Posts tagged "family"

Florida, Family, Fun Times and More! (A great read!), pub-2427795083793513, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0



welcome-to-floridaOur family started going to Florida for vacation starting way back in 1997. Back then, our now adult kids’ were little kids. We didn’t have much money but we thought they all should experience Disney World at least once in their lives as kids. I remember going to Florida as a kid in 1976 and not being able to go to Disney World. My family went to St. Petersburg and we were “that close” but Mom said “no”. So we didn’t go. It would have been cool to ride the 20,000 Leagues under the Sea submarine or watch the Mickey Mouse club gang being film but it wasn’t meant to be.

Fast forward some. So, we started the yearly family trips back in 97. We packed lunches since we really couldn’t afford to feed a family of five at Disney World. The kids never knew the financial struggle we had. My wife and I kept it secret. Granted back then the ticket pricing was different so we did convince our son Josh that he really was only 5 years old instead of 7 to get a ticket price break. We also had our oldest daughter Crystal who was 14 at the time to say she was 10. Again for a break on ticket prices. We had to do what we had to do. Britt was 10 so we kept her ticket honest. The kids had a great time in between the sandwiches and rides. All good memories.

So that was the start of something we have done almost every year since then. A family trip to Florida. Orlando was the “mecca”. We went to Ole Town in Kissimmee too. It was cheaper and not as crowded. The kids got older. We looked for hotel discounts etc. But we went. Family time was and still is, that important.

11535808_10153461205087022_4337585253026943400_nAbout 12 years ago or so my wife Denise’s boss owned a condo in Madeira beach. He rented it out when he wasn’t using it. Well, he let us use it. I hadn’t been to the St. Petersburg area since 1976. Once we got to Madeira beach it was love at first sight. It wasn’t a tourist trap but it had things the whole family could do. John’s Pass was right across the street from her boss’s condo (located in Madeira Norte’.) Our kids could go across the street to the shops or to the pier. We went deep sea fishing and dolphin sighting. Our kids and now grandkids love the Candy Kitchen!

Madeira basically became our second home. We go every year.  The kids could go to the beach. As they got older they would bring a friend or two. Then as they got married. They, along with their spouses and kids would also make the trip with us.

As the days turned into nights my wife and I would go across the street to a little bar called the Bamboo Beer Garden. It was a small friendly place and the walls and ceilings were covered in dollar bills. Signed and dated by the patrons and pinned in any open space one could find. We started our tradition too. We would go over there for a night cap. Reflect on the day. Make small talk with the others that were there. Tip the bartender and sign and date a dollar and add it to the collection. At that time Muffy the DJ would also do her karaoke act there. She wore poodle skirts and well the wind one time…Well we enjoyed watching her perform. It seemed like the people of Madeira Beach had something special in their mist. Our kind of place.

We did this every year. We would make the long drive to Florida. Rent a condo as close to John’s Pass as we could get and pull back on the throttle of life. Nice beaches, nice people. And more importantly not over run by tourists. Though I guess we were “technically tourists, or snowbirds”, we really considered it “ours too”.


Time, like it does, doesn’t stop for anyone and moves on. The Bamboo Beer Garden was sold. The name was slightly changed. It’s now called the Bamboo Beach Bar & Grill. And it was expanded for more seating. They now have outdoor seating. Long gone are the probably hundreds of dollars on the walls and ceiling. I remember calling from Kentucky before we left a couple of years ago just to make sure it was still open. (It has that kind of cool atmosphere.) The new owners (They have owned it for a few years now) always recognize us when we show up which is amazing!

This June, as we do yearly, we rented condos at Madeira Norte’. Packed up and pointed all the vehicles toward our home away from home. Madeira Beach. We arrived on Saturday, and checked in. After we got settled in the family all headed to the Bamboo Beach Bar & Grill. I think I failed to mention they serve food too! Great food and it doesn’t cost and arm or a leg. We had a large group and they made sure to accommodate us. The waiters pushed tables together so we all could eat together close to the stage.

