Friday, July 29, 2011

Leaving Home, Queensborough Hill

He was about twenty years old when his folks decided to sell their home in "The Hill". He had graduated from High School two years earlier and went right to work. Back in the day, guys from his background didn't think about going to College. Back then they were lucky to finish High School and had to earn a few bucks to help out at home and earn their own way. However he didn't have enough to go out on his own and figured he'd stay with his parents until he was able to support an apartment and all that goes with living by yourself. So even though he didn't like the idea of moving from "The Hill" he had to do it. He figured he could come back and hang out with the guys a few days a week or at least on the weekend.

"The Hill" was practically all he knew. He was five when he moved there and that meant fifteen of his twenty years he was at home on "The Hill". He lived around the corner from the elementary school which had a big schoolyard. He went to that school for eight years the way God meant it to be with grades numbered from one to eight split in six month frames, A and B. The schoolyard was the center of social activity growing up. It goes without saying that during school days the yard was full since every one had to line up before going into class. During these times there were about three hundred kids playing in the yard which had a full court basketball court, two softball fields on concrete, numerous handball courts and a made up Chinese handball set up which ended up with the loser having to go asses up as the participants threw the spaulding at the target which of course was, what else (?), somebody's ass.

After school and days with no school everybody would go back to the school yard where they'd play ball, fast pitch, stick ball, basketball, hand ball and in the corner guys would shoot craps. The cops would raid the game once in a while. They kept the pot and if they caught any one  they'd bring them home where Mom would make them regret being caught but they'd be back the next day making sure they would run faster the next time. Everybody knew everybody. There was a fight every day but the next day the winners and losers would be pals again, until the next fight. There was a pecking order in the school yard that no one challenged. The older guys had dibs on the ball fields and if they came while the younger guys were playing they'd kick you off the field and maybe use your glove, which you were proud to give for the game. The games were good and hard fought with the winner s keeping the clincher which was chipped in and bought new for the game. The bats were wood, if broke they were nailed and taped as who could afford to buy bats each day at the cost of three or four bucks each. The softballs would be taped as they lost their cover. In the winter roller hockey was played with great gusto and verve. Guys like Moose were usually on the winning side.

Even outside the schoolyard everybody knew everybody else. All the neighbors looked out for each other and watched to see that the kids weren't getting into too much trouble. Of course the kids were trying to make sure the neighbors didn't see them smoking or drinking Ripple or beer or doing a little smooching. The candy stores were a great place to hang out and when you got older the bars supplanted them. His were the Oasis and The Villa. The Oasis was only for drinking while the Villa was for eating a pizza AND drinking. He knew every nook and cranny of "The Hill". Yes, he knew everybody and everybody knew him. That is why it was tough to leave such a place. His place he called home. On top of all that he just made contact with one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen. She had given him the cold shoulder and turned her nose up at his every advance. Lately though he was getting through to her. She was laughing at his banter and that was a good sign. She could be the one. But now he was moving which held the thought that he could end up losing the chance to make it with her. So he went with great trepidation to a place on the Island some twenty miles away. Well, the move took place and he got a old Oldsmobile convertible with a rumble seat so he made a lot of visits back to "The Hill". He found out the usual time she took the subway to work and just managed to meet her a number of times. She was becoming friendlier and laughing more at his jokes. Things were working out pretty good with her, so good that they started dating. The dating period was a little bumpy and sometimes she didn't laugh at all his jokes, but be that as it may, they eventually agreed that it was better to stay together than be apart. He pushed his draft number up with the idea that he would serve his two year term then they would get married after a year or two. Soon after his entering the service it became apparent they couldn't really stand being apart so they married believing very strongly in the word, "Until Death Do Us Part".

