Monday, May 31, 2010


Today is Memorial Day, a day that is filled with sadness and reflection. Often we equate it with the dead men and women who gave their lives for this great country. I think it should be expanded a day more. It should be a two-day memorial for not only the dead soldiers and sailors, marines and air force men, but a day for the innocent victims of the wars, the children and men and women who lost their homes, their limbs, and their lives.

I think two days, because we can not diminish what the brave did, even the ones that survived the combat, whether in one piece or not, yet a second day points out the stupidity and wastefulness of war. The spending of lives, treasure, peace and good will that only war destroys.

Men and their ideology starts wars for mankind. It gets in the way of people living their rightful time on this earth. And what does starting war really accomplish in the end? Orphans, widows and widowers, pain and suffering, hunger and disease, the loss of one’s home: is what is accomplished.

Hollywood has had a tendency to glorify war, and most people that do glorify it, have never fought in one, they don’t know, it is not a child’s game. But it makes us child-like with fear. I see all the crosses at Pinelawn or Arlington and I think, is the cure for cancer resting under a cross? Is the cure for heart disease resting under that Star of David? What have we done? We have sent all the young men, with futures in front of them, to an early grave by old men with their futures behind them.

We as humanity should make it a law: you cannot be a politician unless you are a mother of a son under the age of 18 years old. See how fast we beat the drums to march, see how quickly we play the bugle to call for arms. I think there would be peace in this world.

words and music by Pete Seeger
performed by Pete Seeger and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

©1961 (Renewed) Fall River Music Inc
All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Way back in August, around the 17th, the idea of the reunion was born! With the idea came the responsibility of organizing it, and getting people to help me get it better organized. What I found was a revelation! People are really terrific, they will do what it takes to get things done, that they believe in!

My committee was all women, and they were as reliable as any man could be. I’m not a feminist or even a bleeding heart. I do believe that women should get equal pay, be respected for their brains, not their looks, and be entitled to all the things men are entitled to. A case in point to support those beliefs is the success of the reunion. Without them, and their spirit and commitment to the cause, no reunion is possible.

If you look at the results of World War II, and the immediate mobilization we went through as a country, those guys needed tools and weapons to fight a two-front war, and women of this country supplied them. They seem to always step up big time. Yet we seem to forget that sometimes.

I would not be here right now typing, if it weren’t for a woman, my grandmother, then my mother. One had the courage to come to this country, as a child, on her own, not speaking the language, and built a large family and business! When things weren’t gong well for my family, Mom stood up and raised us all (5 children) and none of us went to jail! And then there is TLW (The Little Woman), who raised her children, (all of us) under trying circumstances, and unfair burdens.

Women! In most family backgrounds, the mother builds the superstructure of family being, and the father takes the role of leader! The mother builds the character, and the father supports it. The mother creates the moral code, and the father adds the muscle. But in every case, the mother or woman supplied what is necessary, and in her own way, builds this great country of ours!

Not all women are successful at what they attempt. Some are indeed failures as mothers. It may not be their fault, but it happens. Men, on the other hand can claim an even less successful rate of accomplishment. Look at all the men in jail compared to women.

I have sisters who have children, and now nieces, all my sisters did a wonderful job, my nieces are following in their mother’s footsteps. Not all the ladies on the committee are mothers, and to that I say: “What a shame!” They are all good people that have the ingredients for great motherhood.

So ladies of the Bellport High School Class of ’64 Reunion Committee, thanks for a million reasons, for the 75 happy people that will share in the joy of the reunion, and for myself I say: I love each and every one of you!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


One thing TLW (The Little Woman) and I have is excellent credit. We take pride in paying our bills, and keeping debt down to the minimum. With excellent credit, it gives you as pass to the whole world of potential poorhouse residences!

Recently we went to Toyota for a car, the Prius, and we made all the arrangement with a lease agreement, where they, Toyota will pay the first payment due to an overlap with the old lease on the Camry.

We were assured they would make the payment and we left them with a new Prius and everything “under control”. Everything except Toyota is under control. It feels like we applied the brakes, and the car accelerated! (Where have I heard that before?)

So sure enough, we get not one, but two letters wondering where our payment was! WHERE OUR PAYMENT IS????!!!!

Where is their payment? Huh?

They were late on their own car payment! I called and told them that I was very angry, that my good credit would be harmed if they didn’t take care of the matter and they were responsive. I quote: “We’ll look into it.” I wonder if they have time, after all, they are looking into a lot of cars that don’t want to stop.

The next day I get a call from the salesman, a nice chap, one who used to take his mom to church every Sunday, then get abused by her ordering him around. A man I could trust. He said that he could assure me that the payment was made by Toyota. The day I called, they made the payment!

Well, Mr. Salesman is sending me a copy of the check. I hope a Toyota copy of a check can stop at my mailbox.

Friday, May 28, 2010


When I was a teenager and then in my very early twenties, my relationship with my parents seemed to change to one of a more adult nature. Mom had put away her wooden spoon, and Dad was starting to admit I was HIS son, too.

That was because I was getting to the point where they needed me more, and I was always available for them. Dad and I worked together, in the summers and after school, and Mom, who didn’t drive, always needed a ride!

Mom could usually be found in a state of hysterics, trying to stifle a laugh as I did different imitations of relatives on Dad’s side of the family, and tricks I played on him. Oh, she lived for the tricks I played.

One of my favorite, was taking my little sister’s doll and removing a voice activator that repeated what you said; back to you, in baby talk!

One late afternoon, right before dad came home from work, I set it up under my father’s kitchen chair where he would eat dinner. Mom watched with fascination as I took some white surgical tape and began taping the voice activator to the bottom of the chair.


“I’m taping this under Dad’s chair, and when he talks, it will repeat back to him.”

“Oh!” Then she starts to laugh.

Mom did housework, she didn’t have time to think of these things, I took it on.

Dad comes home that night, and Mom puts the dinner out, and Dad pours himself a glass of wine, and I start in.

“So Dad, are we working on Saturday?”

“As far as I know!”
(Echo repeats in a child’s voice.)

Dad jumps out of his chair and stands behind it, looking confused.

Mom is trying to stifle her laugh, choking as she does, and I look up and ask:

“What’s the matter?”

(Echo repeats in a child’s voice.)

Dad looks at me bug eyed.

(Echo repeats in a child’s voice.)

“Hear what?”

Mom cannot control herself anymore, and laughs out loud.

Dad is starting to get a grin that says it all:

(Echo repeats in a child’s voice.)

“Jesus Chr…”
(Echo repeats in a child’s voice.) Now I’m laughing harder than Mom, who is holding her sides, and I can’t even hear anything from laughing so hard.

“OK, what did your son do?”

I was her son to Dad when I did something unusual.

“Who, that character, what makes you think he did something?” She is laughing and can’t really speak her words well.

“Sure, and you helped him. That dopey…”

But Dad got his revenge one night. Mom had her TV shows, usually a comedy, and Dad had his shows, usually a murder mystery, they never watched TV in the same room. Dad had a remote that he used in the bedroom that operated the TV in the den also.

