Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Quick, Henry! My Skype!"

“LOST MUSKET DIARY”  Wednesday February 25, 2015
Mostly Sunny 51°F/ 10°C
               One science-fiction scenario about the future has the Earth becoming so overcrowded that urban sprawl will completely cover the planet! People confined to their living compartments would have everything delivered by teleportation-food, clothing and new furniture. (Beam me up two Big Macs, fries and a fifth of Jim Beam, Scotty!) All human interaction would be electronic. Telescreens, personal communications devices. Earth would resemble a gigantic beehive. We would become Borgs!  But,I’m ready. I have Facebook and Skype!
  Like a lot of us nowadays, my life has seen a lot of moving around since I left home – the East Coast, down South and on to the West Coast, where I live now. My travels have also taken me to several countries in Europe as well as Mexico and Central America. And, as a journalist I've met an awful lot of people over the years, and I have a pretty long list of people I like to try to stay in touch with. So, I am grateful that we have the social media to help us stay connected. Skype and Facebook are my windows on the world. And now I've taken even that to a new level with my blog on Blogspot and my own website
The Mikes on Skype!
My son, Mike, and I  Skype frequently. I've been able to follow him and Laura all through the move to their new house. And they will call me from time to time while they are out and about in Rome. Today, for instance, they were en route up to the Brenner Pass. I have another good friend who retired a couple of years ago and moved to New Zealand.  Not only am I able to stay in touch with him, I can even look out his front window while I’m visiting. And, still another friend and former co-worker popped up from China. He’s about an hour away from Hong Kong. We all have been able to share our  experiences as American expatriates living in such diverse locations as Mostacciano, Tauranga and Guangzhou.
  I may be especially sensitive about this, because of my own immigrant family history, of the giant step people take when they leave everything behind to head for a new world. My grandparents come to mind, leaving their homes in Europe to come to an entirely new country. Even after my parents left Pennsylvania to seek their fortunes in New York City, communications with “back home” in Pittsburgh were a challenge. A long distance telephone call was expensive and difficult to arrange. The calls home at Christmas sometimes took the long-distance operator half an hour or 45 minutes to set up. When my brother was in the Air Force during the Vietnam war, voice communications between us were extremely rare. Communication was by letter, just like the World War 2 V-mails between my parents when my dad was overseas.
Still There - Wartime Home
   And, another time, as I wrote about my dad’s homecoming from World War 2, I began to wonder if the house my mom and I lived in was still there. Google Earth assured me that it still is, after 70 years. When, Dana and her family move to Texas later this year, I can still help my grandson with his homework. Thanks to the tablet computer I gave him, and Skype. Two years ago I chaired our high school reunion event committee. It’s members were classmates scattered from Nova Scotia to New York, the Washington, DC area, Florida, the Southwest and California. Very challenging. Not exactly easy to call a committee meeting. So, we did most of the initial work via email exchanges and individual phone calls. Then I arranged a conference call. Finally as we got closer to the reunion date, I set up a Skype party line conference call. It took some doing because, while some of them were using Skype for the first time.

Mike and Laura's New Building
 When Mike and Laura moved, they gave me their new address, which enabled me to check out their new neighborhood with Google Earth Street View. Nice neighborhood. Then, as I posted my Rome Diary stories on my website, I got to the page where I talked about the apartment I had rented on my Roman Holiday last winter. Thanks to Google Earth Street view, I was able to share a picture of the building.
My Rome Apartment
 One other thing that I've become sensitive to,  since I live in a “55-plus” Geezer apartment complex is that it is so easy for older people to lose touch with friends and family. I find it interesting that quite a few of my neighbors have computers and make a special effort to keep in touch with their friends and family through social media. Skype is very popular, and a good visiting nurse or care giver will make part of their assignment helping an elderly client stay in touch with their world outside through Skype and the other social media. My own grand-kids live just ten minutes away from me, but their other grandparents are farther away - Nanna and Nonno live in Rome!
A very popular item at our nearby Senior Services Center are the classes in I phone and tablet computer skills. So…today it’s Facebook and Skype. I imagine that tomorrow will bring Facebook and Skype and the other social media not only in glorious, living color, but holograms!

