The Last 4th of July

It’s been confirmed that the last of them will go away sometime in September. The week following the shutting down of the last Toys R Us, they announced that ten more Sears stores would be closing soon.

This will be the last 4th of July America can shop at Sears.

Sears & Roebuck, to be exact, although I think Mr. R had his name cut off a couple of years back. Younger readers may wondering, “Why the big deal?” and I can understand why you feel that way. I recently walked into the North Seattle store and was in there at least a solid 5 minutes before seeing anyone–customer or sales person.

To feel the way I do about Sears fading into history is because that store has been there all of my life and not just in the background.

Growing up, the Sears Christmas Catalog would come in the mail sometime after school started and begin fueling the dreams of what you wanted to ask Santa to bring this year. I’m talking full-color, half-inch thick, page after page stuffed with dolls, toys, race cars, trains, pogo sticks, you name it. It was Santa’s job to bring what we picked out, but Sears was kind enough to put everything into one, often-viewed catalog and let us know our possibilities. I’ve got a 1962 “Wish Book” as it was called back then that I will never let go.

There was a time that Sears was “Where America Shopped.” That was their slogan and it was the truth. My back-to-school shopping trips always took place at Sears because they offered “tough skin” jeans, with the extra layer of material on the knee, for boys who tended to wear them out. Little did I know at the time that I was predicting a fashion trend where pre-ripped jeans would go for $100 at Nordstrom. Sears also had those “Husky” sizes, for the beefier kids among us.

When dad needed a tool, of course he bought Craftsmen. That was the Sears brand with the lifetime guarantee. If your hammer, screwdriver, whatever ever broke, bring it back and Sears would give you a new one.

Sears holds a special place because it was just several blocks from our home and back then, we would often find ourselves over at the Del Amo Mall. It was their anchor store, where they had a garden shop and lawn mowers and color TV’s and stereos.  Sears had everything you needed. They had built that reputation since the early days, when they even sold homes. Yes, houses. Down in Ballard, there are quite a few “Craftsmen Homes” that were sold as kits.

One more thing. In my junior year at Torrance High School, because of my rah-rah involvement with school, etc., I was asked to become a member of the Sears Teen Fashion Board. THE WHAT?  They invited students to be on this board, which involved an occasional fashion show where we would model Sears clothes, they put our pictures up prominently in the store and gave us a couple of hours working. That was my first paid job outside of mowing lawns.  At first, I was a “floater”, which meant you could end up in Children’s Clothing (the department, not actually children’s clothing), Lawn & Garden, or Hardware. When you showed up, they put you where ever they were short employees.   In time, I became strictly Division 9–Hardware.  I knew the tools and when someone had a question, I could actually sound like I knew what I was talking about. It was during my tenure there that Sears converted from the old key cash registers to computerized versions and I became very good at that. I could ring up a sale and then wait a minute for the computer to catch up with me.

Some of my former Division 9 co-workers

Remember that lifetime guarantee Craftsmen tools offered? One time a customer came in holding on to an ancient-looking ratchet. Sure enough, even though he had it since 1947, we just gave him a new one. Yes, it was a different time. How different?  Shortly after I started working there, they began being open on Sundays, from noon to 5pm.

So, how could a company that had everything, where everyone shopped and felt at home from the moment they walked in and grabbed a bag of that free popcorn…how could they go away? The answer–very slowly.

Not enough attention was paid to what customers. There was competition. Loss of brand value, like in appliances. Kenmore was once a sign of the highest quality and dependability. That slowly faded away.

I stopped by the Southcenter Sears store today and it was depressing. Employees going through the motions, sales people trying to talk customers into getting a Sears credit card, knowing full well the store disappears in a couple of months. The visit helped me realize that’s probably my last time inside a Sears.  They just aren’t what they used to be.

Saying goodbye to a part of your life isn’t easy and it seems like these farewells are becoming more frequent. However, as it’s often pointed out, aging has its drawbacks, but it’s better than the alternative.

Tim Hunter

Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE #169

Since I’m re-watching the old “24” series with Kiefer Sutherland, I thought I’d dig out a couple of interviews Murdock, Hunter & Alice did with the stars back in the day. Here’s a couple of chats, featuring Tony Almeida and Sherry Palmer.

See and I wasn’t kidding about the DVD.

It’s The Same World, Only Different

Yeah, we even dressed up back then

 

It’s easy to look around at what’s happening in our world right now, especially in the United States, and it almost seems like a really bad Twilight Zone episode. All the strangeness of that TV series, but minus a clever twist at the end.

