Today’s Author

Bait and switch

“He never expected to find that at the hardware store.” Have you ever noticed that there are all sorts of circumstances and environments where one often can count on finding things he shouldn’t  expect to find there, or not finding things that should be there.

A perfect example is M.T.V. which,  during my youth, was a groundbreaking music video channel. Now it no longer has any connection whatsoever to music, though it still covers pop culture of other kinds.


I’ve always had quite a significant interest in the Catholic Church’s intellectual world. Although I no longer watch television~not counting reruns on Youtube~I’d always enjoyed, in the past, watching Catholic shows on television. When I lived in Lindenhurst, I tried watching Telicare, the Rockville Centre Diocese’s official Catholic network. To my chagrin, they never showed any Catholic shows. All I could find were panel discussions with psychotherapists, case workers, and social workers; old movies; local high school sports; and telethons.


To this very day I can still remember an incident, when I was growing up, when my parents, my younger sister, and I were on our  way to northeastern Pennsylvania to visit relatives. Somewhere during the course of the trip we stopped at a diner in which, the very name of the place advertised prominently that they sold chicken. When we asked for chicken, a dumbfounded employee explained that their menu included everything except chicken.


In yet another northeastern Pennsylvania moment, one day several years ago, I was trying to get home (which then was the Borough of Wyoming) from someplace in Wilkes~Barre. Because of my having been quite unfamiliar with my location, and lacking a G.P.S., I took it for granted that a sign I noticed, which said that Pittston, my mother’s hometown, was seven miles north of there, by way of that road, I attempted to follow the road.  Within only a few hundred feet, I was confronted with a dead end.


If ever I chance to find things like bubble  gum, livestock, and animal balloons, instead of hardware, at a hardware store, I’ll know very much better than to be even so much as the least bit surprised.Today’s Author


mitt and keef

Mitt and Keef are the oldest and very best of friends.   They’ve known each other since they were little kids in Lindenhurst, even before they were old enough to be in school.     Over the course of their virtually lifelong friendship, they’ve had all sorts of adventures together, both good and bad.    They’re now middle aged husbands,  and fathers of teenagers.     One Friday night their wives, Mabel and Harriet, nagged them into going to bed extra early so they could  get up before sunrise  the next morning to weed their gardens.     Bright and early on Saturday they went outside to get started on their assigned chore.     A couple of hours had passed quietly without any notable incident in Keef’s yard.    Eventually they got to Mitt’s yard.     After about fifteen minutes Keef stumbled upon quite a find.    It was an obviously old key, made in some obscure anachronistic style.     Eventually they went inside Mitt’s house and casually mentioned it to their dumbfounded wives.    Mabel’s jaw dropped in amazement.   Little did they know how truly distinctive a find this was.    She was quite knowledgeable about antiques, having grown up with them.   The key he found while weeding in the garden was clearly an antique.    They all knew quite well that neither couple could possibly afford such an obscenely expensive luxury.   They assumed that someone must have somehow dropped it there.    Perhaps a visiting friend or neighbor was the victim of some mistake.    After quite a lot of entirely harmless daydreaming,  the dumbfounded foursome came to a decision.    They understood quite well that they couldn’t keep it.     They asked friends about it and were quite careful to put ads into the South Bay and Penny Saver, the local newspapers, trying to find its lawful owner.    Of course they all whined incessantly, ruing the ultimate moment of truth when they would have to part permanently with this mysteriously enchanting artifact .   It seemed somehow to have possessed quite an overwhelming charm for them.   If nothing else it was a major change of pace for the quartet, considering how uneventful their circumstances usually were.    Every time a phone rang, they cringed, knowing that it was only a matter of time before their distinctive adventure would inevitably have to pass.    Eventually the key’s rightful owner showed up.   He was a friend who had absent mindedly dropped it at a recent party one night a few weeks before.     At least now that the suspense was all over, they could all calm down and relax.     For a short time they lived vicariously in a world of adventure and luxury.     Once it all ended, though, it would be time for yet another succession of dull ordinary mundane chores.

