Wildwood Daze – The Button Master

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1979-1980

There was a little unique shop on the boardwalk called The Button Master. My friend, Wolfie who was in a band with me at the time used to call the place, The Button Bastard. (I don’t know why, but why not?)

The shop was nothing but buttons. This was a trend in the mid to late 70s. They had all kinds of cool phrases on them and they could even make custom buttons for you if you brought them an image.

I always had a few buttons stuck to my green army jacket, which had the logo of my band on the back, The Union Jacks. I also had several buttons on the black guitar strap for my guitar. They were one of Alex from A Clockwork Orange, (Read the book by Anthony Burgess in 12th grade in American Lit class and loved it but hadn’t seen the Kubrick movie yet because it was no longer out in theaters and they would never show something like that on TV back then!) I had a button that said; I Want It All, Total Control, and a custom button I had made of Farrah Fawcett. (Because I LOVED her back then)

The owner was never there and I only met him once. But there was a guy who was in his 20s from New York named Tom Duke who worked there. He was a nice guy and would always let me hang out there and talk about rock music. Which I loved. I would sometimes just go up there on my day off and just browse the buttons and chat with him. They were all super cheap. Maybe a buck apiece.

I think Tom lived there, because there was a mattress on the floor in the back room, and I assumed he crashed there all summer. He was skinny and sort of gaunt, so he may have been a random drug user who didn’t seem like a person of means. But he had vast musical knowledge and I loved talking about rock with anybody who knew what they were talking about back then.

He was a big, YES and Genesis fan, and told me he knew some of the guys in those bands which I thought was super cool. (Could have been a lie, but who’s checking?) He liked that the latest Genesis album was entitled, Duke, because that was his last name. Just a weird coincidence I suppose.

Sometimes he had beer and we’d drink and chat and make it a fun night laughing it up in the store. Alcohol was new to me back then and I could get a nice buzz from 2 bottles of Bud. I remember Tom going out the back door of the store once and peeing right off the edge of the boardwalk into the parking lot below. Somebody yelled at him to stop, but he just laughed and shouted, “What? It’s my F*cking parking spot!”

I thought that was hilarious.

One night I was hanging out in the store and it was getting late. I knew he’d be closing soon and I’d be going home. I was just hanging in the store and talking rock with him, and helping customers find different buttons. I had spent so much time in that store I sort of knew where everything was. Just sheets hung up around the room and thousands of colorful buttons pinned all over them. Pretty simple setup and cheap inventory with low overhead.

This couple came in and they sort of looked like hybrid hippies. In their late 30s or early 40s. Like, maybe they used to be hippies but cut their hair but still had that hippie vibe to them.

I noticed the guy had an iron-on of Wile E Coyote on his yellow T-shirt. But I’m pretty sure this wasn’t an image licensed by Warner Brothers. It was Wile E, in a diving position with his mouth open and the message said: Muff Diver.

I’d seen that image before, but it just seemed kind of creepy even back then. We only wore fun images and rock band names on our shirts, and here was this old guy with this weird awkward shirt on.

I pointed to the wall of buttons and asked him if there was anything he was interested in. His response was:

“Other than f*cking?”

Okay, that’s weird.

So then, what I’m assuming was wife starts flirting with me right in the store. I’m getting nervous because her husband is right there on the other side of the store. She’s touching me and rubbing my back and stuff. I’m 17 years old and still pretty naive. I’ve been dating girls since I was 14 years old, but this was some new adult ground for me back in 1980. But I have a couple of beers in me, so I’m not having an anxiety attack.

She says she wants me to come back to their motel room for some fun. She was kind of hot and I was debating whether I should do it, but something was telling me I shouldn’t. I was experiencing some classic stranger danger. I didn’t know these people. What if they took me back to their room and killed me? I liked horror movies and my mind went right to that image.

Her husband was sort of just standing off in the distance watching all of this. He was smiling and nodding his head. I’m thinking, is this something these people do? Hunt young teen guys for their kinky debauchery? I wasn’t stupid and I’d heard of people who were swingers but I hadn’t encountered anything like this before.

So, Tom Duke says, “Why don’t you two just go into the back room and have at it. I felt a little better about that idea because he was there and if anything weird went down he could come and save me.

But, here’s the thing, they were in agreeance only if her husband could join in. I was like… No way. No three-way with an old dude. His wife continued to stay close to me and rub my back like I was some sort of pet.

I told them I appreciated their offer, but I just wasn’t into that sort of thing. They were nice about it and just laughed. She turns to her husband and says: “I think it’s just a lack of experience.”

I protested that I was hip to all things like that but just wasn’t into that particular thing. But they knew. I did lack experience. But in all honesty, there was no way I was fooling around with a lady and a man in some sort of sexy tryst.

They smiled, said goodbye, and left the store to go hunt down some other hapless teen. I hope they didn’t find anybody.

The next day I went and told my boss Louie on the Golden Nugget the whole lurid story. He told me I did the right thing by declining their offer. I’ll never forget what Louie yelled to me over the noise of the ride.

“You could have been screwing the lady and then all of a sudden, you feel some guy getting you from behind!” (add expletives and profanity from your imagination)

Just another crazy summer night in Wildwood.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly.

Here’s my latest book. There will be a book about my summers in Wildwood coming Memorial Day 2023!

You can check out all of my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

New Book: LAWNDALE – Now Available on Amazon!!

For those of you who don’t want to listen to my long-winded speech… You can get it here!

Just in time for my birthday, my new book is finally on sale! It’s hard to believe, but I’m 60 years old today! I think my brain still thinks I’m 18, but I’m definitely getting older.

When I worked as a Branch Manager at the 10th and Snyder Branch of First Union in South Philly in the 90s, I had a customer who I became friends with who lived right across the street. That customer was Jean Bruno, daughter of the late Angelo Bruno. Jean was a lovely woman who became a friend of mine. (I’ll save those stories for future blog posts) She used to say to me that she never wanted presents for her birthday. She would give presents to other people on her birthday to let herself know that she was still around to give and help other people. I never forgot those words and wished I could be like that.

So, today for my birthday, I’m presenting the Lawndale book to you all to enjoy on my birthday! It’s my gift to you all!

Anyway… on to the business at hand!

It’s been a long time coming, but the Lawndale book is finally available on Amazon!

Let me start with another quick story. The book was supposed to come out on the first day of summer, just like all of my previous books. I was born in the summer and I’ve always felt like June 21st was always important. School was out or ending and it was the first day of summer. That meant going down the seashore and having a great time in Wildwood, NJ. So there’s the tie-in for me wanting to release my books when I do.

But the Lawndale book was stalled. I wasn’t finished editing it and writing some of the stories that I wanted to include. I was busy cranking out freelance writing assignments and it looked like the Lawndale book may be delayed. This would be the first time a book I ever wrote was late.

I hate being late. I used to get grounded by my father for being late. He would say, “It’s not that you were late getting home… It’s that we agreed on 10 o’clock and you broke your word. Your word means nothing if you don’t keep it.”

That is some heavy stuff right there. But I’ve always been punctual for the rest of my life and see the importance of being on time. Especially now that everyone’s connected by the internet and phones and navigation and time. There’s almost no reason to be late. Except if the person simply can’t manage their clock or the calendar.

So it bothered me that I might be late on this book.

