Sunday, July 23, 2017


Dad was a softy, he never liked to see people unhappy or struggle. When it came to his own family, he was particularly diligent and aware of everyone's aches and pains. In the early 1950's, Dad decided to book a little fishing trip, with me and Grandpa.
Captain of the ship

Getting grandpa out of the house on Fulton Street in Brooklyn was a major effort, Grandpa didn't like to go anywhere that required his traveling for more than 15 minutes, and that had to be round trip.

Being how we were living on Long Island, Dad decided one summer to get grandpa out of the house in Brooklyn and take him fishing; "We have to get Grandpa out of the house!" We went to Mastic Beach on a Saturday and rented a row boat, got a few rods and reels and bait, and set out to fish. Oh, Captain, my Captain!

Fisherman and thinker
My thinking was that that was all the equipment we would need since we were fishing we would eat what we caught. Build a fire on the beach and cook our catch. Dad and Grandpa both seemed perplexed by my plan, and since I was only 11-years old, what the Hell did I know. The problem with the plan was there was a huge package coming on board the ride to the beach, it consisted of three Italian heroes, packed with peppers and eggs, and a chunk of provolone cheese and a Genoa salami, along with a gallon of Grandpa's homemade wine, courtesy of grandfather's bride, Grandma Francesca.

Being the ‘city type', both Dad and Grandpa dressed for the occasion. Dad wore his shorts, sandals and black dress socks, while Grandpa never changed. Grandpa wore his work pants, brown unpolished shoes, and white shirt, along with his fedora, which he camped under come rain or shine, baptism or wake.

Dad became the grand admiral, directing me, the only crew member that showed up that day to man the oar, bait the hooks and full steam ahead.

As we set ‘sail', we each had our position on the boat, Dad sat up front with his rod, tossing it in into the drink (literally), and I trying to get the hook that caught me in the neck was sitting mid-ship so to speak, while Grandpa sat in the back, legs crossed serenely holding his rod, eyes closed, dreaming of home.

Suddenly Grandpa caught a fish, then another, then still another! Dad was still fishing with his rod, and I was almost done getting the hook out of my neck and ready to fish.

After a while with Grandpa's success, I asked him how he was able to catch so many fish.

Grandpa looks at me, squinting in the sun and says: "SSSHHH".

I looked at him and he says, "SSSHHH, thatsa how you catcha da fish!!"

As we floated along the Great South Bay, Dad and Grandpa had their wine, and it seemed fine until we reached the shore to unload the boat. When Dad stepped off the boat, he suddenly looked like he saw a ghost, stopping in mid-tracks to catch himself. Sitting at the edge of the dock he just sat there with his head in his hands. Dad had too much wine! Grandpa, however, stepped from the boat onto the dock and fish in hand looked at Dad and said: "Tony, prendi il tuo tempo." (Tony, take your time.)

As we floated along the Great South Bay, Dad and Grandpa had their wine, and it seemed fine until we reached the shore to unload the boat. When Dad stepped off the boat, he suddenly looked like he saw a ghost, stopping in mid-tracks to catch himself. Sitting at the edge of the dock he just sat there with his head in his hands. Dad had too much wine! Grandpa, however, stepped from the boat onto the dock and fish in hand looked at Dad and said: "Tony, prendi il tuo tempo." (Tony, take your time.)

Apparently drinking on the water didn’t make you drunk because of the movement of the rowboat, but step on land and goodbye.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


I never like to give one. My opinion is what I like and my experiences are what they are that lead me to conclusions. I don't like to recommend movies or even books. I have made exceptions to my rule on occasions especially here on this blog. Shoot me.

But (I love that word) I also don't like to not recommend things either.

However, recent experience with a certain company leads me to suggest that if you do order from this mail-order company that has existed for many years, you may be disappointed based on its reputation. I am talking about Omaha Steaks, a great advertiser, package, and disappointment.

Recently TLW (The Little Woman) and I ordered from their catalog they sent to my mailbox. As we skimmed through the catalog we decided to order 4 steaks and 4 pork chops. We figured, how bad could it be for the price. What we got was a disappointment.

The steaks were so skinny and lean that they were tasteless, as were the pork chops, thin and tasteless. Pork chops should be tasty, with a little bit of fat for flavor as should a steak.

Buy at your own risk, things might be very lean in Omaha.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Stephen the birthday stealer
It seems I lost my identity long ago, one July morning when someone called me to tell me her new born grandson was sharing my birthday! Once that happened my individualism ceased and I was no longer known as Joe, Uncle Joe or even Hey you.

Sharing a birthday wasn’t so bad until one day my son was hired by my company, and impressed them so much that I became Anthony’s father. To add to the downgrading of my identity, I am now referred to as: Darby Shea’s grandpa.
Anthony's father's son, Anthony

I was given a T-shirt for a present three years ago with a picture of Darby on the front, she got instant recognition, I got: “Hey, Mister! Way to goooo! Love da shirt!”

