As many of you know, one of my favorite things about the holiday ended a number of years ago. Detroit's legendary sportswriter Joe Falls - would write an article each Thanksgiving, offering public thanks for those people, places and things in his life. I loved those articles, and though I'd bring it up again. Sadly, I can't point you to a sample on the internet. Closest I can get it this link about Joe's passing in the New York Times. (Hey, my visit to the Times offered up a recipe for Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Soup Ummm. I think I'll pass.)
In my eyes, Joe was a wonderful guy. He appreciated talent. He cherished those people who helped him do his job. He seemed to have a soft spot for the hard-working guy who went to work every day, doing what he was paid to do. Handling those things that we often take for granted
Despite what he might say, he had some ego. He had high expectations of those he worked with and around. He had high expectations for those in the profession. Respect was earned. He was unimpressed with titles or those who thought that they desired special treatment. He loved sports, writing, and the fans. He loved to offer his opinion, and it was heard nationally.
In my original blog, I once recalled one of Joe's stories.
I remember the story he told about how he got involved with Special Olympics and why they were so important to him. He told the tale of a Special Olympian who was competing in a swimming event. Suddenly, in the heat a race, in the middle of the pool, the boy stopped swimming. A volunteer swam out to talk to him and to coax him to continue.
As he told the story, Joe reminded me that he had covered some of the greatest sporting events in the world, and had witnesses some classic sports moments during his years as a reporter.
"The crowd erupted as he began to swim. Never have I been so touched or have I heard such applause,"
Joe reminded me that he had watched Super Bowls, World Series games, Stanley Cup finals, Kentucky Derby races. He stated that, in his eyes, it was the greatest sports event he had ever witnessed. I believe that.
(Hey - here's a bit more on Joe)
Joe's Thanksgiving Day articles were a thank you to life's simple pleasures, as well as a salute to those who had touched his life.
So - in honor of Joe - I'm offering up some of those things that I'm grateful to have in my life. I hope you take time to do the same.
To my ex-wife Pam: Thank you for our sons, Jamie and Evan.They continue to bring joy, love, and laughter to my life. They continue to help me grow. Thanks for bringing them into this world, and for giving me the chance to raise them.
Thanks to my parents for everything they have provided me, including the opportunity to raise those sons. Mom got them off to school every morning following the divorce. She allowed me to earn a living. This woman guided me through childhood, and now was assisting with parenthood.Thanks to my father, who now insures they return safely, takes care of Mom, and adds to my education on life with his stories of days gone by, and his shards of wisdom.Thanks to the two of them for remaining together through thick and thin, and for their sacrifices to raise me and my two sisters and two brothers when we were kids, and still, now that our age states that we are adults.
Have I ever mentioned Bo, my Mom and Dad's Boston Terrier? Funny dog. She'll play fetch for ever. Sculpted like an athlete, she brings joy and laughter to us all. So, thanks to Bo. And while we're at it, a nod should go out to my oldest sister's dogs, "Poe", a pug, and Riley, the family's bulldog. Another one who's mastered catch. And to Laura, Greg, Camry and Cayla, for taking care of the kids during the summer months as well!
Thanks to the Kishpaugh's for embracing me during my days at college, and for never letting go. I think of them nearly every day, and about the passionate way they lived life. Thank you Shirley, for passing along "The Kishpaugh Collection," and for sharing your husband with me and so many others.It was a life that was long, but still too short.It was wonderful to speak with you the other night.I hope to see you soon.
Now there is nothing like your cousin appearing in the pages of a national publication, or appearing on national television, when you're growing up!
Long before I ever met Joe, I knew of his writing. Because of certain event out of my control, Joe was well known to my family as he once played host to a cousin of mine, Bob "Ma" Pesch on a visit to Detroit.
Thanks to the writing skills of his friend, Tim Sullivan, and my cousin's taste for the delicacies available at a ballpark, "Ma" earned national acclaim in Sport magazine for his efforts eating Brats at Milwaukee County Stadium. Sullivan's entertaining piece was followed up with another - this time to The Sporting News.
Hailing from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Sullivan wrote TSN columnist Joe Falls about the Art of Catching Foul Balls. In the piece, Sullivan detailed the "three man team" approach that he and his friends, "Ma" Pesch and Randy Wievel. The trio had developed a set of "Do's" and "Don't", then shared their knowledge with Joe's national audience in a March 1972 edition of the publication. Among the tips - use a blocker, who can seal off an aisle allowing the other members of the team to chase down the ball.
