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).
- Name: Bill
- Location: Port Orange, Florida, United States
Saturday, May 28, 2005
I studied hard and received very good grades in Radio/TV class, but otherwise I was just an average student. Other than Radio, the only other thing that occupied my time was a lovely young girl who had helped me get my school locker upon moving to the city in 1961. We soon became smitten and sat holding hands across from each other in homeroom. The only problem was the teacher who would sneak up behind us and crack his 3 foot ruler across our knuckles. I still feel that to this day. But more about the lady later. After high school, my Grandmother, Maude S. asked me if I wanted to live with her in California. She was moving there to be close to her son Bill. Since I had never been west of Ohio, I quickly agreed. I spent the next 16 months in LA, totally enjoying myself. This is where I really grew up and bought my first car. My cousin Bill helped me get a job with Vee-Jay records, which had their headquarters in Chicago. I packaged records for shipment while he was the National Sales Director. He had a beautiful home in Canoga Park in the west San Fernando Valley. He was a lucky man to have such a wonderful family. Lois, his lovely wife, and children James, Jerry and later Tracy and Max. I remember vividly taking horseback rides with my cousins every weekend in Chatsworth and still have the pictures to prove it. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. After 16 months, Vee-Jay went out of business and my cousin and I were out of work. He and his family moved back to Indianapolis while my Grandmother and I would move to Hialeah, Florida to be near my Aunt Dorothy. (because of a minor heart attack my Grandmother was told to stay in warm climates). My time in Florida would ultimately be very short. It wasn't long before I was on an airplane heading for Indianapolis. I spent about a year living in their home and really got to know all of my cousins very well, especially Bill's wife Lois. She was both beautiful and intelligent and I came to respect her very much. It was with much hesitation that I left after a year and went back to Rochester. Then came a very large decision in my life. I knew that I would be pulled into the military because of the VietNam situation and because at that time the draft was in effect. I had to decide whether it would be 2 years in Nam or 4 hopefully somewhere else. I decided on the latter. Then which branch to serve in. My father had been in the Army during WW2 and advised me against that. The marines probably would end up killing me. So I tried for the Navy. I thought they had the best looking uniforms. Unfortunately, I flunked the Math part of the test. The only one left now was the Air Force. Luck was with me this time and I was on my way to Lackland AFB in Texas for basic training. At this point I must tell you that not only did I hate basic, but I hated the heat of Texas as well. Best thing was, our class was the last to go through in only 4 weeks. Then on to Keesler AFB in Mississippi for tech school to be an Air Traffic Controller. As I look back now, I cannot fathom why I didn't ask for Radio school. After that school, they offer you what is called a dream sheet. This is your chance to get either the state or the base of your choice. (Good Luck)! Personally, I asked for NY state and got Loring AFB, Maine. It was so far north it was 3 miles from New Brunswick. And I thought winters were bad in Rochester. But at least I wasn't in Nam. I stayed there for 3 years, mainly because ever year on my dream sheet I put down Bermuda and England, knowing they would never send me there. The first year was rough. After that, I made friends with a civilian who worked at the only radio station in Madawaska, a border town. He let me use his car whenever and he asked me if I wanted to move in with he and his girl because they had a 2 bedroom apartment. Naturally I accepted. Also, the radio station was only on during the day so he let me play DJ all night long. I began to forget about the military because I worked 3 days on but had 4 days off and left the base as soon as my shift was over. My fun ended after 3 years when my new orders came down to go overseas. But ultimately, where I went would be totally different from what was in those orders. End of Chapter 2.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Unfortunately, the military has this rule about no fraternization. There is no logic to it, so one of my best friends at Loring was a Captain Brown. We seemed to have the same interests on just about everything. Naturally, the other NCO's didn't like it, but I was young and really didn't care. About a month before I was due to ship out an airman arrived from Shemya AB in Alaska. The base is on an island in the Aleutians. Actually it is closer to Russia than the U.S. Their laundry is shipped out every 2 weeks. The gossip was someone had to go back and take his place(guess who!). I decided to play my trump card. I called the Captain and asked if he could help. He said if he did this I would have to accept whatever assignment came down. I agreed and spent the next 2 weeks wondering if I had done the right thing or not. Finally he called and said I was going to Southeast Asia. The sweat was pouring off me as I asked him if it was Nam. He said not to worry-I would be going to South Korea. After I thanked him I realized how wonderful it was to have a friend who would do this for me. I'm sure he took a big chance. Later I would thank him in person before I left. I went home to Rochester for 30 days before leaving for Korea. The lady friend I mentioned before from high school was still there and we became engaged before I left. Her name is Cathy and this August it'll be 35 wonderful years of wedded bliss. But more about her later. End of Chapter 3.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
There's not to much I can say about my stay in South Korea. The base at Osan was the headquarters for 8th Air Force. It was very large and therefore I was able to go bowling or enjoy the theater at will. There's alot of movies I must have seen 15 times that year. It was a safe haven from the 50,000 people that lived in the village outside the front gate. Back then, the streets were muddy and the country very poor. Beggars would sell their wares along Main Street. They did have some nightclubs that played Rock & Roll, but one never ventured off base alone at night. Most of the people were very friendly and polite toward base personnel. My best friend worked at the base Radio Station(naturally!). Talking with him about Radio made the time go by insanely fast, which is exactly what I wanted. My one constant thought was this would be the last Air Force base I would ever serve on. As the end of my tour approached, the Air Force, in it's infinite wisdom, decided to try and get me to re-enlist. Whom were they kidding! A lot of money was mentioned, which I basically laughed at. If they had guaranteed me another stripe, maybe I would have considered it. But the offer never came. To put it bluntly, I was never military material. But I was consistant. I hated it going in, and I hated it going out. When I arrived in Seattle to officially get out of the Air Force, I thought Lincoln had again freed the slaves. End of Chapter 4.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
