Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'obituaries'

My Father: A Remembrance

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Mar 20, 2013 @ 10:06 pm PST

userpic=father-and-sonThis has been a crazy and a stressful last-7-day — more on that potentially in a future post. It has been so crazy and stressful, in fact, that I didn’t get the chance to post my annual remembrance of my dad on his birthday yesterday. As I get older, I see more and more of my father in me — and I like what I see, and I’m grateful he gave so much to me that makes me who I am.

I wrote the following the day after he died in 2004. He would have been 91 yesterday.

My father was born in Flushing NY in 1922. He was the eldest of four brothers; the son of a tailor who lived over his shop. I can’t give you too many details of the early days; Uncle Herbert can (and perhaps he will reply to this post and do so). His mother died young, when he was in his twenties, and sometime thereafter, his family moved to Los Angeles (how’s that for glossing over details). My dad went to Southwestern School of Accounting, and was a Public Accountant. He married his first wife in the late 1940s, and my brother was born in 1952. He loved my brother very, very much. He divorced that wife in 1955, and retained custody of my brother. He married my mother in 1956, and I was born in 1960. My mother was a CPA, so they formed an accounting company of their own, Faigin and Faigin. My brother died, reported due to an accident (I never knew the true details) in 1970. It devistated both my parents. My mother died in 1990 on my wedding anniversary. My father remarried a year or so later to Rae, who had lost her husband. This brought me some new wonderful family members. This should bring you up to date on the familial backstory.

So, who was my dad, and what do I remember. This is a jagged collection of memories.

I remember being in Indian Guides with him, painting rocks and bark to invite people to meetings. I remember going on Indian Guide campouts with him. It is because of this that I did Indian Princesses with my daughter, continuing the tradition. I recommend this program to anyone who is a dad.

I remember going on trips with him to East Los Angeles, to visit his clients. We would hit small mom and pop grocery stores, mexican candy companies. I’d always get sweets… and get to sort the paid bills afterwards.

I remember him taking the time to be with me.

I remember him telling bad jokes, and being enamored with old-time radio stars, such as Al Jolsen (his favorite), Eddie Cantor, Jack Benny, and so on.

I remember his teeth. Specifically, I remember how he would remove his dentures just to gross out us kids.

I remember him taking me to the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion to see musicals, starting in 1972 when my mother was too sick to attend The Rothschilds. From this came my love of musicals.

I remember him reading Robert W. Service to me, especially Bessies Boil.

I remember him, at the Passover Seder, reading the Four Sons. He loved to act, mug, and play with his voice to make a point during the story.

I remember him being active in the Masons and the Shriners, especially with his good friend, Raymond Schwartz. I remember him going to the Masonic Picnics.

I remember him playing bridge with my mom and their friends, the Cohens, the Schwartzes, and the Strausses. Perhaps this is where I got my love of gaming.

I remember him telling stories of his time in the Navy, when he was a pharmacists mate, 2nd class, at Camp Elliott, which is now part of Mirimar NAS in San Diego. He found it ironic that he was in the Navy, as he could never swim.

I remember his disorganized toolbench, where eventually you could find what you need. I still have his 30 year old power drill, which I still use today.

I remember him taking care of my mother as she died of cancer, and fiercly defending her when we would fight.

In his later years, I remember him fighting with the computer, and eventually learning to use it and to use Email. However, he could never quite get the printer figured out. I would get calls from him that stuff wasn’t printing, and it was because he had been playing with the printer queue again.

I remember him cooking. He loved to cook peppers and onions in olive oil. He made a mean spaghetti sauce, and a great pot roast in tomatoe sauce. Rae says that I got my cooking skills from him, with which I must agree, as I don’t think my mom could cook.

I remember him collecting autographs and first day covers. For many, he would frame them and put them all over the walls.

I remember his love of baseball, which never rubbed off.

I remember him taking pictures. And more pictures. And more pictures. And still more pictures. I’ll probably find about 50 cameras at the house, together with probably 200 photo albums. In particular, I remember a few specific cameras: His Konica T-3 SLR, which I have. His Fuji POS, which he received at a special party my mother threw for him at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.

I remember him loving fountain pens, just like me. He had boxes of pens, and even more ink. He’s the only man I know that has a quart bottle of Schaeffer Black Quink Ink in his supply closet. There are about 6 bottles of ink on his desk (I only have 3).

I remember him being a luddite when it comes to computerizing financies. I’m going to have loads of two-peg journal books to go through to figure out stocks and bank accounts.

I remember him being a packrat. He collected office supplies. He collected biographical books. He collected CDs. You name it, he collected it.

I remember him being a good friend and caring about other people. After my mother died and he remarried, his new wife’s children were treated the same as his natural children, with the same love. He was a second grandfather to my sister-in-law’s children. He was there when people needed him. Until his last year, he volunteered to help seniors with their taxes.

For many years, I remember him being a staunch Republican, going counter to my mother, the strong liberal. I remember him backing Nixon and Reagan. This year [nb: this was written in 2004], however, had he been strong enough, he was going to vote for John Kerry.

