Monday, July 30, 2007

I Love Performing for Kids

One of the great joys of performing with Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT) has been through its Popcorn Children's Theatre. This year I have been the title character in King Midas; last year I was Walt the Wizard in The Poet Who Wouldn't be King, a wonderful new play by Maria Menozzi; and 2 years ago I was the Narrator in An Afternoon With Hans Christian Andersen. Children are the best audience members. They get right into the story. They laugh out loud. Some even talk to the characters during the performance.

Two examples of the personal rewards I feel when performing for the kids: 1) During one of the King Midas performances, when I was yelling at one of the servants to bring me food, a somewhat-but-not-too little voice called out from a blanket right at the edge of the performing area, "You don't have to yell at her!." It was difficult to keep a straight face and stay in character after hearing such a wonderful reaction. 2) This past Saturday, I was sitting backstage out-of-costume between performances when a small boy appeared urged on by his mother who looked around and asked if King Midas was still there. Someone pointed me out and they came over and the mother said, "My son wanted to meet you and offer you some popcorn," at which point the boy smiled shyly and proffered a bag of our most popular concession item. I thanked him and took a few pieces. Then the boy smiled shyly and thanked me!

Every time I think about these and other encounters with the kids in the audience a big grin appears on my face. We still have 3 more weekends of King Midas performances to go. . . and I am already looking forward to next season. Thanks kids!

Friday, July 27, 2007

CCPT Weekend #3

Well, here comes weekend #3 for CCPT's 2007 season. This will be the midpoint for King Midas which runs through the 3rd weekend in August. But it is the final weekend for Much Ado About Nothing which will be followed for the next 3 weekends by Neil Simon's The Good Doctor.

To celebrate the success of the Much Ado run and the incredible ensemble, here is a full cast picture (which I believe came from Eric Billitzer's camera):

Director extraordinaire Ken MacFarlane is right in the middle of the photo (wearing a blue t-shirt). I offer my personal thanks and gratitude to him for letting this curmudgeon perform in his first Shakespeare venture as the delightfully dense Dogberry.

Flashback. . . Counting Cows

While working out this morning at the rehab center, a friend commented that he made the time on the treadmill seem to go faster by counting cars driving by and compared the number for each minute. And, for some strange reason, that triggered a memory from the distant past.

When I was a kid and we were traveling by car through the countryside, we counted cows. If there were 2 or more of us, we were divided into "left" and "right" side teams. My most specific memories come from the drive from Detroit to the Ada & Manny Klinger family cottage on Lake Erie between Harrow and Leamington, Ontario. Often the cow counting competition involved me and my cousins Mark and Susan Klinger.

It's strange how an off-handed comment can conjure up memories from 60 years ago. At a later date, I will have to talk about the many ways Mark & I found to get into trouble with his mother when we were at that cottage. But I need much more time for that.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Butch Survives. . . Now it’s Time for Harry

It feels so good to have some time to read again. I finally finished Robert Tannenbaum's Counterplay. DA Butch Karp and the whole Karp-Ciampi family did appear to survive although that may not be clear until Tannenbaum's next novel, Malice, is published next month.

And now it's on to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. My copy arrived from 2 days ago and I'm ready to dig in. Now if all my friends who have read it since it came out last weekend will please not tell me anything about it. . . .

A Midsummer Night. . .

A real treat last night. With friends Sandy & Mike Buttitta, we went to see Shakespeare Festival/LA's Bard in the Garden production of a Midsummer Night's Dream at the South Coast Botanic Garden. We got there early with our chairs and coolers filled with food and beverage for a relaxing picnic and a night of great entertainment.

I have probably seen Midsummer. . . six or more times in my life. This production was a jazz version with contemporary music and great costumes, including zoot suits. The "Central Avenue" influence was clear in the performance, set and music. The cast not only could act but also sing and dance backed up by a jazz trio. The words were Shakespeare's. The music was not, with such standards as Central Avenue Breakdown (by Lionel Hampton), It's Only a Paper Moon, Dream a Little Dream of Me, A Kiss to Build a Dream On, I've Got you Under My Skin. . . you get the idea. Truly a well done and unique production.

