Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dream Car

The whole idea was for the five of us to hitchhike to Delmar with the 100 dollars we’d bummed from Tony the Source, pay for the model A coupe, get it out of the old lady’s garage and push it … Continue reading

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Yo-Yo Possibilities

That mystic scent is in the air, that primal provocation from out of the earth itself, that tells me even at my age to dig out the bag of marbles from wherever I put it last year and, with that … Continue reading

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Fearful Sweetness

Jesus, it suddenly hit me, they were all down there in that basement, just after the war and the survivors were home, the spring of ’46. Even now I can hear the yakkety-yak, the striking darts, the cackle and gab, … Continue reading

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We Interrupt This Program…

..to bring you an important bulletin. Nearly two years ago, while Bob was visiting from Japan, he and I were sitting out on the back deck of my home in Desert Hot Springs, just shootin’ the breeze, reminiscin’ about our … Continue reading

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Cool On Ice

In the process of writing a piece on skateboarding recently, I found myself at a distinct disadvantage: being much older, I had little or no experience of the world of the skateboarder, a world which may as well have unfolded … Continue reading

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The Migration of the Anglo-Saxons

To provide a bit more visual context for the previous story, I offer this photo, taken roughly within the same timeframe of those events, with an additional bonus: it includes our trusted steed, the unsinkable ’57 GMC panel truck which … Continue reading

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Merry Christmas To All, And To All A Goodnight!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, by Henry John Yeend King; 1855 – 1924

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The Motorcycle Painting

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The Convergence of the Twain

None of our gang have ever shared this historic moment with anyone before because… well… it reflects negatively on the collective cool of the young gods we were then. But now that we’re senior gods and our coolness has tenure, … Continue reading

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The Midnight Ride of Danny McNabb

EVERY NOW AND THEN I get it into my head to make a list of certain things I’ve done in my life. There’s a sense of satisfaction to be gained by stacking up a bunch of items that are normally … Continue reading

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The Island

It was just about the time when That’s Alright, Mama and Rock Around the Clock were hitting the airwaves with sonic dynamite; Mick and I were nouveau-poor city boys and brand-new teens, a tough combination. The cool older guys with … Continue reading

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The Spy Who Came In From the Cold War

AT THE THRESHOLD OF THE SIXTIES – the same year, in fact, that JFK became president – I joined the Air Force. Bob had joined a couple of years earlier, studied Chinese at Yale, and was diligently gathering intelligence in … Continue reading

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The Ratty Sneakers of Happiness

Even out here in countryside Japan there comes a pre-summer time in a boy’s father’s life that the boy’s mother knows little of, when said father looks at his prepubescent son’s awesomely ratty sneakers and with a tear in his … Continue reading

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The Mansion of Beer

Mick, the destruction of Elm Street – and all that heart of Albany now erased – calls for some fine-tuned recollection on our part; we’ve got to do some glimpses of Elm street history here as we remember it, so … Continue reading

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Edifice Rex

LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY (the width of a planet for you, Bob; a mere continent for me), in the heart of the Empire State, there lived a little king. On one particularly warm and sunny spring day, the little … Continue reading

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Don’t You Dare Laugh

Remember how when you were a kid the funniest place on earth was church? Where you could not laugh under pain of mortal sin so you just had to laugh, even though nothing was funny except that you couldn’t stop … Continue reading

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The Parcheesi Plot

Ah, the hours whiled away on the Parcheesi board as a youth. I haven’t played the game in years, but I can still remember the sound and feel of the dice rattling in the leather cup, the chok-chok of the … Continue reading

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Wild Strawberries

There are moments in every life that stand as treasures in the heart, riches that are savored throughout the life to its end. When I was 8 or 9 years old, we set out one late 1940s summer afternoon on … Continue reading

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Football In the Side Pocket

Mr. McGuire: “I just want to say one word to you -just one word.”Ben: “Yes sir.”Mr. McGuire: “Are you listening?”Ben: “Yes I am.”Mr. McGuire: “‘Plastics.’”xxxxxxxxxxxxx– From The Graduate, 1967 The Albany Billiard Ball Company, founded in 1868 by John Wesley, … Continue reading

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Twilight of the Trolley

I remember sitting at our little table on the second story porch overlooking Second Avenue sometime around dusk on a summer evening, having milk and cookies and watching the sparks fly from the overhead cable as the trollies went by. … Continue reading

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The Softball of Death

How could I not I remember when, as a boy of 10 or so on one of those summer VFW clambakes Dad used to take the family to, I was playing softball with the men – I suppose they were … Continue reading

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The Lineup

The usual suspects:Bob, Pat Villani, and Mick, probably during one of those real winters of the late 1940s, when the snow could very well be over your head when you rolled out in the morning, wearing so many layers that … Continue reading

