Thursday, October 31, 2019


Yup, it is creeping up on me and will soon bite me on the ass! 
It is the time of year when we close down the summer and fall and enter the Holiday Season, right before winter! There are five seasons, as you know: Winter, spring, summer, fall, and holiday.

In front of our noses is Halloween the season that comes via witches, ghosts, and retail. It is funny how the holiday will start religious and end up in retail (See Halloween and Christmas)! Then there are the Government holidays of the 4th of July, all followed by retail support stores open until midnight. And who is the holiday you celebrate? Why the retail stores that drag their workers into work and you to shop creating stress for everyone who needs time off to celebrate, decorate, and even plan a get-together or two. Then how can we forget Memorial Day, it should be a solemn day of remembrance, and instead, we celebrate by shopping once again our capitalist culture taking over!

The latest thing is to decorate your home with a Halloween flag and go with inflatable lawn decorations. This also means you have to remember: get candy for the little monkeys that show up at the door, put up with the parents who interrupt your supper while they send their little brats to your door and stand to watch waiting for you to comment on how cute they are in their costumes. They usually stand in the street with strollers coming in packs, people who I’ve never seen before, all smoking (The very same parents who will restrict how much candy they will let their child eat) while the kid knocks on my door and just stands there looking at me. If the kids are driving to my door themselves, as long as they don’t park on my lawn I will give them a treat, if not I reach into my candy bowl and quickly shove it into their little bags and pretend I gave them something. What I don’t give I save for myself!

There are two days I pray for rain: the 4th of July and Halloween. The harder it rains the better, why, so I’m not annoyed by the constant din of fireworks or interruptions of knocking on my door! Yes, I’m getting old and mean.

When I was growing up in Brooklyn, we got together and didn’t ask for treats, we just offered tricks, usually ringing all the doorbells in the apartment house and then run like hell! Another bit of amusement was to travel to another neighborhood and throw socks filled with flour or chalk. We chose unsuspecting kids, and when his guard was down, we let him have it.

 Besides, my parents never followed my older sister (much older) Tessie or me around when we trick or treated in Brooklyn. My costume was homemade and I was usually armed with a chalky sock to fling against someone, especially if they wore black that day. When we yelled: “Trick or treat” we meant it. Not only did we ring doorbells we rang them all in a three-story apartment and they needed to answer and respond kindly, or else! The one thing my older sister (much older) Tessie and the older kids taught me was to never ring a doorbell of someone you knew because if they didn’t come across, and we tricked them, it would get back to our parents where the trick would be staying alive!

Now I reluctantly go to the door, and there stands about a 3” tall little monster.

 “Trick or treat, smell my feet!”

 The little monster is with his fellow monsters and they all have their bags opened for me to put in the candy.

 Reaching into my supply of peanut butter Reese’s, the monster takes one look and says: “Hey, I don’t like those!”

 My mind says: “Well you little bastard, why don’t you phone ahead so I can accommodate you!”

 TLW (The Little Woman) yells out, “Give him some M&Ms, and I heard what you just thought!

 I’ll give him something.

 I dump a packet of M&M’s into his sack and he checks to make sure he approves.

 Then there are the older kids. You know they are older because of two things. One, they don’t wear costumes, and B they park their cars in your driveway.

Costumes were the homemade kind, old clothing your father didn’t wear anymore but was saving for a second coming, and burnt cork, that marked our faces like we were bums. If we did knock on a door, it was someone we knew, and they always rewarded us with… fruit.

 So, last Halloween past, as the horde of kids came wave after wave, but my chocolate stash was being depleted, I had to act quick!

 “Toots! We’re running out of candy!”

 TLW: “No we’re not, I have more!”

 I search and find more Reese’s peanut butter, and I hate peanut butter. My new crusade is: ‘Save the chocolate!’ Let the little brats have the peanut butter, I’m running this chocolate into my studio while there is still some left and stash it.

 But this is the time of the beginning of the Presidential debates and the messages they put on the air. After they announce what they promise they will do, what terrible things their opponents have done and include their half-truths, misleading arguments and if you are watching closely their lies, they stamp it with their voice-over: “I’m a lying SOB and I approve this message!” Really! Now how will you get out of it???

One of my earliest recollections in life was a Halloween Party hosted by my family. I remember a witch coming and scaring me to death: as she seemed so eerie. I don’t think I was more than 4 years of age.

As I got older, my sister and I would have our party, bobbing for apples and my mouth was not yet large enough too capture an apple with my hands behind my back. She, of course, could grab two apples with hers. There were the candy corn and some kind of cupcakes or cakes decorated in black and orange icing. 

Soon I was out on the street as I aged, joining my sister and friends as we dressed as hobos, and maybe a mask if you were rich. I had on my dad’s tie, maybe his hat and jacket and we went from apartment house to apartment house, ringing doorbells and yelling: “Tick or treat!” Sometimes in unison, we would sing: “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!” Most times we were not greeted with candy but a hearty: “Get the hell outta here!” These people are the ones we loved because we would ring all the doorbells on the mailbox bank and run like hell. 

OK, maybe I’m a Halloween Scrooge. I hate Halloween because it is a nuisance to keep answering the door for some brats to get candy, they don’t do it as they used to, (no real good tricks) and I don’t have a costume!

Once, being it was a dreary day anyway, and I wasn’t in a mood to be bothered, I looked out the window about 3:30 pm and noticed there were no trick or treaters! What? On Halloween: NO trick or treaters? How bizarre is that?

Around 4:30 pm, I noticed a couple of adults milling about across the street and figured, here come the brats, and I have this delicious candy ready to dole out. Wait a minute I thought, why? Why should I give these little monkeys all my hard-earned candy, and I get none? Besides, their parents would pilfer their stash and help themselves to it, while I have no candy, having jumped up and down all afternoon. I had a plan that could explain why there were no brats all day. All my lights were out! My house looked dark and forbidding, that is why they never came; the house suggested that no one was home!

I immediately ducked down, crept back into my den and put on the closed caption with the sound off, this was a great plan, kiddies were all passing by my house. I was going to have enough Reese’s Pieces to last me until next October!