But then it struck me. Why does it have to be the first day of summer? It doesn’t matter, and most of my readers may not even be expecting it. I decided I need to ease up and just release it sometime this summer.

But then it hits me. A realistic deadline for this book is August 9th. My 60th birthday. Who knows if I’ll even make 70, so let’s get this sucker out for the 60th!

So that’s how that happened. It makes sense and next year’s Wildwood book needs to drop Memorial Day weekend. Because that’s when the summer really kicks off in this country.

So I do all the things I’m supposed to do to make this book happen. Last week I decide to send my sister Jane a postcard that says, “Greetings from Philly” and is a picure of our skyline. Who sends postcards anymore?

I do.

Just like I wrote letters to people in the 70s.

I’m gonna send my sister a postcard and write a note to her about how the book Lawndale is now LIVE on Amazon.

But when I sent that postcard it wasn’t yet. It was still in post production and review at Amazon. At that point it may not be available for another 72 hours and if there’s a problem or two… it may not publish on August 9th.

But I thought back to an old friend of mine. Chris Yurkow, the president of the school and champion quarterback at Frankford High School in 1979. I was standing in the school store with him after lunch one day. He would work there after lunch a few days a week. I told him how amazing it was that he had led Frankford High’s football team to victory and became city champs. I complimented him on the jacket that he was wearing that signified that accomplishment. Heres what he said to me….

“I actually ordered the jackets that said we were city champs before we even played the game.”

“Why, Chris. What if you lost?”

“I knew we couldn’t lose.”

Right. Don’t worry about failure or delays. Believe in the work and it’ll come out. I created this book and there won’t be anything that can stop this from coming out on August 9th.

So I mailed her the postcard and told her it was live. (I knew it may take a few days to get to her so that bought me some time) I just crossed my fingers and dropped the card in the mailbox.

But low and behold I heard from her Saturday and she told me that she got the postcard and was surprised.

But here’s the weird part. She texted me the day before and told be she looked on Amazon under my name and saw that Lawndale was live. I didn’t even know it was live yet! I was busy working and hadn’t checked any of the updates from Amazon. So my sister Jane is the one who told me my book went live… BEFORE she had ever gotten the postcard from me telling her the book went live. When I sent the card to her it was still in post production!

A wonderful psychic moment between me and my closest blood relative on the planet.

Anyway… Let’s move on.

I’m sure there are more stories to tell about the old neighborhood, but I’ve done the best I can to remember and collect as many as I could for this book. I was surprised how much everybody loved some of the stories I told on my blog Phicklephilly last year.

Due to the pandemic, what began as a lack of content became something wonderful. I never thought I’d be able to remember enough stories to fill a whole book! But here we are and it’s yours to own on Amazon.

I want to thank everybody from the old neighborhood for all of their comments and likes when a few stories were published last year on some of the great Facebook Groups about Philly! I’m really grateful to the administrators of those groups for allowing me to share my stories on their platforms.

I appreciate all the support, and your words really kept me going to keep writing and generating new fun stories about our collective past for this book.

Even though the stories are from my perspective and many of these events happened to me, I think we can all see ourselves in some of these situations.

When I write on my blog, I use the whole language and tell my stories, warts and all. Normally, when I publish a book I want it to represent what I saw and what I felt during any of these situations. But I decided for this book, I needed to clean it up a bit. I didn’t want to sound as though I had a bad childhood or anything. I decided to tread lightly on some of the more personal memories.

Several people I spoke with about this said they’d prefer to read a book that contains all the gory details. But as I edited the final draft for this work I just didn’t feel that it was that kind of a book. Our minds normally cleanse all the bad aspects of our lives and retain the good ones. Who wants to read a book about endless suffering? Nobody!

Putting together a book like this is new to me. My first book, Phicklephilly was just a collection of stories from my blog. It was just an attempt to collect a bunch of loose stories from a medium I knew little about. But I felt that as much as I needed to write the blog it all seemed fleeting and disposable. I would write a story and tomorrow it’s replaced by a new one or the next chapter.

I wanted to have it somehow preserved forever. My thoughts, words and experiences captured. Because I knew my own life was fleeting and I was getting older. The blog could go away, but a book was forever, right?

Nothing is forever. But I thought if I could publish then at least my words and memories would be left behind for someone to read it and maybe know and understand me.

I kept writing the blog with all of its dating and relationship advice, and stories from my own adventures. But it always felt like something was missing. If I could just get to a point where enough people would read and follow my blog maybe I could write about the things I wanted to write about. I felt like the recording artist that has to record and play the songs the management and the record company want him to play because that’s what the fans want.

But at some point if he gets enough people to listen to him maybe he can make the records he wants to make. Write the songs he wants to play if for no one else but himself just to get some peace of mind.

I hit that point during the pandemic, with over 350,000 page views and 2,400 subscribers all vieing for my voice.

It was time to make Phicklephilly what I had always wanted it to be. A weekly forum where I could just create stories about anything I wanted. To write for myself and anyone else who cared to listen. Not clickbait to get more page views, subscribers, or advertising revenue for the site.

I decided this summer to not renew my premium plan on the blog. I was paying $300 a year to have 24-hour customer service, advertising on the site, Google Adsense, and all of the other bells and whistles that come with the premium plan.

What I realized last summer when there was an outpouring of love from Philly and Wildwood about stories I wrote from my memories. I realized what I do has nothing to do with how good the plan I have at WordPress or Google.

It was about the content. It was about the words I was writing that was bringing people from my generation a little joy and solace. Moments of nostaglia from our collective past. Stories we could all relate to from the same place and time in the world.

A place long ago where we all came from. That response from you all meant more than subscribers, page views, or ad revenue. I decided to let my premium plan lapse and just let the site go back to its orginal version as a free site.

I realized the best part of Phicklphilly was the stories that actually touched people. And for that, I’m grateful to you all. Thanks for the clarity 40 years after all of the things in the Lawndale book happened. You helped me identify my purpose and my need to create and to leave something of value behind in this world.

Building a book is a chore. First of all, you have to write the darn thing. But that can be a beautiful transformative experience, so that’s the fun part. It’s hard to do or everybody would do it. But there are so many aspects when planning a new book. This is my 7th trip into the publishing world, and it gets easier and the rush of making something that never existed is exquisite.

Do I do a Dedication? Who do I dedicate the Lawndale book to? Who is the most significant person I met in Lawndale? Who should my book about my childhood be dedicated to? Is there any one person who touched my life in such a profound way in Lawndale that I should dedicate the whole book to them?

Then I had to write the Introduction. Non-fiction books require that. You have to get the reader into the world you’re creating with your book. I had to set the stage for all the stories. So if a person that had no idea about the 60s or 70s, or Northeast Philly, might get what this book was about. So that became another important aspect of the book. I also wanted to have a moment to speak with everybody from the old neighborhood in the introduction. Just to say… “hey, remember this guys? This all happened when we were kids. We were there! We lived through all of this!”

The Acknowledgements had to happen. I wanted to thank everyone that reached out, liked, commented, and followed my work, and heard my voice during the pandemic. I reached inward and pulled out some stories and people listened and responded. I realized I’d touched a nerve. I was shocked and overjoyed when I got so many texts, messages, and phone calls from people I hadn’t spoken to or seen in over 40 years. I hope I haven’t missed anyone!

I cobbled this book together between work, writing freelance articles, and everything else that life tosses my way. But I was determined to get it created and out to the people who wanted to read it. To maybe recapture a few of those lost moments from childhood when life was so much simpler but seemed so much harder.

