Keeping The Thanks Coming

Well, here comes one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. Minimum decorating, no gifts to buy and its centered around eating. Bob Thanksgiving or whoever it was that invented that holiday, we thank you.

I’m grabbing a few minutes and doing a quick parade through my brain of all the people and events I have to be thankful for, knowing darn well I’ll probably miss an important one along the way, but here goes:

Mom & Dad–How do you skip past them? Having done the great parent experiment myself, I look back and admire what they did for us. Not so much for the”things.” God knows as kids my sisters and I would complain that we never got to experience real Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, we got the Springfield brand. Springfield soda, Springfield popcorn. It was the lesser-cost version of all the popular foods. But like I said, it wasn’t about  the things, it was the environment. They gave us an abundance of guidance, stability, faith, and allowed us to be kids while growing up during those turbulent 1960s. Even when dad was out of work because of a strike or we were dangerously close to nuclear war with Cuba, my world was made up of school friends, Cub Scouts, Little League, Dodger baseball and the kids in the neighborhood.

Mr. Ray and Mr. Maxwell–two of the teachers I had along the way, both with clever, dry senses of humor. I credit them for helping shape my comical thinking.

Gary Owens–This Los Angeles radio legend and eventually, the announcer on “Laugh In” was nothing short of brilliant. While other kids were listening to Boss Radio KHJ (and that’s where I went after Gary was on the air) I couldn’t wait to tune in KMPC, wade through another Ray Conniff song, only to hear his witty banter and bits like The Story Lady. Blame him for me heading into a 30-year radio career.

Getting Fired–Yes, it wasn’t just people, it was events. Having your career pulled out from under you either destroys you or makes you stronger.  Twice, my life plans were thrown into chaos and uncertainty, but each time I emerged better off than I was before. This helped brand in my brain to keep focused on what’s really important–your life. Lose a job? You’ll be fine.  Getting honorary mention is deciding to quit a job and go out on my own 3 years ago.  A step I never would have taken if I hadn’t been fired. I basically fired myself, which put me into the dream situation I enjoy now.

Family–My incredible wife who showed me that people can be kind and caring as a way of life. My mom & sisters, my kids and step-kids, the grandkids, the assorted nieces and nephews. Oh and all those aunts and cousins throughout the greater United States. Quite the collection of characters. Love you all!

My Radio Brothers & Sisters–I made some life-long friends during that 30-year stretch of my life, most of whom I still stay in touch with today. It’s not a constant-contact kind of thing, but put us together anywhere and we can pick up right where we last left off.

My Memories–In the amusement park that is my mind, there’s a wonderful place called Yesterday. It’s where I go and reflect on my dad, my radio mentor Larry Nelson and my former morning show co-host Alice Porter. One of my high school classmates Dr. Jon Lemler is there, too. The class of ’73 will remember him playing “Suwanne River” with his hands at the senior talent show. I’ll be forever grateful to him for talking with my wife at one of our reunions where she told him about her kidney disease. Jon helped us with some alternative medicine that we are convinced helped Victoria’s disease go into remission. A couple of years ago, Jon was walking in Las Vegas when he collapsed and died from a massive heart attack.

You see, I’ve had the incredible fortune of meeting some amazing people along the way.

Star Boreson–I had incredible timing and, even though I didn’t grow up with him here in Seattle, during my days at KOMO, he came in as the revered former TV show host and I got to know him. Enough that he invited me over to his and Barbara’s house for a couple of afternoons, where we wrote parody songs for his next Christmas album. Read the fine print on the cover, there I am. Buried in our basement are the original hand-written lyrics to a lot of those songs on the album.  It was a college-level course on how to create a comedy, which I used many, many times throughout my career. And still do, to this day.

You–A writer is nothing without readers. If no one bothers reading it, then I would be just entertaining myself. (which I do anyway. I’m a great audience) I’ve managed to write over 800 blogs these past 15 years, with 42,543 views the last time I checked. I am humbled.

I’m just a guy going along for the ride who believes everyone should be doing what they love to do. It truly makes all the difference in the world. I wish you peace, hope and happiness as we gather again to give thanks for all we’ve got.

It’s a shame we really only do this once a year. If nothing else, the holiday serves as that annual reminder that we truly are blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tim Hunter

THE STORIES BURIED DEEP

archaeologyI’m a fan of history, especially my own.

And while the human mind can remember a lot of things, anyone who’s been around for a while knows, after a while, the old hard-drive gets full.  You can only remember so many things and with today’s information-overload society, I’m afraid a lot of those stories from years gone by are slowly being squeezed out.

 Or, they never made it here in the first place.

During this week’s visit to mom and my sister Debbie down in the hometown of Torrance, California, I picked up quite a few lost stories that were either squeezed out or simply forgotten. Some were never even heard, so I’m choosing to write them down so that either you or me can pull these out when we’re sitting around in the old folks home, wondering why we’re there.

I knew I was born in Gardena, a neighboring city to Torrance, but the story I had always heard was because Torrance didn’t have a hospital of its own. It turns out they DID have a hospital, but the night the water broke and delivery became a matter of time, MY PARENTS COULDN’T FIND THE TORRANCE HOSPITAL!  So they went to the closest one, which was a hop, skip and a jump over in Gardena. I heard this story as we stopped by the site where the elusive hospital once stood.

Hospital Where I Wasn't Born

                The Hospital Where I Wasn’t Born

I ended up having a 30+-year radio career and of all the paths I could have chosen, radio called me. (and I was caller #9)  I found out during this trip down that my mom was also a fan of radio, as she pulled out her official membership certificate she received when she was 11-years-old.  A charter member, no less.

moms-radio-station-membership

During one of the many Happy Hours that break out when we get together, my sister Debbie blurted out some stories one night that I may have heard before, but had forgotten. For example, at her high school graduation from Torrance High School, right after they announced her name, I yelled out at the top of my lungs, “Thank God!”

Then there was  the time that my buddy Tank and I picked up Debbie at the airport in Seattle. (back when you could greet people at the gate)  The moment we saw her, Tank yelled out, “That’s her, officer!  The one with the backpack!” 

Call it frugal, call it cheap, but I was reminded of another tradition of growing up Hunter.  These days, every kid has their own cell phone. But “back in my day”, they had these things called ‘phone booths.’  Each of us busy kids were given a dime.  Say, for example, if my basketball practice ended at 4:30, when I was ready to be picked up, I used a dime to operate a pay phone. I would call the home number, let it ring once, then hang up!  My parents recognized the Hunter code to go pick up a kid, because hanging up without the phone being answered gave me the dime back and I would be ready for the next time.

Dig around your family history and you’ll probably uncover some “almost never was” stories. For example, I can’t imagine being raised in any other home than the one in the middle of the street where my mom has continued to live for 64 years. But apparently, the only house that was available in that development was the one down the street on the end of the block, next to a very busy Hawthorne Blvd.  However, the sale fell through on the eventual Hunter residence and the rest is history. 

Just a few shares about my family story, if nothing else, so that I can look at this blog in the future and remember some of those mini-details that successfully escaped my mind.

I’d like to encourage you to do some digging of your own, to see what nuggets you can uncover.

Tim Hunter 

PS–I also found out that even though Torrance is a fairly large city, with a population of 150,000 people, there are no cemeteries within the city limits.