Sunday, February 28, 2016


Here is the obituary of the great entertainer Pearl Bailey, which appeared in the New York Times of August 19, 1990. It is amazing she has been gone over 25 years now...

Pearl Bailey, Musical Star and Humorist, Is Dead at 72

Pearl Bailey, the entertainer whose distinctive singing style was enhanced by herher mischievous witticisms and warm personality, died on Friday at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia after collapsing at a hotel where she had been staying. She was 72 years old and lived in Lake Havasu, Arizona.

The cause of death was not immediately known. Miss Bailey had a long history of heart ailments and was recovering from knee surgery. A spokeswoman for the hospital, Elizabeth Samuels, said an autopsy was being conducted to determine the cause of death.

In a stage career that began in 1933 when she won first prize at an amateur night in Philadelphia and reached a peak with her 1967 starring role on Broadway in an all-black version of the musical ''Hello, Dolly!'' with Cab Calloway, Miss Bailey said she thought of herself as a singer and not an actress.

''I'm not a comedienne,'' she told an interviewer some years ago. ''I call myself a humorist. I tell stories to music and, thank God, in tune. I laugh at people who call me an actress.''

Her trademark was a warm, lusty singing voice accompanied by an easy smile and elegant gestures that charmed audiences and translated smoothly from the nightclub stage and Broadway to film and television.

On stage her ample figure, often swathed in fur and sparkling with rhinestones and jewels, was a magnet for audience attention as she tossed off a ballad in throwaway style.

''I've lost one of the greatest friends I've ever had in my life,'' Mr. Calloway said after learning of Miss Bailey's death. ''I've lost a co-worker and a wonderful person.''

Carol Channing, who had created the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi in the musical three years before Miss Bailey undertook the part, said: ''The entertainment world has lost one of its most creative performers of our time. Her talent was unique and enduring.''

Miss Bailey's husband, the jazz drummer Louis Bellson, to whom she was married for 38 years and who went with her to the hospital on Friday, said simply, ''I've lost my best friend.''

The singer had left the hospital on July 30 after undergoing surgery to replace her arthritic left knee with a metal and plastic joint. She was staying at a local hotel during a series of physical-therapy sessions. Her two sisters live in Philadelphia.

Mr. Bellson said they had been planning a visit to New York, where Miss Bailey was to give an address at the United Nations on Aug. 24.

''If I just sang a song,'' Pearl Bailey once said when she had been drawn into an analysis of her performing style, ''it would mean nothing.'' That is a debatable point. Her voice had a distinctively warm timbre and her natural vocal inflection was filled with fascinating colors and highlights.

Like Jelly Roll Morton, the great jazz pianist, who was fond of saying that he changed everything he played ''to Jelly Roll'' (as, in truth, he did), everything Miss Bailey sang came out ''Pearlie Mae style.'' This included the so-called risque songs that were a staple of her nightclub acts or the songs she sang in ''Hello, Dolly!'' ''House of Flowers,'' ''St. Louis Woman'' and other Broadway musicals.

In truth, Miss Bailey never ''just sang a song.'' The stage Pearl Bailey was a close reflection of the private Pearl Bailey.

She was a trouper in the old theatrical sense. She had fierce pride in the level and consistency of her performance, no matter what the circumstances. She was disturbed to see this quality going out of show business, and she sometimes talked of forming a troupe - she still thought of it as a vaudeville act long after there were no more vaudeville theaters where it could play - through which she could instill the old discipline of trouping in promising young performers.

Tall, buxom, exuberant and handsome, Pearl Bailey enraptured theater and nightclub audiences for a quarter-century. Her talents as an actress and singer were perhaps best blended in her role as the bumptious amateur matchmaker in ''Hello, Dolly!'' which she played on Broadway for two years.

At one point the show went to Washington and President Lyndon B. Johnson attended a performance. Waving to him at the curtain, Miss Bailey brought the house down with the remark, ''I didn't know this child was going to show up.'' Then she brought him on stage for a sing-along chorus of the title song. It was probably the first time that a President of the United States served as a chorus boy.

In films, she was celebrated chiefly for two roles - Maria in ''Porgy and Bess'' and Frankie, a roadhouse girl, in ''Carmen Jones.'' But Miss Bailey's gifts were best savored in the nightclub, where she was able to establish a marked degree of intimacy with her audiences. There her digressions enhanced her songs.

