Sixth Grade Reunion

Thursday May 6th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Back to Milwaukee two days in a row. It’s almost like I’m living there again. That’s not my goal, but I’d never say never. If I’m turning a good buck doing something that I would need to be there for, I’d do it. Right now I have the best of both worlds living where I am.

Tonight I had an appointment to go in front of the board of directors of German Fest for the possibility of being booked this year. Milwaukee is the City of Festivals and I happen to be at least part German, so I took the chance and went to the meeting. It was worth it.

The main reason it was worth it is I got to reunite with Robert Deglau, a classmate from the sixth grade where we both attended the Jackie Robinson Alternative Open Classroom School. Both of us only attended that one year, and we were in the same home room class together. Jackie Robinson school still exists, but it’s not at the same location we attended.

That first year it was an experiment which intrigued my grandfather. Two students were picked from each grade school in town and formed into a junior high of grades 6-8. It was like an expansion draft in sports. They needed one boy and one girl. I took an aptitude test at the Silver Spring school and got chosen along with a nice girl named Angela Patrinos.

I think they were looking for creative types, as Angela was extremely artistic as I recall. Brian Ritchie of the Violent Femmes was chosen to go there too, and I still remember him carrying his guitar with him and wearing sandals. I didn’t know him well but we did cross paths a few times and never had any problems. It was an interesting mix of kids for sure.

Robert and I always got along, and I knew he really liked radio, as did I. We took a field trip to WZUU and met “Larry The Legend” who was a huge personality then. We got the chance to arrange the trip all ourselves and that was the good part of the Alternative Open Classroom format. They did encourage us to find something we liked and learn about it.

Robert and I went our separate ways in life, but both of us made radio part of our lives. He now hosts a show called “Continental Showcase” which has been on the air over 50 years. My grandma was a rabid listener, and if she knew I knew the host, she’d be proud.

I knew Robert was German, but that’s not rare in Milwaukee. I didn’t know that he was so involved in the German community in town. We hadn’t seen each other since the sixth grade, then he and his wife came out to see me do a show this past March in Saukville.

Robert is a flat out technical genius. He’s been an engineer at various Milwaukee radio stations and is a broadcast lifer. He has a studio in his house that’s better than most of the stations I’ve ever worked for, and said he’d help out with any project ideas I might have.

The German Fest people were all very friendly, and I didn’t have to audition or anything like that. Robert gave them a copy of my CD and they took a vote and now I’m in for two slots this year. This would’ve made my grandma very proud. I won’t let anybody down.


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