Port Orange Jock

One upstate New York man's successful journey through life doing the only jobs he ever loved. Being a Radio personality,(with one long side trip through the Postal Service).

Location: Port Orange, Florida, United States

Saturday, May 21, 2005

We were now back in Rochester and living with my in-laws. Even under the best of circumstances, we all knew how long that would last. Sure enough, we moved out after only three months and found ourselves an apartment. During that time, I worked three or four different jobs and hated every one of them. I wanted so badly to get a Radio job, but none would come. This lasted for about a year and a half. One day I decided to make the rounds of the local Post Office's, since I had worked as a carrier for a very brief time years earlier. Lucky for me, Pittsford had an opening for a carrier.(what tremendous luck)! Not only did the Postmaster hire me: he re-instated me which let me start at step 5 pay and get all of my benifits too. After that we decided to purchase our first home in Victor using the G.I. Bill. Cathy became pregnant shortly thereafter with our third child. That's when a baby boy named Mark came into our lives. Cathy and I sat down and decided that she would stay home and be there when the kids became old enough to get off the bus. I was now making enough money to keep us satisfied, but I still wanted to get back into Radio, and I was getting very frustrated. Thankfully, May of 1978 would start a whole new chapter in our lives. End of Chapter 9.

Friday, May 20, 2005

It was a nice sunny day in May when I applied for a part-time job at WCGR in Canandaigua. With my meager experience I wasn't sure about my chances. I gave them my audition tape and sat back and waited. Lucky for me it must have been a slow week, because they called back a few days later and said the position was mine. Working full time at the Post Office only allowed me to be a DJ on Sundays. This station was AM and FM, however the AM was only on during daylight hours(this took me back to Madawaska). My shift was from 10 AM to 3 PM, and I would be playing Rock music. To this day, I still consider this job my first Radio experience; for two reasons. The first station you go to is always a learning experience. For that reason it shouldn't be counted. Secondly, I had started in the LA market, one of the toughest in the country. There were times I was plenty scared those first 2 years. But now I was in a much smaller market. I could relax and really learn my craft. When I think back, I really believe I had the most fun at WCGR. Basically because, after six months I talked the station owner into letting me have a 3 hour Big Band show. My Father had raised me on this music and now I finally had my chance to play the kind of music he would have loved. After awhile I got so good at it that the owner told me my new show was the second most popular show on the station. Wonderful people were actually sending me cards and letters. I still have that scrapbook and will treasure it always. The station had no Big Band music, so I brought my own from home every week. I would stay at this lovely job until October of 1980. My reason for leaving was very interesting. All this time I had been paid four dollars per hour. Suddenly, there was another addition to our household; a son named Adam. He would turn out to be our last. So, our expenses had gone up. I asked the owner for a one dollar raise per hour for the following reasons. First, he had just built three new Racketball courts next to the station so I knew he could afford my small raise. Second, according to him, I had the second most popular show on his station. I was sure I would get the raise, but he threw me a giant curve and said no. His reasoning was, if I got a raise, everyone else would find out and want one too. Obviously, his theory was sheer stupidity, but he was the boss. To save face, I had no choice but to quit. He reluctantly accepted, and then asked me not to say anything about my leaving on-the-air. I relented, but almost changed my mind many times on my next and last Sunday program. I always felt bad leaving that job, but to this day I still have my memories and don't regret one bit asking for that raise. I will always look upon it as his loss. It would be almost three years before I had a chance to talk into a microphone again. End of Chapter 10.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

