Wednesday, April 25, 2018


There are a few heroes in my life that I still keep close to my heart. One such hero from my past is my Uncle Frank.

Uncle Frank was the child of immigrant parents from Sicily, hard working Italians that knew nothing other than hard work and prayer, and underlining all that was family. They raised 2 boys and 2 girls, and from that grew a wonderful family and highly intelligent people. They were warm and welcoming people who, like all Italians, love everything in their lives.

Back in the day, when higher education was a thing one did not necessarily attain if one was from an immigrant family, Uncle Frank missed out also. He was a numbers man by nature and utilized his skills by working for the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a clerk. Then World War II began and Uncle Frank joined the army and fought under General Patton.

As the war progressed Uncle Frank was elevated to Corporal and fought his way through France under Patton’s leadership and by chance saved a cousin without even knowing it.

It seems his cousin Danny was fighting in the battle of the Bulge and was wounded and trapped behind German lines. Under siege, Danny’s unit was fighting for their lives and things were chaotic. Crawling from behind enemy lines, he reached US troops under General Patton, Uncle Frank’s Patton.

At the end of the war, Uncle Frank returned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and decided to go to night school to better his grade in his government position, and slowly worked his way up the various grades.

As a young child, would go off to night school, leaving me with the first impressions of how important education is.

Sunday, April 22, 2018


I awakened in the Meadowbrook Hospital emergency room, overflowing with people and crying babies, my foot twisted in an unnatural way and the pain so severe that I could only sweat and feel this intense need to kill myself!

Surrounded by a few friends, soon the doctors came in to reset the foot. Holding me down they twisted the foot to the correct angle and I yelled out so loud that I quieted all the screaming babies.

Suddenly I sat in the hall with the foot in a cast up to my hip. The raw pain still fresh in my mind, as my friend Phil had slipped by security and was standing next to me. By now the time was late Friday afternoon or early Friday night, the corridor darkened somewhat. THE ONLY THING I HAD WAS MY GOOD BUDDY PHIL, AND THANK GOD FOR HIM, HE WAS SOMEONE FAMILIAR IN THIS ODD WORLD OF PAIN AND CONFUSION!

They rolled me into this large circular room with beds lined along the wall, patents sitting quietly in their places. I fell asleep soon and about midnight I decided to get out of bed, cast and all and go to the bathroom. Aside from being born more than 22 years ago, this was my first time in a hospital. I had to go to the bathroom and so I swung my broken leg over the bed slowly, and as it descended down off the side, the pain became so severe I immediately pulled it back up.

The next morning I awoke and there in front of me was a candy striper, young and beautiful, cleaning the wound and asking me if there was anything I needed. What I needed was to pee, but I wouldn't tell her that. I ordered some breakfast and while she was gone, Phil comes into the room.

"Phil, I got to go real bad and I can't get this leg off the bed!"

"Why don't you use the bedpan?"

"The what!?"

"The bedpan."

Phil stops talking and searches the side stand for the bedpan.

"Did you ask the nurse for a bedpan?"

"No, it is too embarrassing in front of all these people.

Phil screams out to the center of the room…


I spent most of the morning hiding under the sheets. Being this was my first time in a hospital, I never knew there was such a thing as a bedpan, and now everyone knew I needed one!

Saturday, April 21, 2018


It was the first beautiful weather-day of the year in mid-April. No coats or sweaters or winter gear of any kind adorned either my classmates or me.

Attending my life drawing class that fate-filled day on a Friday afternoon, April 14, 1967, it was the last class and plans for the weekend would begin after class. Our instructor decided to have the class outdoors to take advantage of the weather and the afternoon sun was enough to warm the model. Spread out on the lawn of the Chateau that served as the art department, we had out our pads and charcoals ready to draw with.

Leisurely we walked from the lawn to the parking lot to go to my apartment in Hicksville to begin the weekend, I had hitched as rid from one of my classmates and we headed home. As we turned onto Old Country Road in Hicksville the traffic was heavy. The Friday night homeward traffic on a promising weekend made the trip home slow and inevitably long. Light after light we stopped and started again. Finally, we were in front at a steakhouse, the sun behind us. Suddenly the traffic light turned green once again and as we picked up steam a red pickup truck came out from our right and cut in front of us as he ran the light, causing my classmate to swerve to his right to avoid a collision. The reward for his diligence was a collision into a parked car instead!

I remember the swing of the red truck as it headed into the other lane and my going forward as we impacted with the parked car. Leaning back in my seat I thought that I was OK, nothing happened to me. Then I felt a sweat rolling down my forehead and as I wiped it I noticed it was blood.

Suddenly there was this immense pain coming from my right foot as I looked down at it. My foot was grotesquely twisted to the side, a bone sticking out from my sock. Then the realization that the engine was sitting between the driver and me! The windshield was smashed and people were coming over now to see what could be done. Soon a man opened the door, dressed in a business suit and leaned over me, using his handkerchief to wipe my forehead with the blood still rolling down my face. Right before I passed out, the ambulance was sounding its arrival.

Friday, April 20, 2018


James Manning 1910-1984
Today, 36 years ago, my father-in-law passed on to a better place, one of serenity and a final peace we all seek to achieve someday. So, on this occasion, I decided to visit his grave to get a physical sense of the man. It makes me feel closer to those that pass to visit the site and final resting place where they lay.