Among her best-known songs were ''Tired,'' ''Two to Tango,'' ''Birth of the Blues,'' ''Toot Toot Tootsie, Goodbye,'' ''Row, Row, Row,'' ''That's Good Enough for Me'' and ''15 Years.''

Monday, February 22, 2016


Bing Crosby's Last Song is not a biography of the last song crooner Bing Crosby ever recorded. Bing is actually only mentioned two or three times in the book. The 1998 novel is a very poignant story of Daly Racklin, a middle aged man of Irish descent living in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh in 1968. This story begins with a difficult conversation between Daly and his doctor... his doctor has just given him bad news about his heart condition. Daly's time is short and as is often the case when a person receives news such as this, he begins some serious self-examination and soul searching. This examination takes him on a path through not only his own life but the lives of his friends and family in his old crumbling Irish neighborhood.

Through Daly's interactions with other characters in the story... his family, friends and people in the neighborhood, the reader learns what kind of man Daly really is.. what 'stuff' he is made of. Daly is, like his father before him, an attorney; and also like his father, he is the 'strong one', the responsible one... the one everyone in the neighborhood goes to for help because he always takes care of his own. He takes care of everyone else but it soon becomes clear through the course of the story, that there doesn't seem to be anyone for DALY to turn to. And honestly, as the story went on, it seemed that perhaps Daly actually did not know HOW to allow people to help him. He didn't seem to be able to allow people to get close to him... perhaps that was his flaw and his 'cross to bear'. He was lonely... and now dying... and still couldn't figure out how to make that human connection.

This story of Daly Racklin WAS a sad one. He examined what sort of person he had been in his lifetime by holding his own life up next to his father's a kind of yardstick. For all the loneliness he felt, I do believe that ultimately he was at peace with himself and everything he had tried to do for others in his life.

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and I learned a lot about the different sections of the city - namely Oakland. I was not even around in 1968, so it held a particular fascination for me. I got a very different mental picture of the city as it was in 1968 and this made me consider what the Urban Renewal, mandated by the federal government after World War II, actually meant to the people in many of these ethnic neighborhoods. Some of the Irish dialect is hard to follow, but the book really draws you into life in a close knit Irish neighborhood. I highly recommend this sentimental novel...


Friday, February 19, 2016


Nelle Harper Lee, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961 for her book, "To Kill a

Mockingbird," has died at the age of 89, multiple sources in her hometown of Monroeville, including the mayor's office, confirmed Friday morning.

Lee was born April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, the youngest of four children of lawyer Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee.

As a child, Lee attended elementary school and high school just a few blocks from her house on Alabama Avenue. In a March 1964 interview, she offered this capsule view of her childhood: "I was born in a little town called Monroeville, Alabama, on April 28, 1926. I went to school in the local grammar school, went to high school there, and then went to the University of Alabama. That's about it, as far as education goes."

She moved to New York in 1949, where she worked as an airlines reservations clerk while pursuing a writing career. Eight years later, Lee submitted her manuscript for "To Kill a Mockingbird" to J.B. Lippincott & Co., which asked her to rewrite it.

On July 11, 1960, Lee's novel was published by Lippincott with critical and commercial success. The author won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction the following year.

The film adaptation of the novel, with Mary Badham as Scout, opened on Christmas Day of 1962 and was an instant hit.

Harper Lee suffered a stroke in 2007, recovered and resumed her life in the hometown where she spent many of her 89 years. A guardedly private individual, Lee was respected and protected by residents of the town that displays Mockingbird-themed murals and each year stages theatrical productions of "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Lee returned to Monroeville for good once her sister Alice became ill and needed help. She'd eat breakfast each morning at the same fast-food place, and could later be seen picking up Alice from the law firm founded by their father.

After withdrawing from public life for decades, Lee surprised fans everywhere by publishing her second novel, "Go Set a Watchman," in July 2015. The book had enormous advanced sales, and immediately moved to the top of the fiction best-seller lists, despite mixed reviews. The book sold over 1.1 million copies in its first week in the U.S. and Canada.

Her cousin, Richard Williams, who ran the local drug store once said: "I asked her one time why she never wrote another book. She told me, 'When you have a hit like that, you can't go anywhere but down'. " Yet there was to be a twist in the tale...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


George Gaynes, who played a grouchy foster parent on the 1980s sitcom “Punky Brewster,” the beleaguered commandant in seven “Police Academy” films and a soap opera star with a crush on Dustin Hoffman in drag in the Hollywood hit “Tootsie,” died on Monday at his daughter’s home in North Bend, Wash. He was 98.

