Saturday, June 27, 2020

"Get A Mouser!"

Anne Pryor 1942
Sleeping in the front room of my Italian grandmother's apartment I dreamt Ann-Margret was in a blue bikini doing a shimmy dance humming, “Tommy, Oh, Tommy.”

The vision dissolved when I felt the vacuum cleaner suck my toe in. Above the roar of the machine,  my grandmother’s voice. “Get up!” 
She did not like you sleeping when she was awake.
1582 York Avenue 1940
Uncle Tom home from Europe 1945
It was 1972, mid-summer. I looked at the clock on the nightstand.
“It’s 8:15!”
“Get up!”
“There’s a mouse running around in the kitchen.”
I don’t believe I heard the end of that sentence while I was still in bed. I jumped up, grabbed my eyeglasses, a pair of dungaree shorts, and my sneakers and ran out the front door. From the top of the staircase, Nan yelled down to me at the bottom where I was tying my sneakers in the low light of the hall.
Hunter I.D. 1972

“Don’t come back without a mouser!”
“A cat, a cat, bring back a    cat.”

It was hot that Saturday and the streets of Yorkville were empty. "Where was I going to find a cat" I thought about walking up to the ASPCA on 92nd Street but I wanted a friend to go with me.  The only place where there might be someone else up this early was Esquire Deli on 84th Street & York. Their sodas were ice-cold and Augie, the owner, made terrific hero sandwiches that my friends craved all the time. Including for breakfast.
I ran into the store through their open door -- the AC was broken -- and saw Eddie Hauser talking to Augie’s brother, Joey. Augie was at the slicing machine, making breakfast for Eddie.
I ran into the store through their open door -- the AC was broken. I saw Eddie Hauser talking to Augie’s brother, Joey. Augie was at the slicing machine, making breakfast for big Eddie.

Tom Mac, Esquire, 1970

  Side note: If you asked Eddie for a sip of his soda, he'd put the bottle up his arm pit, give it a couple of deep spins, pull it out, and offer you a sip.

“Hey, guys!”
I got back three “Yo’s!”
I went straight to the soda fridge and pulled out a Mission Cream. Walking back to the fellows, I asked, “I need a cat. Anyone want to walk with me to the ASPCA?”
Augie said, “Yeah, I’ll go. But first go get some ice cream.”
“I don’t want ice cream.”
“Pick something out.”
I’m thinking Augie lost his mind from the heat, but, I went over to the ice cream case and found the glass top half way open. Looking in, I saw a cardboard box with five snow-white kittens.
“I don’t believe it!”
The three of them laughed their asses off. Eddie said, “Take one, take two!”
I never had a cat; this was scary business. One had a pink nose. I grabbed it. The kitten fit in the palm of my hand.
“Thanks!” I said, and ran back to Nan’s.“Jeez, that was quick.” It was hard to impress Nan with anything but this nearly did. The whole thing took 20 minutes.
Stymie & Sparky Lyle

Murray Parker 

Nan was humming to herself as she stroked the ball of fur in her lap.
“Let’s call her Stymie,” I said. I loved Stymie from the Little Rascals TV show.
“OK, but he’s a she,” Nan said after a quick investigation under the hood.
The contented expression on Nan’s face gave me hope I might have a rare window inside the Honorable Anne Pryor Rode's head.
“Nan, when was the first time you fell in love?”
With no hesitation, she said, “Your grandfather, Tom.”
“Tell me.”
Nan walked across the linoleum floor to turn on the fan. She came back to the kitchen table, placed the tiny kitten on her lap and started the story.  As always, her streetwise accent echoed Yorkville's history.

Aunt Mary & Nan 1945

Aunt Mary 1582 York 1978

Stymie & Sparky Lyle

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Up On The Roof

Today would be my brother Rory's 64th birthday. Been thinking about Rory & our 83rd St. roof all day. Happy birthday, Rory.

83rd Street Sunset
The roof was our oasis from the heat, we had many extension cords and hose extensions to get our stuff from fourth floor to roof, for water (had a baby pool), radio and black & white TV. Dad brought up a standing lamp once so he could see while he sketched at twilight. Mom wanted to kill him. She loved her lamps.

Before air-conditioning, I spent entire Yorkville summers with the lights out in our 517 East 83rd Street apartment until it was pitch dark.

Mom could page a calendar in the winter and start sweating when June, July, August flipped by. Dad loved heat. He slept under a pipe in the Navy. Made for nice conversation.
Rory Pryor on 517 E 83 St. roof @ 1961

One afternoon, I said "I'm going blind here!" I couldn't read my comic. Mom told me to go to the back window and use the sun light. This was one of my first openings to get her to let me play out on our fourth floor fire escape facing the backyard and 84th Street. I'd bring most of my stuff out there with me to play with. Eventually, Rory got out there to. I was afraid of heights and kept my butt glued to the stairs. Rory was not afraid of heights. He'd torture me by climbing over the fire escape to the outside, hang off putting his body in mid-air 40 feet over the concrete below and then he'd twist the knife, " Hey Tommy, look, I'm gonna fall and Mom is gonna kill you." I was frozen and he was right.

83 St Sunset

Tommy on roof @ 1961

Rory on roof @ 1961

view from 4R fire escape @ 517 E 83St. @ 1962

Monday, June 8, 2020

Timeless Carl Schurz Park

Over the weekend, took photos at the Asphalt Plant, down Carl Schurz Park and a few on 84th Street. Here they are at this link.

If you like my work check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." Available at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

The book has 133 Amazon five star reviews out of 133 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.