Dodgers


Nothing Like a Road Trip

Wow! Just returned from a road trip. Not exactly like Albert Brooks and his wife in Lost in America, but I think we may have touched an Indian or two.

Fact is, if you haven’t driven across parts of this beautiful country in a while, I suggest you consider doing so. We left California and spent two days driving through the beautiful deserts and mountains of Nevada and Arizona. We took our time to enjoy the wonderful scenery.

Our primary destination was Santa Fe, New Mexico and the yearly Arts Festival celebration. We were invited guests of Trisha’s aunt and uncle who live in this unique city. Also on hand were her cousin and husband, and one other cousin who was also in town for a visit. We took in the festival, including food from the numerous street vendors (my favorite was the freshly made funnel cake), and got a private walking tour of the city from Trisha’s cousin and husband. Great fun topped off by a dinner at one the best Mexican restaurants I’ve ever experienced and an incredible barbecue on our last night. 

 

After our three-day stay we set sail for a brief visit with good friends in southern Arizona. Given our time schedule, and picking up an extra hour due to the time difference, we were able to click off another item on our lengthy bucket list. We stopped at the incredible Kartchner Caverns State Park and were able to take the tour through one of the most amazing places on earth. If you haven’t heard about this place, check it out online. We didn’t have reservations, but they were kind enough to squeeze us in.

 

As anticipated, our short visit with old friends refreshed us and produced the fun and laughter (not to mention great food) that we always enjoy when together. It was then on to Phoenix. I didn’t know I was going to experience one of the most memorable moments of my life.

Let me explain. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, I naturally became a Dodger fan. As a young boy when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, I would listen to Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully under the covers with my transistor radio. Often, as he would begin a game-winning home run call, I would let out a yell that would send my parents running to my room. As I got older, I continued listening to and watching Vin call the games. After my military service and marriage, my wife and children all became big fans. One of our sons actually became a professional baseball player.

Well, when we got to Phoenix last week, our oldest son who travels with the Dodgers as a senior producer for Fox, invited my wife and I to dinner at Chase field and then arranged for tickets behind home plate. That was wonderful and we had a fantastic time.

Better yet, before the game, our son had us come to his hotel, the same hotel the Dodgers were staying. When we met him in the lobby, we got to see and meet several players and broadcasters. Then it happened. I saw Vin Scully approaching and our son went to him and said he would like to introduce his parents. No teenage girl meeting Justin Bieber could have felt such excitement. Not since Chris Matthews heard Barack Obama speak has anyone experienced such a thrill.

I should explain to those of you who don’t know much about the Dodgers, Vin Scully is 84. This is his sixty third year as their broadcaster. He has been in the Hall of Fame forever and ten years ago was voted the Sportscaster of the Century. He was everything I had imagined. Full of life, charming, and extraordinarily friendly. My wife is still smiling at my reaction. I’ve tried to explain that I grew up listening to Vin. I introduced my children to the same experience. I’ve spent thousands of hours in a one-way conversation for most of my life. It was my turn to tell Mr. Scully he had been a member of my family for over fifty years. At the close of our wonderful conversation, I told him about listening under covers as a child and waking up my parents. In typical fashion, being the humble man he is, Vin just smiled and said, “I put a lot of people to sleep that way.” What a day!

If that wasn’t enough, we extended our trip a couple of days in order to meet and spend time with our friend and Italian entertainer Maurizio and his lovely wife Danna in Las Vegas. If you want to have a good time, introduce an entertainer who lives in a small Italian village to Las Vegas for the first time. It was like taking a little child to the circus. Or like a grown man meeting his childhood idol.

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

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Person of Interest

Over the last month, my wife Trisha and I have traveled extensively making a point of reconnecting with family and old friends. One of those old friends I’ve known since I was about 10 years old. His name is Danny Telford.

