Bob Lacey’s Surprise Birthday Party

Bob was heading to the apartment with his younger daughter ostensibly to get a gift from some friends, It wasn’t until he opened the door that he realized something was up.

Bob Lacey gets surprised!This is what’s meant by whirlwind, right? Twenty five hours after arriving in Charlotte I’m sitting in the departure lounge at C2 waiting to leave.

The reason for my trip was to celebrate Bob Lacey’s birthday. Bob and I have been friends nearly forever having worked together at WSAR in Fall River, MA and WBT in Charlotte.

Bob and SheriBob’s been going to work in the same building on Julian Price Place (the only building on Julian Price Place) since 1971. That’s an amazing accomplishment spanning three different facets of broadcasting. For the last 15 years Bob and Sheri Lynch have been on-the-air in Charlotte and 60 other cities.

Dedicated blog readers (is there such a thing–really?) will remember Bob visiting me last weekend. He had no idea there would be a party for him upon his return to Charlotte nor that I would be flying to Charlotte on the plane after his! In untypical Geoff-style I was quiet… hint-less.

Bob and MaryI arrived in Charlotte and met his girlfriend Mary (literally met her for the first time at the airport) who shuttled me around the city as we took care of last minute party preps. The party itself was held in a beautiful condo apartment in the Myers Park section of the city (rub your thumb and the two adjacent fingers together in the money symbol).

Bob was heading to the apartment with his younger daughter ostensibly to get a gift from some friends, It wasn’t until he opened the door that he realized something was up.

The party was filled with Bob’s friends and co-workers and, of course, Mary. Another former WBT, WSAR alum, John Lambis, drove in from Atlanta.

You never know if the guest of honor is truly surprised at a surprise party, but I think so. He certainly looked shocked.

Bob and GeoffWhat do you get someone reaching his 60th 30th birthday? Among the most memorable a ‘mocked up’ cover from AARP Magazine with Bob’s photo and Bob oriented pull-quotes replacing the actual Bruce Springsteen cover. I gave Bob a book of photos from our Maine “mancation” a few years ago.

Charlotte’s mayor, Pat McCrory, declared the day Bob Lacey Day and read a very un-mayoral, funny, proclamation. You’re not going to see this one quoted in the newspaper!

All things considered a very successful trip. I’m glad I could share the moment.

Blogger’s addendum: While driving to-and-fro we passed a sleazy looking motel by the side of the Interstate.

“Oh my God,” I blurted, “I used to live there when they were apartments!”

I’ve been gone from Charlotte a very long time. A lot has changed.


I’m not sure why, but I have a Facebook account. It’s done through my Mississippi State email address, which I still maintain.

I’ve never really done anything with the account. When one friend started sending his emails through it, I asked him to go back to ‘real’ email. It’s a pain.

My friend Sheri Lynch, the “Sheri” of radio’s Bob & Sheri, has 530 friends. I have 20.

There was a time you’d have to guess how much friendlier Sheri is than I am. Now it’s quantifiable. Sheri is 26.5 times friendlier!

My daughter has specifically asked I not ‘friend’ her. It’s a parental stalking thing. I get it.

As part of the Facebook process, I have to confirm friend requests, checking a box to explain how you know you. From now on, I’m just checking ‘we hooked up,’ regardless of who asks.

Bob Comes To Visit

I’m writing this early Sunday morning. I want to make sure something’s posted for Sunday and I don’t expect to be home for much of the day.

My friend Bob Lacey came by tonight. Bob has lived in Charlotte, NC for the last 30+ years. First he worked for WBT-AM, then WBTV, and now the FM, “The Link,” where with Sheri Lynch he hosts a nationally syndicated morning show.

I met Bob my first day in commercial radio.

I broke in at WSAR in Fall River, MA by doing an hour of Bob’s show. Bob supervised. It was my first real on-air job. We’ve been friends ever since.

We’ve both been through a lot of living since that day in early fall 1969. I can’t go into all of it here, but there’s not much that’s remained constant, except our friendship.

Bob jokingly calls me his “Gold Friend.” It’s tough to think of anything anyone’s ever said of me that is quite that flattering.

In 1975 out of work and with my life falling apart in Phoenix, Bob flew out and together, we drove the Western United States and a small part of Mexico. That was an amazing trip.