For the next three years I loved working for the Post Office in Pittsford while living in Victor. Our family now consisted of five, and of course life was pretty hectic for us. I didn't really have time to think about Radio too much. Then in May of 1983 I heard about a new Radio Station that had opened on route 332 just across from the State Trooper barracks. I went there and talked to the Program Director as I filled out the application. I got the job without too much of a problem, but it would turn out to be nowhere near as exciting as WCGR had been. The music on WYLF was played on 10 inch tapes that had to be changed every six hours. The only announcing I would have would be to back-announce three songs after they had played, and do the news every hour. My hours on Sunday were 5 to 11 AM. But at least I was back in Radio. The best part of working here came four times a year when they brought a Big Band into town. I really enjoyed listening to them live and got a chance to meet many of the people that listened to the station everyday. Working at the Post Office was a little stressful even in those days, but at the Radio Station I could sit back and relax all my cares away. Plus, I finally got the five dollars per hour that I should have gotten three years earlier at WCGR. I would remain at this station for a very short time however. They went out of business in December of 1984. In the past six years I had been at two different stations, but only on-the-air for 48 months. Having to leave WYLF really hit me hard. I became very depressed afterwards, but not only about Radio. The previous year I had expressed certain feelings toward my wife concerning Winter. I probably wouldn't have minded snow so much if I didn't have to be out in it everyday as a carrier. That day we made two decisions. I would become a clerk(if a position was available), and we would discuss seriously moving to Florida. I knew I wanted to retire in Florida, I just didn't know when to transfer. My Postmaster said that a clerk position was available at that time. That took care of problem number one. That would keep me inside of the Post Office all day long and out of the bad weather. Cathy and I then laid out a map of Florida on the carpet in the living room and tried to decide where we would try and get a transfer to. After much discussion, we settled on the Daytona Beach area because at that time both my Mother and Grandmother lived there. We decided to put our plan into action after Christmas of 1984. After enjoying the holidays, I got on a plane for my first flight to talk to all of the major Postmasters in the Daytona area. During January and February of 1985 I flew to Daytona a total of three times. I had decided I would do whatever it took to get this transfer. I was spending a lot of money, but I knew it was worth it. Then I flew back to Rochester and waited. Finally in March came the great news. I had been accepted at the Daytona Beach Volusia Avenue Facility. Problem was, they only gave me two weeks to get there and start working. I arrived the middle of March, 1985. Cathy and the kids started packing the house in Victor and contacted a realtor to sell it. Everything seemed to be going great. Little did I realize the huge problems that lay just around the corner for all of us. End of Chapter 11.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I arrived in Daytona Beach in March of 1985. I knew this would be a new start in a part of the country that I had never lived in before; and to tell the truth I was very nervous. My Mother said I could stay with her until Cathy and the kids arrived from Victor. I had rented an old clunker to get me around town. At the Post Office I had to start learning the scheme. There were 42 routes and I had to memorize the streets on all of them within a certain period of time. I wasn't worried because I knew Cathy had already found a buyer for the house and the family would be arriving in about two weeks. I had already found a house to rent. She and I had always done everything important together, so I really couldn't get into learning that scheme until she arrived. We simply had to do it together. Turned out however, at the eleventh hour, the bank must have found out something real bad about the buyer, because they nixed the sale. That set our timetable back another three months. Meanwhile, things for me couldn't have been worse. I tried learning the scheme on my own, but it was no soap. A while later the Postal Service sent me a Certified letter. They said I had 30 days in which to pass the scheme or I should pack my bags. Apparently they had waited this long only because I was in the Union and I was a Veteran. Fortunately, Cathy had another buyer in line and would drive down in about two weeks. This news couldn't have come at a better time. As soon as the family arrived, Cathy and I started working day and night on passing the scheme. I would get about 4 hours sleep a night. Every night I would go to work(my hours were midnight to 8:30 A.M.), and take the test first thing. This went on for weeks and I really thought I wouldn't make it. The gods must have been with me however, because I passed it with three days to spare. For the next five years I would enjoy the Florida sunshine, and the work I would do at the Volusia Avenue Facility. Everything was going great, even though it would be many years before I would hold a microphone again. Little did I know that upcoming changes in the Daytona Beach Postal Service would make things miserable for me for my last twelve years before retirement in June of 2002. End of Chapter 12.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

