Monday, November 12, 2018

"I Could've Died Right Then & There"

Ron Johnson scores winning TD vs. Skins Nov 1970
Best live "Old Yankee Stadium, we were there," sports days ever with Dad.

New York Giants beat the Washington Redskins 35-33 ~ Nov 1970 ~ Jints came back from 19 points down with a quarter to go. Tucker Fredrickson's best game as a pro. Ron Johnson scored winning sweep right in front of Dad & me seating behind Yankee dugout. (God bless you, Ron Johnson. You made the end of my teen years hopeful.)

The Stadium rocked like it was a Rolling Stones concert. Dad and I hugged as if we were going out. The concrete below our feet was going up and down, up and down.  I didn’t care if the Stadium fell in on us. I could’ve died right then and there.

Dad’s gone fourteen years, when Dallas loses, I feel his smile. When the Giants win, I feel Dad’s hug and kiss.

At one point, (maybe they still do) the New York Daily News Sports Department sold prints of photos to the public. In the early 1980s I went down to their 42nd Street building with old dates in mind. Special Mickey Mantle days and terrific Giant victories. The photos in the papers from those special days were tattooed to my brain. I asked for the 1964, 1967 and 1970 files. 

I found Mickey Mantle’s 500 homer, Mantle’s homer off Barney Schultz breaking Ruth’s Series record. Tarkenton rolling out in a win against the Cowboys, Bob Tucker in same game and the crown jewel, Ron Johnson scoring on the sweep against the Skins in 1970. Doug Van Horn, Willie Young, Willie Harper and Don Hermann blocking efficiently on the play.

While I was looking through the photos I received a bonus.  A guy came into the empty side room where I was looking through the photos.  He leaned over me and asked, “What cha doing?”

It was Bill Gallo the News sports cartoonist.  He sat with me for a half hour shooting the breeze, getting a kick out of my intensity and knowledge of his old hero & goat photos from past World Series. Bill was very nice to me. The 6 photos I bought cost me $95. It was a good day.

Yankee Stadium 1962

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

"Paul Is Dead!" "No He's Not" ~ Earth Science With Ernie Kovacs @ LaSalle

 I'm swinging south on a vine towards La Salle Academy's old gym at 44 East 2nd Street today to meet a few ghosts.  Jim TeamanMarty ReganDermott WhalenShamus DunnRudi PapiriAndres ValdespinoGerard Martinez, miss you guys.
Tommy swinging @Lasalle 1968

Below, Pat Cullinan and his LaSalle partner in crime, Ernie Kovacs, our Earth Science teacher & "Paul is Dead" theorist. 

Patrick Cullinan & "Ernie" Kovacs

In fall 1969, disgusted with our lack of attention in his classroom, (he fooled around more than we did) Ernie began to list clues on the blackboard that Paul McCartney was dead. As we barked them out, he used several colors of chalk to make strong points and when he ran out of room; inspired he began to write along the blackboard edges, up and down, across and back. The kind of thing you did when you forget to add one more lovey-dovey line to your love letter to your first girlfriend.

The clues were left on the blackboard all week until Hermano Pablo gleefully erased them. Yes, he had a glob of shaving cream behind his ear. I always counted on that.

Pat, thank you, for letting me publish your photos.

"I Hate The Dallas Cowboys ~ tales of a scrappy New York boyhood"  on Kindle @ $9.95 later this month. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Uncle Mommy sent me a Halloween card every year. Here is the last one along with some of my favorites.

As kids, we struggled and moaned in a Woolworth's 5 & 10 aisle trying to figure out what to be, what costume to buy. Each character had a mask that you secured to your head with a rubber band attached to the mask with two staples that sometimes poked you when you moved around. If it broke (often), and you were not near a stapler, you walked around holding the mask up to your face with your only free hand carrying your candy bag in the other mitt. When I was 5, my Irish grandfather was pretty pissed off when he found out my grandmother used his "not that old" clothes for my "Bum" costume. All the clothes were delivered back after I received five hundred flour sock whacks from my so called friends.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Pumpkin Family's New York Holiday

After taking Junior to the top of the Empire State, the Pumpkin family continued their first day in New York in Carl Schurz Park. They're here to celebrate you know what (hint: "BOO!") Stopping at 86th St. they noticed Peter Picklepants throwing himself a 15th birthday party near Henderson
Place. After a slice of yummy cake, they took Mister Picklepants to Ryans Daughter for a hearty toast. Saying goodbye to the old fellow they headed west towards a lovely B&B they found that welcome families of fruit. They walked through Central Park saying
hello to The Tempest and two star-crossed lovers. At 72nd St. & Central Park West leaving the park they froze to enjoy a perfect sunset slipping into the river.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Cold War Kid

In October 1962, my parents’ mood was grim. There was a lot of whispering between them.The newspaper headlines were bold and twice their normal size, like World Series headlines. The Cuban Missile Crisis was commanding the full attention of the television and the radio.