His death was confirmed by his daughter, Iya Gaynes Falcone Brown.

With his baritone voice, chiseled good looks and versatility as a character actor and singer, Mr. Gaynes appeared in hundreds of episodes of sitcoms and dramas on television, 35 Hollywood and made-for-TV films, and many plays, musical comedies and operas in New York and Europe.

Critics often applauded his work in supporting roles, and his face became familiar to millions of Americans. But he never achieved leading man stardom.

“Anyone who believes in happy endings will take consolation from the career of George Gaynes, about to become a television celebrity at the age of 64,” The New York Times reported (erroneously; he was 67 ) in 1984, shortly before NBC telecast the first episode of “Punky Brewster.” The show ran for four seasons, first on NBC and then in syndication.

Mr. Gaynes, in the television role for which he was probably best known, played a building manager, Henry Warnimont, who finds an abandoned little girl, played by Soleil Moon Frye, in an empty apartment and becomes first her foster parent and then her adoptive father. Their tender relationship was the heart of the show. There was a puppy, too.

“The two things an actor dreads most are children and dogs,” he told The Times in 1984. “I have both in this series.”

Mr. Gaynes got the part on the heels of two of his strongest film performances. In the first, in “Tootsie,” released in 1982, he was a misguided would-be paramour pursuing his leading lady (Mr. Hoffman), an unemployed actor who wins celebrity by masquerading as a woman on a daytime soap opera.

Then, in 1984, he was the commandant in charge of misfit recruits in the first “Police Academy” movie, which critics called crude and noisy — although some found it also hilarious — and which spawned six sequels, all of them with Mr. Gaynes in the cast.

Writing about Mr. Gaynes’s performance in “Tootsie,” Vincent Canby of The Times called him “priceless as the seedy but tirelessly lecherous leading man on the soap” and “so memorably funny in such memorably funny circumstances that I doubt he’ll much longer remain one of those actors whose looks are as familiar as his name, though one never puts the two together.”

“Tootsie” was a hit and received 10 Academy Award nominations, although only Jessica Lange won, for best supporting actress.

George Gaynes was born George Jongejans in Helsinki, Finland, on May 16, 1917, to Iya Grigorievna de Gay, a Russian artist later known as Lady Iya Abny, and Gerrit Jongejans, a Dutch businessman. His uncle was the actor Gregory Gaye, who played a Nazi Reichsbank official in “Casablanca.”

Raised in France, England and Switzerland, George was introduced to opera by his mother’s friend, the Russian basso Feodor Chaliapin. He studied in Milan and performed in Italy and France. But his career was interrupted by World War II. He crossed the Pyrenees and was interned in Spain for three months. After being released, he went to Britain and enlisted in the Royal Dutch Navy for the duration.

He landed in New York after the war, joined the New York City Opera and played Figaro, Leporello in “Don Giovanni” and assorted fathers, monks and ragpickers. He also appeared in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. But he considered himself primarily an actor. “I was an acting opera singer, and that’s one of the reasons I left opera,” he said.

On Broadway, he appeared in Cole Porter’s “Out of This World” (1950) and was Rosalind Russell’s suitor in “Wonderful Town” (1953), a musical version of “My Sister Eileen” with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

That same year, he changed his surname to Gaynes and married Allyn Ann McLerie, an actress, who survives him. In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by one granddaughter and two great-granddaughters. His son, Matthew, died in a car crash in 1989.

Mr. Gaynes appeared in many television series in the 1960s and ’70s, including “The Defenders,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Bonanza,” “Mannix,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “Hawaii Five-0.” He also acted in the daytime soap operas “General Hospital” and “Search for Tomorrow.” His films included “The Way We Were,” “Altered States” and “Wag the Dog.”

He retired in 2003 and lived in Santa Barbara, Calif., before moving to Washington to stay with his daughter’s family.

Mr. Gaynes was philosophical about his brush with movie stardom in the 1980s. “I’m too old, I’ve been at it too long, to be exhilarated,” he told The Times in 1984. “Of course I’m happy about it. My wife is happy, because we can travel more, and she can get a new couch cover. But knowing the vagaries of the entertainment business, I can’t take it too seriously.”

