it was a very good year

I turned sixteen years old on September 16, 1975, during the disco era when Gerald R. Ford was president.   I lived in Lindenhurst, New York.   Back then, as during most of my lifetime, I was quite shy with people I didn’t know, but upon having gotten to know someone I could be quite the quick-witted obnoxious character.    In my yearbook, when I graduated, people wrote several comments about my distinctive sense of humor, and complaints about how I let people get away with too much.  A junior at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip, on suburban Long Island,  I got along very well with all my teachers and the other kids in school.   As a teenage boy, I could never help noticing how exceptionally lovely so many of the girls were.  Fortunately most of the people on the faculty, and in the administration and guidance department were quite impressive.   My favorite class that year was Mr. Brian Clancy’s seventh period American History class.   History’s always been one of my favorite subjects anyway and Mr. Clancy really knew how to keep things interesting in a classroom.    The single most distinctive memory I have of Mr. Clancy is that throughout the year, he kept trying to get each of us kids to recite, in order, the name of each president from George Washington to Ford.   He always seemed to have been especially determined to drill it into my head.    Not a day went by that he didn’t stop me at some random time and try to get me to name them all.    Unlike my adult persona, in those days it could never have occurred to me to think of life as one big theology and philosophy classroom, or as a cultural battlefield between the forces of good and those of evil.   I just tried to be a good kid and to have a few laughs.   When my tenth grade theology teacher, Mr. Jerry Di Noto, now on my Facebook friend list, found out what kind of adult I’ve turned into, he was genuinely shocked because, according to him, I was always simply such a nice guy as a kid.opie  Then, as now, I was never even the least bit interested in, sports, nor was I the least bit competent at anything athletic,  so whatever references other guys in my crowd made to that kind of thing were all entirely over my head.    Having always been very interested in chess as a youngster, I joined Mr. Nagy’s chess club.   For some strange reason, though, that group fell apart after only a very short time.    When I was a freshman, my homeroom classmates, who were among the most colorful, obnoxious characters I’ve ever met,  made me their representative on the student council.   I stuck with it throughout school.    After I got home from school each day I spent most of my time hanging around with the Copiague public school kids in my neighborhood.    Things were about the same with them as with my friends from school.    I virtually always avoided sports except for something that vaguely approximated basketball in the street.    No description any part of my lifetime could possibly be complete without a reference to my musical tastes.   Maybe it’s because of my total lack of a connection to sports, but I’ve always been quite inordinately interested in music, especially the Beatles and everything else from the 1960’s.    Disco, though it now might just as well not even exist, was an omnipresent curse in those days for those of us who didn’t like it.    I used always to try to convince my friends that the music of the 1960’s was infinitely superior to even the best of what our era had to offer.    On July 3, 1976, my cousin Larry, five years older than I, got married.    I was an usher in his wedding party.     Although I was still only a kid, it was a bit of a reminder that adulthood wasn’t extremely far away.    Unfortunately my parents never let me get a driver’s license, or even a permit, until I was nineteen years old.   At sixteen, unless someone was willing to give me a ride, I could never go anyplace that was any farther than either my feet or a bicycle could take me.    I like to think I was quite a gentleman in those days.    As far as I know I must have been at least reasonably decent because whenever I meet someone who remembers me from that part of my life, I get a nice friendly reaction and a reminder of what a very good time it was.


