Dave Richards for September 19th…………
--It was with a touch of sadness that we bade farewell yesterday to the cast and crew of the Up With People Show. Their one week visit was full of happiness, hope, and wonderful memories. They travel on from Cumberland to New Hampshire, then to Virginia, and then on to Mexico.
We knew when they came their visit would seem all too short. But we also know that a part of us and our beloved Blackstone Valley travels with them to be deposited in other parts of the world. The concept of “the melting pot” now extends well beyond the borders of the United States, as we slowly bring understanding and a voice of peace to people around the world through efforts such as Up With People.
The two shows they staged at the Cumberland High School Wellness Center last weekend were their special gift of thanks to us for our hospitality, they said. The shows were wonderful. But the memories of their visit will be just as precious to those who took the time to meet and know them. Safe travels, my friends!
--Thanks and congratulations to Elizabeth Featherston and her committee who put on an outstanding Great PumpkinFest in North Smithfield last Saturday! So many families came and all had a fun time. I was impressed by the smooth operation of the PumpkinFest, and delighted to see that my friend Peter Branconier and his friends were there helping to keep everyone safe and happy. Well done! Now, on to Settler’s Days in Manville this weekend!
--Following up on last week’s comments, I told you about my friend John who owns a radio station in the Florida Keys and how he struggled to get some of the locals down there to evacuate before Hurricane Irma hit.
Well, there was good news and bad news for John when he returned to his property. The good news was that his studio and office building was damaged, but still standing and usable. Better still, his radio towers were still mostly vertical and can be used while he arranges for permanent repairs. That was remarkable, but, as he said, they built them extra strong because they knew about how hurricanes visited that area. The guy wires were designed for 190 mile an hour winds, where many such towers elsewhere are designed to withstand only 110 mph winds.
Of course it’s not always the winds which cause towers to collapse, it’s the solid objects which become airborne and which get thrown into the tower which weakens them and brings them down. John was lucky. That didn’t happen.
On the other hand, he had no utility power and no promise of when it would return. He also could not generate power, either. Water from the storm surge had gotten into the fuel tanks and there was no replacement fuel, so they had to wait. By the end of the week, though, John was on the air, serving his islands with local news and information.
I’m sure you’re waiting for a report on the fate of those neighbors John left behind when he evacuated. The truth is he doesn’t know if the people he doesn’t see around town were killed or if they just haven’t returned from shelter yet. It will be some time before we know.
--I often caution against jumping to conclusions when hearing news reports. My experience in the news business as a reporter has taught me that first reports, and sometimes even subsequent reports can either be in error or simply give the wrong impression. A good example of this is the horrible news which came out of Florida last week that 8 elderly residents of a nursing home died for lack of air conditioning when the power was out for days.
I heard comments that the people who ran the nursing home and the staff were murderers and should end up in jail.
But as Paul Harvey used to say, “Now here’s the rest of the story”.
Evidence has been found and confirmed that the people in charge at that nursing home took extraordinary steps to secure help from the outside. Not only did they contact local authorities, but when help didn’t come from them they called the personal cell phone of none other than the Governor of Florida to beg for his assistance. It turns out that the tragedy actually happened because somebody forwarded the voicemail message on the governor’s cellphone to two other agencies which did not or could not help. Anyway, help did not come in time for these 8 residents. Not at all what we were lead to believe from the first news reports, was it?
--Before I go, I need to say a word about a friend of mine who died on September 8th here in Rhode Island. I didn’t learn of his passing until it was too late to mention it last week.
The people you will miss the most when they are gone are the ones who lived life on their own terms, but who did so with such humor and love that they offended no one. Russ Gorman was such a man. I can’t tell you how old Russ was, he would never say. Even his death notice had no birth date mentioned. It was a game with him. About 15 years ago, Russ invited all his friends to his “100th Birthday Celebration”. It was a joke, of course. Well, at least we thought it was. No one knew for sure.
Russ counted among his friends and acquaintances movie stars and show business performers known world-wide which he met in his work as an astrologer. Yet you’d never have known it, because Russ Gorman treated everyone he met with love and caring as if they were the most important person in the world. Even a kid from Pascoag who loved radio so much he bought the first station he ever broadcast on was a recipient of his love. And I can tell you this kid was very proud to have the longest-running daily astrology program in the world airing on his station. To me, Russ Gorman was the biggest star I ever knew.
--That’s what I think. What do you think? Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.
Thanks for reading!