Archive for the ‘MY WACKY LIFE’ Category

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Iconic Images Of My Youth #1

February 21, 2012
 
Growing up in the 1960’s one thing you could count on every Christmas was Bob Hope’s annual Christmas Show from overseas where he and his annual entourage of stars toured military bases and outposts in areas of war. During the 60’s, of course, that meant Vietnam.Hope’s annual Christmas Show started in 1964 and rain through 1972 and I have vivid memories of watching them year after year.
 
I had that Summer of ’67 vibe going on and all, but still, I had cousins, a brother in law and local guys who were in Vietnam serving, including one cousin who volunteered for three tours! So yeah, I was very, very young when I realized that the politicians and war munitions corporations were manipulating the politicans and public and sacrificing our young solders (mostly through the draft) lives to further their profiteering (which is what President Eisenhower, a Repblican, warned us of!). So yeah, hate the asshole politicians and their puppeteers, but support the troops who really had no choice (especially those who went via the draft) is what I learned very, very young.
 
 
But Hope, love him or hate him, he was old school of the oldest order, but for decades, starting in 1941, he left his family and went to where the troops were, usually in the midst of fighting and bombing. So you gotta give the old hoofer credit.
 
Plus Hope, a well known womanizer, always had the prettiest, sexiest and hottest female celebs with him, sizzlers like Ann Margaret, Connie Stevens, Raquel Welch, Jill St.John, The Golddiggers, Joey Heatherton and many others. That surely brought Hope and NBC ratings. It didn’t keep me from watching!
 
Each stop in South Vietnam was filmed life and then editied to a 90-minute special, usually aired in January, with sponsorship by Chrysler which allowed the show to run commercial free.
 
 
Seen here are images from Hope’s 1967 tour in which he took along Raquel Welch who thrilled the troops and boosted morale to the extreme. By 1967 over 500,000 USA soldiers were over there and at some shows attendance reached 25,000, as was the case in these images from 1967.
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Mom Was Too Hip To Be Square

October 14, 2011

This Sunday (October 16) will be four years since I lost my mother. So naturally when this time of year rolls around it’s only natural to think of her. She came to mind the other day when I was talking with someone and we got on the subject of music back in the 60’s & 70’s and how our parents used to holler ‘n bitch to ‘turn that damn noise down!!!’
 
My friend was astonished, amazed, when I told him that my Mom had bought me some pretty good records back then, a couple even became iconic.


Whenever Christmas or my birthday will come Mom would invariably ask me what I wanted. I always said, ‘Nuthin’!’ It would drive her crazy so usually, like for Christmas, I would end up with two or three albums, a couple shirts, pair of jeans, maybe a watch or wallet, a bottle of Hai Karate aftershave, or was it cologne? And a carton of Winstons.
 
Life was good.

It’s amazing the albums she came up with. I never specifically told her what to get but she always came through. I would imagine she consulted with someone to find out what bands I liked. I can honestly say I was impressed with every one she bought me.
 
But Mom, she always was pretty hip and had taste and always kept up with the latest fashions for us. Looking back that was pretty sweet of her to be like that, especially since all through school I usually was the one who had the oldest parents.


Now, Dad? Forget it! He’s still stuck in 1930! My grandparents were more hip than him and they were born in the 1800’s!
 
Shown here are the albums my sweet Mom bought me way back in the day.

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IT’S ABOUT TIME!

July 27, 2011

So last weekend I took four of my five grandsons to see the new Captain America: The First Avenger movie and they loved it, especially oldest grandson Hunter. Although the whole concept of superheroes never clicked with my kids, my grandkids sure love them, especially Hunter. When he was two years old I took him to his first movie theatre and we saw the first Spiderman movie. I expected to only be there for 15 or 20 minutes, after all, a two-year-old sitting in a darkened theatre for two hours quietly and patiently? No way.

Was I wrong.

He sat transfixed to the screen and Spiderman and for weeks and months afterwards he would crawl around the couch and other furniture like a spider, stopping occassionally to shoot his webs. Of course he got all the action figures and other toys and gear to enchance his fun. As he got older he got more into superheroes and when I told him that Captain America was one of my favorites when I was a kid back in the early 60’s he decided that Captain America would be his favorite, too. Especially after seeing him on the internet, getting some of his comic books, toys, coloring books, Avengers DVDs and everything else.