In an "only in America" moment, the article landed the three friends a trip to Detroit's Tiger Stadium courtesy of Joe Garagiola and NBC. Appearing on "The Baseball World of Joe Garagiola" on a Monday night, they demonstrated their skill in one of Garagiola's classic pre-game clips. Their host, of course, outdid them, scoring a home run ball hit to a section at "The Corner" that he had bought in whole.
"Garagiola got mad at me when I ordered two lobster dinners at the Hotel Pontchartrain Hotel in Detroit prior to our filming," recalled Sullivan years later. "He smiled, however, when Ma Pesch ordered a double cheeseburger.
Ron LeFlore of the Tigers wasn't too pleased with us either when Ma and Wievel ran over his tomatoes in deep center at Tiger Stadium.
What fun we had!"
During their stay, they got to meet Joe. Falls claimed that the three had nearly eaten him out of house and home.)
So - thanks to Ma Pesch, Shoe and Wievel for being an inspiration!
Continued thanks to the folks at Warner Brother's for those classic cartoons. Thanks for restoring them, and for six editions of the Golden Collection on DVD. So, this is the end the series, but not the end of the restorations and releases, huh? Please keep your promises...I've seen more than one series abandoned.
Speaking of which, I'm still thankful to the powers that be for FINALLY releasing those two seasons of "Leave it to Beaver". (Turn down the speakers before following that LITB link!) Now where are the rest!!! Do I have to subscribe to NetFlicks?
And thanks, whoever, for that first season of WKRP. Even if you would license the original music. The characters were the best! Might have to watch the Turkey episode today. Now - how about Season Two.
Thanks for online shopping, and to DeepDiscount, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and all those other shopping sites. Thanks for all those wonderful sales, and for making the world a little flatter! The Orbison Box set, (This one's a steal right now!), Dylan's Bootleg series (as is the latest - Tell Tale Signs, as is Rare and Unreleased), Keaton discs, The Inspector cartoons... Shopping is fun again.
Now, about my needs for an addition to the house so I can store all this stuff....
Potbelly's Sandwich Works - "They must be good," said the instructor. "There is always a line out the door at lunchtime." She was right - check 'em out yourself! But Ann Arbor, Chicago, East Lansing and Troy are too far away to reach on my lunch hour. When are you coming to Muskegon?
Thanks to those Muskegon Community College teachers for giving me a C minus on term paper covering Muskegon Big Red Football. They couldn't understand the effort.
Now my version of heaven (should that be a capital H?) has a great sound system. The music you hear is played loud, and includes all your favorite tunes. For me, that's one very long playlist. The best part is that you can still hold conversations without issue. And, once you arrive, of course you can check in and hang out with whomever (or is that whoever?) you please. Past, Present, Future. Plus, you get to check out ALL the answers to the questions you have. Find out the answers to all those nagging questions that you've always wondered about. What would have happened if I had chosen MSU over WMU for my college education. Did drinking all that Pepsi shave years off my life? Did Oswald really act alone? Which Black Crowes 45 had the live version of She Talks to Angels that was recorded in Atlanta? You know, the important stuff!
What's this have to do with Thanksgiving? I'm not sure, other than I'm thankful for curiosity and imagination.
While I'm doling out appreciation, I need to send a nod to the Damfinos, who continue to preach the gospel according to Buster Keaton. What better than an agenda that focuses on laughter?
And thanks to the folks at the Frauenthal Theater (AKA, the Bill Bodell Theater) for saving, then caring for such a beautiful place, and allowing us to show Keaton films in an over sized 1920's movie theater that is tough to fill! They belong there.
Thanks to the residents of Bluffton, for letting me lead tours though their amazing neighborhood, and for busting out their font doors to share their wealth of knowledge. An Actors Colony in Muskegon - WOW!
I'm thankful and thrilled to have the chance to watch Muskegon area high school football - where the quality of the game is reflected in this weekend's Football finals. Thanks to WMRR for broadcasts from Jim Moyes, Gene Young and Joe Coletta. (Listen to the amazing 4th quarter of the Davison comeback...)
Continued thanks to Sally, Ella, and the rest of the waitresses at Glenside Pub. The Pepperoni, Sausage and Ham Pizza is the best. But the Monday night special is pretty close.
