Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Every now and then there is a glitch that involves my TV, DVD player or other piece of electronic equipment that goes haywire. It becomes an issue and then the trouble starts.

We have a TV that the screen is smaller than the picture and we have tried to correct it without success. Some of the image telecasted is off the screen or partially on the screen. You see half a crawl or info you would normally see on anyone else's TV. However, Saturday of this past week TLW (The Little Woman) decided to play a DVD I got her as a gift. My troubles start there.

It seems that once upon a time, TV was simple. You had a TV and an aerial that you planted on your roof like a flag. You ran a brown flat noodle type wire from the aerial down into your house to the TV, then turned on the TV and you were watching. Then slowly things like a VCR player, then a DVR recorder and other electronic devices were invented that required you to re-wire, get new wires and finally a TV that needed to fit the new devices, which in turn needed to be replaced to etc., and so on and so forth, until the back of the TV looks like an octopus ink spaghetti dinner with connectors.

So TLW watched her DVD and in the process decided to unhook and rearrange. This is the ‘Hair hurting method' that she employs so often. This is usually bad for me since she eventually drags me into it and there I am, holding two wires hoping they are live!

I believe that if you are attempting to transform some electrical hookups, try to first understand how it works. Isolate the problem and experiment with what you got. I test the cable, the wires, the TV set, and my sanity. TLW likes to think of herself as a technocrat, while I like to think of myself as a dedicated food taster. Food tasters do not belong in the den behind the TV on his knees with a technocrat in charge. When TLW changed the wire setup she discovered that the TV worked as it was supposed to. We were excited, I even put down my latest testing to applaud her. But still, there was a new problem, we weren't getting Channel 2 well, along with a ton of channels that we used to get! She is now figuring out as she did at 6:00 AM in the morning. I decided to give it a go and start my quest to determine where the trouble stems from.

TLW: "YOU moved some wires, what did you move?"

"I just moved the wires over one notch to see what effect it has on the TV and the fact that we are no longer receiving channel 2."

She starts to laugh at me, destroying my self-confidence and I ignore it, with my self-confidence destroyed.

TLW: "You just move the wires without knowing what you are doing?"

"Hey, If I can get married without knowing what I'm doing, I can move wires!"

WE both decide to give up and call the cable company, who send us a new signal, and everything seems to be back to normal with minor complications like channel 2 comes in but pixelates and stutters.

TLW: "I HATE TO SAY THIS, BUT MAYBE WE SHOULD REBOOT THE TV." I think she loved saying it, myself!

We reboot, and everything seems to be right once again, perusing through all the channels, some of them with speech impediments!

Monday, September 18, 2017


Autumn from the window of kitchen

Autumn is a very nostalgic time of the year for me. Looking back over 60 years ago, peering out of my grandmother's kitchen window, or mom's, there were certain clues to the time of year.

Growing up in an Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn, the fall was the most romantic time for nature and the rituals of life. If you looked out the three-story walk-up and went to the kitchen window, which faced the backyard, you would see certain elements of life. One was the long pole that stood in the middle of the garden with three clotheslines strung across to hang the wash of the three families living in the building. I would watch the landlord mount and climb the pole to attach a fallen pulley or wheel to reconnect it, and think how could he climb that high and not fall?

If you looked out, you could see the tower of Our Lady of Lourdes, it's gray high bell tower slowly resonating throughout the neighborhood, wash hanging out all over the backyards announcing the Angelis. Christian, Muslim or Jew, you knew it was noon-time.

There was the last of the tomatoes as they grew imperfectly in looks but delicious in flavor, greenish and red, all destined to someone's windowsill and then jarred for a Sunday sauce.

In the Fall, it was time to harvest the grapes, that time of year when wine and vinegar were magically created and the pride of a man's plot of land and devotion to his past. It was said that if you waited long enough until the first frost, the grapes would be at their sweetest. To present, someone with a gallon of the homemade vino was the greatest tribute one could give.

Grandpa would send over a gallon of homemade vinegar, where Mom would create the most delicious of salads, the taste stemming from the soured grapes!

But the most telling sign, the most defining tradition, and lasting icon was the fig tree! It occupied the most prominent spot in the garden, reigning over the tomatoes, zucchini, parsley and any other produce Grandpa grew. When the tree was barren in the Fall months, the cellar door would open and slowly large pieces of linoleum and cord would appear, slowing transforming the tree's natural shape into a mummy-like figure, as it was swaddled in the old carpet and then topped with a green bucket, with crisscrossed roping, awaiting the harsh winter. It was a sad reminder that the gloom of winter was about to descend upon the Brooklyn, and the casualness of summer would be transformed into the rigors of winter.

But in the end, it all began a cycle of old-world traditions, mostly centered around the Church. There was All Souls Day, All Saints Day, that adopted holiday to Italian-Americans called Thanksgiving, and of course, the Christmas Eve feast of the seven fishes.

It was a great time to be alive and the place was the best, Brooklyn, NY!

Sunday, September 17, 2017


--> Give me a day and everything can go wrong. It doesn't happen in one incident, no it always happens in pairs.

