Thursday, March 31, 2016

Playing Catch With Dad

I miss playing catch with my father. One of life's near perfect moments.

This morning I saw a boy and his dad throwing the ball on The Drive between 81st Street & 82nd Street.


I owned four gloves in my life and still have the last of the four, a Jim "Catfish" Hunter model. Dad taught me to oil the glove and how to repair the laces with the large curved needle.

Breaking out the gloves in March is a Yorkville ritual that signaled the parks were ready for us. A tradition that goes back to the early part of the 1900s when Jimmy Cagney and Bill Cagney played ball with my great uncle, Joe "Cheech" Cuccia, on the Yorkville Nut Baseball Club. Their main rival was the John Jays as you can see in the photo here. Find Cagney, it's pretty easy. He has a smirk on his face.

NYPL The New York Public Library presents Yorkville author and photographer, Thomas Pryor, for an nostalgic hour of reading and storytelling at the 67th Street Branch.
Wednesday, April 6th @530pm to 630pm
FREE EVENT

April 6th, the 67th Street NYPL has invited me back to share a reading from my book, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys ~ tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." I will also tell a couple of short stories about my Upper East Side experiences in the 1960s. Bring the kids, the tales are for all ages.








Wednesday, March 30, 2016

NYPL Upper East Side Story ~ Oral History Project Kickoff Tonight!

The spring blossoms on the 300 block of East 81 Street. A beautiful canopy of trees, old stoops and sturdy walk-ups ~ the essence of New York City street life.

A block not marred by mid-block slivers or hi-rises. I’m fighting to maintain our dwindling Upper East Side housing stock threatened by speculation triggered by the Second Avenue subway and the city's indifference to supporting lower density where it has always made sense.

The tall buildings built for few are at the expense of everyone else who wishes to walk or sit on a stoop in the early morning or early evening and enjoy the sunlight as it arrives and leaves.



Tonight, Wednesday, March 30th, The New York Public Library kicks off their Upper East Side Story Oral History Project at the 67th St. Library, 328 E. 67th Street from 6-8pm.

Live music, free refreshments, be part of it, we're going to have fun. The Project's Director will interview me. I’m a street life kid, a city boy. Keeping the memory of alive of where I came from and sharing it with others who feel the same way is a strong tool for encouraging the preservation and protection of our neighborhood’s density and contextual zoning.

If you care about this issue, join the NYPL oral history project and tell your story about the old Upper East Side. We will conduct interviews through Labor Day. You are welcome to contact me at tommy.pryor@gmail.com if you have a long history (25 years or more) on the Upper East Side and would like to be interviewed for posterity and be part of the NYPL’s Upper East Side Story collection at the 42nd Street library.

Come and join the fun. Please rsvp below for tonight’s event.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Charlie's First Day & NYPL Upper East Side Oral History Project Kick Off!

This was a fine week, the kid started St. Stephen's and jumped right into the action.

This week, Wednesday, March 30th, The New York Public Library kicks off their Upper East Side Oral History Project at the 67th St. Library, 328 E. 67th Street from 6-8pm.

Live music, free refreshments, be part of it, see below, we're going to have fun. The project's Director will interview me about where I come from. Please rsvp below.

  • LISTEN to oral history highlights recorded so far!
  • SEE a LIVE oral history interview with Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts author Thomas Pryor.
  • ENJOY music from NY Mandolin Ensemble!
Refreshments will be served. We'll meet at 67th Street Library at 328 East 67th Street.
RSVP by clicking here. Questions? Please contact UpperEastSideStory@nypl.org

Upper East Side Story: Oral History Project Kick-Off Celebration!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016, 6 - 8 p.m.
PROGRAM LOCATIONS:
Fully accessible to wheelchairs
Free and open to the public!

JOIN US as we celebrate the launch of our historic neighborhood oral history project!

  • LISTEN to oral history highlights recorded so far!
  • SEE a LIVE oral history interview with Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts author Thomas Pryor.
  • ENJOY music from NY Mandolin Ensemble!
Refreshments will be served. We'll meet at 67th Street Library at 328 East 67th Street.
RSVP by clicking here. Questions? Please contact UpperEastSideStory@nypl.org

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy Birthday, Uncle Mommy!

Uncle Mommy with Alison

Today would be Mom's 86th Birthday. 

I'm celebrating with a glass of milk and washing it down with a black & white cookie from Glaser's Bakery

Happy Birthday, Uncle Mommy! I never had a boring day with Mom in Yorkville.



Chug, Chug, Chug...