Below are photos of the program cover and the setting:

A truly delightful evening. And now to get ready for Weekend 3 of CCPT.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

To My Little Girl and Her Baby Brother. . .

About 3 weeks ago, I posted a special blog in honor of my oldest son Bill's 40th birthday. My daughter added a comment about her then upcoming birthday and equal space and stuff like that with a J. I responded that she would probably have to wait until she was 30 to get that much space blogspace from me.

Well, today is Alicia's 26th birthday. And since I said nothing about her baby brother Seth's 24th birthday in mid-May, I thought I would acknowledge both of them here with the 2 photos below:

With the absence of dates on the backs of the originals, I can only guess that the top picture has Alicia near age 3 and Seth about 1, with the lower photo probably taken when they were 4 and 2 respectively.

Just to bring everything up-to-date, here they are mugging it up this past Mother's Day at Momoyama restaurant in Torrance.

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY Alicia! Keep making us proud of all you do. I don't know many young people who could handle the load you have taken on, pursuing 2 Master's degrees simultaneously at 2 different institutions (even if they are across the street from each other). I mean, how many people have that combination of degrees in Higher Education Administration and Jewish Communal Studies.

And a belated public HAPPY BIRTHDAY Seth. (Hey – it's only 2 months and 8 days late.) I don't know how you do all that you do. . . working as Technical Director for your old high school's drama department, doing free lance sound and light work, and nearing completion of the requirements for your teaching credential.

Well, The Ancient One has managed to embarrass all of his offspring this month. It must be love, respect and pride.

Monday, July 23, 2007

On Being an Extra Extra. . . .

I was looking forward to today! I was booked to work as an extra (more properly called background talent) for the TV series Boston Legal which began shooting the new season's episodes about 2 weeks ago. And I was booked to work in the "law offices" rather than the "courtroom" which suited me just fine. There are fewer actors in the offices and they can work all season. Courtroom spectators, reporters, etc. can work one trial and then have to wait a month or two before they can work again.

And I really enjoy working Boston Legal. . .for a couple of reasons. As I found last season, it is simply a fun set to work on, even if you are a lowly extra. And, what is even more important for me, they shoot at Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach, which is an easy 12.5 mile drive for me (all on surface streets).

So, I arrived at 10:00 a.m., a very civilized call time. Courtroom personnel had been there since 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. and were finished by 11:00 a.m. There seemed to be a rather slow pace to the startup of the season's shoots. Well, the 9 of us called to work in the law offices sat around for 2 hours before we were called to the set. Then 7 of us were placed in the scene being shot. I was told to wait in the set's conference room along with one other extra. At 1:00 p.m., shooting paused and we were given an hour for lunch. We returned at 2:00 and were called back to the set at 2:30 where the same 7 extras completed the scene and the other 2 of us sat. At 3:00 p.m., the scene completed, we were sent back to "holding," where we sat and socialized until they released us for the day at 4:15 p.m. Getting done that early was unusual. And for me, not getting to participate at all in the shoot was a first.

Oh well, I now know what it is to be an extra Extra. But I'll be back on the set when they give me the next opportunity. The pay is lousy if you're not yet in the union but it is generally a lot of fun. And it also let's me get caught up on my reading which had been put aside during rehearsals for this summer's CCPT plays.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Pottermania in the Park

The new J. K Rowling book, Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows, went on sale Saturday, July 21 at 12:01 a.m. During our performance of King Midas that afternoon, I did see a young fellow in the audience. . .reading the book (and he did escape the cameras eye). But the mania for young Harry reached backstage too! The photos below shows what 2 of the actors in Much Ado About Nothing were doing today while waiting to go on stage for their scenes.

It really was another wonderful weekend of CCPT performances in the park this weekend. We even had good-sized audiences considering all the "Much Ado About Harry."

