Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
God Bless America !
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I can’t stress enough that this building frenzy was at its very beginning. Rotterdam itself was different. As commercial as it is today, it was rural then.
Our dads all worked at the General Electric plant as machinists, crane operators or some other blue-collar job. None of them had any college and most were vets. My father was a vertical boring mill operator trained through the General Electric Company Apprentice program. He started the program after graduating from high school at the end of the Depression in 1937. While training he made $11 a week. My father worked on the same machine, in H bay of building 273, Large Steam Turbine, on the third shift; 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., for 47 years. Think about that. Same job over and over again.
Our mothers stayed home until all the kids went to school and then went to work. There’s kind of a myth that most mothers were housewives and didn’t work outside the home, but if you take time and look you’ll see it isn’t true. When I left high school the development had tripled in size and only two moms were staying at home in the entire neighborhood.
An access road lead into the development from one of the main town roads to a circle of houses, approximately thirty, on four short streets. One road in, the same road out. Each lot was clean cut or had virgin plants, tiny bushes and trees about six feet tall. The streets were crushed stone. I think I was in junior high before the streets were paved. The whole thing was surrounded by woods and farmland. The western boundary of our neighborhood was a barbed wire fence bordering a dairy farm. I remember fondly, as a little guy, climbing the barbed wire along the post to sit on the top of the post and wait for a cow to come close enough so that I could jump on her back. Riding a cow was a big deal to a six-year-old growing up on Roy Rogers and Hopilong Cassidy. I’m sure that at some point “ yippy eye aye” and “ya hoo!” spilled from my mouth! Many an afternoon my mother swatted my ass for coming home smelling like cow shit. Yes, ass swatting was the norm. If you messed up, expect to pay in pain.
The houses were basically all the same layout, but the exteriors were slightly different. Some were more “finished” than others. Each started as a house with a basement and two floors. The starter model had an unfinished basement and attic. The first floor had a kitchen, living room, dining room, two bedrooms and a bathroom. Buyers could add a fireplace, bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs or a rec room in the basement. Our house was the basic
starter model with a fireplace. We fit since it was just my mother, father, my brother and me. This was the “baby boom”.
One of the reasons my parents had a “little” more was that they had been married for awhile and both had worked until my brother was born. Most of the kids were my age or younger. Including my brother, there were only four kids older. Many of the couples had been married for two to three years before buying their house. My parents moved in when I was one. Many of the couples were eligible for special mortgage programs because the husband had been in the war. Also two of the husbands were on 100% disability from the military. Unlike Social Security this type of disability allowed you to work. This enabled one of the mothers to remain a housewife when the kids went to school.
One man had been bayoneted in the chest. I had marveled at the scar many times, trying to imagine the nine-inch blade going in. His daughter told me that he had shot the other soldier and when he fell the bayonet stayed in his chest. The medic had removed the bayonet from the rifle but left it in his chest while transporting him. He still had nightmares about seeing the bayonet in his chest. The other man had been blown up during the Battle of the Bulge, the “Band of Brothers” story. Artillery hit right next to him, killing everyone in his foxhole but him. He had been riddled with shrapnel. The largest of his injuries were to his major organs but he fought hard and lived. The most noticeable scar was that he had lost an eye and wore a glass one.
The families handled their wealth at the extremes of differently. One family lived very simply. Their only thing was that they “finished “the upstairs into two bedrooms and a bathroom. Each of the three kids went to college and became a teacher. The word that comes to mind with the other family was extravagant. Their house was totally different from all the others. It was not a cape. They had chosen a ranch style house, which basically means all on one level. They also had the unheard of 2-½ bathrooms. Across the entire back of the house was a screened-in porch surrounded by a fieldstone patio. Just below the patio was a small in-ground swimming pool. This was a true luxury in the 1950’s. Later they were the first to get a color television. But what set them apart to make them truly extravagant in our father’s eyes was their choice of vehicle. My dad was a General Motors man. He usually purchased Chevys. The different lines came in different models. For instance, the Impala line came in the Biscayne, Bel Aire and Super Sport model. Each one added better accessories and options. The Bel Aire was the blue-collar model. The extravagant family was a Ford family and always purchased every available option. That’s something doctors or lawyers did.
Each morning kids would get up, watch the Three Stooges and Our Gang on TV, eat breakfast and then get thrown out of the house and told to go play outside. Every kid in Rotterdam had to be home at 4:30 in the afternoon, or at least that’s how it felt. The volunteer firehouse blew a siren every day at 4:30. There wasn’t a spot in town where that siren couldn’t be heard. That siren would blow and within a minute of its finishing every sandlot ball game, pick up basketball game, game of tag or double dutch would end. Like ants boys and girls headed across fields, down streets and through each other’s backyards heading home. It also acted as a reminder to get us home for the important afternoon television shows, which actually began at four. The Mickey Mouse Club was popular with the youngsters and American Bandstand was popular with everyone.
