A 49er Faithful Forever

by Bob Sparrow

Super Bowl Champs

I am thrilled that the San Francisco Forty-Niners will be playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday.  My allegiance to this team has been unwavering, since . . . oh, since about somewhere in the early 50s.

I was probably about 10-11 years old when I attended my first 49er game, played in Kezar Stadium in beautiful, Golden Gate Park – that was when teams actually played in the city of their name; today, the ‘Niners play 45 miles south of San Francisco, in Santa Clara.  I remember that first game, they played the Chicago Bears, and lost.  But, my brother and I not only became life-long 49er fans, but were inspired to play the game that paid for our college education.

‘Million Dollar Backfield’

It was in 1954 that the 49ers had the best backfield in the NFL, it was dubbed ‘The Million Dollar Backfield’.  It was a ‘T-formation’ backfield, meaning there was a quarterback under center, and behind the quarterback, was a fullback and to both the fullback’s right and left were the halfbacks.  The players were, Y.A. Tittle at quarterback,  Joe Perry at fullback and Hugh McElhenny and John Henry Johnson at halfback.  There is a misconception that they got their ‘Million Dollar’ name from the fact that they had a million-dollar salary – combined!  The reality is, despite the name, not even when combined did the players’ salaries approach the million-dollar figure! In fact, at the time, many professional football players had to have a second job to supplement their income!  All four of these players have been inducted into pro football’s Hall of Fame, but despite this ‘Million Dollar Backfield’, the 49ers’ poor defense kept them from winning a championship.

Throughout the ‘60s the Niners hovered around the 50%-win mark.  A personal side note in this era was that my brother, Jack, a college quarterback, got a try out with the 49ers, but due to an injury to his neck in college, the Niners didn’t want to take a chance on a re-injury, so they let him go.

George Siefert & Bill Walsh

In the ‘70s the Niners upped their game and had some excellent win-loss records, but still no championships.  And then came Bill Walsh.  He was born in Los Angeles, but raised and schooled in northern California; he was the head coach at Stanford, before taking the 49er job in 1979.  He created the ‘West Coast Offense’ and won three Super Bowls with quarterbacks, Joe Montana and Steve Young and NFL greats, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Randy Moss and Deion Sanders, to name just a few of the 29 49ers in the Hall of Fame.

Siefert and his ‘worst’ quarterback #9

In 1989 Walsh was replaced by assistant coach, George Siefert, who was also a Walsh assistant at Standford.  Siefert coached the Niners for eight seasons, winning two Super Bowls.  Another personal side note, is that Siefert was my college coach at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.  At a Westminster reunion serveral years ago, Siefert spoke and mentioned that he coached Joe Montana and Steve Young, but, as a head coach, I was his first quarterback.  Although, I’m not sure I heard it correctly, he may have said that I was his ‘worst’ quarterback!  Both are probably correct.

So, here the 49ers are again, in the Super Bowl with one of the most overall talented teams in the league, led by ‘Mr. Irrelevant’, quarterback, Brock Purdy.  But they face the reining Super Bowl champs, the Kansas City Chiefs, with arguably the best quarterback in the league in Patrick Mahomes AND a fan base made up of all those ‘Swifties’.  It should be a good game!

Win or lose – a 49er Faithful Forever!


It’s Just a Number . . . Albeit a Rather Large Number

by Bob Sparrow

As someone who loves to travel, I am happy to report that I will complete my 80th trip around the sun this week.  So, it’s time to celebrate . . .

Don’t Let the Old Man In

The Wine: I’ll celebrate with an expensive wine (because I am now definitely too old to drink cheap wine) from my favorite travel destination, a Tokara ‘Telos’ a Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The Song:  Don’t Let the Old Man In by Toby Keith.  Here’s a verse from the song:

When he rides up on his horse
And you feel that cold bitter wind
Look out your window and smile
Don’t let the old man in

So, let me take a little time to reminisce about life back when I was growing up, back when the earth was still cooling . . .

TV programs we used to watch:  The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, , Sky King, Burns & Allen, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriett, Father Knows Best, The Life of Riley, Groucho Marx, The Ed Sullivan Show and Your Hit Parade.  