I remember him being a people person. He would just light up when he was around people, especially those that hadn’t heard his stories before.

I remember him being there for me and my family. We spoke weekly on the phone, something I will miss, talking about everything. He had good advice, which I grew to respect as I got older. To the youngsters reading this: listen to your parents. They’ve been their and made the same mistakes. They do know what they are talking about.

I remember his love for his granddaughter, [info]nsshere. He had pictures of her everywhere, and she loved him. I remember him taking her to Disneyland when she was three, and being there in the hospital when she had her open heart surgery at the age of four.

I remember his love for his family. He enjoyed spending time with his brothers, Herbert, Ronald, and Tom, and researching family history. When my daughter was little, we picked up a copy of Grandfather Remembers and gave it to him. He filled it out, and now it is a lasting memory for her of her grandfather. To those of you who are grandparents: take the time now to write out your memories for your grandchildren. Record an oral history. Annotate your photo albums. It is worth the time. You will create that memory that will outlive you.

I remember how he loved Yiddish and Yiddish stories. I remember him reading the Freiheit.

I remember (or have discovered) how he loved his wives. I remember how he loved my mother, Nancy, even through the depths of her depression, her anger, her rages, her illnesses. I remember how he rarely lost his temper (and when he did, you needed to worry). I remember when he first told me he had met Rae, and how they quickly grew to love each other. Even though there was an age difference there, I saw the deep affection that existed between them. He chose well.

I remember how he touched people. A few months ago, I went to a funeral that was packed to the gills of people who loved the deceased. My father had friends all over the world, and helped many people.

In short, I remember a deeply caring man, who I really think was responsible for making me the way I am today (both for good and for bad). He does live on in me, and I think he lives on in my daughter as well. As long as we remember someone, they never die.


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The Art Of Saying Nice Doggie

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Mar 03, 2013 @ 4:58 pm PST

userpic=boardgamegeekWill Rogers supposedly once said, “Diplomacy is the art of saying ‘Nice doggie’ until you can find a rock.” Although you think I’m saying this as a commentary on our political situation, that’s a different post. I’m saying it because of the reference to “Diplomacy” — which in my eyes, is the famous game, “Diplomacy“. I’m talking about Diplomacy because today brings news of the death of Allan Calhamer, creator of “Diplomacy”.

My start in the world of board gaming was from the traditional 1970s gateway-game, Risk. I could never get into those SPI hex-grid games or the detailed simulations of Avalon-Hill. But I did enjoy playing Risk. When I was in high school, someone introduced me to Diplomacy, and from there it was a downward spiral into gaming.

For those who aren’t familiar with the game, Diplomacy is a game of World War I battles, played entirely without dice. Each player represents a country, and through negotiation and alliances attempts to get a majority of Europe. Games take anywhere from 5 to 8 hours. Yes, hours.

In high school, a group formed around those who played Diplomacy. We had a number of people from the computer and science fiction clubs involved. We would typically meet at someones house and go at it until the wee hours of the morn. This continued into college, where we even had a wall-map version of Diplomacy that we played in the UCLA Computer Club.  It was also in college that I got introduced to the Diplomacy variant, Machiavelli, which became one of my main games (along with Cosmic Encounter, Junta, and Ace of Aces) during the early 1980s.

Times have changed. I haven’t played Diplomacy or Machiavelli in years, simply because today’s generation is rarely up for a 5-6 hour face to face game. But who knows, perhaps one day. [Maybe I can teach it to the Van Nuys Acadec folks next year; I recall the theme is World War I]

Music: I Sing! (2002 York Concert Cast): “Charlie And Pepper”


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The Dead, The Living, and The Zombies

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Feb 21, 2013 @ 11:38 am PST

userpic=zombieToday’s lunch-time news chum collection brings together stories about life and death:

ETA: Last week I wrote about the piano on the beach, slowly disintegrating. Today’s news brings word that it has been cremated.

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Tales of My City and My State

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Jan 07, 2013 @ 5:56 pm PST

Huell-HowserRalph-StoryJack-Smithuserpic=californiaToday, my city and my state lost one of its greatest boosters, and his passing reminds me of other great journalistic boosters for my city and state. In their memory this post is dedicated.

Today’s news brings the sad report of the death of California icon Huell Howser. Howser, a transplant from Tennessee, grew to be one of the greatest booster of Los Angeles, Southern California, and all the quirks and oddities of California. Starting in the mid-1980s with Videolog, he rapidly developed a folksy style over a series of travelogue programs covering our great state. I know he was out to Orange Empire Railway Museum numerous times (which increased attendance every time), and even did a video report on the subway tunnels of the Pacific Electric. He was evidently as nice in person as he was on TV, and just enjoyed telling people about this wonderful state. I’m glad to see KCET will continue to air his shows.

Thinking of Huell made me remember another lost icon of Los Angeles, Ralph Story. Story died in 2006, and I wrote up some recollections then.  Story worked for KCBS (then KNXT) and KABC. I remember Story from his award winning series “Ralph Story’s LA”, which explored the history of Los Angeles. I particularly remember the segment he did on the Pacific Electric Railway tunnels near Echo Park.

