Saturday, January 30, 2016

Madame Butterfly Goes Down ~ Stoops to Nuts @ Ryan's Daughter on Valentine Day @ 3-6pm


Don't forget! Free show on February 14th from 3 to 6pm. Thomas Pryor presents: "My Aim Is True" ~ Stoops to Nuts Valentine Show @Ryan's Daughter

I'll transport you back to street life, while Nina & David Terhune and Eric Vetter & his gang deliver melodies to make you dance your pants off.

In 2009, my first short story was published hard copy in Thomas Beller's anthology, "Lost & Found: Stories From New York." Here is the true tale.

"Madame Butterfly Goes Down." 

Last Saturday night, I had smelly cheese, cashews, black bean dip, spooned Hellmann’s and three Coronas for dinner. I over-bought crap for company, it’s causing me stomach problems, but I have to finish the stuff.

Sunday morning, I met a writing editor on Cathedral Parkway who took too much money to tell me too little about my work. I left her apartment feeling down.

Driving east, I saw a woman trip in the middle of Manhattan Avenue. She hit her head. I parked along side her forcing traffic around the scene. Her face was pressed to the asphalt. It was hard to see how injured she was. Someone called an ambulance. After a few minutes, she turned her head towards me. She was bleeding from two cuts, one on her nose and one on her lip, but otherwise looked OK. Her name was Grace, an Asian lady in her sixties, curly gray hair and weak English. I knew her name because the guy helping me help her was her neighbor in the tall building across the street. Once Grace got her bearings, me and the other fellow walked Grace into her lobby. After she sat down, she tried to force an envelope into my hands.

“Take this, take this.”

“I don’t want it.”

“Take this, take this.”

The other guy said take it, so I took it. On the sidewalk, I opened it and found a single ticket for Madame Butterfly at Lincoln Center, Row A in the Second Ring. Performance started at one thirty. It was twelve thirty five.

My life-long opera experience was limited to Alfalfa’s Barber of Seville, Elmer Fudd’s Siegfried & Bugs Bunny’s Brunhilde. Despite this handicap, my interest was high because the “Un bel di, vedremo” aria was my Mom’s favorite music. Coming home from school, if I heard this sorrowful melody coming through my front door, I knew Mom was having a special afternoon. She’d have a look on her face that nothing else ever put there.

I parked the car on East 82nd Street, dropped my stuff off and hailed a cab at one o’clock. The Greek parade cut off cross-town traffic through Central Park. We ended up going down to 53rd Street, to go west, and back up Eighth to get to Broadway and 63rd Street. I made it on the button.



Walking through Lincoln Center’s plaza, I felt a breeze on my crotch through the hole in my dungarees. I remembered Mom pulling me back into our Yorkville apartment when I tried to sneak out of the house in a torn shirt. She’d be so proud.

Entering the theatre’s second ring, sitting in my first row seat at the end of the aisle, I floated back to the late ’60s when I regularly scored a single ticket for a New York Giant football game at old Yankee Stadium. Being at the opera was strange and familiar at the same time.

Despite my best efforts, Act One had me on the ropes – the dark space, the sweet music and a comfy chair conspired. I couldn’t stay awake. I was having these mini-dreams involving Sigourney Weaver, loose clothing and me. I didn’t want to stay awake. I only needed to hear Mom’s aria in the second act. Unfortunately, the lady next to me was an arm-rest hog. She was eating and swigging soda with a friend, and felt that half my air space was sovereign for her meat hook. Every time Sigourney went to lick my ear, my neighbor’s elbow took my arm out from under itself, like a judo leg swing.


At one point, my glasses flew off when my chin bounced off the wood arm-rest. In the distance, I heard B.F. Pinkerton romancing Cio Cio San in Italian, my ancestors’ tongue. I didn’t understand a word. Recovering my specs, I plotted revenge.

Gathering all the gas in my intestinal tract, I secured it in a single room right above my exit passage. I held it still. Saturday night’s meal was the perfect storm. I built pressure and blocked it. When I fatigued my sphincter muscle, I lifted my right cheek and let her blow. The strength of the release lifted the rest of my ass off my seat. Using my arms, I arched right to ensure my aim was true. The cloud sucked the oxygen out of the air. When the wind died down, I got a quick look at the woman’s face, her bushy eyebrows were waving and she was barely conscious, then I ran out to the lobby.

