family thanksgiving

Uncle Aloysius and Aunt Filomena were preparing Thanksgiving dinner as always.

“Those Protestants think they’re such hot stuff,” moaned Aloysius.

“The first Thanksgiving, though, was really on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida, before their time.”

Filomena happily humored him, knowing that he was harmless, as well as right.

“They beat those snooty Protestants by fifty six years.”

“Don Pedro Menendez proclaimed the New World for Philip II.”

“The second Thanksgiving,” he continued, “was in 1598”, and he proceeded to explain the details.

“The Indians and Spaniards were on friendly terms.”

Filomena continued listening, knowing it kept him happy.

Rochelle Wisoff~Fields is in charge of our weekly Friday Fictioneers, a hundred~word attempt at story telling. Sandra Crook has supplied this week’s photo prompt.


cab calloway’s hat

I recently found a most confusing voicemail message on my cell phone. All I could understand were the words: “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you months ago. Bye.” Eventually I figured out what it was about. In 1981 I flew to western New York to visit some cousins for Thanksgiving. Famous jazz singer and bandleadercabcalloway Cab Calloway was on the plane. The call was from a representative of his estate. His lawyer explained to me that Mr. Calloway was so favorably impressed with what a charming and intelligent young gentleman I was that he (Calloway) intended to leave me something in his will. He planned on leaving me his famous trademark wide-brimmed hat. Because of circumstances beyond his control, however, he somehow neglected to include that specific provision in his will. He did, however, remember to tell all his friends and associates about me. Fortunately he told them quite often about his intention. He died twenty years ago this month. I should have gotten the hat then but it’s very nice to know that the problem has finally been resolved entirely in my favor. I just know that I shall make quite an exceptionally nice impression when I am finally able to wear the long overdue souvenir of such a legendary musical figure.

la di dah day la di dah

I’ve always enjoyed exceptionally warm weather and dreaded the several months of the year when it’s cold. Autumn is, to a certain extent, quite an exceptionally nice experience for me though. At first, when all the leaves start changing colors and orange and black seem to be everywhere, it’s such a fine feeling. I have many decades’ worth of nice memories of Halloween, especially when I was a kid, and Thanksgiving, most significantly when I used always to spend it with cousins in western New York. I remember during my very young days, as far back as Jackson Heights, the weather on Halloween was usually so bitter cold that I was forced to explain to people that somewhere under my fifty layers of heavy clothes was a costume, and that I really was dressed as either the Green Hornet or some other then-current character. Thanksgiving in North Tonawanda, during the 1980’s, was also frequently bitter cold. November can often be exceptionally rainy.  Once the full brunt of autumn settles in, though, it then becomes quite a seriously nasty depressing time for me. The miserable weather and dark gloomy atmosphere have always struck me as  exceptionally frustrating, and are also quite an intense metaphor, for me, of the dark side of life. My mother died during the last week of September and my father died during the first week of November so that adds yet another dark property to the fall.  When I was a kid autumn brought with it the beginning of the school  year, that was always welcome, but as an adult I can count on no such milestone to keep things interesting. Walt Whitman’s poem, “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” from “Leaves Of Grass”,  specifically references the ninth month as a symbol of birth. September, the ninth month, is when fall begins.  For me it represents all the good and bad that life has to give. Change has never been easy for me. The positive and negative aspects of fall perfectly reflect the good and bad things in life.

my cousin vinnie

Recently I made plans to visit my cousin Vinnie, a policeman in North Carolina.     We’ve always most certainly been quite a colorful combination of characters since we were kids.    An old girlfriend of his once said, decades ago, that he and I speak another language entirely.

Last Saturday morning Steve drove me to La Guardia Airport in Flushing so I could get onto the 10:40 a.m. US Airways non stop flight to Raleigh.   If all had gone according to the way it was planned out my time in the airport would have been relatively short and even somewhat enjoyable.   The flight should have only taken about an hour and thirty five minutes.

Upon arriving at my terminal though, I got some very bad news.    The woman behind the counter at my gate insisted that my flight would have to be delayed for at least six hours due to technical difficulties beyond anyone’s control.    Everyone knows how restless and frustrated I get when I’m subjected to this kind of ordeal.    Of course, thanks to my life’s being the nut house that it is, neither my primitive cell phone nor my digital camera is working either so I can’t even take advantage of them to pass the time.

After my having calmed down a bit, and come up with the presence of mind to accept my sorry lot, I pulled my trusty copy of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” out of my bag and began yet another pointless attempt at reading it.   Bloomsday is coming up in the middle of this month, I reasoned, so the very least I could possibly do, having always been such a total bookworm, is to take advantage of the occasion to try my hand yet again at plowing through a day in the life of Leopold Bloom, Joyce’s protagonist.   My mind inevitably wandered as  I dwelled on the fact that Joyce and Virginia Woolf were both born in 1882 and died in 1941, and that both Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” and Joyce’s “Ulysses” are set on a single day in the middle of June.   “Ulysses” is set in 1904, on the day during which Joyce and Nora Barnacle first met.   “Mrs. Dalloway” is set in 1923.

Eventually I needed a change of pace so I walked slowly to the nearest concession stand and got a small cup of cappuccino.   Having always been quite a compulsive clock watcher I alternated incessantly between sipping my drink and keeping track of the time.   Outside the windows I could see Citi Field and Flushing Meadow Park.    Being at La Guardia always reminds me of when I was a kid in Jackson Heights, when being so close to Flushing Meadow and Shea Stadium was a perfectly normal reality of my life.

By the time I finished my drink an entire whopping hour and a half had passed since first I showed up.     My mind continues wandering inevitably.    I have a flashback to the autumn of 1981 when I went to North Tonawanda to visit relatives, including Vinnie, for Thanksgiving.   Jazz singer and musician Cab “Hi De Ho” Calloway was on the plane.    One of the nice things about international airports is that one never knows who will show up.    Even though I didn’t get a chance to see anyone famous this time around, I was surrounded, as always under those circumstances,  by quite an eclectically garbed assortment of characters from all over the world.

Of course, I kept on trying to remind myself, this would have been quite an exceptionally interesting self-contained world of its own with everything going for it, if only I could have come here under nicer circumstances.    The fact that I was stranded, though, was really starting to get me crazy.    I couldn’t even take some nice pictures or call somebody.    At least if I could have done something like that I could have felt a bit more comfortable.   Unfortunately when I’m nervous and frustrated I become quite visibly tense and conspicuous.   I can imagine what other people there must have thought of me.    I know it would have been quite an interesting surprise for Vinnie if I could have made the trip.   By the time my six hours was up, though, I was so annoyed I left the airport and came back to Long  Beach.



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.