I’ll Never Forget It

I’m sitting here in my big, manly, comfortable black leather poppa chair in my living room, with visions of sugar plums dancing around in my head. Santa Claus came a little early this year in the form of lots of new Christmas stories from you, and a terrific review from Kirkus Review for my new book, Staying Happy, Healthy and Hot. Lots of your Christmas stories will be going up right here on this blog. And as far as Staying Happy, Healthy and Hot is concerned, Kirkus is the big, bad, bully of the book world. If they smack a book, it’s usually a knock out punch. But they liked it So we’re off to a good start.

I’m really charged up about “Staying Happy, Healthy and Hot.” It’s about taking advantage of your “been there done that” wisdom, instead of just thinking of it as excess baggage that’s sucking your energy, and dragging your life down. That’s what a buddy of mine was doing. He was letting his physical and emotional aches and pains change him from a motorcycle riding, second base softball playing, sexy guy into just a chunk of luke warm meat. He was sliding over to the dork side, and I wanted to help him stop the slide.

So I invented the Louie Louie Generation, and I tormented him into becoming a member. I call it the Louie Louie generation because Louie Louie is a song full of energy, good memories and high hopes. It’s beginning to work for my friend. Remember, happiness is a hypnosis that turns you into almost anything you want to be.

Staying Happy, Healthy and Hot isn’t some expert advice about how you should change your life. It’s a collection of 54 true stories about my life that got the best response when they appeared here on these blogs. I like watching for something wonderful to happen…and it usually does for me. Not always, but usually. Staying Happy, Healthy and Hot isn’t about looking at life through rose colored glasses. These are bi-focals I’m wearing these days. But they still get pretty steamed up about some things, good and bad. And sometimes they get a little teared up, because there’s lots of time going by, and I know I’m watching the Summer sunshine of our lives turn into Autumn gold. 

You and I both know that my buddy has lots of company. You’ve seen plenty of people like that. Folks who give up life’s goodies because they don’t have the fancy abs or perky breasts you see on the TV beer commercials any more. They are the, “Drab and dreary drones.” They should know better, because they’ve been around. But now they just keep going around, and around, and around. They slouch through life drenched in TV, slogging through soggy relationships, and settling for dimmed down dreams.

Louie Louie Lads and Ladies aren’t going to let that happen. We figure getting old is just an old fashioned idea. Let the Drab and Dreary Drones act like Senior Citizens. We’re more like Classy Classics. We make it a point to remember that you can never tell when something wonderful is going to happen to you. We take time to look up at the sky to enjoy a great sunset, not just to check on whether a safe is about to fall on our heads. That doesn’t mean we look up at the sky so much that we walk into lamp posts. We know where we’re going, and we know how to get there. And the “something wonderful” doesn’t have to be winning the lottery. It can mean getting nothing but green lights on the way to work, or hanging around into the early hours of the morning with some friends…sharing some memories…some dreams…and enough bad jokes to keep us laughing so hard we start to cry…which makes us laugh again…or watching a face you love smiling on the pillow right next to you in the first light of dawn.

Every generation has a leader. Ours is Big Louie, his own bad self. Big Louie is the guy who always says stuff. Like, “If you have any moving parts left, for cryin’ out loud move ‘em” That’s a line the Kirkus people liked a lot.

Louie Louie folks are mostly invisible to the Pimple People, because the Pimple People are usually busy texting, driving nails through their tongues or other sensitive places, or looking in the mirror to see how kool they look wearing their baseball hats sideways. That’s kool with a “K”. There’s a story in Staying Happy, Healthy and Hot  about why I prefer hot with an “H”.

Dick’s Details Quiz. (All answers are in the current podcast.)

  1. What was President Eisenhower’s real name ?
  2. Why did the ancient Greeks rub half a lemon on their arms ?
  3. What highly personal secret weapon did Lincoln have to get Congress to cooperate ?

Dick’s Details. They take your mind off your mind.

I love Christmas stories. Please send yours to Dick@dicksummer.com then watch for it right here on the blog.

My friend Len Segal remembers one Christmas Eve when I was on the air in Boston. He says, “You asked listeners to write to you with their personal thoughts about what Christmas means to them. You were struck by how much your listeners opened up their hearts and souls in those letters. And since you were doing the Christmas Eve broadcast from the remote studio on the Common (Boston Common is a park in the middle of Boston), you decided to read the letters outside the studio with the people who had come to see the broadcast. You and I scouted the area for a suitable burn barrel, which we needed because when we went outside with the letters we were going to ask everyone to gather in a circle holding hands as you read the letters one by one…then you were going to throw the letters into the fire. That’s all I remember. By the way, I’m Jewish, but I spent many a Christmas Day with my Christian friends. It’s a spirit of good will that makes Christmas.” Right, Len. And Santa says, “Happy Hanukkah to you.”

Here’s a little more to the story, although I’m not going to swear everything I remember is accurate after all this time. The broadcast was 8 pm to midnight. I planned on reading the letters…and burning them…at around 11:45. I mentioned what I was going to do on the air, and I invited people to “drop in.” By 9 pm there were quite a few folks there. By 10, there were several hundred people there. By 11, there was a traffic jam on Charles Street (the street right by the park.)

Remember, this was a spur of the moment thing. I didn’t have permission from anybody, including the radio station or the police department to do it. By 11:30, it looked like we had at least a thousand people standing around the broadcast trailer, and the cops had sent extra troops out trying to untangle the traffic. I figured I was in TROUBLE. But one of the cops came over, saw what was going on, smiled, and just wished me a Merry Christmas.

Then some of the musicians from the Unicorn Coffee House showed up. As I recall, Tom Rush was there, and I think Jose Feliciano, Jaime Brockett, and Mitch Kertzman. At 11:45, I went outside and started reading the letters, and burning them as I went. I consider burning them to be a sign of respect. As if on cue, it started to snow….softly. And just before midnight…a little off key…we all sang Silent Night.

If you’ve ever heard 1,000 people singing Silent Night…standing close enough together to keep warm…by a Christmas Eve bonfire in the snow, you will never forget it. If you were there, thank you. It was a long, long time ago. But I will never forget it. Never.



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