He Reached the Stars….

I’m late posting this, I know…but if you’ve read my previous post, you already know why.

I’m a creature of habit. As much as I dislike schedules, appointments, or anything that involves having to be anywhere at a specific time on a specific date, I followed a regular routine for years–one I’m finally getting back to after years of chaos. The late Casey Kasem was, for years, a big part of that routine.

When we lived in our old apartment, Collin worked the day shift at the cafeteria on weekends. There was only one washer and one dryer for eleven apartments, so competition was fierce. I finally resigned myself to hauling our laundry to the laundromat down the street every Sunday morning. I have an aversion to crowds in any form, whether it’s a grocery store, rush hour traffic…or a laundromat. For that reason, I always took my Walkman along (this was before the MP3 player came along). Music really does soothe this savage beast!

Sunday mornings on the radio meant Casey Kasem’s America’s Top 40. I loved his show and would listen start to finish every week. Casey said he wanted to be radio’s answer to Ed Sullivan, and he was. At one point, his show was broadcast by over a thousand radio stations worldwide. He had a real gift for making the listener feel like he was speaking only to them as he shared anecdotes about performers or bits of backstory of popular songs. My favorite thing about his show were the long-distance dedications–requests from listeners with those wonderful, intimate stories of love lost or trying to reconnect with old friends across time, states, countries. Those stories inspired me. Casey inspired me.

When I finished the laundry, I’d gather my notes and handwritten manuscripts and head off to Long John Silvers for lunch, still wearing my Walkman. I’d always get the same booth near the window, spread out my work and listen to the last part of Casey’s show while I ate and worked.

Times have changed. Casey’s gone now. His show’s been off the air since 2004. Collin and I no longer live in that apartment–we haven’t since 2003. He hasn’t worked at the cafeteria since it closed abruptly in the summer of 2004. We now have a washer and dryer in our apartment. That Long John Silvers is ten miles away. And I now do my writing on my smartphone or tablet. I listen to music the same way. But I still think about those days. I still miss them. I miss listening to Casey Kasem,

Casey Kasem always closed his show with this line: “Keep your feet on the ground and reach for the stars.” It was difficult, if not impossible, to not be deeply moved by that kind of optimism….