After the intermission, my neighbor switch seats with her friend. I had no further arm-rest issue. The cold air during the break woke me up and I was all there, listening to the beautiful soprano sing “Un bel di, vedremo” gorgeously. I cried, thought of Mom, it felt good.

During the second intermission, I scouted one of the information tables in the lobby. There was a brochure for a free Big Band concert the following week. An attractive volunteer leaned into me.

“Do you like Big Band music?”

“I adore it.” I answered.

“You’re kind of young to be into it.”

“I have all my Dad’s reel to reel tapes, Dorseys, Miller, James, Shaw and many more. We fought over music, but ended up liking a lot of the same stuff.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful. My late husband loved the Big Bands. I have 150 albums that he played all the time.” She said.

“You’re very lucky, I love vinyl.”

“I don’t listen anymore, I have most of the stuff on CD and that’s fine for me.”

“Give them to your kids.”

“They don’t listen and don’t want them. Would you like them?”

“That’d be great, but please think about it before giving them away.”

“No, no, I’ve thought about it, and they’re clutter to me. I’d feel much better if someone was enjoying them.” Edith smiled.

She and I exchanged personal information and kept talking until the chimes went off signaling the start of the third act.

As I walked back to Ring Two, I thought about my day. I thought about Grace and her cut face. I thought about Mom humming along to Madame Butterfly. I thought about Dad’s devotion to Sinatra and our fights over Francis Albert’s best song. I figured my day at the opera would give any O. Henry story character a run for their money.

I’m picking up the records next week.


Check out my 1960s memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." at Logos Book Store, or purchase the book online at Amazon (114 five-star reviews out of 114 posted) or Barnes & Noble ~ and buy "River to River ~ New York Scenes From a Bicycle" my photography portfolio online.

1960s' street life

Friday, January 29, 2016

Snow Slipping Away ~ Stoops to Nuts Soiree 2.14.16 @ Ryan's Daughter

Bright sun and warm air took its toll on Carl Schurz Park snow yesterday. Here are a few photos.

Mark your calendar. Valentine's Day, February 14th, a special Stoops to Nuts show at Ryans Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street @ 3-6pm. I''ll perform sections from my upcoming play, "City Boy." Our musical artists: Nina & Son (David Terhune & Nina Terhune) and Eric Vetter & his Mirth Makers.

"My Aim Is True"
Thomas Pryor presents: Stoops to Nuts Valentine Day Show
Ryans Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street
February 14th @ 3pm to 6pm
Free show



Check out my 1960s memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." at Logos Book Store, or purchase the book online at Amazon (114 five-star reviews out of 114 posted) or Barnes & Noble ~ and buy "River to River ~ New York Scenes From a Bicycle" my photography portfolio online.






Thursday, January 28, 2016

Snowy Park, Valentine Day Show at Ryan's Daughter

Had a crappy last week and was not able to enjoy Saturday's storm. Monday, I took a long walk through a NYC paradise and met a pal, Andrea. These are my shots from a great stroll through Central Park on a calm sunny day.



Mark your calendar. Valentine's Day, February 14th, a special Stoops to Nuts show at Ryan's Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street @ 3-6pm. I''ll perform sections from my upcoming play, "City Boy." Our musical artists: Nina & Son (David Terhune, Nina Terhune & Eric Vetter and his Mirth Makers.


Thomas Pryor presents: "My Aim Is True"
Stoops to Nuts Valentine Day Show
Ryans Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street
February 14th @ 3pm to 6pm

Check out my 1960s memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." at Logos Book Store, or purchase the book online at Amazon (114 five-star reviews out of 114 posted) or Barnes & Noble ~ and buy "River to River ~ New York Scenes From a Bicycle" my photography portfolio online.

1960s' street life
lady of the waters

poets walk














Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Union Square, Gramercy Place, Irving Place

Love the  Union Square/Gramercy Park/Irving Place area - but who doesn't?

All year round it's buildings, parks and streets cheer me up.


