After Pike High School, Indianapolis, I really didn’t know what to do with myself. Mom and dad talked to my Dad’s sister, Agnes, up in Flint, Michigan, who was a professor at a local college. Between the three of them, they hatched this master plan. They decided I had a good shot at a career in show business. So, it was off to New York City. In New York, I studied acting, radio, and television, movement and mime at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After AADA I performed in a few off-Broadway plays, nothing fancy mind you. However, the Viet Nam war was in full swing and back then we young men carried a little card in our wallet to let us know we were ripe for military service. It was called the draft.
One afternoon I was pulled aside by a man in a very dark theater after another unsuccessful audition. He told me he would love to put me in the show, except he was worried he would have to replace me if I was drafted. It was just too costly for them to hire me and then replace me if I had to leave for military service. “Why don’t you go get your military out of the way and come back?”
It was obvious to me, I was stuck. I had to place my acting career on hold and put my military obligation on the front burner and get the military out of my way. I enlisted in the United States Air Force. I was stationed at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida for three years and my last duty station was Galena Air Force Station, Alaska, remote.
After three years of college and four years of military service, I returned to Indianapolis. For the first time in my life, I started looking for a real job. Indianapolis has a radio station at that time that was the talk of the town. It was hot. It is called WIFE-AM. I walked in the door and applied for an on air position. I was offered a job in the sales department. I wanted to be on the air. I wanted to be a jock. So, after a few months of radio sales experience with WIFE, I moved to WCBK-FM in Greenfield and fulfilled what I thought was my ultimate dream.
I reluctantly decided to enter the world of business and finance… so I could eat, afford a car, rent an apartment. I realized after a year, or so, my on air radio career was not going to pay the bills for this young disk jockey who was now married and had responsibilities. Goodbye show business, hello to the dull and boring world of business. My first real job, as my parents like to call it, was with an Indianapolis mortgage company, Colonial Mortgage Company. Then on to the national stage with Continental Mortgage Insurance Company out of Madison, Wisconsin. As I worked my day job I was always looking over my shoulder at radio or local theater. But it simply was not to be. Follow the money as they say! I continued to look for other ways to express my creative side.
In 1990 I was encouraged to photograph a wedding for pay. I had been photographing weddings, but only as a hobby and was giving the prints as wedding gifts. I had my own dark room and made my own black and white prints. I would be invited to weddings and I photographed, developed and printed my work and giving photographs as presents. A year or so later I walked into a home and noticed my black and white photographs on the mantle of their fireplace and on their walls. I was humbled by the experience. Little did I realize the creative side of photography would start a business for me and continues to be a part of my life to this day. Today I currently have my own Studio and my son, Scott, and I photograph weddings, pets, shoot portraiture and social events.
I found myself divorced for the second time. I decided to do something really crazy, something completely different from banking, mortgages, and finance. I’m sure we have all said to ourselves at some point, “There’s got to be something else in this world I can do.” I decided to join the circus. I answered an ad in the newspaper to become a public speaker. As it turned out, the company was a weight loss company and their ‘stick’ was to hypnotize people to lose weight. I can still remember sitting in a fast food restaurant talking with the owner of the company out of New Jersey. He told me his company places ads in small town newspapers inviting the general public to attend weight loss seminars to lose weight. Each person pays fifty bucks to attend the seminar and we hypnotize them to lose weight. My area of responsibility covered 9 states, including Indiana. My next question was, “Who will I be working with?” The owner wanted to know, “What do you mean who will you be working with?” I was astonished to learn I was being hired as a public speaker and I was also being hired as the hypnotist. Yes, for over a year and a half I was speaking five nights a week in a hotel ball room full of mostly over-weight women, listening to, and hanging onto, my every word. And yes, I turned the lights down low, hypnotizing a room of between 50-100 people. I know what you are thinking, “Did it really work?”
