Sunday, October 31, 2010

Procession of Ghouls ~ St. John the Divine

Friday night, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine celebrated their annual Halloween Extravaganza. First, we watched a silent screening of The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari with deep spooky organ music playing all the way through.

After the film, the Procession of Ghouls down the main aisle. This flipped me out, demonic images in a church, Satyrs dancing seductively, swaying the audience like Edward G. Robinson as Dathan swayed the Ten Commandants crowd into worshiping false idols while Charlton Heston as Moses tried to work out a deal with a burning bush.

The costumes are brilliant and remind me of Julie Taymor's amazing work in The Lion King and her artistic puppetry in Epcot at Disney World

If I was 10 years old witnessing the Procession of Ghouls, my Saint Stephen's altar boy brain would have had a conniption. I loved it, I'm going back next year.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Hobo On 85th Street ~ 1960

Halloween night 1960 ~ Rory, Mom, Nan Ryan & me visited my Aunt Joan's apartment at 321 East 85th Street. Rory was a Cat & I was a Hobo. We bought my Bum mask for 39 cents at Woolworth's and raided my grandfather's old clothes for my costume when he went out for a walk. He didn't miss a thing, as predicted by my grandmother.

321 was a usual haunt for Mom, Rory & me. Mom visited her sisters, Joan & Barbara, two to three times a week. Counting my two grandmothers, I had five mothers.

The now pictures are all of 321 East 85th Street's stoop this past week. As you can see, hardly anything has changed in 50 years, including, I still dress like a hobo.

That's Alison in her Halloween ghost costume in 1988. Here's a silly poem I wrote for her years ago.

“Dungarees be Free!”

Hot summer night, a run on the track.

Fear struck hard! I turned my back.

Adjusting my eyes to see what was there,

A little fat man with long green hair.

“My debt I’ll collect,” he snarled at me.

I proceeded to run up the nearest tree.

“I have all night you may as well come down.”

Before he finished his remark, I fell to the ground.

'What do you want, leave me alone!"

Knelling over me, I smelled his cheap cologne.

“You borrowed my jeans and I want them back!”

“They're dungarees, they are not slacks!

You’re a fruitcake I don’t own any jeans.

Go far away your breath stinks like beans."

I rushed home, as he jumped up & down.

“You’ll never be safe. I’m not leaving town.”


My Halloween story, "The Ghost that Haunted the Basement," is in this week's Our Town newspaper. If you like the story, please leave a comment at the paper's web site. Thank you, Tommy

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Show ~ Amanda Thorpe & The Love Seat

Thank you, Amanda Thorpe, for your beautiful music and spooky stories last night on the Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts radio show. I had a fright howling with you and making general mayhem.

Please check out Amanda on Facebook, her terrific CD, "Union Square," and all her other wonderful work.

Amanda has new music coming out in early spring 2011. You can hear two new songs and last night's radio show on the Yorkville archive at the Centanni link below.

Our Town newspaper published my Yorkville ghost story today.

"The Ghost that Haunted The Basement."

Read it here. If you like the story, please leave a comment @ Our Town.

Happy Halloween! be well, Tommy

Below a picture of the "The Love Seat." After you read the story, you'll understand.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Mick ~ Yorkville Boy

I was an uncool boy. Two men in my life made me feel near cool when I was around them. One was my Dad, and the other was my Uncle Mickey. Mickey was one of Yorkville's best ball players ever, an actor, iron worker, Korean War veteran, bar keep, coach, and Shea Stadium usher. Mick worked his last Met game four weeks ago. He died peacefully yesterday at 77 years old.

When I was young, Mickey sang The Blues in The Night in German. I thought, "Boy, that Mickey he knows languages, too." Then I saw Sid Caesar on TV and figured out that Mickey was making the German up. Mickey made me laugh more than anybody in my life, and anytime I saw Mickey, I knew he was glad to see me, kids know that.

Mickey's younger brother, Robert, told a story tonight at the wake. He and Richard, Mick's other younger brother, were 10 years old up their railroad apartment at 514 East 84th Street. Mickey, home from the Army, came up the house with his friends Allie and Gene. The three men in their mid 20s' and the two young boys played a one hour hide and seek game in the dark, followed by a full contact football game where the front room was one end zone and the rear room was the other end zone. Then Mickey taught the two young boys how to repair lampshades and how to glue broken knick-knacks back together before Mom got home.

