What the Family Learned this Week

Thursday, April 24, 2014

From the Home Office in Medford, OR, A Letterman Tribute: Lifelong Pants and Canned Hams

This is a family blog post, dedicated to David Letterman.  With his recent retirement announcement, it seemed like a family tribute would be fitting, as he has been a nightly family member for 32 years.

Marilyn and Kent / Grammy and Skipper
Somehow, Marilyn and Kent found out about Letterman’s 1982 NBC morning comedy show (90 total am shows), and began taping it for viewing after the kids went to bed.  We continue to do so today.  We even competed with his morning TV audience for a Letterman home visit, using Whitney’s birth announcement as the ‘hook’.

(An advertising theme discussion for an upcoming series of TV commercials)
- Ad man (convincingly) – “I tell you JP it’s great Americana.  An interview with a cheery family of seven…five kids under age eight…living, if you can believe, in Idaho.
Now picture one of our white baby cribs, sparkling in the background.

JP – (exasperated) – OK, OK, I’ve got it in my mind but what’s the grabber, what’s our gimmick?

Ad man (excitedly) – Our crib looks new and it’s in its eighth year of continuous use!

JP – I like it.  The idea’s got promise but…(pausing)…there’s one fatal flaw.  I know you couldn’t make up a story like this, but will the public ever believe it.

On September 18, 1985 Letterman began his nightly Top Ten Lists (the first one was the top ten words that almost rhyme with peas).  Somehow, someway, by some means, his top ten lists became the way family members organized their thoughts when:  giving a presentation;  speaking at high school graduation ;  campaigning for school office;  writing for the school newspaper;  announcing a wedding;  communicating with classmates at reunion time;  writing a college admissions essay;  upon departure from a foreign country after two years;  etc. etc. etc.  Here is a very tiny sample:

a.  Top Ten Favorite Mom Sayings (on a hand made Mother’s Day card, that has been on the refrigerator since 1989) – ‘It’s December 26.  Don’t you think this will make a good present for next year?’

b.  Top Ten Thing’s Learned Since High School  -  ‘If you and your wife leave idyllic southern Oregon after 25 years, and move to Idaho Falls, even to be nearer the kids and grandkids, expect people familiar with the climate to look at you and think to themselves, ‘decision making is not their strong suit’.

c.  Top Ten Reasons For Admittance Into Brown – ‘a strong desire to attend a college where it is just a short walk to another state.’

d.  Top Ten Reasons Why Kirse and Tim Should Get Married – ‘With their History and Art college degrees, they become the most unemployable couple in America.’

e.  Top Ten Reasons To Vote For Brinn – ‘chocolate milk in all the water fountains.’

f.  Top Ten Signs I’ve Been in Argentina Too Long – ‘while my companion was sleeping he awoke suddenly and asked, ‘what was that?’  I calmed him by saying, ‘don’t worry it was only gunshots.’

I remember when going on first dates I would always ask the gentleman a very simple question.  The question was Leno or Letterman?  Depending on their answer I would decide if a second date was going to happen or not.  Also, I remember going to New York City and I loved being able to take pictures in front of the Ed Sullivan Theater and I even got Rupert from Hello Deli's autograph.  I felt oh so cool.  Good times with Letterman, especially watching it with my family while growing up.  To this day I still love a good top ten list.  Thanks Dave!

