Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Many years ago, as I interviewed for my first job in New York City, I went to a great little agency located high above mid-town Manhattan. I sat in a waiting room sided by a couch on one side and the opposite side was three bank elevators.

As I waited with my large college portfolio nervously looking at the receptionist to tell me to go in, this gentleman (Jack) entered wearing an ascot. He introduced himself to me as the man I would interview with and sit down next to me on the couch. He hired me on the spot and I was to report the following Monday.

It blew me away as the first day of my career began. This time I passed the door that Jack had come out of into the heart of the agency proper. One-man offices lined the outer walls with beautiful views of the NYC skyline. This is what I dreamt of it being like. My heart was racing and now I was wondering if I belonged there?

We turned a secretary pool and I was escorted into the corner office. In here was my desk and drawing table, in a corner surrounded on two sides with large windows! The view was awesome and I was awestruck!

After I met everyone including the owner of the agency, it was time for lunch. And so off we went to a restaurant called Iperbole, and as we sat the waiter took our order, Jack doing the honors. He ordered lobsters for both of us, asking if I ever had lobster. This, of course, was a trick question, after all, I was born to eat lobster.

Jack was German in ancestry, eating with an Eye-talian American born in Brooklyn NY of late from the outback of Long Island. "Wow!" I thought to myself, here was a really cool art director, NYC type, with a tie on today, taking me to lunch and we're eating lobsters! How cool is this and what the Hell am I doing here?

When the lunch was done, my lobster carcass was picked clean, only shells remained, Jack looks like his lobster was in a car accident, or broken like something was hidden inside it and Jack was picking about.

The waiter came over to our table and to clear the dishes away, took my plate and smiled and then took Jack's plate and frowned, looking Jack in the eye telling him he should learn from the young signor on how to properly eat lobsters.

This was my introduction to life in the big agency, as an Eye-talian, doing what I do best: eating lobsters! I was surprised he didn't send me packing that day but instead laughed it off!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


It seems everywhere I go these past few weeks, the plague has struck.

Starting at the graduation ceremony for #2 Son, Mike, with this little fellow in front of me, coughing all over the place, it spread to #2 Son, then I got it. Right now, it is the annoyance of the year, starting out as a little phlegm that that got lodged in my throat to it being an infection that keeps me up all night with the coughing. Going to the agency I volunteer at, people has the same thing, a cold with a cough.

To make matters even worse, TLW (The Little Woman) has it and her symptoms are in her ears and throat, which is the worst.

Mom had a cure for the common cold when we got one during the school years. “Take two aspirin, and go to school, you’ll be fine!” It was the fact that she had enough colds all her life while raising her brats, and she never complained. A cold? A headache? Dinner was always on the table in time for Dad when he came home. Pine scent reigned in our apartment as she cleaned, and now that I look back, I wonder if she ever felt that the cleaning stuff would make her feel better, if not physically, emotionally?

When dear old Dad had a cold, things were different. Although he NEVER missed a day of work in his life, two things happened: 1) he died anyway and 2) On weekends it was the pits!

“Lena, get me some aspirin, I got a headache”, “Lena, where is the Vicks, I have the worst cold of my life!” More often than not, he was teetering on the edge of death, eyes closed as he lay on the bed or couch. This was on a Saturday morning, the pain and discomfort etched on his face, his arm slung over his eyes. Sunday, he took a turn for the worst! But he was brave, and somehow made it through dinner, a nice bowl of macaroni, meatballs, sausages and braciole, both beef, and pork, then gallantly finishing off with a salad, a large salad, while being lubricated with homemade wine! Damned, I wish I had his fortitude.

We lived near our church, Our Lady of Lourdes, which you may know was named for the miracle of Lourdes and the Virgin appearance. Well that miracle rubbed off when Monday morning came around, and Dad was fit to go to work, he was the two-day wonder of healing. If he had a three-day weekend, he would have accommodated that too.

Mom, of course, could claim Dad was a baby. Mom claimed Dad was a baby!

 When I got a cold, I never set longevity records for work. The longer I was out, the better, why give it to everyone else and have them hate you on the job? What I do to this day is go off to my bedroom and stay there until I feel good enough to go back to near normal. This, of course, draws little criticism since it prevents my family with coming down with it too.

Monday, May 29, 2017



It was a cold January day in 1953. Class was let out for lunch at Our Lady Of Lourdes School in Brooklyn New York, as two friends named Joe went to their respective homes for lunch. We talked as two little grade school children would, and split off.

Joseph Crispino was a gifted storyteller and a good kid. He was also very proud that his Dad was in the army, away in some gosh awful land called Korea. He told of the souvenirs his dad had left him from the army, where he had been stationed, and hoping to see his dad soon.

Mom knew Joseph, she used to call him “A storyteller”, but he always won your heart with his gift. He was an ordinary looking kid, a bit round, no movie star looks, but a lot of appeals. We could play for hours, in an abandoned lot on Somers Street around the corner from my Grandmother’s house on Fulton Street.

When I had finished lunch, it was getting late, and Joseph was supposed to call on me then we would continue onto school for the afternoon session. I waited, and Mom finally told me to go call on him. Off I went down Hull Street, crossed Rockaway Avenue to the other side of Hull Street.

I reached Joseph’s apartment and climbed his stoop, entered his vestibule and rang his doorbell from the bank of mailboxes. His floor was the second one, and the door swung open.

“Joe, are you coming to school? It’s getting late!

I could hear sobbing, a great deal from within Joseph’s apartment. Joseph stepped out, standing on the landing, looking down at me, tears streaming down his face, dressed in a long army coat, too big for him.

“I can’t,” he sobbed. “My Dad was killed in combat.” Was all he said, as he turned and went back into his apartment, quietly closing the door behind himself. It was the last time I ever saw Joseph.

His Dad had made the ultimate sacrifice. In the line of duty for his country, your country, and mine. His blood lies deep within the Korean soil, fighting for the freedom of South Korea, a Korea where they now dislike us until they are invaded again. His blood deposited in the defense of his buddies, as they all fought for survival in those bitter cold winters of -20 degrees Fahrenheit. His blood is a barrier for all of us here in the US, as he gave it to safeguard our freedoms and help defeat communism.