...was all I needed to hear. I’d run from any point in the apartment and jump on.Mom’s washing machine was my rocking bronco. Old and cranky, but it still ran. Burping, coughing, and passing gas, its mechanical parts in constant resistance against one another. The machine would lift itself from its usual corner by the old sink in our tiny kitchen beginning its Ouija board dance of death across the linoleum floor. Sick of having to plug it back in when it pulled itself out of the wall socket; Mom finally gave in adding a long extension cord. This cord was my passport to ride the wide open plain from sink to wall, from wall to door across the rolling kitchen floor.


Only one rule was in play. I couldn’t wear my sneakers when driving. Early rides found me firmly planting my sneakered feet on the papered walls to maximize liftoff. This left indelible marks resistant to all Borax cleaning products. Our compromise, I wore socks. So did Mom. We each wore a pair of Dad’s thick hunting socks. Me to cleanly push off as the stage coach perilously neared the wall. I redirected my pony express out of the sage brush back onto the dirt road.Mom’s socks allowed her to slide across the floor in a fluid polishing motion till she saw her house proud smile reflecting off the burnished linoleum.

The kitchen radio played “Our Day Will Come and We’ll Have Everything,” by Ruby and the Romantics, then Mom put Mario Lanza on Dad’s 1955 RCA Victrola record player. We’d sing on the top of our lungs locked in tune. The music, the bouncing machine and me, mom’s linoleum cleaning cha-cha, a chaotic orchestra playing for only us two, and Mario and we singing:


“Drink, Drink, Drink,
To eyes that are bright as stars when they’re shining on me.
Drink! Drink! Drink!
To lips that are red and sweet as the fruit on the tree!
Here's a hope that those bright eyes will shine
Lovingly, longingly soon into mine!
May those lips that are red and sweet,
Tonight with joy my own lips meet!
Drink! Drink! Drink! ”


We knew every word.

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. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. 
Thank you!



Starting March 30th, I'm working with the New York Public Library's Neighborhood Oral History Project, "Upper East Side Story." If you lived on the East Side between 59th St. & 96th St. for 25 or more years (the longer the better) and you would like me to interview you about your history in the neighborhood, please email me at tommy.pryor@gmail.com. I'll email you back a document describing the project. It will be an easy conversation where I listen to you talk about where you came from. Your recollections will become part of the permanent record at NYPL, available for the public to hear.






Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"You Win Some, You..." ~ Carl Schurz Park

On my 12th birthday in 1966, Dad gave me a basketball. This was an odd present for two reasons: (1) Dad gifts to me always reflected his interests and he hated basketball. (2) I was terrible at basketball.

Right after Christmas 1965, I made up my mind I was going to change that. I would learn to dribble the ball with my right hand, drive in both directions to the basket, and force myself to jump higher. My vertical leap was challenged. When Dad and I played catch he’d sometimes throw the ball a little over my head so he could get a kick out of the short distance I put between the sidewalk and my chubby body with the dead legs. My left handed dribbling was something to watch. Each time I played a new rival I’d drive left, hit two to three baskets with a nasty hook until my opponent figured out "the lack of right" in my game and then I’d be blanketed for the rest of the match. Only reason I played basketball was for a good sweat because it certainly wasn’t pleasurable playing it poorly.


Dad was sick of hearing how much I wanted a basketball from New Year’s through St. Paddy’s Day so he bought the ball to shut me up. On the morning of the 20th, Dad passed the ball to me over Mom’s head as she was doing the dishes. I named it Joe, after my round headed friend, Joe Menesick, from 84th Street. It was Saturday, and I had to try it out down Carl Schurz Park. I thanked and kissed my parents, my brother, Rory, rolled his eyes and I ran down the four flights of stairs into the street.


A blast of wind headed west smacked my face on the 83rd Street stoop. I awkwardly dribbled the ball with one hand towards East End Avenue. I avoided the Drive near the water figuring a gale storm was whipping the river up. In the park, at the basketball court in the Hockey Field my left hand was numb and coiled like a cripple. I took my first shot from the top of the key, a doozy. It left my hand on a high arc and caught a demonic stream of air that lifted and carried the ball over the left side of the back board. Losing altitude near the fence, it struck a spike and let out a death rattle, “whisssh,” it hung there disheartened. I walked over to the ball, gave it an up and down but didn’t bother to touch it. It was useless. Like the ball, deflated, I walked home.

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. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. 
Thank you!