Ozzie & Harriett, David and Ricky

TV program I should have watched: Life Begins at 80 – If you’re not around my age, you won’t remember this television program, which ran from 1950 – 1956, and was on the radio starting in 1948.  It featured people 80 and over and their accomplishments.  I just remember them looking really old.

Radio Programs:  Following are the programs that my brother and I listened to on our bedroom radio as kids when we went to bed around 7:00 – 7:30 each night: The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, Fibber McGee & Molly, The Cisco Kid, Boston Blackie.  Later it was DJ, Wolfman Jack.

Favorite singing group: The Kingston Trio

Sports Heros:  Mickey Mantle, Johnny Unitas, John Havlicek, Arnold Palmer, Olympian, Bob Matthais, and my brother!

Popular Movies: Laurel & Hardy, The Road Movies with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, A Summer Place, Rebel Without a Cause, The Crimson Pirate, Titanic (the original), The Ten Commandments, White Christmas, King Solomon’s Mines, On the Waterfront, The Steel Helmet, Singng in the Rain.

Instead of new cars in ’43, ’44 and ’45

What was going on when I was born: That little skirmish called World War II, was just ending its second full year of combat in both the European and Pacific theaters.  If you wanted to buy a new car in 1943, ‘44, or ‘45, you couldn’t, the automakers were not making cars during those years, they were making tanks, jeeps and other military vehicles – in 1946 you could buy a new car for $1,800.  For car owners at the time, gas was 19 cents/gallon.  And while we’re shopping let’s pick up some eggs for 57 cents a dozen, a pound of bacon for 43 cents and a half gallon of milk for 31 cents.  At the time you could buy a three-bedroom house in Long Beach for $3,600.  Yes, great prices, however, the average annal salary in California in 1943 was $1,548; yeah, that’s not a typo, that was the annual salary!

But enough about the past, I’m looking forward to the next 80 years . . . OK, maybe not that long, but I’m at the age where I’m seeing too many friends and family cashing in their chips, so it’s more important than ever to understand that no one is promised tomorrow and to live life to its fullest each day.  I am hopeful that the future hold lots of time with my amazing family and allows me to experience some interesting places and cultures around the world that make me a better person and help me appreciate where I live.

Best Ever Kids and Grandkids




Jack, Suzanne and I believe we grew up with the best people, in the best place, at the best time









In keeping with the holiday spirit, I’d have to say . . .It’s a Wonderful Life!

Country Roads and AI (Actual Intelligence) – A Minnesota Thanksgiving

by Bob Sparrow

The Road

Minnesota between colors and snow

The narrow, winding road through the rolling hills had two lanes, one in each direction.  The darkening sky reached down to touch the expanse of furrowed fields, which were now brown and barren, but once were, and will be again, the verdant home to acres of corn.  But before that, and for several months to follow, it will be covered in a blanket of snow.  With apologies to Robert Frost, I noticed that in these parts, ‘no fences make good neighbors’, as there are no fences separating properties, whether it’s forty-acre farms or tract homes, no fences, except to keep the cows in.  And while there are no fences between properties like we’d see back home, there are lots of silos, something we don’t have a lot of in California. As I slowed down for a four-way stop, I noticed a middle-aged man, wearing a rust-colored, checkered flannel shirt and a worn Twins baseball cap, walking from his house, down his long, dirt driveway to his mailbox, which sat on a 4 x 4 post where the driveway met the road.  He had his collar turned up to a slight breeze and 13-degree temperature. Hickory, Maple and Oak trees stand bare with  dark branches stretching to the gray sky; only the pines and firs still hold their leaves, waiting for a dusting of snow to put them in their  holiday finary.  I spotted two deer carcasses lying in a ditch on the side of the road, reminding me to drive very carefully as it gets darker.   It had been quite a while since I had driven on a ‘real’ country road – it was at once calming and exhilarating.

