Monday, April 30, 2012


As a member of the Board of Governors for AHRC Suffolk, twice a year I go up to Albany, NY to attend the Spring and Fall conferences (This past Saturday). Each conference is usually the same: they feed me, house me and then aggravate the living stuff out of me.

What makes the conference very tolerable are my three amigos I go up with. Each is a great guy with a great sense of duty and humor, and also a great respect for Arthur Avenue, our reward for the work we need to do up in Albany.

Fred: The oldest of the group, a veteran board member and past president of the board. Fred has tales to spin and yarns to unwind, giving interesting insights into the past. He is also my easiest to get a laugh out of. Will order anything to eat at Arthur Avenue.

Ken: The silver haired genius behind Arthur Avenue, who can’t seem to remember either his keys or cell phone while on his way home from the conference. Usually about half way home he goes into his search mode, patting himself down like he is under self-arrest. Seems to go along with my kidding him, and is a great sport. A past president, he has brought a lot of innovation to the board in terms in oversight to help us run the agency.

Jim: Jim combines dedication and thought into his service on the board. Jim is a valued member of the board and although the quietest, can laugh at the drop of a hat. Our soon to be president of the board in June, Jim has come to appreciate the Pork Chops at Arthur Avenue, where I introduced them to him.

So we will attend, take care to understand what they issues will be, and then drive halfway home to Arthur Avenue and get over it all.


Sunday, April 29, 2012


It was a beautiful Sunday morning in May, Uncle Frank pulled out the old Mercury and Aunt Marie as was her habit sat in the back seat. I don’t know why she did that but she did!

Off to church they went that 1975 morning, and when they were done with their devotion to God, they returned home to find the police at their home waiting for them. Getting out of the car, they looked on apprehensively as the police approached them. They suspected something had happened to their son Nicholas, their only natural child. They had an adopted son named Billy, who went along to church that morning with them.

The police informed them that their son Nicky was found dead in his apartment in Greenwich Village.

I was at home when someone called me to tell me the news, and I kissed TLW (The Little Woman) and my two little babies goodbye and joined my parents as I drove to Franklin Square to comfort and share in the horrible news, the shock that is so overwhelming, especially when it is someone so young.

Having spent so much time with my aunt, she was like a mother to me, I was hurting for her. Nicky had gone somewhat on the flip side, involved in the drug culture and hanging around with the wrong crowd. It wasn’t a surprise that Nick’s life ended the way it did: we all suspected it might. He was a brilliant mind, a peaceful soul, but in with the wrong crowd, adopting the wrong culture.

When I entered her house, Aunt Marie saw me and hugged me, not letting go, sobbing as she did, and this went on for about 3 minutes, when finally my mother took her to a chair to comfort her baby sister.

Having lost a child, I know what coldness there is, what shock and what pain comes with it, when you lose a child like Aunt Marie did, you don’t know anything. I have a friend who has lost her son, in a similar fashion, and I noticed a similarity between my aunt and her, they both carried that scare and the pain in their hearts, but both have moved on. Both could be cheerful and kind, yet they remember and never forget.

This morning, as I write this, I know that there is great joy in heaven. Today Marie is reunited with her beloved Frank her husband, and Nicky her only biological son. When the last day comes, when her adopted son meets up with them, there will be total joy, and heaven will be indeed Heaven for Marie, the youngest of three sisters, the mother of two boys and the wife of a war hero.

Tuesday we will entomb her body with my Uncle’s down in Florida, and that will be that, we will continue to keep in touch with Billy and he will be assimilated into the family, and we will always remember Aunt Marie, the conscience of dirty eared little boys, the lady with the spot in her eye and the newspaper route in her 80’s. But most of all she will be remembered to me in my heart and soul for all she did to reach out to her nephew and give him back his hope.

Good bye Aunt Marie, we always loved you.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Today I’d like to share with you one of my life experiences. It is about a great lady I know, who has made any happiness in my life possible.

Many years ago, while I was in college, I was struggling to get through, my marks were great, but my ability to hang on wasn’t. I was rising at 4:00 am and getting on the train at Bellport on the south shore about 5:00 am to go to Jamaica NY, to switch to another line and take that back on the north shore. When classes were over, I reversed the routine, then went to a job and worked until 11:00 pm at Hill’s Supermarket, came home did homework and went to sleep only to start the next day the same. Dad had no money to give me to pay for college or anything that went with it: we were poor.

I would go to school all day but arriving at Westbury, getting off and hitchhiking to the campus, and if I didn’t get a ride, I walked! I would spend my day, sometimes with nothing to eat, sometimes a sandwich. Getting on the train I would hide in the rest room until the trainman passed then find a seat, because I had no money for the fare. I know it was wrong, I feel guilty about it, but I didn’t hurt anyone, and that was the extent of my criminal activity. I had to pay for my tuition, books and art supplies plus film for my photography classes.

One Sunday my aunt Marie: my Mom’s baby sister came for a visit, and asked me about what was going on in my life. When I got around to my travels and how I did them, she immediately insisted that I come stay with her, which was near the college. For her good graces and those of her wonderful husband Frank, my mentor and perhaps one of the real heroes I had as a kid, I managed to stay in college and get my degree, which paid out for years to come.

She gave me a place to sleep, three meals a day, and a place to work and do my homework, no charge! Carrying 21 to 24 credits a semester, I studied not only design, but also business courses, English lit and math and science. The work was hard enough as it was, but I needed an education, and I needed to have a better life than my Dad’s. He came from immigrants and never had the opportunity during a depression to go to college, but he was excited about my going, even if he couldn’t help me.

Aunt Marie made it possible for me to get through the most difficult time in my life, and because I got through I met my wife and had my family and did the things I did do, because she had the compassion to see to it that her nephew persevere.

She died last night. In her early 90’s she is breathed her last breath. She knew she was dying, but I know her spirit is still very much alive. She lived alone, he only son died tragically many years ago in the early 70’s. She has an adopted son, Billy who struggled mightily to give her comfort and be with her in her passing. He is a wonderful so, and good person.

When I was a child growing up in Brooklyn, Aunt Marie would come in the morning, while Mom was busy cleaning and make her mark. She was a card as they say. Mom would have a radio on with Arthur Godfrey hosting, and Aunt Marie would switch old Arthur off so she could chat. I would hate to see her. She would call over her 4 year old nephew and check behind my ears, to see if they were clean, EVERY MORNING! As a little girl, Aunt Marie would make my grandmother stand and place her hand on her heart when they played the National Anthem on the radio first thing in the morning!

She was a shopper, dragging Mom down to Piken Avenue or Broadway and walking my 4 year old legs off, as she and Mom pushed their baby carriages and chatted, while looking into the store windows and on occasion, stopping to barter.

She had a spot in her eye, on her retina and when I would looked at it I was amazed by it and like all the kids: ask if it hurt. Aunt Marie was probably one of the most beautiful women I have ever met, she was a stunner, a looker, and she never knew it.When Christmas came around, I would send her a card addressed to "Marietta" her real name, one she hated to hear. She would always say: "When I get my hands on my rotten nephew I'm going to kill him!" then she would laugh.

When Uncle Frank and Aunt Marie got older, they moved to Boca Raton Florida to spend their retirement years. After Uncle Frank died, she took on a newspaper route in her building to keep busy. She would deliver the newspapers and chat with her elderly friends and neighbors, them would take her walker and walk a great deal, at least a mile and a half to the local supermarket to shop, getting out of the house and shopping were her life.

There are so many things I could say about her; so many wonderful memories that I cherish that will keep her alive in my heart. I tried to call her at least every two weeks and check on her, and as she suffered osteoporosis, I would ask: “How you doing, how are you feeling?” She would always say: “Well a little pain, but I make the best of it, you know, you can’t complain, so you make the best of it.”

Nothing held her down, and this won’t either, she will live in my heart until I die.


The other morning I was driving home and put on a CD. I don’t look at what the CD is: I like to surprise myself. I know at my age surprises aren’t always a good idea, but I took the chance anyway. Nothing like living on the edge!

It turned out the music was an Ann Murray 1970 hit, “SNOWBIRD”, and as I listened to the music and lyrics I realized just how fleeting life is! THAT SONG IS 42 YEARS OLD! I have ties older than that!

I looked over to TLW (The Little Woman) and realized that it was then that we met, that song was in when we were! Now 42 years later, we sit next to each other and share our experiences and I think I would trade anything in my life for the 42 years we spent together. They were very warm and close and trusting years we shared, and unlike the song, we remained true to each other.

Funny how you change over the years, you surrender your guard because there is nothing to guard against when you grow older together, it is a beautiful thing. She gave me beautiful children, all different, all a challenge, but that is what we bargained for when we married. We didn’t know what was store for us, but we took a chance on love and it worked out. Not everyday was bright and shiny, not everyday was perfect, but everyday was ours, and we shared it all together.

Living with me must have been tough, for TLW and my kids, but I tried. I didn’t always come out on top but I always came home. I never denied my wife or kids if I thought it was good for them and I never strayed and I know TLW didn’t either. The fun part of marriage I think is once you learn about your partner, what they become is a warm place in your own heart, where you want to be when you breath your last breath. I will go satisfied I had a wonderful life, a wonderful time with the people that are my family, the people they brought into my life and the times I spent with them all.

I have no regrets, I realize that life is a gift in itself, that we tend to wish for more, but I only wish to continue to live a little longer with these people I call my home. To wish for more is like you giving me a present and me thinking I wish it were bigger, how absurd is that?

So today, look around you, look at your mate and look at your children, you are very lucky and blessed you have them, I know I am.  If you don’t have family, then look to those that call you friend, it is your extended family!