© By Mike Botula 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Family Memoir: My Kid Brother’s Nickname!

“LOST MUSKET DIARY” Sunday February 15, 2015
Sunny 63°F /17°C in Rancho Santa Margarita
                “The name is Botula…PACKY Botula!”
                Now, truth be known, I have absolutely no idea why I am doing this. Maybe it’s because I woke up this morning looking for an excuse to skip my therapy group. I know for sure I didn't want to do my laundry, plus Lola is sleeping in this morning so I can’t take her for her morning walk just yet. I don’t know why, but nevertheless! On with my story.
Father and son: Charles Jr and Charles III
As most of my friends may, or may not know, I have one sibling – my kid brother, Charles Botula III. Unlike my own name Michael or Mike Botula - Charles Botula III has a regal, dynastic ring to it. BUT, almost no one calls my kid brother “Charles,” “Chuck” or “Charlie” like they did our dad. No Sir! The entire world, from Presidents and Generals on down to enlisted personnel and the homeless, knows my kid brother as PACKY Botula! “How,” you may ask, “did Charles III get that nickname?” Well, I am now claiming that responsibility and will now make a full confession.
        Packy and I are both native New Yorkers. I was born of poor, yet proud parents in Manhattan; my little brother was begat in Jamestown, in western New York near Lake Chautauqua. Our dad was serving his country in the South Pacific on the day he was born.     He was on board the LST 920 steaming from Pusan, Korea en route back to Okinawa. Our mom and dad, who rarely quarreled about anything, had strongly disagreed about a name for their new baby. Our mother wanted to name the new arrival after his father, should she have a boy. My dad, on the other hand, was taken with the wartime superstition that a new baby boy named for him would be the namesake sent by God to replace him when he died in the war. Dad, whose entire crew had survived a deadly U boat attack, the invasion of Normandy and a host of invasion operations in the Pacific, including Okinawa, wanted to avoid testing that superstition by naming the tyke Peter. In the end, mom – Skip Botula, who got her nickname from my Navy officer father, who considered her the real captain or Skipper of his life -prevailed. Charles Botula III was born on October 18, 1945. Our dad fretted about it right up until he was ordered home in December of 1945.
Charlie Jr and "Skip" Botula

                In those days, the whole planet had been caught up in the whirlwind of World War II, and our family felt the breeze along with everyone else. When dad got his commission in the Navy, mom took me and moved from Long Island back to Jamestown, her parents’ home town in upstate New York. That’s where we lived while dad was navigating the U boat infested waters of the North Atlantic and the Kamikaze-filled skies of the South Pacific. It was a big day when we welcomed him back home. Some of our friends weren’t so lucky.  Anyway, right around the time I turned five, our family moved back to Riverhead, about 70 miles east of New York City. And, that’s where little CB-3 got his new nickname. (Hmmm! Did I ever call him “three” for short? I don’t recall.)
Packy and Mike 1947
Little Bro was a mere tyke when the folks asked Eddie Kartowsky to come over to the house one Sunday and bring his Speed Graphic to take some family pictures. I've looked at these pictures for decades now and I've always thought that “Eddie Kart,” as we knew him was a very fine photog. Eddie captured me playing in the snow, and another of the little guy in his high chair munching his way through lunch as I looked on. “Look at that kid EAT,” my parents and Eddie heard me exclaim. “Wow, he’s really PACKING IT AWAY.” That was it. The name stuck. From that moment forward my baby brother became Packy Botula. 
Since his career took him to the jungles of Asia, quite a few friends guessed that Packy was short for Pachyderm and, over the years have showered him with all sorts of elephant memorabilia. To this day, Packy's wife Sue sometimes addresses him dearly as "Dermie!" - short for Packy-DERM (Get it?) I even sent him a neck tie from the California State Capitol gift shop adorned with little Republican elephant figures. He and Sue have a flock of little brass elephant statues that they use for door stops. Some people even think that Packy is named for a heavyweight champion fighter. Even now after a long, distinguished career in the US Air Force, my grand kids affectionately know him as Colonel Packy. To this day there are good friends of his who don’t know that his Christian name is really Charles. 

© Mike Botula 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

It’s Throwback Thursday! I Should Say Something.