Sunday, February 14, 2016


I have to preface this story by saying I think Lucille Ball is overrated. I feel she is overrated as a funny lady. I feel she was more an actress doing comedy than an actual comedienne. I think her success as a funny lady was due to one person – her husband Desi Arnaz. Years later it would seem ironic that they met, in 1940, on the RKO set of a picture called Too Many Girls. She was a 28-year-old contract player with a string of forgettable films, he, at 23, a dashing, Cuban-horn nightclub bandleader. They married six months later. While she tended a soaring Hollywood career, but mediocre film career, he toured the country with his rumba band. 

By 1950 Lucy was starring on radio with actor Richard Denning in the popular CBS show My Favorite Husband. When the network launched a version of the show for the new medium of television, she insisted that Desi be cast as her spouse. The formula was magic. In its six-year run, I Love Lucy, making perfect use of Ball's vibrant talent and Desi's behind-the-scenes business savvy, would become the most successful comedy series on TV and earn millions for the couple's production company, Desilu. Each week 40 million viewers watched the onscreen antics of the Ricardo family. But off-screen, the Arnaz marriage, which produced two children before ending in a 1960 divorce, was a volatile interplay of alcoholism, infidelity—and a surpassing love that endured for nearly 50 years.

A lot of people though only knew the couple from what they saw on I Love Lucy, but there was a lot more to their marriage. Lillian Briggs Winograd, one of Lucy's closest friends once said: “Lucy had two or three miscarriages before she gave birth to little Lucie (on July 17, 1951. three months before the show's debut). She thought that having a baby would hold them together. Some of Desi's womanizing was alleviated from the moment little Lucie was born. I think he felt more sensitive about those things and stopped some of that. For a while, at least.”

Many people who knew them said Lucy was very bright, but Desi was the brains. He was the staunch one. He ran the whole thing. Lucy just deferred to him. When they were beginning I Love Lucy, Desi bargained for ownership of those 179 episodes, so they could show them to their children. There was no concept of reruns in those days. A few years later Desi sold them all back to CBS for millions. However, Desi always knew she was the star. While Desi had the affairs and drank, Lucy was tough on him. Family friend Bob Weiskopf had this to say: “There were a lot of occasions when Lucy insulted Desi—usually indirectly. She'd mention to someone else, Vivian [Vance, who played Ethel Mertz], for example, what had happened in a poker game over the weekend in Palm Springs. In front of him, she'd talk about what stupid plays he had made. I thought, "Jesus Christ, this guy's a saint." I would have punched her in the nose.”

In the mid-1950s, the magazine Confidential came out with a story saying Desi was a womanizer. A copy was given to Desi, and Lucy said, "I want to read this story." It was during a rehearsal day, and she went into her dressing room. Everybody was frozen on the set. She finally came out, tossed the magazine to Desi and said, "Oh, hell, I could tell them worse than that."

Veteran reporter Jim Bacon had this to say about the final straw: “Lucy put up with it quite a bit, but then it just became too embarrassing. Especially when he got arrested on Hollywood Boulevard. That was sometime in the '50s. The cops picked him up, drunk, standing in front of this whorehouse, singing Cuban songs.”

Desi was the love of Lucy's life. It was romantic, passionate, everything you could imagine in a love affair, and she was deeply hurt by what happened. They had tried like three times to get a divorce, but Lucy had always stopped it. Finally she planned to move to Switzerland, take her kids and get out of Hollywood. At the time, in 1960, she had one final commitment to do Wildcat on Broadway.

After their divorce in 1960, Lucille went on to marry comedian and producer Gary Morton (1924-1999). He was a dependable guy but not the love of Lucille’s life. Ball would go on to have two more sitcom hits back to back – The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy. Ball became a very rich woman, but Desi Arnaz did not fare as well. Arnaz buried himself in a life of booze, women, and gambling. When his good friend Jimmy Durante died in 1980, he was visibly drunk at the funeral and had to be walked out. He didn't know where he was. He was even bombed that day.

Desi died of lung cancer on December 2, 1986. Ball visited him two days earlier and was visibly shaken. Lucy loved Desi till the day she died [following heart surgery on April 26, 1989], and she never recovered fully after his death.. He was the father of her kids. Close friends said that even after she married Gary, she'd still run home movies of her and Desi and the kids when they were little. Everybody was in them, smiling by the pool, running up real fast, waving hello, Lucy walking knock-kneed and doing her Lucy faces. She'd sit there giving commentaries. She loved watching those movies.

Was Lucille Ball the funniest woman? Was the marriage of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball the greatest marriage? The answer is maybe not, but he helped to make Ball the icon she remains to be 25 years after her death. Lucy was the beauty and the talent, and Desi was the brains. Fans remember the happy times of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on the screen, and maybe that is what is most important...