The other morning I was on my way to the gym for my little workout. I drive along the main road that eventually merges into one lane. It is usually about 5:30 AM and there is no one on the road. That fact does not deter me from being careful anyway, especially when approaching the point of the merge.

In front of me was a car doing a reasonable speed probably the actual limit, and I was following him at a safe distance. As we approach my sense of danger alerted me that something was about to happen, and sure enough, the product of his mother and a monkey driving a jeep cut in front of me and tried to get ahead of the car in front of me! AT 5:30 AM THIS MORON IS TAKING CHANCES.

Then later that morning I had to go to the agency to sign checks, as I amble up to the main entrance, I see a lot of people milling about in the vestibule, people that you wouldn't find there, sitting and talking. They all know me and wave, but the automatic doors won't open! I step back and try again, still nothing. I look in and someone is now holding a sign: "WE ARE IN LOCKDOWN!"

To think they were locking me out! The President of the Board is not allowed into the administration building. I start wondering why. Is it the wall I want to build at the Nassau/Suffolk border? Is it because I have a bottle of Russian vodka at home? My cell phone rings and I am informed that some woman scheduled for a 10:30 AM job interview had phoned in ahead to tell the HR person that if things didn't go her way that HR better have good insurance coverage and first aid available.

I manage to get in and enter the building, where I am greeted by the HR director, and sweet lady who is a big asset to the agency and she informed me: The police went to the lady's house and arrested her, she was ill and had a history. I went through the agency and made sure everyone was OK, and I saw the fear in the faces of many of the people I have grown to love over the years, being in that lockdown situation and what it can mean can really get a piece of your mind. They told me that they didn't want me stuck in the building at first, but realized who I am and let me in. I told them that I needed to be in that building, that it involved my people, and if it is danger there, then there is where I need to be.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Every now and again I have the duty of attending cocktail parties. Cocktail parties are a necessary evil that was designed to keep me humble, self-conscious and on guard at all times during the event. There are parties from work, the agency and different events that I have attended and I hate them all!

Once I enter a building, especially alone, I immediately become self-conscious. Am I walking like a dork or an old man? Are my clothes too big from the weight I lost? God, do I need another haircut again?

I enter and someone directs me to the party and entering I survey the room for someone I know to talk to. I go to the bar and order a Jack Daniels Manhattan while everyone else is drinking white wine. (Bunch of sissies) and so I mingle. Then the finger foods start to show up, a tray held by a young lady or young gentleman who shoves the stuff in your face.
I look at the food and naturally, I'm hungry which is a bad thing. Now I am on the lookout for the tray of finger foods, and if it looks good, I want some. It always seems that when something does look good the dumb-ass forgets to come my way and disappears! Of course, if it looks like it was refused by the alley cats, they come by with it over and over again.

But now a new problem arises. Someone will pass on the miniature fried egg rolls, why, because they are fried, no good for you and drink white wine, while mine miniature egg roll is washed down with my Jack Daniels and is half-way down by now, making for self-consciousness my trademark. I watch to see who is watching, while listening to a conversation, while trying to balance my drink and NOT poke my eye out with the stirrer, hoping nothing drips on my tie or shirt, while wiping my mouth with a flimsy paper napkin all while I try to pop into a conversation with some high-powered business man or educator while wishing I am home with TLW (The Little Woman), my feet are starting to hurt and there may be a speech or greeting I have to make.

By now my back is starting to get unhinged too! I am lost to what the Hell everyone is talking about and damned the waiter, where are those shrimp that looked so good and I didn't get any of? I look for a table to sit at, but that will look bad because it will make me look like I am unsociable, (Which I am) thinking only of food. I can hear them thinking: "Look at that low-life, bereft of conversation but plenty on his plate! I wonder who raised him?" (The same question my Mother used to ask.)

Friday, September 15, 2017


The Board at work!
A few evenings ago, I attended a ‘Kick-off' for a major fund-raising event we hold each year at my agency, AHRC Suffolk. The kick-off invites all those vendors that support the agency all year long to also support our annual Candlelight Ball. At the Ball, we invite a table of program participants who receive services the agency provides, and the Suffolk Board of Directors pays for a table for them to attend. They dress to the nines and enjoy the evening as much as everyone else does.

On the night when we all dress in beautiful gowns and tuxedoes, great cocktail hour, dinner and dessert, everyone gets up and dances to a DJ or live band.  Wheel chairs, canes, and walkers are all present and accommodated to. It is about the participants.

But there is something more to celebrate, the generosity of those vendors, some of whom come year after year to help the agency. Much of the funding is from Medicaid but the rest has to come from fundraising, a difficult task. But we have these ‘Guardian Angels' to constantly rise to the occasion, giving money and services to our cause, puffing up and supporting those who can't support themselves.

Being a parent of a child with disabilities for some many years, I know what the fears are as a parent, I understand the need to provide for the future for my daughter Ellen. Having an agency like AHRC Suffolk to support and give encouragement not only to my daughter but to my wife and I is a God send. It contributes to our ability to put our heads on a pillow and fall asleep at night without fear for our child.

Among this group of guardian angels is a board member who has no one in our programs. He is a strong and vital member of the board and I look to him for advice many times through the course of my presidency. He owns a company and travels a lot to of all places: China. In his company, there are employees that deal with developmental disabilities. This is his policy and always has been. There is no hoopla or fanfare about what he does for these individuals on his or his company's part, just a good man.