They left "The Hill" and started on with their new lives for they were no longer one but two in one union, sort of like The Trinity but only two instead of three persons. While he was still in his thirties he drove back to his beloved "Hill". He walked around taking note that he was a stranger in his home town. Things changed, even his beloved schoolyard, they built a wing on the school and there was little left of the yard that was like a bio system all its own. As he drove to go back to his new home he felt a certain sadness as though a part of him was left behind in the days of youth and fun and new love. He realized that everything changes constantly because without change there can be no growth. After all, he changed too. He no longer hit the bars. He no longer played ball. He finally had to go to College, all the way to post graduate school. The girl, his wife changed also but she never stopped laughing while she grew into a beautiful woman inside and out. They still argued a bit, made love a lot and kept loving which they hoped would be through all eternity.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Fifty-four years ago nothing happened that was earth shattering. Two young people were going to take the "plunge". They were getting married. Yes it is true that this step certainly was going to change their lives in ways so major that they couldn't really envision exactly how, but this certainly wouldn't have an effect on the history of mankind. The bridegroom left his house in an air-conditioned limo. Wow, it was the first time they, he and his brother, the best man ever experienced this! They were, dressed in day-time formal wear, white jacket tux. About four blocks from their house he half kidding asked if his brother had the ring, "Of course!" he answered as he fumbled through his pockets and then said that they would have to go back because apparently he left the ring at home. They got the ring and arrived at the church which was in their old neighborhood, about a half hour before the ceremonies were to start, a morning Nuptial Mass. They entered the church and went to the front to await his young beautiful bride. He knew she was nervous not only because it was her wedding day but they were to live in Georgia for the last year of his Army hitch. She would be away from everything she knew to spend time with a guy who was no more than a mere boy, who she really didn't know, in a strange environment, one she could barely imagine what it really could be like.

Before he went into the Army he lived at home and bitched and moaned whenever he had to turn his paycheck over to his Mom and she would dole out his allowance from it. The girl he was marrying came from a financially strapped family. They never would have been able to afford a full blown reception, and of course every girl dreams of that. His mom surprised them by announcing the money she took from him was saved and would be used to have a reception at the Riviera a fancy, schmancy Bistro in Port Washington. After the Nuptials the wedding party would go to the Riviera to have breakfast. The reception for about 85 would begin at one in the afternoon until five. His bride to be was ecstatic and he grew to appreciate his mom a little bit more. It appeared that she was going to be late which worried his best man but he knew the family she was coming from and would have been disappointed if she would have been on time. They got word she finally arrived only fifteen minutes late. There was a buzz in the church. She appeared at the back and was gorgeous. He found himself becoming impatient for the day to be over with them in Miami on their honeymoon. The organ started and she was walking towards him with her father alongside. They reached the front where he was waiting. They stopped and looked at each other and her father froze forgetting what to do. She whispered for him to lift the veil, kiss her and turn her over to her husband to be. He did all this but then she found she couldn't move as he was standing on her dress making her immobile. This was too much for the groom as he burst into laughter and he took control making it easy for his soon-to-be father-in-law to go to his pew and sit. The ceremony went well. Two kid cousins were alter boys and the priest was a favorite of the groom's. He was a retired Army Chaplin who used to understand everything in the confessional without breathing brimstone and fire. Almost everyone in the wedding party forgot the rehearsal and the groom directed all when to stand, sit. He had a great time during the mass. The ending kiss was delicious but the bride made sure it didn't appear too salacious. They marched to the rear of the church where they received the attendees. A cousin of the groom waited to talk to them. Her father, his uncle was dying of lung cancer. His uncle was a favorite of his since childhood. He would have held a quiet wedding if he had known how much his uncle deteriorated since his last leave but by the time he came home it was too late to cancel everything. He also knew his girl would have been very disappointed but would have gone along with the decision. This day was a growing experience for him. Here he was floating on a cloud, his girl was now his wife yet at the same time he felt sorrow for the pain and suffering his uncle, aunt and cousin were going through. This duel feeling of joy and sorrow would be something he would carry with him all through his life whenever he would think about their wedding day. Everyone had left. The bridal party got into the air conditioned limo and proceeded to the Riviera for what would be a great breakfast, then a wedding reception on Manhasset Bay. The roof would be open in the Bistro and the boats would be sailing. This would be a day to remember

