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Happy Birthday

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The 29th. A guy should never be intimidated by a number but that one always gets me. It all goes back to a time when I was first getting to know the girl that would become my wife. A girl that has managed to put up with an aging rocker for over four decades. Jan and I had just gotten close and were giving each other the essential touchstones and dates of our lives. Jan told me she was born on June 29th. The year will be our secret. I’m told that more than one man has met an untimely demise by giving away a lady’s age.

Jan shortly after we met.

But what about the 29th? Well, Jan and I were married on August 29th. That means by the end of June, I start getting twitchy, wondering if our anniversary is the 29th of August or the 29th. of September.  I have never trusted myself with dates, so you can see my dilemma. I have to spend the end of June and all of July hoping to get a hint as to which month our anniversary falls. For this story, I just hung my head and asked Jan, “in which month did we get married.” It was August.

At that point, Brewer and Shipley had been on the road for years. So what should a traveling musician do when he finally finds the girl of his dreams? Take her on the road with him, of course. It was more like asking her to come along and listening to her tell him she had classes (her senior year at Mizzou). And listening to him tell her, “Forget it. We will be in Washington DC and New York’s Greenwich Village. It will be a blast. A plane ticket will be waiting for you at Lambert Field if you change your mind.” And a few weeks later, there we would be sitting together in the dressing room at Washington’s Cellar Door, ready to rock and roll.

The Cellar Door dressing room

And that was the beginning of our travels. There were the Brewer and Shipley tours, and we took advantage of those as often as we could. Touring with Brewer and Shipley, I had been just about everywhere in the  US. All of the states in the lower 48 plus Hawaii and so many trips to Alaska I can’t quite remember them all. And now Jan could come to all of the fun ones. At least when she could play hooky from work. I soon found that taking her from classes at Mizzou was easier than sneaking her out of a real job.  But we could still do more than our fair share of traveling.

In preparation for this week’s story, I found myself going through pictures of Jan which I thought I would share. I look at them often, remembering some world-class times the two of us have had in some of my favorite places. So I present a visual list of some of my favorite memories. Like the time I proposed to her on her father’s houseboat.

There is going to be a wedding

The first was a camping trip to Wisconsin. Jan and I, all of our camping gear, and two dogs crammed inside her blue Pinto. I’m not sure how we made it, but make it we did.

After a hike in Wisconsin

Over the years, Jan and I have had an opportunity to see a lot of the country and part of other countries. For some reason, we seem to gravitate to Latin America when vacation time comes around. I’m not sure if it’s the people, the food, or the beautiful beaches, but we love it all.

Jan smelling the flowers on Mexico’s Isla Holbox.

Isla Holbox is a place that has become our regular winter warm-up spot. Sun, sand, great food, and tequila. Now there is a plan, and we implement that plan every time the wind blows cold here at home. We have favorite dishes at some favorite restaurants. A cold winter’s night has always seen us anxiously waiting for February and a trip back to Holbox.

After another good Holbox dinner.

And there was that trip to Costa Rica a few years back. The food wasn’t all that good, but the room was beautiful with a view of Arenal volcano. It erupted while we were there. I was napping.

Jan enjoying Central America

At one point, we decided to check out more of the Yucatan Peninsula. We found ourselves in Merida, which some have called the most romantic city in North America. I have to agree. It is wonderful. There are parks and plazas everywhere, perfect places to end a romantic evening.

Hanging out in a park in Merida

Often, when Brewer and Shipley were on the road in a particularly cool place, I wished Jan was with me. This couldn’t have been more true than when we would tour Alaska. After several such tours, my dream finally came true. We were touring with our friends, the Bellamy Brothers. I’m not sure if it was my insistence or Jan’s desire to go to Alaska, but we were headed to Anchorage, Juneau, Kenai, and Ketchikan. It promised to be a fun trip.

Jan cooling off by the waterfall and my favorite picture of her.

So ends my trip, in photographs, down memory lane. I’ve been through many more pictures, and here are some of my favorites. I hope you like them as well. Now all I have to do is prepare for our anniversary, which will be here soon. Either in August or September. I still have a couple of months to figure that one out. Hopefully, I’ll do it on my own and not have to ask my bride, “in what month did we get married?” Pray for me.

Happy Birthday, Jan!

3 Responses

  1. Andrew Careaga
    | Reply

    What a great testament to a solid relationship between two beautiful people. Happy birthday, Jan, and happy anniversary to you both on the 29th of whatever month it may be.

  2. John Trigg
    | Reply

    Great birthday note for Jan Tom. Growing just down the street I have known Jan almost all of her life and it will cost her for my silence on age😝. I can be bought though. Too bad you didn’t get go on the original house boat. It had a 4 Track player (not 8) on it. Give Jan a birthday hug

  3. Joe Haefner
    | Reply

    Listened to a Playlist of your songs, been a fan since the Cabin at UW Eau Claire in 1967.

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