“LOST MUSKET DIARY” Thursday February 12, 2015
Sunny and Very Warm 86°F/30°C in Rancho Santa Margarita
(Santa Ana Winds Blowing)
Me and Mom 1944
Throwback Thursday! Facebook’s answer to Antiques Roadshow! Only the antiques here are – memories.
  Somewhere between, “Monday-BLEAH!” “Hump Day” on Wednesday (Many thanks, GEICO camel), and “Thank God it’s Friday” or TGIF, we have “Throwback Thursday.” And, for the first time in my life, I am realizing it on the correct day-Thursday. (It’s also Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, but that’s beside the point). For once, I’m happy to make a contribution, since  it coincides with one of my “retirement projects”- going through a lifetime accumulation of family snapshots and other memorabilia and digitizing it so I can pass it down to generations yet unborn.
Grandma and Grandpa Botula
  My son, Mike, actually started it all when he put together a memorial video for his mom, my first wife Donna back in 2010. Mike and his sister, Dana, had closed up her house in Arizona after her passing and Mike spent a week with me scanning old photos, and putting the video together. (That whole project also prompted a lot of thoughtful reflecting. But, another time for that).
  Since I've been back in Southern California I'm still sorting through it all. As I go through the process, I’m aware that this may take longer than I have time left on Earth and I may have to finish by working with The Ghost Whisperer. I’m dredging up of a lot of memories. “Fire up the slide projector, Maudie! Were gonna put on a SHOW!"
Little Mary Percy around 1918
Ah! Baby pictures. There’s my favorite one of my mom, little Mary Percy. The original was taken around 1918 using an old glass plate negative. This colorized version was done by my friend Steve  Weakley, using Photoshop. One of the things that struck me as I sorted through these pictures was that family photos were the social media of their time. 
 My grandparents, Karel and Johana Botula and Mike and Maggie Percy also left good photographic records. Even the poorest families made periodic visits to the local photography studio.  And, everybody had a “Brownie” or other inexpensive box camera to document their lives. The generations that took their pictures in the old Black and White format made pictures for all eternity. The color generations on film will eventually fade and be lost.
Dad in the Navy 1944
       That’s another reason it’s so important to digitize, taking care to use a medium that won’t itself become obsolete. (Which seems to happen every other day). I'm also finding that my research will be of benefit not just to my own children and grandchildren, but also to our still-growing extended family. I once received a Facebook message from the granddaughter of my oldest uncle, Max with a familiar-to-me Botula family portrait. Her question was,"I know Max Botula was my grandfather, but, who are all these other people?" That caught me off guard. Our family migrated to the U.S. from Austria in 1903. There was Karel and Johana and three children-Max, Karola and Frances. But, in the tradition of the Book of Genesis, the Botulas begat and begat and lo, the earth was filled with a multitude of Botula's, all prospering in the Promised Land, America. So, now I realize that my humble efforts will have an impact beyond my immediate family. 
Santa, Mike an little bro "Packy" 1948
    There ya go. Throwback Memories! Sure Happy It’s Thursday!
PS: More stories where this came from at my web site:
© Mike Botula 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Confessions of a Serial Blogger!