Hunter as Captain America - 2004

Oh yeah, the costume!

Hunter has about 20 superhero costumes and among the first was Captain America when he was around three years old. You could hardly get him to take it off. In fact, the first three or four nights he had the costume he wore it to bed!

 

Hunter as Captain America - 2004

So over the past few years he kept asking, ‘When are they making a Captain America movie?’ He’s seen all the others, al the Spidermans, Batmans, Superman, the two Hulk flicks, all three X-Men, both Ironman movies, Watchmen, you name it, he’s seen it (and owns the DVD). (This year alone we’ve went and seen Green Hornet (a let down for me), Green Lantern, Thor, Transformers, and that’s just the superhero movies). So a couple years ago when they announced production on a new Captain America movie Hunter was ecstatic!

But it was a two-year wait! An eternity for a then eight year old.

So a few months ago word comes that Captain America would be released in July and I promised him we would, of course, go see it. He made me promise it would be opening weekend (‘C’mon, Grandpa, I’ve waited my whole life to see this movie!’) and I kept that promise. It was worth the wait, Hunter loved it and so did his brother, Beau. Cousins Brenden & Kaden loved it, but their opinion may have been based on it being their first movie theatre experience and that huge screen, the sound, the images and action, it definitely caught their undivided attention.

Having read about all of Captain America’s appearances in the comic books in the 1960’s and very early 1970’s, plus scads of reprints from his original issues starting in 1941, I was glad they stuck close to the (Captain America originators) Jack Kirby & Joe Simon concepts starting with World War II before bringing the character to the present. If you’re going to do a Captain America movie, you got to have him kicking some Nazi butt.

 

Beau takes up the cause - 2004

Of course, having seen all the ‘Marvel’ superhero movies, Hunter knew there would be a clip of the next Marvel movie shown after the credits rolled through so yes, he made me promise to wait and sit through that never-ending credits so we could catch the clip that we knew would be next year’s Avengers movie. It was, and Hunter is beside himself having to wait until May 2012 to see it after catching glimpses of Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Ironman and Nick Fury.

Oh yeah, and Hunter wants a new Captain America costume. And this time he wants a shield, too!

It’s going to be a long year!

 

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An AMAZING Teacher Calls It A Day

June 1, 2010

Pat Warner & MARK FOWKES are both retiring this week after 36 years at OHS.

I was recently informed that Mark Fowkes is retiring at the conclusion of this school year. I think it will be a sad day for Orrville High School when Mark Fowkes departs as the school district will be losing a fine teacher.

I just want to take this opportunity to acknowledge him being such a terrific teacher to me when I was in high school. Even though he came during my junior year I took several of his (English) classes and can honestly say I learned a tremendous amount. In fact, I remember taking one of his classes (Science Fiction) twice! Although I received no credit for it the second time I still signed up for the enjoyment and debate.

How he put up with all of us longhair, hippie, freak types is beyond me. They surely didn’t pay him enough!

And that was the kicker with Mark Fowkes.  Whether you had long hair (guilty) or short hair, black or white, hippie, jock or redneck, he treated everyone the same, with respect, understanding and lots and lots of patience!

The biggest thing though as I look back was his demeanor. He was always so encouraging, positive and forthright with all of us. As I look back and I had two teachers who made a significant impact on me, one in grade school (Jill Hyde at Apple Creek) and one in high school. Mark Fowkes was the one in high school. I will never forget how encouraging he was to me in my writing and whatever creative binge I happened to be on at the time.

He was only a couple years older than my pals and myself and we all liked him, he was never patronizing. I remember right before school let out in 1975 when myself and a couple others tried, in vain, to talk him into going to see the Rolling Stones at Cleveland Stadium with us. He declined, I like to think reluctantly, and all these years later as I think back it was probably one of the wisest career moves he could have made!  I don’t mean not seeing the Stones, I mean seeing the Stones with us!

I also vaguely recall his reaction (amazement) when my buddy Flash and myself purchased three entire rows of the Richfield Coliseum for the ’76 KISS concert (their Destroyer tour). I think I offered him a ticket and stated that he should feel lucky because the tickets we gave away for free were to ‘foxes’ (that’s 70’s-speak for attractive young ladies) and we were charging the ‘dudes’. He declined again, the reason lost to time and fading memories, but again, retrospectively, a likely wise career move on his part.

