Saturday, July 30, 2022

The birth of George Jetson

Something to keep in mind this weekend.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Media Notebook--7-29-22



A curation of news items about the media from this past week, with a particular emphasis on Chicago…



*Museum of Broadcasting tribute to rock radio

=Sunday August 14th (3pm) at the Des Plaines Theater, a few local radio legends will be part of a discussion about the heyday of rock radio (including John Landecker, Tommy Edwards, and Bob Stroud). Other rock radio legends from around the country will also be joining via zoom. Wendy Snyder will the host/moderator. Get your tickets here.  All proceeds benefit the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

=By the way, for you Wendy Snyder fans, she will be filling in all next week for Bob Sirott on the WGN Radio morning show.


*Radio Hall of Fame nominees

=I’m bummed out that Chicago greats Bob Stroud and Kevin Matthews didn’t get in this year despite being nominees, but the list of inductees announced this week for the National Radio Hall of Fame is still quite impressive, and includes Chicago broadcasting executive Marv Dyson, Emmis CEO Jeff Smuylan, Lon Helton (Country Countdown USA), Chris Mad Dog Russo (Sirius/XM), Walt Baby Love from Gospel Trax, LA’s Ellen K (KOST) and NY Radio vets Carol Miller and Suzyn Waldman. The induction ceremony is November 1st at Chicago’s Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. Tickets are available here. 


*Nick DiGilio to review movies on Steve Cochran’s show

=The Nick D Podcast is doing quite well on the Radio Misfits Podcast Network (Top 1% globally, according to ListenNotes ), but DiGilio announced this week he is expanding his reach. Here’s what he said on his Facebook page…

            I am The Movie Critic for The Steve Cochran Show on WLS-AM 890, weekday mornings from 5:30 to 9am. I will appear regularly on certain Friday mornings reviewing the latest movies and more. I am so, so happy to be officially, and regularly reunited with my old friend Steve and Executive Producer (and my old producer) the great Tom Hush. And I'm thrilled to be working with the rest of the terrific people at The Big 89!

=I have previously interviewed both Nick and Steve for Illinois Entertainer…

Nick Digilio (2022) 

Steve Cochran (2017) 


*Brendan Sullivan event

=Brendan Sullivan, a former Chicago radio producer/writer/performer for Jonathan Brandmeier, and renowned improv artist (IO), author (The Living Wills) and Creativity Coach, is holding a special event on August 13th in memory of his son Charlie. This is the way Brendan describes the incredibly worthwhile event…

            We are looking forward to an evening of music and celebration Saturday August 13, as we remember Charlie Sullivan and support young Chicago musicians and social justice, a cause Charlie committed himself to. We've been asked a lot of questions. If you plan to attend, tickets are on sale now at If you cannot attend, but would like to support the cause, please go to And thank you. If you would like to learn more about our story, our mission and Charlie, you can visit Thank you again.


*Podcast Facts & Figures

=It’s a running joke to say that everybody in America has a podcast. This latest announcement by Spotify feeds into that assumption. According to Podcast Business Journal, there are now 4.4 million podcasts on Spotify alone.

=Here is another odd podcast fact, courtesy of Inside RadioFemale skewing podcasts tend to have smaller audiences.


*Morning Show Boot Camp

=Don Anthony’s Morning Show Boot Camp is returning to Chicago August 18th and 19th at SwissHotel. I’ve appeared at this event several times as a panelist (including last year, in a panel discussion with Lee Abrams). To see the full list of this year’s panelists and moderators, and/or to register for the event, click here. 


*Former Chicago Radio Report

=Chicago radio newsman Reed Pence (WBBM-FM, WLUP-FM) retired from his MediaTracks (public affairs radio) gig last year, but he is staying in the spotlight. Reed is performing as Max Detweiler in the Sound of Music this weekend at the Summer Place Theater (Naperville Central High School) in Naperville. Only 3 shows remaining. Get your tickets here. 

=Former Chicago fly-jock Tom Joyner sold his Florida home. It had a full-sized boxing ring inside. A mere $19 million changed hands. 



The following Chicago media folks had birthdays this week. Click on the links to read my previous interviews with them. The number in the parenthesis is the year I interviewed them.