So I had the rare fortune to grow up a Granat - this basically meant several things.  We were loud, funny, friendly, clever and always and forever die hard David Letterman fans. It wasn't ever a choice it just was.  Not that any of us would have made a different choice anyway.  From as long as I can remember Letterman was an honorary uncle that we discussed and talked about like a great family friend.  I remember all receiving Late Night with David Letterman sweatshirts one Christmas - which wouldn't thrill the average kids aged 6-16 (or somewhere around those ages), but for us Granat's it was perfection.  We also received Late Show with David Letterman attire when he switched networks.  I remember how annoyed we all were when that other guy took over the Tonight Show after Johnny, and took it more personally then perhaps we should have.
I also along with other siblings am sure I played the same "Leno or Letterman" question when first dating new people.  And let me tell you that if you answered incorrectly, or weren't willing to change your ways - there wasn't a future.  Ha!  But Seriously!   On my first trip to NYC it was imperative that I meet as many of the Late Show family - and was fortunate to meet several of them including Rupert G.
He has been on the air pretty much my whole life, and it is crazy and sad that he is retiring, but I am grateful for the opportunity to grow up in a household that was full of his humor, fun, and brilliance.  Thank you for the laughs Mr. Letterman.
In reflecting back to my childhood a couple things stand out in my mind in regards to David Letterman.  I remember the sweatshirts of course that I think we all got when his show was Late Night with David Letterman, before the Late Show with David Letterman.  We were all so proud to show these off in and out of the home.  If I'm not mistaken when I ran for Vice President of Hoover elementary despite the "Brintendo" campaign that was used, I believe I also had a top 10 list for things I would do for the school when I gave my speech to influence the student body in the voting process.  I won and I'm sure it was a combination of the Brintendo theme as well as what we all know to be the cleverness of a good top 10 list.  In high school our family also contributed to many a top 10's in the South Medford High School South Paw as well.  Fast forward to the mission years I was able to track down a top 10 list I created when exiting the mission field.  Definitely funny to read and reflect back of that time in my life.  Letterman will definitely be missed and it is disappointing to learn of his retirement, but his memory, quick wit and humor will never be forgotten.

My earliest memories of watching Dave is around 1983 in Redlands, CA.  I remember Mom used to record the 12:30am "Late Night" show (on our classic Betamax VCR!) and would often watch it back the following day.  If I was lucky she would be watching it around the time I came home from school.

As a kid, I loved the crazy and silly bits of the old "Late Night" show. The Monkey-Cam, The Guy Under the Seats, the suit made out of Alka-Seltzer.  All classic bits that an 8 year old could really connect with (check 'em out on youtube!).

And, ironically as it would turn out in the years ahead, I loved it when Jay Leno would be a guest on that show and read from the TV Guide or share "What's my beef".  Some of those early Leno/Lettermen bits still pop into my head and make me smile to this day.  

During my freshman year of college Dave got his new "Late Show" show, and since I was now in the Mountain time zone that meant I could watch Dave not one, but two whole hours earlier.  I was a big fan of the new show, making sure my roommates knew that they could watch whatever they wanted on my TV, except when "Late Show" was on.

During my adventures in the South American country of Uruguay I would often sport my very own "Late Show" T-shirt and took pride in the fact that I was most likely the only one in the whole country (maybe the whole southern hemisphere?) to have that shirt.

I've been a fan forever. During the first Late Night Wars, I was there. When Johnny Carson visited Dave's show and Dave offered him his desk, I was there. When Dave was out with quintuple bypass surgery or shingles, I was there. 

He's been such a big part of my life that when I got married I wanted our honeymoon to be in NYC so we could see his show.  Alas the writer's strike of 2007 made it so there were no shows during our honeymoon trip. But that didn't stop us from visiting the theater and getting a sandwich from Rupert.

I did get to his show once. It was a Friday night show that Dave was taping on a Thursday. As he came out to warm up the crowd he explained that he needed a Friday energy and we should all act like it was Friday. He then emphasized "There's nothing illegal about it"  with his classic dry sardonic delivery. I remember that line because it got a big laugh, but it wasn't a joke for the show, just for us in the audience.  Even before the cameras came on he was clever, funny, and a real showman. And that is the way I'll always remember him.

Well, that and throwing footballs at a meatball on top of a Christmas tree every year. That stuff is classic! Luckily we'll get to see it one more time.

Oh--Here's some pics.  One is me wearing my "Late Show" shirt in Uruguay and the other is a fun collection of Letterman themed books currently living on my bookshelf.

