Vegas revived Elvis (and Liberace helped, too)

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Happy Birthday Elvis! He would have been 85 today as you read in the above proclamation.

Very early in his career Elvis went to Vegas…and flopped.

Of all people, Elvis got advice from…

While those 1956 Vegas performances were taking place Elvis cemented his blockbuster fame. And remember when a certain movie with a certain co-star came out?

The password is “CHEMISTRY” –  the complex emotional or psychological interaction between two people.

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And then as the 60’s turned into the 70’s, Elvis owned Las Vegas. As my mother once said, “He could sing so pretty.”

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I am Superman

When I was a kid I read all kinds of books, including comics. You name it.

Superman. Batman. The Justice League of America. The Legion of Super-Heroes. The Flash. The Green Lantern. Captain America. The Fantastic Four. Spider-Man. The Hulk. Iron Man. Thor.

With coins in hand I’d hop on my Raleigh bicycle and head to the local stores I knew carried each week’s new comic magazines. I was well aware of the days and times the comics would hit the stands.

Newest editions not out yet? Slightly discouraged I’d just ride my bike to the next closest shop.

I’m trying to imagine the reaction I might have had in those days of my youth had I experienced what happened on Wednesday of this week. Undoubtedly I would have been in utter disbelief, that this possibly must be some sort of joke or trick.

Take a good look at this cover from 1960.

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Terrific tease. All the comic covers were tremendous in luring customers like me. I’ve just got to read that one. And that’s how I decided whether to make a purchase other than the set of comics I’d purchase every week no matter what.

We all know Superman wiggled out of the mess in the above story. How could he fight crime and protect his good friends if people knew his true identity?

The late Jim Croce was absolutely correct when he sang “You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger.” You just don’t.

Remember the “Batman” TV series in the 60’s? Try as they might, those villainous fiends failed time after time to unmask the Caped Crusader.

But in 1992, things changed.

How could he do that?

Wasn’t there some unwritten rule for decades I thought was never to be violated?

Ten years later Jennifer and I were in a theater thoroughly enjoying “Spider-Man” with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. But one scene was bothersome and really bugged the boyish bike-riding comic pursuer in me.

Mary Jane Watson (Dunst), the love interest of Peter Parker (Spider-Man) was trapped in a dark alley during a rainstorm by a gang. Suddenly Spider-Man appears, clearly sans mask, and proceeds to mop up the street with the thugs.

Realizing his face is uncovered our hero darts away but is back in an instant, hanging upside down to check on the young lady.

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She tenderly pulls his cowl down, and plants a kiss that some critics have called one of the best film smooches ever.

I nudged Jennifer and told her how much I didn’t like it. Kirsten Dunst or no Kirsten Dunst, the real Spider-Man would never let someone touch his mask and almost pull it off.

This week Superman #18 was released.

Art and cover by: IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO

DC offered this description:

With Superman’s family scattered across the galaxy, our hero must confront some of his greatest concerns about himself and his place in the galaxy. Legendary artist Ivan Reis joins writer Brian Michael Bendis as they introduce the biggest change in the Man of Steel’s life ever!

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In the comic Superman holds a press conference.

“For a long time, I’ve kept this big part of myself a secret, and there were good reasons. But all the while, I’m trying to empower others towards truth and justice. My life as Clark Kent is something I’m deeply proud of. And keeping it a secret – today, that feels false, almost dishonest, so no more.”

Critics who like the revelation believe it will lead to numerous new plots and storylines.


Maybe that’s how I would have reacted back in 1960-something as I slowly, sadly trudged out of the drugstore to my bike.

Superman’s identity known to the entire world, even the bad guys? And he did the reveal himself? What’s the point?

No they don’t make ’em like they used to.

80 years ago today, yes 80, this was recorded for the very first time

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Many of our departed relatives and friends served in WWII. Glenn Miller, a true American hero, gave them, their loved ones and families great comfort.

August 1, 1939.

This is arguably the best big band tune ever.

And this 2014 video is one of the best live recordings of that famous hit.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra gets down!

Hey Mom and Dad, are you listening? Dancing?

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Get Down

Take any average hit record from the past. You know that part in the middle of a song placed between a few verses that often is an instrumental? What’s that called?

You know what I’m talking about. But here’s an example. Chris Montez scored a top five hit with the following song in 1962. We join in progress before that part I’ve described.