Thomas R. Pryor Photography














Mark your calendar. Valentine's Day, February 14th, "My Aim Is True," a special Stoops to Nuts show at Ryans Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street @ 3-6 pm. I''ll perform sections from my upcoming play, "City Boy." Our musical artists: Nina & Son (Nina & David Terhune) and Eric Vetter & his melody makers.

Check out my 1960s memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." at Logos Book Store, or purchase the book online at Amazon (114 five-star reviews out of 114 posted) or Barnes & Noble ~ and buy "River to River ~ New York Scenes From a Bicycle" my photography portfolio online.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My Aim Is True ~ 2.14.16 ~ Ryan's Daughter

Thomas Pryor presents: "My Aim Is True" ~ Stoops to Nuts Valentine Show @ Ryan's Daughter.

Robert Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire, put his words to Scottish folk melodies. Composed lyrics and arrangements; modifying and recreating tunes he heard as a child. His emotional memories flood his work. Stoops to Nuts draws inspiration from the process of listening to a pleasing sound (prose, verse or song) that you never forget and you're compelled to tell or sing the melody from your seat. "My Aim is True," Well said, Elvis Costello.

Mark your calendar. Valentine's Day, February 14th, "My Aim Is True," a special Stoops to Nuts show at Ryans Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street @ 3-6 pm. I''ll perform sections from my upcoming play, "City Boy." Our musical artists: Nina & Son (Nina & David Terhune) and Eric Vetter & his melody makers.

Check out my 1960s memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." at Logos Book Store, or purchase the book online at Amazon (114 five-star reviews out of 114 posted) or Barnes & Noble ~ and buy "River to River ~ New York Scenes From a Bicycle" my photography portfolio online.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Unmatched Beauty

Was ill this past week and missed Saturday's snowstorm. Plan to make up for it today. These photos are from Friday, March 5, 2015. The sweetest Central Park snow day in my life. Unmatched NYC beauty.



Mark your calendar. Valentine's Day, February 14th, a special Stoops to Nuts show at Ryan's Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street @ 3-6pm. I''ll perform sections from my upcoming play, "City Boy." My special musical guests: David Terhune, Nina Terhune and Eric Vetter.

"My Aim Is True"
Thomas Pryor presents:  Stoops to Nuts Valentine Day Show
Ryan's Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street
February 14th @ 3pm to 6pm
Free show



Check out my 1960s memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." at Logos Book Store, or purchase the book online at Amazon (114 five-star reviews out of 114 posted) or Barnes & Noble ~ and buy "River to River ~ New York Scenes From a Bicycle" my photography portfolio online.







Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bleeding Blue in Pasadena

teepee @ Rose Bowl @ January 25, 1987
This week in 1987 I flew to the New York Giants first Super Bowl appearance against the Denver Broncos. I packed all my bad karma in a small suitcase. Karma gathered as a long suffering parishioner in the Church of Mara. I planned to leave it inside the Rose Bowl at game's end. I wrote a story about the trip that Mr. Beller's Neighborhood published in 2012.
Thank you, Mr. Beller's!

Bleeding Blue

“Tommy, want some action?” Al said as I leaned out the open school bus window.
“Nope, the Giants are favored by 9 ½ points."
“What about over and under, it’s 39 ½?”

Now he had my attention. I felt the Giants defense and running game would keep the score low.
“OK, twenty times under,” I said.
“Good boy!” Al smiled.
So I bet one hundred dollars that the combined score of both teams in Super Bowl XXI would be 39 points or lower.

It was January 25, 1987, an 80 degree cloudless Sunday in the warm California sun. I was headed to the Rose Bowl to see the New York Giants play the Denver Broncos. The trip started two weeks before. The day after the Giants beat Washington in the NFC Championship game I called airlines for a round trip to Los Angeles. They were sold out. Instead I bought a reservation to San Diego. Over the next ten days, I tried to locate a game ticket and had no success. On the Thursday afternoon before the Super Bowl I began calling travel agencies to try to sell my flight back to them. The first place asked me why I was selling it. I told her I couldn’t get a game ticket.
“I have one,” she said.
“How much?”
“$375.”
I swallowed and said “Yes.” Face value was $75.
An hour later, the messenger arrived, and I examined my ticket.
Gate B Tunnel 27 Row C Seat 111.
my ticket stub from the game

Possibly the worst seat in the 101,000 capacity Rose Bowl, but I was going to see the Giants.

