"Will someone please put on a pair of friggin pants!"
Poor Mom, one neat lady in a house with three male slobs.
Dad, Rory and I lived in our underwear once we were inside our apartment. Only company got Dad to put on slacks, and Rory and I would only put dungarees on if it was someone outside our immediate family. Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles got the briefs. Dad wore boxers, "Like to give my boys room," he'd tell us when Mom was outside earshot. We spent five hours a night in front of the TV together. Mom on the couch, Rory and me with Mom, or lying on the floor, and Dad in his chair where he did his art. Boys spend lots of time inside their underwear usually scratching out of boredom, or just making sure everything is in there. Mom hated this, especially when she thought we were in there too long. Our family nickname for the boy thing was "bird." Went something like this,
"Leave your bird." "Hands off your bird." "Stop it with your bird."
One night, when I was six, and Rory, was four, I must have been really digging for gold, because Mom went bananas. "Bob, will you get them to stop. I've had it. They're monkeys, they're not ours, they're monkeys."
Dad, upset Mom was disturbing him, semi-flipped out. "Tommy, get your hands out of there!"
"Leave him alone," Rory said, "He's teaching his bird to fly."
Dad left the room faking a cough, I saw him laughing.
“You don’t stab the tuna; you press the fork down into the tuna like a pharmacist crushes tablets using a mortar and pestle. Grinding it, that’s how it blends best with the mayo. And, you add the Hellman’s last!”
Mom ripped the bowl back from Dad and said, “Take a hike.”
Rory scratched his crew cut. It was fall 1962; he and I were six and eight years old, and we had no idea what a pestle or a mortar was. We only wanted a tuna sandwich and this argument was a repeat.
After Mom stingily spread the tuna on Wonder bread, making three sandwiches from one can, she began to cut them in halves. Dad came back.
“Cut them on the bias.”
“Huh?” Rory and I exchanged puzzled looks as another word we didn’t understand interfered with our lunch.
“What?” Mom’s eyes went wide.
“If you cut them on the bias, the sandwich tastes better. It’s all about the presentation.”
Dad cut one sandwich.
“You’re a hot air balloon, blow away.” Mom pushed him out of the kitchen.
Rory and I measured the sandwiches’ size with our eyes and each reached for the fattest one. Mom got it first.
After we devoured the sandwiches, Rory and I battled over who would clean the bowl with an extra piece of bread. During the pulling portion, the thick glass bowl dropped to the linoleum floor and rolled to the stove. Rory and I dove for it. Mom separated us by our necks and threw us into the hallway.
Down four flights into the street—Rory went one way, and I went the other.
I headed down to the hockey field at Carl Schurz Park. There were some guys playing touch football, fathers playing basketball, and several young mothers with strollers. Bored, waiting to play something, I put Joe Menesick into a headlock and we started wrestling. He pinned me. Out of nowhere Rory flew in thinking it was a real fight, and punched Joe in the head.
Joe yelled “Oow!” and slugged Rory. I hit Joe. Dennis, Joe’s brother, who had been playing football, saw this and jumped in, thinking Joe was in trouble. Now it was a two on two, full-blown, double-brother fight. All the kids circled the scrum, watching. After a while, two fathers playing basketball came over and broke it up. One father didn’t like the way the other father looked at him, and said so. That fellow hit the other dad and the two of them started fighting. Rory, Joe, Dennis, and I dropped away from the crowd and strolled out of the park laughing. Rory and I walked home together, not saying anything.
It was 5:30 when we got home. My parents announced that they were going to the RKO to see The Manchurian Candidate, and that we were going to my dad’s parents’ house for dinner. This was good. Large Nan and large Pop loved food. We called their refrigerator “Treasure Island.”
Pop met us at the door and gave us bear hugs. “No Nonsense” Nan was sitting in her chair, crocheting a blanket for a friend. She said “Hi” to us and then, to Pop, “Johnny, I need more blue and green wool. Get the car.”