Mark.jpgThe entertainer that night was Mark Mann. A one man acoustic act. I enjoy listening to real musicians far more than a jukebox. That night Mark was killing it. A great show. He really entertains the crowd. He was also taking requests. I am an old school music kind of guy for the most part and requested “Sylvia’s Mother”. An old Dr. Hook song that my wife really likes to hear. It’s a great song and if you have never heard it before, check it out here. Up until that night at “the Boo”, no one that I ever requested to play the song would play it, or even heard of it for that matter. Well, Mark Mann not only knew it, he pulled it off! It was awesome! Another favorite song of mine is “Taxi” by Harry Chapin. He was such a great writer and story teller. I asked Mark Mann if he knew it and BAM! I was listening to him do “Taxi”. Mark Mann was knocking them out of the ball park to use an old Kentucky term! Mark Mann was a super nice guy and in between his sets he would come over and talk to us. We talked about the music life, our families and more. Like we had known each other for years! He was such a cool guy! Later on that night he invited me up to sing backup vocals on The Eagles “Take it easy”. I was road weary and a few beers deep but I felt honored that he allowed me the opportunity to sing with him. Most Musicians don’t share the stage even for one song. Mark Mann was different. No egos or attitudes, just a good time had by all.

See that’s the kind of place Madeira is. Nice people. Nice places to go. The Bamboo Beach Bar & Grill and Mark Mann helped start off our family vacation perfectly. My wife and I hope to retire there some day soon.

What started off as five people in an old car back in the 90’s has grown into 14 people so far! We’re already planning next year’s trip! We are looking forward to The Boo” and hopefully Mark Mann will be in the area playing!

Tell us about your vacation spots!

Until next time, peace out!

IMG_1158Chuck Gee

on FaceBook


Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Chuck Gee - July 24, 2015 at 4:43 PM

Categories: General   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Barber Shop…My first time back in years, pub-2427795083793513, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

   (If you enjoy the story, please comment/Like on Facebook and share )


So I went to a Barber shop over the weekend. It has been a long time since I have been in one. I have to admit that over the years periodically I have been to a few hair salons and such but not a “Man’s” barbershop. Here’s the story.


I remember very vividly as a young boy my Grandpa (Buzz) taking my brother and me to the Barber shop to get our hair cut. It was at Buster’s barber shop on Second Street. We would go in, Pops, David, and me, grabs some chairs that lined the long front glass windows facing the busy street and wait patiently for our turn. I was always the curious one. So while waiting my turn I would look at the hunting magazines or newspapers of the day. Buster’s also carried among many things a line of Zippo lighters hanging on the wall and I would look them over trying to figure out how they got those fancy feathered fishing hooks inside of those lighters. There was also a drink machine. The old school kind where you raised the lid and slide the cold coca cola bottle over to a slot to retrieve it. Seems like it was a dime for a small bottle… When the barber chair was empty and my name was called my Grandpa would help me climb up into it and sit on the booster seat. I was pretty small back then and still in grade school so I needed the extra lift in order for the Barber to cut my hair. The Barber would then drape the cape around me, tie it down and get to work. Back then I didn’t have a say so on what style I could get so it was the standard cut for the time. I think it was called a burr haircut…

The barber would start out with his scissors and clip away. He, and my Grandpa along with the other patrons would carry on with stories and small talk as he went about his art of turning this shaggy headed little kid into a proper looking boy of the day. I can remember even protesting back then at an early age that I didn’t want it that short!… And I can to this day feel those trimmers going over my ears. I knew when he got to that point it was almost over. Trim around my big ears, then the back of my neck, a few whisks of his hand brush around my head and shoulders and then off came the cape. I would slide down off the booster seat, plant my feet on the big metal foot rest. Reach out for Buzz’s hand and jump off. “NEXT”! The Barber would say and the next victim would jump up in the chair. I seem to remember that I never wanted to be first so after my turn at the chair, we were out of there…

Fast forward a few years. Junior High. By then feathered haircuts where in style for young guys like me so we started going to Hair salons. Arnold’s barber shop in particular. A barber shop yes, but in the true sense of the word, it was more of a hair salon. I wasn’t getting my hair cut I was getting it styled. He had a woman in his shop that also cut hair. Nothing wrong with that but it was different than a “Man’s” barber shop. I suppose it’s similar to a Lady’s salon. Where strictly women go to have their hair done. It’s “their” time away from the opposite sex.

High School came and went. The 80’s were here and it was the hair generation. Not the hippie generation of the 70’s but the big hair of the 80’s generation. Rock music, Rock concerts and Aqua Net… And lots of it.

So except for the occasionally trim, barbershops and salons became foreign to me. I grew my hair out and really never looked back…

Sometime in the late 90’s the bald look came in for men. Well, I just couldn’t bring myself to follow that trend so while most guys were gladly trading in their long locks for a Mr. Clean look, I didn’t. I stood my ground. I also didn’t wear flannel. Once again, bucking the entire system as an outsider. The bald head looked great on my friends…but it wasn’t for me.

