MY DAY: Midway through Spring Break

I am so grateful for the kind hearts who check on me and for Nicole Melin’s delicious homemade soup deliveries. Seriously, the woman needs to have a bistro in The Oregon District!

I keep getting questions, “How are you holding up?” or “How are you handling all the change?”

How am I holding up?

Just fine. I’ve plenty of everything needed.

How am I handling the change?

Actually, very little has changed.

I still see my students via Zoom, but I do miss their hugs and absorbing their enthusiasm and spirit.

Sweet friends have offered to run to the grocery for me but I’ve been using Instacart and Amazon for needed items, for quite some time, now, and that has not changed.

I taught at Centerville High School on Thursdays but now I see the students on Zoom.

While I can no longer travel to my favorite Mexican restaurant in downtown Dayton, they do deliver.  My favorite Chinese restaurant, Young Chow, across from Town & Country Shopping Plaza is currently on hiatus.

I continue to walk the neighborhood. I make two short trips with two dogs at a time.

For the first time since 1984, I do not have every weekend taken up with music and theatre events.  I deeply dislike not seeing my students in productions, contests, and concerts for which they worked so hard; however, since we’re all in this together, I do welcome this respite for continued healing and renewal of 2019.

For my introverted self, this is, in many ways my own private Disney World.  For my health, this is salvatory as I am horribly compromised with my diabetes, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, histoplasmosis, and colon issues. For this, I am content to stay put.

I have some home projects to tackle but I am still teaching my full load of lessons.  I feel refreshed having been forced to adjust, adapt, and embrace a new way of teaching.

I am surrounded by my furry quartet of canine love, my history books and biographies, and a never-ending fountain of historical documentaries and podcasts!

Many thanks to all those who have checked in on me and to those who’ve offered to do my bidding.

Here is a photo of my favorite Shroyer Road view, looking south toward Lincoln Park Boulevard, enjoying the beautiful trees dipped in white blooms.



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MIAGD: Adjusting my sails…

MIAGD = Make it a great day

I grew up, fascinated with the stories told me by grandparents and great-grandparents of their experiences lived through The Great Depression.

There was never a complaint or a story drenched in self-pity.

There was no bragging about what was overcome.

They were simply family stories, wonderful history lessons for me, they shared, most often with a dash of humor. Perhaps, those stories of survival were a lesson or a structure for how to persevere with a strong attitude, unweighted humor, to be of service, to be kind, and to never complain. Be faithful. Be hopeful.

In nine years, it will be the centennial of The Crash, followed by The Great Depression. One hundred years.

Nearly two weeks ago, when the edges of our finely woven fabric began to fray, I immediately stepped into action mode, preparing my life for the changes to come.

I needed to be both a cheerleader and grief counselor to most of my 72 students who’d just had every single musical event wiped from their slate. I stared at a complete restructuring of my teaching studio by deciding through which venue I would teach in my new virtual studio. A new game plan had to be created for my students. I assisted and encouraged colleagues with their own virtual classrooms as I watched the astounding call to arms of school teachers across the state of Ohio, banding together, all for the sake of and for the love of their students.

And, I needed to be attentive to my self; I’m am very high risk in the thick of this pandemic. While I adjusted my career’s structure, I found myself needing to adjust my life in several different advances.

This is the first time since the spring of 1985 that I will not have twelve weeks filled with a constant drive of preparation and each weekend filled entirely with student activities. While assisting students with their grief, I was finally allowed some downtime this weekend to nurture my own loss of seeing my students shine on numerous stages of musical and performance development and success.

This past year has been one long lesson of readjusting my sails. The deaths of my brother and mother, and several close family members drastically changed my life and my vision.

I don’t know if I’m any stronger because of those departures as I’m in the process of still adjusting my sails in new directions. Now, I’m standing at the captain’s wheel, steering my ship with a completely redrawn, untested map.

In two hours, I will shut down my weekend cell phone, retrieve my regular cell phone, attend to business before resuming my teaching week at 1:00 PM.

I was fortunate to have my family’s stories of The Great Depression. They’re no longer just family stories.

Now, they’ve become my map, my guide in knowing where to turn the wheel and how to adjust my sails.

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SPOTLIGHT: “Boys & Girls Like You and Me”

“Boys & Girls Like You and Me”


Twenty years before The Arch changed the St. Louis, Missouri skyline, Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane teamed up to write the music for MGM’s 1945 nostalgic motion picture musical, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, set against the backdropped splendor of the 1904 World’s Fair.

meet-me-in-st-louis-watching-recommendation-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600-v4The results of their collaboration resulted in three hits, “The Boy Next Door,” “The Trolley Song,” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”  The score was fleshed out with several familiar period tunes, “Meet Me In St. Louis,” “Under The Bamboo Tree,” and “Skip To My Lou.”