“Noooo,” I thought, “late dinner.” Pop got the ‘52 Plymouth and we headed down the FDR to Grand Street, the wool source. Pop parked in front of the store with the colorful striped awning, and Nan left her large tote bag in the car, so she could swindle a couple of those heavy-duty, white, Grand Street shopping bags from the store clerk. Sturdy bags were essential to collect field supplies.
While Nan shopped, Rory and I fought, first arguing over where we’d go on vacation next year, Disneyland or Niagara Falls. We never went anywhere on vacation, other than a day trip to Rockaway Beach. Then the imaginary vacation squabble turned into a thigh-pinching contest—which led to open warfare.
We wrestled ourselves from the back seat up into the car’s rear window area. We crushed the cardboard Kleenex box and knocked the head off the bobblehead boxer dog with the brown felt pelt that sat in the center of the rear window. Pop loved that dog.
That was the only time I remember Pop getting seriously mad at us. He came over the front seat and extended his grizzly-sized body toward us, with his big belly flopping in the air over the back seats until his angry face met our faces—didn’t touch us, didn’t scream, but the whites of his eyes gave Rory and me reason to employ our rarely used good-grandson-waiting pose.
Settled back in my seat, looking at the back of Pop’s head, I thought of the witch in Snow White. Pop’s head was the same bright-red color as her poisoned apple.
Then a pretty lady with a white cap came over and leaned into Pop’s window. “Mister, you OK? You don’t look good.”
She took his hand in hers. “I’m a nurse, sir, and based on the pulse I’m feeling, you’re going to have a heart attack if you don’t calm down.”
Around this time, Nan came out of the store and saw an attractive, leggy, curly-haired blond talking low and sweet to Pop while she stroked his hand.
Nan put half of her body through the open passenger side window and said, “Anything interesting?”
“Ma’am, everything’s fine, I just thought this gentleman looked distressed,” said the beautiful lady.
“Let’s find out and ask my HUSBAND. Johnny, are you distressed?”
Pop said nothing.
“Sorry ma’am, I didn’t intend to cause any trouble. I was just here in the street, taking people’s blood pressure and I happened to see…”
“…my husband.” Nan cut her off.
“Yes, your husband—looking poorly. Well, he seems to be doing much better now, so I’ll leave you be.”
“Bye!” Nan said, while kicking Pop in the leg.
When we drove away there was silence, until Pop turned north up First Avenue. Then, Nan threw out the question, “What the hell was that about?”
Pop slowed the car, looked back at us, then turned to Nan and let it fly. “Did you order us down here? Did you get what you wanted? Were you in the car when the lady approached me with our kids in the car? No, so you have no idea why that lady came to my window. All you have are your presumptions, which are always right. So, for the first time ever, I’m telling you nothing. Think what you want, the world doesn’t revolve around you.”
Nan’s mouth stayed open for the entire ride. Pop went silent until a Checker cab cut him off when we exited the U.N. tunnel at 49th Street, and then he let Nan have it a second time. We didn’t make a peep. Our mouths were open as wide as Nan’s. They dropped us off in front of our house on 83rd Street without a good-bye. As soon as they pulled away, I heard Pop’s voice rising.
When we walked into our apartment, Dad was in the kitchen drawing a group of trees and Mom was lounging on the couch in the living room watching The World at War.
“How are you guys?” Dad asked.
“Fine,” I said as we disappeared into our bedroom.
“We didn’t eat,” Rory said.
I smacked my head.
“What do you mean you didn’t eat? Nan and Pop didn’t feed you?”
“No,” Rory said.
“Here it comes,” I thought. “We’re dead.” I was worried we’d get blamed for their fight.
“Why?” Dad asked Rory.
“Why’d they forget?”
“They were fighting.”
I peeked into the kitchen from our bedroom doorway. Dad looked shocked.
Mom walked into the kitchen from the living room, stroked Rory’s hair, put him on her lap, and said softly, “Honey, tell me the whole story.”
Rory took a deep breath. “Nan needed wool, so we went to the store downtown. A lady talked to Pop. Nan talked to the lady. We drove away. A little later, Nan asked Pop or maybe all of us a question, then Pop yelled at Nan for asking the question. Then Pop stopped yelling. Later, a car cut him off, and Pop remembered he was still mad at Nan, and he started yelling at her again. Then they dropped us off and forgot to feed us. When they drove away I heard Pop yell one more time.”
During Rory’s speech, I walked into the kitchen. When Rory was done, Mom started laughing and Dad looked like he couldn’t decide what face to put on. Finally, he slipped into a grin and started to laugh low, then harder, just as loud as Mom. Mom stood and leaned on Dad’s shoulder for support and the both of them laughed so hard, I saw their stomachs going in and out in rhythm. That was a new picture. I went to the refrigerator, grabbed three slices of Swiss cheese, gave Rory two, and a love tap on his head.
Every time I see a new sidewalk bridge pop up on a Manhattan street my heart drops. I cross my fingers hoping it's for renovation and not demolition. Last Sunday, biking down the Hudson, I saw a series of bridges along West Street. I stopped, parked the bike and walked 10th Street, Weehawken Street, Christopher Street and Barrow Street.
The construction upheaval in the West Village marches on but on this short walk I saw a compromise mix of renovation inside the boundaries of the Weehawken Historic District and on Barrow Street a large lot for new construction next to the old Barrow Street Hotel with Keller's Bar at the base on the corner. Here's a link to more photos of the area. My friend, Denny Ferado, led me to this ny curbed piece on Weehawken Street.
“I mean, do
you wait till you’re sure you’re finished?” Mom dug in.
“I really do.”
you don’t.” Mom said wagging a finger at the stream meandering down my left
“It fools me.”
don’t you fool it back?Make believe you
are putting it away then leave it out and see what happens?”
Losing steam, mom
said, “Get your shoes on, get your brother and let’s go.If we’re lucky we’ll sneak in before the
gospel. I hate getting the dirty look
off the priest.”
Mom had a lot
of rules about peeing including, “Lift the seat, wipe the seat, put the seat
down.”She forced Dad to schedule target
“Bob, I want
you to work with them on their marksmanship.It’s starting to smell like we have a cat.”
lecture could break the spell.My mood
soared.I was invincible.It was the longest day of the year, June 21st,
Sunset 8:42pm - confirmed through consultation with my Reader’s Digest Farmer’s
Almanac calendar.I was liberated from
fourth grade two days earlier.This was
the first of an endless string of Sundays where the looming gloom of Monday
faded away.On Sunday during the school
year, you carry a nagging dread of the next day through all your
Mass was always a sellout.We tried
slipping into a crowded pew in the back of the church. My brother Rory led, I
followed, then mom.Mom pushed me, I
pushed Rory, he pushed a holy-roller lady and she said loudly, “Well, I
On the altar, Father
Benedict Dudley stopped his Latin chant, brought his raised arms down to his
side, turned his head slow like a cow monitoring a passing car and gave mom a
dirty look.Mom tried to bite me with
I flipped my
head towards Rory and mimed, “What are you going to do?”
back, “Thanks a lot.”
After Mass, I
ran home to put on my sneakers, shorts and tee shirt.It was 10am and there was only eleven hours
left of daylight and so much to do.First thing, I had to finish making Dad’s Father’s Day card.Dad slept in on Sunday, so I had time.I cut a Joe DiMaggio photo out of Life
Magazine from “The Yankee Clipper’s” rookie year 1937. Joe had a wide gapped tooth smile and his bat
was slung lazily over his shoulder. From
the same magazine, I ripped out a photo of a young Frank Sinatra singing
directly to a bunch of squealing girls at the Paramount Theatre.I placed Dad’s two favorite guys next to each
other on the front of the card and pasted dialogue bubbles over the heads.
“Dear Bob, your sonny boy said you’re the Best Dad in the World, so I’m going
to go five-for-five today and smack two homers into the left field bleachers
for you.Happy Fathers Dad, love,
Jolting Joe DiMaggio #5.”
