Raymond Rempfer Whitehouse with his Grandpa, Rempfer Lees Whitehouse.

I received an email from my youngest brother, Jay, announcing a family party for his son Ray, who will be graduated from Northwestern University in June. The story he related about Ray as a baby is humorous and is quoted below. I’m experiencing the familiar shock of continuing to think of Ray as the 2-year-old who spent part of my wedding reception under the table tickling my new mother-in-law’s feet…when in reality he’s 22 and soon to be finished with college. More than that, I look at my youngest brother and his wife Patty, and see what terrific parents they have been to their two children. I have no kids of my own and have been fortunate to share in the lives of my sibs’ children. Raymond Rempfer Whitehouse, nicknamed Smiley by his baseball team at Whitney Young High School, is a talented and hard-working guy (Raywhitehouse.com). I can’t wait to see what he does in the next 22 years!

“About this time of year 22 years ago, I was making a daily drive to Zion, Illinois, to work for Black Vinyl Records promoting their newest release, Stolen Wishes, by the band Shoes. Each day I would make the 40 mile drive to Zion with 4 month old Raymond Rempfer Whitehouse securely fastened into his baby seat. Accompanying us was a cooler containing Patty’s expressed milk, stored neatly in bags and kept cool by ice. Add a feeding bottle and some “yummy” baby food and Ray and I were a traveling nursery.

Each day, Ray would sit on my lap as I would cajole radio stations to play the Shoes record, threaten distributors to pay what they owed “or else,” and, on occasion, answer the phone when guys like Gene Simmons from Kiss called to find out what the fuss was all about. (Stolen Wishes was a 4 Star “Critics Choice” in Rolling Stone magazine and we were selling a lot of records.)

The label owners were fans of my work history with the local Chicago bands that I had managed to get airplay for and get touring on the road. As such, they welcomed Sweet Baby Ray as part of the package of getting me to come on board and help with promotion and sales. Little did they or I know…

Each day after Ray’s feeding, he would nap under the grand piano inside the tracking room of the label’s on-site recording studio — picture a crib like set-up with blankets and toys under the piano! When I ended my tenure at the label to dedicate all my activities to promoting The Bad Examples, the guys at Black Vinyl were heartbroken — not so much at losing me, but because they had fallen for the baby who seemed to go along with whatever was thrown at him. To this day, the Black Vinyl label guys remain friends and they have followed with great interest and almost blood-related connection the travels of that little can-do baby they knew as “baby Ray.”

Early 1990, when Ray’s and my long commute was going on, is a time in life Patty and I will never forget. We had been completely blessed because Patty had given birth to a 9 pound 1 once baby with such great intensity, can-do spirit and great love and passion for life — in short, becoming parents changed our lives. I will never forget those early days – little Ray-Ray would look at me while sitting on my lap at work, as I prattled away on the phone, and just smile and laugh and absorb. No crying, no complaining — just hangin’ out with dad and with a look on his face that said: “boy, we’re having fun!” I look back at that experience now and laugh at myself and my lack of fatherly forethought — I’m sure whatever colorful vocabulary he possesses now was initially shaped by that experience! There’s a popular question used in all types of life endeavors that is meant to gauge a person’s commitment that goes like this: “Are you all in?” — with “all” being the operative word in the question. I will summarize this rambling paragraph by saying that from this early age in the studio sleeping under the piano and onward, Patty and I knew Ray was “all in.”

That “all-in” once napping under-the-piano baby is now about 6 weeks away from graduating from college, and we are having a well-deserved party for him! You, dear folks, are most heartily invited to attend!

Also, if you need a place to stay while visiting Chicago, we have some overnight accommodation options. Of course, if things get crowded, there’s always a spot under the piano in the front room!”

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