Mom was watching her show, and Dad struck, sneaking up on Mom, who’s back is to the doorway. Dad changes the channel on Mom! She doesn’t realize it at first.

Suddenly she realizes she’s been watching the wrong show, and can’t figure out how!

She changes it again to her show, and Dad waits then strikes again!

Now Mom is scared, and can’t figure it out still! Dad is getting his revenge, and happily so. Finally she changes the channel again and as Dad stands there with the remote, Mom catches his reflection in the TV screen, and gives chase.

Yes, my parents, acting like children!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Being how I like to invite people to write on my blogue, today’s guest writer doesn’t know she was invited! However, her contribution is more than I deserve, both on the blogue, and the reunion committee!

Recently, my old school mate of mine, Kathy sent me an e-mail that I want to share with you. I do this for three reasons:
1) It is very disturbing
2) I love you all
3) I’m too lazy to write anything today

Here goes:

Stella Awards

It's that time again for the annual 'Stella Awards'! For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on her and successfully sued the Mc Donald 's in New Mexico, where she purchased coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right? That's right ladies and gentlemen; these are awards for the 20 most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head. So keep your head scratcher handy.

Here are the Stella’s for the past year:


Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The storeowners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.

Start scratching!


Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.

Scratch some more...


Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count 'em, EIGHT days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental Anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish. We should all have this kind of anguish. Keep scratching. There are more...

Double hand scratching after this one...


Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella's when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.

Pick a new spot to scratch, you're getting a bald spot…


Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. What ever happened to people being responsible for their own actions?

Only two more so ease up on the scratching....


Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000.... oh, yeah, plus dental expenses. Go figure.

Ok. Here we go!!

Drum Roll Please!

This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down? $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.
Are we, as a society, getting more stupid...
or are more members of Congress serving on juries these days?

Thank you Kathy for that fine piece!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


As the reunion draws closer for the Bellport High School class of 1964, a lot runs through my mind. The days gone by have indeed passed me by. I think back to those days when we all wanted higher education of some sort, either trade school or college, and set a course for a goal. A noble goal for lifelong achievement was our purpose. As parents today, we supported our children in those same goals, and so did our parents for the most part support us.

But I keep thinking of some of the guys who didn’t make it to today, and what has happened to them. They too had goals like the rest of us. Some left high school and within days were dead for some reason or another. Car accidents, war, illness, whatever claimed their lives not only from them, but: from us. Whole lives ceased to exist, whole dreams crushed. Today, some of us are in fragile condition, the ravages of age, the time clock running out.

I have heard some really sad stories about my classmates, and God knows, I can contribute one or two myself, but all in all, I’m grateful to be alive, as I am sure they are. I guess it is time for us to be more accountable for our time, to God and Ourselves! It is also time to dedicate our lives to the enrichment of others, and to bring everyone closer as a family of human beings.

I have one wish, that every child on earth and every child yet to be, be born in love, health and happiness, never wanting of life’s necessities and pleasures, and that they live a full childhood with happiness and loving parents.

My other wish is to see that all children who are afflicted, are someday cured.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


It was 55 years ago I last saw him. As I stood in the entrance way to Takara Sushi, waiting, I saw immediately who I was waiting for, crossing over the parking lot and heading toward me.

I smiled to myself and wondered what should I say first, maybe: “And as I was saying…” no, that would be too funny, maybe, “Hey! Great to see you again!”, no too boring. As he entered and saw me, he recognized me immediately too.
“Mike!” was all I could get out! It must have inspired him, because he said the equally inspiring: “Joe!”

Fifty-five years is a lot of time. One would imagine the memory fading on any 64-year old! Funny thing is, we both remembered so much, particularly what the other guy forgot! We were up to speed, and running, talking is more like it, standing toe to toe, remembering great days gone by.

Mike never changed, he was as I remember him, loving to laugh and smile, and we had a terrific time. Closing the years and remembering people and places: telling stories and relating our histories, he began by asking if this should be like an interview process, and I thought, why not, we are interviewing our past!

I think everyone should reach out to their past, and get a view from another perspective of how one becomes who he/she is. We reshaped an old neighborhood, sometimes replacing it brick by brick, sometimes having to reintroduce someone else, but always focused on the innocence of childhood, and the marveling of who we are.

On Saturday, May 8th of this year, I wrote a blogue about Mike.

Thanks, Mike, it is great to be back in the old neighborhood with you!

Monday, May 24, 2010


The evening was getting late, and TLW (The Little Woman) still had work to do, and no tools! CLEANING OUT #2 SON’S DORM ROOM IS A MAJOR WORK.

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“Joe, you are going to have to go out and get me a broom and dust pan!” (This is not a time for witch jokes.)

“Yes Dear”

I start to think, I don’t know my way around this town, it is dark and it is all lonely country roads!

I get in the car and start to drive, all of a sudden I find myself on the Hutchinson River Parkway, going somewhere and I don’t know where somewhere is!

I get off the parkway and look for signs of life, there are none. There never is when I’m lost. I decide, I’ll call TLW and see if I can get some ideas. I take out my cell and call: I get the message center. I call #2 Son, the same thing! Then I realize, I have the GPS, so I punch in Stop and Shop, and the thing is giving me a (?). One after another:?? ???? ???

I start to cry for my mommy. But that won’t help. Dad is gone, so there is no point in crying for him. I type in SUNY/Purchase, and get something about 6 miles away. OK, I’m in striking distance. I drive some more and find a D’Agostino and go in, find a broom and dustpan for are you ready for this? $33.40! For that kind of money, they should supply dirt to come with it!

Being a victim of highway robbery, I throw the stuff in the car and drive off. Suddenly my phone comes alive, I take it out and answer it, and no one is there!

I get back to the college dorm, or the scene of the disaster, and climb the stairs.

“He’s back!”

Oh goody.

“What happened to you?” Inquires TLW.

“What makes you think something happened? By the way, my phone rang and no one was on the other end!”

“Oh, I tried to call you and my phone needs to be charged.”

We finish up the cleaning and pack the car, TLW in a very cranky mood.

As we pull out of the parking space, #2 says: “Oh, I almost forgot my phone!”

Back in I go, up the stairs he goes, on a rant TLW goes and I just sit there, listening and thinking, (This is not time for a witch joke). He returns and announces he now, at 9:45 at night, must return his room key! It is now becoming my turn to fume, get toxic and a little edge on. We drive to where he needs to go and he disappears for 20 minutes. TLW repeats some of her unhappiness, and I just sit there listening, thinking: (This is not time for a witch joke).

The long lost prodigal son returns, comes up to the opened window, out of reach of his mother, my wife, and to you known as TLW to announce: “Do you think I could get a slice of pizza, I didn’t eat yet?”

Off he goes, and TLW his mother, my wife, and to you known as TLW announces to me as he leaves: “I CALLED HIM AND TOLD HIM TO HAVE DINNER FIRST!”
(This is not time for a witch joke).

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Our hearts were thumping, we could hear and feel the pressure in our ears, the tension was so thick.

Slowly and with deliberation, we walked across the lawn toward the stairway that would take us to #2 Son’s dorm apartment at SUNY/Purchase. We were there to bring him home for the summer.

“Are you sure this is the right place?” TLW (The Little Woman) was apprehensive!