“LOST MUSKET DIARY” Sunday February 8, 2015
NICE* with times of Sun and Clouds 74°F/23°C in Rancho Santa Margarita
                Sitting down at the computer to work on my blog, reminds me a lot of my early career in local radio. That was the late ‘50s through late ‘70s when radio was REAL, with live people who blathered and bled, drank too much and yelled a lot through the music.
MikeBo - WVIP Radio 1960
Those were times when the programs were LIVE, and you could suffer along with the morning jock’s hangover because maybe, you had a hoisted a few with him the night before at “The Rendezvous” or “Doc’s” or “The Ad Lib,” or even “Fort Apex!” Nope! Radio wasn’t the plastic, over-automated, voice tracked, right-wing loudspeaker system it is today. No sir! Back “in the day” radio was real.
                This gets me back to the moment. I’m thinking that being a blogger is like being what the morning disc jockey at a local radio station used to be. In radio, I’d first turn on the transmitter, giving it the required fifteen minutes to warm up, unless I was late that morning because of late-night frolicking the night before. In that case I’d just throw the switch and pray.
                At the appointed sign-on time, usually 6 a.m. or whatever passes for dawn-local time,  I’d push the button to play the Star Spangled Banner (Or Dixie when I worked in the south), read the sign-on with the address, frequency, owner’s name and the reminder that the station was overseen by the FCC in Washington, DC. Then I’d punch the button and start the theme for the morning show. (This was usually titled Breakfast With (Announcer’s name here), Dawn Patrol, or Morning Melodies or something like that. Only when the opening theme started did I realize that I had absolutely NO idea what that morning’s show was going to be about.
                It’s the same thing with “blogging.” I am absolutely astounded how some bloggers, like my personal idol, Ken Levine, can churn out a blog a day – - using his own material and always keep it funny and interesting. Ken started at KMPC radio a few years before I did and went from the KMPC Sportswire to a career as a writer for TV shows like M*A*S*H and Cheers. I was turned on to him by Don Barrett, another blogmeister who is Mr. Los Angeles Radio to those of us who ever worked in LA radio or aspired to. He does and has done several books on the subject. Well, I figured out at the beginning that I wouldn’t be able to keep up a daily pace.
                So, what kind of a blog will this one be today? I have NO idea! Like anyone else in show biz, a successful performer can AD LIB. Now, I've been gathering scattered thoughts and punch lines and trying to organize them into an interesting form. So, just like my radio days….I’ll just ad lib. Try out a few lines, play a few bars of fill music, say “Good Morning” in a couple of different languages, drop in a weather word and current temperature, tell the time, and bring the music up full. When it ends, do another time-temperature-weather check and go to commercial. You get the idea.
                The blog idea started with my trip to Rome last fall. I had just joined Facebook and was really enjoying reconnecting with old friends and cultivating new relationships. So I shared my Italian adventure under the title of Rome Diary. Much to my surprise and delight, a number of you said you enjoyed what I had to say and encouraged me to keep it up. And so I have, and, I am enjoying it. But, I've had to take into account the fact that I’m no longer in Rome, topic-wise, and that fact impacted on my potential subject matter. 
It’s like starting your own business. You find a location, stock it with product, open the doors and pray for customers. No groveling for a job. No pleasing a grouchy editor or getting around the owner’s political philosophy or religious beliefs. No sir! The Internet has set me free! I can just do it. I can say anything I want. Since I have spent most of my adult life as a general assignment news reporter, I plan on covering a variety of topics bearing in mind the time-honored philosophies, journalistic principles and guidelines that will govern what I’ll talk about. Rules and ethics and truth…stuff like that. And, since I’m a big believer in promotion you can be sure I’ll be plugging my blog through Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus along with the other social media outlets.
                A long time ago, I had established my own personal interest web site at This was at the time we developed a new internet site for my company. It wasn't until social media sites arrived that my original idea of having my own “bully pulpit” really came to fruition. Once I decided to do a blog I also spent some time revamping and enhancing the web site. I’ll have more on my aspirations for it in the near future, and I’ll share them with you once reconstruction is completed.
            Stay tuned!
*Since I get my weather headline from the NY Times, I’m also sharing their new format with you. Pleasant and Nice have replaced Sunny or Cloudy or Rainy. God knows how the NYT will slug their really foul weather heads.

