MY FATHER WAS PRETTY COOL, or so they tell me...

My mom and dad split when I was 3. I didn't see my dad again until I was 22. He died when I was 29 and pregnant with my first child. I don't have many of my own memories of him, so I stole these. I'm starting to think my dad was probably not the Mister Rogers I imagined him to be all my life.
  1. This photo popped up in my Facebook feed and startled me. "That's my DAD!" I thought, staring at the screen, looking at the name of the person who posted it and not recognizing it at all. On the right is my dad, Michael McKenzie. On the left is Don, the guy who posted it. These are all Don's memories.
    "Donnie and Danny Dare, (Don Sundeen and Mike McKenzie) ZFB-1 Radlo, Hamilton Bermuda, 1963. We were invited to dinner with a Bermudian family one night, and after desert the father invited us up to his daughter's room. On the dresser was this picture framed with a votive candle burning in front. It was a pretty creepy experience, and I've never forgotten it."
  2. Entertainment for the troops
    This is a photo of what would become Donnie and Danny Dare at the USO in Biloxi, Mississippi in the early 60's. At the time it was Don Sundeen and Mike McKenzie, and on Saturday nights we'd host a Record Hop for the Airmen at Keesler, AFB. Girls would be bussed in from a girl's school in Gulfport, and the mingling and dancing would proceed. It was very controlled and the ladies were safely swept away at 10:00 sharp.
  3. Segregation ruled
    The hardest part was that the black troops were not allowed to attend despite our protests, segregation ruled. I was pleasantly surprised a few years ago to get a letter advising me that our picture had been hung on the wall at the USO Hall of Fame, in Washington, DC. My guess is it's a long way from Bob Hope's. We look so incredibly young.
  4. 🎙Donnie & Danny Dare, The Brothers Dare, The Dare Affair!
    "Donnie and Danny (Mike McKenzie) Dare, land at KELP in El Paso, TX, after discharge from the Air Force...they were glad to see me go. It was time to get back to real life and away from an atmosphere not necessarily amicable to folks that had a problem with authority, especially when it was stupid. Got that off my chest. "
  5. BIG TIME!
    "Donnie and Danny Dare, (Don Sundeen front, Mike McKenzie side) doing show prep in the studios of ZFB-1,Capital Broadcasting, Hamilton, Bermuda, 1963."
  6. 🎙MARTHA (and my dad) AND THE VANDELLAS!
    "This was taken at the Rosebank Theater in Hamilton Bermuda around '64. MARTHA and the VANDELLAS were hot with DANCING IN THE STREET, they were really nice girls and thrilled to be stars. The guy in the plaid jacket is Mike McKenzie. The Mod looking guys were called: THE AMERICAN BEATLES: Basically a cover band. Keep in mind this was at least two years before the Civil Rights Act in the States, but there was no problem there."
  7. HELL'S ANGELS, maybe...
    "An early attempt at Television, we had been Color less than a year and were using it to the hilt. The Motorcycle Lady was a bartender at a club that I frequented, and had been an actress somewhere. In retrospect, promoting, "Hell's Angels on Wheels," by giving away a Motor Scooter was pretty funny. That's the late Michael McKenzie to my right. At that point I thought I'd be the new Dick Clark, or better Johnny Carson... I was lucky to get through it all with everything but my hair."
  8. JAMES BROWN! and Don and my dad
    "James Brown visiting us at KELP in El Paso. We landed there after discharge from the AF, and had a highly rated show."
  9. "A few years ago I heard from my first radio partner MICHAEL MCKENZIE after 30+ years. It wasn't good news, he'd had some mini-strokes and was an out-patient at the VA Hospital in Las Vegas. I flew out to Sin City and stayed in a really nice Hotel for very little, they didn't know that I don't gamble. Mike and I had a couple of good days together, we went to Hoover Dam and saw the river drying up, and I took him to the Luxor to see The Blue Man group and dinner.
  10. I also got to meet most of his family and grandchildren, and so it was sweet. I headed home and we stayed in pretty close touch, but then one day the phone rang, and he was gone. I feel good about visiting him when he was still alive, rather than when it was too late. If there's someone you know far away and ailing, visit them and let them know they were important in your life."