Then the unthinkable happened.

TLW (The Little Woman) came home!

“What, did you run out of candy? I put the lights on in the front of the house, it looked like no one was home, kids are all passing us by!”

“Oh! Are they?”

“Yes, I guess you didn’t realize that.”

“Well, actually it was part of my master plan, to disengage in such tomfoolery.”

All of a sudden there was the first of many knocks on my door, they were rushing up my driveway like rats scurrying from a sinking ship! 

Please tell me why parents have to bring these kids around when it is suppertime, interrupting my supper? 

Bah, humbug, or is that BOOOOOOOOO!

So I leave you with this: Have a happy holiday season as it starts soon, don’t get grouchy like me and if you are smart, don’t answer the door on Halloween, because the kids of today won’t do anything, they don’t want their store-bought costume to get dirty. This leaves you with more candy you can either eat or save for next year!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


If you grew up with me during the 1950’s you knew about what it was like to translate broken English into plain old English. To apologize to some bureaucrat who doesn’t speak Italian and needs information from some poor Italian immigrant just off the boat.

Sometimes people looked down their noses as you tried to make situations whole, giving information as you translated into Italian what a doctor, or insurance agent, or nun said to them. With their sense of concern for the questions, my relatives would try to do the best they could. Even going to the store with someone from ‘the other side’ as they used to say could be an adventure.

In spite of the onus of interpreting English to Italian and then Italian into English, you also had the advantage of some comic revenge.

Sternly and matter-of-fact: “Tell her I need her birth certificate.”

“Grandma, lui vuole il certificato di nascita!”

“Dire questo personaggio, cosa ti sembro, municipio?"

“She says she doesn’t have one.”

 Grandma was a leader of the clan often sponsoring others who came to America after she was settled. Soon new aunts and uncles, cousins and amici’ or paisanos started appearing out of nowhere. They seemed to have an imported look that said and sounded like ‘Made in Italy’. There was my Uncle Mimi who I called ‘Uncle’ because no one knew what to call him. That changed as he started to give his political views. Uncle Mimi was a very handsome man who knew how to dress to wow the ladies. Slim with a thin Roman nose curly black hair and a smile that stretched to the back of his head on both sides, his eloquence was accentuated by his hand gestures and calming voice. He wore black turtleneck shirts, fancy trousers, and expensive black patent leather shoes. He had a perpetual cigarette in his fingers that he used for emphasis and to take the edge off his accent.

Trailing right behind him as his fiancé he spoke about. Uncle Mimi went back to Italy and married Concetta, a strikingly beautiful woman who was sweet and soft-spoken. At the tender age of 10, I conspired as to how to do away with Uncle Mimi so I could get her attention. The newlyweds moved upstairs in the building my grandmother owned, had two kids and shattered my dreams.

Then there was the ‘Smelly lady’ who I believe never bathed when she came to America. It seemed she was always around somewhere, vocal and full of piss and vinegar (That might be what I was smelling) and put up with her crazy husband, Carmello. Carmello was a communist, or at least that is what everyone thought. Blond wiry hair, the curls in a row, he would gather the men into a circle and discuss or yell politics. He was an accomplished debater, using the hand motions of an orchestra conductor on speed, emphasizing his points in fluid rapid motions, truly a spectacle to watch and admire.

Then there was Quellodopey, a frequent visitor to grandmas for coffee or a drink with grandpa. Quellodopey, or Michele as he was addressed when seen, would often find himself in some sort of box where Grandma or Grandpa had to bail him out. Nothing serious, just stupid would happen to him. Being little I called him Quellodopey not knowing that was not his name.

My grandmother had a housemate that lived with her after grandpa passed. We called her Zia Michela and she was a sad case. Very grateful to grandma for taking her in and making her part of the family, she did anything grandma wanted to be done, including setting the table or doing the dishes. The trouble was she was almost blind, so grandma would have the cleanest dishes in Brooklyn, as all my aunts would re-wash the dishes a second time. A very sweet woman, she treated us like her own, ignoring us because she couldn't see too well.

Italians are more clannish than any nationality I know of. To an Italian, interracial marriage was marrying someone from another providence. For instance, Mom’s family came from Moli di Bari, Dad’s from Naples, thus the interracial marriage. With that came the insinuations of who were the country hicks and who were the gentry or more civilized.

Mom to Dad: “Huh, your family was too busy yelling to get anything done in the mountains!”

Dad to Mom” “Ha, your people were too primitive to know any better, when my people threw out a cup of coffee, your people at the bottom of the mountain placed their cups along the side of the mountain to get their morning coffee!

All this banter was in good humor and always good-natured unless you pissed-off Mom. Then Mom gave chase and Dad ran for his life, while his kids laughed at it all.

The neighborhood was a different story. Sicilians got along with Neapolitans, Genoans co-existed with Tuscans all you needed to do was talk the same language, that is, with your hands.

Come the holidays, the people all somehow came together, gathering in Grandma’s kitchen. The huge restaurant-style pasta pot was steaming, the chicken was in the oven, pastries sitting on a counter, the gravy and meats arranged in a plate or two, wine flowing and bags of nuts waiting to be cracked, a crescendo of love, laughter and good strong yelling. It was a cast of characters assembled for my memories like actors in a play.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


Well, we all live for our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren. But sometimes we must go on to more historical relatives, like my Great Uncle Felix. ‘Uncle or Zio Felice’ as he was affectionately called when he was within hearing distance was Grandma’s older brother. Calling him literally ‘Uncle’ twice when addressing him was a bit redundant but also a good idea. He was partially deaf and if you didn’t get him with the first ‘Uncle’ you still had a shot with the second ‘uncle or zio’. When Grandpa died, Uncle Zio Felice became the self-anointed patriarch of all who spoke broken English on Dad’s side of the family.
Physically he has been described as that mean 2’x4’, the ‘Little half a Cigar’ and Little Caesar my descriptions, a Joe Stalin wanna-be, long handlebar mustache and a pair of feet with a hat. He wasn’t very tall yet in his immediate family he towered over everyone at 4’7”. The family got to calling him stretch until he heard it one day and that stopped.