“Hey Pal, your son, Tommy, thinks you’re his Night and Day.Happy Pappy’s Day!Ding a Ling Ding, love, Francis Albert.”
I wrote dad a poem
inside the card.It was kind of personal,
so it’s just between Dad & me.When
I finished, I went to his bedroom and left it on mom’s pillow.
Job done, I flew
down the stairs to the street.Surveying
the block from the stoop, I saw groups of kids and had several options.The hot sun baked each side of the
street.I needed fuel.My first stop would be Joe’s Candy Store.
store was lit by two chintzy light bulbs.One must’ve been from Joe’s refrigerator and the other from his
aquarium. He pulled the window shades down to cool the space.His ceiling fan had TB and hardly
moved.Cheap and mean, Joe was on Con
Edison’s Watch list.
“Hi Joe,” I
He grunted at
me.This was progress.He usually ignored customers unless they were
paying for something or he was throwing them out.I delivered newspapers for Joe, but this had
no impact on his feelings for me once I slipped back into being just another
annoying kid wasting time in his store.
through the sports magazines and comics for new stuff.Nothing.
“Hey Joe, were
there any deliveries this week?”
He spoke to
me.I was honored.He had unique grunts that meant different
things and he rarely used language with a kid.When he did, he got right to the point.
“Put the comic
candy, you buy it.”
on the stool.”
“No, I don’t
have a bathroom.”
thirsty.Since Joe was being Joe, I
decided to take my soda business elsewhere.
“Bye Joe.”I said, just so I could get my goodbye grunt.
down was Parkers Grocery store.Murray Parker
wore a girl catching Elmer Fudd leather hunting hat with ear flaps year round
over his extremely bald head.His giant
movie star black eyeglass frames added the ideal accessory.
Tommy.”Murray was helping a customer
and I noticed sweat rolling down his chipmunk cheeks.
was Mrs. Huthansel, a gigantic pain in the ass.All the store owners hated her and called her Sour Puss.So did I.She never gave me a tip when I delivered her newspaper.
was buying cold cuts.Murray was at the
slicer.I watched from the back of the
store while weighing my soda selection.
“Murray make sure the cheese is paper
thin.” Sour Puss said this three times.
third time, Murray delicately held up two fingers holding a slice of air and
asked, “Is this thin enough?”
ignored him and played with the fruit. She
squeezed every piece then threw it back.I saw Murray mumbling.I needed
to cheer him up.
Murray had a long counter that ran from the
front, to the back of the store.The
sodas were in the back, so I was able to stand to Murray’s side of the counter
so Mrs. Huthansel couldn’t see me, but Murray could.Every pair of shorts I owned had a hole
around the crotch area.I carefully pulled my ball sac around my
underwear band and pulled the sac through the hole in my shorts.I waited till Murray shut off the
I yelled, “Hey
Murray want to see me blow my balloon up?”
When I had his
full attention, I squeezed my nut through the hole in my shorts.The deflated sad sac blew up like a birthday bubble.Murray started choking.He stepped back so he could lean against the
cash register and tried to recover.Each
time he thought he was ok; he’d look back at me.When he did, I’d do it again. His hat and glasses were crooked and he began
to cry.I was so proud.
you ok? Are you ok?”Mrs. Huthansel
thought he was having an epileptic fit.It
was time for me to leave.I went to
front of the store and left 12 cents on the counter for the Mission cream soda
in and waved goodbye to Murray.
Back on my block there were several games
going on.I worked my way down the
street and joined the ones that moved me.First, I played a little Ace, King, Queen, then I jumped into Off the
Point - two games played with a Spauldeen.A high bouncing reject tennis ball.You tested the quality of a spauldeen by dropping it from shoulder
height.The higher it bounced back, the
better the ball.Joe was the neighborhood’s
premier spauldeen seller.The balls sat
in a tall wire barrel near the register.Kids were always trying to sneak one in their pockets so Joe kept a
close eye on the bin.Spauldeen
selection was serious business.From a
kid’s point of view they were expensive.The one you picked must have superior bounce and last through a wide variety
of games.During a test you developed an
immunity to being shoo-ed.Joe became a
genuine conversationalist when you conducted a test.