My life was turned upside down in 2003 and pushed in a new direction when mom (Lucy) passed and dad was left to fend for himself. This was a tough time for Dad. His friends were calling and wanting to know how he was getting along. I was spending a lot of time on the phone talking to people who I didn’t really know, including those from the Lions Club, his church, past employers and the like, who wanted general information on how Dad was doing. The calls picked up again when dad got very sick and was hospitalized for several months. I asked the folks calling if they would give me their e-mail address and I told them I would send out a “Blast email” in order to let everyone know what was going on with dad. That way, I wouldn’t be on the phone repeating myself all day.
The e-mail list I was sending became so large that Google (I have a g-mail address) would tag me as “Spam” and lock up my computer for 24 hours to teach me a lesson, I guess. I was sending too many e-mails at one time the format of a “Blast e-mail” was simply not going to work. I looked for other formats to let people know how dad was getting along. Scott, my son, suggested I use a Blog. My first blog was setup on Blogger. Blogspot, or Blogger, is owned by Google and the blog was free. I titled the Blog, Friday Night Fish at the Lincoln Square Restaurant.
When Dad came home from mom’s funeral and wake in 2013, it happened to be a Friday night. I asked Dad if he would like something to eat. He was quick to tell me he and Lucy (Mom) always had fish on Friday night. So, I suggested that I could pull some Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks out of the freezer and heat them up in the oven.
“YOU’RE NOT USING HER OVEN, THAT’S LUCY’S OVEN!”
I was caught off guard by his attitude, he had just lost his wife and mate of 64 years and I realized I needed to be more sensitive.
“Would you like to go out to a restaurant?” He had been out all day and was in no mood to leave the house again, tonight.
“Would you like me to go out and bring something back?”
“What would you bring back?” He asked.
My mind was spinning trying to think of a place that sold fish. Fish, where would I go to get fish?
“How about Long John Silvers?”
“I can’t have Long John Silvers!”
I asked, “Why?”
“Because Lucy said it’s not good for me.”
“Well, Dad, she’s not here anymore… you want to give it a shot?”
For the next year, every Friday night Dad and I ate Long John Silvers. I started thinking I was going to need to get a quick lube change for my 3,000-mile check if I ate LJS much longer. I had enough of Long John Silvers when Dad decided, out of the blue, he wanted to leave the house and go to a restaurant and have a real fish dinner. The place he picked was called the Lincoln Square Restaurant. Lincoln Square had an American style menu, thank goodness. Every Friday at supper we headed over to the Lincoln Square Restaurant and Dad would have his usual fish dinner in remembrance of Lucy. I titled my Blog at that time, Friday Night Fish at the Lincoln Square Restaurant. I wrote stories about what he was thinking or saying. I wrote about the women and wait staff he was flirting with at the restaurant. Staff gave Dad a hard time and he loved the attention.
One afternoon I received a call from Mike Chesher, a good friend who had moved to Texas from Indianapolis. Mike told me he enjoys reading the Blog but was a little concerned about the name of the Blog.
In his best Texas draw, Mike said, “Duncan, I know you pretty well, it seems to me you might be, from time to time, embellishing on things just a little in your stories… I think a better name for the blog would be Friday Fish Tales.”
So, there you have it. No good reason to start blogging except to let people know about Dad. It has been year’s since Mom died and Dad is still firing on most cylinders. Yes, he is having a few problems with memory, but for the most part, he is doing fine. In September of 2013, Dad sold his home of 57 years and is living in a single family home in Fishers, Indiana until we can make the trip to Florida. More on that move in a later story.
My life is simply now… I drive a school bus, write and photograph. I want to move to WARM and be done with Indiana winters.
Where we will end up in Florida is any bodies guess. Florida is a big state. Lots of retired folks live in the state. Then the question I have to ask myself is… Do I live in the middle of the state in a retirement community or do I live close to water? Will the lure of southern Florida weave its magic? We will find out soon enough. So until then, join me in traveling to the Villages of South West Florida, the Villages of East coast Florida or the Villages of Central Florida.
Welcome to the Duncan Social Diary… It will be a new beginning for all of us. I look forward to the adventure. I have likened this move or this stage of our lives as “The Stemmed Glass Stage of Life.” I hope you can join us on the ride and follow the fun here on Duncan Social Diary.