Christmas Readings With Mel

Several years ago, my father and I started on a project to do readings of some of our favorite Christmas tales.  It had long been a family tradition on Christmas Eve to read these aloud to each other over tasty eggnog or toasty hot chocolate.

We thought that it would be great to put some of these on DVD to pass out as Christmas gifts to the children we knew – sort of a way of keeping the tradition alive.  Alas, we never completed the project.  But there are a few pieces of it that are close enough to presentable.  So tonight, I thought I would share them with you.

The first is the story of Christ’s birth, from the gospel of Luke.


The second one is the classic “Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus” from the pages of the New York Sun.


Thank you for sharing these with me.  And yes indeed, that is Sweet Sue making a cameo appearance.



A Letter To My Father

Dear Dad,

I hope that this letter finds you in good spirits (sorry, I just couldn’t resist the pun).  It has now been a month since you left us.  As I promised you; Sue, Pal, & I are taking good care of each other and we are doing alright.

There are tough moments in every day – times when I want to share things with you or get your opinion on something, times when I channel surf past a Law & Order re-run, and every time I come through the door into the house and you aren’t there.  Sue in particular had a very rough time the first couple of nights.  I don’t think she slept at all, she seemed to just pace all night, waiting for you to get into her bed with her.  Within a week she gave that up and started sleeping on the couch with Paladin.  Finally, last night she slept in her bed all by herself.  We are all making adjustments.

The holiday season has been particularly stressful.  But I’ve had tremendous support from our neighbors, from Donna and her family, from Marcia, from a host of Lakers, from my MDS friends, and from my friend Linda.  I’ve even gotten support from some of the folks at the Irish Setter rescue.

the last Christmas gift that Dad purchased for me

One last gift from Dad

I keep thinking back to last Christmas, when we were together and you wept openly because there was no gift under the tree for me.

This year, your gift to me arrived in the mail 10 days after your passing.  When I opened the shipping package and read the gift tag “Remember that every day is like Christmas!  Love Dad, Sue, & Pal” my knees buckled.

But it motivated me to put up the Christmas tree and the decorations.  And tomorrow, after the chores are done and the dogs have opened all of their gifts – I will open one last Christmas present from you.  Thank you.  I know how much effort it must have taken for you to order a gift for me.  I know how much you love me – and I know that you are aware of just how much I love you.

In contrast to last year when we were together, there was no gift under the tree for me, and you were crying – this year we are apart, there is a gift for me, and I’ll be doing the crying.  I miss you, and I always will.  And whatever this present is, I’m certain that I will love it – just because it came from you.  Although it will have to pass a pretty high bar to beat last year’s gift.

I don’t know about where you are right now, but I like to picture you walking in that field across from the cabin with Hart Winter to your left and Jerry Winter to your right with a whole pack of beautiful red dogs out in front of you working hard to set those pheasants.  Of course Koof, Hercules, Sugar, and JoJo will be trailing behind you – their hearts bursting with joy just to be with you again.

Say hello to John, Alan, Ken, and your mother for me.  Tell them that I love them all.  And send my best to the rest of the gang there with you.

Sue, Pal, and I will be alright.  We share the love you gave us, and we have all of the tools you taught us.  I may never become the man you were, but thanks to you I have everything I need to become the best man I can be and to be my own man.

Thank you Dad.  I love you.


Love, your son



P.S. Sue and Pal both juiced up to send you big sloppy Irish Setter kisses too.

Rest In Peace Melvin Edward Hall

Melvin Edward Hall portrait

April 1, 1932 - November 24, 2010

Melvin Edward Hall – April 1, 1932 – November 24, 2010 – Father, teacher, coach, and a comfort to dogs.

Mel passed away peacefully in his home on Wednesday, attended by his son Jim and his beloved Irish Setters Sue and Paladin.  His final days were brightened considerably by visits from family, friends, and former students.

Mr. Hall was born in Muskegon to parents Melvin Bristol Hall and Irene (Vos) Hall.  After graduation from Muskegon High School in 1950 he attended Western Michigan University, funded by R.O.T.C. and a Latin scholarship.  He made the Bronco football team as a walk-on, and was a member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity.

