Tuesday, March 31, 2015


The day after a man lost his wife in a scuba diving accident, he was greeted by two grim-faced policemen at his door.
"We’re sorry to call on you at this hour, Mr. Wilkens, but we have some information about your wife."
"Well, tell me!" the man said.
The policeman said: "We have some bad news, some good news and some really great news. Which do you want to hear first?"
Fearing the worst, Mr. Wilkens said: "Give me the bad news first."
So the policeman said: "I’m sorry to tell you sir, but this morning we found your wife’s body in San Francisco Bay."
"Oh my god!," said Mr. Wilkens, overcome by emotion. Then, remembering what the policeman had said, he asked: "What’s the good news?"
"Well," said the policeman, "When we pulled her up she had two five-pound lobsters and a dozen good size Dungeness crab on her."
"If that’s the good news, then what’s the great news?" Mr. Wilkens demanded.

The policeman said: "We’re going to pull her up again tomorrow morning."

Way back before the Internet and video games, there was a time when technology was being built and improved upon, by an unlikely source, children! Yes, children from the ages of 8 to 18 were building their minds and hearts for bigger and better things for the future.

As I was driving in my neighborhood one day last week, I noticed something for the first time, there are no children either at play or building and modifying things like they did in the 50’s and 60’s.

On the streets of Brooklyn, we used to play out fantastic scenes, recreating events that were based on history, and imagined ourselves the hero, always triumphing and winning the day, even saving the girl. In our minds we were the Mickey Mantle’s and the Duke Snider’s in our fantasy world.

For lack of money we built things, like forts and scooters made from 2” x 4” lumber and wooden vegetable crates, with parts of an old roller skate. We would look to make them faster, cooler and painted them or give them our own sense of design.

As teenagers many of us took on modifying cars, especially old wrecks that were twenty years old or older, chopping and channeling, adding dual carburetors and skirts, reupholstering and finishing the interiors to a show room look.

As I look around today, I don’t see much of any of that anymore. Where has all the genius gone? Where are these kids: innovators, the future scientist and engineers, the designers and technicians of tomorrow hiding? What are they working on?

I guess they hide out in their homes, glued to a computer and developing new codes and electronic formula to accommodate the new world of tomorrow. But I don’t see it, at least if I do, I don’t seem to know about it.

I think we are standing in electronic quicksand, and the tiny electrodes of the world are creating a paralyzing force that will take over our thinking and ability to create someday, rendering us all into a robotic state both in mind and body.


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

You should, you'll be innovative!

Monday, March 30, 2015


"Grandma, how long have you and Grandpa been married?" asked young Nina.
"Fifty years," Grandma replied.
"That is so wonderful," exclaimed Nina. "And I bet in all that time, you never once thought about divorce, right?"
"Right Nina. Divorce, NEVER. Murder, lots of times, but never divorce."

There are things in life worth remembering just for the sake of enjoyment. For instance, watching my wife make her breakfast. Now we don’t sit together for breakfast during the week, she gets ready for work and I usually go out for the gym while she eats. Some mornings I don’t and do get a chance to observe the ritual if you will of her making her first meal of the day. Judging by what I see, it must be her favorite!

TLW (The Little Woman) has certain likes in the morning, like eggs and salsa, something she started a few years ago, and she loves it. I remember when I first had scrambled eggs for breakfast with ketchup, and she made this face. Now she is doing it sunny side up.

There used to be the old cereal box that I read as a kid while eating my boring breakfast of Rice Krispies or Cheerios, to get me through the ordeal of eating. TLW I think did the same and carried it to adulthood with her eggs. Instead of cereal boxes she reads the newspaper: which is a good idea. But the thing is, her breakfast experience is a ritual, laid out carefully on the kitchen table like she was preparing to have a religious service on an altar!

Now don’t laugh because I think we all are guilty of some form of that. If you come with me to breakfast on a Sunday morning at our diner, I go through a compulsion of sorts. I sit across from TLW and I line up the placemat with the edge of the table. Next I put the knife and fork exactly in a certain spot on the paper napkin, perpendicular to the edge of the table. Then I reach for the ketchup, salt and pepper and bring them to the center of the table with the shakers next to each other in the front of the ketchup, perfectly aligned. She watches this and laughs at my compulsion or organizational skills or set up like the old art director I once was.

But I think the dining experience is a good thing to have. Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, we all want peace and harmony when we eat, and hope we can extend it into our lives. I know I do and always did. When before I married, sitting at the table the whole family sat together, every day, table set and we talked, usually about someone we knew or something we planned or just laughed at things in general. But the dinner place itself was sacred. I wonder how much longer that will last in the future. I imagine there will be faces buried in cell phones instead of plates.