Friday, April 27, 2012


I opened it up and suddenly, things started to move around! Some things were going up and some down and a few shifted sideways. I thought out loud: “I need a new wallet!” TLW’s (The Little Woman) ears perked up when I said the word wallet, (They always do) and immediately volunteered to get me a new one when she went to the store.

Of course she also volunteered as to how it is possible that MY wallet could get worn out since I don’t use it much. I reminded her I take it out every Sunday morning to pay for her breakfast. There are four occasions when I open the wallet; 1) Her breakfast, 2) when I purchase gas for the car, 3) when I dine out and 4) when I buy her presents, like her birthday, Christmas or our anniversary.

To a woman purchasing her own wallet is a big deal. They have colors, shapes and compartments. The wallets need to carry credit cards and check books and a pen, and a place to store coupons. I know all this because I have watched the process unfold before my very eyes.
Men don’t need bells and whistles, just a place to put their cash, license and one credit card, the one they want to use to pay Dr. Kevorkian’s office bill when I feel the time comes. It should be black or brown and fold only once or twice.

The need to volunteer to buy my wallet has me suspicious. Why would she even bother to buy my wallet? It has occurred to me that she has implanted a monitoring device somewhere where I can’t find it. Some kind of chip is implanted and it forwards to her every time I put money in it, or out for that matter and how much is currently in it. I just KNOW there is a place somewhere hidden, put together by women techies that are designed for assisting wives in monitoring services. Don’t ask me where because it is a secret to wives only! I’m sure there are a number of monitoring devices around the house that I haven’t found yet, but I continue to search, with the hope of becoming a national hero to all married men in this country when I discover what these things look like.

If I need to search, I usually wait for TLW to be away, but if it is an emergency, or I am desperate to search, I just hold up a newspaper and say: “Wow, a big sale at Kohl’s today!” She never even checks my sources, just puts on her coat like the house is on fire and shoots out the door! This technique has also freed up many a winter Sunday afternoon to watch football.

Of course once I get the wallet, I need to transfer everything into the new wallet to continue to function. Credit cards I never use, old restaurant recipes from vacations as far back as 2004 that are disappearing, scraps of paper with phone numbers that I don’t know who it belongs to and old business cards that are wearing out and the company is no longer in business are all eliminated from the old wallet and only what I absolutely need will be included in the new cow hide.

“So do you like the wallet I got you?”

“Yes I do, very much, but please tell me where the monitor is?”


Thursday, April 26, 2012


He was always Jim, kind of like an insurance policy, sitting in his chair watching the world drama unfold in his living room and commenting on it. It seems to me that Roosevelt, Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagon could have had a great advisor had they tapped into him. America would have been a lot better off had they asked Jim for advice.

In all likelihood he wouldn’t have shied away from giving his advice either. He loved to watch the news shows, the panels of debate, intricacies of the courts when it came to Watergate, he loved it all.

Jim would have made a terrible politician, because he used compassion AND common sense to guide his life. He voted Democrat, but all immigrants did that. When he came to this country, he had a high school education from the old country, and he used every bit of it. He had a great head for numbers, and could meet the challenge of the English language with his intellect.

He was a family man first, foremost and last. His base of operation was his chair in the living room, in front of the TV and his office was the dining room table where he read the Times. He would often edit the pages of the Times and send in the corrections. Why? I never could figure that out, but it may have had to do with having things done and said correctly.

All his communications came through Helen, his faithful wife and companion, provided he didn’t annoy her. If he did he was given rather stiff directions on what he should do.

He’s gone now, been physically gone for quite a few years, April being the anniversary of his death, but he seems to linger on in spirit. He would have been over 101 years of age had he lived, he had a fruitful, productive life, I know because I met the family.

I guess when you meet someone of value as I did my father-in-law Jim: you kind of miss what you took for granted. I wonder though how he would have viewed ‘Wall Street Now’, with the demands these kids are making.

He worked two jobs, and I don’t think it ever occurred to him that someone else should give up their property, their money and their hard work for him. He didn’t want anything from anyone that wasn’t his. He didn’t tell others how to live their lives or was his envious of others their good fortune. On the other hand, he hated corruption; dishonesty and greed, so he just might have joined the picket lines on Monday and on Tuesday stay away. Who knows?

But I thought I’d tell you about him, he was a good man.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Throughout American history we have had Jessie James, Bonnie and Clyde and Ma Barker, but never in the annals of American Crime history has there ever been anyone like The Princess of Foxwoods Points (TPFP)! AKA Pat, she has been using a disguise as a bank teller at the Wanna-Be-Bank & Truss Co., posing as an ordinary housewife and mother, but in actuality, a notorious archenemy of the U.S. Park Rangers.

