My dad, Earl Brindle died in December, 2006.
Over the past few years, I find myself having conversations with my father especially during my morning walks. I’ll be thinking about some problem or concern and, suddenly, I’ll be asking Dad what he thinks. He doesn’t talk back but, in some way, I do feel his presence. He’s also shown up as a participant in my dreams. I’ll wake up and have to remind myself that Dad’s no longer “here”. I’m not sure what that means but were I to visit a psychoanalyst I’m sure that they’d have a field day with that information.
It’s odd because I didn’t have that many conversations with my father when he was alive.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to notice similarities between myself and my father. Our body types are more alike than I’d once thought. I like learning new things and sharing information with others that might help them to increase their understanding or improve their life. Although perceived by some to be an outgoing socializer, my nature is to be somewhat of a loner. At home, I’m not handy. Neither was he. But I know it and hire experts. He tried to do it himself. Then we brought in the experts!
My mother had been mythologizing Dad for my brother, Alan and me ever since we were kids. In Mom’s eyes, he was perfect in every way. And my father was a terrific role model: self-educated, intellectually curious, ethical, compassionate, generous, friendly, self-deprecating, great sense of humor, civic-minded, concerned citizen, loyal & devoted husband, interested & involved parent, honest, reliable, trustworthy, helpful, courteous, kind, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. A solid, upstanding role model. As the first born son of a role model like this, it’s not a total surprise to me why I’ve had a problem with authority figures all my life!
Dad grew up during The Great Depression. He would have easily done well in college but his parents were poor and couldn’t afford to send him. So, he did his best, served his country during World War II, worked hard, provided for his family, weathered adversity, and lived a productive, honorable life. We Baby Boomers may feel like we’ve been having a tough time during these past five years but my father and most others of his generation lived through and survived during much tougher times. Somehow, they made it through and managed to thrive. Rather than whining and bemoaning our losses, we need to learn from their example, do what’s best for our country and humanity, and get on with our lives.
Through his actions and his words, Earl N. Brindle taught me about being a generous and compassionate friend and neighbor, about being a trustworthy and equal partner in marriage, about being a good parent and about being focused on getting the job done right. I’m still his work in progress.
My father is one of the reasons I ended up in Saratoga Springs. Dad loved to ride horses, a skill he picked up in Wyoming during his stint with the Army Air Forces, and enjoyed watching them race. Along with such sporting events as the Saturday night boxing matches, NY Giants football, and Red Sox baseball, we would always watch the Triple Crown races together. When I moved to Saratoga and took him to our legendary race course in August to watch the morning workouts, he was in heaven. Along with being able to give him a granddaughter who he adored, I’m glad that I was able to give him those experiences at Saratoga Race Course.
I’m grateful for the time that my dad spent with me at the baseball field trying (unsuccessfully) to help me become a better player, trying to teach me how to fish (again, unsuccessfully), and risking his life and his sanity as he endeavored to teach his 16 year old eldest son how to drive.
I wrote this a couple of years ago. Mom celebrated her 95th birthday earlier this year. May is the month when we pay tribute to our moms, so I thought it was worth re-posting.
My mother was the first born child of immigrants. She was born Alice Della but has been referred to by her nickname, “Del” for most of her life. Mom’s mother was from England and her father from Canada. Except for a few months during World War II when she and my father lived in Washington state and California, she has always lived in Rhode Island. Mom was the eldest of five kids the youngest of whom she was frequently responsible for babysitting. I always thought that her parenting skills were honed during those days when she was taking care of her little sister and brother.
Mom grew up during The Great Depression and, like many others, her family struggled financially. When she was 15, my mother quit school in order to take a job in her uncle’s mill. I’m not sure how she felt about that but, as an intelligent young woman, I suspect that she wasn’t happy about it. Yet, I’ve never heard her complain about having to quit her education in order to help support the family. She felt it was her duty and she did it.