©Mike Botula 2015

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Life in the Slow Lane

“LOST MUSKET DIARY” Thursday February 5, 2015
Fog, then some Sun 75°F/24°C in Rancho Santa Margarita
                As my biological clock keeps ticking, I am realizing that growing older is a much more complex process than I thought at age fifty or even 65. But now, I’m 74 and firmly ensconced in retirement mode, trying to enjoy my “Golden Years.” It’s an era nervously anticipated by every generation. Back in the early 1960s as a twenty-something baby-boomer, I was binge-reading Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. Fleming always wove wonderful literary digressions into his verbal tapestries of spies, sex, blood and violence, suspense and adventure on a Cold War backdrop, and I happily read each and every one of them until I had acquired the entire paperback collection. Here’s an excerpt. It’s my blog set-up for today. I’ll get to my main point, following this brief flashback.
                “Everybody’s making easy money in America these days,” said Solitaire. “That’s always bad for the customer. All they want is to strip a quick dollar off you and toss you out. Wait till you get down to the coast. At this time of the year, Florida’s the biggest sucker-trap on earth. On the East Coast they fleece the millionaires. Where we’re going they just take it off the little man. Serves him right, of course. He goes there to die. He can’t take it with him.”
The beautiful Solitaire, James Bond’s love interest in Ian Fleming’s 1954 classic spy novel  Live and Let Die is explaining the realities of Retirement-American Style to Agent 007 as they cuddle on the crack Florida-bound train Seaboard Phantom, making their escape from New York and their nemesis, the Harlem-based master criminal, Mr. Big.  
“For heaven’s sake,” said Bond, “what sort of a place are we going to?” “Everybody’s nearly dead in St Petersburg,” explained Solitaire. “It’s the Great American Graveyard. When the bank clerk or the post-office worker or the railroad conductor reaches sixty he collects his pension or his annuity and goes to St. Petersburg to get a few years’ sunshine before he dies. It’s called “The Sunshine City.”
You’ll love it,” she smiled maliciously at Bond. ‘You’ll probably want to settle down there for life and be an “Oldster” too. That’s the great word down there … OLDSTER!” “God forbid,” said Bond fervently. “It sounds rather like Bournemouth or Torquay. But a million times worse. I hope we don’t get into a shooting match with “The Robber” and his friends. We’d probably hurry a few hundred oldsters off to the cemetery with heart-failure.” (Fleming, Ian (2012-10-16). Live and Let Die (James Bond Book 2) (pp. 111-112). AmazonEncore. Kindle Edition).
                Now we leave 1954 fiction and return to present-day 2015. This Oldster is a retiree in sunny southern California, not St. Petersburg. What’s more we’ll be examining the challenges being faced by a Michigan retiree. But these issues traverse not only the decades but the entire country. Recently, as I scanned my on-line edition of the New York Sunday Times; a headline in Opinion caught my eye. Mean Girls in the Retirement Home, (NY Times Jan. 17, 2015) read the headline. Under that catchy title, Jennifer Weiner, recounted the tale of her 99 year old grandmother, and the social challenges encountered when she moved into an “assisted living facility” for older citizens. I perked up because, last year when I was apartment hunting, my daughter found an “active 55-plus retirement community” in the area where I wanted to move. The kids had concluded that it would be best to move “dear old dad” into a place where he would be independent, but still have help nearby if he started to dodder. So, last year, on my 73rd birthday, I moved lock, stock and “Emotional Support Animal” into Fountain Glen.  Now, after a year of living in my own “55-plus” environment, Jennifer Weiner’s story, Mean Girls in the Retirement Home caught my eye and I couldn’t help but compare notes and what I read jolted me.
Sometime after she relocated her grandmother from Florida back to home turf in Michigan,  Jennifer Weiner, described Nanna’s reply to her question "’Have you made any friends?’ There was a pause. Then: ’They won't let me sit at their table!’ Nanna cried. ’Wait, what? Who won't let you sit at their table?’ Said Nanna, ‘you try to sit and they say that seat is taken!'" Then it hit Weiner.