a most colorful fellow

Guadalupe (Lupita) Martinez was a young, lovely resident of Lindenhurst, N.Y., and an employee of the Acme Corporation on Wellwood Avenue in the middle of her Long Island village.    With all her beauty, elegance, grace, intelligence, sophistication and education though, she thought it quite difficult to find a decent man.   One day, her two best friends, Jenny Randy and Sharon Ferdinand, sick and tired of her non stop whining about her supposed impending spinsterhood,  presumed to take it upon themselves to fix her up with a real gentleman.    After having asked several other friends for help, they managed to end up with Sharon’s cousin Reginald who, they’d hoped, would strike her as at least an interesting decent guy.    As it turns out, though, Reginald was a bit of a character, to put it as politely as possible.    Having just broken up with his girlfriend, Rachel, he was more than somewhat prone toward irrational tendencies.   His emotions overtook him so that he soon fancied himself a long-lost member of ancient Irish royalty.      Lupita, though, having known nothing of his weird ways, never suspected anything when she took her friends up on their offer.     At 8:00 on Friday night, she showed up, as agreed, at Katie Daly’s on Merrick Road in Massapequa, politely awaiting the arrival of her suitor.    She thought it was going to be a typical blind date until she noticed his bodyguards.     It turns out that he had really started to go entirely overboard with his latest fantasy.    There he stood, all prim and proper, before her, in what he assumed was traditional ancient Irish garb.     The poor fellow spent the entire night regaling her with stories of the spurious adventures of long-ago druids and other mythological characters, each of whom existed only in his hyperactive imagination.   He drove Lupita crazy but she didn’t have the nerve to risk hurting his feelings.     She felt awfully bad about how nasty a time she was having.       After it was all over she went home, relieved to be free of him.   The next day, when she got in touch with her friends, Sharon told her: “At least it’s only a once in a lifetime occurrence”.    “You can count on an absolute guarantee of that!”, snapped Guadalupe.      



the ballad of mark and andy

Ann (Andy) Klose was an exceptionally lovely young lady, about five feet, six inches tall, with very dark long hair and blue eyes, in her early thirties.    Originally from Lindenhurst, New York, she had recently taken a job in the payroll and personnel department of the Susquehanna Hat Company in Manhattan.     Early one Monday morning she finished her daily breakfast and coffee, and left her apartment at around eight o’clock so she could take her predictable walk over to the local bus stop on Mott Street.   She fully expected nothing more eventful than the typical brief trip to work with its inevitable annoyances.    That, however, was not to be.    As she prepared to board the bus, she was frozen in her tracks when she recognized the man getting off it with a copy of the New York Times under his right arm.   He was Mark Otter, her former fiance.   After a very brief, polite hello, he explained to her the he was now a policeman, working for the New York Police Department.    Although there wasn’t, she thought, any real love between them anymore, at least the former couple were quite willing tactfully to humor each other, briefly engaging in respectful small talk.    Flashbacks and anxiety attacks haunted Andy.    She knew he had always been such  a good person and a perfect gentleman, ever since their days as undergraduates at S.U.N.Y. Farmingdale.    They simply weren’t right for each other unfortunately.     As long as he wasn’t around, she was quite happily getting along with her new life.    Now that he was living and working nearby, though, all sorts of problems plagued her.   Would she have to face him regularly?   Did they travel in the same social circles?       On her lunch break she explained her problem to her best friends, Linda Brown and Margret Simo Narcy.    Even if they couldn’t help her, she thought, at least by listening to her troubles, they could try to lessen the emotional strain.      They worked so hard in order to try to convince each other that Andy’s and Mark’s dealings with each other were in another time and place entirely.    Immediately after work they all went out to a local bar and grill to have some drinks and to talk it over much more seriously.   

