Saturday, January 26, 2008

7 Decades and I'm Still Here

Today is my 70th birthday. It doesn't seem like 7 decades have passed. Wasn't I a kid just yesterday? It has gone so fast. . . . And yet so much has happened.

I went to school for 22 years! When one of my brothers said that to his then 10 year old son when I completed my Ph.D. in 1965, my dear nephew responded, "What took so long? Is he dumb?" It put it all into perspective.

And then I spent another 40 years working on college campuses; teaching, conducting research, heading up a research center, running a pre-award grants office and finally directing an office of Community Service Learning. Somewhere along the way, I began doing some acting and that began my passion and it continues past my "retirement" from the campus. As I reach my 70th birthday, I am in proud possession of my AFTRA and SAG cards. Along the way, I dabbled in politics and ran internship programs for legislatures in New York and Illinois.

On a personal level, I have been married 3 times, the final time 27 years ago. When people look at me askance when I mention that, I tell them that I was trained in the scientific method; you conduct an experiment and if doesn't work, you throw it out and start all over again. Luckily, I got it right the 3rd time! My 3 "kids" (now aged 40, 26 and 24) have brought great joy to my life and the oldest one (with his bride) has added 2 wonderful granddaughters to what I call the Cohanim.

I have had a very good life!!! And, as I prepare for the opening of my 31st stage production next week, I plan for many more and better years. I wanted to blog something special for #70. [And I knew it would not be what son Bill did over at BillyBlog on his 40th when he put up 40 posts to celebrate the big year. I knew that even if I could physically produce 70 posts, it would take me much longer than a day to do so.} So I started to rummage back through the box of old family photos and in celebration of this day, I offer pictures (mostly from my youth), many of which my kids have never seen.

Actually, the first picture I should be showing was the subject of a previous post which I put up early last month. So here I will start out by "revealing all," that magic moment in every child's life when he is photographed while being toilet trained. It was most likely taken in early 1939 and was taken by my father as are most of the pictures that follow (up through 1951).

Next in July, 1940. I think I was at a neighbor's birthday party.

Now on to 1943 with big brother Jerry.

Two shots from 1951, with my father's notes on the bottom. (Yes, that is a "modern" television set at that time.)

A picture from the 1953 National Boy Scout Jamboree held at what was then The Irvine Ranch in Orange County, California. I'm seated with a legendary scout leader, Uncle Otto Hornung. This was my first trip to California and we traveled west by train pulled by steam engines.

A picture taken at Taylor's Cottages (where we vacationed for parts of several summers), on Lake Huron near Singing Bridge, Michigan (south of Tawas City), probably in 1954.

And one with my father taken around the same period (1954-55). Note: This is one of the few pictures in which my father did not have a cigar in his mouth. However, if you look closely, it is clutched in his right hand.

And now on to my high school graduation (January, 1956); a formal photo followed by my last report card.

On to college, this was probably taken in 1958 or 1959.

And finally, a photo taken when I was in graduate school at the University of North Carolina. This was most likely taken in the fall of 1962 while I was visiting my oldest brother Jerry and wife Nina at their apartment in Hyattsville, MD.

So there it is, to celebrate my 70th, I offer up photos taken during the first 25. Who knows, I might add the intervening years at a later date.


Eric Valentine said...

Let me be the first here to wish you HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Leon.

That is a wonderful idea for a post. Unfortunately, at this time your pictures are for some reason, not showing, just the little X's.. Never fear, I know that will fix itself my friend. :)

Kalynne Pudner said...

Happy, happy birthday, Leon! I,too, am looking forward to seeing the pictures pop up.

A pleasant irony: today is the day Blogrush said I could try again to see if I had sufficient unique content for inclusion. If not for them, I would not have known you! So my click through on your blog is in honor of your momentous day :)

Leon said...

Thanks for the good wishes Eric. I'm sure you will get to see the pictures; they do show up on my computer! I truly cherish the friendship we have developed through our blogging lives. `:~D

Leon said...

Thank you Kalynne. I have enjoyed following your blog although I suspect our parenting styles are a bit different. But then again I only have 3 and never faced quite the challenges you do. :-)

Curious about BlogRush; I have been seeing the widget on your blog for some time now. Perhaps you were approved and they forgot to tell you.

Rex Hoss said...

Happy, Happy Birthday Leon!!! Wow, now I guess you can officially call yourself 'the ancient one'. :-) I can tell you how much your friendship has meant to me and what an impact knowing you has been for me. I'm truly grateful to know you and have working with you in two of those 31 theater productions. All the best to you. I look forward to seeing your upcoming show!

Bill Cohen said...

Great talking with you last night, oh Ancient One. I, too, am unable to see the photos.

Talk to you soon,

the Eldest

Anonymous said...

CONGRATULATIONS on reaching such an important milestone in your life!

The fact that you have reached 70, healthy, happy and vibrant is very inspiring to me; you give me hope!

I'm 17 years behind you and I can only hope that I'm in reasonably good shape as you are at 70!

"ROCK ON", man! Best wishes.