Monday, January 25, 2016

We All Have A Charlie ~ Revisited

This will be the fourth year that I am having my head shaved to help the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fund childhood cancer research. In my first three years I have raised over $6000.Please believe me, I am not bragging, but I am proud that I can help out in a small manner. So, why am I so passionate about this cause? Maybe I should explain how what first inspired me.

Over the years I have made numerous friends on Facebook, people that I never would have imagined becoming acquainted with. Of course, some of these relationships are closer than others. One of the more noteworthy connections I have made is with a family in England. It started out by playing online games with a lovely lady named Bev. Before I knew it, I was a friend with her six sisters and four brothers.

Charlie's Friend Jake
Today I have over 20 Facebook friends from across the pond. Now in addition to Bev’s brothers and sisters, I have also connected with children, nephews and nieces. I consider it a blessing to have these charming people in my life. Without them I would have never learned about a very special little boy named Charlie.

Charlie was the son of a close friend of Bev’s sister, Debbie. Charlie’s mum and Debbie were so close that Charlie called her his second mum. He even referred to Debbie’s young son Jake as his brother. Even though Charlie was 4 1/2 years older than Jake, they were best buddies.

However, things began to change for Charlie. He developed a tumor in his leg. It was found to be cancerous and he had to have his leg amputated just below the knee. The doctors thought this was the end of the cancer, but regrettably it was not. The cancer had spread into Charlie’s bones; he would need additional treatment to battle the disease.

It was during this treatment that there was another metastasis and the cancer had spread into Charlie’s lungs. A short time later, Charlie could no longer fight the disease and passed away at the age of 9. Jake, who was only 5 at the time, could not understand where his friend had gone. His parents told him that Charlie was now in heaven and was a star shining in the sky. Many years later, Jake still looks into the evening sky for Charlie.

More children are lost to cancer in the United States than any other disease, in fact more than many other childhood diseases combined. Worldwide, a child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes. Before they turn 20, about 1 in 300 boys and 1 in 333 girls will have cancer.

Because Charlie’s story had moved me so deeply, I wanted to do something to help fight childhood cancer. I was familiar with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and decided to get involved with their cause. The idea for St. Baldrick’s began in 1999 when Tim Kenny issued a challenge to colleagues John Bender and Enda McDonnell to shave their heads for donations in order to raise funds for kids with cancer.

In 2004 the St. Baldrick’s Foundation was created to maximize this volunteer-driven effort. The priorities were to spend as little as possible to raise each dollar, and making sure every donation goes to the best research to find cures for kids fighting cancer.

Last year, St. Baldrick’s volunteers raised nearly $37 million by shaving heads. That record-setting fundraising effort allowed the foundation to hit a total of over $178 million in childhood cancer research grants since 2005. Unfortunately, each year there are more than 175,000 kids that are diagnosed with cancer.

Obviously, in order for the momentum of this effort to continue, volunteers are needed. That’s why I have committed to having my head shaved on March 14th in an effort to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Hopefully, I will find enough generous sponsors to help me make a difference.

Young or old, cancer sucks. Whether it’s family or friends, we all have been touched by cancer. Each day I include a growing number of people that are, or have been, affected by this terrible disease. I truly don’t mind saying prayers, but I would love to be able to eliminate the need of saying prayers for those battling cancer. Cancer sucks so much.

We all have a Charlie in our life. If you would like to help me fight childhood cancer, I would be honored to have you as a sponsor. For details, I can be reached on Facebook or via my email at The easiest way to sponsor me is by clicking here for the link to my St. Baldrick’s page – Sponsor Paul Here! Thanks.

Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Old Neighborhood

The above photo was taken during the mid ‘60s in the backyard of our house located at 7317 39th avenue. It was a two-story house located across the street from St. Mary’s Church. In the photo, my dear Ma is holding up baby brother Joey. Sister Teri is to her right and I am to her left. I’m not quite sure why I am flexing. Brother Mike is right behind Teri and is staring at me probably wondering what I am doing.

With this blog I am going to take you on a tour of my old neighborhood and see how many neighbors I can remember. I will go north on 39th avenue and start with the white house behind us in the photo. Here we go…

The Wayne and Betty Smith family. They had two sons – Steve and Doug. Wayne was a firefighter who later bought an Open Pantry convenience store in Racine.