The People

Linda, Starlet, Phyllis

I cannot remember the last time Linda and I were not home, hosting family for Thanksgiving, but then again, I can’t remember where I put my car keys this morning.  We typically would have the whole family to our house, which, for the last several years, has also included Linda’s sister, Starlet and husband, Donnie.  But for medical reasons they were unable to ‘snowbird’ from Minnesota to Arizona this winter, and thus were not able to drive over to California for Turkey Day.  So, we decided to take this opportunity to go back to Rochester, Minnesota not only to be with Starlet and Donnie for Thanksgiving, but also to be with Linda’s 97-year-old, sharp-as-can-be mother, Phyllis, who was able to break away from leading her retirement home attendees in their exercise program to join us!  We would also get a chance to see two of Starlet’s daughter’s family, oldest daughter, Denise and husband, Gene and their three kids Garrett, Lindsay and Will, and middle daughter, Debbie and husband, Paul and daughter, Anna and son, Matt; youngest daughter, Ella was unable to make it.

In case anyone has concerns about this ‘younger generation’, here’s a quick bio on Starlet’s grandkids with whom we were able to share the holiday:

Lindsay, Will, Denise, Gene (Garrett had already left for girlfriend’s house)

Grandkids from oldest daughter, Denise and husband Gene

Garrett – Graduated from U of Wisconsin, is now enrolled in a doctorate program at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, where he is studying Aerospace Engineering – it is rocket science!

Lindsay – Graduated from U of Iowa in Global Health & Physiology and is now working in the health field in Washington DC

Will – A junior at U of Wisconsin studying Electrical Engineering


Grandkids from middle daughter, Debbie and husband, Paul

Debbie, Anna, Matt, Starlet, Donnie, surrounding Phyllis

Matt – Graduated from St. John’s, MN in Mathematics, and is working for Edwards Jones Investment Company and living in Denver

Anna – Graduated with honors (3.96 GPA – What, she got a ‘B’?!!!) in Bio-Chemistry from Sacred Heart in Connecticut, was captain of the women’s hockey team and a candidate for NCAA female athlete of the year.  Now in a Physician’s Assistant program.

Ella – Studying Bio-Chemistry at St. Benedict’s in St Joseph, MN and will follow her mother in becoming a Doctor of Pharmacy

(Not in attendance) Grandkids from youngest daughter Melissa, who is an architect in Houston, and husband, Chris’ two daughters,

Sydney – graduated from U of Texas in Finance

Macy – currently a student at U of Arkansas – getting a teaching degree.

My brain hurt just putting that all together!  The whipped cream on top of this Thanksgiving Day punkin pie (home grown and made by Gene) is that they are all as ‘Minnesota Nice’ as they are smart – parents and kids alike.

Needless to say, we had a great, AND educational Thanksgiving; hope you did too!


A Couch Potato’s Family Weekend

by Bob Sparrow

(I feel obligated to tell you upfront that, as you’ll read in the short blog that follows, I had lots of family in for the weekend and had very little time to write anything, so if you have something better to do, I’d skip this and go do it.)

The Three 49er Amigos

This special family weekend started last Wednesday with my flight from Santa Ana to Phoenix to help my sister (you remember Suzanne!) drive to our house for a Ryder Cup / delayed family reunion since she had to miss the last one in July due to Al’s passing.  She couldn’t fly over because Dash, The Wonder Dog, is unable to fly due to his heart condition.  So, she (and Dash) picked me up at the airport and brought me to her house.  That evening we had a great dinner at her club, Desert Highlands, came back to her house and watched a great PBS special on folk music that featured the Kingston Trio, the Limelighters, the Brothers Four and several others.  It was great tv for this old folk singer!

We left early Thursday morning taking the ‘scenic’ route out of town.  The scenic route included such towns as Wickenburg, Aguila, Salome and Brenda – towns that you have to see to believe, but don’t blink or you’ll miss them – it was well worth the 15 minutes extra that it costs us in time.

Suz’s objective in coming over for this weekend, aside from spending time with family, was to be together to watch:

  • Golf’s Ryder Cup
  • The USC – Colorado football game
  • The Utah – Oregon State football game
  • The 49ers – Cardinals football game

Hard copies of all our blogs!

