Murch: Look out, I might have a story for you

It’s funny – and odd – how certain stories about growing up will come up. Or how they will jump into our thoughts out of the blue.

Recently I had a conversation one evening with our page designer and sports guys about taking medicine when I was a kid. I have no idea how the subject came up, but I recalled my days of not being able to swallow pills.

I have no idea why I was unable to do that, but I had to chew aspirin (and now everyone is cringing) right before taking a drink of water. It never really bothered me, which is strange all by itself when you consider I couldn’t swallow them. The bitterness wasn’t an issue to me.

When it came to cold medicine we would take Contact. Do they even make Contact anymore?

Anyway, for those of you who don’t know what it is/was, Contact was a capsule filled with little cold medicine pellets (as a way to describe it). My mother would pull open the capsule and pour its contents onto a spoon, then add a little sugar and then I’d take it, washing it down with water.

One night my parents finally had enough of me not being able to swallow pills and they were determined to make me do it. I was probably somewhere from 8-10 years old. It kind of became a wrestling match and then the pill disappeared. We looked and it was nowhere in the bathroom so I likely swallowed it. End of problem.

On Friday as I was on the way out the door for dinner, I told the women in the advertising department to remember their sunscreen because it’s going to be hot this weekend. And suddenly another memory popped into my head (and I don’t know why I felt compelled to share).

Remember how trucker-style hats were all the rage in the 80s? Well one year our men’s softball team was playing in a weekend tournament and it was Hot with a capital H.

I was losing my hair on the crown of my head, so I made sure to wear my hat. Well, those truckers hats were mesh in the back, so my head still got burned and we all know what happens after a bad burn, your skin peels. Needless to say, I looked like I had an odd kind of dandruff for about a week. If you’re going to wear a hat and you have thinning or no hair, make sure your hat isn’t made of mesh.

And then there are family car rides.

Last month we went down for my nephew Nick’s graduation party in Mount Pleasant. On the way home my dad and I were joking about how when I was a kid and we’d come to Alpena from Caseville during the summer, my parents would always say something to the effect of “I hope they’ll let us into Alpena County,” and he would ease up on the gas and then step on it again to give the feeling of struggling to get across.

We used to sing songs on road trips, and I wonder if families still do that. Or do the kids just pop in their ear buds and listen to their own music? We even played games like seeing who could read a billboard first as we approached it. When we lived in Mancelona and we’d come over to Alpena on M-32 the running joke was my brother pointing out Lake Inez just west of Atlanta to my dad as we passed it.

Going back to music for a second, when I was in high school riding with my mom in the car wasn’t much fun and I let her know about it. She and I didn’t like the same kind of music and it would pain me to listen to the station she listened to. Occasionally she’d throw a bone and we’d get to listen to something different, but she was still queen of the radio. Nowadays I try to give my mom some music I think she’ll like while trying to broaden her tastes. To her credit, she listens to a lot more variety now without my help, but she is still queen of the radio.

So if you see me, you might want to be careful what you bring up because it might just bring up a memory I’ll probably share with you, solicited or not.

Steve Murch can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5686. Follow Steve on Twitter at sm_alpenanews. Read his blog, Pardon, Me But … at