Going back to some of the production I cranked out during the “Dream Vacations” phase of KLSY, plus a special announcement at the end. Skip to 11:20 or so, to hear that.
Last Sunday, I got to enjoy a wonderful stroll down Memory Lane. I gathered with friends from my college days, when I was living in a dorm named Terry Hall that no longer exists at the University of Washington.
You’re saying, “Oh, Tim, they still have a Terry Hall at the University of Washington.” Different one. They tore down the building I lived in for three amazing years back in 2014. When the last of the students moved out in December of 2013, the Seattle Police actually used the building for SWAT Team training before the wrecking ball showed up to do its work.
Taking me back to my time at the original Terry Hall means going back over 40 years ago. That’s weird. Growing up, when my parents talked about 40 years ago, that would have been referring to the Great Depression and pre-World War II. But here I am now, in this 60-year-old body with a mind that thinks he’s still 35, reminiscing about those days in the 1970s like they were yesterday.
Terry Hall was my first experience at living away from home. It’s where I learned that if you spend too much time being lovesick over a girl from your home town, you could end up with a $112 phone bill. Yes, kids, there was a time where long-distance calls actually cost money. I was attending school at the UW, but my social world was this building full of other kids who had left the nest and were reinventing themselves into the people they wanted to become. I arrived in Seattle as a black-belt in goofball (no surprise to my high school friends) but being away at college allowed me to be a goofball on steroids. A few examples? Oh, sure.
Like I said, no surprises there.
These were the transition years. Going from a kid whose parents provided a safety net to being a semi-adult with full adult responsibility. There was so much learning going on, both in and out of school. The three years I lived in Terry Hall pretty much shaped my future. The high school girlfriend I was supposed to marry decided to set a new course. A guy down the hall, Bob Carey, gets full credit for telling me about the broadcasting program at the U-Dub. I remember thinking, “You could play on the radio and learn about television and call that a major? Done deal!”
Each of the people at the reunion triggered different memories. There was Erika, the girl from Germany, who once tried to teach me skiing. Jen and Abdoul, who both ended up working for a local city. My long-time pal, Steve, who knows more incriminating things about me than anyone should. Even my old roommate, Les showed up. That was a treat. Les and I ventured away from the dorms my senior year of college, to a funky house in the Fremont district of Seattle. That house still stands and is now actually a barbecue place. Seriously, this was our home.
We remembered classmates who weren’t there and wondered what they were up to. Who was still around? Who is about to retire? Who has already retired?
I got to meet spouses and hear about their kids. It was a small group, but with all the value of a big fancy class reunion. These were people I saw every day, that became a part of my life. They were the folks I would look for, when sitting down in the cafeteria and with whom I worked with in the kitchen. That picture of me up above in the white hat? That was taken when I had the dorm kitchen job of milk runner, where it was my responsibility to make sure none of the milks ever ran out. I was also a fry cook and on egg days, I would cook around 1200 eggs or flip 1500 pancakes in the morning for breakfasts.
Get me going and there’s a movie’s worth of stories that, maybe, someday I’ll write down. In the meantime and for now, they’re alive and well up in my brain. A few of the forgotten ones were knocked loose again last weekend. We all agreed, we HAVE to do this again sometime soon. Those really were some good old days.
The hardest part about pulling off one of these mini-reunions? Yes, all those various schedules make it a challenge. But the most difficult part is admitting that everything we talk about happened over 40 years ago.
Lots of MH&A fun from the KLSY days, including the winner of a Ski Boat Marathon competition, Alice’s crutch phrase being brought to light, what a sports broadcast sounds like when it’s over-sponsored and several of Michael Jackson’s phone messages on his 30th Anniversary hotline (which does sound remarkably a lot like me sped up). Hang on!
My former morning show partner used to always say, “It’s a pretty poor day when you don’t learn something.”
I usually followed that by saying to myself, “Well, how about learning a new slogan?”
Over the years, I’ve found that more true than not.