More kudos to my sister Terri and the staff of Mercy Hospital for saving my live on that summer morning. Thanks to Dr Leonard Kurello for resolving the issue, and checking in on me yearly (how's Alaska?), and to "Mookie" aka Robin Boersma for making the journey amusing...
My extreme gratitude to Outback Steakhouse for the always-crisp salads and the Outback Special. Oh - and for variety on their kids' menu...here's another When are you coming to Muskegon?
To Western Michigan University for the degree, as well as teaching me that colleges are a business designed to make money... I wonder if any of that little yellow plastic ammo is still wedged in the "rugs" at Burnham from the battles that I used to wage with my friends on their visits. Sorry, Kelly's Mom, for that shot to the forehead!
Thank you Paul Reid for the opportunities that you have provided me, and the two days off at Turkey Day. And to the entire staff of the MHSAA for everything that you have done for me. J.J., Rob, Nate, Jack, Andy, and the rest of the crew. It is always a treat to work with you wonderful folks! Special thanks for taking care of my sons!
Once again, thanks to Jack, Doug, Matt and the rest of the Parchment gang for inviting me over after for the football finals for wonderful conversation. And, of course to Bo, for baking those wonderful Apple, Banana Cream, and Chocolate pies! See you Friday in Detroit!
And finally thanks to Jessie, Cleda, Kenny B, Donna, Julie, Chris, Carol, Skip, Eric, Albert, Doug, Frank, Todd, Mark, Mark, Tom, Tom, Bill, Jill, Dave, Sally, Cheryl, Lisa, Ann, and Beth; Theron, Donelda, Bob . My school days were great thanks to you.
To Eric - You're right. I still don't know what you mean. I didn't know you long, but your impact was huge. I trust Heaven is wonderful and includes baseball cards.
To Gail, Shelly, Betsy, Julie, Becky and Robin...thanks for the diamond memories.
To Kerry for some of the finest memories of my life: Shake races, teaching me to drive a stick (I'll go over, you go under), roadtrips, "Screech, Slam, and Scream", Stripes matinees, a 21st birthday celebration, Rocky Horror, postgames at the beach, and all those late-night calls and crisp green salads. You, too, altered my life. I had no idea it could be so fun!
To Jamie, helping me understand, expect and accept more from life. Your sermon at Our Savior's that Christmas Day was amazing.
So, that means I need to acknowledge Griz, Kay, Kathy, and Karla; Jim, Sue, Jeff, and Johnny - thank you for sharing.
To Barb, Becky and Mark, Renee, Jim, and Chip - thanks for grabbing me and the typewriter. To Linda, Barb, Sue, and Kelly - thanks adopting me, the flowers and a night I'll never forget.
I wonder what you're up to.
To Valerie Ann, for doing her best in trying to help me forget it.
To Bruce, Bruce, and John - thanks for sharing the room, the car and the laughter.
I sincerely hope each and every one of your lives are grand!
My love to Angela, Scott, Laura, MaryAnne, Michelle and Simone, Brooke, Evan and Sherry (you're still one of the funniest and caring people I've ever met - best of luck in your new life!), and Brenda - thanks for sharing my life after.
To Brenna, Elijah, Sharon, Roger and his family; to Scott, Mike, Muggs, Markus, Ramone, Binz, Git, Lynn, Sherry, Julie, and Mary for the friendships through all these years.
To Ron and Elsa, Clyde and Janet, Laura, Greg, Terri, Steve, Kurt, Liz, Pete, Camry, Kayla, Leigha, Josh, and Sean - thanks for being family. I couldn't have picked a better one. My eternal gratitude to each of you.
To the Koski side: Lucy and Arne, Uno, Jim, Bette, Karl, Sylvia, A.J., Peggy, Abi, Maija, Amy, Ben, Sara, Matt, Andrew, Allison, Lyyli, and Aaron. To the Pesch Family: Henry, Mary, Forrie, Charlotte, Pete, Estelle, Bob, Norbert, Adeline, Margurett and Elmore, Bud and Margret, Steve, Jim, Sue, Brian, Terry, Carol, and Eloise.
In some way, every one of you has been a guardian angel. I've been lucky.
Thanksgiving is the day set aside to express gratitude for all that we have. I still like to think that we do this everyday. I know I try.
Happy Thanksgiving to each of you! Enjoy the day and may the Football Gods shine kindly on the Lions!