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Here's Paul. Many of us know what we do and how we do it very well. But when asked why we do it, we often pause and see that this is a question we might need to explore further.
We've heard of people like Simon Sinek, Mike Vack and Maya Angelou, three current individuals who bring these ideas to our attention. They make the case that it isn't just about the money so much as loving what you do and how you make people feel. Well, I admit that I love what I do. And recently I had a student who was so adamant that their grades should be changed on a critique assignment.
The person is an intelligent, hard worker with drive and determination. At the moment, I did not love what I do. What confounded me was that they actually had a 92 percent on the assignment and were irritated that I docked them for not fully synthesizing two articles to a coherent conclusion.
That was not in the rubric, I was told in an email. My credibility was being questioned, and for a fleeting moment, I went back to the notion of pursuing a career in carpentry, which I also enjoy. But my why brought me back to the discussion with a revitalized impetus.
Explicitly, they were right. I was trying to make this talented individual even better, knowing integrating ideas and interweaving them together is vital to this degree and to life. I was also cognizant that I, too, have my limitations as their professor and a grader. So I called them. Yes, by phone.
Zoom has already been a staple of my days. And I call people often because hearing a person's voice and the nuances of feeling are kind of the senses that we could tap into. And often we neglect them.
It can also be tiring, so I try to use it with a little discretion. Sometimes people are startled because from an educator, a call means they are in trouble or there could be something wrong. When talking with the person, I emphasized that they were doing very well. And there was plenty to say. I asked them, how are you doing?
Not on the upcoming assignments, but as a person. There was a pause. Conversation led to understanding, which led to the revelation that this course was the only thing good happening in this person's life right now.
The only good? This saddened me for a moment. The feeling was palpable. Their job was eating up weekends, family issues, this class I offered, the stress of the pandemic, trying to be part time principal at home with their kids, and that fear of the unknown.
They were all weighing heavily on this individual. I shared how I used to bring my two daughters to the University of Minnesota with me, trying to finish my degree while still working in business. I would carry my books over my shoulder, holding the hand of one of my ebullient daughters and initially carrying my other bundle of joy in my left arm, alternating when needed. I was at hand to my kids, but not consciously fully present. Care was evident and it taught me to balance what I could. And I kept my kids fed and happy.
Well, generally. It seemed to resonate with this person. We connected and I understood, empathizing what they were going through. I didn't realize that listening and through storytelling that breaking through the shell of a grade being lower than expected was just scratching the surface of what was truly within their soul. I sensed that the person wanted to know they have value and what they were doing was all worth it. They were not getting the affirmations from their immediate surroundings. The individual acknowledged within our discussion that in the long run, the grade was not as important as knowing that what they do and how they do it has to complement why they are even pursuing this degree in the first place.
When I showed how what they did in the rest of the course demonstrated their mastery, the person laughed in some relief and realized that they were actually doing phenomenal work already and should not worry as much about this assignment grade. Instead, what their future could be and how bright it looks could be a horizon worth looking toward. The why of what we do is often what keeps us going forward and sustains our heart and mind beating in a simpatico, especially when we doubt ourselves or wonder about our true purpose. I question my purpose sometimes. I encounter some very difficult situations and often I put my head in my hands and ask for guidance from others and above. Yet when I see a baby laugh, for instance my grandson, and see new life emerging before my very eyes, I see a student change in confidence or see for themselves the realization that they are valuable and they grasp that they can give what they have to someone else.
And a special thanks to Robbie for his work on the piece and thanks to Paul Kotz whose book Profiles in Kindness is available on Amazon and all the usual suspects. And think about what he did. He was not having a particularly good day. No day for a teacher is good when the student calls to complain about a 92. And he did what, well, good teachers do. He made the call. He called the student. And that's the why in the end and why do we even teach.
I know why my dad taught. He wanted to improve young people's lives, make them better people. Paul Kotz, the why behind a phone call with a student here on Our American Story. Folks if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of seventeen dollars and seventy six cents is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to our American stories dot com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.
That's our American stories dot com. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also one hundred percent free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family.
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It's true. I had one that night and I took my nerd tech O.D.T. and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by nerd tech O.D.T. Remedia pants, 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can be missing out on big moments with friends and family. But thankfully, nerd tech O.D.T.
