Boyne City

One of my favorite memories as a kid was taking an annual or bi-annual trip to Boyne City to visit family. Mimi would take myself, cousin Terha, Nicole and Stephanie to Boyne City to visit our Aunt Gaynelle, Uncle Dan and cousins Jonah, Jacob and Joey. She loved going there a few times a year and it was always a great getaway for us kids. We would go during school vacations or summer vacations.

The car rides were always memorable. We would all either meet at Mimi’s house in Oxford or she would pick some of us up at our houses. From there, we would drive up I-75 north. The alphabet game started and always ended by the Zilwaukee bridge unless we saw a li

4C

Meeting my husband was the last thing on my mind during a girl’s night at a Blake Shelton concert at DTE Energy Music Theater. Earlier on that hot June day in 2010, I went fishing with my Dad to celebrate Father’s Day. This was something fun that we loved to do and would soon be something that Jeffrey loved to do with my Dad too. Back to getting ready. I got on my favorite dark denim jeans and floral crop tank top with my perfectly broke in cowboy boots. My Mom was helping me perfect my look as she usually would do when I was headed out. I was waiting on the girls to show up to my house and then we would meet the rest there. Terha, Whitney and Stephanie showed up, we took the obligatory group picture and then we were on our way.
We made it to Clarkston and met up with the rest of the group. Our two vows for the night were to use the buddy system and no boys. This was a girls night after all! We got our drinks poured, music on in the car and we hung out in the parking lot before going in to the concert. About 15 minutes in, a girl came over and said we looked fun and that she wanted to start a block party so come over to their truck a row over. Whitney, being the outgoing, party-girl she was, headed over as fast as she could. As her buddy, I was forced to follow her. Needless to say, I was not very happy. We all eventually ended up at the tailgate of a Chevy truck owned by our future best man of our wedding, Kyle Schaenzer. Sitting on that tailgate was a handsome sandy blonde guy, Jeffrey. Whitney parked it next to him and asked if they had some Captain Morgan rum that she was promised earlier. His response was ‘Only if you get that pretty blonde to come over here.’ As Whitney states, On cue, you saunter over in your daisy dukes.’ Jeff hands Whitney the Captain Morgan from the cooler and we start chatting. This backstory was only later revealed to me. I was pretty unpleasant company for about half of the night since one of our two rules had been broken and I was really looking forward to a night with my best girls.
I tried to give up my attitude and chatted with our new friends. We all headed into the concert and set up camp on the hill altogether. We danced the night away and found out more about the guys. Jeff was a police officer at the time. My cousin, Stephanie, was completely enamored with this and had so many questions for him as the night progressed. One of the fun facts, and probably a pick up line to see me again, was that they could get free vouchers for future concerts. I hate to admit it but in the moment, that sold me and I uncharacteristically put my phone number in his phone.
The concert ended and it didn’t take him very long to text me. For the longest time, my name in his phone was ‘Daisy,’ a nod to my attire for that night. From then on, our friendship grew and our two groups of friends hung out all summer long. To this day, we still hang out frequently, Adren and Kyle were the best men in our wedding, Terha was the maid of honor, Adren and Terha are the Godparents of our son Liam, Lisa is the Godmother to our son Lucas and the others are still important parts of our lives. I love looking back on this night and seeing where it went and how it has ended up for us so far. Meeting my best friend and husband is certainly one of my fondest memories.

Broadview Hotel

I am 17 years old, just out of high school and no job and no training for one except for farm work. My good friend Rod who graduated a year ahead of me said come to Wichita and work with me at the Broadview hotel as a bellhop. I moved to Wichita and started work in June as a bellhop. The hotel furnished our uniforms but didn’t pay us, so the money we made from tips was our wages. Rod and I rented a room together in a rooming house four blocks from the hotel.
This job was sure strange to what I had ever done before, but I did enjoy being close to several movie theaters. I didn’t have a car but there were city buses that I used but I walked most of the time. Rod had a car and we went to Latham most week ends. We also lived close to the YMCA and we would walk to it and box or play basketball.
There was a baseball stadium close that had a semipro tournament each year, and next to center field area was a railroad yard that had boxcars parked in it, so we would set on top of the rail car and watch the game.
In December, Rod said he was going to start college and he would need to move in with his mom so he could afford college. I decided to move back home and I had saved a little money and had a checking account at the Fourth National in Wichita so back to the farm I went.

