January 20, 1956  Tags:  no responses

In the beginning, I was very much my father’s son. He was a self-made man; born in Sicily and arriving in New York City when he was only seven years old. He never completed high school but became the foreman of a successful factory and the right hand idea man of the owner, Mr. Chamberlain.  He was as Italian as he was an American as he was a New Yorker. He was the guy the ladies swirled around at a party, he was the guy you asked where to go on the town, and he was the guy you asked for help when you needed a hand. He was Tony, the guy who was my father when I was growing up in Brooklyn; I was Anthony his son, and when I grew up I would become like my Dad and be called Tony.


Daddy would often take me after mass on Sunday mornings to ride the rides at Coney Island while Mom stayed home with my brother and prepared a traditional Italian dinner that we always ate at one p.m. We were both still dressed in our Sunday suits but with our jackets carelessly flung across the back seat of his big black shiny sedan. I used to sit in the front warm vinyl seat close next to him, watching how he maneuvered the car, turning the big steering wheel with his muscled arms that bulged through the rolled-up sleeves of his crisply pressed white shirt.  It was a short ride from our brownstone in Park Slope, but every excursion was an adventure with Dad as he listened to the radio and gave me his commentary on the politics of the day or the status of the Dodgers playing at Ebbets Field the previous night. He would flick his cigarette out the little side window and some of the ashes would blow on my face, which made me feel like Casey Jones, the engineer

My favorite ride, “Spook-A-Rama,” always managed to creep me out with its Grand Guignol tableaux.  Of course my father didn’t help by adding his own grotesque noises in the dark as he startled me with a sudden poke in the ribs. He once took me up on the Parachute Drop, and as if I wasn’t scared enough he began to rock the carriage just as we were about to be released for our quick, rapid decent. He laughed all the way down as I held on to him for my life with my eyes closed to the very bone-rattling end. My second favorite ride was the train that circled a huge parking lot. I again pretended I was the engineer, my head sticking out over the side, the wind blowing though my hair, and when we came back into the station, my dad pulled me out of the train car and landed me on the ground with a good-natured thump and chortle.  He always bought me a hot dog at Nathans as he downed a dozen clams-on-the-half-shell. He made a big deal about us not telling my mother, who was home cooking. It was our little secret between us two guys. When we got home we made it through Mom’s manicotti, but we started to slow down with conspiratorial glee at the Leg of Lamb with roasted potatoes and string beans. My mom, who should have worked for the FBI, of course, knew everything as she meaningfully smiled as I helped her clear the dishes. We never had dessert until an hour or so later and besides my father never ate dessert. I made tea for mom and cut here a piece of Ebinger’s blackout cake. As she was blowing over the saucer to cool the tea down, she called me over to feel the slight kicking in her stomach of my new baby brother or sister. It was weird.



My Dad

One Saturday afternoon, The Avon Theatre on 9th Street was showing a double bill of the old Universal films: Dracula and Frankenstein. I loved horror movies but had never seen Frankenstein. My Dad was working that afternoon at Cel-U-Dex, his factory in downtown Brooklyn next to the Manhattan Bridge so he couldn’t take me to the movies. I asked my Mom if I could go, and after a moment’s hesitation, she gave me a quarter out of the coffee tin and told me to enjoy myself, be careful and not get the butter popcorn all over my new dungarees.

I bounded down the three landings of our tenement and out the door onto 10th Street into an overcast afternoon. I traced my usual trail that I took to go to school at St. Thomas Aquinas, past the drugstore on the corner of Sixth Avenue and down the steep slope of 9th Street past the dry cleaners, the YMCA, and the huge RKO Keith’s Prospect Theatre. The Avon Theater, next to the post office and Duffy’s Funeral Parlor, was a very small place showing second run movies. I got to the theatre just as it started to rain.

We were made to sit in the children’s section, where a matron dressed in white like a nurse would patrol up and down the aisles with a flashlight, shining it into our eyes if there was any talking.  I hated the kid’s section that was in the back of the theatre, so I snuck closer into the adult area and sat in an empty dark row, then sunk down low so the psycho nurse/matron/woman in white would not see me.  I caught the last half hour of Dracula, which wasn’t scary at all; it was actually kind of silly with its silent movie style school of acting.

