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


Sunday, September 16, 2018

"Teaching His Bird to Fly"

"Will someone please put on a pair of friggin pants!"

Poor Mom, one neat lady in a house with three male slobs.

Dad, Rory and I lived in our underwear once we were inside our apartment. Only company got Dad to put on slacks, and Rory and I would only put dungarees on if it was someone outside our immediate family. Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles got the briefs. Dad wore boxers, "Like to give my boys room," he'd tell us when Mom was outside earshot.
We spent five hours a night in front of the TV together. Mom on the couch, Rory and me with Mom, or lying on the floor, and Dad in his chair where he did his art. Boys spend lots of time inside their underwear usually scratching out of boredom, or just making sure everything is in there. Mom hated this, especially when she thought we were in there too long. Our family nickname for the boy thing was "bird." Went something like this,

"Leave your bird."
"Hands off your bird."
"Stop it with your bird."

One night, when I was six, and Rory, was four, I must have been really digging for gold, because Mom went bananas.
"Bob, will you get them to stop. I've had it. They're monkeys, they're not ours, they're monkeys."

Dad, upset Mom was disturbing him, semi-flipped out. "Tommy, get your hands out of there!"

"Leave him alone," Rory said, "He's teaching his bird to fly."

Dad left the room faking a cough, I saw him laughing.

Mom fumed.

45s - Dettmore & Pryor Salute to 45 Singles