Three months ago, Mickey rode the subway from Elmhurst to East Harlem to guest on my first two radio shows in July. Tomorrow's radio show is dedicated to Mickey, it's going to be a spooky one, we're celebrating Halloween. My guest, Amanda Thorpe, a terrific songwriter, musician and artist and I are going into attic to see what lurks.

You can listen to tomorrow's show live @Tuesday @9pm on the Centanni link below, or listen to Mickey's show or tomorrow's show at the archive on the second link below.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Saddest Day of the Year

Leaning over the water fountain, pushing the steel button down with my thumb, bringing my lips in for a burst of water, getting nothing.
The saddest day of the year: when Carl Schurz's water fountains turned off. I was in a constant state of thirst down the park, and with the water fountain shutdown came earlier sunsets, darkness, and chilly winds. Friends scattered. That first day in the park without water nailed in the reality that winter was coming and the park would not be the welcoming home that opened her arms in spring, summer and early fall. Walking out of the park up 84th Street, I was reminded that my grandfather, John Rode and his family lived in 511 East 84th Street when he met my grandmother in 1942 when they served together as Civil Defense wardens during World War II. I don't know how to put captions on the pictures but I'll do my best to explain. The passport belonged to my great-grandmother Adelheid Rode born in 1873 in Riede a municipality in the district of Verden, in Lower Saxony, Germany. She moved to 511 East 84th Street in the late 1930s with her husband Herman, and my grandfather, John. I'll put up other photos next week.

The picture above is my Dad, Bob Pryor and Adelheid Rode on the 511 stoop in 1946 on John & Anne's wedding day. The pictures below is my grandmother, Anne Pryor, speaking at a Service Flag Dedication on the stoop of 511. Below the passport are Herman and John Rode on East 74th Street in 1909. Below that, Maggie Hagen, my friend from Cleveland on the Drive yesterday, then Carl Schurz in 1900 & 1936, and finally a picture of Henderson Place from 1968.

After the winter I longed for one day, one TV show. Channel 2 showed "The Wizard of Oz," once a year usually on Easter Sunday. This not only was the greatest film on earth (at that point in my life) it was a harbinger that Carl Schurz's water fountains would be opened for business sometime soon. I always sat real close to the TV, when Judy Garland sang "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." I didn't want my parents or brother to see me cry.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Postcards From Ten Mile River ~ John Harvey Remembers When

Thank you, John Harvey, for taking the Yorkville radio listeners back to 1910 Brooklyn and Queens Village in the 1960s. Your grandfather's letters to the Daily News were crisp photos triggering memories for people, places and things past.

Here are a few postcards from my time at Ten Mile River when I was a Boy Scout and visited the reservation in Narrowsburg, New York.

John Harvey, a Ten Mile River alumni, said he earned his One Mile Swim merit badge while the guy trailing him in the canoe who was suppose to protect him, kept hitting him in the head with an oar.

If you like, listen to the 10.19.10 radio show with John Harvey at the archive link below.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tonight on Yorkville Radio ~ Partnering with John Harvey

Tonight on Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts radio, my guest, John Harvey, an author, coach, & city boy, & I will explore old postcards and old Brooklyn.

John's grandfather was a prolific writer and kept many of his letters that appeared in the New York Daily News. He reminisced in rich detail about turn of the century life in "The City of Churches," The same Brooklyn Betty Smith wrote of in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." Did you know the Brooklyn National League team played in a ballpark on the corner of Fourth Avenue & 3rd Street? They weren't the Dodgers yet.

We'll also talk about the power of collaboration, loyalty and teamwork, as evidenced by the countless life long friendships we've developed together through our association with St. John's Rugby team going back to the early 1970s.

John's work involves career transition, finding a passion, exploring it, developing it. He and I will talk about ways to do that as you figure out what's your path.

John has deep roots in Queens where he grew up, in Brooklyn where his family is from. We're going to tie them together with my Manhattan roots. And of course we'll play great music.

I love Syd Straw. "For Shame of Doing Wrong" with Evan Dando, from "Beat the Retreat"

Listen in, tonight @ 9pm @ Centanni Broadcasting Network link below

Or listen to the show at the Yorkville archive link tomorrow: