|Dad, 10, Yorkville newspaper article, 1939|
My father, Robert Pryor, was an intelligent, self-educated man and artist. He was also a terrific dreamer. Dad showed great promise in early education, but he drifted away from the classroom to follow two passions, film and live music. He lived in moviehouses, theatres and ballrooms. With no dad, a mom working two jobs, and a brother in the army ~ for Dad at 15, school was out. Forever.
In January 1945, hanging over a mezzanine box at the Paramount Theatre on Broadway, Dad swayed dreamily side to side listening to Helen Forrest sing, "All the Things You Are," fronting the Artie Shaw Orchestra. In mid swoon while admiring his new blue suit, Dad flipped over the railing landing headfirst on an usher who was flirting with a floozy in the orchestra’s tenth row. Luckily neither was killed. The floozy, unhurt but stunned, disentangled herself and her torn stocking from the ball of men on the floor.
Bleeding and dazed, Dad and the usher were taken to French Polyclinic Hospital for stitches and X-rays. Dad begged the theatre’s manager for a rain check as the medics led him through the lobby on a stretcher.
|Dad and Nan, Yorkville Casino, 1945|
The usher later invented the Etch-A-Sketch. Unfortunately, Dad sustained a permanent brain injury that became apparent as the years unfolded. He no longer could make a decision or form an opinion, who’s basis did not derive from something that happened in 1945 or earlier. He remained this way to the day he died.
Our next "City Stories: Stoops to Nuts" storytelling show is Tuesday, May 13 @ 6pm @ Cornelia Street Cafe. This month's artists: Alfonso Colasuonno, Robin Eisgrau, John Lewis and Marie Sabatino. I'll host and tell a yarn. Admission is $8 and includes a free drink.