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A 3 Generation Blogging Family

It all stated with my first born son Bill. He started BillyBlog some time back, maybe 2 years ago. Then his sister Alicia started her Dreaming on a Moonbeam, to which she makes occasional postings, last year. The third sibling Seth appears to do a little blogging over on his MySpace page.

On February 23 of this year I added the 2nd generation when I began this blog, The Ancient One, Blessed be He. And now I have learned that my oldest granddaughter/Bill's oldest daughter Jolee started her own blog (I'm sure with Dad's help) this past May to which she has made over a dozen postings.

Congratulations Jolee! You have made the Cohanim a 3 generation blogging family. I wonder how many others like us are out there!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ready for Weekend #2 (CCPT)

As the 2nd weekend of the Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT) 2007 Season approaches, I couldn't resist adding 2 more pictures here. They were taken by Suze Campagna and forwarded to the cast by Director Heidi Dotson.

From Left: Susan Odom, Shannon Pritchard, Sharon Savene, Frantz Delsoin, Bethany Hilliard, The Ancient One & Laurie Baron All are posed at the end of the dance in Act 1 (I believe that Teresa Waxer's head is barely visible on the table and, alas, Blake Anthony is out of camera's range.)

Apollo (Frantz Delsoin) plays the lyre

I hope many of you come to Carlson Park this weekend to see both King Midas and Much Ado About Nothing.

And There She Was. . .Staring at Me

I went to the front door and opened it a little while ago. And there she was, a Peahen, staring at me. She turned and left before I could get a picture but I followed her and did get the picture below as she stood at the side of the house determining her next move (which was to fly up to the roof).

While some would disagree, I have always found that one of the pleasures of living on the Palos Verdes Peninsula is the presence of peafowl. The peacocks are more colorful than their female companions but they all bring a smile to my face, especially when they come to our yard to visit.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


In an attempt to give recognition to everyone involved in CCPT's 2007 Season, I present below selected pages from the Program (designed by Steve Lekowicz) for this summer. If they prove difficult to read, click on the images and you should get an enlarged copy on your screen.

The cover, with artwork by Dean Suh:

King Midas (Performances: July 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29 and August 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19 at 12:00 noon):

Much Ado About Nothing (Performances: July 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29 at 2:00 p.m.)

The Good Doctor
(Performances: August 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19 at 2:00 p.m.)

The company:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stage Managers Rule. . .

Every actor who has performed on stage knows the importance of the Stage Manager. Generally, once a show opens the Director hands over the reins to the Stage Manager who makes sure that each performance goes on as scheduled and serves as a super problem solver. It requires someone who is an expert in everything from technical theatre to psychology.

I have been lucky over the past 12 years to work with some truly outstanding stage managers but the one who is the crème de la crème is Suze Campagna who currently is keeping us in line for both Much Ado About Nothing and King Midas (where she was a last minute volunteer to help). Suze always seem to have a smile on her face as she wrangles actors, makes sure the set is in place and deals with all the little problems that always seem to come up. She has the ability to be firm and pleasant at the same time. (Below are pictures of Suze at rehearsals of Much Ado About Nothing in Culver City, one at the Vet and the other at Carlson Park.)

I first met Suze when I began performing with Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT). I'm not sure but I think she has stage-managed 5 plays in which I have appeared. And there is one special characteristic of Suze that makes life a lot easier for both Suze and the cast members. It is what she calls her red box (which I believe has grown to 2 tool boxes) which contains everything that she might need to repair a set, fix set pieces and props, hold costumes together and help actors deal with headaches. I'm sure that many stage managers have an equivalent to Suze's red box. But how many of them also include a couple of pairs of men's black socks; there is always someone who forgets to bring theirs.

Suze has become a dear friend as well as a favorite stage manager. I am sure I speak for all actors who have worked with her when I say THANK YOU!

See you in the park on Saturday Suze. And I will be on time or I know my cell phone will be ringing. You are the best!!!