In every school class, there always seems to be one person who everyone likes and respects. In my class, it was Danny. Fact is, it’s still Danny. He’s the guy that heads up all the reunions and other class activities. If someone needs something, they call on Danny. If a classmate happens to be in town and needs a place to stay, they can always stay at Danny’s. Fortunately, he married a wonderful woman named Susan who is equally well liked and respected.

Danny is an example of someone who has reached retirement age, but decided to keep working. As young boys growing up in the Los Angeles area, we were all Dodger fans. Several years ago, Danny landed a job working at Dodger Stadium. He puts in long hours, works every game and event, and is completely dedicated. I don’t think there is anyone who works at the stadium who doesn’t know Danny. He is truly one of the good guys and I’m proud to have him as a friend. (By the way, if you get the baseball package on cable or satellite, you can see Danny on TV durinig every Dodger game. One of his many duties is setting up the microphones for the singers who perform the National Anthem and later God Bless America.)

 

Simplify

I know I’ve written about this topic before, but this week has made it more real for me. My wife and I have been spending time every day at our storage space. Yes, our storage space. I even hate saying the term. Hundreds of dollars a year to store a few dollars worth of goods we will probably never look at or use.

We started out by clearing my late parents storage space. I have to give them credit because they had done a wonderful job of downsizing and organizing. We just needed to go through and decide what to do with the remaining goods. We gave away most of it. We’re not big on garage sales and would rather see it go to people who have a need rather than trying to bargain someone for a few dollars.

Even though my folks did a good job, it’s still a pain in the rear going through stuff. When we were finished with their space, we decided to make it as simple as possible for our kids. That’s why we’ve been working so hard at our storage space. We are almost finished and it feels great. All I can say is, at this point in our lives it’s time to simplify, get rid of the stuff you don’t need, and get organized. You will have peace of mind and your family will be forever grateful.

I should add, our kids still don’t believe that hookah in our storage was a gift from a friend in Turkey. It really was.

Bodies In Motion

One of the things my wife Trisha and I have tried to do since we retired is to stay active. If you’ve seen the commercial for one of the health care companies that talks about senior health, they use a physics metaphor by saying: “A body at rest stays at rest, a body in motion stays in motion.”

Obviously, this is not a new revelation. But as Trisha and I caution in our book and public presentations, as a senior it’s very easy to get into a rut. That may feel comfortable for a while, but in the long run it’s detrimental for both the mind and the body. Besides, as has often been said, “this is not the dress rehearsal, this is your life.” There are things to do, people to see, knowledge and skills to learn, causes to champion – well, you get the idea. One of our favorite activities since we retired is visiting and reconnecting with old friends and family, and meeting as many new people as we can. I must say Trisha is much better at connecting with new people, but it’s something we both enjoy.

If we weren’t sold before on the idea of getting up and going, connecting with old and new friends and family, this last week was all we needed to remind us how it can benefit our lives. Let me share some highlights of our week:

On the first day of a road trip, we stopped in and took lunch to my aunt, the last living relative of my late father’s family in that generation. She is home-bound due to poor health and we had a very heart warming visit. We showed her pictures of new grandchildren and reminisced about favorite memories. It was a wonderful visit.

Next, we were off to Arizona. While driving through Phoenix, we decided to take in some of the local sites. As sports nuts, we wanted an upclose look at their beautiful sports stadiums. After that, we had heard there was a memorial for those who had died on the U.S.S. Arizona in Pearl Harbor, so we went looking for that site. Well, there was much more. We found the memorial in a park that honored veterans of several wars. It was very beautiful and dignified. The Arizona memorial actually had one of the ship’s anchors and the ship’s mast which is pictured below. In the other picture, Trisha is standing in front of their Korean War Memorial.

