Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Look Back: The Life of Daniel F. Ford
Chapter 4: My Early School Years

I combed through my personal archives to get a sense of the person I was in order to understand the person I am. I unearthed an autobiography I was assigned to write in the 8th grade. For the next several weeks, I’ll be publishing each chapter of the book

As I started school, I found out that life was not always easy.

As I told you in the last chapter , it was hard to leave the home I hadn’t left for any extended period of time since I was born. 

Entering the age of five, times had changed. My Mémère had died and her house sold. I myself moved into a house and started my second year of nursery school. But not all the times were bad. The best times were when we went to Frenchville, Maine. The car ride there is 12 hours, but it’s worth it. 

Kindergarten yearbook picture
There were of course obstacles that life threw out, but I somehow conquered them all. After first and second grade, I entered into third grade hoping that my life would settle down. I had had a girlfriend, but we broke up because of a misunderstanding and still to this day I don’t know the reason (editorial note: good grief). 

About halfway through the school year, I started to go out with a girl—we weren’t really going out, but you know what I mean. One day, she approached me and asked if I would marry her. I thought it was a joke, so I played along. The next day, someone made fake invitations. I started to think the joke was going to far, but I still played along. In art class the next day, the art teacher asked the girl who her bridesmaids were going to be. I spun around and asked, “How do you know about all this?” My third grade teacher walked in the room and said, “We all know.” So needless to say, I was humiliated. 

Ivy Drive School
This was my elementary school from kindergarten through third grade.
That was just the beginning. Toward the end of the year, I made another obstacle seem harder than it seemed. We had to write birthday cards to people on their birthday. On this occasion, it was Kevin Gesner’s birthday. I wrote him a card that had an insult in it (editorial note: I learned how to swear in third grade. I called him an asshole). His mother found out and told the principal. He came down to my classroom and gave me a lecture on how to write a proper birthday card. 

It wasn’t until around this time that my younger brother Patrick could play Wiffle ball with me, and I found out baseball was the meaning of life. The first year playing with him, I won the World Series but hit only one homerun. In fourth grade, I pounded out 120 homeruns to double Babe Ruth’s record. The next year I hit 125 homeruns to break my old record. This year, I won the World Series and blasted 200 homeruns during the season (editorial note: these numbers are actually entirely accurate). My brother is a great player, but takes losing kind of hard.

The boys in 1990
Tom, 14; Daniel, 7; Patrick 2
It was in second grade that I decided I wanted to be a writer. We were writing short stories and I got caught up in the thrill of books. I had written one before about a boy who found this magical make-believe land, but I never thought anything of it. I had an idea to write a story about a guy taking over the world, but I didn’t like the plot. I ended up doing a story about a lost bunny rabbit that saves his family. I have written so many more, but have not finished one. 

There has never been a time that I can recall when I have been really sick. I did have my share of colds and stomachaches, but never was really sick enough to be hospitalized. I guess I’m lucky (editorial note: depressing that my memory was crappy even back then. I was hospitalized when I was around one because of the flu and dehydration). 

I never had many secret spots or secrets. There is one thing though. One summer, my cousin Judy had a brilliant idea to create a time capsule. Judy, Patrick, and I—along with Judy’s next door neighbor Stacy (editorial note: who I naturally was in love with)—put things that were popular in 1994. We planned to bury the capsule in Stacy’s backyard and leave a map in my cousin’s house, so the next person who lived there would be able to find it. We also started a secret club that I could tell you about, but then I’d have to kill you! 

Badass (read: nerd-tastic) photo from fifth grade.
I was deathly afraid of anything loud. If a truck—or a fire truck in a parade—went by, I would cover my ears. My favorite comic book hero will always be Superman. I had a cape and used to pretend I was Superman. My favorite television shows were all the shows on Disney Afternoon (editorial note: Duck Tales, Talespin, and Rescue Rangers, bitches). My favorite book is still Where the Red Fern Grows, which was recommended to me by a close friend. 

Up next, my family.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Look Back: The Life of Daniel F. Ford
Chapter 2 & 3: The Early Years

I combed through my personal archives to get a sense of the person I was in order to understand the person I am. I unearthed an autobiography I was assigned to write in the 8th grade. For the next several weeks, I’ll be publishing each chapter of the book.