This news came to all her ‘friends’ as a shock when at Ellis Island; she was suddenly surrounded by US Park Rangers, and surrendered meekly, while hiding in the cafeteria cutting into a sponge cake.

It all started when she signed up for a guided tour from of the baggage room of the museum, and having a fetish for old luggage, asked: “Is all this luggage on display the actual thing?”

Demeanor, our tour guide, a US Park Ranger, scratched her beard and replied: “WHAT WAS IT I SAID ABOUT THE LUGGAGE AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS TOUR?”

Being how everyone in the group of 20 people had heard Demeanor say: “This luggage you see is for exhibition purposes only, it is NOT the real thing.” When TPFP asked the question and we watched Demeanor’s eyes roll and her blood pressure rise, all her friends, that is her husband Bill hung their head in shame, someone even suggesting that she go stand in the corner.

But if that wasn’t enough for her friends (her husband Bill) she decided to defy the Rangers once more when they stated that there were to be NO food or beverage on the main floor of the baggage exhibit. Sporting a hot chocolate, she was signaled out by a Ranger and told to leave the area.

As we progressed through the exhibits, TPFP decided to live on the edge, and once more take it to the US Park Rangers, WITH THE SAME CUP OF COCOA! Suddenly a squad of Rangers surrounded her, pistols drawn and a plastic bag for her to deposit the hot chocolate in, as she bolts for the cafeteria, the Rangers in close pursuit.

All her friends (Her husband Bill) stood in shock! “I told her to ditch the cocoa, that she would get arrested or worse, wind up on DelBloggolo! But does she listen to her friends?” (Him)

Finally the ordeal was over, as the Rangers led her out of the cafeteria in cuffs, still holding the knife she was trying to cut the sponge cake with.

As we left the harbor and passed the Statue of Liberty, I sat back and read the inspiring inscription every immigrant read as they entered this country, but it had a new twist to it.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

But tell princess Pat to STAY HOME!”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


There are few experiences more valuable than when I visit a historic landmark that has to do with this great country of mine. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York and living in a neighborhood filled with immigrants, I never realized how many heroes lived right next to me!

Imagine if you would, moving to a country where you don’t understand the language or culture, a strange place, filled with strange people. How brave would YOU be?

I had the great pleasure of visiting Ellis Island and seeing how it was for an immigrant like my grandfather or grandmother, the ordeal they faced in steerage for two weeks as the ship that carried them across the ocean deposited them in NYC. It could have been Boston or Philadelphia, but NYC was the biggest city to take in the huddled masses, and ancestors were part of that.

The voyage alone was a great ordeal, something I would never want to face, but they did! They are my heroes: they gave me freedom of choice, to pray, and to elect. They gave me a country where I didn’t have to fear the police, army or a tyrant. They gave me my heritage, and said it is Italian, don’t be ashamed of it. They gave me my faith and said don’t forget to use it once in a while, and they gave me this whole beautiful country and said: You are an American, be the proudest.
I witnessed the immigrant build this country, some injured from working long hard hours, some tortured trying to provide for their families and working long hours after their jobs were done for the day and they began a night class to become an American citizen, or to better themselves.

America wasn’t always kind to them, sometimes those who were here first took umbrage at anyone who was different, who couldn’t speak the language or was a threat to their job. If you wished to marry someone of another nationality, sometimes that became an issue, and was discouraged by others. But the laws that founded this great nation made it so that they survived for the most part.

As I watched the film on the immigrant experience at Ellis Island, it left me teary eyed, thinking about my blood, my grandparents and uncles and aunts, and how they must have suffered and struggled, and how very dumb we kids were, to never look into the past and appreciate what they did.

But in time, because this country is so great, the opportunities started to come to immigrants and their children, and the immigrant children began to mix, making the greatest country to ever exist.

There is nothing that can compare to the USA, nothing that can do for its citizens what America does. When I look out at the Statue of Liberty, sitting in the harbor, I know she is the mother of all freedoms, and I know that I can never, ever repay my grandparents for what they did for my children and me. my children.

I owe them all my happiness. Thanks you Grandma Frances, Grandpa Joseph and Vito, that you all the immigrants that came here, and still do.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Unfortunately sometimes, nice places can give you a bad taste in your mouth.

On our recent trip through Savannah, we used our credit card, one we have been using since 1996, and the unfortunate happened, someone used our number to run up over $700 in charges at a convenience store and fast food places!

I got the call from the company with a message on my phone a couple of days ago about suspicious activity. At first I though that maybe they were just noticing our own activity and charges we ran up. So we followed up the call and spoke with someone, and the charges were going on that very day we made the call!

We fortunately have insurance against such a thing, but it makes you angry at first, then you wonder what kind of low life would do that. Maybe they needed the things they bought with our card, but my guess is they didn’t. That they had a job to begin with and that is how they got the card, and fast food is not a need.

I understand that the South is still a little pissed off about the outcome of the Civil War, and I can appreciated a dislike for General Sherman, but give me a break, huh? 