“The Russians are coming,” was all I heard from just about everybody. It raised the hair on the back of my neck. I tried to shut it out of my mind.

I was 8 and in the third grade at St. Stephen of Hungary School on East 82nd Street. At the start of music period, our teacher, Mrs. Francis, would put the needle on the record.
“Class,” she would say, “sing along.”

And we did: “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think/Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink.”

I was oblivious to the meaning of the lyrics we were singing. I liked the tune. Thinking back, it was not a prudent selection for young children to sing in fall 1962.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Happy Half Birthday!!! Tomorrow, Dettmore & Pryor Salute 45 Singles @ Ryan's Daughter

Did you get that half birthday card I mailed you? You should have! Why do I remember my half birthday is today? I never forget. The reason is Uncle Norman.

Mom had this thing with shoe stores. She always complained her feet hurt. We’d go in and out of Yorkville’s many shoe stores looking for the perfect comfortable shoe that she never found. Rory and I played on the store’s big ladder on wheels flying it back and forth across the floor with one of us hanging off with one arm free in front of the customers. This usually stopped when the clerk or Mom threw something at us. Then we’d pick up the foot-measuring device. It was all metal and looked like it held some secret code with its side measuring knobs. It must have been expensive because the clerk went bananas when we threw it. Rory tried on spiked heels he grabbed from the store’s front window display. He’d wobble up and down the carpet smiling from side to side. I studied him with one hand to my chin and my elbow to my leg. Involuntarily, my head swayed with him as he traveled back and forth, back and forth.

Rory and I liked two shoe stores best. One was “Salamander Shoes” on 86th Street. The other was “Buster Brown” on 83rd Street. Each store had a kid gimmick. Uncle Norman in “Buster Brown” always made sure he knew your birthday. Then he’d send you a birthday card. Six months later, he’d send you another card wishing you a happy half-birthday. I’d get my half-birthday card and say out loud, “Boy that Uncle Norman is one swell guy. Hey Mom, I need a new pair of shoes. What do you think?”

Mom delivered her look. First of all, I never cared whether I had any shoes much less new ones. I only cared about new sneakers. The only thing that triggered me getting a new pair of shoes was a good rainstorm after a hole in my shoe’s sole developed. Either, I’d get home from school and Mom would notice my socks were wet, or I’d take off my blue socks and Mom would notice my feet were blue from the sock’s dye. Only then, Mom said, “Tomorrow we go for new shoes.”

The other store’s gimmick was a beauty. Salamander was the high-end shoe store in the neighborhood. If you had orthopedic needs, this was the place. I tested the laws of gravity by dropping my body from rarefied heights. My feet took most of the damage and had orthopedic needs. Here’s the gimmick. Salamander gave you a balloon with every pair of new shoes. What the cheapskates failed to give you was helium. The balloon was nice but filled with mere air; to hold it aloft Salamander’s management decided to put it on a straightened out metal shirt hanger. You left the store flying your balloon majestically above the stick of metal. Most kids never made it a full block before the metal punctured the balloon. This left an extremely disappointed kid carrying a straightened out hanger with a shred of rubber dangling from its tip. Most times, the kid took his frustration out on another kid. 

If you were lucky, you might witness two kids leaving the store with their balloons at the same time. Walking in the same direction, smiles on their faces, arms outstretched, hoisting their balloons toward the clouds, screaming without sound, “Hey look at me!” “No, look at me!” Suddenly one of the balloons burst. With no pause, the victim turned toward the still breathing balloon delivering a deathblow.

Do you like old New York City photos and stories? Then check out my 1960s memoir,"I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood."Available at Logos Book Store and online.

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.

You can also purchase my photography portfolio, "River to River - New York Scenes From a Bicycle" on Amazon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Free 45s Singles Show This Friday @ Ryan's Daughter

Three days to go... 
Ryan's Daughter, Friday, Sept 21 @ 7pm
350 East 85th Street