There were a couple of things that happened to your hero recently that really drove home the point that, dang, I’m getting old. First, in August I received a nice little letter from the United States Social Security Administration.
States the letter, “You have earned enough credits to qualify for retirement benefits. To qualify for benefits, you earn credits through your work, up to four each year . . .Your full retirement age is 67 . . .” There was a little graphic that showed if I retire at 61, I would receive $1,807 a month in benefits. If I waited until I turned 65, the benefit goes up to $2,231 and $2,574 if I waited until I was 67. It also showed if I waited until I was 70 years old, I could earn $3,192 a month, minus taxes. So, I got that to look forward to in a decade.
The other thing that says, “Dude, you’re old” is when the local, community television station calls up to do an interview with you for a show called, “My Life.” They would not have called me were I a fresh scrubbed, green, cub reporter. They called because I’m a crusty old community newspaperman who’s been around the block a few thousand times. So, when Chuck Cameron of Oxford Community Television (OCTV) called me last month to do an interview on “My Life” I said, “sure.” (While I am old and crusty, I’m still kinda’ vain.)
I must say it was a pleasant experience. I sat with Chuck, 74, behind a desk, in front of two video cameras and we talked for about 30 minutes, stopping every nine minutes or so to change subjects. He asked a lot of questions about my youth, family, where I grew up, life as a community newspaper guy for nearly 40 years among other things. I supplied the OCTV crew with lots of old pictures which they spliced into the final, edited production. As of writing, I have not watched it, but, when I went to their website, OxfordCommunityTV.us, under the Programs tab, I saw it has been posted and it’s on their Youtube channel, too.
Chuck’s a groovy dude. A people person. He’s a retired chemical salesman.
The station has been doing these “My Life” segments for five or six years, he said. They won awards with them, too. Chuck has only been doing the “My Life” gig for about a year, he said. And, he’s good at it. He has a great personality, soft deep voice and asks good questions. He likes what he’s doing for the station
“First, everybody has a story to tell, and if you listen most people are fairly happy – but maybe a little shy — to tell you their story, if they sense somebody actually cares about their story. They’re willing to talk,” he said.
Even though he and his wife Terri only live about a mile from the station, he recalls he really didn’t know who and what OCTV was. “I think like many people in the community. I just didn’t know,” he said. “I saw an ad one day, and thought, heck, I’ll go down there and see if they need any help. At the time they didn’t need any voice-over work. But they did have a guy who worked for them for about five years named John who did a lot of these ‘My Life’ interviews. At the time the area had a lot of veterans from World War 2, Korea, Vietnam and they thought it would be a good idea to interview these veterans, because eventually we wouldn’t be able to anymore. They have about 150 interviews, I think, in the can with people who are generally military, older. They’re fascinating stories. I think most of the people interviewed wouldn’t be prone to tell their story, or maybe nobody really asked them to share their stories before. And, the wisdom of the program is when once we record them, and when they’re gone, their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren can see and hear Grandma or Grandpa’s story. I love the idea. I’m a grandpa myself. I love capturing peoples’ stories and pulling out some details that they might not think is important, so they can pass on those stories and videos to later generations.”
Between Chuck and his wife Terri (which he calls “the brains of the operation”) they have three children, living in Pittsburgh and Chicago, and six grandchildren.
Chuck invites everybody to check out the OCTV lineup, as there is plenty of programming for all sorts of people. If you want to see my story on “My Life,” check it out. I believe I even talked about growing up on the “the mean streets” of Clarkston.