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The Empress of Penny Candy

We thought nothing special of her at the time, as is the way of little kids, who’ve not yet seen how few and far apart are the genuinely heartfelt kindnesses of the world. We boys would be playing in the … Continue reading

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Half Moon Rising

A little bit of Albany history… By the beginning of the 20th century, Albany had become an important, versatile transportation center connecting major markets throughout the Northeast, just as the railroads were beginning to surpass riverboats as the primary mode … Continue reading

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School of Hard Rocks, Part II

On the way to my first day at Schuyler I had to walk past McCloskey High, and felt a twinge of shame and sadness as I waved and said hello to a number of good friends and former fellow students. … Continue reading

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The Same Spring

Springtime now and that magic scent is in the air, that rising perfume of softening earth and newcoming life that still tells me, even 60 years later – even in Japan – that it’s time for me and my buddies … Continue reading

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Hot Rod Fever

Blandly mothertakes him strollingby railroad and by river-he’s the son of the abscondedhot rod angel-and he imagines carsand rides them in his dreamsxxx– from Wild Orphan by Allen Ginsberg I was daydreaming about current events while Mrs. Taylor droned on … Continue reading

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The End of the Dark Ages

Back in 1956, when it had been dark for over a thousand years, a primal scream to match the one that had been building in the breasts of white America since way before the Middle Ages pulsed out over local … Continue reading

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School of Hard Rocks

I must have been staring at that page for a good ten minutes. It remained as blank as my mind, except for the few shards of information I was able to scratch out at the top: name, date, subject, school. … Continue reading

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Cold Warriors

“…and these atomic bombs which science burst upon the world that night were strange even to the men who used them.” The World Set Free, H.G.Wells, 1914 I can still recall standing on the couch next to Mom, looking out … Continue reading

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The Jelly Donut of Nothingness

Anyone over 30 knows that the human mind and soul carry around all the cravings you often don’t even realize you still have (as any former smoker can tell you); those silent and unnourished (usually) embers remain with you always. … Continue reading

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Fin de Cycle, Part Deux

Bob, you and I were coming out of a Saturday matinee at the Delaware Theater back in ’52 (no doubt after seeing a film in which the good guys got the bad guys) when we discovered that my bike was … Continue reading

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Life as Part of a Bike

Yes, Mick, it must have been the artist in you that inspired you at that young age to be the first of us to hotrod your bike, take the fenders off, chop and channel and the like, a look that … Continue reading

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Fin de Cycle

It was 1952, the year that Gary Cooper took back Hadleyville and left his badge in the dirt as he left town in High Noon. The theme song, Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’, became a top ten hit, … Continue reading

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Here’s To You, Mrs. Robinson

Bob, I have to correct something, just for the record. In an earlier post, The One True Church, I offhandedly remarked that Shirley Connell was my second great love; Dodo Einstein, Albert’s daughter, being the first. Wrong. My real first … Continue reading

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Inventing the Frisbee®

Ah, there is so much, so much… But in a comment, Mick, you mentioned the dump, that seminal source that later led to so many dumps, so here I go with the first rummage… The major dump in our area … Continue reading

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The One True Church

Fly the ocean in a silver plane,See the jungle when it’s wet with rain,Just remember till you’re home again,You belong to me True enough; you were for one brief, shining moment, a tadpole holier than moi. Even though my heart … Continue reading

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Across the Street from Heaven

Bob, just to add another touch of celestial glory to your story, I present these images of the very sights you and I would have beheld 1) on our way into St. James Church on a Sunday morning, our minds … Continue reading

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Holier Than Thou

So much of the aforegoing makes us look so rough-and-tumble, Mick, but as you remember, we could be holy as hell when necessary. However, as to our transcendant piety in the early days (sort of the acquired obverse of our … Continue reading

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Young Rascals

Bob, I felt it was important to include the only photo I could find of the scene of the crime; that is, the Carl’s house in Schodack Landing. Oddly enough, it happens to be a double exposure, which to me … Continue reading

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Through the Looking-Glass

Maybe the combined talents of Ansel Adams and Vincent vanGogh could have captured enough of the imagic of that full-moonlit night on the sleek frozen river to merit mounting on a wall in a room somewhere with flash lighting, but … Continue reading

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Railroad Man

Bob, one of the best ways I can think of to honor the man is to post a poem from your book, Further on This Floating Bridge of Dreams, which sure do him proud. Thanks for the green light. Old … Continue reading

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Back to the River of Dreams

Using what little willpower I have left, I am nailing some of those pandora’s lids back on for a moment, so that we can return to the river of dreams (called Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk by the Mahicans, the mighty Hudson by others), … Continue reading

