Saturday, November 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Mark

Today I have come to the conclusion that the word 'elder' no longer fits me.  I am an ancient.  Why, you ask.  My son, the oldest child I gave birth to, is having a birthday today.  He will be 59 years old.  I feel like a great gap must have occurred when I wasn't paying attention.  How did this happen?  Wasn't it just yesterday that I proudly applauded my little ten year old son as he bravely stood on the stage and played his little heart out on his Selmer clarinet?

 Someplace in the intervening years he joined the Navy and was in the Special Services and I cried all the way home after leaving him at the train station heading for Boston and the plane that would take him to Great Lakes Naval Training Station.

I must tell you a funny story about my son's first night in the Navy.  Before he left home his father had given him the usual talk about how to behave and survive in the service.  Because Mark would not officially be in the Navy until after auditioning (he was joining as a  musician) he was sent by American Airlines to Chicago while the other recruits were sent in a military plane.

Mark's audition was to be the next day at Great Lakes Naval Training Station.  He arrived at O'Hare at 1:00 am in January.  If you have ever been in Chicago in January you know it's really, really cold.  There was no tour guide to meet Mark and tell him how to get to Great Lakes NTS.   Being a very bright boy man, he asked for directions.  He got on the bus as directed and when he got to the gate the guard wouldn't let him stay on the bus because he didn't have a pass and was not military.  After getting off the bus Mark told the guard why he was there.  The obliging guard made a few phone calls and was told to put Mark on the next bus and to have the driver let Mark off a building #1234 (?)   So far so good.  When the driver let Mark off, my poor son discovered that building 1234 was vacant and locked.  To keep from freezing to death Mark started walking down the road.  Did I mention that he only had a light jacket on?

Luckily for Mark a Lieutenant was returning from a late date and stopped to ask what the h---l a civilian was doing on base at that time of morning.  Mark went through his story again and the Lieutenant decided the only thing to do was to find a place for Mark to sleep.  The only vacant bed he could find was in the psycho ward.  Mark later decided that the place was appropriate.

The next day Mark had his audition and was, of course, accepted.  He started a letter to us as he waited to be processed with the next group of recruits.  The first paragraph contained these words, "It's not so bad, Dad.  I am doing just like you said and obeying orders.  Oh-oh.  Here they come (the recruits) and I'll finish this later."   The next paragraph was written after a week in boot camp.  It started out, "It's a world of s--t, if you know what I mean."  His father and I had a big laugh over that.

Mark became a professional musician and if you want to see him  you can rent that old movie, "Someone To Watch Over Me"  and you will see Mark playing the Saxophone in the orchestra.  For a few years Mark played with a Disco Band and they had a gig in Las Vegas as well as Magic Mountain.  With the West Coast Saxophone Quartet he has played in Carnegie Hall,  Japan, and other places.  This is the album cover from one of their CD.s.  Mark is on the right holding the tenor Sax.  The next photo is the Disco Band,  Organized Crime (Don't ask).  You will have to click to enlarge to see Mark standing on the left as you face the photo.



Paula said...

Hey, Happy Birthday, Mark!

Sue said...

hi Darlene, I'm here to see you from Tom's place. He highly recommends your blog for some great reading! I love your Liberal post and if you don't mind I copied the last paragraph for my sidebar with a link back to you. I loved it and I AM A PROUD LIBERAL TOO!!


One Woman's Journey said...

Darlene, enjoyed reading about your son. I smiled at - maybe you are the ancient one.
I am thinking that a lot about myself. Ancient, crone, the matriarch of my family - what am I?
Our children just keep getting older. Time is flying!!!

Mildred Garfield said...

Happy Birthday Mark

Good thing Mark was a musician in the service, What a great talent he has - Carnegie Hall and the movies - you can be proud.

I don't say I'm ancient - I say I am old-old -
No matter how we say it - we are up there!!

By the by - my son is 51. ;-)

kenju said...

Happy Birthday, Mark! The saxophone is my favorite instrument other than the piano.

Darlene, my son will be 45 his next birthday and that makes me feel ancient.

Ugich Konitari said...


NO ONE is ancient. You can be terribly senior, but it doesnt make you ancient.

I think your tough political posts, even more tough orthopaedic adventures, and your scooter :-) probably make you one tough spirited blogger , and I hope your son plays a special thing for you on his saxophone in honor of that.

Great birthday wishes to your son too.....

Darlene said...

*Paula - On behalf of Mark, thank you.
Thanks for stopping by.

*Sue - Thank you for your visit. I do hope you will stop by again. Isn't Tom's post terrific? Thank you for your kind words.

*One Woman's Journey - They do grow up so fast, don't they? First, our children and next our grandchildren.

* Mildred - Yes, ancient or old we are up there aren't we? ;-) Mark would thank you for the birthday wishes if her could read this post.

* Kenju - The sax is a mellow instrument and I love it, too. I will convey your birthday wishes to Mark.

*Ugich Konitari - Maybe I am not ancient, but I do fell like it some days. ;-). Mark would appreciate the birthday wishes.

Tabor said...

I agree with the others in that your blog does not seem ancient. It seems very vital and knowledgable and you have been such a good source of information during this health care debate. My children are in their 30's and already I am feeling old.

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Happy birthday, Mark! Interesting disco shot! Weren't the seventies a drag? Style-wise, I mean.

By the way, we all think your mom is great!

Tom Degan

Anonymous said...

Darlene--Thanks for the laughter that your son's plight evoked. No doubt this is one of the tales that he, himself, enjoys.

You reminded me of an Active Duty for Training that I served at Pensacola Naval Air Station. When I arrived, I found that I had been assigned to a men's barracks. In 1981, "they" thought that one with an aircraft mechanic's rating had to be male.

As to age: My own criteria have, for many years, been,
Youth - 0 to 30
Middle Age - 30 to 60
Old Age - 60 to 90
Ancienthood - 90 & above are still in Old Age while your son is Middle Aged.

Happy birthday to Mark, and happy day to you who bore him.
Cop Car

joared said...

What's in a name -- Ancient or just older -- either works, I think.

Enjoyed your tale about your son. Be nice if his group has some music on YouTube if he's still playing.

A jazz group I enjoy a lot recently added a sax player, making them a quintet with a female vocalist. Sax really popular with our audience.

Joy Des Jardins said...

I'm a little late..but Happy Birthday Mark. I loved reading about your son Darlene and that he was a wonderful. I so enjoy music and have always admired anyone who has a talent in that area.

Well you may call yourself ancient sweetie, but I don't think your readers see you that way. One thing I do matter how elderly you may grow to be, your words, thoughts and spirit are very young at heart...and doesn't that constitute who YOU really are? Yes, I think so. Love, Joy

Darlene said...

*Tabor - Thank you for your nice comment.

*Tom Degan's Rant - You really know how to make my day.

*Cop Car - Okay - I'll go along with your criteria. I'm not an ancient yet. Whoo Hoo!

*Jaored - Unfortunately, Phil Sobel, the Soprano Sax player and founder of the group, died and Mark didn't want to take it over. This happened some years ago and they never made a video.

*Joy des Jardins - You say such very nice things. Thank you so much.

marieDee said...

I'm so happy that I found your blog via Tom's rant! Enjoyed this post so much and appreciate the more recent post about the conundrum we face in getting too old and infirm to live independently.

Happy belated birthday to your son! I loved reading about his adventures!

Now, back to reading from your archives!

Darlene said...

*Marie Dee - Thank you so much for wandering over from THE RANT'. Tom is one of my favorite bloggers and I really love his satire.

I do hope you will stop by again.

Lydia said...

What an enjoyable post, Darlene. Mark undoubtedly had lots of interesting stories along the way being in the music business. The sax is my favorite wind instrument (my husband plays the trumpet but I have to be honest about what I prefer).

I'll be 59 my next a few months-yikes...and I had wondered what it would have been like for my mother to know me at this stage. Because of your post I now have an idea!