Monday, August 28, 2006

Happy Anniversary

Oops, in my summer lassitude, I missed remarking on the anniversary of this blog. It was August 26,2005, when I made my first, somewhat tentative post. We were about to go to Lucerne, Switzerland, to see and hear our son, Chris, play with his string quartet, Jack, and the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra. (Chris just left yesterday for his third trip to Lucerne. Jack is playing again and Chris will be concertmaster of the orchestra, directed by Pierre Boulez again. We're not going this year because of our expected Korean trip next spring.) On previous trips abroad, I had inflicted my friends with mass emails describing the experience, and I thought a blog would allow those who wanted to read about the trip do so without bothering those who considered my emails spam.

It has been way more fun than I ever expected, even as the focus has shifted over the last year from a travelogue to observations about books, movies, politics and life. My dream had long been by this stage in my life to have retired to the southwestern United States, have purchased a small weekly newspaper and be writing outrageous editorials to stir up the locals. A blog is better. I can stay in a semi-metropolitan area that has an art theater, concerts and plays to entertain me, can still write outrageous pieces and don't have to worry about advertisers pulling their business. (Nevertheless, the Southwest maintains its romantic appeal to my imagination.) I have made many new friends, none of whom I have met in the flesh, but who drop by and leave comments and whose blog sites I keep track of. Many old friends have been kind enough to read my ramblings and leave comments, on the blog or by private emails. Thanks to all of you. Your feedback is what makes this effort worthwhile for me.

I would be remiss if I didn't comment on a couple of other recent significant anniversary mileposts. On August 12 and 13, about 130 of us gathered in Flint, MI to celebrate and renew acquaintances with people who had been there 40 years ago for one reason or another. For me and about 20 others, we had been there to do our public service in hospitals and Goodwill Industries as conscientious objectors. There were others who had just lived in the area and there were a significant number of girls who were there because there were a lot of single boys there. Flint in those days was a much more vibrant place than it is now, with a population about twice what it is now. (See Michael Moore's movie, Roger and Me for details, although things have gotten even worse since that movie was made in 1989.) I had not seen any of the people, except my three friends with whom I get together every October, and their spouses and another friend and his spouse in 40 years. This was a grass roots reunion, the idea for which my friends and I hatched up last October while drinking beer on a back porch outside Atlanta. We started out with hardly any contact information, put together what we had on a spread sheet and then started circulating the spread sheet to everyone who might know someone and gradually the names and addresses got filled in. We had a pig roast on Saturday evening, a concert by our friends, the Whitfords, who are also Flint alumni, and lots of visiting.

The Flint weekend was also the occasion to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. Our wedding was a small affair, in the back yard with only immediate family present. I think my wife has always missed the hoopla of a big wedding with legions of attendants. So, I decided to do hoopla for the anniversary and rented the biggest limousine I have ever seen to take our friends and us to dinner and dancing afterwards. These are our friends, Milt, Mary, Carlene, Marv, Donna and Earl. The men were all in Flint 40 years ago and stayed loosely in touch, but not as a group until two years ago when we started having annual get togethers. All of the men, except Earl, started out life as little Amish boys. At the reunion we sang a song called "Amish Country Blues," a parody of Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash. The parody was originally done by The Electric Amish, a band which used to be on the Bob and Tom radio show out of Indianapolis. I added a couple of verses. Here is the text of the song and then I will conclude this too long post.

I hear that buggy coming,
It’s rolling round the bend.
And I ain’t seen a TV,
Since; I don’t know when.

I’m stuck in Amish country,
And time keeps draggin’ on.
And I won’t ever have call waiting,
I got no telephone.

When I was just a baby,
my Momma told me “Son,
Don’t ever use der engine
To make your buggy run.”
But I drove a car in Goshen
Just to watch it go.
If the preacher hadn’t caught me,
I’d be in Kokomo.

There’s lots of funky people,
Out there a driving cars,
Probably playing CD’s
And watching VCR’s.
But I guess I’m glad I’m Amish,
I got no bills to pay.
Still I wish I had a tractor,
To help me haul this hay.

When I turned 18,
My draft board told me “Son,
You’re gonna give me 2 years
No more having fun.”
But I got a job in Flint,
And soon the time went by,
And then I was a wondring,
Where did it fly.

Well I sold my horse and buggy,
And bought me a big screen TV,
I sat in my Lay–Z-Boy,
And watched MTV.
And I gained 50 pounds,
And had a heart attack.
If I had just stayed Amish,
I wouldn’t have to go back.

Oh, one last thing and then I'll go, I promise. Last week was the occasion of yet another anniversary, the anniversary of my birth, 60 years ago. I was born exactly nine months after my parents' wedding date. Please, don't anyone wish me a "Happy Birthday." I'm too old to enjoy the idea of yet another birthday having snuck up on me.


Ich bin auch Amische said...

Great to read your posts again!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Johnny!

rdl said...

Nice post! Goodto seeyou back and Happy Birthday!!! are you sure you're a Leo, they're never to old to celebrate their birthday! :)

uncle menno said...

Goodness you're old! I suppose that for your 60th birthday, the gift you want is your 61st. I hope you get it.

Debra Hope said...

In light of recent events, I couldn't resist this childhood ditty . . .

Happy Birthday to you
You belong in a zoo
With elephants and zebras
And MONKEYS like you

Love, Sen. George Allen

Jess said...

Hiya, crockhead, enjoyed the post (which was in no way too long!) and the photos. And okay, I won't wish you what-you-said, but remember, it's a milestone, not a millstone, so carry it with a big freaking smile. Many happy returns of the day. ;-)

Patry Francis said...

With such a rich, fulfilling life, how can you help but have a happy birthday?

I have particularly enjoyed your recent posts about your family and your travels.

Many, many happy returns.

p.s. It's great to see that the smiling Amish boy in the photo has grown to be a man who still smiles widely and often.

Patry Francis said...

p.p.s. Congratulatoins on your wedding anniversary. Your wife is very lovely.

Anonymous said...

I kept checking it for your posts knowing that you'd be back but in the last few days our data line from the cable company had us out of touch. You were missed but WOW, you had a lot going on. Congrats on all events and celebrations.

Remarkably, I know Earl and Donna (I grew up with her, same age, and graduated from Nursing school with her ) Small world. Where have they been?

Lauren said...

Wow. Congratulations on everything. And I can't believe you've been blogging for a year. Nice pics, too.

gnightgirl said...

What a great post full of celebration and information. Nice to put a face with the name too, I am SO going to say hello to you if I see you running the streets!

Patry Francis said...

Just stopped in to remind you we're blogging Half of a Yellow Sun on November 3rd. If you haven't finished, you can blog about your initial impressions!

Brenda said...

John, Have you read any good books lately or seen any movies you would recommend?