Because Joey grew up without his Dad, never sharing a ballgame or an ice cream soda, a laugh or even a good meal, we are now free to blame everything on this country that goes wrong in the world. We are free to criticize the brave men and women who are giving their lives and time on this earth, away from their families, to protect us from terrorism.

We are now free to coddle the enemy, make sure we give them all their rights, and even facilitate their ability to destroy us in our office buildings, and create more Joseph Crispino’s.

I for one am ashamed that this occurs. I love this country, and will always love those that sacrifice daily, and those that led the way in the ultimate sacrifice.

God bless America. God bless Joseph Crispino.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Years ago, my oldest son asked me what life was like during the old days in black and white, and how it felt when the world turned into color. As usual, he was testing my gray matter.

Of course, he meant the days before color TV. He wasn’t around but I was and could give him the perfect insight. I explained that one morning everything turned to color, and the world had to make changes quickly to accommodate the new and colorful world.

First thing was the flag; it went from the good old gray, white and gray to the good old red white and blue. The gray peril of Grey China became the yellow peril of Red China, as did the changing of the Grey Russians to the Red Russians.

The young man had an addiction that he came upon from his old man called: Baseball. Baseball had a tremendous changeover to colorful uniforms from the dingy gray. The Cincinnati Greys became the Cincinnati Reds, as the Boston Grey Sox became the Boston Red Sox. Some things didn’t change like the Chicago White Sox and the Black Sox scandal.

Whole human races had to adapt, the Asian gray race suddenly became the yellow race, which made it difficult to understand why Grey China didn’t become Yellow China.

Mother Nature was greatly improved when a gray cloudless day suddenly became a bright sunny day, with blue skies but still kept the white clouds.

The music world was turned on its collective G-clefs when the song titles of many popular hits were changed. The ever popular “I want some gray roses for a gray lady” suddenly had a new feel, as did “Grey skies, nothing but gray skies”, and of course the ever popular catchy “The gray rose of Texas.”

Movies overnight changed. Not only was the celluloid turned gray to color, but also “How gray is my Valley” suddenly had a new and exciting twist. Again, some titles didn’t, for instance, “Black Beauty”, and "The Long Grey Line."

Interestingly, when I view old photos from the turn of the century, I can’t help but notice how people looked and behaved in their posing in the photos. They all stood squarely facing the camera, hands at their sides, looking older than their years. The children all looked like they just got a good spanking, the women looked like they were really sore at the old man next to them who was only in his mid-twenties. But all the people in the photos looked like they were poor, and not one looked like he or she was gray with envy. And never, ever did anyone ever look gray with embarrassment.

Saturday, May 27, 2017


What is? Brotherly love. I got to witness it first hand as my two sons spent a weekend together and celebrated.

You know how wonderful it is to hear your sons speak about things in a grown up and intelligent manner? To listen to them speak about books, movies and world affairs without sounding like idiots? It makes a father proud. Sociology, politics, the humanities, you name it, they can talk to each other on a high plane and speak with interesting opinions and well thought out logic.

It makes a father proud.

As I attended #2 Son Mike’s graduation, #1 Son, Anthony, sat raptly and absorbed by the proceedings, getting the movie and still pictures of his baby brother. That made me feel very good and proud of both of them. There was a special bond that said: “Look, there’s my baby brother!” It looks like he was attending his own son’s graduation.

I have to get on my knees and thank God for the luck and beauty I have within my grasp, my beautiful family. Supportive of each other, and a great mom who crafted all this together, she is the love of my life and I think my sons would vouch it is true in theirs.

Growing up I always wished for brothers and never had one. What I wouldn’t have given for an older brother to look up to or one I could look after, but when I married that amazing gal, she gave me all the joy I could hope for in three sons, she totally delivered, including the apple of my eye, my daughter, Ellen.

God is great!

Friday, May 26, 2017


The kid in the middle
Years ago, when I was still conscious, I had a teenaged partner who would watch the Mets or Jets and even the Islanders and Knicks with me on TV. He was a baseball fan first and foremost and knew his stats and also the agony of defeat, almost daily.

So rather than suffer through a total year of competitive failures, he took up college basketball and started watching the games, tracking the ‘March Madness' and the ‘Final Four'. On the couch, he would station himself and one could hear the roar of the crowd. Then one day he packed his bags and took off for North Carolina to be a Tar Heel. Mamma and I looked around the house and noticed how quiet it was as Mom casually mentioned how she missed the "Roar of the crowd".

After all these years, we watched a Mets game once again recently. All the agony and disappointment was there except for the ending, which resulted in a Mets victory, but just barely! It was nice to go back to those years, on a different couch, the same kid only older.

His old man is a little slower now, doesn't get as excited anymore and does very little snacking, but the moment shared was better than ever before.

Thursday, May 25, 2017


Thank you on behalf of my family for all your kind words for #2 Son, Mike on his graduation from SUNY Purchase. Your support for him is deeply appreciated and let me tell you, he deserves that support.

Mike has always proven his worth as a human being first, a good son and a humanist, having a feeling for others before himself. As his parents, we always encouraged him to do what was in his heart and soul first, because you can't conquer the World without first knowing who you are. To those of us that live in a better world, he is your friend, compassionate and thoughtful, if he doesn't go into some social service for his fellow man, I will be surprised.

As I sat in the audience suffering through a long ritual of speeches and names, I couldn't help but think of my Dad who was very proud of Mike. Dad died in 1991 and had the joy of meeting Mike, who before he died was fed by Mike. Trying to get some solids into Dad, I got Mike to spike the fork on some meat and Dad, stubborn in is want to be left alone about food, took his last bite of real food! Mike wasn't 4-years old yet.

