Hey, buddy, your graduating from middle school this week brought back the memory of your Ra Ra doing the same when I spotted her for the first time. Seeing your Grandmother that day eventually led to my meeting another beautiful girl whom I also fell in love with instantly. However, that creature so smote me, that I left my band, The Jury, whose new release had just become the #1 Canadian record in Canada so I could spend more time with her. How crazy was that?
We first met at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, where I was patiently waiting for the birth of your Uncle Curtis. I’m sure that you can understand and appreciate how shocked and surprised I was when your Mom showed up instead. I had absolutely nothing planned for a daughter, but knowing her as I do, she probably had an idea or two of her own. As I said, she was a total surprise which she continues to be.
Through the years, your Mom has provided me with so many cherished memories that I would be remiss if I didn’t share a few of them with you.
grabbed hold of my heart.
Time to grow up and be a man
But I still kind of miss
just being a kid in a
Your Mom’s story began in a suburb of Winnipeg called Transcona where I fondly remember her first Christmas. The presents almost covered the entire living room floor and looked a lot like how it looks at your place at Christmas time. I can still picture her sitting there surrounded by all the gifts, licking the Smartie I was feeding her whenever your Ra Ra wasn’t watching.
It almost took all day to open up all her presents, but the one I remember the most was the green race car her “little” Grandpa gave her. I have no idea what my Dad was thinking, because, at three months of age, it was going to be a little difficult for her to peddle it.
The thing about your mother that was so unusual was she could sing before she could talk. I’m pretty sure that she loved the Christmas tree more than the presents under it because the ornaments looked like little microphones that were waiting for her to sing into them.
As I said, shortly after your Mom was born, I left my band the Jury and started a whole new career in radio. Unfortunately, the only way you make decent money in the communications business is you’ve got to move around a whole lot. Eventually, after living in Saskatoon, Sudbury, Ottawa, and Toronto, we ended up in America, where our first stop was Indianapolis.
We lived in a very cool suburb called Carmel, which was where your Mom started Kindergarten. Back then, she was just an average student, which she remained until the fifth grade, where she met Mr. Koke. Mr. Koke not only turned her on to learning, but he also turned her into an “A” student.
As smart as your award-winning Mom was and is, she like you, wasn’t a nerd, and in fact, she ended up finishing 3rd in State in Gymnastics when she was your age.
Leaving the eighth grade as you are, reminded me of when your Mom did the same and I did the unforgivable. I ripped her away from all of her friends and moved her to California. However, California loved her, and even though she didn’t start school at Coronado High until late December, she became “Freshman Of The Year” anyway. (pictured above with your uncle Curtis, and your great grand-parents, Sandy, and Betty Johns)
Coronado just wasn’t ready for a smart cheerleader who could not only make unbelievable gymnastic moves while cheering but could also sing. This, of course, led to her getting the lead in the school’s big production of “South Pacific” where the teacher who played opposite her had to use a mic because your Mom’s big voice drowned him out. (see newspaper picture below)
During her Junior year, where she was the “Junior Of The Year,” and like you was also on the speech and debate team and managed to win the state tournament with a composition she composed as she walked towards the stage. (see picture above)
Even though her Mom and I weren’t very excited about it, she finished her senior year in France. (I’d made a deal with her that if she got straight, A’s she could go) When she returned home to graduate with her class, (see picture below), Buppa surprised her with a “Welcome Home” billboard at the entrance to the Coronado bridge. Unfortunately, it stayed up for several months which was somewhat of an embarrassment to her because whenever she met someone new, and they heard her name, they’d immediately ask, “Are you the chick on the billboard?”
Your Mom began her college career at NYU in New York, where she started in drama. (your Grandparents were also not very excited about her living in New York either) Realizing that she could learn acting anywhere, she decided to switch back to academics and made the Deans List. Then transferred to UCLA where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. (I’m thinkin’ Suma for you)
At some point, she went back to New York for a visit and popped into NYU to see her old drama professor. To see if she still had her chops, he made her read for him and after doing so, he told her that she was wasting her time going to college because she was as ready to audition for Broadway. He even offered to call me for her to explain the situation, but your Mom said that there was no need to because I was already her biggest fan. Whew!
While attending UCLA, she began writing songs and singing them at places like the Whiskey the Roxy in Hollywood. (pictured above at the Roxy)She also loved running as did I so we decided to run the LA Marathon together. (see a picture of us running a 10k in San Diego below)Living in different cities, we didn’t get to train together much, but we did get to do an excellent training run along the Mediterranean in the South of France when I took her back there for her 21st birthday. Running that Marathon Nathaniel was absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but doing it with your mother made it also one of the best things I’ve ever done.
After graduating she began working for Charlie Minor who was the president of Giant Records who taught her the record business which eventually led to her becoming the Licensing Director for WEA. (Warner, Electra, and Asylum Records) At about the same time, she also recorded an album with her band The Tortured Poets but wouldn’t sign the one-sided contract which meant that the album was never released. However, I still have it so I get to enjoy it over and over again. You can hear my favorite cut by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page,
I’ll never forget being with her at Camp Pendleton the night before the competition enjoying a carbo-loading dinner when the Company Commander got up to welcome us. (your Dad couldn’t be there because a rattlesnake had bitten him while he was running trails back in LA) He said, “We Marines are supposed to be the toughest people on earth, but, I don’t have a single person on this base who can do what you’re going to do tomorrow.” I think your Mom may have missed the part about the event being called the Ironman, not the Ironwoman.
Geo’s Media Blog is an inside look at Radio, Music, Movies, and Life. For a sneak peek at some upcoming Blogs, or some that you may have missed, go to GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is appreciated.