Friday, August 30, 2013

When The Spiritual Meets The Physical

He was going to go along with the rest of them. He figured at the worst it would be a good show, a good experience. He wasn't quite sure if he really believed in all this spiritual stuff but he agreed to go to this restaurant where after the meal there would be an appearance of a well known Psychic. He was told there would be around forty or fifty people there which certainly meant a much easier chance for one to get a reading. He was told the term "reading" meant that the Psychic would be prompted by a spirit that knew the person he was directed to in order to deliver some sort of message to that person. He naturally scoffed at such an idea but he didn't completely reject the notion that some kind of connection with those in the other dimension could be made. Even the major western and eastern religions acknowledged a connection between the physical and spiritual world. We believe in Angels, don't we? It is written the New Testament that Joseph, Jesus' foster father  was directed by Angels in a dream to marry Mary even though she was with child that was not his and that they should leave Israel and live in Egypt until it was OK to return. The Jewish testament spoke of many including Moses and Abraham speaking directly to God who is all spirit. He wasn't quite sure if this night God, Angels, family or friends were going to speak to them but he heard the food was good and he figured so would the show be.

They got to the restaurant in plenty of time. The food was served promptly and it was good. The room was small but the forty-four people that were there fitted quite comfortably. The crowd seemed in good spirits. The room was filled with lively chatter and laughter. The coffee was served. The Psychic appeared shortly thereafter. He explained what he was about and what he was going to do. He had an assistant who traveled with a mike to the person the Psychic was drawn to give a reading.

He thought, so far so good. The meal was good. The company fine. Now this guy enters the room a slightly older than middle-aged fellow wearing a flowered shirt, Bermuda Shorts and earrings in both ear lobes. The Psychic was a happy fellow, seemingly coming from a very conservative background who suddenly woke up one day and heard some things that let him communicate with the other world, and as he put it his world never was the same. He made it clear there would be no predictions, nobody was placed in the room who was his friend and he had no other motive than to bring the message from the spirit that was in his head to whom the person the spirit wanted it delivered. He also made it clear that it was the Spirit that directed him to the person. The Psychic made it clear that he was an interpreter a vessel being used so the spirit and the person could communicate. And so the session started.

He was amused as the Psychic started for the table in the corner beside the table he was sitting at. There were two young women sitting next to one another and the Psychic wasn't sure to whom he was being directed. He only wanted answers of yes, no or I don't understand. He did not want them to give him information as he wanted to make sure everyone in the room knew he wasn't working a scam. Finally after a short time it became obvious to whom he was directed. The Psychic did this with a few people and he seemed to be right on.

As he was observing the room he had to admit to himself he was impressed. The Psychic seemed to hit on some very important things and the people he read for were impressed, some were in tears as the messages were given about loved ones who died. However in his mind this could be done by a sharp con man, asking a few questions and then leading the people down the paths they seemed to want to go. After all the Psychic never seemed to know the specific person he was being directed to and it only came to him after he questioned them.

He was chuckling to himself when he noticed the Psychic turned around and came to his table looking directly at his sister-in-law. He approached the table and asked her directly if she wanted him to read for her since he felt there would be a very emotional reading and he didn't want to upset anyone. She was so surprised and chocked up when she heard he had a message from a young girl that recently passed. Her response sounded like she was asking him to leave and he was going when her husband spoke up boldly and said she wants to hear what you have to tell her. The Psychic asked her if that was what she wanted and she nodded, yes, because she was already in tears. She had lost her niece whom she loved dearly and somehow never felt closure. She spent many nights thinking of her and some crying over the loss. When her niece passed she was frail and the wonder was if she ever became OK again.

He was sitting there wide eyed with mouth agape. Not only was this psychic right on the money with everything but he conveyed the fact that her niece was going to be her daughter's protector, sort of guardian Angel. Her daughter is a special needs person. How the Psychic knew this, and all the other things about the relationship and life of his sister-in-law without her ever saying more than yes or no or nodding was beyond belief. Before he left the table the Psychic let them know that she, her husband and daughter were at a birthday party two nights earlier. It was as if their niece threw that in for further confirmation.

He was quiet as they rode home. He was convinced something truly important had happened that night, something truly supernatural. The Psychic was directed only to her alone while at other tables he wasn't sure if it was one or another person. He knew things that only they could know, and of course her niece. Their worries about their daughter should allayed which is not to say they should stop making appropriate plans but whatever plans they make should be directed to their niece for confirmation because their niece promised to care for her cousin. He only hoped all concerned would never forget this important night when a little angel spoke from beyond through a hippie looking Psychic to allay their fears and give them her love.        


Friday, August 23, 2013

Teenage Jobs Summer and After School

Maria's post asking where did you work when you were young @  started me thinking about how many jobs I had before I started working full time after I graduated Flushing High School. There were many and quite varied all spurred on by my mother who thought it was slothful to hang around and play ball all the day no matter how much I disagreed. Actually she got me my first job at Frank's vegetable store where I'd deliver purchases on my two wheeler which wasn't as sturdy as the ones the super markets used, and the basket was much slimmer. I worked at Frank's for about a week. The deal was he let me keep the tips, no salary. At the end of the week, one Saturday there was this humongous delivery I had to make. Just before I got to the house the three packages I was precariously juggling fell unceremoniously to the sidewalk with a great plop. There was squashed strawberries, melons with dents and squashed tomatoes among very dirty and bruised apples and vegetables. Apparently the person I delivered this to had the gall to call Frank before I returned to the store because when I got to the store Frank suggested I get the hell away from him and never darken his threshold again, unless of course I was buying something.

At thirteen my mother contrived with an uncle of mine to get me a job at The Astoria Pool for the summer. It paid fifty cents an hour which was minimum wage and for those only a few years from the Great Depression that was a lot of money especially for a kid. There was a couple of problems that had to be overcome. First of all my mother had a problem with me crossing Northern Blvd. where the RKO Keith's was located and this required me taking the bus and subway from Queensborough Hill Flushing into Astoria at all hours. The pool opened somewhere around noon and closed at ten in the evening. But she overcame her fear when she considered the fifty cents an hour being paid, remember that was a lot of moola to her.  The second problem was I had to get working papers which required proof of age, which was supposed to be fourteen meaning I was a year to young for working papers, and a physical. I don't know how they did it but mom and her brother gave me a birth certificate which proved I was fourteen and all I had to do was remember I was born one year later than I actually was born. The physical was my problem. For some reason the Doctors at the board of health were only women and they insisted in those days of testing for hernias which necessitated dropping ones draws and having the Doctor shove her finger behind one's testicles up your scrotum with the admonitions to turn your head and cough. Apparently I didn't have a hernia but when I coughed some phlegm when flying out of my mouth splatting against the wall. Well she didn't say to cover my mouth and what the hell I was only a street kid of thirteen. Anyway I passed the physical and got the job.

When I reported for my first day of work I was assigned a broom and little pick-up on a wooden handle and told to patrol the outside around the entrance keeping it clean. I wanted to go down into the pool area because that is where the guys were meeting all the girls but I was so good at my job as a garbage man they kept me on top never letting me come in contact with the girls in their bathing suits. Needless to say this was very disconcerting. I used to pray for rain because the pool would close and I could go bowling with my friends since I had some money from my summer job. The job was good though. I learned a lot from the older guys who let me know there were such a thing a gays (we called them different but I don't want to offend anyone) but I really didn't believe them. They also pointed out the "good girls" and the "bad girls" but because I was so young they never introduced me. Mom would've have a stroke if she knew what her little boy was picking up besides the garbage. By the way all teenage jobs required I turn in the pay to my mom and she would dole out whatever she thought was enough for me at the time. I never liked this arrangement but I found out later that she saved the money she kept and when I married she used it to pay for the reception as my wife's parents couldn't. Mom was always a saver.

There was a lull between that summer job and another job. Mom got me a job with a lady who lived around the block, at fifty cents an hour, to help her clean her house on Saturdays. When we got to the front windows my friends would wait on the sidewalk and hoot derision's at me to which this genteel lady would tell me they would be whistling out of the other side of their mouths when I would become rich and famous. Never happened but it was a good thought.

