50 Shades of Rick

Things you may or may not know. Revelations and a few more confessions.

______________________________

1) I was born on December 6, 1952 in a small Pennsylvania town. Despite the realization I find myself on the downhill side of life, I’m hopeful there’s more miles and milestones ahead! Craig Newmark, the computer programmer, businessman and founder of Craigslist was born on the same exact day.

2) My parents were never married and my father died when I was 2. He was 31-years old.

3) I was adopted by my father’s sister. She would soon divorce her husband whose last name I bear today. I was raised by a single mother.

4) I’m a seventh generation American. One of my 4th great grandfathers came from Germany while another migrated from Sligo, Ireland. My heritage includes heroes and scoundrels. Some of them helped shape the future of the country serving in all ranks in both the War of Independence and the Civil War. Dig deep enough and you probably have them too.

5) I am very much a proud American and a patriot. As long as I can remember that’s always been true. I believe in American Exceptionalism.

6) I grew up in in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. in a lower, middle class home. My mother worked hard to provide as best she could. Working as a waitress she raised me making about $100 a week in tips.

7) Throughout most of my teenage years I shared a small bedroom with my grandfather who at the time was in his 80s.

8) On November 13, 1963 I was privileged to attend a performance of the Royal Regiment of Scotland’s Black Watch at the White House. On the Truman balcony I could see President Kennedy, with his wife and children. 9 days later he was assassinated. As a young impressionable ten year old, it was a deep, personal tragedy for me.

9) Music has always been a big part of my life. I was a boy soprano and had several lead singing roles in various programs in junior high school. I also had the opportunity to act on stage. I should have pursued those talents. I thought about the saxophone. I tinkered with a guitar as a young teen, and took piano lessons while in college. Regrettably, none of it stuck. But I do play the drums!

10) I was born into a family of Christians. Only a few attended church regularly. My first experience with religion was going to a neighborhood Baptist church with my grandfather. My first religious experience was hearing Emerson, Lake & Palmer at the Baltimore Civic Center. I would join the Mormon church at the age of 13. It’s the best decision I ever made.

11) I was a weekend D.J. in the Washington D.C. area when 15 years old. From the time I was a young preteen boy, listening to a Japanese transistor radio, I was obsessed. It was all I ever wanted to do.

12) I never graduated from high school. Long before the Internet, I’d often go instead to the nearby library. There I’d spend the day immersed in books, newspapers and magazines. I was suspended while a Junior in high school for skipping classes. When my mother and I met my principal for reinstatement, I think he must have been quite surprised when he asked where I went during the day.

13) I’ve always had a library card and it’s one of the first things I get when I move to a new area.

14) I’ve never done illegal drugs of any kind… except once. I tried marijuana, and just like Bill Clinton, “I didn’t like it, and didn’t inhale, and never tried it again.” I believed Bill Clinton. Believe me.

15) Witnessing the ravages of alcoholism made a very big impact in my life at an early age. Its abuse has resulted in incalculable human misery through addiction, broken homes, families destroyed, lost dreams and premature death. My family, like millions of others, was among its victims.

16) With my best friend we decided on a whim one morning, in high school, to run away from home. By early that afternoon we were on a United Airlines 747 flight to Los Angeles. We were both 17 at the time and had never been to LA. I had never been further west than Ohio! We spent a week there. To say the least, it was quite an adventure! True story!

17) With that same best friend we joined the Air Force. I “celebrated ” my 19th birthday and a lonely Christmas that year while in Basic Training. It was the second best decision I ever made.

18) I was born into a family predominantly made up of Democrats. My mother once told me Republicans “are for the rich,” while Democrats “support the poor.” Early in my 20s I decided to go with “the rich” and have never looked back.

19) I have an enlarged heart. I was told about it during my final medical exam before leaving the military.

20) I pursued a degree in Broadcast Journalism after the Air Force and enjoyed several years employed in television news. During those years we moved 9 times in 10 years, living all over the northwest.

21) I’m not proud to say, I’ve been married four times. A total of 30 years of wedded bliss. I think I got it out of my system, but there’s that one girl with whom I’d give it another try.

22) I’m the father of six children. Four boys and two girls. My relationship with some of them has been on-again, off-again, strained and painful.

23) Prior to and especially during my years in television, I was privileged to meet many celebrities from various walks of life. I have a Pinterest page that shares some of those experiences.

24) I met and talked with President Ronald Reagan during his 1983 visit to Klamath Falls, Oregon. While answering his several questions his genuine sincerity and interest in what I had to say was truly a memorable experience.

25) The best job I ever had was working at a radio station in Yakima, Washington. I’m still in regular contact with the guys that made it so much fun.

26) I believe dogs never lie about love. (There’s a book of the same title that explains why). They are truly special animals. I think far too many people take them for granted.

27)  I don’t suffer fools gladly, nor do I much like mindless small talk.

28) I hate cold weather. I hate rainy weather. My life is definitely better without them.

29) I hate liver but love Lima beans and especially spaghetti with meat balls.

30) I eat way too much fast food, but when you’re constantly cruising in the fast lane of life, what’s a single guy to do?

31) My favorite actor is Jimmy Stewart. My favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. “No man is a failure who has friends.”

32) My favorite record album is Supertramp’s Breakfast in America. “Logical, responsible, practical.”

33) My favorite song is Elton John’s Your Song. “My gift is my song and this one’s for you.”

34) My favorite Christmas song is The Little Drummer Boy. He had no gift to bring, so he played his drum. He played his best for Him.

35) My least favorite big city is Chicago. I’ve been there on several occasions. Sorry, I just don’t like it, no matter what Sinatra thought!

