streets before the commuting day started, but Penn Station was still the home to many of NYC’s best crazies! We joked about it, but there were literally people walking around in tin foils “hats” so nobody (aliens, the CIA, you name the group) could read their thoughts. On a daily basis, I’d see folks giving others furtive looks, yelling at people who were just passing by, and of course, having long animated conversations and arguments with others that nobody else could see! I always said that you could always tell the crazies from the “normal” folks, as the crazies were the ones talking to themselves. Then came Bluetooth ear buds.
In the later years, before I retired in 2016, whenever I’d venture down the 17 floors and take the escalator underground to Penn Station, there were new rules. Now, it was much harder to tell if somebody was nuts or just on the phone. Some of the crazy people were very normal looking, but now, some of the “normal” people acted as crazy as the best of the crazies! Talking in a loud voice to nobody, having explosive arguments with nobody, and making extravagant hand gestures were no longer a clue. They could be crazies, or they could be folks on their cell phones! You decide….
I was prompted to write this blog, when I saw (and heard) a lady walking down our street yesterday as I sat on our front porch in Ocean City. She was all alone, and there was no one around, and yet, she was carrying on an extensive conversation, including using body language for effect! As with my experience long ago at Penn Station…on the phone, or crazy? Remember, when you avail yourself of the latest in technology, the rest of us don’t always know!
For the second time, in way too short a period, I’m writing a blog about the death of a friend. This friend has been in our lives for close to 33 years. A little more than a year ago, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer, and as he has said, from that point on, his life had an expiration date! Sadly, that date came on Wednesday, February 17, 2021.
I first met him in the late spring of 1988, when he was assigned a desk in the hall of the 8th floor of the ABC Building, right outside my studio. He had just moved to New York from California for a new radio gig, and sadly, within weeks of the move, his wife left him. I really liked him and knew he was a real radio guy, and Susie and I tried to involve him in lots of things we had going on in our life. The first fall that he was at WABC we started a bar hopping Saturday around Long Island, and included him. For that first bar hopping experience, we made him take the Long Island Rail Road to Mineola, and then traveled around from bar to bar in our Ford van…in subsequent years, he rented a limo to drive us around in style!
He took us out to dinner at his favorite Italian Restaurant, Patsy’s, on West 56th Street in NYC. We took him to dinner at our favorite Italian Restaurant, Piccolos, on Jericho Turnpike in Mineola. He was a mainstay at our annual Post Holiday Parties in early January, where we crammed 70 or 80 people into our house. He good naturedly complained about the fact the house was crowded and our AC wasn’t on, and about the size of our small bathroom off the kitchen! We had him over to our house for dinner and we were guests for dinner at his apartment in NYC overlooking Central Park. We were guests on two luxury dinner cruises around Manhattan for the staff of WABC, including the first one when we were an hour and a half late, because of NY Marathon traffic, and he said the boat wasn’t leaving till we got there, because we were the main reason for the cruise!
Then there was the weekend when Susie and I were his guests on a trip to Chicago to see Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas Concert at the Chicago theater! We flew out of LaGuardia, stayed in a fancy hotel, had a great pre-show dinner, and then partied with Mannheim Steamroller after the show. It was also on that trip that we got to meet his Mom and his brother, and it was an incredible weekend! We’ve been to multiple parties at the 21 Club, the River Club, and some other incredible venues we would have never been to without his friendship!
Of course, if you talk about incredible experiences with him, I cannot leave out being invited to his fabulous wedding to Kathryn 10+ years ago. What an incredible weekend at the Breakers in Palm Beach, and I cannot talk about that wedding without mentioning being 50 feet away from Elton John in a post-reception concert! Speaking of that wedding, let me tell you a story from that weekend that I’ve used many times when people ask me what he was like. The Rehearsal Dinner was supposed to be outside, but a rain storm forced it to move inside. At one point, Susie and I are standing at a tall table, eating some appetizers, when this other couple we didn’t know came up and asked if they could share the table with us. Talk got around to who we were a guest of, and I said we were friends of the groom, having worked with him when he started his radio show and was unknown in New York. When we asked them, they said they too were from the grooms side, and when I asked how they knew him, the man said, “I used to cut his grass.” This is the kind of man our friend was…he didn’t forget people!
I remember going to meetings before he arrived in New York, talking about his show, but strangely, have absolutely no memory of the first time we met. It’s almost like we had always been friends, and even though he was from the mid-west, and I was born in a borough of New York City, we seemed to have so much in common. We were both Capricorns, having been born in January, ten days, and one year apart (1950 for me, 1951 for him). He grew up with a brother and I grew up as an only child, but we were both children of the 50s, teenagers in the 60s, and became adults in the early 70s. We had a lot of common memories growing up, and talked about our shared Baby Boomer history a lot…and talk we did!
Every morning at the ABC Building, I’d stop by his desk, and we’d chat. When WABC and WPLJ moved to 2 Penn Plaza, above Penn Station, his desk was in a small bullpen area about halfway around the floor, and I was disappointed that he was no longer right outside my studio! I’d still stop by his desk early in the day, before the station started getting populated, and when he moved into an office, our morning chats continued. Although we had differing political views, politics was a subject that was never brought up anytime we ever spoke! It was not the basis of our friendship. One of my favorite memories, concerns the day I stuck my head in his office, and he said, “Come on in!” As I sat down, he told me, “I’m always happy to see your face at my office door, because I know that unlike most of the other people that come into my office, you don’t want anything from me.” I replied, “Just your friendship,” to which he replied, “You know you’ve got that!”
I remember one morning when they were re-building the plaza around 2 Penn, and he told me the following story. Construction had been going on for several weeks, and everyday there was a different way into the building. He’d gotten dropped off on the 7th Avenue side of the building, but couldn’t figure out how to gain entrance to the building. He approached a construction worker and asked, “How the hell do I get in today?” In typical NY Construction Worker fashion, his answer was, “Around the corner fatso!” I couldn’t help myself, and laughed at the story, even though he was kind of put off by the encounter. I encouraged him to tell the story on the air, and he did, pointing out to his listeners that he suffered through the same BS that the rest of us did in our lives!