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

You should, you'll be well organized at the dinner table!

Sunday, March 29, 2015


A man and a woman who have never met before find themselves in the same sleeping carriage of a train.

After the initial embarrassment, they both manage to get to sleep; the woman on the top bunk, the man on the lower.

In the middle of the night the woman leans over and says, "I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm awfully cold and I was wondering if you could possibly pass me another blanket."

The man leans out and with a glint in his eye said "I've got a better idea ... let's pretend we're married."

"Why not," giggles the woman.

"Good," he replies. "Get your own blanket."

A few years ago #1 Son and I had a discussion about whether or not calling someone from China or Japan ‘Oriental’ is correct. Growing up before political correctness hit its stride, you thought nothing of calling a Japanese or Chinese person ‘Oriental’ because that was the accepted norm, then someone decided that it is racist to use that term about a person, you should use the term: Asian. This logic always bothered me because we had a restaurant in the neighborhood that was owned by Chinese and the food was of course, Chinese. It was called, or they called it themselves: Lucky Oriental! I guess they were self-racist! (A bad joke)

I would call on occasion for lunch or dinner and the takeout place could either wait for me to come and get it or deliver it if it was over a certain price. When they picked up my call they said: “Lucky Oriental” and even had a sign over the front that said the same thing: Lucky Oriental. The painted everything red and black and even had a cat that waved at you. They were missing the little Buddha altar and this may have played a part in their demise!

Lucky Oriental was in place for over 30 years, and served me well, with the best won ton soup in the world, either in the Occident or the Orient. Being Occidental, I enjoyed the soup and the use of the name, but no one ever called me Occident. I could be accident prone, but never Occident or Occidental.

This last statement got me wondering: do I call myself North American or Western, which could confuse some people thinking I come from Spokane? I mean Asian is the correct word for the politically correct, me being incorrect, and you can ask my wife, she will tell you so about all other matters, I use Oriental. Do I call myself American, Euro-American, what?

I liked Oriental: it was simple, matter of fact. ‘He’s Oriental’ is broader, yet more concise. You knew he could be Chinese or Japanese or Vietnamese or even Thai. Asian? Do you mean Asian Minor, or Asian and does an Indian qualify as Asian? No, Native Americans who once were Indians, and had to give up their title because someone said they were not politically correct all those years, were really Native Americans. Well now, there is a theory that says the “Native Americans” came from the Orient. So isn’t that politically correct? And if it is, aren’t they Orientals? Indians are from the Orient, just ask anyone wearing a red dot on his or her forehead and you will be told so.

The other day, TLW (The Little Woman) broke the news to me that Lucky Oriental was no more! Its doors closed for good, no longer would they dispense their fantastic won ton soup, no longer would I savor their tasty dumplings, both steamed and fried! No longer with good conscience will I be able to use Oriental when speaking about people from Asia. Sad. Sigh!



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

You should, you'll know the difference between Asian and Oriental!

Saturday, March 28, 2015


A man asked his wife what she'd like for her birthday. "I'd love to be eight again." she replied. On the morning of her birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Coco Pops, and then took her off to the local theme park. What a day! He put her on every ride in the park: the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, the Screaming Monster Roller Coaster, every thing there was. Five hours later she staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down. Right away, they journeyed to a McDonald's where her loving husband ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a refreshing chocolate shake. Then it was off to the movies: the latest Star Wars epic, a hot dog, popcorn, all the Coke she could drink, and her favorite M&M's. What a fabulous adventure! Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted. He leaned over his precious wife with a big smile and lovingly asked, Well, Dear, what was it like being eight again?" Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed. "I meant my dress size!!!!!!!

The moral of the story: Even when a man is listening, he's gonna get it wrong!.

There are two things among many that a married man never wants to hear. One is: Do you know what today is? And two; do you notice anything different about me?” These two questions are guaranteed to send a man’s spirits spiraling down quicker than J. P. Morgan’s spirits during the great 1929 crash of the stock market.

As you sit there naked as a jaybird, perched on the tree limb, you inch further out on that limb and try to answer the question. An authority figure would if present to witness your response immediately remove your shoelaces and belt. You stare first in frozen fear and then slowly try to figure out what is different.

Last Friday went like this, while the snow was falling and there was no real way to escape.

Her: “Do you notice anything different about me?”
Me: “You’re talking less?”
Her: “HAHA nooo!”
Me: “You got shorter?”
Her: “No, Pat at the Wanna-Be-Bank & Truss Company said you would notice.”