Strange times. Or, is it just the strange times for this generation that, decades from now, they’ll recall and find it hard to believe they were alive when all this happened?

It’s how I feel about my childhood.

We had another one of those history reminders this past week when we we’re told it’s been 50 years since the assassination of Robert Kennedy. At the time, I was 12-years-old and as I grew up in the 1960s, I just assumed the things that happened were simply the world operated. Every couple of years, leaders would be shot down. It had happened with President Kennedy back in 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot down in 1968 and then, just a couple of months later, Robert Kennedy was gunned down after winning the California primary.

We were also a nation at war. Viet Nam was in the news daily, as well as the war protests. There were race riots. Some of the moms in the neighborhood dared to get jobs outside the home. Society was evolving.  Guys moved from crew cuts to shoulder-length hair. Music was taking a leap from orchestras with lead singers to rock bands. The Beatles happened. There was so much social and political unrest and all-around evolution going on.

But through the eyes of a 12-year-old kid growing up in Torrance, California, all that Big World stuff only occasionally caught my attention.

I remember JFK’s assassination vaguely because I was only 8 at the time. I remember the shock expressed on TV,  adults crying, the funeral being covered on the tube with Jackie and the kids. The entire country went into mourning and of all things, I remembered that our monthly Cub Scout Pack Meeting was canceled because of the assassination. Flags were flown at half-mast for 30-days, which I had never seen before.

These are not the headlines of my childhood, only events that occurred. My life on 226th Street was composed of hanging out with friends, playing baseball with a tennis ball, swapping baseball cards, riding bikes and being outside until we heard Kelly Toman’s famous two-fingered whistle. That meant Kelly had to go in for dinner and so the rest of us would take it as a cue that it was probably time to head home.

There were family vacations, either to South Dakota to visit relatives or camping with my family. I went to a church school for my elementary years, a very small school. One classroom took care of the 1st-4th grade students, the other, 5th-8th grade. I made good friends there as well.

By June of 1968, I was in 7th grade and paying a little more attention to the outside world, but not that much, especially politics. What I remember about Robert Kennedy’s assassination is that, by then, there were more TV cameras around. Plus, being the California primary, all the Los Angeles TV stations were all over the campaigns. I remember my neighborhood buddy Glen Rico telling me that his brother Oscar was up watching RFK saying, “And now it’s on to Chicago” only to see him gunned down moments later. On live TV.

Now, I sit here a half-century later, looking back and realizing that the decade I grew up in shares quite a bit with our current times. Back then, we had occasional assassinations and couldn’t figure out how we got there. Today, the assassinations have been replaced with school shootings. In 1968, we were a country divided about the war. Today, we’re split along party lines and convinced the other one is despicable and completely wrong. We had the Cuban Missile Crisis with Fidel Castrol while today’s version includes North Korea and Kim Jung un. Back then, there were those who burned American flags to protest the on-going war. Today, there are two sides on what you can and cannot do during the national anthem.

For one of our future generations, this 20-teens decade is their version of the 60’s that they’ll look back on one day and find it hard to believe things were ever that way.

Then again, gun violence, racial tensions, uncertainty in the world. When you think about it, 1968 and 2018 really aren’t that much different, are they? It’s the same world, only different.

Tim

Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE 165

OMG! Here’s a collection of bits I produced during my early days at KLSY, when I was funneling bits to Murdock in the Morning during my pre-Morning Show days. You’ll hear way too much singing, although it includes a catchy song I did for the new city of Woodinville. The first ever “Julio” song is in here, a stand-alone song I did that was inspired by a Matt Bianco song with a lot of instrumental bed and a foreman from my time in the United Airlines flight kitchen named Julius.  I produced this song and it was afterwards that we turned it into a weekly customized tune for each week’s Seahawks game. This one’s quite the time capsule, so sit back and hang on as we return to sometime in the early 1990s.

Someday Syndrome

By choice, I live a pretty busy life.

Somewhere along the line, I developed a sense of urgency to do as many of the things I want to do now. Not, “someday.”

Over the years, lots of things helped shape that outlook on life. When I was young, I had an uncle that died in his mid-30s in a car crash. I also had an aunt die of complications from diabetes in her 30s. Reminders that we don’t always get our tomorrows. My radio career also fueled my “do it while you can” mentality because in that industry, there are no guarantees. There might be a tomorrow. Or, you could finish your shift, be called back to a program director’s office and the next thing you know, you were unemployed.

I am addicted to achieving and so, to help fuel that need, I became a multi-tasker. A person who would rather say “Yes” and have to deal with temporary overload rather than say “No” and miss out on an experience or an opportunity.