Harry Potter is Coming. . .Once Again

Now that rehearsals are over and I have time to get back to reading books, I have just ordered my copy of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows. I do look forward to reading it when it arrives and anticipate enjoying Volume 7 as much as I enjoyed 1-6.

But I don't think that I am the biggest Potter fan among the Cohanim. Alicia has asked to borrow all 6 of the previous volumes in the series. Sounds like she plans to reread them all. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Random Baseball Thoughts from my Youth – In the Neighborhood

Today my mind wandered back to growing up in Detroit and Tigers baseball. I included some early memories in a post back on March 30 as the 2007 season was about to open. But this morning I was thinking about 2 baseball luminaries who lived in my neighborhood. I was able to find out a bit about them on the Baseball Historian website.

The first was Harry Heilman, a Hall-of-Famer who lived 2 blocks away on Edison (between 14th and LaSalle). I had heard stories of his exploits but most of my knowledge of him was as the play-by-play announcer for the Tigers as I was growing up. In those days, that meant live radio of home games and simulated broadcasts taken off the ticker tape of away games. And occasionally, when he was leaving home for the stadium, he would nod and say hi to any of the kids playing on the street.

His bio in the Baseball Historian points out that he was a 4-time batting champ who was with the Tigers 1914-1929. His career batting average was .342 and there were 4 seasons when he hit over .390 (1921, 1923, 1925 & 1927)!! But I only knew this neighbor as an announcer.

The 2nd player was Dizzy Trout, a right handed pitcher who was with Detroit 1939-1952. He won 170 games in his career, all but 9 of them with the Tigers, and had a lifetime ERA of 3.23. Another of Trout's achievements: He had 10 children, one of whom (Steve) followed in his father's footsteps as a major league pitcher. As I recall, Dizzy also lived on Edison (between 12th and 14th) and was the next door neighbor of our rabbi, the renowned Morris Adler. He was always friendly on those occasions when we got a chance to see him by his house. His picture, on the right, appears to have come from a newspaper clipping:

I did meet one other Tiger way back in the post-war 1940s. That was outfielder Dick Wakefield, one of the first bonus babies when he signed for over $50,000 out of the University of Michigan in 1941.

He most likely was one of the first 2nd generation ballplayers; his father Howard pitched for the Cleveland "Naps" 1905-1907.

Wakefield had one super season (1943) and then entered the service. When he returned after the war, he was never the same player. He lived about a block from my cousin Mark Klinger and we walked down the street one morning and knocked on his door. That's how I met him briefly.

So those are some of the random thoughts I was having today about the first major leaguers I ever met.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Oh, What an Opening Weekend (CCPT)

I sure did sleep well last night after a wonderful and exhausting opening weekend for the Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT) 2007 season opening weekend. Rehearsals are over and performance time began. Both King Midas and Much Ado About Nothing got off to successful starts and it seemed, as I guess it should, that Sunday's performances were better than Saturday's.

For me, the highlight of the weekend was Sunday audiences. For the Popcorn Children's Theatre performance of King Midas, in addition to the regular audience members, we were blessed with 2 vans full of youth from the Omega program in Downey, CA. These wonderful young people with learning disabilities laughed and hooted all the way through the play. And, as is so often the case, the cast members responded in kind and it was a rollicking performance. Rarely have I felt so turned on by an audience and it was a joy to meet and talk with many of the Omega youths after the show. One of their leaders explained to me that for these kids, what they saw on stage was real and they delighted as the dress of the Princess turned to gold when she was touched by her father, the king with the Midas Touch in Act 1 and when the good king ended up with the ears of an a. . . . donkey in Act 2. I hope they come back and see the show again.

Below, thanks to stage manager extraordinaire Suze Campagna is a handful of pictures from yesterday's performance:

King Midas (The Ancient One) and the Princess (Shannon Pritchard); Fraculous (Sharon Savene) in background.