Remedia pants, 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. And we continue with our American stories. And up next, we hear from Laurie Spradley, the owner of the company Goo Goo Cluster. You may have heard of this candy bar that was created back in 1912, but if not, here's Laurie to share a little bit of the history of the Goo Goo and where they are today. So Standard Candy Company was started in downtown Nashville in 1901, and they were making hard candies, caramels, kind of single ingredient confections. And in 1912, the founder, Howell Campbell and his right hand man, Porter, were in the kitchen kind of playing around and they invented the Goo Goo Cluster. And it was the first time anyone combined multiple ingredients into a single finished product. So it was made of caramel, milk chocolate, peanuts and a marshmallow nougat. And at first it didn't have a name.
And Howell was selling them on a streetcar in downtown Nashville. And story goes that a teacher was on the train and asked him what he was going to call this new confection. And he was like, I have no idea. And the conversation shifted to his newborn son. They started asking what he was up to. And they said, well, he just started talking. He's saying words like Goo Goo Gaga. And they said, that's what you should call it, a Goo Goo.
They're so good. People will ask for them from birth. And now we're stuck with the silly name. So my grandfather had been in the confection industry and made wedding cakes and owned a bakery. And my dad out of business school discovered Standard Candy. It was on the verge of bankruptcy.
And he called his dad and was like, I think we can save this. And so they bought it in 82. And so I'm the third generation to be involved in the business.
And it's it's been a wild ride. When they purchased the company, it was only the original Goo Goo. And so they introduced the pecan variety, which at that time was called the Supreme. And it just replaced the peanuts with pecans. And that was in the 80s. And then in 90, early 90s, they introduced the peanut butter variety, which is a peanut butter center with peanuts and milk chocolate.
And that's most of our favorite. I never thought I would work for the company. After college, I moved to New York City. I worked in sales, kind of did my thing for about six years and was just looking for something new. And at the same time, Goo Goo was going through some restructuring and changes. And I was kind of like, I think I can put my mark on this.
I'm qualified and I think, you know, we can have a lot of fun with this. So I did intern when I was 15 years old and couldn't drive to a job. I would go to work with my dad that summer and they had a jar out front of all three flavors. And I probably had a Goo Goo every day. I called it a lunch. I was like, I was like, it's a peanut butter version. It's got some protein.
It counts. I honestly usually don't even have them at my house. Growing up, everyone was like, you have to have you. You're the Goo Goo house.
You have to have them. And we just don't. I don't think anyone I guess maybe we've lost our sweet tooth, but we did give them out at Halloween. We lived on a really popular trick or treating street growing up and everyone knew we gave out full size Goo Goo clusters. So we were extra popular on Halloween. I think it was in first grade.
So I don't know what age I was turning, maybe six or seven. And I took my for my birthday party. I took my class to the factory and we all wore hair nets and got to see the entire process. And my friends still talk about it to this day. And I'm so glad they do remember it, because now with food regulations, I can barely get into the factory. So I'm glad we all got to experience that.
And I guess, you know, pretty good for a first grader. So in 2014, we opened up a retail store in downtown Nashville, and that was really become like our test kitchen. We were able to hand make any sort of confections we desire.
We get to kind of be our own Howell Campbell and make our own take on a Goo Goo cluster. So we started out making having with our pastry chef, making his own creations and putting all sorts of wonderful goodies together into a finished product. And we started, I guess, around the same time partnering with local chefs and what we call our summer chef series. And so every summer we partner with six or so chefs in the community who get to create their own Goo Goo. We have a ton of fun with it because we all get to try all these new combinations. Outside of the summer chef series, we've also started partnering with other local businesses, one of them being a barbecue. And they were celebrating a big anniversary. So they asked us to create a Goo Goo for them. And it actually uses barbecue sauce. So it's a little sweet.
It's a little spicy, a little funky and fun. And that's been a big hit. The Glen Campbell Museum created their own.
And we even will create custom candies for corporate events or parties. There definitely are some big Goo Goo fans out there. We've got a huge fan out of Canada. And so he's he's big on Twitter and we kind of have fun with him.
He's been to visit a couple of times and been into our store. But most of the stories are just real nostalgic. A lot of people remember eating them with their grandparents or parents. One of our employees, Beth Sachon, she remembers sharing one with her mom at the checkout aisle in the grocery.
There are just some really sweet memories and stories and everyone's always wanting to share them with us, which we love. I think a fun thing about the brand is that it's really evolved over the years, but it stayed true to exactly what the original ingredients were. So back when it was first created, they were sold in a glass candy jar with no wrapper. And then that evolved to putting it in a little paper sleeve at the candy counter. And then it was wrapped in foil similar to a peppermint patty.