Okay - here goes! I do love me some Dave!! I remember Dave talking about "Big Ass Hams," and when he drank a whole bowl of eggnog. And Barry White doing a Top Ten list. I wish I had been able to go to his show and am jealous of my siblings who got to go. I will miss The CBS Orchestra and good ole Paul Shaffer. RIP the Late Show with David Letterman!!

Where do I begin with my personal Letterman history? I have been watching his program as long as I can remember. Of course there was the Christmas that our pajamas were Late Night sweatshirts, and the school election campaigning where I used a Top Ten List. Or the Top Tens I added to the school paper when I was the editor, and the device for my graduation speech. Or the fact that I got a TV in college for the sole reason of watching David Letterman. 

The first phone conversation I ever had with Tim before we started dating we discussed Letterman and his virtues over Leno. We had a Top Ten list at our wedding. We continue to use the Top Ten feature for our Christmas card letter. When we moved to Boston, the first thing I did was send away for Late Show tickets. We traveled by train to NYC that fall, and I sat in the audience transfixed, as if in a daze, not believing that I was seeing the show in person. I don’t think I clapped or laughed once, so stunned was I. After the show we met Rupert at the Hello Deli, where I blurted out “Rupert, I love you.” He said thanks. 

Recently I have been showing my kids fuzzy You-Tube clips - “What About That Guy?”, Stupid Pet Tricks, Stupid Human Tricks, Dave in the drive-thru, the Velcro suit, adventures with Rupert and Mujibur and Sirajul. They laugh and laugh. I have taught them the Dave comedy rule - that repetition makes things funnier and more absurd. I’m hopeful that with this retirement there will be some sort of “Best of” compilations that I can buy, so I can show my kids the genius of David Letterman for years to come. And we will continue to repeatedly enjoy him, which will make him funnier and funnier. Particularly the word “Pants.” 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cache Valley History

By: McKenna Magalogo

Back in January we attended a different chapel in Logan. It was really old and had some interesting features, like a pioneer painting and a balcony in the chapel. It was there that my interest was piqued. I wondered what other old buildings are in town and what are their stories? So the investigative journalist kicked in and began to research. Here is my story.

I began by checking out tons of books from the library, I marked all the buildings I wanted to find and take pictures of. Finally we planned out an adventurous day with the kids and we went all over town discovering some of these older buildings.
So with that I present Cache Valley Historic Buildings:

Here is the first chapel that started it all.

Here is a photo of John T. Cain's home in Logan
 Here is a picture of the same home from 1910
Many buildings were affected by the 1962 earthquake in Logan. The third story of the store Levens was removed.
Because of this when you go to the second story of this building there is a phantom staircase that goes to nothing. The kids thought this was pretty fun.
 Now a restaurant, this was the site for many travelers to come and go from Logan
 Here is the Passenger Station back in 1890
 In 1891 JR Edwards was a Saloon

 An old chapel in town
Thatcher Home: Moses Thatcher began the first Opera House in Logan, after it burned down he opened the Eccles Theater. This was his home.
 Moses Thatcher Jr.'s home
This was the most expensive home built in Logan. Built for $75,000 in 1907 with lumber imported from Oregon. David Eccles was one of the first multi-millionaires in Utah. This is my favorite house in Logan.
 Here is a shot of the home from 1907
Second Temple in Utah: The Logan Temple was dedicated in 1884
This was something interesting I came across in my reading. When the Logan Temple was remodeled in 1977 they found names written in the walls of people who helped build the original temple. Pretty neat.
 Here is a close up shot
 The Bluebird restaurant on Main Street. It has been in business since 1914.
Interior of Bluebird Restaurant
 In the upstairs of the restaurant, a dumbwaiter
 Now a Skating Rink, this used to be a dance hall in the 1920s
 This is what remains of the Union Roller Mills that began in 1865
 Old home in historic Logan
Another old home near Main Street
Utah State University: Began in 1888

And that is what I learned about Logan and some of its historic buildings. Thanks to the Logan library and Elise for being so into this project that she practically memorized the pictures in the books and helped me find them around town.