Long time no see. These past 2 years have not inspired much writing. I’m sorry about that. But then, you likely had a bunch of other things to do than read blogs anyway.
To catch you up on big things that happened this past summer: Nothing really.
Since the Tucson Folk Festival, we began to slowly emerge from Quarantine and made a trip to see my granddaughters in Arizona and let them cut off Grandpa’s beard. It had grown rather long. I had become “Grandalf”
But Emily helped reduce the length of it and the local barber shop shortened the hair.
Now, the start of Autumn has been busier.
For one, we lost one of our dogs to an unknown liver infection. Sally, the younger of the two, passed away in the animal hospital. Very shocking and quite depressing.
But in October, I took the WHOLE MONTH off work and we made a tremendous road trip from Las Cruces to Virginia to Chicago and home. 5,425 miles round trip. (And about as many dollars!!) I had never done a trip like that before. I may not try it again, but who knows? It was worth it, I think, for the reunions along the way. We stopped in Memphis to visit with a great musician, craftsman, and human being, Don McGregor. We were introduced on Facebook by our mutual friend, the late Bob Frank, a country songwriter who passed away recently. We both felt it fitting to heed Bob’s instruction that we should meet, and I’m glad we did. We even took a little time to pick a tune together.
From Memphis we made our way to Virginia for a stop in Winchester to visit my friend since childhood, Vic Lail, and his delightful wife Gwen. I had just learned that Vic’s older brother Bob, who played drums in our rock band “Wasatch Front” in the late 70’s, had just passed away in hospice care after a long struggle. It broke my heart. Bob and had been quite close in our youthful years. Seeing Vic and talking with him was cathartic.
Then it was quick jump to my sister’s house in Harper’s Ferry, WV. I love that place and my family. Scott Tatina, Robin’s husband of many years, is quite a talented man and I so enjoy their company. We of course also visited my brother Pat and his wife Jody and my nephew Ian. And we ventured out to visit my cousin Robert “Robbie” Murdick and wife Kathy and got to meet their grand-baby. We made an overnight trip to Clymer PA – my mother’s hometown. Mom, who will turn 96 this month, had expressed a desire to see that place one more time. So we did and I got to visit with most of my cousins (both sides of the family) and meet some “grand-cousins” on the Rodgers side. And this photo of Mom’s (left) reunion with her sister in law, my Aunt Naomi Jean Rodgers (right), was quite the pay-off. I believe this return to the old hometown was the real reason for the whole trip.
After that visit, we took mom to a memorial service in Leesburg Va, for her nearest and dearest friend Joyce Bengtson. The Bengtson family lived across the street from us and were such close friends, they’re like extended family. Joyce and her late husband Paul, had relocated to Arizona years ago and we visited them many times when we too lived there – mainly Christmas and Thanksgiving. The memorial was yet another heart-warming reunion with so many mutual friends of my mother.
We took a trip to Charles Town WV to meet up with my friend and fellow Baha’i, Robert Greg Shaw. Greg gave me a tour of the local Baha’i Center that was quite nice. The back yard was a perfect wedding venue. We also visited retire State Senator Charlie Waddell whose family I have also known since childhood. He’s quite a guy with many historical stories of Northern Va in our growing-up years.
We also had a short visit with Kathy and Ben Lacy. Ben’s another friend from waaay back (like 2nd grade). I think the first time I met Ben he was in 3rd grade and I was in second. He performed “Sinking of the Bismarck” before the school assembly. We went on to become a guitar instructor, teacher, and finally a school principal (several times). He and Kathy have a massive townhome with their own gym. They’re so trim and fit it hurts.
When we hit the road for home, we decided to go by way of Chicago so we could visit the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette. We stopped in Pittsburg for lunch with some more dear friends Robin and Wade Bell, who I knew in Utah before they were married. Wade was the sound man for Wasatch Front and a wizard in many ways.
Then upon arrival in the Wilmette area, we had a wonderful reunion with my old friend Van Gilmer. Van is the Music Director for the Baha’i House of worship, but we met back when he and his late wife Cookie and their wonderful children (now adults) lived in the DC area. Just being around Van is inspirational to me. His grand piano is high-tech. It’s also a “player piano” but from a CD with full orchestration if you wish. Incredible.
I also had a reunion with Glen Schallmo, lead guitarist for Wasatch Front, back in the day. We played a few tunes together and Glenn shared some recordings of the band from those days. Deb, my Bride, was impressed. (She’s a former head-banger you know)
We got back home safely and re-engaged with work and other responsibilities. Later, I’ll tell you about the Darrell Elmer Rodgers Trio band reunion we just had in Tucson.