I’ve put so many posts up of Ms. Darby that people think she has her own account, and wonder whatever happened to you know, what’s is name - me. I wonder myself.

Darby Shea, looking for What's his name
It would be so easy to do something illegal in front of a room filled with people and Darby present, no one would remember it or even see it with that little sunshine present.

So, I ordered an inscription for my headstone that reads: “Here lies Darby Shea’s grandpa, what’s his name.”

Thursday, July 20, 2017


In my career in NYC where I worked as a young and up and coming designer, I had the opportunity of meeting many interesting people. These people came from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds that made life so much more interesting than the drabness of my hometown of Bellport. Bellport was a kind of purification or sifting if you will of what I grew up with in Brooklyn and there wasn't a whole lot of people that I met that even matched the color and flavors of Brooklyn.

When I graduated from college I took on the task of fulfilling my ambition of becoming a designer and creating things as a job to make a living from. Entering the field in the early 70's introduced me to many interesting people and opinions, all coming out of the Great Depression, expressing their points of view from their life experiences, this was a treasure trove for me.

Once such individual was a gentleman named Saul. Saul was the Executive Vice President of the ad agency I started with. He laid the groundwork for what I thought to this day the advertising world was all about.

Saul was a very fine artist, a painter who could also draw with his eyes closed and one-handed. Working during the Great Depression for the government painting murals for large public buildings like the one in Rockefeller Center. He received what is called a government commission. Having painted a mural or two I know how physically difficult that can be.

Saul married the boss's sister and was very influential in the decision making on a creative level. Saul spoke in short and to the point sentences, always cheerful and well-spoken. He carried a patrician air about him, with a white shock of hair, starched shirts and tailor made suits as well as a well-trimmed mustache. Saul was a very handsome man.

Saul would arrive every morning at 10:30 a.m. punctually. By 11:00 a.m. Saul had a full cocktail glass of vodka on his desk, as he would scan through or read a magazine on art, both fine and commercial. By 12:30 Saul was out the door visiting his mistress who had a lovely apartment around the corner from the office that he paid for. She was a beautiful girl, and lived in a very expensive place, well-furnished and stocked with all kinds of booze, particularly vodka. They would lunch together, and Saul would return to the office about 3:30 p.m. He would sleep off the booze at his desk until 5:00 p.m. Some days, before he went off to lunch as early as 11:30 a.m., Saul would pull out some reference material in the art department, take an empty drawing table and would draw sketches for cowboy novel dust jackets. The sketches would later be published as the cover art for the book jackets. The amazing thing about Saul was he was one-handed. His other arm and hand were badly deformed from birth.

Saul was a guy who broke all conventional rules, then rewrote them, and everyone loved him. I feel guilty because I should have been prissy and despised his lifestyle, especially his cheating on his wife, but I couldn't help myself but like him. Maybe I felt that I didn't live in his shoes, so what did I know, and what business was it to me.

Here was a man who could quote the best writers, discuss the movie industry from its inception and make a great recommendation for a restaurant.

When I left the agency for another job, I got a phone call from Saul, asking to meet me for lunch. We went to this little restaurant on one of the side streets along Second Avenue and he asked for a chance to do some artwork for me, which I gave him in a New York heartbeat. Pulling out a cigarette and holder, he had a European Dandy-like air that made me feel like I was in old Vienna or Paris as we discussed details and money. Here was a man who knew the likes of Picasso, Hemingway and other such luminaries, talking to me, a country boy from Bellport!

He is beyond a doubt, one of the most interesting characters I ever met. He made my life interesting, and I will always remember the great Saul.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Way back in the 20’s and 30’ there was a huge influx of Italians who came to America to start a new life. Life was hard in Italy, but if you had a family member or friend who would sponsor you here in America, you got on the boat and came.

There is a true story that happened in the ‘30s when there was an influx of Italian immigrants that came to this country. My grandmother Francesca was a sponsor of a few people from her hometown in Naples, and they came to live with her. One day one of them, her name was Italia,  decided to apply for citizenship and needed to know how to get to the government courthouse to apply. This meant going into Manhattan on the subway. Not being able to read English, my grandmother had an idea. She took Italia to the subway station and gave her 14 pennies to hold in her hand. The14 pennies were for going and then the 14 pennies again for coming back. Each penny would represent a station. She was told by grandma to put a penny in her pocket after each stop. When she ran out of pennies, that would be the stop, go upstairs and you will see the courthouse. On the way home, the same process should begin, where the last penny is her home station.

Off goes Italia with 14 pennies in her hand, when suddenly about half way into the ride; she gets shoved by someone and drops the pennies from the excitement of the crowd boarding at that station! The pennies scatter all over the car and she loses some of the pennies. It was very late the evening when she finally showed up with a policeman at my grandmother’s door. To this day, we wonder if she ever got her citizenship papers?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


And other collectibles.

