Thursday, February 5, 2009

Five People I Met On Earth

Dr Bob Gallagher is a friend of more than 30 years and he is someone I never met personally until a number of those years went by. You see, before there was internet gaming, there was postal (snail mail gaming). There was actually a sizeable number of folks playing games -- all sorts --through the mail, one turn at a time.

And before there were blogs, there were hobbyist home-made newsletters. Yes, the first Brouhaha was a gaming newletter that I wrote, photocopied, collated, stapled and mailed out to as many as 60 gamers.I believe I did this for 3 years or so.

Our friendship started through the mails while playing a postal game called "Diplomacy." It continued over these many years always centered around online gaming activities. I think we've gotten to know each other personally while traveling down some of life's highways.

Although Dr. Bob writes about some famous folks he's encountered in his 70 years, he is quite self-deprecating about his own life. When I first met him postally, he was a dentist then in a suburb of Pittsburgh near the steel industry flourished.. When the steel mills closed down in the 70s and 80's, Bob's dental practice withered up to the point where he couldn't afford to continue it any longer. In his forties at that point, we and wife Karen had 2 kids to support. So they packed everything up in the car (like the Beverly Hillbillies!) and drove south to Orlando, Florida to begin a new life. In true pioneer spirit, and with little else that what they could bring along in that car, they started over.

Since he's been there for almost 22 years now, and he and Karen have done what it takes to raise the family. Bob's been a catalog designer for a plumbing warehouse, a high school teacher, a puppeteer, a wood worker, an actor and most recently, a photographer at Disney World. Karen has worked for the state for many years. Consequently, both their children are college educated and graduated, are professionals on their own. Plus, they now have provided a small flock of Grandchildren.

So, when you read about the people that Dr Bob met along the way that he's admired, keep in mind that he, too, has done some extraordinary "ordinary" things in his life as well. For sure, he won’t become as famous as the people he writes about. But I am not sure any of them have anything over Bob and Karen in courage, responsibility, and hard work.

Where Was My Dream?
by Dr Bob Gallagher

Here are 5 people I’ve known, back when they had a dream of the future, and what they have accomplished.

Mickey Ferrari was three years behind me in high school. We played in a combo that another friend started. Mickey played trumpet and, no he didn’t become a great musician. Mickey loved school and wanted to further his career in college administration. Mickey’s four-year tuition at Michigan State University was $7.25, which went for some type of tax. Dr. Michael Ferrari became

President of Drake University for about 10-12 years and then moved on to Rice University. He now is retired and works as a part-time college administration headhunter.

When I was a dentist, this next individual was a patient of mine when he was in junior high and high school. He always wanted to play quarterback for Notre Dame. He turned down a free pass to play basketball at North Carolina to go to Notre Dame as #7 on the quarterback depth chart. He got his dream and then some as he played a little football in the NFL and now Joe Montana is in the NFL Hall of Fame.

While substitute teaching. (My third career) I had many football players, who had no ambition and were just putting in time until high school graduation. One of them was different. I don’t want to say he was dumber than dirt, but he had a difficult time grasping anything in school. He wanted to play football for Florida State. When there was some “free time” in class, he didn’t goof off, as the other jocks did. He kept trying to understand the work he had to do. Chauncy Davis played at Florida State and now plays defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons.

I met Richard Borg at a miniature wargaming convention. Richard wanted to design a war game that he could sell to a big time game company. He kept after his dream and developed a rules system he called “Command and Colors”. I was a Civil War game and he ended up selling it to Avalon Hill. The then transferred the system to a World War II game, which is now sold as Memoir ’44.

Shortly after I moved to Florida, the local community theater announced auditions for a production of West Side Story. I auditioned, hoping to win one of the four non-singing parts. Since there were only four of us trying out for those parts, it was, pretty much a given to get one. So, I became Officer Krupki. There was a Puerto Rican girl cast as Anita, a very demanding role requiring acting, singing and dancing. I found out that this gal was only a high school junior, attending the local school for performing arts. Just last week I saw that she was named the #6 diva on Broadway for her part in “In The Heights”. Karen Olivo, has since left the show to reprise her role as Anita in the upcoming Broadway revival of West Side Story.

I only wish that I had the same focus and desire when I was growing up, as these five individuals had in their lives.

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