Night Shift

One day, the summer before my junior year in high school, my phone rang at home. It was Gregg Woodall from Towanda. I knew Gregg, but not well. He said his dad was running for County Commissioner, and that he was putting together a band to play in the parade in El Dorado, and needed a drummer. After a couple of weeks of practice we learned three songs (Eighteen by Alice Cooper, House of the Rising Sun, and Sweet Home Alabama by Lynard Skynard if I remember right). Gregg’s dad and cute younger sister (Jayme) were in the cab waving, and the three of us including amplifiers, guitars and a drum set were in the back. We must have been okay, Jammie won the election.

I had been in a couple of bands before.  Crown Zellerbach, (the name was taken from the bottom of a napkin dispenser in a Burger King) was me as a freshman and a group of juniors and seniors from Newton and Eric Enns from Remington.  We played at a couple of local Newton events.  I had worked the summer after eighth grade at Dad’s appliance store, saved my money, and bought a really cool, eight tom-tom clear red drum set.  So I’m not for sure if Eric and his friends liked me better or the drum set.  Before that, my experience consisted of a 6th grade talent show with Pat Adams singing, Travis Mann on guitar, me on the drums and all of us wearing mom’s wigs.

Armed with our success from the parade, Gregg, Brad Doggett and I decided to keep the band together.  Jeff Toews, who owned a bass and was musically inclined, joined us on bass guitar.  We needed a place to practice, and Dad owned a former beauty shop in Potwin.  We pulled together scraps of carpet, painted the walls in the bathroom, and we were set.  Practices were a couple of nights a week, and became something for the local youth to do if nothing else was going on.  Mike Adams was a regular.

By the time football homecoming season was coming around, we had enough songs, 17 or so, to play the dance at Remington.  Gregg got us in at Circle High, and we did the winter dance in Peabody.  We played mainly rock and roll covers, and our best feature was the fact that everyone could sing.  Gregg was the talent and lead sang all the songs he could remember the words to, and we would take the rest.  We could pull off the Eagles, Alabama, and some old Beach Boys because of everyone’s natural ability with harmony.

We developed a stage show as we went along.  My next summer’s wages went to a sound board and microphones.  Buddy Mark Vogelman built a lighting system by hand.  Craig Wohlgemuth created the Wog Fog by dropping dry ice into water and pumping the smoke into the stage.

Gregg and I enjoyed song writing, and Throw Money was a hit (Throw Money, we’re a worthy cause, Throw Money, we don’t want your applause…).  Gregg had written Why Did I Go? and Brighter Day for various old girlfriends.  We wrote The Gomez Blues as an homage to our high school Spanish teacher who died his hair to look more Hispanic.  Brad had written Travellin and he was a ladies’ guy so that one went over well.

My life started to change my senior year of high school.  I had always been the baby of a well to do family in Potwin – dad had an appliance store, mom had a liquor store, dad owned three post offices and 15-20 rental properties.  Shortly before Christmas, older brother Bob explained to us that Dad had a cash flow issue.  Dad changed from a ever-go-lucky, spunky, gregarious, slightly over-the-top entrepreneur to sitting in the dark tearing up little pieces of paper.  I knew something wasn’t right.  We kept the band together, but I quit the basketball team and got a job at Taco Tico in El Dorado.  Toughest time I had was early in my senior year, Brad needed a place to stay.  And mom asked me to tell him no.  We never did that.  I lost it, and a couple of days later mom and dad asked a neighbor to check in on me.

As I entered my senior year, we decided we needed a manager, and Jerry Peterson, classmate Michelle’s dad and manager of the local feedlot, took the job.  Jerry made us a promotional tape, business cards, Darlene his wife made us vests, and we kept pretty busy.  One highlight was the Kansas State Cattlemen’s Convention (we had to learn a few more country songs for that one).