As a youngster, like all my friends my age, collecting baseball cards was a big part of growing up. You bought the Topps chewing gum packets, a slab of gum and 5 baseball players featured separately on a card. You usually threw out the gum as you eagerly searched through the cards for your favorite player. You traded away those players you hated on the other team, in my case the Yankees and Giants of New York and treasured the Brooklyn Dodger players.
It was like we were miniature General Managers.

But when it came to collections, Grandma Frances had me beat, but her collection was more of a religious experience than mine could ever be.

When you visited Grandma, the one thing you would notice was her hookup with the saints and Jesus, which was displayed like a Coke sign at a ballpark, big frequent and sometimes even flashy. Going into her bedroom, dark and mysterious as it was, was an experience with the holy, supernatural and mysterious. The bedroom has little light, and the numerous votive candles would make the walls flicker and dance, drawing attention to the sacred heart picture of Jesus looking carefully to the side as if watching some interruption that was presently occurring.
 Jesus wasn’t the only holy picture to be mounted on the walls of the semi-Vatican, there was of course Mary, standing on a small globe with clouds at her feet as she wore a crown on her head.

Grandma’s collection consisted of medals, pictures and small altars on bureau venerations to various saints. There were pictures of the old world, and in them a spire or two of the ever-present churches that populate and dominate the landscapes and Italian country sides of Italia.

But the single most thing that caught my attention was of one of her brothers who had died in Italy and someone sent a picture of him in his shiny new coffin being assisted sitting up and facing the camera. Add that to the shimmering walls and solemnity of the room, fueled by my imagination and you had a major moment of creepiness.

Grandma wore her religion on her chest, in the guise of medals with little ribbons, rosaries that rested in her hands and an occasional movement from one finger to the other. What was she praying for? Maybe one of her children, maybe a friend or family member from the other side of the pond.

Even her music was religious, with a small 45 rpm she gave my father, ‘Santa Maria dell Arco.’
The cover had a picture of a sunny day and a church with a steeple and somewhere was Saint Mary overlaid on everything.

I’ll trade you two Saint Anthony 2”x 3” for a 4”x 6” Saint Joseph and I’ll throw in a tiny St. Christopher medal.

Monday, July 17, 2017


St. Ellen and one of her projects.
If you are wondering who Freddy is, he is the patron saint of the deaf. His saint day is July 18, and he died in 838. He is starting to gather ear wax and needs to be removed. Not for anything, but no one listens to him!

But who do we replace him with? How about a woman? And I know just the woman, St. Ellen of Holbrook, the new patron saint of the deaf. Yes, it has a nice ring to it and I think it might fly, I mean we do have a progressive Pope, don't we?

Now you are wondering why I make this recommendation, and it is because she has extensive experience with the deaf and audio challenged since she is married to me for 46 years!

But it doesn't end there! At the Wanna-Be-Bank and Trust Co., people come from miles around to seek out her advice and listen to her scream at them. Often deaf members of the bank ask for St. Ellen specifically, knowing she will communicate with them to the best of her ability.

She goes out of her way to soothe people and make them feel good knowing she is patient and caring.

But the Wanna-Be-Bank and trust company wonder has not only taken members under her wing but friends, friends that she finds through her good heart, mainly one lady who was so deaf she screamed at herself so she could hear herself think!

So, when you think you didn't hear it right, don't be afraid of whipping out a prayer to St. Ellen of Holbrook.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Years ago, growing up in elementary and high school, racial prejudice ran through the core of everyday life, we took on the values that were taught to us and we set about believing everything we read or heard, including the teaching of our parents. But we grow, we learn to reason and question everything, and with social media and the Internet, we have large opportunities to be better human beings.

Recently I had a conversation with an old schoolmate from high school that left me extremely disappointed in him. He feels he needs to speak out about politics and his beliefs, is a Fox News junkie and is still living in the past. He has a habit of saying things that he hears, reads of thinks are accurate because he read it somewhere on the Internet. He was intent on telling me that for a fact, 80% of black families are missing the father. I suppose he feels this is a fact but when I asked him where he got that information, he stated: It's a fact!" Again, I questioned him and still, he persisted. His fact is not a fact. There may be a high rate of missing black father, and I know it is a social issue from way back, but there is no point in discussing history with the idea that it is still the truth.

He asked me to listen to a 12-minute presentation about how the Democratic party was racist in the past and the Republican was the hope of blacks in the past. That is true, but not the case anymore. He failed to mention that part. Conveniently he forgot about Lyndon Johnson and the Civil Rights act that went into effect in the 1960's.

It makes me sick that we need to single out race or religion and portray it as inferior to what we believe, regardless of how false it all is. I recall 9-11 and the reactions of the people fleeing the scene of the disaster, I saw American citizens running for their lives, not black and white, I saw people, everyday Americans, not Christians, Jews and Muslims, they are all my people.

My ex-friend is a good person, he was fun and we laughed at each other and ourselves, but I can't condone that kind of talk, that kind of observation about blacks or anyone.

Long ago my grandparents, just like his, came to this country not speaking the language. They became loyal Americans, paid taxes and worked hard. Yet, they were hated because they were different, they were a threat to others in a mindless fear, how could I ever betray their pain and the discrimination held toward them by being prejudice?