Zio always wore a suit and tie he was a gang foreman for a construction company and the father of 19 children! Not only was his family large, but also, he was starting his very own Italian neighborhood! Grey fedora, black suit and tie, brown shoes, he made a fashion statement, mainly: “Where are my black shoes?”

Every night his kids would stand behind their chairs until the little dictator arrived. Once Mr. Stalin sat down, all 19 would then assume their positions around the table and wait for Papa to stick the first few zitis in his mouth. If you are wondering what his hobby was, I just told you.

A story goes that when he came to this country on the boat from Italy, someone told him there was NO macaroni in America, in which he then headed toward the railing to jump overboard and swim back to Italia. What stopped him? He couldn’t find his black shoes to take with him.

He was a complex man if someone wanted to further his education, say go onto 8th grade you needed the approval of Uncle Zio Felice. Like El Excelente’ in the 70’s coffee commercial, he would give his nod, and the joyous population, all 19 would stand up and cheer, sometimes on a chair to be seen.

He lived on a short fuse, ready to ignite over the littlest of issues such as: “Where’sa my blacker shoes?” and “You gotta bigger plate for this ziti, anda I no liker this a benter fork1”

Uncle Zio Felice was also a teacher. During the Great Depression, as well as World War II or “Il Seconda Guerra Mondiale” as he called it, my Uncle Joe, Dad’s younger brother while waiting for an acceptance letter from Harvard or Yale, went to work on Uncle Zio Felice’s construction gang. He was assigned the job of hauling bricks upon a gangplank to the next level being built, the bricks in a wheel barrel. As the first day wore on, around lunchtime Uncle Joe went to Uncle Zio Felice and showed him his hands, cut and bleeding and blistered.

Uncle Zio Felice: “Avete mani molli!”
Uncle Joe: “Cosa faccio?”
Uncle Zio Felice: “Va l'orina su loro, quella li indurirĂ .”

So, behind the building, Uncle Joe went to piss on his hands to make them hardened, just as Uncle Zio Felice said he should.

It was World War II, and being he was a tyrant, he had a son who wished to become a priest, and Uncle Zio Felice wouldn’t hear it. His son decided to join the army to get away from his father and landed on Anzio Beach, not far from his father’s birthplace, where he died fighting for his country. Had his father relented, he would have lived.

Many years later on a Saturday morning when I was about 12 years old, my Dad said to me: “I have to take your Mother somewhere. I expect Uncle Zio Felice to come with Grandma and your Aunt to see our new house for the first time. If he comes while I’m away, show him around.” Sure enough, the entourage arrives with a flourish, as little ‘Stretch’ steps from the car and I greet him. I immediately escort him and those that follow to the house, through all the rooms, and finally, take him back outside to the front of the house at his request. “Tella me, awhatta you doer over here?”

“What do you mean?” I say.

He points to a spot off-center of the lawn, about halfway toward the street, and says to me: Wella, over here a you puta the bricks inna a nizer big circle and a inna the middle a here you putta the flaga pole.” “Ona the bottom ofa the flaga pole you puta the flowers, a nizer colors."

“Then I put a nizer picture offa Garibaldi?” I whispered under my breath.

“A whatta you say?”

He died in the early 1970s, at the tender age of 90 something, it might have been the diNaboli Cigars that did it!

Monday, October 28, 2019


Grandma had one important rule, which was: you enter her kitchen for any reason; you eat! Say you were attacked by a herd of ferocious elephants that stomped on your head and broke all your bones, or a paper cut and you went into Grandma’s kitchen for relief, first you had to have something to eat!

Living in a tight Italian/American community, people took care of each other. Your neighbor had a son who was a doctor; you went to your neighbor’s son for a cure,

You needed potatoes, you went to the local greengrocer, and you bought potatoes. The important factor was they were all Italians. (NO, not the potatoes, the vendors! Managgia!) You wanted a good lawyer, you went to Belmont Avenue and found a good lawyer, Jewish preferred.

The same was true with preparing your taxes: there was always someone in the family or neighborhood with an Italian last name that did your taxes. H&R Block is alphabet street names running between the alphabetized blocks or streets.

So, one year Dad had to have his taxes made out for both Uncle or should I say ‘Zio’ Sam and the State of New York. Since we had moved from the old neighborhood, he would go back and have it done and asked me to come for the company.

Once we arrived at the tax lady’s house, Rosetta plied us with Italian cookies and black coffee in demitasse cups. Dad put his shoebox of receipts on her kitchen table and the process began and ended with the cookies.

Off we went and afterward stopped at Grandmas, who wasn’t expecting us.

We enter and happily, she greets us, making sure to pinch the Hell out of my cheeks (the ones on my face). She sits us down at her table and takes off while we drink a cup of coffee. Suddenly I get the delicious odor of steak on an open fire, Grandma is down in the cellar cooking steaks!

Reappearing a short while later, she reappears with two steaks, takes out this crusty Italian bread, wine a salad and cheese and pepperoni, (She has to be a direct descendant of a saint) and so we feasted, once more, Grandma’s rule enforced.

I wish I could go back to the old haunts, the older generation and tell them how much I appreciated all they did for me, my love of all of them from Zio Felice’s nasty smelling diNaboli cigars to grandma’s steaks, I hope their reward is great where they are now. God bless them all, in every family like they were, in every way.


Sunday, October 27, 2019


It’s the headlight of an on-coming train!

We were higher than the Lunar moon probe, higher than a druggie on alcohol and heroin, higher than a window washer at the Empire State Building on the top floor when it all came crashing down.

My daughter Ellen was being considered for her going home from Medford Multicare Center due to her progress. A meeting scheduled for both the Center and her organization where she resides. It has been February with all the issues she faces that she has not been home. The meeting is scheduled for this Tuesday.

There was just one thing left to find out about, the source of her pain. I asked for an MRI to see if we could find the source and alleviate her distress. It took almost two weeks to get the results, she still has an infection from an open wound that is healing slowly but will need 6 to 8 weeks of intravenously to treat her with antibiotics! Her home won’t take her back under those conditions.

Speaking with the doctors they can’t guarantee that the attempt to cure will even work, it might not be plausible or realistic to expect that kind of miracle.

So, once again we are on the tantalizing brink of joy, only to be pulled back to face a deep abyss. When does my daughter’s suffering end?

Saturday, October 26, 2019


Now and then #1 Son, Anthony, lays one on us his parents. National Honor Society student wasn’t enough, graduation from a top university in America isn’t enough, excelling at a job I got him while he was in college and the company hiring him from a summer intern to full-time writer where the demand was there for his ability and likeability all were not enough.

Then there was this reference to me as his father: “Anthony’s Father” after years known as Mr. Del Bloggolo until he showed up. If I ever was diminished and loved it, that was the occasion!

He goes away to California to become a writer and almost immediately makes us proud once again, writing for children’s shows for Nickelodeon, then catching fire on one of the most popular shows in many years, THE BIG BANG THEORY.

Are we done yet? Well, aside from marrying Courtney Hyde Del Broccolo, a brilliant and creative person who was so beautiful she should have been a movie star, he has two of the most beautiful children I have ever seen, he gives my wife Ellen and I these children as our grandchildren.

NBC Buys eSports Comedy ‘The Squad’ From Anthony Del Broccolo & Johnny Galecki 

NBC has put in development The Squad, a half-hour multi-camera eSports comedy from former The Big Bang Theory writer-producer Anthony Del BroccoloJohnny Galecki’s Alcide Bava Productions and Warner Bros. TV, where Alcide Bava is based. Written by Del Broccolo, The Squad centers on a new group of friends (and…

And so it goes, just another day in a kid who only wanted to be Batman, or at least Robin, become a scrappy second baseman for the New York Mets and correct his father when needed.

Every time I see his name on the TV I think of his namesake, my DAD, who hopefully knows somehow that his son did something right, had this kid. If he were alive now there would be no living with him as he would see his name flashed across the TV screen because of his grandson.

I still have another son waiting in the wings that will amaze you, too.

Friday, October 25, 2019


October 22, 2019, will go down as one of my best days, thanks to my two oldest children!

First, there is my beautiful daughter, Ellen, who is doing well in her fight to survive that the doctors had her tracheotomy removed and now it looks like she will possible go home to her group home, and live once again among her friends and co-residents!

She is an amazing woman fighting since February for survival, beating cancer among other things. Her life as been disrupted since August of 2018 and she fights on battling pain and discomfort. The doctors told us to prepar4 for the eventual, make ready in our hearts and souls that we would lose her.

Then there is my son Anthony, writer and producer of TV, but most of all, my son.

With no heads up that he had sold an idea that we knew about, I stumble upon it on Facebook and I jump out of my skin. It was late at night and my wife was asleep in bed while I was watching the World Series. I immediately ran upstairs and woke her up to tell her. The biggest smile I ever saw on her face appeared.

Life seems to be getting a little better.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


Having reached the ripe old age of 74 years, I sometimes have flashbacks of my life and with the visualizations come the emotions. I can remember the events and how I felt in general or in particular to the events unfolding once again in my mind.

One thing about me is I rarely get bored. Not that I’m a genius or someone special, just that I think a lot of the past and how interesting it can be. For instance, I remember clearly the day my son passed away, the days before the horrific event and the full heaviness I felt in my heart. I can remember working for major marketing coming and the joy of knowing the people I worked for, the special days that transpired from them and the eagerness to participate.

There were those early days in my career, fresh out of college and working at a company founded by a genius and sitting in my office that was situated on the top floor of a skyscraper, with corner windows giving me an incredible view of both the north and west of Manhattan Island.

I still seem like I’m on the board of directors of a $73 million agency, sometimes presiding in the boardroom and sometimes in Albany, fighting for my agency’s agenda, the beautiful people who suffer from disabilities.

Then I sit back and realize that it is all gone either from my retiring or other reasons like going out of business.

Memories of my children shoot in and out of my consciousness and days spent with my wife Ellen sail through my head in the delightful recall.

I have nothing to be sorry for, all that transpired in 74 years will not be recalled in 174 years from now, but they will last for me, forever.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Sometimes things are right in front of us as we search for them. One of those things is the truth when you need it the most.

As I sit next to my daughter Ellen as she lies in her bed I get angry and it grows very dark. The frustration and despair that grows daily as I watch her slowly try to heal from all that has taken up her life through her health consumes me, etching and burning into my heart and soul.

Then a few days ago while pitying myself I came to an obvious realization. My reality check was this: I can deal with the heartache if she is still alive if I can still see her beautiful eyes that can smile back at me with her unconditional love.

I fear the day I will no longer see her and that is a distinct possibility as she clings to whatever health she still possesses and that I am lucky she is still with us.

Sometimes it gets dark, so dark I can’t see or feel anything but this sadness that consumes me and my wife and sons. I think I need a candle to punch a hole in the darkness and let in the light that is life. That light gives me some solace that she is still alive, that when she is feeling good sees me and smiles, claps her hands and says in her way: “I’m glad you are here Daddy. No one but you and mom come to sit with me in my pain, in my fear and my darkness of fear.

Ellen and her parents share the same needs in these hours of darkness; despair, and loneliness. We sit for hours, me in the morning hours and my wife in the afternoon hours all by ourselves with my daughter. There is no one else to talk to except an occasional staff person. It is cold and sad but we will out of love for our child, hang on until the end.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


And living to tell about it.

Mom had some rules, maybe not rules so much as warnings of impending death if I did not follow her edicts. Growing up was dependant upon me being able to translate into my little mind what she expected from me. Lord Tennyson’s “Ours is not to reason why, Ours is but to do or die” became my mantra, or so Mom hoped.

Those of you who never knew mom never knew her rules, and those of you who did, never knew her rules either. When I was born the hospital staff gave her a book with lined pages to establish her ability to manage her son for his lifetime.

“Be home before dinner time or else you don’t eat!”

“If I find out your teacher had to discipline you, when you get home you will get the rest!”

“What am I related to the electric company? CLOSE ALL THOSE LIGHTS!”

