My name is Larry. Officially I’m named Lawrence, after my mother’s father, who died in late August of 1959, slightly over two weeks before I was born. Although I never got a chance to get to know my grandfather, I grew up constantly in touch with my Uncle Larry and my cousin Larry, on my father’s side. Among my father’s relatives there have even been nine Joseph’s, and a bit too much repetition of other names too. Throughout the years, in order to differentiate from among us Larry’s, I was too often referred to as Little Larry, and even Baby Larry. My niece and nephews, knowing that my full name is Lawrence, have often asked if I have ever gotten any mileage out of that variation of my name. I remind them that under official circumstances it frequently comes up, in school, work, and anywhere else that may require me to be a bit formal. Sister Miriam Therese, of the Sisters of Charity, was my fifth grade teacher at St. Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst. It was in her class that I was first reminded constantly that my name was Lawrence. She was quite strict about each student’s always being addressed and referred to by his first name. Around the time of my twelfth birthday we moved from Jackson Heights to Lindenhurst. When kids in my new schools, Copiague Junior High School, and then Our Lady of Perpetual Help, asked me what my name was, I took a chance on introducing myself as Lawrence. The Copiague kids stuck with it for around the next three years. Somehow after that it faded away entirely. In my Catholic school, though, things were a bit different. The first kid I met there was Jerry Antonacci. He asked me my name. I introduced myself as Lawrence. He then asked if he may call me Larry. I said yes and that was the end of it. Unlike certain other names, such as Anthony, David, Michael, and Peter, the name Lawrence simply doesn’t strike people as that interesting as far as always calling somebody by his full name. I see no point in ever bothering to change it. There have been times over the course of my lifetimes when it has struck me as somewhat annoying. In general, though, it’s quite nice.
If I were ever forced to point out an era during my lifetime which I could refer to as the very best of times it would be fairly easy.I’ve always thought that there’s a tie between my very early days, up until my twelfth birthday, on 92nd Street in Jackson Heights, when I was attending St. Gabriel’s Elementary School in East Elmhurst, and the time somewhat after that, during my teens in Lindenhurst, when I was attending St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip. During my very early days in Queens, I lived in quite an exemplary neighborhood where there were all sorts of colorful characters. Two thirds of the families on my block were either Italian or Hispanic and constantly spoke Italian and Spanish. I was involved with a lot of activities at St. Gabriel’s, in both the church and school, especially Brother Thomas’ bowling league, and the glee club with Brother Edmond and Brother James. My friends, many of whom are now on my Facebook friend list, were quite an exceptional group of kids. We spent a lot of time together, visiting each other’s families. During my teens, at St. John’s, I had such a nice time too. Many of the kids I got to know there are also now on my friend list list on Facebook. It was a time for me to learn about new things and ideas, and to grow into what would become ultimately my current persona. Then, as in Queens, I was known as the kid with the obnoxious sense of humor. Unfortunately that period was the disco era but once I got over that I enjoyed all the other things about it. I was involved with lots of activities, including the student council and chess club. I realize that those weren’t perfect times for me. I had all sorts of trouble in certain ways. They were quite exceptional though in the sense that the bad very far outweighed the good.
I can’t remember anything of any significance regarding my very earliest interaction with someone else, but my first meeting with Sister Rose Eugene, my first grade teacher at St. Gabriel’s Elementary School in East Elmhurst, has always struck me as quite distinctive. When I first started school, the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton were in charge of the kids in the younger grades. Back then each Sister still wore an old fashioned traditional
black habit, ankle-length, with a gigantic black bonnet, and and enormous Rosary for a belt. When I first met Sister Rose Eugene, immediately before I was to start the first grade, she must have scared me out of at least fifteen years worth of growth. To this very day I can still remember my not having been able to come up with an answer when she asked me my name. She was still only a young adult so she may not have been professed for a very long time. I assume she was only trying to be friendly with her new young charge. From her point of view it may already have been quite a reasonably familiar experience. That’s all I can remember of what appeared to have been a relatively brief episode. I assume she handled it quite tactfully. I have no memory of her having been stern. She was friendly and humored me. As a teacher and a professed Religious, she must have been very well educated in child psychology. My first year of school went well and I was so happy there.