Lunch was different. When you got pushed out the door in the morning you knew that you’d catch lunch somewhere. All mothers understood that storming the beaches of France, gun fights and fighting Indians were much too important to give up to eat. It was a neighborhood understanding that if two or three extra kids were in your yard at noon, you threw each a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and life went on.
Now that I think about it that’s not true. The town was predominantly Italian, but where I lived was eastern European - Polish, German and Czech. My neighbors were named Karbowski, Dondalski, Drezdowski, Renkawicz and Lasak. I think that when the land for the houses first went on sale word got out at St. Adelbert’s Catholic Church, which was the local Polish parish. They did the mass in both Latin and Polish. Now my mother would fight to the death that she was German. Our name is Nichols but my mother’s maiden name was Vogel. She had four brothers and a sister. Two were born in Europe, one on the boat on the way over and two here. Her mother and father spoke German but had immigrated from what had been Prussia. After WWI it became Poland. So I would say that we were German speaking Poles. So pb and j wasn’t the norm.
I remember a lot of variety, with habits and what people had. Growing up in the 50s all of our parents were products of the depression. Some families had huge gardens and some canned their produce. So it was not unusual for a Mom to give you a fresh sliced tomato on bread with mayo or a piece of pumpernickel spread with about a ¼ of an inch of liverwurst spread on it with spicy mustard. Sometimes you got lucky and got guompkes or potato pancakes. When at an Italian’s house you would get pasta or just dip Italian bread in the pot of sauce on the stove. Today we would be accused of profiling but this is the way it was.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
In 1599 William Shakespeare immortalized Harry's words.
"This day is called The Feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes home safe, will stand a tiptoe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age, will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,
And say, 'Tomorrow is St. Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, 'These wounds I had on Crispian's Day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
familiar in his mouth as household words -
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Glouster --
be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
and Crispin Crispian shall ner go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered --
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks
that fought with us upon St. Crispin's Day."
October 25, 2007 will be the second anniversary of my terminal diagnosis. Like Harry, Glouchester, Salisbury and Exeter; I, too, would like to be remembered on St. Crispin's Day. It seems appropriate since King HenryV and Shakespeare took the lowly saint of cobblers and leather workers to such a great height. One would think that the most often quoted speech from Shakespeare would be from Hamlet, MacBeth, or Othello, but because of the fortitude and meaning of Harry's words, the above by far is the most quoted of Shakespeare's words.
To those who are in the same situation as me -- we, too, can start our own band of brothers.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Most of us "browned bagged it" for lunch. Many of us were first or second generation Americans
and our mothers were very creative with our lunches. Lou Amoroso brought the greatest Italian "sangwiches"; things like "peppers & eggs", fried moolie, sausage, peppers & onions, mortadella, prositto, of course, all on freshly made Italian bread. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we had Bruce Wheeler....mint jelly on Wonderbread...everyday! Georgie Davis....hot dogs with ketchup...on white....everyday! Jimmy Lucca mother, Mona, made great lunches- most of the time. Mona was a nurse and sometimes would not get home in time to make her three sons lunch. On those days, the boys would make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Naturally, we would all ask each other what we had for lunch. You had to be careful because Jim called them " steak & sauce". Occasionally, he would find someone to trade. One day, Glenn's father made his lunch. Unfortunately, his fathers favorite sandwich was Grandma Browns baked beans, which are a lot like refried beans, with thin slices of Bermuda Onion. Glenn
got no trades that day.
We would also see a lot of "last nights" leftovers. Bobby Godlewski's pork chops, Kathy Kresnewski's glumpkies, Nicks grandmothers pizza, Jeff Kings fish fry and Gary Scholtes meatloaf. First place went to Walter Cuff, a transient from Hawaii, who's daily menu consisted of sardines, onions and cheese, with mustard, on marble rye. The smell was worse than a compost pile.
Lunch was always concluded by blowing up your brown bag and popping it on your knee.It sounded like a firefight in Vietnam.
On to Bishop Gibbons... 1963. The cafeteria here featured "ala carte" items, such as , cheese wedges,pickles, olives, sliced carrots, chickpeas, hard boiled eggs, sliced cucumbers and brownies with frosting. Whatever flew....did, usually launched by Jerry Pompilio and Al Kuhns,then, joined by the masses. It was every man for himself and it was always fun to watch Glenn run around the cafeteria with cheese stuck in his hair. Silverwear was next. Kurt Minersagen achieved the most velocity after he flattened knives, forks and spoons with his size
13 cordovans.He was the biggest man sized boy we ever saw. About 6'5'', 250 lbs., in ninth grade. His voice was bigger than that. The end result after getting caught was cleanup, which usually ended well after the buses departed. We'll tell you about the fish tank episode as Two Idiots continues next week.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Out of pure coincidence two of my monthly book club selections were All About Shakespeare and a biography about Shakespeare. I found them both very interesting and from that time forward whenever Shakespeare was mentioned, I listened intently, but growing up in the 50's and 60's with the people I hung out with, it was a secret kept close to the vest.