There was, however, one additional song that was actually filmed but missed the final cut. Martin and Blane wanted to add a song for the scene at the still unfinished World’s Fair.  “Boys & Girls Like You and Me” made it onto the album but that is as far as it went. In the end, the actual scene was additionally cut.

The reason this song was cut has nothing to do with the film running too long or other reasons a scene or song is cut.

For some reason, Martin and Blane turned to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for this additional song.  The other collaborators suggested they use a song they cut from their 1943, OKLAHOMA!.

“Boys and Girls Like You and Me.”

In 1996, I directed MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, the fairly new musical stage version.  I contacted Mr. Martin to ask him for a “talk to the cast night” which I frequently do if someone close to the original product is able to do so.  Sadly, Ralph Blane had died the previous November 1995. Mr. Martin was excited by my telephone-meeting invitation and began pouring through his kaleidoscope of memories from the movie.

Then, I asked about the deleted song.

Martin and Blane recorded all the songs from MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS and a copy of the recording was sent to Martin’s mother.  She responded that she loved all the songs but most especially, you guessed it, “Boys & Girls Like You and Me.”

The collaborators panicked. “What if the rest of the world came to love a song from the movie that they didn’t even write?”

Simple. Cut the song.

When the made-for-television version Rodgers & Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA was added as a stage musical, “Boys & Girls Like You and Me,” after fifty+ years, resurfaced as a cute duet by the King and Queen.  The 2013 Broadway production, with a brand new script, omits “Boys & Girls Like You and Me” because Prince Topher’s parents are deceased.

I wonder where “Boys & Girls Like You and Me” will be resurrected in its next life.

c5rwj2mw8ay9zy4One of my favorite versions of CINDERELLA is the 1965 new re-airing starring Leslie Ann Warren. My first recollection is watching the musical on our black and white television around 1969 or 1970.  Tonight, I was reminded of my initial viewings, 45-50 years ago during Playbill’s streaming of CINDERELLA.


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MIAGD: On a rollercoaster

MIAGD: Make it a great day

I’m confident, “this, too, shall pass.”

I’ve always adjusted to “new normal,” and I shall adjust to this new normal as a progression and a part of life’s process.

Life’s roller coaster has given me all the joys, thrills, woahs!, arms in the air (but feet on the inside), too short a ride, and the desire to never stop.

And, if there’s something to be on the other side of this life, I’ll be heading for that line, too.

It’s still a fantastic ride, despite several seats that are empty.

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MY DAY: The 6:03 PM telephone call

In 1983, I was at Ball State University on my first time away from home on my birthday and Mother started a tradition of calling me at the time I was born, 6:03 PM.

JOLLIFFE-HAAS - Darin 1964Sometimes, she’d call as I was in the middle of something, but I would immediately call her back so she could officially kick off my next year.  Most of the time, when my anticipated birthday-call fell on a weekday, I would explain to whomever, the tradition and that at 6:03 PM, I would be taking a call.  Private students began looking forward to this call.

I absolutely loved this call.  It was that one connection that only she and I had originally share from my beginning, and our beginning as Mother and son.

These telephone calls continued, without fail, until last year, September 25, 2018.

This morning, I was clearing out items on my phone and discovered I still had the last recorded birthday message Mother was ever to deliver.

For the past sixteen years, my neighbor, Kay Moore, has been my Ohio mom and I’ve always called her “Mama Kay.”  Even her daughter and son refer to me as their brother.

Tonight, Mama Kay extended the Mother-Son tradition; she came over to give me a birthday kiss and hug at 6:03 PM.

Even when there’s a change in cast, the show must go on…

Thank you, Mother, for everything.  Know you are loved…


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MY DAY: The delivery man, Dr. Robert Ulrey


Dr. Robert P. Ulrey

Wednesday morning, September 23, 1964, Dr. Ulrey examined my mother who had begun labor pains a few hours before.

“I don’t think the baby is ready to arrive within the next few hours, or even today, but I’m hoping it will arrive tomorrow so we can share the same birthday.”

Robert Ulrey, born in Seymour, Indiana in 1920, would turn 44 years old on that Thursday in September 1964.

After World War II where he served in England, France, and Germany, he returned to the states where he graduated from Indiana University Medical School.  Dr. Ulrey moved his family to Elwood, Indiana, in 1956, where he would serve as a general practitioner until 1968.

