Dreamin’ of Ripple Wine

With my 50th reunion of my high school class, I have been asked for some background, which I thought I would share here:

After two years of college, I joined the Army Security Agency, which is under the jurisdiction of the National Security Agency rather than the Pentagon. With Vietnam in the background, I figured I was better off with civilians. I became a German linguist after training at the Defense Language Institute-West Coast, in Monterey, CA, and then went on to voice intercept school in San Angelo, TX. Then it was off to Berlin where it was my job to listen to conversations within the East German Central Committee. It was really sensitive stuff, like which boss was going to the mountains the next weekend with which secretary. My exploits in Berlin are the background for my novel, McCurry’s War. I returned to the States a little early, due to some of my escapades, but shortly after the entire barracks ended up with me in Fort Meade. Apparently a new CO didn’t like being choked to death on pot smoke while walking through the barracks, so he kicked the whole gang out. We chilled out watching Easy Rider and drinking ripple wine until our time was up.

After the Army, I worked for Hoechst Pharmaceuticals in North Philadelphia, not a particularly friendly place to be as a drug sales representative. I finished up school in the Division of Continuing Education at the former Trenton State College and got out of the US combat zone with my life. I went on to become a reporter for the now defunct Philadelphia Bulletin (not my fault), covering the Jersey Shore. I was part of the team which later won a Pulitzer Prize for the coverage of the Knight murder, although they didn’t include my name on the award. My job was to spend several nights in the gay bars in Atlantic City uncovering the heir to the Knight-Ridder chain of newspapers connections in the gay community. When I realized that the Bulletin wasn’t long for this world (and I wasn’t very popular at Knight-Ridder’s Philadelphia Inquirer), I moved on to The Sentinel-Ledger in Ocean City, where I ultimately became the editor. I spent seven happy years at The Sentinel, but in 1983 my marriage was coming apart and I realized it was time to make a change. I committed the ultimate sin for a journalist by moving into public relations.

During this period of time, I handled sensitive accounts for then NJ Senate President Jim Hurley’s PR firm and wrote position papers and speeches for his political activities. This was the period during which the greatest thing happened to me – I met Chris, who has been my partner and significant other since July 1986. Together we raised my son and her son and daughter (during their teen years). My son, Chip, is a graphic designer. Chris’s son works for the Department of Defense in the digital world. He and his wife have three beautiful children whom Chris and I adore. Chris’s daughter works at a trucking warehouse She has two children whom we also adore. Her significant other drives an 18-wheeler and is a great guy.

Chris and I were recruited in 1989 to develop a public relations and local business division for a large advertising company in Millville, NJ. That firm’s main business was in business aviation, which was taking a beating in the early ’90s. Ultimately, it lost its main $3 million account and we realized that there was no future staying with a sinking ship. At the end of 1996 we started our own marketing firm which specialized in bank marketing. Through the web design work we perform for our banking clients, we began to branch out in Web design only for customers other than bankers. We had moved to a small apartment with minimal maintenance when my father starting having memory problems. Mom was faced with selling the house if she didn’t have some help. So – since we can operate our business from practically anywhere – in the summer of 1997 Chris and I moved back to the old homestead in Levittown where we currently reside and, unfortunately, own a home again with all the hassle that goes with it. I can truly say we are happy, so I guess life has been pretty good to me.

Now, if I could only find a copy of Easy Rider and some Ripple wine.

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