Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 1999

It was the end of May 1999. I was at Nan's bedside at The Jewish Home on 106th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. She'd just passed her fourth anniversary in Room Frank 510 - we didn't celebrate.

What's today?"
"Sunday."
"No, the date?"
"May 30th"
Nan, my Dad’s mother, turned her head towards the window.
"What's a matter?"
She didn't answer. 
I tried again.
"Nan, what's bothering you?"
"Pasquale."
"Pasquale?"
"My cousin."
Your cousin, who?"
"My older cousin."
"Pasquale, your older cousin?"
"He died."
"OK, where did he die?"
"France."
"When?"
"1918."
 "We're you guys close?"
 Nan turned her had back to me, her tearing eyes milky white from macular degeneration. 
Anna Cuccia @ 1917
"He was my best friend."

She was 12 in 1918. Her family lived at 1403 on Avenue A right off 75th Street. Nan told me Pasquale lived around the corner and walked her to school when he wasn't working in the cigar factory on 69th Street.

"I was a tomboy; he'd played catch with me and skate with me.  Pasquale got me out of trouble with my mother ~ she loved him. He was tall and always stepped in when she was ready to give me a whack. He'd pick Mom up and spin her round. She'd forget all about me."

81 years later, my grandmother, Ann Pryor Rode, formerly Anna Cuccia, 93, was remembering her cousin, Pasquale, with love. He died for his adopted country.


Years ago, Memorial Day always fell on May 30th. It was a somber day. No fireworks, honor guard honoring the flag, and later a long moment of silence at the ball game remembering those who died for their country.

Thomas E. Pryor Jr. @1945

Robert A. Pryor with cousins on 84th St @1946

500 block 84 St. Flag Dedication @1942

Anna Cuccia @ Ann Pryor on 511 stoop @1942

84 St @1942

@1942

Tommy & Nan Rode at her District Leadership retirement
party at Tavern on The Green @1995

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues

I listen to you half of the time.





Mark your calendar! June 17!

"Stoops to Nuts Pre-Father's Day Show"
@Ryans Daughter, 350 E. 85 St.
@Friday, June 17th @ 7pm-11pm
special guests: Colin DempseyJoe DettmoreNicole Ferraro, Andy McGillicuddy, Tim McGillicuddy and Una McGillicuddy and mucho more.


If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." It's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online at AmazonBarnes and Noble or other booksellers. The book has 117 five star reviews out of 117 total reviews on Amazon.  Thank you!

Friday, May 27, 2016

How Dad Met Mom

The father took his little girl down John Jay Park and they walked up the steps to the spot where the painted home plate was for a softball game. The father knew she was too young to understand but he told her to look around and imagine a very hot day like today a long time ago. There are twenty teenage boys spread out on the field and and along the fence yelling stuff at each other during a softball double header. I'm one of the boys.


A flock of girls we kinda knew but weren't part of our crowd come out of the girls locker room after a swim with their wet hair as I step to the plate. I have one eye on one of them and one eye on the pitcher. First pitch I hit a long drive into that last handball court out in centerfield. I rounded second and slid into third base but the ball got there first and I was out. I bounced up, dusted off and looked towards home plate and the girl my eye was busy on had ten fingers through the fence and was looking right at me. The second game went into extra innings. The pretty girl never left.

I worked up the guts to walk over to her and say hello. She smiled, not a word, took off my glasses and said, "I want to see your eyes better." That's how I met your mother.


******************

"Having a good day here, two hours at the dog run, three long walks, and a giant stick to work on. It's time for nappy." Charlie (nine months old today) 






Mark your calendar! June 17!

"Stoops to Nuts Pre-Father's Day Show"
@Ryans Daughter, 350 E. 85 St.
@Friday, June 17th @ 7pm-11pm
special guests: Colin DempseyJoe DettmoreNicole Ferraro, Andy McGillicuddy, Tim McGillicuddy and Una McGillicuddy and mucho more.


If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." It's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online at AmazonBarnes and Noble or other booksellers. The book has 117 five star reviews out of 117 total reviews on Amazon.  Thank you!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Melodious Mothers of Yorkville Support Stoops To Nuts!


Program from Yorkville Casino, 1952.
"Melodious Mothers" the group that put an 18 inch ruler on every P.S. 77 desk will entertain you (not really) on June 17th when Ryan's Daughter presents the "Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts Pre-Father's Show"." 

