Race Relations and Ice Cream

Race RelationsThird Grade was a lifetime ago. Anything before the age of 10 seems like forever.

Yet, there are instances, moments or experiences burned, vividly into my memory. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I am sharing one with you.

It was a Monday morning. One of my classmates, at Fieldston School, was talking with few friends about her weekend. Pretty common stuff in third grade, but not in this case.

Her parents had taken her to a public event… maybe it was a county fair or something similar. On that, my memory is foggy. What I remember, clearly, was spoken by my friend.

“They would let my mommy in, but they wouldn’t let me daddy in. So we went away.”

~ Mary

I didn’t understand… she explained her mother was white and her daddy was black. I still didn’t comprehend the problem and was uncomfortable asking.

After school, I went home and recounted the discussion to my mother, asking for an explanation and wisdom.

“God made people in many colors. Like flavors of ice cream. They’re  different, but they are all good. Some people don’t understand that differences in skin color are not uncommon. And you should look at all people as ‘just like you’, no matter what the color of their skin.”

~ My mom

Armed with my ice cream metaphor, I have made my way through life with a pretty pure outlook, thanks to my mom. As a child of the 60’s, I grew up smack in the middle of the civil rights movement and came to understand that not all people were as open-minded as my mother… or me.

More than 50 years later, I can see how far we’ve moved forward as a country… and on some days how little we’ve advanced.

Thinking back on Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech, there is one passage that always resonates with me.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Whenever I hear or am reminded of that passage, I feel like Dr. King was talking about my classmate, Mary. After third grade, I changed schools, and soon lost touch with most friends from Fieldston School

Through the magic of Facebook and the Internet, I have rediscovered Mary. I haven’t been in touch with her to share this memory. It still feels like a private experience to me.

I can tell you this… Mary’s life and career have been rich and accomplished in service to humankind.  

Andy Ebon
First Generation New Yorker

Gratitude Challenges on Facebook

Gratitude ChallengesI began posting about gratitude, two and a half years ago. All kinds of stories; many angles… longer than today’s gratitude challenges on Facebook.  The FB gratitude  quickies have inspired a different way for me express myself on this blog. Short and sweet!

The last 10 days have been explosive in so many ways.  I’ll do my utmost to brief.

  1. I am privileged to be friends with the Jacob family, Fred, Donna and Allison. And accompanying other industry friends, Don Freedman and Jennifer Judy Fyffe, to visit their newly minted Pink Bridal Show to offer observations and constructive suggestions to make their grand event, even better.
  2. I am fortunate being part of the WeddingWire Education Team (3 months now) and visit my 27-year home of San Francisco to give a presentation to wedding industry professionals, old and new.
  3. Saw so many friends, including one of my personal inspirations, author-speaker, Susan RoAne.
  4. Many times, we hear the phrase, “Tomorrow is not promised.” Nothing could have been more accurate during the past week. The rapid decline of our dog, Ray Charles Jr., took place within a matter of days. Without warning, I must look back to appreciate his soul and playfulness, his part in our home, for both Jessica and me, and all who passed through our front door.
  5. And my love, Jessica, who would run through a wall for friend, as she tried to for Ray. In the end, she was able to make the tough decision, to put him down, so he would not suffer… all that, in my absence. Somehow, she summoned the strength to do what must be done.
  6. Facebook has been pretty rocky, this year, with its update filters, both for personal and business pages. But happily, when I posted about the tragic loss of Ray, we received hundreds of condolence messages, filled with concern and kindness. Truly surprising.

It has been a flurry of extremes, and thought I could write more, I said I’d be brief.

Hope you had experiences to be grateful for, too.

Andy Ebon
First-Generation New Worker

Celebrating Ten Years

On a Saturday night in June 2004, I went to see the Lon Bronson All-Star band at The Golden Nugget, downtown. Their 90-minute performance kicked off at midnight. I had first attended their show at The Riviera, four years earlier. Since moving to Las Vegas in 2003, I had become a regular.

Mark Barrett, popped over to say hi, before the show. He introduced me to two singers, Jessica Marciel and Janice Sands, sitting at an adjacent table. It became clear that Jessica was an enthusiastic fan. As an entertainer, you wanted her in your audience. She hooted and hollered in approval of the band,… and I mean with her volume up!

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Andy & Jessica

Andy & Jess at Kevin Spacey show

Making conversation between songs, I asked her, “What do you like most about the band?”

Jessica responded, “Oh, it’s all about the horns.”

Anyone who knows me, knows my passion for horn bands, dating back to Blood Sweat & Tears, as a high-schooler in New York City. At the time I met Jessica, I was webmaster for my favorite band of all time, Tower of Power, and in partnership with Doc Kupka (Tower’s bari sax player) in his record label, Strokeland Records.

When the show was over, I gave Jessica a copy of King of Retro Cool – Glenn Walters & The Strokeland Superband. At about 3:30am my phone rang... I didn’t hear it, I was already in a deep sleep. It was Jessica, telling me how much she enjoyed the CD and… would I be kind enough to ‘take a look at her website.’

I called her the next day, and asked her if we might get together for another musical night out, after I returned from a NACE Conference in San Diego.  She agreed, and we never looked back.

In the decade since, we have shared a lifetime of experiences. We were reminiscing the other day and concluded that our longevity is more than just loving each other… it’s appreciating what we have in common, as well as leaving room for individual likes and dislikes.

Jessica is a fierce friend. I have seen her step up and help people out in the most dire of circumstances. She wouldn’t know what else to do, except ‘be there’. We have been there to support each other as we grieved the loss of family members and good friends. She has seen me through multiple-surgeries and mastering the lifetime challenge of diabetes. And she has been a staunch supporter of mine through various business successes and setbacks, always pointing out the silver linings.

Did I mention Jessica can sing a little bit? Actually, more than a little bit.

I am forever amused by her Yogi Berra – style non-sequiturs. I bought her a book of Yogi-isms, titled “When You Get To The Fork In the Road, Take It.” Jess agreed… “I guess I do say stuff like that.”

Over time, I’ve grown much closer to Jessie’s daughter, Lexi. And our household wouldn’t be complete without our adopted ‘son’ – Super Sheltie – Ray Charles Jr.

Humor, sharing, love, friendship, malaprops, and mutual-support… that’s a pretty good recipe for longevity.

Tonight, to celebrate 10 years since we met, we are headed out to The Smith Center, Cabaret Jazz room to see the Lon Bronson Band. As luck would have it, Janice will be one of the back-up singers, tonight. We prefer great seats, when possible. We were fortunate to get first table in the mezzanine…

Oh, there are few tickets left… show starts at 8:30pm. Come out and live it up!

It will be a kick-ass show and I expect we’ll see any number of friends.

… and with Jessica by my side, it promises to be a great evening.

Andy Ebon
First-Generation New Yorker[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]