During my high school years I had the good fortune of attending more than 2-1/2 years of private school, more that 1-1/2 at a local Catholic school and one year of prep school (once again, this is not a euphemism for juvenile detention facility). It was while I attended prep school that I had an instructor, Mr. Hubbard, who taught us how to read and understand the poetry of Shakespeare. "What light through yon window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun." This line is one that caught my attention. I never considered myself a romantic but I could picture some adolescent boy looking up at this beautiful young girl and thinking how her beauty could radiate like the sun. I really thought it was pretty cool.
When I returned to Mohonasen, in their great and wonderful wisdom, they were experimenting with a new English program. Monday's, Wednesdays and Fridays, the entire senior class went to the auditorium for a large lecture. At other periods two or three times a week we were broken up into much smaller groups that were called "seminar". My seminar teacher was the lovely, Miss Quinn.
The rumor on Miss Quinn was that she was a former nun. I didn't know if that was true or not but it sure as hell appeared to be. I don't really remember what it was we were studying but she had asked if anyone wanted to read one of the poems that we had just been assigned out loud. One of the girls volunteered and really did a poor job. I made some stupid comment and Miss Quinn asked me if I felt I could do better. I said "Most definitely."
She asked me to come up in front of the class and read it aloud. I did what she must have felt was an outstanding job with my reading because she stood there looking at me wide-eyed with her mouth wide opened. She came over to me, touched my arm, and said "that was fabulous". I went back to my seat. I remember I sat next to Fred Mastrianni and on the other side of him was JanineTherriault. Janine leaned across Fred and whispered, "I think she may have had an orgasm when she touched you." Fred and I cracked up.
Fred who was a really nice kid was probably the best jock in our class but was not a rocket scientist by any means. He and I decided that we would have a contest to see how many times we could get her to touch us. Each class after that I would always go up to her, touch her shoulder or elbow, get as close as I could and tell her how much I was looking forward to her class. After a few weeks, Fred gave up because I was way too far ahead of him. Miss Quinn almost died the day we did the poem "To His Coy Mistress."
Lets just say the sexual overtones hung in the air....but since it was a Mohonasen classroom, not for everyone. I had no doubt that that year I was Miss Quinn's favorite student. Everything being equal, looking back over the years, she was a very strange ranger but she knew her literature.
Shakespeare is in my life, even today...
"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in its petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time; and all my yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle, life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing."
When daydreaming I think of this Macbeth soliloquy and it somehow feels appropriate for the stage of life that I am in now. The only part that I would disagree with is I feel that my life has indeed been significant. If you cut that line out, it would almost be a good epitaph for me.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Summer 1971...Cruising the backroads of Altamont in the '66 T-Bird. Just the four of us, two idiots and the wives. Up Sickle Hill Road, we found a sign that said, " seasonal use only, road closed from November 1st. to April 1st." Up we went,dirt road and all. No sign would deter the two idiots. Potholes, gravel, downed trees, dead animals and rip rap, all littered the road. You can tell no one had been down the road for quite some time. Higher and higher, twisting and turning, the road went on. Dilapidated shacks, long abandoned, were slowly being overtaken by brush and small trees. Cresting the hill on the left, we saw what looked like the remains of an Alfred Hitchcock movie set. It seemed to call our name. Circling the exterior proved to be nothing out of the ordinary. The windows were too high and dirty to see inside. Forcing open the front door proved to be quite a challenge. The words "breaking, entering and trespassing" never entered our minds.Once inside, it became hauntingly quiet. All that remained on the first floor was a rotted kitchen cupboard, filled with empty antique ketchup bottles and old magazines. The stairs to the second floor were rotted, but navigable. Three bedrooms, cast iron bed frames and rotting springs. Throughout the house, wherever we walked, were cobwebs and dust. The basement was cold, dark and damp,not to mention eerie.We remained inside for about 15 minutes. It was exactly what an abandoned house should be.
We walked back to the car,where upon both our wives said, almost in unison," who was playing the piano?". We both laughed and asked what they were talking about. They said that the entire time we were in the house, they heard piano music. We both freaked out, knowing there wasn't a piano inside. Our wives insisted. Knowing them as well as we did, we knew they wouldn't lie.
Back down the hill we went, stopping in the village for something to drink. We inquired about the house. The proprietor, who was at least 100 years old, told us that years ago, a local music teacher had a heart attack and was found dead at his piano. His family was so distraught, everything was removed from the house and the piano was destroyed so that no one would ever play it again.