“Yes, don’t worry, this is it.”

Leading the way, we climbed the iron steps and once at the top, swung right to the last apartment off the balcony. The door was slightly ajar, and I knocked and gently nudged the door open.

“Come in” came a voice deep within the bowels of the place.

As we did, it looked like the opening of a CSI scene; the place must have been ransacked! There was stuff strewn about, limply laying clothing over arms of chairs, orphaned plugs lying about from wall sockets, and crumpled covered paperback text books, that looked like they had seen better days!

What deadly, ghastly act had been committed? What deed of fiendishness had been perpetrated, what acts of horror had been visited upon this abode?

TLW, taking short gasping breaths, looked into the small kitchen, wonderment ran across her brow, settling in her eyes, her hands up in despair, thinking: “What have they done to my baby?”

“I’m in here”, the voice called out once more, as we turned to the direction from which it came. We rushed toward it, after all, he may be tied up or bleeding, and we needed to get to him quickly!

Standing in even greater chaos, stood #2 Son, piles of clothing and books, and more electrical plugs in sockets! The two beds that occupied his assigned bedroom were without the mattress’ that lay next to them. Coins and papers were scattered across what floor space still existed.

I can remember once, when I was in high school, going to bed with a fever, and waking up in the morning, and seeing the shape of my bed from the twisting and turning of the night. That was what I was now witnessing, only thousands of times more! The sick feeling returning, we waded over mountains of debris, slowly lifting our legs up, desperately trying to move across the mayhem!

“What happened???!!!” inquired an incredulous looking TLW.

“What?” responded a matter of fact #2 Son.

“This place looks like a bomb went off!” responded TLW.

I thought, maybe he shared the place with a bunch of chemistry students, or this was an Al Qaida cell, and their plans went awry.

“Don’t do anything, I’ll take care of it, I’ll only be a minute!” said #2.

“Take care of what? They will charge you for leaving this mess.”

“Mess? I think it looks pretty good, we were cleaning all afternoon.”

“Are you the only one left in the apartment?” asked TLW.

“I’m not sure, there may be someone under some of this stuff, and will be leaving later.” responded #2.

TOMORROW: A Cry For Help.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I was talking to friend of mine who lost a child a few years ago. The child was a grown man, with a career, who loved his mother. After her son died, and she bent over from the punch in the stomach, she did something wonderful: she decided to continue to enjoy and live her life!

Some people take extraordinary measures to stay alive, even smile, laugh and have a good time once again. Having lost a child, I know what she did, and having lost a child to a mental disability I mourn everyday! One child has freed me of mourning, while reminds me that I have lost my star.

TLW (The Little Woman) is one of the bravest people I know. Like my friend, she teaches that with grief one must find grace, for oneself and for others. You don’t suffer from grief: you comfort those that suffer your grief.

It seems strange that death, so final does not hurt as much as seeing a child living a lost life!

May it be an evening star,
Shines down upon you.
May it be as darkness falls,
Your heart will be true.
You walk a lonely road;
Oh, how far you are from home....

May it be the shadows call,
Will fly away.
May it be your journey on,
To light the day.
When the night is overcome,
You may rise to find the sun.


I look around me and can’t seem to count how much I own. I can’t seem to put a sum to it all: the amount is so much! I add it all up: it is so overwhelming!

I’m not counting my money, or my possessions, but what I really own, and the reason is it is so hard to measure! Yet it is so important to me: that I wonder if I deserve it all.

There is a passion I have found in my daily life, one that is so strong, and I’ve growing through the years! That passion is coupled with joy, and a lasting sense that when I’m gone, I will have achieved what I needed most in my life. My wife and kids, my friends and neighbors, and especially the newfound friends of yesterday, all measure as assets, you as readers give me a joy every time one of you responds with a comment or email. It makes me feel good to help people that need help, or just a smile or joke.

TLW (The Little Woman once again demonstrates my luck, standing with me over a plant and flower sale. A son who calls and says things are going well, or one that calls and says there not! Either way he calls: and I am happy to know that. My daughter makes slow and painful progress, but everyday it is better.

I have friends I love, friends like Phil, who I’ve known for 46 years, and friends I’ve just been re-introduced to. There are now childhood friends I’ve found. I realize people don’t change so as they get wiser and smarter in old age!

I wish there was a way to thank all of you. But that would be impossible: the mere mention doesn’t do the joy justice. There is a great group of people that I work with on the Board of Directors, people that mean a great deal to the survival of my daughter, the fulfillment of her life. They fulfill mine too.

The High School Committee, have given me back a young spirit and a sense of love that binds us all together, makes our class special. You can’t buy that, manufacture it, or even dream it up!

There is the golf committee I work on, that helps to bring help and hope to people that need it, and don’t expect to find it. There are the people I found on the Internet fellow bloggers that have enriched my life considerably.

So what is it that I feel I own? The valuable friendship of people! Maybe I won’t die alone.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Went to see my conservative looking doctor today, and found a roguish chap, with all convention thrown to the wind!

Storming into the examining room, a paisley shirt, opened collar, chewing gum and his hair somewhat wispy and unconventional.

“How’s it going?” asked the good Doctor.

Overcome with shock, I mumbled a “er… uh Good, you?”

“Doing good, doing good.”

Either he’s been in the medicine cabinet too many times, or he’s gotten a girlfriend on the side, because this is one zebra without the mandatory stripes!

This is a guy who is NEVER happy, yelling at the nurses, complaining to me about insurance companies and his help, or at me for carrying a pound or two more than I did the last time. (It’s his scale)

Here is the other thing that is disturbing: he was EARLY!! Yes, I didn’t wait! I went into the place for a usual checkup, and leave with needing to be treated for shock! Usually, I wait so long, like last August, when I went. I had waited so long, I had to call TLW (The Little Woman) to bring me a coat and boots!

“So doctor, what did the cardiologist have to say?”

“Well he got a new set of clubs, and said to say ‘Hello’ to you.”

“No, I mean from the last visit I made there.”

“Oh, you have a small aneurism in your stomach, so we will watch it and see if it gets bigger. Other than that, everything is good.”

And so, in August I return for my annual physical, I wonder what he will look like then?

Thursday, May 20, 2010


We went to dinner one night, nothing fancy, just an over-priced diner. We were escorted to a table, and whenever we go to restaurants I get this fear that someone will annoy my dining experience. I’m usually never disappointed.

The week before, we went to this somewhat romantic place in that it was on the Great South Bay, overlooking a dock, with sailboats, seagulls and terns, and people strolling the beach. There in the restaurant was this little brat, who needed to make as much noise as possible. HE NOT ONLY ANNOYED ME, BUT TLW (THE LITTLE WOMAN)!

Anyway, back at the diner, we sit in our booth, where the dumb ass hostess decided to place us. The whole place is empty, where does she put us? Right next to this table of 5 cows that needed to have their families at home hear their conversations! (I figured Arizona, that’s how loud it was!)

Nearby was another couple that was a little older than we were, annoyed by the loudness of the conversation, like we were.

These loud “ladies” had no consideration for anyone but themselves, getting louder and louder. TLW was as annoyed as I was, the older couple demonstrated their annoyance by holding their ears and making faces.