I have given up religion, politics and have taken a secular attitude toward both, I need to be more accepting of all in terms of their politics, their religion, but not their hate.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


She lies still under the soft sheet-like blanket that the hospital provides, all the world shut off and isolation is evident. I guess dying is the signal that one no longer counts among the living. The loneliness is pronounced, like the clarion of a hunt, loud and clear and final.

The room offers nothing but a reminder of a life spent, that it is or may be the final resting place for someone's child. Often when I visit someone who is on the threshold of crossing to the other side, the air, the sounding silence and the gravity of it all takes me to the thoughts of the parents, mostly mothers who have passed on and now wait for the reunification of their child.

I often wonder how a mother who is alive worries about her child no matter how old that child is. It takes me to another place, a place filled with mystery and wonder, what does the mother that is deceased see when her living child in under duress or danger? If she is alive in thought or knowledge that in spite of her existence, does she feel the worry she had as a living person for her child? Is she happy when the final day approaches for a sick child that it is all over, the hurt and meanness of this World we call home?

As I looked down into the tubes and connectors to this poor child in her early 50's, a restlessness comes over me like a wave that sweeps one to the shore, or maybe a rip-tide that pulls you away from the safety of the shore and crashes into you with pictures of your own child, a suffocating sense of desperation. It makes you want to hold your own child, squeeze her tight and never let her go.

In life, we have three entities: yesterday, today, and tomorrow when it comes to our children. When they die on us it leaves us with only yesterday, the reality that the book of life is finished and there is no more to write, only to read, over and over again.

When I visit someone without family that is on that threshold of eternity, someone without loved ones, it reminds me of a situation that happened to me a few years ago. It doesn't matter how old, it is someone's child. It could be 90 or 9 or 9 months, it is someone's child. It could be you, or me, or your own child. We are all: someone's child.

One morning, I went out to get a coffee and buttered roll, and as I entered the Handy Pantry, there stood at the counter an elderly woman. The small counter was loaded with groceries, cans, boxes and loose vegetables. Except for it being such a large order, I didn't think much about it and went to the coffee pots. I poured a cup, placed a lid on it and went to pay for it. There still stood the older woman. She was small, somewhat delicate and overburdened by her purchases. She was struggling to put her change in her purse, and gather her many bags. She looked up at me and seemed embarrassed and apologetic for still being there and taking so long. I reassured her that she need not hurry on my part, that she should take her time.

Without sounding elitist or obnoxious, she seemed somewhat simple in her manner. Her focus was trying to explain herself to me through her eyes! Her shoddy coat, her head covered with a tied-on scarf, she dragged herself out of the store. She made me feel sad. Funny thing is I felt sad not so much for her, as for her parents! Yes, she was much older than me, and I felt sad for her parents, parents who are long ago dead! Why? Because I wondered if they looked down on her at that moment and realized she was so vulnerable.

I often wonder if those that passed on look down on us, and view our lives from the other side. Do they see when we are in danger, do they see when we struggle and fall? Do they cry when that happens? Do they worry?

As a father of three children that live in my world, I worry about them. I might get angry with them from time to time, but rest assured, they are someone's children. Mine. I think about how we hurt each other, and cripple and maim. I see pictures of orphans, tears in their eyes as they struggle to survive from wars and natural disasters, maybe hiding from some predator, and I think, that is someone's child!

I often wonder if my in-laws, my father, and mother-in-law look down on their daughter. Do they think I take good enough care of their daughter? Do they worry about her because of me? I do try, but is it good enough?

So when you start to lose your cool, become impatient and maybe want to smack someone, remember, it is someone's child.

Friday, July 14, 2017


Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment

MOLST is an acronym for Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. The NYS MOLST Program is an initiative to facilitate end-of-life medical decision-making in New York State. That is the cold and impersonal name for it, MOLST. It is really putting someone's life in your hands to decide if they should live or die, and how to succeed at it.

As a member of the Guardianship Committee, I have had to deal with the MOLST form over the years. On three separate occasions, people with mental disabilities who had no loved ones, who were Guardianees to the chapter have been in the end of life situations. Two of these people passed on peacefully as could be done and humanely as possible, one cheated death, so far.

The MOLST form is a checklist that the State and hospital along with Medicaid Law Services must approve for guardians to ask for ‘no intubation' or ‘no incubation' or any extreme measures to keep someone alive who is terminal and cannot process body functions properly.

As a member of the committee, one has to determine what is humane and makes the most sense in the interest of the individual dying. It is something that can be done through the coldness of reports, meetings and other paperwork that comes to a committee member, you don't have to view the patient, necessarily, as long as a couple of members visit the hospital.
How cold and impersonal!

Thursday, July 13, 2017


One of the things we as a married couple, and even before our marriage, was to leisurely drive out east toward Montauk or Orient Point. Take a nice summer day, blue skies and a gentle breeze with no humidity were a clarion call to nature at its finest.