Mom was raised a Catholic but for reasons about which I’ve never been quite clear decided to leave the Catholic church and began attending youth group meetings at a Methodist church where she met my father. Apparently, the pastor of the church, a Dr. Metzner (sic) was a charismatic man who had a great deal of influence on both my father and mother. I remember them both smiling in obvious enjoyment as they told my brother and I stories about the doctor and their adventures with the youth group. I believe he was the minister who married them.
Mom and dad met when they were 16 and it was apparently love at first sight. Except for the years when Dad was away during World War II, they were never apart. And they always seemed to enjoy one another’s company. Every morning that I can recall, Dad would stroll into the kitchen, bellow “Good morning, Alice Della!”, sweep Mom into his arms and give her an enthusiastic kiss. Her return kiss was just as enthusiastic. It was the kind of overt display of affection which provided a strong sense of security for an impressionable young boy like me.
Like any married couple, they’d sometimes quarrel or disagree often when Dad would take a detour down some unchartered route to see which way it might take us. Mom preferred the known to the unknown but I think that she secretly enjoyed Dad’s sense of adventure. Recently, Mom observed that they’d never had a fight. (Imagine how warped my perspective on married life was coming out of that environment!) .
As was normal in those days, Mom was a housewife. She didn’t even know how to drive. In fact, she didn’t get her driver’s license until she was in her 40s. However, when I was in elementary school, Mom became the first woman president of the Smithfield (RI) PTA. Smithfield was a small New England town and that was a big deal. My father was well-known in town because of his business activities and members hips in the Lions Club and Volunteer Fire Department but it also made me proud when I saw the respect with which teachers, school principals, and prominent members of the community treated her. My mother is not an ambitious person so I suspect that she was nominated for the PTA presidency by people who wanted someone in the position whose opinions they respected and integrity they trusted.
One prominent memory from my younger days is Saturday nights at our house. As the big sister and surrogate parent, Mom always hosted her younger siblings and their families on Saturday nights. Invariably, we males would congregate in the living room to watch TV and banter with occasional conversation. But I can still see all the women gathered around the dining room table to get my mother’s opinion. It’s not that she sought to impose her opinions on them but that they seemed to value her insights and advice. My observation was that they always thought of my mother as well-grounded and a source of common sense. They trusted her opinion.
Dad died just after Thanksgiving in 2006. After all their years together, it’s hard for her to not have Dad but she’s adapted well and has realized how self-sufficient she really is. With age have come some challenges but she is still surprisingly alert and present. Since I take after my mother and her side of the family, I find this especially encouraging!
I know that everybody feels this way about their mother but my Mom is a very special lady. I’m proud to be her son and especially pleased that I was able to bring a granddaughter into her life.
“In the mid-1880s,…growth of colossal corporations in the aftermath of the Civil War had produced immense, consolidated wealth for business owners, but the lives of the working people…had become increasingly difficult.” In her book, The Bully Pulpit, Doris Kearns Goodwin quotes one of Teddy Roosevelt’s political rivals as observing: “We plow new fields, …open new mines,…found new cities…we add knowledge and utilize invention after invention. (Yet) it becomes no easier for the masses of our people to make a living. On the contrary, it is becoming harder.”
Although America’s unemployment rate has been dropping, long term unemployment remains a major issue. It’s estimated that over a million Baby Boomers are members of the long term unemployed cohort.
More than 15% percent of the approximately thirty-six million Baby Boomers born in the U.S. between 1946 and 1954 are expected to live active, healthy lives into their 90s. Since retirement savings for many of those Boomers were severely diminished during the recent financial crisis, many of them will need to continue working at jobs which are both psychically and financially rewarding well past the traditional 65 year old retirement age. Meanwhile, American businesses including the legal and medical professions are reducing their labor forces through the use of automation and robotics.
To remain a successful capitalist economy, America needs consumers for the goods and services it produces. Although many of American industries’ customers may come from outside of the United States, it will also be necessary for Americans to consume local goods and services. To do so, they will require sufficient incomes.
As columnist Tom Friedman points out, the US needs to rethink its social contracts because labor is important to a person’s identity and dignity as well as to societal stability.
