Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Hero, Kennedy Moore

The best real estate agent on the Upper Eastside? Kennedy Moore. Last winter, Kennedy found a one bedroom well lit apt in an elevated building on 88St, a hundred feet from Carl Schurz Park for $1900 a month.
My all time champ indecisive 92 yr old buddy, Walter, declined. Leaving him on the fourth floor of a walk-up he moved into in 1942. Yes, he could have afforded the $1900 for many years.

Funny, how life delivers ties that bind you never see coming. Walter was my Dad's best friend. Mom loved Walter. Treated him a brother.


Walter has unopened bottles of Old Spice, English Leather & Hai Karate. Clearly, he's never been lonely for female companionship.
Three cheers for Kennedy, you rock, my friend.








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.

The book has 121 Amazon five star reviews out of 121 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.




Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Volia's... For Your Unmentionable Needs



Viola's, Yorkville's premier Lingerie Shop, has supplied bras, girdles, rear lifters, and other support products to the women in my family for 66 years! (anniversary sign's been in the window for six years) How do you think the ladies look so good in the old pictures?

Viola helped the girls keep it in, when they didn't want it out.



I remember being in the Five & Ten's candy aisle with Mom. She manhandled a giant bag of M&M's out of my hands and said to no one in particular, "Jeez! This bra's killing me!" I waved bye to the candy as she pushed Rory and me in the stroller a few stores down to Viola's for a purchase.



If you have unmentionable needs and hope to ever get that girlish figure back, you best get yourself to Viola's, tout suite! Their lingerie and hosiery sleep in fine boxes folded tidy like Mom folded your things in the small suitcase when you were young and she was sending you away with a big smile on her face. Don't you miss that smile? Well, if you go to Viola's and the ladder's in place, and the lady goes up the ladder, and pulls down a few boxes and opens them carefully for you, the memories will flood back. Yes, they will. Viola's!  66 proud years protecting, hiding and enhancing Yorkville figures.




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.

The book has 120 Amazon five star reviews out of 120 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.






Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Kevin Baker Praises "I Hate The Dallas Cowboys"

Tommy & NY Giants Chaplain Fr. Benedict Dudley O.F.C
"Thomas R. Pryor has written a sweet, funny, loving memoir of growing up old-school in a colorful New York neighborhood. A story of sports, family, and boyhood, you'll be able to all but taste, smell, and feel this vanished world."

Kevin Baker, author of "Dreamland," "Luna Park," "Sometimes You See It Coming," "Strivers Row," "Paradise Alley," and other works of fiction and non-fiction.








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.

The book has 120 Amazon five star reviews out of 120 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.





Sunday, August 14, 2016

Spaldeen

I never felt lonely,
even on a dead summer day,
if I had a Spaldeen in my pocket.
The possibilities for a game were boundless.




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.

The book has 120 Amazon five star reviews out of 120 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.




Saturday, August 6, 2016

Logos Bookstore Rolls On!

Congratulations, Harris Healy & Logos Bookstore, on your 20th anniversary on York Avenue. Please support the only remaining bookstore born and raised in Yorkville. Thank you, Peter Pereira, for your terrific local artwork here in this cartoon.

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.


The book has 120 Amazon five star reviews out of 120 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.



Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ekis's Ingenuity


Ginny directed the needle to the groove. 

You got a thing about you,
I just can’t live without you, I really want you, Elenore, near me.
Your looks intoxicate me, Even though your folks hate me.
There’s no one like you, Elenore, really.

Freddy Muller, Eddie Ekis and I sang along to the Turtles tune. It was July 1968; eighth grade was a distant memory that had ended a month before. We hung out on the 83rd Street stoop where, Ginny, my future girlfriend lived. Ginny had lined a series of extension cords out her first floor window, allowing us to plug in my portable record player.
It was midnight. I was supposed to stay over Freddy’s and he was supposed to stay over my house. But our real intention was to stay out all night and play records on the stoop till the sun came up. Eddie had the same scam. Each of us had our own 45s and we took turns rotating our songs into the play list. We hung onto the words of every tune. Our tastes mingled seamlessly.
Across the street, Mrs. Walsh leaned on her third floor windowsill with a pillow under her chest and arms. I was the unofficial president of the mothers’ fan club and out of all the mothers in the neighborhood, we unanimously agreed, Mrs. Walsh was the best looking. Dark hair, yummy kissable face, a mouth like a sailor and oh, that smile. Her uniform was a muumuu house dress that hid her ins and outs. We prayed they’d come out for a peek. Sometimes, you forgot she was up there. I was sitting on a stoop by myself one day, and I heard, “Hey, Pryor, whatsamatter? You look like you lost your last friggin’ friend in the world.”
Eddie Ekis & Freddy Muller