I hesitate to give his name since he doesn't know about this blog, and he may not want to be pointed out, but I can say publicly to a private individual: Thank you for my wife, my daughter and all those we serve and the many parents and siblings, from the bottom of our collective hearts.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Egg creams, mellow rolls, roasted chestnuts, dirty water franks, knishes, all the culture of a 10-year old in the heart of Brooklyn. There were bakeries that baked fresh Italian bread every morning calling you to a new morning. Then on Sundays, pastries shops, Mondays: pickle factories that fed the air with the distinctive smell of Kosher pickles fermenting in big wooden barrels, and of course, ice cream parlors, with their long counters and stools, small tables for two and shoemakers, when you enter you smell the fresh cut of leather and shoe shine polish.

You couldn't go through a neighborhood without the smell of pizza! Italian restaurants seeded with the cooking style from the old country, you could go through the streets and find a beer maker or two, all lending themselves that distinct beer hops odor that permeated both the streets and bars, life was an orgy of wonderful smells.

That was Brooklyn in the 1950's, almost a food festival from sunup until sundown.

Of course, it wasn't just food. No, there were the fig trees and the grape vines that carried over the pond from the homeland, be it Italy or Germany or anywhere in Europe. There was the pride of making your own wine and bottling it by the gallons.

You hopped on a subway and the odor of the steel rails squeaking against the steel wheels of the IND or BMT as they plowed into the station. You could jump on a bus and head into NYC, Queens and the Bronx, you could go anywhere you wanted.

There were at least three Catholic churches and two Catholic schools all within walking distance, as well as the public elementary schools, junior high and high schools.

Mom and pop were the foundations of the neighborhood, from the kitchen table to the local store. Delis, bakeries, vegetable and fish stores and shoemakers, as well as dress shops and jewelry stores, all owned by mom and pop.

And the parks, so many and so green amongst the concrete jungle and overhead rails, dot the country bringing relief and calm to an otherwise hectic and busy life.

If you never lived in Brooklyn I wish you had, it was a special place in a special time.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Yes, the media had a field day! With the help of Irma, the Hurricane, they had a major event.

What can lift a lazy weekend for a New Yorker than some kind of catastrophe the media needs to cover? People in need of help? Let's get a camera on that! Winds and gusts dangerous? Let's get a reporter in that! Devastation and cruel faith to homes and businesses? Let's pan the mess, all for you and your viewing pleasure.

On all the TV stations that covered Irma, they all had the same scenario, reporter fighting for his life, red patches of color across the screen and endless interviews, asking the same questions and reporting the obvious, trying to build tensions and fear in everyone who views.

How can the media heads allow these reporters to go into the teeth of the storm and report? What does it do to the story when the poor guy is already disheveled and drenched, not wearing a hat and his feed going in and out?

The reporting from the news room is just as bad. I guess there are too many nice weather days and life is boring. Once the event becomes news-worthy, the reports become fast paced and the excitement in the reporter's voice reaches a new height, and eventually, he hyperventilates or goes into an orgasmic state, eyes fluttering and arms in the air.

But the best they save for last. The next morning after the media all over the world reported that Irma is the worst hurricane ever, with wind speeds at 175 mph and gusts of 225 mph, a young woman, maybe 25 years of age is interviewing an elderly couple in a shelter. The elderly lady is 96 and he is 98. They are both distressed and the lady is on the verge of tears, and this young brilliant lady, without any experience, asks this question:

"Is this the worst storm you ever saw?"

Tears flowed from the elderly lady, and I don't know if they were from the devastation and possibility of their home wiped out, or the stupidity of the reporter's question.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Now Jim Manning was a retired gentleman whose daughter happens to be married to me. He retired when she said she was marrying me, figuring: What else could go wrong?

Jim in his retirement lived for the news, Sunday mornings particularly, while his dumb ass son-in-law was watching all the pregame shows for the NFL: he was watching ‘Meet the Press' among other politically oriented shows that aired on Sunday mornings in the 1970's. Sitting in his chair, a chair I still covet, he made observations and announcements about what he heard. A Democrat at heart, and very liberal, his sympathies aligned with the House Investigative panel, he set in for a long and enjoyable haul in front of the TV.

Everyone was wrapped up in the Watergate scandal, and watched all the news clips and read all the newspapers, as Americans witnessed something so unthinkable. It was a scandal made for the Internet, when there was no Internet, as the testimony presented daily brought new revelations almost by the hour.

For me, reading the newspapers in the morning on the train and at night going home from work, I had enough of it and wanted to get away from the hoopla at night and weekends, but Jim loved it! Give him his chair, his Sunday Times and his TV, and he put his own perspective on the news and I had to hear about it. It was now his passion, his love, and his job, to give me zingers, dingers and opine on the current state of affairs.

But I had a little secret, I never told him, I was part of the Watergate hoopla! Yes, me, that always-skinny kid with two babies was a part of the Watergate drama. It seems my boss was on Dean's List, the infamous list given up by John Dean, White House Council for the President. Apparently, Mr. Nixon had a bone to pick with anyone who had access to the media and political clout that didn't coincide with Nixonian mythology. I designed the button that said: "I'M ON THE DEAN'S LIST" which either made you smart if you went to college or in trouble if not.

