Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lunch with Brenda

Brenda Tremblay.
For some reason or other, I don’t remember why, I got the e-mail address of Brenda Tremblay (“TROM-blay;” as in “trombone”), the morning-host at WXXI, the classical-music radio-station out of Rochester (NY) I listen to.
Brenda and I graduated Houghton College (“HO-tin;” not “how” or “who”), she in 1990, me in 1966.
In fact, her father was Class of 1964; two before me. I never knew him personally, but I know who he is.
It’s not her private e-mail. It’s WXXI. But it’s not the generic WXXI e-mail. Her name is in the address.
Once-in-a-while I’d send her a link to one of these blogs, usually something that dealt with Houghton.
I happened to send her a link about my wife’s obituary finally appearing in the college magazine — about six months after her death.
So she fired back wondering if I could do lunch.
“Sure,” I said. “I’m told I need company.”
We’d swap stories about Houghton, and how it was an inspiration to our musical inclinations.
For me that was a pleasant surprise. Brenda’s parents were both music-majors.
I’ve never regretted Houghton, although I was adjudged a ne’er-do-well.
My surprise was discovering their penchant for Bach, which I readily accommodated.
So after graduating and moving to Rochester, and listening to rock-’n’-roll a few years — Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, etc...... — I gravitated to WXXI, a return to my enjoyment of classical music.
WXXI is a public-radio station, and wasn’t classical at first.
Since the commercial classical station in Rochester tanked, WXXI-radio went classical.
I’m a long-time listener and supporter, ever since the middle-‘70s.
I no longer render heavy financial support, since at my age (almost 69), itemizing deductions no longer makes sense.
As a public-radio station, WXXI depends on member support, the financial support of its listeners.
And so it was yesterday, Monday January 14th, 2013. Faire Brenda and her ancient bereaved listener.
Simon Pontin.
Brenda replaced Simon Pontin (“Pahn-tin;” as in “ah”), who had been WXXI’s morning-man since WXXI went classical. We always liked Simon, although I could have done without his Sousa marches at the crack of dawn.
But his twisted viewpoints were similar to mine; apparently what drew me to my wife.
Brenda suggested a compromise location, the Distillery in Victor, NY. It would take her perhaps 25-30 minutes to get there from Rochester, and about 20-25 minutes from my house.
I got there before she did — I left too early.
She apparently parked next to me, but neither of us realized who we were. I thought she was some young professional; she had gone inside.
Finally about our scheduled time I called her cellphone, but kept getting voicemail for “Beth.”
Brenda returned my call, calling from inside. By then I had gone into the restaurant’s lobby. Brenda came out to get me, apologizing that a restaurant-employee had not brought me to her table.
Photo by BobbaLew.
Our 1979 Ford E-250 van in South Dakota.
Gift-exchange time: I had brought along an old WXXI bumper-sticker from the ‘80s, and Brenda gave me a bag of recent WXXI goodies.
I explained a similar WXXI bumper-sticker had traveled all the way to Montana in 1987, on the back bumper of our 1979 Ford E-250 van, my all-time favorite motor-vehicle, even though it only got 10 mpg.
That van also did Yellowstone and the Pikes Peak road, which at that time was still dirt.
All through Wyoming strains of Copland’s “Billy the Kid” wafted through my head, a legacy of WXXI.
Karl Haas.
“For that you can blame Karl Haas,” I said. His program was “Adventures in Good Music,” apparently nationally syndicated.
It aired on WXXI during the ‘80s, and significantly expanded my appreciation of classical-music: Stravinsky, Ravel, Rimsky-Korsakov, Gershwin — even Mozart, who I kind of abhorred because of his fluff.
“Yes, we always listened to ‘Adventures in Good Music’ as I was growing up,” Brenda said.
“There were lots of others,” I observed.
Brenda wondered about her programming; her father claimed it was too droll and sad.
“I’ve never felt that way,” I declared.
I concluded by observing that first I called her “Bubbles;” she was too ebullient.
But now I no longer feel that way. Either -a) I’ve gotten used to her, or -b) she’s toned it down.
Although sometimes she plays opera. Pontin had a rule about “no opera before noon.” I can go with that. Hearing opera my wife and I would always comment about the singer being goosed for the high notes.
Once I heard an electronic version of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” as a ringtone on someone’s cellphone.
“If my cellphone ever did that,” I said; “I’d stomp it!”

• “Houghton College,” in western New York, is from where I graduated with a BA in 1966. Houghton is an evangelical liberal-arts college.
• My beloved wife of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. Like me she was Houghton Class of ’66. I miss her dearly.


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