heigh ho heigh ho it’s off to work we go

Unfortunately I’m between jobs right now.    My last two jobs were one with Citicorp Retail Services and one with the postal service in Melville and Bethpage.    I could never stand the postal job because it was so physically hard and strenuous but at least it was something.     The work was very boring and required a lot of heavy lifting.    Many of the people there were hard to get along with but that’s a part of any job.    My circumstances in Bethpage were especially difficult to handle because I was often forced to work the graveyard shift there.    Most of the people in management were at least reasonably decent and easy to get along with.    The only one who was a troublemaker was Marjorie, a surly black woman.     There was a union there but I never got significantly involved with it.   Of all the people I knew, Kevin and Anton were the most significant union officials.     The one advantage to my having worked there was that I got a chance to meet a lot of very interesting characters.    Before that I worke at Citicorp Retail Services in Farmingdale and Melville.    In the first department I was in, Sales Processing,  from the late 1980’s until the early 1990’s,  everything worked out quite well and we all got along quite well.    Sal, Carole and Yolanda were in charge.    Most people there were quite decent and good natured,      Besides the inevitable fighting and personality conflicts it was always quite a happy environment.    Then after a while  that department was eliminated.    I got moved to Customer Service.    That department was harder for me to handle because there were a lot more trouble makers there.   There were still quite a few very good people too but there were entirely too many who were genuinely bad.   Seven-DwarfsFor a while I was also a sacristan at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst.    At that job I used to have to deal with a wide variety of diocesan priests, professed Religious and parishioners every day of the week.    It was a nice part time job.     I was required to get everything ready for the daily Masses and novenas, as well as weddings, funerals and other things that were required to keep things going at the parish.    That was yet another environment where I was expected to deal with very many eccentric characters.    having lived for most of my life in Lindenhurst I really knew my way around the parish and got along quite well with most of the people.     I’ve never been a good salesman.    In the 1980’s my eighth grade history teacher tried to get me involved with Amway.    That’s a really good job for someone to have if he’s a capable salesman but I simply don’t have the aptitude for that kind of thing.    That kind of job is very good for my teacher and his wife, who’ve always been better than I at dealing with people in that way.     My cousin Gary tried to get me involved with Primerica Financial Services.     Unfortunately even though we attended all the meetings and classes, and did well on the tests we were required to take,  it didn’t work out for us.   I consider it quite a worthwhile experience though.    It’s always good to know as much as possible about insurance and the financial world.

luck of the Irish

Every time I’ve taken a chance on putting three coins into a fountain all I’ve ever gotten to show for it have been three wet rusty coins.      I don’t really believe in lucky charms or anything like that.     Behavior that leads supposedly  to either a lucky or unlucky outcome always to be more of a case of the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy anyway.    Having been prone over  the course of all my adult lifetime to anxiety and panic attacks, though, I never pass up a chance for a nice security blanket.    I’ve always been somewhat amused whenever someone claims that he wants to get involved with me in any kind of lottery, contest or something of that nature because I’m supposedly always so especially lucky with things like that.   Amazingly I’ve somehow always been unusually lucky at very minor little insignificant games of chance.    Over the years I’ve been known to win small contests and lotteries at work, school or anyplace else where people are willing to gamble.    Over twenty years ago, at my cousin Vinnie’s church in western New York, I won a football that had been used by the Buffalo Bills in a recent Super Bowl, with all their autographs on it, including Jim Kelly’s.    Since I’ve never enjoyed sports anyway it was only somewhat interesting for me.    When I was actively involved at Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s  parish and Knights of Columbus council, I won all sorts of little contests at their fund raisers.    I also frequently won minor things at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School.    In the Scranton Diocese, all the churches in the deanery in which I lived seemed to have their annual fund raisers at about the same time.    One year  I went to about a to the annual bazaars for about a half dozen of the local parishes and won something really nice at each one.     Nobody’s life ever really changes, either for the better or worse, just because he either makes a wish, wears a particular object or article of clothing, or says or does something in order to affect a particular change of circumstances.   Such claims are all spurious.     If it makes someone feel more comfortable, though, to eat a certain food,  to wear a certain article of clothing, or to engage in some particular behavior in order better to ensure a favorable outcome, I say that as long as there’s no real serious expectation that a real connection exists, and as long as he’s just doing it in order to feel more comfortable, it’s a good idea.       rabbitfoot