Not telling my father-in-law that I was behind a button he kept seeing, pumping out propaganda he was reading and being paid for it would have spoiled our relationship. He would have then probably kept his opinions to himself in front of me, and I enjoyed hearing his rants, remarks and daily reports as he interpreted them. Plus, I was politically a dog, not caring who ran the country, since whoever it was, was going to run it into the ground anyway. This, of course, is still my belief, but with a more informed attitude towards all political parties and their promises.

When the Watergate scandal was over, Grandpa Jim went back to his daily New York Times crossword puzzle and his weekly routine of correcting the typos he found in the Sunday Times and mailing them on to the newspaper to note. His career ended when Nixon waved goodbye on the Marine helicopter, and like Nixon, Jim's career rose into the sunset for good.

But why do I tell you this? Today is his birthday, had he kept better care of himself he would have been 107-years old!

I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy. I would say traditionalist is who I am, a man that does not defy convention. I am not a conservative in a real sense, and not a liberal, just someone who likes to hear a good argument and weigh the pros and cons.

I have left the impression that I am conservative, and maybe I dress like one, but I do follow some of the life's conventions. For instance:

Many years ago, when I asked TLW (The Little Woman) for her hand and the rest of her in marriage, I never asked her father for her hand. That was because I knew what a great gal she is and was afraid he'd say no, and I didn't know which hand to ask for.

But a funny thing happened, he never tried to stop me, in fact, he came to the wedding!

Jim was the kind of man that made me laugh, he had opinions, moods and was in all of that a gentle soul, gentle enough for me to respect him as a man, a great father and provider, and really an embodiment of the American Dream, coming here to America from Ireland as a young man.

Today is his birthday, and how can you not go by this day without thinking of him? He wasn't anyone for fanfare, boasting was not in him, just the goodness he taught his children, and I was lucky enough to see it in his daughter and children.

If you met my mother-in-law, Helen, you would say what a sweet woman, and you would be right, Jim was smart enough to see that. Along with Jim, Helen also worked to get their kids through a Catholic elementary and high school for all their children, and sacrificed and did without so their children could have the education they deemed to be the best.

He was a liberal at heart but washed his hands of extremism, he would probably not have accepted intolerance of any kind. He never tried to impose his will on anyone or become offensive to people with his political bent. I guess people were glad to see him, but he would never know why.

My brother-in-law Steve, Sister-in-laws Sara and Angela and I have been lucky because we got to know him through his children.

We miss you, Jim, we really do, but you did do something good, you left your children, and I for one am grateful.

But it still occurs to me, I never asked Jim for his daughter's hand in marriage!

Happy Birthday Jim, from the cad who married your beautiful daughter.

There are people in this world that when you meet them, they are forever in your mind. They stay with you in their voice, outlook, and demeanor. They stand in your mind like Mount Rushmore, well after they pass on. Such a man was Jim Manning. Jim has been gone too long, and I think I miss the old codger; his mind was unfortunately not utilized to its fullest extent because the world was too stupid to tap it. But in spite of the world, he did leave of legacy of children, and grandchildren and great grandchildren. He also left great memories.

TLW (The Little Woman's) younger brother Dennis took the time to make a family tree, and I think although it is wonderful to do, he should really write a history of his father, and whom he was. This historic Bio should be written for all the grandchildren or great grandchildren of Jim Manning. They would see how they became who they are. They could take great pride in the fact that their grandfather or great grandfather was a man of high morals and a great sense of what is right and wrong. I think of the word: "Integrity" in the Webster Unabridged Dictionary is a picture of Jim Manning.

I was only a son-in-law, I don't really know if he liked me or not, but I do know that my children have a bit of him in them, and for that I am grateful.

He loved his wife Helen, who was a perfect mother-in-law to me, and he raised 4 wonderful children, who made some great choices for mates, with the exception of TLW, so he did pretty darn well as a father and symbol of morality.

I think in his children's hearts and minds, he IS still alive, still leaving his wonderful sense of right from wrong in their hearts. I know he would have been very proud of all of them today, and what they have done with their lives.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JIM! There should be a statue to commemorate your existence.

Monday, September 11, 2017


--> Recently, I went for a haircut at my usual barber shop but didn't have my usual barber. Attila my barber, is a man in his 40's, tall and slightly overweight, but right out of an assassin's phone book from somewhere in the Serbian Empire, with a heavy accent, and a hitman's flair when he cuts. What's a hitman's flair you ask? His arms go into an exaggerated motion as he waves that scissor around, menacing both life and limb as he chops his way to the final neck shave.

His technique for brushing you is to smack the brush against your head then pound it until all the hair stand up, where he then blows them off with his lips.

Ear hair is another story. Using an electric razor, he grinds the machine into your head until he sees scalp, twisting and pushing and pressing the razor as it totally reforms the shape of your ears, your head feeling like it was used as a shuttlecock. If it comes out of your other ear, you know he went too far!