36) My favorite small town is Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I love the area and the other small towns of southwest Colorado! Too bad it snows and gets cold there.

37) I’m not that smart when it comes to math and the sciences. None of it ever seemed to resonate with me. I did barely squeak through algebra, but have never, once in my adult life, needed it.

38) I tried, more than once, but never succeeded in becoming a jogger. I’ve never seen a jogger with a smile on their face, and besides… when Jim Fixx keeled over while jogging, well… that did it for me.

39) I grew up an only child but always knew I had at least 3 or 4 half brothers and sisters. It wasn’t until last summer I discovered and finally met several of my lost family. It turns out I’m the third oldest of ten children born out of several relationships of my mother and father. It’s quite an experience to suddenly meet and grow to love siblings and cousins you never knew for sure even existed.

40) I’ve always been keenly interested in history, American history especially. My favorite movie genre are documentaries. They’re all about history. My favorite documentary is The Civil War. A creation of  director Ken Burns who’s a master at telling the stories within the story.

41) My interest in history extends to family history and genealogy. It’s something I’ve pursued since a teenager. I’ve become the lone authority on many aspects of my extended family history and have amassed a database of nearly 20,000 relatives, many with stories to be shared.

42) One of my favorite places to visit are local cemeteries. (Nice neighbors in the quiet part of town)! To see all those graves of people who have come and gone before us, you come to realize they were once just like us. They had lives to live, families they loved and — like us — hopes and dreams. It definitely makes one appreciate our mortality and how lucky we are to just be alive.

43) I’ve always enjoyed travel. I’ve been around the world a couple of times and to several county fairs. I’ve been to nearly every state in the country. Somehow I’ve missed Alaska, Vermont and Rhode Island. Last summer I made my longest road trip ever, traveling over 14,000 miles from Vegas to the east coast and back again. I had planned to be gone for 40 days. I didn’t return home until 5 1/2 months later.

44) I’ve read and continue to read a lot of books. Not as many as I’d like though. I once owned hundreds, which was a major pain when it came to moving and dusting. That’s why I now use Kindle. I rarely ever read fiction. Truth, as Twain once said, is stranger than fiction.

45) I write a blog (obviously) although I don’t contribute to it as much as I could or should. Started in April of 2007 this is my 137th entry. On the day this was written it had 925 subscribers and over 63,300 visits from more than 25,000 people located all over the globe. I’m surprised and grateful.

46) I collect words… quotes on hundreds of subjects. It began as an assignment in college. My database has thousands of quotes and is the source for many of the things I’ve written about here in my blog.

47) I’m an avid poker player. Ten years ago it was the furthest thing from possible. I’ve since learned it’s among the greatest games on the planet. It changed my life.

48) Were money not an issue, my seven car garage (one for every day of the week), would contain a Ferrari, an Aston Martin, a Corvette, a Bentley, a Cadillac Escalade, a Porsche 911 and a Cardinal Red Mercedes SL550. Yes, I have time to think of these things, and to even make a list! Make of it what you want.

49) My life has been blessed in so many ways, among them experience and opportunities. I’m fortunate to have children I’m proud of, and some choice friends and family, all far better than I deserve. Without one friend in particular, I might be on the street with all my possessions in a shopping cart.

50) I once proudly displayed a sign on my desk that read, He who dies with the most toys wins! I never really believed that. However, I’m still a dreamer… but not the only one.

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6 comments on “50 Shades of Rick

  1. Bonnie says:

    Love your story. Glad I finally got to meet my big brother. Hope we can get together again someday. Love you.

  2. Daniel says:

    You definetly have a way with words. I am very glad I met and got to somewhat know you. LOVE YA and am proud to call you brother.

  3. steffiep23 says:

    Hi Rick,

    I enjoyed reading about your life. I too enjoy cemetaries. I spent a great deal of time in the Allegheny Cemetary in Pittsburgh during my high school years. (Since I didn’t know where my Mother was buried, I felt closer to her there. She died when I was 18 months old. I now know that she is buried in St. Stanislaw’s Cemetary.)

    I, too, have a favorite job in my past. I wish I were still working at the University of Southern California (Dean of Engineering’s office. I told my son, “I was the Dean”) Ha Ha! But now I wouldn’t be able to do the job being that I’m not as sharp as I used to be!

    I think it is interesting that you collect words, phrases. Here’s mine that I would always say to Stuart: “If you don’t use your mind, someone will be happy to use it for you”! (Speaking from experience).

    I’ve been caring for a foster kitty who came to me in mid-January to die. The rescue place wanted someplace comfortable for her to die. Well she is still here. The rescue place will not let her go and I’ve recommended she be put out of her misery. (Long story). So I’ve not been getting much sleep with giving her pain meds every 6 hours and cleaning her up and the environment. She is a sweet cat. I’ve driven her to the vet so much since January that I think I’ve driven more than I did all 2016!

    I was in Bend, Oregon, once and loved it. Blueberry pancakes!

    I enjoy your thoughts. I think you are a great guy!

    Sincerely,

    Stef

    • Rick Gleason says:

      Thank you Stef for those very kind words.

      Funny you should mention Bend, Oregon! It’s one of the places I lived when working in television news at KTVX. It was while I was there that I got to meet President Reagan. Liked the area, and it’s grown so much since those days.

      Rather than being on a fast track to bigger and better, in hindsight we might have decided to stay there (despite all that snow). But it was always brighter lights and bigger cities that stroked my ego and filled my imagination.

      Always good to hear from you and thanks for your continued interest.

  4. Lew Hartswick says:

    Way to go Rick. Keep up the spirit. I’m a lot older but wish I had done a few of the things you did
    (Can very well not miss a few of them also:-) )

    lew

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