The breakfast was held in a room overlooking the Bay. When it was over there was a short wait and everyone was seated. The band was playing. Unbeknownst to the groom they had brought his trumpet to the festivities and since this was the group he gigged with in civilian life it became no problem for him to sit in on a few sets, which he did. The afternoon was a whirlwind. The meal was delicious prime ribs with an open bar.
In those days there was very little concern about designated drivers and everyone ate and drank to their fill.
They went to every table to share their joy and of course to accept "El boost", the Italian equivalent of the payoff, a cash gift for the young couple to help them start their way into married life. The photographer was very good but a royal pain in the a**. He finally was sent on his way by the groom after he took hundreds of pictures. Aunts, Uncles some friends everyone loved the new bride. They continued to love her for the most part into old age. Finally, about 4 PM it was time for the wedding couple to leave, change and get ready to go to the airport and start their honeymoon. There was an hour to go before the festivities would be over for all. On the way out cousin Sam, caught them as they reached the door. Sam was nut, but a lovable one especially when he was young before old age destroyed any sensibilities he had. He wanted to tell them he truly wished them all the best and that she was truly the nicest and most beautiful women he ever saw. The groom knew Sam's eye for the ladies so he wished him well, thanked him and they left. They were alone in his mother and father's home changing from their formal wear into their travelling clothes. She was in his parents bedroom when he came up behind he and put his hands around her waist, she turned and faced him and they kissed for a delicious moment for the first time today they were alone and she could be as salacious as she wanted. Her lips tasted sweeter than wine and as they embraced they heard the front door opening so they broke apart quickly and shouted  that they'd soon be down to be driven to the airport.

The day was a magical one that they didn't want to end but as magical days have a way of doing it stared to end very quickly. The plane was filled, every seat taken. His seat was broken and wouldn't release back which caused his back to hurt and go out slightly. There were children aboard who just wouldn't shut up which added a headache to his bad back. He thought to himself, "No more than two kids for me! If any!"

As I started to tell you, this wasn't any earth shattering event, people get married every day. But who knows what course the world would have taken if they never got married. They had seven children (married 7/27/57 an omen of some kind?). They have ten grandchildren and so far one great-grandchild, all waiting to make their mark on this crusty old earth of ours and who knows just how big that mark might be. Most of the attendees have gone on to their greater glory and are remembered for being the great genetic contributors to who he is and his progeny are. A few are still here waiting for their journey to come to a glorious end. As he looks back he remembers them lovingly from his uncle who gave him quarters whenever he visited when he was a kid to his parents, a father who never judged and a mother who didn't have to tell him why she wanted to have him do what she wanted, just do it and some good will come out of it. AND of course the biggest lesson he learned from that day, it was possible to have great joy and sorrow all at the same time. He made a promise that he would tell his uncle who died a few weeks after his wedding that he was missed but everyone had a great time. He was pretty sure his uncle would say something like, "No s**t, that's great!".    

Monday, July 18, 2011

Like Father Like Son

The other day I received the following E-Mail from my son:

"August 28, I played a Festival called "The Howl Festival" in alphabet
City. I was told I couldn't bring any musicians cause they didn't
have a PA. When I got there, it was a street fair with what had to be
a thousand people there. That is all I could estimate as far as my
eyes could see. I am sure there were way more people milling around
on a hot city day. I was briefly teaching Blues Harp at Tribal
Sounds, a "World Music" store. They sold instruments, lessons on
instruments from all around the world, international music and bad
attitude. (The bad attitude was free).

When I got to the stage a New Orleans type band, with Trumpets and
Trombones and huge masks absolutely killed the crowd. They were
amazing. The stage tech tells me, "You're next!" I looked at her and
said, "Are you crazy?" At that moment my stomach dropped and many of
these people were saying things at the end of that performance like,
"These Guys Are F#@%ING GREAT!" I said, "GOD! PLEASE? HELP

As I got up on the stage with my Harp and nothing else, I said, "Good
Afternoon!" As I went to draw the first note, as if scripted, a
thunder clap burst and rain fell instantly! They rushed me off the
stage. After 15 minutes I was back on the stage. The crowd had
dwindled to maybe 70 to 100 people, but down the street or to the
right or the left.

