Category Archives: I REMEMBER

Looking back at things I remember from what seems like “not so long ago.”

Using Isaiah 54:17 to “Beat the Devil:” Part Two

Hi Friends:
We are still trying to get to the explanation of the title.

Just so we can read it again, here’s the full verse:

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”
Isaiah 54:17

So, really …
When was the last time you heard someone speak this verse?
When was the last time you spoke this verse?

It was while watching a movie on the TBS On-Demand channel that I saw the promos for a new version of “The Jokers Wild” game show.
This used to be … “way-back-when” … one of my favorite game shows. I have always liked shows which feature “question and answers” to test your knowledge.

So, I started researching the history of “The Jokers Wild” game show.
As I progressed, I ran into a lot of “I Remember” moments.
Enough of those moments to add this installment of what will be a three-part series, into our “I Remember” category.

Perhaps, when we hear of a game show which tests your knowledge, we first think of “Jeopardy!”
I remember the original “Jeopardy!” hosted by Art Fleming. The original daytime version debuted on NBC on March 30, 1964. Don Pardo was the announcer until 1975, and John Harlan announced for the 1978–1979 show.
I used to love Art Fleming coming out, raising his arm, and saying, “Thank you, John Harlan!!!” or “Thank you, Don Pardo!!!” as he walked to the podium. Art Fleming just seemed to be a nice man. As a fan of old-time radio, and, I guess now, old-time television, it was always important who the announcer was. I remember when the announcer was a big part of the show in those early years of television.
The daily syndicated version, the “current version,” has featured Alex Trebek as host and Johnny Gilbert as announcer since 1984.
Alex Trebek has hosted “Jeopardy!” since 1984?
That’s 34 years.
34 years.

There is an old saying in the radio business that, “You know you’re getting older when they start making “re-makes” of songs that you used to play when they were brand new.”
I guess now, the same can be said for game shows.

“Jeopardy!” is one of those shows that, when you walk in the room where the show is on … you have stop, and try to answer at least one question … or, more. It just “grabs you” and, certainly that is one of the secrets behind its appeal. Just like “The Wheel of Fortune,” when the game is on when you walk in the room, you just have to stop for a moment, and try to solve the puzzle.
While I was never a fan of “Wheel of Fortune,” I used to love “Jeopardy!”
Have you noticed that “Jeopardy!” is always spelled with an exclamation point?

Anyway, I remember, when I was a child, that Mama used to love to watch “Jeopardy!” So, I loved it, too.
I remember … “Jeopardy!” was on at 10:00 …Right after “The Phil Donahue Show,” which Mama also would sometimes watch.
I can still remember certain episodes of “The Phil Donahue Show” with Billy Graham as guest.

Oh, boy … do I remember “The Jack LaLanne Show” … That would have to be one of my earliest television memories …
One man, and one chair … His fitness show ran from 1953 until 1985.

Both my Mom and Dad used to watch his program. I remember that much of Jack LaLanne’s audience were stay-at-home mothers. His wife, Elaine LaLanne, was part of the show to demonstrate the exercises, as well as demonstrate the fact that doing the exercises would not ruin their figures or musculature.
Remember this?
Jack LaLanne also included his dog Happy as a way to attract children to the show. Later, another dog named Walter was used, with LaLanne claiming “Walter” stood for “We All Love To Exercise Regularly.”

Which leads me to remember … Charles Atlas …
I remember Daddy was a big fan of Charles Atlas, and I can remember, every morning, Daddy doing exercises made famous by Charles Atlas.
Of course, I was a big fan of Charles Atlas.
I think every American boy was.
Yes … I remember those “kick sand in the face” ads on the back of comic books and magazines.
And … yes … I remember ordering the “Charles Atlas Course,” as well.

Daddy always … always … watched the world news at 6:30.
Didn’t matter if we were in the middle of supper or not …
He would grab his plate, and go into the living room, sit on the couch, and watch the news.
I remember Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.
I remember Walter Cronkite.
I remember, on Saturday nights … Roger Mudd hosting the Saturday Evening News on CBS.
We always watched that …
Wrestling was on, from Chattanooga, at 5:00, so the news would follow at 6:00.
I remember … when we got one of our first hogs/pigs, Daddy named it “Roger Mudd.”

