Saturday, October 25, 2014


There are all kinds of stories that pour forth when I ask TLW (The Little Woman) what kind of day she had when we are at suppertime. There are stories of happy events and favorite people who come in from time to time and like to deal with her, and there are stories about frustration and sometimes even a hint of anger.

I think of these stories she relates as Life’s Lessons, to be valued and understood and even to call upon if I’m ever in the Wanna-Be-Bank a Truss Co. There are things like:

1.     Never come in at 4:30 pm
2.     Try not to open a debit card
3.     Be prepared with all the paper work
4.     Don’t dare come in near her lunch hour

These are important rules and should be followed for a happy experience at the Wanna-Be-Bank & Truss Co.

The other night she “Had a young man come in” as she puts it and he wanted to open up some kind of account. It may have been a checking account and she told him he had to put a dollar into it to open it. He had no cash. This ‘Young man’ was walking around with NO CASH in his pocket and I could immediately see his wanting to be in a bank. TLW said nothing but reached in her drawer where she extricated one whole dollar that she found on her desk one day and didn’t know who it belonged to. You see, if it were me, and I found the dollar, under the same circumstances, it would have gone into my wallet! Chances are it might not come out in my lifetime, but in it would have gone in.

The ‘Young man’ never even said thank you as she laid out the buck for him, and she admonished him in silence for him, but not for me, I heard about it. Returning a few weeks later, once again in front of TLW he never offered to return the dollar, as he finished off his previous visit with her.

Then she went into another story I found interesting. It seems this elderly lady “about our age” as she put it was going to put $2,100 into her son and daughter-in-law’s account. There some kind of complications and she said…

Her: “So what do you think I did?”
Me: “Reach into your drawer and give her $2,100?”

The importance here is she gives me a blow-by-blow accounting of the transaction, complete with the type of account it is, leaving nothing to my imagination when it comes to the interesting world of banking, or in this case, Wanna-Be- banking. She has developed a following it seems, people bring her presents, books for me to read, yes, I even make friends with them, and candy and food. One night she came home with these bars of soap all arranged on a rack that looked like a display case on the back of my upstairs toilet! Her co-workers refuse to allow her to retire because she is their spiritual and moral leader, old pro and draws a lot of food. It’s good in the Wanna-Be-Bank & Truss Co!

Address: 1231 Taft Hwy, Signal Mountain, TN 37377
Hours: Open today · 10:00 am – 6:00 pm


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Friday, October 24, 2014


Recently on Facebook the social network thing, my amico Jimmy ‘Pants’ Pantaleno from Brooklyn posted this:

I saw a poster at the mall featuring a famous athlete urging kids to " outside at least one hour a day". Are you kidding me? Pleading with kids to go outside and play is a modern-day phenomenon in an age when they'd rather sit around on their butts playing video games, texting and watching that 52-inch TV. It's no wonder obesity: diabetes and even hypertension are very real health problems for the young. When I was a kid, the poster at the mall might have read "...please remember to come INSIDE once in a while for meals and sleep". The lack of physical exercise for kids today is appalling.”

This is NOT a rant but a truth! Look at your grandchildren, and if you are young enough, your children, are they falling into this pattern? Are they stuck in an electronic prison, destined to become slaves to these devices?

How many baseball mitts are worn out these days by overuse? In my childhood, and even in my son’s we went through a lot of mitts, not only from Little League, but also from the sand lots and empty schoolyards, the vacant fields and yes, even the street pavements in our neighborhoods.

Sneakers and shoes were thrown away not because they were out of style, but because they wore out from our feet in them constantly running and jumping.

One Facebook friend of Jim’s wrote: ”It's an entirely different world. Kids today have cable, cell phones, tablets, etc. We never had that as kids. The TV was never on during the day and besides, why watch it when you could go outside? Go play and run and jump and, and, God it was a great time to be a kid!”

Today, unseen correspondents do social networking behind a screen just as I am communicating with you now! The good is that the electronics are instantaneous, but the bad is far out-weighting the good, we can’t hold conversations anymore without looking into an electronic device, we can’t learn to read one’s expressions in conversation and of course there is NO body language to help guide us in seeking solutions to problems. My God, we can’t even walk down a street without seeing kids with earphones and I-phones being used as they mill about!