July 26--Steve King (2021) 

July 27—Jon Hansen (2021) 

July 28—Rick Kaempfer (I’ve never actually interviewed me)





*Chris Cuomo to NewsNation

=Last week I reported that NewsNation scored the first big interview with Chris Cuomo since his exile from CNN. Now we know how they scored that interview. Chris Cuomo has signed with NewsNation to host a show beginning this fall. The Washington Post has the details. 


*Credibility Scores of Fox News and MSNBC downgraded

=The biggest complaint about cable television news is about media bias. It’s been obvious for years that Fox News is skewed toward the conservative side, and MSNBC is skewed to the liberal side. But according to media watchdog NewsGuard, they aren’t just biased. They do not “present news responsibly.” Both networks have had their credibility rating downgraded. The Press Gazette has the details. 


*Trump threatening to sue CNN

=Former President Trump is threatening to sue CNN (and anyone else who criticizes him for saying the election was rigged) for defamation. There is zero chance he wins these cases, and he will probably never file them, but the Hill published his statement if you’d like to read it. 

*OANN’s future in doubt

=After being dropped by Verizon, the extremely conservative news network OANN is in serious trouble. Verizon was the last major cable operator to carry the network after DISH dropped them in April. CBS News has the details. 

*Replacement for Megan McCain on the View

=Megan McCain left The View earlier this year, and the show hadn’t revealed her replacement until this week. Former Trump communications director (and current CNN contributor) Alyssa Farah Griffin will join the show this season. The Daily Mail has the details


*Sam Bee canceled

=Full Frontal with Samantha Bee has been a TBS mainstay for the past seven seasons. Unfortunately for Sam and her fans, that Emmy-nominated run has come to an end. The Washington Post has the story. 


Destination Eat Drink--Galway

 Had great fun being part of this podcast. Listen for my limericks. 


 A few photos from last night's Chili Dog MVP event in Catigny...

From the Writing Archives--Break a Leg

This week I begin my last week in my 50s. In celebration of that, I'm dipping into the archives every day this week to feature something I've written in the past. 
Today is the 210th day of the year. The 210th Aesop Fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, inspired this column which appeared on the back page of Shore Magazine in 2008.

You’re supposed to say “Break a Leg” to entertainers before a performance instead of “Good Luck,” because saying “Good luck” is actually considered bad luck.

I know, I know. It has never made sense to me either.

And after what I saw this past week, I will never say “Break a leg” to anyone ever again.

It happened on the ski slopes, about fifty yards away from the spot I tore the ligaments in my thumb last year. I was riding on the chairlift when I heard this horrible screaming. It was such a loud plaintive wail, that I thought it must have been kids goofing around, but within a few minutes I saw the Ski Patrol skiing in the direction of the cry.

A few minutes later, my sister was skiing up to me to let me know that the screaming in question was coming from my son Tommy.

“Oh no, is he OK?’” I asked.

 “It doesn’t sound like it, but with Tommy you never know.”

I should tell you that Tommy isn’t exactly known for his calm approach to pain and suffering. Let me put it this way; we often don’t know whether to say “Good Luck” or “Break a Leg” to him before treating his injuries. There’s always a chance that it’s a bit of a performance. He can make a stubbed toe sound like a gunshot wound.

When I arrived at the site of the accident, the Ski Patrol looked a little perplexed. Tommy was rolled into a little ball and was writhing in agony.

“Is he always like this?” they asked.

Honesty compelled me to admit he was.

“We have to stabilize the leg to move him,” they said. “Can you talk to him?”

So, I knelt down by his side and told him to be a man and straighten his leg so the Ski Patrol could move him. It took a few minutes, a few more condescending scoldings from me, and a few thousand screams, but he eventually did it.

I have to admit, I really didn’t think he was badly hurt. I know that sounds terrible, but the old ‘Boy who cried wolf’ story (a story I tell him after nearly every dramatic overreaction to a minor mishap), immediately came to mind. 

This time, unfortunately, the wolf was real.  And I was the father that allowed his son to be eaten by it.

Tommy had a broken tibia, which is an extremely painful injury. All of those screams and wails and moans were completely authentic. He was put on some pretty heavy duty pain medication for the next three days, and even with the meds, he was moaning in pain.

Real pain.

When they reset his leg at the doctor’s office after the swelling went down a few days later, it was like listening to a wounded animal. That sound is going to stay with me for awhile. As will my initial doubt about the severity of his pain, and my initial tone of voice to a suffering boy.

