A long sentence about a ride down memory lane

My my wife, Kath, and I have our schedule, dutifully returning to downtown Chicago on Sunday afternoons, hoping we’ve left early enough to avoid the heavy traffic that invariably heads downtown and hoping against hope that we can catch the express lanes, but today after smooth sailing through the incessant freight train tracks of Des Plaines, we’re slowed at the River Road toll booth, giving us a chance for a five miles-per-hour ‘up close and personal’ encounter with our fellow travelers, but fortunately we have good air conditioning and a radio to help us pass the time of day as we hum along to some of my favorite songs, when, with little warning, both of us break into song with ‘Taking Care of Business’ by Bachmann Turner Overdrive (BTO), reminding me of my days in summer camp in southwest Ohio, probably the first crank-it-up-real-loud-and-roll-down-the-windows song that I remember,

“You get up every morning From your ‘larm clock’s warning

Take the 8:15 into the city

There’s a whistle up above And people pushin’, people shovin’

And the girls who try to look pretty”

and I feel younger again even as I feel like my grey hair is growing faster than my progress on the Kennedy Expressway, and Kath remembers all the words to the song, adding that she remembers hanging with friends in Evanston when BTO was big, and that our lives were nothing like the song where the band never adheres to a regimented work schedule like we have because they “can love to work at nothing all day” while both Kath and I have managed work and family, but our nostalgia is broken a bit when we hear that we can ‘save big money at Menards’ with their big spring garden sale, and out-of-the-blue I experience the exhilaration of my Camry hitting 25 mph as we near Foster Av and I wonder about hearing loss in the driver next to me whose base is making his car vibrate, but my thought of complaining about it is sidetracked as Simon and Garfunkel begin to sing, reminding me of my tumultuous late teen years, when their Bridge over Troubled Waters was popular, and we again join in, “When you’re weary, feeling small” and I recall that the mood of many of my friends whose emotions vacillated from day to day and sometimes minute to minute, and how we all felt we could save one another as we belted out “if you need a friend, I’m sailing right behind,” loving a song with some depth to it at a time when so many songs were about unrequited love and drug experimentation, and I don’t even care if the folks in the cars next to me think I have a screw loose as I belt out “like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind,” as now, at long last, we creep through the Edens-Kennedy merge at Montrose, but then, commercials seem to have taken over the airwaves until, on the eighth radio button, I run across the Clancy Brothers and I again join in song,

“A gypsy rover came over the hill,

Down through the valley so shady,

He whistled and he sang ’til the green woods rang ,

And he won the heart of a lady”,


and Kath asks how I know an Irish drinking song since I’m of German extract, knowing full well that she and the girl I’d dated before her, both ladies of my dreams (sequentially, not concurrently!) are Irish, and that I’d become acquainted with the Clancy Brothers through trips with each to the ‘Emerald Isle’ which was somewhere downtown, and that over the years I’d been well indoctrinated into being an honorary Chicago Irishman, and as the song concludes,  Tommy Makem encourages us to sing the chorus along with the band, and I oblige,

He whistled and he sang ’til the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady, “

while at last I find myself at the Ohio Street exit ramp and progress at moderate pace across Ohio toward our downtown home, continuing to punch buttons and settle on one of my favorite karaoke songs, one with some good advice from Kenny Rogers and The Gambler,

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em,

know when to fold ‘em,

know when to walk away,

and know when to run.

You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done,

As our building’s garageman smiles seeing us belt out along with Kenny, grateful that what should have been a 40-minute trip downtown only took 90 minutes on this warm Sunday afternoon, and grateful that we’ve enjoyed a trip down memory lane as we traversed once again between the suburbs and our home downtown.


And in case you’re wondering:

Takin’ Care of Business” is a song written by Randy Bachman and first recorded by Canadian rock group Bachman–Turner Overdrive (BTO) for their 1973 album Bachman–Turner Overdrive II.

Bridge over Troubled Water is from an album of the same name, the fifth and final studio album by American duo Simon & Garfunkel, released in January 1970 on Columbia Records.

The Gypsy Rover, is a ballad composed and copyrighted by Dublin songwriter Leo Maguire in the 1950s.

The Gambler is from an album of the same name, the sixth studio album by Kenny Rogers, released by United Artists in 1978


As I heal from recent hip replacement surgery, it strikes me that I’ve inconvenienced many. I think you’re all happy I’m doing well, and I really was a docile patient. Yet, some apologies are in order.

First, to my family. Kath, Megan and Kevin, I’m sorry I put you through the challenges of my recent hip surgery. I thought that if I could take it in stride, it was probably no big deal. It seems the three of you were more keyed up about the surgery than I was. I suppose it’s emotionally taxing to go through how we pay our bills, where the life insurance policies are, and which mattress has all of the money hidden in it, just in case I didn’t wake up from the anesthetic.

And by the way, hip, you should be sorry for shedding all of that nice cartilage. Most of the rest of my body is doing just fine with cartilage keeping bones apart. And while I’ve met many persons with new titanium hips and knees, most of humanity seems to do fine with their original equipment.

I’m sorry to the hospital admissions office that got the surly Dave when I arrived for check-in at 6am. I’m guessing I was a brilliant conversationalist in the pre-op staging area as well, but truthfully I don’t remember what we talked about.

Nurse’s aide and housekeeper, I’m sorry the doctor didn’t put enough stitches in my hip and therefore I bled like a stuck pig all over the floor and bedding. I remember wondering whether I should be scared since I don’t usually bleed all over things. I guess the good news is that I still had enough blood left in me to stay alive. The medical resident sure put enough bandages on my hip to keep me from decorating any more floors and linens.

Dr Lyon, I’m sorry I couldn’t stay awake till 10:45 pm when you made rounds. I remember your saying that I wouldn’t have to wax that part of my leg for a while after you pulled 8 bandages and a half roll of surgical tape from my bleeder.

Kitchen staff- you were very nice letting me call down for my meal like I was in a restaurant, then I had the gall to fall asleep mid hamburger bite and didn’t finish my lunch and dinner. What I remember of it was delicious.

And home-health nurse, Renata, I’m sorry I gave you a little jolt when trying to get a smile on your face. There are three no-no’s with hip replacements: don’t bend over more than 90 degrees, don’t cross your legs, and don’t stand pigeon-toed. After being asked to repeat these precautions at least a dozen times, I couldn’t resist having a little fun. I’m sorry I created a look of shock on your face by telling you I practiced touching the floor 20 times per day and crossing my right leg 10 times.

And finally, I’m sorry, fellow CTA bus rider, for whacking you in the leg with my cane. I’m afraid I’m not used to carrying around such dangerous contraptions. I used to walk up and down Michigan Av and the halls of work and school without incident. Thanks to my hip, I now am given wide berth in many venues. But unlike Donald Trump, I’m not afraid to say ‘I’m sorry.’