Neck hair? Ha, he just applies the electric razor until it manages to get under the skin, being the only barber to cut hair at the roots, under the skin.

Then a terrifying moment comes. He reaches into the top drawer and extracts a straight-edge razor as I silently pray, not sure if this will be my last haircut or my first scalping.

This day I have Rob, someone new, and when I say new, he is under 25 and intent on having everything in order. He greets me with a handshake and asks how I want my haircut. I tell him, a regular haircut.

"A regular haircut?" He looks at Attila who stands there listening.

"Yeah, a regular haircut, just ask Atilla, he has my records, he did the last one."

They exchange glances once again, and at this time I realize that maybe barbers should keep records.

Well, you know that Rob has been hanging with Atilla because the assault upon my head was pure Atillian. The son-of-a-bitch kept hitting my ear with the stroking of the comb as he trimmed and cut my hair. He seemed to concentrate an awful lot of time on the side where my carotid artery was opened and stitched, leaving me with a scar and soreness, that when touched, hurts.

I was ready to talk, to admit to anything, just give me something to sign and I'll sign, just end the torture, when the final snip, the final push of my head and the final pain was endured. I'm sure Atilla is proud of his assassin!

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Benny's good friend
Way back in my senior year in high school about when Washington crossed the Delaware there was a guy by the name of Benny Galliano aka Benny Da Buffer, (not his real name to protect his sister) who was transferred from a Brooklyn High School to Bellport High School because he was always in trouble. He belonged to a gang in Brooklyn, and often "Jitterbugged" as they say meaning street gang warfare. The reason Bellport was selected was that he had an uncle who owned a factory making clothing in the Bellport area, and his parents figured as far away from Brooklyn as possible was good.

Benny could be a bad influence on the Pope, let alone Bellport High. He had a heart as big as the great outdoors, but sometimes the brains of a fish. Benny's sense of humor was tremendous, and could also improvise Elvis at a moment's notice, and people, for the most part, liked him once you got to know him. He stood about 5" 9" and was slightly overweight, maybe 50 pounds of slight. He had a fat nose and a face for radio (He knew this because his Mother told him so). His eyes were set very close together, penetrating and it made him look like a thug.

I met Benny after a few weeks of school that September and it started as he was transferred from Brooklyn to Bellport. He just gravitated to me and we became friends. I think it was because my shop teacher Mr. Walker assigned him to be under my wing and we got along great because of some similarities (Brooklyn, Italian.) Benny just could not retain anything. Soon he was coming to me for help in English, Math and Science classes for home work and soon we were spending afternoons doing a review of the class work for that day. He begged me to do it because if he failed, he would be thrown out of the house, sent to work in his uncle's factory, and they would take away his shiny new fuel injected Bonneville which he hoped to add an additional carburetor so he could keep all the neighborhoods he frequented, awake and on their toes at 2:00 am. Benny loved to be noticed. Almost every day we reviewed, going over the same things again and again and it started to come together! Benny was learning, Benny's brain was now the size of a whale, and because of the constant review, I was not getting my homework done like I used to. I would have a job after dinner, and when work was finished, I had to stay up late for my written homework to be completed.

June finally rolled along and I check the board in the hall wall next to the Principles office to see who was graduating. As I go I see Benny walking in the opposite direction with tears streaming down his mug. I rush to the board look for my name then look for his. There it stood Benjamin Galliano! "What the hell???" What's wrong with Benny? I go looking for him and find him on the pay phone talking to his father. I go up to Benny and overhear him saying that maybe they made a mistake and forgot to put his name on the list! "Benny, what the hell are you talking about?" I yell. He turns around and says "Joe man, I can't talk right now" I said "Dumb ass, your name IS on the board" And as I say it, I'm starting to smile, and he says to me "Man don't mess with my head" I grab the phone and talk to his dad to tell him that I saw the name. I drag Benny down to the wall, and point to his name, he looks at me and plants a kiss right on my forehead. He was so scared of not graduating, he was blind to the idea of his name on that list!

After the graduation ceremony, I went over to where he was standing with his family. There among his family is this little Italian lady, who grabs him by both cheeks and says: "You sonnamabitcher, you graduate!"

Saturday, September 09, 2017


Dad wasn't a very fancy man, didn't even finish high school. He didn't even live to see his 75ft birthday, dying from lung cancer. He was humble, and I truly believe he didn't have a mean bone in his body.

Dad loved his grandchildren. When his first grandchild had her birthday on the 17th of the month, for the next 11 months, on the 17th, we had to gather to sing ‘Happy Birthday' and celebrate for the next 11 months as it was a ritual!

Every Saturday night I think of Dad to this day. He insisted on a steak dinner on Saturday nights, and on Sundays, pasta. A big bowl of soup on Monday nights, and on Sunday evenings, he would send us out to the deli for cold cuts on the corner of Somers Street and Rockaway Avenue. Dad would then make the best sandwiches I ever had, with left over salad and mayo. Dad was the master. But come those summer evenings! Then his genius really took hold! He'd get a tall glass and fill it with cream soda, vanilla ice cream, and cantaloupe pieces. Sometimes he'd add a little milk and chocolate. God, I miss those days!