Did anyone ever interview the Boy who Cried Wolf’s father after his son was eaten? I’m betting he didn’t deliver the smiling ‘I told you so’ that the story implies.

I feel like I actually did that to my son.

And yes, I am beating myself up for it. No need to pile on.

On the other hand, this whole thing has also been a learning experience for me.

If “The Boy who Cried Wolf” is ever converted for the theater, I know exactly what I’ll say to the actor portraying the boy before he goes on stage.

“Good Luck.”

Eckhartz Everyday

*Today is Mike Gentile's birthday (Photo). Mike is the co-author of the Eckhartz Press book Mob Adjacent.

*On this day in 2021, Eckhartz Press author Paul M. Banks appeared on WGN-TV to promote his book Transatlantic Passage.

*On this day in 2014, Eckhartz Press author Bruce Bohrer appeared at Murphy's Bleachers to do a book signing for Best Seat in the House.

*On this day in 2020, Eckhartz Press author Lauren LoGiudice (Inside Melania) got her own podcast on the Radio Misfits podcast network. It's called Reconcile the Aisle.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

From the Writing Archives--50 things I've learned in 50 years


This week I begin my last week in my 50s. In celebration of that, I'm dipping into the archives every day this week to feature something I've written in the past. Today is my 59th birthday. This piece was published in Shore Magazine the day I turned 50 in 2013.

50 Things I have learned in 50 years

1. The squeaky wheel may get the grease, but everyone still hates the squeaky wheel.  Everyone.

2. Never trust a grown man who doesn’t cry at the end of “Field of Dreams”

3. When your kids ask for your permission, they’ve almost certainly already asked and received a “no” from your spouse.

4. People who claim they don’t lie, are in fact, lying.

5. The whole town is NOT talking about the Webb boys.

6. If you use the word “sincere”, you aren’t.

7. If someone says “that’s a fact” it means “I hope you don’t look it up”.

8. A mechanic’s eyes turn into cartoon cash registers when you try to explain a knock in the engine.

9. Sedentary people may not be as healthy as exercise junkies, but they almost never need knee replacements.

10. Never trust anyone older than thirty…to fix your computer.

11. If you live north of the Mason-Dixon line, don’t ever buy a house with a long driveway.

12. Make friends with the high school mathletes. They will eventually be hiring.

13. If you roll your eyes when your spouse tells a joke or story, you are ruining the moment for everyone in the room. 

14. “Self-Help Seminar” is an oxymoron.

15. When someone tells you to do things that scare you, they don’t mean do EVERYTHING that scares you. There is no good reason to wing-walk.

16. Punching the car radio when you hear the “Kars for Kids” commercial may turn off the jingle momentarily, but it cannot kill it.

17. “Oh Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine, you blow my mind” is impossible to read without singing.

18. He who laughs at himself gets the most laughs.

19. The Do-It-Yourself crowd always eventually creates more business for the Do-it-For-You occupations.

20. Remember that even though the person tailgating you is enraged, you are giving the people he or she is rushing to meet five or six extra seconds to relax.

21. NEVER use the word “fetch” when asking your spouse to get you something.

22. No man has ever satisfactorily loaded a dishwasher.

23. If you think of a joke about someone’s name, resist the temptation. They have heard that joke a thousand times.

24. Never trust a man who calls you either “Sport” or “Chief”.

25. “High Maintenance” is never worth it.

26. People who wear sunglasses indoors should be avoided at all costs.

27. Basketball coaches are ten times more likely to have a combover than any other profession.

28. The only place to find someone without mother or father issues is Madame Tussaud’s.

29. You know who never runs out of small talk? A weatherman.

30. The most oft-repeated lie of all time is “I’m happy for you.”

31. A person who isn’t bothered by bad reviews is someone who has never gotten one.

32. Instant messaging someone is like jumping in front of them and screaming: “ANSWER ME NOW!”

33. “Stop and smell the roses” is great advice even if you take it literally.

34. If you need to talk to a musician, don’t do it before noon.

35. Pabst earned their blue ribbon 120 years ago. Look for a more recent winner.

36. If being an outdoorsman was so great, they wouldn’t have invented houses, furnaces, or air conditioning.

37. Every time your child says “I’m bored” you are justified in deducting the cost of their toys from their college fund.