I left the next day and prearranged staying with my friends Al and Jane Rosenbloom an hour from Pasadena. The problem was traveling from San Diego to a hotel lobby in Irvine where Jane and I had worked out a pick up. When I landed, I started working the rental car counters. “Anybody driving to L.A.?” A guy my age in a suit said he was driving to San Francisco. I told him if he dropped me off at my hotel on the way north, I’d pay his first day rental cost. He agreed. Jim was an Encyclopedia Britannica salesman and tortured me for the entire ride on how my future children would thank me forever for buying this gift for them and their children. I declined, he pouted. When we got near the hotel Jim pulled the car over to the shoulder of the highway and said he was late. He took my money for the day rental and left me on the side of the road. I climbed down the embankment and over a six-foot fence into the hotel’s parking lot. Jane was in the lobby when I ran in. It was Saturday morning three a m. The game of my life was only 36 hours away.
Jane found companies running buses to the Rose Bowl. For $15 I bought my ride. At noon on Sunday I was on the yellow school bus, with one other Giant fan and 40 Denver Bronco fans. I was excited and surrounded by the enemy. I waved goodbye to Al and Jane. They looked like proud parents, except for the fact that Al was counting on me giving him money to pay his bookie if I lost the bet.
Gliding over the California roads the bus was a happy land where Bronco fans, the other Giant fan and I joked together. The New York guy shared his blue tortilla chips with me, and kept asking, “Would you like another Giant chip?”
"Yes, please."
Off the bus I strolled around the Rose Bowl a few times to kill time and who do I run into to? Andy Rooney in his lucky Giant ~ Columbo looking raincoat. We talked about our love for the Giants and old Yankee Stadium.

Stepping through the dark tunnel into the Rose Bowl my heart smacked inside my chest. My long suffering was over. The New York Giants were my father’s and my unbreakable link. Our passion for football was unconditional. When I was 7 to 9 years old the Giants lost three consecutive NFL Championship games. Turning 10 in 1964 I knew that would be our year, the Giants, Dad and me. But they stunk, and kept on stinking.
After a good Bronco start the New York defense rose up and by half time I sensed victory even though the Giants were losing 10-9. In the third quarter the Giants exploded, scoring 17 points and led 26-10. Thinking of my dark fan days, thinking of my Dad and me going, watching, and listening to hundreds of Giant games together I started to well up, but then I remembered my bet. My stupid $100 bet. Every time I had a good thought about what was happening on the field, I also thought 4 more points I lose my bet.

As I’m having these feelings, the Giants are driving towards my end of the field. On a trick play a receiver ends up wide open. Phil Simms throws the ball to him and I’m mumbling, “Drop it! Drop it!” The receiver catches the ball and my heart lifts then drops at the same time. How could I ever root against the Giants? Best day of my life and I tarnish it. Final score was 39-20. The place rocked like a Springsteen concert. Giants carried Coach Parcells off the field. I couldn’t wait to talk to my father.

Back on the bus: silence with forty broken Bronco fans, me and the guy with the blue tortilla chips. The Rose Bowl had only had two exits and all the VIP cars exited first. We idled in the parking lot for an hour. When we began to move I felt like I was in a Walter B. Cooke Funeral Home on wheels. I could hear sad heaving coming from the grim Bronco fans. A tall woman had a tear rolling down his cheek. I felt bad for them but remembered how many times I had sat in their seat. Once in a while, the Giant fan and I would look at each other across the aisle and exchange a quick hand raise, a small yip and one word “Giants!”
Several hours after the game we arrived back at the hotel. I called Jane and asked her to delay one hour so I could celebrate at the hotel’s bar with any other Giant fan I found. I put money down on the bar and a sea of blue started forming where I stood. I remembered something important and slipped away to make a collect call to New York.

“Dad, we won, I love you.”
“I love you, Hon.” 
And we both hung up.

****





Mark your calendar. Valentine's Day, February 14th, a special Stoops to Nuts show at Ryan's Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street @ 3-6pm. I''ll perform sections from my upcoming play, "City Boy." My special musical guests: David Terhune, Nina Terhune and Eric Vetter.