I would love to see some of the kids of today go on a nature walk, or just sit on a beach and take in the ocean and all the mysteries it offers. I guarantee you they will sit in the sand all right, but with their noses poking their I-phones and androids. They may or may not move in and out of a comatose state of electronics and reality. Maybe the new reality is electronics!

Address: 1231 Taft Hwy, Signal Mountain, TN 37377
Hours: Open today · 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

You should!



Thursday, October 23, 2014


If there is one place I hate, it is either Home Depot or Lowe’s.

Now I like a new hammer or a nice can of fresh paint, as long as it is in someone else’s hands. I have had enough home repairs through the years. I ripped out radiators, kitchens and bathrooms, converting them to nice new rooms and frankly all it does is bring back nightmares for me and in some ways: TLW (The Little Woman I swore a lot and she had to take the kids to her mothers).

The job I hate the most is painting, the moving of furniture, the prep work and then the mess of cleanup afterward, all make me miserable. I did so much painting throughout my life that it could reach from here to the moon and back. The first time I ever held a paintbrush in my hand, Dad got me up on a ladder in my Grandmother’s kitchen to paint a section of a wall. I was maybe 7 years old. Of course I spilled the can off the ladder and Dad got mad at me. I guess he was looking for a child prodigy in house paint.

Throughout my early teens from 11 on, I had to help Dad when he got these side jobs painting. Hated it all, especially on a rainy Sunday afternoon in a dark and dreary factory.

So recently I had to replace a back screen door. The door was rotting because it was in constant shade. Mold and mildew grabbed it and didn’t let go. So TLW announced one morning we would go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and buy a new screen door.

You know, when you get older, it creeps up on you, you have young eyes and a tired body, and mine is tired. The thought of doing this project was starting to bother me. The idea of my creaky bones nailing, sawing and screwing did not appeal like it once did. So I decided to hire someone to do the work.

As we perused through the screen door section of Lowe’s we came to one door that had a nice price and had different colors it offered. I loved the idea of maybe a beige door to go with the siding.

“Hey Toots, look at this, it comes in beige!”

“Oh!? We don’t like colors, we want white.”

“Yes, of course we do, foolish me, damn why do I go off like that?”

And so I have hired a gentleman to do the work, just like a Baron, something I could chew up in no time as a young lad I am giving off to someone else.

But getting back to Lowe’s or Home Depot, I would rather have a pork chop in the cheeks of my butt in a room full with hungry lions than go into that place, with the loud speaker, the noise and the constant walking looking for something they don’t carry anyway. Dante had his Hell and Home Depot is mine.

Address: 1231 Taft Hwy, Signal Mountain, TN 37377
Hours: Open today · 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

You should!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Did you ever have a day when you can’t think of something to say? You know, you go to a funeral of someone and don’t know how to comfort or present yourself to the survivor. Or you see someone who you promised to call and didn’t, and know you forgot to call? What do you say?

There were days when I sat down in front of my drawing board to design an ad or create some project, and all I can do is draw a blank. It made me uncomfortable. Well it is happening right now, I don’t know what I want to write about: my mind is drawing a blank. I do know that there is something I want to say, but for some reason I can’t call them up!

Writing a blogue is all about keeping a diary of sorts, recording what you see and remember, and relating experiences either past or present that happen to you, the writer. It is usually fun, and good way to get it all off your chest or not.

There are so many petty annoyances that occur that I could be here all day, but you don’t want to write about the same old things, nor does the reader. It takes some control to write these things because you don’t want to offend the readers.

Politics is taboo, as is religion, and sex. So your choices of topics can be limited, unless the taboo topics are treated with humor and consideration. Being how I have turrets of the brain I have to be careful, it just comes out of me.

I could quit writing, but then that compulsion overcomes me and there I am again, writing! Maybe I could use a break, and take a few weeks off, but I know I would have difficulty with that.

I guess I’ll just try to relax and not worry about it today. Thanks for your patience.

Address: 1231 Taft Hwy, Signal Mountain, TN 37377
Hours: Open today · 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

You should


Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Sam Levenson
Every now and then, I like to remember someone who has made an impression on my life and has honored me by allowing my being his or her friend. Such a person was named Bob and existed once, he was smart, logical and good, all the virtues we try to achieve, and owned one more we hardly see, honesty. Bob was a man who never bragged about himself, but he had a good homespun humor about life with the philosophy of a Sam Levenson.