June 17th @ 7-10 pm, be pleased as punch. Ryan's address: 350 East 85 St. between First & Second Avenue.

The P.S. 77 Mother's Glee Club, 10 women, tons of song, have long stood behind worthy Yorkville neighborhood causes: free skirt steak at Reliable Meats, more crumbs on Glaser's crumb cake, and squeaky clean toilets in Carl Schurz Park.

Hear your grandparents' favorites: "Dance Me Loose," "I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard,"and "Fine & Dandy." Sung as they should be sung. (Loud and off key as if they were drinking a lot, but they're not.)

The beloved Mother's Club  join our smashing artists. You'll hear your scratched 45 singles from the 1960s and 1970s live, and amazing tales that made a nun stand on a table when two Dutch kids kissed on the Drive after a particularly juicy passage.   FREE show, come on down!
"Stop it!"







My Four Ryan girls, Ellie, Barbara, Joan & Uncle Mommy give all:  FIVE STARS!

Ellie, Barbara, Joan & Uncle Mommy at St. Stephen Rectory


Mark your calendar! June 17!

"Stoops to Nuts Pre-Father's Day Show"
@Ryans Daughter, 350 E. 85 St.
@Friday, June 17th @ 7pm-11pm
special guests: Colin DempseyJoe DettmoreNicole Ferraro, Andy McGillicuddy, Tim McGillicuddy and Una McGillicuddy and mucho more.


If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." It's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online at AmazonBarnes and Noble or other booksellers. The book has 117 five star reviews out of 117 total reviews on Amazon.  Thank you!



Praise for the book ~ ( if you do read it, please say a few honest words online in reviews section)

P.S. 77 Mother's Club at Yorkville Casino, 1952.
Ann Pryor Rode belting one out.
“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 the novels Dreamland, Paradise Alley, andStrivers Row


“Tommy Pryor’s New York boyhood…was the mid-century coming of age of all of us. A rousing read.”
—Robert Lipsyte, author and former city and sports columnist, The New York Times


“Pryor could take a felt hat and make it funny.”
—Barbara Turner-Vesselago, author of Writing Without A Parachute: The Art of Freefall


“Pryor burrows into the terrain of his childhood with a longing and obsessiveness so powerful it feels like you are reading a memoir about his first great love.”
—Thomas Beller, author of J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist


“I wasn’t alive for the New York Thomas Pryor writes about, but thanks to his brilliant, honest, and hilarious book, I feel like I was there.”
—Dave Hill, comedian and author of Tasteful Nudes

"Fine & Dandy"

my third grade ruler from 1962

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Rocky Colavito at Ten Mile River

Rocky in outfield @ old Stadium @ 1968 by Gerard Murphy
"I need a Yodel."
"I need a Yankee Doodle"
"I need a rock to throw at your head. Shut up, I'm trying to listen to the Yankee game." I said to Joe Menesick and Jamie Peters, while holding the transistor to my ear, desperately moving the radio around to pick up Phil Rizzuto's voice on an AM station far away.

We were in Ten Mile River Scout Camp in Narrowsburg, New York. Troop 654, from Yorkville, Manhattan. After one week going on two weeks, we were all sick of the camp's steamed food. When we cooked, we screwed it up. We craved Hostess and Drakes Cakes. One kid said, "I Want a Funny Bone!" The cake with the peanut butter vomit in it. 

Someone threw something at him. 
Good.

I thought the guy who invented Funny Bones was the same guy who invented the soda called Wink with the grapefruit pulp in it. Yeah, he must have said, "kids love fruit pulp in their sodas, and I'm going to shove a load of pulp in there."

Remarkably, one of my childhood heroes, Rocky Colavito, the smooth slugger who resembled my Dad was pitching for the Yankees against the Tigers at the old Stadium. "The Rock," four home runs in one game was on the mound, it was August 25, 1968. Less than three months to The Beatles "White Album" release. In eleven months, we'd be on the moon, then Woodstock would rock, and the first Giant vs. Jet exhibition game would take place at the Yale Bowl.

With my free hand, I scratched the countless mosquito bites on my legs and butt, then I heard, "Dobson lines a one bouncer to Horace "No Double Play" Clarke, Clarke handles the ball cleanly and fires a strike to Mickey Mantle on first. Heeeee's Out!" Naaaa, the radio voice was fuzzy but I did hear Clarke throw the ball to Mantle and that Colavito was out of the inning with no runs, leaving two men on base.