"My Aim Is True"
Thomas Pryor presents:  Stoops to Nuts Valentine Day Show
Ryan's Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street
February 14th @ 3pm to 6pm


Check out my 1960s memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." at Logos Book Store, or purchase the book online at Amazon (114 five-star reviews out of 114 posted) or Barnes & Noble ~ and buy "River to River ~ New York Scenes From a Bicycle" my photography portfolio online.


Friday, January 15, 2016

My First Yankee Bullpen Hero Passed Away

l. to r. ~ Ed Ford, Luis Arroyo, Ralph Terry, Bill Stafford @1961
Luis Arroyo passed away. He was the New York Yankees 1961 All Star reliever and the guy who lifted me into the Yankee bullpen that July when I was seven years old.

Thank you, Mr. Arroyo.

Here's the story, "Boy In The Bullpen,"
published in The New York Times in 2008 on the Sunday of the last Yankee Red Sox game at the old Stadium. Below is the my original version.


Tommy near Bandshell in Central Park @1961





The Third Beer

I barehanded the spaldeen off the wall.
"Nice catch Tommy," Dad said.
"Thanks," I answered.
We continued our ritual - Dad on the south side of 85th Street and me on the north side. We played outside Loftus Tavern on York Avenue.
Loftus, where my Dad danced on the bar the night I was born.
He threw high ones off the wall, teaching me how to play Fenway Park's left field. If I was going to play for the Yankees, I had to conquer the "Green Monster." The most treacherous barrier in the major leagues.
I described the action to the fans. "Oh my! Tommy makes a shoestring catch, whirls, and fires a strike into second base robbing Carl Yastrzemski of a double."
"Last throw," Dad said.
His announcement distracted me and the ball flew over my head. I turned and put my hand where I thought it would be.
"Got it."
Dad ran across the street and gave me a hug. Our catch never ended on a dropped ball.
Arm in arm, we entered the tavern, where the air conditioner buzzed over our heads. The chill mingled with my sweat gave me the shivers. Our thirst was deep.
It was mid summer 1961. I had a dime in my dungaree pocket. I put Johnny Cash on the jukebox and draped my body over it. The bass rumbled through my belly, boom, boom, boom. I sang along.

After the song, I climbed onto a barstool alongside Dad. Jack Loftus had brought us a beer and a Coke - our usual. The morning newspapers were spread over the bar. I grabbed the Daily News and dug into the sports pages. There were three other customers - Dad's friends, Gene & Allie - and my Uncle Mickey.
Perfect.
I hurled my first salvo, "Ford's pitching today and going for his 12th straight win. Imagine that, old Whitey going for twelve straight before the All Star break?"
Gene and Allie's ears perked up. They loved Ford.
"Chairman of the Board," they said with hushed respect each time his name was mentioned.
My next target was Uncle Mickey – a real wise guy. "Wow, "Mantle and Maris are both ahead of Ruth's home run pace. Maris has 32 and Mantle has 28. The way they're slugging the ball, they both could break the record."
Uncle Mickey's eyes left his newspaper. He knew I loved Mantle.
"You know, they better do it in 154 games," he said. "Otherwise, the record may not count."
"Will too," I said.
"We'll see. There's a rumor the Baseball Commissioner will give the record an asterisk if it happens after the 154th game."
I had no clue what an asterisk was - but whatever it was, I didn't want one next to Mantle's name. I glared at my uncle. He smirked. I didn't care.
I had an agenda today: These guys were taking me to Yankee Stadium to watch Whitey Ford beat the Boston Red Sox.
I knew I had to ask at the right time. Too soon, would be before the third beer.
I'd learned that somewhere between the third and fourth beer, euphoria took grown men to a place, where most normally dismissed suggestions, became done deeds.
Too late, would be any point after the fourth beer was served. They'd be settled in & lazy and the thought of going back out into the heat, would keep them in the bar all afternoon.
The third beer was served - I waited 'til each took a sip, then launched my second flare.
"Hey guys, when was the last time we went up to the Bronx together? Wasn't it the Indians the day before Mother's Day? We gotta see the old ballpark; catch some sun in the bleachers? What do you say?"
My tanning reference was aimed at Mr. Coppertone, my handsome uncle.
Everyone exchanged looks. I put on my pathetic face. Dad paused for a moment then shook his head and said, "You're a real piece of work."
He rubbed my crew-cut, pushed off his barstool, and slapped both hands on the bar.
"Let's go men. Chairman Ford needs our support. Jack, save our seats."
We rose together and drained our drinks. Jack cleared the glasses and the cardboard Rheingold coasters off the wet bar. He swept it dry with one long ride of his rag.
"Have a great time men," Jack said, winking at me. He leaned over the bar and whispered, "Nice job, Tommy."
Out in the street, the heat smacked us in the face. A checker cab flew by. Fearing a retreat, I yelled "CAB-BAY." We piled in and Dad said, "Johnny, Yankee Stadium." Unbelievable, he did it again. Dad knew every cab driver's name and they were all Johnnies.
We raced up the FDR Drive with all the windows rolled down. I sat on the East River side of the cab with my head sticking out the window, catching air in my mouth. Done with that, I began singing beerjingles, getting in the mood for the game.
Baseball and Ballantine, Baseball and Ballantine,
What a combination, all across the nation, Baseball and Ballantine!