Another memory that has never left me was when I submitted a required poem in one of my creative writing classes. The teacher, who didn’t care for me likely because I had longhair and was a smartass, thought I plagiarized it because it was….’good’ (Believe me, I ain’t no poet!). Good ‘ol Mark Fowkes went to bat for me and told her straight out that it was all my work because I had worked on it in his classes and I had him read it several times before I submitted it. The Courier published it!

Even though I never made it to college due primarily to an early marriage and children I was able to pursue a career in writing, public relations, marketing and promotions in motorsports that ultimately saw me inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2006 along with numerous other awards and honors, including Media Member of the Year for five consectutive years by Racing America. I also had the opportunity to write for over a dozen national motorsports publications, write and produce a television show for three years, write, produce and co-host three radio programs with one being “national” and the chance to work with producers for over a year and then appear on a CNN special television program.

I also spent a few years as a features writer and columnist for the old Courier Crescent newspaper (in addition to freelancing to many other mainstream newspapers).

I owe all of this to Mark Fowkes and his encouragement 36 years ago. He was a motivator and always, always, always encouraging! I can sincerely say that my working life would have taken another direction without Mark Fowkes’ influence and encouragement. I have no complaints!

I had been published pre-Fowkes, but as I waffled about whether or not to try and get published in larger publications, he was the kick in the ass I needed at the time. He prodded, cajoled, encouraged and pushed.  Heeding his advice to go for it, in ’75 I became a features writer and columnist for The Journal, a Canadian tabloid devoted to popular culture. It was on after that.

Never one to have much confidence in myself, it was his encouragement and counsel that made me pursue my first love of writing; first in graphics oriented publications and then rock ‘n roll publications in addition to motorsports, which I pursued relentlessly upon getting married and starting a family.

Now ‘retired’, I am currently working on two books. The first has already been accepted. And I truly owe it to the inspiration and encouragement and infusion of confidence of Mark Fowkes all those years ago.

I just want to acknowledge the amazing impact and influence Mark Fowkes had on me that has carried through into my ‘old age’. He was always friendly, compassionate, sincere, encouraging and never patronizing to any of us. And I doubt he had a group of students who were as …’rambunctious’… as my pals and I were (it was the 70’s, after all)! I thank him for having patience with us!  Actually, God bless him for having patience with us!

He was not only one of the best damn teachers I ever had, he was also at the time a friend and a mentor. And I am willing to bet there are more of us out there that has similar stories.

Orrville High School is taking a hit, a loss, with his retirement and I regret my five grandsons won’t have the opportunity to learn from him. He is, and was, truly a gifted teacher.

Doc Lehman

Class of 1976

The famed Orrville bridge in ’76 that OHS senior paint each year. It didn’t stay this pristine for long – the graffiti bandits (guilty!) soon attacked!

More Orrville, Ohio and Orrville High School related posts on this website can be found here:

Power To The People, Baby! 

Where’s That Confounded Bridge?

‘Big Time’ Rock N Roll In A Small Town

Big Business Godzillas Local Landmark Theatre

Biology & Rock ‘N Roll ‘Literature’

I Liked Paul Lynde Before I ‘Met’ Him

My Last Rock Concert Promotion

My Mom Was On The Mike Douglas Show

With A Name Like Smucker’s The Beatles Have To Be Good!

DAMAGE: Ohio 70′s Bands

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The Reason Doc Gets Up Everyday!

February 23, 2010

Here are Doc’s five grandsons, the reason he wakes up everyday and keeps dealing with doctors and surgeons. This was taken this past summer during a parade in Orrville, OH.

Seen here are Hunter (8) holding Axton (1), with Brenden (4), Beau (5) and Kaden (2).

Click photo to enlarge.

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Power To The People, Baby!

October 22, 2008
We were front page news!

We were front page news!

Seeing that Free John Sinclair Rally poster (below) made me think back to a time in high school when many of us, as the hippie activism days began to wane, would get all worked up over perceived injustices. 36 years ago this month (October 1972) a large group of students at Orrville (Ohio) High School (myself included) got fed up with the strict dress code that was enforced at that time. Girls had to wear dresses or skirts, no pants and certainly no jeans. Boys could not have their hair over their collars. You get the picture.

