To The Class of 2019…


It’s been more than a half-century since I graduated high school.

That sounds more significant and noteworthy than saying 50+ years, don’t you think?

When I graduated high school, one of the options was to go to work at the GM plant, much like your dad, uncles or older brothers did.

Some went to Westinghouse or to one of the other manufacturing facilities that employed tens of thousand  of local residents over the years.

All those jobs vanished and have been gone for many years.

Some of my fellow high school grads went to college, either to further their education or to avoid the military draft.

Others went to tech schools while some enlisted in the Armed Forces or just waited to be drafted.


I went to Career Academy School of Famous Broadcasters in Columbus, OH with the draft lottery hot on my heels.

When that deferment ended, I enlisted in the United States Air Force and 3 months later, Neav and I were married.

My green tassel hung on the rear view mirror of my car until it almost literally faded away.

Can I tell you what any of the speakers said at my graduation?


Last Saturday, we attended  the 147th annual commencement of our granddaughter’s high school for the Class of 2019 (possibly 2009, I heard.) and her class had 442 seniors.

I wonder what the future holds for these young men and women?

I do offer some thoughts on how to proceed, though.

First off, to the salutatorians and valedictorians.

No one will remember most of what you said prior to graduation.

But I applaud you for doing something most people abhor.

Public speaking.

It may be the last time many of you will ever speak before a large gathering but you will be better for the experience.

What’s next?

Have a plan…and be ready to discard it in a moments notice.

Life is renown for “monkey-wrenching” things.

Have an idea where you’d like to go but be ready to slam on the brakes and head in another direction if  things change.

Want more?

Make sure you find an occupation you love.

It’s been said if you find a job you love, you’ll never “work” a day in your life.

I’ve been blessed to have found that career.

But it really took a change of jobs before I learned to truly appreciate what I still do, now into my retirement years.

However, don’t confuse a “job you love” with euphoria.

When I worked full-time, at the “job I love”, I still had days that I empathized with ax murders.

You’ll always have times like that.

Just be sure the bad ones don’t outnumber the good ones.

What else?

Take your music with you.

Music has charms to soothe the savage beast and whether you’re listening to it, or humming it, or whistling it, music can be a great equalizer during troubling times.

We drummers can always “practice” if we have two pencils or at the very least , two hands slapping on our upper legs.

Here’s another one.


Not just assignments but things that interest you.

Fiction, non-fiction, it doesn’t matter.

Just read.

How about “less is more?”

From time to time disconnect from the modern media.

Not all the time, mind you but often enough to appreciate all the neat things around you.

Stop to consider the approaching summer storm with it’s flashing lightning, rumbling thunder and pounding rains.

Then remember that it’s nothing more than different masses of air colliding.


So full of energy that it can do as much damage to our “things” as anything man made can.

In the winter, consider the fragile snowflake.

So delicate you can melt it away with a puff of your warm breath but billions of them with a stiff wind behind them can keep us from going anywhere or doing anything.

Look for the crocus flowers poking through the remnants of a late-winter snow drift.

Talk about  optimism!

But every spring, they’re there.

Here’s another thing to remember.

Figure out who your real friends are.

Not the ones who flutter by when things are rolling and fun.

Keep close the ones that are always there to help you move.

You’ll be doing a lot of that for the next few years.

A real friend will bail you out of jail…and not lecture you afterwards.

That same friend will clean up after your worst hangover…and not lecture you afterwards.

But, a real friend will tell you when you’ve really screwed up…so listen to them.

There’s more.

Don’t be afraid of mistakes.

The only folks who don’t make any mistakes are the ones who don’t try anything.

But make sure you learn from that mistake.

If you repeat that mistake, you weren’t paying attention the first time.

Lastly, dream.

We humans are not dinosaurs.

When our world changes, we can adapt and adjust and not just die and become petroleum products.

The year I graduated, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was killed while campaigning in California.

At his June 8th, 1968 public memorial service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, his younger brother, Edward (Ted) Kennedy remembered something his brother had said many times while he was living.

“Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream of things that never were and say why not”.

Class of 2019…why not?



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