Montez has just completed these lyrics:

Hey baby won’t you take a chance?
Say that you’ll let me have this dance
Well, let’s dance, well, let’s dance
We’ll do the twist, the stomp, the mashed potato too
Any old dance that you wanna do
But let’s dance, well let’s dance

Hey, baby, yeah, you thrill me so
Hold me tight, don’t you let me go
But let’s dance, well let’s dance
We’ll do the twist, the stomp, the mashed potato too
Any old dance that you wanna do
But let’s dance, well let’s dance

And to the clever video we go.

Cool organ, right?

Then Montez jumped right back in for the finish that is usually called the OUTRO.

It’s not difficult to figure out there are a few parts to every song.

There’s the INTRO,  the first few measures, usually instrumental.

Think “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” by the Temptations. An unusually lengthy intro, this one had a distinctive bassline plus electric piano, guitar and strings.

You know. It led to the opening lyric. “It was the third of September.”

That’s the INTRO.

Next comes the VERSE, which directly follows after the intro and repeats with different lyrics 1-3 times throughout the song. You got the example above with “Let’s Dance.”

Then in the Montez example you’ve got the organ solo.


The solo.  The spot where the singer stops singing and, depending on the type of solo, the band may or may not stop playing while an instrument takes the “spotlight.”

As one musician described on social media, “It’s not that it is important for the singer or the audience, but it is something very iconic to rock music. It is a time when the other musicians show some of their skills, and also so they can get some of the attention too. More often than not, lead singers are the ones who get most of the popularity and are associated with the band’s name.”

The solo.

How does that relate to this week’s oldie?

Festa Italiana Logo

Festa opened today on Milwaukee’s fabulous lakefront.

On Saturday…

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K.C. and the Sunshine Band perform at 9:00 pm on the Harley Davidson stage.

From the group’s Facebook page:

Whose music has been featured at EVERY major sporting event in the world including the Super Bowl, World Series, Conference Championships, The NBA, Collegiate Bowl Games National Championship Games, the NASCAR racing circuit and championships, The World Cup, The Indianapolis 500, The Kentucky Derby, EVERY Holiday Parade include the famous Macys Thanksgiving Day parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade, Political Party Conventions, Presidential Campaigns, and nearly EVERY wedding, confirmation, and bar mitzvah in the world?

Whose music has been featured on more than 200 motion picture film soundtracks?

He has been called the “Founder of the Dance Revolution.”

He is Harry Wayne Casey, better known as the founder and leader of KC and The Sunshine Band.

Here’s their second album.

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KC & THE SUNSHINE BAND was released in 1975. My goodness. It went triple platinum and had four #1 hits. The band  became the first act to score four #1 pop singles in one 12-month period since the Beatles in 1964.

One of the hits from that album was “Get Down Tonight.”

The single that got all the radio play across America was not the album track. It was an extremely shortened version, heavily edited and butchered. That whole middle section was chopped to pieces.

The actual solo? A few seconds.

Many radio listeners never got to hear “the solo” until they bought the album. And they really missed out.

Enjoy. The solo will be quite evident.

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Back in the 20-hundreds I worked security backstage at the Main Stage at the WI State Fair. I got hooked into moonlighting when I had press credentials, and some of the backstage people whom I had known for a long, long time asked if I would put on a bright yellow Security shirt and give them a hand.

That’s when I met KC. We spoke briefly about his concert at the Republican National Convention (Yes, Casey Finch, better known as KC, is a staunch Republican). Here’s a photo from his Facebook page.

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My job for KC’s State Fair show was all about the steps leading up to the stage, and helping KC’s dancers in big boots make it safely on and off the stage.

One of them who needed and accepted my help that night was Maria De Crescenzo, pictured below at the far right.

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My goodness how I hated working that night. 🙂

KC spoke this week with John Mercure of WTMJ Radio.



My late mother’s birthday is Saturday.

Here ‘s a Billboard magazine from September of 1946.

If you look on charts listed on pages 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, a certain record by Eddie Howard was very popular at the time.

Mom was the sort of person who never bragged or tried to one up anyone or steal the show. But she loved telling this story.

It had to be the mid to late 1940’s. Mom was working at Omar’s Bakery on Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee.

Suddenly one day, a male figure stood at the front window and waved enthusiastically to Mom and the other gals working. The gentleman was unmistakable.

He was in town appearing at the Riverside. Mom and the others shrieked or screamed or giggled or all of the aforementioned. I think Mom said some cried.

Eddy Howard never stopped inside to buy a cruller or long john. Just as well. He would have received lousy service. All of the women would have passed out.

Mom enjoyed telling that story, though she never wanted any attention directed her way. Whenever she heard “To Each His Own,” Mom seemed to wander off into another land.