The funny thing is… the best part of all of this is the time leading up to the release of the book. The anticipation. Remember the song by Carly Simon they used to play over the Heinz ketchup commercial?

Anticipation is the best part. I’ve done all of the work. The book is done. It’s in post-production at Amazon. Everybody’s waiting for it and so am I. It’s those moments and days before the book comes out that are the best. Knowing everyone is out there waiting for it. I’m just waiting for the US Library of Commerce to assign me an ISBN number for my book. Will it publish on time? Will something go wrong? A million things could go wrong.

But I quell my anxiety with the warm thoughts of what the book is about and how much everybody’s been waiting for it.

I made this. I’m about to put something there that wasn’t there before. Ever since I was a kid I liked making things. I like to create. That’s my favorite thing to do. But that moment before you show your work to somebody is the best. That rush of excitement that something you made is coming. It’s perfect because it hasn’t happened yet, but you know it’s on the way, like Christmas morning.

I made this and it touched a lot of people. It’s simple stories from my average childhood in a little suburb of Philadelphia. But it meant a lot to all of us that lived it.

Sure, growing up is a challenge for any kid, but we all had pretty nice childhoods back then. Our parents did the best they could with what they knew and what they could provide for us.

We played outside, hung out back the railroad tracks, built forts, explored nature, played games in the street, and knew everybody in the neighborhood. It was a wonderful time to be a kid!

I wanted this book to be something anybody could read and not be offended or sad. Just a nice collection of stories from my childhood and adolecence that everybody could relate to on some level.

I’m pleased with the finished product and I hope you are too. Because all we really possess are our memories… and our childhoods were pretty sweet growing up in Lawndale.

Thank you one and all.

You can get your copy of my book here.

Finally!!!

I was going to place the video for “I’m in a Philly Mood” by Daryl Hall here, but this song just seemed more apropos.

There will be a book about my summers in Wildwood in the 1970s

coming Memorial Day of 2023!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please like, comment, and most of all Follow Phicklephilly. I publish every week on Tuesday.

You can see all 7 of my books here.

LAWNDALE – The 312 Magee Avenue Playlist

The Lawndale book is just one week away from being published!

While writing the Lawndale book I started to think about all of the music we listened to growing up in the house on 312 Magee.

There was always some sort of music playing somewhere in the house at any given time. Whether it was my mom listening to Andy Williams on the record player in the dining room while she did her housework, or us kids listening to our records.

My father always loved music and would listen to classical and operas in the basement while he worked or read his books.

We had the jukebox on the porch that had been loaned to us by a couple that my dad was friends with and we loved that thing!

There was the the 8-track player in the 1969 VW minibus that we all rocked out to on trips on the road with dad.

We listened to the radio in the kitchen and would hear all the new popular songs of the day.

I would sometimes bring a little record player to the dinner table and sit it on the seat next to me. My dad wasn’t home, and it would be just my mom and my sisters. I would put little 45 rpm records on and we would all sing to them. It was a riot!

I got into listening to some of my favorite songs and bands recently on Spotify and thought about creating a playlist of all the music we heard in our house growing up as kids. Not just the music we owned, but all the theme songs from our favorite shows that were on TV in the 60s and 70s.

At first I thought it would be cool to share it with my sisters for nostalgic reasons. But then I thought, wouldn’t it be great to share it with all of the people who might remember some of these songs from their past as well.

So I’ve decided to add to the anticipation of the Lawndale book coming out next week and share it with everybody as a soundtrack to the book.

Some of the songs you may not recognize but some will make you smile and take you back to a simpler time. This is an eclectic mix of music and themes from the 60s and 70s that were alive in our house at 312 Magee growing up.

I hope you enjoy it, and maybe you’ll listen to it in the background while reading my book! (Don’t worry if you don’t have a Spotify account. It’s free and you can just go on and check it out!)

Here it is! The 312 Magee soundtrack!

https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/5nQ0QYz4dBIphiU7hiIZR4?utm_source=generator

I hope you all enjoy listening to this as much as I enjoyed putting it together. I’d also be happy to add any songs I may have forgotten!

Enjoy!

LAWNDALE the book will be available on Amazon next Tuesday on August 9th!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please like, comment, and most of all, FOLLOW Phicklephilly! I publish every week on Tuesdays.

Wildwood Daze – Botto’s and the Office

North Wildwood, New Jersey – Late 1970s

Botto’s

One of our favorite hangouts growing up at the shore was the beloved Botto’s Arcade at 10th and Surf Avenue. It was 2 blocks from our house and was a meeting place for the local kids.

In the first half of the decade, it was a small market full of food staples, sundries, and beach stuff. It’s where we used to go to buy our kites and string. But because Russo’s Market at 9th and Ocean was such a juggernaut and go-to spot they sort of ran Joe Botto out of business. Just geographic competition. Botto, a retired Philly cop, was never happy about that, but shifted gears and turned it into an arcade much to the joy of the neighborhood youth.

Botto’s had everything we needed for an enjoyable afternoon or evening as an alternative to the beach and boardwalk. A phonebooth outside in case you had to drop a dime and make a call, and a soda machine full of ice-cold beverages stood out front. Joe’s wife normally worked during the day, giving out change for the machines inside and operating the bike rental part of the business.

The place was small, but just the right size for us kids. A regulation-sized, slate pool table in the center of the room, and a thunderous jukebox packed with 45’s of all the hits of the day parked against the front wall near the entrance. (It played A and B sides! This way, I could listen to Walk this Way and Uncle Salty!)

All around the perimeter of the room were pinball machines and video games. My favorite pinball machine, Flash was where I spent most of my time and quarters. They had some of the greats… Eight Ball Deluxe, Gorgar, Wizard, Playboy, El Dorado, and Joker Poker, to name a few.

But, they had all the classic video games of the day in there too. Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Super Breakout, and Asteroids.

Botto’s was a place where teenagers could hang out, play games, chat, flirt, shoot pool, drink soda and smoke cigarettes. The owners were cool, and there was never any trouble there. I’ve spent many a rainy day or health night in that arcade. The phrase “health night” came from my mother. She used to say to me, “You’re out every night! Take a health night!”

You never knew who you might run into while you were there, but it was always a solid meeting spot to hang and make plans for where you may be heading afterward. It was surrounded by motels so even though its core audience was kids from the neighborhood, they always got a few tourists in there as well.

Across the street was a place called Golf City. It was pretty much a waste of valuable real estate that was home to a miniature gold course. Fun for the little kids and they had a small arcade as well, but overall it was lame.

Botto’s was the cool kid’s place. I spent many wonderful times in Botto’s in my youth, but sadly it’s now long gone. What stands in its place now is an ice cream stand.

All that’s left to remind me of the original Botto’s in the brick face and the door and windows. So picture this place without the A-roof, the awning, the sign, the benches, the lights, and the rest of anything pink.

What’s left would be a pretty boring-looking spot. But, none of that was important. Botto’s was about what was inside. The people, the music, the games, and the laughter.

The Office

That’s not what it was called. It was a little game room on the third floor of The Flying Dutchman Motel.

Right there on the southwest corner of the 3rd floor!

The photo I used at the beginning of this post is the motel before they added the 3rd floor. But that’s what The Flying Dutchman looked like in the 70s.