A dancing (?) King Midas with Friculous (Bethany Hilliard)

Midas and the Princess about to go on stage for Act 2

The great god Apollo playing the lyre for [seated] Tmolus (Teresa Waxer), Midas, the Princess and [standing] Friculous and Fraculous

Midas checking body parts after Apollo rewards him with the ears of a donkey.

Alas, I do not yet have pictures of the Much Ado About Nothing performances but will post some when they are available to me. The whole cast was amazing on this first weekend (with 2 more to go) and I survived my first attempt at Shakespeare. But then, Dogberry is such a wonderful, muddled character there was no way I could fail. And the audiences were great with a somewhat larger (I'm guessing about 100), much louder crowd on Sunday to which the cast (as was the case in the children's show, responded.

And now to get some of my other work done. No more rehearsals although lines do get run at least once a day. How nice to have a week night at home again!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rehearsals are Over. . . Now the Real Thing (CCPT)

I've been quiet here for the past couple of days as we went through dress rehearsals for CCPT's productions of King Midas and Much Ado About Nothing. The big personal news: After all of my panic and agonizing, I have learned my lines and feel ready for Saturday's [ read that as "tomorrow's"] opening performances.

Below are a few pictures from the final dress rehearsal for Much Ado. Those of you who saw my first post on the costumes for this production will notice that there was a rather dramatic change in the costuming concept for the show.

Rex Hoss, Barb Ross and Kat Bylska

Shannon Pritchard, Sharon Savene and Susan Odom (Rear: Jim R. Felton)

Eric Billitzer and Barb Ross

Teresa Waxer and Kat Bylska

Matt Van Winkle, John Glass and Jim R. Felton

Opening tomorrow. . . I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

King Midas Publicity (CCPT)

Most of the pictures I have posted from rehearsals for Culver City Public Theatre's (CCPT) 2007 season have been for Much Ado About Nothing. In order to give a little more balance, below is one of the publicity pictures for King Midas taken last Sunday by Director Heidi Dotson. It shows The Ancient One as the title character with Shannon Pritchard, the Princess.

The full CCPT press release for King Midas can be found here. The season opens this coming Saturday (July 14) and the children's shows are always a lot of fun. . .for both audience and actor.

All-Star Break

As much as I love baseball, I believe this is only the 2nd post that touches on what I still believe is the "national pastime." Last night I was thinking what a good year this is for my 2 teams. As a lifelong Detroit Tiger fan, it does my heart good to see last year's American League champions leading the Central Division by one game at the All-Star break. And the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team I adopted over 26 years ago through marriage, is sitting only one game out of first place in the NL West after a bumpy 1st half that showed both brilliance and frustration. I expect to see both of my teams in the post-season again this year. If they should ever meet each other in the World Series, it would create some interesting moments in our household.

While I won't be able to watch the All-Star game on TV tonight, I am delighted to know that 5 Tigers and 3 Dodgers are on the respective rosters. This is truly a wonderful and unusual All-Star year.

This rambling also was stimulated by a license plate I saw on the drive home from my rehearsal in Culver City last night. I did get a picture while stopped at a light that is self-explanatory for a Tiger fan who lives on the left coast.

It's always good to find other Tiger fans so far from the place of my birth and formative years. I hope it is a good omen for the balance of the season.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Another Little Milestone

One month ago today, this blog of The Ancient One received its 500th hit since tracking began. This afternoon at 4:46 p.m. PDT hit #1000 was recorded. It came from a Delta Entertainment IP Address, apparently in Los Angeles. And, based on the Google search that ID'd the site and the length of time the visitor actually viewed it, I suspect it was no accidental hit. Thank you #1000. And, if you are willing, let me know who you are.


Additional note posted on July 10: After posting this yesterday, I discovered last night at the Much Ado About Nothing rehearsal that #1000 was Eric Billitzer, a fellow CCPT member and cast member in Much Ado. Thank you Eric!

