What follows below is written through my eyes and my memory. I hope you all enjoy this and most of all feel the passion that many of us have shared over the last decade. Thank you Hugy for making this all possible !
I awoke on what I remember as a beautiful, warm Sunday morning in a part of the country I had never been before. The day before had been eventful as the family and I had toured Hershey Park during the daytime and my wife and oldest daughter had attended an NSYNC concert at an outdoor stadium next to the park.
Nervous energy was abundant as I looked over a map of the area and tried to figure out how long it would take us to get to that day’s destination. I knew it was near Reading but in all honesty I didn’t have a clue what to expect. [pull_quote]There would be people that I only knew by names on a computer screen[/pull_quote]There would be people that I only knew by names on a computer screen. I was attending a party that had already been going on for 2 days and I was the new kid on the block so to speak.
For some reason we took the long way driving through what seemed was every town that Rockwell had ever used as a focal point of one of his paintings. The plan was for my wife to drop me off, leave for the day and do something with the kids and come back to get me. Seems the family did not have the “Good Vibrations’ that I had about what was to happen.
And so in the days before GPS systems and with that trusty old map on my lap we somehow made a few turns down rural and hilly streets and came upon a house with 30 or so cars parked in front. What I remember next has been well documented before but it stands to repeat. I walked into a world and the names on my computer became real and it has led me on a journey that nobody could ever even try to comprehend unless they were part of that excursion.
As lore has it, 113 people entered my life that day and for better or worse my world has never been the same.
That Sunday I met some of the best people anybody could ever hope to meet. The pictures have been well documented and passed around and life long friendships have evolved.
There was Aidy asking me hey GO, You know who I am ? And I had no clue. And Lylelady had everybody wearing nametags that read “The real GoHawksGo” and before long we were singing songs and I was singing Surfer Girl, well to be exact I was Lip Synching because the Del Roomios were off to the side singing about a “Nancy” and believe me when I say this, They were good and I couldn’t carry a tune from one room to another !
There was this pig on a spit and it was gross to look at. My friend Lydia took one look and wondered who had invited her ex-husband to the party !
So who did I meet ? The names are legendary in Oldies room history. SuzanRose, RhythymDuke, BobbyHep, Sxtyslvr, LWhiteDove, Spnnrn, Steelworker, Irishjigger, TerriLee, ZShott, HugyBear, MDN,RVB442, Mame, PupperPie, Carpenter, SocietiesChild, I can go on and on. I missed on a few who went home early before I got there and I also missed on DanHill. Come to think of it I do believe we all missed on him !
And soon it was time to leave. I remember like it was yesterday talking with Red and Torch on Hugy’s front porch and soon my wife drove up and I vowed to come back again the next year.
And I didn’t. Sometimes life gets in the way and your best intentions dont work out.
Turn to May of 2005 sitting in a restaurant near my home with my wife who looks at me and says, Mark, you really want to go back again dont you ? Well she didn’t have to ask twice. The only problem was that it was too late to get back that year but I did go to ROCSBBQ in September that year and saw again some of the names I had met back on that beautiful day in 2001. And I met a whole new cast and crew. Steve and Race and Donna and Margy. There was Jan and this wonderful woman who drove me up to Hollywood like I was a long lost friend. Thanks Revvy. And there was Suzanne and RickLaMesa and Chev and Edna had come all the way from Arkansas by bus. And this big friendly guy named Eric who had a sense of humor like myself and we hit it off right away. And there was also a dear man who went by the screenname BootScootLarry and his lovely wife and when he realized I was Jewish and a baseball fan like he was it was like long lost brothers had found each other. A dear man who we lost way too early in life.
Some of the old gang from 2001 had come that year, Frank and Lyle and Bill and MIke and PupperPie and soon it was Poker night at the Days Inn and , well ask Margy for the details. And while your at it ask her about our dinner date when we realized all that was being served was left over ham and well she couldn’t stand to see me eat alone so she joined me for the “Prime Rib special” that almost cost me my life..
I had never ever thought that Hugy’s 2001 could be duplicated but that year at Steve’s was close if not equal.
And so I promised myself that i would get back to Hugys again. and the next year May of 2006 I ventured up that hill to see many of my old friends and to make so many new ones.
And for the next 4 years I went back and it seemed like each year was better. The trivia games that I looked forward to so much. It was never about winning but about enjoying the moment and hopefully having a team that had fun and well Ok , It would of been nice to win a few but we had some
musical experts that were better and I salute them all. And I salute the team we had who made it so much fun. MIke, Teddi, Doreen, Paul were the regulars and every year we added new people with one thing in mind. Lets have fun and have a few laughs. A big thanks to Rich for creating the games. It must of taken a long time and I for one appreciated what he put into it, Couldn’t of been easy schlepping that gear every year so a heartfelt thanks from me to him..
I look at the pictures now and than and I look at the discs created with love by my friend Mame and I smile and I laugh and I also shed a tear or two at the people who left us way too early.
In a few weeks it will be the 10th Anniversary of my 1st trip, A journey like no other. So many people, so many memories and so many friendships. I have had people come to Chicago to visit and I have been invited to stay at the homes of some of you.
[pull_quote]I truly feel that he will be looking down at all of us and smiling as he remembers what he helped create.[/pull_quote]Each and every moment has been a moment to cherish. From getting up early every AM at the Days Inn and chatting with Judi and Kat and Sev and the early risers. to a rubber ducky in a bathtub in Connecticut to touring New York City with life long New Yorkers like Arnie and Ant and Beth. From a Bowl of matzo ball soup in New York to Panda remembering that all I ate at the Old country Buffet in Reading was chicken soup, it has been an amazing run.
I wont be going this year. Seems like life that got in the way for a few years after 2001 is getting in the way again. Not even sure if at this point in my life I will ever be able to make that journey again but thank you to each and every one of you who have made this so wonderful. You all have a special place in my heart and for those of you going back this year, have a great time and a safe trip.
A special thanks to a person I considered a friend. He opened his home to all of us and created a haven where we could all feel comfortable. I truly feel that he will be looking down at all of us and smiling as he remembers what he helped create.
I miss you all but rejoice in the memories of the last 10 years.