We haven't been back since.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I was fortunate that my parents gave me a name that was hard to change into a nickname. Only three times was I forced to bear the burden of my name being changed: once, when I attended sleep away camp (no that's not a euphanism for juvenile detention) there was another boy who spelled his name with one "n", he became Glen1 and I became Glenn2 -- 2 quickly became deuce, so for 4 weeks I became known as the "deuce". In grade school, for a brief amount of time, the 4:00 PM cartoon show was hosted by a woman named Glendora. That name was extinguished with a punch or two on the playground. While in Boot Camp, we were given canvas jackets to wear to ward off the cold. This wasn't part of the regular uniform so they had us stencil our names on the left chest side. After about a week, all that was left of my stencil was the NIC. So they called me Nick.
Glenn is a Scottish name which means small, rural valley or dale. I've always been proud of my Scotch-Irish heritage, there was never a time when I wished I had a different name.
Many young people today follow the role models that they see on television who take names other than their own. People like Sean Combs, who can't seem to make up his mind what his name is. He went from Sean Puffy Combs, to Puff Daddy and now is PDiddy, except with his clothing line is concerned, he is Sean Jean, a little confusing.
Inner-city kids, who I taught for years, all have a street name, which I refused to call them by in class. I told them that their parents chose their name and they should be proud of it. It wasn't uncommon to hear me say something like, "No Rayquon, I will not call you pork chop", or "No, Laquasha, you are not Jelly Bean as long as you are in my classroom."
Pride in names seems to be something of the past. Imagine being an 86-year-old grandmother and your name is Apple or Moon Unit, it just doesn't seem appropriate. It is as if people don't think about the future and what this can do to a person.
So......why is this entry titled For Susan?
My wife shared an email with me about how a friend entering school one year was placed in a class with multiple Susans. Arbitrarily, the teacher gave her the name "Sue". This name stuck throughout her time in public school. She decided on leaving home to attend college that she wanted to be Susan, and from that day on would correct people when they called her Sue. I find this commendable. It is her name and I don't think it is inappropriate to demand that you be called by your rightful name. Of course, that doesn't hold true when you work with me, I used to work with a man named Michael who whenever someone called him "Mike", he would immediately correct them by saying, "please, I prefer Michael." I just couldn't do that. I used to call him Mike, Mikey, Mickey and after a while, he would just shake his head and laugh.
Susan is a Hebrew name drawn from Susanna, or, Zsa-Zsa which translates to Lilly. I can understand why someone would want to be called by such a nice name.
Now....knowing me, from this day forward in my mind Susan you will forever be Zsa-Zsa.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
We ran the checklist: hunting license, duck stamp, 12-gauge shotguns, 50 rounds of #4 Remington magnums, thermos, lunch, cigarettes, flashlight, insulated socks, long underwear, Elmer Fudd hat and duck call.
After pulling up swampside, we slid open the side door of Glenn's Volkswagon van and, in the dark, made our way to the swamp. We positioned ourselves perfectly for the morning flight. We waited...and waited...and waited for the morning flight.
Sunrise never came. Befuddled, we made our way back to the van, flicked on the radio only to hear, "don't forget to turn your clocks back one hour."
So, here we were, each taking a seat in back of the van with an hour and a half to kill. To not get overheated, we removed our waiters and some insulated clothing. We killed time telling jokes and resorting, once again, to our infantile fart fighting. Once again, it was a tie!
It wasn't long before we saw the sun rise, albeit through a mist of flatulance. Groggily making our way back to the swamp, we repositioned ourselves. Shortly after first light, we spotted ducks in the distance and Nick began to call them in. One came in range and flew directly in the direction of Nick's call, and was quickly disposed of with one shot. In excitement, Nick handed his Browning Automatic to Glenn and proceeded to wade into the water to retrive the fallen prey which was just beyond his reach.
When the water reached his family jewels, he turned to Glenn and screamed, "I forgot to put on my waders!" We laughed from the time of retrival until we arrived home. Our wives laughed as hard as we did, but not as hard as you will after this next story.
It seems as though one of our hunting friends wanted a new shotgun, which was given to him as a Christmas present from his wife. He immediately called us and we made plans to hunt that Sunday morning.
Upon arriving at his home, we rang the bell and out he came, obviously not prepared to hunt. George rolled down the drivers side window to hear what John had to say. He informed us he was not ALLOWED to hunt that day. As if we were a highly trained chorus, in unison, we replied, ALLOWED!!!???
He told us there was a disagreement over last night's dinner. We busted his chops until he broke down and confessed, " I didn't finish my peas and she won't let me go."
We stared at each other for several seconds, then broke out into spontaneous laughter. Not believing him, we requested he summon his wife, and the fool did just that.
Out she came, IRATE! Spit flying from her mouth, she informed us, in no uncertain terms.....George sat at the opened window facing her; Nick was rolled up in a ball trying not to laugh and Glenn was clutching his stomach making dolphinesque clicking sounds.