“STOP teasing your sister!”

“ whole pound of butter on a small piece of toast!”

And so the rules kept building, as I grew older and bolder. It seems that the rules she imposed, the more I wanted to break them.

Then there was the button incident, of course from my own doing. It seems I love white powdered donuts. In fact I had a passion for them. I discovered the local grocery store was selling these little six-pack donuts for a nickel, and I wanted some. But where do I get a few nickels? Mom and pop were poor that made me poor, although I didn’t know it. When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, we were so poor we couldn't even afford to pay attention! Makes you want to send me money, huh?

Then it struck me one Sunday morning as Mom was getting us ready for Church. Mom instructed me to ask Dad for some money for me to put in the collection baskets. There were two collections so I needed money for both.

I wake up Dad and tell him: Mommy said, give me some money for church.” (I didn’t have to say please when Mom ordered it) Slowly he opens his eyes and rolls over and grabs his pants from the side of the bed, reaches in and gives me 2 shiny nickels.

As I head toward the kitchen from the bedroom, I pass Mom’s sewing basket, and an idea hits me. For a nickel I could buy a bottle of Pepsi, and for another nickel I could buy a package of 5 or 6 small powdered donuts. I given powdered donuts, you could get me to do anything, say anything or lie about anything! Yes, powdered donuts were my addiction!

So quietly I go into Moms sewing bow where she kept her buttons and reasoned that if I took 2 shiny metal buttons, I could confuse Mom when they came to collect money, then afterward, I could celebrate with a Pepsi and donuts! I couldn’t believe my genius had taken me so far!

Our Lady of Lourdes was a beautiful church, with marble floors and columns, stain windows and a large dome that sat over the front altar. There were three additional altars with the one in the back having La Pieta inside a gated enclosure.

Being a large church, with a school, and about 5 priests, the ushers always dressed to the nines, and when collecting, had these long handles collection baskets made of what looked like wicker.

Mom and I sat, she in deep meditation and prayer, and me deep into whether or not I could scale the grotto wall behind the main altar. Suddenly I noticed the ushers with the collection baskets and reached for my first button. As the basket slid under my nose, I slipped in the first of the shiny buttons. Mom deposited her money and went back into her prayers (probably for my soul) and said nothing. Ah, I rouse was working!!! Donuts for sure!

The second collection comes, and like the first, I slip in the other shiny metal button, Mom deposits her money, and once again goes into deep pray-filled pleading for my wicked soul. Oh! The joy of deep quiet celebration, knowing there were donuts soon on the horizon, glory is to God!

Mass is over and as we walk home I start to talk to Mom, but she is not answering me. I figured her mother instincts for survival have kicked in. This goes on for a few blocks, nothing being said by Mom. We climb the two flights of steps to our third floor apartment, when I announce to Mom that I am going down stairs for a while. (Donuts on my mind)

Suddenly, I feel this grip on my shoulder and the words: “Embarrass me in church?” Whack, dragging me into the apartment. “Hoe dare you embarrass me in church of all places?” Whack, whack and whack. If nothing else at this critical moment, she was certainly hitting the target!

This went on all the rest of Sunday morning, every time she saw me, “Embarrass me in church?” Whack, and more whacks. Dad kept a low profile; he didn’t want to get in the way of her fury, no need to interrupt. That whole morning and early afternoon, I started to pray myself for preservation and rescue, hoping for company to show up immediately, if not sooner.

Relief finally arrived when Aunt Philomena and Uncle Dominick arrived, with customary cheesecake and appetite.

Church was a particularly fun place for me, both as a worshipper and as an altar boy. There was a very hoity-toity lady who would come to church every Sunday with her husband. He was a lawyer, and looked boring, and she was a short, heavy-set woman in her 60’s, with a well coiffed hairdo and a mink stole with long drooping earrings and who carried herself like she was the queen mum. One Sunday we miscalculated the seating, as Mom mistakenly took a pew where this woman sat that bore her name on the end of the pew on a nameplate. There we were, Mom, her four daughters and myself. I was a teenager at the time as we waited for the service to start. Who arrives but her ladyship, the queen mum, sees us sitting in her pew (It really wasn’t her pew) and she gives us a dirty look. How dear us sit in her pew, after all, that should remain empty all day Sunday unless she showed up.
It just so happens as she is sitting among the unwashed she places herself in front of me in the pew ahead of us. But someone else comes along to attend services! A spider suddenly appears along the backrest of her pew in front of me. My sisters are watching, and so I take the spider, a daddy long legs and carefully place it in the old girls hair, where it buries itself deep inside her sprayed do, to the hysterical amusement of the four girls! Mom, being a pious woman, who should have known better, was not paying attention, (I think she was distracted with praying) suddenly looks at me and gives me the second dirty look of the morning in that church!
All through the Mass, the spider made an appearance in and out of the nest of silver hair, and the girls would try as they might, stifle their laughter, as I would guide the spider back into the deep recesses of Lady Clairol miracle maker.
After the Mass, Dad, who never went to church: picked us up and we all got into the car. Mom asks what was going on in church, and my sisters relate the whole incident, laughing as they do. What saved me was Dad, who started to laugh uncontrollably, making Mom laugh too.

Monday, October 21, 2019


I haven’t got a clue about Tweeting. One of my sons is constantly using Twitter and not only don’t I know what I’m doing when I get a message I have no idea what he is talking or should I say: TWEETING about!

I’m no longer hip or as they used to say ‘on the scene’ as references to people in today’s world confuse me. It seems like the comments were extracted from a conversation or a paragraph in a sentence that everyone should be reading at the same time. What scares me is that Trump is using the tool logically as I would use it, although he tweets no logic that I can read.

Using Facebook for me has a purpose, to tell a story or a joke and sometimes I comment on things people post. Somehow Twitter doesn’t make me feel comfortable doing that. Do people post food shots or places? Is it just comments? Should I understand what I tweet? I see many links in posting on Twitter and that might be all the poster puts up with maybe an obscure reference to something.

Shouldn’t we say ‘Twits’ instead of ‘Tweets’ on Twitter? Am I boring you too?