Worked for the first Italian super market that came The Hill in many capacities. Actually sold vegetables and fruit for a bit. Didn't know what I was doing but when the ladies would ask if this melon was ripe or not I'd expertly feel the end with my thumbs and say yes or no not knowing if it was so.  Some came back and said the melon was sweet and just right others would complain that I didn't know what I was doing, and they were correct. I stacked shelves, worked in the Butcher's place but only scrubbed down the blocks and swept the place they didn't trust me with any knives. Cleaning out the dairy freezer was disgusting as it was done once a week on Saturday nights and once you got close to it it really smelled of the sour milk and cheeses. BUT the job I liked the most was delivery. They had sturdy bikes, big baskets and the tips were very good better than the weekly pay. I managed to convince my mom it would be better for her to keep the whole pay if she let me keep the tips. I am ashamed to admit I lied about the amount of tips I was getting but one has to survive, doesn't one? Besides I was hitting the bars and pizzeria and really needed the money.

One summer I worked for my Uncle's dry cleaner. I called the job "Spotter's Assistant". Many clothes had dirt that the spotter couldn't get out and other mishaps such as vomit, feces blood and other types of human excrement on them. I would get about 100 garments a day in this condition that had to be hand washed. The three wash tubs and a big board was set up by the boiler. When July hit 95 degrees it was like 120 degrees where I was working. Had to change the water a lot. At the end of the day I waterproofed raincoats. Some needed hand washing they would be dipped into hot, hot water, then into cold then into the solution that had the waterproofing. I loved placing my arms up yo my biceps in the cold water. Two things, I was in great shape and the salary was upped to seventy-five cents an hour. I was pretty good at this and I used to get calls from dry cleaners on The Hill and Corona. The winter time at this job was warm like a hot summer day.

All those jobs kept me out of trouble and gave me a few bucks when I needed it. On top of it all I had plenty of time to play ball. Except for the fact that I couldn't play on Flushing High School's team because they practiced in the afternoon. Mom couldn't see me not working just to play ball. But there was plenty of time in the summer from six to nine when it would get dark and then Sundays when we'd play league games, PAL. OPEN CYO and the like. Yep Maria's blog mentioned at the start of this post evoked great memories.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Life & Death Is All About Growing

There were so many people ready to offer advice and information about subjects they had no personal experience. It really confused him as to why they thought they knew more about certain subjects than those who did have personal experiences. He also knew that personal experience wasn't a qualifier that anyone really knew all there was to know about any subject but it certainly helped, at least, in the understanding of any subject being discussed.

It really bemused him when people who had no children offered expert advice on to raise them or how parents should react in any given situation that had an impact on the child's life. Having walked the walk is completely different from those who talk the talk. A father who is totally committed to his children can understand without agreeing with any actions, how a father could become so frightened at the thought of the enormity of the task and devotion of being a steward of his child's life that he might break perhaps becoming unbalanced completely rejecting them. The task is enormous and it is for life while the role changes as the child ages the commitment never does. Some might think a relationship developed with children after they reached their formative years actually replaces a parent's experience from the beginning but it doesn't not even in a small way. Holding that little baby after it comes out of the mother's womb, working for success with the goal of providing love and a good life for this little lovable creature and being there through early illness and later joys and disappointments, trying to provide the guidance that will bring happiness in current and later life is a stake in that child's life from the very beginning. No matter how one might try to duplicate that one can't unless one moves in and shares the moments of joy, fears and accomplishments as they live life. Those who try to do this from a distance may think they have experienced a relationship between child and parent but they don't come close because they were always ready to love from afar and the relationship I am talking about only comes from living up close without ever walking away not even for a moment.

Sometimes one holds on to personal experience as the only clue to one's reality. He felt personal experiences should ever be evolving and used as a base leading to growth but that means one should be ready for new adventures and experiences allowing one to grow. When he was a young man he was a musician that held sway with older musicians who influenced his thinking about rock and roll. They convinced him it was a fad of the rise of rhythm and blues but would fade since they only used three or four basic chords and relied too much on the beat. Letting their personal experience influence his, he rejected rock & roll as a fad. How wrong they, he was. Only after he got out of the business of playing music he opened his ears to the sound of music and lo and behold rock and roll was really good. The Beatles were geniuses, The Moody Blues were really different and good. So he used his knowledge of music to appreciate the sounds and life of the art. He appreciated all kinds of music, Country & Western, Rock and the music it morphed into. He also returned to listening to classics and Opera. He knew though that he couldn't speak to actual creation and performing of the music he was listening to because his personal experience was limited. He could appreciate certain aspects more than others who had no personal experience but the ones like his sons who walked the walk of Rock could really know the experience so he would take a back seat to them unless they ventured into Jazz, The American Songbook, Sinatra, Goodman and the like. The point is that he was only a visitor with some background as it refers to certain type of music while he was somewhat of an expert on some other forms.