Bob, Jeffry and Evy
Bob was like a Jewish mamma, he gave you the obvious and lamented the reality, always shedding light on a subject and making sure that morality held its ground. He didn’t use needless vulgarity, shunned personal attacks and lived like a humble man but owned a fortune in gifts from God. He had a wonderful and caring wife “Evy” and his son Jeffry, who seems to own his dad’s lust for humor and goodness. He WAS a funny man.

He could tell a good story, remember his past and past history, and always you felt like you were there with him as he related a story about himself.

What I remember best about Bob was two things, his dignified friendship and his love of his family. He was a family man who valued those who loved him and valued likewise their love.

In his later years I would pick him up at his home and bring him home because he needed a ride to work. I treasured those times and we would drive and talk about our past, his love of baseball and his good sense about everything he knew, touched or saw. He was special: he respected me as much as I respected him.

Then one day Bob was gone, and with him went a great person, so special that God called him in. I guess He needed to shore up Heaven, and Bob was the best fix. But he left a void in my life, just from a simple friendship! How was that possible? Yet his magic withstood even death, cheated it in fact, as he still lives on in my life and I think of him often. Thanks Bob, tell the big guy I did recognize goodness when I saw it.

Being Jewish, he was buried quickly and I went to the graveside with everyone who cared about him. The Rabbi asked if anyone wanted to say anything before we left, and I had so much I wished to say, but couldn't. I couldn't think that I would be able to interfere with the good memories we were all harboring in our minds and hearts, it just would not be good enough for the man.


Address: 1231 Taft Hwy, Signal Mountain, TN 37377
Hours: Open today · 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

You should!


Monday, October 20, 2014


Upon my elevation to: ‘most holy’ by joining the altar boys, there were certain schedules, and duties, not to mention monetary opportunities not to be missed, that presented themselves to yours truly. Mom had gotten overconfident that I was a sure thing and a shoo-in to Heaven once I put in my time, maybe even the priesthood. I was beginning to think that way myself: but had some reservations. Then I met this little gal in 4th grade and decided, no, I don’t want to be a priest. Coupled with the notion that my job here on Earth, God’s Earth was to torture my sisters, no matter where or when, I totally came to grip with the fact that I was not so holy, and enjoying every moment of it!

Around this time I was scheduled by the priest to serve at a funeral mass, and started to think that maybe this whole idea of being in God’s service was not for me. I mean, a dead body in the same room as me! I didn’t think so, and relayed this bit of information to Jerry, my best friend. But Jerry had a keen analytic mind and a sharp business sense, along with knowing something I didn’t: someone paid you to serve at the funeral masses! Wow! Money! Then he laid another bombshell on me-they paid you to serve at weddings also! This was getting heady now, and I could see myself arriving at these things in a chauffeured limo.

Every morning before school started, I had to be up early and down at the church to serve daily masses. I’d get on my bicycle and pedal my way to the church, do my duty and return to catch the bus in time for school. Mom made sure I was up and at ‘em, bright eyed and bushy tailed. But come a Saturday or occasional funeral mass during the summer, I was ready at the crack of dawn, figuring how much I could make. Then one day I got my first call, a funeral mass.

Pedaling down to the church, I lay my bike down and go into the church sacristy and peer out into the rows of pews, and all I can see in my nervousness was the dark church with burning candles and some people scattered throughout the church. It was dark and foreboding, creepy and sad, and I was about to need a change of underwear!

I don a cassock and surplice and join up with an Jerry and the priest and we go out to the altar and stand at the head of the altar steps as the funeral procession begins the sad journey up the aisle with the coffin, heading straight towards me, my heart racing and my eyes must have been bulging, as all I could remember was my first grade teacher, old Miss Langon laid out in her box one afternoon as I stopped with my sister to say goodbye to her.
I remember the last time I was at a funeral Mass, my first-grade teacher, old Miss Langon had died, and I went to the funeral parlor with my older sister on our way home from Our Lady of Lourdes School one afternoon. I went to the Mass the next morning to make sure that she was indeed dead and wouldn’t be yelling anymore, besides, I had to go because the school made us go. She was a cranky old maid about 150 years old, with a grey bun and thing legs in floral dresses. She carried a ruler around with her like a cop carries a nightstick, but used it more often on little first-graders.