A quick side-diversion–that’s what I like so much about the game of baseball. You think you know everything there is to know about the sport and then all of a sudden a situation occurs or a play happens that has never happened before. And you pick up one more wrinkle in the grey matter.
My head is pretty jammed full of stuff. I’ve heard before that we keep shoving things in there until it gets full, and then we start letting go of the lesser important things. I don’t know about that. I can still arbitrarily let you know that the intro time of James Taylor’s “Your Smiling Face” is 25-seconds and really, it begins to fade around 2:15, although the time listed on the label is 2-minutes and 25-seconds. I’m an information junkie and, being a writer for Radio-Online and getting up at 4am every morning to gather data, it still excites me to learn something new.
This is where I bring in Marjorie. The quick connect is that she’s my sister-in-law’s mom. When I married Victoria and added her extended family, I got to know Marjorie while taking in the many family events. We’d banter briefly about how she was doing, what’s new, the usual small talk. Several years ago, I helped her out a couple of times with her computer. She was eager to know how to use it and keep up with emails, even though a lot of 80-year-olds were happy to not have anything to do with those contraptions.
Over the past couple of years, Marjorie has had some real health battles. A couple of weekends ago, she had to be rushed to the hospital and everyone thought they were going to lose her. But, as she had done several times before, she rallied. However, this time, Marjorie made it known she was done. No more hospitals for her. She wanted to get back into her apartment and not leave until her final breath.
Just last year, we celebrated her 90th birthday. In a fairly short amount of time, she needed the help of a cane and walker. She was tired of struggling to keep going. She decided she was done and had no interest whatsoever in wrapping things up at a hospital. So, she put out the word and night after night, her family and friends came over to say goodbye. Not teary-eyed crying sessions (although, I’m sure there were a few weepy eyes) but spending one last time together, getting to hug the great-grandkids one more time or see a longtime friend. Although, by this age, you’ve outlasted a lot of those.
Last Thursday night, my wife, her daughter and I headed up to Marjorie’s apartment and hung out for a while. A couple of hours, maybe. She did not appear in pain and, to be honest, when we left there, we all wondered if this was really it. She was lucid, talkative, laughed, and freely discussed all the goodbyes of the past week. Marjorie was planning to check out and so if you wanted to say one last goodbye as if to someone going on a long trip, you were encouraged to stop by.
Friday came and went. On Saturday morning at 4am, Marjorie headed off on her trip.
She told us during our visit that she had been having recurring dreams where a bus kept pulling up and invited her to get on board. She wanted to know where it was going, but they wouldn’t say. So, she didn’t get on.
Maybe this time they told her. Or, she just decided to finally take them up on their offer.
Marjorie did it her way and so impressively. The goodbyes, checking out when she was ready, tying up the loose ends and moving on in her time. I’m looking up from my keyboard at the “In Loving Memory” card of my dad who went home to his creator exactly three years ago today. He was just shy of his 92nd birthday.
We’re never really ever ready to let our loved ones go, but from their point of view, they eventually hit a point of wanting to move on. I get that. We do that all the time with friends, social circles, cars, jobs and such. You hit a point, and you recognize that it’s time to make a change. It makes sense that we’ll all feel that way at some stage of our lifetime where you just say, “Hey, I’m getting on that bus.”
I helped Marjorie out a couple times with her computer, but she got in the last lesson. She demonstrated the art and style of going out your way. Well done.
This week, I’m taking you down to the streets of Ballard where every year, a champion is determined. Yes, several people actually compete to be the winner of Ozzy’s World Famous Lutefisk Eating Contest, during Ballard’s annual Seafoodfest. So that you don’t have to see or smell it, I thought I’d give you a front row seat on the Internet.
I have been extremely blessed to meet some amazing people over the years, not through any of my doing, but I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
During the early 1980s, through a series of coincidences and quick decisions, I ended up working as a morning show producer at KOMO radio at 4th & Denny in Seattle. It was during my tenure there as Larry Nelson’s producer that I got to meet people like Stan Boreson, Don James, the recently retired “Voice of the Huskies” Bob Rondeau, as well the famous folks who passed through the building from Steve Allen, Johnny Mathis and Patty Duke. Then there was the fun bunch from KOMO-TV down the hall–Dan Lewis, Kathi Goertzen, Ray Ramsey, Steve Pool, Ruth Walsh and so on.
