Remember Brad from Michigan

(I’m a little late for True-Story Tuesday.)

In my junior year of high school I became the junior drum major of our band. As a result, I attended a some drum major classes lead by George Parks and leadership classes lead by Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser during a band camp I attended that summer. (All of which were quite good, by the way. Assuming little has changed in the past seventeen years or so, I recommend their classes.)

In the drum major classes we focused on directing things like hand movements and such. Most if not all of us were required to direct the others in a song, and a surprisingly large number of people were being criticized for their technique, especially for not keeping rhythm well.

I was determined to not be criticized for that, so I practiced quite a bit for it. When my turn came up, during one of the final classes, I was ready — I had the technique down pat.

I forget the song, though I believe it was “America the Beautiful”. Anyway, I directed everyone, and I thought I had done an excellent job, though I was aware most everyone thought they did well until they got their feedback.

George Parks noted that I had directed well technically and asked the other students what they thought. There was no hesitation — “He showed no emotion.” Murmurs from everyone confirmed it. George Parks began explaining to us that directing is more than just getting the technical details right.

He asked for my name again and where I was from, which I told him. “Remember Brad from Michigan,” he said. “Right it down — ‘Remember Brad from Michigan.’” (We all kept notebooks to note the important bits of information from the classes.) Not “Don’t be a robot” or anything like that. Oh no. “Remember Brad from Michigan.”

I was immortalized in the notebooks of drum majors from around the country as the guy who showed absolutely no emotion when he directed. That probably explains why I tried so hard not to direct like an automaton.

(Come to think of it, my experiences as drum major could provide a wealth of stories. Like how I directed the song “All Night Long” in Muskegon like it was a 33⅓ RPM record played on 45. Or how I hopped a fence and roll-glided all the way from the end zone to about the middle of the field at Festival because I was late for the awards. Or … well, you get the idea.)

Can you pick out Brad in the picture?

Brad's First Communion

Recently, during my scanning frenzy, I came upon this picture of Brad’s First Communion at the Annex in Stevensville, MI. The Annex was part of the St Joseph Catholic Parish, but it looked like a barn. I always felt more at ease there than at the fancy church downtown, although the metal folding chairs they originally had weren’t too comfortable! To my dismay, one of the pastors a few years back renamed the Annex: St Joseph South or something like that.

Anyway, when I was little, we had a great priest (note picture) whose name I can’t recall at this moment (Father O’Neil?). I always thought he looked JUST LIKE Jesus. In fact, I think a lot of us thought he WAS Jesus! He was kind and soft-spoken (not to mention the beard), just like I imagined Jesus would be. He left a few years after my first communion. Now where is that picture? I guess I’ll have to ask my mom.

Updated by Brad: The full-size scan of the picture is available.

(Comment from old site:)

Who else can you recognize?

Jason Wenzlaff and Jeff Hylok are in the picture too. Can you spot them?

True-story Tuesday

Years ago, around the time I worked at FANUC Robotics, I was driving on M-59 in Utica. Behind me was a car following so closely that I suspected they were following me. Now, it was the middle of the day on a weekday so there was really no reason to worry, but I suspected it nonetheless. (I don’t remember why I was driving around there when I should have been at work, but I seem to remember a plant trip was involved.)

I pulled into a shopping area to see if the car would follow me into the parking lot. It did. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced something like that, but it’s a little freaky. Anyway, I decided to make a couple of quick turns to convince myself they weren’t following me, and sure enough, they weren’t.

Once I was sure the other car had continued on its way, I surveyed my surroundings and saw that I was in the parking lot of a jewelry store called Jared. Well, I thought, I’ve been meaning to get myself to a jewelry store for quite a while. Maybe I should go in now that I’m here. I parked the car and went in.

That is the true story of how I got Helen her engagement ring.

I LOVE Scanners!

Blast from the past

I just got up the courage to set up the scanner today. I have a few pictures that I wanted to reproduce—this being one of them. Every once in a while, the Town family likes to take this picture and torture others (especially Mom Town) with it by hiding it different places. Now everyone will be able to see this picture of Mom! I wanted to scan it before it could mysteriously disappear.

The Towns have a tendency to play this game with other items as well. Once I was looking through my music school bag and I discovered a cute Santa Claus dressed in ornate fabric. In fact, it played music when you pulled the string. I had no idea where this thing had come from! I instantly thought of my accompanist because he had a similar type of character in his office. I felt horribly guilty for accidentally acquiring his doll! When I came in for a lesson, he denied knowing anything about it! I was perplexed. Where had this musical figurine come from?

I few weeks later the truth came out as I described the situation to Brad’s family. Everyone laughed when they found out that I actually LIKED my Santa! Someone had stashed it in my belongings because they thought it was not appealing to have a pull-string in between Santa’s legs! Apparently the joke was on them this time!

My best off-the-cuff jokes

  • Helen’s brother Tom and his son Paul were putting their stuff into Tom’s vehicle, stuff like luggage and Paul’s cello. There was a lot of stuff, and they weren’t sure everything was going to fit. Once most of the stuff was in, Tom said, “I don’t think the cello will fit.” I said, “There’s always room for cello!”
  • A couple of years ago, Katrina had come down with something. She had been running a fever and had a runny nose. She was sitting on our couch when I asked how she was feeling, and for some reason she began to flap her arms. I turned to Helen and said, “I think she has bird flu.”

Milk + remote = new remote

I once accidentally dropped an expensive universal remote control into a full glass of skim milk.

True story.

Churches and bowling alleys

When I first moved to Utica, Michigan, back in 1995, I wanted to find a church. I would leave my apartment and drive around for a while to explore the area and to find a church, but instead of a church, I found bowling alleys every time. Each time I thought, I should remember where this place is in case I ever want to go bowling, and I would return home.

One night I decided that I’d go bowling. I left and tried to retrace my steps to one of the bowling alleys I’d stumbled upon previously. Instead of finding the bowling alley, I found a church. I went home.

True story.