Well, long enough for me into my dinner I decided to get loud.


The whole place becomes very quiet, including the heifers!

TLW nearly faints, saying under her breath “Joe, stop!”

“SORRY I DON’T HAVE ANY COLORS FOR ANY DECORATIONS!” (That was part of the conversation I could not help but overhear.


The older couple is now laughing, the old guy is giving me the thumbs up; the old gal is nearly rolling on the floor. TLW is starting to get the hang of it, a smile comes across her face, and she realizes the couple is in complete agreement with me.

What has happened to common sense and decency? Why can’t people be a little considerate? Do they think I want to hear their inane little chortlings and meanderings? Do they perceive themselves as important? Interesting? How about inconsiderate, stupid and dumb? That would be better as a description.

Am I intolerant, you bet your tookis I am!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Recently my good buddy Jim wrote on his blog ( about children going outside to play. I immediately think of the latest phenomenon “Play dates.”

Getting children together is now an appointed thing! You schedule his/her playtime. You work it into a schedule, and arrange for playtime.

Well here I go.


Mom was busy cleaning the house, Dad was working, and sis was with her friends, doing what I did, playing. Mom didn’t care what I was playing, as long as the cops stayed away, Dad could care less what I was playing, unless it was with dolls (toys).

“Come Algonquin, we have to schedule a play date for Tuesday next week. Let’s see, I can fit you in between your hockey practice at 2:00 pm, and your little league practice at 4:00 pm! That doesn’t leave mommy much time, but we’ll manage somehow. Make sure you bring your e-toys marked ‘Tuesday’ to play with Jeremiah!”


Two kids happen to see each other in school:
“Eh (They don’t really call each other by name now) Dude! I’ll have my Mom will call your mom, how ‘bout Tuesday, next week?”

That is probably the conversations you would hear today.


That was my mom speaking, 55 years ago, just a few days before Mother’s Day! She was always softening up before Mother’s Day!

Play dates! And you wonder why kids have such social problems today.

When I roamed the streets and alleys of Brooklyn, we found our friends and what moved us is what we played. Stick ball, stoop ball, ring-a-leevio, tag, red light green light, all this without equipment, without organization, without supervision! Just the code of the streets! We found our own fun, unscheduled by doting parents.

If a parent scheduled anything for us, it was usually a lecture on why I was sending mom to an early grave, how she prayed I would have children just like me, and that I should: “Be ashamed of myself”, look at what I was doing to her, and to wait until my father got home, for further discussion, punishment, and or a one-way ticket out.

Playing on the streets of Brooklyn or the sidewalks (concrete) was reserved for sunny days and the weather hovering at 32 degrees or higher, while indoors meant the hall or steps of an apartment, waiting for the rain to stop, or the temperature to rise above freezing.

Our toys consisted of sawed off broom handles for bats, rubber spaldeens (balls), sometimes found off of a roof top, which made them hard as rocks, marbles, bottle caps and skates, while sis had jump ropes, yoyo’s and hula hoops, dolls and skates! We didn’t own bycicles!

Fun was all day. Non-stop, we played until dark, when it dawned on us we had better check in with Mom, and do our homework!

So in essence what I’m saying is: we were independent, self reliant, and responsible for ourselves, and our amusements.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I was on my way back from a lunch date with a business colleague, when we suddenly had to stop in deference to a construction crew on the road. In front of me was an auto that must have been 20 years old! It took me back to my Dad, and his many clunkers that he took care of.

Dad didn’t have much money in the beginning, and always bought used cars. Sometimes I wondered if they were third-hand used. But dear Dad had a way of preserving things and his cars were important to him.

Dad didn’t like to waste things if he could help it. So, on those damp nights, with the temperature hovering around 32, Dad would keep the heater and blower off.

“Dad! Shouldn’t you put the heater on, the frost-bite is almost up to my tongue?”

“Nah: that would kill my battery! Besides, you should have planned ahead and taken a blanket with you!”

“But the windows are fogging over, I can hardly see and YOU are doing the driving!”

“You want to kill my battery? Here (reaching under the dashboard) take this towel and wipe the windows down while I drive.”

His windshield wipers would swing back and forth on rainy days ok, but they had the nasty habit of missing the windshield! To placate everyone’s concerns, he would announce how he would get new wipers. Of course, once the rain stopped, he would forget about it until the next rain, and repeat himself, to everyone’s satisfaction.

Dad had a spot for his car radio. It was where every car radio was, and he made sure he had one, too. Trouble was, the antennae were nowhere to be found! If you dared to reach for the knob to turn on the radio, he would intone with: “What do you want to do, kill my battery with that crazy music?”

Dad’s idea of a car wash was a good old-fashioned downpour! The seats usually had a hole in them with a towel covering it up. The tires were the ‘Yule Brenner’ model, and had as much rubber on them as a rock. Dad was poor, but he somehow managed to keep us all alive when he drove.

If you needed a ride somewhere, Dad never complained. It was cheaper than buying us a car. The gas sacrifice was a small price for what could be. Stopping at a gas station, he would order the unheard sum of “$2 worth regular” and NEVER and I mean NEVER said the words: “Fill her up!”

When he bought a new used car, he would proudly show it off to his old maid riders that he took to work every morning into the sweatshop where they all worked. They too were poor, and Dad felt sorry for them having to ride a bus everyday and pay that fare. So Dad would charge them $2 a week and pick them up at their door, and deposit them at the door that same day. Proudly showing off, he would point out the latest features incorporated in the auto industry design field, 20 years past! The ladies loved the “Latest” invention to their riding experience and graciously say: “Wow! Good luck Tony!” Dad was proud of his latest signs of success.

Dad didn’t buy a new car until in his late 60’s or early 70’s, right before he died. He only owned two new cars in all his life! Didn’t live long enough to run down his second car, and Mom sold it as almost new!

But Dad did raise 5 children on very little, two of us went off to college, with the help of self-motivation, and the want not to ride in Dad’s car if we could help it! Mom never got her license, claiming Dad had no patience to teach her, and I always wanted to say: Ma, forget the patience, he doesn’t really have a car to learn on!”

Monday, May 17, 2010


This spring required my presence up in Albany as a member of the NYSARC Board of Governors. It is a duty I execute faithfully every spring, and again in the fall.

All the statewide issues that involve some 58 chapters are discussed, along with the national trends and how they affect us all. It starts usually with a cocktail hour, followed by dinner, then a meeting that starts at 8:00 pm and continues into the night. Generally speaking, I am too tired after such proceedings to do anything but go to bed. The problem lies with the bar that stands between the conference room and my room, as I leave!

My two amigos: do not help the cause any, since we all agree a ‘night-cap’ would be appropriate to end the day’s proceedings. We all are ‘light’ drinkers, never in the dark, and take these things very seriously.
The drive up to Albany can be long and boring, except we laugh all the way up, telling stories and jokes to pass the time away. There are the two gentlemen I mentioned: Jim, a retired schoolteacher of high school English, and Ken, a financial expert with the old Morgan Stanley Smith Barney firm.