Sunday, October 20, 2019


Yes, I am thanking God it is Friday. Why? Because I don’t have to cook, that’s why. Every night except Sunday and Friday I cook dinner. I have no idea what I will cook or how I will make it. Of course, I need to complicate what I make so that I stay somewhat creative. I push recipes one way or another, fuse ideas and even say to Hell with it, I’ll try doing something different.

Sometimes my creations come from the Internet on how to make something that I have not all the ingredients for, so I improvise and get some great results.

Cooking is a challenge and sometimes it requires patience and foresight. Every morning I ask TLW (The Little Woman) what she would like for dinner and get a dismissive answer to the effect that I should make whatever I like. I learned early on that the Italians have no recipes, they have traditions that make Italy the capital of culinary greatness. So what I have on hand becomes my ‘pallet’ for a creation yet will go to the old standbys on will from the time-tested recipes handed down through the generations.

I go into the freezer and search around among the many saved creations of the past, through the raw meat and fish that hide among the frozen vegetables and try not to repeat something I may have made only days before, after all, variety is the spice of life except for according to my wife women.

But on Fridays my day of rest, we order pizza, covered with half sausage and half-covered with Pepperoni. A bottle of beer and a good mystery and we are set for Friday evenings at supper in front of our TV, how cozy is that?

Like most Italian Americans, Friday pizza has been a long-standing tradition during my life. It started when Friday was a no meat day in the Catholic Church and Mom would make fish every other Friday and Pizza on the others. Sometimes she made it and sometimes we bought it, going down to the corner bar where you could order it. I would go with Dad and loved to enter the bar with its smell of hops and leave with a great smelling pizza.

When I married TLW (The Little Woman) never cooked on Fridays, taking the nights off.
The kids loved it and so did Mom and Dad. Often Dad would arrive with Mom for Friday night dinner and decided if the pie was to his liking. Being how he grew up in a pizzeria and learned how to make pies. Critical to the making of the pie was that the bottom was cooked right, the crust was crispy and the sauce above all was perfect. We found only two pizzerias that Dad approved and so we stayed with them.

The pizza fix is also a TLW tradition started about 47 years ago when she was home with the kids and to reward herself for not killing me for going to work while she stayed home to cook, clean and take care of two small children all week, ordering pizza on Friday nights as her reward.

Now that I am old and deteriorating, the only thing keeping me alive is Friday night pizza. Not unlike the Friday Night Fights on the old Dumont Television network on Channel 5, pizza is always the main event.

But if you wanted a real pizza, created by the Master herself then you went to Grandma Frances, got down on your knees and begged that she make you a pie. Grandma Frances had an imperfect way to make her pies. They weren’t round they were odd-shaped as she created them with a certain flair, a flinging of the cheese and the deployment of her sauce with fresh plum tomatoes, homemade mozzarella cheese and fresh basil, the little chips of garlic calling out my name.

Saturday, October 19, 2019


Or, the President is a sham.

I wonder how many Trump supporters there are today after a display of childish behavior, a show of incompetence and the frightening realization that the President is out of control and allowing the nation to spiral into a leaderless union by Trump’s lack of leadership?

To call the brilliant lawmaker and congresswoman a “Third-grade politician” is somewhere near insanity, but on which side of that line is uncertain. Nancy Pelosi was very deliberate when it came to impeachment when the cry was for it from freshmen congresspeople, she stressed a ‘wait and see’ attitude, serving our country well in the lessons of restraint and fair and impartial governance.

The Orange Crush composed a letter to Turkish President Erdogan that was considered at first read “Adolescent” and childish and perhaps a fake! Some reporters were checking the White House looking for authentication that it is indeed real it is so unbelievable!

Here is part of the letter:  “Dear Mr. President: Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy ― and I will,” the letter begins.

Trump urges Erdogan to negotiate with Kurdish forces, concluded by saying
“Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

This man has no experience in foreign affairs, looking at his latest actions with the Kurds and the shameful regard the World now has of the USA, the Ukrainian the business of coercing for his own profit to win an election with a request that the Ukrainians find dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter who sat on the board of an oil firm in Ukraine.

Now, some of the enablers of the Orange Crush are starting to defend this character, feeling the effects of his self-made and non-advised foreign policy. Mitch McConnell and the prissy Lindsey Graham are coming out of the closet of Republican denial and despair to denounce this abomination of American politics.


Friday, October 18, 2019


As I sit here in my daughter’s room next to her bed at The Medford Multicare Center, she resting so peacefully. It is 7:30 AM and it is very quiet, she is unaware of my presence as I am unaware of how she feels this morning. Her brown eyes, eyes that sing and say: “I love you” are closed in sleep.

I think of what is in store for her today, what pain or event will consume her tranquility and lead to the demise of mine also.

I say a little prayer over her as a nurse enters with meds, we exchange pleasantries and she leaves as quietly as she entered. I try to pray one more time and succeed.

Suddenly, Ellen awakens with a startled jerk of her head from the pillow that cradles her and gives her some comfort. She looks at me blankly and stares ahead this is a sign that not all is well. For the last two mornings, she has greeted me with a smile telling me she feels fine. Today, without words, she is telling me not everything is good. This will grab the pith of my stomach and hold it all morning when I will have to report to my wife that not all is well. She will take the job of sentry and advocate for her and will at the end of her shift, report back to me.

I wonder how many times I have entered her world this year with great trepidation, how many times I’ve held my breath as I enter her presence.

She has fallen back to sleep again and calmness has settled over her, sweeping away the blank stare and the tension I feel. Soon someone will bring in a breakfast tray with pureed eggs, a bowl of cereal and thickened orange juice and thickened milk. I will try to feed her If she wants to eat it, usually she refuses.

Then I will fill out another crossword puzzle, do0 anther Sudoko and then do some work on my laptop. When 11:00 or thereabouts, I will be relieved by my wife an go home. Is this Monday or Sunday? Is it Christmas Day or my birthday? It doesn’t matter anymore.

Thursday, October 17, 2019


Years ago when Grandma Frances was alive and feeding her army on holidays, there lied a deep dark secret… some of my aunts smoked! Yes, this shameful habit had taken among the womenfolk! Mamma Mia!