July 9th, a Sunday was one of those days, resplendent with all the qualities I mentioned. On our way, we stopped for a great breakfast that fueled the anticipation of the day ahead, like an unopened present for a child and continued on to the ferry in Greenport to shuttle us over the small gap of water to Shelter Island.

It is very little in life more appreciated than a perfect day, and with my sweetheart, it is a bonus beyond imagination! To sit among the trees and plants, beside a lakeside view, to hear the sweet harmony of a bird's concertina or witness the greeting of little white fluttering butterflies gives me great joy and elation, it is indeed a great gift from God.

There was a 12-noon tour of the Sylvester Manor that occupies the grounds, which in itself was great, but it was the grounds that held my attention.

There are trees that date back to before the Revolutionary War, plants that propagated from a shoot in England to completely surround a multi-acre estate. Butterflies fly right up and bump into you, then fly on to their business. Some trees branches grew into the ground and emerge as another fully-grown tree.

It was late morning when we sat under a shade tree that overlooked the beautiful lake, the water calm as a marble floor and just as reflective in the image. Gentle wiping of the surface by the wind led to patterns from the gentle breeze, that caressed one's body and stilled the soul to feel the joy of being alive! The sun, tamed by the temperatures of the day gave light to the sanity of quietness.

It is a million miles away from civilization so it seems, but only minutes by car, yet the stillness and calm of the grounds makes for a sense of hallowed grounds, the burial grounds of former slaves and indentured servants that find their final resting place among the trees and wildlife, with the calling of nature's inhabitants to sing out and calm a restless soul.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Every summer around this time a picnic is held for the families of the agency, Suffolk AHRC. The agency is dedicated to the betterment of life for those less fortunate than we are who suffer from developmental disabilities. Using a large tract of land under the shadow of a baseball diamond owned by the Suffolk County PBA, there are two large tents covering hundreds of chairs and tables. There is a set up for food and drinks and a place for various amusements. It costs nothing and is devoted to the families who have children in the various programs both in the agency and other agencies on Long Island.

In buses, RV's, small shuttle buses and even cars, a large parking lot is filled to capacity, and as they unload the passengers there is a parade of wheelchairs, walkers, and canes, people who can walk, but not well and on occasion aids and drivers as they enter the area. The smoke from the grilling of the hamburgers casts a cloud over the grills and slowly dissipates into the sometimes, windy air, which casts itself as a cool breeze cooling the humidity down to bearable.

As I sit under the tent that protects me and fellow board members as we eat and chat with the participants from the many homes that attend, I watch the parade f arrivals and try to recognize each group that comes, while also looking for my daughter. I wonder: where are the families? Where are the parents, brothers, and sisters of the program participants?

Then it occurred to me that perhaps I misunderstood the meaning of family in this case. Where were the families? They were all around me, sitting together having hot dogs, hamburgers, and sodas, eating popcorn and ice-cream, they are all housemates.

And here is the fun thing, they don't necessarily need mothers and fathers who don't show up, they have each other, and sometimes they greet people from other homes like long lost friends, hugging and kissing one another. Could there be a better family than that?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


The other day was my birthday, it is usually a day that I don’t like to think about. I am another year older and therefore who needs that? I awoke and felt saddened about all that was and is no more, I didn’t want to shower or go downstairs. My wonderful wife helped start the day with a beautiful card and a gift that I appreciated. But the day seemed dark.

I opened her present and then I opened a gift that my granddaughter Darby Shea sent me, two of her wonderful artworks, that I will eventually hang in my office. They are on loan to the refrigerator before finding a home on my office walls. But even that left me slightly depressed.

Then I got a lesson in life. I had a meeting at a local hospital. Being chair of the Guardianship Committee for people with disabilities, one who was in deep trouble and I had to meet with the members of the hospital palliative care, and doctor and nurse who deal in this specialty. We were discussing along with another Board member and agency staff about this individual's end of life and the decisions needed to be made eventually.

Since I had never met this person I decided to arrive a half hour earlier than the meeting and visit with her. She is a sweet woman in her mid-fifties hooked up to IV and G-tubes and under great physical distress. I needed to personalize this experience and understand as much as I could about her life. Believe me, this is very difficult as you gaze on someone who is unresponsive and suffering.

As I looked at her it occurred to me that there is nothing in my life to despair about. Getting older is something to celebrate, having as many birthdays as I do was indeed a gift. In spite of the pains and tribulations, the disappointments and sorrow of life, I was doing better than the poor soul who was on her way out, I am ashamed of myself, and all I could do was to pray that I make good decisions on her behalf, that she be eased and free of all her pain and that her death be a relief when it comes.

So when you have a birthday, please be happy, lift your spirits as high as they can go, that you have these wonderful events and be very happy and most of all, thankful.

Monday, July 10, 2017


Uncle Tony was the shorter man with Aunt Angie and their best man

Many years ago, I went to aa party with my then fiancé, the Little Woman (TLC)

The party was at my aunt's house and was loaded down with many Italian immigrants who came to this country to raise a family and make themselves Americanized. These people were my grandmother and aunts and uncles who all spoke two languages, Italian and Broken, mangled English. To prove their mettle, they could also curse in two languages: Italian and Broken, mangled English.