She continued on, "This is my house and he and I had an agreement that he did not live up to. I clearly told him, no peas, no hunting."
It was at this point that the three of us lost total self-control. Glenn was alternately laughing and fighting for air, and Nick was laughing, kicking his feet and slapping his legs, while George howled with laughter, pumping his arms like a long distance runner.
She turned on her heels and returned to the house. John stood there watching us laugh, until his wife stuck her head out the door and made him return to the house. We remained in the driveway until George was well enough to drive. The entire time, she watched us through the picture window.
It took us a long time to get ourselves under control. It was all good until Nick ordered eggs over easy, home fries and peas...for breakfast.
We never had the pleasure of John's company for another hunt.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
The other kind of trip was every adolescents dream.......date night at the passion pit. As Junior High students, we would listen to the stories older teenage boys would tell. However, asking for a date was one thing, getting one was another. The dynamic duo,(aka Two Idiots), were well known for "hit & run"), so parents were skeptical to send their innocent daughters ANYWHERE with us, let alone a drive-in. We were left with no alternative but to leave the confines of Rotterdam and attempt to pick the fruit from distant trees. Once successful, testosterone knew no bounds and Mount Pleasant and Notre Dame became targets of interest. Once secured, we were off.
What was playing and what time it started did not matter. we were there, on our own turf and it was "D-Day". After successful window fogging, it was time for smoke and a snack. Paying more attention to our appetites than our dates, it was off to the concession stand, while they visited the ladies room, always together. We usually just bought popcorn and a soda, since the food looked NOTHING like what was shown on the screen. One thing we learned early, never go to the concession stand during intermission. Between bugs, beer farts and Glenns less than hygenic date, the night stayed with us long after we returned home.
Scoring was usually first and second base, with the occasional triple and lets just say we wern't "long ball" hitters. However, batting for average, the hits added up and it wasn't long before we "stole home".
Summer soon led to Fall, and the cooler weather forced us indoors after school, but that's another chapter in the life of the Two Idiots.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
When I'm not sure and want action on the race I bet the five horse and win often.
It's fun from home but I miss the crazy people screaming their horse home, the smells, the sausage, peppers and onion sangueech's, and watching for a horse to take a dump while walking to the post. Uncle Fred says they win, so we watch. A big gray that dumps out is a sure thing.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
To me, again in the context of TV viewing, the "environmental irritant" is more the repetitiousness of being forced to watch the same commercials repeatedly. Last night my wife and I watched 3 prime-time television shows on two different major networks, without exaggeration we saw the new Old Navy women's blue jean commercial at least 12-15 times, at least 3 times we saw it back to back. That is truly irritating!
For the last two years, I have become very concerned about the mental health of the men and women who write the Burger King commercials. The King has become quite strange. I am now beginning to worry about Wendy's. The idiot with the red wig chasing the chicken in the old Road Runner -- come on, no chicken can reach the pedals!
Having been an Engish major, I understand the concept of "the willing suspension of disbelief". This is where as an audience member when watching a play or movie, you agree to believe what is put in front of you. This is why we accept characters such as Peter Pan, Puck and Batman. The scenario, though, has to be one where the story line explains the character's abilities. For instance, the Nasonex commercial where the bumblebee talks about the product with an Antonio Banderas accent. Is it that bees pollinate and they are talking about allergies so we are supposed to label the bee as a romatic latino lethario?
I have begun to DVR alot of the shows that I could very easily watch but I would rather fast forward thru the commercials. Half hour shows become 20 minutes, hour shows become 40 minutes. It is amazing how a DVR takes care of "environmental irritants". Another plus for Time Warner
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Saturday night after dinner with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, we were relaxing in the living room when my wife began to scream like a little girl on her first roller coaster ride. Her eyes as big as saucers, she looked at me and said "I just saw a mouse!". Here I am, bed-ridden, can't get up without my Hoyer Lift, and she wants me to do something about a mouse. Fred saw the mouse go behind the television and I saw it dart behind a chair in the corner. Fred was up like a shot, pulled back the chair -- no mouse. This routine repeated itself a few times, each time Fred would grab the chair and no mouse. Each time Kathy and Carol would "eek" and bounce up and down pointing at it, while keeping their feet off the floor. I never could figure out why women did this, I never knew that mice had a penchant for eating feet. We finally figured out, the mouse must be inside the chair. We had stored the chair for a long time in our basement and felt this might be a reasonable explanation. So Kathy told Fred to take the chair out of the house. It sits now in our garage, no mice have been sighted since Saturday, but not taking chances Kathy's cleaned the old Fox B, double barrelled shotgun.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
In honor and memory of all the Idiots that were nurtured in Rotterdam, we've decided to have "TWO IDIOT THURDAYS." This weekly blog is brought to you by the original two idiots so named by their fathers and others in the early 1960's. Nick and I will walk through the episodes of our lives weekly. We will trace origins and mythical like humble beginnings of the legend that continues even today. Ugly can be changed but once an idiot you remain an idiot forever. Idiotism is a prideful thing but a cross we carry willingly.