For many years, I played the character Moe Thacker on his show. Moe was the head of the United Screeners of America, and he described Moe as “Union Thug Moe Thacker.” Usually I’d get a call to come around to Studio 17B when he wanted to talk on the air about something his call screener (the first person you talk to when you want to get on a radio show) had done wrong, and we’d go back and forth while I defended Mr. Snerdly (his made-up name for his screener, James Golden) against his charges. It was always fun and I know he got a kick out of my portrayal!
The last time we saw him, was when we went to dinner at a local Italian restaurant in Palm Beach, Florida in February of 2019. It was a great night, and even though we hadn’t seen him in the flesh in a couple of years, we fell right back into the casual easy relationship we’d always enjoyed. We were honored when he told Susie and I that we were the first people in New York who had opened our home to him, and we told him he was always welcome to our new home in Ocean City.
We knew him before he was anybody. We suffered along with his growing pains, we tried to help with his loneliness in New York City, but then we also celebrated along with him when ultimately, success came his way. He was a good friend, who loved sharing his success with those around him, and one who really got more of a kick out of giving, then receiving! He was one of a kind, and Susie and I count ourselves among the very lucky to have the kind of relationship with him we did!
Frankly, I think I was more shocked on February 3rd of last year, when his wife texted us the news of his Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, then when I found out that the inevitable had happened. Back in a text to me in the middle of March last year, he said, “Frank, it’s Stage 4 Lung Cancer. It’s months – a year if the treatment works.” He knew his time was limited, and that nothing he was going to do was going to change that. He knew his expiration date!
Yes, Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was a good friend of ours, and Susie and my lives were better for having him in it. We have always loved you Rush, and will continue to, and we will cherish the memories we made over the years!
Our sympathies to his wife Kathryn, his brother David and his family, and all that loved him. I’m so sad today that he’s no longer a text away! God speed my friend…
If you have found this blog, you probably realize that I like writing! Thanks to the help of the world’s best Co-Author/Proof Reader/Copy Editor/Spiritual Advisor/Friend/Wife, Susan Lynn D’Elia, we have been able to turn out some pages that I hope you’ve enjoyed. Since we started this blog together in 2016, we have published 219 posts, as we’ve charted Our New Adventures, but this is by no means my first blog.
My first blog, that started back on July 26th, 2010 and was called “Questions and Some Answers” (http://fd3qa.blogspot.com/2010/07/) . In the About Me description, I wrote, “Always a reader and a sometimes writer in search of an audience.”
On September 1st, 2010, in a blog post entitled “What Am I doing Here?”, I attempted to answer the question, “why have I started this blog?” These are some of the things I said in that piece…
“Ever since I was a kid there has been something that fascinated me about being a writer. Perhaps it was because of books I read by authors like John Steinbeck that moved me, or perhaps it was because putting words on paper seemed somewhat easy for me when it wasn’t for others, or perhaps it was from watching the Dick Van Dyke Show and seeing how much fun Rob, Sally and Buddy had in the Writers’ Room on the Allan Brady Show! For whatever reason, I have been a closet writer for a number of years (no…I don’t write about or in closets) and have even sold a couple of items to magazines. I have come up with some great ideas for articles and even written “pitch letters”, started short stories, written some kid’s stories that got my own kids’ seal of approval when they were young, thought about book plots, and even committed some actual words to paper. I started on a Royal Portable typewriter in the last century, moved on to a huge IBM desk top computer and dot matrix printer, and now am on a small laptop. Through the years, I’ve had bursts of activity and turned out the beginnings of some things that seemed to me to be going in the right direction. So why haven’t I done more? If I had to be honest, I’d say it’s because I’m just not committed enough to turn the idea into reality!”
I think that’s an honest evaluation of a situation that really hasn’t changed for me in the 10+ years since I wrote those words! I know, that like anything worthwhile in life, the only way you get better at it is to work hard. As the saying goes, Practice Makes Perfect!
As a hoped for inspiration, I even saved the following quote in my Kindle from Sue Grafton’s novel, U is for Undertow, “Writing’s hard. It’s a skill you attain by practicing. You don’t just dash off good work in your off-hours. You can’t be halfhearted. It takes time. You want to be a concert pianist, you don’t slog your way through Five Easy Pieces and expect to be booked in Carnegie Hall. You have to sit down and write. As much as you can. Everyday of your life.”
I continued that blog through August 24th, 2011, and in a little over a year, wrote 29 posts, for an average of just over 2 posts a month. Then my blogging went on hiatus, till either boredom or some spark of interest, started me on a new path and a new blog. This one, called, “It’s Better Than Working For A Living” (https://fdthird.wordpress.com), was started almost 3 years after my last post in “Questions and Some Answers”, on August 16th, 2014!
In the “About Me” section of this blog’s home page, I wrote, “For over 40 years I’ve made a pretty good living for my family as an audio engineer at various NYC radio stations, but if you asked me what I really wanted to be when I grow up, I’d say “a writer.” I’ve always had a way with words and have been called on many times to help craft a resume, or an application, or even a speech, but this blog is all about me….things I’ve seen, experiences I’ve had, and thoughts on anything and everything. This is about me growing up, and being a writer! Thanks for stopping by….”
Okay, a similar theme from my earlier work…perhaps a little more fleshed out, but the big question how did I handle the blogging this time around? I’m sorry to say that the results were very much the same. I seemed to start out like a house on fire, with multiple stories in the months of August, September, and October! Then in November there was but one post, and then the house burned down! My next active time was 4 months later, in March of 2015, with a single post, and then not again till September when I came up with one new post! My work picked up in December of 2015 when there were 4 posts, but to be honest, some of them may have been reworks of older writings.
Early in January, 2016, I put in my retirement papers at WABC, with the intention of my last day of employment being January 29th, and in that last month at WABC, I wrote and posted 11 blogs about my years at the station. After January, as I moved on to a new life of retirement, the posts dwindled, and although the blog is still “active”, the last post went up in May of 2019, and the reality is that it was just a link to a post in this blog!
Okay, so now I’ve caught you up on my Blogging Career, and taken you back to where you started, at this blog! To complete the circle, when I was setting up this blog, this is what I wrote in the “About” section.
“Welcome to our blog. We are Sue and Frank D’Elia, and we invite you along for the ride as we move into our next chapter, retirement. We have plans for some great new adventures and are excited to be launching both our next chapter and this blog. As the song says, the best is yet to come!!