For the country’s future well-being, political and business leaders need to focus not only on helping millennials who are entering the workforce but also on redeveloping the American economy to keep healthy Baby Boomers engaged in jobs which are both psychically and financially rewarding. The challenge will be to create opportunities to unite the natural resources of Boomer experience and expertise with the 21st century skill sets of Millennials.
Don’t get me wrong. I like football. I just don’t care about the NFL until post-season. The same is true for baseball. It wasn’t always this way.
I was raised in a small New England village with a great baseball field about 100 yards downhill from our back porch. Between the ages of 5 and 13 , during the daylight hours when I wasn’t in school, doing homework or participating in organized sports at another venue, that’s where you’d probably find me with the other guys from our neighborhood playing baseball in Spring and Summer or touch football in the Fall.
When I was growing up, New England didn’t have an NFL team and the Jets didn’t exist, so the New York Giants was my default team of choice.
In later years, I lived in Pittsburgh where I became a Steelers fan. But now, although, I’ve lived more than half of my life as a resident of New York State, I’m not emotionally committed to the Giants or the Jets. I may, at times, like certain NFL teams more than others but I’m not passionate about any of them. Although, during the Broncos/ Patriots game I was definitely rooting for New England. But, since the Patriots lost, I have no Superbowl preference.
I’m a fair weather fan.
Which is why the NFL season started for me earlier this month. Now that “the wheat is separated from the chaff”, “the cream has risen to the top”, or whichever metaphor you choose to use to describe the process which brought the contending teams to the playoffs, I’ve gotten interested.
So, I’m looking forward to the SuperBowl’s emotional ups & downs, and to watching some amazingly gifted athletes and their coaches perform under pressure. The commercials will be fun, too.
I’ll find watching them to be inspiring and educational….even if I’m just a lowly fair weather fan.
The centennial of the Civil War was being commemorated in 1962. Nelson Rockefeller was New York’s governor. Racism was matter-of-fact for most white American, whether overt or unconscious. So it took a certain amount of political courage for the Republican governor to select a controversial African-American like Martin Luther King, Jr. to deliver Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
No one had heard Dr. King’s speech for more than 50 years until last Fall when staff members of the New York State Museum in Albany discovered a long forgotten reel-to-reel tape.
You can listen to it here http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/mlk/index.html
I’ve been a fan of PBS’s updated version of the Sherlock Holmes series but I’m concerned that I’ll be disappointed with Season 3.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock has perfectly captured the main character’s charismatic, highly intelligent, extremely analytical, anti-social, and slightly annoying personality. The concentrated blue-eyed gaze,deep voice, and unkempt air of the unknown British actor made for compelling TV.
During the series second season, Cumberbatch had gained a bit more exposure to American audiences in supporting roles in the remake of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “War Horse” but those roles didn’t diminish Cumberbatch’s credibility in his primary role as Sherlock Holmes. I had no problem buying into the premise that Cumberbatch was Sherlock or that Martin Freeman was Dr. Watson. As a fan and viewer, I bought into the premise and identified the actors with their roles.
However, prior to Season 3′s debut things have changed.
Not only have appearances by Cumberbatch in prominent roles such as the lead in HBO’s “Parade’s End”, the latest Star Trek movie, and the voice of Smaug in The Hobbit become more frequent. But Martin Freeman’s role as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit films have also heightened his profile.
So, my concern is that as I watch Season 3, I’ll find it more difficult to become as emotionally involved in the series as I have during the previous two seasons because my objective, analytical brain will be reminding me about the actors’ other roles.
I’m hoping I’m wrong.
After watching the first two episodes of Season 3, I sensed a certain smugness which I found disappointing and off-putting. However, after reading Emily Nussbaum’s assessment in The New Yorker http://ow.ly/t6EQB , my attitude has been somewhat altered.
On Elvis Presley’s birthday in 1973, the general manager of WGLD-FM in Chicago, an Elvis fan, decided to change the format of the radio station from progressive album rock to pop oldies. He made this rather rash decision without consulting with the station’s corporate headquarters at Sonderling Broadcasting. The general manager’s name was…Charles Manson. (No, not THAT Charles Manson).