But the moments also held another thought, about Grandma Frances and her arrival in America from Italy as a fifteen-year-old young girl, all alone with her hopes and dreams, her vision for the future and what her offspring and lifeline would carry. I thought of my father-in-law, Jim, who came to America from Ireland as a young man and started his family, and how the graduation was a validation for all who come from immigrants that sacrificed comfort of familiar places to search for a better life in the discomfort of a foreign land and language so that one day, they would have directly contributed to the greatest of America. And they have.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


The day started out promising, that is until I got out of bed. After 6 years, #2 Son, Michael was getting his sheepskin, the biggest event since his birth. Today he would walk out on a stage somewhere in White Plains and claim his place in the world, all we had to do was get there.

Being a seasoned traveler, I know that any trip more than ½ hour requires planning and getting there with plenty of time.  All too often I am ridiculed for giving too much time to an event by arriving earlier than we need to.

We needed to be in White Plains at 11:30 AM, so we left at 9:00 AM for this trip that takes 1 ½ hours on a bad day.

But first, we need to pick up #2’s girlfriend, Julie. This will divert us for a 15 to 20 minute out of the way trip, but still plenty of time. Picking up Julie we then begin the journey. About 15 minutes on the HOV lane, I get the following news: “Joe! I hate to do this to you but I need to go. Can we stop at a McDonald’s so I can use the restroom?” I looked at the possibility of using a Burger King, but thought better of it, she does like McDonald’s better than Burger King, then who doesn’t?

We find a Starbuck’s and as she goes in, making her a little upset since she doesn’t like their coffee or prices, as I look for a non-existent parking space, this is started to get ominous somehow. Finally, she returns to the illegally parked car and we continue our journey when we are one exit away from the Cross-Island Parkway. We stop. No one needs to go, no one wants to go that way, we want to go the right way, as driven. We inch now to the Cross-Island, inch by inch, slowly, we will start to lose a chunk of time, but no worry, we still have time built in, we can still make it. After a half hour, we reach the Cross-Island and slowly, inch by inch merge into traffic, It is starting to get a little dicey with the time. As we crawl, I realize that a majority of the traffic is heading for the Throg’s Neck Bridge. I wormed my way over to the outer lane and think I will head toward the White Stone Bridge, then shoot straight to exit 13 and the Cross-County Parkway. This is looking like a great idea, as I fly past the Throg’s Neck Bridge and all the cars bogged down at the exit, miles before even getting there! ‘SUCKERS!’ I think as I proudly zip away leaving them all in my dust!

WHEEEEE!!!! I go, that is until about a mile before the White Stone Bridge!

“Oh, $#!T!” That is bogged down too! And worst, everyone has the same idea! We are at a dead stop, it is now 11:30 AM! There is no time left to play with. Now every delay will put us in jeopardy as we wait. I decide to do something I NEVER do, cut in on the line! This is an emergency, for all these years TLW and I yearned to see that moment when he gets that diploma, and now because of a bunch of morons on the road, we will miss this incredible triumph of the human spirit. The dance of the move up inch by inch begins as the long line for the bridge bogs down to a stand-still. I creep up each inch, and to keep poachers out of my territory when the car in front of me moves, we move instantaneously, NO ONE IS CUTTING IN!

Meanwhile, the temperature outside is 95ยบ and the air conditioning is full blast, people in the back seats are complaining so I up the fan, and so we crawl onto the bridge and reach the Hutchinson River Parkway, now with 15 minutes left to spare.

All through this process, I see we will be 10 minutes late, and wonder if we will even be allowed into the building if we are. I think back about how hard #2 Son had worked both scholastically (making Dean’s List a number of times) and the difficulty of holding a job and traveling between the campus and his work and home in Brooklyn. It was starting to get me angry and yet I wanted to cry for all of us in the car, for him, his brother who flew out from Burbank, Ca., and most importantly, his mother who stayed the course with him every step of the way. Yet here we were at the end of the journey, almost, just a few more steps, and it would be all denied to him like the World placed it in front of him and as he reached, snatched it away! A cruel joke if ever there was one.

Finally, we reach the building, and #2 says: “Don’t expect me to run in and try to get in there!” Of course. Why not.

OK, Mike, we will drop you off at the curb and look to park the car, just go into the building and graduate! But first, he has to have a cigarette!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Simple as that… I don't need stuff anymore! I got enough stuff, you want some stuff?

Being a collector of memories, all the work I ever designed and or wrote, mementos of places I visited and things I did, I saved. Life is a great thing if you can remember some of it, and so over the years, that is what I tried.

Recently I was reading an ad on the back page of the Parade magazine. You might have seen it, small box ads that sell tools and goodies that comprise the official title of; "Stuff", the things we own. Stuff can be books, tapes, and audio cassettes that have long ago been played, but because of new stuff, gets the shelf, or a box and stored. We put all the junk into one carton and label it cleverly: STUFF.

Now you come to the point in your life that you don't need stuff anymore, you don't want any and you can't give it away. All your adult life you promise you will in your retirement go back to it and just sit in your rocker and remember the days gone by, but it is a faulted plan, you just never carved out the time because you are too busy building the memories. More stuff. Besides, when you have a granddaughter like mine, you need all those tomorrows! You don't have time for the stuff, the magical words Grandpa ring loud and clear.

I know I am winding down my life, soon we will find a nice small place to live and give up on the memories, but I was thinking, what if I never sold the house, then I'd have a place to store all my stuff.

Monday, May 22, 2017


It was time for a follow-up visit to the eye doctor for TLW (The Little Woman). It was scheduled for 9:15 am which meant driving over 25 miles through rush-hour traffic!

Driving along the LIE in rush hour is a lot like the Indy 500, or jousting for that matter, you jockey into position watching the screwball who is looking to merge traffic at the last minute without a signal, the moron that weaves in and out of traffic only to be stuck behind a slow-moving car as you pass him.

Through the course of this adventure, while I am driving, I have nervous Nellie sitting next to me. For every move a driver on the road makes, she has a counter and nervous move of her own, which includes grabbing the little grip over the door on the passenger's side, stiffening her body and slow and almost muted groans that slip through her lips. These go for the most part, ignored. Her braking without a brake pedal is fun to watch and sometimes not.

