In The Navy

After graduation, Charlie plans to join the navy (like Tommy's father) as a signalman. This morning on her first trip back to Central Park in a very long time Charlie practiced semaphore and  messaged her sister, Phoebe, on a Fifth Avenue roof waiting for the signal."I chased two squirrels. One for you, one for me."

The Boys Second Home in Yorkville @1945

Here are photos of Gene's Tavern on the northeast corner of 84th Street and York Avenue taken in 1945. On the 84th Street wall, right above the lady with white hair crossing the street is a service memorial with the names of the Yorkville men and women who gave their lives in World War II. Look at the stores on both sides of the avenue, the barber pole and the young guys on the bike and sitting on the bumper of the car on York. And the graffiti on the wall to the left of the service memorial in the photo above and in my Dad's sketch below reads, "Cameron."
Dad earned a smack from his mother when she saw the graffiti and recognized Dad’s art work. If she knew it, others knew it, and the one thing she never tolerated was being embarrassed by anyone related to her by blood, marriage or politics. She gave me a smack for my 83rd Street "Teddy Ryan" graffiti 25 years later in 1969.

Gene's Tavern had a two lane bowling alley in the cellar. My father's broth…

Nan's Two Birthdays

My grandmother Nan Rode’s four-room railroad flat faced York Avenue in the front and a backyard in the rear. Leaning out her front window, I could watch my world pass by. Leaning out the rear window, I could see Yorkville as it was long ago. In the backyard was an old two-story house surrounded by five-story brick tenements. The house, built around 1890, looked like it had fallen out of the sky and plopped onto a stray witch. Somehow, it had escaped the tenement explosion in Yorkville in the first two decades of the 1900s, a frenzy primarily triggered by speculation about the underground IRT subway coming to 86th Street and then proceeding farther north. (The speculation, of course, ultimately proved true.) As buildings rose around it, the old house, with its worn porch and crooked chimney, just sat there. I enjoyed this relic from the past and imagined it there in June 1906, when my grandmother was born in her family’s apartment only eight blocks away, at 1403 Avenue A. Above is a ph…

Flam & Flam

My Uncle Jack and Aunt Anna were having marital problems in the late 1930s. Their fighting hit a new high in their East Harlem apartment when Aunt Anna found half her house money missing from the flour tin. She chased Uncle Jack out of the house with a ladle full of dog crap, down the stoop and up First Avenue to the entrance of the Willis Avenue Bridge. Jack ran to the Bronx using the roadway’s passing lane.

After catching his breath, Jack not wanting to waste a good trip to the Bronx, continued walking north up to Yankee Stadium where he caught a doubleheader with the Cleveland Indians. DiMaggio went 4 for 7 with two walks and five RBIs. Jack spent $2.75 of Anna’s house money on Franks, beer, a ticket, a pennant for the kid, a program and a five cent pencil to keep score.

When Jack got home, Anna had put a chair against the door locking him out. Unfortunately, she also locked out her son, John, who after begging his mother to no avail to let him in stayed with my grandparents on 104th…

"Get A Mouser!"

Sleeping in the front room of my Italian grandmother's apartment I dreamt Ann-Margret was in a blue bikini doing a shimmy dance humming, “Tommy, Oh, Tommy.”

The vision dissolved when I felt the vacuum cleaner suck my toe in. Above the roar of the machine,  my grandmother’s voice. “Get up!”  She did not like you sleeping when she was awake. It was 1972, mid-summer. I looked at the clock on the nightstand.
“It’s 8:15!”
“Get up!”
“There’s a mouse running around in the kitchen.”
I don’t believe I heard the end of that sentence while I was still in bed. I jumped up, grabbed my eyeglasses, a pair of dungaree shorts, and my sneakers and ran out the front door. From the top of the staircase, Nan yelled down to me at the bottom where I was tying my sneakers in the low light of the hall.

“Don’t come back without a mouser!”
“A cat, a cat, bring back a    cat.”

It was hot that Saturday and the streets of Yorkville were empty. "Where was I going to find a cat" I thought…

Up On The Roof

Today would be my brother Rory's 64th birthday. Been thinking about Rory & our 83rd St. roof all day. Happy birthday, Rory.

The roof was our oasis from the heat, we had many extension cords and hose extensions to get our stuff from fourth floor to roof, for water (had a baby pool), radio and black & white TV. Dad brought up a standing lamp once so he could see while he sketched at twilight. Mom wanted to kill him. She loved her lamps.

Before air-conditioning, I spent entire Yorkville summers with the lights out in our 517 East 83rd Street apartment until it was pitch dark.

Mom could page a calendar in the winter and start sweating when June, July, August flipped by. Dad loved heat. He slept under a pipe in the Navy. Made for nice conversation.

One afternoon, I said "I'm going blind here!" I couldn't read my comic. Mom told me to go to the back window and use the sun light. This was one of my first openings to get her to let me play out on our fourth floor fir…

Timeless Carl Schurz Park

Over the weekend, took photos at the Asphalt Plant, down Carl Schurz Park and a few on 84th Street. Here they are at this link.

If you like my work check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." Available at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

The book has133 Amazon five star reviews out of 133 total reviews posted. We're pitching a perfect game.My old world echoes TV's "The Wonder Years" ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs. You can also purchase my photography portfolio, "River to River - New York Scenes From a Bicycle" on Amazon.