If you’re one of the stalwarts that’s been along for the ride with us from the beginning, you’ll know that the blog started with a single post in February, 2016, where we set out our history with Road Trips. Then in March, we left the frozen north and ventured to Florida for the first time for an extended stay as retirees! The month of March saw us publish 13 posts, detailing our trip to Florida’s Walt Disney World, Spring Training Games, and ended with a look ahead at what we’d been calling for a long time, Our Big Trip!
Susie and I had been talking about this trip for many years, and early in 2016 started to actually plan it. We had long called it our “Bucket List” trip, to places we’d always wanted to see, but hadn’t. To me, this was the real high spot of my blogging! Through the summer of 2016, I posted about our preparations and about our time in Ocean City, but the real blogging started on August 22, 2016 with a post called “Our Big Adventure, Day One”! For the next 63 days, Ending on October 22nd, exactly 9 weeks since we’d left, having traveled a grand total of 9,773.0 miles, every night, without fail, I sat down in front of my Apple MacBook Air, and I wrote something about what we’d done that day. In that blog on day 63 of the trip, I wrote the following:
“One thing I have always wanted to be was a writer. I’ve dabbled here and there over the years, and many have told me that I am good at it, but what a writer needs to do is to write! For the past 9 weeks, this blog forced me to sit down in front of the computer every night and write something. If you’ve been with us for the whole ride, you know that some nights it was the last thing I wanted to do, but I did it. For 9 weeks (even on the cruise) grabbing the MacBook Air, and punching away on the keys for a half hour or more every day, has been a way of life for me. It’s become part of my routine, which was very good for me, and it’s something I hope to continue. I may not post every day, but I hope to write something every day. I know that I will be updating this blog on a pretty regular basis, because heck, now that we are both retired, Our New Adventures are just starting out!”
Did I do it? Well, unfortunately if you look back at the archive of this blog, you will see that after I wrote that last Bucket List Trip post on 10/22/16, I wrote one more that month, and then didn’t publish another blog till February of 2017, so the answer is a big NO! As I look through the rest of the archives, I see that pattern repeating over and over again. Have a trip, or holiday, or occasion that almost demands a blog piece be written, and it’s followed up by a month or more of blogging silence! In the entire just ended year of 2020, I wrote a total of 15 posts, obviously not following Sue Grafton’s advice, “You have to sit down and write. As much as you can. Everyday of your life.”
Look, I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, and honestly I don’t remember making one that even lasted beyond my January 2nd birthday, but I’m going to try one on for size in 2021. As we work our way through the second week of the new year, I am going to pledge that at the very minimum, I’ll publish one new blog post per week in 2021. That means a minimum of 52 posts during 2021, and hopefully many more! This blog has lasted longer than any of the others that I’ve started, but the only way I’m going to get close to fulfilling my “writing desire,” is to write! I’ve already published 3 blogs in January, so I hope I’m off to a good start! I trust my co-conspirator Susie will hold my feet to the fire, as will you, my faithful readers….all 4 of you!
So there you go. As we go forward in 2021, I hope that I won’t disappoint you and that I live up to my resolution! If I write something that peaks your interest, or perhaps moves you in some way, let me know via the comments section of the blog or on Facebook. As I said back in October, 2016:
“Over the course of the past nine weeks, we have heard from you in various ways, and I know that a number of you have been with us every day, since we started back in August. I heard from some of you when I was not in any mood to write the blog, and said so. It was your encouragement, and just knowing that you were reading the words that I was writing, that made it easier for me to sit down every night, and compile a record of what we’d done that day. It would have been very easy for me to have ended this blog in week three or four, and chalk this up as just another one of the many uncompleted writing projects I’ve done in my life, were it not for knowing that there were people waiting to see what our day on the road had been like. So to those of your who reached out to us, and let us know you were in the back seat of the Sonata, whether from start to finish, or just for a day or two here and there, thank you…..it never would have gotten completed without you. Knowing that people were reading it, were commenting own Facebook or on the WordPress site, and were enjoying our travels, made all the difference.”
I guess the bottom line is exactly the same as how I described myself in that early blog, “a sometimes writer in search of an audience.”
Early in 1976, WHN Radio negotiated and signed a new contract with Local 1212 of IBEW. Because the WHN Transmitter in East Rutherford, NJ had recently been unmanned, the contract called for a reduction of 2 members of the Engineering Department. The contract detailed a generous separation pay of one year’s salary, along with one year of medical benefits, as well as the ability for those leaving to collect NYS Unemployment Insurance. One of the older guys in the department took the “buy out”, but when no one else was interested in leaving the department, after 4 years at the station, and being on the lowest rung of the seniority ladder, I was tapped to take the “buy out”. The one year of salary for me came to a figure somewhere in the mid $20,000, and what did I do with it? Well, I bought a boat!
For somewhere around $10,000, I traded in my 17 foot bow rider outboard for a brand new 1975 Wellcraft 21 foot Weekender. With a Ford 302 V/8 and an outdrive, a small cabin with two bunks, a place for a “head”, and a cockpit table, the boat was what kept me busy from my separation date in the early spring of 1976, till I started at WABC in August. It was a lot of fun setting up the boat at Coastwise Marine in Westport, Connecticut, and then when the weather turned to “boating weather”, getting a handle on running my new boat up and down the Saugatuck River, and in Long Island Sound! I was 26 years old, had money in the bank, a year of health insurance, and time on my hands. I immersed myself in the nautical way of life! In addition to buying and working on the boat, I took a Coast Guard Reserve Small Boat course, and joined a Nautical Book of the Month Club!
My book choices included things like Chapman Piloting: Seamanship & Small Boat Handling, Bowditch’s American Practical Navigator, as well as other useful books in my endeavor to master the act of running my small boat. There were also books about adventures people were having in small boats, and one of them that I still remember to this day was Lin and Larry Pardey’s Cruising in Seraffyn. The book told the story of Seraffyn, their wooden 24-foot engineless cutter and and how Lin and Larry built her with the hope of setting off for a few months of true freedom in spite of their limited finances. Their few months turned out to be a lifetime of sailing around the world, but that first book also turned out to be a carefully thought-out guide to living aboard a small boat, with fun and good seamanship as guiding principles. It was a true love story of Lin and Larry and a boat named Seraffyn, and the life it gave them!