Our job was to go to Commack to the surgeon's office for a "couple of minutes to check out the surgery" that lasted a whole hour. As we drive we realize we are running late due to the slow-moving traffic, and it seems as I get off the LIE, it only gets slower. On the roads at this hour are the lawn guys with their trucks hauling a tow with equipment, school buses and little old ladies, all hell-bent to impede my progress, and of course the trucks of all sizes and shapes, all going at a snail's pace to hold up everything!

But it is the conversation that takes place throughout this ordeal, the ‘observations' being made as I drive and the fact that I am willing to make up the time if she will only close her eyes. By moron #5 we were reaching the office with a minute to spare, as I pull up to the parking spot and as she exits states: "Well, at least I arrived alive!" To which I replied: "Keep it up, you haven't reached the front door yet!"

Sunday, May 21, 2017


TLW (The Little Woman) is on vacation as I write this. #2 Son will be graduating from college and #1 Son will fly in from California for the big event.

While on her vacation, she decided to have a cataract surgery done on her eye and that means a follow-up visit the next day. What it really is, is a pre-cursor to our retirement years, time spent in doctor's waiting rooms for each of us. This is, of course, the way life ends for old people.

When we went for the surgery, all we saw were old couples, usually a bossy wife and an obedient husband. That, of course, is the end result of a long marriage. We become caddies for our wives as we hold coats, pocketbooks and other sundries moving through the reception and waiting room, check in and answer questions.

As we did, I mentioned to TLW that since it was so early in the morning, 6:00 am, that I would either find a coffee machine or leave and go get some coffee. I sat down as she went up to the desk to check in. As she did she was asked if she had anyone with her and if so, would I be waiting? TLW stated she had me, and if there was coffee in the house depended on whether or not I was waiting. They have coffee.

As she went in, I got myself a delicious cup of java or joe, or as we used to say: coffee. This guy comes in with his wife and mother-in-law and they state that they want some coffee. I don't think anything of it and as I am reading "A Man Called Ove" a great book, by the way, I see this same guy outside the building walking towards a Starbucks next door. Now if you know anything about Starbucks, it is an over-priced trendy over-rated coffee pot that gives off status for those who like to walk around with coffee containers in their hands. I figure the two coffees he had cost about $14 while mine was free! Believe me, mine was better tasting.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Cataracts, the bane of old people reared its ugly head once again!

TLW (The Little Woman) fortunately is running out of eyes, and both have had cataract surgery.

One year I was in Niagara, staying in a hotel for a meeting scheduled for a long weekend and got up early. Being I couldn't sleep and it being too early for breakfast, I decided to take a walk around the town and see some sights without the hindrance of traffic or people.

As I found my way around in the morning dew, I came to this nicely manicured walkway along a stone building and soon realized it was a Catholic church. Curious and because both my mother and TLW (The Little Woman) would put a wooden spoon to my head if I didn't know what church it was, I looked for a sign and found one. "Saint Mary of the Cataract," it said. I thought that perhaps the Catholic Church was exhausting ideas for names since I know they already used up "Our Lady of the Snow" and my idea: The Church of the Holy Mackerel would probably not be used. Why would you be using someone's eye issues and naming a church after it? How about St. Joseph of the High Blood Pressure or even Diabetes-2?

Years ago, such surgery was a big deal, causing a lot of discomfort for the patient and lingering recovery time, maybe a patch over the eye. Today, I had to bring TLW to surgery at 6:00 am, and by 8:30 am we were home again. This included a total hour of drive time to and from the surgery!

Modern surgery is something else!

Back in 2003, I had a cauterization that took a lot out of me, running a wire contraption into my arm and to my heart, I felt I was getting sick to my stomach and sweating in a room that was supposed to be cold. There was a pain as it was threaded into me and I watched it all on a monitor. Then this year I went back for a second one, this one I expected to feel the same way, I was not looking forward to it. Within 10-minutes it was over, and when it was, I was still waiting for it to begin. Amazing!

Well, TLW is now home, sitting in her chair and looking like the sun is in her eyes as she half squints her left eye. First I thought she was winking, then realized how dilated her eye was. But she will be able to see better.

So, if someone says they are having surgery, just tell them to: GET OVER IT!"

Friday, May 19, 2017


After some hard work and deep dedication to his future, #2 son, Mike, has made his father proud once again! Like #1 Son, Anthony, he has achieved beyond his original dreams. For the past few years, he has despite the weather and long distances he graduates from Purchase. He’s been on the Honor Roll, and is having his thesis published with the advice of his professors! Not only are they pushing his paper, they are telling him to go to law school!

What does a parent ay to that? How do I measure the pride I have and be humble?

Way back when, as a 3 or 4-year old, Mike displayed a dogged determination based on his honest views and self-assessment of his universe. He wasn’t always easy to live with because he had passion, then as he does now and belief in himself.

Today we will drive up to Purchase, NY and watch a ceremony that will be better than any I ever attended for myself, about what I felt when #1 Son got his sheepskin.

Mamma has all to do with it. She supported his dreams and aspirations and will continue to. I will just let it play out and hope I live long enough to see his name in lights too. If he climbs the peaks of success quickly, as I suspect, then I will die a happy man, and all the glory of his self-sacrifice and devotion to his future will be evident.

GOOD LUCK, MICHAEL, many stupid people had ideas about you that weren’t true, it just pointed out their negative and small biased minds. A good life lesson is to rid yourself of the foul odor from those low-lives and continue on your way, this way you won’t be caught in the quagmire of their pathetic lives and misinformed empty heads.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


The competition was fierce!
There are two constants in this world that seem to hold true. One is that the weather on Mother’s Day will be lousy and the weather on a Jewish holiday and Father’s Day will be great.

Mom had this pet peeve about this, in her jousts with Dad about this, she would complain out loud...

Mom: “My God, it’s always raining on Mother’s Day, yet Father’s Day is always beautiful!”
Dad: “He-he-he!”