When I think back of what we did, hitting Puerto Penasco, Mexico, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Barstow, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, it still boggles the mind.

This was before cellphones and the Internet. We had a little cash and of the two of us, I had the lone credit card – an Esso card!

There were girls we tried to pick up… who blew us off, and two guys in San Diego who tried to pick us up! We cleaned our clothes by the dawn’s early light at a dusty laundromat alongside the railroad tracks in Barstow, CA. I spent all day playing $2 blackjack at Caesar’s.

We got along famously. Bob was my guiding light on that trip. By the time we returned to Phoenix, a new job had mysteriously appeared and I was off to Philadelphia.

Later today we plan on returning to the ‘scene of the crime,’ WSAR at the foot of Home Street in Somerset, MA. Then we head north to Boston and the Red Sox – White Sox game.

We don’t have tickets… but I’ve stuffed some cash in my wallet and we’ll hope for the best with scalpers. This will make three major league games in a month or so, after 15 years with none!

If everything works out as planned (and who knows) I’ll be on Amtrak before dark and in New Haven before midnight.

Photos and the actual trip report to follow.

On To The Weekend

First things first. My tooth pain has greatly subsided. There’s still swelling on the gum, but I’m hoping that’s from the injections. The tooth is in my drawer, where it now belongs.

Let me add, though I took a sick day from work Thursday, Friday was already scheduled as a vacation day. Bad timing on my part.

We once had an employee at the station who tried to explain to my boss that since she was sick on her vacation day, it should count as a sick day. That’s chutzpah.

I was well enough to head to the shoreline for a planned family celebration. I’ve been told to keep my mouth shut on what was being celebrated, but we went to Lenny’s in Branford.

I was petrified to go! I’d run into Lenny’s daughter while having my hair cut and she told me how the place had been remodeled. Didn’t she understand? The charm of Lenny’s was that it looked like it was built out of whatever was stored in someone’s garage.

I’m glad to say the main dining room has been remodeled… the particle board removed from the walls… but it’s lost none of its charm. That’s a tall order. It looks nice – really, not just compared to its older self.

We weren’t going to Lenny’s for the ambiance. We were going for fried shrimp for the girls and the shore dinner for me.

Even with only one half of my mouth operating, it was great! The lobster, the mussels, the corn – excellent. Why you only get two clams is beyond me, but that ‘s what the dinner calls for. My only ‘customization’ was getting a bowl of Rhode Island clam chowder&#185 instead of a cup.

Through dinner and the rest of the evening I was a little woozy. It wasn’t enough to stop me, but I certainly was in no condition to operate heavy equipment. Helaine drove and I was grateful to be her passenger.

When we got home, I napped. I couldn’t sleep all night because there was a test to be taken for my Oceanography class.

I took the test around 3:00 AM. This should be an interesting grade because I wasn’t really able to concentrate on reading the text necessary to answer the questions. I had the attention span of a toy poodle.

Back to bed at 4:00.

By the time I woke up this morning, I had gotten over 16 hours of sleep in the last 24. On the other hand, I was feeling better, which was good because I had long standing plans for a friend to visit.

I’ve known Bob since my first professional day in radio, early fall 1969. Bob was a disk jockey at WSAR in Fall River, MA, where I started.

When I first me him he was Skippy Ross, then Skip Tyler, now (for over thirty years) Bob Lacey. With his partner Sheri Lynch, Bob presides over a very successful, syndicated morning radio show. It’s a show considered ‘woman friendly.’

Bob had left Charlotte, NC Thursday afternoon and had been hanging around New England since Thursday evening. Though I’d tried getting him on his cell phone a few times, he was unreachable.

By early this morning there was a discussion whether Bob was actually going to show or not. It was starting to look like ‘not’ had won when the phone rang.

He showed up an hour later and we hopped in the convertible on what had turned into a spectacular spring day. The sky was blue, temperature warm, humidity about right. We were heading toward the shoreline.

Bob had actually grown up around New Haven and knows those parts of the area that haven’t changed over the last 40 years – which is most of it!

First stop was lunch. We went to a place call “The Place” in Guilford. “The Place” is one of a kind.