The Millennium rolled around and the ball dropped but not on me. Still no change for me. Hair today, hair tomorrow.

I have often thought about cutting it on several occasions. Once when my Grandmother died back in 1995 but she said to me before she died she wouldn’t recognize me if I did. I was honored at both of our daughters’ weddings to be able to give them away and I seriously thought about cutting it both times. I had even thought about cutting it for the Father Daughter dance in 2001. But I didn’t.

I guess that deep down inside me it has something to do with giving up or growing up. I hate to give it. Remember what Commander Taggert said in “Galaxy Quest”? “NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!” In reality, it’s just hair. But it’s mine. It’s me. It’s about me…

I have managed to escape the job market with it because I do wear it up in a hat at work and have pretty much since I have had this job.

Okay, oaky. You’re wondering about this past weekend. So here we go.

Saturday I parked my truck and stepped into the Barber shop. It looked familiar like the ones of old I have been to as a kid. The ground didn’t feel “funny” like it did to the mariner on “Water World”, it felt comfortable. I looked around and sized up the place. Black and white checkered floor. Muscle car garage theme on the walls. Ok, two barbers’ chairs. One chair was empty and only one barber on duty. His chair had a guy in it and the Barber was busy clipping away. “Hi”, I said. “You got time for one more?” To which he politely replied “yea, just grab a chair”. So I grabbed the first chair and sat down by the door.

As I looked around I did take notice that there wasn’t a drink machine in the corner. Nor were there Zippo lighters for sale on the wall either. Neither were there stacks of old magazines or newspapers. So what was there you ask? So much more than that.

It’s hard to explain but will I try. Something that as a young boy I somehow maybe not had recognized but was made fully aware of it now as an adult. The importunacy of a barber shop. Or for the ladies I suppose a hair salon. A soon as I sat down a couple more guys came in after me and grabbed a seat to wait their turn in the chair. The gentleman getting his hair cut in the chair continued talking but not just to the Barber but also now to me… And to the other guys in there. This went on for several minutes…

And then it happened. Just like when the Grinch’s heart melted and he saw the true meaning of Christmas for the first time, the light bulb went off in my head.

The Barber shop is an institution. A tradition. A time honored place were men can meet and talk about the events of the day. It’s a neutral place. No enemies,’ just friends that you may not even know their names. Shortly after I sat down as the one guy in the chair was talking, I noticed before long we all were talking like we had known each other for years. He had worked at Delkers. My Grandparents had also worked at Delkers. Delkers had closed around 1973. So look at all those years that have passed and here we were on a Saturday morning 41 years later talking about the freight elevators in that old building that had long since been torn down. So much in common. So much more than a haircut but it’s the thing that brought us together. The Barber knew my old “stylist” Arnold. He also knew Buster’s barber shop. He spoke kindly of the old timers that used to cut hair too.

We all sat there as the barber was finishing up with is customer. He had out the trimmers going ove the back of the gentleman’s neck and over his ears. Next up was the whisk brush. He gently whisked away the clippings… Then off came the cape. The guy stood up. Checked himself out in the mirror and told the Barber thank you and handed over his money for a job well done. The Barber then spun the chair around toward my general direction and said


I stood up and just

But wait, there’s more!

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Chuck Gee - June 10, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Categories: General   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Changing of the Guard…, pub-2427795083793513, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

The Changing of the Guard…

It’s tough. It happens. I have a hard time seeing it both ways and quite frankly, can’t even stop it..

The changing of the guard. The student becomes the teacher.…It’s an old phrase that’s been around forever. But what does it mean? Well, to me it means things are constantly and slowly ever changing. One day you are a kid and the next you are raising kids. And then the next day your kids are raising kids so you continue to move down the line of life so to speak. Your parents once were the “guard” and responsible for your well being and safety. They nurtured you. Hopefully they held you, read to you and spent as much time as they could building memories with you.  My Mom said to me when I was older and it’s probably the most profound statement she ever said. She said “I held onto you as long as I could but it was as if you were just whisked from my hands”.

It’s a powerful statement that speaks volumes. I would only realize that years later with our own children. My wife and I did everything with our kids. We were never apart for more than a day or so. Whatever she and I were doing we took them too. Whether it was vacations, camping or just shopping, we piled them up in the car and they went too. I even played music on the road during the weekends and I took our son with me. The girls never wanted to go so they stayed home with their mom. But we read to them. We held them. We spent as much time as we could with them building memories. My boss at the time also had a profound statement he shared with me. He and his wife raised two kids. He said that it seemed like forever his house was always bustling with kids and their friends. His said the phones were always ringing off the hook and then one day it was…silence. He said he goes home to an empty house and silence now and he missed the “noise”. He too said “cherish the moments” with your children. It’s over too fast and too soon.