I had to fill 20 to 25 minutes. I agreed to this but needed to draw
on some inspiration. I started jamming to an Allman Brother's guitar riff from a famous album of
theirs. I'm pretty sure the remaining people liked it. What started out as a disaster didn't end up so bad.
By the way, your old song "Pete The Parakeet" found it's way into my jamming. I guess Pete still lives."

The experience stands as an interesting experience by its self but when you consider something like that happened to me some 50 years ago it becomes a truly amazing story on many levels.

The New York Times ran a blurb that ASCAP was holding a seminar with performances of new compositions being performed as the ending to the week-long process. Submissions for consideration were being solicited. About 20 minutes were allocated for each accepted submission. Since I was pretty brash at the time and I had a few songs already published, I took my unpublished material, if I remember correctly about ten numbers, and submitted them never really expecting to be accepted. But Lo and behold! My stuff was accepted. I called the number to get the details and found out the performance would take place at the hall around the block from Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall(?), I don't remember. I asked if there were any rules to follow and what was needed by the performers. They told me just show up and be prepared to be the last act on the program. I was advised that nothing special was expected. I contacted my co-author and instructor and convinced them that it was nothing special but perhaps we could get a music publisher interested in our works. So on a rainy Friday night we showed up. I would introduce the piano player and singer and get off the stage and they would do the songs.

For about an hour and a half we stood at the back of the theater and watched one production number after another with seemingly a cast of thousands put on what seemed to be Broadway Musicals. They were all very good and had great production values which caused me much consternation since all we had was a piano player and a singer who wasn't all that great. As it became closer to the time we were to go on I became fearful that we were going to embarrass ourselves. I almost became frozen with fear. The piano player and singer had less fear but they told me that they were counting on me to introduce them as a fitting ending act. With all this putting the fear of God within me I did what I always do when I don't know what the hell to do. I cleared my mind of all thoughts as to what I was going to say in the introduction and prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me so I didn't make a fool of myself and my compatriots. The scenery was being cleared and it became time for us to appear. The emcee introduced us as the closing act reminding the audience they would have a chance to talk to the composers and performers at the conclusion of the program And so we entered the wings in darkness and I walked out alone into the spotlight in front of about five hundred ASCAP music publishers and guests without a thought in my head as to what I was going to say. I took a deep breath and reminded the Holy Spirit I was counting on Him and what followed was something like this:

"We have been entertained by some excellent performers tonight who wanted to present their works in the most perfect light possible. But I want to take you to a calmer time. A time past, but a time we all miss. So I ask you to take a step back in time when new songs were presented in an office that had a piano and the composer would play while a singer would serenade. So please keep your eyes closed and remember while we present our works for you consideration."

The piano player took my cue and he came out with a cigar in his mouth and shirtsleeves rolled up. He played, the singer sang and when it was over a standing ovation. We didn't embarrass ourselves. For the night the introduction inspired by the Holy Spirit saved us. Afterwards the three of us talked with many publishers who liked our works but they felt the time was more for Rock and Roll so nothing but a great experience which I shall never forget, happened.

It would be nice to say the result of these stories were a career as a songwriter for me and a musician for my son, which could still happen, but as of now hasn't! How much more nicer is it to say that two guys, four counting my singer and piano player, were saved from embarrassment because the good Lord decided to listen to their prayers even though the situation was not earth shattering or life changing. How much nicer to remember the times we were helped and not forgotten by a greater power who I am sure had more important things to do on those days some fifty years apart.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When The Time Is Right It's Time To Go!