I remember … after the news … if we were lucky … we’d get to watch “Truth or Consequences” with Bob Barker, and then … if we got to watch that … we could watch “Dragnet.”
I remember … that, sometimes, we would watch “To Tell the Truth” with Gary Moore hosting.
That was usually the only hour of TV we got …
Except on Thursday night … when “The Waltons” were on.
On Friday nights … we got a bonus:
We were able to watch “Sanford and Son.”
I remember “Chico and the Man,” which would follow.

We were all awake, watching Walter Cronkite, when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

Anyway … back to the game shows …

I was a fan of “The Jokers Wild” years ago.
I remember that I always did well on getting the answers correct.
I don’t get to watch “Jeopardy!” anymore, and I have no real interest in “game shows,” but I still love anything that carries a “question and answer” theme.
For example, when writing Part One of this series, I needed to check spelling and correct definition of a word. I use the Dictionary and Thesaurus.
Of course … before I left their website … I had to take at least one quiz … I did pretty well on it …
So, the point is, I still like quizzes, and the like, which test knowledge.

So, I thought I’d check out the new “Jokers Wild” television show. As written, I was a big fan of the show, many years ago.
When it first aired, the show was billed as
“The game where knowledge is king and lady luck is queen.”

By the way, Jack LaLanne would say that
“Exercise is king and nutrition is queen.”

As I researched the history of the show, it read like a “who’s who” of game shows.
“The Jokers Wild” first aired on CBS from 1972 to 1975, and from 1977 to 1986 in syndication. A children’s version, titled “Joker! Joker!! Joker!!!” aired from 1979 to 1981, and
a revival of the series aired in 1990 and 1991. The creator of the show, Jack Barry, hosted the show from 1972 to 1984, and is the host I have always associated with “Jokers Wild.”

In my research, I discovered this:
Jack Barry was not the original choice to host the show.
Allen Ludden hosted the first two pilot episodes for CBS.
Tom Kennedy, Wink Martindale, and Allen Ludden were the three top choices to host, but each was already committed to other shows. Kennedy was tied to “Split Second” for ABC, Ludden had just started hosting a revival of “Password,” and Martindale was to host “Gambit.”
They offered the hosting job to Dennis James, who had originally been the favorite to land the host job for the upcoming Mark Goodson–Bill Todman Productions’ game show “The New Price Is Right.” When CBS agreed to a weekday daytime version of “The New Price Is Right,” Vice President of Daytime Programming B. Donald “Bud” Grant wanted 15-year “Truth or Consequences” host Bob Barker to host “The New Price is Right” instead of Dennis James. Bob Barker originally said he would gladly host “Jokers Wild,” but Grant convinced him to take the hosting role on “The New Price Is Right” instead, which, as you know, Bob Barker would then host for 35 years. Meanwhile, Dennis James was hired by Goodson to host a night-time syndicated version of “The New Price Is Right.”

By the way … I remember … “Password” with Allen Luden.
Remember how popular this show was?

“The Joker’s Wild,” with host Jack Barry, debuted on CBS, on September 4, 1972, on the same Labor Day as “The New Price Is Right,” as well as “Gambit.” It ran until June 13, 1975, airing at 10:00 AM.

That’s enough for now …
Next time … I promise … to fully explain the title of this series …

As our thoughts … and our pens … turn to …
“Snoop Dogg Presents The Jokers Wild.”
Yes … “that” Snoop Dogg.”

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.


The Statler Brothers: “The Class of ’57”

Hi Friends:

With this song, the Statler Brothers were awarded the 1972 Grammy Award for “Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.”

Released in August, 1972, “The Class of ’57” was written by Don Reid and Harold Reid, and was the first single from the album “Country Music Then and Now.”

The Statler Brothers are:
Harold Reid, Phil Balsley, Jimmy Fortune and Don Reid.

The group retired from concerts and tours in 2002.