happy birthday ethel

Julius really wanted to meet his girlfriend Ethel that afternoon at 1:00 p.m at the Collonnade Room in Massapequa.    They were planning on having such a really nice birthday lunch together.    She was turning thirty.     He didn’t know why he let his nerves bother him so much.    Looking back over his lifetime he could recall his always having gotten sweaty palms and anxiety and panic attacks at even so much as the thought of a special occasion.     It was 5:15 a.m and he was lying around in bed, in his Lindenhurst, New York, apartment, wondering if he could show the girl of his dreams the time of her life on her milestone birthday.    Having already made all the most significant plans in advance-the dinner reservations, the tickets for the show, the transportation and flowers- he knew in his head that he was in the clear unless the State of New York closed down that day.    He just couldn’t get it out of his head, though, that something was missing, as if, howsoever hard he kept trying, he were still hours behind schedule in some way.    Didn’t something have yet to be done, he wondered?    Wasn’t there a necessary preparation of some kind which he should be thinking of?     He kept staring at his ceiling counting the cracks out of boredom and frustration.    He knew quite well that if he called Ralph, his best friend, at this obscenely early hour, Ralph would never let him hear the end of it.    Because of his being the only compulsive clock watcher in his circle, he couldn’t count on anyone to understand him.     There he was, stranded all alone with his dry mouth and entirely unnecessary stress.    All the nightmarishly intense peace and quiet of his suburban residential neighborhood didn’t help the least bit either.    Ethel, having always been an exceptionally kind understanding lady, would have accepted good naturedly any entirely unavoidable mishaps anyway.       He seemed entirely to have overlooked that though.     Finally the moment of truth arrived.    It was 12:45 p.m. when he walked into the vestibule of the Collonnade Room on Sunrise Highway.      Within minutes after his having gotten there, Ethel arrived.     Everything worked out at least as well as he could possibly have wanted it to.        Ethel merely rolled her eyes, behind his back, for a few seconds and pretended she’d never even expected any trouble.   

an invasion of sheep

It was expected to be one of the biggest showdowns of the year for little league fans, the annual game between Jackson Heights and Lindenhurst.    The weather that day was perfect and all else went well too.    Somewhere around the beginning of the third inning, though, the people in the bleachers got quite a surprise.    Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a bunch of sheep started showing up.   It was the oddest sight anyone could remember ever having seen in his lifetime.   After only the next half hour the entire stadium was filled with all those ovine nuisances.     Of course no one in his right mind could possibly have even tried to explain where they could have come from.     It wasn’t a typical scene at a little league game.    The youngsters, of course, being kids, all got quite a kick out of it.    Their parents and other adults, though, spent all that day running around trying to notify the local policemen and other relevant authorities of the bizarre occurrence.     Of course the sheep weren’t deliberately making any trouble.    Everyone knows how polite and friendly sheep always are.     It was just that the whole thing was as much of an inconvenience as it was a surprise.    The more curious folks took advantage of the occasion to take youtube videos of it all.    Inevitably the local news media were all called in to check it out.     Exactly because it wasn’t even the least bit of a dangerous or scary thing people started, after a while, to take advantage of the offbeat nature of the occasion to turn it into one big party.     Unfortunately, because of no one’s ever having previously heard of a sheep party in a little league stadium, people were a little confused about the necessary protocol for such a thing.     Ultimately it turned out to be the most enjoyable experience anyone could remember having been through.     Other than the frightfully messy aftermath-it took the cleaning crew months to get it all fixed up-everyone still members it all so very fondly.



the wallsteadter’s big weekend

Harvey and Shirley Wallsteadter, and their kids, really wanted to go to his family’s annual picnic on the Memorial Day weekend.    Each year they make sure they pinch all their pennies, foregoing all luxuries, howsoever slight or trivial,  so they can afford this one big annual trip.    It’s the only time they get to see all his relatives together so it’s the absolute highlight of eveyone’s year.