We knew the owners and they were cool with us going up there to smoke cigarettes and spend our quarters on their vending machines in their game room.

The reason we called this little spot The Office, is because we used it not only as a place to hang out and play but to have meetings. If there was some local drama going down or some stories to be told, this was the place it all took place.

I remember trying to tell my older sister some convoluted story about some things that had gone down on Morey’s Pier or some other crazy news from the neighborhood one day. She was trying to understand what we planned to do about this matter and I simply said: “Office…now.”

We liked it because it was high up off the street. We had a view and also liked the games they had in there. Just two pinball machines and an old 1972 Pong machine. There’s a link I provided, but it was so basic it may have been the first video game ever invented. But a fun game! Pinball was still king, but video games were getting better with every coming season.

The biggest difference between this place and Botto’s was, this spot was quieter and more private. You could hang up there, sit at the card table they had set up in there, and just chat. It didn’t have the number of games and music that Botto’s had, but this was our spot. Most of all, it was unsupervised.

This is probably one of the most important aspects of this little game room.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Pinball machines are designed so that you can’t rock them around too much or they’ll “Tilt.” What that means is, if you shake the machine too much or lift it up to slow the ball down or anything else to upset the machine while the ball is in play, it’ll light up, TILT, and the unit goes off and your ball drains down the hole. You’re done for being too rough with the unit and most of all trying to cheat.

But kids are creative, cunning, learning machines. You know that if the adults come up with some solution to thwart our fun or sustained play, we’ll probably work to come up with a solution to beat it.

So while the machine was on, we’d have one kid gently lift the lower front up off its legs and stack quarters under the legs, one or two at a time. This would flatten the play area on the board but not enough to TILT the machine. We’d get that baby up as high as possible. This would slow down the gameplay and go virtually unnoticed if someone walked in.

By applying this simple remedy, the game would be easier, you’d get a higher score and rack up more free games. That was the main goal. Free games! 

This also assisted with the legendary, “Back from the Dead.” What this meant was if you were in the middle of a game and the ball somehow got past your flippers, and towards the hole… if it was moving fast enough to bounce back out of the hole and back into play, it was always deemed a miracle, which was met with cheers from any onlookers. The ball literally came back from th dead!

So, we did that all the time up there.

Sometimes I would just go up there on my own and play pinball. I just wanted a little time alone to think and reflect on my life living at the seashore all summer. It was a brilliant and unforgettable few chapters from my young life.

Braces off, skin clear, and finally emerging from puberty!

Here’s a pic of me in 1978 on the 3rd-floor sun deck of The Flying Dutchman. The Office wasn’t just for pinball. It was also a great opportunity for me to meet the vacationing talent.

Pictured: Me with Ann and Gina Dougherty on the roof deck of the Flying Dutchman Motel -1978

Yea… tough times for Chaz in Wildwood!

If you liked this story, you’ll love my next book, Down The Shore, coming to a bookstore near you Memorial Day, 2023!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Wildwood Daze – The Dolphin Restaurant – Part 2

North Wildwood, New Jersey – Summer, 1978

The girl I worked with was named Therese. (Pronounced: Terez, which makes it so much sexier and exotic) But Therese was just a nice girl who like myself had been moved to this island as a teenager. She told me she was originally from DC and went to Wildwood Catholic High School. She was 16 and I was 15 at the time. I’d be forced to move to the island the very next year, but that’s another story.

Therese said she was miserable and lonely when she first moved to Wildwood. The place was a resort and it was literally a ghost town in the winter. She said that the kids were mean to her and she described her experience in Wildwood Catholic as being like a scared little animal.

But Therese was absolutely beautiful. What made her lovely to me wasn’t just her lovely smile, sparkling eyes, and world-class legs… she had a sweet disposition. She was one of those girls who’s hot but doesn’t know it. Just a really nice, moral person. I loved her and I think she was my first “#1 most beloved”.

I knew she had a boyfriend. Some “Joe College Type” who was tall and good-looking named John. She was taken and there was no way I could compete with an 18-year-old guy on his way to university in August. It was like pitting a boy against a man. An unwinnable war.

But I was just happy to work beside her in the restaurant every day. After the morning rush, we’d clean up the dining room and start doing our side work. They were little maintenance chores we all had to do to prepare for the next shift. I would always blaze through mine early so I could help Therese. Sometimes I would even do her side work for her without her knowing. So when the time came for her to have to do it, I had already completed it for her and she could just leave.

I remember once I had taken care of some arduous task for her that she didn’t want to do. She rewarded me with a peck on my cheek. I blushed and felt like my head was going to explode. I was so smitten!

She knew I was crazy about her and instead of it being weird, she was always sweet to me. It was so obvious. She was like my queen. I understood what Eddie the dishwasher was experiencing with his feelings for hot Sue across the street. The unattainable goddesses we desire but can never have. We just scuttle along washing our dishes and carrying our bus pans like the rodents we are.

“So sorry to hear about John getting into that boating accident.” I would say to Therese.

“What?”

“Oh… right. That’s not until next week.”

Even back then I had a twisted sense of humor. But Therese would just laugh knowing I secretly wanted her boyfriend out of the way, so I could be the king to her queen. (So diabolical!)

I knew John was leaving for college and Therese was sad her boyfriend was leaving. I was relieved that this obstacle was being extracted from the equation and maybe I could make some sort of move. It was risky, but even at 16 years old I knew fortune favored the bold. What would my idol Dave Bradley do? I needed to talk to him tomorrow on the beach.

“Just walk up to her when she’s on her own in the dining room near the end of the night and ask her out.”

“That’s it? No special instructions or any kind of move?”

“Just have a plan, my friend. Don’t just ask her out, have something you want to do with her. Think it through. Nail down a time and a day. You’ll be fine.”

“Umm… okay, Dave.”

The next night it was around 8 pm and we were cleaning up the dining room after getting run over by tourists. I went over to one of Therese’s tables as she was picking up the check and her tip. I loaded the dirty plates into my bus pan.

“Hey… Crazy night, right?”

“Yea. My feet are killing me. I’ve been running around here all night like crazy!”

“Umm… (I smiled as I looked upon her beauty. My heart thumping in my chest and my stomach doing flip flops) Therese, would you like to go to the movies with me the next time we’re both off?”

She paused, then smiled. “Sure, Chaz. What do you want to see?”

I was stunned. This was actually working. Don’t blow it… “I was thinking Animal House. I heard it’s hilarious.”

“Oh, yea. Me too. I wanna see Animal House. I’m off on Thursday, would that work?”

This was too easy! “Yea… I’m off too. I’ll get the showtimes and we’ll figure it out this week.”

“Great. It’ll be fun. Thanks for asking me.”

I smiled and went back to cleaning. I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I stared at the reflection of the young man who would be taking Therese Freeman on an actual date. This was a watershed moment. These sorts of things didn’t happen to guys like me. Or did they? I had been on a couple of dates last summer. I had navigated these treacherous waters before. She was just a girl I worked with. No reason to be nervous. Just a couple of coworkers checking out a funny film together. No big deal.

But no… this was a big deal. This was my queen. The woman I loved. The unattainable was nearly in my grasp. I needed to play it cool and not screw anything up before Thursday. I could hardly think over the sound of Aerosmith’s song, Back in the Saddle blasting in my head as the dopamine splashed all over my euphoric brain. This was the big time. A date with Therese Freeman. Dave Bradley would be proud, and his lecherous brother Chickie would be jealous.