Our brother Jack and his wife, Sharon, arrived on Friday, and Dana, Addison and Mac came down for dinner – a great gathering, only spoiled by the Utes getting a beat down from Oregon State. Ugggg!!  The ‘goose egg’ earned by the American Ryder Cup team on Friday, also added to our . . . alcohol consumption!  That evening a great surprise was provided by Suzanne, when she gave me an early 80th birthday gift, a three-binder hard copy collection of all of our blogs since the very beginning.  The letter that she wrote to me that accompanied them was heart-felt and amazing!!!!

Saturday morning started with a USC win over Colorado in what turned out to be a pretty good game.  In true ‘couch potato’ form, we rarely got to our feet as we watch various college football games and tried to root our American golfers on, but they were doing little to retain the ‘Cup’ as they fell behind Europe 10.5 to 5.5 points with only Sunday’s matches remaining.

Sis, with a ‘shirt for all seasons’

Sunday had daughter, Stephanie, grandkids Dylan and Emma as well as son, Jeff and wife, Pam, who was carrying ‘our new granddaughter in the oven’, over to watch a Viking win, a 49er win and a Ryder Cup comeback that fell short.  But it was some great family time together.

It was an awesome family weekend and if you’re reading this on Monday morning, I’m driving Suzanne and Dash back to Scottsdale and will fly home in the afternoon.

Great family time – not so great blog!  Maybe better next time . . . maybe not!



By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Thank you to everyone who responded to my post about the passing of my husband, Alan.  It has been a trying few weeks, but your notes and good wishes made a bad situation just a bit brighter.  I do not plan to dwell on this subject, and I promise that in my next blog I will return to writing about fun subjects like why we have national donut day or rant about what is going to happen to the Rose Bowl now that the Pac 12 is the Pac 4.  But today I want to share some thoughts about my experience that might be of help to you.

As regular readers of this blog know, last fall my friend Pat Miles Zimmerman and I published a book that built on her experience after her husband died.  Over the two years that it took to complete the book I listened to the widows’ experiences and read the advice from professionals in an interested, but perhaps detached, way.  After all, I was not a widow.  I did learn some tips from the chapters on legal and financial issues, but being the Type A that I am, I already had my affairs in order, had a great estate attorney and a trusted financial advisor of 20 years.  The other chapters, dealing with more emotional issues I read with interest, but could not relate to them.  Now, all of the sadness and sentiment of being widowed has hit me full force, and it is a gut-wrenching experience. So, here is some advice, that I strongly encourage you to consider.

First, what we leave behind for our surviving spouse can greatly influence the grieving process.  Because I had everything in order, in the few days Alan and I had after his diagnosis we were able to spend them talking about our life together, our family, and what he wanted for my future.  I did not have to scurry to collect passwords, bank account information or try to understand our investment strategies.  This has been invaluable.  I have read that losing a spouse is the worst kind of grief because it affects every single thing you do from the moment you wake up to the time you go to sleep.  It has been much harder than I anticipated, but at least I am afforded the luxury of simply missing him.  I cannot imagine that hurt being exacerbated by stress over not knowing how to pay bills or how to access his iPhone.  I urge everyone to get your affairs in order ahead of a crisis – it will pay great dividends in your emotional well-being and to some extent, help in the grieving process.  Last week one of Alan’s closest friends prepared a binder for his wife that contains all of the pertinent information she will need when he passes.  He told her, “This is for Alan.”  It touched me that Alan’s spirit left behind such a thoughtful, and practical, gesture.

Second, the legacy we leave behind is greatly influenced by how we treat everyone with whom we come into contact.  I have been overwhelmed by the beautiful cards and letters that friends have sent me, some relating stories about Alan and how they met him.  But I have been particularly touched by the employees at our club that have reached out to me expressing their sorrow at his passing.  They all said the same thing: he was always nice to them.  As one of the staff said, “I will miss him.  He was a good man.”  His niceness extended to others who worked with us. Two days after Alan died our air conditioner experienced a problem.  Ken, our regular A/C technician came to fix it and asked me where Alan was.  When he learned of his death, Ken got tears in his eyes and gave me a big hug.  He said, “He was always so good to me – made sure that I had water when it was hot and lent a hand when I needed it.” It makes me happy that the legacy of being good to people is also part of what Alan left behind.