Chapter 2: I Make an Appearance

I was born on a snowy day on January 17, 1984 at New Britain General Hospital at 9 p.m. My mom came into the hospital early in the morning and it ended up that I was born late at night. Go figure, huh?

My parents named me Daniel Francis Ford. My first name is Grandpa Ford’s middle name—unfortunately, that’s not why they named me Daniel. Francis is my great-grandfather’s name. I like both Dan and Danny. My mom hates Danny. All my teachers call me Danny. 

I was a very cranky baby. I loved my older brother Tom though. My mom says I used to listen endlessly to him telling me stories. My first doctor was Dr. Glass, and I don’t know why but I didn’t like him. Me being a cranky baby, I used to cry on the way to his office. That I remember.

Look how gorgeous my mother is not too long after having me. What is she doing with my father's mustache and ugly sweater?
I am a middle child. As I said, I loved my brother Tom, and he loved me otherwise I don’t think he would have put up with me (editorial note: still true). He loved me the second I was born. There’s a picture of Tom holding me and smiling. I guess it was because I was his first sibling.

Christmas 1985
I have—and will always have—a yellow Winnie the Pooh blanket (editorial note: also true, although it may have been lost in last year’s flood in Connecticut). It’s now folded on my bed and is in pretty good condition. Also, I have a Roger Rabbit stuffed animal, which I will always have no matter what happens to him (editorial note: Roger is indeed still around and safe and sound in one of my trunks back home). He is also on my bed. 

I first talked some time in August 1984. My mom heard me say, “Dada.” I learned most babies say that first. Maybe it is easier. 

My favorite song was the Winnie the Pooh song. I was a big Winnie the Pooh fan. I would sit on my couch and sing along to the Winnie the Pooh song. Also, my favorite movie was Dumbo.

Chapter 3: Before I Started School

After my baby years, I was a pretty active toddler. I was like what I am now, just smaller with fatter cheeks.

I loved to chase my mother’s cat Kitto and my dog Benji. I would always go into my older brother’s room and start playing with his He-Man figures, which used to get him mad. It was hard to tell when someone was annoyed at me because they were always annoyed at me. 

There is one thing that got my brother Tom really annoyed. I would dump my toy box out and always go after the toy at the very bottom. I would then run off, not cleaning up the mess. My brother would then pick everything up and go finish whatever what ever he was doing. A few minutes later—after I had gotten bored with the toy I had—I came back and dumped my toy box out again in search of another toy at the bottom. Again, with no smile on his face, Tom picked up all the toys once more. That probably began the famous sibling rivalry between my brother and me.

Tom and Daniel 1985
I can only recall one time when I embarrassed someone (editorial note: the way I used to cry and get bent out of shape, this is an egregious fabrication). It was when I had my first day of nursery school. I had checked the place out beforehand with my Mom and thought it was okay. Well, the first day of school I cried bloody murder. I clung to my Mom’s leg and would not let go. I wouldn’t blame me; I hadn’t left her side since I was born. I did let go eventually, but didn’t enjoy the day (editorial note: this episode pales in comparison to the day I chased after her car in the school parking lot when I was in elementary school. Love you Mom!). She ended up being proud of me when I sang my heart out at the end of a school recital.

Me on the first day of kindergarten
Usually, after my Mom went to work, I was at my Mémère’s house. She was my first babysitter. As I said earlier, she would let me eat in the living room and drink Sprite with a spoon. She was very special to me and I will never, ever forget her. There is one incident that sticks out in my mind that all the family members involved remember as well. I usually hung on to something at my Mémère’s house, and usually it was her dress. Not on this occasion. I grabbed onto her television cart in her kitchen and everything on the television came toppling down on my head. I got a cut above my right eye, as well as a black eye. My Mémère used to cry whenever she saw pictures of me that my Mom took. I sort of made up for it when I took my first steps at her house. So, you could say that she lived with me through good and bad times. 

My most vivid memory was when my little brother Patrick was born. I was happy he was born because now that Tommy was getting older, I would have another playmate. When it was my turn to hold him though, I was not a happy camper. This is a picture of me scowling holding him.