Not one, not two, not three, but 4 times

On this date, June 8, 58 years ago, the Milwaukee Braves made baseball history. I blogged about it in 2010:

One of my fondest recollections that I’ve had the privilege to share on my blog and on WTMJ and WISN is how, as a kid, my dad would sneak me into Braves and Brewers games when he worked as an usher at the old Milwaukee County Stadium.

When discussing the Braves, one has to remember that the team had an almost Packer-like grip on the city that savored a love affair with a ball club never seen before. That’s why their departure to Atlanta was so devastating.

I recall my Uncle Harry, my mother’s brother buying an album for my brother, Greg:


The album was ahead of its time, a documentary chronicling the team’s success and popularity from the minute it left Boston. Braves announcers, the beloved Earl Gillespie and Blaine Walsh were the narrators on the recording that featured a ton of play-by-play clips.

One of the memorable portions was a day the Braves made baseball history.

JUNE 8, 1961.

The Braves were on the road facing the Reds in Cincinnati at Crosley Field. Hard to believe, but Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn was getting battered 10-2 when the Braves stepped to the plate in the top of the 7th inning.

Slugger Eddie Matthews slammed a home run. Next up was Hank Aaron. He, too, hit one out. So did Joe Adcock. And then Frank Thomas.

Four batters. Four consecutive homers. It had never been done before in major league history.

If you listen to GO GET ‘EM BRAVES, with the Braves playing away, the silence is deafening as each blast is hit out of Crosley Field (The Braves still lost 10-8).

(Several) more times the record was tied after the Braves sterling performance, and then last night at Miller Park, the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks were in town to face a Brewer squad that desperately needs pitching. However, its management decided to make zero moves prior to the trading deadline, ensuring the team will not make the playoffs.

The Diamondbacks teed off on Brewer pitcher Dave Bush, and how.

The D-Backs made franchise history Wednesday night with four straight home runs against the Brewers. Clockwise from top left: Miguel Montero, Mark Reynolds, Stephen Drew, and Adam LaRoche.

Adam LaRoche, Miguel Montero, Mark Reynolds and Stephen Drew all hit solo homers with one out off Brewers right-hander Dave Bush.

It just doesn’t seem right. Adam LaRoche, Miguel Montero, Mark Reynolds, and Stephen Drew being mentioned in the same breath as Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock, and Frank Thomas. But they made us reminisce once again about those great Braves teams and the huge emotional attachment they had with our city.

A young Henry Aaron. Earl Gillespie on the radio. The tepee in the bleachers. Our last World Series title. Sneaking under the turnstiles and roaming through the stadium. Getting autographs.
—-Kevin Fischer, This Just In, August 12, 2010.

Only 5,100 fans were in the stands that day in Cincinnati. It was a Thursday afternoon game. Joe Torre eventually grounded out to end the string of homers.  Eddie Mathews hit another round tripper in the eighth inning, but the Reds held on to win the game, 10-8.

Unfortunately the link to the audio of the GO GET ‘EM BRAVES album with the four consecitve home runs is not available online.

Do you remember Julie Adams?

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Universal Studios Hollywood (pictured above).

With thrilling theme park rides and shows, a real working movie studio and Los Angeles’ best shops, restaurants and cinemas at CityWalk, Universal Studios Hollywood is a unique experience that’s fun for the whole family.

And the same holds true for the Orlando attraction.

The locations are extremely popular tourist destinations but wouldn’t be if the studios had not been saved by…

The Universal Monsters. You know them well.

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Hard to believe that Universal was struggling decades ago in the 1920’s right on through to the1950’s. The Studios needed a life raft. It came from one after another famous and popular monsters including all of the above, and this one…

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“The Creature of the Black Lagoon” wasn’t Universal’s  most significant monster, but when it  appeared the popular “monster” run was about to be over, along came this nautical abnormality.

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In the 1954 film a strange prehistoric beast lurks in the depths of the Amazonian jungle. A group of scientists try to capture the animal and bring it back to civilization for study.

And he takes a liking to our heroine.

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That would be the lovely and yummy Julie Adams.

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

“I thought, ‘The creature from what? What is this?” Adams said in a 2013 interview. “Because I had been working with some major stars and so on. But I read it and said, ‘If I turn it down, I won’t get paid and I’ll be on suspension.’ And then I thought, ‘What the hay! It might be fun.’ And of course, indeed it was. It was a great pleasure to do the picture. I think the best thing about the picture is that we do feel for the creature. We feel for him and his predicament.”