I was captivated with the story and their adventures of first building, then launching, and ultimately cruising in Seraffyn. I was so captivated that when I was finished with the book, I wrote Lin and Larry a “fan letter” and sent it to them care of their publisher! About 6 months later, one day in the mail, I received a very obviously foreign Air Mail letter that was postmarked from Spain. It turned out that their publisher had forwarded my letter to them, and had it had finally caught up with them in Spain. The letter I got was from Lin, and she told me how happy they were to get my letter and that it had showed up at just the right time. Turns out they were in the midst of re-writing the follow up book called Seraffyn’s European Adventure. They’d had a particularly tough day, trying to work through some re-writes that their editor had asked for, and were at the breaking point. They really wondered if it was worth all the work, and if anyone cared. Then my letter showed up in the mail! Lin thanked me to expressing just what they needed to hear….to know that there was an audience out there in the literary world that cared about their life aboard Seraffyn, and that the work they were struggling with was indeed worth it. I treasured that letter and my connection with these two people, and in the end, I was very happy that I’d taken the time to write them and to encourage their continued effort to share their story with the rest of us.
The reason this memory came back to me, and I’m writing this now is because at the end of August, I was very sad to read in the NY Times that Larry Parday had died at the age of 80. During his lifetime, he had circumnavigated the world twice on wooden boats he had built, and along with his wife Lin, had told the tail of the life they lived. They were an incredible couple, led an extraordinary life, and were an inspiration to many, including a 26 year old between jobs with a new boat, and a love of a good sea tale!
Thank you Lin and Larry for your spirit of adventure. I hope the warm memory of their shared 55 year adventure will sustain Lin as she moves forward in life. Thank you for living the life many only dream about, and for connecting with me all those many years ago via that thin air mail stationary that contained your kind words of thanks. I have never forgotten you, or your letter!
Fair Winds and Following Seas sir, and thank you for sharing a life well lived with us!
As we get older, we lose many things that hold importance to us.It may be a favorite restaurant, a store we loved, a house we lived in, or even a car.In the same way, as we get older, we lose people that have places of importance in our lives.I’ve lost my Mom and Dad, my Father-in-Law, Aunts and Uncles, Friends, and people I’ve worked with.Today, another person joins those ranks, as last night in Florida, Dan Ingram died at the age of 83. If that name means nothing to you, then you didn’t grow up in and around NYC, or you’re not one of my radio friends.You see, Dan was the afternoon DJ on America’s Most Listened to Radio Station, Musicradio 77 WABC, and is counted by most as one of a handful of the best DJs in America during the era of Top 40 Radio.
I was fortunate that my first 6 years at WABC were the last 6 years of Musicradio.Most afternoons of those 6 years, I could be found on the board in WABC’s Studio 8A, working on Dan’s Show. Those 6 years were the best of the 40 I spent at WABC, in no small part because of my experiences during those afternoons I spent with Dan. The lessons I learned, the laughs we had, and being accepted as a part of Dan’s life, are memories I will treasure forever!
Four years ago, when I started my Radio Stories blog, one of the first stories I wrote was about Dan.Copied below is that edition of, It’s Better Than Working For A Living:
“Radio Stories….Dan Ingram – August 18, 2014
I have been very fortunate in the 42 years that I have been an Engineer in New York Radio to work with some of the very best people in the business. In fact, if I started a list of the DJs, talk hosts, and programmers I’ve been lucky enough to work with, and for, it would be a “Who’s Who” list of the best in New York Radio over the past 40 years. While I’m telling stories here, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about some of these great pros. So here goes…… Might as well start with someone who most folks would have at the top of their Top 10 lists of all time great DJs, and that would be Dan Ingram.
Like most kids who grew up in the New York area, I had listened to Dan a lot since he started at WABC in July of 1961. The first time I met Dan as a WABC employee, was probably the second week I worked at WABC, in August of 1976. Like most new hires in the Engineering Department back then, I started on the overnight. It was slower and easier to get your feet wet in the middle of the night, and since you were still working on the air at WABC and WPLJ and doing news production, you got exposed to everything that a Group 2 NABET engineer would do on the 8th floor. Working on the overnight was also a way to size up the new hires, and to make sure they were solid enough to work the rest of the day parts. After a couple of days on the overnight, I started slowly moving around the day parts until about 7 or 8 days into my time at WABC, I found myself working with my training engineer on Dan’s show. On the day I started at WABC (Sunday, August 8, 1976), they started destructing Studio 8A, the main air studio to build a new studio, and we were working out of Studio 8B which Dan and others called “the trailer”. That’s because it was the same length as 8A, but was only about one quarter of the width. So anyway, I had just finished up working an hour or so with Ron Lundy with good results, so it’s decided I’m going to stay on the board. In the last record of the hour, Ron packs up his gear and Dan comes in, and just before he sits, he extends his right hand across the over bridge and says, “Hi, I’m Dan Ingram” to which I reply, “I know”. Snappy come back, huh?
One of my Dan Ingram stories happened 4 years before that fateful day, when I first met him in 1976. In the spring of 1972, I got hired in my first NY Radio job as an audio engineer at WHN radio, and after initial training, most days I worked the afternoon shift, which started at 4 PM. As I wasn’t that far out of college yet, a lot of days I would spend the morning and early afternoons out at WCWP, the CW Post radio station. A little before 2, I’d hop into the car and drive into Queens to take the subway to WHN at 400 Park Avenue. Well of course, even though I worked at WHN, my car radio was set to WABC and I’d get to listen to 30 or 40 minutes of Dan’s show before I got to the subway in Forest Hills. As always, Dan had some funny comment about the titles of the songs he played, often times a change of meaning from what the song writer had in mind. So I’d listen to Dan on the way to work, and then later that same day, I’d be on the air with Jack Spector at WHN. During the first 6 months or so I worked at WHN, we played a kind of middle of the road soft WNEW type format, and some of the new records we played were the exact same records that were being played on WABC. Many times Jack Spector would schedule a record that I’d just heard Dan talk up on my way into the city. Unconsciously, I’d hit Jack with the comment that Dan had made in his intro, and on many occasions what I’d just said would come out of Jack’s mouth as he introed the song! I realized that I was the unintentional vehicle through which Jack Spector was stealing from Dan Ingram, which caused me to stop listening to Dan on my way to work! Luckily, less than 6 months after I started at WHN, we flipped to a country format, so that issue no longer existed, and I was back to listening to Dan on my way to work! As far as I know, no one but me ever realized what was happening….