You sit outside (in the open or under a tent-like cover) on old tree stumps. The food (lobster, clams, chicken and the like) are cooked out of door on a long wood fired grill. When your order is ready, the grill it cooked on is brought to your table.

The owner, Vaughn, kvetched about the weather. I would think to a place like this good weather means good business and a May like we had means… well, it wasn’t a good sign.

Bob had a lobster and I had clams. I’m sorry to be positive about everything, but it was great.

Next up we drove down the Turnpike into Old Lyme and then headed randomly into an area called “Miami Beach.” We drove down Hartford Avenue and I was astounded – 21 years in Connecticut and I’d never been to this cool, vest pocket, beach community.

A friendly cop showed us where we could park and we were off. This is a really nice beach. As Connecticut’s Long Island Sound beaches go, it is broad and white. There are plenty of stones which makes barefoot walking a little tougher.

Of course Bob and I were dressed totally wrong for a day at the beach – both wearing long pants.

We moved off the beach itself and into an open air beachfront bar. Bob had a beer and I a Diet Coke ($5+$2 tip). Reggae music was wafting in and it was perfect on this idyllic day.

Like “The Place,” I have to wonder how open air establishments like this make it in the ratified air of a short season Connecticut summer, and with total dependence on good weather. Every season has got to be make or break. I thought about that as I sipped my Coke.

We didn’t have long. Bob had dinner plans with some friends he’s known longer than me. We continued east to Mohegan Sun, the closer of the two Connecticut mega casinos.

Bob was stunned. It is a very impressive place. And, the shopping area with its upscale shops connecting the old and new casinos is elegantly glitzy.

Bob wanted to play craps, though he hadn’t played in years. I pulled $60 out of my pocket and quickly turned it into $15 – good going. Bob had similar luck, but on a lesser scale.

We headed for the car and headed back home.

Bob will be back in Connecticut in the middle of August. We’re hoping to see the Red Sox and visit WSAR’s studio. Truth is, hanging with a friend is the important part. The rest is just icing on the cake.

&#185 – I had never heard of Rhode Island clam chowder until I moved to Connecticut. Manhattan is red, New England is creamy and Rhode Island is a clear broth. When properly spiced, it’s great and nowhere as heavy as New England. As for Manhattan clam chowder – please! Who’s eating that?

Flag Day in Hudson, NY

All the photos on this page, and lots of parade pictures, can be seen in my photo gallery.

Back in 1969, when I got my first paid on-air radio job in Fall River, Massachusetts at WSAR (Ahoy there matey, it’s 14-80) I met Skippy Ross – a fellow disk jockey. He was older, wiser, married, and the station’s music director. We became friends.

Later, in 1971, I went to WBT in Charlotte, NC. Skippy was already there… he just wasn’t Skippy anymore. In Worcester, MA he had become Skip Tyler and now he was Bob Lacey.

For nearly 35 years he has been Bob Lacey, working at the radio and television stations at 1 Julian Price Place, and becoming a Charlotte institution. He and his partner, Sheri Lynch run a woman friendly&#185 morning drive radio show, syndicated across the country.

Bob and I have remained friends through all this time. When my life was falling apart in the mid-70s, Bob took time off and drove with me through the Western United States. We have shared good times and bad longer than most married couples – and with a better relationship.

On-the-air Bob refers to me as his ‘gold best friend.’ It’s an honor I treasure.

We are two very different people. I think the difference can be best explained in a little story. The year was 1973 and I was leaving Charlotte, moving to Cleveland (based, as it turns out, on bad information from someone who wanted me to leave). It was my last day there and I was getting a new tire put on my car. Bob joined me at the tire store on Independence Boulevard, a busy Charlotte business district back then.

We went to the Coke machine. Bob went first. His soda plopped from the slot, he put the bottle into the opened, pushed down and was ready to drink. I got my bottle, went to the opener, pushed down and… soda all over me. It was as if a midget was in the machine, waiting for me to shake the bottle.

To me, Bob has always seems suave and in control. I have always seemed like an unmade bed – scattered and kinetic.

We are both lucky, because in spite of setbacks in our lives, we’ve done well – both with our careers and families. And, for two old guys (and he is much older and very, very short… make that very, very, very short) we’ve aged well.

