Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thanks, Salty Sam

Recently there's been some media attention here over a story that tugs at the heartstrings of many central Illinois residents who grew up in the 1960's and 1970's.

It has to do with the Captain Jinks and Salty Sam Show. It has come to light that one of the stars, George Baseleon, is buried in Peoria in an unmarked grave. His family was unable to buy one, and now a fund-raiser is being planned to help funnel the outpouring of public support that has rallied since the story "broke."

I do remember watching the show as a child, but as I've read the memories and history over the past few weeks, I've realized that I really struggle to remember anything *about* the show. I was very young when it was on the air, so for me the memories are really mostly about feelings. But it does go a little further than that too.

For my fourth birthday, my parents took me and a group of my friends to see the Captain Jinks and Salty Sam show at the TV station. This was a very big deal to me, because I hadn't realized that something so glamorous as a TV station was actually within driving distance of our house. (As it turns out, it was only about 10 minutes down the road but I wouldn't figure that out until much later!) It felt so incredibly special to me to be in TV studio. A strange mix of power, performance, and excitement. We were on the air. I didn't know the difference between live and taped TV, and while it was most likely still live even then (would have been 1978) I wouldn't have known the difference, really. I remember sitting in a group of chairs on risers to the side of the "stage." I don't remember any other details, except for the feeling of electricity in the air around me. It was a TV station. WOW.

This was my first TV appearance and my first experience with the world of broadcasting. Years later, I would find I still had that wow feeling when I walked into a TV station. In fact, I still have it today - that sense of walking into a sacred place where special things happen. I worked in television news for just a little short of 5 years, with about half of it on the air. Sure, I was a bit disillusioned by some aspects of the job - but who isn't with any job? Despite that, I never lost that thrill when I saw the red "on air" light turn on. The rush of adrenaline and the anticipation of knowing I was looking at one camera, but communicating with hundreds of thousands of people. And that it was a privilege to be doing so.

For me, that is the legacy of the Captain Jinks and Salty Sam Show. None of us realized it that day we traveled to the station to watch it, but a seed was being planted. In the summer of 1995 I had an internship at the station in the news department. Every morning I would walk to the back of the building, down a long hall, to get to an answering machine that we used for an audience feedback segment. From 1999-2001 I was a full-time reporter there and often walked down that same hallway for other various reasons.

In that hallway was a picture of Captain Jinks and Salty Sam. Every time I saw it, I smiled - and said a little "thank you."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wrong Number!

We have been getting a lot of phone calls again lately for Cherise Timmerman and Shawn Rogers.

At least 2-3 a week, on average.

As a general rule, these calls are only a minor annoyance and generally go something like this:

Caller: Can I speak to Cherise Timmerman/Shawn Rogers please?
Me: (sighing inside) I'm sorry but that person is not at this number.
Caller: Do you know where they can be reached?
Me: No, let me explain. I do not know this person. I do, however, know the name because I get phone calls several times a week from people looking for them. Apparently they had this number before we did but I do not know who they are.
Caller: (This part varies from extremely rude "We won't call again" and hanging up to a much nicer, "I'm sorry for bothering you, I'll make a note on the account.")

The note part never seems to really work though, because it's the same companies calling over and over. And sure enough, a day or two later and they'll call again.

Even better than this though, are the recorded messages we get asking us to call back.


Who thinks this is a good idea? Does anyone who actually owes someone money really call these companies back?

One in particular is really bad. They show up on the Caller ID as RMI MCSI with a phone number of 708-455-4047. The message does identify them as trying to collect a debt, although other messages from them have alluded to a "municipal issue" they're trying to resolve.

When I call back, the person answers with a "How can I help you?"

Huh? Um, you called me... I'm just returning the call.

So I tell them this and then they ask me to wait a moment (while my number shows up somewhere I guess?) and then inevitably they say they are looking for Cherise Timmerman or Shawn Rogers.

Two days ago I told the guy this was at least the fifth time they have called recently and while I realize he was probably not the one responsible, he needed to get it figured out for me. And I pointed out that each return call I make is long distance.

I just googled this company and I am apparently not alone. I reported my calls and will look into it more later.

This isn't all though, another one of these "please return this call" messages landed me on the phone with a hotel clerk in Costa Rica a few weeks ago. Needless to say, I hung up very quickly but I should look into that more too.

We've also been getting daily phone calls for satellite service (we have it) and healthcare insurance (got that too - pretty good insurance, actually.)

All of this - and we have an unlisted phone number. That, I might add, we changed several years ago because of the weekly phone calls from creditors we were getting for someone else who had our number before us.

Ironic, huh?

Before you ask, no we haven't registered for the do not call list. We haven't really needed to before because the unlisted number seemed to afford us the protection we needed. But I guess the time has come.

And if you know Cherise Timmerman or Shawn Rogers, I'd love to have their current contact information... it's either that, or change the number again!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A New Blog to Read

I've been light on posting lately, but I do faithfully read a number of blogs and this -  Matt, Liz, and Madeline, is a beautiful one.

Warning: you need to start at the beginning (there's a handy link on the right side) and it is sad. But it's poetic and moving and inspirational too, in a sometimes-life-sucks kind of way.

Coincidentally, a good friend of mine just returned from a weekend at "The Farm" where she got to meet Ina May Gaskin - celebrated midwife and revolutionary. She told my friend that the numbers of maternal deaths in childbirth have doubled since 1980 - something way worth researching more.