Another fellow I had the good fortune to get to know was an engineer named Lloyd Jones. I can’t even begin to tell you what a great guy he was, on top of being a go-to engineer who settled for nothing less than perfection. Lloyd enjoyed working with wires, antennas, transmitters and all those electronic gizmo’s that keep a radio station on the air. Meanwhile, his brother, was often in the spotlight during that era–a guy by the name of Quincy Jones.
Yet, one more name to sneak in here before I turn things over: Keith Shipman. I got to know Keith when he was a fresh-faced graduate from WSU, who found himself being KOMO Radio’s 3rd sports guy. We had Bob Rondeau in the morning, Gary Johnson in the afternoon, and Keith cutting his teeth with reports on the sidelines during Husky games. Yep, a Cougar who found himself in Husky country.
Keith and I will always that fateful Friday morning in 1984 when the general manager called each of us into his office, one by one, to let us know we were being cut due to budget shortfalls. Yours truly, KOMO News Director Gary Stewart and Keith were all shown the door. Keith went on to being a TV sports guy over at Q13, worked a big at KJR and then headed off to Bend, Oregon, to run a radio chain there. Over time, he’s ascended to being the president of both the Oregon and Washington Associations of Broadcasting. He is one busy guy.
But not too busy to write this wonderful salute to Lloyd Jones last week, on the occasion of what would have been his birthday. After reading it, I had to share so that you could have the chance to meet Lloyd.
Rarely a day goes by when I don’t think of my friend Lloyd Jones. He passed away 20 years ago today, of cancer. Lloyd was the broadcast engineer for the Husky Football Radio Network from its flagship station KOMO-AM Seattle. He was a prince of a man. A Coug. An Air Force veteran. A lover of music. An extraordinary husband who loved his wife Gloria and adored his son Marlon. One damn fine broadcast engineer. He taught me many lessons about life. Because I took an interest in how radio waves made their way from a transmitter to a car he taught me some of the fundamentals of engineering. What’s FM stand for? “F**king Magic!” he would say. Whenever I put my hands in the back of a transmitter to troubleshoot or change a tube he was the angel on my shoulder reminding me not to electrocute myself (“always use the grounding stick, if you can find the damn thing!”). He attempted to teach me how to drink a scotch liquor – Lochan Ora – on Husky football charter flights – with no success. When my daughter was born he began sharing parenting lessons (“all boys are poison – remind her of that every day…..every….day”). His attention to detail was unparalleled. “This shit ain’t magic – you need time to set things up!” True in broadcasting, true in life. There are several other Lloyd-ism’s that aren’t fit for print, but make me laugh out loud every time I think of him. Shortly after he retired from KOMO in 1997 I learned that he had surgery, so I sent him flowers at home to cheer him up while he was recuperating. The phone rang at my desk at KCPQ-TV the next morning and Lloyd’s first words were “Shipman, I’ve waited 50 f**king years to get flowers….(long pause for effect)… and I get ’em from a guy!” We laughed our asses off for the next 45 minutes. I asked him what the surgery was for; he told me it was a hernia (it was cancer). The last time I saw Lloyd was at Bob & Molly Rondeau’s house not long before he passed away. They assembled members of past and present Husky football broadcast teams for a lovely dinner, and we all laughed and told the same old stories and laughed some more. He looked as handsome as ever that evening and though frail didn’t give us a hint of how ill he was. As Lloyd readied to leave he went around the room and said his goodbyes. When he got to me we embraced and he looked me in the eye and told me he loved me. I thanked him for being such a great friend and mentor and told him how much he meant to me. Never thought he would die. I cried a lot on July 13, 1998 after I learned of his death. We knew each other for 20 years – he played an profound role in my development as a young adult, and I am forever grateful that I was privileged to know him. Still miss him to this day. Lloyd would have been 83.
Thanks for sharing, Keith.