Friday, December 16, 2016


--> It is funny how our brains work.

Every morning when Dad left for work he had on an overcoat or jacket and a gray fedora, the basic uniform of the late 1940’s and early 50’s for visiting a church, going to work, traveling and just keeping the norm of acceptable etiquette.

Many years ago, as Dad was leaving for work when we lived in Brooklyn, Mom handed him two things: his lunch in a brown paper bag (peppers and eggs, the grease seeping through the brown bag a little) and the garbage in a brown paper bag. Dad was to dump the garbage in the garbage can that sat in the front of the house and go to work from there. Instead, Dear old Dad dumped the lunch and took the garbage to work, a terrible indictment of Mom’s culinary ability! This, of course, was not good!

One day our downstairs neighbor told us to come to their phone, Dad was on the other end calling for Mom. Mom answered and Dad told her what happened. Being how Dad was paid by the hour, he couldn’t afford to go home and get his lunch, and he couldn’t afford to buy his lunch, so Mom was to: pack a new lunch and take it to him.

We took the subway from Bushwick, Brooklyn down to Canal Street and the New York Laboratory and Supply Company. I was going to see the mysterious place where Dad worked! We find the place on Canal Street and enter the building. As we enter we are greeted by a room with a few desks and a wooden fence with a gate, a common inner office fence.

Mom explained what Dad did, and they paged Dad. Dad entered and I had the shock of my life. He didn’t look like the Dad I saw leave that morning, he was now wearing a brown shirt and matching pants. He was wearing a blue-collar uniform in brown. A fashion Faux Pas?

At any rate, the concept as I imagined of Dad and his workplace was completely shattered by reality, my vision was one of office with fancy clothes, instead, it was shipping floor and work clothes, his was honest work.

School caught me by surprise too. School was somewhere, it had teachers and books. No one told me about the other kids and the looks of strangers. The school was a place I would go to, with my mother I assumed, after all, didn’t we go everywhere together?

The first day of school was Kindergarten, and the first thing I did was get cookies and milk for a dime or quarter. They handed me chocolate milk and a small package of Oreo’s and every day after that, it was plain milk and cookies, never the chocolate milk I loved.

One of the things I was first introduced to was music in kindergarten. Every one of us was given an instrument to play. I was given two sticks that I had no idea how to use, waving them like batons! The nun had to come over to me to show me to bang them together instead. It was my first awkward experience in public, feeling silly ever since.


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