After some cartoons, the lights dimmed again and Frankenstein began. From the very beginning I knew this movie was going to scare me in its plausibility of modern science creating a creature that turns into a monster beyond human control. I sank lower and lower into my seat as the laboratory scene started with its crackling sparks shooting from dipole to dipole, whizzing lights, ultra violet rays, and the sound of a raging electrical storm outside the castle. The cadaver was on the lab table and up and up it went into the open ceiling to meet the lightning bolts and crashing thunder that would spark life into the dead body.  The table descended back to its starting place as Dr. Frankenstein threw off the white sheets, revealing a huge lumbering body with the monster’s face still wrapped in gauze. Suddenly the oversized hand of the creature reached up grasping for life as Victor yelled out deliriously, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”  I cowered in anticipation of seeing his face revealed.



The Monster

And then a few scenes later, it happened.  The laboratory door opened and the hulking monster loomed in the massive oak doorway with its back to us. Slowly the creature turned with its massive, strong arms slightly akimbo, jutting out of its sleeves of his too short torn black jacket.  Suddenly the camera zoomed in on the three quick close-up shots on the dead expressionless face with its dull gray eyes and grimacing smile. When the creature groaned a piercing, death rattling GRRRR I jumped up, spilling my butter popcorn all over my lap as my theatre seat cushion made a big bang springing upright. That brought the matron storming down the aisle, chasing me as I ran past her to the brightly lit lobby and then out into a rainstorm.

Breathlessly I ran up 9th Street, crossing against the light at Fifth Avenue, careering from an auto turning left, stopping for a breath under the marquee of the RKO with its blinking yellow light bulbs that cast a deathly pall all over my face. As I dashed right onto Sixth Avenue I thought about how I was going to tell my mother why I had left the double feature early.  So I ducked into the vestibule of the Ladies’ Entrance of Murphy’s Bar & Grill, which was right next to our vestibule since we lived above the bar. I was shivering as I waited for time to go by.

I must have waited a half hour when my mother coming down to check the afternoon mail and bring out the garbage, saw me huddling in the darkness. “What are you doing there? Is the movie over already?”  I blurted out that I ran out because I got scared. “Oh silly boy, oh you silly boy, you should have just come up stairs. I don’t know why you go to those stupid movies, they scare you so.”  I silently walked up stairs in shame behind my waddling mother, her hand on the rail to steady her lest she fall.


Tea and Sympathy

Mom toweled dried my hair and got me some dry clothes, then went back to getting dinner ready for us. Since my little bed was in the same front room of our brownstone across from my parent’s big double bed, I locked myself in our only bathroom to change. I was taking a bit longer than usual, which made my all-knowing mother yell out: “Whaddya doing in there? Stop playing with yourself!” I quickly pulled up my pants and nonchalantly sauntered over to the couch and watched some TV. It was late fall, it had gotten dark at 6:30 pm and Dad was still not home for dinner.  Mom looked worried as I sat in guilty silence watching King Kong for the 5th time on Million Dollar Movie on Channel 9. “How many times you gonna watch that monkey movie? You want to have nightmares again?” Mom seemed anxious, so during the commercial I sat down next to her at the kitchen table and held her hand. After this unguarded moment, she shooed me away back to the couch. It was now 8pm and Dad was still not home. and he couldn’t call home since we didn’t have a telephone at that time and made all our calls from the corner Candy Store Telephone Booth.   I could hear the steady rain rapping against our backyard facing windows.

From the hallway, I heard heavy, hard stumbling steps; keys fumbling. The door slowly opened and there was my father with his back to me as he turned around jerkily struggling to take his coat off. The sleeves seemed torn. “Tony where the hell, were you? I‘ve had dinner ready since 5pm. I was so worried…My God what happened?”  My father stood there still, lumbering, towering over me as I looked up from the coach. “Josie, I was in a small car accident. I’m not hurt.” “Thank god you’re alive” my mother cried as she rushed to him and helped him take off his thoroughly soaked coat.

My father sank down on the floral print covered club chair and covered his face with his dirty, bruised hands and uttered a long, low sigh. He looked up at me, waving his hands for me to come over and sit on his knee. I was strangely hesitant to come over, but I gradually got on his lap and buried my head on his shoulder. He held me in his arms without saying a word. Mom came over and put a gauze bandage on a small gash on his forehead. “Dinner is ready.”