 

After several of the girls made polite inquires about allowing girls to at least wear pantsuits was denied, one girl, Debbie L., showed up one day in a pair of jeans only to be confronted by the assistant principal. That resulted in Debbie being told by the assistant principal to go home. Word spread quickly throughout the school to all of us ‘hippie-types’ and emotions became heated. At the same time the black kids at the high school wanted a black girl chosen for the homecoming court (believe me, there were plenty of beautiful black girls at OHS then!). Things all came to a head that October day and a walk out (referred to as a ‘riot’ by administrators… it wasn’t) occurred.

 

Between the two issues that bubbled up that day, and with ‘unofficial coordination’ and inspiration by several young ladies at school (like Cindy M., Debbie L., Kay S., Vicky C., and Gail W., primarily) approximately 60 of us walked out of school and staged a protest in the city park next to the high school. Word quickly made it to the Wayne County Joint Vocational School and many of the Orrville students there left school and came back to town and joined us. Even the local media showed up.

We’ll let my pal, Cindy M., (Cid-Mor) explain, as she was one of the ‘ringleaders’ who had the guts to help initiate things:

 

“Debbie L., had worn a pair of blue jeans to school and the assistant principal had pulled Deb’s long hair and told her to go change. Well, the rebels that we were, it pissed us off and staged a ‘riot’. Many of us left the school building and went to the pavilion at the park. I guess the ‘joint’ (Wayne County Joint Vocational School) got wind of it and they left school, too. Pretty soon we had a lot of kids there.”

 

“Well, at that time there was also something else happening at the high school. It was football season and homecoming time. The black kids wanted a black girl on the homecoming court. Well, why not? Seemed it was just a popularity contest as the ‘smart’ rich kids were always on it. Well, they (the black kids) walked out too. In the end we got to wear jeans but they stopped having homecoming after that.”

 

The next day school administrators met and suspended most of us that participated for four days. Eventually the student council and administrators met, read our ‘demands’ and alterations were made to the dress code. Girls could wear jeans and the guys could grow their hair a bit longer. So, thanks to the initial efforts of Cindy M., Debbie L., Kay S., Vicky C., and Gail W., students at OHS got to dress and look like kids everywhere else.

 

The bad part of it was homecoming being cancelled from that point on because school officials feared a ‘race riot’ which was ludicrous because at that time in particular almost all of the black and white kids got along great. Hell, they all grew up together and any issues were usually personality driven, not race driven. Remember, there was still the buzz of peace, love & understanding in the air at that time and we were all ‘brothers and sisters’.

 

As for consequences at home, my parents weren’t too happy but I was never ‘punished’. Caught some hell for a few minutes but that was about it. Cindy M.’s parents never found out at the time. As she explains:

.

“I got up and acted like I went to school along with some buds and one of my friends stayed home and of course in the mail came the suspension notices for our parents. My friend got in my mailbox and got mine before my parents could see it. What a great friend (Kay S.)! My parents never knew until about 10 years ago (laughing)!”

 

By the time I got out of high school four years later I believe I may have had the longest hair in the high school and everyone pretty much wore what we wanted.

In the words of my pal Cindy M: “What a long strange trip it’s been….”

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Addendum: My Wife’s Hobby

October 19, 2008

Addendum to previous post: Actually my wife has three hobbies. As mentioned previously my wife of 31 years’ main hobbies are her four (soon to be five) grandsons and collecting popular culture lunch boxes. Her third hobby is tormenting the hell out of me!

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My Wife’s Hobby

October 19, 2008

 

My wife actually has two hobbies with the first and most important being spending as much time as possible with her four (soon to be five!) grandsons. Her other hobby is collecting lunchboxes, both vintage and newer ones.  Her requirements are they must be metal lunch boxes and they must feature something from the world of popular culture. How many women do you know that has a couple dozen lunchboxes featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Hornet, Spiderman and other superheroes?

 

Among her collection (which now numbers just under 120) are lunch boxes devoted to I Dream Of Jeannie, The Archies, Bewitched, Beatles, Man From UNCLE, Lone Ranger, Barbie, Mickey Mouse, Petticoat Junction, I Love Lucy, Elvis, Bettie Boop, Star Trek, Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, KISS, the list goes on and on and on!