lord I was born a ramblin’ man

On an old episode of “The Odd Couple”, Oscar Madison points out to Felix Unger, “Felix, Dorothy Parker said it best for all writers.   She said she hated writing but loved having written”.      That’s always been my entire approach to life in general, including travel specifically.      Unfortunately I haven’t done a significant amount of traveling.   The farthest trips I’ve ever been on were one to Titusville, Florida, to visit my cousin the Ronald and his family in 1981, and one to Chicago, Illinois, about ten years ago, when his daughter got married.    The trip to Illinois marked the only time I’ve ever been outside my time zone.    During the 1980’s I frequently visited my cousins in North Tonawanda, in western New York, for Thanksgiving.     My biggest problem with travel, as with everything else over the course of my adult lifetime is that I tend to get anxious.  It’s not as bad now as when I was young-it was especially bad when I reacted so violently to coffee- but I still feel significantly more uncomfortable than most other people would be under the same circumstances.      Although my intellect knows quite well that nothing bad will happen, or at least that there’s no inordinate risk of anything bad, my emotions, who’ve always resented me quite bitterly, always seek to have the last laugh.   I should really like to say that I’m the sort of jolly good fellow who can merely hop on a bus, Gus, or make a new plan, Stan, and go wherever I want.    Unlike my imagined alter ego, hep Larry, real Larry has to deal with all sorts of frustration over waiting for the big day to come, getting up and ready on time when it finally gets here,  and all sorts of other practical responsibilities.    I’ve always had quite a Felix Unger-ish flair for obsessing over all sorts of things.    I tend to go crazy when a trip seems to take an inordinately long time, there’s no available men’s room or I’m faced with some other problem.    When I have to drive someplace, I always have to be able to say with absolute certitude that I know precisely where I’m going.    snoopyWandering out of my way, and losing track of where I am, can lead to lots of trouble.   As anyone who’s studied even a little philosophy knows, time is divided into objective time and subjective duration.   Objectively time is merely quantified by an entirely set standard.   Subjectively, though,  the way I react to its passage is often overwhelming.   As I said earlier the manner in which I deal with travel is quite similar to the manner in which I deal with life in general.    The future is no big deal because nothing’s happened yet anyway.    The present is one big bunch of chores and risks.   After it’s all over with, though, I can kick back and acknowledge the obvious fact that I knew it would inevitably work out anyway.

no direction home, a complete unknown

Ever since 1960-that’s most of my lifetime-my father’s relatives have been having what they call a family reunion each year in Hilldale, in northeastern Pennsylvania.    Starting from around  the fourth or fifth year  it’s always been on the weekend nearest Independence Day.     Anyone who knows the first thing about northeastern Pennsylvania knows that it’s quite a mountainous region.    One day, at a reunion in the late 1980’s, when I was either twenty seven or twenty eight years old, some cousins of mine and I got together and took a long walk through the nearby mountains.   They wanted to pick blueberries.   The mountains in that region are very steep and isolated and they have lots of bugs and rodents to contend with.   Eventually my cousins all finished what they were doing and went back to the house.   I, however, got the idea to keep walking through the mountains alone.   Because I’ve never been even the least bit familiar with those mountains I eventually lost all track of where I was and couldn’t even try to backtrack to where we’d started out.   Because I’ve always, throughout my adult life, been prone to anxiety, it was an exceptionally frustrating experience for me.  Nothing eventful, either scary or interesting, happened while I was in the mountains.   It was just a rotten time.   Eventually I ended up on a road that led back to someplace in one of the local towns.    I wandered over to a neighborhood and asked an old couple there how I could get to Chamberlain Street.    They said, shocked half to death:  “Chamberlain Street!?!?  That’s way the hell over in Hilldale!!!” and explained to me that I was in Miners Mills, about a four mile walk from where I wanted to be.  I kept walking endlessly and pointlessly in the hope of figuring out what to do.   After a while the sun went down.    Eventually a truck pulled up toward me from the distance and the driver yelled out:  “Hey Larry I’m your cousin Danny’s friend Jonny!!”.    Jon drove me back to Danny’s house and my parents,  and all the other relatives, proceeded to pounce on me over what a stupid stunt I had pulled.    To this very day it’s still quite a significant topic of conversation.