You never saw anyone get home as fast as I did. I think I kissed the ground too. Speaking of kissing, I called Cathy and said how about getting together and going over our wedding plans. That night I proposed and she accepted, with one condition. I suggested we move to California; since I had loved it so much before. She was fine with that idea, since she had never been west of Ohio.(sound familiar)! We had a little over 2 months to get everything together, but we actually pulled it off. The only hitch occurred when I tripped going up to the altar. It was August 1, 1970, and the good Lord gave us a day of sunshine to boot. My father packed our VW bus to the ceiling with all of our worldly possessions. We left 3 days later not knowing what we would find. The only problem we had was getting over the Rocky Mountains in a vehicle that only went 40 mph at top speed. I almost had to get out and push a few times. Naturally we had to stop in Las Vegas to look around and give the bus a chance to rest. After arriving in LA it took us about 3 days to find an apartment. But that's something you should know about California. People move like crazy. In the 4+ years we lived there, we moved 11 times before we found the right place. It must drive the Postal Service crazy.(actually, in 1970, it was still called the Post Office). Our first few months were very hectic. Cathy had gotten a job with an insurance company in a high rise on Wilshire Boulevard. I meanwhile had signed up at Los Angeles City College for their next session, which would begin in the Spring of 1971. Until then, I would find odd jobs to keep me busy. These jobs were unimportant however, and I found myself extremely happy when Winter ended. All I could think about was getting ready for college in a few weeks. The new year of 1971 had finally arrived. Then we were awakened by a knock at our apartment door at 4 a.m. It was the California Highway Patrol with a message that would change our lives forever. End of Chapter 5.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
We invited the policemen in and they told us some news that they had just received from the New York State Troopers. It seems that my Father had just been killed in a traffic accident in Victor. At least he hadn't suffered. He had died instantly. The ice on the road had caused his car to slide into the back of an 18 wheeler. Amazingly, he had been packing to move to either Florida to be near his Mother or to California to be near Cathy and I. We had to return to New York for the funeral, but we didn't have enough money. Fortunately, the company Cathy worked for agreed to pay for both our tickets, which I felt was very kind since they didn't know me from Adam. After arriving in Rochester, I held up pretty well until I got to the parlor for the viewing. Then it finally hit me like a ton of bricks. My 48 year old Father and mentor was really gone. I would never be able to ask him for his advice again or tell him how much he had always meant to me. He, my Grandmother, and I had carried on correspondence via audio tapes since Cathy and I had moved to California. After his death, those tapes sat up on a shelf in my closet for 20 years before I got up enough nerve to listen to them again. As Cathy and I touched down in the sunshine of LAX, little did we realize that we would be returning to Rochester permanently to live in just over 4 years. End of Chapter 6.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Fortunately, I kept myself very busy upon our return to LA. I started school and buried myself in my work, trying to keep the pain of my Father out of my mind as much as possible. I loved what I was learning. About 6 months later, I became one of only two students that got a Radio job while still going through school for it. I was now on cloud nine. For 2 years I loved everything about life. Cathy was really enjoying her job too. Things were going much easier for us in LA than I thought could be possible. The months flew by, both at school and on-air. When graduation came around, I already knew what my grade would be. I aced every course, except for Sales(I told you I wasn't a salesman), so I ended up with an A minus. Just missed the dean's list by 3 points. But my proudest moment came when I received Summa Cum Laude. In high school I had been just an average student. Just goes to show what can happen when you enjoy what you are being taught. It was now summertime, 1973. I was now working at the Radio Station full time, and my wife was pregnant for what would turn out to be the first of our three children. We would remain in sunny California until February of 1974. The reasons we left LA for good bound for Rochester still make me laugh today. End of Chapter 7.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
After the birth of our daughter in the San Fernando Valley, things got a little more hectic for us but we still got along, at least temporarily. Turns out our daughter Dawn had certain allergies and had to have soymilk. Problem was the truckers that transported the milk from the factory to the supermarkets were all on strike and they said there was no end in sight. I was working at the Radio Station and at Getty Oil Company in their mailroom.(but not happy at all). It all came to a head one day when I came home to find my wife on the phone with her parents back east. She was in tears because her family wanted so badly to see their granddaughter. I misinterpreted this to mean that she wanted to go back to Rochester and was homesick for her family. I told her to start packing and I would take her and the baby to the airport. Two days later she was on the plane and I started driving back toward Rochester. It wouldn't be until months later that we realized that our decision to leave LA had been made with too much haste and not enough thought. I specifically took the southern route to stay in the sun. However, as soon as I hit the Ohio border, reality set in and the dreaded snow began to fall. I had been lucky enough not to see this stuff for four long years, but now the fun was over. End of Chapter 8.