 

I never had a lunchbox as a kid. My Dad always laid out lunch money for the school cafeteria (two dimes for each of us as I recall) but I vividly recall going into stores as a kid with Mom & Dad to do school shopping and seeing rows and rows of the newly released lunchboxes just in time for the new school year. Seeing all those rows of colorful lunchboxes with superheroes and whatever was popular on TV was a sight to behold. I recall the local Mr. Wiggs department store in Wooster, OH having what seemed like thousands of the darn things back then.

 

About ten years ago my wife picked up a lunchbox (I forget which was her first, she isn’t here right now to ask) and it was on! She is still buying them on occasion. Someday they will all go to our grandkids (you don’t think we’ll leave anything to our kids, do you?)

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I Have The Coolest Grandkids #2

October 8, 2008

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Nurses Are People Too!

September 18, 2008

My wonderful wife of 33 years has been a nurse for close to 30 years now and it’s a profession she is proud of (like you wouldn’t believe!). It’s all she has ever wanted to do since she was five years old. Over the years the kids and I have tried to find her nursing related memorabilia but it’s been tough. A couple years ago we found a cool print of Bettie Page (see above) dressed as a nurse and the wife loved it so now we are always on the lookout for nursing ephemera, especially those of the vintage type. Here are a couple examples.

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My First Playboy

September 18, 2008

This was the first issue of Playboy (April 1972) I purchased by myself. I bought it in a store in Wooster, OH at the age of 14. A few months later I subscribed and remained a Playboy subscriber throughout most of the 70’s. I even joined the Playboy Club (ask your Daddy what those were, Sonny) when I turned 18 and had a Playboy Key for two years (got to use it twice). It’s amusing to look back at Playboy retrospectively. It was bold to bring home a Playboy at 14 back in April 1972 especially being the son of a minister. But with all these decades separating that purchase it sure seems tame now, but it was a ‘right of passage’ for us snot-nosed punk teenagers in 1972.

 

I think the last one I bought had John Lennon’s last interview circa 1980.

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I Have The Coolest Grandkids

September 18, 2008
Captain America (Hunter) hanging out & waiting for Nick Fury to call.

Captain America hanging out & waiting for Nick Fury to call.

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Rock ‘N Roll Breakfast: 60’s Style

September 11, 2008
Cardboard records on the back of cereal boxes were a rage for about five minutes in the 60's.

Cardboard records on the back of cereal boxes were a rage for about five minutes in the 60’s

As a kid I never ate cereal. I couldn’t drink milk, hence, no cereal. But there were always plenty of boxes of the stuff on the kitchen table growing up as my siblings consumed mass quantities of it. But even though I didn’t eat cereal I sometimes was able to nab the prize in the box (rarely, as my younger brother & sister had priority) if it was Batman, Green Hornet or rock ‘n roll related. Which brings me to the subject of this blog entry (for all you youngsters who have no idea what a vinyl album (LP) is, this will really blow your mind).

 

Not long after the Archie TV show, Everything’s Archie, debuted (a Saturday morning cartoon based on the long-running comic book characters) on CBS in September 1968 a lot of the focus was on ‘The Archies’, a fictional rock group made up of the Archie gang. They released records (including mega-super hit Sugar Sugar) and other mass merchandising. One interesting way they marketed the Archie concept was releasing records on the back of cereal boxes! I don’t mean vinyl records attached to the box. I mean actual cardboard records manufactured right into the back of the box.

The cardboard records were embossed directly onto the backs of breakfast cereal boxes so that the cardboard record could be cut out and played on a turntable. The ‘records’ appeared on boxes of Post’s Super Sugar Crisp. Some of the releases included Sugar Sugar, Bang-Shang-A-Lang, Hide ‘N Seek and others. Whenever one would show up in the house I’d dutifully grab Mom’s scissors and cut it out and play it a couple times.

Producer Don Kirshner assembled a group of studio musicians to record the Archies music (they released 45s and albums) featuring performers like Ron Dante (lead singer on Sugar Sugar and a majority of the others), Jeff Berry, Maeretha Stewart, Andy Kim, Susan Morse, Joey Levine, Donna Marie and others.

 

They also issued cardboard records with songs by The Monkees and a couple other groups. Had ’em all!