Mom was the religious person in the house, the reason I never got arrested, but unfortunately, Dad would get a hold of me and re-taught me a prayer or two. For example, the "Our Father" Dad rearranged the pray where we said: "Give us this day our daily bread" to: "Give us a steak and our daily bread." I prayed it that way almost into High School!

He was a great storyteller, stories about my grandparents and his childhood, about people who had nicknames and why they had them and had a wonderful sense of humor. He had a remote control and would be delegated to the bedroom to watch TV. Mom would watch TV in the den. When she nodded off, he would sneak to the doorway and put on the ball game. She would wake up and wonder what that was doing on her TV. Dad would say something about Mom to get her riled up, or they would tease each other, and even a bit of playful fisty cuffs would occur, with Dad running away for his life!

Every time I watch a ballgame, I think of Dad. He took me to Ebbets Field to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play. We would watch the games on TV and he loved Jackie Robinson and the Italian boy, Carl Furillo, and all the other Dodgers. He taught me to love the game and tried to make a pitcher out of me once. One day, he got a rubber ball and squatted down in front of my Grandmother's house, and told me to pitch. I threw the first pitch, Dad missed catching it, and smack into his face it goes! "OK, that's enough for now!" said Dad.

Helping people was Dad's passion, and taking me along to assist him was part of his gift giving. We did almost everything together, including working together when I was in high school and college. He would help widows and people down on their luck who he thought needed some kind of help. He lent money and my time very freely. But he taught me that no matter how bad things were, they could be worse, just look at so and so.
Looks like one of his cars!

Like I said, he didn't have much, never owned a new car until late in life, his last car. He got his dream house, finally, and saw a couple of his kids get an education and was blessed with a lot of grandchildren. I named my first son after him because I wanted the name to last another generation, and somehow I knew it would make him happy, if only he lived to see his grandson's achievements, and his name roll by on the credits of the Big Bang Theory, there would have been no living with him. He would have adored my daughter-in-law Courtney and of course my beautiful grandchild, Darby Shea. He loved my daughter, Ellen, giving her attention and amusing her, and then when my last son Michael was born, I gave Dad a picture of Mike that he hung in his living room next to the front entrance, and every day going to work, he would pat it and say: "Hi Mike!"

I really hope he is up there, sitting in front of a TV with one of his favorite snacks, watching the Brooklyn Dodgers have a big inning, satisfied that his life was one of the good works and positive things that have occurred, that all his mistakes are understood and forgiven, that he was the only father I could have ever had and loved.

Happy Birthday, Pop!

Friday, September 08, 2017


Recently, on the first day of school for the locals, I drove down my street and saw four young ladies standing at a bus stop. They looked about high school age and about the same age. Those four young ladies told me a lot, mainly that we are losing our grip on things.

The four stood about 3 feet apart from one another and had very dour faces, filled with gloom, sadness, and disinterest. But the attitude was not enough, they were all staring at their cell phones, no one was engaging in conversation. No one would look at the other, just into their cell phone. How sad! Then I realized they were all overweight, which leads me to believe that there is no activity in their lives other than looking at their phones. I know that sometimes being overweight can be hereditary injustice visited upon the innocent, but all four?

As I continued down the road, there on the corner was another bus stop, this time occupied by three fellows. I'll be damned, but they were indeed engaged in conversation, they looked light-hearted and happy for the first day of school, ready to board a bus that will officially end their summer. THEY were all thin!

As I pulled up into my driveway, I couldn't help but wonder if there will ever be any dating in high school in the future? Will the girls ever be pulled away from their cellphones and learn to converse with not only themselves but with the boys? Is this the beginning of zero growth in our population? Stay tuned, we may be a dying breed.

Thursday, September 07, 2017


Grandma Frances, the hardest worker I ever knew!

I realize this is a few days late, but the Labor Day holiday always was to my eyes, a holiday of heroes. Labor Day was the day that was especially dedicated to immigrant workers, the guys from the “other side” who toiled in innominate and unheralded glory. They were the Irish cops, the Polish welders, the Italian construction workers and all the people from South America, Asia and Europe who could hardly speak English but used their backs and hands, the sweat of their brows and the strength of their bodies to build America for their children and grandchildren, to wash away the prejudice that was directed toward them because they did not have a birth certificate that said: “Born in the USA”.

It was a day that families celebrated those that took up the mantle of providers and protectors, who poured their bodies into everyday tasks without hope of a vacation that was in anyway than the rest of their days.

Back in the day, when jobs were important to a family where the breadwinner was Poppa, and Mamma stayed home to raise the children, their lives centered on the job. Poppa’s job ensured food on the table, rent for a roof over a family’s head and tuition for an education. Poppa made the money and Mamma carefully and prudently spent it. Wise was the ways of those wonderful people that taught their children right from wrong, the value of money and that love came in both heart and soul.

Some families defied the odds when Mamma needed to go to work on an assembly line or a sewing machine, pouring out the hours and labor and sacrifice to make ends meet. The everyday regimen was dictated by the time-clock, the hope for overtime and the dream that the overtime would help pay for a college fund, a wedding or graduation in the future.