The changing of the guard marches on.  Our kids grew up and they all now have kids of their own. Our house that was once bustling with kids and phones ringing off the hook has also gone ……silent. Too fast and too soon. The Guard has been moved to their homes. It’s their time. It’s their time as parents to read to them. To hold them. To nurture them. To build memories of their own in which one day, too soon for them also, they will experience the changing of the guard.


They were just babies not too long ago…

Every year we take a family vacation.  All of us pile up in a few cars and go to Florida. Our kids go, their spouses go too. So we have a big family get together in Florida. One thing my son and I do is take a deep sea fishing trip. It consists of a four hour trip out on a big fishing boat with a bunch of other people that like to fish. It’s mainly a time for us to hang and get away from the women folk. Nothing against my wife or daughters’. It’s just “guy time”. The boat leaves the harbor and heads out to sea for about an hour before it drops anchor and we all fish.

While on the last fishing trip we took, it was my son n law Zack, my son Josh and me that all went. We settled on a place on the side of boat and grab our spots.  Zack is located to the right of me and Josh is located to my left. After me having a few beers and hamburger cooked on the boat grill by one of the shipmates, the boat is still and the horn sounds. It’s time to fish. As it would be, the Captain and first mate wound up on our side of the boat and were fishing over the railing to the left of my son.


Josh and the fish I couldn’t reel in…

It was a nice day out of the ocean with the sun and wind in our hair. We carried on with the Captain and first mate a bit while we all fished. The Captain and first mate had a little bet going on between the two of them about which one would catch the biggest fish. Several people around the boat including us were landing some fish. Nothing to write home about but it was a nice day to be out and enjoy. And then… The changing of the guard. My fishing pole took a hard hit and went straight toward the water. I held on to it and was trying to reel the fish in. I couldn’t turn the crank. I am left handed and the crank is right handed but still regardless I couldn’t turn it. By then the Captain and first mate first had turned their attention to my catch. The first mate said “Oh, now that’s a big fish!”  So here I stand, fishing pole facing straight down over the railing of the boat. I am trying desperately to save face and crank this damn fish up. Still no success. I couldn’t turn it. My son sees my struggle.  So he reaches over with his right hand and grabs the pole and lifts it up. Almost straight up in the air and then brings it down some so I can crank the fish in some. He has his pole in  his left hand and he is still fishing the whole time he is reaching over grabbing the pole I am holding and bringing it back up into the air, lets it go slack so I can reel the fish in. We do this over and over and finally the fish breaks the surface. So here I am holding the fishing pole with both hands trying to crank the fish up higher to get it into the boat and I still can’t reel it in! Even after his help the fish is now between the railing of the boat and the surface of the water and it’s just dangling in the air! I can’t do anything but hold the pole! So Josh reaches over the railing and grabs the fishing line and pulls the fish over the railing for me.  I was both happy and embarrassed since my pride as being “the man” was diminished some. I helped him catch fish when he was a kid. I helped bait his and his sisters’ hooks. I took the fish off the lines for them. I helped them when they couldn’t get them in. And now…The changing of the guard. He helped me. I couldn’t do it. So he took over. He wasn’t trying to embarrass me he was just doing what has to come naturally. The changing of the guard.

We all are doing it. My grandparents raised me. I now take care of my grandpa. The guard has changed for him. He once took me fishing. I have taken him fishing. He used to take my brother and me out for a burger. I now take him out for a burger. Our kids are slowly experiencing the “changing of the guard” with my wife and I. We aren’t getting any younger. That’s an old cliche I know but its happening right before our eyes. I don’t want it to happen. But it’s a natural precession…

To see how slowly and ever steady it marches on, look at a photo album. A precious book of memories. Some of the babies are full grown and have kids of their own. Some of the older folk are gone on to their reward and no longer are with us.

It’s never ending,

It’s the changing of the guard…

cherish the moments..



Posted by Chuck Gee - October 25, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Categories: General   Tags: , , , , , ,

Some times we just need to slow down…10 seconds, pub-2427795083793513, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

Fred Rogers Acceptance Speech – 1997

Posted by Chuck Gee - April 16, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Categories: General   Tags: , , , , , ,