On July 3rd, 1981 Dan Ingram celebrated his 20th Anniversary on WABC, and I, along with George Musgrave, were the two guys scheduled to engineer the show, and I even got a shout out when he was on the air with Cuzin Brucie! WABC News Man Rick James had done a lot of prep on things that had happened in the world during the 20 years, plus we had audio clips of highlights of his past 20 years at WABC, lots of phone guests scheduled, and a big selection of the music that Dan had played during the 20 years. We had a great time that afternoon, enhanced I’m sure because that July 3rd was a Friday, and a company holiday because July 4th fell on a Saturday that year, and WABC was empty! (Yes….remember back to the days that even big stars like Dan Ingram worked 6 day weeks and holidays?). The show was a wonderful look back at Dan’s career at WABC and how he got there, but it was also a great look back at the history of one of the world’s greatest radio stations, Musicradio 77 WABC! There was the British Invasion, the W A Beatle C period, the great DJs like Cuzin Brucie and Scott Muni, transit strikes, snow storms, black outs, old jingles and the music. We had a great afternoon, and really, a party on the air. and in 8A, as the only people on the floor, were the operations folks that day. Little did we know that by the next July, WABC Musicradio would be replaced by WABC Talkradio, and our time working with the likes of Dan Ingram would be over!
20 years later, on July 3rd, 2001, on the 40th Anniversary of his debut on WABC, Dan was a guest on WABC’s John Gambling Show, which I was also the engineer for. I talked to Dan on the phone that day just before he went on the air, and it was fun to let him know about that little bit of trivia that I’d engineered both his 20th anniversary AND his 40th anniversary on WABC!
Of course, what everybody remembers about Dan was the Ingram wit. Even if you didn’t get to listen to his whole show, catching the show open and the show close became the first instance of appointment radio for many in the New York Metropolitan area! He was a fast thinker and a funny thinker, and much of what came out of his mouth was not planned, and certainly not scripted. Take his closes for instance. During the 6 years I worked with him, often times I’d be on the board as his close approached. A lot of days he’d be looking for a topic to have fun with over this closing music, and I was lucky enough to have a suggestion that he liked, and was the beneficiary of several Ingram closes. Like in 1977, when I was still a VR and got a letter in mid December that I was to be laid off on Christmas Eve…that became an Ingram close. Or the day after Thanksgiving one year, when driving into the ABC Building, I hit a pot hole on the LIE and lost a wheel cover…that became an Ingram close. Or on September 29th, 1980, when I told him that a year ago we’d both been at my wedding….Susie and my first anniversary became an Ingram close that day!
Funny things just came out of Dan’s mouth and they did it with very little effort, and once they were out, they were forgotten…like his intro from Neil Diamond’s Holly Holy, which I remember him subtitling on the radio, as “The story of a religious carburetor”. Anytime I hear that record I remember that phrase, and so in 1980 I’m sitting on the board in 8A, and Dan puts Holly Holy on the overbridge as the next record to play, and I say, “Oh, the story of a religious carburetor”. Dan says to me, “Hey, I like that. Can I use it on the air?” To which I replied, “Why not…I stole it from you a long time ago!” Dan didn’t have a set of cue cards, or a reference library that he’d go back to, or a Rolodex loaded with his best lines. He was funny, and once he said something that many of us will always remember, it was out of his head! I will remember this line for the rest of my life, but on that day in 1980 when I said it back to him, he had no clue that it had originated with him!
The last time I saw Dan was on a dinner cruise WABC sponsored to mark the 25th Anniversary of switching from music to talk in 2007. It had been a long time since we sat across the board from each other in Studio 8A at the ABC Building and I went up to him and said, “Mr. Ingram, I don’t know if you remember me. I’m Frank D’Elia and I used to be your Engineer at WABC.” Not only did he remember, me but said something that I will always treasure. “Frank”, he said, “you were one of the smartest engineers I ever worked with. I had no idea why you were doing the job, but I know that every time you walked through the door into 8A, I was happy you were.” Yea, nice to know that the best DJ most of us will ever get to hear, thought I was one of the best engineers he’d ever worked with. I’ll take that!
Listen to a couple of classic Dan Ingram show closes that I was involved in:
After this was posted 4 years ago, my friend Dan Taylor from WCBS-FM made sure that Dan saw the blog.I got a lovely email back from Dan, telling me he loved the post, and still had fond memories of our time together at WABC.Thanks Dan, for facilitating one more Dan Ingram thrill!
If you’ll indulge me a little more, I’d like to share a couple of other stories.
One afternoon, working the 4-Midnight shift, I was assigned to 8A from 4:15 to the end of Dan’s Show.Being blessed with the ability to sense the vibes of a room when I walked in, I knew something was not right.After I relieved the other Engineer, I asked Dan what was up.“The damn transmitter keeps dumping”, he replied.I knew that having the WABC Transmitter repeatedly dump during the Dan Ingram Show was definitely not something that ABC wanted, and I understood Dan’s pissed off attitude.We played a couple of songs, and the transmitter continued to dump and come back.As we approached a spot break I asked him, “do you want to not play the commercials?”Figuring that if the transmitter dumped during a spot, we’d owe that client a make good.Dan’s reply…”Fuck Em…Play the spots.Nobody gives a damn, till you start costing them money”.I can not tell you how many times in my 40 years at WABC I repeated that sage advice to younger members of the staff, courtesy of Dan Ingram!
During the time I worked with Dan, I was pleased to have him share several personal moments with us. Dan was at our wedding when Susie and I got married, and at several parties we had at our home. At one of our parties, he came with his then current wife, who was somewhat younger than Dan.Another guest at that party, was my friend Louie Perianno, who I worked with at WHN, who was a HUGE Dan Ingram fan!He made me promise to introduce him to Dan, and I assured him I would.One problem when you are a radio person and go to a party with other radio folks, is your significant other ends up having nobody to talk to.Lou’s wife Susie was in that situation, and hooked up with another woman about her age, who said that her husband worked with me at WABC, and found herself in a similar situation. After talking for sometime, the woman’s husband returned and his wife introduced him to Susie, and the three of them continued their conversation.When Louie returned, it was Susie Perianno and not me, who introduced Louie to his idol, Dan Ingram!Dan was a regular guy, who liked to have a good time!