Blatant Self-Promotion (2) - CCPT

In the previous post on this past weekend's rehearsals in preparation for the opening of CCPT's 2007 season, The Ancient One did not appear in any of the photos. Now, thanks to Rex Hoss, who took many pictures yesterday and posted them in a slide show at his site, I was able to download 2 of the pictures in which Dogberry appeared and I append them here for self-promotional pleasure. The other 2 actors in the photos are Milton Chen (Hugh Oatcake) and Sharon Savene (Frances Seacoal).

Down to the Wire for CCPT 2007

Well, we spent the weekend in the park rehearsing both Much Ado About Nothing and King Midas. The set was tweaked and yesterday most of the cast members were in costumes to get a feel for working in the space while fully bedecked. For me, it really felt good to finally do a complete run throughs of both plays. . .and in costume too! After all my early panic and doubts, I am comfortable, for the most part, with my lines and blocking. I know we all will be ready for next Saturday's opening of the CCPT at Carlson Park in Culver City.

Below are a few of the photos I took at yesterday's rehearsal of Much Ado. (Unfortunately, I am not off stage long enough to get pictures of King Midas.) The pictures do reflect the "new" Gypsy concept of the production.

From Left: Kat Bylska, Susan Odom, Teresa Waxer and Sharon Savene

From Left: Jim R. Felton, Tanya Gorlow, Barb Ross, Eric Billitzer, Savene and Waxer

From Left: Milton Chen, Felton, Gorlow and Ross

Rex Hoss

John Glass and Shannon Pritchard

For a slide show and additional comments on the Much Ado production, please visit the blog of friend and fellow cast member Rex Hoss, pictured above as he sings his way through the closing of the show. If I'm not mistaken, you will also see some images of The Ancient One as Dogberry over at Rex's place.

Friday, July 6, 2007

A Bunch of the Boys Were Whooping it Up. . .

Ron Rudolph turns 75 next week. So his friend Vince DiFiore called a bunch of us to come out and celebrate this auspicious occasion. This morning 8 of us, including Ron, gathered in the local Ruby's for breakfast and (loud) story telling. We had a great time (as can be seen by Ron's face below) although I am not sure all the other customers were delighted at the raucous sounds generated by a bunch of white-haired fellows.

I'm not certain but I think I first met Ron when we performed with the Prime Time Players in Once Upon a Mattress about 9 years ago. I talked about this year's production, in which Ron was a co-star here. I've only done 2 of the Prime Time shows but Ron has been in many.

We also performed together in the Los Angeles Jewish Theatre's 2003 production of Paddy Chayefsky's The 10th Man. That was a time of cementing friendships between myself, Ron and John Briganti (who also was at the breakfast today). We formed a carpool to make the commute from the South Bay to Hollywood for rehearsals and performances. We spent many long hours on the Harbor and Hollywood Freeways. Since that time, the 3 of us get together on a semi-regular basis for lunch. Occasionally, a 4th member of that cast, Larry Gelman comes in from Hollywood to join us as we share so many memorable stories about our acting experiences.

I have a special place in my heart for Ron. Three years ago, after I had triple-bypass surgery, he not only visited me but was the person who got me out of the house first, taking me for lunch at a local restaurant where John joined us. That was the real start of my full recovery.

So, Happy Birthday Ron (even if it's a week early)! You and Kathy are truly good friends.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Much Ado. . .About Costumes (CCPT)

We got the first look at costumes for Much Ado About Nothing last night. For this production, they have been made available to Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT) by Sony Studios which is located about 2 blocks from Carlson Park where our season opens on June 14.

Below is Maria Turnmeyer, Producer and costumer for Much Ado:

And here is a handful of photos that suggest what the final costumes might look like:

From left: Margaret (Susan Odom); Dogberry (The Ancient One); Hero (Shannon Pritchard; and Friar (Milton Chen)

To Billy Bumper Crop on his 40th Birthday

Today is the 40th birthday of my firstborn. Bill (known to many as BillyBlog) was born at the Albany Medical Center in Albany, NY. I remember that when they wheeled his mother into the delivery area, the doors closed on me and I had to wait for what seemed like forever in a room filled with other nervous about-to-become-fathers. In those days, dads weren't allowed in the delivery room. For some reason buried deep in the recesses of my memory, almost from the beginning I called him Billy Bumper Crop. It really didn't make any sense when living in Albany although it may have been a bit more appropriate 5 years later when I moved to Springfield, IL, a city surrounded by corn and soybean fields. Anyway, I promise him that the term will never escape from my lips again.

