July 15, 2022
Today’s PopCulteer is a bit of an unusual one. I’m actually writing it on Friday morning, for one thing, and for another, it’s going to ramble a bit because I haven’t planned everything out that I want to say in it.
Today, my father would have turned 100 years old. Frank Florio Panucci was born on July 15, 1922, in Shinnston, West Virginia.
It’s a bit mind-boggling to consider. As I’ve gotten older, the only thing that really seems to have changed drastically in my thought processes has been the perception of time.
When I was a kid, a month seemed to take forever. As the years have passed, the percentage of my life that each unit of time represents has shrunken dramatically. Now a month flies by in no time. Here we are in the middle of July, and if I still wrote checks, I’d probably still be writing “2011” on them.
Still, the idea that Pop (who obviously was a major influence in my life along with Mom and my siblings) was born a century ago is a wild concept to grasp. My folks were older when they met and started our family, and when I was in school it seemed like my parents were the age of most of my classmate’s grandparents, but looking back, it’s a real trip to consider how things have changed since my dad was born.
Hell, things have changed dramatically since he passed away, nineteen years ago. In 2003 the smartphone hadn’t been invented yet. All thinking people thought we’d never see a worse president than George W. Bush. People could still write outrageous political satire without seeing it become reality almost instantly. Hell, flat screen TVs were even few and far between.
In about four weeks I hit my own milestone birthday, and it’s strange to think about. Milestone birthdays have never really meant much to me because I still feel pretty much like the same person I’ve always been.
I have a fantastic life right now, living happily with my lovely wife, Mel Larch, and free to travel and do more things than I ever could, but I’m still the same person I always was.
People may have viewed me differently at different times in my life, but I’m still the same person inside.
I still get a kick out of finding cool new stuff and telling people about it. That’s most of what PopCult is all about. In the early days, before Douglas Imbrogno christened it “PopCult,” I wanted to call this blog “Cool Stuff,” which in retrospect is not nearly as catchy.
I still love toys. In that respect I think I’ve mastered the art of getting older without necessarily growing up. I can sit in my living room and have three things I got for Christmas, 1976, in my line of sight. Pop was my primarily enabler in my toy hoarding when I was a kid. I always offered to go grocery shopping when he’d go because he never said “no” when I showed up with a rack toy I wanted.
I do have a chronic illness with which to contend, Myasthenia Gravis, but to be honest, most of the time it isn’t too bad. Summer heat is a problem, but folks who’ve known me my whole life know that I always hated summer heat. Considering that for some time before I was diagnosed I feared my MG was the early stages of ALS, I’ll gladly take what I have and be happy.
Pop didn’t live long enough to see PopCult. However, he was very proud of the writing I did before he passed. He savored every article in The Charleston Gazette, Non Sport Update, Toy Trader and other magazines I’d contributed to. Heck, he even showed off Cracked Magazine that one time I got a byline there.
I know he’d love that I’m still kicking in my own little corner of the internet. He’d be thrilled that I’m doing radio again. Hell, if he were still with us he’d probaby be co-hosting The Swing Shift on The AIR.
I wanted to thank him for helping make me who I am and mark his milestone birthday with a column, so thanks for indulging me.
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