As the party went along midway through the night, there were two characters in particular that were playing, one was fire and the other gasoline, AKA; Mary and Tony. Aunt Mary was a non-stop talker in two languages, Italian and Broken, mangled English, accompanied by the fasted sign language ever spoken. Uncle Tony was not married to Aunt Mary but was the husband of my Aunt Angie who jointly owned the children and the mortgage on this field of dreams. Both could swear in Italian and Broken, mangled English.

Aunt Mary loved to talk and talk she did, as I was mesmerized by the manual ballet her hands performed, expressing herself so eloquently. By a show of her hands, she could stress a point, name someone a son of a bitch and tell you how happy she was for you. She was cool.

Aunt Mary was one of these short ladies that did everything quickly, and you better be on your toes or you fell into her whirlwind. She was my Godmother's niece and had two children, a lot older than I was. Everything was done quickly, she ate fast, worked fast and talked fast.

Aunt Mary came to this country from Naples early in her life, I think in her teens and grew up in my Grandmother's home. She was treated like a daughter and sister in the household. Dad also had a sister Angie,

Uncle Tony was my favorite uncle on my father's side. He was a kind man, who loved his wife and did whatever she demanded of him. He had a little bit of a drinking problem, and once said that Patchogue was a great little drinking town with a fishing problem. He was not educated and had a menial job in a local syrup company and would give us free gallons of coke syrup, which Mom used to remedy upset stomachs.

As parties go, a game was needed, something to liven up the proceedings and interrupt the yelling. The game of choice was Choo-Choo, a game where one becomes an engine and tags someone, to hitch up and follow the engine to the next room out of sight. People are added as the game goes on. It would become one of the greatest train wrecks of the century. As the ‘train' pulls into the station, the person before the last online says "ALL ABOARD" and smacks the last person on the line. This happened to each person who joins the ‘train'.

Well, as you would have it, Aunt Mary, who isn't too fond of Uncle Tony decided to tag him, because he was the only one left to tag who was playing. Off they go and all I hear is commotion going on.

"Why you sonnamabitcher" SMACK!

Uncle Tony didn't get the rules of the game!

Sunday, July 09, 2017



I’m talking of course about July 9th. It began on June 19th in the year of Our Lord, 1971.
It was a quiet year until that faithful day I sauntered off the altar steps to receive my bride to be. 
Ever since I have been happily married and I know so, because she told me, and she never lies.

Birthdays are a wonderful thing if you are a child, or are paid by the year. I have always found ways to try to make her birthday special, although she doesn’t think it should be, well maybe she should ask her children.

Sometimes, to say Happy Birthday, the meaning is different than just a party, it is saying: Thank God you were born, thank goodness you picked me instead of someone better, thank my lucky stars you are the mother of my children! Then it truly is a Happy Birthday.

I can’t imagine anyone in this world who could have made me as comfortable loving someone as the birthday girl. There is no pretense, no show, and certainly no pressure. When she hurts, I howl in pain, when she cries I sobbed so hard my heart hurts. We live a very quiet existence, I live for her and she lives for me. I could be on a mountain top, alone in the Alps, or on the Mojave Desert and I will feel the loniness, but if she is there then I am home, I am where I want to be when we faced the unexpected, she was strong and still is, getting stronger every day. She is a special kind of mother, one who has lost a child both directly through death and indirectly through birth defects.  Anyone who says anything about her will feel my wrath if I find out about it. She has been nothing but a loving and giving person. My little family is proud of her and will always be.

I struck gold. No matter what happens to me, I have been blessed with a special and wonderful wife, what more is there, and do I care if there is?

When I'm with you,
eternity is a step away,
my love continues to grow,
with each passing day.

This treasure of love,
I cherish within my soul,
how much I love you...
you'll never really know.

You bring a joy to my heart,
I've never felt before,
with each touch of your hand,
I love you more and more.

Whenever we say goodbye,
whenever we part,
know I hold you dearly,
deep inside my heart.

So these seven words,
I pray you hold true,
"Forever And Always,
I Will Love You."

- Chris Engle –


Saturday, July 08, 2017


If I were you I would hurry on down to the Bellport Gateway Playhouse and get two front row seats to the best production east of Broadway, right here on Long Island, NY.

I’m talking about the production of ON THE TOWN, brilliantly performed by a truly great crew of talent. I must say the time just flew away from us.

Having seen the movie starring: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, a fun-filled musical about three sailors on shore leave. The Bellport production carries the same spirit, fun, and great acting, singing and dancing to a wonderful height that off-Broadway has never achieved before! You have to be impressed by the young performers and some of the old ones too.