Mr. and Mrs. Tom Collins. I’m not sure of her name. Maybe it was Mary. The first job I ever had was shoveling the Collins’ sidewalk and driveway. I believe that I earned 50¢ for my efforts. Good times.

Jim and Jackie Pulera family. Their kids were Joanie, Tina and Jimmy. They were great people and were my folks best friends back then. Jim sold cars. I am still a Facebook friend with Jim the son.

Mrs. Dimeo and her male “friend” lived on the northwest corner of our block. Al Dimeo was her son. He insisted on wearing his eyeglasses when we played football. Of course they got broke. What a dope. High drama ensued.

We are now heading east around the corner to the 38th avenue side, starting on the northeast corner.

Art and Elaine Jurgens and their son, Keith. They had several other older sons that didn’t live with them. I played a lot of sports with Keith. Although he threw lefty, he batted right-handed. We both loved the Cubs. I remember circling the block hollering the day Kenny Holtzman tossed a no-hitter against the Braves. The Jurgens were all good bowlers.

The York family. I’m kinda sketchy with the details here. Don’t remember any of their names. Except for Nancy. She was my age and I briefly had a thing for her. Briefly. Only briefly.

The Onserud family. Another household that I am kind of vague with. I think the kids were named Guy and Sarah. She was a tomboy and good in sports.

Jim and Shirley Iaquinta and their children – Alice, Jim, David, Peter and Tim. Two things stick out in my memories of the Iaquinta family. One was that I was scared to death of their big black dog, Midnight (which never stopped barking or growling). The other was the time Tim shaved off one of his eyebrows just for the heck of it.

The Gillespie family. Not sure about the names of the parents, but the kids were Frankie, Hope, Don and Greg. I will never forget the viscous wedgies Don would give his little brother Greg. Man, he had his underwear up over his head many times. Ouch. Poor kid.

The Follensbee family. Again, I don’t recall the names of the folks. They had a ton of kids. Here’s who comes to mind – Ken (aka Punky), Vickie, Stevie, Debbie (?) and a couple younger ones that I can’t name. Ken lived up to his nickname. I remember him sliding into second base on the asphalt at St. Mary’s playground. He was picking stuff out of his leg for weeks. Also, Punky was the only kid on the block that could put me on his back for horsie fights. I still have a scar below my lower lip from the time I landed on my face. Good times.

The Fredrickson family. There was Scotty and his mother. She was sort of a hippie and he was disabled. She would occasionally pull him around the block in a wagon. Other times he would awkwardly hop around the sidewalk on his knees. I felt bad for Scotty because he was crippled and couldn’t walk and run like we could.

The Isermann family. They lived in a big house on the southeast corner of the block. I believe that the daughter, Katie graduated with me. They were sort of removed from the rest of the neighborhood. She was very attractive. I do remember that. Vividly.

The rest of the southside of the block was flanked by Roosevelt Road. There were several businesses located here. Frank’s Bakery, the Public Library and Clay’s Tap immediately come to mind. Over the years, I can honestly say that I have been in all of these fine establishments. Some more than others. I will leave it to your imagination as to which I patronized more frequently.

We now go around the corner and back up 39th avenue.

The Zuehlsdorf Family. Not too sure about these neighbors. I think they had a son, but we didn’t do much with him. I do believe they owned Clay’s Tap at the time.

The Clark family. This was the house located to the south of ours. Jeff lived with his grandma and grandpa here. Jeff was an outstanding athlete, especially excelling at baseball. He developed into one of Kenosha’s best softball players, acquiring the nickname of “Herman.” He is a member of the Kenosha Softball Hall of Fame.

Directly across the street from our house on 39th avenue was St. Mary’s Catholic church. I went to school there, made my First Holy Communion there and played on the playground for countless hours. Also on that block was Bernacchi’s drugstore, a gas station, and later, a Yankee Doodle Dandy hamburger joint. Good times.

That will conclude my tour of the neighborhood I grew up in. It was fun looking back. I know that I probably screwed up some of the names, but who cares.

Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, January 18, 2016

More Sadness

The recent passings of Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, and now Glenn Frey, made me think of a blog that I wrote a few years back. I haven't changed anything. Just reposted it. Too much sadness…

Band Of Angels?
June 9, 2012

On Thursday I posted a new poll – Which Recently Deceased Musician Do You Miss Most? There are eight choices - Donald “Duck” Dunn, Barry Gibb, Levon Helm, Whitney Houston, Etta James, Davy Jones, Donna Summer and Adam “MCA” Yauch. All of these performers left us this year. Shortly after the first votes were cast I learned that we had lost another popular musician earlier that day. Bob Welch, a former member of Fleetwood Mac who also had a solo career, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. He was 65.

Whenever a famous musician passes on you inevitably hear things like, “I bet there’s a helluva concert going on in Heaven!” or “Can you imagine the beautiful music being played in Heaven right now?”

Now, far be it from me to assume that upon dying, all musical performers immediately go to Heaven and are jamming for God. A majority of these people have died tragically young for a reason. Whether it was poor life style choices or some other demon, way too many talented people have passed away far too early and have left a void in the music world.

That being said…

What if all of the deceased gifted musicians DID get together in the Great Hereafter? Would that be cool or what? The very thought of this boggles my mind.

Because this is so intriguing, I have decided to assemble a supergroup made up entirely of deceased rock ‘n’ roll VIPs. The only criteria are that the musician is someone is on my iPod and are, regrettably, deceased.

So, without further ado, let me introduce to you, Band of Angels?, my all-star, all-dead supergroup:

Keith Moon, The Who – Drums. Passed away at age 31.
John Bonham, Led Zeppelin – Drums. Passed away at age 32.
John Entwistle, The Who – Bass. Passed away at age 57.
John Lennon, The Beatles – Vocals and Guitar. Passed away at age 40.
George Harrison, The Beatles – Guitar and Vocals. Passed away at age 58.
Brian Jones, The Rolling Stones – Guitar. Passed away at age 27.
Jimi Hendrix – Guitar. Passed away at age 27.
Janis Joplin – Vocals. Passed away at age 27.
Jim Morrison, The Doors – Vocals. Passed away at age 28.
Freddie Mercury, Queen – Vocals. Passed away at age 45.

Sweet, huh?

Can you imagine a band with both Moon AND Bonham playing drums? Just envision this duo providing the percussion for Moby Dick, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Wipeout, My Generation or Frankenstein. It’s insane!

Hendrix, Jones, Lennon and Harrison all playing guitar. Are you kidding me? What a lineup!

Hendrix was widely considered to be the greatest electric guitarist in music history. Jones’ main instruments were the guitar and the harmonica, but he played a wide variety of other musical instruments and was a talented multi-instrumentalist. As far as Lennon and Harrison go… They were Beatles, for crying out loud!

Entwistle was nicknamed “Thunderfingers” with good reason. He was at his best when heard in concert, where he and guitarist Pete Townshend frequently exchanged roles, with Entwistle providing rapid melodic lines and Townshend anchoring the song with rhythmic chord work. I would love to see him doing the same with Hendrix.

The trio of vocalists that I have chosen for Band of Angels? is so diverse and talented, they could cover most any song written. And whatever Joplin, Morrison and Mercury needed a breather, Lennon and Harrison would fill in quite nicely. Hell, this band is so good I might even let Hendrix sing a song or two.


There you have it, my supergroup composed of deceased rock stars. And I do have something from each of them on my iPod; just some more than others. Here are the totals:

Moon and Entwistle (The Who) - 477 songs
Lennon and Harrison (The Beatles) - 153 songs
Mercury (Queen) – 84 songs
Jones (The Rolling Stones) – 147 songs
Bonham (Led Zeppelin) – 34 songs
Morrison (The Doors) – 18 songs
Joplin – 4 songs
Hendrix – 2 songs

Well, what can I say? I obviously like The Who more than Jimi Hendrix.

I know what comes next. It’s time for everyone to tell me whom I left out. Like Kurt Cobain. Hey, I don’t any Nirvana on my iPod!

Rather than lambasting me about my omissions, I would be interested in hearing the supergroup you come up with made up of dead musicians. Let’s see what you got! Email me, put it on my facebook page or leave a comment here on the blog.

Don’t forget to jump on my poll and vote for which recently deceased musician you miss most. Until next time…from the booth.