But in all their labor and sacrifice, one underlying thread was always common, the fact that all that labor, pain and sacrifice was for their children, the unheard of but deeply felt: Love.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017


When I was a young student in elementary school, run by former Fascists from the Nazi regime, often during the course of the school year, we had bomb drills. The old Soviet Union had developed nuclear arms and the ability to target Our Lady of Lourdes and my second-grade class, right down to my desk! That was scary and so they the powers that were-gave us a strategy, get under that desk and cover your head. Even at that tender age, somehow, I wondered if the bomb would bounce off the top of my desk and lay next to me before exploding, separating me from my shorts.

Of course, the whole world back then was bracing for the end, the sound of Russian bombers flying overhead, and once again I hoped they would at least wait until I was in school, since we didn't have any desk at home!

And so, we come to today, a little nutty guy called Kim's Junk Un who runs a small country called North Korea, a place where people go hungry or missing, yet can threaten the World with nuclear devastation. It is not enough to have famine, hurricanes, and ISIS, we have this nut job, Kim's Junk Un, running around like a nut defying the logic of sanity and mankind, testing both bombs and World patience with him.

My mother had advice for people that got teased: "Ignore him, then he will stop!" I don't think that would work in this case. She used to quote Teddy Roosevelt: "Talk softly and carry a big stick!" Mom also said: WAIT, JUST WAIT ‘TILL I GET MY HANDS ON YOU!" This sounds like the strategy that she would employ before unleashing a force greater than the bombs, her wooden spoon, and weapon that still runs fear in my heart. Often, when making pasta, I would be stirring the pot with a wooden spoon when suddenly, fear overcomes me, causing me to run uncontrollably covering my head as I head for under the bed!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


You never know how lucky you are until you see someone else's luck. You see and hear things that make you shake your head, and then you move on, without comparisons to your own situations, but you just know it is not good.

If you look at the reports that filter through your computer and TV, the radio, and newspapers, the horror is substantial. No water, food or means of escaping the rising flood waters, caring for the sick, elderly and children, protecting pets and defending yourself from looters are all presented in the scenario of emotional and physical anguish.

Your home is destroyed or washed away, all your memories are forever gone, the old photos of your grandparents and parents, those special occasions when the children were small, all lost in the ravages of a hurricane.

Where do you go, who do you see, what do you do? These questions are what occupy you now, where do I get medical help and maybe medications, is there any more hope in your life as you face the prospects of rebuilding a life time.

And the tears that are welling in your eyes only compliment the sickness that is building in your stomach, as you watch your loved ones as they too struggle and look to you for guidance and hope. And what hope do you offer? A hope of uncertainty, one of make believe promises? Can you stand yourself, as the rain continues and the wind calls out the devastation of not only what you own, but of your future?

And where is God? What happened to God? Why is he doing this to us, why is he sending this devastation down on innocent people? Did we not pray hard enough? Did we not call out his name at every turn in our lives?

From what I hear, Hurricane Harvey is by far the worst storm to hit the continental US, the power, force and speed along with the lingering time it took to depart make for the perfect storm, and people, unfortunately, must pay for this natural intrusion. I wonder if it tests their belief in the Almighty? But if they are looking for God, maybe they don't recognize Him, maybe they don't see Him in the rain, maybe the wind deafens their ears, maybe their voices are stilled and muted by the devastation to their lives. Maybe we need to stop asking him why and start thanking him for the help that is coming, maybe that is who God is.

Monday, September 04, 2017


If there is one thing I am grateful for, it is all the wonderful people I have met who are developmentally disabled. These are people with no grudges, no hate, and no excuses, all they can offer is love.

Recently, I was at the main office for a teleconference with the CEO and another two parties on a subject of great urgency. After the meeting, I visit the staff and say: “Hello”, they are some of my favorite people.

Every day that I go to the office, for meetings or to sign checks, I am greeted by this one gentleman who is disabled and I believe delivers mail to the different offices and cubicles. He is a friendly loving man, who I pay particular attention to when I see him. His smile lights up the room and draws you in, as he will engage you in conversation. His name is Tyrone and he is not over 5 feet, but his heart is being that of one who is 9 feet tall.

One morning when our conversations began, I noticed he was wearing a UNC shirt, and I asked him about it and he smiled his smile and made me glad I asked. We would always sing the UNC fight song and laugh. Then he would give me the latest news in his life, his plans for the weekend, or something that he did or was about to do. I would tell him mine and so we went on, this occurs just about every day we met, except for the singing that one time.

Then on my last visit to the agency I got this piece of paper handed to me from one of the people in the office.

Sunday, September 03, 2017


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with a New York State Senator, Sen. Phil Boyle. Senator Boyle sits on a number of committees and is a supporter of people with disabilities and serves Suffolk County as well as other areas. He is a Republican from the 4th Senate District who is open to communicating with his constituents and having one-on-one meetings. He is an interested and involved party to issues that pertain to people with disabilities and asked questions, about what was on my mind.

After meeting with the Senator, I invited him to visit our Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) and tour some of the features that make the ICF unique. He readily assured us he was willing to take up my invitation and set a date to come to Shoreham/Wading River and tour the facility.

One of the things I stressed to him was that we were not an institution, but a home, treating people with the respect we would afford anyone else. When people think of places like an ICF, they immediately conjure up images of large multi-storied buildings, with set routines and regimentation, which is far from the truth.

