Saturday, January 21, 2017

65 years old

Yesterday, I turned 65 years old.

It seems that I turned 60 just a few yesterdays ago.
How did that happen so fast?

In other news, yesterday Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States.
Really.

We now have the hottest First Lady on the Planet.
Really.

My birthday Day was followed by golf and Champagne the next day.
Happy Birthday to me.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ruth Gardner turns 88

Ruth Gardner turns 88 years old and thanks to the wonders of FaceTime, she receives video birthday wishes from Samantha.

40th Anniversary

Forty years ago, Helen and I were married in a simple civil ceremony in my parents' living room. My father was the Officiant. Very little hoopla, very few guests.
With a quest to explore the country, we packed Helen's 1976 Buick Regal and headed south. Our goal was to circle the USA going clockwise, working odd jobs along the way and ultimately deciding where to call home. Our first stop was Dallas, Texas. While there, we abruptly learned that our entire savings account was needed to pay estimated income taxes ... due the next day. It caused us to find jobs immediately. We did telephone solicitation work for the Dallas Police Officers' Association. We cleaned houses. We waited tables. Friends of friends let us sleep on the floor of their recently vacated apartment. We kept a detailed daily budget. Several months later, we had replenished our savings account. We moved on. Forty years later it seemed fitting to celebrate our Anniversary by retracing our steps in Dallas.

Helen waited tables at Annie's Santa Fe, an upscale Mexican restaurant located in a really nice area on upper Greenville Avenue.
The restaurant is now completely gone and replaced by a 7-Eleven Store. While getting gas there, a woman drove away from the pump with the gasoline hose still in her tank. Two people asked me for money. The area has certainly changed.

The restaurant where I worked, Mariano's Restaurant in Old Town on upper Greenville, is also gone.
The building is still there, but Mariano's has moved. There are now 6 Mariano's Restaurants in the metro area. We ate at Mariano's Hacienda Ranch on Skillman Road. I ordered the Jesse Lopez - the sole surviving entree of the 1977 menu and the only meal provided to me for free when I worked there. Two cheese enchiladas, rice and beans. I ate dozens of them in 1977. This time it was not free, but it tasted just the same.
Interestingly, we recently learned that the founder and owner of Mariano's Restaurants, Mariano Martinez, is credited with the invention of the frozen margarita machine. News stories about him have appeared on national television networks. His original frozen margarita machine can be found in the Smithsonian.  In 1977, all waiters (of which I was the only gringo) were told to push the frozen margaritas. Mariano's margarita machine burped them out at a cost of 19 cents while we sold them for a whopping $1.75 each. They now cost $14.

Almost nothing in Dallas looked familiar. The Continental Inn Motel in Richardson (where we stayed for months) is completely gone. 

It was fun to revisit Dallas and re-trace our early married life. Actually, we turned our Anniversary trip into a mini sightseeing trip. On the way to Dallas, we stopped in Oklahoma City where we explored Bricktown, twice visited (day and night) the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum (the sight of the Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995) and had a super fun lunch at the Grill on the Hill.

While in Dallas, we explored the Texas School Book Depository and Museum on Dealey Plaza. (Which inspired Helen to remark that I was turning our Anniversary trip into an Assassination Vacation.) Traveling home, we stopped at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art  (where the most impressive artwork is the building itself) in Bentonville, Arkansas, drove by the Bella Vista golf courses where my golfing group has gone for 20 + years, ate at Duffer's Cafe and took a drive-by tour of the intermodal Logistics Park near Edgerton, Kansas.

40 years is a long time. It deserves comment.
I am a super lucky guy. Thank you, Helen.
Happy Anniversary.