Happy Holidays to you and your family! I thought I'd share a little information, about me, with you:
1- I used to play the string bass in elementary and junior high school. That's right, the stand-up bass fiddle. I played in the Joyce Kilmer Elementary School Orchestra & the Brainerd Junior High School Orchestra and Jazz Band, both of which are in Cherry Hill, NJ. I selected the string bass because I wanted to play an instrument but was unsure about whether or not I would commit to it ( I was in 4th grade and loved playing baseball).
Instruments had to be rented or purchased and, as the oldest child, I as pretty aware of the costs my parents might incur. The string bass was a BIG instrument so nobody chose to play it. As such, there was no rental cost as an incentive to get someone to play it. I picked the string bass because I didn't want to cost my parents money if I chose to quit. As it turned out, I lugged that thing, back and forth to schol, for five years (we actually walked to school in the 70's). Oddly enough, my wife Debra played the string bass in elementary school, too.
2- I used to live arund the corner from Reggie "The Rifle" Leach, the Philadephia Flyers great right-winger. We had Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz, and Rick MacLeish close by so it wasn't rare to see all of them, drinking beer in the off-season, on the Rifle's front lawn, while we kids played street hockey in front of Reggie's house.
Naturally, when the Flyers won the Stanley Cup, for the second time, in 1975, ourneighborhood went bonkers. The kids all camped out, in front of Reggie's house, waiting to hug him when he returned. I'm pretty sure he stayed up late that night so we all went home wanting. Reggie had a party, about two weeks later, and had the Stanley Cup in his living room, for all the kids to see. I drank ginger ale from that cup and it was the greatest day of my ten-year old life. Reggie's connected with me on Facebook and I thank him for that moment, each and every year.
3- I was on a dance show when I was in high school. We used to spend our summers in Somers Point, NJ. Every Sunday afternoon, at 4 o'clock, the local UHF channel had a dance show for teenagers, on the Ocean City Music Pier. I used to go to the pier, after a day on the beach, and dance with girls in front of the camera. I fely pretty safe that none of my high school friends would see me but, as luck would have it, most of them were at the Jersey Shore, too. That local UHF channel was the only thing you could watch on Sunday afternoons (nobody had cable in vacation homes). I was ridiculed when school started that Fall but the heck with them; I was a local celebrity!
I was a student atVillanova University when the Wildcats defeated the Georgetown Hoyas, to win the NCAA Basketball Championship. In what was called one of the greatest final games ever, Villanova won 66-64. This was the last year before the NCAA implemented the shot clock and Villanova ran a four corners offense, styled on Dean Smith's North Carolina team. The Wildcate had to lay a perfect game to defeat the returning champs, the Hoyas. That they did, too. Villanova shot 90% from the field in the second half.
I was interviewed by the Philadelphia Daily News, the day after, because I attended classes. The only reason I went to class the next day was because I had a test scheduled. Still, my friends thought I "stretched the truth" because my parents would be reading the paper. In fact, I'm pretty sure my father thought I stretched the truth as well but, after a night of partying, I showed up for the test...weary...bleary-eyed, and unprepared. The test was cancelled and I spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping...with a big smile on my face.
5- I know who the real Philly Phanatic is. I mean, I know the guy who is in the costume. It used to be the creator, David Raymond but, some 20 years ago, a friend of mine from high school took over. He still plays the Phanatic, at our age, with the vim and vigor of a man some 20 years younger. This isn't his first rodeo either. He played our high-school mascot and told me, in our senior year, that he EXPECTED to be the Phanatic one day. You gotta have goals, right?
That big green costume can wreak havoc on my friend, on a hot, humid summer day in Philly. Not surprisingly, my friend is in pretty good shape. If you've ever seen the Philly Phanatic, you'd know that you have to be in pretty good shape to carry on with the antics he performs. He's a great guy and his name is...
...I'll never tell. A guy has to have some mystery, doesn't he? Check with me in a few years. If my friend retires, I'll tell you then but for now, I'll just say he considers himself to be the Phanatic's best friend.
Happy Holidays to you and your family. Thanks for all the business, referrrals, and support this year. I truly appreciate it and hope you've enjoyed learning a little bit more about me today.