Welcome to the NFL, Chaz!

The next night we worked the same shift again. I had already looked up the movie times in the newspaper and knew exactly where and when we were going to see this movie. “Planning is everything”, as my father used to say. We coordinated the time and Therese wrote down her phone number and address on a slip of paper.

Just having that data in my hands was worth a fortune to me. Things were definitely happening in my life! Everything was getting better. I just needed to survive this date with Therese and not screw it up.

Later, I was in the kitchen emptying my bus pan and Chickie Bradley was there doing the dishes. Therese walked in and dropped off some plates from one of her tables. Chickie immediately hit on her. (The filthy animal!)

“Hey, yo… Therese, we should uh… you know… go out some time.”

My heart sank with rage and despair. Chickie Bradley could get any woman. He was a rake and had a reputation for closing deals. He probably had so many notches in his bedpost that it was whittled away completely!

Therese smiled and spoke. “I wouldn’t go out with you if you were the last man on earth, Chickie Bradley.”

She glanced over at me, gave me a knowing grin, and left the kitchen.

As the big wooden doors to the dining room swung back behind her I could feel Chickie’s spirit exit his body. I was in my glory. I’m indestructible now. A real player in the game of life. New confidence and power coursed through my veins. This was a fantastic moment in my young life. Say hello to the new king, Chickie Bradley! Take that!

Thursday arrived and I was terrified. My anxiety was off the charts. This wasn’t just a date to the movies with a coworker. This was Therese Freeman. A date with the queen. I was a nervous wreck. I had the power and the nerve to ask these girls out, but my anxiety would be tearing me apart before the event. It was absolutely as horrible. The pain equaled the joy I had felt the other night when she said yes.

It just didn’t seem fair. Why was I like this? I wanted to go out on dates with girls but was always in a terrible state leading up to it. Little did I know, this would go on for years and years. Anxiety and depression are the worst. An unexplainable fear and sadness you carry around with you. Where your friends and family are happy and excited to do things, you are crushed with blackened fear that squeezes your heart to near paralysis.

It was so bad, that my family actually had a little acronym for me. They used to call me The ARM. That stood for Anxiety Ridden Mess. Isn’t that lovely?

Thanks, family. YOU’RE NOT HELPING!!!!

Acute anxiety disorder. How do you overcome it? I’ll tell you how. Without drugs or medicine. You’re born this way, and you literally have to keep walking toward the things you fear the most. You have to do this over and over for maybe decades. Most people aren’t willing to do this, nor do they possess the inner strength to carry out this incredible burden. You have to rewire your brain to keep walking towards that which you fear. After a while, you realize you’re not going to throw up or die from going into the unknown.

If you’re willing to do that, you’ll succeed and not only overcome it, you’ll realize something wonderful. After all of those years of being afraid and sad, you’ve become stronger in spirit than most. You’ve spent years overcompensating for those fears. You’re more charming and cool around people because you’ve been performing like that for years. You then become an even better version of yourself than you ever realized.

People will call your charm a gift of gab, or a special way with people. No. Quite the contrary. You simply practiced for years to mentally overcome your disability. I did it, and you can too.

Back to the story…

I remember lying in the bathtub in our upstairs bathroom before the date. I thought maybe a nice cool bath would calm my shattered nerves. The clock ticked away the minutes ever faster as the deadline approached when I’d have to leave the house and pick up Therese.

This is an awful feeling. Why did I even bother asking her out? This is too much for me to handle. I’m out of my element!

I pulled myself out of the tub and got ready. I want to do this. I asked for it and she said yes, so this is definitely happening. I did everything I could to calm my mind but to no avail.

I remember my dad handing me some extra cash in case I wanted to buy her ice cream on the way home from the movie. Dad comes through in the clutch again!

I walked up our street west on 8th street. I walked past the ball fields. I lingered there for a few minutes to gather my courage. I figured if I had to throw up, now would be the time. I remember one of my friends later told me they saw me milling about there and I appeared to be talking to myself. (Yea, it was that nuts.)

I get to 5th and New Jersey Ave. and approach her house. I look down and carved into the pavement is her name in the concrete. It even had the two little accents over the vowels and everything. Of course, her name should be carved in stone forever. She’s Therese!

I step onto the porch and tap on the screen door. It starts to get a little fuzzy here. I don’t remember meeting any parents. Maybe her family was out or something. But I do remember Therese just chilling in her living room in a lovely blouse and a pair of white slacks. She looked awesome. I had only seen her in her waitress uniform. Here she was. All ready to go on a date to the movies with Chaz.

I don’t remember what we talked about on the walk to the theater. Probably work and general stuff about our friends and families. I was too terrified to be on record mode during that trip. I think Animal House was playing all the way down at the Shore Twin which was on Atlantic Avenue, west of Marine Pier. (Later, Mariners Landing)

I still have half of the ticket from that night. I even wrote her name on it and kept it to memorialize the event.

The film was great. Animal House is one of the funniest comedies ever made. The late, great John Belushi is brilliant in the role of Bluto Blutarsky. This movie solidified his stardom.

Therese laughed a lot and I knew this was a good choice. I always later told my friends who lacked experience with dating to always pick a movie. I would tell them that it was two hours you get to spend with her and you don’t have to talk or seem interesting. You let the movie make the night great and fun. If she’s having a good time at the movies, then she’ll associate you with fun and exciting feelings. It’s just science, folks.

I had a wonderful time that evening and so did Therese. I was happy to just spend time with her and be close to a girl I really liked. She was the sweetest thing. I walked her up to her doorstep and sealed the evening with a kiss.

I probably skipped all the way home that night. My older sister was there and asked me how the evening went. I gave her the thumbs up and was happy I survived it. She knew I was nervous about it and was worried about me.

It was pretty great to be the only guy that got a date with Therese after her boyfriend went off to college. I think being brave and a gentleman goes a long way. Women just know.

I didn’t really see Therese after that summer. I moved on to a job at Hunt’s Pier. We did stay in touch a little though. I still have her letters. She went into the medical field. Of course, someone as sweet as Therese would have a job where she helps people.

I ran into her once back in the 1990s in Stone Harbor, NJ. I was staying at my wife’s family’s shore house up in Avalon. I was standing out on 96th Street while my wife was in some shop.

I just suddenly saw Therese standing there like an apparition from my past. It had been over 15 years since I’d seen her. My heart leaped at the sight of her. She still looked smoking hot.

I said her name and she turned. It was an amazing moment. After all of this time, here she was. We chatted a bit and caught up.

Thoughts of the gift shop suddenly bursting into flames and my wife dying in the fire and Therese having to comfort me with my sudden loss came to mind… but only for a second. (Oh, stop it… I’m kidding!)

I noticed she had a little brace on her arm near her wrist. I asked her what had happened and she told me she had rheumatoid arthritis. I found this heartbreaking but told her my mother suffered from the very same thing. I thought, how can there be a god when this kind of stuff happens to perfectly wonderful people? It’s not fair.

It was great seeing her and I couldn’t wait to tell my family who I had run into in Stone Harbor that day. They all knew I adored Therese since the 70s.

I haven’t seen her since, but at least we’re friends on social media!

I’m so glad I have all of these great memories to wrap myself up in and share with you. Thanks for reading this. I really enjoyed writing about the restaurant and of course my queen!