                She continues, “With that, I began to realize that, as old as you might get in life, you never outgrow that feeling that every kid gets on their first day at school, especially if your family has moved and your childhood and adolescence is marked by the uprooting that goes with it, and that first day in a new social setting.” Lo and behold, I thought when I read this, Nanna and I have something in common. And, my shout-out to Jennifer Weiner and other seniors in this situation would be, “Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger!”
Weiner’s takeaway on all of this is that the notion that a threat to seniors originates with other seniors is somewhat new. “Scientific research on the topic is on just now getting under way,” she says, and she cites some other examples. “We've all heard sad tales of senior citizens being beaten, starved or neglected by the people paid -usually underpaid -to care for them. The notion that a threat to seniors is their peers is somewhat new, and usually played for laughs…mean girls are not girls, or mean, forever. High school doesn't last forever, everyone grows up. But Nanna's experience suggests otherwise,” Weiner writes
                Since I took up residence in my 55-plus apartment, stories like Mean Girls in the Retirement Home definitely cause me to perk up and pay attention. I can relate to Nanna’s experience. While I’ve gotten used to the regular paramedics responses, I’m somewhat jolted when I see Sheriff’s deputies’ show up, especially if three or four units respond. Recently, one older resident called the authorities to complain about the vile language and harassment of another resident. Another time a new acquaintance related her experience of a neighbor trying to run her down with his electric wheel chair. On still another occasion, I actually witnessed an incident with a neighbor (male) who was swearing at the manager and threatening her with bodily harm. The incident was resolved when Sheriff’s deputies removed the man from the premises and offered him a choice – jail or commitment to a psychiatric facility. He was evicted.
                My own experiences involve what I see as the “nickel and dime stuff”- the unwarranted complaints about my toy poodle, the complaints that I park over the line of my parking stall (I pay $25 a month extra for covered parking), the interminable gossip and the attempts to link me romantically with one 80 year old or another (I’ve been divorced TWICE. Get real!), and the numerous verbal reminders that I am breaking some house rule or another- “your dog’s not allowed by the swimming pool or in the social center,” or “you can’t open the front door for anybody after 6 p.m.” (Yeah right! Even the uniformed guy delivering a pizza or the EMT’s who are trying to get in the building in response to a 911 call from the third floor, or even the neighbor who left his keys upstairs). 
                Weiner’s NY Times piece cites a recent Cornell University study by Karl Pillemer to underscore the point. The study shows that aggression among residents in nursing homes and similar facilities is widespread and “extremely high rates of conflict and violence” are common. As an example, the study’s news release states that one in five residents were involved in a violent encounter during a four week period.
                My takeaway on Weiner’s article in the NY Times is that the life of a senior citizen mirrors life in society at large. Older folks are not just moving into someplace where they have no problems or lifestyle challenges. They may be older. (I know I sure as heck am!) And they are still people. Real People. I think it’s a good thing that our society is paying attention. My curiosity was piqued not only by the news that there are social stresses in living facilities for older citizens, but the fact of the new attention and research being devoted to it. We are gradually adjusting to the realities of an aging population where the “baby boomers” of the post-World War 2 generation are morphing into the “Golden Oldies” of the New Millennium.” And, because we are growing older, if not wiser, generationally we are opening new frontiers. Anti-social behavior among people who should have out grown it is one example. I have a feeling that we will be hearing more and more on the subject as our population continues to age and more older Americans are funneled into specialized living accommodations like “independent living” residences.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