Finally, maybe it pays to leave something a little quirky behind just to make your loved one smile.  I have gradually been going through Alan’s things, distributing sentimental items to the family, particularly his two sets of golf clubs which our two grandsons now possess.  I know that would make him very happy.  But he also left behind some curious items, among them 13 (!) new golf gloves, most still in the original packaging.  All I can imagine is that with all of his trips to the PGA Superstore he occasionally felt the need to purchase something, so he settled on golf gloves.  I had to laugh when I found them, and now our son-in-law won’t have to buy golf gloves for many years to come. I loved that Alan is still making me laugh, even after he’s gone.

Again, thank you for reaching out and all of your nice comments.  I know that I will eventually create a new normal.  I believe that life can still be beautiful, even when there’s broken parts.

A Time of Tragedy & Comedy

by Bob Sparrow

This theater logo, of the famous faces – Melpomene (tragedy) and Thalia (comedy), which is Greek in origin, has come to symbolize the last few weeks for me.  Incredible highs and incredible lows.  The tragedy obviously comes from the passing of Suzanne’s husband, Alan, in late July.  We all cried when we read the beautiful tribute she wrote here last week.  The comedy comes from a family reunion that was planned months ago and was on the weekend that immediately followed Alan’s passing.  While our hearts were with Suzanne, in Arizona, our funny bones were in our backyard during the ‘Gathering of Sparrows’.  This family’s sense of humor can be attributed to one man, our father, the original Jack Sparrow, or Poppins, as he was affectionately known.  Aside from being one of the nicest and most gentlemanly people that God put on this earth, he had a tremendous sense of humor, that has been passed on to his children, to our children, and to their children.  What an amazing legacy!


The following are the players who attended the reunion, or ‘ReOnion’, as we called it, because . . . well, it sounded stupid: Brother Jack Sparrow and wife, Sharon; Jack’s kids Shelly, who flew in from Tucson and her daughter, Kate, who flew in from northern California; Jack’s son, Matt, who drove in from Tucson with his son, Jackson and daughter, Madelyn.  Sharon’s son, Brad, his wife Betsy and their three kids, Riley, Allie and Zack, who drove all the way from Placentia.  My kid, Stephanie and her husband Jason, and their two kids, Dylan and Emma; and Linda and my kids, Dana and husband, Joe, and their two kids, Addison and Mack, and our son, Jeff and his wife, Pam.   Great music was provided by participants who forwarded me their favorite songs that I put on a playlist that ended up being over 250 songs long.

Most of the time was spent outside, with the young kids in the pool and the adults trying to figure out if they wanted another pina colada from the never-ending machine, a cold Landshark from the beer cooler or a Klapper (cheap rum and diet cola) – some put a lime in it for a ‘Dapper Klapper’, there was also the option of using non-caffeinated cola, ‘Napper Klapper’, but no one was napping this weekend!  Cigars were also plentiful.  ‘Butcher Block Joe’, provided one of the tastiest BBQs I’ve ever had, with ribs, chicken, pulled pork and brisket – soooooooooooooooo good!!  Dana’s key lime pie put a perfect period at the end of that delicious sentence.  After dinner drinks included, pina coladas, Landsharks, Klap . . . OK, you know the drill.

Hoping that a picture is worth a lot more than my words, following are some photos from the event; the first being the ‘Hat Parade’ – where everyone had to wear a hat.  It seems I have a hat fetish, as I’ve got a closet full of them, so I felt it was time to come out of the closet . . . with my hats!!

Jackson’s ‘long arms’ provided the selfie of the ‘Hat Parade’


Pizza at the ‘Kids Table’

Kat & Madelyn – Two Beautiful Sparrows


Capt. Jack Sparrow at the ‘Wall of Masks’






Great food thanks to Joe & Dana

















A mustachiod Mac looking very suspecious

‘The Kids’ – Dana, Matt, Steph, Shelley, Jeff

‘Clinging Cousins’ Ems & Adz

We missed you, Sis!!!

Oh yeah, the other event that occurred is that I achieved one of the two major goals that every golfer has.  The first goal  being a ‘hole in one’, which I have never had in all my 66 years of golfing; the second is ‘shooting your age’, which I did accomplish last month by shooting a 79 at Yorba Linda Country Club.  I thought I was going to have to wait until I played ‘miniature golf’ when I was 104!