Here are the words:

The Class of ‘57
(Don Reid / Harold Reid)

Tommy’s selling used cars
Nancy’s fixing hair
Harvey runs a grocery store
And Margaret doesn’t care
Jerry drives a truck for Sears
And Charlotte’s on the make
Paul sells life insurance and part time real estate
Helen is a hostess
Frank works at the mill
Janet teaches grade school, and probably always will
Bob works for the city
And Jack’s in lab research
Peggy plays organ at the Presbyterian Church

And the class of ’57 had its dreams
We all thought we’d change the world with our great works & deeds
Or maybe we just thought the world would change to fit our needs
The class of ’57 had its dreams

Betty runs a trailer park
Jan sells Tupperware
Randy’s on an insane ward
And Mary’s on welfare
Charlie took a job at Ford
Joe took Freddie’s wife
Charlotte took a millionaire
And Freddie took his life
Johnny’s big in cattle
Ray is deep in debt
Where Mavis finally wound up is anybody’s bet
Linda married Sonny
Brenda married me
And the class of all of us is just part of history

And the class of ’57 had its dreams
But living life day-to-day
Is never like it seems
Things get complicated when you get past eighteen
But the class of ’57 had its dreams

The class of ’57 had its dreams
We all thought we’d change the world with our great work & deeds.
Or maybe we just thought the world would change to fit our needs.
The class of ’57 had its dreams.

Songwriters: Don Reid / Harold Reid

Graduation: Three in Six Days: Introduction to “Class of ’57”

Hi Friends:

This started as a short introduction to the Statler Brothers’ song, written by Don Reid and Harold Reid, “The Class of ’57.”
I hadn’t planned on writing much … but here we go …

This will serve as an introduction to the video, which we’ll feature next time …

Somehow, I feel comfort when I think that I wasn’t even born in 1957, but the words from this popular Statler Brothers song continue to ring true today:

“We all thought we’d change the world
With our great works & deeds
Or maybe we just thought the world
Would change to fit our needs
The class of ’57 had its dreams”

I’ve been a “ticketed” guest at 3 different High School Graduation ceremonies in one week, at 3 separate, very different venues. 3 in 6 days. That’s one every two days.
I’ve witnessed speeches, marches, and the look of fear, anticipation, gratitude, joy, and excitement, with tassels being turned, and caps thrown into the air.

I’ve seen the pride and joy, that look of accomplishment, of a student who would be the first in their family to graduate High School.
I’ve also looked into the eyes of a student who had just been told that they would not be graduating …
The first place they came was to the Library …

I’ll never forget last Friday, when a group of graduates, as they saw me arrive, began shouting my name, running up as a group to hug me … It was exactly the same scene I had, a few years ago, when I walked into a local McDonald’s, and as I walked from the side entrance, through the restaurant, to the front counter, I passed a group of tables … where a group of my students (now, this was K-2), having “lunch at Summer camp,” saw me, and … there is no better word to describe it … they mobbed me … screaming my name as they ran up, surrounded me, and, literally, “jumped on me” …
You just don’t forget those moments.

By the way … and, all teachers know this:
When you teach K-2, and you see a student at Wal-Mart, they mob you.
When you teach High School, and you see a student at Wal-Mart … they ignore you … like they’ve never seen you before …

This past Monday, in another city, a pretty long drive, I was there to witness the Graduation of a student who had worked for me in the Library at the High School … first, as an internship, then, on a volunteer basis … The traffic in town was incredible, and I finally found a place to park. The only chairs available were at the back of the assembly, which was great, because, the Graduates entered the large hall from the back entrance, just behind me. As they slowly, step-by step, made their way up the aisle, I was turned around to see each Graduate as they “entered” the Main Hall area … I will never forget the look on this young man’s face, as he entered the “staging area” directly behind me … As he stepped into view … He saw me there on the back row … I’ll just never … ever … forget the huge smile that erupted from his face, as he realized I was there …

This young man had made a special trip to our High School, a couple of months before, to present me with the “ticket” to attend the ceremony … I, nor he, had any idea that he would be presented/awarded with an award at Graduation, that is the highest honor a Graduate could receive … in honor of Public Service … His Mother was a featured guest speaker at the Ceremony … His “sash” had the “USAF” banner … I was so proud of him … The photos of me and him, as he displayed his “Raymond Burton” Award, in full “cap and gown,” with the “USAF” sash draped across his shoulders, was one of the proudest moments of my life … eclipsed only by the opportunity to take several photos of him and his Mother … with her camera! I’ll just never forget that …

Then, on Friday, our High School had our Graduation ceremony.
More memories:
The young lady who sang the National Anthem, and whom I have written about in a previous post (I’m so proud of her!), practiced the Anthem … just outside the Library door … that is one picture I’ll always treasure …