I tend to like to do things in 3s, so I wanted a third person who boosted LA and has passed away. My wife came up with the answer: Jack Smith of the Los Angeles Times. Smith was a columnist who did regular columns on Los Angeles and Southern California; many of these were collected into books such as “The Big Orange” (for you Bay Area folks, substitute Herb Caen). Smith died in 1996, and I’m not sure the Times has had a columnist like him since. About the closest is Steve Lopez.

While writing this remembrance up, one other booster came to mind, but it is neither dead or off-the-air… however, it hasn’t had the same impact. KABC’s program, Eye on L.A., is a long running travelogue series hosted by whomever KABC had on staff (I remember Chuck Henry hosting it, but there have been others). However, it hasn’t exclusively focused on Los Angeles, or even California.

So, Huell, we thank your for your love of Los Angeles and California, and for continuing in the tradition of Ralph Story and Jack Smith, bringing the stories of the people to the people. You will be missed.

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The Reason for the Season: News Chum!

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Dec 25, 2012 @ 10:15 am PST

userpic=chanukah-christmasAh, Christmas. The day when a jolly fat man in a red suit, hopefully legally, comes down your chimney (or through an unlocked window) and leaves you a collection of news articles to chew on while unwrapping economic incentives:

  • Ugly Sweaters. It’s become a hipster phenomenon — ugly holiday sweaters. It has even been written up in the Los Angeles Times, so it must be hip. They are even going so far as to make ugly Chanukah sweaters: Berkeley clothing label GeltFiend has introduced a line that includes a sweater featuring Chasidic snowmen (complete with beards and peyos) or $65 for a dreidel cardigan. As for Christmas goodies, Tipsy Elves offers reindeer dancing in a conga line and a multitasking Santa spelling out “Merry Christmas” in the snow as he relieves himself. Kitsch is the reason for the season, right?
  • Celebrity Christmas Deaths. Two celebrity deaths to report. First is Jack Klugman, an actors’ actor. Wonderful roles include his performance in 12 Angry Men, Gypsy, and of course The Odd Couple and Quincy, ME (the latter being the prototype for CSI, in my opinion). The second is Charles Durning, who also had many great roles, but I’ll remember him as the governor in the movie version of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (whose author, Larry L. King, also just passed away).
  • Baker. Another near death to report: The community of Baker, CA. The world’s largest thermometer is no longer working or being maintained, and the town is slowly dying due to the recession. Of course, there is a plan to save it. A UFO-themed hotel attached to a jerky stand. I kid you not.
  • Pay Phones. Also reportedly coming back from the dead (to continue our theme of the reason for the season) are pay phones. Evidently, the superstorm Sandy alerted people that cell phones are not always reliable, even if they are installed in churches. It appears that copper wires with independent power are much more reliable, and people surged to the remaining pay phones during the emergency.
  • The Reason for the Season. Of course, this all boils down to the apparent real reason for the season (note the use of the word “apparent”): money. So what better to end with than a link about money. The US Mint is testing a number of different metal alloys to develop a coin that actually costs less to produce than its face value. That’s one way the US Government makes money.

As Stan Freberg says, “We going out on that joke?” To which I say, “No, we do reprise of song, that help. But not much.” Oh, and speaking of Stan Freberg and the reason for the season, we go out on this classic: Green Chri$tma$.

Music: All American (1962 Original Broadway Cast): “Our Children”


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Things That Were, and Things That Never Were

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Dec 24, 2012 @ 11:09 am PST

userpic=tombstonesAs we approach the end of the year, the newspapers are bringing a number of stories of things that were, or in some cases, never were…

Music: Butterfly (Barbra Streisand): “Jubilation”

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An Icon Passes

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 06, 2012 @ 11:27 pm PST

An icon of my childhood has died: “Sheriff” John Rovick has died at the age of 93.

Back in the era of children’s television hosts, Sheriff John was one of the most beloved in Los Angeles. His “Lunch Brigade” was a staple for kids like me growing up. We grew up on his songs, his cartoons, his morals, and his ideals… and of course, Farmer John Hot Dogs. We preferred the Birthday Cake Polka (“Put another candle on my birthday cake”) to any other birthday song.

Our motto, after all, was John’s:

Laugh and be happy and the world will laugh with you
When people see you smiling they can’t help smiling too
When you look out the window to a dark and gloomy day
Break out a smile and in a while the gloom will go away
So laugh and be happy with a merry melody
A song will make a hat rack look like a Christmas tree
Get rid of worry in a hurry, chase the blues away
Just laugh and be happy all the live…. long….. day.

Rest in peace, Sheriff John. You taught a generation well.



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Friday News Chum: Obits, Animation, Non-Christian Christians, Fecal Transplants, 404 pages, and Close Shaves

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Sep 28, 2012 @ 11:08 am PST

Well, it’s Friday at lunch, and that means it is time to clean out the news chum links, toss them into the water, and see if anyone bites on them for discussion.

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