And now and then it went to a sealed wrapper, kind of like it is today, but a different different imaging. It's really fun to be a part of a history. We still have a presence in downtown Nashville, right where the original one was first created.
It's truly a stone's throw from the old factory. Yeah, I'd say our biggest challenge is trying to find trying to transition our customer base from the older generation who remembers eating them as a kid to younger generations and making it a little more young, fun, playful. And so that's what we're trying to tackle. That's what we're we want our store to be like. We want everyone to feel like a kid. It's also one of the few places downtown where kids are going to have fun.
You know, we're not one of the honky tonks or a museum where we're just a playful environment where you can feel like a kid again. And so it's been really fun to have that store to tell our real history and also get immediate customer feedback. And if you can't visit us in our downtown store in Nashville, we actually you can design your own candy bar on our website. So Gugu dot com, you can create your own confection. You choose your chocolate, you choose your any of your mixins. And we've got some weird things like potato chips and Fruity Pebbles and kids definitely go a little a little crazy with their confections. They are throwing in all sorts of stuff that I personally don't think goes well together, but I'm sure with a ton of sugar, they're they're happy. We'll make it in our kitchen and ship it to you. We rolled that out during the pandemic, and it's been really fun to see people who are not able to visit Nashville still be able to participate.
And a great job and a team effort by Madison, Faith and Robbie on the piece. A special thanks to Laura Spradley, owner of Gugu Cluster, a third generation family business trying to stay relevant in current times and fun and meaningful to family's lives and to design your own Gugu Cluster and have it sent to you. You can go to the website Gugu dot com. That's Gugu dot com.
The story of the Gugu Cluster, a southern tradition, and many people around the country know it too here on Our American Story. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back.
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We recorded it at I heart radio's 10th poll event. Wango tango. Did you know that nerd tech ODT remejipants 75 milligrams can help migraines suffers still attend such an exciting event like Wango tango. It's true. I had one that night and I took my nerd tech ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends.
This is brought to you by nerd tech ODT remejipants 75 milligrams life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family, but thankfully nerd tech ODT remejipants 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango tango don't have to be missed. We turn to our American stories and up next, a story from the late Virginia Mancini, the wife of Henry Mancini, one of America's greatest film composers. If you don't know his name, you certainly know his compositions, which include the Pink Panther theme and Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany's. Here's our own Monty Montgomery.
They get us started with the story. American composer Henry Mancini was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 16, 1924. But that's not where he grew up.
Here's his wife, Virginia, or Ginny, with the rest of the story. Henry grew up in West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh, in a steel town, and his father worked at the Jones and Laughlin steel mill. And Henry had a very modest childhood.
West Aliquippa, you have to understand, is on the wrong side of the tracks. And many Europeans settled there, especially Italians. They were a very poor Italian family, and they were very close. And it was a very small town, so his life was fairly simple. And once his father realized that he didn't want his son to go to work in the steel mill, he turned him on to the flute, because his father played the flute, and when his father came down with the months in his frustration, he handed Henry the flute and taught him to play.
And they both played in the Sons of Italy band in West Aliquippa. So that was Henry's introduction to music, and he loved it. And there's a part in his history that talks about his father taking him into Pittsburgh to see the movie and the stage show at the, I forget the name of the theater, but one of the most popular theaters in Pittsburgh. The drama captured Henry in ways that he never realized because he thought the music was being played live behind the screen. And when he found out that it was recorded, he was fascinated with the whole way movies are put together and the music is there to create the emotional reaction that you're looking for.
And that fascinated him to the point where his instincts told him to just do what he felt like doing. Eventually, you know, he followed his intuition, and it paid off because once he graduated from high school, he had a chance to go to Juilliard and the music business. Mancini would also serve during World War II, where he'd make strong connections with fellow musicians, meeting members of the Glenn Miller Band. After the war, and when the Glenn Miller Band reformed Sands Glenn Miller, he'd become their piano player.
But how did Ginny meet Henry? It starts with American musician Melo Torme. I worked with Mel Torme for three and a half years, some of the most fun times of my young life. And when Mel was advised to go out on his own as a solo performer, I didn't know where my next meal was going to come from. So I got a call one day from a friend who said that Tex Benecke was out here with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and was going to be at the Hollywood Palladium.