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The Torch of Cool

During the Inquisition that was my high school days, now way back there in mythohistory along with Achilles, the Battle of Thermopylae and all that other stuff I’ve forgotten about ever since, I remember being puzzled as to why the … Continue reading

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Ducklore Galore

Bob, thoroughly enjoyed reliving our last great bridge adventure, and I do believe you can rightly claim to be the only one to have done it wearing baby ducks; or at least the only one who lived to tell the … Continue reading

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Bridge Adventure Redux, with Ducks

Not the bird kind, the shoe kind, where you use the upper case: Cordovan Ducks. (Even now, that phrase has a godly ring to it.) History. Cordovan Ducks, the NY teen male footwear of the gods that I sported in … Continue reading

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trust your instinct, kid…

“‘Imagine a Bridge in the Distance” was one of the most evocative, scene-setting, best titles ever and went perfectly with that first heart-stopping photo!! Carried you right headlong into the tale!! How come you changed it? How come you took … Continue reading

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Imagine a Bridge in the Distance, Part II

Being light, agile and foolhardy enough to make the aforementioned leaps, we eventually arrived at our destination: the top of the first of a line of massive concrete pylons (see image in Part I) stretching across the Hudson River, holding … Continue reading

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On the Road

Beautiful, Mick. Talk about evocation. That bridge lives in my mind as an icon of all that can be conquered if you survive (one of our Albany friends, who later worked on maintaining the bridge, fell to his death from … Continue reading

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Imagine a Bridge in the Distance

Bob, it’s high time we took a side trip down the Hudson River to Schodack Landing, a place you mentioned in an earlier blog (The Gun That Won the Imagination); a place not far in miles, but an entire universe … Continue reading

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My Winchester ’73 – Part II

[Spoilers herein: Read Part I first] There are moments in a boy’s life – generally summer or autumn evening moments –when he is walking home alone, worn to his essence at the end of a day’s all-out play, his heart … Continue reading

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The Night I Saw Santa

Ah yes, the night I saw Santa. Each Christmas eve, I remember, Mom and Dad would set out coffee and donuts for Santa to scarf down complacently after unloading everything except my Red Ryder BB gun. I remember I gave … Continue reading

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Santa Says Hello

Every year at about this time, we get out the boxes of Christmas decorations, and every year at about this time I receive a gift from the ghost of Christmas past. For some reason I am always surprised, even though … Continue reading

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Life on the Hudson

From 1863 to 1948, the Hudson River Day Line transported passengers along the Hudson River to points between New York City and Albany. Known for the elegance and speed of its steamboats, the Day Line was a popular way to … Continue reading

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Being Software

As navigator and colleague in those autumnal sorties, I should add to the aforegoing a key technological discovery on our part that enabled the clean getaways whence we could safely turn and watch our flamework: we somehow discovered that we … Continue reading

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The Firebombing of Mapleridge Avenue

Yes, Bob, your slingshot legacy stands unchallenged, near as I can tell. Had we been born into an Indian village as we so often dreamed, you would have had an honored seat in the sweat lodge, right up there alongside … Continue reading

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Hey, Wild Bob, wait for me!

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My Winchester ’73

For a kid with no Red Ryder BB gun, defenseless in the world, there was only one recourse. I don’t remember specifically who my hero was , that nameless elder gentleman somewhere one summer (I salute him now, where he … Continue reading

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Injun-uity

The Adventure of the Flying Deer took place, as I recall, in the woods behind Graceland Cemetery, not far from Bowley’s [sp?] Hill, (another child-famous place, then soon to be under the Thruway), site of the Snow Crust Incident and … Continue reading

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Crossing Delaware

We were such brave warriors back then, prepared at the first hint of danger to strap on a six-gun, slap on some war paint, dust off the sling shot, and march into battle. We never knew where the next deadly … Continue reading

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Ghost in the Glass

Under that bridge across the Normanskill was where I first heard the word “television,” at the same time as I saw my very first television, which looked something like the one at left, a 1949 model. Must have been around … Continue reading

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Our Own Private Oz

The Yellow Brick Road, the old Delaware Turnpike, runs south from the hamlet of Normansville to Elsmere, and was abandoned in 1863. We took it over in 1951. The two bridges over the Normanskill Creek can be seen below, where … Continue reading

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Not the Yellow Brick Road, the Other One

I think it might have been Speed Harris. His mother would have killed me if she’d known, but I think he survived pretty much unscathed since he somehow landed on me and eventually became a lawyer, so she never found … Continue reading

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The Gun that Won the Imagination

Mick you did it again, you did it again, you always do that: you stick one magic phrase somewhere innocuously in the middle of your post somewhere for me to find and it evokes a rush back to wells of … Continue reading