When Bill was 2, his mother Diane and I separated and a year later they moved from Albany to Honolulu. Although I missed him during the "school year," I really looked forward to the summers when, in his youth, he spent 3-7 weeks with me. In some ways our father-son relationship was better than if he had grown up in the locale where I lived. Because of the distance, I was not the "dad he visited and did fun things with on the weekend and then went home exhausted and gave mom hell." When he came to visit every summer we did have lots of fun, but we also had the arguments, the discipline issues and all those other things that contribute to a full parent-child relationship. I cherish those summers in my memories although I regret not being around during the school year, or when he fell off a basketball backboard after climbing up and sitting on the rim and fractured his scull, or all those little things that went on during the months we were apart. I remember how, at the end of each summer visit, Bill would board the plane back to Hawaii, never looking back. That hurt but it would probably have been more painful if we had maintained eye contact as he walked out of my life for another 10 months.

During the Albany summers, after the move, we had many memorable experiences together. I remember specifically a drive from Detroit (my hometown) where he arrived the summer he was 4 back to Albany. For some reason, in spite of alerts as we approached each rest area on the New York State Thruway, he never had to go to the bathroom until just after we passed the entrance and had 30 miles to go until the next one. I remember the summer he learned to swim. I remember our visits to Beazy (Bea Alexander) who had been the housekeeper/day care maven from the day of his birth. As far as she was concerned Billy was just as much her child as he was ours.

The summer Billy turned 5, I moved to Springfield, IL where I lived until after his 14th birthday. He loved swimming in the pool at Monroe Gardens (my 1st residence there). He lived through my marriage to Marcia (Tiers) and my yelling at her each year on his birthday that she was giving him too many gifts and was going to spoil him rotten. (I think he's still in touch with her.) He made friends with a boy 2 doors away, Derek Reynolds, and I believe they are still periodically in touch with each other. I remember the day Billy learned to ride a bike. He had been having a terrible time; I suspect that other kids were teasing him a bit about it. One day Bill turned down an invitation to go to the State Fair (I think) with all the other kids. He said he wasn't feeling well. After they left, he went outside and was going incessantly up and down the driveway on his bike; by the time they returned he was (for him) a fine rider.

One other Springfield highlight was his nonpaying job, at age 10, as batboy for the Springfield Caps of the Central Illinois Collegiate League, which included other teams in Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, Charleston-Mattoon, Macomb and Quincy. It happened that I was on the Board and even served a term as team President. He got to meet a lot of young college ball players, some of whom signed pro contracts. In a post on BillyBlog on Fathers Day he mentioned our 1977 cross-country trip which included a visit to Montana to see the Billings Mustangs, the Cincinnati Reds Pioneer League team, play. On that team was a pitcher named Bobby Morrison who not only had played for the Caps but had lived with us. Also on the Caps that year were a few players who later went on to the major leagues, including Charlie Leibrandt (pitcher for Kansas City most of his career), Kip Young who had brief pitching career with our beloved Tigers and whom we saw play in Cooperstown one summer in the Hall-of-Fame game, and Roger Erickson who survived a couple of seasons as a starting pitcher with the Twins and the Yankee. A few months ago, we located and I exchanged e-mails with the star of the Caps, Grayling Tobias who now is a school superintendent in a district not too far from St. Louis.

There were other significant moments for Billy during the Springfield years. In July, 1980 he had his Bar Mitzvah in Honolulu and I was there for the celebration along with some other family members. The earliest photos I have been able to find are from that time and they are below. First is Billy seated on the Bimah between me and his mother Diane, followed by one of him receiving the rabbinic blessing in front of the open ark.