I was able to fulfill a promise to another young man who had interned … and then volunteered … to help me in the Library this year. He is a proud member of the United States National Guard, and I had promised, if he would stop by, before Graduation, to take pictures of him (and us together) in his “Dress Blues,” which he proudly wore underneath his Graduation robe. He had just received his “PFC” ranking, and with his Insignia Pin, Award Medal, and sash proudly displaying “National Guard,” we were able to take his picture … and … which meant so much … “our” picture, in the Library …

I saw so many students … maybe, let’s be honest … I may have been seeing for the last time … who have helped me, on a volunteer basis, in the Library.
So many who just loved to stop by and visit …
So many … many students … maybe, let’s be honest … I may have been seeing for the last time …

It’s not that I may have meant much to them … that I may have influenced and affected their lives …
It’s how profoundly they have influenced and affected my life.
That they did … and do … mean so much to me.

As I saw the “caps and gowns” of some I have known since they were just “kids,”
I didn’t feel any older.
I felt prouder.

“And the class of ’57 had its dreams
But living life day-to-day
Is never like it seems
Things get complicated when you get past eighteen
But the class of ’57 had its dreams”

Richard. Vincent. Rose.

From 1965: “If I Were the Devil” by Paul Harvey

Hi Friends:

… Chills …
There are no words adequate to introduce this recording of Paul Harvey from 53 Years Ago.
There just aren’t words.
53 Years Ago.
… Chills …

His voice among the most recognizable in American History, Paul Harvey (September 4, 1918 – February 28, 2009) broadcast his “News and Comment” on weekday mornings and mid-days, and at noon on Saturdays, as well as his famous “The Rest of the Story” features.

From 1952 through 2008, Harvey’s programs reached as many as 24 million people a week. “Paul Harvey News” was carried on 1,200 radio stations, 400 American Forces Network stations, and 300 newspapers.

In his lifetime, he received 11 Freedom Foundation Awards, as well as the Horatio Alger Award. In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ most prestigious civilian award.

When I think of Paul Harvey, I remember
“Hello Americans,”
“Page Two …” (and Three and Four)
“From Chicago”
“Good Day!”
“Our For What it’s Worth Department”
“Among Today’s Sue-eerrss…”
“”He would not want us to mention his name … “
“Here’s a strange …”
“And now, you know … the rest of the story …”
On his 12:30 (Mid-day) show, he would always have the couple’s names who were celebrating the “most years together” anniversary.

I can’t think of Paul Harvey without thinking of his beloved wife, Angel.

And, now, I won’t think of Paul Harvey without thinking of this … stunning … chilling …
recording, made 53 years ago.
… Chills …

The words have been added to the audio recording of:
“If I Were the Devil,” by Paul Harvey.
53 Years Ago.
… Chills …

By the way … the time on the recording … 3:16
… Chills …

I Remember: “Free Air”

Hi Friends:

I remember when every Gas Station had an air hose … sometimes, it was between the gas pumps, and sometimes it was near (or just inside) the “Service Bay.”

Come to think of it … I remember Gas Stations … Real Gas Stations, where they would pump your gas, check your oil, and clean your windshields.
Just thinking about the term “Gas Station” brings back a lot of different “I Remember” categories.

I remember the saying that, “When gas was 25cents a gallon, they’d pump your gas, check your oil, clean your windshield, and you’d always get something free like a dish or a glass, or something free … Then, when gas got to be a dollar a gallon, they did none of this.”

Here’s another:
Yes … I remember … when gas was 1.00.
If you really want to get crazy … I remember when gas was 25 cents a gallon …

I remember when Daddy would stop and get gas, and he would never mention how much gas he wanted, by dollar amount, but by gallons. He’d say, “Give me 5 gallons.”

We don’t have a “Service Station” within driving distance, and, frankly, I don’t even know where the closest “Gas Station” is.

I remember, as time went by, in different towns I’ve lived in, that there was always one “Gas Station” in town. Where you could get gas, get air for your tires, and, they even would have an active Service Bay, with “Mechanic on Duty.” Often, this was where you would take your car to get it repaired, and it was the only place where you trusted the mechanic, because you knew him … maybe, even went to the same Church.