“Pick a ball
and get out of here.”Joe said.
I’m trying to do.”I said.
good.” He grabbed one and squeezed it.“See.”He almost smiled.This frightened me.
said.“But one of them is better than
all the others.”
He studied me.The relentless bouncing was murdering
him.I was driving him crazy.
tried that one.”
“Not true, I
have a system.I repeat no ball.”
pick a friggin ball now.”
I had him on
the ropes - he said a curse word.I
found the ball and left a quarter on the counter.“Bye Joe.”
most of the fathers on the street began showing up on the front stoops.Normally many of them would’ve headed
straight for the bars - especially, on a hot Sunday afternoon.It was Father’s Day, and that wouldn’t be
right. They stood on top of the stoops
surveying the block.The older boys were
in the street playing stickball.Most
mothers had their front windows wide open looking for a breeze.
I heard Dean Martin’s voice floating in
If I had it in my power,
I’d arrange for every girl to have your charm.
Then every minute, every hour,
Every boy would find what I found in your arms.
Everybody loves somebody sometimes.
Looking up, I
saw a few moms draped over their window sills singing along with Dino.The dads began congregated around the older
boys’ home plate.A manhole at the
southern end of the street.
“You play like
girls.” One dad said
“We could beat
you while we were sleeping.” Said another.
“Prove it old
men.” A teenager taunted back.
One insult led
to another until it was agreed - there’d be a game.My Dad sitting on our stoop was amusing
himself listening to the mêlée.
He yelled down
to the group.“Let’s make it
interesting.The dads will take the
little guys on our team.”
sneered, but the young guys got into the game.I never played in a competitive game along side my Dad.Just catch and pitch it to each other.This was my first time and I couldn’t stop
an easy game.The bat, a broomstick, was
only an inch or two across.The field
included the sidewalk, the cars, the building walls and all the fire
escapes.Everything was in play.There was a bona fide talent to being able to
follow a bouncing ball down a web of landings, window sills and stairs till you
hopefully caught the egg in your cupped hands.The ball was light and you needed to finesse its capture.
Paddy McNamara’s father, a Lieutenant in the local Police Precinct,
just happened to have a parade sawhorse in the basement of his building that he
dragged out for special occasions.To officially start the game, Mr. Mac plopped
the sawhorse in the middle of 83rd Street where it met East End Avenue,
shutting off car traffic for the rest of the day.Mr. Mac theatrically tipped his cap to
acknowledge the round of applause from the mothers in the nose bleed seats.His manner reminded me of Jimmy Cagney in Yankee
Mickey and my dad’s friend Allie were on our team.Both of them, comedians and good
players.Allie dove into a row of
garbage cans to catch a line drive.All the cans rolled over, the garbage piled out and Allie came up
holding the ball.
over, held Allie’s arm straight up, examined Allie’s wrist and said, “And it’s
“I’m not a
watch, Doc.” Allie replied and threw the ball back to me.
the outfield waited for a ball to make its way down a building’s worth of fire
Staring up, he
said, “Round and round it goes, where it stops nobody knows.”
the last fire escape the ball eased into Mickey’s hands.
fifth inning, a few people started yelling and pointing up towards a
building.There was a guy running up a
fire escape with a portable TV under his arm. It was our neighborhood junkie,
Freddie Hammer.He was being chased by
Mr. Muller who I assumed came home unexpectedly while Freddie was helping
himself to the TV.Freddie had a lead
but looked like he was getting winded.I
didn’t like Mr. Muller and was pulling for Freddie. “Come on Freddie, you can
do it.Get to the roof, get to the roof.”With Freddie in the lead, he, the TV &
Mr. Muller disappeared over the roof.