I moved into my next number. The fellows joined in.

The most rewarding flavor in this man's world,
For people who are having fun.
Schaefer, is the, one beer to have,
When you're having more than one!

The pull up seat built into the cab's floor resembled a toilet bowl with no opening for doing your business. It was my favorite amusement ride. I flew around the space like a bottle cap in an empty clothes dryer. Trips were rated by the number of times my head smacked the roof. Eleven. This was a good one.
The driver dropped us off under the El on River Avenue. A train roared over our heads. I looked up at the large green sign, "Bleachers 75 cents." I held Dad's hand tight. I didn't want to lose him. The crowd was huge. Going through the turnstile entrance, we moved into near darkness under the outfield seats. Dad bought me a program and a pencil. I ran ahead with Allie towards the sunshine into the bleachers. We found a spot up against the bullpen fence that separated the fans from the Yankee players. All around, people were laughing & screaming at each other. I took particular notice of certain words. Words I vaguely understood, but knew I could never say in front of an adult. Allie had his eye on me while I absorbed the colorful language.
"Hey kid. How old are you?"
"I'm seven."
Allie put his arm around me and said," Well, pard'ner, when you leave here today you'll be eighteen."
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Dad playing with his lips trying to hide a smile.
I carefully drew the starting lineups into my program in neat block letters.
Finishing my art work, I lifted my head and saw Gene talking down into the Yankee bullpen.
"Dad, who is Gene talking to?"
"Luis Arroyo."
"Huh?"
"Luis Arroyo, the all star pitcher. Gene and Arroyo played in the minors leagues together ten years ago."
"Gene knows Luis Arroyo?"
"Yep, they were roommates for two seasons."
I had no words. Dad's friend was the ex-roommate of the best relief pitcher in baseball who happened to be a Yankee. This fact slipped his mind? Is this what happens when you turn 32?
"Hey, Tommy." I turned and saw Gene waving me over to the bullpen. I gulped & inched towards him. Standing next to Gene, I looked down at the amazing ball player. He spoke to me.
"Hi, Tommy, it's a pleasure to meet you."
"Hi, Mr. Arroyo."
"Call me Luis."
"Hi, Luis."
The ballplayer passed two fingers through the tightly meshed fence. That's all that fit. I offered him my two fingers. He briefly studied our abbreviated shake attempt and started laughing.

"Gene, put the kid over the fence."
Gene, six foot four, lifted me over the bullpen fence into the arms of the Yankee pitcher. His powerful hands eased me down. My heart pounded, my legs shook. I felt loopy. Luis introduced me to three Yankees, Yogi Berra, Johnny Blanchard and Hector Lopez. They towered over me. Whitey Ford, warming up, couldn't shake my hand, but he did wave and smile. Whitey Ford smiled at me.
It's hard to remember the players' faces. I was dumbstruck by the giant NY on the pinstripe uniform. My eyes moved from one jersey to another, rarely leaving the insignia. I thought I knew every sound in the ballpark – Bob Shepherd's splendid voice over the stadium's loudspeaker, "in Centerfield… #7… Mickey Mantle…#7."
The vendors hawking, "BEER HERE, GET YOUR ICE COLD BEER HERE, BEER! A ball hitting the web of a glove, "WOOF!" A foul line drive striking an empty wooden seat: "THWACK!"
But in the bullpen - I heard fresh sounds. Like the players' voices. Each one a well-worn recording, I knew from radio and TV shows. Hearing them live was a waking dream. The sound of the players' steel cleats scraping against the gravel & concrete bullpen floor, "sssh, sssh, sssh." This thrilled me to no end. I stuck it in my memory vault.
How did the game turn out? Of course, I remember.
Ford won his 12th straight… Luis saved the game for Whitey striking out five of the last six batters… Mantle hit his 29th home run in the fifth inning.
Yankees won… 8-5.
End



Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Rumble Seat

"I used to ride in my father's rumble seat," Dad said and sipped his beer. I sipped my coke. We sat on stools facing the grandfather clock in Loftus Tavern.

 "What's a rumble seat?"

"It was a seat that hinged out of the back of the car, it felt like you were riding in mid air."

We mulled over our drinks and I thought, someday, I'm going to ride in a rumble seat.

One hot afternoon in the Old Timer's Tavern, I was laying on the floor watching the ceiling fan spin and I overheard my Uncle Mickey say to my father, "Bob, when we were young, I remember you driving us to Rockaway. Why don't you have a car?"

"Because I knew I was going to drink and I didn't want to hurt anybody."

The Pryor’s didn't have a car, and depended on the kindness of strangers and relatives. My Uncle George occasionally took us to beaches and lakes, my grandfather Rode took us to buy wool for my grandmother on Grand Street. I spent an inordinate amount of time in Checker cabs heading for Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden. That gave me access to the pull up seat on the floor of the cab. A seven ticket ride.

My mother's father, Pop Ryan, didn't have a car. In 1961 he bought his first one - a Falcon in mint condition. This made my grandmother very unhappy since my grandfather had a reputation for taking the laws of self-preservation lightly.
Pop put plastic over the seats and washed the car every Saturday in front of the house on York Avenue (He was the building's super). Nan wouldn't let Pop take me for the first few weeks because he had just gotten his first driver’s license by the skin of his teeth.

Week six, after relentless whining and begging, Nan finally let me go for a ride with Pop. I started off in the back seat but climbed into the front seat when we were out of sight from Nan. We turned left on 86th Street, and went straight over to 5th Avenue passing my favorites places: Loews Orpheum, Woolworth’s, the huge RKO, Horn and Hardart’s, Prexy's, Singer's, and many more.

We drove down Fifth Avenue pass the museums and mansions, I took it all in on my knees with my head out the window catching air in my mouth. At 72nd Street we turned into Central Park and veered right past Pilgrim Hill. Going north I waved at the boathouse doing 30 miles an hour.


At Cherry Hill, I said, "Pop, do 40!" He hit the accelerator, we did 40 uphill. Near the Engineer's Gate I saw a hawk swoop down and said, "Pop, 50!" The speedometer moved up. As we started down the hill pass the 102nd Street transverse, I yelled,"60, 60, 60!" Pop gave me a wicked smile and there we went. Pass the Harlem Meer at the north end of the park taking the curves at a breakneck speed with no one on the road but us. We rode up on the curb facing Cathedral Parkway and nearly hit a trash can. Pop backed down to 45, then 35, and we stayed there until we turned east at Columbus Circle heading back to Yorkville. Luckily, there was a spot on York Avenue in front of 1616. Pop parked, I jumped out, ran up the stoop, busted into the apartment screaming, "Nan, it was great! We did 60 miles an hour in Central Park!"

The next day, Pop sold the car to his son, my Uncle Lenny.




Mark your calendar. Valentine's Day, February 14th, a special Stoops to Nuts show at Ryan's Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street @ 4pm. I''ll perform sections from my upcoming full length play, "City Boy."

"My Aim Is True"
Thomas Pryor presents:  Stoops to Nuts Valentine Day Show
Ryan's Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street
February 14th @ 4pm

Check out my 1960s memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." at Logos Book Store, or purchase the book online at Amazon (114 five-star reviews out of 114 posted) or Barnes & Noble ~ and buy "River to River ~ New York Scenes From a Bicycle" my photography portfolio online.