And the vocal group that had been with the band decided to leave in Hollywood, and they needed a new girl singer. So I had nothing better to do, and I went down to the Million Dollar Theatre in downtown LA and walked into Tex's dressing room where the auditions were being held. And there was a tall, young Italian at the piano named Henry Mancini who was playing for the auditions. All the rest of the orchestra was out on the golf course, so he was a little bit peeved that he had to stay back to play for the auditions. I don't remember what I sang for my audition, but I did get hired, and never having been out of California before, I left on a train with 36 strange musicians for a tour for two months, for a tour across the country, starting with a week at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco. On the way to San Francisco, the young Italian piano player sat down on the train beside me and said, you know, I do some arranging for the band. Is there anything in particular you would like to sing? And it was October of 1946, and Nat King Cole had just recorded the Christmas song, the one that is such a standard today, Chestnuts Roasting on the Open Fire, that one.
It was about to be released, and it was timely, so I suggested that. Meanwhile, we're in San Francisco, and now we're on a tour for two months across the country. When we arrived in New York mid-December, I, who was really rather stupid about weather, arrived in a cloth coat mid-December in freezing New York City. At any rate, it was there that I heard what Henry wrote on score paper that got my attention. I knew I never wanted to be married to a traveling musician because I saw how hard it was on the orchestra wives. It was only when I realized that he had potential that I really sought his attention. And I, on one side of the stage, he at the piano on the other side of the stage, the band certainly knew that I had eyes for the young Italian piano player.
We began to go out to dinner after the job, and on our week off at Christmas time, I wasn't making enough money to fly home to California. So he said, I'm going to my home in Aliquippa, and you're welcome to come with me. So I agreed to go, knowing that would give me an opportunity to see what his relationship was with his mother. The only measure of a good husband was a loving relationship with his mother, and I had the opportunity to witness Henry's loving kindness with his mother, and I was impressed with that. When I was listening to Virginia Mancini tell the story of Henry Mancini, the world famous composer, and when she met him, he was a keyboardist piano player for a large traveling band, the old Glenn Miller band. They struck up a romance, and she got to take not only the musical measure of the man, but the character of the man as well, as she said, I had eyes for the young Italian piano player, but by invitation to his home, she was able to, as she said, quote, take my measure of a good husband, which, as she said, was his relationship with his mother.
When we come back, more of the life story of Henry Mancini, and in a way, the story of his bride, Virginia Mancini, and the story of a time in America, a distinct time in America, post-war America, here on Our American Stories. Doing household chores can already be time-consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back.
Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. Hey, you guys, this is Tori and Jenni with the 902.1 OMG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by NerdTech ODT. We recorded it at iHeartRadio's 10th poll event, Wango Tango. Did you know that NerdTech ODT Remigipant 75 mg can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango?
It's true. I had one that night and I took my NerdTech ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends.
This episode was brought to you by NerdTech ODT Remigipant 75 mg. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family, but thankfully NerdTech ODT Remigipant 75 mg is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. And we're back with our American stories and the story of Henry Mancini, the composer of such classics as Moon River and the Pink Panther theme, among other compositions, and it's being told by his bride, Virginia Mancini. We were commenting during the break about the fact that Henry Mancini came up and grew up in a steel town, and what a thing about this country that you can grow up in a working class town like that and imagine yourself to become, well, almost anything. When we last left off, Virginia Mancini, his widow, was telling us about Henry's early life in Pennsylvania and how they met after World War II.
Let's continue with the story. When we got married, I was making $36 a year on a 15 minute radio show. Henry was making $52 unemployment insurance, and we didn't have a care in the world.
We managed to pay our bills, pay our rent. I was still singing backup for people. One of them was Betty Hutton, major, major star at Paramount Studios, and she asked me if I would accompany her to London, where she was playing a month at the London Palladium, and she was opening on my first wedding anniversary. And she was offering me some good money. So I went home and I said, Henry, I would never do this except without your permission, but Betty Hutton has asked me to go with her to the London Palladium for a month. How do you feel about that? And he said, well, why don't you do that? He said, it's okay with me.
So on our opening night, my first wedding anniversary, a big bouquet of flowers came into my big tub of a dressing room, you know, washing tub. While I'm at the London Palladium, he has a gig at the Hollywood Palladium playing the glockenspiel on I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover. And he hated singing it. He didn't mind playing the glockenspiel, but the whole band had to sing.