Granted the men could smoke, they didn’t have to cross their legs or keep their knees together when they sat, or refrain from coarse language, but if you were a ‘lady’ you had to. Grandma Frances never smoked and the only thing she did smoke was her temper from the size of the flames emanating from her redhead.

When a holiday came along like Easter Sunday, the tribe gathered on Fulton Street in Grandma’s large and spacious kitchen, filling every nook and cranny with laughter, fine drink, and delicious food, all made from the heart and soul.

As the festive atmosphere prevailed one of my aunts would disappear for ten minutes at a time, and everyone knew what was going on. No, there were no secret lovers of men, just a few Camels or Chesterfields and maybe a Lucky Strike or two. Thank God there were no DiNapoli cigars in that mix, they liked to kiss me! These dedicated women of the clan were sneaking off in ones and two’s to have a smoke, which needed to be a secret kept from Grandma.

Grandma was old-fashioned, she expected her daughters to behave a certain way, like ladies, and this was interpreted by all the aunts as meaning, no vulgarity, no fighting, and no smoking, or so they thought. For years this perpetrated among themselves and after a while, it all fell

“A where’sa Mary?”

“Oh, she must be in the bathroom.” Was the usual response.

Getting suspicious, she goes to investigate and finds Aunt Mary in one of the back bedrooms, smoking like a Naval destroyer laying down a smoke screen!

“Eh! A why a you smoker in here?” it was reported Grandma said. “You thinker I care you, smoker? You wanna killer yourself, a go ahead, but no killer yourselfer inna my bed a room.”

And so, you might say all my aunts kind of came out of the smoking closet and joined the men. The DiNapoli cigars though were out of bounds!
apart… Grandma found out!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


During the week I like to cook dinner. My wife goes out and buys ingredients and then leaves them there for me to come up with something new. She knows that if she left me a loaf of bread, dinner would be a special kind of bread when I’m done. Good, bad, or indifferent, I try to be creative with what I got when it comes to ingredients for dinner or any meal I make.

Recently, I was advised that she had purchased broccoli, her favorite vegetable and then said: “By the way, there was a great sale on broccoli rabe, and I couldn’t resist it! Also, I have spinach and if you like I have some beans and Italian sausage.”

Being quick on my feet I asked: “You want this week broccoli, broccoli rabe, spinach, and beans!!!??? Did you by any Beeno? Who is going to come near us this week that you want to keep away?”

Is flatulence becoming the way of the World? Because we are old means we will old fart? I understand gas prices are up due to the issues in the Middle East but do we have to manufacture our own now?

Being a fan of broccoli myself, I will make it all this week, and pay for it. I will make a rigatoni and broccoli dish, a sausage and broccoli rabe with beans dish and the spinach will come in-between those dishes perhaps with an Asian pork chop.

However, let me be clear before I foul the air, and I will… STAY AWAY!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Recently someone posted on We Are Italians:

Let me tell you about that.

Years ago when we were trying to crack the American code of ethics as still outsiders, an older cousin of mine decided to marry someone out of her ethnic group and religion. This was a very unusual thing for a nice Italian girl to do. He name was Marie and she was very beautiful, so gorgeous and a special lady to boot.

Being the oldest cousin, she would naturally become the first to marry and she did. She married a gentleman named Sonny, he was German and Lutheran, educating himself in college and very respectful.

John and my sister Theresa
We as a family could only imagine the eruption that would come from Grandma Frances when they would finally tell her. No one wanted that job, no one would dare. Novenas were made, (maybe not) prayers were said and even Dad, who NEVER went to church, went. The family was reeling over the potential crises.

Finally, someone got up the courage to tell Grandma. I think it was one of her children who decided to say: “Buongiorno, Mama, oh, and by the way, the new boy marrying Marie is German-American and a Protestant!”

The World stood still as everything was frozen in time, the final syllables leaving the lips of the informer in slow motion. (You must have remembered that day way back in 1956?)

Grandma asked her daughter to repeat what she thought she just heard and listened sitting down on her kitchen chair still holding her piatto rabbia when a big smile crossed her beautiful face.

Turning to Grandpa Ralph she said: “Stai ascoltando questo?” (Are you listening to this?)

Looking up at us she said, and I remember it clearly: “Listener, a why a you so nervous, I comer here to be American, this is a what I hoper a happen somer day!”

Her words made me feel very different, suddenly being American was very important. Yes, I was happy, she explained it all for me rather lucidly, even in her beautiful accent.

This event marked a turning point in my life and my family. No longer did we seem to hide in an atmosphere of outsiders because we were Italians, but we became Americans first. Later years went by and my oldest sister married a Polish fellow named John. John became like a grandson to grandma and a brother to me. He loved us and we loved him, as he was immediately accepted.

When John passed back a few years ago, it seemed to take the heart and soul out of our family. We loved him and we loved Sonny, after all, they were family.  

Monday, October 14, 2019


I know it is too early to complain since Halloween and Thanksgiving are not over yet, but… This Christmas thing is wearing me out. Soon, I will be spending a whole afternoon writing and addressing and stamping envelope for Christmas and Holiday cards! That is a lot of work! Most of you when you get a card read it quickly and put it aside. Christmas is a physical thing, requiring great energy, time and money. After you open the card, my mouth is still dry days later from the licking of the flaps on the envelopes from the days before!

 I store all my decorations on a top shelf in my garage. This means risking life and limbs by grabbing a wobbly ladder and grabbing huge overstuffed heavy boxes, which sit over my head. They are heavy, long, and awkward. The ladder shakes and my legs become wobbly, testing my patience and causing me to recall Italian swear words learned at my father’s shoe, inches from my behind.

 Then there is that wreath, you know, the one that goes outside when it’s cold? The one that looks more worn every year. Again, get the ladder, open it up and climb, and while I climb, the front legs of the ladder sink about three inches into the ground, threatening to flip me into my large dining room window, and onto my dining room table. If this happens, I’m sure the Little Woman will want to know why I’m not putting up the wreath. She will also balk at cleaning up the mess, especially the blood.

