When the Best Part of My Life Started

The Islanders restaurant – Lee Duigon

I think our order wasn’t quite this ambitious…

Today is the 46th anniversary of our first date, Patty and me… the day my own life changed altogether for the better. Thank you for that, O God!

I was the managing editor of The Bayshore Independent. She was the bookkeeper. On Dec. 26, 1976, we went to dinner at The Islanders Restaurant in Matawan (they advertised with us–and really, it was a great restaurant: Steve Wong really made it into something special)–followed by a movie (The Voyage of the Damned, bit of a downer)… and then lots and lots more dates. “Don’t you let this one get away!” my mother chode me. Well, I had no intention to.

The Bayshore Independent is gone, The Islanders is gone, most of the movie theaters are gone… but we’re still here. Praise the Lord.

Our Anniversary Today

Vintage 1955 Photograph Couple in a Fishing Rowboat on the Lake | eBay

Forty-five years ago it was, 1977. We were both working for The Bayshore Independent at the time, Patty as bookkeeper, me as managing editor. We were going to go down to Elkton, MD, and get married. So I asked our employer for two days off.

“Can’t you do that on your vacation?” he replied querulously (always wanted to use that word!).

“It’s not like I get married often,” I said. So we got the two days.

Fancy circus wedding? No, not for us. We got married in a little chapel and then went fishing. Steamed crabs for supper that evening at the old Howard Hotel. With the kung-fu class going on upstairs. Heee-yah! Thump!

Yes, it’s Anniversary No. 45 today. Thank you, Lord: for all the goodness in our lives.

Lee the Local Sports Editor

21,927 Kids Soccer Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

As managing editor of the old Bayshore Independent, my multitude of duties included setting up our local sports section every week. The towns we covered all had children’s sports leagues and parents demanded detailed coverage. They rang my phone off the hook to make sure I gave due prominence to their offspring’s athletic feats.They also sent written reports of the week’s games… which I had to rewrite.

Most of these reports were written by parents who wanted their kids to be recognized as sports stars. So-and-so scored another hat trick! Little Bobby “the Italian Stallion” Beamish–the nickname was repeated numerous times–had an assist! Andy Kabonga led the Hooterville Hotspurs to another triumph!

Some of these kids were playing in several leagues at once–like it was a job or something–and any mention of them that I failed to make instantly provoked an angry phone call. I began to form an impression that none of these children ever just played a game for fun. I wondered if mere fun was ever part of it. Heaven help me if I left out a game. Parents must have scanned our sports pages with a fierce intensity.

I don’t miss this job. Mary Gesundheit smashed a double in tee-ball! She is surely destined for stardom!

My wife, who was the bookkeeper there, used to call me up pretending to be an angry parent whose child’s hat trick had not been given all the praise it should have had. She liked the way I mindlessly went into my spiel about how sorry I am but we can’t always find space for every single nuance of every single game, etc. Then I’d realize she was pranking me, oh, fap.

Our First Date (Today)

Vintage The Islanders Restaurant Matawan Nj Glass Ashtray

This little ashtray is all I can find left of The Islanders Restaurant, where Patty and I went on our first date, 45 years ago today, 1976. It was an awfully nice Polynesian restaurant.

We worked at the Bayshore Independent, she was the bookkeeper, I was managing editor, and The Islanders was one of our advertisers. After our dinner, we went to a movie (Voyage of the Damned) and then to Sam’s Bar & Grill to meet some of my friends. They say Sam’s was haunted. But it’s gone now, just like The Islanders. You sure could get nice sandwiches there.

So this day, Dec. 26, has always been special for us. The second time it rolled around, we’d been married for four months.

We’re glad to see it come again.

Our 40th Anniversary Tomorrow

Image result for images of keyport fishery

Yup, that’s what day it is tomorrow. Patty and me, 40 years of wedded bliss and still going strong–we give God the thanks for that.

We met 40 years ago, working at The Bayshore Independent in Keyport, NJ. Once a week, at least, we got our supper from the Keyport Fishery. And it’s still there! The man who owns it now must be a genius, because he’s kept everything–including the high quality of the food–just the way it was. So tomorrow we shall dine in style.

We both agree, those 40 years seem like they went by like a shot. That must mean we enjoyed them.

Anyhow, don’t be too surprised if this blog’s a little slow tomorrow.

Memory Lane: A Misbegotten Contest

Image result for images of maniac on telephone

Many years ago at The Bayshore Independent, where I was managing editor, we wished to convince our advertisers that people who read our weekly newspaper were reading the ads, too. So the sales department came up with a cunning plan.

They invented this tiny cartoon character called Andy Indy, and every week, Andy Indy’s image would be concealed in an ad. We had a bigger image on the front page every week, showing readers what Andy looks like and explaining the incredibly simple rules of the contest.

Each week, we would select a reader at random, call her on the phone, and ask if she could tell us where Andy Indy was. If she could, she won a nice free dinner at one of our participating restaurants. We call you, we ask you, and if you know the answer, you win.

And every business day, without fail, at least 20 people would call our office to proclaim, breathlessly, “I found Andy Indy!” After a few days of this, you could go mad. They’d even call us on production nights.

What about “We call you” couldn’t these people understand? It got to be so that everybody there, reporters, editors, office staff, art department, sales, and even the kid who swept the floors, got more than his fill of “I found Andy Indy!” I wrote up an obituary for Andy Indy which the typesetter blew up and hung on the wall.

(Yeah, Lee, but don’t you get it? It was free stuff! People will try just about anything to get free stuff. Even if it’s stuff they don’t really want. So ignore the contest rules, grab that phone, and be ready to shout for all you’re worth–“I FOUND ANDY INDY!!!”)

I wonder how many of our staff still wake up screaming, 40 years later.