St. Gabriel’s, on 97th Street in East Elmhurst, was such an exceptionally good parish, including a school. The Sisters of Charity, De La Salle Christian Brothers, and lay faculty members ran quite a tight ship but they were entirely likable and fair too. One would think, logically, that nothing of any significance could possibly go wrong there. There was one incident when I was a kid, though, that boggles people’s minds to this very day. Sister Rose Eugene, my first grade teacher, was quite a tall, imposing looking lady. Back then the Sisters of Charity wore old fashioned black habits and bonnets, and Rosary beads as belts. To this very day I still remember my very first day at St. Gabriel’s, as a student of hers. We youngsters all got the shock of our lives when we first showed up on that otherwise fine September morning so long ago. My neighborhood friends and I all got off the Q 19 B, the local utility bus, and walked through the schoolyard in order to enter our new school. Uncontrollable shock and chaos set in the instant we first walked through the school’s doors. The children arrived for the first day of school to find that there were no desks in any of the classrooms. Being six years old at the time, we youngest kids didn’t know what to think. “Maybe Martians took them,” said Dale. Upon hearing such a claim, Jo Anne whined, “Oh shut up! Everybody knows Martians don’t even have butts so they can’t even sit anyway!” After the shock had all somewhat subsided, the principals, Sister Dolorita and Brother Andrew, got us all together for an assembly, so they could explain how to deal with our most unprecedented problem. They ended up deciding that they couldn’t let us stay unfortunately. Being kids, we were all so very happy to be allowed to go home. Our very first day at our new school ended up having to come a week late because of all the problems that were involved with finding new desks. To this very day no one has any idea what could possibly have happened. It wasn’t a result of anyone’s negligence and there was no criminal activity involved. It was just a weird quirk of fate. Even now my oldest friends and I still always talk about it, often wondering which of us may have perhaps been the guilty party.
I went to Lindenhurst last night
I thought I Heard the bells
Ring out loud at O.L.P.H.
The town was Dark and still.
I then went back to East Elmhurst
Outside St. Gabriel’s
And no one Recognized me there.
I felt a Solemn chill.
“Perhaps I’ll come back Someday soon”,
I thought as I did leave.
“I don’t belong Here anymore”,
Was all I could believe.
I have there now no Friend or foe
But only Tales to tell
Of life that was once, long ago,
A world I once knew well.
As far as I’m concerned I couldn’t care less about what anyone has to say in reference to the comments I get on either my blogs or my social networking sites. It’s not a question of whether or not someone should have the right to prune his comment section. Such an idea of whether or not it should be within someone’s rights is obscene. Everyone should get to do what he wants with his own site. For one thing it’s none of anyone else’s business who else has something to say on one of my sites. Besides that I don’t ever give anyone the satisfaction of letting his negative disparaging comments bother me anyway. Some people just like to lash out because it makes them feel important. There’s a guy on my Facebook account, who’s only there because we were classmates in grammar school at St. Gabriel’s. He’s in favor of all the left wing scam including atheism, homosexuality and everything else on the liberal agenda. Everything I say, he attacks. I always get such a kick of leaving everything of his alone precisely because he’s so outrageous and defiant he always gives people such an especially good laugh. They’re laughing at him. People frequently make comments about my profile pictures too. When I put up a profile picture I most certainly take quite a risk because it’s so hard to predict what someone will have to say about my appearance. Even if someone says something bad I still don’t mind because it’s all really good for a laugh anyway. My entire point is I don’t take either the internet or other people’s points of view the least bit seriously so I just leave even all the worst most annoying comments alone. It’s quite a bit easier than having to deal with this kind of trouble in person.