couldn’t have turned out better. We played three!We won the first one.The teenagers won the second one, then we
played the rubber match.Dad had three
hits in the third game and pitched great.I didn’t make any errors in the field and got on base once, scoring when
Dad knocked me home on a tremendous two sewer shot.We won the game 3-2.The teens begged for a best of five, but the
dads told them to go get wet.They
The heat was
brutal.We were all sweaty and
exhausted.Mr. Mac went into his basement
again and came out with a giant wrench.He walked over to the fire hydrant and one, two, three the street was
flooded.Steam rose off the asphalt and
the air filled with a cooling mist.My
skin goose-bumped.The rush of the water
drowned out most other noises.I
cautiously protected my transistor radio.I put the radio to my ear to get the baseball scores.I normally would’ve listened to the Yankee
game only, but the Phillie pitcher, Jim Bunning, had faced fifteen batters up,
fifteen batters down.He was perfect
through five. I screamed out the news,
“Mets are being no-hitted!”
Like my heart
needed another reason to beat outside my chest.My brother held my radio while I dove head
first on top of a wall of water flying down the middle of the street.The water exploded out of the hydrant so it
didn’t have a chance to spread across the whole street bed.It moved syrup thick giving you an
opportunity to ride a cushioned wave if you hit it perfect.On the other hand, if you missed the wave,
say the pressure on the hydrant let up a bit, it’d be just you in flight and
the wet asphalt coming at you very fast with your landing gear already down.This option provided no happy ending - cuts,
bruises, torn clothing, or worst case, an unplanned visit to Lenox Hill’s
Emergency Room.My dive was half assed.The German judge gave a five.
It slipped my
mind that Dad was watching the action.He never officially approved playing in the hydrant and he absolutely never
joined us when we did.He knew the cops
would always shut us down; he didn’t like cops and knew he’d get in an argument
with one of them one way or another.That day was different.Everyone
had a hall pass thanks to Mr. Mac, and he turned the darn thing on.Rory gave the radio back to me and left his
feet for a beautiful ride down the rapids.Rory was graceful and less clumsy than me.
I went back to
the game and heard the Met announcer, Lindsey Nelson, “At the end of six and
half innings it’s the Phillies 6 and the Mets nothing.Bunning’s retired 21 straight batters.”
Oh my god,
this could be the first one since Larsen’s in 1956, I thought.I made like the Town Pryor and screamed,
“He’s perfect through seven.”
By this time,
even the Met fans were into it and there were so many radios on, the sound of
the game was beginning to match the sound of the open hydrant.I turned to the hydrant and saw Dad took over
directing the water.My Dad, he who always
told me what to do, when to do it, how to do it countless times each day, was
squatting behind the hydrant in a catcher’s position.He reached his arms around the fire plug
giving it a big hug.With his fists
together, he came up under the jet of water and began to lift the spray up in
the air like a fireboat.Higher and
higher he sent it up to a second story fire escape.His eyes were opened wide with joy and he
laughed hard.Dad left the arch of water
up there for a few minutes till he realized he knocked over Mrs. Trusits’
flower pots sitting outside her window.I watched his face carefully.
It said, “Oh,
oh.” He was ten years old.When he
brought the spray back to the street bed, I took a running start and hit the
Tommy.” I heard Dad say over the noise.
As word got
round the Mets were down to their last batter in the ninth inning, someone
turned the pressure off the hydrant.All
you could hear was Lindsey Nelson’s voice on the radio, “What a day for Bunning
he has 2 hits and 2 RBIs on top of this incredible pitching performance.He’s retired 26 straight Mets.To the
plate steps pinch-hitter John Stephenson.Mets are down to their last out.The
32,000 fans are on their feet.They know
they’re watching history.Here’s the
pitch - Stephenson takes a called first strike.The crowd is clapping as Bunning rubs the ball and gets ready to deliver
– the windup, the pitch, Strike two!He’s one pitch away, one pitch away! Bunning circles the mound and returns
to the pitching rubber.The catcher, Gus
Triandos gives him the signal, Bunning draws a big breath, and here comes the windup
and the pitch - Stephenson swings, Strike three!He did it!Perfect game!The Phillies are
mobbing Bunning, slapping him, hugging him, and putting him up on their
shoulders.On only 90 pitches, Jim
Bunning’s made history with the first regular season perfect game in 42 years
and the first one overall since Don Larsen tossed one in the 1956 World
Series.What an amazing Father’s Day
gift this is for Bunning on Father’s Day 1964.”