It’s Grand to Be Grand

by Bob Sparrow

Dylan, Emma, Addison and Mac

When Linda and I first got married, back when the earth was still cooling, she said she couldn’t wait to be a grandmother.  I can’t remember my stance on grandparenthood at the time, I was probably ambivalent, but I did mention to Linda that there was a step between where we were then and her being a grandmother – so, enter Dana and Jeff.  Her passion for being a grandmother came from a great relationship she had with her maternal grandmother, Petra, while growing up in Minnesota.  Linda actually wanted to name Dana, Petra, for which Dana still thanks me.  I, on the other hand, liked my grandparents, but I didn’t spend that much time with them and the time I did spend, I just felt it was time spent with some familiar ‘old people’.

Fast forward to today and I now think I invented grandparenthood!  We are fortunate enough to have four amazing grandchildren.  I’m going to go on a bit about them; perhaps I’m a bit biased, but I hope any of you grandparents out there would feel the same way about yours.


The first grandchild came from my daughter, Stephanie and husband, Jason, a boy named Dylan.  Now, at 12 years old, he has become quite an accomplished piano player and has been in several bands as a keyboard player.


Not only does he play the piano, but he composes his own songs, seemingly with very little effort – and they are quite good.  One day when he was at our house playing an original piece, I told him that he should hook up with someone who writes poetry and they could write some popular songs together.  He said that his school had a poetry writing contest and . . . he won!  So, don’t be surprised if he becomes a famous song writer!  He will be entering junior high this fall and is hopeful of getting into a performing arts high school in a couple of years.  His sister, Emma, who is 10, is a very accomplish dancer and has been for a number of years.  She is also blessed with a big personality and a beautiful smile.  Both Dylan and Emma attend an immersive Italian language school and are both fluent in the language.  This summer, when the family visited Italy, we saw several videos of Emma ordering various dishes and conversing with the servers in Italian.  She really seemed to enjoy it and the Italians said that she had a great accent.  She is a smart, adorable, talented young lady.



Our third and forth grandchildren, Addison and Maclin, came from our daughter, Dana and husband, Joe.  Addison is six going on 15!  She is very mature, has a very out-going personality, is very smart and has a great sense of humor.  She plays soccer and softball, and is currently taking golf and piano lessons.  She’s also has written and sings a couple original songs.  A year ago, the ‘girls’ went on a wine tasting weekend in Temecula and I got to babysit Addison – so the two of us went to the San Diego  Zoo, Safari Park in Escondido – it was one of the best 24 hours I’ve ever spent.   Mac’s nickname is ‘Turbo’, because he is always on the move and attacks things with reckless abandon.  At three, he loves sports, particularly hockey.  He is currently practicing hockey at the same rink father, Joe did when he was a kid.  One has to be at least five years old to play on a team, but one of the coaches saw Mac skate and said he wanted this three-year-old on his team now!!  It will be fun to see what he does with hockey.  He is also obsessed with two movies, for obvious reasons , The Might Ducks, a great story about a youth hockey team, and Top Gun – Maverick . he recites many of the lines from the movie and has a ‘Bomber Jacket’ that he sometimes sleeps in.  He seems to like nice clothes, as when he was asked when he wanted for his third birthday, the said, “a three-piece suit”.  Yes, a three-piece suit!!!  Because the family owns two restaurants and Joe is a certified Cordon Bleu chef, they both love to help Joe & Dana in the kitchen.

Fortunately, all four live within an hour, so we get to watch them grow up.  Like I’ve said, I’ve alwasys wanted to be a grandpartent!!  OK, maybe that wasn’t me, but now I love it!  So, with no travel plans for the next few weeks and the backyard finished, we’re looking forward to spoiling our grandchildren as much as possible.  We truly feel blessed.  Hope those of you with grandchildren feel exactly the same way!