Fortunately, the coffin along with the parade stopped right at our feet as we turned and the service began. All through the service I kept glancing over my shoulder, making sure the coffin didn’t move and that the box was still closed.

Finally, the Mass was over, as they led the deceased away! A feeling of relief and gratefulness came over me that nothing happened to me. Then this man comes into the sacristy and has this very macabre look about him, and motions us with his index finger to come to him. This was it! I was going to meet my maker I thought. Compelled I moved slowly, almost quaking, as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a white envelope and handed a few bucks to me and my partner Jerry! I had arrived and I wasn’t dying just yet!

Address: 1231 Taft Hwy, Signal Mountain, TN 37377
Hours: Open today · 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

You should!


Sunday, October 19, 2014


Growing up as a young baseball fan, I loved the Brooklyn Dodgers. To this day I can remember all the 1955 Dodgers, their numbers, positions and spot in the batting order. In those days there were two other baseball clubs that I hated with deep intensity, the New York Giants, the bitter rivals of the National League and the New York Yankees, perennial winners of the World Series. They were rich, could buy the players they needed when the occasion called for it and had a tremendous amount of talent!

The recent talk of “Core Players” that we hear about of the recent Yankees were nothing compared to the guys of the 1950’s. They had color and talent, interesting and well hated by yours truly, they made baseball in New York City and especially in Brooklyn: interesting.

Men like Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, Phil Rizzuto and: Yogi Berra. Berra was their catcher and a damned good one too. He could throw you out if you tried to steal, and he could hit, anything you threw at him, from the pitcher’s mound or from the parking lot or the overhead El out in behind the outfield wall at Yankee Stadium.A three time Most Valuable Player, and member of the Hall of Fame!

God did I hate to see him to come up against the Dodgers and when he did he usually caused damage. But he was more than just the enemy: he was a genuine gentleman, who could let it all out against an umpire. He was a family man who raised his children and stayed with his beloved Carmen until her last breath.

He was a sailor during the big one, World War II, fought on a PT boat and was at Omaha Beach, supporting the landing.

Recently someone or some group of low life individuals broke into his museum, something he was so proud of and stole part of his life away, MVP plaques, World Series rings and memories right from his heart and soul! Someone stole from Yogi! Someone reached out from the gutter and robbed the man, a decent man who gave a great sport some wonderful and colorful history to replay over a hot stove or even in our collective minds.

I truly hope they find the low-life bastards and maybe they will. After all: “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!”

The following are some of Yogi's famous observations on baseball and life in general:

Lawrence Peter Berra's Wisdom

"You can't think and hit at the same time."
"The future ain't what it used to be."
"We were overwhelming underdogs."
Reminiscing about the 1969 Amazing Mets
"If you ask me a question I don't know, I'm not going to answer."
"I wish I had an answer to that, because I'm tired of answering that question."
"Never answer an anonymous letter."
 When asked if he wanted his pizza cut into four or eight slices.
"Four.  I don't think I can eat eight."
"Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't go to yours."
"All pitchers are liars or crybabies."
"Slump? I ain't in no slump... I'm just not hitting."
"The wind always seems to blow against catchers when they're running."
"A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."
"Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical."
"Bill Dickey is learning me his experience."
"He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."
"We're lost, but we're making good time."
"I always thought that record would stand until it was broken."
"I can see how he (Sandy Koufax) won twenty-five games. What I don't understand is how he lost five."
"I don't know (if they were men or women fans running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads."
"If people don't want to come out to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?"
"I'm a lucky guy and I'm happy to be with the Yankees. And I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary."
"I'm not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did."
"In baseball, you don't know nothing."
"I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn't my fault that I'm not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?"
"I didn't really say everything I said."
"It ain't the heat, it's the humility."
"It gets late early out there."
--> déjà vu all over again."
"I wish everybody had the drive he (Joe DiMaggio) had. He never did anything wrong on the field. I'd never seen him dive for a ball, everything was a chest-high catch, and he never walked off the field."
"Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets and the kids out of the house."
"Nobody goes there anymore because it's too crowded."
"So I'm ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face."
"Take it with a grin of salt."
"It ain't over 'til it's over."
"The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase."
"You can observe a lot just by watching."
"You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going because you might not get there."
"We made too many wrong mistakes."
"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Address: 1231 Taft Hwy, Signal Mountain, TN 37377
Hours: Open today · 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

You should!