Friday, February 12, 2016


The last time Greg Chubbuck saw his sister, Christine, was at their mother's house for Sunday night dinner.

"In retrospect there was an uncomfortable calm about her," recalls Greg. "She was more resolved than she usually was about everything. At the time, I didn't see that."

The following day, Monday, July 15, 1974, the 29-year-old broadcast journalist shot herself in the head on live television during her civic affairs show, Suncoast Digest. She died 15 hours later at a Sarasota hospital.

Chubbuck's death made headlines around the country and inspired the 1976 film Network, starring Faye Dunaway and Peter Finch.

Now, 40-years later, Chubbuck's tragic tale is being explored in two films that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last month: Christine, which delves into the up-and-coming reporter's final days, and Kate Plays Christine, a pseudo documentary on Chubbuck's life.

"My family adored my sister," says Greg. "She was an interesting, gifted, flawed person."

He adds: "She was flawed from the time she was a little girl. Emotionally flawed in many ways."

Greg says his sister struggled with bipolar disorder, a condition that was not remedied despite their parents spending nearly $1 million over 20 years searching for a treatment to "help Chrissie find peace."

Christine, her older brother Tim and younger brother Greg, were raised in the posh suburb of Hudson, Ohio, about a half-hour from Akron. The only daughter of salesman, George, and housewife Peg, Christine, who stood 5'11 at the age of 13, was a bright student who "used to make up words for things that didn’t have a word," recalls Greg. "She just loved language."

A nationally ranked kayaker by the age of 16, she had a flair for puppetry and acting, landing the lead role in a play by the University of North Carolina's summer acting program.

"She managed to be the lead in the summer play and won outstanding acting," says Greg. "And never once ever acted in a play again. She had a lot of things that she was exceptionally good at and once she showed she could do it she lost interest and went on to the next thing. "

She was a "marvelous person and had this great sort of dry wit about her and a bit of a sharp tongue," says Greg. But he adds, "She never felt like she fit in and in a sense she never did."

Despite her personal demons, Christine attended Ohio State University and graduated from Boston University with a degree in broadcasting. She attended a summer NYU film workshop, and worked at public TV stations in Pittsburgh and Canton, Ohio. At 21, she began dating a man in his early 30s, but her father disapproved, and the relationship was short lived.

"Chrissie then literally quickly came to Florida and sort of restarted her life," says Greg. "She never really had another boyfriend after that."

It was in Florida where she got her big break as a reporter and host of WXLT-TV's Suncoast Digest.

"She was an ambitious reporter, good at her job, and liked by co-workers," recalls former WXLT reporter Craig Sager.

"She was a unique person," remembers friend Pauline Lunin. "She was different. It was the 70s and we were into folk things and the earth colors and she dressed in a bright way. I thought she was very talented."

News director Gordon Galbraith recalls the quirky side of Christine: "Christine had a bizarre sense of humor," he says. "She was 29 years-old and she had no problem admitting she was a virgin. So one afternoon we were doing a mock newscast and because she had no qualms about being virginal at 29 she named herself 'Pristine Buttocks.' 'I am Pristine Buttocks and here is the news.'"

Greg says despite Christine's success at work, "She never felt like she was good enough and she was constantly doubting herself. And I mean morosely doubting herself."

"My mom would try to help her and I would do what I could do, my grandparents would do what they could," he adds.

"And she would come out of it and she would be better, and we would think with all the outside help with the professionals, maybe this would be the time she would get her wind and be fine. But it just never really happened completely for her. It is a really sad tragic circumstance."

On that Sunday, the day before she died, Greg says Christine was playing with puppets with his young daughter. After she shot herself, coworkers discovered that the bag she used to hide the .38 caliber pistol also contained two of her handmade puppets.

"She had her puppets around and she had them with her on the day she shot herself on the show," says Greg. "It was very eerie"...


Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Despite getting a divorce, many fans believe that Bobby Darin's true love was Sandra Dee. They seemed to have a love that was timeless. However, Darin was married to another woman for a short time before his death. His second wife had her story published in the National Enquirer. The article This article, written by Al Coombes, appeared in the January 20, 1974 issue of the National Enquirer Magazine...

Only days before Bobby Darin's tragic death, his ex-wife lamented" "If Bobby doesn't quit his overworked pace, he'll kill himself."

Andrea Yeager Darin made this grim prophesy to an Enquirer reporter. Eight days later, the man Andrea loved was dead.