38. The deliciousness of a meal is directly proportional to how bad your breath smells after eating it.

39. Telemarketers will never answer “yes” to the question “Can I call you right back?”

40. Your elected officials may be pathetic, but they were elected by you.

41. The person who tells you the best gossip is also telling your secrets to everyone they know.

42. No one has ever listened to the phrase immediately following…”When I was a kid…”

43. “Undetectable Plastic Surgery” is an oxymoron.

44. Little Tykes is the most ironically named company of all-time. They make toys the size of my house.

45. The only way to avoid naming a child something that doesn’t rhyme with a dirty word is to name them “Orange”.

46. Paul Anka was only 27 when he wrote “My Way”. His regrets are no longer “too few to mention”.

47. 100% of people working on your house will tell you the last person who did work there clearly didn’t know what he was doing.

48. Your family may love you, but your dog is the only one truly happy to see you when you come home.

49. There hasn’t been a “Caddyshack-quote-free” round of golf played in America in more than three decades.

50. All of your life accomplishments will be forgotten immediately if you die an embarrassing death.


Eckhartz Everyday

*On this day in 2019, Eckhartz Press author Deb Tokarz (I CU Copper) appeared on the Bill Turck radio program. (Photo: Deb in the middle, Turck co-host Kerri Kendall on the right)

*On this day in 2021, Eckhartz Press author Margaret Larkin was featured in Robert Feder's column in the Daily Herald.

*On this day in 2021, Eckhartz Press author Paul M. Banks appeared on Sports Beezer, to promote his book Transatlantic Passage.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

From the Writing Archives--Nice Guys Finish Last


 This week I begin my last week in my 50s. In celebration of that, I'm dipping into the archives every day this week to feature something I've written in the past. This was a review of the Leo Durocher book "Nice Guys Finish Last" which was reissued on this day in 2009. It appeared in the Beachwood Reporter. Some of the great anecdotes from Leo's book, of course, also made their way (with attribution of course) into my book EveryCubEver...

I knew a few things about Leo Durocher before I cracked open the pages of “Nice Guys Finish Last” (just re-released on paperback by University of Chicago press).

I knew that he was such an irritant as a player and manager in the 1930s and 1940s that he once provoked Cubs pitcher Hi Bithorn to throw a pitch into the Brooklyn Dodgers dugout.

 I knew that his language was so foul it would have made Bobby Knight blush.

I knew that he was essentially an unlikable guy. When Vin Scully, a man that never has a harsh word for anyone, heard Leo took a job in Japan he said: “It took the U.S. 35 years to get revenge for Pearl Harbor.”

But most importantly, I knew Leo Durocher was the manager and wore #2 for the team of my childhood; the late 60s and early 70s Chicago Cubs.

 What I didn’t know about Leo Durocher was his almost sociopathic motto: “Do whatever you feel like doing whenever you feel like doing it, and everything will turn out just fine.”

 I learned that in “Nice Guys Finish Last.”

I also learned that despite his unlikable personality and foul mouth, Leo Durocher personally witnessed and experienced nearly every important event in baseball between the late 1920s and the early 1970s. Imagine getting behind the scenes reports from someone who absolutely doesn’t care about stepping on toes.

That’s “Nice Guys Finish Last.” 

Durocher was a bench warmer on those great Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig Yankee teams in the late 1920s, a spark plug for the legendary “Gas House Gang” in St. Louis in the 1930s, the manager of the Dodgers when the color line was broken in the 1940s, and the manager of the Giants in the 1950s when Willie Mays came to the majors and Bobby Thomson hit the shot heard round the world.

 His stories about his run-ins with the baseball executives of the day, including Yankees owner Ed Barrow (Leo said “Go Fuck Yourself” to him), Cardinals owner Branch Rickey (the tightwad bible-thumping baseball genius), Dodgers owner Lee McPhail (the manic-depressive lunatic), and Giants owner Horace Stoneham (the distant drunk), are almost inspiring in their iconoclastic furor.

But I’m a Cubs fan first and foremost, and for me the most interesting parts of the books were the little tidbits about some of the all-time Cub greats like Pat Malone, Charlie Grimm, Billy Herman, Bill “Swish” Nicholson, Rabbit Maranville, and of course, the Cubs that Leo managed in the late 60s and early 70s.