Probably because it was quite warm (O. K., downright hot), there was only one other couple at the memorial. He was wearing an Air Force hat, and being an Air Force veteran myself, we began to chat. It turns out this man makes memory bears for the families of fallen veterans. Trisha and I had only recently become acquainted with memory bears when hospice presented us with bears made from the clothing of my late mother and father. What a wonderful and lasting treasure. If anyone reading this would like to contact MSGT Charles R. Leon and his Fallen Warrior Bears/AZ Hearts for Heroes, his email is:

azheartsforheroes@yahoo.org  

I know how much our family memory bears mean to us, and I also know the families of these fallen heroes must truly appreciate the work Charles does on their behalf. I also know he operates solely on donations and hopefully some readers might be able to help his efforts.

As we continued our trip into Tucson, I had arranged to meet with my cousin Mary and her husband Rick. It had been several years since we had gotten together and our lunch turned into a couple of hours. Great memories of family were shared and we were able to give Mary a box of photos my mother had collected for her before she passed away in March. Wonderful people and we promised not to go so long without another visit.

Next, we made our way to visit friends Susan and Lee. Because they live in a scenic and crafts-filled area of Arizona, we definitely made the rounds. Spice shops, fabric shops, copper mine, historic missions, restaurants, dining on Susan’s great meals (this woman knows how to cook), swimming (actually, more cooling off and talking) in the pool, and pleasant conversations under the Arizona night sky. A relaxing and fun few days with good friends. 

On one of our excursions, we were about to visit the historic Mission Tumacacori, a National State Park, when Susan and Lee asked if we had our “Geezer Passes.” They then informed us that for $10, anyone 62 or over can obtain a senior lifetime pass that allows that senior and their party entrance into any National Park. What a deal. We signed up and got our passes. Here is a link for anyone interested:

 U.S. National Park ServiceAmerica the Beautiful – The National Parks and Feder

Below are Susan and Trisha enjoying the scenic and serene beauty of Mission Tumacacori.

 

 

As a former radio talk show host and recipient of the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame, Lee now keeps very busy writing a very interesting and provocative political blog. For all you political types, don’t miss his daily commentary on:

www.radiorodgers.com 

Back on the road, we headed north again to Phoenix. We were in for another treat. My late mother had a life-long friend with whom she stayed in constant contact. This wonderful lady, who happened to be celebrating a birthday in another state on the day we arrived, has a daughter I had not seen since she was six years old. She and her  husband met us for lunch and it was a sensational afternoon. While Kathy and husband Bronson are much younger, we had many things in common. He is currently active Air Force, the same branch in which I served. They told us later they were looking at us thinking that would be them in the future, and Trisha and I admitted we could see ourselves in them when we were younger. Great couple and we hope to get together again soon. 

 

For those still reading (bless you), our next stop was Palm Desert. My cousin Bob and his wife Nancy are two of our favorite people in the world. We spent the night out at a great Italian restaurant, laughing and having a wonderful time. Back at their place, as always, they allowed us their guest room for the night. In the morning Nancy, one of the world’s best chefs, fixed a delicious breakfast and we were off again.

Once in Southern California, we connected with oldest son Michael and our three grandchildren there. After an afternoon at the best pizza place I’ve ever been, we went back to Mike’s for a fun night. On Father’s Day, we headed to Dodger Stadium for a sensational extra inning game in which our team won. The stadium was packed and it was little Charlie’s first game. Lot’s of high fives, cheering, and Dodger Dogs. Great kids and we loved every minute. I honored my dad by wearing the same jersey he wore when he threw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium two years ago.

We considered stopping for the night, but then decided to drive all the way home. We arrived around 11:00. The relationships of the week, some old and some new, were special. While Trisha and I know we will slow down as time passes, as long as we can we hope to be “bodies in motion.”

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

Every week it seems I get a number of email forwards from retired friends sharing all kinds of things from the past. Often they contain pictures or videos of old cars, planes, trains, movies, television shows, etc.  Very interesting stuff, but truth be told, I much prefer forwards that demonstrate new innovations or discoveries. While I still appreciate seeing images from my past, expecially my 1956 red chevy, I would not trade it for my current SUV. As seniors, we’ve often heard the phrase, “You can’t go home again.” It’s absolutely true.