Gradually, one-by-one, these Gas Stations, where they would pump your gas for you, disappeared. Replaced by “Convenience Stores.” For a long while, these “Convenience Stores” offered “Free Air” to go with their gasoline.

I remember when there would be only one place left in town where they would pump your gas for you. Remember always pumping your own gas, even though they would do it for you?
I remember driving up, getting out, raising my hand in greeting, with an “I’ll get it” to let them know you knew how to do it.

I remember when you actually had to learn how to pump your own gas … how to operate a gas pump … when these things were new …
I remember when the “Self-Serve” or “Self-Service” signs were used.

Change happens gradually … even in the gasoline business.
I remember when many Gas Stations offered two distinct sets of gas pumps:
Full Service.

I can remember, even then, going to the “Full Service” section, and pumping the gas myself.
It never seemed to bother me, then, that the “Full Service” gas cost more. If a gas pump was available, I’d spend an extra 30 cents to not have to wait in line.

I can also remember when ladies, in particular, didn’t like to pump their own gas. So, this helped keep these stations stay in business as long as they did.

I remember the “Mechanic on Duty” signs.
I remember the “Full Service” signs.
I remember when the Gas Station didn’t have coolers, or groceries. Maybe a couple of candy bars and chips, up at the counter (which was always dirty). They would only have a Coke machine, and that was it.

I remember the “hose” that stretched across the parking lot, running across the pumps … that, when you drove over it … it would make a bell ring … to alert the owner that someone was at the pump?
Remember that?

Ok … yes, I even remember, it was always something you had to do, when you were on your bicycle … you would have to, as least once … run over that hose … make that bell ring … maybe … and, of course, I would never do this … of course … but, you would, maybe, run over that hose a second time … or more … whatever it took to make the man come outside to see “who’s there.” The trick was to be gone as fast as you could pedal … before you got screamed at …

Riding your bicycle to “the store” was always a thrill … we would seem so “grown up” … and, we would always get air in our tires. At the very least, we would always stop at the air hose to check our tires.

I guess tires … and cars … have gotten so much better that we don’t need “Service Stations” anymore. I know that there are still “Full Service” stations left, but not as many.

I remember “Re-Treads.”
Just thought I’d throw that in.
I remember “Used Tires.”
I don’t even know if these are available anymore, but there was always that one place in town where you could buy “Used Tires.”

Which would account for, sooner rather than later … needing that “Free Air.”

I remember when Daddy always carried a “Tire Pump” in the trunk of the car.
They were always red.
I remember when all tires had tubes.

I remember when there was this new kind of tire … I didn’t understand it at the time … but, they came out with something called “Tubeless” Tires.

I remember when, along with the tire pump … you always carried a “Tube Repair Kit,” which always included at least one “Tube Patch.” Remember the shape of the can? The “sandpaper-like” top of the can? Remember the glue?

I remember that having “Free Air” was a “selling point” for a gas station or convenience store.
I used to always buy used tires … so … knowing where you could get air for your tires was a necessity.
I never dreamed you would, one day, have to pay for air.
But, then, I never dreamed that, one day, we would buy water.

Anyway, those gas stations and convenience would always have a big sign … like they were so proud of it … the sign, and air, would always be off to the side … I guess to handle the rush of folks waiting to avail themselves of this service … the sign would proudly proclaim:

If you know me, then you could see this:
I would love to park near the “Free Air” Sign, get out, and then go stand near the “Free Air” sign. I would make an exaggerated, big deal of it. I’d stand there … beside the sign … and, just breathe … in exaggerated motions, arms flailing in and out, chest heaving … your get the idea, and, proudly demonstrate for the passersby (and interested on-lookers), the fact that I was enjoying the “Free Air” that was advertised to be available … at that exact spot.
“Hey … over here … there is free air!!!”

Maybe this had something to do with why they don’t offer “Free Air” anymore.

At least, here in my town … “If you want air … you’ll have to pay for it …”

Here, you have to pay 1.50 for the air … for “Five Minutes of Air.” Seems like just last year, it was only 75 cents. Don’t get me wrong: I am thankful for this air … even if I have to pay for it. If you’ve got a tire going flat … how about the ‘ol slow leak … it’s a real bargain …
This machine even takes a credit card!
Even has a “chip reader!”