I was on the phone with Bob late last week. It was the usual chit chat. I asked him what he was doing over the weekend and he told me he and Sheri (his radio partner) were flying to Hudson, NY for Flag Day. There’s a parade, which they ride in, the emcee from the reviewing stand.

Hudson is a few hours from here – a nice drive if it’s a nice day. There’s some highway to take you away from the urban areas and then it’s small, sparsely traveled 2-lane roads through rolling hills. The trip goes up through Northwest Connecticut, cuts through the Southwest corner of Massachusetts and then west into New York and the Hudson River.

I decided to go.

Since I knew neither Helaine nor Stefanie would want to take this road trip, I prepared a geek’s journey. My camera was ready with two sets of batteries and two flash memory cards (I could have taken 350 high resolution photos, but only took 273). I put my old Dell laptop on the passenger’s seat, plugged an inverter into the cigarette lighter and threw a GPS antenna onto the armrest between the seats. This trip would be well documented.

The trip up was uneventful. The weather superb – truly perfect. Though I had printed directions before leaving the house, the GPS receiver was really helpful, showing me my turns before I got to them.

With the top down, on a sunny day, there are lots of sensations. The warmth of the sun (I was worried about the warmth of the sun on my laptop, which I removed from the seat and put on the floor while still in Connecticut), the breeze, the aroma.

Springtime has good aromas. There weren’t many restaurants to pass at this time of day on this route. I did smell freshly cut grass (a watermelon-like smell), freshly cut lumber (as I passed a mill) and a dairy farm. They were all distinct, but the dairy farm was certainly the most pungent.

I have a radar detector mounted in the convertible. When I first bought the car, I had electricity brought from an interior light directly to the unit. It only went off once on the trip, and then because a police car was going the opposite direction and must have had his transmitter on.

By the time I got to Hudson, the streets downtown were closed off for the parade. This was a bigger deal than I thought – and as I’d later find out the longest parade I’d ever seen.

The main street of Hudson, Warren Street, was lined with happy people. For some reason I expected this to be a lily white town. That was not the case. There was just about every shade of person imaginable, and they were all out on the street together ready for the parade.

It seems like Hudson is a town that was, and possibly still is, down on its luck. I walked on cracked sidewalks with tall weeds growing through them. There were small houses with chipped paint. On Warren Street itself the homes were old but freshly painted. It had the aura of gentrification – a two edged sword which rebuilds and displaces.

I moved toward the river, where the reviewing stand had been erected, and waited for Bob and Sheri. They arrived, first in the parade, sitting in a convertible. It is only now, looking at the photo, that I realize it is a used car, for sale, with the price tag nicely affixed to the windshield. Still, it looked great rolling down Warren Street, and Bob and Sheri were enjoying every second of it.

We chatted for a few seconds and then they made their way to the microphone and the parade began. It was a bad day to have a fire in the Hudson Valley, because I believe every piece of fire equipment for a hundred miles was rolling down Warren Street – even a blue fire truck from Philmont, NY! Along with the fire equipment there were policemen and soldiers and and organizations, plus kid from schools and sports leagues.

This was the longest parade I had ever seen. As we approached the 3 hour mark, I turned to a policeman standing near me and asked, “Are they going around for a second time?”

There was a sad moment. A float in memory of a local soldier who had been killed in Iraq. The base of the float was full of American flags – one for each death in this war. In a glass case, the soldier’s uniform was displayed. Very, very sad.

The parade ended and Bob, Sheri and I hopped onto a golf cart to head down to the riverside where the festivities would continue. The scene was very much like those beeping carts that careen through the terminals at airports, taking people with more pull than us to the next gate.

It was getting late. I had a drive ahead of me. They had autographs and then a plane ride back to Charlotte. We’d all get home around the same time.

I wish I could have spent more time with Bob, and with Sheri who I like a lot. Bob and I are already trying to figure out a time for next summer. But maybe there will be time sooner.

The good thing about gold friends is, their friendship will wait.

&#185 – When I say woman friendly, I mean a show which is not based on sex, bodily functions and stretching the vocabulary envelope. Stern, Imus and Bubba the Love Sponge don’t qualify for this genre.

All the photos on this page, and lots of parade pictures, can be seen in my photo gallery.