Yankees were down 5-1, going into the bottom of the sixth, Joe, Jamie and I were supposed to be policing the camp site and working on some kind of Scout merit badge. I had already achieved my badge limit of three, Cooking and Hiking and whatever it's called for using a map properly. I earned a significant goof off period and planned on taking these two guys to hell with me before they we went home. While thinking of the next thing to anger the scout leaders the Yanks scored five runs. Rocky Colavito was the winning pitcher.

Folllowing afternoon, Joe Menesick and I, doing nothing close to nothing, decided to paddle a two man canoe to the middle of the lake to ram a war canoe full of Brooklyn scouts broadside.  We congratulated ourselves on our way back to shore by guessing our punishment. Joe's guess won. A formal invitation to the Camp's Scout Master quarters before breakfast the next morning.


Mark your calendar! June 17!

"Stoops to Nuts Pre-Father's Day Show"
@Ryans Daughter, 350 E. 85 St.
@Friday, June 17th @ 7pm-11pm
special guests: Colin DempseyJoe DettmoreNicole Ferraro, Andy McGillicuddy, Tim McGillicuddy and Una McGillicuddy and mucho more.



If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." It's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online at AmazonBarnes and Noble or other booksellers. The book has 117 five star reviews out of 117 total reviews on Amazon. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. 
Thank you!


Monday, May 23, 2016

Keep Your Eye On The Ball (Especially When Colavito's Up)







May reminds me of going up to Yankee Stadium early for a night game to watch batting practice. I ran up to my father coming home from work as he got off the crosstown bus at 86th Street & York Avenue.
"Come on, Dad, Lets' go."
It was five forty five on May 24, 1965. Late spring, when it began being warm enough in the evening to sit in the stands wearing just a sweatshirt.
The previous Saturday night, Dad and I watched a Yankee game on our tenement roof using every extension cord in the house. "You're both nuts," Mom said to Dad's ass as he climbed out our fourth floor window onto the fire escape with the cords. Once we settled in on the roof with kitchen chairs, a card table for the TV and a spaghetti pot full of ice, beer and ice tea, Dad said to me, "We got to get up to the Stadium for a game before they go on the road." The game start was 8pm.
Dad called Mom, who was not thrilled, it was a school night, and he & I jumped into a Checker cab in front of the Mansion Diner and shot up the FDR. At the Stadium, Dad bought lower box reserved seats in section 17, half way between the Yankee dugout and the right field foul pole. I still have the stub. (See picture below)
Dad wrote in the line-ups while I bounced my eyes around the mostly empty ballpark. I smelled cigars, peanuts, and freshly cut grass. This was when I liked the old Stadium best. Just the ballplayers on the field and us, real fans, in the stands. You practically had a whole section to yourself, if you didn't count the hundred kids assembled in right or left field waiting anxiously for imminent home runs, depending on whether the batter was left handed or right handed. The gaggle of kids would travel all away around the ballpark to the other side of the field to get in position for a lefty or righty during batting practice. Watching them run was like a Peanuts cartoon soccer game. Dad wasn't nuts about me being in that group yet,"when you're a little older," he wouldn't let me go by myself, and hated flying around with me, "Let's stay here, this way, if the ball comes this way, you'll have it all to yourself."
There was no sense arguing with the man, so I focused on the good. With so few people around us, I could hear the ballplayers yell at each other as they played pepper and threw it around the outfield. I got an idea who like each other, and who tortured each other.
The Indians were finishing their batting practice. Leon Wagner, a lefty, pounded three pitches into the right field stands. My heart dropped missing the action. I knew the home run derby was going to continue in left field.Rocky Colavito was coming around the cage to take his at bat.
I mumbled, "Why'd I bring my glove," and slumped in my chair.
Dad looked over at me."Tommy, I did the Indians. Why don't you do the Yankee lineup?"
When I reached for the program, I heard solid bat contact, then Dad took my head and pulled it towards his chest hard.
"Thwack!"
I turned and saw a broken slat on the top of my chair. Colavito had sliced a foul that split my wooden seat. Dad and I stared at it forever, then I began looking for the piece of wood that broke off, a valuable souvenir, Dad grabbed me, picked up our things and we headed out to the right field box seats.
All future batting practices were viewed in the outfield or the bleachers. Colavito already a secret Non-Yankee hero of mine ~ he hit four homers in a game in 1959 and looked like my Dad ~ became my favorite all time non-Yankee player.