In spite of the card theft, the city is beautiful and the people for the most part very friendly and courteous, so don’t let the bad apples ruin your cider, just be careful if and you should, visit there.


The other evening TLW (The Little Woman) was out and I was just getting home from a business meeting. I grabbed the remote and there on the set was Wheel of Fortune, my favorite way of annoying myself.

As I sat catatonic like, staring into the boob tube thinking about Grandma Vanna, TLW arrived, and we greeted each other. She waved her eyebrows and I waved mine back. (We promised the day we got married to never have a day without waving our eyebrows at each other) Out of the TV came the first contestant to be interviewed, and it went like this.

Pat Sajak: “And you are married with two children I see.”

Contestant: “Yes Pat, I’m married to an awesome husband and two children.”

Pat Sajak: “I guess the children are awesome too?”

Contestant: “Yes, Pat, TWO awesome children, my son Rosencrantz who lives with us and is 39 and unemployed and my awesome daughter Gwendelina-Stabbin who is 43 and is a full time student at Al’s college and lives with us, too.”

TLW is listening to all this and from the kitchen yells out: “Doesn’t anyone EVER say ‘My rotten husband’? (She says she doesn’t yell, just enunciates clearly)

“No, you would be the first.”

Let’s face it, all the awesome husbands wives go on TV, us no goodniks have our wives stay away from live TV because if we didn’t it would mean take out or starve until she came home.

I could imagine TLW on Wheel of Fortune-

Pat Sajak: “And you are married with three children I see.”

TLW: “Yes Pat, I’m married to a pain in the ass husband and three children.”

Pat Sajak: “I guess the children are nice?”

TLW: “Yes Pat, they take after me.”

This would be called: “Reality TV”

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Now that is a strange thing to say, but it is true in my case. Not that she causes it, far from it, but that like high blood pressure, she is a silent but deadly killer, when she makes remarks about me or my habits!

It seems she always has plans before hand, while I fly by the seat of my pants. I fear that if I had plans before hand, my life would be even more boring than it is already. But with boredom comes: Orderliness and control, systematic days that do not unravel and a sense that you are not nuts at the end of the day.

TLW (The Little Woman) always has an answer or a solution, depending on the circumstances while I like to free-lance and go with the punches. I was watching something on TV one night that described how to be a comedian without jokes, how you need to think on the spot and be spontaneous. You take a word and react to it, with whatever comes out of your mouth. I thought that this best described me!

Let me give you two examples of TLW and her thinking.

Once, many years ago I was watching TV and she was in the kitchen making Sunday dinner. There was a show on the TV before a football game and the host posed a question. The question was; “What would you do if someone came to the door and said: ‘Hi, I’m your husband’s child.’ What would you do?”

I put down the potato chip bag and yelled out: “Toots? What would you do if someone came to the door and said: ‘Hi, I’m your husband’s child.’ What would you do?”

TLW comes into the living room and says: “I would excuse myself for a moment, return to the front door and tell the person: ‘I’m sorry, your father is dead!’”

Then there was the recent event at the airport check-in where I got disheveled and disoriented by the crazy scanner system and found TLW patiently waiting for me to get through. She had passed through and then announced how she always wears tie-less shoes for easy convenience.

It seems for the last forty something years she has been like this, always with a solution and an answer. The answers and solutions usually come from quiet observations, while she watches me fall, trip and get on the wrong bus so to speak. She will laugh to herself until she feels she better say something before she hurts herself from laughing, or I hurt myself from trying.

For forty years I have come home every night and will continue to do so. Why, because if I don’t I will get lost, and there will be no one to explain why I’m lost. I make sure to remember her birthday, our anniversary and to get her a Christmas gift with meaning, I fuss over Valentines day, and Mother’s day, and most importantly, it is my way of re-stating that I love her. If I don’t do these things, she will change the lock on the door and I will probably file a missing persons form, when all I should do is knock on the door.

I’m not a high-maintenance person or husband, I just go day to day happy to be there, and she is not a high-maintenance wife, she is very patient for the most part, and together we get along just fine. My problem is if it doesn’t interest me, I don’t care about it, while TLW will store something away about it. If I try to remember something, like an actor, I’ll say: “his name starts with K” when in fact it starts with an M. For me this is a personal triumph, since it isn’t too far down the alphabet from  K to M!

Friday, April 20, 2012


One of the places we visited while in Charleston, South Carolina was the Citadel, a great place for a young man or woman to get an education. Situated just outside the city, tucked into a residential neighborhood, the grounds are simple and the buildings impressive.

The school is a military styled college, not unlike West Point, but without commissions. There is no affiliation to the U.S. Military, as the students do not get a commission or automatically join the military with a rank.