Mr. Moylan lived on the second floor of the same building. He resembled the actor Edgar Kennedy and hated us playing “Off the Point” in front of his house. We’d hit the Spaldeen off the edge of the ankle-high ledge on the wall directly across the street. If you struck the ball perfectly it would fly off on an angle, gain height, and soar over the outfielder toward Moylan’s building. The outfielder would wait for the carom off the wall.
            That wall had a series of windows, though, and four of them belonged to Moylan. He didn’t lean out the window like Mrs. Walsh, but he had excellent hearing. If he was home and we were playing, his windows would fly open and any balls that went in would never come out.
            At that point, we had to make a big decision. A Spaldeen was expensive, but this was the best point in the neighborhood. We could move around the corner to a safe ballpark without windows, but the point there was mediocre.  We usually stayed put and took our chances. Sometimes, one of us would hit a beauty and we’d all turn and watch the sweet flight of the doomed ball sailing through Moylan’s window.
“Give it back, you bald S.O.B.,” Mrs. Walsh would say, using her two hands to form a megaphone on the sides of her mouth. After the game, we’d go to our locker room – the stoop – plop down, mostly say nothing, and then start giving Moylan the business.
Ginny loved the boys hanging out on her stoop, and Mrs. Chapman, her mother, mostly didn’t mind.  On warm days like this one, when it got dark the music would come out.
Freddy put one on:

Boom, boom…boom boom, boom, ba-boom
Boom, boom…boom boom, boom, ba-boom
I’ve been trying to get to you for a long time,
Because constantly you been on my mind.

Sometime past one, Mrs. Chapman opened the window and said, “This is the last song.” We knew she didn’t mean it – Mrs. Chapman was a softy – so when Freddy took the Turtles off as the song ended I grabbed a new record. But then Mrs. Chapman did the unexpected and yanked the wires. The extension cords disappeared back into the window. This was the first occasion we located Mrs. Chapman’s last straw.
I was a mechanical idiot, and Ginny and Freddy looked blank, but Eddie was working on the light pole in front of the building with his house keys, trying to remove the bottom panel. It popped off and Eddie took something out of the base of the pole – a standard electrical outlet with a short extension cord.
“Edward, you’re a regular Mr. Science,” Freddy said.
“Thank you, Mr. Muller,” Eddie smiled, and motioned with his head, signaling me to bring the record player over. I did, and we plugged our music into the pole on the sidewalk, compliments of NYC’s Department of Highways – Bureau of Lights, or whatever the agency was called.  Eddie and I grabbed a couple of milk boxes and deejayed the tunes, while Freddy and Ginny drummed their sneakers on the stoop.
Around 1:30, we saw Moylan’s head pop out his window and figured we had ten minutes. And that was when the squad car eased to a stop and Officer Bulin joined us.
“What are you doing?”
“Playing records.”
“How?”
“There’s an outlet on the bottom of the light pole, and we figured it was there for emergencies and things, and this was a thing we needed it for.”
“It’s too late for music, but I’ve got to admit, I didn’t know there was an outlet in the pole. That’s pretty good, but you can’t use it because it’s only for emergencies, OK?”
“Can we play one last song?” Ginny asked.
“That’s it, then, good night. I’m circling the block and three minutes from now, I want silence.”
“OK, thank you, officer.”
Eddie put our last song on:

Cowboys to girls,
 I remember when I used to play shoot ‘em up,
Shoot ‘em up, bang, bang, baby.
I remember when I chased the girls and beat ‘em up.



When the Intruders song ended, we put the panel back, closed the record player and sat on the stoop silently. Officer Bulin came around the block and gave us a soft smile, then he put his head out the driver’s side window, cupped a hand by his mouth and yelled up, “Good night, Mrs. Walsh,” as she waved down from the third floor.





Ekis died two years ago today. Many of us claim Edward was our best friend. True. He was. Boredom was impossible if Mr. Ekis was around. In 1973, we watched the soap operas, “How to Survive A Marriage” and “Somerset” on a portable TV every week day while missing classes at Hunter & CCNY. We climbed out his second story kitchen window onto the roof deck over the 82nd St. tailor’s shop, the caged deck that doubled as an exercise area for his monkeys, Toto and Chiquita. When was the last time you drank Yago Sangria with two monkeys swinging over your head? That lost semester our A’s & B’s magically turned into C’s & D’s.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

I Can't Go!

"Jeez, I hope he hurries." The doctor said to his nurse. "I don't want to miss my train."

"Me, too. I've got to get my kid by 5:30pm." Her answer tinged with aggravation.

Hearing this exchange through the bathroom door, my bladder shut down. I was on the 60th floor of the Woolworth Building, the world's tallest building from 1914 to 1930. My medical exam for the New York City Housing Authority hiring process was concluding with the traditional urine sample.

"Everything OK in there?"

He didn't care if everything was OK, he was telling me to get out of there, asap, so he could escape his eerie dark office. I stuck my head under the sink's spout and began drinking lots of water. Flushed the bowl a few times, and took off my shirt and pants for good luck.

"I hope he's not pee shy," came loud and clear through the door.

I couldn't believe she said it. The pressure already peaking, I drank more water and opened the small window, high over the sink to let in fresh air, and started pacing the tiny bathroom in my bare feet on the checkered marble floor. The socks followed my pants.

"For Christ's sake, it's been twenty minutes, did he die in there?" She said, then one of them fell dramatically into a chair based on the sound I heard of a sizable ass hitting a seat.