Patrick and me back in the day.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Look Back: The Life of Daniel F. Ford
Chapter 1: Before I Was Born

Before there was Sid Sanford, there was Daniel Ford.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve drifted dangerously close to becoming more like my alter ego than I ever imagined possible. And for those of you who know anything about Sid, that isn’t a positive thing.

However, thanks to family and friends—as well as the occasional lover—I have put my past mistakes firmly behind me and have been more of the good man I started out to be. I don’t intend on ever being any other man ever again.

The biggest takeaway from everything I’ve gone through is the belief that life is a series of moments that should never be taken for granted. All of the good—and bad—things that happen to us are there to mold us into the individual we were always meant to be. I know on my deathbed that I will not regret the things I didn’t do, but cherish all of the things I did—both positive and negative.

During this process of self-discovery, I combed through my personal archives to get a sense of the person I was, in order to understand the person I am. I unearthed an autobiography I was assigned to write in the 8th grade. For the next several weeks, I’ll be publishing one chapter of the book at a time. I hope you enjoy, and I look forward to rediscovering the real Daniel Ford with all of you.


Life. To me, life is just one obstacle after another. You have to stand tall and face them head-on. There are sometimes—to our dismay—when these obstacles of life seem too hard to overcome. Don’t stop fighting for one minute until the obstacle has been defeated. I know from personal experience that if you don’t, that obstacle will become so large it will roll over you. Ironically, without these trivial obstacles life would be meaningless. We, as people, need to have obstacles to have purposes or goals. We, as people, all have a story. This is my story. This is my story of a 14-year-old meaningless existence with a handful of obstacles that made my life every bit complete.


Chapter 1: Before I Was Born

I don’t know much about my ancestors, but what I do know I find interesting. My mother’s family came from Canada in the 1800s (editorial note: I’m not sure, but I’m pretty convinced I made this up). The possibly came to America to find a better life with better opportunities like most immigrants. My Mémère’s family settled in Frenchville, Maine. My Pépère’s family settled in St. Agatha, Maine, which is not that far from Frenchville (editorial note: after talking to my mother, it's the other way around).

On my father’s side of the family, my ancestors came from Ireland and Germany. My grandfather’s family came from Ireland, and immigrated to the United States during the potato famine of 1840. They came to America by the only transportation available: by boat. They also came for a better life with better opportunities. I am assuming that both settled in Long Island or New York City.

My grandparents played a very important role in my life. Not only did they play a role in giving me life, but they also gave me knowledge. I only knew one of my great-grandparents, my grandmother’s mother on my father’s side. I called her Nana. When we visited her in the nursing home, should would give me lollipops and call me Frenchy. That is all I remember about her.

My mother’s mother—better known as my Mémère—was the one grandparent I was closet to early in my life. She would let me get away with murder. When she used to babysit me, she would have all sorts of things for me to do. She would always have coloring books and crayons for me. She would let me eat pancakes in the living room or drink Sprite with a spoon. She was very special and I will never forget her.

My Mémère Cecile Blanchette

My Dad’s mom and dad are great. First, let me start with my grandfather. He was in World War II and was the only one in the war to come back fat! I learned this from all of the old war stories he used to tell us. He died in March 1996 and those great war stories died with him. I miss him and will love him always.
Grandpa Ford
My grandmother is great too. I told her about me doing this autobiography and she gave me a book about the Fords in America. She’s still living and lives in Southington (editorial note: she passed at the age of 91 on my 27th birthday).

Grandma Ford, Nana, and my Dad
Now the tough ones: my Grandma and Grandpa Cassidy. I know you’re wondering why I have three sets of grandparents, and I know I am. But, I’ll give it a shot. Before my Dad was married to my Mom, he was married to Judy Cassidy. They had my older brother Tom. She died of colon cancer when Tommy was three years old. A few years later, my Dad married my mom, getting me a third set of grandparents. Grandma Cassidy spoiled me rotten too. She died three years ago in October.

Grandma Cassidy getting friendly with Santa
All I remember about Grandpa Cassidy was that my dog Benji—who is now in doggie heaven—used to crawl all over him.

