I'm not a very lucky guy. But things do change.
Since 1968, I can remember winning only two contests. One based on naked talent, and one based on dumb luck.
As most people around here know, I won the Gong Show in 1977. I sang "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" while buck-naked in a shower, and for some odd reason I won first place. My prizes were four Mr. Coffee machines, $200 worth of Turtle Wax products and 1,000 rolls of ChapStick. That's the naked talent one.
Around 1988, I was driving through Cooperstown and saw a sign for a Glimmerglass Opera raffle. I had never been to an opera, but I had an old $100 bill in my wallet and I liberated it and sprang for a ticket. Lo and behold I won. Big. $10,000 big! I got a new driveway and deck off that one. That was the lucky one.
And that was it. A driveway and a deck more than two decades ago, and some lip balm and coffee makers more than three decades ago.
But like I said, things do change.
I recently attended the Main Street artisans' fair in Oneonta. I walked by a lady who was raffling off a large quilt. She belonged to the Susquehanna Valley Quilters Guild (www.svguild.org). What do I know about making a quilt? Zero. What did I know about the history of quilts? Even less.
But I always like to support area groups, so I bought a $5 ticket. Surprise! I won the quilt! I couldn't even remember what it looked like.
When my prize was delivered, I looked it over. It was beautiful. The handiwork was amazing, the colors were vibrant and the pattern was creative. "Flying Saucers" was its name, reflecting more on coffee cups and plates than alien spaceships.
Now, what to do with the quilt? Throw it on the bed? Hang it from a wall? Pack it away as an heirloom? The kids didn't like the heirloom option. My wife voted for the wall hanging, and the dog and I voted for tossing it on the bed. Luckily we didn't have to make that decision because the quilt's creator called and needed it back. She wanted to enter it in a major quilt show.
OK, now I am starting to feel some real proprietorship to the darn thing. My quilt in an exhibition? That's kind of cool.
On Saturday, my wife and I went to the Major's Inn in Gilbertsville to attend the quilt show. It was packed. I was astounded by the number of quilts on display and the quality of the work. There were dozens of the most dazzling pieces of craftsmanship you've ever seen there. I feigned interest in all of them as I tiptoed in and around the hanging displays.
The quilts looked like entries on "Antiques Roadshow." Stunning. But where was my quilt? I ran into many people I knew who were more than curious as to what Big Chuck was doing at a quilt show. "Oh, you know," I said. "The Mrs. dragged me here." I chuckled nervously as my wife sighed and rolled her eyes. Where was my quilt?
At last I found "Flying Saucers." My heart pounded with pride as I viewed it from afar, watching people go up to it and coo at its beauty. I overheard one lady say, "That's the weirdest quilt I have ever seen." My wife had to hold me back at this affront to my new possession. "It's OK, Chuck," she whispered. "Let it go." I seethed.
So now that the exhibition is over, I've done some research about quilts. How they told the stories of the Underground Railroad. How the quilters brought their amazing talents to America from all over the world, especially Ireland. Of the sheer value of some of the rarest ones of all. In fact, did you know that the most expensive quilt ever sold went for $265,000! It was the famous 1860s "Reconciliation Quilt" and depicted scenes of slavery.
I love my new quilt and can't wait to get it home from its grand and triumphant tour to Gilbertsville. I'll certainly show it a newer degree of appreciation and love, and will care for it with kid gloves. My wife and I have even talked about hanging it for all our guests to see.
The dog, however, is still voting for it to be up on the bed.
I'll catch you in two ...
'Big Chuck' D'Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his "Oldies Jukebox Show." You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at email@example.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck.
I'm not a very lucky guy. But things do change.
- Big Chuck
Safety Patrol D.C. visits never get old
I asked Cam Morris, head of Eastern Travel/Oneonta Bus Lines, how many years her company has been handling the Safety Patrol trip to Washington, D.C.
My pal Brucie, savior of Sidney's hospital
Ask any hospital administrators if they've ever heard of a closed hospital in New York state that has ever been re-opened. They will say, "Impossible." In a half century of going through records you can't find any.
Catching a whiff of 'Vermont Vapor'
We just came back from a weekend in Manchester, Vt., and my wife insists that something "magical" happens when you pass the state sign. "I think they spray 'Vermont Vapor' out of the sign or something," she opined, "something that actually changes us."
Selections from the virtual mailbag
Well, it's time to open up the email bag, and it's really full!
Recalling days of 'Doughnut King'
In 1969, I was "The Doughnut King" in Sidney.
- Monday, March 11, 2013
Opera great's visit still a thrilling memory
Opera singer Marian Anderson (1897-1993) has been called the "most distinctive American voice of the 20th century."
- Monday, February 25, 2013
Film clip a window into Oneonta's past
One of my radio listeners sent me an astonishing piece of video recently. I posted it on my Facebook page (go to Facebook, search "BIG CHUCK") and it has been viewed by well over 1,000 people in just a week.
- Monday, February 11, 2013
Many made stop at upstate naval base
My father was in the U.S. Navy. Not for long, but he did enlist out of high school in 1944. He did his naval training at Sampson Naval Training Base in Romulus. Shortly after Dad's basic training, he was honorably discharged because of a health issue. So, although his service was brief, I needed to find out as much about it as I possibly could.
- Monday, January 28, 2013
Local foods worthy of national spotlight
Well, President Obamaâ€™s second inauguration is over and we can all breathe a sigh of relief and satisfaction.
- Monday, January 14, 2013
Remembering lives of the not-so-famous
I write about 25 columns a year for this paper. And I must admit, this annual one is always my favorite. A lot of famous people left this world last year, including General Norman Schwarzkopf, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, singer Andy Williams and TV's George Jefferson actor -- Sherman Hemsley.
- Monday, December 31, 2012
Canines create unforgettable moments
Last year, I used my holiday column to pay tribute to my dog, Stella. The darn dog actually received fan mail after that, and has insisted that I do a shout-out to her canine colleagues each year around this time. So, to keep Stella happy, here goes.
- Monday, December 17, 2012
Nothing like an old-fashioned movie theater
What is it about a movie theater?
- Monday, December 3, 2012
Chuck's daughter returns to a town full of memories
My daughter Frances, OHS Class of 2000, came home for Thanksgiving last week after not having been in her hometown for nearly five years. I asked her to be my "guest columnist" to share her thoughts about coming home for the holidays. I hope you enjoy her story.
- Monday, November 19, 2012
Time to move on after grueling campaign season
Nobody likes a presidential election campaign better than I do. But this one darn near took a piece out of me.
- Monday, November 5, 2012
One nasty hurricane more than enough for one lifetime
Hey, Sandy! Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
- Monday, October 22, 2012
Latter-day stunt men still knew how to thrill
What is it with all these crazy stuntmen all of a sudden?
- Monday, October 8, 2012
Andy Williams, last of the great crooners
When singer Andy Williams died a week ago, it truly was an end of an era.
- Monday, September 24, 2012
Senator's farm was all I imagined
Many years ago, when I first arrived in Oneonta, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was the senior senator from New York state. His top aide, Ross Frommer, used to come into the radio station for interviews and to tell my audience about the various legislative efforts involving "their senator."
- Monday, September 10, 2012
Family's history includes ancestor who knew Lincoln
- Monday, August 27, 2012
Making up for lost time on Facebook
If there ever was a true-blue phenomenon, it is Facebook.
- Safety Patrol D.C. visits never get old