Adams died last Sunday at the age of 92. 92.

In 1965 Adams starred with Elvis in “Tickle Me,” not Elvis’s best, but if you’re an Elvis fan, you loved it.

Adams played Elvis’ boss at a dude ranch where women who were in great shape were trying to get into shape.

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From the movie, Elvis sings “I Feel That I’ve Known You Forever,” to an angry Pam (Jocelyn Lane), who wants nothing to do with him after have just witnessed him kissing another woman. That other woman was Julie Adams.

Lane is an interesting story. From

Jocelyn Lane is one of the most stunningly beautiful, and overlooked, actresses to grace the screen.  Jocelyn had established herself as a popular model and cover girl by the time she was 18, using the stage name Jackie Lane. During this period she kept extremely busy as a cover girl, appearing on hundreds of magazine covers around the world. Jackie moved to Hollywood in the mid-1960s, and began using her birth name.. Although Jocelyn feigned a convincing American accent, her aloof, haughty screen persona did not endear her to US audiences, despite several showy leading roles in popular B-films. She retired from the screen in the early 1970s, ultimately marrying Spanish royalty.

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Anorexia Nervosa

It was the morning of February 5, 1983.

I was the News Director at WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio, and the local host for local segments during the station’s broadcast of National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.”

The time was close to around 8:55 a.m. We were airing the final national segment of the morning news magazine from NPR. At 8:59 I would take to the air and chat with classical music host Obie Yadgar to promote his upcoming program.

We were instructed by WUWM General Manager Dave Edwards to talk about what Obie was going to play that day and how he would open his program.

There was a problem.

The first day we were supposed to perform this live on-air segue I spoke with Obie off the air. I inquired as to his play list for that day’s broadcast and mentioned our directive from the boss.

Obie was incredulous.

Couldn’t do it.


That’s not the way Oboe programmed his show.

Sure, he could tell me what classical composition he would lead off with. From then on it was all spontaneous. Obie would choose based on what he felt.


So what do we talk about for two minutes before I rejoin the NPR network for the 9:01 news?

Not exactly brain surgery.

We decided to wing it.

We would talk about whatever we wanted to. It was unplanned, unscripted.

Sometimes we discussed the previous NPR segment, the final one of the hour that often was arts oriented. Or we’d talk about music/movies/etc. in the news.

One morning Obie said I smelled like a “french floozy” because of my after shave, inspired by a new flame in my life.

Here’s the deal. 99% of the time we never promoted Obie’s program until the final few seconds of what became referred to as our “shtick.”

The boss was never totally enamored with the “shtick” but Obie and I got calls and letters with a common theme: Listeners stayed in their cars, they took their radios out to the garden or wherever, just so they wouldn’t miss the “shtick.”

So we kept doing it. And that’s a future blog. God we had fun. Two friends sharing good, honest, clean fun conversation in a matter of minutes.

Keep in mind, during more than one of these “shticks” Obie would take the opportunity, out of the blue, to remind me, who led the conversation, that he was from Assyria, to which he  always added:

“Emphasis on the ass.”

The guy was a classical music host. That’s why I couldn’t refrain from laughing.

It was the morning of February 5, 1983.

The time was close to around 8:55 a.m.

It’s 1983.

There was no cable TV. Internet. Social media.

I wandered over to our AP wire machine, a toilet roll paper,  only longer, on a teletype.

I glanced down to see a bulletin from California.

Karen Carpenter, 32,  who with her brother, Richard, recorded some of the biggest hits of the 1970s, died the day before after collapsing at her parents’ home. She died at Downey Community Hospital, 25 minutes after being brought in by paramedics. The singer suffered from anorexia nervosa, a disorder caused by compulsive dieting. At the it was not known whether the anorexia contributed to her death, but the 5-foot-4 woman weighed 108 pounds.

Moments later Obie walked into the newsroom where the morning drive on-air studio as located and I informed him what just came over the wire and that we’ had to talk about it.

On the air I was stunned, saddened. As for Obie, let’s just say he wasn’t a fan.

We politely discussed and politely disagreed for maybe the only time during a “shtick.” I thought it made for pretty good radio.

So this past Monday marked the 36th anniversary of the death of Karen Carpenter. The Lord decided to take a voice of the angels. So many forgotten, I hope not, oldies.

There are few high-quality live videos of the Carpenters. This is one of them, from the BBC…



Richard Carpenter has made a new album of Carpenters classics at London’s prestigious Abbey Road Studios. He teamed up with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for a new album, that was released back in December. The album features his late sister Karen Carpenter’s iconic vocals placed on top of brand new orchestral arrangements.

