All posts by John Botscharow

Witchy Woman

In my previous post I mentioned that breaking up with Alice, my high school sweetheart, was the second worst day of my life. For those of you who know about my life a bit, obviously the worst day was the day my mother was killed in an automobile accident in January 1966. I talked quite a bit about that day on other posts, so I’m not going to spend any time on it today. What I want to talk about today is the third worst day in my life – the day my marriage to my second wife, Glenna, ended on a very ugly note.

 

My relationship with Glenna was rather unusual even for the 70s. We had an “open” marriage, that is, no required monogamy on either side. I reluctantly agreed to this condition for us to get married because I was so totally “bewitched” by Glenna. She truly was the most captivating woman I had ever met up to that point. What I did not realize until it was far too late was that what Glenna wanted out of life was far different from what I wanted. She wanted material security along with her freedom to do as she pleased, while I wanted a stable traditional marriage with lots of love, both physical and otherwise. Material security did not mean much to me then and it still doesn’t. My interests and passions are more, for the lack of a better word, spiritual than those of most people. By spiritual, I do not necessarily mean religious in the traditional sense. Rather, I am looking for something more mystical, more esoteric. I am looking not only for a physical union and a psychological union, which is pretty much the definition of a good traditional marriage. I am looking, and apparently have found, a soulmate: my present wife Elizabeth.

 

I worked in the record business for about five years in the 1970s. I did everything from filling orders for customers to doing shipping and receiving, to being the LP buyer for a record wholesaler whose customers were small record stores that could not meet the minimum order requirements of the major label distributors. I loved that job and should have stayed with it, but I got offered the chance to work as a salesman for the distributing company of several smaller labels. The reason I took the job was that I was trying to provide more material security for my wife at the time: Glenna, obviously. Taking that sales job was a mistake because the company I worked for had a very different philosophy about music and sales than I did. As with so many times in my life, I became the victim of my own poor choices. I accept responsibility for those mistakes and their consequences. I have learned from them, although a bit more slowly than I would have liked. In the end, I would not be who I am and have what I have had my life been different. In case you’re wondering, I am extremely happy and at peace at this point in my life. I suspect there are a lot of guys out there approaching 70 who cannot say that.

 

One of the perks of being that LP buyer was I got lots of free records (You do know what those are, I hope? Hehe) And lots of concert tickets as well as invitations to promo parties for new artists. The fun thing about the promo parties was that I got to meet many of the artists for whom the party was being held. For instance, I got to meet Long John Baldry, Uriah Heap, Bob Marley, and a few others you probably wouldn’t recognize as readily as those. The concert tickets were always very good seats and sometimes were actually backstage passes. I was backstage for the first tour that the Allman Brothers did after the death of Duane Allman. I had box seats at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago for the Jefferson Starship. I even got tickets mailed to my house from Rolling Stone Records for the capstones first tour after they started their new label back in the 70s. I was extremely fortunate to meet all of these great bands and musicians. So, guess who was with me at all these concerts? Glenna!

 

Glenna was almost as much of a music buff as I am. Our tastes did not always match, so I often got promo copies of albums and concert tickets for groups that I did not really like. For instance, Glenna loved Crosby, Stills and Nash while I could, personally, take them or leave them. She also liked the group America. They were okay but not really my cup of tea. One group we did agree on was the Eagles. In the 1970’s we saw the Eagles a number of times. One of my favorite Eagle songs, Witchy Woman, probably describes Glenna and how I felt about her as well as any song I can think of. The only difference between Glenna and the woman in the song is that Glenna did not have raven hair. Her hair was brown. Yes, she knew about the significance of that song for me.

 

My marriage to Glenna lasted almost 10 years to the day. In the end, I think the breakup was for the best for both of us. I talked to her about 12 or 13 years ago. That was the last time and it is highly unlikely we will talk again. From what I can gather, she ended up in a long-term relationship with a mutual friend. Whether that relationship was one of convenience or of love, I have no idea and don’t really care, as long as she’s happy. Just as with Alice, my high school sweetheart and the subject of my previous post, a torch still burns in my heart for Glenna. That is just who I am and what I am.

 

I want to add a final thought here. I am in no way condemning Glenna for anything. She is who she is and I am who I am. Unfortunately, in time our personas clashed and no amount of love on either side could overcome those clashes. The ultimate fault in all my failed relationships can be summarized in the following (admittedly cliché) phrase: “looking for love in all the wrong places.” It was not until I met my wife Elizabeth in 1990 (at the age of 42) that I finally looked-for love in the right place and at the right time, strange as that may sound. At some point in the not-too-distant future, I will do a rather extensive post about Elizabeth and how we met and what she has meant to me these last 27 years. Until then, peace!