My Brief Career as a "Designated Hitter!"-

“LOST MUSKET DIARY” Sunday February 1, 2015
Sunny and Pleasant 73°F/23°C in Rancho Santa Margarita
                My lifelong hometown friend, Don Walsh, calls me a “Leftie.” This, even though I have been a “North Paw” since birth. But, tomorrow, after lo, these many years, I will be – temporarily - a bona fide “Leftie.” That’s when Dr. Jeff Sodl will make a five inch surgical incision across my right shoulder, and while I dangle from the OR’s life support system completely at the mercy of the surgical staff, will remove my arthritic shoulder joint and replace it with one of space age metal and plastic. From the moment I wake up in the recovery room until sometime in my uncertain future, I will be joining the “10 per centers” and living my life in the sinister lane. Don’s list of synonyms for my new status might include:
Antipodal paw
Psychotic leftie (Don’s favorite)
                Now, right handers are indisputably in the majority-90 percent. This leaves the remaining ten percent going through life at a distinct disadvantage in a right-handed world. But, there are some southpaws who are heavy hitters, including some recent Presidents:
Harry S. Truman  
Gerald Ford
Ronald Reagan
George H.W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Barack Obama
This leaves only “Ike,” “LBJ” and “W” in the right hand-er column.
So, how did I wind up batting from the sinister side of home plate? In the past few years as my arthritis has progressed, the ability to use my right arm has noticeably declined. About a year ago after physical therapy on my right wing, I was referred to an orthopedic specialist, who ordered an MRI. (I had been expecting cortisone shots or even arthroscopic surgery). But, even before the results came back, the doctor told me. “I’ll study the MRI,” he said, “but, based on my experience, I can almost assure you that you’re looking at a complete shoulder joint replacement). I kept putting the surgery off but the pain increased and my mobility continued to decline. Finally, I hollered “Uncle” and agreed to the surgery.
 When asked about it, I usually brush it off with a comment like “old sports injury,” or “an old baseball injury.” Occasionally, I’ll throw out a, “I injured it in a game at Anaheim Stadium.” But, that’s mis-leading since it infers that I played for the Angels in the major leagues. The real story is this: I was batting in a game at “The Big A, but it was a pre-game exhibition event pitting the KMPC disk jockeys against the Angels players’ wives or girlfriends. I batted for the jocks as their “Designated Hitter.”
Saundra Willis, who was brand new to the station’s publicity department, organized the long standing, annual promotional event for KMPC and the Angels. The game originally was a contest between the KMPC personalities and the Playboy Bunnies, an annual spectacle that bolstered ratings as well as the Halos paltry attendance back in the early ‘70s. This year, however, the Playboy Bunnies had retired from the field and the team agreed to let the Angels’ players’ wives oppose the team from the “Might 7-10.” Saundra, who was as persuasive as she was gorgeous, invited me to join the KMPC personalities as the “Designated Hitter,” which was a new position in the American League that year-1973.
Since the great Nolan Ryan was pitching for the Angels then, I as the temporary DH for that game would be actually taking my idol’s place in the line-up. I was flattered. Newsmen were not usually included in station promotions featuring the KMPC disk jockeys.  Having hooked me on the idea, and gently reeling me in, the lovely Saundra firmly set the hook and I agreed to go along with the gag.
The night of the game, we all gathered in the Angels clubhouse. The jocks were all dressing up in major league baseball uniforms resplendent with the KMPC logo. Long time listeners to the station will remember the names: Dick Whittinghill, Geoff Edwards, Wink Martindale, Gary Owens, Roger Carroll, Johnny Magnus, Sonny Melendrez, newsman Dave De Soto and yours truly as Designated Hitter. Where’s my uniform, I asked Saundra. Here it is, she replied. “You get to wear the gorilla suit!” I balked, but she was a smooth talker and, after she batted her eyes a few times and patted me on the head, I suited up. 
MikeBo as Designated Hitter-1973

We listened in the locker room as the Angels wives proceeded to build a huge lead over the KMPC personalities. Finally, Saundra gave me my cue, and I bounded out of the dugout waving a huge bat, and hopped up to the plate, setting my stance in what I hoped was the proper gorilla-at-bat posture. Nolan Ryan’s wife lobbed a large beach ball right over home plate. Obviously she had learned a thing or two from her husband. “S-T-E-E-R-I-I-K-E!” the umpire called, and the catcher picked up the ball and carried it back to the mound. Saundra, who was now playing the role of batting coach, approached me at the plate and we huddled. “You were supposed to hit the ball,” she said. “I couldn’t even see the goddam thing because of the gorilla mask,” I snarled. She adjusted my mask and as she stepped away, she instructed me, “You’ve got to hit it this time!” Dick Enberg’s voice came over the PA speaker. “One strike. Designated Hitter is waving the bat. Here’s the pitch!”  (Long pause) “A solid hit! Oh, my! Looks like he’ll go for four.” I swung the bat with everything I had. When I connected, the beach ball exploded in a cloud of white powder showering me, the gorilla suit, the catcher and Saundra with billows of talcum powder. In the stands, fans cheered me as I rounded third and headed for home. It was my personal “great moment in sports.”
Only after the game did I become aware of the pain in my right shoulder. I had seriously pulled a shoulder muscle when I over swung on that first pitch.  Years passed, the shoulder injury flared up from time to time, but it never really caused a problem until after I retired and old age began to catch up with me. My doctor diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis which had aggravated the old simian injury to my shoulder. By the time Dr. Sodl read my MRI and made his diagnosis, I was eligible for a complete shoulder joint replacement. No cortisone shots. No arthroscopic surgery. I would have to have the whole enchilada. He cautioned me that I will regain full use of my right wing, but it will take weeks of healing and several months of physical therapy. So, that’s what will happen this week, and I will become in fact what my friend Don has been calling me for years….a “leftie!” I guess my old friend always knew this day would come.

PS: UPDATE: All suited up and ready to be rolled into the OR when the surgery was cancelled. All that angst for naught.
Back on track, tho - new surgery date now set-March 31st. More time to practice with my "left wing."