 Those Cubs years were still fresh news when “Nice Guys Finish Last” first came out, and while I love the behind the scenes look at my childhood heroes, this entire section does make Leo sound like he’s attempting to settle some scores. He calls out Ernie Banks as a phony, and implies Ron Santo was an overrated dimwitted baby. He calls Milt Pappas an agitator, and implies Joe Pepitone was God’s punishment for Leo’s own behavior as a player.

Perhaps the most shocking part of the book for me, though, was Leo’s portrayal of Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley. Durocher, who has almost nothing nice to say about anyone (except Willie Mays and Eddie Stanky), calls Wrigley “The finest man to work for in the world” and “The most decent man I’ve met.”

 I did not see that one coming.

 In fact, the entire Cubs section of the book made me question everything I once believed. Wrigley was a sweetheart, but Jack Brickhouse was a jerk? (Leo actually writes: “Up yours, Brickhouse”). Ernie Banks and Ron Santo were the reason the Cubs didn’t win it? (“We were too slow in the middle of the lineup.”) For cryin’ out loud, Leo tried to trade Santo for Cesar Tovar and Billy Williams for Mike Epstein. The only reason neither trade happened was because the other team said no. You’ve got to be kidding me!

 The book was co-written with incredible flair and style by Ed Linn, who also co-wrote one of my other favorite baseball books, Bill Veeck’s incredible autobiography (“ in Wreck.”). But while it doesn’t pull many punches, and it’s never ever boring, there are a few parts of the book that just don’t ring true.

For instance, Durocher’s run-ins with baseball commissioners Kennesaw Mountain Landis, Happy Chandler, and Bowie Kuhn make those men sound like absolute idiots who fined and suspended him for no reason whatsoever. It’s hard to dispute that some of their rulings were a bit random, but it hardly seems likely that Durocher was the unluckiest man in baseball history. There’s certainly more to those stories.

The other part of the book that seems a bit whitewashed is the first season Jackie Robinson played with the Dodgers. Durocher was suspended that entire season so he didn’t actually manage him until Jackie’s second season, but Leo really downplays the unrest in the Dodgers clubhouse before Jackie’s arrival. Durocher claims to have held a late night meeting with the players to warn them that Jackie was coming and if they didn’t like it, they could take a hike. He doesn’t mention that the Commissioner had to step in to issue a more direct threat.

 While I absolutely love the baseball tales in “Nice Guys Finish Last,” I’m not wild about the Hollywood stories. For all the down and dirty criticism of baseball players and executives, Leo is downright sycophantic when it comes to Hollywood. Perhaps the most ridiculous part of the book is the five page ass-kissing of his pal Frank Sinatra. Leo’s head is so far up Frank’s butt you can actually see Durocher’s bald head when Frank says hello. He does the same thing to Danny Kaye earlier in the book.

 It’s unbecoming.

 I like my irascible curmudgeons to be pure.

On the other hand, that kind of ass-kissing led to quite a few cameos and guest spots. Durocher was on Mr. Ed, The Munsters, The Beverly Hillbillies, and The Judy Garland Show, among others.

Maybe I shouldn’t question Leo. It hasn’t turned out well for anyone else that has.

Don’t believe me? Just read “Nice Guys Finish Last” and see what I mean.


Eckhartz Everyday

*On this day in 2019, I appeared on the Club 400 broadcast to talk about my book, EveryCubEver.

*On this day in 2014, CBS-2 Chicago profiled Eckkhartz Press author Bruce Bohrer. Check it out here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Studio Walls

Every week I send my Minutia Men Co-Host Dave Stern a list from our audio archives for this week's Studio Walls feature. These are the possibilities for this week. Which one will he choose?

*July 25 is famous comedy club owner Mitzie Shore's birthday. Comedian Ross Bennett told us what it was like to perform in front of this comedy icon. (Full interview is here)

*July 25 would have been Walter Payton's birthday. He once had a very memorable appearance on John Landecker's show (AUDIO)

*July 26 is Mick Jagger's birthday. Best Selling author James Finn Garner once appeared on the show and had a heated argument with Rick about Beatles vs. Stones. (Full interview here)

*July 26 is also Shane Obedzinski's birthday. Shane was one of the kid actors in the classic baseball movie The Sandlot, and appeared on our show to talk about it. (Full interview here)

*July 27, 2000, the movie Thomas and the Magic Railroad was released. Little Tommy Kaempfer reviewed the film for the John Landecker show (AUDIO)

*July 27, 1919, Chicago was embroiled in a full-out race riot. Author Robert Loerzel came on the show to discuss that horrible day in Chicago history. (Full interview here)

