In 1978, I was commissioned by the Rochester Institute of Technology . . .
. . . to compose original music for a film promoting RIT’s School for American Craftsmen and the School of Art & Design. Given the positive new enrollment results attributed to that film, the Dean insisted that I produce a Vinyl LP to be distributed worldwide to attract potential students to attend RIT.
I totally surprised music aficionados everywhere
by releasing my original RIT music score in CD format,
satisfying Jazz Fusion fans who favor CDs over Vinyl LPs.
Think about it! The first time ever putting the exact same LP music on a CD!
Available now to Music Lovers everywhere!
I was raised in the Cobbs Hill neighborhood in Rochester, New York. Notice, I didn’t say I grew up there. Big difference!
Eastman Kodak was still a vibrant company, the very foundation of the city. Nobody had yet heard of digital cameras, let alone the global marketplace.
A quick two-minute walk from my house took you to a bridge over the trolley car that traveled to downtown Rochester.
During summer vacations from school, we kids gathered outside on our bikes, banished from the house by our parents, with nothing but a sandwich bag- lunch. “Whattaya wanna do?”
“I dunno, whatta you wanna do?”
Good thing for us, Cobbs Hill was just around the corner. And what a bee-hive of activity it was. We rode down a path to one of the giant fields where we saw dozens of other kids sitting in a circle around a group of adults, each with a badge on his shirt. “Hey, guys, welcome! Come and join the fun.” Little did we know that we were about to join our first summer day camp. No sign-up sheets. No rules. And no homework! If you enjoyed yourself the first day, you came back the next day. If not, no big deal, tomorrow was another adventure.
“Pow-wow time,” the counselors announced. We had nothing else to do, so why not? We learned all about the Indian tribes native to our part of the country. The Cayuga; Iroquois; Oneida; Onondaga; Seneca; Tuscarora; and, Mohawk. Then we each joined a tribe in preparation for the day’s games. After a quick bag-lunch, we learned what turned out to be our absolute favorite game. It was called ‘Capture the Flag.’ You’d be amazed at the ingenuity and teamwork this game required. There were never any arguments. It was all about teamwork. The best part? All these years later, I still remember the names of the Indian tribes of Western New York. To this day, I am a proud member of the Mohawk tribe.
Every day was a different adventure, since every Cobbs Hill field hosted different activities. Summer Olympics. Baseball. Soccer. Half-court Basketball. Each one focused on the necessity of teamwork. Each was a learning experience. Each started and ended on the same day. And each and every one was pure fun. We kids needed no motivation to escape our houses early every morning, bag-lunch in our bike baskets. We became friends with kids from other neighborhoods. We learned together, played together, grew together. And today, I’m left to wonder if kids have these same opportunities in their neighborhoods. When you get right down to it, is there even such a thing as a neighborhood anymore?
I arrived at the hospital on a wintry February night in 1967, given a room reserved for elderly men with little chance of surviving the night! I turned my head to look from my darkened room into the brightly lit hallway. Walking through my door was an angel, a halo of light clearly visible above her head. I had never seen such sparkling blue eyes! She took my pulse, counting the heartbeats on her wristwatch, careful to avoid eye contact with this grubby young college student. Then the fun started. Her next task was to take my temperature . . . with a rectal thermometer. Let’s just say she saw my better side first and leave it at that. I soon realized she must have been covering her eyes, for that mighty thermometer began its first of several undirected jabs in the general vicinity of my derriere. The next morning, I was disappointed when I didn’t see my angel from the previous evening. But she walked into my room at three o’clock sharp, the start of her eight-hour shift. Once again, she took my pulse and, yes, my temperature. I asked her name. She wouldn’t tell me. I begged. It worked. “Cassie,” she said. Over the next two weeks, Cassie and I spent hours talking every day, getting to know each other. If asleep, I would awaken to find her sitting at my bedside, hiding from the head nurse. The day I was to leave the hospital for the 80-mile trip home, she secretly handed me a note with her name and address. I was in seventh heaven. When I arrived home that day, I immediately began my daily ritual of crafting a long letter to Cassie, unabashedly professing my growing love. Thankfully, she wrote back. Every day.
In April, I was well enough to return to school to finish the semester. I arrived at Cassie’s house, decked out in my coolest blue jacket emblazoned with the University of Buffalo logo, eager to impress. I rang the doorbell. When Cassie opened the door, I was sure those blue eyes would never let go of my heart. It was a glorious day, the temperature already in the 70’s, two months early for Buffalo, New York. We enjoyed a day of hand-holding walking through Ellicott Creek Park in Tonowanda.
I have no doubt that our Love for each other was truly born that day, a strange force drawing us together as if destined to be so. How we wished the day would never end. From that day forward, I picked Cassie up from work every day. Two years later, we married.
And the rest, as they say, is history. What a beautiful time of life!