Thanks for saying yes that day in 1978 and going on a date with me. It meant the world to me.

I will always love you, Therese!

Here’s a pic of Therese I found on Facebook. It was taken around 2012.

A stunning beauty!

On a final note, I earned around $500 that summer. I was becoming a serious self-taught musician and decided to make an investment. You can see what that was here.

Want to learn more about RA? Go here: https://www.aiarthritis.org/

or here: https://www.facebook.com/IFAiArthritis

or here: https://www.facebook.com/TerezFreemanHumphrey/?ref=page_internal

If you liked this story, you’ll love my next book, Down The Shore, coming to a bookstore near you Memorial Day, 2023!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Wildwood Daze – The Dolphin Restaurant – Part 1

North Wildwood, New Jersey – Summer, 1978

I was turning 16 years old that summer. I had had great success working as a pool boy the summer before at the El Morro Motel. But I wanted to do something else. So working as a busboy at the Dolphin Restaurant seemed like a good progression. There was a small salary plus tips and free meals so it just made sense.

Now that I think back on my time as a pool boy at the El Morro Motel, I was earning a flat $40 a week. But I worked 7 days a week from 7 am till noon. Then I had to go back every night at 7 pm and bring the cushions in from all of the lounge chairs around the pool. So I roughly worked over 35 plus hours a week there for $40. That’s like a dollar an hour! (As Napoleon Dynamite would say)

It wasn’t a bad job at the Dolphin because I normally worked days and some nights, but the night shift was from around 4 pm until 7 or 8 pm. It would be busy in the morning for breakfast, then quiet down around lunchtime. Everybody would be at the beach so the place was dead from 1 pm until 5 pm.

Then it would pick up again as families and groups came in to grab dinner before heading off to the boardwalk for the evening.

The owners were a nice Greek couple. Bill and Lanie. Bill ran the line in the kitchen and Lanie was the hostess and cashier out front. The Greeks are brilliant people. They start these restaurants, work their butts off and bring their whole family over to work. The Dolphin was also in a great location. Close to the beach and surrounded by motels. So there was always plenty of foot traffic from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

This was the sign on the roof of the restaurant. How cool is that? A life-sized dolphin that rotated on the sign. A creative, retro artifact. That had to be expensive to design and construct. That’s pride, baby.

Here’s the actual feature restored to its original glory. (Photo courtesy of the Wildwood Historical Society)

The job was easy. I liked the people I worked with. The waitresses were all nice and so were the setup girls. Waitresses were normally around 16 or 17, and set up girls and busboys were 14 and 15 years old.

We had a great time working together. We liked and hated all the same things working in a restaurant. Especially when a huge family would roll in and had kids. The dreaded high chairs for babies. We all knew there’d be plenty of food to clean up off the floor! But for the most part it was a fun and lively place to work.

I remember when I turned 16 that summer the girls had a little party for me and got me Supertramp’s latest album, Breakfast in America. Which seemed fitting based on our vocation and the image on the album cover.

Breakfast in America - Wikipedia

I just realized something for the first time. The image is the view from the window of a plane. The waitress represents the Statue of Liberty and the table in the background is New York.

How did I miss this back in 1978? I guess I was too busy listening to my Aerosmith albums!

Anyway, it was nice to have a job where I was surrounded by other people. When I was a pool boy I was an army of one. It was just me working as the entire maintenance crew for the motel.

But now there was a whole cast of characters I worked with every day. There were all the macho Greek guys working as cooks in the steaming hot kitchen, the ladies working in the dining room, and the wait staff.

One afternoon I was walking across the parking lot about to enter through the back door. We all went inside that way. You’d go in, turn right into this little room and find an apron to wear for the night.

Standing outside in the parking lot, leaning against the wall was one of the Greek cooks. I forget his name. Just picture a tan, swarthy-looking, Mediterranean guy with a head full of black curls and a bushy mustache.

He was smoking a really fat joint. He sees me and offers me a toke. He says: “Smoke pot? Here…” and points the joint at me. Not wanting to appear to be the wimp I was, I took it from his fingers and hit it. Just one hit. That was it. I thanked him and went inside. Mission accomplished. I’ve paid the gatekeeper and showed him I’m cool too.

It didn’t hit me until I sat down at the middle table with all of the rest of the wait staff before our shift was to begin. We would all hang there and Lanie would go over any last-minute specials and whatever else we needed to know.

I had this stupid grin on my face and all of the girls instantly picked up on it. They were all laughing at me, and I couldn’t believe that it was instantly apparent I was high. I did my best to hide it from Lanie so she wouldn’t send me home for illegal drug use. During my shift, I confided in one of the other busboys named Grover. He was an older friend of the family but a cool dude. He said he had gotten high once before work and it made him feel like everyone in the restaurant was staring at him.

Since he said that to me, I now thought the very same thing. He had implanted a fresh paranoid thought in my hallucinogenic head. I looked around and everybody WAS staring at me. (They weren’t but I thought they were. They were just glancing over at me because I was part of the staff. But in my stoned brain I thought they were staring and knew I was baked!)

I spent most of the night giggling my way through my shift.

“Why you so silly tonight, Charlie?” Lanie asked in her broken accent.

“I… I don’t know. I just guess… I’m just a silly guy sometimes.”

Totally lame response, but I managed to get through my shift.

Lanie had a sister or a cousin that came to work there for a period of time. She spoke zero English and was sometimes really annoying to be around because no one could understand what she was saying. It was really frustrating. So one night when she was getting on my nerves… anything she would say to me, I would respond with a big smile and say a bunch of nonsense to her. It helped pass the night and I sort of liked that I could say whatever I wanted to her without any repercussions from the owners. I just kept smiling and bussing my tables.

There was usually a rotating cast of clowns that worked as dishwashers. Most notable was this guy named Eddie. He was the classic loser. The guy who resembled something out of a 1950s teen drama. The stained T-shirt, the slicked-back hair. The punk who always wanted to run with the cool guys and outlaws, but was always caught by the cops because he was too dumb to pull off any kind of heist. He had the worst job in the restaurant and the one that took the least skill and finesse, but he seemed happy enough doing his job. Sadly, he was socially inept and everyone just sort of tolerated his presence.

One day he starts going on about this girl he’s in love with. He describes her as the most beautiful girl on the island, and he’s going to make her his girlfriend. We had no idea who he was talking about. We figured he made her up! Also, in a town like Wildwood in the summer, how could anyone make such an assumption? The island was teeming with beautiful women!

But one day he reveals that she’s the ice cream girl from across the street at a shop called The Corner Store.  So we decide to see what’s up. Turns out she’s the eldest daughter of the owner of the Corner Store. Her mother used to work at the Provident National Bank in Philly back in the 70s with my father. I didn’t know any of this at the time, but Eddie was right. Her daughter Susan was a spectacular beauty. Dark tan, tawny hair like Farrah Fawcett and piercing blue eyes. Drop-dead gorgeous but unassuming. She was probably simply doing her job and was cordial to Eddie and he instantly fell in love with her. But I get it…

I had designs on one of the waitresses that I worked with at the Dolphin. Back then and for many years after that, I put women on a pedestal. Actually, I put certain people on pedestals for no reason other than I thought they were awesome. I think it was tied to my low self-esteem. I was just happy to be in the presence of the cool and the beautiful.

