News From The Woods - November 1, 2011


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published November 1, 2011

"I'm Gonna' Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter……."

Dear Bob,

Well, here it is.

You Made it.

And such a special date…. 11/1/11 !!

But is that all that makes this birthday so special?

No. It isn't. First of all, was it mere coincidence (1:365) that Robert was born on your birthday? I don't think so.

You know that this birthday is an "oh so special" date because dad didn't make it past 64. For some reason that's a big deal. Maybe it's a "man thing"… but for several years in the past, each "sixtieth" birthday was only leading up to the BIG 65. Sure, dad was an alcoholic and veteran of WWII.. a hard ridin', rootin' tootin' straight shootin' mover and shaker in his own day, but still… there ARE no guarantees. You know you've put your body through almost as much abuse as he did. Almost.

Do you remember as a kid growing up here on the lake, the day that the old gentleman who celebrated his 71st birthday marked the occasion by going water skiing? You thought "Wow! I hope I can do that!" But….. thanks to a jeep accident, getting shot, several carpal tunnel surgeries, the removal of some of that pesky colon, diabetes, the bursitis in the left shoulder, and now the right hip is about totally gone…….. it's not looking too cheery for that event. You could probably stay up (for a short run) but it's the "getting' up" that's a problem. The back just couldn't cut it and you'd need some big ass motor to pull your butt out of the water REAL FAST…. Probably wind up jerking your arms right out of their sockets, anyway…… just better to drag out the old home movies and watch you ski in the prime of your youth and be happy about that.

And yet, when you look around you can easily see so many others who are worse off than you are. You have had such an exceptionally blessed life - despite a string of ex-wives, bands that never "made it" to the big time, and songs that never got heard - and an uncounted number of great and close friends who have remained faithful through the years. You have more friends than you probably deserve.

And look at the differences you've made... even when you were not aware of it. Last night you did a phone interview with Lynn Wasson, managing editor of the Fort Smith publication "Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine". She is doing an article about your peak career years in the Fort. At one point she reminded you how much your radio show influenced the lives of listeners by exposing them to music they would not have ever heard at the time, because you took a chance and turned your back on Top 40 and instead started playing album cuts on the air in a time when it just wasn't even being done in major markets yet. In effect, you and a small handful of other DJs across the nation were pioneering what would become known as AOR (Album Oriented Rock). And the concerts… and the bands and HS proms....your recording career, and….. well…. you get the idea. Lynn sat down and read your book "Face The Music" in one sitting over the entire weekend, preparing for the interview, which will appear around Christmastime in Ft. Smith. PERFECT timing for those who want to read about "the old days" in Ft. Smith.

So…. all in all it's not only been a good run but just the fact that you can get up under your own steam and get around on your own two feet should make this a happy birthday. Living (and dying) is a most personal thing. No one else can live life in your shoes, so remember to make it a good one for what time you have left. Spread the Good news. Be cheerful even when you don't feel like, because the person you are talking to may need some extra happiness in their lives.

And MOST OF ALL…. Take all the time you can to spend with Robert. Now that he is a teenager, he isn't as enamored with hanging with the old man as he was in his pre-teen years. Always remember that when you pull up to the line to pick him up from school or band practice….. to TURN DOWN the "old fogey" music on the car stereo. Remember.. choose your battles, and plan ahead for that day he graduates High School and you are all alone out there on the field where you can find some way to embarrass him thoroughly as he receives his diploma……

Happy 65th birthday old man. You've made it this far. Now get prepared for the next ten years!

Your pal,



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