Due to our admission of being guilty to some mayhem, destruction, vandalism and thievery names and exact locations have been altered.
Volume 1 - Gary Bailie's Basement - located on Hollywood Avenue.
You always went in through the garage to the back door and then straight down the stairs. Mr. Bailie, Lew, looked like Koukla from the Koukla,Fran and Ollie puppet show. He called everyone by their last name - "Hey, Nichols, get your bike outa here." Nick's famous line was, "He could eat an apple through a tennis racket." Mrs. Bailie wore a "house coat" constantly. Lew would wander down stairs but I never remember Mrs. Bailie there. I guess they figured if they don't see it.............. They were good people and great with their kids. It was just a mellower time then.
As 12 year olds, this was the site of sexual fantasies, reading Playboy and Oui magazines, cigarettes and where 4 could catch a buzz on one 6-pack of Piel's Real Draft or Reingold Wide Mouths. Later it became a make out pit where many of us succumbed to the sins of the flesh. Where we first tasted pink lip stick, learned how to unfasten a bra with one hand, touched female flesh for the first time, one girl taught someone to only take one leg out of his jeans so that he could get his pants on quickly and ultimately our virginity was stolen from us by the rapidily maturing beautiful flowers that seemed to bloom early in Rotterdam. I'll never forget the smell of hairspray and how it stuck to your face when making out.
All the above while waiting for the ever present feet shuffling of Gary's Grandmother across the kitchen floor where she would open the door and shine a flash light downstairs yelling," Gary you down there? You won't go away and leave me will you? I'm afraid of snakes and lightening!"She'd shuffle back to her livingroom chair.
Sunday night was Ed Sullivan night in the basement. We watched an old Holocrafter console black and white t.v. with rotating rabbit ears with aluminium foil for better reception. There was a full length mirror that Gary would dance in front of to practice his moves - spins, splits, head bobs and face distortions. If his father saw him he'd explode and yell,"That's enough! You look like a f...ing moron!" Gary believed that he was the spitting image of George Harrison; not so much. Most week nights we stayed home. Friday and Saturday were hang out nights. Sometimes there would be 5 people and others 20. By the time we drove, you couldn't find a parking spot.
Many summer days and nights we spent hours playing cards, smoking cigarettes, telling jokes and calling up girls. Also you had the "would you?" conversation, along with things like Samantha or Genie?There was always the 1-10 scale (Ladies you did it too!). Boys extended it to include less than attractive girls if they had a nice figure. This game was also broken down by body part - for instance, "..... but she's got great legs," I'm sure you catch the drift.
When we acquired the new found freedom of driving we didn't go as often. We found the parking spots. Our girl friends made us do things like double date, take them to the movies, dances and parties. Sometimes even worse things, like going to her house.
We argued about bands, movie stars, Viet Nam, hippies, drugs and most everything else. We read our first Rolling Stone magazine and I turned him on to Dylan here. But event planning was his thing.
Gary continued with younger disciples. He, like Peter Pan, never grew up. His place is where we misspent our youth. It has a fond place in the memories of alot of people. It's almost as if he knew he'd never get old - he died in his mid- 20's in a car accident.We still think of him and remember it all! Thanks Beetle!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Ever notice how when someone or something is a little different there's always someone right there to point it out? I was guilty of it as a youngster and am now embarassed about it -- you know "fat","too tall", "chicken legs" etc. All the things that would hurt. We never stopped to think about that.
Nicknames tend to stay around overtime - hunch, polecat, fly, boner, thumper, bones, the stain, hoss, ...... I know you can think of more. My first real girlfriend had "buck" teeth, so alot of people called her 'Bucky". She was a really nice kid, quiet, smart and funny. I stopped going out with her because "my friends" told me that I could do better. Isn't that a sad thing to admit?
Some nicknames are funny and some people accept them. My brother in law has a friend with a peanut sized mole on his forehead, so they call him "Goob", short for "Goober." I was sometimes miserable, so I got tagged with "Grumpy." One little skinny woman that I used to work with was called "Double D" because it seemed like she was always holding a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee. My all time favorite moniker is "Pukey". A kid gets sick in class once and he's marked for life.
The cigar shop had some characters - Larry the Fenceman, Dr. Fred also known as the Wizard, Black Jamaican Larry, Johnny O, John the Heat, Big Waz and Little Waz, Murph, Spooky, Mini,
Iggy, Tony Pizza, Sweaty and the Hurricane.