All the Yankee
fans in the street went bananas, all the Met fans sulked. This lasted less than a minute before my Dad
turned the hydrant back on.I don’t know
who brought it up first, but no one had eaten all day.It was past four o’clock and it seemed
everyone’s stomach woke up at the same time.
had a car parked on the block had a barbecue in their car’s trunk.Two fathers took them out.During the game, when Allie knocked over the
garbage cans, folks picked them up but didn’t bother to stick them back in
their enclosure behind the gate off the sidewalk.A couple of men moved the garbage cans
completely away from the enclosure next to the stoop, swept the area and put
the two barbecue stands inside the enclosure.They called it a M.A.S.H. kitchen.With the fires set up it was time to deal with Sunday’s meat problem.
All the German
butchers were closed.The men set the
kids off to the store to buy franks and buns but it was impossible to have a
real barbecue without hamburgers.
watching the action from her fourth floor window said, “I was making meat loaf
for dinner, but you can have it.All my
kids and my knucklehead husband are down there with you.Joey, come up and get the meat.”
And that was
that.The meat drive was a success.Two more mothers donated meat loaf chuck chop
and a couple of mothers donated their roasts that became shish-kebobs.Vegetables and baked beans followed.By the time we finished eating it was past
8pm and the light was sinking over the Metropolitan museum up on Fifth Avenue.We sat on the stoop singing along with Peter
Please lock me away
And don't allow the day
Here inside, where I hide with my loneliness
I don't care what they say, I won't stay
In a world without love
As time passed,
the only thing that changed was there was no daylight, the street lights came
on, everyone was still in the street including the moms once we started eating.
We were all together - and the Yankees won a doubleheader against the White Sox
this party to the Old Timers.”The voice
came out of the dark and was met by several others all in agreement.The crowd moved as one around the corner to
the Old Timers Tavern that sat in the storefront next to my dad’s mom’s
apartment house.I knew from listening
to Dad, that in 35 years my grandmother never stepped into the bar and he
considered it a safe haven from chore requests.
I ran into the
bar, dropped a dime in the jukebox and played the fastest song I knew:
Hey pretty baby! You
can't sit down.
A don't you hear the drummer thumpin’ You can't sit down.
You gotta shake it like a crazy.You can't sit down.
Because the band is sayin' something.You can't sit down.
And everybody is a jumpin'You can't sit down.
You gotta slop, bop, flip flop, hip hop all around.
You can’t sit down, you can’t sit down.
As people passed through the tavern’s door
they began to shake something.Maybe it
was their hips, some it was their leg, and some just put a finger in the air
and shook it back and forth.But
everybody who came through the door reacted to the song.Meanwhile, the regulars on the barstools
thought we were all nuts and kept drinking their short beers.The place had a big dance floor in the back.All the kids and many of the mothers headed
for the back while the Dads joined the regulars.
We took over
the old fashioned shuffleboard and rotated between that game and making dizzy
circles on the buffed dance floor when a song moved us.One that made us bop was:
I'm broken-hearted now
Since we have parted now
My mind wanders now and then
Remember then, then, then, then, then
Remember, Re-mem-mem, Re-mem-mem-mem-ber
midnight, Rory fell asleep across two chairs.A piece of a candy bar was sticking out of his mouth.Dad removed the Milky Way and carried Rory
over his shoulder up the stairs to Nan’s second floor apartment next door.By the time Dad came back, I was punchy and
lying on the floor watching the fan spin.Dad picked me up like the sailor’s bag in the Old Spice commercial.Upstairs, he put me to bed next to Rory who was
“How about that Bunning, Dad?”
“Happy Father’s Day.” I said.
He smiled & kissed my forehead and I don’t remember