TLW (The Little Woman) and I toured the campus and she noticed that the campus had the feel of West Point, with it’s fast paced freshman walking double time to class, young knobs, (head shaved freshman) being berated for not recognizing officers, ‘shadows’ students just joining the college assigned to an upperclassman who they followed a step or two behind, and of course the white stripes, the upperclassmen who wore a white strip on their caps.

TLW: “Wow, look how fast they have to walk!”

“Yup, just like West Point with their grey uniforms and discipline, but it ain’t West Point!”

As we walked we decided to find the library, and as we were leaving the interdenominational chapel a young student entered as we were leaving.

“Excuse me, can you tell me where the library is?” I inquired.

A look of confusion comes across this kids face.
“Well Sir, it is either this side of the building or this side.” He answers pointing in different directions.

As we leave the building TLW says: “Wow, a student here and he doesn’t know where the library is!”

“It ain’t West Point.” I said.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Not getting it.

Before our trip South, TLW (The Little Woman) went out and bought me a pair of cushions for my shoes in anticipation of all the walking we would be doing around Charleston and Savannah. TLW thought that this would help my feet and keep me comfortable as we march through Georgia and South Carolina.

I took out the two cushions and immediately trimmed them down to fit into my shoes. They were a tremendous help in that my ankle where I had a car accident with compound fractures many years ago didn’t hurt during the day. But I noticed that although my ankle didn’t hurt, the bottoms of my feet sure did.

Standing in a house where a tour of a plantation was going on, my feet were really killing me, and suddenly, a light went on! I had figured out why the bottoms of my feet were in so much pain!

I had the smooth side down on the shoe and the rough ridged side under my sole! It should have been the other way around!

I am getting old, too old to be allowed to walk around without supervision or some kind of caretaker. It was alot like when someone once said the banged their head against a wall, and when they stopped it felt so good!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Going through the airport detectors is an ordeal for me: I psychologically hate it. The Homeland Security people are very bossy, and I would tell them to go to hell except I need a ride.

Since that moron Reed tried to blow up his shoes one day while on board a plane, we take off our shoes, belt and metal and everything gets deposited into a tray. The trays become a hindrance because everyone uses more than one for coats, computers and small metal objects. Someday I’m going to be good and disgusted and go through in a bathing suit, just to annoy them.

Then you stand in the center of the scanner like a can of peaches and you raise your arms like you are indeed surrendering as they check out your stature. You wonder how long this will go on as you stand there and what are they looking at?

Meanwhile some camel jockey who will never leave the dessert because he can’t stand to leave his beloved sheep is laughing himself silly because the U.S.A. and the rest of the world is doing this to themselves!

I take off my belt, my shoes, empty out the computer take off my jacket, scrambling to move along tossing stuff left and right, holding my ticket in my mouth, standing on the foot prints as I am asked to, raising the arms over the head, then going to the other side, sweating, looking for my shoes, where is my wallet, get that belt don’t want to drop my pants here without a good cause, find my wallet, where the hell is the computer, can I go now, is there something they think they found, will my blood pressure exceed normal limits, I think I’ll scream and go postal on them, find a chair to put my shoes back on, where is TLW (The Little Woman)?

There standing patiently waiting for me is TLW! All ready and set to go! God I’m starting to dislike her.

“The trouble is you wear shoes that need to be tied, I wear loafers!” she proudly yells loud enough to hear at our destination, as well as the present location.

As I walk I dress, securing the belt, and since it is 5:30 AM, starting to want coffee really bad, hunger is taking over and I’m sleepy, trying to dress. There is no one at the airport that I can see except us, yet when we get to our gate, the whole world is encamped in every seat with coffee I don’t know where they got it, buns, donuts, egg sandwiches and laptops opened! Some are perusing there I-pads or I-phones, flipping their index finger to check their texted messages that MUST be very important that they need to read them at 5:30 am!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I headed south for the week, and I must say, it was a great vacation.

Staying on the Island of Edisto Beach, just south of Charleston, South Carolina and north of Savannah, Georgia was an ideal location to be away from the crowds. Living on the Island with its for the most part untouched privacy we found a culture that just doesn’t exist up here in the North.

The Island is about an hour away from Charleston, and most of it back-roads, with some interesting things to see. One of them is the people, who for some reason obey the traffic laws, day or night and stay within the prescribed speed limit!  You can get into and out of a lane without running a risk that the other guy won’t let you do it, and there is very little passing. Unlike New York or Philadelphia, no one flips the bird at anyone else.

But it is the Island where there is beach that allows one to savor the setting of the sun that is strange since it is on the East Coast. But the island is such that there are beaches that face west and the western sky.

The restaurants are not your fancy-dancy places, just places to eat and if it is not Sunday, a drink. We went to the Jungle Shack at the tip of the island for dinner, and discovered there are Blue Laws, and I now know why they are called ‘blue laws’, because that is how I felt when they told me about it.

