A Piece of My Mother’s Past is Gone

Last night’s Mark Evanier column (mark_evanier) brought news of the death of Stan Kann, and it touched me deeper than I than I thought it would.

Now, many of you have no idea who Stan Kann is. Those of you old enough to have regularly watched the Tonight starring Johnny Carson, or talk shows such as Mike Douglas, might remember him. Stan was the man who would come on with all of these crazy gadgets, most of which didn’t work, and try to explain what they did. But these gadgets are not why I remember Stan.

When I was young, and later in my teens, I would occasionally watch these shows with my parents or my grandparents. When Stan would come on, my grandparents would usually note that Stan was the first man to propose to my mother, but she turned him down. I have a vague recollection of that. They would remark how at the time, they were both at Washington University in St. Louis, and Stan was a concern organist. Those facts indeed were true: according to Stan’s obituary:

Kann began his performing career at Washington University where he planed the organ. He went on to become the best known concert organist in North America. Kann played the Fox Theatre for 22 years before moving to Los Angeles in 1975.

According to his obituary in the St. Louis paper, he was a lifelong bachelor (my mother’s fault? we’ll never know) and a collector of antique vacuum machines. Next time I listen to a pipe organ (yes, I have them on my iPod), I’ll think of him.


It takes a Community… but perhaps not the entire Community

When I was growing up, parents were parents. You addressed them with Mr. or Mrs. (there was no such thing as Ms.). If one parent disciplined a child, you supported them. You didn’t question the trust we had in our parents.

Nowadays, of course, we know that blindly trusting adults can be dangerous. It was probably wrong way back when, but we didn’t hear about it. But there’s another side to the story, especially for those of us who are fathers.

The Online WSJ has an excellent article about how men parenting kids need to be more careful these days, especially if you are alone with a child, and especially if that child is not your own. Statistics showing that most predators are men create the fear that any man alone with a child is “A Bad Thing”, and often prompt questions. You certainly don’t want to be a sole male chaperone for an activity, for an example. One complaint, true or not, and there goes your life and reputation.

It really is a fascinating article, and makes me wonder if our society has gone too far. Certainly, the days where we let our children just wander and explore are gone. As parents, we want to know where they are at all times, that they are safe from predators. We take the potential predators, and put them in isolated areas where we don’t see them (and corespondingly, don’t see what they are doing), in order to protect our kids. I know that things I did as a kid in the 1960s (just going off and riding my back for hours at end, wandering around the Ballona Wetlands, which we knew as the Gas Company Swamp) I would never let my daughter do these days.

Makes one think as to whether our society is overprotective, or were these problems always here, and we just didn’t know about them.


Another Family Reunion

As folks know, I’ve been writing about the upcoming family reunion of the Weinbaum side of the family. Last night, I had a family reunion of a different sort, when the_lone_piperthe_lone_piper and his friend, Maria, came over to visit. the_lone_piperthe_lone_piper is a relative on my father’s side; his great grandmother was my grandfather’s sister (which makes us second cousins, once removed). He was in the area for the 2007 Highland Games in Pomona, for his hobby is music and bagpipes. Those of you in the Davis area may have heard of him, or if not, may have heard him :-). He lives up in Davis, and regularly plays his pipes in the area (and he does know of a few of the Prankster folks, as confirmed by ellipticcurve, who joined us for dinner).

In any case, this was my first time meeting him, and it was a great evening. We had fun talking about all sorts of subjects and fandoms, moving the discussion from this and that. Yet another relative to put on the “neat person” side of the column! Hopefully we’ll get to see him again the next time he’s in the area… and that time, we’ll invite over my Uncle Tom to explore more how music runs in the family.


What Makes You Happy?

  • I made my wife happy. Since Mother’s Day, we’ve been doing some furniture shopping. Sunday, we went to Reeds Furniture in Simi Vally and got a recliner (but in brown) to replace our 12+ year-old glider rocker. Then, tonight, we went to Plummers and purchased a replacement for the sofa-sleeper in the den that came up from my dad’s and was starting to die. Come August (it’s on backorder) we’ll have a new 2-piece sectional in a lovely teracotta.
  • I also made my daughter happy. Tonight we also hit the music store. She’s been having fun playing guitar, and she wanted to get a guitar stand and a strap. While we were there, I also got her a book of vocal sections and music from Smokey Joe’s Cafe. She’s now all eager to play with it.

You know, it makes me happy when I can make my family happy!