In 1987 I started hearing rumors about a new building that would be going up in Daytona Beach about a mile away from the Volusia Avenue Facility. I could only hope that they weren't true, but I knew better. Seems whenever things are going well, someone or something has to come along and mess things up. All of our work at the VAF was done by hand; but we got everything out everyday on time. This new building would be huge. Management, clerks, carriers and maintenance would all have their own separate areas. There would also be a gigantic dock to take care of the many trucks that would arrive 24 hours a day. It would open in 1990 and would have lots of machines to sort letters. Over time, manual work would slowly be phased out except for a few specific jobs. Luckily for me, I was able to get some of these jobs even though I was nowhere near the top of the seniority list. I knew I would hate this new building and I was right. The Union had run the VAF but now management made it quite clear to us whom would be running this new building. It would be called the Daytona Beach General Mail Facility. After a few months, I talked to a few co-workers about my feelings. They said that if you had come from a large facility, this new building wouldn't bother you. My problem was I had come from only small Post Offices in my career and was simply overwhelmed by my surroundings. I thought that given time, my feelings might change; but they never did. Right up until the day I retired on June 15th of 2002, I still hated that building. Funny about how a person can hate an inanimate object. I guess I was a person that just never liked change. I'm from the old school and knew without hesitation that I could never be a machine clerk. The last twelve years of my Postal career seemed to take ten times longer than the first twenty two. I may have hated the building, but I loved all my jobs and I made friends with many fine people over those years. So their was a silver lining to my story after all. I never got back into Radio during those final years in The Postal Service, but a few years before I retired I had a chance to host our Union Christmas Party and be D.J. End of Chapter 13.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Have you ever had to do something and you wanted to get it just right? That's how I felt as I planned to do the Union Christmas Party a few years ago. I got the equipment, had everything set up, and my music was all ready to be played. I knew what I had to say, and felt it would be a night to remember. Little did I know it would turn out to be just the opposite. Some people never even noticed my unprofessionalism. But then they hadn't gone to Broadcasting School and had a diploma on the wall at home to prove it. It wasn't a complete disaster, but it sure came close. Problem was, all of my experience had come in studios in front of a microphone. I was really talking to hundreds of thousands of people, but in my mind there was only one. That's why I was always so relaxed. I might have been able to pull it off if these had been strangers in front of me; but these were my co-workers. This would be the first time I would host a live show. That made me even more nervous. Probably a good belt would have helped me too before the show. That really would have been relaxing. The thing that hurt the most came at the next Union Meeting. The woman who ran the Recreation Committee said that next year they wanted a Professional Disc-Jockey. That was like sticking a Bowie Knife through my heart. I was punishing myself enough. I didn't need any help from other people. I would never have considered telling her she was an unprofessional clerk, even if she was. But I guess that's just me. Anyway, I learned a lot from that experience. I would love the chance to vindicate myself someday at another Christmas Party, but I'm not sure the powers that be will ever give me the chance to redeem myself. I can only hope for the best. As they say, time heals all wounds. End of Chapter 14.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Over the last few months I have had many chances to think over a variety of things. It's ironic but when I was 20, 30, 40 and 50 I never once thought about getting old. Now as I slowly approach 60 I think about it all the time. Maybe I have too much time on my hands. As I look back on my life, I only have two regrets; and neither one of them could have been helped. The first concerns my childhood. Not that it wasn't a supreme joy growing up in the 50's in Webster, because it was. It truly was the age of innocence, which only ended with the assasination of JFK. Problem is, I had to do it alone. Being alone doesn't mean that you're lonely. But try and convince society of that. True, I had friends, but I usually had to go to their homes to play. I spent a lot of time alone, which is probably why I turned out so introverted later on. I was a breech birth and my Mother told me later that she couldn't have any other children. I always felt a void in my life by not having a brother or sister. My other regret came with the loss of my father. When one is an only child, your obvious hero is dad. We spent an awful lot of time together. My father was certainly no saint, but then whose is. As anyone can tell you, the loss of a loved one is the worst pain you will ever feel. I would now go through life with only one parent. I have lived in Florida for the last 20 years, and yet my heart will always be in my home town of Rochester. I live here for one reason only: the weather. After delivering the mail for ten years in the snow, I simply couldn't take it any more. Maybe I'm just a weak person, but I have always missed the fall colors and the drives our family would take through the mountains of the Finger Lakes. Except in Winter, it is truly a beautiful area to behold. I hope to get back there someday for one last time to see all of our friends and family. Unfortunately, we had to miss our East High class reunion in 2004, but we look forward with great expectation to our next one. The End. For Now.