After graduating from high school, I started college at Wichita State and lived at home to save money, stay closer to the girlfriend who was still in high school, and keep the band together.  Bad idea.  I went from being around people I loved all the time, to driving back and forth to a school where I didn’t have the opportunity to bond with anyone.  The band was my only source of refuge.  Brad Doggett had moved on, and Ed Carlson, a friend of Trent Sprecker’s from his Wichita days, joined us on guitar.  The first night we practiced, we moved our gear across the street and played for the local Watermelon Feed festival, Potwin’s biggest annual event.  It was Ed’s first time performing with a band, and he loved it.

By the end of my first semester, I was going nuts, and asked mom and dad if they could float me going to KU.  I joined brother Bill’s old fraternity, ATO, and ran across Doug Wolfe, guitar player, singer, and song writer from Wichita.  Next thing I knew, Ed moved up from Wichita, and Doug’s friend Chris Boyd joined us on bass.  The new band had a little different feel – not as great with the harmonies, but a step above on instruments.  We upped our game and worked some Boston and Kansas songs into the set, and played local bars and smaller high schools around the area.

Along the way, I got guitar-envy, and learned to play guitar because you can’t take the drums around with you.  But that’s another story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanctified

When Alex was a sophomore in high school, church wars were on in Minneapolis, Kansas. Well, war may be a little extreme, but our high school principal and his friends had started a praise band at the Bennington Bible Church and were drawing folks in, especially the youth.
So, we had a decision, watch our church struggle, or do something. I called Kathy McHenry and asked if she wanted to start a band, except ours would be different – the kids would be the singers. Since no one had a free night of the week to practice, the plan was to meet for an hour before church, learn whatever we could, and perform it that day during the service. Even if we weren’t great, we knew that older folks like kids and people always clap in church.
Kathy is a gifted piano player, and her daughter Kacia a talented singer. I played drums and a little guitar, and Alex sang in New Image, the high school song and dance troop. The first year, it was the four of us with one of the Kuder sons on the drums. We were a little rough, but still earned applause.
The next year, we upped our game. Jee Hoon Jang moved in with us from Korea, we recruited Trish Barker, Kim Baccus, and Tyler Crosson. Sarah Comfort, only a freshman, was a super sub if someone couldn’t show up. The Kuder boy graduated, so I moved from guitar to drums. Suddenly, we sounded pretty good. Within a few weeks, in the fall of Alex’s junior year, we started moving from church to church. Tyler and Trish attended other churches, so we visited those periodically, and we got the occasional invitation to play at other churches in the Minneapolis area or Salina.
Kathy picked the songs with input from the kids, and we still only practiced before church. The kids were really talented, quick studies, and pulled of some great harmony on the fly. Jee Hoon brought us a song in Korean called Jehovah. His translation wasn’t perfect (“I don’t know how I am supposed to do”), but the passion and enthusiasm of the kids more than made up for it. Jee sang the first verse in Korean, and everyone did the second verse translated to English. For the last line, everyone learned a little Korean. It went great.
One morning while driving to KC at 4am to catch a flight, and listening to a blues station on a skip out of Chicago, I wrote a song called Paul’s Lament. It occurred to me, that I had never heard a Christian song in a blues riff, and if anyone had the material for a great blues song, it was Paul. I started jotting down thoughts: “I was riding to Damascus, with my donkey as my steed, when a voice came out of nowhere made me get down on my knees and it said ‘Saul, why have you forsaken me?” and “I said I’ll be your mouthpiece, I want to spread your news – but there’s only one of me there must be fifteen million Jews.” I came back and taught it to the group. The kids and Kathy picked up on it quickly, Alex did the intro on the bass, and everyone took a verse.
On Super Bowl Sunday, we decided to take a shot at recording a CD of our top songs. Jehovah and Paul’s Lament made the cut. We spent the afternoon on the stage at Minneapolis High School, using the recording equipment the music department had ‘just received through a grant. We took a break and Jayme fed us chili and cinnamon rolls at our house, then we went back to the high school and finished up. We had a local photographer take photos of the session.
The CD turned out great, even though due to time, we only got one shot at many of the songs. We sold them for $10 dollars at the local churches and through publicity in the newspaper. The proceeds went to a local charity. Another cold weekend with a the photographer generated the CD cover and a couple of cool posters that adorned our basement for years. The band’s name was Sanctified, the CD was Not Perfect, But Forgiven.
I don’t know if anyone enjoyed this experience as much as I did. For a couple of hours a week, I got to spend time with some of the best people I know. Terrific kids, with big hearts, and tons of talent. Small, rural churches don’t have it easy, and it was fun watching the kids attract crowds at churches, and seeing the interaction between the kids and the older folks in the congregations.
On graduation Sunday at the church, I told the kids: “I plan to keep in touch. If your prospective spouse thinks that’s weird, then marry someone else.” We’ve kept in touch, but I need to do a better job. My goal is to contact them every once in a while just to let them know that someone thinks, actually is pretty sure, that they’re terrific. And not much is going to change that.