Then there is the scenery, well thought out and some of it compelling. There is the ending segments or acts that center on Coney Island, and one song is sung solo, the actress standing on stage with a backdrop that was so well thought out it was worth the price of admission. With a series of lights, the set decorator strung out the hint of an outline of the Steeple Chase and the Ferris Wheel, that was beautiful to look at, with a fine elegance and respect for design and yet did not overpower the stage or the performer. Kudos to a great show.

Then to celebrate the show, go to a wonderful restaurant just down the road toward the west to a place called Avino’s, for the best-damned meal with great ambiance and wonderful service you will ever have.

Friday, July 07, 2017


Joe, Me, Pete and Dominic
There is nothing better than when old friends get together. It seems the years are marked with days that have special memories and meaning to anyone who has a friend, let alone more than one.

Every year for a while I have been meeting with three guys from my old company, and together we have the time of our lives, laughing about the times of our lives in the past. It helps that two are like an old married couple that loves each other but love to bicker and keeps me laughing.

One, Pete, is a photographer, and a damned good one. One, Dominic was a studio manager in the past who joined my company after many years with another establishment, and one, Joe, who is the only sane voice in the trio. All these guys are fun to be with, laugh at themselves and each other, but like good eggs in a meatball, bind well.

The last two years we've spent our reunion lunch at a country club called JC's in Manorville, and we sat down for lunch, and when we left the waiters were handing out dinner menus!

Having people come together for a lunch, laughing and apprising each other of their failings in a good way, makes for a huge blur, one of constant joy and banter, the best thing a bunch of old retired colleagues can afford to muster.

When people ask how my retirement is going, I tell them great, and wait for next year's reunion luncheon where we never say: "Goodbye", we say: "Let's do this again!"

Thursday, July 06, 2017

JULY 6th

I'll tell you, its too HOT for this sweater today!
Today is a very important date in the history of the World. Why? Nothing happened. Nothing of any worth happened. Throughout the history of the World this day has managed to slip by, or slip under the radar. People were and are too tired to celebrate after celebrating the 4th of July, and those are the Communists.

To me the day is filled with disappointment, every year I am disappointed that it comes and can’t wait for it to go away.

This date is slightly more likely to fall on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday (58 in 400 years each) than on Saturday or Sunday (57), and slightly less likely to occur on a Tuesday or Thursday (56).is the 187th day of the year (188th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 178 days remaining until the end of the year. In two more weeks, they will be selling Christmas ornaments in the stores and reminders to get order your Christmas cards before it is too late!

It usually is pause for Baseball to have an All-Star hiatus leaving people scared that there is nothing to watch except re-runs.

However, that is the one day I venture outside into the heat and humidity to use the self-checkout at the supermarket. It is the day I try to bond with the lady in the self-checkout machine or Siri if she is open to a relationship. Last year it ended badly once again for both the checkout machine lady and Siri, it seems they both have a one-track mind.

So, every year since I can remember, it will go quietly without fanfare as I slip under the covers f my air-conditioned bedroom and wait for July7th. Now that was a day!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017


look of surprise
It came in a plain 9”x12” white envelope. It looked like the usual mail we get every month from Stevenson University, its monthly magazine about the comings and goings of the University. It is important to us since TLW (The Little Woman)’s brother is the President Emeritus of the University.

Since I thought I knew what was in it, I decided to leave it to TLW to open, after all, it is her brother. Then later in the afternoon, my daily call came. This call is made every day by TLW. She calls to see if I am still alive and if not to know she needs to call the coroner.

“You got an envelope from Stevenson University.” I greet her call with.
Dr. Mannowitz

“Did you open it?” A measured response.

“No!” After carefully measuring MY words.

“Why don’t you, it might be pictures from the retirement dinner.” The wheels are always turning in her head.

“OK!” We hang up.

I go to open the envelope, I know it is not pictured because it would have had a stiff backing.

I open it at the top, and as I slide the contents open, I am greeted by a big surprise.

This is something that would shock my dear sweet mother-in-law, and cause my father-in-law to have a heart attack. There on the cover of a Jewish Times magazine was my Irish brother-in-law’s picture, grinning back at me under the masthead. Did he convert? Was he thinking of it? Was I hallucinating?

There is a caption reading “A New Beginning”. My Irish mother-in-law, God-fearing, and my Irish father-in-law would have read that and had conniptions, Dr. Kevin Manning was now Dr. Kevin Mannowitz!

Turns out he helped in his capacity as President of the University to purchase some land and buildings for children with disabilities that closed from a Jewish organization to add to the grounds of the Stevenson University which abutted the property.

I don’t know if I will be invited to his Bar Mitzvah.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017


There are many privileges in life, but not one rate as well and as high as the privilege of living in this great country of ours. Our grandparents knew it when they choose to come here and our parents reinforced it by teaching us to appreciate and love this land of freedom. God has blessed us as a people, and maybe he did because he saw America as the one place in the world where love for your fellow man was possible, blending white, black, red and yellow into one people, one nation under God, a melting pot if you will.