But sometimes Mother Nature forces you to slow things down. Both my wife and I are recovering from sinus problems and bronchitis, which forced us to miss several social possibilities. We actually were forced to stay at home over the recent 3-day weekend and just lay low. It was while sitting in our backyard, looking out at the trees, enjoying the birds chirping and the bursting flowers on our deck that I was reminded once again I am one lucky guy. I mean, I’m looking out at a scene that could have been a Someday wish years ago. There it was, right there in front of me.

One of the traps that people can easily fall into (and I’ve been there myself) is what has been identified as “Someday Syndrome.” When that name first came to mind, I Googled it and sure enough, people have thought of it before. It’s the belief that at some point in your future, you will finally have what makes you happy. Running with that thinking, then you’re not as happy as you could be right now because you are waiting to accumulate something–a boat, a piece of property, a scenario or situation. In other words, you’re putting off being as happy as you could be for a tomorrow that’s not guaranteed.

That’s crazy.

As I looked around my yard on that 70-degree day sitting there with the person I love, I was thinking that at one point in my life, this probably was a “Someday” moment. That drove home the concept that perception becomes reality. And, if you just tweak your thinking a little bit, you may come to the realization your Someday is actually happening right now.

Oh, sure, we were coughing and barking and dealing with some health issues. But you don’t seriously think that when you get to that place somewhere in the future that everything is going to be perfect, do you?  So again, why would you wait for Someday–a day that may or may not come–to enjoy a little happiness?

While I do prefer life at 100 mph, I’m making it a point to sneak in more of those moments every now and then. To stop, breathe in the air and celebrate what surrounds me, today, rather than setting aside my happiness for what I may or may not get in the future.

Try it. The worst thing that could happen is to wind up being happier than you’ve ever been. Or ever allowed yourself to be.

Tim Hunter

Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE #159

Something old and something new. From the KLSY Murdock, Hunter & Alice days, a BATTLE OF THE SEXES featuring a visiting wizard and witch from “The Wizard of Oz” and a chat with Cory Nelson, who is riding his bike from here to the east coast this summer. Seriously. Just because.

 

The Family Addiction

I took part in an annual passage today. Well, part one of that passage, anyway.

I purchased a fishing license.

The end of April includes a special Saturday when I find myself up at Lake McMurray, just east of Mount Vernon. We usually get there Friday night, eventually go to bed and then I get up at the legendary “butt crack of dawn” to launch a boat and go out on the “Opening Day of Fishing Season” along with all the other die-hards, including father-in-law, Ernie.

Some people don’t get fishing. Others can’t get enough. I guess I was raised in a fishing family.

One of my earliest fishing memories was when I was about five-years-old and I went away for the weekend with my Uncle Chuck, Aunt Colleen and cousin Charlie. It was my first-ever time out on a boat and while I don’t remember catching any fish, I had fun. My uncle and cousin got a big kick out of watching me eat salmon eggs. I can’t explain why I did it, I just know that it happened because he told that story for years.

A few years later, I was in South Dakota visiting relatives when my late uncle James and my dad took me out on a boat and we fished the Missouri River outside of Mobridge.  They gave me one of those kiddie rods designed to keep a kid quiet and make him feel like he’s fishing. I ended up hooking and landing the biggest Northern Pike of the day. I remember asking for help and my uncle saying something like, “He’s gotta learn how to do it himself.” That’s pretty much when my personal addiction was confirmed.

Remember, I said I came from a fishing family. When we went back to South Dakotas for vacation, a Sunday afternoon thing to do was pack a picnic lunch and “head to a fishing hole.” While growing up, when we went camping (which we did most summers), family fishing was part of the adventure. I’d have to say that I had some luck passing along the curse, er, uh, tradition, to my kids. Both Christina and Tyson have fished over the years. Christina, her husband Ryan and the kids have been on fishing/camping trips. Tyson and yours truly actually slipped up to Alaska and Canada for some salmon-fishing trips and had a blast.

Yeah, I know that’s a halibut.  

So, Saturday, April 28th, I will begin my day with father-in-law Ernie launching a boat on to Lake McMurray. Could be beautiful, could be a downpour. We’ll fish for a couple of hours, hoping to hook at least a couple of fish and then come back for the Fishermen’s Breakfast they put on at Norway Park. I think Ernie looks forward to the breakfast almost as much as the fishing.

Oh, and the fish we’ll catch?  How big do you think they’ll be?  Add on a couple of inches each time you tell the story and you could be a fisherman, too. Or fisherwoman. Or fisherperson. Whatever.

And the tradition continues….

Tim Hunter