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.