Archive for the ‘MY WACKY LIFE’ Category
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Class of 1976
More Orrville, Ohio and Orrville High School related posts on this website can be found here:
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….”
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!