Our ‘home’ was a beautiful 2-bedroom, 2 full baths apartment with full kitchen, dining room and living room, a wrap around porch and garage overlooking an incredible view of a golf course and waterfront.

After dinner at sunset, we sat out on the porch and drank wine and toasted the solitude and joy of being away from it all. I took advantage of a Jacuzzi and afterward a little dessert from a local bakery in Charleston. It was living large!

Driving the back roads we did a little counting one day. TLW (The Little Woman) counted 24 churches in a span of 29 miles! The South and particularly South Carolina are known for their old time religion of mostly AME and Baptist churches, sometimes almost next door to each other.

There is some cultural shock for an old boy from Brooklyn, NY, for instance shrimp and grits and these little hush puppies made of corn bread that they leave out on the table before dinner.

They also have some humor to share, for instance the thirty foot pole that had a mailbox on the top with the sign: “AIR MAIL” along the road to Charleston!

Being this was my first experience in the land of cotton, South Carolina, I expected different. I’ve spent a good amount of time in North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia, but not South Carolina and Georgia. I expected Rebel flags and fried chicken, and saw neither! Instead they seem patriotic and friendly, asking: “where y’all from?” in a casual laid back manor and a smile on their face.  The biggest shock was not the Spanish moss that isn’t Spanish or moss, but the palm trees! There are many palm trees and the state flag has a palmetto palm tree on it. Charleston is a lot like Los Angeles in that so many people are transplanted from other states but their palm trees came by naturally, unlike LA where they were imported.

Tomorrow we go back to Charleston and the old times there will not be forgotten.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Traveling that is. I hate to pack and I hate to travel in planes because of the nonsense in the airports.

Packing is a real issue for me. I always pack myself because I know what I want to bring, and TLW (The Little Woman) has enough to do herself. I count the days I will be away and have to dress that morning which is my magic number. I now read all the labels since I don’t want to make the mistake I made once when I was younger and still living.

I was in the Crown Plaza Hotel in Albany, NY one year and was dressing for a formal dinner. I reached into the closet and took out my shirt and put it on and started to button it when I noticed the neck was too tight! I knew my head was fat, but I didn’t think it got that fat. Looking in the mirror the proportions of head to shoulder were still 2:1, so I figured the head wasn’t the issue. (Well, in this instance, anyway) So I tried to button the shirt at the top once again figuring maybe things had gotten better since I looked in the mirror. Suddenly, like the Holy Spirit visiting upon me, I saw a vision! I was trying to wear my son’s shirt, not mine! TLW had put his shirt in my closet that I packed thinking it was mine!

It was Saturday night in mid-town Albany for God’s sake, no clothing stores near or open for that matter. They close Albany on Friday Night and don’t open again until Monday when they put back the traffic light and the cleaning lady is done sweeping and dusting the street. I was supposed to meet people in the grand ballroom for cocktails and I didn’t know what to do. Then Dad, dear old Dad, came to mind. Dad hated to wear ties, and didn’t own but one, which he never fully knotted, wearing his shirt top button opened and the tie loosely around his neck. This made Mom happy that at least he was “Presentable”.

I put the shirt back on and button all the way up to the next to top button. I put on my tie and tie it, slightly loose but enough to make me look like my shirt fits! As long as I don’t raise my arms above my waist while standing, it fits. As long as I don’t take my jacket off it fits.

MOM! I’m presentable!

There’s a lesson here wives, just because your husband may dress slovenly, he WILL pass it on to your son!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Every month he comes for lunch and every month he has me laughing at the inanity of the US Government, and the stupidity of the US taxpayer. It seems the IRS is like a little child that if it doesn’t get its way will pout and stamp its feet. On the other hand there is the taxpayer who is always scheming to circumvent the rules and regulations of the tax codes.

Bill works an hour a day talking to people on the phone as part of his job. Occasionally he writes letters as a result of his conversations on the phone. Sometimes he overhears other agents of the IRS speaking to taxpayers who don’t wish to listen to what is being said. This amuses Bill because all this exchange is usually where the taxpayer wants to claim people they have no right to claim: or own a business that is not legally paying taxes and have just been found out and pretend they didn’t know.

One story he told me was about a man who disputed that he owed the IRS $75. Bill took his call, and the man was adamant and rude. But Bill, never losing his cool, said he would investigate the man’s claim. A week later Bill called the man back and said: “You’re right, we did make a mistake!” The man had triumph in his voice. “You mean I don’t owe the IRS $75!” “Yes”, said Bill, “We made an awful mistake, you owe $7,500!”

More often than not, at night is the busiest time for the IRS as far as incoming phone calls are concerned. It usually takes 45 minutes before your call is taken, and if you are angry and impatient and hang up, you only prolong the agony. Often when taxpayers get annoyed, Bill suggests that they hang up and try another agent: “Even though you will get the same results!” he insists. This will usually bring the caller back to reality.

The glee in Bill’s voice was comical as he relates these stories to me over lunch. He then goes into an imitation of the taxpayer and by now I am crying, laughing so hard I am drawing attention to myself.

If you ever need to talk to someone at the IRS at night, make sure you listen carefully to his first name, because I may be hearing a story about you in the future. But don’t worry, he never uses names, just adjectives followed by taxpayer.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


In today’s world it seems that all the luster, glitter and gleam is somehow gone. There are fewer celebrations with the whole family: as I get older. I guess because we are all having our own grandchildren now, we lose touch with the old clan.

Years ago when I was growing up, we as a family invited all the relatives to celebrate an occasion, either a wedding or religious event. These celebrations were centralized because it was the only place to go, my grandmothers rather extra large kitchen in Brooklyn.

As I mentioned yesterday, they came from far and wide, and we did enjoy seeing each other. We dressed for the occasion and ate well.

It seems that Grandma Frances took on all the cooking herself, and her daughters and daughter-in-laws all were expected to chip into the preparation of the food, with Grandma’s direction.

If you made your first communion, after the ceremony, it was off to Grandma’s house for the celebration, where a BIG fuss was made over you. You couldn’t take off the fancy togs and you stayed dress and stiff as a board with the admonishment: “Don’t get dirty!” People like aunts and uncles and grandparents would slip you a buck or two, raise their index finger to their lips and you slipped it into your pocket. That is except my older sister (much older) Tess. She would put on a monumental epic struggle to resist such gifts, about a half a second worth and then take the cash.
Tessie is about to present me flowers for being her brother!

Since money was no object to me (I never had any), this was a great thing! The trick was to keep it, not spend it in front of anyone and keep it quiet that I had any. We were not allowed to accept money like that because… well because… I’ll get back to you on that.

You usually got your name scribed on a cake that said: “Congratulations Joseph”, providing your name WAS Joseph or they would use your actual name.

Now that I think about it, I had cheap relatives, giving me a buck and not buying me a present.

That’s what happens when you get nostalgic!

Friday, April 13, 2012


For some strange reason I was thinking about my grandfather, my dad’s father, Grandpa Ralph. To us kids he was Grandpa: to Grandma Frances he was Raphael.

Grandpa was a very calm man, never said much, but when he did, everybody would pause for the moment and then continue on in life. He was a handsome man, who wore a moustache all his life. In fact, when he was born my great grandfather is rumored to have said: “Che cosa è quella cosa sotto il suo naso?”

Grandpa was Grandma’s husband, handyman and doer of all chores. Grandpa tried to avoid grandma whenever possible.

Grandpa had a grey fedora he wore, it seemed like every moment of every day. I think he was born in it. In fact, it is rumored that my great grandfather once said when grandpa was born: “Da dove quel cappello è venuto?”

Every Sunday Grandma would go to church at Our Lady of Loretto on Sackman Street in Brooklyn. That’s “A Sackaman Streeet, a Brookaleen” as she would say. Grandpa did his praying too. While Grandma prayed for deliverance from the evils of the world, Grandpa prayed that she would leave him alone for ten minutes. So while Grandma was in church, Grandpa was next door at the Republican Club-playing poker.

One Easter Sunday as was the custom, the whole clan gathered on Fulton Street for Easter dinner at Grandma’s house. It was never Grandpa’s house, always Grandma’s house. They came from Hull Street, Coney Island and Patchogue, NY, all dressed in our Sunday best, all expecting to eat hearty and listen to tales of Italy, Naples and Bari. The men would gather after dinner to play cards and the ladies gossip while the cousins all congregated in the long hallway to play.

This one Sunday dinner was almost ready, but no one could find Grandpa! Grandma was stirring the big pasta pot and ordered one of the kids to go next door to the Republican Club and get Grandpa and tell him to she said to come NOW!

Just then Dad started to relate to me a story about Grandpa.

It seems it was a Sunday long ago and dad was about 10-years old, and Grandpa was missing as dinner was about to be served. Grandma sent Dad out to get Grandpa from the Republican Club to quit his card game and come home to diner.

Dad followed orders and went searching for Grandpa, found him like Grandma said, holding his cards close to his vest a Napoli cigar stuck in his mouth, a shot of whiskey on the table next to his red, white and blue chips. Dad relayed the info from Grandma and went home. No Grandpa shows up!

Grandma is furious and tells Dad to go once more and get Grandpa, and tell him he better come because she means business. Off Dad goes, returns and still no grandpa!

Grandma makes a phone call and waits by the front door. This is the late twenties, when a paddy wagon comes and raids the Republican Club. She goes outside and stands there watching as the police lead out the gamblers one at a time. Out comes Grandpa, who says: “Francesca, dice loro che sono il vostro marito.” (Frances, tell them I’m your husband.)

The police ask Grandma if she knows who he is and will she take him home.

“I’ma sorry officer, I’ma no know him.”

Grandpa always came immediately after that.