Ours is a beautiful campus cut out of the woods of Wading River, with 4 buildings, each with 3 wings, each wing is a home in itself, with its own kitchen, living room or day room, dining room and 6 bedrooms, to accommodate the coed residents. As he toured the facility, Senator Boyle was getting first-hand knowledge from our program Director and CEO, each adding to the tour a narrative that gave insight to who we are. He saw the core of the building that houses a nurse and administration for each building. Each individual can decorate their room to their liking, and all have the necessary supports that make them happy to call the ICF a home. I know from my own experiences, that my daughter Ellen loves to come home for a visit with us, but she always wants to go back to her home when she is ready.

Our residents eat when they want, do what they want in meaningful ways and are and always have been, integrated into the community, shopping, dining and enjoying the life of anyone who has no disabilities.

The State wants us to close down, they want us to take all the residents and put them in separate housing holding only 4 people to a house. The State also wants us to pay for this with no assistance from the State. There are 96 residents present at the ICF, that would mean 24 homes, the hiring of staff for all these homes, including overnight staff. It would mean more nurses would need to be hired, cooks and transportation to their day programs.

All this was conveyed to the good Senator, something he didn't realize.

Saturday, September 02, 2017


When the electronic age of communications started in my house back in 1991, it was with a computer placed in an empty bedroom, and I was the only one on it. TLW (The Little Woman) didn't want anything to do with it. The computer was mostly my domain.

I went out at some point and purchased a used computer, one that I used to show #2 Son how to use so he would learn, and even sat TLW down to learn it, but still, she refused to get too involved.

Then TLW discovered that there was a whole world of shopping and information out there, just tap into the computer, and she began her quest to become computer literate, and Internet savvy. The problem was every morning I would be downstairs in the den and she would be upstairs and across the house calling out: "JOOOOOOOOOOEEEE, CAN YOU COME UP HERE A MINUTE? This was doing wonders for my health since I was climbing two flights of stairs, and reducing my waistline, but my morale was sagging!

These calls were often and maybe two or three times a morning! What to do? One day, I asked her if she wanted a computer of her own. "Oh no! I don't need a computer, I can read the newspapers and get the circulars to shop. You can do the computer stuff for me"

Then one year I decided to give up the exercise and think about purchasing her a laptop, a MAC, titanium 17 inches I think. Every morning she was using my laptop and messing up my system by trying to do it on her own. I encouraged her to do so since that is the best way to learn. Sitting next to me, she would try to get on the Internet and complained that she couldn't get on. I suggested that maybe it was her attitude since I was always able to get on. Somehow she would disagree with me. Since we were both using the laptop, me for business and her for information highway driving and shopping, I asked her the next question in November of that year:

"How would you like your own laptop?"
"No, just get me one of those things that do the Internet only."

So, naturally, I got her a laptop.

Since that day, she has slowly learned the computer, and now has taken the lead and has found a new frontier in which to boss me around! The other morning, we were going to purchase theater tickets on the Internet, and she decided to take charge! She made her decisions on the laptop and forwarded them to my main computer to print them out, leading me by the nose through the process of getting her email and following the steps she dictated.

Today, she stands a giant in the computer world, able to whiz through cyberspace, clicking and clacking through as her fingers dance through the keyboard, zipping windows and downloading and forwarding, now, on her I-pad.

She reigns now as she does in the circulars, as she does in the banking world and motherhood, and boss of DelBloggolo-SUPREME!
I, too, own an I-pad. I share books with her I-pad and just finished reading a novel, ‘A GENTLEMAN FROM MOSCOW'. But something happened, once I finished the book on my I-pad, I couldn't leave the book! No matter what I did, the damned book would not close, and after several days of trying, I decided to go to a more experienced I-pad user, yes, TLW!

One morning in total defeat I came downstairs with the I-pad and asked: "Can you figure how to get out of this book?" Motioning me to give her my I-pad, two taps of her magical fingers and she was done!

All bow and hail, TLW.

Friday, September 01, 2017


No, I'm not talking bakery, I'm talking conditions, mainly TLW's (The Little Woman) and mine.

Over the many years, we have been married, we each had a job, TLW's was to complain about the cold and mine was to complain about the heat. Opposites attract each other and we were doing our part to support that theory.

We had a large heavy comforter on our bed that TLW put there, and for years it stayed there all our married life, then for two weeks starting in Mid-August she would take it off because it was hot to her. I would sleep without blankets or sheets beginning in late April from feeling so warm.

At night, as we watched TV, she would in the winter wear a blanket over her legs and her nose would slowly turn red, which worked out well as we would turn off the light to go to bed, the red glow was a guide for us to find our way.

When we went out to say a restaurant, in the summer no less, she would bring a sweater and sit and complain that it was chilly. And so our married life was a constant dealing with trying to keep her warm.

Then after working for the Wanna-Be-Bank & Truss Co., in air-conditioning, she has gotten so used to the coolness, that now she has reverse roles in some cases and even joins me in complaining that it is too hot! This is, of course, making for a happy marriage and now it is her who is asking for the fan or the AC!

Life is good.