The big day finally arrived.     They made the three hundred mile drive to Hecksher State Park in East Islip, on the south shore of  Long Island.     Unfortunately they’re only allowed to get the park for one day each year.   If the weather isn’t good enough on the appointed day, there’s no second chance.  All the relatives gathered together in their favorite spot very early in the morning so the could set up all the picnic tables.

Finally it was noon and everyone wanted a nice hearty lunch.    The people on k.p. duty  set the tables so nicely.    Just as they were about to put all the food upon them,  cousin Elmer noticed some terrifyingly black and grey clouds upon the horizon.   Aunt Flo Pauline’s complexion blanched entirely.    There were people there from all over the country and they couldn’t afford to make any changes.

 Of course, being the industrious bunch that they’ve always been they managed to figure something out quite soon.   First and foremost they made sure they all shut their car windows.   Cousin Leroy reminded them that they could always go to the gift shop, buy an umbrella for each of them, and spend the day shopping in all the gift shops and enjoying all the other indoor attractions.      Conveniently, since they always spend the entire weekend together each year, the food wouldn’t be wasted.    They’d just have to make sure they took it all over to their hotel rooms.


In a way it was all so depressing because they were forced to miss out on the single most significant part of the entire weekend.     Nothing’s ever struck them as so enjoyable as the picnic.    In spite of all the initial frustration and resentment, Harvey and Shirley, along with all the others, got quite a kick out of their bad break.

herbert’s box

 The Quackenbush’s were a nice couple from Lindenhurst, New York.   After several month’s of Ethel’s incessant whining, Herbert finally gave into her wishes and went out into their backyard on Saturday morning in order to plant a nice new rose bush.   On the bright side, he thought, flowers could be quite a nice conversation piece.   It’s a fairly easy job and there was nothing else to do that day anyway.     After his first couple of minutes of digging, and a few swigs of Pacifico beer, he couldn’t help noticing an entirely unexpected metallic sound.  He banged his shovel against the object several times to try to get it out.   It took him quite a lot of strenuous effort but he finally pried it from the hole.   It was only a large empty container, very plain and drab, but he found it so impressive.    Both in the morning and evening each day ever since then, he polished his cherished souvenir quite thoroughly.    Ethel was starting to wonder what all the fuss was about.   What could he possibly have known about this nondescript thing?     It was his favorite conversation piece too.    Daily in the neighborhood and at work he would stop someone at random, and explain to him all he though might be a part of the imagined history of this supposed priceless artifact.     Until that fateful morning, he’d always enjoyed, sports, hobbies and recreation as much as any reasonably well adjusted man.    Lately, though, all the poor soul could think of was his container.     Daily and nightly he daydreamed about all the fabulous exploits its previous owners must have experienced.    His tales got taller each time he told one.   Ethel even frequently tried hiding it on him.    That didn’t work out the least bit well though.    His unvarnished resentment over such an unforgivable act of rampant cruelty was quite bitter.    He took it into their bedroom each night so he could guard it with his very life.    Eventually he became the neighborhood and workplace oddball.   People could understand if it at least stood out somehow but this thing was plainer than paste.   Eventually the all deliberately went to great lengths to avoid having to associate with him, always politely reminding Ethel that it was nothing personal but that things were simply getting entirely out of control.    Soon they had no friends or family and he even got fired.     Although that was so very long ago folks from Nassau and Suffolk counties, to this very day, dread so much as the very possibility of a recurrence of such an odd incident.



fireman’s park

George, Ralph and Clem were all born and raised in Lindenhurst.     Each was married now with a growing family of his own, but as young adults they made a pact.   They all agreed that once every five years, whatever their circumstances, they would meet, without fail, for at least a weekend each June, for a picnic at Fireman’s Park on Wellwood Avenue.    Fireman’s Park, during their childhood and teens, was just a really nice little place for young people to hang out and to get to know each other.   The three young friends spent all their free time, after school and during summers, sitting on benches, telling awful jokes and ogling the prettiest Lindenhurst girls.    In honor of their glory days there,  the friends really wanted to return for a regular visit with their wives and kids.