I couldn't possibly drink more water, and I couldn't go. My last recourse was sticking my head directly out the window over the sink. I figured I'd rock my bare belly on the ledge, while the rarefied air hit me in the face. Climbing on the sink, I got most of my upper body through the petite opening. Once I got my arms through, I leaned on my elbows and looked left and saw the beautiful Hudson River all the way up to the Bridge. Then I looked right, and screamed like a girl, "Aaaaaahhhhh!"

Face to face with a stone gargoyle, not a funny gargoyle, a hideous gargoyle that comes to you in a nightmare after eating Mexican food way too late. My scream made me lose my footing and I fell forward. The snug window and my chubby stomach kept me from falling all the way out. The cars below looked like toys. I thought about the Post's headline, "Boxer Shorts Suicide Dives Off Woolworth Building." Hyperventilating, stuck in the window, I heard, "Hey, what the hell is going on?"

"Nothing, nothing..." I lied, pulled myself out of the window, got off the sink, went over to the toilet and peed like a horse. I got dressed and came out of the bathroom with the specimen cup, refused to make eye contact with my medical providers, somehow found one of their hands to pass it off, and ran out the door and down twenty flights of fire stairs before I felt the urge to pee again. Took the elevator to the lobby with my legs crossed.



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.

The book has 120 Amazon five star reviews out of 120 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.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Taverns, Part of Yorkville's Street Life Lore

My Dad's best friend, Walter Trusits, is fourth from the left wearing the hat in this 1945 photo taken by Dad in front of Gene's Tavern. Second photo, last month, Walter with Charlie standing in the same spot at the northeast corner of 84 St. & York Avenue.

The photos below go back to 1942 and reflect the bar culture inside the neighborhood's street life through the early1970s.
 















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.

The book has 120 Amazon five star reviews out of 120 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.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Nan's Two Birthdays


Cuccia family s/w corner 75 St. & Ave A @ 1906
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 photo of my great-grandmother, Giovanna Cuccia, with family members sitting in front of their fruit stand at the southwest corner of 75th Street and Avenue A (later named York Avenue in honor of Sargent Alvin York, a World War I hero). Giovanna, third from right, is eight months pregnant with my grandmother. 

It looks like a normal old photo, but it led to a bona fide miracle: the month after it was taken, Nan was born and she had two birthdays, July 23rd and July 28th. I learned this astounding fact at age 10 when I went to my grandmother’s house to see what was up.
Nan & me 1955


“Hi, Nan.”
“That's it?”
“I said hi.”
“Where’s my ‘Happy Birthday?’”
“I wished you a happy birthday on the 23rd and made you a card. It’s right there on top of the TV.”
“Today is my birthday, too.”
Involuntarily, my head started shaking. I was used to my grandmother’s inquisitions but I didn’t understand this one.

“Nan, I don't get it.”

She explained.

Nan was delivered in her family’s apartment by Saveria Palermo, a midwife from Yorkville, on July 23rd, 1906. But Saveria was lazy, and when she filled out the Board of Health birth certificates the following Monday, July 30th, she used the same date, Saturday, July 28th, for all the babies she had delivered that week. That’s why Nan had two birthdays, July 23rd and July 28th.
Lazy Midwife filled this out

Neither Giovanna nor my great-grandfather, Antonino Cuccia, knew English, so they never fixed the certificate. But they always celebrated Anne’s – Nan’s --birthday twice. She was the baby in the family and a spoiled brat. She told me this with pride.

Anna Cuccia, 1913, Communion at St. Monica's

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.

The book has 120 Amazon five star reviews out of 120 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.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Uncle Mommy's In The Dark & Logos Bookstore Lease Renewal Celebration

My memoir covers my first eighteen years growing up in Yorkville. Eighteen years ago today, Mom died. "Why do you call me Uncle Mommy?" she asked. "Because you're the best uncle I ever had."

Early on, her favorite indoor summer activity was turning off all the lights to keep it cool. Day or night, we walked around our little square apartment in shadows or in the dark. Our mere light coming through our backyard windows,  that was, unless "Thomas Edison" ~ Dad ~ was home. He loved turning everything on at once. But Mom persevered. Following him and immediately snapping the lights and all else off if she wanted quiet, "Quiet helps you stay cool," she told me in my ear as Dad made a spoiled milk face.

Our favorite outdoor thing in summer was Carl Schurz Park's baby pool. And if it was too hot, Mom came in with me. Nice, after eighteen long years, I see her face and hear her voice every day.

Here is a public link to photos from the pool last year.


A message from Harris Healy

Logos Bookstore is celebrating our 40th year in business and the 20th anniversary of our York Avenue location.

We'd like to welcome the Upper East Side community as well as all New Yorkers to join us on Tuesday July 26th at 6:30 PM for free refreshments, a 20% off discount on all items in the store (excepting original artwork and already discounted sale books.

Yorkville native, Thomas Pryor, author of the memoir "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys: Tales of a Scrappy New York Boyhood" will be here to talk about what existed at 1575 York Avenue before Logos Bookstore as well as share other stories of the neighborhood. He will begin around 7:15 PM.


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.

The book has 120 Amazon five star reviews out of 120 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.