This of course puts more pressure to bear on as now I had to uphold my reputation it seemed, one that she felt I deserved.

I scanned some more, her shoes matched, her lipstick color on her top lip was the same as the color on her bottom lip, so that couldn’t be it.

Me: “You have more hi-lites in your hair?”
Her: “Noooo”

I was ready to prostrate myself and plead forgiveness or worse, open up my wallet and say: “Here, take what you want but don’t yell at me!”

It had to be something so subtle that she would hardly notice it herself, and it was!

Her: “Today, while in the ladies room I pushed my hair behind my ears. Matilda stopped me on my way out and said: “I love what you did to your hair TLW!” Then Pat caught up with me and said: “I LOVE IT!” “I decided to tell Pat that I didn’t like it this way, it seemed kind of messy and uncombed. Pat said: No, I LOVE IT, I bet Jow will notice it!”


She immediately put her hair back the old way and suddenly she didn’t look as bright and cheerful!

Me: “Oh yeah, now I see it!



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

You should, it makes you more observant!

Friday, March 27, 2015


My true loves!
What can you say about the most beautiful child there is?  In one year’s time she has converted me from a dad to a granddad, pretty impressive.

Her first smile!
One year ago she lay in the hospital and her face already told me she was not only beautiful, but filled with life, smiling and observant, and she hasn’t stopped for one moment! From that first day to this 1st birthday she has learned to walk, and get into mischief with the ease of a sloop in the calm seas.

You think Mommy or Daddy will notice???
Today we gather together to celebrate this wonderful occasion with her parents and other grandparents, and so it will be a joyous day indeed.

So without much further ado:

there will be no stopping her!

Two special ladies

Happy birthday, dearest one,
Sweet child of my heart!
We've become one family,
Of which you are a part.
And so I sing out equally
To all of those who are
Mine by blood or fortune blessed,
No more, no less my star!
We are one in love and joy,
In fondness and in worth,
And so as one we celebrate
This day, your day of birth!

We love you, Grandpa Joe, Grandma Ellen and Aunt Ellen & Uncle Mike

Let's not forget-she is Daddy's girl!

Thursday, March 26, 2015


A man lay sprawled across three entire seats in a theater. When the usher came by and noticed this, he whispered to the man, "Sorry, sir, but you're only allowed one seat." The man groaned but didn't budge. The usher became impatient.
"Sir," the usher said, "if you don't get up from there I'm going to have to call the manager."
Again, the man just groaned, which infuriated the usher who turned and marched briskly back up the aisle in search of his manager. In a few moments, both the usher and the manager returned and stood over the man. Together the two of them tried repeatedly to move him, but with no success. Finally, they summoned the police.
The cop surveyed the situation briefly then asked, "All right buddy, what's your name?" "Sam," the man moaned. "Where ya from, Sam?" the cop asked.
And with pain in his voice, Sam replied, "The balcony."

Many years ago there was this little old man. He was not older than 4-years and not taller than my kneecaps. He could talk up a storm and had the logic of a sage. He was always correcting his old man and was probably more mature too.

He took on the weight of the world and had the guts to deal with it, being his older sister had special needs. He seemed to be protective of her and when he wasn’t busy correcting me, protecting his sister and making statements that I needed a grownup to interpret for me, he was reading the Kings and Queens of England AT 6-YEARS OLD! HE WOULD WAIT IN AMBUSH FOR ME TO COME HOME FROM WORK, AND FROM AN UPPER STORY OF MY HOUSE, DUMP WATER ON MY HEAD AS I ENTERED MY HOUSE.

Sometimes I would walk into my house if I weren’t bombed with water first, and get jumped on from the kitchen counter as he waited for me, or on the back sill of a 62 Chevy Impaler as he hid from me in the open at the railroad station as I got into the car with TLW waiting to drive me home. “Where is Anthony?” I’d ask as he giggled, thinking I didn’t see him.

There was the time when as a little kid, maybe 3 we sat at the dinner table, and his sister with special needs was in a bad humor that night. She was so bad I decided that I would take her away from the table and try to calm her down. Well, the little old man jump up as I went to get my daughter and stood between us, raised his little hand and said: “Daddy, don’t!” He thought I was going to hit her, but I wasn’t. I went off to the bedroom by myself and cried for the first time in many years, realizing he was taking on this burden.

Being it was winter did not keep him from reminding me that spring training was just 90 days or so away, glove and baseball ready to play, even though he was wearing a winter coat and digesting the last of his Thanksgiving dinner!

