Monday, July 06, 2015

PC 505: FEMA and Family Edition

Hat 505: Navy blue, baseball-style cap with an adjustable snap-buckle closure in back and white all-caps embroidery on front that reads "FEMA." Interior tag reads: "Headmost, 100% cotton, made in China.

This is certainly the most special of all the Post-Cubbins hats (and definitely in the top 10 of all hats in the run). And here's why:

It was given to me on July 3, 2015, during a gathering of family and friends at the family homestead in SNAFU Hollow to honor my father, Doug Tschorn, who passed away in December, 

My dad's final (written) wishes included having his ashes scattered in the hills of Sandgate, a town he made his home, raised a family in and loved so much. One of his greatest hopes (expressed to me often) was that upon  his passing, those close to him should not mark the occasion sadly or solemnly but with a joyous, raucous celebration of his life. "I don't want a funeral," he said, "I want you guys to have a keg party!"
The planning began in earnest around the first of the year and while there wasn't technically a keg on site (in honor of another of Dad's long-held wishes to avoid liquor liability) there was no shortage of beverages -- or anything else for that matter. By the time all the details were hammered out the event had turned into a tented, catered party for 100 family and closest friends from every corner of the country. It included a roaring bonfire (lit by a firefighter cousin), a fireworks display (courtesy of the neighbor) and, most importantly, a DJ who provided the evening's soundtrack from Frank Sinatra standards to The Doors "Light My Fire" which was played during the lighting of the aforementioned bonfire.

The DJ was far from a random part of the evening. He was one Richard Bouchard, affectionately known in our family as Uncle Dick. He earned that title not by blood or marriage but by being my dad's oldest and dearest friend. They met, as family lore goes, when my dad was the assistant manager of the Sears store in the Walnut Hill Plaza in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and Uncle Dick who was selling radio advertising at the time. I don't recall the exact year but it was at least 46 years ago and maybe as many as 49 years ago. They were fast friends, bound by a love of ham radios, flea markets and most especially the love of the bargain.

I could prattle on for hours about how the lives of the Rhode Island Bouchards and the Vermont Tschorns have become intertwined but will leave it at the fact that there were four generations of inter-familial shenanigans on display at Friday's party.

Part owner, business manager and chief engineer of radio station WNRI (1380 on the AM dial the slogan was -- and maybe still is -- "the AM that sounds like an FM") Uncle Dick is also known as "Rockin' Dick" his nom du disc jockey both on the radio station from time and as an  actual party DJ for hire. 

Another side gig -- and this is where the hat comes in -- is that he serves as a reservist for FEMA's Disaster Teams. After setting up his considerable DJ rig in the yard, he put the hat on the table in front of him and announced he'd brought it for the project. 

While I was certainly touched by Dick's gesture, I was more touched by his seemingly mad-intuitive skills at the DJ equipment. I'd never seen him in action before and it was a sight to behold -- the patter, the seamless way songs new and old flowed together. He had people dancing together that I thought would never be seen even talking  to each other. 

The capper though, was as the crowd gathered around to plant an apple tree with my father's ashes a couple dozen yards away from the area where the DJ table and tent were set up. As friends and family took turns shoveling dirt around the base of the tree, a song could be heard wafting over from where Uncle Dick stood sentinel:"We Are Family" by Sister Sledge.  

Indeed we are Uncle Dick, indeed we are. And, while I appreciate the hat, what I cherish more is the send-off you gave my dad -- and your best friend. 

It will not soon be forgotten.

PC 493: Hot Head
PC 240: Batten Kill on my Brain
PC 123: SNAFU Hollow

Q: OK, fun hat but what is Project Cubbins, exactly?

A: Project Cubbins started as one man’s attempt to pay homage to Dr. Seuss and his second book, "The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins," during its 75th anniversary year in 2013. It documented the wearing of a different hat or piece of headgear every day for 500 consecutive days with no do-aheads, no banking of hats and no retroactive entries. Hat One was posted on May 27, 2013, and Hat 500 was posted on October 8, 2014.

While headgear is no longer posted on a daily basis, the occasional cap, hat or bonnet – if deemed worthy and non-duplicative – is sported here for the amusement of all.

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