This was clearly illustrated on a recent road trip I took with my wife Trisha. We traveled from northern California to southern Arizona visiting family and friends, and concluded the trip at her high school reunion weekend in Southern California. As always when we travel, we took time to do some sight-seeing along the way.

In my first example, let me first explain something. Having grown up in Los Angeles, I’ve always been a big Dodgers fan. In fact, our son Michael is a senior producer with Fox Sports Net and he produces the Dodger pre-game and post-game shows. (Here is a picture of Vin Scully the Dodger’s long-time Hall of Fame announcer talking to Mike, that’s the top of his head, as they flew home from their final road trip)

 My point is, I’m a devoted, but now disappointed fan. Here’s why. As Trisha and I drove through Arizona, we first decided to stop and visit the Dodger’s new spring training facility shared with the Chicago White Sox. Having visited the original Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida on several occasions, and getting a special behind-the-scenes tour on our last visit, we were anxious to see their new location. Ugh! What a complete let down. The first clue we got was the absence of signs on the highway leading to the camp. Finally, at the last exit, there was a sign proclaiming, “Glendale Baseball Complex.” Are you kidding me. One of the premier baseball franchises in baseball history and the sign doesn’t even mention them. When we arrived, once again no mention of the Dodgers. Here is a picture of Trisha at the main entrance to the camp. Do you notice anything missing?

  

Finally, as we snooped around the facility, we found one small sign on a gate that said “Dodger Clubhouse.” Big Whoop! This place was nothing more than a glorified civic recreation center, designed to be low-cost for the city of Glendale, and a field for rent for the Dodgers in the Spring. Gone are the traditional streets named after Dodger legends, gone are the historic living facilities that housed some of baseball’s most revered players, gone is any sense of pride and history. All sold out for the almighty buck. I’ve got an idea. Our local high school has a pretty good field. If Glendale Arizona can make a better deal renting their field to another team, maybe the Dodgers could come here in the Spring. All they have to do is take down that one small sign. By the way, if you see the Dodger owner, I’ve got a great place I’d like to put that sign.

I know, I’m supposed to be positive. I just hate to see such a great tradition become like every other team that moved to Arizona. It’s as though your favorite restaurant just became a McDonald’s.

In my second “you can’t go home” example, after a wonderful week of being wined and dined by great friends and relatives, we arrived in our old home town for the high school reunion. Trisha and I took one whole day to spend by ourselves visiting our old homes, neighborhoods, etc. Being the oldest, and a California native, we first went to my childhood home. Oops! It’s now a block of small commercial buildings. I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to the time capsule the neighborhood kids and I buried a long time ago. It reminded me of that wonderful Lonestar song, Everything’s Changed. Remember the words, “they put up a plant where we used to park, the old drive-in is a new Walmart.” We did find a number of our former homes, but of course they seemed much smaller and a bit run down. In one case, a freeway now loomed above the street I used to call a playground. As I stopped my car to look at one of my former homes, a man came out and I explained I used to live there. He didn’t speak English very well, but did smile at this foreign traveler from long ago.

The good news is, we did run into our dear neighbors who lived next door to our last home before we left town twenty years ago. They were happy to see us and we had a nice visit. But can you truly go home again? Not really. Places change, we change, and the times change. It reinforced our philosophy of not dwelling too much on the past and consciously trying to value each new day while counting our many blessings. Interestingly, when the formal reunion started on Saturday night, the disc jockey began to play songs from the sixties. One of our friends sitting next to me turned and said, “No Bruno Mars?” I smiled and we did a fist bump. Of course, the rest of the night was filled with “The Twist,” “Runaround Sue,” etc. We had fun at the reunion and loved catching up with old friends, but I think in most ways we’ve all moved on. You really can’t go home again, but I can’t wait for the rest of today and look forward to tomorrow.

www.TheBestofOurLives.com