Like the Christmas Eve a couple of years ago, when George Michael died, I am torn today between being sad, and being happy for the memories I have of working with someone who wasacknowledged as one of the best DJs of all time, and who thought I was pretty special too!I’ve often said that everybody in radio has an ego, and to be Dan Ingram, you had to have a huge one. But his was not a destructive ego, it was an ego that embraced those of us who worked with him, and who were accepted into his group of favorite folks to work with.The six years I was lucky enough to work at Musicradio 77 WABC were the best of my 40 at WABC, and I will never forget them.
As I said on Facebook someplace today, the great thing about memories is that nobody in them gets old.For me, I will always remember my friend Dan Ingram, during the late 70s and early 80s at WABC…The Most Listened to Station in the Nation!!Thank you Dan for all you did for radio, for all the folks you influenced to have a career in the business, and for being my friend!I will always love you!God Speed my friend!Heaven’s radio station, just got a whole lot better today!!
Welcome to Darien, Georgia! We traveled through North Carolina, South Carolina, into Georgia today. The day started cloudy and then the rains came, and that was with us for the first half of our journey. By the time we finished today’s 425 miles, and pulled into tonight’s Quality Inn, we’d made a stop at Georgia Peach World to buy some Peach products, the sun was shining and the temperature was in the high 70s! As I said yesterday, we’ll follow the sun. While Darien is like so many other towns along I-95, this is not our first visit here. Let me tell you about the first time we stopped in Darien.
Shortly after I retired from WABC at the end of January, 2016, we came up with the idea to head down and see a couple of the Met’s SpringTraining games in Florida. We figured it would be a good way to get away from the cold for a couple of weeks, and along the way, I could use my Disney Retiree Benefits (there will definitely be more about those in future posts). So without any particular plan, we left Long Island, and ended up stopping after dark, somewhere in Virginia. When we woke with snow blowing under the door, into the room the next morning, we decided that we’d stop earlier the next day.
A Comfort Inn in Darien, Georgia, stopping long before dark, was our destination for day two of our journey. As we usually did, we made a couple of drinks, and sat down to try and figure out where to have dinner. We’d passed a Ruby Tuesday as we got off I-95, plus there were a lot of fast food choices between the highway and our hotel, so it looked like we had lots to pick from.
We were in the middle of our research, when I got a Facebook message with a recommendation for us. I’d worked with WABC Account Executive Abe Goren for years, till he retired a couple of years before I did. We’d had hours of conversations over the years, and how could I not love a friend who in my 60s, still called me “kid”. Abe said he’d seen on Facebook that we were in Darien, and if we wanted a great fried shrimp dinner, we needed to go to B & J’s Steaks and Seafood. We found it on the map, and took Abe’s advice.
We followed the directions and found ourselves in an industrial area, where everything was closed for the day. Then, up ahead, we saw a low building surrounded by cars. Yep, this was the place. It was small, the parking lot was crowded, and we had a substantial wait for a table. Turned out, it was well worth it. We had the most incredible fried shrimp dinner we have ever had. Fresh, perfectly cooked, incredible portions, at a great price! It was a real down home place, and one we promised ourselves we’d be back at again!
So, last year, when we again headed to Florida, guess where we spent night two? Yep, in Darien, Georgia, so we could once again eat at B&J’s Steak and Seafood, and have the most memorable plate full of shrimp!! I thanked Abe once again for the recommendation, and he told me that their fried chicken was as good as their shrimp. So guess what…day two of this year’s trip to Florida, and we’re once again staying in Darien! We decided to go early tonight as it’s a Saturday. There were people all over the place, we put our name in at 4:45 and they called us at 6:26. They were busy!
The parking lot was full, as were the benches!
Was it worth it? Oh yea! Take a look, and see what you think!
Oh, and by the way…guess where we’re stopping in early March on the way back north. Perhaps we’ll be able to order the fried chicken this time!
Susie and I woke in Nancy and Mike’s bedroom a little after 7, and decided to catch a shower before starting our day. We exited the bedroom a little after 8, and went outside to sit in the beautiful Texas morning with Mike. The weather was perfect, and we talked about the kind of weather, and seasons they experienced in El Paso. Mike told us about the 9 inch snow fall they’d had last year, and about the cold mornings and warm afternoons, that were the norm for winter in El Paso. Pretty soon Nancy joined us, and when it was established that nobody really wanted breakfast, we sat around for a couple of hours, talking.
I’m not quite sure what Nancy and Susie were talking about, but Mike and I talked a lot about the old days at WABC, and about things we both remembered happening when we worked there, and how retirement was going. We also had lots of discussions that the 4 of us participated in, talking about kids, life expectations, travel, and just about everything that came into anyone’s mind. Then Nancy suggested that we take a ride and let them show us around El Paso. Sounded like a good idea, so we all grabbed what we needed, and headed out to the car.
By this time (around noon) the temperature had risen, and I’m not going to say it wasn’t hot, but the lack of humidity does make it a lot easier to take than a hot day in New York! We drove through their part of town (they live on the West Side of El Paso), and they showed us some incredible houses, and great views. Then we went past the University, and saw some of downtown El Paso. The Rocky Mountains, that we drove over three weeks ago, and that have been so much a part of our travels since then, end in El Paso, and as we drove up Rim Road, around the very end of the chain, we had some great views of the city below, and views across the Rio Grand into Mexico.
The Southern End of the Rockies
It’s amazing to be so close to Mexico, and to stop at a scenic overlook, and clearly see the tall fence that separates our country from their’s. We also saw the Border Patrol Agent that sits there all day (and probably night) in his car, watching for folks that might be trying to get over the approx. 10 foot tall fence! The difference between what you see on the US side of the border, and what of Mexico you can see are quite a contrast. Big buildings, highways, and lots of cars on the US side, and small buildings and what looked liked dirt roads on the Mexican side.
After our tour, the decision was made to go out for lunch, and then to just have some sandwiches at their house for dinner. We decided to go the PF Changs , and the four of us had a very nice meal, and of course, lots more conversation. Then it was time to get back to the house, so that Nancy could drop of Mike and me, so she could take off with Susie. You see, Nancy had been able to score a 4 PM appointment with her hairdresser, to get Susie a trim, and thereby solving a dilemma Susie had, about what to do about her hair on the trip. After the girls left, Mike and I sat down in the living room, and guess what…we talked some more! Like I said yesterday, it’s like the past 30+ years that we haven’t been in contact, hadn’t happened, and it was just two old friends talking about anything and everything!
