Sunday, June 21, 2009


Please know I really feel badly Michael Jackson's life went down the path it did. He was a genius with a very ugly side. His hit songs may mute the voices of young boys who were paid large sums of money or quieted some other way. I still love his music and try not to think about the lesser part of his world.

Years ago I worked in the jewelry department, and sometimes candy, at the legendary Sears Roebuck store on Highland Avenue in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh, PA . Please hold your applause.

One of the last times I was in there I bumped into a friend who was there for automotive work. He asked me "What is a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" Looking around my environment I was short for an answer. At least a GOOD answer.

The last "totem poles" of the East Liberty Sears.
In my more impressionable years, the store, which had been my second home and source of income during the days of my first apartment, had taken a turn for the shabby. Its pink walls were a wee bit filtered from vertical veneer of dust collections. The coffee shop, once famous for its hot dogs with square buns, was long since gone. My former heart throb who had worked in the men's department came to mind. That was a sweet walk down memory lane for me; but overall, Sears was a ghost town waiting to happen.

During its heyday, which just so happens to parallel my employment era, a co-worker and friend, Frankie, and I would go on break together. He always had a hustle going on for money. Frankie, or "Tookie" as we called him, had an unmistakable entrepreneurial energy about him. He didn't have watches tracking his sleeves, but he managed bands of the musical sort during his retail renegade days. Years later I came to find out that Frankie had hit it big. He had become Michael Jackson'smanager. He became "Uncle Tookie" to Michael Jackson.

The Pittsburgh news circuit, one which is quicker than any mechanism used by UPI, swirled that he had come to power by landing Jackson on M-TV as the network's first black entertainer. It kicked off his come back and jettisoned both of them directly into the drive-through lane of every bank they passed. A few years in the rear view mirror, Uncle Tookie met his demise with MJ when "Moonwalker" didn't hit the market in time for raking in Christmas billions.

What is remarkable about their relationship is that Uncle Tookie recently became MJ's manager AGAIN for his most recent and hopeful come-back. MJ was booked for an international concert tour and it looked as if the magic sparks were going to fly again. Almost. But, no cigar. Unfortunately, the only one of those coming from this is the one Frankie is smoking.

That is as close as I came to Michael Jackson. Two degrees of separation and $5.00 will get you a biscotti and a small latte at a Starbucks. So what. It is a fun story.

Let's not discount the Thriller cassette tape I purchased and wore thin singing to while driving down the highway with my daughter, Jessica. We watched the Thriller video thousands of times together too. I still can't moonwalk and, thankfully, I never really applied myself to learning. Perhaps this should be noted as my first flirtation with wisdom.

My thoughts go out to the three kids he left behind. The two with scarfs on their heads and the baby who was dangled out of the Paris window a few years back. It is yet to be seen if their lives will be better or more chaotic with his passing.

The other person my heart goes out to is my dear friend, Stacy RN. As a young teen, she fell in love with Michael Jackson hook, line, and sequined glove. Memorabilia? She had it all including the Michael Jackson doll complete with its red pleather jacket. I bet she wishes she still had it now. When I checked in with her, she wrote back saying how upset she was. Remembering when John Lennon died, I could relate. This is her strawberry fields forever.

Stacey said she is considering her first and last tattoo. It will honor MJ. I hope she thinks about it long and hard before doing it. I hope, if she goes through with it, she will have it placed somewhere that is easily concealed. (Hear me out, Stacey!) May it help her through the loss without putting any ink on her sleeve.

Meanwhile, I am still considering my next life. I'm pretty excited about it as this time I've decided on my career goal well in advance. There is no doubt, I want to be a "merchandise stylist" for QVC. Who could hope for anything greater? Your nails are always attended to by the network, as well as your hair and wardrobe. All you need to do is smile, smile, smile. Acting as if you are honestly excited that a caller bought a pink extension ladder than plays MP3 files as you climb is a big help.

YOU KNOW AND I KNOW I CAN DO THIS. I'd laugh all day and have so much fun it would be as if I never went to work. Certainly you are paid like a semi-celebrity too. The studio is in eastern Pennsylvania, a no-brainer. It is just down the road from the Dansko Shoe outlet. Yippee for me! If you should receive a call from QVC's Human Resources Department, please be kind when answering their questions about me.

Just think, when I am successful as the on-screen star, as we know I will be, you will be able to point your remote control to QVC and say "Hey, I know her!" Then you'll be able to blog a really swell story about me like I did with Uncle Tookie.


  1. When I heard the name of his manager, I thought it sounded familiar. But then I thought no, that couldn't be because he left him years ago. Funny.

    My mother always had beautiful hands, I bet if she lived in a different time she could've been a hand model.
    Isn't that weird that one would notice someones beautiful hands. Too bad the Madonna or I didn't get those genes from her.

    Sears is now the home of one of Home Depot's mhighest grossing stores. (Although they probably loose just as much with things walking out the front door!)

  2. nice scoop

    tony n

  3. Ruthie,
    That was an incredible story about your friend and MJ's manager. How neat was that! I really enjoyed reading it and all your blogs. They are fantastic! You better write a book because it would sell millions for sure!

    Have a safe and wonderful 4th with your grand daughter and daughter and a fantastic trip to Paris.

    Denise T.