In our itinerary, we plan out carefully the road stops going and coming from Albany, this being essential since our heads are so full of NYSARC, we need desperate relief! So we treat ourselves to well-deserved rest stops.

The first stop going north is the Hickory House, overlooking the Mohonk Valley, (Mohonk means ‘lake in the sky’) under the mountains from which we can see an observation tower I once climbed to the top of. There on a porch, under a bright sunny and perfect day we had lunch, and continued our important talks. Highlevel stuff, you know.
Then after the meetings the next day, we check out of our rooms and shoot down to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, the new Little Italy, and stop off at Zero Otto Nove, where we partake in a glass of wine, a nice lunch, finishing off with a double espresso and canoli! Believe we are discussing important stuff (high level you might say)!
Then all three get calls from our wives, wondering where we are, telling us, as we can hardly think of food, that we have dinner engagements that night!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Farmville that is! I decided that electronic farming is not for me.

No, there are other challenges more pressing, and for me to wait around for a little cartoon character to plow, seed and harvest, milk a cow (Her name is Cowabonga) and shear a sheep, I could be doing something more constructive.

Like What?

Good question!

Maybe call an old friend, paint a picture or do a woodcarving, anything to get me away from this computer. It scares me that I need the computer for my amusement, too! TLW (The Little Woman): could use some attention when she is home, and even Happy, my dog could. But a cartoon character!

I get request for stuff I don’t own, I send things I never had, I get mysterious gifts and then send some, and I don’t even know what it is I’m doing!

I didn’t even plow my fields correctly!

So yesterday I made a whole batch of Chicken Franchese for my committee when they come for dinner some day. It will keep in the freezer, ready for action. I will even make some homemade pasta for that dinner, all while amusing myself without the help of Farmville, and the computer!

Actually, what is happening is: I am falling into the trap that everyone else is in, the computer and Facebook. The reason I went on Facebook was to gather as many people as I could find for my reunion I am working on. Someone recommended I try Facebook, since everyone is on it.

Yogi Berra once said: “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded!”

That is what is happening to me, I don’t go there anymore, because it is too time consuming.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


We boarded the Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach, California, and found our appointed guide for a walking tour of the ship.

Standing behind a Dutch door, we asked the tall gentleman if it was where we needed to be, and he gave us his assurance that it was.
The thing about Mr. James was that he reminded me of someone else I knew by the first name of Jim, the resemblance was striking, and I was willing to bet it was one and the same. Mr. James had a very courtly manner, and over stated diction, exuding each and every syllable precisely and clearly, in a slow deliberate manner.
His gestures were as over stated as his diction, giving the group of about 10 people a show within the tour. His knowledge of the Queen Mary was extensive, sometimes leading his group with a question to titillate and even entice!

As we progressed through the tour, he would throw his hand over his shoulder in a long sweeping arch like movement, saying: “Come, my famellee” as we followed him.

His voice rose to great heights and fell to great depths, all in one sentence, and the dramatics had us all on the verge of applauding after each performance. It seemed to me that he was more than a tour guide, he was a Shakespearean actor, trained to annunciate and articulate all of his words, not a letter being wasted.
As we descended into the bowels of the ship, he lead us to what people claimed was a haunted portion of the ship. Backing up that theory with tales that he experienced, Mr. James then played on our imaginations in his theatrical fashion, the possibility that someone was watching!

He took us to the main lounge, the smoking room, where the dances and parties were held. He told us about the many celebrities that traversed the decks and pathways of the great ship, all in his exciting and amusing manner. HE was worth the price of admission.

If you ever get to Long Beach, Ca., go to the Queen Mary and sign up for the tour, ask what time Mr. James begins his show. I TIPPED HIM AT THE END.

Friday, May 14, 2010


The Heritage Square Museum sat quietly in the California late morning sun. The temperature had been climbing all morning, and the soft breeze was the only thing saving the day from oppression.There, standing in front of one of the many houses preserved for its historical significance the Hale House, was a small group of people, one of which was the tour guide, a woman in her mid to late seventies. Dressed in a period costume dating to the 19th century, she stood out. Her wide brim floppy hat was an immediate calling to the past.
With the woman stood a couple in their fifties, and a Spanish speaking family of three, a grandmother who did not speak English, her daughter and her little granddaughter. The tour guide was precise in her diction as she was in her details. Speaking to a group of people as she was used to, she gave us a very detailed and interesting rundown of the territory, the house, and the Heritage Square Museum. She was not to be trifled with!

The little Spanish girl did not particularly want to be there that day. No, her calling was to some far away amusements that only an eight or nine year old would find interesting. What she saw before her was a large amusement area for her to run around, roam, and touch, to fill her time, all the things that the tour guide would find irritating, and would not stand for.

The tour guide did not waste time!

“Please hold all children by the hand” was the stern admonition tossed to the Spanish mother. The momma did not hear the tour guide, and so we set off to tour. The battle lines were set!

As we went into the first building, we were asked NOT to touch anything, and to please keep an eye on our children at all times. Being how #1 Son had joined us, I decided even at 37, we would keep an eye on him. This tour guide was budding into a full-grown witch!

The little girl started to drift, slowly at first, like an untied rowboat from its moor, just a little at first, then: far enough to raise the old gals cackles. The mother was busy giving a translation in Spanish to the grandmother, so was unaware of her little girls antics. I watched the drama with amusement, waiting to granny sweet pants to blow like Vesuvius. I was not disappointed!

“PLEASE DON’T ALLOW THAT CHILD TO TOUCH ANYTHING, AND PLEASE HOLD HER HAND!” The order was sharp, crisp and without hesitation. Problem was that the mother interpreted that also, waiting for the next sentence, then realized what was happening, and suddenly didn’t understand English anymore! This was getting good!

The next stop we found ourselves in a home with a lot of antiques, and other valuable playthings for the little Spanish girl, as she joyfully bounced around the room, touching, feeling, squeezing, the old lady’s patience that is!

“PLEASE HOLD THAT CHILD’S HAND!” Granny implored in desperation. She was not mincing her word, she was clear. HMMM I thought, maybe a catfight would erupt, or at least a decent hockey game with the gloves off!

To my great disappointment, the mother was not cooperating: she was now talking to her daughter in Spanish not to make the old lady crazy.

Oh, did I mention the couple before? You know, the one in their mid fifties? Well, it turns out, the wife liked to talk, would conduct her own side tour with comments on her experiences, and how they will all make my life more meaningful from her experiences. Granny sweet pants made mention of the wallpaper, but chatterbox was speaking over her to her husband. Granny didn’t like that! I thought: “Thank you God! You didn’t forget me! What will it be: that cat-fight you promised me back there in the other room?”

Granny became annoyed. Really annoyed! Boy, was she annoyed.


Gosh, I was having a grand time!

Then the final moments of my amusement came. Along with Granny was a second tour guide, a gentleman wearing a cowboy hat, boots and a pistol, dressed along with Granny sweet pants to lend a sense of the period. Cowboy Bob was intent to conduct HIS own tour. At the drop of a hat, he would go into the explanation of the hardware, the wood or anything Lowes and Home Depot could sell, often as a follow up to Granny, but more often than not, talking over the old girl.

