When I moved to the Orlando area from New Jersey, my long-time best friend, Stew Bacheler, who’s since moved to Florida, came up with the notion that we should have an annual beach party, kind of like the movie, The Big Chill. It was a great idea and a new tradition was born that lasted a long time.
Many of our good friends and, sometimes, a handful of relatives, would meet every summer at Stew’s parent’s house in Beach Haven on beautiful Long Beach Island, NJ. Because his parents owned it, we never had to worry about finding a place to accommodate us.
This was back in the days of big hair and large, shoulder-held, VHS camcorders. Each year, the crowd would take turns shooting footage that I would ultimately snip to pieces at the end of our week. I’d sift through the tape and edit it into something that captured the essence of our vacation. The following Saturday, we’d have a “world premiere showing” of the completed video where, generally, our good friend, Frank Foran, would host and cook a big dinner. I always did my best to turn it into something entertaining and worthwhile.
Speaking of Frank, during one of those vacations, I chose to tape a segment about my good old chum. He’s always been quite the fisherman. Why not shoot something that would revolve around his skills? I did, and I titled it “Fishin’ with Frank.” It had a nice alliteration to it, don’t you think? At the time, I worked for an ad agency, so creating art presented no problem. As a matter of fact, I had already designed a title page that depicted a Frank look-alike fishing off the bow of a boat, casting out to sea. For the opening scene, I did a voiceover…
“Yes, it’s time for Fishin’ with Frank,” while the camera focused on a pool of water. Suddenly, there was a splash and a clunk as the lead lure was cast into a toilet bowl that was promptly flushed. The camera slowly panned upward to the open lid, which had the picture of Frank carefully and inconspicuously taped to it. The video then shifted to the opening scene – the boat – where Frank was shown fishing off the port-side of the bow.
“Frank! Frank! You’re on!” He turned around and introduced himself. Frank knows his stuff because he proceeded to give us a lesson in, what else? Fishing. Tying a knot on a hook. Choosing the right lures. How to cast off. That sort of thing.
We had the requisite bikini babes, too, who were all wives and girlfriends. We were a lot younger then and they sure did look good, so I took a lot of shots of the girls. Which was a whole lot more interesting and exciting to watch than Frank. Ahhh, and speaking of shots, the margaritas flowed. Rock ‘n’ Roll music wafted in the background. We all took our turns fishing. Of course, the best scenes were when Frank tried to teach some of the girls how to fish. The camera kept moving toward the women’s bodies. It was as if it had a mind of its own.
“Dave! Move that camera here, %#$T#$!*@!” I learned one important %#$T#$!*@! lesson out in the Atlantic Ocean that day, like, how to talk like a sailor when the camera’s not where it’s supposed to be. On Frank. Just like his uncle, Dick Foran, a one-time Hollywood movie star.
Anyway, this was how it went down – the taping of the world premier video of the almost famous program, Fishin’ with Frank on Cable 68, out of Vineland, New Jersey. Of course, there was no such thing as Cable 68 in those days.
You’d think that was it, right? End of story? Wrong!
After we returned from our fishing expedition, we cleaned up and went to Buckalew’s Restaurant ~ Tavern for dinner and drinks. In those days, it wasn’t anything fancy like it is today. And they sure did know how to make a great pizza. We sat in the tavern part. Barstools and booths. One side had a long booth and chairs with tables in between. That made it easy to accommodate our ensemble crew of over a dozen people.
One waitress had the misfortune of asking me who we were. Oh no. Wrong question. “Have you ever heard of the Fishin’ with Frank show on Cable 68?” There was no Cable 68 back then.
“Yeah,” she thought for a moment. “I’m pretty sure I have.”
“Fantastic! We just taped a show up here to be broadcast sometime in the near future. That’s Frank, over there,” and I pointed him out. Frank was a pretty tall and good looking guy, so he had a commanding presence. Imagine that. Our waitress started the bobbing ball rolling as news inside the bar spread. Suddenly, waves of people, beers in hand, asked Frank to sign paper placemats and napkins. He was a big star and he lapped it right up.
Another waitress came up to me and asked, “Are you the producer?”
Without thinking, I simply responded, “Yes, I am,” as she thrust one of those seafood-themed placemats and a ballpoint pen toward me to sign.
“I thought so,” she replied. It seemed that everyone had heard of the show. Some were convinced they’d seen it. Oh, the amazing power of suggestion and a whole entourage of production people. (It’s important to point out that we never took advantage of anyone, nor accepted one free drink.) As our pizzas came out of the restaurant’s galley, things settled down and everyone went back to their business of imbibing in refreshing cocktail beverages. We toasted Frank.
As for our time on the boat? I don’t remember if we caught any fish that day but, I’d be willing to bet you, as Frank always did, that he would have caught the first, the biggest, and the most on the maiden – and only – voyage of Fishin’ with Frank.