Grandpa Cassidy with my brother Tom
We are a pretty normal family. Well, that was until I was born. We were lucky we don’t have any black sheep or anything like that. There’s probably one story in every family that is said over and over again. And this story just happened to come from my Grandpa Ford. He told us that he played hookey from school and hid out in the torch of the Statue of Liberty, Also, all of his war stories, which I can’t recall (editorial note: he got fat during the war because he ate all the rations no one else liked. The Fords always find a way to eat, no matter what).

Now there is one big characteristic that has been passed down to all the Ford men. The Ford Face. Now I can’t explain it, but I will try. Whenever we Fords lift something heavy or do something that is not easy for us (editorial note: which is everything), we scrunch up our faces into the Ford Face.

My mother has a blanket that she received from her mother, who received it from her mother. It is pink and white.

Now I come into the picture…

Monday, April 23, 2012

20 Cool Photos From Traveling Around The United States

I was a sophomore in college the first time I flew on an airplane. 

 I wasn’t going somewhere tropical for spring break, I wasn’t headed to the warmth of the west coast, and I wasn’t with a bunch of friends eager for a relaxing weekend of debauchery. 

Along with the rest of the St. John’s baseball team, I was headed to Fayetteville, Ark., to play three games with the University of Arkansas. It marked my first trip as the equipment manager, and my first trip anywhere in the South period. 

I wasn’t as scared as I thought I’d be as we lifted off. Part of the reason was that it was a clear night, so every light in New York City was visible from my seat 30,000 miles up in the air. I remember thinking that I could get used to this travel thing. 

Like a dope, I didn’t have a camera during my tenure with the team, so I missed out on having any kind of photographic evidence of being in places like Corvallis, Oregon, Palo Alto, California, and Sanford, Maine.  

I have since managed to collect some of the images from my earlier travels, and bought a camera of my own so that I could better remember all of my recent favorite travel moments. Without further adieu, here are 20 cool photos from my travels around the United States:

I saw more than 100 college baseball games in 2004, but the last one in Newport, R.I., might have been the sweetest. Working for the Sanford Mainers was one of the best experiences in my life, and winning the championship was the perfect way to cap off a memorable summer.

I will never grow up. Here I am in front of Winnie the Pooh’s house at Disney World.

Yosemite National Park is my heaven. I get my family riled up when I tell them I want my ashes dumped here. Except for my father who is already making plans to make a road trip out of it.

I flew this airplane for a couple of minutes. Zero causalities.

I’m staring out across Monterey Bay believing that anything is possible. While I can’t swim, I love the water and am never quite as relaxed as when I’m near it.

After watching the Airman graduate from basic training, visiting The Alamo was the biggest thrill of my trip to San Antonio. My father taking an hour and a half to pick me up from the hotel that was five minutes away from the base was not as thrilling.

I was halfway through Shelby Foote’s Civil War trilogy when I made the visit to Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park. It will always rank as one of the top history nerd moments of my life.

Chickamauga is beautiful, haunting, and historic all at the same time.

Here I am on a wine tour around the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. This reminds me that I’m overdue for a splurge purchase from Sheldrake Point Winery.

I love my job. JCK Las Vegas 2010.

“Man that ball got outta here in a hurry. I mean anything travels that far oughta have a damn stewardess on it, don't you think?”—Crash Davis in the movie Bull Durham.

Some apples hanging out at a farmer’s market in North Carolina.

Boxes from the Carolina Brewing Co.. I bought a six-pack of pint glasses and a t-shirt. Oh yeah, the beer was okay too.

My father back at his alma mater Providence College. I’ll always be glad that I ran the Providence Half-Marathon the next day because it gave me a chance to add visuals to all the stories my father has told me over the years about his college days.

Kenny Ford—better known as “Bee”—walking around campus. To paraphrase my older brother, the nostalgia was indeed coming out of the woodwork.

Every runner should run a race where their hero is waiting for them at the end.

My thesis is a social history of the U.S. troops during the Korean War. Visiting the memorial in Washington D.C. last year was good inspiration to actually get it done.

It isn’t a trip to Washington D.C. without a visit to Lincoln. I never fail to learn something new.

Independence Hall during my recent trip to Philadelphia. I actually had tears in my eyes. It’s the closet thing to church for an agnostic history nerd.

I’m on top of the world in Philly. I felt similar to how I felt looking out across Monterey Bay. Life is full of possibilities and there is no reason not to seize and cherish every good moment thrown your way.

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