Old Granny was getting mighty sore by now, her fists were clenching and her jaw was being set. Gun or no gun, Cowboy Bob was not going to encroach on her show!

Was this the fight? Would we see fisty cuffs in the grand old tradition of the wild, Wild West?

Alas (a little Shakespeare I use), it was not to be! Granny folded like a cheap accordion!

The little Spanish girl was happily sitting on a sign that said: “Do not sit” and the couple were talking to each other about rudeness and how it is so difficult to make a difference in people’s lives.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


If you hang around with me long enough, something is bound to happen. If you travel with me, it seems to get on a plane and follow me, it’s bags packed, ready for by boo boos.

My recent trip to California, and the Huntington Botanical Gardens was no exception.

The Huntington Botanical Gardens is a lovely place, filled with beauty beyond description, and beyond ones wildest dreams of a nature trail, with its cacti and Japanese and Chinese sections.

But a long day in the gardens does mean a break on occasion, and that is what TLW (The Little Woman) and #1 Son and I decided to do. We came to a rest station in the Chinese Gardens, where there is two multi-sex toilets for one. TLW went into one, and the other one was occupied. I waited outside for the other to empty, and it never did. I was doing a great dance, almost mimicking Gene Kelly in ‘Singing in the Rain’ where he dances with a light pole and an umbrella. The other party never comes out!

Finally TLW reappears and I rush in.

As I stand facing the wall, thinking about my dancing I hear the door open! I forgot to lock the door! There standing in the doorway, staring at me is a little old lady. Her eyes are bugged out: my mouth is wide open and my eyes bugged out in shock. I literally drop what I’m doing.

She goes running out screaming: “It’s OK. It’s Ok!” She stops and tells her husband: “I walked in on a man in there.” “Well, he should have locked the door!” Shut up old man.

Slowly I recover and gingerly walk to the door, open it and peek out. “Good”, I think to myself, TLW and #1 Son didn’t witness anything. Relieved, in more ways than one, I turn the corner of the public rest rooms, and there I see TLW and #1 Son, rolling in hysterics.

They knew what happened!

“Why didn’t you guys stop that lady???”

TLW: “Well, she reached for the door and as she did, I tried to say something, but the words didn’t come out!” That was said in between giggles at my expense!

God I hate when that happens!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


No, I’m not into terrorism: I’m talking about my Fund Raising Committee. They may have passed on, and forgot to lie down!

It seems that they are all over 65 for the most part, and can’t get started! I ask for someone to take on an idea, to investigate what it will take, to do it, say a bus trip to Yankee Stadium to visit Monument Park, with a game including lunch, and they all look down on the floor, no eye contact!

I get the sense that the people are afraid to do anything outside of what they know. If that is the case, then why show up? I think my mother at 92 could do more for me than these stick-in-the-muds.

It’s like I was made General of the Army, except they army consists of ‘F’ Troop, those whacky soldiers in the 1960’s TV comedy!

They seem vital: it is just that inertia has set in.

You know that old saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”? Boy is that ever true! I’m almost their age, and I still got a whole lot of life in me, and dammit, I will use it. How do people retreat into oblivion? How can they let themselves disappear into the woodwork, and not do something productive with their lives?

My Golf Committee is a younger group, and they are all gung-ho, while the fundraisers are all tired, and afraid to step forward!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


The other day we picked up TLW’s (The Little Woman) new Prius, and let me tell you, innovation has gone a great distance in the last few years! The car is amazing! First and foremost, you don’t always drive on gas, it operates on an electrical system, saving me, and TLW a lot of tank money.
It tells you the road conditions, simple push button controls and smooth ride. The inside is like a jet fighter, with controls coming up to you and next to you. The console sits high off the dashboard, so it will make it impossible to grab TLW’s knee! The cockpit features everything at your fingertips.
Now, for the height of marveling, it has NO, (Yes, NO) key!

You must be thinking: “Surely Joe Bob, you must be jesting!”

Two things I say to you.

1) Don’t call me Joe Bob

B) It works on sensors, which never leave your pocket! It automatically opens your car doors (well, not yours, the Prius), starts the car by just stepping on the brakes and hitting a power button, and automatically locks the doors, and the sensor never leaves your pocket!

Now with a GPS, you never need to wake up while driving, you can continue your beauty rest at your own pace, while in the HOV lane! By yourself no less!

TLW, is a little cheap sometimes, I like to get her everything, it is her car, not mine, and she is always practical. That is why I’m not in the poor house. I wanted to have a GPS installed, and she refuses! We have a portable one we both use, so she feels we don’t need it. (What a good wife!)

So what happens as we drive away from the dealer? She asks me to drive it! She is afraid of it! She’ll get used to it, but while I drove it, I could have put on any switch I wanted, and she would not have adjusted it, because she didn’t know how!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Or Mom.

Yes, just when you thought we were done with mom, the next day is her birthday! Many a year her birthday fell on Mother’s Day, and so I always thought I had an extra special mom.

Mom had a simple philosophy with raising children. “Do what I say, or else!” That was #1 on her hit list. Her hit list was when you broke a rule of hers: you got hit! She had a philosophy similar to Teddy Roosevelt that went: “Speak sternly and carry a big wooden spoon!” OK, she WAS tougher the Teddy!

Mom had patience, often teaching me that. “Wait, just wait until I get my hands on you!” or the equally effective: “Wait, just wait until your father gets home!”

As I mentioned before, I never really knew what mom looked like until I went to high school one day, and when I came home, she was in a good mood and I actually could see her face! All I had ever seen was a finger pointing down at me! Yes, she looked like a pointed index finger!

But there is another side of mom that I don’t ever forget. She really is very cheerful, and has infected us with her optimism. Often she would just break out in song, sing all the old ditties, which I now remember so well. She is quick to laugh at a joke, whether it is about herself or anyone else.

And of course, she could cook! She really can bring it home! Mom doesn’t cook anymore, she is 92 today, but she put enough food in our bellies as children that will sustain us for the rest of our lives.

We were never too sick as children, since her medical advice was quite simple: Take an aspirin and go to school, you’ll be fine.


Sunday, May 09, 2010


It’s been a great many Mother’s Days that I’ve celebrated! It seems like only yesterday when we walked together along Stone Avenue in Brooklyn and bought a box of Halloween cupcakes from that bakery on Broadway! It was a cold day: you wore your fur coat, and looked so pretty.

And I remember those Sunday mornings, when you cooked those delicious Italian dinners for us, the smells of the sauce, permeating through the flat across my nose, waking me up for Mass.

I can still see myself, coming home from school, probably slamming the door behind me, excitedly screaming out: “MOM, I’M HOME!”

When as a child and having saved $10, a Godly sum for someone 11 or 12 in those days, traveling to Patchogue to the pharmacy, and spending $4 for you, $2 for Dad, and a buck each for the girls for Christmas presents! You always got the most. (Poor Dad!)

Those Friday noontime lunches, when we came home from school, and you had just washed the floors, the newspapers still on the floor, and the house always smelling so clean!

And how could I forget when you sang as you cleaned, songs I learned from you, and when I hear again, I think of you.