Enjoy a track from the album.

Goodnight everyone, and have a whirl and twirl and tango weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

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Daryl Dragon, the “Captain” half of the popular recording duo the Captain and Tennille, died last week of renal failure at the age of 76. The group’s string of huge hits in the 70’s began with “Love Will Keep Us Together.” Ironically the two divorced in 2014. “I can say without exaggeration that he showed no physical affection for me during our very long marriage,” said Toni Tennille.

Dragon came from a musical family. His father, Carmen, was a composer and conductor, and his mother, Eloise Dragon, was a soprano who sang on radio programs. Darryl Dragon took classical piano training but preferred the boogie.

This week we’re featuring the act that had seven hits in the Top Ten, but with special emphasis on the keyboard prowess of Dragon who could play 16 electronic instruments. Pay close attention to Dragon’s major contributions. Really, it’s hard not to.

Let’s get started with a song composed by Tennille as she was falling in love with the ultra-introverted Dragon. It got airplay on a local Los Angeles radio station a few years before they truly hit stardom with “Love Will Keep Us Together.”

“I wrote it for Daryl,” said Tennille, “but he was such a dodo. He even fixed me up with his best friend.”

It reached #4 in 1975, the same year the pair married.

This was recorded for the late night TV program “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.”

“After our first hit,” Tennille said, “everyone thought, ‘Aren’t they nice—so young and fresh.’ But we were 30 years old. We had to grow up.”

The couple’s songs became, as Tennille told Dick Clark during an interview on the “American Bandstand” TV show, “more sensual.”

Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka wrote their first hit that went gold and won a Grammy Award. They wrote this one, too, that made the Top Ten in 1978.

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In October 2011 Rolling Stone magazine asked its readers to name the worst songs of the 1970’s. This next selection came in at #5 (Disco Duck was ranked #1).

Faculty members in the Music Department at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota said. “This offensive ballad chronicles the romance between two anthropomorphic bacon-eating muskrats.”

In a 2001 interview Tennille said, “I don’t know why people are so polarized about this tune. People either love it, or they loathe it.”

Like Liberace used to say the Captain and Tennille were laughing all the way to the bank as the recording hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1976.  Tennille shares an interesting story and the Captain whimsically matches up his wizardry to the cute (or dreadful depending on your taste) lyrics, even using a xylophone.

At the White House

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“We had two great hits, ‘Love Will Keep us Together’ and ‘The Way I Want to Touch You,’’ Tennille said in 2016. “I thought, ‘I probably can’t do ‘The Way I Want to Touch You.’ It might be a little too intimate for the White House.’ But then Mrs. Ford came in and said, ‘Are you going to do ‘The Way I Want to Touch You?’

“I said, ‘We weren’t planning to.’ She said, ‘Oh you must! It’s Gerry and my favorite song.’ I went, ‘Okay, we’ll do that.’ Then I said to Daryl, ‘We really should do ‘Muskrat Love,’ too.’ It was a huge hit and I thought everyone would get a kick out of it. I thought they seemed like a fun group!”

Tennille and Dragon would often run into the former President and First Lady in California.

“Mrs. Ford would say, ‘Gerry you remember Toni and Daryl! They performed at the White House.’ And the President said, ‘Yes, you did the song about the mice.’ We said, ‘Mr. President, it was muskrats!’”

On some of their albums, the Captain would do an instrumental. This one is no muskrat melody.

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That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We close with a pretty standard that Johnny Mercer wrote the music and lyrics to in 1944. It’s dreamy alright with a positive message. Don’t miss Dragon when the lovely Tennille sings “smoke rings rise in the air.”

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I didn’t care for New Year’s Eve TV years ago, but I sure miss it now

I have definite memories of December 31 as a youngster.

The tree of course was lit and Dad post-dinner was spread out on the couch. Mom knew the drill. As the night got later, first came a Dad favorite, Ma Baensch’s premium marinated herring fillets.

That was followed by raw beef and onions and rye bread. Mom was a saint.

At 10:00, guess what? The 10:00 news silly. After the news it was to CBS and live coverage of Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadiens. I would retreat to my bedroom and watch Dick Clark.

But observe Guy Lombardo and this tribute video many years after Lombardo died. You decide. Corny. Outdated. Silly. Too old fashioned.

Or a great time we miss. Classy. Elegant. Mom and Dad somehow found a way to stay awake.

Today, I love and miss the Johnson Rag.