Dad’s Sedan

The following week, Dad took me to visit Nona grandmother, for Sunday dinner. My Italian grandmother lived in the Belmont Section of the Bronx. We drove over the Brooklyn Bridge, up the East Side Highway to the Major Deegan Expressway, down Fordham Road to Beaumont Avenue. Mom stayed home with my brother Michael, as she was getting big.  I didn’t know how I felt a about having a new stranger come into the family especially if it was girl.

I kept sneaking a look at Dad to see if he was alright, his bandage slowly flapping a bit in the wind.  He seemed ok but his face was strangely still. We ate upstairs at my Aunt Mary’s who made her famous meatballs with ziti slathered in a thick blood-brown tomato sauce. Uncle Nick always added 7-Up to his glass of CK Brand jug red wine and would give me indulgent sips. This was followed by a big bowl of braciole, loin lamb chops with lemon wedges, broccoli rabe and salad with a very tart wine vinegar dressing. Dad and I had stopped into Artuso’s beforehand, so we had cannoli for dessert while he went into parlor to watch the Giants playing at nearby Polo Grounds. Uncle Nick gave me a taste of his anisette laced strong black espresso, which gave me a curious buzz.

All of a sudden my father, closing the belt of his pants which he had unloosened after dinner, jumped  up and said in his best wise guy accent, “Anthony, let’s blow this joint!” Quick kisses all around as we raced down the stairs to the car. But instead of continuing across Fordham Road, he made a sudden left turn onto The Grand Concourse, saw an open spot across from Krum’s Candy Store and glided the auto into a tight space.  We dashed out of the car and he pulled me along the crowded street and up to a kiosk under the marquee of the grand, Loews Paradise Theatre.


“One Adult, One Child” and we were in. And wow what a place it was; an overwhelming, spectacular movie palace making the Avon Theatre look like our little TV set. Through big bronze doors you entered the three story lobby with a sweeping grand staircase and real goldfish splashing in the fountain. A beautiful young man dressed as smartly as any Roxy usher led us to our seats in this 4,000 seat Mecca. Inside was an Italian 16th century baroque garden fantasy with cypress trees, stuffed birds, and classical statues and busts lining the walls. The safety curtain was painted with a gated Venetian garden scene, which continued the garden effect around the auditorium when it was lowered.


Loews Paradise Today

“I know you like scary movies, you’re gonna love this one.”  I began sinking in my seat when the theatre organ stopped playing, the lights dimmed, and the curtain opened to reveal the title of the movie, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Set in California, Bennell, a local doctor, finds a rash of patients accusing their loved ones of being  impostors. He soon discovers that the townspeople are in fact being replaced by perfect physical duplicates, simulations grown from giant plantlike pods. As the movie neared its climax, I turned away from the screen. I looked up to the ceiling of the Loews Paradise where stars shone through a dark blue night sky with gossamer clouds wafting from left to right. It was like heaven up there, but hell here below as I could still hear the soundtrack as I watched the horror movie about human beings being taken over by aliens, transforming them into zombie like creatures with cold emotions and no feelings. I looked at my father to my right and shuddered. The final scene really jolted me as the hero screamed to people who don’t believe him – “Doctor, will you tell these fools I am not crazy? Listen to me, Please Listen to me. There not human! They already here! They are here! You’re next!”


Before the house lights could come up, my Dad, realizing it was getting late, grabbed my hand as we ran up the aisle almost knocking down the usher who was guarding the door and flashing his torch light in our faces. Outside, up on top of Loews Paradise, the clock with St. George was slaying the dragon and chiming six o’clock. It was raining yet again, so we scurried to the car. My dad sped down the Concourse, past the Cross Bronx Expressway and Mt. Eden Parkway as we left the Bronx behind us on our way home to Brooklyn. I nodded off in the car and I could feed my dad’s hand on mine as he drove down the East River Drive, with his other hand jauntily on the steering wheel. My Dad seemed like himself again.  I was shivering since he liked to drive with the window open and the radio blaring. He must have been cold too since I could feel his hand trembling and shaking on top of mine.

Mom had Sunday night sandwiches for us. I went to bed at the usual 8:00 pm and quickly fell into a fitful sleep. In the middle of the night I woke up with a start with the words of the movie re-playing in my head – “Listen to me. There not human! They already here! They are here! You’re next!”  My brother Michael was still asleep next to me. In the darkness I peered across the room at my father and mother lying side in their bed by side on their backs like two peas in a pod – Mom with her swollen belly covered by the chenille, Dad lying on top of the covers, his hand moving with a small sudden tremor, perhaps from a night chill. I got up and covered him up a bit with the white top sheet when he gave a short snort that made me run back to bed.