*July 27th would have Leo Durocher's birthday. We have some very salty outtakes from his old radio show with Lou Boudreau. (AUDIO)

*July 29, 1981, Disney on Ice premiers. Little Tommy Kaempfer once reviewed the film Toy Story on Ice for the John Landecker show (AUDIO)

Chili Dog MVP in Wheaton


“Chili Dog MVP” Authors to speak at Headlines from History series In-person at Cantigny Park and via Zoom: July 28, 2022

The Robert R. McCormick House at Cantigny Park resumes its Headlines from History series with a presentation by the authors of “Chili Dog MVP: Dick Allen, the ’72 White Sox, and a Transforming Chicago.”

John Owens and Dr. David J. Fletcher will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 28, 2022.

The free presentation will take place in person at the Cantigny Park Visitors Center (parking $5) and online via Zoom. Those needing a Zoom link must register in advance at

Co-authors Fletcher and Owens will discuss a unique time and place in baseball and Chicago history, when the arrival of a controversial slugger electrified the city just after the White Sox nearly moved to Milwaukee.

Their recently published book weaves a narrative of Allen, his teammates, broadcaster Harry Caray, and organist Nancy Faust during a more innocent time in baseball, set against the backdrop of Chicago in the 1970s.

The authors will be signing copies of “Chili Dog MVP,” which will be available for purchase at the presentation.

John Owens is an award-winning media professional with more than 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist, producer, director, and videographer.

David Fletcher attended 20 White Sox games in 1972, witnessing first-hand what Dick Allen meant to Chicago. He later became close to Allen and his family, even speaking at the seven-time All-Star’s funeral in 2020.

Read the full article at…

From the Writing Archives--Letter from Son's Lawyer

 This week I begin my last week in my 50s. In celebration of that, I'm dipping into the archives every day this week to feature something I've written in the past. This particular piece is a Father Knows Nothing column from 2008. Sean was 6 years old at the time. He is now almost 20. It isn't in the final copy of the book, but it still brings back fond memories for me.

A letter I expect to receive

Dear Mr Kaempfer:

I represent your youngest son Sean in the matter of Kaempfer vs. Kaempfer, Kaempfer, Kaempfer, & Kaempfer.

My client concedes that his wallet often includes many many more dollars than he should have at any given time, and he understands why this has aroused your suspicions and led to charges of intra-family theft. However, before you and the rest of the parties to this matter continue to levy these unsubstantiated charges, please consider the following…

*No one has ever witnessed my client actually taking money from someone else. Just because your wallet is short $5 and his wallet has $5 extra doesn’t prove a thing. The police department cannot and will not pursue this matter without an eye-witness account.

*My client’s claim of "magical money powers" has never been disproved. The burden of proof here clearly falls on the shoulders of those accusing him of theft.

*My client is quite cute and has been known to receive money from old people simply because of that cuteness.

*While my client has been known to say "finders keepers, losers weepers," this in no way proves that he is picking up any and all change he finds around the house and keeping it. It’s quite possible that he has some sort of a magnetic imbalance in his pocket-area that attracts the coins. Surely medical considerations should be taken into account.

*Has anyone considered that he may have earned that money legitimately? While gambling isn’t technically legal for someone his age, it also isn’t technically theft. Ban his gambling today, and you’ll kill his dream of playing professional Go Fish tomorrow.

*Even if someone were to prove that my client had illicitly acquired a few extra dollars from around the house, isn’t his mathematical development important to you? Keeping track of smaller denominations may be good training for a lesser mathematical mind, but surely adding and multiplying larger denominations will facilitate his mathematical growth. Consider any "lost" money an investment in his future earning potential, which could, in fact, pay for your inevitable nursing home care.

My client is a very reasonable 6-year-old and is willing to forgive and forget any previous accusations without pursuing legal action at this time. On the other hand, a payment in the three-figure range would provide a soothing balm to his pain and suffering.

Shirley Cheatum
Dewey, Cheatum & Howe, Attorneys at Law

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2018, Eckhartz Press and author Richard Reeder released this promotional video for his book 1001 Train Rides in Chicago...

Monday, July 25, 2022

Caddyshack anniversary

From the Writing Archives--Nancy

 This week I begin my last week in my 50s. In celebration of that, I'm dipping into the archives every day this week to feature something I've written in the past. This particular piece is from my book Father Knows Nothing, Today would have been Nancy's birthday...