He kept fading back and forth into consciousness. He was somewhat aware of his surroundings. He guessed he was in the hospital since he seemed to have tubes coming in and out of every part of his body. When he could open his eyes a bit he recognized his children, not all of them at one time, sitting around looking worried. At times as he came into consciousness he got the feeling that whichever one of them was there was laughing and wondering how long it was going to take before they would have to contact the undertaker. He coughed a bit and they jumped up and gathered around his bed. He just didn't have the strength to do anything but close his eyes and slip back in his mind to when he was much younger.

He was a Fort Dix, New Jersey dressed in Army issue Fatigues about three days after his induction. Already he was getting acclimated to the Army's way of doing anything. The clothes issued didn't fit. The food gave him dysentery from which he quickly recovered. It was either recover or shit your drawers. So he recovered. They didn't have his orders but they had a microphone which was very loud and blurted out every few hours or so that the orders had finally arrived and everyone should fall out. They then would count off numbers and assign duties from policing the area, to kitchen police. The PA system was referred to as the "bitch box". He and about five other guys had got caught the first day they were here and they decided to beat the system by breaking into the barracks next door which was empty where they opened the window in the latrine a crack so they could hear what the Sargents were barking out. Others didn't catch on and got hung up for duty.

The second day he was at Fort Dix they called out over the bitch box for every one to fall out since they had the orders of assignment. The Sargent counted off about eighty guys and then assigned a National Guard Sargent who was also new, to march them over to the general mess for the hated KP. He was in the middle of this motley crew that started to march out of step to the cadence call towards the consolidated mess hall. He thought there was no way he was going to dive into that mess hall that was said to have a grease pit that you could walk into or pots and pans stacked so high it would wrinkle your skin just by exposing yourself to that hard soap and high heat.

The Sarge. was calling off , hep 1, hep 2 and so on. He noticed that this rookie NG wasn't looking behind so as they were advancing he started to go slower and work his way to the last row, on the right. The NG Sarge.
barked " the left TURN..." and the whole troop went left and he went straight. The troop continued to march towards the mess hall and he was free, but he didn't want to go directly back to his barracks as he might be questioned. He looked for a Post Exchange, PX, and he was drawn to the Fats Domino sound of "Blueberry Hill" and "My Blue Heaven". As it got louder he found the PX. He took a deep breath and hoped nobody would ask him anything. He entered the bright lights and the loud music of Fats Domino, ordered a bottle of 3.2% beer, sat at a table and lit a lucky inhaling deeply. He drank with gusto almost finishing the bottle of beer with one gulp, laughing at his Sgt. Bilko adventure loving his youth while at the same time missing his girl so much his body burned whenever he thought of her. Yet for the moment there was a feeling of freedom, a feeling of release.

The music of Fats Domino was beginning to fade in the echoing halls of his mind as he returned to consciousness for a brief moment. He opened his eyes and all his children were there with most of his grandchildren. He thought to himself, "For everyone to be here, they must of been told the end is very near." He started to feel that same sort of freedom he felt so many years ago when for a brief moment he outsmarted the US Army. Then he felt the moment of release and suddenly he was at the ceiling looking down at his body and those he loved and he knew he was gone. He felt a little nudge and right along side he saw his girl, she had left him so long ago but now they were together again.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Love Knows No Boundaries

It wasn't a particularly good start to the day. He really could have slept today but the radio alarm went off blaring a hard rock song that he didn't know and didn't want to know. The noise was so blaring it caused him to jerk up violently and swiftly leaving him light headed from that moment on. The sudden movement caused his back to just about go out on him making him move gingerly towards the radio to silence it. After he shut the radio his head ached and his neck was sore. "Great way to start another day.", he thought. When he was younger he was able to greet the day with verve and elan unless of course he happened to be hung over, but now the start to every day was a long process of getting his joints and muscles oiled up so he could get into the day. What made matters worse was his wife had passed on three years earlier and he never got over losing her. Dating back to the time when they were young lovers he always told her if they were to be separated by death he wished it to be him to go first but his preferred choice was that they go together. She was not happy with either propositions. As the years went by it became obvious unless there was an accident she would leave this world first, leaving him to fend for himself.