Mom, Dad and me


I woke up late  on Monday morning and things were as usual: Mom quietly making me cereal, Dad already off to work, me playing a bit with my baby brother before I headed off to school; Sister Rose making me sit in the corner for being the class clown, after school a Lime Ricky at the candy store , hide and go seek with my neighbors Joey and Petey, homework in front of the TV,  Dad coming home, dinner with all of us around the table, dessert with Mom, bed with my brother Michael hogging the blankets – an ordinary day, all in all, as if nothing had changed …

The following month I had a new baby sister and the following year we moved from Brooklyn to Newburgh, New York.


My father always said that the car accident triggered his Parkinson’s. He was a strong willed and determined kind of guy, who would not permit the disease to slow him down.  In 1959 to early 1960’s he underwent three experimental operations to control his tremors and shaking.  After those unsuccessful attempts, my father took up his own regimen and continued to work at Cel-U-Dex till the late 1970’s.  He died in 1983.


(To be continued)

 January 2, 1956  Tags:  no responses


Walentas Clock Tower

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden an angel with flaming sword …, to guard the way of the tree of life.  Genesis 3:23


My father was the longtime foreman of Cel-U-Dex Corporation, an office products company founded in 1909 by C. R. Chamberlain, and located in the now historic Walentas Clock Tower Building in downtown Brooklyn.  The factory was an easy 15 minute drive from our home in Park Slope. The short car ride took my father along the bumpy cobble stoned streets of the waterfront, under the iron and granite shadows of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, following the trail of abandoned trolley car tracks to Front Street.

In 1957 Mr. Chamberlain announced that Cel-U-Dex would be moving to New Windsor, New York, a small town next to Newburgh, New York, about 70 miles upstate on the other side of the Hudson River.  Like other executives of that era, he had moved to the suburbs and was now taking his factory with him for an easy commute, and abandoning the inner cities’ encroaching post war, urban blight.

My father had gotten worse since his car accident, and had been finally been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease – the “Shaking Palsy” as it was once called.  He had started to shake, his face was sometimes rigid and his slowness of movement made it difficult to walk, like a lumbering giant lurching from chair to chair to keep from falling. In the beginning these symptoms would come and go, making my mother believe it was all in Dad’s head and he could control it if he really wanted to. There were many fierce arguments – highly verbal, ugly spats that were just a symptom of deeper marital trouble.


Dad with fellow co-workers on the roof of the Clock Tower Building

Alas, the Parkinson’s and the factory’s move to Newburgh posed a bigger challenge.  My father and a fellow entrepreneur were just on the verge of leaving the company and starting their own firm that would have manufactured plastic index tabs. When my Aunt Laura heard that he still wanted to do this, she laughed and told my mother what a fool my father was. “How’s he gonna start a company now that he is sick. And if it fails, where does that leave you and the kids, Josie? Then who is gonna hire him, a cripple? Him and his big ideas, where are they now? You better tell him to stay where he is.” So Dad gave up on his idea. He had a heart to heart talk with Mr. Chamberlain and told him about his Parkinson’s that he had been trying to hide from him.  Mr. Chamberlain, appreciating my Dad’s loyalty to the firm (of course not knowing he had planned to leave and compete with him), told him he always had a job there no matter what may happen, and advised that he move his family up to New Windsor.

For a year or so, before he could figure out how to buy a house, move and uproot his family from his beloved New York City, Dad commuted not on the tolled NY Thruway, but on a hazardous, slow, two- and- a-half hour commute. From the snow and ice of wintertime to the hot and humid pre-air conditioned summer, he traveled up the twists and turns of Route 9W, north through sleepy hamlets with their many stop lights, and up and over the serpentine road of the fog- shrouded Storm King Mountain. On the other side of this lowering massive rock lay the town of New Windsor, nestled in the humid, verdant expanse of the Hudson River Valley where Mr. Chamberlain had erected his new factory at 218 Mac Arthur Avenue, in an industrial tract in this very small rural community.