His first song was Meet the Mets, and all of Mitch Millers favorites came right after that. Baseball, baseball, baseball was all it took for him to give you his full attention, yet he could read, reason and do math with the ease of any 50 year old intellect.

Today he celebrates his birthday, but I don’t think he really cares. He has a beautiful wife and the most beautiful child a person could possible have, his daughter Darby. So would you care?

He has done what I always wanted to do, live on Madison Avenue in NYC, or live in Southern California, a dream come true for me, but his reality. If there was anyone I would want to live my dreams, it is him and he deserves it all.




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

You should, you'll never age!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


A chicken farmer went to the local bar.

He sat next to a woman and ordered champagne.

The woman said: "How strange, I also just ordered a glass of champagne."

"What a coincidence," said the farmer, who added, " It is a special day for me. I am celebrating."

"It is a special day for me too, I am also celebrating!" said the woman.

"What a coincidence." said the farmer.

While they toasted, the farmer asked, "What are you celebrating?"

"My husband and I have been trying to have a child for years, and today, my gynecologist told me that I was pregnant."

"What a coincidence," said the man. "I am a chicken farmer and for years all my hens were infertile, but now they are all set to lay fertilized eggs."

"This is incredible," said the woman. "What did you do for your chickens to become fertile?"

"I used a different rooster," he said.

The woman smiled and said, "What a coincidence."

The other day while driving home, my mind started to wander as it usually does. It was the hours before another snow event or storm, and it got me thinking about Dad. Dad had an expression, or sigh, that he did with every dealing he had with the bad weather, opening his lips partially and breathing outward in a forceful manor. It turns out as I was assessing the weather, which is exactly what I did!

Well reminding myself of him, I started to slip into my childhood and remembered how hard he could be on me. It seems since I was 11-years old: I had to work. I would go to school, then: off to the factory job I had that Dad arranged for me as I got older in high school. I would then go home, eat supper and go off to my job at the supermarket working from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM. I did two things with the money I earned: some was turned in to Mom and Dad and; some was saved for my college education. There was very little left after that, certainly not enough for too many dates or other luxuries.

When I was home, there were of course the endless chores Dad devised for me, working around the house and at times, he had odd jobs and I was volunteered to help him. All the money went into the household fund and that was it, no complaining and I never thought to. This was survival: this was my family that needed me, that was ok with me.

But he was Dad, he had his quirks and he had his failings, and funny thing is, I loved his imperfections more that any thing about him. He made me laugh and he made me appreciate hard work and what it meant to devote your time to doing something progressive like work. He was cheap when he needed to be, but on occasion he was generous too, rare as it was.

So as I drove I thought how I missed him so 24 years later. It seems to me 24 years is a long time to still miss anybody, you’d think the memories would be buried in time, instead they pop up and remind you of who you are and where you came from.



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

You should!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Recently I was watching a show about a man and his daughter, a young woman. She was a mother with a bi-racial baby, and there seemed to be no father present. This happens a lot, the girl gets pregnant and the father somehow escapes the responsibility of co-parenting the child. What made the situation even more toxic is the woman’s father was a racist, a member and grand knight of the KKK! You can’t make this up.

His disdain for the child was extreme, calling his grandchild a monkey and suggesting that if she wanted to visit him with the child, he would build a cage for the child!

Of course this is so egregious, not only to the child, but also to his daughter and to the spirit of this great country and God’s law. Incomprehensible too comes to mind, and unforgiveable to the extreme. Or is it? What makes a person so hateful, so extreme in his thinking that it comes to such a base level? Is it stupidity, or prejudice or ignorance or fear? How do we take a measure of such thinking? Do we have a title that ensures us we can pass judgment of others?

I know this: that we all harbor prejudice from the cradle on. We are all taught something somewhere that ‘colors’ our thinking, even the good things. The father’s racism goes back many centuries probably all the way back to the beginning of time. We can blame racism on many factors and only be partially correct, it is not a disease, not something you learn in a school or book, and it is an inherited idea that everyone else not like us has some fundamental flaws.

Being of Italian descent, I witnessed it in my life: first from those not Italian forming opinions of me without knowing me, a potential gangster? I talk with my hands, I’m from the Mediterranean and therefore not equal to anyone north of the Alps. This was a common occurrence to me growing up and entering the world outside my neighborhood. But there were those same kinds of thoughts emanating from my race too, about the Irish, Germans, Poles, Asians, Hispanics and blacks. Surprising? Why should it be, we all know these unspoken truths. After all, were the neighborhoods not refuge for the different ethnic groups that populated the 20th Century, especially in the beginning of the century?