Starting March 30th, I'm working with the New York Public Library's Neighborhood Oral History Project, "Upper East Side Story." If you lived on the East Side between 59th St. & 96th St. for 25 or more years (the longer the better) and you would like me to interview you about your history in the neighborhood, please email me at tommy.pryor@gmail.com. I'll email you back a document describing the project. It will be an easy conversation where I listen to you talk about where you came from. Your recollections will become part of the permanent record at NYPL, available for the public to hear.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Uncle Mommy & Aunt Joannie Baloney ~ The March Girls

Thinking of my Uncle Mommy today, and her sister, my godmother, Joannie Baloney Ryan Heuer. March, lots of family birthdays (something to do with lovey-dovey June nights, cold beer & pizza).



The third week of March was another Christmas eve for me. First my day on the 20th, then Mom on the 24th, and Aunt Baloney on the 27th. Every year, we had a birthday party for the three of us at my house, 517 East 83rd Street, with the extended family. Days later, we did it again at 321 East 85th Street, Aunt Baloney's house. Sometime in between we had smaller parties at Nanny Cuckoo's & Nanny Dutchie's at 1582 & 1616 York Ave. All within three blocks and one avenue. It was a "Monsoon Wedding." Seven days of going cuckoo crazy nuts with my certifiably insane loving family. My thoughts today are on Uncle Mommy & Aunt Joannie Baloney. We all were blessed to have each other.

Here are photos of the March Girls and other characters from my Yorkville life. 



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. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. Thank you!
Starting March 30th, I'm working with the New York Public Library's Neighborhood Oral History Project, "Upper East Side Story." If you lived on the East Side between 59th St. & 96th St. for 25 or more years (the longer the better) and you would like me to interview you about your history in the neighborhood, please email me at tommy.pryor@gmail.com. I'll email you back a document describing the project. It will be an easy conversation where I listen to you talk about where you came from. Your recollections will become part of the permanent record at NYPL, available for the public to hear.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happy St. Joseph's Day ~ My Beard Itches!

St. Joe building a diving board.

March 19th is the Feast of St. Joseph. An Upper East Side wide holiday in 1962. The St. Joseph parish on 87th Street began as an orphanage on York Avenue (then known as Avenue A) and 89th Street in the 1800s. The present church’s cornerstone was blessed in 1894. My mother and her sisters went to St. Joe’s school in the 1940s. My affection for the saint was built into me.

In second grade, I was chosen to play St. Joseph in a play in front of the St. Stephen of Hungary's student body. Everything about this excited me right up to the beard but the nun lied. She told us St. Joe was the patron saint for the U.S. Post Office and therefore in heaven he was in charge of the mail between heaven and earth.
Tommy 2nd grade.


I later found out St. Joseph had never been near a post office but had a lot of other patronage responsibilities including patron saint against doubt, for cabinetmakers, Canada, carpenters, China, confectioners, craftsmen, dying people, engineers, families, fathers, a happy death, a holy death, house hunters, Korea, laborers, Mexico, New France, Peru, pioneers, social justice, travelers, Universal Church, Vatican II, Viet Nam, working people.

Alas, I was St. Joseph in charge of Heaven's post office and as my costume got built by the Nun I got happier and happier. First, I got to wear Father Emeric's cool brown priest sandals. The sandals signaled poverty but to me they signaled taking my toes out for a walk in the cool March air. Then, I got to wear his brown robe with rope belt. The priest uniform, I had the whole priest uniform! And I could swing that Franciscan poverty rope around like a beat cop. I nailed a couple of kids in the head as I walked up to the stage. They'd get even later. Who cared?
Sister Lorraine thank you note, 1962.


Sister Lorraine, our teacher, had this thing for the post office and authentic historical scenes and since St. Joe had a beard I was getting a beard. I had no problem until they put the itchy wool choker on my face held on by a thick rubber band over my ears and around my neck that cut off the blood to my brain. I couldn't stand it, and though I knew my lines I had a problem getting them out of my mouth through the beard to the audience. I fixed that. Every time I spoke I lifted the contraption off my face and spoke my lines out of the side of my mouth. It was my last feature role.

Happy Saint Joseph's Day!

Original St. Joseph's on Avenue A & 89th Street, 1890.


**********


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 Amazon, Barnes and Noble or other booksellers. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N. Thank you!

  St. Joe's 8th Grade graduation same month as D-Day
June 1944, my Mom, bottom row, third from left.

Starting March 30th, I'm working with the New York Public Library's Neighborhood Oral History Project, "Upper East Side Story." If you lived on the East Side between 59th St. & 96th St. for 25 or more years (the longer the better) and you would like me to interview you about your history in the neighborhood, please email me at tommy.pryor@gmail.com. I'll email you back a document describing the project. It will be an easy conversation where I listen to you talk about where you came from. Your recollections will become part of the permanent record at NYPL, available for the public to hear.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Erin go Bragh! ~ TONIGHT, FREE DRINKS, FREE FOOD @ Sideshow Goshko

Tonte
"Erin Go Bragh!" Tonte here.