Yankees won 15-5, Stottlemyre pitched well and went the distance. Tom Tresh and Joe Pepitone hit homers.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Batting Fifth, #25, Joe Pepitone

Last night at Bergino Baseball Clubhouse John Harvey and I hung out with Joe Pepitone #25. We had drinks, ate food, and heard Joe tell twenty plus stories at this fabulous baseball memorabla. He was terrific. Bergino's on 11th Street is a love letter to baseball.

#25 was promoting his raw honest book, "Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud."
Bergino owner, Jay Goldberg and I agree, Joe Pepitone should do The Moth StorySlam. He'd kill it. My favorite Pepitone tale last night: Joe batting behind Mickey Mantle against Denny McClain with Bill Freehan behind the plate in September 1968. Mantle just hit his 535th homer, a gift fifty mph softball that McLain grooved down the center of the plate. I'll tell the story as I hear it later today. Also got the straight dope on the "Phil Linz Yogi Berra Harmonica On The Bus incident."

Shaking Joe's hand I remembered this was the second time I met him. When I was 8 years old, the Yankees whole team came to the 86th Street RKO theatre in April 1962, when they made that silly movie "Safe at Home," to capitalize on the Maris & Mantle, M&M boys' 1961 home run derby.
Hanging with Joe, John & Tommy


I forced Dad to get to the theatre two hours early to make sure we were on the aisle. We had a quick burger across the street at Prexy's first. At seven o' five, word spread the team bus had pulled up in front. The Yankees came into the lobby dressed in suits & ties and marched down the right side of the movie house. Yogi Berra walked by me and stepped on my toe, but I didn't notice, though my father did and wanted Berra to apologize. It was strange seeing Dad pissed at Yogi.  Joe Pepitone winked at me and smiled as he walked past our aisle.

Elston Howard stopped in front of me, and put his arms behind his back like a military MP. Ellie saw I was having a baby over MickeyMantle standing right next to him two feet away from me shaking in my sneakers. Dad and Ellie exchanged laughs over my dilemma, then Howard leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Say hi, he won't bite you." But I was too scared to say anything to Mickey. As the Yankees walked on stage for a final bow, I dribbled my opportunity away.
popcorn megaphone

Lots more on Pepitone later, I have chores to do.... 


#25 busted  my balls, and I busted his balls right back. Two street guys busting chops. 

I had a ball last night, and it was so much better doing it together with my friend, Harv.






felt like kids

#25

too much fun
busting balls

busting balls back


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Gifts Dad Gave Me

Dad in Central Park shot by me 
Today would be my Dad's 87th birthday. The biggest pain in the ass in the world taught me to see the city by bicycle and to always carry a camera on my trips. On rare occasions, instead of early morning rides, Dad and I rode our bikes around Central Park near twilight and caught the sunset colors over the reservoir. Dad said patience on a shot was key, waiting for the moment, as was looking for the possibility of a unique angle on a shot. I had forgotten the pleasure of those early 1960s trips with my father until I started writing full time in 2010 and had more time to cycle and explore the city.  I bought an inexpensive Sony Cybershot, put it in my pocket and took off.

It blissed me out to do these two things together. Two years into it, I was approached by a publisher, YBK, who released my photography portfolio, "River to River ~ New York Scenes From a Bicycle" in 2012. The next year, Cornelia Street Cafe hosted a two month show of my photography that NBC TV, New York One, CBS News and the New York Post praised and recommended.

Now is the best time in my life, thanks to the gifts my father gave me as a young boy. So happy birthday, Mister Robert A. Pryor, major pain in the ass, I miss your talent, knowledge and unconditional love.

Here are extra photos of places that bring it all back.

Xmas 1960


Mark your calendar! June 17!

"Stoops to Nuts Pre-Father's Day Show"
@Ryans Daughter, 350 E. 85 St.
@Friday, June 17th @ 7pm-11pm
special guests: Colin DempseyJoe DettmoreNicole Ferraro, Andy McGillicuddy; Tim McGillicuddy and Una McGillicuddy and mucho more.





If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." It's available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online at AmazonBarnes and Noble or other booksellers. The book has 117 five star reviews out of 117 total reviews on Amazon. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. Thank you!



Rory eating sandwich, me cleaning Dad's bike

Carl Schurz Park at 86 St entrace

Cloud splits the sun



my first ride

nice zipper, good sammy


Cornelia Street Cafe Photography show Feb/March 2013


1962