I have learned to get my money’s worth by taking the stems off the tire valves before I put the money in.
What a genius idea:
How do they make these machines to run out … while you are in the middle of filling up the fourth tire? It never seems to fail.

Which leads me to a quote I uttered recently, while I was making sure all the tires on my truck were properly inflated. This is a “must-do” after the Winter, when all the tires have been exposed to the cold concrete of the garage, or just being outside in the daytime.

Remember when “Make sure all the tires are properly inflated” was at the top of the list for trip preparation? I guess it still is.

Anyway, I was on my knees, filling up the tires, when a friend of mine, came out of the convenience store where the “Air Machine” is. We talked for a moment, and, from out of the blue, one of “those quotes” just came out.
As he was laughing at me (I’m sure he has an air compressor or air tank) for having to pay for the air … It just came out:

“I remember when the air in this Country used to be free.”

Richard. Vincent. Rose.


I Remember: “Bruno!” “Bruno!” “Bruno!”

And now, I must write about Bruno Sammartino.

I once wrote that “Mickey Mantle … was … well … Mickey Mantle.”

Bruno Sammartino was … well … Bruno Sammartino.

To me, like so many of you, when you hear the name “Bruno,” there is only one man’s image who comes to mind.

Many times, I’ve been to Madison Square Garden, “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” and marveled at the large poster-displays of legends like Elvis Presley, Walt Frazier … and, Bruno Sammartino.

Bruno Sammartino.

If you are a baseball fan, you “just remember,” just know, Mickey Mantle’s lifetime batting average, how many home runs he had, what number he wore, etc.:

Please keep in mind that in these “I Remember” posts, I never research … I just write from memory, so here goes:
Number 7

I’m thinking that, in much the same way, you remember Bruno Sammartino:
Headlined at Madison Square Garden … and sold out Madison Square Garden … 188 times.
No one has even come close.
No one has even come close to coming close.
Set the World’s Bench Mark Record, “benching” 565 pounds. He held the weights for 2 seconds on his chest, before raising the weight. He did this without wrapping his wrists or elbows.
Known as “The World’s Strongest Man.”
Superman … “The Italian Superman.”
The Living Legend.
Wrestling 18 minutes with a broken neck.
A true gentleman.
Class personified.

Just last Summer, I was in Pittsburgh, in Bruno’s “hometown,” and spent time in Bruno’s old neighborhood, the “Oakland” section of Pittsburgh. A neighborhood where both Dan Marino and Andy Warhol were raised.

Yes … I know it was Professional Wrestling … but … Bruno held the World Championship longer than any man in history. He beat Buddy Rogers in 48 seconds (I still know that!) at Madison Square Garden, to win his first World Championship. That was in 1963.

Bruno would hold the World Championship (this first time) until January 18th, 1971. Think about how long a time that was. You guessed it:  No one has even come close. No one has even come close to coming close. I have to look this up to make sure: seven years, eight months, and one day (2,803 days). I think of those who grew up during the Great Depression. The only President of the United States they knew was Franklin Roosevelt. In much the same way, kids growing up during this time only knew Bruno Sammartino as Champion.
Bruno lost the title to Ivan Koloff, at Madison Square Garden, on January 18, 1971.
I mention that date to bring back the memory.

A couple of days ago, I watched that match on YouTube. At the end of the match, the announcer said, “You can hear a pin drop at Madison Square Garden.”
Grown men were seen weeping in the crowd.
Later, Bruno would say that he thought he had suffered ear damage, because he could not hear the crowd. His ears were fine. The sold-out crowd was just that stunned.

 Interestingly, one of our favorite shared videos, and most popular, features Ivan Koloff, sharing his testimony of how Jesus saved him, and brought him into the ministry.

Here’s a quick link to that story and video:

Yes, Bruno would re-gain the World Championship in 2 years, defeating Stan Stasiak. Remember that?