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me

There is something special about your first love. No matter how the relationship ends, you carry a torch for that person for the rest of your life. That is certainly true about my first love, Alice, who I met back in the summer of 1964. I had just finished my sophomore year in high school. She had just finished her freshman year at a different high school. We met at a district convention for Teenage Republicans of Pennsylvania, which was held at Valley Forge.

 

I really don’t remember how we actually met during that can convention. All I remember is spending most of the day with her. The reason I was at that convention was because I had been elected treasurer of the local TAR chapter. The guy who had just been elected its president was a friend of mine named Jack. He was a senior. He asked me if I wanted to go with him to the convention. I said sure. I really had nothing better to do that day. It turns out Alice had been dating one of the other members of my local club who did not go to the convention. His loss, my gain. 🙂

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The Madness of King Donald

I realize it has been some time since my last post on either of my two blogs. I am afraid I experienced a creative drought. The creative juices just dried up. I am not sure why. I am happy to report that those juices are flowing again and, hopefully, there will be quite a few new posts in the next couple of weeks. This is the second one today. I have already written a new post on Christian Heresy and am working on the sequel to that one. That said, let’s talk about our insane Peerless Leader.

 

I admit I have had problems keeping my mouth shut throughout my whole life. Lord knows, I have stuck my foot in my mouth, often all the way up to my knee, more times than I can count on both hands and both feet. However, I have now handed my crown for social “saux pas” to the man with the hair like an orangutan. You would think that someone with his business acumen (self-proclaimed) would have the ability to keep his mouth shut when necessary. And that is doubly true of someone who is the Pres. of the United States. Not our Donald! If I were Donald’s wife or daughter, I would close his Twitter account immediately and destroy any and all cell phones he has

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In Memory of Greg Allman

For those of you who were never fans of the Allman Brothers band, the title of this post is a tribute to one of my favorite songs of theirs, “In memory of Elizabeth Reed.” The Allman Brothers were an iconic band for my generation. They were still playing together, with some new personnel, a few years ago. I saw them on TV (one of the music stations on cable) front a performance in 2013 or 2014. Given the fact that a number of the members of the band where into their 60s then, I doubt they performed all that often, which is way sad.

 

The Allman Brothers were basically a blues band. Greg was the lead vocalist and keyboard player. Boy, did he have the voice for the blues: kinda low and gravelly. The band has gone through more personnel changes over the last 50 years than even the Rolling Stones. Their first two losses there were the loss of Duane Allman to a motorcycle accident just when the band was getting popular. Duane also appeared on the Derek and the Dominoes album. It is his guitar that is at the forefront on “Layla.” For someone to outperform Eric Clapton is really doing something and Duane does on that song.

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The Summer of Love 50 Years Later

This summer will mark the 50th anniversary of what has become known as “The Summer of Love.” In 1967, my generation – or at least part of it – espoused that hippie philosophy of peace and love. That summer was marked by many gatherings of young people all over the country. These gatherings were called “be-ins.” The biggest one was held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Those of you who are close to my age probably remember the anthem of that summer: “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” Yes, I did wear flowers in my hair that summer. No, I did not go to San Francisco until a few years later and then only for a visit.

 

However, I have my own little story of what happened that summer. I was in The Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia one day at an impromptu gathering of “flower children.” We were just sitting around the park playing music and singing, celebrating life and the summer weather. The police, however, took exception to what we were doing. We were all arrested for disorderly conduct and hauled off to jail. We all posted bond and were given a court date – all on the same day.

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The Music Of My Life

I cannot remember a time in my life when music was not an important part of who and what I am. It all started when I was five or six years old. My parents hired a piano teacher to come to the house to teach me how to play. I took lessons for the next 10 years or so. I actually got pretty good at it. The only problem I had was that I could never really memorize anything. I remember when I was in junior high school, my piano teacher wanted me to learn to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” Actually, it was only the first movement that was more than my poor musical memory could handle. She wanted me to play this piece for the annual recital her students presented every May at the Willow Grove Methodist church. I ended up playing it, but I had to have the sheet music in front of me. Sight reading was never a problem. In fact, in my heyday I could pick up pretty much any popular tune and play it respectably the first time I saw the music. In high school I had a book of piano arrangements of Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” album. I loved playing that album and singing along. My parents hated it. LOL

 

Speaking of singing, in both junior high school and high school I sang in the choir. I started out as an alto and by my senior year I was a baritone. I wasn’t great, nowhere near as good as my daughter Heidi was in high school, but I managed to stay in the choir all those years. I still sing when the mood hits me, but now I sound like a frog with a sore throat. LOL! That’s what 50 years of smoking will do to you. I actually started smoking in junior high school and I suspect that had at least a small part in my voice changing so much.