There was this guy who would work there sometimes as a dishwasher at night named Chickie Bradley. He was cute but all the girls knew he was a womanizing devil. He had an older brother named Dave who was super cool though. Dave ran an umbrella stand on the beach at 5th street. Dave was cool because he had his own apartment for the summer and would let me and my friend hang out at his umbrella stand with him. He was probably 18 years old at the time so he was basically a man and light years ahead of me in terms of any sort of masculine powers.

I would stop over his apartment and he would put on The Rolling Stones latest album, Some Girls and that’s what really got me into the Stones. He’d always offer me a cold bottle of Miller and I felt like such a big shot just to be in the same room with Dave. He was just so cool. But a nice guy who would let younger guys like me hang out. I knew I couldn’t go on his nocturnal adventures with him because I was too young, but it was just nice to hang.

He once told me that his landlord was talking about throwing him and his brother Chickie out of the apartment they were staying in for the summer. When I asked him why he said that the neighbors were complaining that it looked like they were running some kind of brothel out of the apartment.

I thought this was amazing. Just knowing a guy that could have so many girls and get them to come over all the time. This was beyond my imagination. I barely had the courage to even talk to most girls to try to get a date. But these guys were apparently lotharios that could just pull in the ladies with their wit and charm.

I remember Dave had some sort of problem with his larynx. It gave him this low hoarse voice. But that made him even cooler. When I would appear before him, he’d always say:

“Hello. my friend.” In that dark voice.

Dave was my idol.

A super cool dude, whose cousin I would later date 7 years later. But that’s another story. (Don’t worry. I’ll get to them all!)

However, there was this one special girl with whom I worked at the Dolphin that I found especially appealing.

To be continued tomorrow…

If you liked this story, you’ll love my next book, Down The Shore, coming to a bookstore near you Memorial Day, 2023!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

You Are What You Eat

Philadelphia, PA – September 2021

I’ve been on the Paleo diet for 50 days now. Five years ago I gave up cigarettes. Three years ago I stopped drinking oceans of booze. Now I’m a teetotaler that drinks less than the average American male on a weekly basis. At the time of this writing, I’m determined to shed the excess pounds and fat from my body.

During the pandemic, all I did was write my blog and my books. I was no longer running around working 55 hours a week at some horrible sports bar anymore. But sitting around and eating and drinking will make you fat.

I started walking back in 2020 and as long as the weather was nice I’d try to do 5 miles a day a few times a week, but I didn’t lose any weight. I’m sure my respiratory and cardio were improving and I was getting good circulation and moving my muscles but I still looked out of shape.

I was always a skinny kid and recently saw a friend of mine from back in 1980. He’s 60 years old and looks physically the same as he did when he was 20. That could be just his genetics and physiology but the guy looked great. He lost his hair and shows the lines of age but physically he looked the same. I knew I could get back to at least close to the size I was when I was 20.

I’ll be 60 years old in August 2022! But there’s no reason for me to be flabby and carrying extra weight. Cigarettes and booze are basically gone. What’s missing? That’s right. My food intake. I looked at what I was consuming on a daily basis and knew that it was the key. You are what you eat is such a valid statement. There are no fat and out-of-shape animals in the wild. Why? Because they’d be killed and eaten by something else. Humans don’t have to worry about food anymore. We’re surrounded by it everywhere. The media is always waving delicious tacos, pizza, and burgers in front of our hungry eyes. I needed to make a change. A life change. Not to lose weight and look better for some younger attractive girl I was dating, but for me.

You don’t need drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. You can live a perfectly happy and healthy life without them. They’re a luxury. But all addictive. You don’t even need candy or coffee. But the world loves all of the above and can’t live without many of them.

But you do need food. You don’t eat… you die. There’s no way around that. So I turned to Paleo for the right reasons. Paleo is based on the original diet of our ancestors. Lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. That’s it. Eat all you want. It’s probably the easiest diet in the world and the most simple in its design. No refined carbohydrates… but vegetables contain carbs and you can eat them. Because they’re the good carbs. Not french fries or bread or any fried stuff. Cut out the sugar. No desserts, donuts, candy cake, muffins… nothing! No caffeine. You don’t need it. People become addicted to caffeine and crave the free lift it gives them. An apple contains far more nutrients and more good energy than any cup of coffee on the planet.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love the smell and taste of coffee. Who doesn’t love a nice warm cup of coffee with a nice dessert or donut? It’s amazing. But I’ve never been a person who needed coffee. For some reason, I’ve been blessed with a natural get-up and go. Just sunny energy that emanates forth from within. I love it. I don’t need sweets, caffeine, nicotine, or booze. I actually enjoy being clean and eating properly. My guitar goes straight to the amp. Nothing in between the thought and the sound.

It’s not a hard diet to do. I have scrambled eggs and bacon each morning. Lots of lean protein. For lunch, I’ll have a little salad with some chicken. For dinner, I’ll have chicken, pork, steak or fish with some sort of vegetables. Spinach, broccoli green beans… anything veggie works. How about eating fruit for dessert? There’s sugar in fruits. They’re sweet and delicious. But they’re filled with natural sweetness. Not all that processed sugar and high fructose crap that’s in everything else.

I used to know a guy who stopped drinking booze and has been sober for 5 years. He’s 300 pounds! Why? because he stuffs his head with all of the wrong foods and doesn’t get any exercise.

You don’t need to go to the gym unless you want to really build muscle. Most of us just want to look good and for our clothes to fit properly. I see this girl I know on Instagram working out like crazy in the gym. She’s 30 and does it so she can eat and drink all she wants and still remain fit. But here’s the thing. All the working out in the world won’t change your face or your personality. In every other photo on Instagram, she has a drink in her hand. She’ll always attend a lot of weddings over the next few years but always be a bridesmaid. Because no one will tell her she’s a functioning alcoholic. It’s a shame.

But none of this is my concern. I don’t see any of these people anymore. They need to find their own way. But you really are what you eat. You can exercise all you want but if you’re not putting good healthy whole food as fuel in your body you’re going to be a fat load. Take it from me. You can not smoke or drink and walk all you want. If you don’t change your diet and let your body function the way it should, you’re kidding yourself.

I miss carbs like a long-lost lover. I love nothing more than to stuff my head with pizza, cheesesteaks, burgers, fries, tacos, and wings. I love all of the things that are bad for me. But I had to let them go. Not forever but I had to lay off all of that processed food. I want to look at all of those foods as the occasional treat, not the food I live on. It’s just not good for you.

I hope by the time you read this I’ll have been on a balanced diet for the last 8 months. But it’s not about losing weight. It’s about eating right and taking care of the vessel that houses your soul. I’d like to be around for a while and get to live off my social security and travel a bit. Take good care of your body. It’s the only one you have and it will wear out. Try to slow that process. You’ll thank yourself for it.

“Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” – Dean Wormer, Animal House – 1978

July, 2022 – 25 Pounds of fat…GONE!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every week.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Theater of the Mind

Philadelphia, PA – 1974

I hated school and I hated everything about Fel’s Junior High School. But, I was always a good reader and loved books and comic books. I had a class at the end of each day called Reading. It was my favorite class. The teacher, Miss Ruscoff (Later Mrs. Dembitzer when she got married) was a nice lady who was actually a good teacher and patient with us kids. I was surprised at how many of the students were poor readers. That must have been stressful for them having to read aloud in class but I never minded doing so. I would not only read aloud, but I would also add feelings and inflections into the story to make it more interesting. I did this naturally because I knew it just sounded better and more interesting that way.