After satisfying his military commitments, he completed his Masters degree at WMU.  In 1959, he married the former Lois Marie Pugh and joyously welcomed the arrival of sons James Edward (1961) and John Lee (1963).

He began a career as a high school teacher and administrator at Allegan High, moving on to DeTour and Gobles high schools before landing at Spring Lake High School in 1964.  He taught English and Latin at SLHS until his retirement in 1992 and was the school’s first Cross Country coach.  He also coached Track & Field for the Lakers, overseeing the design of the track facilities at Grabinski Field, and introduced girls’ teams in both Track and Cross Country.  His boys’ track teams experienced a streak of 41 dual meet victories that was unbroken from 1981 to 1986.

In his later years, he worked as a substitute teacher, served on the Spring Lake Village Council, and volunteered as a Foster Parent for Save Our Setters, Inc. – an Irish Setter rescue organization.

He was proceeded in death by his parents, his brother Kenneth James Hall, his son John Lee Hall, and his former wife Lois.  He is survived by his son Jim, sister-in-law Donna Hall of Fremont, daughter-in-law Karla Kube of East Lansing, Matthew Kube-McDowell of West Lafayette, IN, and many beloved nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be at the VanZantwick, Bartels, & Kammeraad Funeral Home of Spring Lake.  The Reverend Dan Anderson will officiate the service at the Spring Lake Presbyterian Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to Save Our Setters, Inc. on-line at or by mail at Save Our Setters, Inc. P.O. Box 328 Oakland, TN  38060.

Arrangements are being handled by VanZantwick, Bartels, & Kammeraad Funeral Home of Spring Lake.

And That’s The Way It Is, Friday July 17th, 2009…

We knew it was coming, but I’m still having trouble processing it.  Walter Cronkite died today at the age of 92, following a long illness.

The word “anchor” was first applied to a newsman when Cronkite “anchored” CBS’ coverage of the 1952 Democratic and Republican conventions.

When I first started working in radio news, I wanted to pattern myself after Cronkite.  His steady, level delivery; his calm demeanor in the face of the biggest events of the 20th centruy; and his trustworthiness – if “Uncle Walter” said it, it simply had to be true.

His steady hand can be seen in a lot of places, probably none more important than in covering the assination of President Kennedy.  Throughout the obviously rushed coverage, he refused to label rumor as fact – and he delivered the information available without any fanfare.  Those too young to remember may not appreciate the fear that gripped the country at this moment.  Beside the overwhelming loss of a great leader, there was a near panic concern that the “Commies” would take advantage of this moment to attack.  It seems silly now, but at the time it was a very real concern.  Cronkite simply reported the facts, including that Vice-President Johnson would be taking the oath of office.

In this first clip, pay particular attention to Cronkite’s sensibilities at the 5-minute mark.

Cronkite was a steady, level-headed influence on America, and even the world through so many key events of the last century.  And on those occasions when Cronkite felt the need to editorialize, he stepped out of his newsman role and clearly labeled his editorial as such – and everybody from the lowliest American to the President had to listen and hear what “Uncle Walter” had to say.

The Assassination Of Dr. King

Cronkite’s Editorial on Viet Nam

The death of President Johnson

Three Mile Island

Of course this one is what made the biggest impact on my 8-year old mind…

His influence extended into this century, when we were lost we turned to Walter Cronkite to show us the way:

And that’s the way it is…

Rest In Peace Walter, I fear that we will never see another like you.

My New Band

I got this “challenge” in the old e-mail today from a buddy. It’s fun – give it a try:

1 – Go to “wikipedia.” Hit “random”

or click

The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 – Go to “Random quotations”

or click

The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 – Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”

or click

Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 – Use Photoshop or similar to put it all together.

And here is the finished product – the first album from my band AHALYA, titled “Tiresome Labor Is Immense”

"Tiresome Labor Is Immense" by AHALYA

"Tiresome Labor Is Immense" by AHALYA

FYI: AHALYA is a Sanskrit meaning “without any deformation.”