I began in photography, but listened to radio. By 20, in 1977 I had my own show on WMCX at eight a.m. on Friday’s. I loved the LPs and turntables. I was FCC article one and nine legal, even. I was allowed to run the station on my own.

       I was never better than an ok disc jockey, but I did enjoy pretending to be one on WMCX. My theme song was “Pappa was a Rolling Stone” . I don’t know If my father ever heard it, as his baby blue three quarter ton GMC rack truck did not have an FM radio. 

        He did not leave us alone in in 1992, when he died. I was thirty five, and had twenty years in, not knowing what, for sure in was. But I was gone from Monmouth College in Monmouth County for good by early 1979, well short of graduation, but toast nonetheless. In 1979 I was bumping into Lady Bird in Austin, and then back up in Philadelphia, where the company was building theodolites to track weather balloons. I never got better than ok in Austin, or Philadelphia, at anything. 

         The MIC was open, but who knew who was listening? I knew I had one fan on my WMCX show, he called in, but after that, after Monmouth, I had no idea who, if any one was listening, or even cared at all about my field performance. 

          I was lost in Austin, and then Philadelphia, and angry. I was angry with myself for not finishing Monmouth. I had made a commitment to finish when I started. I never did. I finished finally, Rutgers...at fifty, in my thirty fifth year of stumbling around the MIC clueless. Five years after those buildings came down, my academic career came up, out of the cold, getting me my first AA in photography in 2002, thirty years in...a second in social science in 2004, the BA finished in 2006, and the MA in 2011, and three weeks later the MIC and I were leaving Monmouth for good. Gates closed. 

          I never finished Monmouth, but I finished Monmouth, never knowing who, if any one was listening, ever, for certain. I got used to not knowing. I never knew, I still don’t. I did learn how to speak directly in to the MIC, but still have problems with feed back, blow back, transmissions, reception...you name it.

          I’ve booked a room at the Asbury, formerly the retired officers home for the Salvation Army, repurposed into a decent looking hotel, in Monmouth County, where I had scrubbed Sam Bell’s employee toilet at  Foodtown, on my hands and knees, gladly. Cheerful Service was our motto, Sam.  

           I’m going home in September, hopefully...I’ve booked the room. I’m peddling strength through peace, and breathing lessons directly to my friends at the MIC; we all  grew up together, but I stayed after Philadelphia.  I crossed the Delaware at dawn and came back to figure out what happened at Monmouth College, and  in Monmouth County, not just to me, but to thousands and thousands of rubes like myself, who toiled willingly for decades in the belly of that beast...the beast I mastered, finally, officially...with papers.

            The MIC has to listen, it always has listened. I’m speaking directly to the MIC, as ok as I have ever been, or been allowed to be, at least 47 years in, maybe more. I was fifteen when I committed to this thing of theirs, that is now in some small way partly mine, in 1972. I’m not expecting to make it officially  fifty years in, but remain fearlessly optimistic. 


Views: 53

Comment by Maui Surfer on April 25, 2019 at 11:03am

I never finished Monmouth, but I finished Monmouth

Yes, you did.

A bittersweet symphony it is.

Comment by Robert B. James on April 25, 2019 at 9:31pm

Thanks M.S. for reading and commenting. What happened to home after the MIC left, was what happens after anything big leaves...a vacuum, which nature is said to abhor. And with that the NY thing slithered in, but now a new thing seems to be coming together. Less New York, and more home grown. I’m ok not knowing, I always was. Truthfully,  I don’t care as much about the people as I do the place...the estuary, bay and ocean. I was never one of them, I was a waterman...not a wall streeter or trumper. 

Comment by J.P. Hart on April 26, 2019 at 12:06pm

Not exactly running on empty it appears. I've mine own Kroger legacy: late watermelon flat beds from Arkansas warm summer nights in that alley. Only so many of those red-ripes would fit into the baskarts. The paint-peeled wooden slats sagged. The driver snoring now and again awakening for his Lucky Strike.

1st hour gym and whistled dives for the 'pool-length' submersed races. Winner take all.

Tarzan kept his edge.

Finally after six hours of school...!

Comment by Robert B. James on April 26, 2019 at 5:53pm

Dr. Hart: I’m banking on it.


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