The first six months after her death he would get many signs that she was still with him, dreams, songs that meant so much to them and other matters that reminded him of times that only they would know about, experiences having to do with their deep love. Over the last two and a half years the dreams stopped, the songs were no longer as poignant and it seemed as if she was drifting away from him. Oh yeah, she had plenty of time for their children and grandchildren as they experienced dreams and little hints that she was watching over them and they loved that. But especially today he felt she was forgetting him. Her new existence had no room for him. He was hurt and angry. He complained to her directly but felt he was only talking to himself or the air, which led him to conclude that if he wanted to reach her he would have to do something to increase the focus on what he was saying. He got into his car and drove to the cemetery where she was interred. "I'm going to direct my thoughts and feelings directly to her headstone as I stand over her grave and then maybe she'll listen to me.".

It was before eight in the morning when he arrived at her grave site. There was no one around except some workers in sections that were far from her section. He got out of the car and stood in front of the headstone and just stared at it for a few minutes with his mind being blank. Then memories from the past flooded his mind. Their first date, their first time making love, their first child, their first big fight and on and on. He looked around and confirmed that no one was around and started to speak aloud.

"Hey Honey, I know this isn't where you are contained but for now this is where I feel closest to you. I miss you a lot. I love you, mucho, mucho. BUT what the hell is going on? When you first left me you managed to let me know you were around all the time. Now it seems you have time for everyone else but me. This spiritual state you are in, does it exclude me? I know that it is said in the after-life there is no such thing as husband or wife, but I never bought that. I mean, if you are in love then love is for all eternity. Someone once said '....all that remains is Faith, Hope and Love but the greatest of these is love.', if love is the greatest then I believe if two people love one another then that love lives on never to be destroyed. We made that promise to each other before we became husband and wife. We made that promise when you agreed to be my girl! At that time you said yes to being my girl but you added that meant I was your guy. At that time we were no longer two individuals but a new unity owned by each other bonded in love. Well if this is so where the hell have you been? Are you still my girl? I feel I am still your guy but you have to own that feeling. Do you? Let me know!"

He realized he had become louder and more vocal than he expected and some of the workers had moved closer to do some work and to keep an eye on him. He retreated back into himself and asked her to show him something, some sign that he was still her guy. There was nothing happening except for the workers cutting grass. There was no birds, no rustling of trees, no sudden wind. NOTHING! The silence was deafening. He touched the headstone and said silently, "OK, if that's the way it is I guess that's the way it is going to be.  I'll just have to get accustomed to this new state between us.".

He got back into his car and decided to get his 7/11 coffee and newspaper. His body was still hurting. He was still a little light headed.. He turned to his favorite sports station and was half heartily

Nothing you can say
Can tear me away from my guy
Nothing you could do
'Cause I'm stuck like glue to my guy

    I'm stickin" to my guy
Like a stamp to a letter
Like the birds of a feather
We stick together
I'm tellin' you from the start
I can't be torn apart from my guy

Nothing you can do
Could make me untrue to my guy
Nothing you could buy
Could make me tell a lie to my guy

I gave my guy my word of honor
To be faithful and I'm gonna
You best be believing
I won't be deceiving my guy

As a matter of opinion I think he's tops
My opinion is he's the cream of the crop
As a matter of  taste to be exact
He's my ideal as a matter of fact

No muscle bound man
Could take my hand from my guy
No handsome face
Could ever take the place of my guy
He may not be a movie star
But when it comes to being happy we are
There's not a man today
Who could take me away from my guy

No muscle bound man
Could take my hand from my guy
No handsome face
Could ever take the place of my guy
He may not be a movie star
But when it comes to being happy we are

There's not a man today
Who could take me away from my guy

The song was fading away as he pulled into the lot. Some people might say the poetry didn't reach the heights of Whitman and Frost but he thought it was great.  Suddenly his body didn't hurt as much and the light headiness was gone. As he entered the store the clerk he knew asked. " What's the big smile about? Don't you know the Yanks lost last night?" to which he replied, "I just got some great news that makes this day a great day to be alive.". To celebrate he got a Danish to go with his coffee. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Corona, In My Memories