I would pray that Passover and Easter Sunday arrived on the same day. I don’t care what the Christians think, all I know is the Jews are getting the beautiful weather on their holidays while the Christians get rain. Is there a message there? My suspicion is that the people of Israel ARE the chosen ones, even Jesus was Jewish.

Dad resembled Sid Caesar, that great comedian of the early 1950’s, who along with Imogene Coca and fed by two of the best writers in TV, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, made for some truly great TV. I would watch this and ask Dad; “Why aren’t you funny like this guy? Dad? Dad?” and Dad was fast away, snoring.

I guess Christians should abandon the Gregorian Calendar, and re-align their holidays with either Father’s Day or Jewish holidays, making for a sunny and pleasant celebration!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


As I sit here this dreary Saturday afternoon before Mother’s Day, the steel gray clouds that umbrella the sky, ironically showering me in a deluge of precipitation, the cold wind, and dampness closer to winter than spring, it reminds me of memories that take me way back.

Living in Brooklyn as a child, the apartment was the center of my life, with Mom and Dad, a certain pall would emanate from the air that lent itself to sleep inducing rituals that Tony, aka Dad, would adhere to. This was something to behold and I did. As Dad sat in his chair, his fingers locked into the belt of his pants, the gentle shifting of the body from upright vision to downright slumber, his eyes would signal the advent of naptime. 

As I stood at the edge of his chair, the newspaper fallen to his chest, the signal was frequent, the flashing of the lids, the position of the eyeballs up in his head and the final sound, the sleep rattle, the slow nod and total peace, his body positioned to go the distance until dinner time.

This was Dad and I so wanted to be like Dad. He smoked and I pretended I smoked, exhaling the imaginary smoke just like he did, I even practiced my Italian swear words, just like Dad! He drank coffee, so I put milk in a coffee cup with a saucer and along with the imaginary cigarette, usually a pencil placed in one of the ash tray slots, read the New York Daily News, backwards from the sports pages to the headlines, kind of like rewinding the reel and playing it backwards.

But the apartment set the stage for sleep conducing, somnolent carefree existence, with the quietness of death and the silence of the lights, Dad was on his way to the pillow ball slouched in his chair. It was so quiet, you could hear everything you heard in your life as it played out between your ears! Then the rain hitting the windows followed up by the snore!

The snore would enclose the room by 2 feet on each side, lowering the ceiling until you felt you had to stoop to get around. You took your shoes off out of respect for Dad and his ritual of “Resting my eyes!”

Dad was the master, soundly crafting the skill to pass on to generations to come, of which I hold dear to all the tradition I hold.

As I looked out the windows at the gloomy landscape of rooftops and concrete backyards, it added to my gaiety of knowing that someday I too would be performing on such a stage. And so, friends, dear readers, and countrymen, I bid you adieu as I pinch out the light of consciousness and descend into the abyss of happy naptime and a good snore.

Wake me gently when dinner is ready.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


I went to the cemetery to visit my Mom's grave on her birthday last week.

When I enter the grounds, something happens to me, I lose sight of my surroundings and feel the loss of so many people I knew and loved who now rest under those granite stones.

Entering the main gate, the names of all those who rest here come to mind: my son, my parents, my wife's parents and two nephews and two brothers-in-law's.

But it takes me back to when I used to go with my mother to visit her mother's grave. I recall thinking how my mother could possibly stand over the stone that marked Mary's final resting place, the name and year all there for Mom and me to see? She died in October, and Mom used to say how she saw a crow on that dark day, how appropriate it seemed to me.

Mom loved her mother, and grandma was a woman who had a lot of guts, raising 3 little girls without a husband, because he left her early in their marriage. I won't condemn my grandfather or grandmother, I wasn't around and don't know what happened between them, just that it did happen.

I hope there is an after-life, one where Mom and grandma will come together again, that Dad and Mom will enjoy what they had in their early years of life. My dream is to see all that have past once again, that I can see my wife when I am called, that she will join me after many more years on Earth.

Maybe we can have a card game with Dad and my brothers-in-law one more time, maybe I could pull a straight.

I can still hear all the voices, the way they talked and walked, the way they laughed, taking up arguments about politics and baseball or football, to relive those days once more, maybe even have another meal together. But most of all, to see Mom one more time, her laugh and her remembrances.


Monday, May 15, 2017


--> Years ago, when my ears were still a virgin, the only swear word you heard in public was ‘Hell'. You were considered dirty mouthed and a bad influence to children. I also learned the favorites at my Father's knee, such jewels as: ‘Son of a bitch' and of course ‘Bastard'. These words were higher up the offensive scale than ‘Hell'.

But somewhere along the line between my youth and my old age, a very offensive word has come to bear on society in the form of the "F-word"! It is used in all kinds of situations and is so prevalent that no one seems to even hear it anymore.

Back in the old days, ladies never swore and that included the word ‘Hell'. If you heard her say anything that sounded like it shouldn't be said, you shunned her, thought very little of her and avoided her, it just wasn't accepted in society. Today, that concept is shredded, as young women, in particular, seem to swear off with their husbands, boyfriends, brothers and fathers.

With the liberalization of their bodies, the ‘f-word' has become common-placed and acceptable. When I first heard the ‘f-word', if I had ever used it, I would have been slapped across the mouth by both Mom and then Dad, re-enforcing the concept that we don't use that word, not in the house, not in our lives, not anywhere.

It is now heard on TV, and the movies, used by women. This is not to say men have a right to use it, but not women. When I attended a meeting, there was always protocol, especially when a woman was present, you didn't use the word. Today, attend the same kind of meeting and women are in the forefront of using the word. This is to crack through the ‘glass ceiling' and prove that women are equal to men and skills, ideas and swearing. When you look at it as a whole, women need to use these words to play on a level playing field with men, to get their attention and let them know, we will not take a backseat to any man. Although I hate the word, I can't blame them.

All of this would not occur if men hadn't introduced the word first.