 Once my fingers get back the circulation, back into the garage for more torture, taking out the Christmas tree. For all you politically correct wussies, I’m using the word ‘Christmas!’ That’s ‘C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S’, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas! So, there, no, ‘Holiday’ - Christmas.

 We have gone over the years from a real tree to one that is artificial, and now one that has the lights on all the time, even in the box, stored. Whoever came up with this idea was or is a genius. I HATE PUTTING UP THE TREE, TRYING TO GET THE #&64ING LIGHTS TO ALL WORK, LET ALONE BLINK!

 TLW (The Little Woman) every year after I put on the lights and asks: “Why aren’t all the lights blinking?” Holding my sore back, I suggest she blink her eyes real fast.

 Every year we have thousands of little items that need to be put in some kind of imaginative way. I used to care, did care once but don’t care, anymore! Chachki’s, ornaments and other stuff must have a sense of balance on the tree, but as I said before: I used to care, did care once but don’t care, anymore!

 The cards we get have to be displayed. I don’t know why, but someone wrote a book on Christmas cards, and they have to be displayed. I would like to display mine in the drawer. I’ll even call it the Christmas Card Drawer, or compromise and say the Christmas AND Holiday card Drawer.

 Last year I suggested that I put all the decorations in a box outside my front door, so when someone comes in, they can pick one out and stick it wherever they wish, (without disturbing me), or on the fake tree.

After Christmas, if they happen to be leaving my house, they can unstick the item and drop it into the box on their way out.

 There is baking, cooking, trying to be merry, and being nice. C’mon folks, you know me, why should I phony it up? There are shopping and wrapping presents, which is another archaic tradition from the law books of Christmas. Why can’t you leave it in the bag you carried it home in from the store? “Here, Merry Fricken Christmas, let’s eat! And drink!”

 The only holiday I like is on Christmas Eve. (Holiday Eve for you politically correct sissies). That was a memorable family day. I’d see my family, we have a nice Italian feast, and no one talks because we are all too full or drunk, or both!

 But hey, Merry Christmas, anyway, I still love you all!

Sunday, October 13, 2019


As I drive through my town I see many references to Halloween, with the costume selections one can purchase to the pumpkins and jack o lanterns that I see.

Every October around this time, I drive up to Shoreham/Wading River to visit my daughter at her home. The road, William Floyd Parkway is usually very accessible except for the Saturday and Sunday afternoons before Halloween. Often the 6-minute trip from the LI Express to her home is fast and easy. But at this time of the year, it gets bogged down with traffic that spills out of the entry to Route 25, the exit before my daughter’s home. It is because of the many families that go pumpkin picking on the local farms.

I often wonder how long this family tradition lasts as the children get older and the parents less interested in doing this ritual. It is not unlike the second child syndrome, where new parents note in the ‘baby book, everything that is happening. First haircut, first words, etc. are meticulously recorded for all times sake. Come to the second child, not only don’t you do it again, they can’t even find the first child’s book.

If you look through your family photos, the ones in that shoebox, you will find a ton of pictures of your first child’s years but you need to start shooting the second child’s pictures. That, of course, falls by the wayside pretty much. You panic and call friends and relatives begging for photos, ANY photos they may have from a function that includes the second child.

Remember that first day of school? You made your prodigy stand in front of the camera as you shot the photo intending to do this until his last day when he would receive his doctorate from Yale. Instead, the last photo you got was of the child sitting by the pool after his graduation party from the local community college. You wonder, “Where did the years go?” You also wonder what went on the night before.

Saturday, October 12, 2019


It is the favorite part of the year for me. Some people like the spring with its uncertainty, some like the summer with its heat and humidity, but for me, give me the fall or autumn months. Why? Because I understand best my heritage as an Italian American, when in that period.

If we take a look at it all, except for Easter the most sacred holiday in the old country, All Souls Day, All Saints Day, even Thanksgiving are taken on as holidays of great importance. The obviousness of what All Souls Day and All Saints Day mean to church-going, God-loving Italians, so does Thanksgiving has a sacred meaning to those very same people who also are patriotic. It is the truth of patriotism you find in their hearts and souls. They are Americans for real, giving their thread of love, talents, and respect to the culture they adopted and worked so hard for.

Making a feast is an Italian specialty, bringing in the best dishes or wearing the finest is all part of the celebration.

Every Thanksgiving when I grew up in Brooklyn, every aunt, uncle, and cousin and everyone in my household had to be present for dinner at Grandma Francesco’s house. Her extra long kitchen enabled her to butt two tables together, head to head. It was overflowing with relatives and food, bottles of wine and soda, and of course the small table that seated the bambinos. Thanksgiving Day was as big as Christmas Day big as almost Christmas Eve and bigger than even being Italian it was being Italian-AMERICAN! Grandma had a huge turkey stuffed with Sausage stuffing she made and alongside that turkey was a capon. Grandma didn’t care for turkey so she made capon for herself.

Although feasting was the culmination of the holidays, the preparation was what kindled the excitement. It always seemed on gray cold blustery days mom or grandma would go out to the various mom and pop stores to shop in Brooklyn. Buying vegetables such as finocchio to pour a little olive oil on, salt and eat divinely, carciofi or artichoke to stuff, and various nuts, especially chestnuts, to cross before putting into the oven. There was the fishmonger who sold you baccala to make a salad with olives, lobsters for Christmas Eve and scungilli, calamari and crabs, shrimp and mussels or clams or all. Along with the haul came long loaves of warm Italian bread, and in that bakery you found the pastries to choose from. There had to be at least one canola for each person at the feast.

Out of the dark deep cellar came the most prized of celebratory items, Grandpa’s homemade wine and grandma’s homemade sauce, all bottled with love, care, pride, and devotion to the art of making each. God forbid you didn’t mention how good it was if grandma or grandpa didn’t smack you, your spouse or even the newborn would!

One day I will find a distant place to sit quietly and alone, and shed a few tears for all those days of yore, I will cry for losing all that wonderfulness that existed and doesn’t anymore. It still pains me when I think of what we have today and what I once had as a child on those cold fall days.