To save on gas money and knock off sixty minutes of travel time, Dad decided he would stay week nights in the Bronx with Nona and my aunt “Titzie”. This meant I only saw him weekends. During the week, my mother made me call him every day at 6:30 pm. Since we didn’t have a phone at home, I would walk down to the corner candy store, swing open the folding door of the wooden phone booth, and collapse the door along its noisy overhead track that always stuck till I jerked it closed. I put my nickel in the slot and waited for the ding-a-ling, dialing Cyprus-8-6482. My Aunt Mary always answered with a loud “OLLO!” as if I was calling from China.  “I lova you so much, holda the wire!”  My Dad would get on always sounding a bit tired, and I would recount my school day or excitedly tell him of the latest show album I had bought. I could hear my Aunt yelling from the kitchen, “Tonio, hurry up, Tonio everything is getting cold!”  He would reluctantly hang up. Joining Uncle Nick, Nona and my cousin Viola, he sat down to a delicious hot supper before going to bed at 8pm in order to wake up at 5am for the long commute back to New Windsor. But before I put the receiver down I used to sing as if to him, “Good night, my someone, good night, my love…” from The Music Man.  He never heard it.



Looking back from the Palisades Parkway


The clink of the nickel dropping down into the metallic coin box woke my interrupted lonely serenade.  I always pushed the coin return button to see if my nickel would come back. Sometimes it did and I would buy a serendipitous Snicker Bar, gobbling it outside the candy store – “Standing on the corner, watching all the girls go by… .”  I hurried home to dinner, breathlessly bounding up the stoop, my tongue flicking around my teeth for any stray chocolate or errant peanut.  Since it was dusk, Mom used to time me for fear I would be kidnapped by the gypsies who used to live around the corner behind a curtain in the back of an empty store. The only gypsy I knew of was from the I Love Lucy classic operetta episode where Lucy was the snaggle- toothed “Queen of the Gypsies.”

On Friday nights, my Dad came home around 6 pm; Mr. Chamberlain let him leave early and he was driving in reverse commute. My mom usually had prepared a fish dish for him since it was Friday. Before he had even picked up a fork and ate some of her delicious Shrimp Creole, she grabbed me and rushed out the door saying a quick goodbye.  She would join my Aunt Laura at the local “Chinks” on 9th Street before we went to the movies. My aunt always called it, “Ladies Night Out” since they had both worked so hard during the week and deserved an evening off. The restaurant was an old fashioned chop suey parlor with hanging red lanterns, glaring neon in the window, grinning dragons, sticky vinyl black booths and over large menus with selections from Columns A, B, C or D. They always chose from B, which let them include Lobster Cantonese, bright red carapaces with yellowy egg sauce, my mom’s favorite.   Dessert was a choice of a scoop of ice cream or pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries with toothpicks stuck in them followed by a “complimentary” fortune cookie – “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

We would walk directly across busy 9th Street, mid-block, dodging traffic to our neighborhood movie theatre. The RKO Prospect was a grand movie palace not unlike the Loews Paradise up in the Bronx that my Dad would occasionally take me to. At the ticket kiosk that was rimmed in yellow light bulbs, my mom plopped down a dollar for me and her, and got back ten cents change. No one paid attention to start times then, so we just went in whenever we were done eating. We passed through the Grand Foyer avoiding the concession stand, never buying popcorn – “too expensive!” We were like three blind bats groping our way to our seats in the Stygian blackness, since the usherette with her flashlight was on cigarette break. Peyton Place was the main feature. In the darkness, I whispered to mother what happened to Selena in the barn, only to be shushed up by Aunt Laura who gave me a stern look and a poke that reminded me of Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca that I had just watched on Million Dollar Movie. We would leave only when my aunt blurted out, “This is where we came in.”


RKO Prospect on 9th Street, Brooklyn

After the show, Aunt Laura would head down back to her place on 10thh St. and 4th Ave. while we stopped by the drugstore on 9th St. and 7th Ave. for a pint of ice cream to bring home for my father.  He would usually be asleep in the living room with the TV set still turned on to the Friday Night Fights, his hand quietly shaking as it drooped over the arm of the floral printed club chair.  He always asked me how I enjoyed the movie, and I gave my critical review as my Mom served him some now softened Bryers strawberry ice cream. I crawled into bed pushing piggy Michael over to his side and listened to the agitated conversation of my parents, trying to find out what they were intensely whispering about. It was late.  I dreamt that handsome Dr. Rossi of Peyton Place sat on the bed next to me, holding my hand, telling me he found a cure for my father.

Saturday mornings were spent doing cleaning chores around the house under the eagle eye of my mother, while my father tinkered with the car parked curbside. The ringing clanging bell of the knife man would alert us that his cart was downstairs, and my mother sent me out to the street to get our cutlery sharpened. Sometimes, Ms. Francis, the spinster neighbor who lived in the brownstone next door, would invite me over for tea and read me a book.