Presidents, prime ministers, actors, writers, artists of all kinds seemed to chip in to make the word commonplace and acceptable. To emphasize the word, the middle finger was introduced along the way and became the best way of stating it without saying it.

But no matter who uses it, it sounds low-class, even for shock value.

Its origins go way back to the 1500's according to Wikipedia: "William Dunbar's 1503 poem "Brash of Wowing" includes the lines: "Yit be his feiris he wald haue fukkit: / Ye brek my hairt, my bony ane" (ll. 13–14).
The oldest occurrence of the word in adjectival form (which implies use of the verb) in English comes from the margins of a 1528 manuscript copy of Cicero's De Officiis. A monk had scrawled in the margin notes, "fuckin Abbot". Whether the monk meant the word literally, to accuse this Abbott of "questionable monastic morals," or whether he used it "as an intensifier, to convey his extreme dismay" is unclear.
John Florio's 1598 Italian-English dictionary, A Worlde of Wordes, included the term, along with several now-archaic, but then-vulgar synonyms, in this definition:
Fottere: To jape, to sard, to fucke, to swive, to occupy."
And so, on and on we go, even to the extent of a religious note: ‘Holy F…!'

Sunday, May 14, 2017


my kids call her "Mom"
It's such a simple word, it means so much to all of us.

But who is Mom? Is she the lady that gave you your life, or the lady that gave you children?

I can remember the rallying of my in-laws when their mom was dying, the sweet devotion, the understanding that life was never going to be the same again without Mom. I remember her gentle laugh at the jokes I told her and her commentary along the way, making the joke even funnier by her devoted attention to the story I told. I loved her stories from her childhood, simple wonderful tales of innocence. Yet her children are all so serious. She was the only mother-in-law I could have possibly loved.

Seeing my kids and their devotion to their mother, it makes me happy to know they do care, that they love her as they do, it kind of validates my choice in a life-long partner, one I would never change, even if she hogs the blankets at night.

There is my daughter Ellen, who can only say two words: Mamma and Happy. Mamma is who makes her happy, it is her life sentence that says it all, nothing more is needed. Mamma who gave up a lot in life for the care of her special needs daughter, advocating, consoling and praying along the way. And when my daughter almost lost her leg, a little piece of Mamma was taken away for a while, always fearful of the next shoe to drop, never knowing when. When Mamma found out her first child would be disabled by birth, she never abandoned her, just intensified the love and care and advocated for her.

There is my son Anthony, who strove to be a perfect son because he couldn't disappoint his mother whom he saw as the perfect mother. Working hard and taking care of his older sister, playing with her and being frustrated by her, always loving her no matter what. Yet when he needed special love and guidance, Mom was there before he even realized he needed the support, and so she prayed for him, not so much for success but for happiness until the day came in 2014 when one day her grandchild had an outstanding mother answering all Mamma's prayers for her son's happiness.

And there is my son Michael, who always had a mind of his own, who owns an innate goodness he got from his Mom and so he too tries not to disappoint her. Everyday Mom prays for him, knowing that God will find the time that he did to mold Michael into the caring person he really is, and she never negated his inner will or deep love for her.

There is my son Joseph who struggled in his young or short life until he succumbed to a fatal disease that took him away from his mother. Yet every day she was at his side at the hospital, talking to him, holding him singing and playing with him. He is memorialized in so many ways in our lives because of his mom's love and remembrance.

She has given of herself with dogged determination for all of her children, and when they call they ask… "Can I talk to mom?" Yes, even though you may be interrupting her talk with God about you.

Mom is an interesting word, it means so much.

It means never having to worry there is no one who loves you. It means you will always have a place in your heart for a very special lady to your dying day: Mom. It means she will remind you that you are not so perfect, yet she loves you. She will give up her own happiness for yours, her last meal so you don't go hungry and as she falls to sleep will carry you in her heart.

There is my mom, who I did all I could for her, whenever she called, giving up family time when I needed to for her sake, remembering her in my childhood holding her hand as we crossed the street, watching her turn batter into cake and bits and pieces into masterpiece meals. Her laughter still rings in my ear and so I think of her every day.

When Mom was dying, almost in a coma, lying in her bed I leaned into her ear and whispered to her the thing I should have said from the first day: "Mom, I love you."


Saturday, May 13, 2017


My life is now a tug-of-war, between my creaky old body and my obnoxious conscience! Unfortunately, my conscience is starting to win.

As I awaken in the morning, I debate whether to get up or not, do I move from my spot in bed that took me so long to perfect, the temperature and resting under the blankets a perfect blend of bliss and comfort? Facing me is my gym gear, waiting for me to don and go off to the gym, where I will sweat and gasp for at least 30 minutes, swearing I am coming down with a heart attack! I don't want to get out of bed, I don't want to go to the gym and see all those young bodies, exercising, working out, lifting weights, striding on the treadmill, annoying me to no end.

I decide to see if there is any pain I can't determine the origin of, if some issue has developed overnight that precludes my attendance at the hall of horrors I call the gym, any excuse to rid me of my obligations to the torture of being in the gym.

Gingerly I throw my legs over the side of the bed, and pause, waiting for the pains to kick in. This is a signal to me that I am still alive, that aches and pains lie ahead. I don't want to move, but I have to. I dress in my gym clothes and avoid the shower since I will work out and return home to the shower. I take my morning meds with orange juice and my first cup of coffee. The pains remind me I am still alive, but why?

Then I make my move… I put my two feet down and place one foot in front of the other, moving toward my gear and then the front door. I salute the Little Woman and promise to return. Out I go toward my car. I think: "do I really want to do this?" But I don't hear myself, as the warning beep of the reverse gear screams through the morning dew: "YOU CRAZY BASTARD!"

I turn on my cellphone and as it lights up, I drive through the deserted streets at the ungodly hour of pre-dawn and run the two miles without catching a red light. Pulling into the parking the lot, every conceivable car and truck is parked. Every morning as I pass the large section of handicapped parking spaces that occupy the front of the gym, I wonder who needs a handicapped parking space who goes to the gym? By now my phone is on and I open up the gym app and get the scan bars up and proceed to open the heavy doors of the gym, where behind a counter stands a young woman. She is healthy looking alright and greets me with a smile and a ‘hello', boy this gym stuff is getting better.