To me, it is important to do this because I feel that we can't live our lives without the reminders of those who carried us in their hearts and gave us meaning. We live our lives and don't always think or remember those we love even in their absence. We are locked into a never endless movement of our daily lives, without rest or peace. To not visit him would be to bury him twice, or anyone I loved who passed.

Jim was a man of peace, a man who fed into one's conscience with what he felt was the right thing to do, and he was always right. His heart was that of a good and decent man, who taught his children what was expected of them, giving them only the best he could do. Much of the gifts he gave to his children he gave at a cost, a deficit to his pocket and his health, always dedicated to his children. There was very little he owned other than his home and his love of family. 

He wasn't a big man, there was no bravado, no strutting or posturing, just a simple decency that prevailed in the air around him. So, why do I miss him? I guess it has to do with the dowry he gave me when I married his daughter, it was a lot, and it was his daughter.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


We spend our lives reaching for wealth at the price of our health, then, spend our wealth to restore our health.

Since I retired over 11 years ago, I have done some soul searching to try to understand the timeline I created, what it showed I value and what it says about me. Looking back I have no personal regrets about my values or where I am today.

As an older person, a senior citizen, I view my future in my memories, my children’s future as it unfolds and my grandchild’s future in my dreams. I think this is a process as well as a symptom of aging.

I made a vow that I would upon retirement read the books I didn’t get to, see the movies I missed, and find new things to do. I have invested heavily in my marriage to make it the best it can be, I have championed and supported my children in any way I can and will continue to.

So, I guess I want to leave this World in a little better shape than what it was when I came into it, and a little better shape then it is now as the days dwindle down to the end.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


I had many childhood heroes, mostly Brooklyn Dodger baseball players. They took me to a fantasy world where I stood side by side with Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese and Carl Furillo.

Later in life, I found new heroes, ones who needed no fantasy, just thanks. There was my Uncle Frank, who came home from the war as a corporal and went to night school to further his position at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

There was Aldo Monducce, a fellow who lived downstairs from me, who went to college and taught me how to catch a baseball. His parents were immigrants from Italy and to me going to college was a big deal that stayed with me for the rest of my life.

As I went on to high school, there were a number of teachers that I loved, Mr. Hall my social studies teacher, and Mr. Giordano my English teacher and advisor to my senior class, who got me interested in reading classics like the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare.

If we go back to my original heroes, there is one that I think I may be the original president of a fan club, that being the great #9, playing leftfield at Ebbets Field, the one and only: Gino Cimoli. Yes, this nobody, who came from nowhere, who did absolutely nothing, was my hero!

Why is Gino Cimoli, my hero? Because he achieved major league status, on my favorite team, and proved that mediocrity is contagious!

Monday, April 16, 2018


Funny, how when we lose our parents they never really leave us. All the years of parental love and devotion came in examples and sayings that seemed embedded in us.

Mom was a teacher, while Dad was more of a demonstrator. The difference was a night and day... Mom had things to say: “The way you make your bed, is the way you sleep in it.” To this day, although I understand the context, I still can’t see it in my mind! Every morning when I make the bed, careful to fluff the pillows, keep the sheets straight and the bedspread turned neatly, everything hurts when I got up!

Dad, like I said, was a demonstrator, which I quickly learned could be to my advantage.

“OK, now here’s what you have to do. Take the brush and dab it into the can of paint, don’t jam a whole lot of paint on the brush and gently dab it along the ring and apply like this.”

Out I go, and of course, my mind would wander, rather than just do as he said and get it over with, I would start out very slow, and sweep over the same spot a few times and outcomes dads.

“Give me that brush, Fongoola!”

He then immediately paints the wall, all of it, the other three walls, the ceiling and the next-door neighbor’s whole house, inside and out, trim and all, giving me a dialogue while he demonstrates the art of house painting. “Here like this, then you gather it like this and then…”

Mom never demonstrated, she took out a wooden spoon, which insured that I would do the task right, only once and to her satisfaction. Mom said Dad never listened to her, she was right.

When Mom wanted to discipline, she used “MM Gentle Persuasion”. One would think kind, gentle prodding, perhaps with a firm attitude. No: that is what I named her wooden spoon. She used to get my cooperation or attention with the instrument. I named all her wooden spoons through the years. There was; “The MM Kind and Firm”, one of her favorites, “MM Or Else”, and the ever-present “MM De-aggregator” and of course, the “MM Terminator” which lasted for a LONG time.

You must be wondering what the ‘MM’ designation stands for. It was my want to name her spoons like the US Navy named their ships. “MM” stands for “Momma Mia’s.”

Before she passed, I thought ‘Why not present her with an “Official” golden wooden spoon; just like the one I gave her for her 75th birthday, but with a Plaque with the inscription: “To Moms everywhere. For Pasta and Obedience, as long as both are needed. The MM Gentle Persuasion II. With Love While Still In Pain, Your Favorite Son.”

I was her only son.

To the day she died, whenever she bought a new wooden spoon, she would come to my house to hit me with it, just to be sure she had quality and hadn’t lost her touch, and remind me that I was not too big or too old to get hit by her.

Some of mom’s favorite usage of the King’s English to help me get on the same page as Mom:




And my favorite…