Saturday, September 26, 2009

My College Days at Age 76

College can be a bit stressful and it takes some dedication to keep up. Learning can be a task that requires setting goals and achievement. I have always thought Learning was quite a science. In my Army days (1942/1945) I served as S-3 Sgt for a time and that required preparing lesson plans and teaching recruits, so I learned to RESPECT the LEARNING PROCESS. It included the Utarie (sic) Window. The definition being in the learning process, involved Factor A: What I already know, and Factor B: the information being taught to me. Imagine two concentric circles, A and B. The amount of input information I hear being taught, that I can RELATE to something I already know, is the most absorbed by my learning process. Thus, it requires REPETITION. In other words, imagine the two circles OVER-LAPPING with increased knowledge.
My career job was as an accountant for 54 years for a meat packing company. It was a "hands-on" learning process with our auditors being my tutors. I worked my way up from file clerk to Corporate Controller. Product Cost Accounting was really fascinating. With Fixed and Variable Costs. Talk about something being METHODICAL, it was a prime example. After 54 years working at the same plant, under three different merging owners, my retirement came as a result of downsizing by our Corporate office. In 1989 our Government passed a law that afforded RE-TRAINING benefits for DOWNSIZED Job terminations. Since I had never atttended College, the Government paid me $110 a week and paid my costs (books included) to attend college for re-training. The stipulation was that I must work at least 90 days in a job after my schooling. Which I did when I became an accountant with a cattle feed yard company.
Among the subjects I took in college were English, vocabulary and reading improvement, which included Computer Lab with exercises in comprehension, observation, retention, etal., to show you how scientific LEARNING has become with the use of computers. With those LAB exercises, we were scored, and we did them over and over until our score was 85% or better before we went on to the next exercise. Classroom schedules were Forenoon, and we had all afternoon to work on our LAB exercises. Thus, Ernie put in some HOURS, attaining my 85% or better scores. We also had three to five hours of home work, and a lot of reading. I was age 76 at the time (I'm now 88) and I'm proud of myself for going to college!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reminiscing About the Radio Days

A pen-pal of mine, Janet McBride, suggested that I might throw a lasso of memories your way concerning the heyday of Hillbilly Music. I am 88 years old and was a "wanna be" part of that era in the 1930s and 1940s. I was raised in central Kansas so I was in the heart of some of the action.

Iowa was ruled by Jerry Smith of radio stations KMA and KFNF in Shenandoah and later WHO in Des Moines. It was Jerry who sold me my first mail order guitar for $8.75. Then of course, the power house was BORDER RADIO. I was determined to leave a mark in that realm of music by taking the handle of "THE SUNFLOWER WRANGLER". My idols were Wilf Carter (Montana Slim), Nolan Rinehart (Cowboy Slim), Dallas Turner (Nevada Slim), and of course Al Clauser (Oklahoma Outlaws), Tex Owens of The Texas Rangers of KMBC in Kansas City, Missouri, Texas Ruby, Curly Fox, Hank Thompson in Waco, Texas (when he was just home from the Navy), the WIBW Dinner Bell gang, Red Foley, Ozark Jubilee; the list goes on.

My short contribution was on our Great Bend, Kansas station KVGB, with Harry Wright of the Texas Border days. Our exposure came through Medicine Shows, Grand Opening appearances and I was a brief member of Cal and Alta Lee Shrum's band, as they toured with their B-Western Movies presenting an 'IN PERSON stage show' following the movie.

In Iowa radio they had Robert Taylor and Ronald Reagan at the time. Did you ever hear Ron Reagan give the chatter of a baseball game? When they had "technical problems", as they called them when transmission was interrupted, Ronald filled the space with a continuation of his rapid sports announcer/auctioneer chatter, with his explanation of the happenings on the baseball field. His commentary was stuff he just made up.

Yes sir, that was an era that shaped Country Music: LIVE Radio. My part was the early 6:30 AM Farm Hour with wired-in Commodity and Livestock Market updates out of Kansas City.

Much of live radio suffered when Mutual Broadcasting and network affiliations started to rule the roost. Also an exciting experience at the time was when ASCAP enforced their license fee, and BMI came on the scene without a license fee. Radio Stations were flooded with COMP BMI music. I am thrilled that I have this blog where I can commemorate and renew memories of that era. My thanks to Janet McBride for reminding me to write this so we can also share it with her friend Dave Sichak.