Since we're all older now let's try to be a little kinder - "Honey could you stop calling me ............."
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Mr. George Walbilig was one of my teachers in high school. We were all talking about what we had gotten for Christmas when he told us that his mother was so excited about her present. He said she couldn't keep her hands off it, played with it continually and hoped to use the new one more often then the old one. George had bought his mother a new organ.
Ronnie Morris worked with me at Carol's Drive-In. One weekend night when he wasn't working, he stopped in drunk as a skunk. Right after he arrived we heard girls screaming outside of the back of the store. Our manager was very big on keeping the restrooms clean. We had a men's and women's room at the back of the store that you entered from outside. Two doors down the street was a very popular bar that had very small bathrooms. A lot of the girls would come and use ours instead of waiting in line. Ron had already started laughing so we knew he was involved. Arriving outside, we found a crowd of girls still screaming and hollering. One girl was saying that an animal had attacked her when she entered the bathroom stall. " I think I peed my pants," she sniffled.She had run out without getting a good look at it. Jeff Pryor went in to see what it was but first he had gotten the handle off of the push broom for protection. He returned with a smile on his face and asked me to hold the door open. The girls all huddled together in fear. Shortly, out waddled two white domestic ducks. Ron had kidnapped them from the pond at central Park. We laughed as they walked around the parking lot.
I think everyone has a similar memory as this next one.
Mark and Bruce Crary, Jerry Dawson, Gary Palma, John and Everett Gorden, Doc Bucci and I had been playing 4 on 4 basketball behind Bigsbee School one day in about 4th or 5th grade. We stopped to take a break and each of us bought a soda at Gabrial's Market. During the summer months the Town of Rotterdam would hire high school kids to be at each park to watch over the little kids. Hell it was the 1950's , at the time, I was only 9 or 10 and my mother let me come to the park alone. It was a different time. We sat at the picnic tables with the park staff drinking. John was sitting on the end of the table top with is feet hanging over the side drinking an Orange Crush. He took a long swig and laid down on his back. John immediately started to choke. Twin geysers of orange soda shot straight up in the air from his nostrils, two or three times. Each time it decreased in height and quantity; 3 feet, 1 1/2 feet, 1 foot. Doc sat him up and smacked his back to help him catch his breath. We just laughed ourselves to tears.
Monday, August 13, 2007
One fall morning I walked out of the woods to see George sitting on a toilet in the middle of the field. His pants were down around his ankles, his shot gun across his lap, all he needed was a magazine. Only he would find an abandoned toilet with a seat! Naturally, being George, he produced a roll of tp from his hunting vest. We just laughed.
George owned a Brittany Spaniel named Bernie. He was a great hunting dog and we took him every where we hunted. Once we went upland hunting for woodcocks near Saranac Lake. Nick rode both ways in the back seat with Bernie sleeping on his lap. George worked at the local Buick dealership, so we always had a big car. Bernie slept all the way up and back.
Unfortunately for Nick the dog was wet and smelled like only a wet dog can smell. Some where around Chestertown, Bernie started to fart. Not to be out done George followed soon after. Farting, after a while, eventually becomes like yawning, every one starts. Nick opened windows and tried mouth breathing before begging George to stop the car. We took fresh air breaks in Lake George and Clifton Park.
Nick did a comedy routine about a guy test driving the car on Monday and another about George teaching Bernie to fart. "What happened to the blind skunk? She fell in love with Bernie." Then he started naming farts = ass-sparagus, bench warmer, air biscuit, barked beans, Mexican barking spider, cheeser, colon quack, gassius assius, mud cricket, tree frog and thunder down under are the ones I remember.
It was one fun trip, a total sensory experience.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I don't get to play much when her crazy Aunt Kate is here you can't her to give her up and of course there's her Grandmother!
Being a Pop Pop is fun.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Blog below from July - reposted for Dozer.
It's crazy but true. We see a field of cows people moo. So why then do we talk to our pets as if they can understand us? My father-in-law used to speak baby talk to dogs. Picture this 6'2", 275 pound cop on the floor going,"Who wuves you? You a good doggie aren't cha. Yes you is. Yes you is." Scratching the dog the whole time. It didn't matter what dog - his or anyone elses. He loved our Lab Dozer. Dozer in his prime went about 115-120 pounds. Dad used to pull him up on his lap and scratch his belly, talking baby talk the whole time.
Now my wife, his daughter, has a different take on Dozer, who is now 14 years old(the dog not my wife). He 's literally on his "last legs." We have him on pain meds for his hips. He's got cataracts and can't hear well but head towards the kitchen or come in the door with food and he's right there. Since I'm chair bound Dozer follows her around constantly.
The ultimate turning point came a couple of weeks ago when Dozer ate my wife's lunch right off her plate on the coffee table.
