I can remember thinking that the new HBO series, The Sopranos, could be about a singing mafia family, or similar to the, recent, movie, Analyze This, with Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal, that had premiered shortly before the, groundbreaking series, 20 years ago.
I have been an avid television watcher, since my youth, and the Sopranos is one of my two favorite shows!
The Sopranos was so well written, that I found myself rooting for the bad guys!
We were still living in Elkville, Illinois…in a four room house…and I had been the superintendent of Building Services…for about one year.
My friend, Jo Ann Argersinger, was chancellor of the university…and I was worried, regarding, how she was being accepted by the president of the system.
Aaron was 17 and Jonathon was 14…and I was 41. I thought that I as old…
I was pondering the challenges of my new, work, position, and the raising of our teenagers!
My stepfather, seemed relatively happy, and from time to time would tell us that he had to lock the doors to he and my mother’s, country home, at night…to ensure that she would not go outside.
If we could not visit mom and Earl, weekly, we telephoned and for many years she would talk at length about what she had been doing. In 1999…she would laugh and ask how we were doing and then, quickly, put Earl on the line.
We had been attending, First Presbyterian Church in Carbondale…and we liked it very much!
The chancellor, had been very complimentary of my work in Building Services and had expressed, to me, that she wanted to advance me into a more responsible position and one where I could advise her regarding the, physical services, on campus.
I was both humbled and intrigued by her confidence in me…and concerned by her popularity with the campus community…causing her boss, the president, to be jealous of her!
Enrollment was down at SIUC…but it was still well over 20,000.
Tony Soprano had his family at home…and his family at work…and he was dedicated to taking care of both families. I, identified with Tony’s challenges, in that I was working 16 – 20 hours per day…endeavoring to have a successful family at home and at work…with my new responsibility of being the leader of the organization.
Jo Ann, was fired in the spring of 1999…and I refused to not be her friend or to acknowledge my respect for her. This resulted in challenges and threats from university leaders…who appeared to be afraid of me…a member of the Building Services staff!
Not long after the premier of the Sopranos…my stepfather died…suddenly. As we stayed with my mother during the wake and the funeral…we discovered that she suffered from Alzheimers disease…much more than we had realized. Mary Jane said that we should take her to live with us…and so we did.
I spent a lot of time, when Mom was with us for over three years, watching the Sopranos and enjoying Stolie Vodka.
The Sopranos was an escape and a salve for me and my, extremely, stressful life…at that time.
I became angry with a, filthy, university building that I inspected with a group of my foreman…during the time of the Sopranos!
I was so upset, by the dirt and debris that I found, I told the foreman that if they could not get the building cleaned up…that they should fill out their resignations!
Now the foreman were wonderful and key members of my leadership staff! I would not have amounted to a hill of beans without them!
When I told Jonathon what I had said to my foreman…that he knew that I loved…he told me that I had gone, ‘Tony Soprano’, on them!
During the, several seasons of the Sopranos, I was, often, told that I looked like Tony Soprano.
I have, often, been told that I looked like a mafia figure!
Before the Sopranos, mid 1990’s I showed Tom Smith, a Building Services student employee, a photo of the infamous gangster, Al Capone…and told him that it was a photo of my father. He remarked that he could see the likeness!
Note: Sopranos photos are courtesy of Google search.