Meanwhile, I was living in Washington, DC where just after Christmas I had been relieved of my duties as a DJ at Sonderling’s WMOD-FM and collecting severance pay because of a Chicken Man joke. Allow me to explain.
While introducing a recorded commercial message for a sale on chicken at the Giant Foods chain voiced by the owner of the chain’s local advertising agency, the morning DJ had introduced the spot “And now, a word from Chicken Man”. The Chicken Man radio series which satirized the superhero genre was a favorite among young radio announcers at the time.
Unfortunately, an associate at the advertising agency who was monitoring WMOD-FM and heard the comment was unamused. She complained to the station’s local sales manager who then mentioned it to me. As it happened, I was unofficially in charge of the programming department while most of the other managers were out of town on business. I had also attended a holiday party on the previous evening at the home of the advertising exec who had voiced the spot.
Confused about why the agency would find the DJ’s comment offensive, I decided to contact the agency owner to get a better understanding of the problem so that management could address the situation upon their return. Luck wasn’t with me that day and the person who answered the phone was the young woman who’d made the original complaint. I attempted to explain that radio listeners tend to presume that the relationship between a radio station and the businesses it advertises are friendly and that the Chicken Man comment was obviously meant to be cutely humorous. Her response was that she didn’t like my attitude. She then hung up, complained about me to station management, and I was summarily fired.
That brings us to January 8th, 1973 when the company suddenly found itself in need of my services to help get the situation in Chicago under control. So, I found myself in the odd situation of collecting severance from the Sonderling’s Washington station while simultaneously collecting a management paycheck from its Chicago station where I had been hired as program director.
As it turned out, Charles Manson resented my appointment by corporate management to the Chicago position and he ended up dismissing me 6 months after I’d taken the job.
However, my former college radio station manager at Northeastern University at just taken a job in Pittsburgh to launch a new Top 40 station and he offered me a job as one of his first two employees. The other person he hired was a young kid named Bob Pittman. And, together, the three of us launched one of America’s first FM Top 40 radio stations, WPEZ.
Pittman later hired me at WNBC, New York and at MTV: Music Television.
So, you might say that I ended up as a member of MTV’s original management team because of Elvis.
Here’s to The King!
We Baby Boomers are “digital immigrants”. We’ve had to learn to adapt to computers, email, digital downloads, smartphones, texting, tablets, etc. The Millennials are “digital natives”. To them, the constant stream of rapidly changing media tools have always been a part of their lives. Here’s an interesting infographic about “digital natives” and learning courtesy of KZO Innovations:
Presented by Kzoinnovations.com
Most of the media analysis surrounding the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination has been focused on its impact on journalism and American perceptions about TV in terms of news.
However, I’ve also been struck by how TV helped Americans who were between the ages of 7 and 45 during the “Camelot” years to emotionally connect with the Kennedy family. Vaughn Meader’s comedy album, “The First Family” not only made us laugh at the Kennedy’s but also, because of JFK’s publicly good-natured reaction to it, with them.
CBS Sunday Morning ran a story about JFK’s father, Joseph Kennedy’s plan to market his son for the presidency “like soap”. That story encouraged me to consider the consequences of Joe Kennedy’s marketing campaign and I’ve concluded that its result, to those of us watching, was a message about the ideal family and its values, attitudes, and behaviors.
Jim Stengel, in his book GROW, discusses the concept of the Brand Ideal. According to Stengel , a brand’s success relies on its ability to satisfy one of the following fundamental values: elicit joy, enable connection, inspire exploration, evoke pride, or positively impact society.
The Brand Ideal of Jack and Jackie Kennedy could be described as “a youthful, healthy, intelligent, cultured, loving couple who represented the hopes and dreams for America’s future”. In other words: Camelot. [ Feel free to quibble with this description and its basis for validity. I use it only for the purpose of example.]
The fact that Baby Boomers still revere JFK and Jackie today despite what we’ve learned about their very human flaws and short-comings seems to me to be a testament to how well Joe Kennedy’s marketing of his son worked.