There were several episodes of the television show “The Twilight Zone” that dealt with a character’s traveling to a bygone era, whether before he was born-the most famous was the one about Willoughby-or to his much younger days. Those episodes always depicted drooling over the past as a nightmarishly dysfunctional thing, characteristic of a dissatisfied overwhelmed adult who couldn’t cope with his real life. If I could go back to an earlier part of my life, I should like to revisit any part of my school days. Although I most certainly recognize quite well that the time I spent in school wasn’t all one long halcyon era, looking back upon it has always been quite an enjoyable experience for me. By conventional standards I was never the least bit popular in school. In a way I was the kind of kid who could be classified as a square. Then, as now, I neither liked, nor was good at sports. My sense of humor was, and still is, entirely offbeat. When I was at St. Gabriel’s, in East Elmhurst, Queens, I was an altar boy and a member of the glee club and bowling league. The Sisters of Charity, De La Salle Christian Brothers, and lay teachers on the faculty were quite exceptional and the kids I knew were really good too. Then came two weeks at Copiague Junior High School, immediately followed by two years at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst. I’ve always remembered that part of my life as my especially uncomfortable transitional time, though I enjoyed it quite a bit. In high school, at St. John the Baptist, in West Islip, I had such a good time bluffing my way past the Dominican and Franciscan Sisters and laity on the faculty, and the kids I knew were really good too. I was involved with the chess club and student council. The time I spent at S.U.N.Y. Farmingdale was also quite exceptional. The professors and students were very good people and the campus was one of the nicest looking places I’ve ever seen. I lived in Lindenhurst all throughout my adolescence, as well as for most of my adulthood. From the point of view of negative constructive criticism, I should like to go back as a somewhat less shy, more confident kind of character. The neighborhoods I grew up in were quite fine too. Jackson Heights was populated by quite a cast of colorful characters, and approximately two thirds of the people in my neighborhood were Italians who spoke only Italian, and Hispanics who spoke only Spanish. Everybody was forced to get to know everyone there. Lindenhurst has always been noted for its emphasis on peace and quiet. My neighborhood there, known as the American Venice, was on a very small island that was perfect for someone like me who enjoys a relaxed environment. In each neighborhood the business district was very close and there were very many activities available. Everybody knows about the grandfather paradox. It’s a condition on time travel. Nobody can undo the very significant events of his past, or of the past in general. If I could go back to my past, I’d tell young Larry to loosen up a bit about all the hard parts, and that ultimately everything works out. I’m now back in touch, on Facebook, with many people from my youthful days. I’ve seen a lot of them in person over the course of my adult years too. I can’t literally go back to the days of my youth but there’s no harm in sneaking a peek or two at my younger persona every once in a while.
Because I was born in September of 1959, the first decade of my lifetime was virtually precisely coeval with the 1960’s. Musically and otherwise the 1960’s have made quite an indelible mark upon my lifetime. My childhood was filled with all sorts of musical influences. I was four and a half years old when the Beatles first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. To this day they’re still undeniably my absolute favorites. That era was known for musical variety shows like “Sing Along With Mitch”, “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour “, and “The Dean Martin Show”, among several others. As a kid I was always smitten with the sounds of songs like Petula Clark’s “Downtown”, Zager and Evans’ “In the Year 2525”, and Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days”. Whenever I’d go to a doctor’s office I’d keep obsessing over songs like Percy Faith’s “Theme From ‘A Summer Place'” and Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas”, among others that were played in waiting rooms. The folk, jazz, country and other musical styles of that era have always been quite a major love of my life. Although I’ve never been even the least bit willing to humor the liberals, I’ve even always thoroughly enjoyed the protest songs of that era. Along with all that I made sure I joined the glee club at my grammar school, St. Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst, as soon as I was old enough. Brother Edmond and Brother James, of the De la Salle Christian Brothers, taught us all the then-current popular songs as well as Christmas and Easter songs and show tunes. Brother James played the guitar quite well and Brother Edmond, with his fine baritone voice, sang an exceptional version of “Edelweiss(Blossom of Snow)” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music”. I even took guitar lessons for a while at one of the local public schools, P.S. 127. My parents were always quite happy to humor my sister and me about our tastes in music. They enjoyed country music, Edith Piaf and other standards they grew up with so that widened my horizons even more. Eventually the 1960′ s became the 1970’s. That era started out fairly well with Carole King’s “Tapestry” as well as James Taylor, Led Zeppelin and a few other holdovers from the 1960’s. Eventually, though, disco started to become popular. My teenage years saw the rise of tacky styles in music and dress. There were good singers and bands too, though, like the Doobie Brothers, Elton John, Grand Funk and a few others. In my imagination, though, gone forever were the days when everything musical was perfect. Even most of the then-current music I listened to generally tended to be the latest album by someone like Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin (a variation of the Yardbirds). I had become such a musical snob and purist. I continuously picked fights with all the kids in school, as well as the public school kids, defending my claim that even in the best of 1970’s music, there was something missing compared to that of the previous decade. Unfortunately I’ve never been terribly comptetent musically. My strengths seem to lie more in writing and story telling. Maybe that’s why I’ve always so thoroughly enjoyed the songs of the 1960’s. It was an era that included songs like Joan Baez’s “So We’ll Go No More A-Roving”, based on a poem by Lord Byron, Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus” , based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland”, and Yoko Ono’s “Who Has Seen the Wind”, based on a Christina Rossetti poem. The music I grew up with has profoundly influenced both my adult musical tastes and even my entire life in general. Although the singers and musicians of my early days could never possibly get me to agree with their liberal political and social agenda, they’ve most certainly shaped my imagination and given me ideas and interest which I may never have otherwise gotten.
