7:30 am. Just off interstate 94 in Wisconsin.
When it's all said and done and you're sitting there at the pearly gates.... waiting, waiting - "are they gonna let me in or not?"... you might have time to look back at all of the places in your life that you woke up.
And as I do that right now- I'm not at the pearly gates, don't worry - I'm pretty sure in my 54 years I've never woken up in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. There's just no reason to have come here or stop here, and that may explain why the main hotel here is a Best Western.
There's a huge statue of a moose as you drive in to the lodge, and every bone in my body is clamming to take a picture in front of it with the caption - "Park's closed. Moose out front shoulda told ya.'"
Alexis and I are on our way to the University of Minnesota to see the first-place Gophers host Indiana University in Big Ten baseball. Coming in to the weekend, Minnesota was 11-3 and IU 11-4. IU won 12-8 last night, though, on the power of a home run and a double by nephew Craig Dedelow. He's a junior now, and as you know college baseball players can get drafted at the end of their junior year. It's not that we're certain he'll get drafted, or even if he does that he'll leave the comforts of Bloomington... but if he were to get drafted and go on to a baseball career, Craig would have every right to snub his nose at Alexis and me for never having gone to see him play college baseball.
So yesterday we lived one of those days in My American, Radio Life that goes on to the point where you have a hard time making out the white lines late at night as you travel 70 miles an hour up Interstate 94 through Wisconsin.
The radio show yesterday started out easy enough at 5:30am, with Rich Christakes, the owner of Alsip Home and Nursery, calling in to tell us that "supertonias" may be the best flower for you to plant this Spring... especially if it's your first time planting flowers. Alexis always has me down in the dirt with a spade planting Impatients instead of petunias. With all the trees and bushes, we just don't get enough light anywhere on our property to grow petunias. They need a lot of water and sunshine. Impatients are a little more hearty.
Then Alexis came in and we talked about Judge Jeffrey Harkin passing away. Jeff sat in Hammond City Court since 2001 and died recently. Alexis has a little history with the court, having worked there as a secretary in 1991. Now, she sometimes sits in as magistrate for Harkin... or did sit in for him... and sometimes she stands on the other side of the bench and argues for her clients there. It really was sad to see Jeffrey go... although I won't miss all that obnoxious Notre Dame garb he used to don.
We also joked about our thermostat. That's where some of the biggest battles in our marriage take place. On Thursday, we were watching TV and Alexis jumped up - "It's hot in here. Did you put the thermostat up to 64 again?"
"Yes, honey. I'm freaking freezing."
As the three or four of you know, it's been really cold in the Chicago area for the past couple of weeks. No, I take that back. One day it's 75... and the next it's 35. On Thursday, it was 35. Alexis and I were watching "Love the Coopers" and I was freezing. So I snuck out of the TV room up to the thermostat and switched it from 63 to 64. But nothing gets by Attorney Dedelow. She felt it within five minutes and I was back to shivering under a blanket watching another senseless romantic comedy.
... After Alexis left, Lake County Sheriff John Buncich sat in the guest chair. He was coming in to rebut the things that Hammond mayor Tom McDermott had said on Thursday. It was really pretty good radio, if you think about it.
Wednesday - Verlie starts a hailstorm with, "You don't need a Confederate flag anymore. Just put a Trump sign in your yard."
Thursday - Hammond mayor McDermott blasts Lake County Sheriff John Buncich and others, including the Gary precinct organization, of which he says something like - "Dave Capp (the US prosecutor) should look at that organization."
Friday - Buncich comes in and gets on McDermott for driving a spike between factions of the Lake County Democratic party. Buncich also lets it out that McDermott came to him to talk about running for Congress against Pete Visclosky, who's been there since I worked at WJOB the first time... the mid-1980s.
So three days in a row, you had some pretty bold statements play out on the radio. McDermott calling out the Gary precincts organization, and Buncich letting it slip that McDermott may be eyeing at run at the Big Job.
Anyways, you and the three others of you can listen to the podcasts at the links above. After the radio show, I got the Ford Fusion emission tested and got the oil changed at Big George's Unlimited Service Auto. George is the guy who hosts our Saturday morning car show, which, in all irony, is going on right now as I sit in the coffee shop of the Best Western Hotel in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. While a tech changed the oil and put on new wiper blades, George and I and his granddaughter and some guy waiting for brakes talked about driverless cars. George doesn't like them. I want one. It would have been nice last night at 11pm driving through a rainstorm to let someone else like a computer do the white-knuckle driving. George disagrees. He says that's how people die.
Then Alexis and I went to a rooftop party at 1050 Waveland just outside Wrigley Field. The Cubs won 8-6 over the Nationals. The wind was blowing out so every time a player hit a fly ball, it turned into a home run. This rooftop event we've been a part of since the Salzeider charity started it 15 years ago. WJOB sports director Ryan Walsh actually hosts a live broadcast from the rooftop every year from noon to 1pm, as he did yesterday. A ton of WJOB heads were there, including Peaches, who told me the story of her son's Bisoxuality.
I thought I had made up a term on the air the other day when I said I like the Cubs and the Sox. I had two grandpas when I was a kid. One was a Sox fan and one a Cubs fan. Although almost every Dedelow in the world is a Cubs fan, I would feel bad if I turned my back on the Sox. Grandpa Brown and I used to watch them on his little black and white TV in the VA hospital in Chicago when I was really little. He died when I was six. I cried like a baby on the couch when my mom told me. She cried too, I remember that, and I remember thinking through my tears -
Who am I gonna watch the White Sox games with?
It goes that deep. So when I said on the air that I liked following both teams, I jokingly said I was "BiSoxual," thinking that I had come up with an original term. In the back of my mind, I thought - Maybe I should trademark that, you know, like Pat Riley did with the term "3peat" when the Bulls won three championships in a row in the 1990s.
But as I was leaving the rooftop party, John George and his wife Peaches came up. "JED, I listen all the time. So does my son. And when I get home I'm gonna send you a picture of a shirt my son found at the Goodwill. We were there looking for a costume suit to wear to a party and he found a shirt that says 'I'm BiSoxual' on it. We took a picture so you could see it."
So it goes. I thought I was gonna make a bunch of money on an original thought, and someone put it on a shirt that wound up at the Goodwill. After the rooftop party, Alexis and I met up with one of my cousins, Beverly Dedelow. She grew up in Orlando, Florida, but as so many Mormons do, she made her way to Utah, where she's raising six kids. Her oldest, Zach, is 6-foot-3 in 8th grade and plays center on a high-level youth basketball team. Bev and Zach were waiting for Alexis, my sister Jen and brother-in-law Mark and I as we stumbled down the stairs of the rooftop. I bought Zach and his brothers and sisters tee-shirts and a painting of Wrigley Field that some traveling artist was selling. Zach, 6-foot-3 and in braces, didn't know how to take in all of the drunken characters in blue strolling around Waveband Avenue after a Cubs victory. And he certainly didn't know how to take his uncle with the big mouth. At least he'll remember me bargaining down the vendor for a better price on five shirts.
"Don't pay retail, Zach, not in Chicago."
Alexis and I met a bunch of ne-er-do-wells at one of my three favorite bars in the world - Bernie's. While they drank, I sucked down a couple Diet Pepsis and ate some food and then we walked a couple miles to our car and drove to Black River Falls, Wisconsin. It took more than five hours. There's a lot of construction and there was a huge thunderstorm. We both fell asleep within ten minutes of laying our heads down on the pillow.
Next stop - Siebert Field on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.