Descending the steps of the gym I pass people with their workout for the day done and heading to the parking lot. I quietly plead that they take me with them, as I head for the locker room. Now the locker room is where friendships are made. You see the same people enough times and you get the nod first, then the tidbit of conversation that develops into something about being retired or what the Yankees did last night (I don't care) or the workout routine. (I don't care about that, either.)

Being a creature of habit, I choose the same locker every morning, this makes it friendly for me like it is a home away from sanity. There are some people that I have observed over the course of 2 ½ years that make it interesting. There is the math teacher, a nice guy who talks too much, the Mets fan who quietly goes through his routine and insists on saying hello, and there is the "Nightmare Cowboy" a dude who is a dud. He is muscle bound, wears sleeveless shirts to show it, a big stomach and wears a cowboy hat. This guy does not smile, seems to be angry and carries a large bottle of colored liquid. He is usually accompanied by a hit-man or at least someone who looks like a hit man. This guy has shaved his head and looks like Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul) in the role of Mike Ehrmantraut. Wears a NY Yankees jacket in the winter mornings, but greets me with a hello every time I see him.
That's me, you can't tell because I'm wearing a hat!

The workout becomes something else. Now I close off my brain, tune out the surroundings and get to work, determined to do what needs to be done, usually 30 minutes on the cycle that takes me nowhere, where I have to cover up the little screen because if I don't, it becomes a very long thirty minutes!

It is halfway through this heroic workout that I start to feel the heart giving out, the lungs collapsed and a real need to stop. But I continue, and suddenly the workout is over. I get off the cycle and try to walk. There are others around me who I think are watching, as I slowly try to move once again, without looking pathetic like I feel. I climb those steps and as I do, someone is coming down them to start his or her workout and I think: "Poor bastard!"

Friday, May 12, 2017


There is a channel on TV called COZI TV. It is a new favorite of both the Little Woman (TLW) and myself. There are few channels that are a favorite, I really don't watch TV much, 15 minutes of the news in the morning and Channel 2 on Thursday nights at 8:00 PM for obvious reasons, Channel 163 the Smithsonian Channel and now COZI TV, Channel 109.

The reason I enjoy COZI TV is that it shows all my old favorites from the 1970's, mainly, Columbo and Murder She Wrote. Both are detective ‘who done its', that take me back to that magic time when I was raising my family from scratch. In those days' we were just climbing the economic ladder, the professional tower, and mingling socially.

The fun lies in that both TLW and myself would try to solve the murder along with Jessica Fletcher or watch Mr. Peter Falk with his egocentricities come upon the solutions to the cases. But the shows do something else, they put me back into the mindset and sense of being alive once more in the early 1970's. We only had 2 children and I can still see the small color-TV in our old house as we sat quietly with the babies and watched our shows.

It is always good to go back and visit the past. It reminds one of how good or bad things were, how we came to today and who we were. Like old photographs, old re-runs can indirectly do the same thing, take you home once again.

Thursday, May 11, 2017


Years ago, there was a show called ‘Leave It to Beaver', a popular TV show that had a lot of interest from the general public It was widely popular and ran from 1957 until 1963. One of the things about it was the hometown had a rival, a fictional place called Bellport, my hometown. Believe me, there was more fiction than truth in my Bellport.

The father, Hugh Beaumont wore a suit, on Saturday while reading his newspaper, and Momma, Barbara Billingsley wore pearls, while cleaning the toilet bowl. Then, of course, there was Wally: AKA Tony Dow, the do-gooder who never swore, smoked or even checked out a girl, was the Beaver and my conscience.
Also, years ago, I was a cute 5-year old, running around the streets of Brooklyn and learning about life. More about this later.

Jerry Mathis was the Beaver, the precocious little urchin who found trouble by just getting up in the morning, a lot like me at 5-years old!

But something critical happened to Jerry Mathis as the Beaver, he grew up and grew out of his cuteness. After years when the show went off the air, no one saw Jerry Mathis, then one day he reappeared on TV as a guest, and everyone asked the same question: "WHAT HAPPENED???"

If you look at my pictures, you will also ask: "WHAT HAPPENED???"

Indeed, a sad state of affairs.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


All my life, and since 2014 when she passed, it seems like May 10th holds a very sacred and dual meaningful significance to me. As spring would break, the sun shining in its cerulean blue umbrella and the sweet essence of flowers blooming, the trees would green as if to announce to me: it's Mom's birthday, that's why Mother Nature is freshening up! But many a year it would sound the obbligato of joy because it was also Mother's Day too! How wonderfully appropriate it was for me as her son.
Mom would remind me who she was, and what having a mother meant to her. She would often tell me about losing her mother, that awful day for her when her mother as laid to rest, how she saw the coffin, lowered into the sanctified ground of the cemetery plot on that dreary October day, how final and alone she felt, even with her little family and two sisters beside her.

I remember Mom always had a cake for me on my birthday, white cake, chocolate layered with a cherry on top. Every year she made it for me, sprinkled with walnuts, just the way I liked it. There was more flavor in that cake because of her touch than from a master baker!

Today she is in my heart and soul at 99-years old. Although she passed on in June of 2014, she never died and will live on for my eternity, however long that is. I always tried to afford a present for her, not to recognize her birthday, but to renew my love for her at this time of the year and to remind her that I was there for her.

remember her 80th birthday, a catered affair in a local Italian restaurant, her being surrounded by the many friends she made volunteering in the local hospital, how happy she seemed and so filled with joy! I gave a little speech about her, her disciplinary measures that kept me in line AND forever had her face in front of me wherever I went and whatever I did.

Her life was filled with great disappointments, her father abandoning his little family at a tender age, the tears her mother cried from loneliness and sorry, the struggles to raise her three daughters during the Great Depression, and finally succumbing to stomach cancer in 1942.