An Old Time Christmas

by Bob Sparrow

Sisters – Dana & Stephanie

One of the many benefits of starting a new year is that we don’t have to listen to any more of those tired old Christmas songs that have been ear worming us since just after Thanksgiving, maybe even before.  Although, I have to admit that I did hear one song this year, for the first time, a week before Christmas that had rather an unusual effect on me.  While driving home from Las Vegas, listening to the radio, I heard the song ‘An Old Time Christmas’ by George Strait.  When the song finished, I was welling up, which I tried to hide from Linda, who was sitting next to me, by adjusting my dark glasses.  My Sirius Radio gave me the ability to replay the song, so I did, as I was really curious as to what specifically about that song got to me.  So, I played it again – same results.

When I got home, I decided I wanted to learn this song that had such an effect on

Addison & Emma ‘signing’ Jingle Bells

me, so I picked up my guitar, printed off the music for the song, and started to learn to play it.  I couldn’t get through it without choking up.  I’m thinking, ‘What the heck is going on?!!’  I assumed that because the song was about Christmases of the past, that that cued me to think of my Mom and Dad and Christmases with my brother and sister when we were growing up, as well as Christmases when our own kids were growing up.

Fast forward to this Christmas Eve, when we entertained my brother, Jack and wife Sharon, my sister, Suzanne and husband Alan, as well as all of our three kids and their spouses, Stephanie and husband Jason, Dana and husband, Joe and Jeff and wife, Pam; as well as all four grandkids, Dylan, Emma, Addison and Mac.  Also coming by on Christmas Eve was Alan’s daughter, Wendy, her husband, Steve and their college-student kids, Matt (USC) and Jake (Colorado) – it was one of the few times we had everyone there for Christmas.  It was an awesome family gathering.

An Old Timer

When I said we were entertaining this group, I really meant entertaining.  In front of the group, Emma and Addison did Jingle Bells, we sang it and they did the sign language.  Emma, Addison and Mac sang Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  I did sing An Old Time Christmas, although not very well;  I mentioned when introducing the song, that the kids gathered here today would remember this day as their Old Time Christmas.  Dylan, who at age 12, is quite an accomplished piano player, played GreensleevesIronically, the person in our family with the best voice, Jeff, didn’t get a chance to sing – next year!!  Without question, the highlight of the entertainment was sisters, Stephanie and Dana doing their rendition of Sisters, from the movie, White Christmas.  Classic!!!

I would have to say that it was the best Christmas Eve, maybe ever.  Linda and I feel so very fortunate to have such an amazing family.  We’re hoping you all had a happy and Old Time Christmas as well.


A Flock of Sparrows

by Bob Sparrow

Sparrows in the 50s

Last weekend was a very special weekend, as it was a gathering of Sparrows.  My two siblings and I, along with our spouses, met at Jack & Sharon’s last weekend in Santa Maria.  As you might imagine, Suzanne and I communicate rather regularly as we have each other edit our blog prior to posting every Monday (guaranteed that Suzanne finds a lot more things to edit than I do!) as well as talking on the phone periodically.  Brother Jack and I usually talk on the phone about once a week, but during football season, it jumps to sometimes 4-5 times a day, as we have practice bets in preparation for real bets when we get to Vegas, which is in two weeks.  But personal visits are much rarer, once, maybe twice, a year the three couples get together – so last weekend was special.

What I think is most unusual about our sibling relationship, is that I can’t remember a harsh word spoken between us since . . . ever!  I truly love both my brother and my sister.  Some of you are thinking, “Duh”, who doesn’t love their brother and sister and some of you are thinking, “You don’t know my brother/sister!”  We have our parents to thank for creating such a loving home.

So, what do we do when we get together, you ask?  Eat, drink, laugh, share what’s happening in our lives, talk about our kids and grandkids, then eat, drink and laugh some more.

Brothers Restaurant at the Red Barn

As fun as the weekend was, it didn’t start out well, given traffic for Linda and me going north on 101 through Santa Barbara – it seems for the last 20 years they’ve been widening that freeway, but it seems to get narrower.  Suzanne and Al experienced similar traffic conditions coming south from Nipomo.

Once settled in Santa Maria, the festivities began with a fantastic dinner and family history discussion at one of the best restaurants in Santa Barbara County, Brothers Restaurant at the Red Barn in San Ynez, where, after Jack and I hoisted a martini to our dad, I had the best Petrale sole I’ve ever had.  Everyone’s dinner was delicious!