At night, my Dad would sometimes drive up with to Yonkers Raceway for the trotters with my Uncle Cy, Aunt Laura’s Lothario of a husband. My father loved to bet, and much to my mother’s chagrin, he often won – “You spend more time with the horses and with that bum of a brother-in-law than with me.” He would always give me a quarter from his winnings. After Sunday Mass, we had one o‘clock dinner either at home or at my Polish grandma’s in Bay Ridge, as Dad would spend Sunday nights up in the Bronx with Nona to get a head start for his drive to work on Monday morning.

Such was the cycle of the Brooklyn weekends in those years in 1956 and 1957 – of B movies, chow mein, candy bars, phone booths, ice cream and gypsies.

However, one weekend would be different. Very early on a late spring morning, Aunt Laura unexpectedly came over to watch my brother and sister. Dad told me to go downstairs and get in the car, tossing me the keys. He soon came down with Mom, who had packed a picnic lunch so it seemed. Mysteriously they didn’t say where we were going as my Dad took the roller coaster West Side Highway at a gleefully high speed till we crossed the imposing George Washington Bridge. In a very few miles there was greenery everywhere, an Eden that I had never seen.  Panic started to set in, maybe they were going to abandon me in the woods like the hunter in Snow White, since I had been wetting the bed week allot that week.

Our big, black rambunctious car made its way north on the newly opened Palisades Parkway, getting back on Route 9W at Bear Mountain Circle. My face was pressed up against the rear side window astonished by rushing springs cascading down into frothing streams and the deer I think I saw glancing up at me as he ate some tall green grass.  Our car made the steep ascent up Storm King Mountain, slowly swerving to the tortuous inside shoulders of the narrow road, higher and higher with the valley way below us till we got so high we would soon have to come down. However, first we pulled over to a lookout spot. I got out of the car and ran into the woods to pee. When I came back I peered over the ledge and wondered at the breath-taking expanse of the valley covered with wild flowers. “Consider the lilies…even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Mom had spread out a blanket and we ate olive loaf sandwiches. We all got back in the car and Dad said; “Watch this!”  He shut off the engine, coasting down in silence, breaking all the way down the darker leeward side of the mountain.

He started the car again, picked up speed as we sailed past a large farm on the left that smelled of newly tilled earth. I had to squint to see a large white mansion with barn and silo silhouetted by the hot white disc of the sun, burning my eyes. We crossed over a bridge spanning the sluggish, brown, backwater of Moodna Creek. Dad,  with  both hands firmly grasping the wheel to keep his shaking grip steady, turned left at St. Joseph’s, a country church named in honor of the Virgin Mary’s husband,  patron saints of fathers; another turn at the corner where a lonely gas station stood guard, empty and forlorn. Then a country highway with a palimpsest, center yellow line, divided a cemetery on one side and a large field of browning hay on the other; a left on a bumpy dirt road called Cedar Lane.


My sister Karen, in front of 47 Cross Street

My father slowed down even more as he turned right, and slid to a stop on the gravel and tar road into the macadam driveway of 47 Cross Street. There squatted a small gray one story, Cape Cod house, squeezed between a smaller Ranch house on the right and a live-in trailer home on cement blocks on the left. In the front was graveyard like, ash burnt dried-up lawn, with almost dead dandelions weeds struggling among the straw-dry grass. A miasma of dust hovered around the vehicle, my mother sat stiff backed in her seat. I started to nervously ask who lived here when, with some trouble, my Dad turned back around and tried to give me a smile from his frozen set face. He almost fell getting out of his side while my mother grunted under her breath and slammed the car door shut when she got out.

I refused to get out. I got on my knees on the back seat, looking out of the rear window, hot from the noon day sun, trying to see back to New York City, now blocked and guarded by the towering sentinel of Storm King Mountain.  “Young Man, get out here now!”  I keep looking up into the blinding sun. Suddenly Dad opened the rear door and grabbed me in his arms, carried me across cracked cement path and plucked me down on the front steps of the house.  He rang the door bell that gave a dull vibraphone sound, pulled out some keys, opened the door and entered into the darkened front room. Dad, holding on to the door, turned around looking down at me, his speech slurred from the disease, intoned from the darkness:  “We’re home.”


(To be continued)