It was just an ordinary summer day in 1973.

The old neighborhood was filled with kids. There were a dozen or more kids on my street about the same age as me, give or take a few years, and we played together outside for hours and hours at a time. The games of choice were Spud, Kick the Can, 500, Capture the Flag, and of course, baseball.

On this particular day I was watching some of the older kids play baseball at the park across the street from my house. They weren’t letting me play because I wasn’t good enough, but I didn’t mind. My best friend Stu was allowed to play, and I was lending my support by rooting for him, and chasing foul balls.

“Hey Ricky!” I heard from across the street. I recognized the voice of Stu’s sister Nancy, but I didn’t see her anywhere. “Up here,” she said. “In the tree.”

The tree in the front yard of her house was our favorite climbing tree. The lowest branch was low enough to allow even little kids access. Some of the neighborhood kids could climb nearly all the way to the top, but I was afraid to go that high. It was a pretty tall tree. And Nancy was up higher in that tree than I had ever seen.

“You can see the water tower from up here,” she said.

Now she had my attention. This was a small town with absolutely nothing exciting, but we did have a water tower downtown a few miles away. It seemed impossible to be able to see something of that magnitude from the bucolic confines of our little side street. So I wandered over to take a look.

When I stood at the base of the tree and looked straight up, it seemed like Nancy was a thousand feet in the sky. There was no way I was going that high.

“C’mon,” she said. “You’ve got to see this.”

She was right. I had to see it. So I started climbing, and this tree was made for climbing. The branches were smooth. They were staggered perfectly. They were sturdy. There really was nothing preventing me from continuing my climb except my fear.

I made it past the mid-point of the tree (my new all-time record) and saw something for the first time in my life: the roof of the school across the street. I could see a couple of dodge balls that had been kicked up there–an incredible find. But I still couldn’t imagine that I would make it as high as Nancy.

She was urging me on as I hit the 3/4 mark, but I still couldn’t see the water tower. I saw something else, however. Our Ford LTD was making it’s way down the boulevard on it’s way home from the train station. Inside that car was my dad’s car pool–my dad, our next door neighbor Mr. Reiss, and our backyard neighbor Mr. Walsh. It was my mom’s turn to pick them up.

I knew that car meant the end of my climb because dinner started moments after dad walked in the front door, so I put my fear aside and kept climbing. I made it just beneath Nancy as our car pulled into the driveway, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. There it was; its gold glimmering paint shining from a few miles away. A giant “1917″ was painted on its side, the year our town was founded.

“Can you see it?” Nancy asked.

“I can see it,” I replied.

We could hear the car doors open beneath us, and I couldn’t contain my excitement.

“Dad,” I called. “I can see the water tower from here.”

“Get down from there,” my mom called. “You’ll kill yourself.”

“Look at that,” Mr. Reiss said. “Ricky’s really all the way up there.”

He didn’t sound concerned and neither did my dad, who just told me to come down for dinner.

I never made it up that tree again. A few months later my little brother fell out of it, and one of the neighbors broke her arm saving him from getting hurt. After that, Mr. Page (Nancy & Stu’s dad) enforced a no-climb zone.

We moved out of the neighborhood the next year–all the way to Germany.

The Pages moved away in the mid-80s. By then Nancy was married, and Stu was in the Air Force. Many of the other neighbors eventually moved too, but one constant had always been Mr. Reiss. That era ended a few weeks ago, when he passed away. He had been the last living member of the carpool.

When I attended Mr. Reiss’ funeral, I couldn’t help it, I flashed back to that summer of 1973. I pictured him getting out of that Ford LTD, and looking up at the only tree climbing accomplishment of my life.

Sadly, it wasn’t a long journey back to 1973 for me, because I was already there, ever since Stu called me a few days earlier to tell me that his sister Nancy had also died. She died of ALS the same week as Mr. Reiss. Nancy would have been 50 this summer (2011), 38 summers after she reached the top of the tree.

The neighborhood hasn’t physically changed much; the same houses on the same street in front of the same park. Even the tree is still standing, and if you’re crazy enough to climb it, you can still see the water tower, which was recently repainted.

But you can’t see what I can see.

I can see Nancy. I can see Mr. Reiss. I can see Dad.

And I can see a perfect summer day in 1973.