Random Tuesday

Tori was born an old soul. Even as a child, she was mature beyond her years. This made her a delight to raise, and traditionally difficult periods, such as junior high, much easier.
Tori has a deep faith, a love of people, a love of life, and fortunately, a strong love of us.
When I was promoted to run Champion Bus, in Imlay City, MI, we moved a thousand miles away from Tori. She was a sophomore at K-State, a difficult stage of life for darn near everybody. She joined and was a leader in her sorority, but was not a partier. She and sunshine would hang out together while others were out. She and Jake spent a lot of time together. She did great in school, and was on the campus judiciary board. She was not under-confidant.
One of her high school friends, Jeff Mortimer, had worked for months long-snapping a football at a target in the Minneapolis gym, with hopes of becoming a walk-on for nationally ranked Kansas State and legendary coach Bill Snyder. The big day came, and Jeff and his dad Scott were driving to his tryout in Manhattan. Tori calls Jeff on his cell. “Jeff, while you’re there, ask Coach Snyder if Randi and I can be managers.” Jeff said, “Tori, I don’t know if it works that way – he’s a pretty busy guy and if I get to meet him I’m sure it will only be for a few minutes…” Tori said, “Put your dad on the phone.” “Okay.” “Scott, this is Tori. While you’re there, ask Coach Snyder if Randi and I can be managers.” “Okay, Tori.” Tori became a manager for the K-State football team.
While we were in Michigan, all of us made effort to make sure we saw each other often. Our goal was every other month at a minimum. When Tori and her friends got an apartment, Jayme and I got an extra room and a bed. I don’t think we ever missed a Thanksgiving or a few summer weekends at the lake with Grandma and Grandpa. Christmas was usually in Michigan, frequently the week after Christmas. If there was a will, there was a way.
In the song I wrote for Tori’s wedding, I stole a line from Glen Frey: “Though the miles may separate us, deep inside I think you see, that I’m always part of you, and you’re always part of me. For the love that I had for you as I knelt beside your bed, will be upon you always, no matter where you lay your head.”
After their wedding, Tori and Jake lived in an apartment near I-35 and 75th in KC, and we got to visit them there. Not too long after that, they had James and we had a whole another reason to visit frequently. Tori also did a great job of keeping in touch by phone. One night, she called and was having a tough day. She mentioned that she really missed us, and if we lived there we could see each other more often, and drop by on a “random Tuesday.” On one hand, it was such a compliment to have our daughter, this amazing young person, want to spend time with us. On the other hand, it tore our heart out.
Fast forward a few years, and we’re in KC, making up for 10 years of lost time at a high rate of speed. The kids may have 15 games in a week and we may miss one of them, or none. Church on Sundays. An occasional cookout or weekend at the lake.
Or we just stop by. If it’s on a random Tuesday, we always take the time to acknowledge that and be thankful for the opportunity to enjoy each other and this terrific group of kids.