classic blotto      1980 provided us with much of the very best music of the New Wave era.    I was still only very young then.   It was the year I turned twenty one years old and all was going so very well in my life.    Sometime during June of that year I got together with a favorite cousin of mine, Gary, who was then living in Ozone Park, Queens, and his then-fiancee’ Maria, who lived in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.     Gary and I drove, by way of the Belt Parkway,  from Ozone Park to Brooklyn to pick up Maria so we could go with some cousins of hers and friends of theirs to Great Adventure Six Flags Amusement Park in Jackson, New Jersey to see the Ramones, one of the biggest bands of the era,   in concert.    It was the first concert I ever went to , as far as I can remember.     We spent a lot of time on the rides and taking advantage of all the other attractions at the park.    The Ramones, of  course, provided us with quite a concert.     All the young people at the concert were decked out in trendy new wave garb and doing the pogo and other dances that were then really popular.     What really sticks out in my mind, though, to this very day, is Blotto’s then-current song, “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard”.     Unfortunately I had never heard of it before that afternoon.    Suddenly, from out of nowhere, Vinnie (a.k.a. Jimmy), Victor and Joe Jag started singing it.    Something about it instantaneously caught my attention.     I couldn’t help getting overwhelmingly curious about it so only a short time after that I made sure I went to Sam Goody at the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa and bought a copy of the album , “Hello, My Name Is Blotto.  What’s Yours?”   It’s still considered an underground cult classic.    Gary and Maria and I still occasionally refer to it.     To this very day I can’t help associating it with that trip to Great Adventure.

a most distinctive groundhog day

This year Groundhog Day fell on a Sunday.   It’s also the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple so I went to 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. Mary of the Isle on Park Avenue.    That specific day also happened to have marked two other very distinctive occasions for us.    It was also Super Bowl Sunday.    This year was Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.     That’s also the day each year during which the local members of the Polar Bear Club have their annual fund raiser in Long Beach, to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation.     After Mass I came back to Mary Anne’s and Steve’s house to find cousin Mark here.    He and Steve were hanging around getting ready for the big day over at the boardwalk.     Each of us put his bathing suit on and after a few shots of Jameson’s Irish whiskey , that seems to have become quite a staple for us by now on special occasions, we went, with Mary Anne’s friend Lynn, to the beach at the boardwalk.    On the way we met another friend of theirs, Liz, who comes from Brooklyn each year to join them.    Because of bitter cold weather and precipitation over the course of the past few days,  and a very foggy morning, it was quite a surprisingly nice day, although horribly cold.     Everyone had a nice time and the Polar Bears made quite a lot of money for the Make A Wish Foundation.   As always, though I was seriously aggravated by all the endless walking.  polardownload (5)


Today wood

Today would have been the ninety~fifth birthday of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, thirty~fifth president of the United States.    Kennedy was the United States’  first Catholic president.  He was also the youngest man ever elected to the office.    He was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.    His was the fourth presidential assassination.    Today is also Burt Koza’s birthday.   He was my eighth grade history teacher at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst, New York.    My niece Bridget’s birthday was on the 27th.   She’s fifteen.   My parents & I talked to her on the phone for practically a half hour.    My cousin Gino’s  birthday was on the 25th.   My parents, Uncle Frankie & I all went over to his party on Saturday afternoon at around 4:00.    Besides him, Michelle & their three kids,  Aunt Helen,  Michelle’s both parents & her family, as well as friends of theirs were there.    My parents were the first to leave.    Uncle Frankie left a few hours later.   He only lives two doors away from Gino.  I left very late at night.   A splendid time was had by one & all.   I only drank two beers, Miller Lite, & a cup of Captain Morgan rum & Coke.    Because of that Gino made me let him drive me home.   His father~in~law followed us.   Yesterday after 8:00 a.m. Mass at O.L. Sorrows I got ready to go to the big annual parade we always have in the Wyomings for Memorial Day.  Gino & his son Eric marched in the parade with Eric’s Cub (B0y?)  Scout troop.  I was a bit surprised, on two separate occasions, when a couple of people said hello to me by name .    I didn’t recognize either of them.   It was a really nice time.    The parade went from Shoemaker Avenue in West Wyoming down Eighth Street & into Exeter by way of Wyoming Avenue.