And all those Christmas Eves, when you returned from mid-night Mass and found us up and playing with our toys that Santa brought us, and you yelled: “What are you doing up?” Then let us play.

All those remembrances were really the Mother’s Days: days that belonged to me, they were because of you. Maybe Mother’s Day should be every day.

You know Mom, there are Moms out there that weren’t as lucky as you! You at least have all your children, alive and maybe not so well as we would like to be, but here, none-the-less. I know of Moms, that are just as loving as you were, who had the pain of losing a child, and I wonder why. Moms like TLW (The Little Woman), and some of my beautiful nieces, who once were babies in my arms, now mother’s, suffering from lose of a child or the pains of developmental and psychological problems of their children.

There are moms out there who suffered themselves, who as children felt the ugly sting of unloving parents, children who were abandoned, forgotten and even both physically and sexually abused! Yet, as mother’s, they loved and nurtured their children. Why, because they’re Mothers in the true sense.

And yes, there are mothers who are abandoned, and feel the loneliness of abandonment by their children! These are the mother’s I pray for.

So Ma, to you and to TLW, to my beautiful sisters, nieces and sisters-in-law: to all mothers everywhere, Happy Mother’s Day!

Somebody said it takes about six weeks to get back
to normal after you've had a baby..... somebody
doesn't know that once you're a mother,
'normal' is history.
* * *
Somebody said you learn how to be a mother by
instinct ... somebody never took a three-year-old shopping.
* * *
Somebody said being a mother is boring ....
somebody never rode in a car driven by a teenager with a driver's permit.
Somebody said if you're a'good' mother,
your child will 'turn out good'....
somebody thinks a child comes with
directions and a guarantee.
* * *
Somebody said you don't need an education to be a
mother.... somebody never helped a fourth grader
with his math.
* * *
Somebody said you can't love the second child as
much as you love the first .... somebody doesn't
have two children.
* * *
Somebody said the hardest part of being a mother
is labor and delivery....
somebody never watched her 'baby' get on the bus
for the first day of kindergarten ...
or on a plane headed for military 'boot camp.'
* * *
Somebody said a mother can stop worrying after her
child gets married....somebody doesn't know that
marriage adds a new son or daughter-in-law to a
mother's heartstrings.
* * *
Somebody said a mother's job is done when
her last child leaves home....
somebody never had grandchildren.
* * *
Somebody said your mother knows you love her, so
you don't need to tell her....
somebody isn't a mother.

Saturday, May 08, 2010


Recently I found a childhood friend of mine from Brooklyn, who I was searching for, for years. Turns out he was right under my nose, but I would never have known!

His name is Mike, and he lived next door to me. He related to me a story about himself recently that I would like to share. It occurred as a child, and you can reference an old blogue: Monday, May 08, 2006. In it I wrote:

“One day my friends and I decided to raid the produce stand so we could play sword fighting. Sloppy John had crates and bushels he would discard along a wall in front of his store. The tops of the bushels were round which made for great shields, and the crates provided us with our swords. When we raided, we realized there were no crates on the sidewall, but were all stacked inside the store. We ran into the store, grabbed what we could, and continued to run out the store. Well old Sloppy John, comes out after us with a broom in his hand, and throws it like a spear, and as I’m running by the scale, the broom flies through the scale! Seeing that he was such a great spear thrower, we decided to test him again, ran by the second time as we usually did, and Sloppy John was waiting for us! As we flew by like wild Indians, out comes this big old Irish setter; that begins to chase us down the block and around the corner. Never owning a dog, we all were scared silly, and headed for our stoops and hallways. Unfortunately for me, I trip on the sidewalk, and the dog catches up to me. On my back, pinned to the ground by his front paws, tears streaming down my face, thinking I’m going to be eaten alive, the dog is licking my face!
Then just like that, the animal just sprints away, and my sword fighting days were over.”

“Giovan a vadende” is as close to the dialect I can go to describe how we referred to the owner of a certain vegetable stand around the corner from us. He was a crotchety Old Italian who worked very hard to support himself and his family. The vegetable stand was always a mess, but the veggies and fruit were always fresh. The neighborhood all referred to him as: “Giovan a vadende” (a form of sloppy John which does not translate well because of the dialects that butcher the language). As children, this disrespect for the man went un-noticed, and taken as truth! That was who our parents said he was, we believed our parents, and they always referred to him a Giovan a Vadende.

One day Mike was sent to the vegetable stand by his mother: for a head of lettuce. Walking into the store, he approaches the old man and pronounces: “Mr. Vadende, I need a head of lettuce!”

The old man looks at him in a simmering rage and then explodes, sending Mike through the doors at the speed of light!

Friday, May 07, 2010


Well we set out for California by arriving at JFK airport. After parking the car, we head into the terminal and I decide to check in the bag. Being it is only one bag, and the fact that we had our boarding passes through the miracle of the computer, I head for the kiosk.

That is a mistake when with TLW (The Little Woman), who promptly stops me.

“NO! We don’t want to do that, we have to go over there and check it in!” says the boss.

“But we can check it in here!” states the follower.

“No, no,” she states once more.

I follow (blindly, that is what husbands do if they want peace.)

I toss the bag on the scale, and wait. 46 lbs. the scale reads. The agent records the weight and starts to look at my driver’s license, then TLW’s. As we wait for the agent to let his fingers dance across his keyboard (It looked like he was playing solitaire) the agent next to us casually places her foot on the scale, bringing the weight over 50lbs! (That’s $50 more!)

TLW starts to get antsy, jumpy and downright concerned, all the while I knew it was nothing.

“Are we over 50lbs?” she breathlessly inquires.

The agent smiles and says, no, we are under.

I laugh at her ((but I back away from her reach) and the agents laughs too.

“No, she has a tired foot.” Replies Mr. JetBlue.

As we leave the check-in we pass the same kiosk as before. TLW stops and looks at the kiosk and makes an announcement: “You can check-in your bag at the kiosk, Joe, you were right!”

“Now will you say ‘YES!” with the same forcefulness as you said ‘NO!’?


Thursday, May 06, 2010


Are the things that I can’t do!

Sing, jump high (I’m a white man), and spend a million dollars.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can sing, just when I’m by myself, in the car, with no one to really appreciate it. I sound like Sinatra, or Pavarotti, or even Petula Clark. (I slipped off the pedal of my bicycle once and I let out a yelp, swore I heard Pet Clark!)

Some of my greatest performances occurred while doing 80 on the 495. I’m telling you, I’m good. When it comes time to sing in church, I start to lower my voice, lower and lower, until I’m whispering the music! As I sing I wonder, who hears me, and what are they thinking about how bad I sound? Is that guy going to turn around and say: “Please STOP! I’m begging you, if you love God, please stop singing!”

Jumping is another story. It seems that every parade I ever attended voluntarily, I miss! Seems all the tall people need to be up front, while shorter people have to bounce up and down, trying to catch glimpses of Old Glory as she waves by.

Going to a ball game, I suddenly find myself behind the stander, the turkey that needs to stand up to watch the game, after every pitch! Usually, he is standing like a statue, right as the key event or play occurs, as the crowd goes nuts as to what they had just witnessed! Of course he needs to purchase more food for his fat kids, and maybe his Mamma, this means standing, reaching into his pockets for a wallet or money, where he lingers, his hands down deep, as he feels for the ones from the fives!