 

The Archies were never my cup of tea (except the song Sugar Sugar). We usually had a scad of their comic books around (I remember my younger brother sending quarters for their ‘Summer Giants’ comic books) and the Filmation animation of the Everything’s Archie cartoons were pretty dismal, but getting those cardboard records increased my record collection numbers at the time.

 

Don’t you miss the 60’s? 

 
A 60's superstar band.

A 60’s superstar band.

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What A Relief!

September 10, 2008

 

What a relief!
 
My oldest grandson Hunter has been asking for months if a new Spiderman movie is ever going to be made. It’s starting to tick him off! But I just saw today on Heidi MacDonald’s The Beat blog all the details that apparently Spiderman 4 & 5 will be made, at the same time for economics, and Tobey McQuire and director Sami Rami are committed. To say that Hunter is a Spiderman fan, and superhero fan, is putting the word ‘fan’ midly.
 
The first time he went to a movie theatre he was two years old and my wife and I took him to see the first Spiderman movie. (We saved his ticket for him.) We figured it’d last 15 minutes for him and he’d be ready to go. Nope. He was hypnotized. Transfixed. Totally enthralled by the movie and character. We had a great time.
 
He and his brother and cousins have a bazillion superhero action figures, costumes, coloring books, Playstation games, DVDs, you name it, they got it (I almost went broke buying Ironman merchandise earlier this year). They love all the superhero movies and cartoons (new ones and old) but Hunter has a special affinity for Spidey and Mary Jane.
 
Can’t wait to tell him! Of course, now he’ll be asking repeatedly (like Bart & Lisa) for the next couple years, ‘When is the new Spiderman movie coming out? ‘When is the new Spiderman movie coming out? ‘When is the new Spiderman movie coming out? ‘When is the new Spiderman movie coming out? ‘When is the new Spiderman movie coming out? ‘When is the new Spiderman movie coming out?….”

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Att’n: Future Protege Superstars Spotlighted

September 10, 2008

C’mon, look at the photo above and the one below. C’mon! Admit it! Those boys are cute, handsome, hip, young & groovy. The two sharp looking young men in the pics here are my two oldest grandsons and yesterday the above photo of the boys on the cover of Buckeye Monthly, a Ohio State University magazine was taken at the Wayne County Fair in Wooster, OH at the booth for the Grace Brethren Church.
 
Not sure how long they have been doing this but last year we happened upon the Grace Brethren Church  booth and the photo you will see at the end of this missive is of Hunter & Beau transposed onto the cover of NASCAR Illustrated. Above, as stated, Hunter & Beau are on the cover of Buckeye Monthly, the cover of choice used by Grace Brethren Church this year at the fair.
 
The church does this for free. They take the photo, hand you a card with a website address and an identification number and the next afternoon (today) you can download your photo. The subjects stand in front of a large green screen* for the photo and then they work their magic and the subjects appear on a magazine cover. It’s a great keepsake and the boys will enjoy having them when they are old and wore out like me.
 
(* I mention the green screen because if you look close at Beau you will see the stadium crowd imposed on his shirt. It was a green Gap shirt!)
 
We have them framed and proudly hanging on a wall. Nanny called our daughter-in-law to remind her about this so she and our son can have the same keepsake above only of their two sons, and our two youngest grandsons, Brenden & Kaden when they attend the fair this week.

  

 

 

Even though I don’t attend Grace Brethren Church their reputation is solid in Wayne County for their giving and compassion, especially when it comes to children. A wonderful church.
 
So why put them on this blog? Because I’m one of t-h-o-s-e grandparents. You know, the annoying, bothersome, boring ones who incessantly talk (brag) about their grandkids and are always sticking pictures of them in your face. You know the stereotype! That’s me! (I occasionally catch people rolling their eyes when I am in the midst of a filibuster about my grandkids). Even my wife finds it an annoying trait.
 
Like I care!
 
They’re my grandkids and they are probably the reason I am still alive right now, according to my wife, clergy and other family members (the last heart attack, #3, was supposed to take me out permanently but damned if the Man Upstairs and that surgeon save my butt). So I’m on borrowed time and as long as I live, you’ll hear about my four superstars (the population increases by one when grandkid #5 arrives in February).
 
Ain’t they cool?

 

 

 

 

 

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