Tonight, We need YOU for Sideshow Goshko's Film Shoot 3/17!
Doors open 630pm @ 7pm, the funniest human bean in the field, Leslie Goshko, leads the asylum choir in chaos and story. No one gets out alive. But many leave smiling. 

723 Washington Street (bet W. 11 St. & Bank St.) Tonight, FREE DRINKS, FREE FOOD, FREE LIVE TAPING OF POPULAR TV SHOW, and my friend, Tommy Pryor, is part of Leslie Goshko's soiree in the West Village. He'll read a selection from his 1960s' NYC memoir, "I Hate The Dallas Cowboys ~ tales of a scrappy New York boyhood."

If you don't believe me, ask Charlie, he's all ears.
Charlie










If you don't believe Charlie, ask Casey, she noses.

Casey

And if you ask Sparky, she'll say nothing and lick your face.

Sparky Lyle


Tonight, We need YOU for Sideshow Goshko's Film Shoot 3/17! Doors open 630pm @ 7pm, Leslie Goshko, leads the asylum choir in chaos and story. No one gets out alive. But many leave smiling. 
723 Washington Street (bet W. 11 St. & Bank St.)


FREE BEER,  FREE WINE AND FREE FOOD!


          
FREE BEER,  FREE WINE AND FREE FOOD!




Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Now & Then ~ 81st Street Staircase on the East River

81st Staircase @ 1941
First photo here is a 1941 photo of the sparkling new 81st Street staircase between the East River and the FDR roadway (note the air raid siren). The other photos are along 81st Street looking towards East End Avenue & York Avenue and the staircase area during the peak storm at high tide and the morning after Sandy.

If you live or lived in Yorkville on the Upper Eastside odds are you spent quality teenage time under the stairs with your feet dangling over the water, maybe with tunes on the radio or your cassette player, with your pals, with you girl, with your boyfriend, this was a prime spot for Friday night cocktail hour. This week they cut the section over the north bound FDR. The new ramp (not stairs) is a year away and will look like the ramp at 78th Street.

Tomorrow night, I'll work this into my reading at We need YOU for Sideshow Goshko's Film Shoot 3/17! Thank you, Leslie, for letting me sing the praises of long gone street life. We made the most of what we had.


Thursday night, tomorrow, Leslie Goshko, has a super duper special We need YOU for Sideshow Goshko's Film Shoot 3/17!Guess what? I'm in it. Yes, Master of Disaster, the funniest person I know, cuckoo crazy nuts Ms. Goshko, invited me to read from my memoir, "I Hate The Dallas Cowboys ~ tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." I'm pleased as punch, and hope you can come toBennett Media Studio, 723 Washington Street on St. Paddy's @630pm. Last time I passed that spot, Shawn Colvin was walking in to the building... you never know. And afterwards, we'll get our Irish up, "Erin Go Bragh!"

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

Starting March 30th, I'm working with the New York Public Library's Neighborhood Oral History Project, "Upper East Side Story." If you lived on the East Side between 59th St. & 96th St. for 25 or more years (the longer the better) and you would like me to interview you about your history in the neighborhood, please email me at tommy.pryor@gmail.com. I'll email you back a document describing the project. It will be an easy conversation where I listen to you talk about where you came from. Your recollections will become part of the permanent record at NYPL, available for the public to hear.

81st Staircase 2012

81st looking towards EEA

High Tide during Sandy


East End Avenue 1940

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sideshow Goshko's Film Shoot 3/17!

Ma, fix me!
We need YOU for Sideshow Goshko's Film Shoot 3/17!,

So excited about this Goshko party... Hey Ma! new diapee here. Chop, chop!"

Thursday night, Leslie Goshko, has a super duper special We need YOU for Sideshow Goshko's Film Shoot 3/17! Guess what? I'm in it. Yes, Master of Disaster, the funniest person I know, cuckoo crazy nuts Ms. Goshko, invited me to read from my memoir, "I Hate The Dallas Cowboys ~ tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." I'm pleased as punch, and hope you can come toBennett Media Studio, 723 Washington Street on St. Paddy's @630pm. Last time I passed that spot, Shawn Colvin was walking in to the building... you never know. And afterwards, we'll get our Irish up, "Erin Go Bragh!"

Leslie

Love Me Three Times Alison