But the bottom line seems to me to be… the bottom line. The reason we have these prejudices is because no one invested the money or time to process the bigotry for us, that we fear what we don’t know, that we by our economic system keep the average man down. Who is the average man? The average man is either white, Hispanic, black or yellow, short, medium height and tall, who is a Muslim, Catholic or Protestant, Jew. Yes he is all of us; we need to come to grips with a way to handle this prejudice that shackles our acceptance and colors our views to obscurity.

We need to start investing time and money into teaching our children the false premises of bigotry of any kind. The way we can teach it is the way we can teach against it. We need the school boards to take up the cause of educating our children to learn how to prosper, beyond just the college and trade school route. We need to take the poor and raise their status in our minds to equality. What will it do? It will teach our children how to behave in a civil way, it will help the poor contribute in a big way by being doctors and nurses, school teachers and artists and dentists and whatever else an individual dreams to be. We need to help that dream.

Recently Starbucks came out with a campaign to bring awareness to the issue of racism. ‘Race Together’ is an attempt to bring racism out into a forum of social discussion and find dialogue among all people. It would be like buying a cup of their coffee and getting into a discussion with the guy or gal serving you the coffee, they writing ‘Race Together’ on your cup. If you object, they would cover the statement up. Detractors are already raising their voices, and criticizing Starbucks for their efforts, claiming big companies should stay out of social issues and not profit from this on their bottom line! I have to ask this question: since big business is already criticized for all the economic ills in this country, all the social faults laying squarely on their shoulders with the obscene profits they do make, how do you not want them to start to raise the consciousness of the people? Maybe the detractors have a solution? I have heard from Starbucks as trying to be part of the solution, but not from the detractors! How about we start with something rather than go back to nothing? Or are the detractors just blowing hot air?

Looking forward, we need to dissolve the myths of stereotyping races of people, get the nonsense and ignorance out of all of us. We are all responsible. From the blackness of Harlem to the whiteness of suburban America, and the mixes in between, we all are prejudice.

Monday, March 23, 2015


One night, Mrs McMillen answers the door to see her husbands best friend, Paddy, standing on the doorstep.
"Hello Paddy, but where is my husband? He went with you to the beer factory"
Paddy shook his head. "Ah Mrs McMillen, there was a terrible accident at the beer factory, your husband fell into a vat of Guinness stout and drowned"
Mrs McMillen starts crying. "Oh don't tell me that, did he at least go quickly?"
Paddy shakes his head. "Not really - he got out 3 times to pee!"
Corned beef and cabbage, of course!

For so many years, as a non-Irishman, being curious about things Irish, married one, and found out they weren’t telling us everything we needed to know.

For instance, you’d think that the Irish held their first parade in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day, but they didn’t! No, they got their parade tradition from the American Irish, yes, those who emigrated: to America where in 1762 held their first St. Patrick Day Parade in New York City!

Now don’t go all out of joint bejesus, this is fact, and fact it is that that is not all. No, the Irish have been hiding the facts about the old sod from us non-Irish. Please be seated for the next paragraph on this fascinating expose’ on the Irish culture in America.

When before the turn of the last century, the Irish were coming to America in large numbers, I would say ‘droves’ but they sailed here instead. Yes, and to cap off injury with insult, were forced to live in large areas with other undesirables, namely Italians and Jews. It is here where we examine another myth far worse than St. Patrick being Irish. It seems that pork was the preferred meat in Ireland and coming to America, pork was prohibitive. The Irish being poor, would on occasion go to Jewish delis for sandwiches of corned beef. Beef was inexpensive here in America and the Irish figured it out that corned beef was an excellent substitute for pork. The Jews taught them that adding cabbage to the boiling of the corned beef flavored the vegetable and along with a potato or two and some carrots, you could feast rather cheaply my friend!

Wait, it gets even more interesting, the hero of this all, the central figure so to speak, St. Patrick, was not Irish (Oh the Saints save us!) but a Scotsman whose parents were of Roman Ancestry. Scandalous in its own right! It seems that St. Patty was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery, in Ireland and for about 6 years then managed to escape and became a Christian who devoted his life to ridding Ireland of pageantry. That thing about snakes and Ireland, well he never did that either. There were no snakes in Ireland at that time, and snakes are not native to the old sod. The snakes are a metaphor for pagans.  His driving out the snakes was really driving out the pagans.

With all this misinformation handed down through the years, I am beginning to wonder if St. Patrick was really Jewish?


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

You should, it will make your eyes smile!