My mother, Diana Barmes, became a secretary/receptionist for Dr. Ulrey in June 1963. Mother and her family, Leroy and Donna Barmes, adored Robert and Jean Ulrey, as did many of our friends and family from the communities of Elwood, Hobbs, Tipton, and Alexandria.

Sept 23 1964

September 23, 1963: Mother with her mother and grandparents.

Wednesday, September 23, 1964, was a bit muggy by the afternoon.  While my grandmother, Donna Barmes, was with Mother, timing the contractions, she received a telephone call that her ten-year-old son, Tommy, had cut his head open at baseball practice.  Mother rode with Grandma Donna and Tom as they to Dr. Ulrey’s office.  While Tom was receiving stitches, Grandma Donna held Tom’s hand while looking out the window to time Mother’s contractions.  Several times, Dr. Ulrey looked out the window to give Mother a thumb’s up.

By nightfall, both grandmothers were at our house on the huge hill at the corner of Ninth and Main Streets.  They were urging Mother to reconsider going to the hospital earlier than Mother’s intended midnight departure.  Mother kept insisting that she felt fine and knew it was not time.  While Mother took a bath, taking her time, she would call to Grandma Donna in the kitchen who was still timing the contractions.

Finally, shortly before midnight, Mother was dressed and announced she was ready to go to the hospital.  One of my grandmothers went to wake my napping father, all of the twenty-two year old father.  Danny Jolliff was ever barely coherent upon awakening from any kind of sleep and that night he lived up to comic proportions as he searched for his keys (in his pants’ pocket), trying to find his light-weight jacket (it was hanging on the back of a dining room chair which he passed a number of times during the search), and when he heard Mother groan from a contraction, he dashed outside and drove his white Chevy Corveire through the backyard and right up to the porch.

“Danny, I feel as though I could walk to the hospital,” Mother laughed.  To this day, it would not have surprised me if she had walked to the hospital, five blocks away.

Mother said that around 2:00 AM, Dr. Ulrey, now the “birthday boy,” arrived to check on Mother.  I was not ready to make my appearance.

“We still have twenty-two hours for the baby to make my birthday party.”

The warm September sun rose and Mother was still not dilated enough, despite the fact that I was head-down in the birth canal.

Morning. Afternoon. Evening.

No baby Jolliff.

Mrs. Jean Ulrey had driven to the hospital, several times, to check on Mother so she could report back to her husband who was busy at his office.

Dr. Ulrey came to check on Mother before heading out to celebrate his birthday and also, after dinner.


It was now Friday, September 25th.

The next morning, Mother, greatly fatigued, was told that when the time came he was going to give her anesthesia because he didn’t wish for her to risk her own strength, possibly health.  Mother was disappointed but understood his concern.

The day languished on for Mother.

The moment arrived and Mother was wheeled back to the delivery room where the anesthesia was applied.

6:03 PM, Dr. Robert Ulrey welcomed me into the world.  Since Mother was sedated, I always smile on the fact that this beloved doctor not only delivered me but was my sole welcoming committee.

The Ulreys moved to Evansville, Indiana in 1968.  Dr. Ulrey became an anesthesiologist, retiring in 1985.

I was never to meet my Delivery Man, again, but since childhood, knowing my birth story, I’ve never forgotten to remember the good doctor on September 24th.

As our family began welcoming guests to Mother’s visitation this past August 2019, we deeply appreciated Dr. Ulrey’s son, Steve, driving from Bloomington to pay his respects.

For me, personally, it reconnected me to the day his dad was my Delivery Man.

God bless you, Dr. Robert Ulrey, as you continue your eternal rest.


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MY DAY: A nice Thursday evening

Front Street Buildings

Front Street Buildings; Dayton Ohio

I’m waiting at the downtown Dayton bus terminal and the evening is absolutely splendid with the nice breeze flowing through the buildings and open arcade.

Midweek hit like a drunk bat out of hell when we discovered a leak in my kitchen that soaked the carpet and, fortunately, drained through the floor down to the drain and surrounding cement floor. The plumber arrives tomorrow morning.

I taught at school this morning and afternoon and only had one student due to the others having unscheduled rehearsals, illness, and homecoming events.

I left the house for downtown Dayton, completed three errands, and grabbed the No. 1 bus to Taqueria Mexican Restaurant on east Third Street. My chicken fajita was delicious and the service most excellent.

I strolled back to the center of town, grabbing tons of photos already posted on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

I’d classify this day as damned bully!

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