Bobby Darin, who had suffered for years from a severe heart condition, died on December 20 at the age of 37 - after having his second open heart operation in 2 years.

In an exclusive interview on December 12, Andrea - without makeup and looking gaunt from sleepless nights of worry - revealed how Darin's medical problems led to the breakup of their short-lived marriage.

"Bobby's been ill for a long time and he's been working too hard - trying to cram too much into too short a time," sighed 32-year-old Andrea, nervously picking at her long fingernails as she sat hunched over with elbows on knees in her small Beverly Hills apartment. "No matter how hard I pleaded for him to slow down, he wouldn't let up...and now he's in the hospital."

Darin had been rushed to the intensive care unit of Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles on December 10 with congestive heart failure. Andrea, her classically beautiful face drawn with sadness said, "Bobby divorced me last October after only 4 months of marriage. I'm convinced he did it to save me the pain and anxiety I was going through worrying about his health." Andrea's soft eyes brimmed with tears as she recalled the scene that destroyed her marriage.

"It was October 1 and we were outside his doctor's office. I begged Bobby to take a long rest and find out why he was progressively losing his strength. He didn't say a word. He just left me and walked off. He never came home...." Her voice trailed off in anguish.

"Two days later I read in the trade newspapers that we were getting a divorce. That's how I found out! I had no idea," she stammered. "Our life together was beautiful for three years when we lived together. Then we got married, but the timing was wrong."

They were married in June, just days after Darin was released from the hospital where he spent six weeks for treatment of an infection of his heart valve. We went on vacation, then Bobby worked for four weeks at Las Vegas and worked some more at Lake Tahoe. He never recuperated. He refused to take it easy. He was such a perfectionist that everything had to be done right."

No one could stop Darin's gritty drive for perfection even though his private physician shared Andrea's concern that the entertainer needed rest. "Bobby puts so much energy into his act - he should slow down," Dr. Raymond Weston told the Enquirer shortly after Darin entered the hospital for the last time.

"Bobby's had some difficulty recovering from his open heart surgery in 1971. This is because he contracted inflammation of the lining of the heart and its valves last May and this always leads to complications. This seems to be the cause of his present condition."

Throughout the interview with Andrea, who daily visited Darin's bedside, she fought a losing battle to control her emotions. "I'm still in shock about the divorce. If only he slows down so he won't kill himself, maybe we could get back together. You see, I still love Bobby very much."

Friday, February 5, 2016


It is bittersweet for me to be commemorating my father Frank Lobosco's today, February 5th. My Father would have been 70 today. It is hard to picture my dad being that old. He died when I was so young. My Father died days before his 45th birthday on January 31, 1991. At the time of my Father's death I had a strained relationship with him. A year before his death, my Mother and Father divorced and for the most part I felt that I was not really wanted in my Father's life. I was 16 at the time and had my own normal teenage demons to deal with as well as coping with coming from a divorced home and now coming to grips with my Father dying suddenly of a heart attack.

I did what most teenage boys would do I guess, I buried it all deep inside. I did not visit my Father's grave site for five years after his death, and I rarely talked about him as I finished up high school and entered college. I saw a distorted view of my Father's life, and it never occurred to me to look into what made my Father withdrawn and distant to me.

In 1969, my Father was in the kitchen with his father (my Grandfather that I never met), and my Grandfather had such a massive heart attack that he almost tore out the kitchen cabinets as he fell to the ground and died in front of my Dad. I also discovered much later after my Father died that he was married to a woman before my Mother. Two weeks after they were married, his first wife died of a seizure. My Father had had a fight with her before he left for work, and it was the last time he talked to her. She had stopped taking her seizure medicine because she was pregnant at the time.

All of that distorted my Father's life to the point that by the time I came along and was growing up, he was a sad and lonely man. I never got the opportunity to talk to my Father and get advice that fathers usually give their sons. I never got the opportunity to ask him why he did the things he did. However, what I finally realized was it is better to remember the happy times than the sad times. I remember my Father teaching me how to play chess. I remember sitting with him as he played records from his huge 45rpm collection. I remember tasting his spaghetti sauce and his pizza (although I am sad I never got his recipe).

I wish he could see the man that I became. Hopefully he is looking down on me, and he is proud of the husband and father that I have become. He never got to achieve greatness as a father or husband, but his life was not in vein. His grandchildren that he never met are extensions of his legacy, and I hope wherever my Father is now he is happy and content knowing this as I remember my Father fondly on his 70th birthday...