Corona was a great place to live when back in the 1920's and '30's. Believe it or not it was country back then. Unfortunately after the war, the big war, it became over built, but my first memories of our semi-attached duplex home where we rented an apartment. My Grandmother lived in the apartment on the second floor next to us and an Italian family, Lascocko, I believe, lived downstairs. They had three daughters, the oldest hung out with older cousin's of mine. The middle girl had a french name and was real pretty. The youngest was named, Faythe and gave me my first kiss at five years old as we played house by the steps leading up to our apartment.  The house next door was owned by Fat Frances and my Aunt and Uncle lived upstairs with a cousin of mine who was more like a sister to my brother and me. Of course she was a bit older and hung with my brother as I was, and still am the baby. Now I should explain why we called the land lady Fat Frances. My Aunt Frances lived upstairs and she was always kind of slim and stylish. The land lady lived on the first floor and was named Frances also. To differentiate between the two became obvious 
based on the physical differences. My Aunt was the good looking Francis and the other wasn't but we couldn't refer to her as "Homely" so "Fat" became part of her name. We lived on Corona Ave. just up from National Ave. and the trolley passed right down the middle of the Avenue.

My Mother's AND Father's family lived with in walking distance. Everybody knew everybody. Jimmy DeSetto's butcher shop was just around the corner and he and his family lived down the block until they moved away, about four blocks where they lived across the street from one Aunt, on my mother's side, and around the block from another, on my Father's side. They girls all hung out with each other and there was some dating with the older guys and girls, even some talk of scandal between a couple but that's another story. My memory tells me only my Uncle Tony, on my father's side had a car. My Uncle Nick had a truck from which he sold fruits and vegetables, main route was in the Bronx. We used to pile in the truck on Sundays and go to the park where we had cook outs, Italian style meaning Gravy (Sauce to you purists) and spaghetti with meatballs. I don't think we used the grills much in those days. The men would play cards in their tee shirts while the women cleaned up. Then the women would join the game and the men would complain. The women would win and the men claimed it was because they talked too much confusing everyone.

It was the day of NO AIR CONDITIONERS. When the summer came with its scorching heat we'd sit on the stoop in front of the house. Next door was a house that had chickens. Yes that's right, chickens were legal in Corona back then! The Rooster was king of the back yard and if he saw my brother he would chase him to peck him. Everyone thought this was hilarious, except my brother. July fourth was always steamy hot and ultra humid. When the sun went down all the way the men, not the children, would set off fireworks. I seem to remember the skies lit up all around us with Roman Sparklers, Rockets and noise from crackers and cherry bombs went on until late evening. Many of the men if they had jobs, the depression was nearing the end because the war was looming, had vacations beginning on July fourth. They had second jobs to work while they vacationed maybe for $5 day. But they were off on the fifth so they stayed up late that night. We all went to bed later, sweating and happy. I can't speak for the grownups of that day but for the kids, we were poor but we really didn't know it. We were all in the same boat and the whole neighborhood seemed like one big family which maybe it was. We knew when something good was happening and felt good for whomever was experiencing the good. We also knew when something bad happened and grieved with the family that was going through the bad times like the time this one kid  came down with rheumatic heart and went from healthy to sickly in a heart beat. The neighborhood tried to do what they could do even if it meant the women said an extra Rosary for them. The men didn't go to church as far as I can remember.

The war came and went. People grew up and got married and everyone seemed to have a car. The car gave freedom to move away to Long Island, OK I know that Corona is on Long Island but we consider it the City.
Nobody seemed to live within walking distance of anybody else. New people moved into Corona, first the Blacks, then the Hispanics and now the Asians. Chickens aren't allowed inside the City limits and every square inch of dirt has something built on it, except of course for Flushing Meadow Park, which by the way is in Corona. Oh and by the way, there are no more Trolleys.