The below photo is one of Cohen family members from the mainland who attended the Bar Mitzvah. In the front row are his paternal grandmother (my mother) Martha Cohen Max, her husband zaidi Abe Max, and Aunt Bobby Silberberg (my sister). In the rear are Jerry Cohen (my oldest brother), Steve Silberberg (Bobby's oldest son/my oldest nephew), and me.

After the Bar Mitzvah, Billy and I headed back to Springfield. Less than a month later Zaidi Abe died and I went out to Los Angeles for the funeral while Bill stayed with neighbors (the Barr Family). While in L.A. a strange and wonderful relationship sprung up between Abe's oldest granddaughter, Donna, and me. Over the next month, we became more serious (mostly over the phone) and Donna came to visit in Springfield arriving just before Billy returned to Honolulu for the school year. When I told him that Donna and I were considering getting married, he gave his approval. I think it was heavily influenced by how impressed he was that she knew as much, if not more, about baseball than he did. The following New Year's Day, Billy was my Best Man when Donna and I were married. When he got to Springfield for the summer of 1981, Bill, then a grown-up 14, took on a major responsibility. When his little sister Alicia was born, he was charged with making the phone calls to all of the relatives and he did a fine job of sharing our joy, and I think his as a new big brother. Over the years, his relationship to Alicia and younger brother Seth has been very special. Tehnically, he is only a half-brother to them, but there has never been anything halfway in the way they have gotten along over the past 26 years (24 for Seth). Below is a photo of Bill at 18, Alicia at 4 and Seth at 2.

We moved to Los Angeles in early 1982 and Bill spent his high school summers here. The year he turned 16 was a short summer for us because he spent a good part of it in Israel. When he was 17, he had what I believe was his first paying job; he was hired by the nearby Thrifty Drug Store as a "hand dip." He was one of the young people who made those famous Thrifty ice cream cones, scooping out the ice cream for which, even at that late date, the store charged a full 5 cents a scoop. Yes, Bill had one very strong arm that summer. And he also got a chance to hold an Olympic Torch that a local resident carried as it passed on Hawthorne Boulevard (a ½ block from where we lived) and later had it with him when he stopped in to Thrifty's for an ice cream cone and let the hand dips briefly come in physical contact with history. Below is a photo I found of Bill in his official work uniform:

The next summer Bill turned 17 and still did not have a driver's license. We told him that would be a major goal of the summer and I took on the pleasure/task of taking him out to drive in our 1980 Datsun (now Nissan) 300 (I think). It had a stick shift and we lived on a steep hill. Billy learned well although there were a couple of hairy moments when he would try to turn into the driveway while driving uphill. But that is a story that he can better share in detail. He did succeed and returned to Honolulu in August as a licensed driver. And that car became his when he graduated from college; I recall that he drove it until it died.

1985-89 were Bill's college years at Occidental College in the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles. Friends he made there have attended all of our Passover Seders since his freshman year. His friends became family members and still are. He met Melanie at Oxy. They were married in our synagogue by our Rabbi and Cantor. Their older daughter, Jolee, was born in Pasadena. I remember the first time they visited after we "child-proofed" our house only to have them tell us they were moving to New York.

I will end this tribute to Bill's 40th birthday with what I told Donna when we learned that he and Mel had the audacity to take our 1st grandchild and move across country with her: "You raise your children to be independent, self-sufficient, responsible adults. You tell them you want them to lead their own lives. And when you are successful and they do all of that, you really get pissed-off at them." How dare they take our granddaughter and move away? How dare they do to us what we did to our parents?

Well Bill, I know that all the parents in your life were successful in your upbringing. And now, as you turn 40, I can reiterate how I feel you are one of my best friends and how much I love you! Maybe at a later date, I will recall and write about more events in both your childhood and adult years. And as I find more of the old pictures, I will either add them to this post or to later blog entries. For now, enjoy your new found maturity. And just think, 10 years from now you will be eligible for membership in AARP!