It seems to me that all these years I’ve lived as a child, student, and adult, the constant has always been freedom and God first, the very reasons we are blessed. I see the old-timers from the Second World War and I am filled with pride and joy. I give thnks for the Viet Nam Vet, the Korean hero and of course the last two Gulf war men and women who answered the call to defeat of Isis. Thank God that these men and women exist.

Patriotism seems to be corny nowadays, almost embarrassing. The so-called sophisticated can’t deal with it and will squash it if they see it. Ridiculing what we loved and cherished as a flag is taboo.

Yet every time I see an old movie like Yankee Doodle Dandy, and I see the flag, the Grand Old Flag waved, I get goose bumps, when I see one fly so high on a pole as it waves to all in sight, there is a lump in my throat, when a soldier or sailor or flyer goes by, I thank God, they are the chosen ones to protect and defend the Constitution, young men, and women who are more capable of doing such tasks than any other nation in the world.

I’m sure the flag will be back in vogue, that it will once again get the respect it deserves, and that those who don’t think so will appreciate it most of all.


Monday, July 03, 2017


I try not to be political on these blogs, since I like to at least laugh and spoof myself. However, these past 6-months have been very hard to deal with. I’m of course talking about the President of the US, Donald Trump. I feel like we have given him a sacred garment and he has peed on it.

I’m referencing, of course, his tweeting and his attitude towards women, does he realize what he is saying? Does he even realize he is the President of the United States? I don’t care about what your politics are, that is important only to you and if you voted for President Trump, I can understand some of your frustration with the past and how he has promised to clean things up in Washington, D.C.

On the eve of our nation’s declaration of independence from Britain, maybe we should reflect on what we are doing to our democracy.

A year ago, people were lining up to select their candidate for the office of President of the United States. These nominations were what we thought we would entrust the constitution to, the safety of our people and culture and our future as a nation. Yet we chose to send candidates that were not honorable, who choose to run for the power of it all instead of the tool it is meant to be, a seat of power entrusted with all I have mentioned safeguarding America.

There has been subterfuge and dishonesty on both sides and disrespect for integrity and the People that they are supposed to lead. What has come out of this selection is one man who promised to clean out the “Swamp” in Washington, and instead has made the swamp larger, smellier and more dangerous than it has ever been.

It is my hope that he will not do any damage to this country, and also he is given a chance to govern with cool heads beside him, for all our sake.

One of the things that have caused this nonsense of tweaks has been the relentless hounding of the press, and coupled with all the POTUS lying, has created an incendiary condition that is slowly igniting.

He was absolutely wrong to respond to any journalist or personality that disrespected him.
On the other hand, it is wrong for a journalist or commentator to say what was said about the man in the highest office in the land. It seems the divisions on Capitol Hill and in our state capitols have been brewing since at least George H. W. Bush, and the disrespect of the office from the days of his son, George W. Bush. The Monica Lewinsky trials and tribulations of President Clinton only point out the disrespect the press shows, but also the occupants of the office.

It gets harder every day reading the newspapers, listening to the TV and radio, and partaking in social media conversations. The discourse has gotten ugly and that seems to grow uglier each day, we need our dignity back along with our national pride!

Sunday, July 02, 2017


It seems to me that with all the outrage at the GOP health care and Obama Care they are trying to stick down my throat while ripping out the heart of all the years of hard work to make my daughter’s life better, we are looking at National Health Care inside out. We need to change the approach and we need Congress and POTUS to step up and do the People’s work.

The big issues facing the ACA or Obama Care stems from the money, there is not enough for people to pay these bills without assistance., and the Medicare/Medicaid dollars will disappear for all Americans at some time or another. The GOP wishes to take it all away from the poor to enhance the rich and the big corporations. This is cruel, heartless and morally criminal. Taking away a safety net for the elderly, the disabled, and the poor such as Medicaid is mean.

But why is it that we are not taking the insurance companies along with the large pharmaceutical companies to task? Is it that they are so powerful that they can persuade those they support in Congress to do their bidding for them? Do they have the power of big political donations to half-ass senators and congressmen who are too fickle and afraid to step forward and collectively say: “DAMNED THIS SEAT IN CONGRESS, THIS IS NOT HELPING MY CONSTITUENTS!”?

Maybe we are all naive in our thinking, but unless we harness these two large influences of health care, we will continue to have issues with National Health Care. The large insurance companies decide what they will pay or cover you for, depending on profitability, and the large Pharmaceuticals will determine arbitrarily how much they will charge us for drugs with obscene profits. They are no uniformity in costs and large gaps between providers of health insurance in what we are paying for. This does not exist anywhere in the world but here in the USA.

Maybe it is time to tie those dogs to a tree and weed them off the fat they have subsisted on for so long? Do we have anyone out there willing to lead the true fight? Is there anyone out there we can find to be independent of large corporations and the lobbyist that promote the propagation of thief from the American people? And the American people, are they willing to fund their future to guarantee their lives and those of their loved ones by supporting a movement.

What we need is a groundswell to notify Congress that if they don’t do their jobs and defend the existence of their constituency, they will not see Washington on taxpayer’s money ever again.