The other night I had to talk her down. She was sitting on the stairs, with her arms crossed, pouting, saying"I hate him." I'd say,"No you don't" and like a little kid she just kept saying,"Do too, do too."
We also have an emerald parrot named LuLu. My wife is thrilled because the first word the parrot said clearly is "Kathy", my wifes name. She now plays with the bird and buys it special toys and food.
Maybe I should try to teach Dozer to talk!
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
- hula hoop
- silly putty
- coon skin cap
- cap gun
- Dr.Seus book
- comic books
- baseball cards + gum (also for bike spokes)
- 3-D movies + glasses
- transitor radio
- sling shot
- Red Ryder BB gun
- 3-speed bike
- bike handle bar streamers
- Revel car models
- 45 rpm records/331/3 rpm Hi Fi albums
- pocket knife
- roller skates
- baseball bat, glove, ball, hat
- basketball, football
- sled or saucer
- ice skates
- Stolen Playboy magazines
- black Chuck Taylor's
- Tonka heavy equipment
- plastic WWII soldiers and tanks etc.
- plastic cowboys and Indians
- chemistry set
- Black buckle rain and snow boots
- bright yellow buckle rain gear
- green rubber "hunting boots"
- earflap winter hat
- Mr. Potato Head
- Cooties game
- Sorry game
- hobby horse (the one on springs)
- fishing gear
- a cool lunch box
- a girl to have a crush on ( my first Janine, in kindergarten)
I'm sure there are many more but that's what I got!
LIST CONTINUES IN COMMENTS
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
I heard on the news that 5 young women were killed in a car accident near Rochester because the driver was text messaging while driving. Is that freak'n crazy or what? When I was a kid the radio was an option. Not the fanciness of the radio, the radio itself. Many families had cars with no radios.
Today cars have hands free cell phones, On-Star, radios, satellite radios, cd players, dvd players, playstations; some large vehicles have multiple items, and GPS systems. Now your cell phone can play music, videos, games, take picture and videos, text message, store info and take notes - oh yea, it's a phone too!
The distractions to driving are numerous before even adding a phone. Plus the cars are faster and more powerful today.
My wife and I worry about our kids but neither can keep a cell phone very long. Our daughter may have a record - she lost three in a two week stretch and our son destroyed his latest in three days. You ready for this - it died in a tub of yogurt! I believe it was organic. You think it may have been the bacteria?
Saturday, July 14, 2007
- be neat and clean
- be courteous and polite
- always listen to your parents
- protect the weak and help them
- be brave, but never take chances
- study hard and learn all that you can
- be kind to animals and care for them
- eat all your food and don't waste any
- love God and go to Sunday school regularly.
- always respect our flag and country.
" I reck'n I did em all. That's right varmint. I was a good boy.....Hell, it don't say noth'n 'bout no whiskey, women chas'n, smok'n, cuss'n, drink'n, raslin, tobacky chew'n, danc'n or loud sing'n! Does it? You flea bitten galoot! So there, this town aint big 'nough for the both of us, draw partner, slap leather, cut'em off at the pass, "You, Johnny, stay with the horses", you back shoot'n weasel, stay away from the School Marm, but that's injun territory, thank ya Mam, beer for my men & whiskey for my horses, don't care who it is - the gun stays at the town line.........."
Had enough? Oh really!
" It's the calvary, he's a gun for the double bar t ranch, stagecoach's a come'n, they dun robbed the bank, get the women in the back, not in my town, hurt real bad, them's injun tracks, where'd you get that saddle, reach for the sky, hired hand, tie um up boys, string'm up boys, shoot'm boys, hold'm for me boys, keep those hands up, throw down the strong box, give me the money, get a posse and follow'm, we're gonna have us a hang'n, he's plum loco, Pa get your gun............"
Friday, July 13, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Remember these guys? I new them as the "Our Gang" kids, others
know them as "The Little Rascals." We watched them every morning before we left for school .
I can remember being small enough that Steve Dondalski and I would sit in the same chair in my livingroom watching them. Spanky was every ones favorite. The girls liked Darla the main reason that the "He-man Women Haters Club" was started.
They were filmed in the 1930's during the Great Depression so everyone was poor. Also notice that the films are mixed race. We grew up knowing this was the way it should be. Go to http://www.youtube.com/ and watch a few. "The Teacher's Beau" is one of my favorites. There is one about them at night with ghosts, that's hysterical and there's always the "Wish I had a watermelon" episode! Buckwheat',"Oh-tay", was so funny and not one character mentioned his speech impediment.
Their antics were all good fun. No one got hurt or shot and though they walked a fine line with the law they were great role models.
I think it's fair to say that the infamous "Two Idiots", Glenn and Nick, owe them some credit for many of their pranks. It's crazy to get my age and realize that "Our Gang" and "Looney Toons" were a large part of forming my values as a youth.
Another time we'll talk 1950's cowboys!