If I could just jump high enough to see what’s happening.

Spending a million dollars is a whole ‘nudder’ story!

There are many things I could spend money on. There are a few Italian cars and suits I could buy. A few homes come to mind, and of course, that Rolex I would never wear. Just a few of the things I dream of buying. But would I really buy those items? Probably not, what would I do with the money you ask? No you don’t you are thinking what YOU would do with the money. Well, this is my blogue: I spend it my way.

In all likelihood, TLW (The Little Woman) would get it all! Well, most of it, I’d put some of that aside for my three kids, that would make me very happy.

As for me, I would get a new recliner, and a new laptop, and I’d be happy.
After all, TLW will spend it!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Or what’s the matter with the heart.

I went to the Cardiologist for an abdominal ultrasound. Of course there is no food or drink three hours before. So what happens? I get a business breakfast I have to go 4 hours before. I just make it under the wire, the final burp with seconds to go!

As I lay on the bed, being poked once again, the techno asks me if I have a stint in my heart.

“Do you have a stint in your aorta?

“No, is one missing?”

She looks at me cross-eyed and sticks the probe even harder!

I ask another question.

“Didn’t we do this last week? It is the same room, same machinery!”

“I doubt that since only I give this particular scan, and I was in San Diego last week.”

“Is that where I was? Goes to show you, I always need that darn GPS!”

Again she challenges her eyesight.

One of the things I don’t like is silence. That silence comes across loudly when the people checking you out don’t say anything, just knit their brow, look hard and ask questions, leaving you to possible heart failure for fear of what you may have!

“SOOO… how’d I do, good, huh?”

“Your doctor will contact you next week with the results.”

She said that like: “I before e, except after c when sounded as wait and not telling you a damned thing!”

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Yes, she no longer can hold it in, can’t move very well, has a hard time standing and walking, and is starting to have accidents! To top it all off, she is deafer than her owner! Happy, my Cocker Spaniel (Who only barks in English) is aging.

Sleeping all day, the only exercise she gets is moving from one room to another to sleep some more. She is only eating once a day, and hardly bothers to beg! Rarely does she walk anywhere, and comes right in after doing her business outdoors. (When she isn’t doing it indoors)

There was a time once long ago, when the whole house was hers. She could climb the stairs, run up and down, bark at people like she meant it, and be the biggest pain-in-the-neck alive! Now, she could give a toot. She used to watch and hear strangers outside, and start yapping away. Now, she looks, growls a little, in a sleeping position, like; “You know what I mean” growl, and goes back to sleep.

We used to be best buddies! She would jump up on my lap and sit there, until my legs fell asleep. We used to go for walks, or rides in the car, and she would look all around, saying, or so it seemed: “Look world, I’m out with Daddy!” Now she slouches and shivers if I take her in the car, like we are taking her somewhere she is afraid of.

I am starting to feel lonely now. I swear I’ll never have another dog, once she is gone, but I wonder. Happy is like a child to me sometimes, and sometimes like an old lady. It pains me to see her like the way she is. I hope she goes quietly and painlessly. I hope I don’t see her when she does, but hope I’m there for her. It is very mixed up!

Monday, May 03, 2010


I lay awake and it is 3:00 AM! There seems to be a lot of activity in my mind, as I think ahead. A lot of issues are pressing me, and I’m wondering what to think about first.

As I twist and turn, it occurs to me that I have to say something on behalf of my high school committee for the tree memorial we are planting the day before the reunion on the school grounds, for those who have died and to remember that terror filled day on March 8th, 1964, when our high school burned to that very ground!

I start to formulate what I want to express, and it sounds good. So good in fact that I am compelled to jump up and go into my office to write it down.

There is a very beautiful rendition of Il Silenzio that I keep hearing in my mind, and I wonder if it would be too much. I wish it were later so I could play it.

As I hear the music in my mind, I start to think about those kids. They started to pass on, just out of high school? The Viet Nam war, car accidents, all so shocking, all so final, in so short a span of years! Young lives that did not see the fruits of their education, the joys of their relationships, the meaning of their friendships, and what impact that would have on so many lives.

Then it occurs to me, we had other reunions, where kids attended as adults and more of us were missing. More than we cared to know. And now, almost 50 years later, even more, and yet we are not even sure how many!

What makes some of us continue, and some of us not see the future: as we should? It makes me ashamed of myself for any time I wasted in my life, and anyone else’s time I may have wasted.

It is funny, or strange how well I can picture those that have passed on. I can see them clearly in my mind’s eye, can feel their presence, their voices sound in my mind like they are next to me.

There was a wonderful gal named Lillian. Lillian glided through the halls with a soft smile on her lips and a merriment in her eyes, a sweet smile from a sweet gal, never more.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


“Rafiello” she called him, and when she did, he just groaned. He was a simple humble man, who knew no pretense, and enough sense to keep out of my grandmother’s way when she had something that needed to be done!

He was actually my Dad’s stepfather, having served in the US Army in World War I with my real grandfather, who had died from the Spanish Influenza! Grandpa Ralph, or “Grandpa” as we called him, married my grandmother, who was left with three children in a shack in Rockville Center, where dad was born.

He took on the mantle of fatherhood and with another child he had with my grandmother, raised them all as his own.

Having inherited two sons, he was quick to administer discipline, and it was usually ferocious. Some might say mean, but in the end, it all made some sense! Running the fruit and vegetable store that my grandmother owned, he expected the boys to help out. They would have to go down in the basement and sort the fruits and vegetables for the day ahead. That meant getting up before they went to school and even had breakfast to move the stuff up to the street level and sort it out for display every morning.

One morning, dad decided to eat some fruit before starting his day. Dad being young and foolish, ate too much of the unwashed plums, and soon it ran through him. ALL MORNING LONG! It was so bad, he couldn’t go to school, and when Grandpa got home from the market, found nothing done, and Dad incapacitated. Grandma was away, and Grandpa Ralph had returned from the Hunts Point market with his horse drawn wagon and ‘Ginger’ the dog.

Well old gramps asked Dad why nothing was done. Dad admitted he ate too much plum and got sick. Grandpa asked how he felt. Dad said much better. Grandpa said “good, go down stairs and finish up, when you do, come to me.” Dad was happy to follow orders in this case and did what he was told. “OK” said Grandpa Ralph, “Come with me”.

Down the steps Dad follow grandpa, to a pole. Grandpa tied Dad to the pole and said, the next time he was in a hurry to not do what he was told, to remember this little lesson. Dad was tied to the pole all the rest of the morning, and when Grandma came home, found my father tied, she was fit to be tied.

“Rafiello” she screamed, as Grandpa came running, forgetting he had tied dad up!

Grandpa Ralph taught Dad a lesson he never forgot, Grandma Frances taught Grandpa Ralph a lesson he never forgot, and when Grandma was done dispensing lessons in Italian, from the hot headed redhead she was, the whole family learned once again, don’t mess up the routine of life in a bad depression, everyone do his job with not only passion, but with compassion, too!