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What the Hell is Going On?

That when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s we Americans were involved in a “Cold War” with the Soviet Union. I suspect that the Cold War had something to do with my parents (and of course, my brother and myself who were small children at the time) emigrating to the United States and Germany, specifically what was then known as West Germany. We came to the United States around the time of the Berlin war, when East Germany, on orders from Moscow, blockaded West Berlin.

 

In elementary school, we did air raids probably every month. We were all frightened of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. That attack, fortunately, never came. But there was a constant state of very high tension between the two countries. I remember seeing Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on the podium at the United Nations condemning the United States. I remember the Cuban missile crisis during the Kennedy administration. I remember watching public service announcements on the television networks showing how to protect yourself in case of a nuclear attack. I remember the commercial for fallout shelters for those who could afford them. Boy, if they ever wanted to get rid of poverty by eliminating poor people, that would have been the time to do it.

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Through the Doors Of Perception

The Doors of Perception is the title of a book about taking hallucinogenic drugs, especially LSD. It was written by Aldous Huxley almost 100 years ago, now. Jim Morrison, the late lead singer of The Doors read this book. It inspired the name he chose for his group. Timothy Leary read this book and became a prophet of LSD. I read the book back about 1966 or 1967. It took me until fall of 1968 to screw up the courage to try LSD. That first trip is an experience I will never forget, along with a few other memorable “trips.” “Trips” are what we called the experience of taking LSD.

 

The first trip was on a nice warm day in October, I think, as I was hanging around with some friends on the streets of Old Town in Chicago – the hippie district. The reason the trip was so memorable was that was when I called my father back in Furlong, Pennsylvania, to tell him that I was in Chicago and I was not coming back. A very interesting conversation, indeed.

 

About two years later, I was working at an auto parts store on the South Side of Chicago. I had recently moved in with the woman who became my second wife. We shared a large apartment on the North Side of Chicago, a couple blocks from an elevated train station. The reason that is important to this story is that I used public transportation, a bus and the elevated, to get back and forth to work. I had been there at the auto parts store for several months and had made friends with several of the guys who work there. One afternoon, when we were outside on a smoke break, one of the guys I knew handed me a little orange barrel shaped pill. I knew exactly what it was – a very, very good form of LSD called “orange sunshine.” It was recognized as one of the purest forms of acid available on the street. My friend said I should take this as I was leaving work and I would be tripping quite nicely by the time I got home an hour later.

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Backsliding Away

Today is the last day of March in the year of our Lord 2016. That means it has been five years since I had my pulmonary edema/heart attack/kidney failure. I had one foot through the veil. Nothing like a close encounter with the Grim Reaper! It makes you appreciate all the things you have, even if think only have a little. I think my last post explains how much I really had to lose.

 

One of the results of my near-death experience was that I quit smoking altogether. Cold turkey! No messing around! Although it has been five years since I spent two weeks in the hospital, it has not been five years since I gave up smoking altogether. In the last month or so, I have gone back to smoking my pipe occasionally. That is the backsliding I am referring to in the title to this post.

 

I know I will get a fair amount of criticism for my apparent weakness of character, at least from some of the fundamentalists on the Internet. So be it! I am almost 69 years old and I am fully aware of the consequences that I face for going back to smoking. I believe the consequences of smoking my pipe occasionally will be minimal. Certainly nothing like the consequences of going back to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, which I did for about 50 years. I know my doctor will give me all kinds of crap, if he finds out, as will my cardiologist. But, it is my decision and no one else’s. I accept the consequences. That is what a real adult does. Make a decision and live with your decision and its consequences. Don’t go blaming God, Satan, the tobacco company, the Marlboro man or anyone else. If you choose to smoke, like I did to some extent still do, it is no one fault but your own.

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Happiness is….

How do you define happiness? What makes you happy? Money? A big house? A big fancy car? Maybe a lucrative career? Or something else…

 

What makes me happy most of all is love. I need someone to love and I need to be loved. It seems I have been looking for love my whole life. Usually in the wrong places or with the wrong person. Before any of my ex-lovers get insulted, what I mean by wrong places is that there was nothing inherently wrong or evil with that person. It is just they were not what I needed and I was not what they needed. In situations like that, the best thing you can do is move on.

 

I have been married four times, divorced three times and have had several other non-binding relationships. Not that I consider marriage something nonbinding. Human relationships are not written in stone. God has nothing to do with our interpersonal relationships. We manage to screw those up all on our own. Lord knows, I’ve done it enough times in my life. Nothing to be proud of, but also nothing to beat myself up about either. Relationships come and relationships go. That is human nature or nurture, whichever you choose.

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