The one thing he has experienced in his life is the realization of how much he really does not know. The young seem to think they know everything or more than anyone who might disagree with them. While he realizes he knows very little he also realizes he has experienced life in all it's forms. Life that hold great joys, accomplishments and failures. Life that has a great part  of it being death. Death not being an end of life, of learning, but a new beginning. One thing he knew he could only talk the talk that came from his walk and he would remain silent to those who had other walks. By listening he would learn so much more.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mambo, Salsa and Other Latin Beats

He decided to go for a walk and listen to Songza which App he just downloaded on his iPhone. He got the ear pieces inserted into the phone easier than he got them into his ears but finally they settled in place. The hardest part of listening on Songza was choosing what to listen to, there was so many choices. One of the categories was Cuban & Puerto Rican music and that caught his fancy partially because that group always featured big brassy horns, trumpets screeching and reaching the high notes while the drums pulsated and drove the music to faster and faster beats. As a younger man he played in a few groups where he and his trumpet were welcomed because he had the tone and could reach a double C on occasion when the crowd was filling the dance floor with dances, Mambo, Salsa, and the sweat and senses were sent to new heights.
This was not what he did best. His best was sweet, good tone, dreamy romantic music a la, Bobby Hackett style. But when he was a bit high from scotch there was nothing like the solos he'd take while playing, "Cuban Mambo",  "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White", or "Oyo Como Va!".

He started his walk on a quiet street that led to a major thoroughfare. He really got a kick out of watching the people walk by all the older folks had a grouchy expression looking like they wanted to get somewhere, anywhere but where they were, fast. The younger ones, many high schoolers had the ear pieces stuck in their ears and were probably listening to their music, rap or something from Katie Perry he supposed. He couldn't understand why their expression was so stern, no smiles, no sign of enjoyment which he was sure they had but seemingly would not show it. He on the other hand was singing out the notes, or chuckling with delight as the trumpets reached what sounded like double F's. He could not stop his hands from emulating the drummers pulsating beat or the bongos being bonged.

Of course no-one but he could hear what he was listening to but what he heard made the day brighter, the little old ladies seem a bit younger, and the world around him just jump with life. As he was taking all that was around him as he walked the music brought him back to a time when he was on the stand and the last song of the night before they signed off with "Show Me The Way To Go Home" was a request made by this little Puerto Ricana gal who was stunning. She requested "Cherry Pink" and he was just drunk enough to play it just like the hit record with the glissando, the slurs and the off melody part ending with a double C that was true and clear and held for at least seven beats. She was dancing with a guy he didn't especially like just because he was dancing with her. The group went into "Show Me The Way To Go Home" and he gave the crowd the spiel for all to drive carefully and be careful going home and especially in bed. He was putting his horn in it's case when she came up to him and asked if he had a cigarette. He said sure and took one himself lighting both of them, just the way Paul Henried did in "Now Voyager"  he took it from his lips and gave it to her, she didn't shy away. He asked her where her dancing partner was and she said they argued and now didn't have any way of getting home. He offered to drive her, she mentioned she had some wine in her apartment and could only expect to thank me with a glass. They got to the apartment and she put on a soft light, put on Jackie Gleason's, Music For Lovers Only" and poured the wine. As the beautiful tone of Bobby Hackett came over them as did the wonderful smooth wine their lips met. Suddenly they were together in the throes of love both passionate and gentle at the same time.

He found himself at his door at the end of his walk and his reminiscences left him as soon as they came to him. He took the ear pieces out and stopped the music. His key found the lock and as he was opening the door he wondered what ever became of that beautiful Puerto Rican girl. Never saw her again and he was sure he should have because with her the music would always be furious, fun and hit the high notes or at least it would seem so based on that glorious night.