On Fridays, Miss Ruscoff would haul out an old reel to reel tape recorder and play old radio shows for the class. I think most kids put their heads down and napped during the recordings but I loved them.

Radio was king before the advent of television and I thought the shows and stories were really cool. The ones she played were from the 40s and 50s. I sort of wondered why this form of entertainment had gone away. The stories were from series like X Minus 1, Suspense, Inner Sanctum, and several others.

What I liked most about them is that the stories were usually scary and I had a vivid imagination. I loved that they would have the actors doing their roles and they would add sound effects to make it more real. Often the roles on the shows were performed by hollywood stars because many of them got their start on the stage and then on the radio.

When you watch a movie or television the whole thing is spelled out for you. You can see the actors and what they look like, the sets, and all of the action appears before your eyes. It’s all someone else’s vision as to what this story should look like. I’m not knocking TV, but radio shows are brilliant.

They could be darker in content and scarier than anything on TV. Because you couldn’t see anything you had to use your imagination to picture what the characters looked like and what was happening in the story. I just felt it was a far more riveting form of entertainment and the networks could get away with more.

I always remembered listening to all of those great stories and in the 80s I bought a box set of X-Minus 1 old radio shows on cassette. I loved listening to all of those cool stories and it was a bit nostalgic for me even back then.

Philadelphia, PA – 2020-present

During the pandemic, I discover a whole channel of old radio shows on Sirius/XM radio. A whole channel! 24/7 of old radio shows. I discovered so many more shows I had never heard of, like Dark Fantasy, The Whistler, Escape, and Johnny Dollar.

Now I can flop on my bed and listen to all of my favorite stories and use my imagination to create the scenes in the shows. I really find this a great exercise for my creative mind and it’s so restful because it’s a passive activity. I sometimes fall asleep during them and have to listen to them again.

My mother always told me she loved listening to the radio as a kid and would practice her penmanship while she absorbed all of the great stories adapted from good American literature.

It’s a lost art form that still exists today in the form of podcasts. People like podcasts and it’s basically the same thing. You don’t have to watch anything. Just use your imagination and feel the story the way you want to.

Spotify also has all these shows available too. It’s a great way to tap into a lost art form.

Former Fels HS building to be demolished

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Little Birds

September 2021

I came out of my house the other day to go to breakfast at my favorite local spot Racheal’s. I got to the corner of 19th and Pine and suddenly saw these two little parakeets on the pavement together.

I was shocked and stunned to see these two tiny exotic birds right there on the sidewalk. I wondered where they had come from. Did they somehow escape from a cage in someone’s house? Did they just fly out the window? They’re caged birds and could hardly fly.

I carefully approached them to observe and then another gentleman approached. We were both amazed and he called the local animal hospital over on 20th street. They said they don’t take birds, just mostly dogs and cats. But they gave us the number of a woman on Facebook who looks after birds in Philly.

I called her but of course, no one answered. Another guy showed up and we tried to get the birds to hop into a little box that someone else had brought us. But they wouldn’t be caught. They would hop away. They could fly a little bit but I knew they had probably spent their lives together in a cage and didn’t have the strength to fly any great distance. We would try to catch one and he would flutter away but remain close.

I called the bird lady again and left a long message regarding the situation and the location. But I figured that’s all I could do. The other guy that had shown up told me he had to get to work so I was left with these birds.

But I had to get going as well. So as much as I hated to leave them I had to go. We’d called the animal hospital, I tried the bird lady, and there was nothing else I could do.

But here’s the thing. No matter what we did, the birds stayed together. The one bird, I’m assuming the male because he had the prettier plumes, wouldn’t leave his mate’s side.

I thought about the dedication of these terrified little birds. Two living things. Two little beautiful birds that could fly. The only species are other than insects and bats that could truly fly. And what did humans do? They stuck them in a cage. A prison that they could never escape from. Never to fly and be free and use the gift of flight they were born with. Now here they were, ironically free, and they wouldn’t leave each other’s side. They were out in a strange world. The phrase, free as a bird comes to mind. But even in their newfound freedom, they wouldn’t separate. All they knew and all they had was each other. Like the inmate that’s spent his whole life in prison, they couldn’t make it on the outside. They didn’t even know what the outside world was like.

It was so sad and yet uplifting. No matter how cruel I thought it was to capture these lovely entities and steal them from their natural habitat, they stuck together. That spoke to me.

Why can’t people just leave the natural world alone? The planet operates perfectly well without humans. But here we are. We destroy our habitat all in the name of growth, expansion, and industrial progress. Everything we need is here and it’s all free, and we choose to capture it, kill it, or monetize it. It’s so sad. We’ve kind of blown it as a species. It’s too bad humans can’t walk among the rest of the living things on this planet and try to live in harmony. Instead of killing it, conquering it, or destroying it. Humans aren’t so great after all.

I later came by the area where I initially found the birds. They were gone. So was the box. I’m hoping they were rescued by someone and the cute little couple are okay. Even if they ended up back in a cage somewhere. At least they’d be able to live out what remained of their little lives together.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Tales of Rock – Origins of the Hard Rock sound of AC/DC

Hard rock is a manifestation of garage rock, surf rock and psychedelic rock, and British blues of the 1960s. It was not until the kinks did this kind of guitar sound begin. Old speakers in London clubs provided a banged-up ratty sound. After a while, the bands started to like the sound the punctured and torn speakers in old amps made. That was a growly sound that would get you fired from a club gig until they started to like it and use it to their advantage.

Listen to what Howlin’ Wolf does with a guitar. Early distortion.

Howlin’ Wolf – How Many More Years – 1951

Link Wray – Rumble – 1958

Distortion, tremolo, and the guitar are dominant. It’s a riff.

Surf and garage coming together. Hard rock is developing.

The Chessman – Cant’s Catch Me – 1966

A hard, customized soundsystem. Volume to kick it in. A disaster at Woodstock and Altamont, crowds moving, in the wake of these two concerts. Rock and roll moves into arenas and out of outdoor parks. You can load up with gear and blast out your music.

Let’s go to Australia. AC/DC doesn’t form until 1973. But there’s a working-class youth that’s coming up that wants out of their lives. The bar scene is about rock music. Sounds a little like mid-70s Foghat.

Carson County Band-Morning Train – 1971

Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs -1971

Now we’re talkin’… That’s starting to sound like hard rock for sure. I love this!

Buffalo – Suzy Sunshine – 1972

The Valentines – Build Me Up Buttercup – 1972

Yea, that backup singer is Bon Scott. Hard to believe that one of the premier voices of 70s hard rock started out singing backup and dressed like that!

Marcus Hook Roll Band – Watch Her Do It Now -1973

Malcolm,  Angus and their older brother George. So we’ve got two of the founding members of AC/DC. You can already hear the pull in the band between pop and rock happening.

Their older is working on her sewing machine and looks down at the steel label hammered into the machine that says, AC/DC – (alternate and direct current) and suggests it to Angus as a name for his new band.  She also suggested the school outfit for Angus. She said he looked so cute in it but it became a snub at authority and school. He only zig-zagged on stage to dodge the bottles thrown at the bands in the hardscrabble roadhouse bars they played in.

Which brings us here…

Oh yea…

There you have it.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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