For my first twelve years of school I had virtually always gone to exceptionally good Catholic schools in Queens and Long Island. In grammar school, with the exception of two weeks in Copiague Junior High School at the beginning of the seventh grade, I went to St. Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst for six years and spent most of my last two years at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst. After that I went to St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip. I’ve always really enjoyed keeping in touch with people from those days. As Hope, one of the ladies from my class at St. John’s, once said on Facebook, just because we were classmates so long ago, doesn’t mean that we should be forbidden to try to be friends again now. Because of my having spent all my adolescence and most of my adult life in Lindenhurst it’s always been so much easier for me to get back to St. John’s reunions than St. Gabriel’s. During the very early days of the twenty first century I got back in touch with a few friends from Jackson Heights and I’ve been to a couple of St. Gabriel’s reunions with most of them. My parents and I got to see a lot of my old friends and their parents and families. The Sisters of Charity, de la Salle Christian Brothers and lay teachers who were on the faculty and administration were there too. I always have a really nice time at St. John’s reunions too with all the classmates, and Dominican and Franciscan Sisters and lay teachers from the faculty and administration. The hard part for me has always been having to say good-bye when it’s all over. Although I understand that the food, music and other circumstances at these events are never objectively any better than they are at other parties or occasions, being back with all the people from my early days, in the same place in which we first got together, is inevitably quite a thrill. Over the course of the past quite a few years I’ve been in touch with very many of these people on Facebook and e mail anyway but that’s never struck me as anywhere near as interesting as seeing them in person. It’s even better when we can get back together on the grounds of the school, though St. Gabriel’s was recently turned into a public school. It’s so interesting for me to be able to see how these people and places have turned out over the course of the time that’s passed since I was a kid. I’ve always been quite smitten by the grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side syndrome. At least I understand that though. It wouldn’t be the same if I could see them in person on a regular basis again. Then it would become a routine chore and would lose all its charm. Each of those specific times, precisely because they’re so infrequent and so temporary, is so very hard to let go of when it has to end. Because I’ve always had both an overwhelmingly good imagination and an intense interest in my past I tend to get really engrossed in times like this. The bookworm in me sees it somewhat as if I’m revisiting a previous chapter in my life story. Although no one can rewrite anything like that it’s still quite nice to see how all the characters, and the settings, have turned out. Each of us, though, has to make sure he leaves before midnight in order to avoid turning into a pumpkin.
For close to eight years I lived in the borough of Wyoming, in northeastern Pennsylvania. It’s always struck me as such an exceptionally nice small town environment. When my parents were alive it was quite interesting. They were old and retired and we could always count on each other. Uncle Frankie was less than a mile away in West Wyoming. He’s also very old and retired. My parents both died last autumn and Uncle Frankie now spends most of his time living with Fran in southeastern Pennsylvania. Aunt Lauren and her family are the only other relatives I have anywhere near there and they live way over in the mountains of Harding and Dallas. After our father’s funeral Mary Anne and Steve reminded me that I should have to be confronted with a final decision over whether to remain in Pennsylvania, where I had already made an established life and reputation, or to come to Long Beach, New York, where I could be very close to them and other family members. I’ve ended up in Long Beach. Over the course of most of my adult life, as when I was a kid, I’ve always been very actively involved in the churches I’ve attended. When I moved from Lindenhurst to Wyoming, I automatically got just as active in Our Lady of Sorrows as I had been in Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Having done so, I made quite a few really good friends. I should suppose that now I can do the same thing in St. Mary of the Isle, Long Beach’s parish. Making new friends has always been somewhat of an annoying experience for me. Meeting new people in general has always made me uncomfortable. I’m hoping to join their local Knights of Columbus council here so that I can meet a really wide variety of new people. I’m a fourth degree member. I shall have to start going to the nearby lay Carmelite meetings too at Our Lady of Peach Parish in Lynbrook. I’ve never liked change or felt the least bit comfortable with it. The first significant change I can remember is the big move from Queens to Long Island when I was twelve years old. To this day I still refer to that time as an unbearably traumatic experience. Another major advantage of my being here is that now I can be much more available to visit my old schools for reunions and other functions in general. Now that I’m back in the same general area as St. Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst and St. John the Baptist in West Islip, it will be a lot easier to get back there to see old friends, including classmates and teachers of mine. The best way to convince me that a change is acceptable and even enjoyable is to keep on reminding me of all that it has in common with all that I’ve already gotten really familiar with anyway. Although many people equate the following of familiar patterns and habits with being stale and dull, I like it. That must be at least part of the reason for the fact that the Beatles have always been my favorites since I was around four years old. Change in a certain sense can be nice too but even then I’ve always most especially liked the kind of change that enables me to go back to things I can remember from days gone by. Absolute cold turkey change simply isn’t for me.