Saturdays during football season is something the three of us love, so the day was spent in our ‘football jerseys’ in front of the TV.   Jack and I made some ‘pretend bets’ in preparation for Vegas; and like the week before, we killed it with our ‘pretend bets’.  If you don’t hear about our bets in Vegas in a couple of weeks, you’ll know why Vegas can keep the bright lights on all night!  The day went well, with Suzanne and Al rooting USC to a comfortable victory of Stanford, while Utah was able to handle Southern Utah 73 – 7.

Finally, before leaving for home, we took the requisite photo of the three Sparrow siblings.  You can see that we’ve hardly changed a bit!!

Sparrows in the 60s



Sparrows in the 70s







Sparrrows in the 80s

Sparrows in the 90s






Sparrows in the 00s

Sparrows with hats

Sparrows now







Diamonds in the Desert

by Bob Sparrow

Diamonds in the Desert

Before desert temperatures reached the triple digits, we made two last treks to two different deserts in March to visit our diamonds in the deserts.

Our mid-March trip took us to some old haunts surrounding our Marriott Desert Springs Palm Desert timeshare.  Yes, there was plenty of golf, dining, and stories with the ‘Great Eight’ – the Budds, the Sagers and the VanBoxmeers (Linda and I would make eight in case you were wondering about the math!), but it was the other people we met, that live there, (at least part-time) that turned the trip from great to awesome!

Ed & Stacy Hunter at Indian Ridge

Diamond One!  We were invited to dinner at the home of Ed & Stacy Hunter, who live, during the winter, at Indian Ridge Country Club, a private golf club that has two magnificent golf courses and beautiful and immaculately kept grounds.  The Hunter’s home sits on a ridge with an amazing view of the golf course (the attached photo doesn’t do it justice).  Ed collects wine and whiskeys, and suffice it to say that we certainly consumed more than our share, but didn’t put a dent in his stash.  Stacy is the consummate hostess, serving an exquisite tray of charcuterie followed by a delicious dinner.

Diamond Two!  Two days later, we were invited for dinner at the home of Walt & Patty Schwartz, at Trilogy at the Polo Club in Indio, next to the Plantation Golf Club, which could be the subject of a future blog.  And while the view may not have been as grand, with Walt playing the consummate ‘straight man’ for Patty’s razor-sharp wit, the evening was filled with many stories and much laughter.  Oh yeah, and a magnificent charcuterie tray and another delicious dinner with plenty of wine.

Patty & Walt Schwartz

Linda & Starlet petting a dinosaur

Diamond Three!  Three days after returning from Palm Desert we set out for the Sonoran Desert, which includes much of Arizona.  Our first stop was Apache Junction, and a visit with Linda’s sister and husband, Starlet & Donnie Brummer.  Starlet’s daughter, Denise and her husband, Gene Cobb were also visiting from Minnesota and are always great to be around.  Friends, Bill & Kay Pompei, from Minnesota, who also spend the winter in Arizona stopped by for dinner and cards.  Kay provided me with several subjects for future blogs – thank you!  The following day, Starlet, Linda and I played one of the best golf courses I’ve ever played, Dinosaur Mountain at Gold Canyon.  Not only was the golf course magnificent, but the surrounding mountains and spectacular homes on the course were jaw-dropping.  A picture-perfect day made it the most enjoyable round of golf in a long time.  If you have a chance, play this course, you’ll love it!

Your co-writers

Diamond Four!  Four days into our trip we made our final stop at Scottsdale’s beautiful golf community, Desert Highlands to visit my sister and co-writer, Suzanne and husband, Alan Watson, as well as ‘Dash the Wonder Dog’. While Suzanne and I text, talk or email weekly, we rarely get a chance to see each other, so it’s always special when we get together.  When I explained to her that I was writing this week’s blog about our visits to our ‘Diamonds in the Desert’, and that our visit with them would be number four, she replied, “I hope you don’t label us as the ‘Cubic Zirconium’ visit!”  Not a chance!  We had a great time visiting and then dinner at their beautifully remodeled golf club house, as the sun set beneath a beautiful ‘Arizona red’ sky.  The perfect ending to the many facets of our visit to our Diamonds in the Desert.