As I’ve gotten older, do you know what I remember most, think about most, when I think of Bruno Sammartino?
His story.
And … how it inspires me.
How much his family went through.
This is what I remember:

What a thrill it is to see those old videos of Bruno, and, in the introduction, “From Abruzzo, Italy” … I have a special connection to Italy … Yes, Bruno’s family would move to Pittsburgh, but, the way his story began …

There were seven children, and Bruno was the youngest. Four (yes, 4) of the children would die during Bruno’s childhood. Bruno’s father would go on ahead to Pittsburgh, but, before his children could follow … World War II broke out, and Germany invaded Italy … Bruno’s mother took her children, including a young, sickly Bruno, and hid out in the nearby mountains. They would hide all day in the mountains, and then, at night, Bruno’s mother, Amelia, would sneak into town, under cover of darkness, gather whatever food and supplies she could find, and bring them back to her children …

It was a miracle, but, Bruno, underweight, and sick, somehow survived. I’ve heard Bruno speak of this … how sick and weak he was … how he wished his mother “could see her little Bruno now … “

When Bruno arrived in Pittsburgh with his remaining family, he was little, weak, and sickly. He could speak no English. Want to imagine what a target he became to local bullies?

Accidents happen. Even in a well-planned event.
On April 26, 1976 (I did have to check the exact date), at Madison Square Garden, Bruno wrestled Stan Hansen (yes, we remember “the Lariat” and Borger, Texas). Something went wrong. Bruno suffered a “neck fracture.” Yes, a broken neck. Bruno literally, and I mean literally, for real, had his neck fractured during the match. A broken neck. In the middle of the match. I’ll never forget it … because of what happened next … and, next … and, next …

Bruno Sammartino wrestled for another 18 minutes … another 18 minutes … with a broken neck … a broken neck …
He wrestled for 18 minutes with a broken neck. Bruno would later say that his doctors advised him that he came within a millimeter of being paralyzed from the neck down. I remember the cover of the Wrestling magazines, with Bruno on a stretcher … with the neck brace on, and everything …

Keep in mind that I, like many of you, lived “way out in the boonies,” so we only got a couple of local TV channels, so we only got to “see” our heroes in magazines … which made them, somehow, even more of a hero …

Was this real? Yes, it was. I’ve written how, because of how honest my Father was, I never doubted the story of Abraham Lincoln walking 5 miles to return a book. In the same way, I never doubted how tough Bruno was. My dad was that tough, so I never doubted how tough Bruno was. 

By the way … remember? … the rematch with Stan Hansen had to be held at Shea Stadium … Madison Square Garden would have been too small to hold the crowd … Yes … Shea Stadium … I’ve seen that match, too …

I’ll probably watch that one again tonight …

Today, Saturday, as I do laundry, the grocery shopping, the bills, and, instead of going outside to enjoy the first “almost warm” sunny day in recent memory, I write … I remember … What a privilege it is, to be able to share my thoughts on the great Bruno Sammartino.
Not the wrestler.
The man.
The gentleman.

This week, once again, grown men, including myself, were “seen weeping” over a Bruno Sammartino loss … The Great Bruno Sammartino …

Here is a video announcement of Bruno’s death, from KDKA Television in Pittsburgh … where we hear Bruno speak of his Mother … Note the look in his eyes … the sound of his voice … as he says, “My Mom showed the courage of a lion … I don’t know if I’d been man enough to do what she did …”


“The Little Girl:” John Michael Montgomery

It was one of those songs that, the first time you heard it, you wanted to hear it again. I first heard the song “The Little Girl,” sung by John Michael Montgomery, back in August, 2000. It was the first single to be released from the album “Brand New Me.”

It was written by Harley Allen, and reached number one on the Billboard Country Chart.

At that time I enjoyed putting together slide shows (with real “slides” and a real “click, click, click projector”) to songs, and this one was on the list to do, but I never got around to putting pictures together with the song. But, I have never forgotten the song, or wanting to feature it, in some format, some day.

As I think back, and listen to the song again, I am reminded of how, now, I see kids from rough, tough circumstances, and how my heart breaks from knowing, and just imagining, what some children go through.

I think of the parents in this song, and I think about choices we make … and, the choices we don’t make. I think of God’s love and grace, even in the midst of terrible circumstances, and it strikes me now … thinking about this song and the story with it … how these parents had the same opportunity to accept God’s love and forgiveness … yet … they made other choices …

I think of how God can give us a new beginning … even now, as a huge snowstorm is heading our way … I’m thinking of Spring … As I write these words, we are in the midst of a Winter Storm Warning … yet, the hope of Spring and a new beginning also surrounds us …

I think about how blessed I’ve been, how fortunate I’ve been, and, I think of this verse:
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”
Psalm 27:10