The first time they went back all seemed to have gone well, and there were no big complaints.    It was quite a relaxing enjoyable weekend with lots of good food and reminiscing.    Their wives and kids got along quite well.  Yet another five years went by, though, and something seemed to have gone quite wrong.   What had once been such an exceptionally peaceful halcyon environment was somehow now filled with all sorts of trouble. The nearby Long Island Railroad station, once so spotlessly clean and tidy, was now riddled with litter, as were the grounds of the park.    Previously lovely trees, flowers and bushes were all barren and abandoned, as if no one seemed to have  bothered to pay any attention to them in quite a long time.   It was as if that section of their beloved Lindenhurst might just as well have become a ghost town. 

Over the course of their absence, naturally, all sorts of changes had inevitably transpired.    New people and businesses were coming into Lindenhurst and no one seemed to be the least bit concerned about some little street corner park anymore.     They stopped some local passers by to ask about what could possibly have happened to their favorite place.    No one even seemed to have any idea why they were bothering to complain in the first place.   It turned out that the one time idyllic spot, by now, wasn’t even a part of people’s lives  or memories anymore.     It was time for the friends to face up to the fact that their beloved hangout now only existed in their own memories.    They packed up their things and went to Argyle Lake in Babylon, a few miles away.

howard and ethel make new friends


Howard and Ethel  Quackenbush were a reasonably happy well adjusted middle aged married couple from Lindenhurst, New York.    They had only one very bad problem though.    They were perhaps a little too concerned about their physical health.    One day, after having consulted with their family physician, they made a firm commitment to a juice fast.    He made them promise, for three days before, to phase out all the coffee, meat, sugar, dairy, alcohol and wheat in order to avoid bad headaches and other problems with withdrawal.   He also insisted on their eating a lot more vegetables.    Of course, since they thoroughly enjoyed a nice well rounded diet with a lot of meat and a wide variety of nice fattening foods, this drove them to much anxiety and frustration.    During the course of the fast they drank about thirty two to ninety six ounces of juice daily and a third of the juice was vegetable juice, because of the chlorophyll in it.


Because of the overwhelmingly strict requirements of their new diet, Howard and Ethel were soon overwhelmingly frustrated to the point of major personality changes.    They really started getting on each other’s nerves.   They started getting a bit on the silly side too.  In order to avoid any unnecessary  frustration they took a vacation from work so they wouldn’t have to let any temptation from the outside world mess things up for them.     While they were home they decided to watch a lot of television in order to pass the time.    Eventually things started getting too far out of control.

They really let their frustration drive them crazy.    After a while though, having exhausted all their temper tantrums, they decided to have a bit of fun with all the free time.   It was the fourth day.    They went to the nearby Barnes and Noble and bought a few copies of the old children’s show “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along”, starring puppeteer Shari Lewis.    That was when things started getting so very enjoyable.    They got onto their cell phones and got in touch with all their friends, especially the ones they grew up with.    “Hey”, intoned each into the phone,   “Come on over tonight.  We’re having a party”.     Of course the menu was most certainly nothing to go crazy over unfortunately.    That wasn’t the point.    Upon entering the house, each guest was given the appropriate party favors and told to do whatever he wanted as long as he enjoyed the juice and didn’t violate any of the dietary restrictions.

Amazingly what started out striking everyone as insane ultimately turned out to be the single nicest thing ever to have happened in the history of the neighborhood.    Somehow strangers in nearby towns eventually found out about the Quackenbush’s party and eventually countless thousands of people were hanging around, trying to barge into their house, hoping to be allowed to participate.    The state policemen were called out in order to regulate the traffic and crowds.   It literally couldn’t be stopped no matter how hard anyone tried.    Fully grown adults, each holding a large glass of cold fruit juice, were constantly singing nursery rhymes along with an old television show.

Throughout it all, Howard and Ethel gazed at each other, completely stupefied.   “Hey, why didn’t we think of starting it off with a kids’ show in the first place?!”, he asked her.