DECIDEDLY PREMATURE OBITUARY
you're anything like me, you start your morning by reading the
obituaries. This works out just fine in our house because my wife likes
to grab the comics first.
Before I actually read any of the departeds' biographies, I scan the
page for unusual nicknames. I can usually bet on at least one Tiny, who
judging from his photo may not have been so tiny. Slim, Bubbles, Smiley,
Sweet Pea, Junior, Rocky and Dusty all seem fairly prevalent among the
deceased. My all time favorite is "Cementhead." Now that must have been
one hard-headed fellow.
Personally, I like the bios that are short and sweet. Born, died and
don't bother with the flowers. In fact, my mother - who just turned 78
and hasn't been sick a day in her life - just informed me that she has
made arrangements with the University of Miami to donate her body to the
medical school when she passes on.
"No service, no burial, no nothing. The only cost you'll have to pay is
the transportation of my body to Miami," she told me. Then I asked her
if I could save a few bucks if I drove her body down there myself.
"Don't be ridiculous!" she exclaimed, "OK," I quipped, "how about
Then my real pet peeve: the photo. The deceased died at age 99, but the
photo was taken when they graduated from high school. I'm all for
vanity, but when you're dead, what's the use? To spare my loved ones the
last-minute creative torment of writing my obituary, I'm doing it now.
And, by the way, I'm requesting the photo be one from my high school
Born on Mother's
Day, 1956, in Hudson, N.Y., a city historically known for whaling
and prostitution. At age 5, he unscrewed all of the kitchen cabinet
doors from their hinges, indicating a predisposition for the use of
Attended John L. Edwards Elementary School, where in third grade he was
voted Class Clown. In fourth grade, he survived an acute appendicitis
attack in spite of the fact his teacher thought his writhing on the
floor all day was just a ploy to gain attention and make his classmates
At age 13, he received the Red Cross Junior Life Saving Certificate,
despite being reprimanded for incorrect hand positioning on a female
instructor during a training drill. Passed his New York state driver
license test on his 16th birthday. Crashed his father's new Ford
Thunderbird one day after receiving his driver license. In 1972, he
attended his first Allman Brothers concert at the Saratoga Performing
Arts Center, where he forgot where he parked his father's car and thus
began his lifelong fascination with bicycles.
Barely graduated from high school in 1974 and then began his meteoric
rise up the corporate ladder. Started working as a furniture refinisher
at Claire's Restoration Barn in Mellenville, N.Y. Promotions led to work
as fruit picker at Mountain Range Farm, jewelry polisher at Twin Fish
Jewelers, cabdriver for Star City Cab Co., graphic designer at The
Wappingers Falls Press and as photographer's assistant at the Herb
Sculnick Studio in New York City.
After leaving the Sculnick Studio to start his own company, Michael I.
Price Photography, he soon had his first photo in a national
publication: His eight-months pregnant wife in overalls for Mothering
magazine. Despite ongoing rejections from other major publications, such
as Pigeon Journal and Scrap Metal Monthly, his perseverance led to
assignments from People, Newsweek, The New York Times and USA Today.
In 1986, he was hired by the Palm Beach Daily News as a staff
photographer, irrespective of the fact that chief photographer Kim
Sargent told then-publisher Agnes Ash that "I never in my life saw
someone wearing clothes so wrinkled." Within days of starting his new
job, he purchased a pair of Nike Air Jordan red leather sneakers, which
were to become his trademark.
After working two seasons and consuming approximately 800 cheese puff
pastries, 400 crab claws, 80 pounds of shrimp, and countless carrot and
celery sticks, he resigned to work as a full-time freelance
photographer. His career immediately soared when thespian and local
resident Burt Reynolds threatened to "rip his head off" for taking his
photo while on the set of B.L. Stryker, one of many Reynolds' canceled
Riding the momentum of the Reynolds' shoot, he then went on to
photograph such luminaries as Donna Mills, star of the TV drama series
Knot's Landing; Vice President Dan Quayle; and Beverly Hills hair
stylist with the cowboy hat and ponytail, Jose Eber.
Although Mr. Price never formally retired, he spent his remaining years
watching reruns of Law & Order and fabricating crucifixes from discarded
engine parts. He was often heard saying, "When the running was good, I
ran hard," which his friends believe was a reference to the 1970s and
*Originally printed in The Palm Beach Daily News