This Is What Happens When You Reminisce About Good Times Past

Thankfully, Sweet T and I are at the age where we can look back and joyfully recall our childhood memories while commenting about how much times have changed since way back when. So it’s not unusual for me to find myself reminiscing about good times past.

Sweet T and I dig kicking back and binging on Netflix and we love watching movies. We talk a lot about current events and what’s going on in the world. Thanks to my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Williams (shout out to J.H. Moore Elementary!), I’m a bit of a news junkie. She urged all of her students to make a habit of reading the paper and watching the evening news (which was way more limited than it is today). Thankfully, T appreciates my news habit and indulges my penchant for docu-dramas. (FYI, if you haven’t watched it yet, check out Cuba Gooding Jr. portraying O.J. Simpson in ‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson’).

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Growing up in the Ark-La-Tex, I remember that we only had three channels, not counting PBS. The national news came on at 5:30 p.m., followed by the local news at 6. Walter Cronkite and Harry Reasoner were among the nightly staples, along with the local news pros like Al Pierce, Liz Swaine,  Al Bolton, and Bob Griffin. And who can forget the legendary Bill Moyers? Credibility and accuracy in reporting seemed to be more valued back then. Getting it right mattered.

The pressure of today’s 24-7-365 competitive information jungle has elevated being first above getting it right. As one of my old RTV professors observed back in the 80s–“It’s about ratings.” Ratings drive advertising. Advertising drives revenues. Viewers drive both. If we don’t watch, ratings decline, advertisers bail. That’s the case even more today than back then. But regardless of the age you live in, truth and accuracy matter.

A Clip from Bill Moyers ‘Growing Up in Marshall, Texas’

As a kid, there were a number of shows that were mainstays like ‘The Andy Griffith Show’, ‘The Rifleman‘, and ‘Bonanza’. The stories were not only entertaining but also taught life lessons. In those days, the good guys still won and people understood the difference between right and wrong. I find the best stories entertain and edify us.

Conjunction Junction

If you’re anywhere near my age, you’ll remember ABC’s ‘Schoolhouse Rock.’ The animated short made learning reading, writing, arithmetic, and science fun. The program, on-air originally from 1973-1985 and revived in the 90s for a second tour of duty, celebrates the 45th anniversary of its debut this year. The toe-tapping, sing-a-long taught us civics, history and much more. I can’t help but think it’s definitely a show whose multi-faceted lessons we seem to be missing today.

Energy Blues

Along my journey, I’ve learned that faith and science are not mortal opposites, but complement each other. I can be a person of faith and reason simultaneously.  Learning math, science, and how to read and write is critical to living excellently. Growing in our understanding of the Word of God helps us maneuver the trials and trails of life. To me, it’s more of a both/and rather than either/or. The wonders of science cause me to marvel at the work of God, not question it.

Keeping up with what’s going in the world is important. At the same time, having faith—believing in something greater than ourselves— is critical. Without hope, we remain lost.

Over the centuries, storytelling has served our civilization well. Stories teach, explore, and illuminate the world around us—present, past, and future. Once upon a time, people relied on oral storytelling, verbally handing down history and sharing current events. In our modern 21st century, we have more means to communicate at our disposal than ever before in history. Yet, at times, we talk right past each other.

I hope we remember to use these tools to tell stories that are important and pass along valuable lessons as a new generation comes of age. Stories teach us about who we were, who we are, and who we can be. Good stories teach us while making us laugh, cheer, scream, and cry. It’s why God gave them to us. And God should know. After all, when it comes to crafting a story, no one is better than the Lord.

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What’s your story? Tell it.

You can catch more of episodes of ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ here.

Trippin’ Down Memory Lane

This past week, with the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ monumental album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and the passing of rock-n-roll blues icon Greg Allman, my virtual mp3 turntable has been a nostalgic soundscape filled with the music of the Fab Four and the Allman Brothers Band. Naturally, “Sergeant Pepper” has been in heavy rotation this week as has the TABB 1971 groundbreaking live album “At Fillmore East.” My nearly lifelong friend George Savage considers both records to be “classics.” I must say that I would have to agree with him as surely throngs of other audiophiles do also.

Listening to these old albums reminds me of the profound influence people have had on my life and my musical taste. Undoubtedly, when it comes to music, aside from my late Dad, no one I know has had a greater influence on my listening tastes than my friend George Savage. Through the years of nurturing our individual sound gardens, we have continued to influence each other’s musical interests, him me more than me him. I can’t even begin to list the music my buddy LowDog Savage has turned me onto. That’s a river that is just simply too wide to cross.

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As I mentioned, my Dad had a profound impact on my listening landscape. So did my Mom. She’s the one that had me listening to Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin and introduced me to opera. Dad introduced me to Bob Wills, Johnny Horton, Merle Haggard, David Allan Coe, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Tom T. Hall, Buck Owens and Roy Clark, to name a few. Dad’s considerable record collection also included Clapton, Steppenwolf, and ZZ Top. Thanks to my parents, I’ve always had an eclectic, broad taste in music and I am glad for that gift.

Through my time in radio during the 1980s and early 1990s, in addition to rock and country, I had the opportunity to cultivate an interest and knowledge into the sounds of jazz, bluegrass, classical, country western & swing, new age, and even big band. Not to mention the sounds my ears heard during the days of hosting or running the board for shows like “The Classic Rock Show,” “Higher Ground,” and the “Contemporary Christian Power Hour.” This grand audio adventure was in no small part due to working at a Public Radio station under the guiding hand of Bill Oellermann and under the direction of Rob Stanley Ernest. If you’re a Dallas hockey fan, you’d instantly recognize Bill’s booming voice from his 18 years and 800+ home games as the Public-Address announcer for the Dallas Stars. Rob Stanley Ernest retired from radio and is now a dedicated Methodist minister devoting his time to doing the work of the Lord. Both men set the table for me to broaden my musical horizons and fall in love with radio.

Working at KETR on the campus of Texas A&M University-Commerce (known back then as East Texas State University) provided me the privilege of working with the public radio greats like Railroad Bill Ogden (host of the Bluegrass Special) and C.H. “Kip” Martin. Another old radio compadre during my time at KETR FM 88.9 is Brad Kellar who continues to pound the news beat in the Greenville-Commerce area, keeping legions of East Texans on top of the latest headlines. And of course, I cannot forget to mention my TV-broadcasting co-host, Vicki Holloway who tenaciously continues working in broadcasting today as the marketing manager for KAMU Public Radio in College Station.

In those days, MTV and ESPN were new ideas, and Vicki and I hosted several TV shows together, including a program called “Campus Connection”. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we did what we both do—laughed a lot and had fun with it. Having a sense of humor dramatically impacts your outlook on your circumstance and situation. Life is better when you laugh.

These folks, along with a ton of others, demonstrated early on in my life that you just never know who God puts in your life or why even though I didn’t spend much time thinking about God back in those days. Today, I am grateful for the broad and bright tapestry of friends and music God has woven into the fabric of my life.

Those were great times. We dared to chase our dreams, although they may not have led us where we might ever have imagined they would take us. But that’s life. Some things you only learn by living. No matter what this world throws your way, you got to keep on living and growing into the “You” that God intended.

Like Mr. Bojangles, keep on dancing.

 

photos courtesy of pixabay