I'm looking over a four leaf clover. And he would not sing. He would play the glockenspiel, but not sing. And one night the band leader saw him not singing, fired him off the bandstand right then and there. So when I came home from the London Palladium, he picked me up at the airport and I said, Henry, how did he go with the Hollywood Palladium? He said, I got fired because I wouldn't sing.
I'm looking over a four leaf clover. Anyway, that was that that was that chapter in our lives. In 1952, Mancini would join the Universal Music Department, where he'd go on to have a hand in working with the scores of over 100 different films. His time at Universal was like going to Harvard. Great training experience for him to be on salary and we knew we could always depend on a check at the end of the week. And that's where he got his training. He was working constantly on every film you can think of. And it was there that he meet Blake Edwards, an American actor, director, producer and screenwriter.
If you don't know him, he directed Breakfast at Tiffany's. Just by accident, Blake Edwards and Henry were on the Universal lot at the same time. Henry was there to get a haircut and they were about to have lunch and they met in the commissary. Blake happened to mention to Henry that he was about to do a television series called Peter Gunn. Would he be interested in doing the music? Henry, of course, thinking it was a Western, said, sure, why not?
I'd love to. He said, no, no, no, no. This is not a Western.
This is about a private detective named Peter Gunn. Well, that was a turning point in our lives because it became such a worldwide hit. And still today, that album cover is treasured worldwide. We had always tried to plan to go to Europe at some point in our lives. And we would say, one day we're going to go to Europe, one day we're going to go to Europe. And I said, Henry, I don't care when, but let's book it. Let's book it now. So we booked a trip from New York to Southampton on the SS France, first class all the way for six weeks. We had saved $6,000. So when we sailed on the SS France, it so happened that Blake Edwards and Maurice Richlin were writing a script on a story called The Pink Panther.
So they would be in their staterooms writing all day long. And at dinnertime, we would all converge at the dinner table for drinks and laughs and the rest of the evening. We were on a six week tour of every wonderful country, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden. We did it all in six weeks on $6,000.
Can you imagine? So while we were there, it's when Peter Gunn hit. And we knew that when we came home, we didn't have to worry. The first royalty check from ASCAP for Peter Gunn was $32,000.
We couldn't imagine having that much money in the bank. When Henry had an assignment, I used to hear him composing away upstairs in his music room. And it always sounded so beautiful to me just to hear the notes come out. Anyway, when he was finished with a segment, he would call me on the phone.
He said, you want to come up and hear something? And I was always the first one to react to what he had written. And it was mostly always, always positive. I love the experience of hearing what he wrote for the first time of anybody on the planet. And one song that Henry composed and Ginny managed to hear pretty early on was Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany's.
It's a song that's since been covered by Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Chevy Chase, Frank Ocean, and Morrissey of all people. But the song almost didn't make it onto the big screen. You know, when Breakfast at Tiffany's was finished, Paramount decided to take it to San Francisco to preview it.
And when it was over, we all met in Blake Edwards' suite in San Francisco to discuss, you know, what worked, what didn't work. And it was obvious that things that was a little long and there needed to be cuts made here and there. One of the suggestions by the head of the studio was that they cut the song Moon River.
There was such silence in the room that even Audrey took exception to that suggestion after having worked so hard to do it and learn it. And anyway, it definitely stayed in the picture, as you know. And thank God it did. He had a sense of melody that very few good musicians have. And Moon River, I do believe, will live longer, longer, longer than any of us. People will know that song forever.
It has a lasting quality about it that expresses everybody's feelings. Dan Sini would pass away on June 14th, 1994, at the age of 70, and Ginny adored every second of their time together. My life with Henry was such a joy because his temperament was so even. He would never get angry. He would always, he used to say, Ginny, when I used to fly off the handle, he used to say, Ginny, let four bars go by.
Four bars of music before you say anything, before you react. Anyway, he taught me a lot. He taught me a lot. My time with Henry was over much too early.
This year we would have celebrated 69 years of marital bliss. Unfortunately, I was not able to keep him that long. So I keep him alive through listening to his music all the time. He's always there.
He's always there. And a great job on the production by Monty Montgomery. And a special thanks to Philip Graham for helping us gather the audio for this story. And a special thanks to Virginia Mancini for telling her story and the story of her husband, composer Henry Mancini. And it turns out that Universal Music Department gig was life changing.
The story of Henry Mancini here on Our American Story. I know pet grooming, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
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