But boy, could Mom cook and bake, and always made sure we ate well. It is her fault that I love food so much, and as I try to replicate her dishes, no matter how well I do, I could never hold a candle to her art, nor the ability to laugh at the ugliness she faced in her lifetime!

Happy Birthday, Mom!
From your only son,

Tuesday, May 09, 2017


Since we as a nation got into sending troops to other lands to fight for “freedom”, it seems to me we are becoming very loose with some of the concepts of what the military stands for. Granted we need a standing defense force with all the hardware, how do we think of that force once it is in battle?

I am often troubled when I hear people say we send young men and women into harm’s way as their “defending our Nation” yet I wonder how far from the truth that really is? Are we defending our nation or our interest, or the interest of some other nation??

It is always the same pattern of crisis management for this country to send troops into harm’s way. It is easier than sending in the politicians to fight. We beat our chests in bravado and play our patriotic marches as the young people go off to a foreign land and risk their lives. Then on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, some politician will legitimatize the deaths of service people as dying for their country. Did they? Or did they die because of their country? Is it as heroic for the combatants as the politicians make it sound?

I wonder how many of these brave people, and brave they are, are scared out of their minds? How many go into battle fearful, afraid of losing their life, thinking as they wake up each morning if this is the day that it is all over for them, will they die, or be maimed, or worst still, lose their minds?  

“Casualties are light” goes the report from the front. For who? How about the person who is one of the casualties? Does he consider them “light” too?

I have heard all too often how veterans feel the hyperbole of fighting for country or honor is just a lot of hooie, when really what it is: a band of brothers, fighting for their lives, watching out for each other as a band of brothers, praying to themselves that they get home in one piece and that their comrades join them.

Monday, May 08, 2017


Since my A1C numbers are up, now hovering at 8, the business of lowering it begins. If you are unfamiliar with the A1C tally, it is the number that indicates how much sugar is in your blood. Normal is at 6, but me, I'm sweeter. You'd think the doctor would be happy he has a sweet patient, but no, the sourpuss put the thumbs down on me.

So, what does this mean? It means that I am preparing to starve to death, giving up everything I like to eat for a cause that seems lost.

Now TLW (The Little Woman) has gotten into the act and her job is as assistant to the doctor, A word on the doctor: my doctor (Dr. Strangeglove) retired in December, my new doctor, Dr. Stickyfinger, has taken over for him. Young and skinny, (I hate him) he has taken on the monumental task of saving me, for what I don't know. He looks like a giant hand in a latex glove, and dispenses meds to me, in prescription and sample form. I take so many pills, that in the morning when I take most of them, I have trouble standing up from a chair, I have to hold on to jack myself up because of the weight of all the meds.

All this sadness translates into not being able to enjoy eating. Pasta, pizza, potatoes, rice are all verboten as they say at the local schnitzel house. TLW has pointed out that 1 cup of pasta is OK on occasion. I usually get that much on my first of many fork-fills! I asked about Rigatoni since they are so fat. That translates into 4 Rigatoni noodles, UNCOOKED! No red meats unless they are lean (no taste) things like olives and breathing.

However, I have a plan for the rigatoni, I will get a measuring cup and stand up the noodles on their ends, therefore packing in more noodles, cholesterol my friend is a growing pain in the ass.

How about snack foods and deli meats you ask? Glad, you did. I can't eat pretzels, potato chips and popcorn, or, OH MY GOD, SALAMI! because that has added complications, salt, which means high blood pressure my friend, to go with my sugar content.

I have a plan. I will commit hari-kari, not by the normal methods, but by eating a pasta meal with cheeses, sausages, a rib eye steak, medium and little red potatoes on the side and topped off with a nice cold one or two.

Maybe I'll start off with some chips.

Sunday, May 07, 2017


Every other day I get text messages from an old high school buddy. It is usually something crazy that makes me laugh. I, in turn, do the same to him.

When we were young, we kidded each other over things like all teenagers do, mainly sex, our mothers and how smart we thought the other guy was, and for sure certain teachers. We usually tried to ‘fix-up’ each other with the most unlikely girls in the barn.

Well, last night he gave me a call, and we did the usual, talk about our health and what lies ahead. Then we touched upon sex, he doesn’t recall and I don’t remember why, but for old time’s sake, we had to bring it up.

This, of course, led to old girlfriends and dates. We covered who we went out with and where they are now. We also wondered what they are doing now, and of course, who is still standing, or if any of them are married.

But on the serious side, he mentioned his two marriages, and how he vowed never to marry again, and how lucky I was to be still married to the same woman. Being married to the same woman is a blessing, we really fight, I never ever had an urge to stray and I know that she would never either.

But the funny thing is, we both went through tough times on a personal basis, him with his divorces and me with my daughter Ellen and my son Joseph who passed before he was 2-years old, yet we find time to laugh at each other and ourselves.

Saturday, May 06, 2017


The morning conversation used to be about the kids. What they are doing, where they are going, maybe about our friends and family, sometimes planning a vacation over a cup of coffee. We would put on the news to get the weather and traffic. That was the conversation over our morning java.

Since we reached our 70's, the topics of conversation have turned to more important issues, our aches and pains! Yes, getting out of bed, showering, dressing and dragging ourselves downstairs to the kitchen for that cup of Java, is now accompanied by our arthritic dance, with lyrics:

 (Holding our sides with both hands): "OW! OOOOH!!! Ouch!"

Standing in front of the coffee pot I sing out: "Altogether, NOW! OW! OOOOH!!! Ouch! OW! OOOOH!!! Ouch! OW! OOOOH!!! Ouch!" Turn, turn, turn.

Once we are done with our dance, we then discuss the current medications, what we take, how much and where are we on the prescriptions. If we are out of a med, we negotiate a loan and the payback procedures. Negotiations usually run quickly with agreements.

Night-time, we start the process all over again. After dinner, as we sit in our recliners and recline as we decline, we try to move for one reason or another and: OW! OOOOH!!! Ouch!"
Yes, pain is our constant companion.