When the girls returned (lovely hair Susie…nice job Nancy), Mike again started up the blender, and there were more margaritas on the horizon. This time, the four of us sat in their back yard, and although it was warmer than it had been that morning, it was still a really nice late afternoon. We sat there talking (gee…big surprise, huh?) till Mother Nature treated us to a beautiful sunset, and then Nancy decided it was time to eat.
What a great idea, to have a nice lunch and then eat a sandwich later. Really something we should do more often. Thanks Nancy for coming up with the idea, and supplying great sandwich fixings to boot! After dinner clean up, the four of us adjourned to their lovely living room, and the conversation continued till about 11, when we all went off to bed!
When we got up and out this morning, Mike was alone, as Nancy and Sammy had journeyed to the Dog Park, and some fun for the four legged kids, and conversation for their Moms. No strangers to conversation, we joined Mike in the back yard, and converse we did! When Nancy got home, she proceeded to assemble a great ham and egg breakfast for us all, and over good food, with good friends, we had more great conversation. As our time with our friends came close to ending, we realized that it really didn’t matter if we did big things, went for a ride, or just sat around their pool. The conversation flowed, and it was obvious the four of us were very comfortable, and frankly, that’s something that doesn’t always happen. Susie and I are so glad that we reconnected with Nancy and Mike, so glad that they asked us to stay with them, and so happy to find that a great relationship still exists!
It was with much sadness that we left their house, and it was with lots of hugs, promises to stay in better touch with each other, and the hope of Susie and I, that our two good friends can journey to Ocean City, and be our guests at the beach next summer. I’m sure that if this two days proved anything, next time we all get together, there will be lots of great conversation!
So off we went to Interstate 10, and the 4 hour or so trip to where we find ourselves tonight, Fort Stockton, Texas. Our whole trip was on Interstate 10, and at first we thought we were looking at a 5 hour trip, but then realized that before we got to Fort Stockton, we passed another time zone, Right now we are back on the Central Time, so suddenly we lost an hour of our day. The advantage we had of gaining that hour, when we crossed into a new time zone from east to west, is evaporating as we go back east, and very quickly it was 6:30 PM! Susie had planned to do some laundry tonight, and we were fortunate again that the facility was on our floor. The only problem was that as the washing and drying went on, the time got later. Our solution tonight? Well, as the drying cycle was in progress, we ran out to a McDonalds that was down the road, and picked up Two All Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles, Onions, on a Sesame Seed Bun. Yes, two Big Macs! We wondered if anyone not our age can recite that jingle? Not a gourmet meal, but something we haven’t had in months, that was quick, and satisfying. Had we waited till after the clothes were dry, we probably wouldn’t have gotten to a restaurant till after 8, so this worked tonight for us!
As I write this, it’s after 10 PM, but since we just changed from Mountain to Central time, its not that late for us. The good news is that I’m all caught up, and back on track with the blog. That’s good, but as we ship out on the Liberty of the Seas a week from tomorrow for 2 weeks, I realize it won’t be the last interruption of this blog before we drive back to New York. Still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do, but fear there will be an interruption again, but as that’s still 7 days away, let’s just have fun in the present, and not worry about it.
Tomorrow we start 3 nights in San Antonio. The River Walk, the Alamo, and a fun time for all…I hope! See you tomorrow!
If you have been following along faithfully, back on Wednesday, when I posted Day Thirty Two, I mentioned at the end of the blog, that we were staying with our friends Nancy and Mike in El Paso, Texas for the next two nights, and there might be limited internet access. Well, there was, but not like we had limited internet in Yellowstone…this time we were just having too much fun to worry about a blog. More on that later!
We woke on day 33 in Roswell, New Mexico, having not been abducted or in any way harmed by aliens. I guess it must be a lot of BS, because the only aliens we saw were pictured on the advertising signs of various businesses on the main street! We were staying in a brand new, and beautiful Comfort Suites, and although the room was lovely, the breakfast room left a lot to be desired. The chairs looked like they had been through years of service, and were covered with butter, cream cheese, and other stains we didn’t want to think about. We couldn’t help but wonder why such a beautiful, new, and generally well appointed hotel, had chairs that looked like they’d been through the mill! Oh well, perhaps they ran out of money!
The day started after leaving the hotel with a stop for at a self-service car wash, for a quick cleaning of the outside of the car (you’ll see how useless that was), and then to fill the Sonata up with gas. After those two brief stops, we were out of town, and on our way to White Sands National Monument.
The drive was more up and down, and at one point Susie was driving and exclaimed, “Are we ever going to stop climbing?” The next thing we passed was a sign stating Elevation 8300 feet! We continued on our way, on a rather unremarkable road towards White Sands. One interesting thing was a sign we passed on Route 70. White Sands National Monument is a small part of the White Sands Missile Range, and when they do tests at the range, they close the road so no one is close to where perhaps there could be debris, should something go wrong. It is a test, after all!
We drove a little more on 70, and came to the White Sands National Monument. We went into the Visitor’s Center, looked at the exhibits, and watched a movie. I have to say, that it was’t the best Visitor Center we’ve seen, and the bathrooms were way below the usual, US Park Services usual condition and cleanliness standards, but they did serve their purpose. Then we headed towards the 17 mile Loop Drive.
My first disappointment, when we pulled up to the entrance station was that IT WASN’T MANNED! Damn..no one to show my Senior Pass to! The second disappointment, was the first 2 or 3 miles of the Loop. We were driving at 45 MPH through low vegetation, and although you could see that the “ground” under the vegetation was white, I thought, “Is this all there is?” Well, it turned out that it wasn’t! Very soon, we came to a sign that said Pavement Ends..drive with caution! The text thing we knew, were were driving on the sand, and it was truly a magical world we had entered!
For folks like us from the North East, for all practical purposes, it looked like snow! So white and pristine, it looked like that first drive you take after the snow stops, and before the the beautiful white snow turns dirty and gray! Not only did it look like snow, but it was very obvious that they plow the “road” to keep it open! The thing that really didn’t track with what you were seeing, was the folks out and about were in shorts and t-shirts! Well, it may have looked like snow, but it was 94 degrees at the time, so even dressed as they were, I’m sure they were hot! Of course, you’re driving on sand, so that car wash I did in Roswell was $2.75 ill spent! Of well, who knew exactly what we were going to see?