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Graceland

Yeah, I remember Graceland Cemetery. Elvis’ ghost still hovers at the gate, I hear. You may also remember Paul, the caretaker’s son, who one Christmas morning sat and shot out every one of the ornaments on their Christmas tree with … Continue reading

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The Newspaper of the Living Dead

You forgot to mention one other place on that route, Mick: At last we’ve got some weather I can call cold, I who grew up in upstate New York just south of the north pole where winter weather meant daggery … Continue reading

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The Prince and the Papers

I remember those long, delicious evenings buried in piles of comic books, then loading them into the wagon for the trek home, where the marathon would soon begin. After reading Captain Midnight, Plastic Man and Batman late into the night, … Continue reading

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Comic Frames

Oh the magic of comics – hard-bought with pennies gathered from little tasks and errands – how those bright pages could fill a kidmind… and then the delight on later rainy days of phoning other comic-laden kids to find somebody … Continue reading

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Captain Marvel Eyebrows

As a kid I would always hear from a certain person, slightly older than me, that I had eyebrows just like Captain Marvel, and though it made me feel a bit self-conscious, I secretly turned it into a link with … Continue reading

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Iceberg Looming

Funny, I remember the Fellini scene as well, with the ice looming up before me. I may have been on a tricycle but don’t remember. My head had a way of finding hard objects, though, so I may have been … Continue reading

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Sometimes Never

I was 7, you were right around 6. So much, so much to bounce off of in these photos I haven’t seen in sometimes 50 years, sometimes never. I remember your constant double black eyes, how all the grownups used … Continue reading

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Improbable Wizards

The Blog Brothers at Pat Villani’s birthday party, 1948.

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Bad Luck and a Very Hard Head

I certainly understand your response to that photo of Dad; I had many of the same feelings when I saw it. Though it appears to be a previously unseen picture, however, it is actually a detail from a photo that’s … Continue reading

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From the Heights of Age

Sitting in the loft of my house on a mountainside in central Japan, far from my childhood in much more than years, I turned on the computer and there in your previous post was Dad just as I remember him, … Continue reading

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One Morning After the War

I remember the Luger well. Darth Vader himself would later tap into its dark power, which was mesmerizing to us even at that tender age. Brings to mind my memory of meeting dad for the first time when I was … Continue reading

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Two Very Live Boys

Indeed I do remember that poem and the impact on my boybrain of its paradoxes, but I only remember hearing the first four lines – from a slightly older and more worldly kid – and being enthralled by it where … Continue reading

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Night of the Living Dead Boys

Convenient memory lapses aside, I know who tossed the monkey, and I salute you for it, brother. You’re right up there with Jacques Tourneur, the French director who provided me with another favorite mental melodrama (see Post-Cinematic Stress Syndrome). I … Continue reading

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Confessions of a Monkey Tosser

Although I don’t remember any specifics at all in re the tossed monkey caper, and although this should not be construed as an actual confession, I somehow believe it must have been me who tossed the monkey: not only because … Continue reading

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screaming monkeys

Agreed, those were awfully dark thoughts being foisted upon millions of innocent souls, and sad to say, it goes on to this day. It seems, though, that we were somehow inoculated against those ideas, and were able to take the … Continue reading

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Now I Lay Me down to Sleep

To say nothing of saying each night before you go alone into the big darkness ruled by the monster in the closet: “If I should die before I wake…” Teaching your otherwise healthy young self that you might die every … Continue reading

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It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Speaking of scaring children, why was that baby’s cradle up in the treetop? Why couldn’t some responsible adult go up and rescue that poor kid before the bough broke, and, most importantly, why the hell have parents been using it … Continue reading

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SURVIVORS OF THE LEOPARD MAN

Mick emailed me not long ago asking if I remembered a movie we’d seen as kids, and what was the name of it, where the young girl was killed by a black panther at her mother’s door and Oh yes, … Continue reading

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Post-Cinematic Stress Syndrome

As a boy I was haunted by a dream in which a black panther was on the loose in our apartment over Einstein’s drug store and had killed everyone else in the family, while I remained hidden in a clothes … Continue reading

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Sisterness

Ah yes, the birth of Sue. We now had a little sister to think of. That changed it all to the much stronger triangle and gave us male demons the necessary counterweight. When Sue was about to be born I … Continue reading

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A Tale of Two Beginnings

A couple of stories centered around the beginnings of things. One about me, one about Sue. First, me, of course. From the beginning of me I heard that Dad was trying to find his new baby boy among a crowd … Continue reading

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WE CAN SEE THE FUTURE COMING…

Man, I remember that photo shoot in the living room over Einstein’s drug store on the corner of Second and Delaware – must’ve been late 1947, when Sue in the center on Mom’s lap was just a newborn, I on … Continue reading

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First Press Conference

Mother, dear mother, may God give you wings,For your two little boys tend to complicate things.

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