After that it was time to head south, out of New Mexico and into the great state of Texas. We drove into it late in the afternoon of Thursday, September 22nd, and the Sonata will live in Texas till at least October 17th (I say the Sonata, because for two weeks from October 2nd till the 16th, Susie and I will be in the Caribbean on the Liberty of the Seas, but the Sonata will still be in Texas waiting for us). We exited New Mexico, after 5 nights, at Las Cruces on Interstate 25, heading to El Paso, and our friend’s Nancy and Mike’s house!
The Mike I’m talking about is Mike McKay, who was one of the last DJs on Musicradio 77, WABC in the early 80s. Mike and I worked together a lot, both doing music shows, doing field interviews (our notorious Kenny Rogers interview at the Meadowlands), and baby sitting the NY Yankees games on WABC. When the station went talk, Mike stayed on to do Staff Announcer work (commercials, promos, etc), but he had gotten in radio to be the guy on the air, and he left to pursue that. In the years since WABC, Mike, his wife Nancy, and their daughter Erin have lived the “itinerant DJ life” (Mike’s words), Working in places like Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Detroit, as Mike plied his craft as a DJ, and 19 years ago, they landed in El Paso. He first worked at KSET-FM, and later KOFX-FM, and in 2004, Mike became a part owner and Morning Show Host on 101 Gold, just up the road in Las Cruces. That’s what he did, till he retired earlier this year.
We followed the GPS as it took us off the interstate, through commercial areas of El Paso, into their neighborhood, and I will admit that Susie and I had a little trepidation. We hadn’t seen Mike and Nancy for over 30 years, and although they had graciously insisted that we cancel our hotel reservation, and stay with them for 2 nights, we wondered how comfortable the 4 of us would be together (they probably wondered the same thing). We pulled into they driveway, got out of the car, and as we headed towards their front door, the first member of the family we met was Sammy, their adorable little dog, who had hopped out of his doggy door, and came to greet us!
We rang the doorbell and Nancy and Mike came and greeted us. Handshakes and hugs were exchanged (Mike and I hugged, while Nancy and Susie shook hands), and they invited us inside. The first thing that happened was we got a tour of their lovely house, found out that they were giving us their bedroom for the two nights, and then Mike started the blender and whipped up frozen margaritas. This relationship showed great promise. Drinks in hand, we adjourned to their lovely backyard, which has a pool and ultimate privacy. In minutes, it was like the last 30+ plus years had not happened, and we were all much younger, having fun in their old house in Malvern, Long Island! At one point, Nancy and Mike went in separate directions to make dinner preparations, and Susie looked at me and said, “this is good…very good.”, and it was.
We had our first home cooked meal in close to 5 weeks (Filet Mignon, Twice Baked Potatoes, Broccoli, and Bernaise sauce for the steaks), and it was a wonderful night of food, conversation, and great friendship (and semi frozen Margaritas). We sat around the dining room table talking till almost midnight, when the 4 of us realized we’d better get to bed. As our heads hit the pillows, and we drifted off to sleep, we had visions of a wonderful day with Nancy and Mike. Stay tuned for Day Thirty Four, and more of our adventure in El Paso!
So, as we say good-bye to our second full day at Walt Disney World, I have to admit that I am conflicted. On one hand, I have a strong hatred towards Disney/ABC, because 8 years ago, CEO Bob Iger (himself a product of the American Broadcasting Company), decided that ABC Radio was not a core business of the Disney Company. That started a chain of events that saw WABC and all the ABC O&O radio stations, as well as the ABC Radio Network, being sold to Citadel Broadcasting. After spending 2.7 Billion Dollars for us, Citadel ultimately went bankrupt, which then saw Cumulus Media “merging” with the bankrupt Citadel. That meant we now worked for Cumulus, a company run by two brothers who ultimately burdened Cumulus with so much debt, that the stock dropped to pennies, and is now in jeopardy of being delisted by the stock exchange. Can you say history being repeated? So, the last 8 years have not been kind to WABC, many of the people who were a part of our work family, and my personal sanity.
Now on the other hand, 8 years ago, when Disney decided to send the ABC Radio stations into oblivion, I had worked for the company long enough that I was able to “retire”. That meant that although I would continue to work for WABC for 8 more years, I was able to start collecting my ABC/NABET pension, and was considered on the books as an official Disney Retiree.
And what does that mean, you may ask. Well, it means that as a Disney Retiree, Susie and I have a lifetime Main Gate Pass.. That means that we can get 4 people into any of the parks around the world for free! Yes, I said for free! It also means that we can reserve a room at a Disney property for half off the going rate. Right now, we are staying the Port Orleans French Quarter for a rate that is comparable to staying at a Best Western on the side of an interstate anywhere else in Florida. But wait, I’m not done yet…as they like to say on infomercials. Then there are the discounts. At present, we get 35% off merchandise, which makes ridiculously priced Disney items reasonable (like a $49.99 sweat shirt really being $35) and 20% off food items at many restaurants. Sweet deal, huh?
So, as we go through the parks, see things at our resort, and once again realize how well Disney does most things relating to their customers, I am conflicted. Do I hate them for the last 8 years? For the jackasses that they saddled us with, for the rotten things that happened to so many friends, and for the joke they made my radio station into? That’s surely one way to go. Or, on the other hand, do I revel in the fact that I am a Disney Retiree, and have a lifetime of great memories to be made, thanks to the retiree benefits the Disney Company has bestowed on me by virtue of the fact that they bought the American Broadcasting Company?
Well, like the year that Bobbie died on Dallas, the TV show, only to comeback the next year (after working out a contract) and tell the viewers that the preceding season of the show was a looooong dream, my plan is to forget the last 8 years, and to play the part of a Disney/ABC retiree. If anyone asks me, I have just retired after working for 40 years for ABC. Citadel, Cumulus…what are they? Way back in 1976, I started working for the American Broadcasting Company, and as an official Disney/ABC retiree, I’m just going to figure that’s the company I retired from in 2016. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it! The last 8 years were just a bad dream sequence!