Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Meet Louis & Lena

I can't remember when I first Louis & Lena but it was before I could open my eyes. When I became aware of them it seemed that they were always there sort of like our idea of God, seemingly eternal. Louis was born December 1, 1901 and Lena was born November 21 1908. They were only 32 and 25 when I first met them but they always seemed so old to me I guess because I was so young. Know what I mean? But they had lives before I intruded on theirs I just never realized it. I guess it was all about "me" in my mind but it really wasn't was it?

Louis was born in Bari, Italy into a very large family who I guess one could say was poor but always had enough for meals. He finished what we would call elementary school but in those days didn't see the need to pursue a higher education. His father was a shoemaker, emphasis on maker not repairer, but he really didn't want to follow that career. As a young man he played Soccer (football), sang with a love for music especially Opera,. He knew all the Italian Operas and was not ashamed to cry, even when he was an older person, when the hero and heroine broke up or died. But he knew he wasn't going to have any life in Italy so he followed two of his sisters and brothers to Waterbury, Connecticut in the United States of America when he was 19 years old, in 1920. Can you imagine being a 19 year old going alone to a strange country where the customs and the language was so different from your own and getting aboard a ship's lowest deck where the living comforts were few and far between and having the courage to leave everything you know and love? I am not so sure I'd be able to do that but Louis did. His courage was strong as was his faith and love for his siblings who preceded him to this strange new land. While in Waterbury he worked in the local factory and lived among his fellow Italians and a large Polish community. He loved to dance especially the Tango and dated a few pretty Polish girls but eventually followed his siblings into New York where he eventually met Lena.

Lena was born in lower Manhattan into a very poor family who didn't always have much to put on the table except some soup which was made with some vegetables, water and a ham bone along with day old bread they could get from a local bakery. Their big meals with a lot of meat and spaghetti in the gravy were few and far between. The living children were including Lena were three boys and three girls. They grew up being very close and loving but not so much that they were above disagreements. Growing up in the Italian ghettos exposed Lena to the old Italian men who were drawn to her because even though she was only 5'1" her figure was ample and apparently tempting. But being a New York girl she was tough enough to fend off unwanted advances. She finished grade school which was an accomplishment in those days and went to work. She was a crochet beader a highly sort after position where the material of expensive dresses were spread across wooden frames called "horses" and would have the beads manually placed on the design with a crotchet needle. Around the middle of the 1920's Louis & Lena met.

They were both living in Corona a suburb of New York City which at the time was considered the country. A mutual friend introduced them and there was attraction immediately for Louis I guess the ample figure didn't hurt, for Lena she liked the fact he was so clean and gentlemanly. One day they met on the way to work where Louis tried to convince her to take off and spend the day together. (What happened to the guy who was so "gentlemanly?) But she coyly gave no indication that she knew he was testing her (was she a good girl?) and convinced him to meet for their first date, a walk in a nearby park. She and her mother argued about a chaperon, a person who would shadow them to make sure no hanky panky would go on, this was the custom of the day. They agreed no chaperon but her sisters would be placed in inconspicuous places in the park with their children and they would just happen to meet by chance. Needless to say they had a lovely walk and Louis met most of Lena's family.

They married in 1929, April I think. They were the first to have a catered reception, at Toffenetti's at Times Square New York. The place is no longer there but you could see it as you came out of the subway at 42nd. Street, on level above the tracks and a level below the sidewalk. The wedding dress and the tux were both rented. The families enjoyed the first catered non Italian Football wedding. The gifts ranged between $1 and $5. And everybody had a good time.

I met them five years later and as long as I knew them they were happy but they had their disagreements, heartaches but they had their joys and laughter. They had two boys, one a handful the other really a good guy. Louis and Lena were together until Jan. 1971 when Louis died. Lena nursed him for all of his sickness, it was tough but so was she. Lena lived some 36 years longer saying she didn't need another man to wash his socks but secretly she knew she didn't need another man because Louis was hers forever. I know deep down in my soul that they are together in that great dimension awaiting all of us who love.      


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's All About Love

My Facebook page gets a lot of "stuff" I don't want and I ignore. But it gets other "stuff that I find somewhat on the mark and I would like to share a few of the quotes  with my blog friends. They really do not any explanation as they are more than self explanatory for those who are in love or ever have been in love.

I don't care if I'm not your first. All I want is to be your last!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Unrecognized Superheroes of Our World

He left the movie house chuckling to himself. The Superheroes, The Iron Man, Thor, Spider Man and their likes all had powers to beat the bad guys with eclat, a show of power and superiority. He was chuckling because he knew that many, children and adults alike, wished secretly they could be Superheroes or at least be a Robin to someone's Batman. Or at least know one of the real Superheroes. Little did they realize they probably have chanced upon, or even know a real Superhero but they never recognized them because they did it all quietly and efficiently without bullets and fanfare. But life's Superheroes continue to go unheralded without fanfare living a life of heroism without really knowing they are doing great things.

He knew a guy who wanted to be a rock musician and worked at it but his day job had him playing for old frail people, playing songs they knew and loved certainly not rock. Maybe someday he will be as popular as Dylan or Paul but for now that isn't to be. Some might be bitter about this but this guy isn't. He plays for his audience singing their songs with love and glee and fun in his heart and soul. The measure of his success may never be known to him but to some who talk to some of his audience hear how much they appreciate him and some even love him. No there is no jumping up in wild applause these people just haven't got the energy for this but there is just that going on in their hearts. Yes, this young musician is a Superhero spreading joy while releasing the chains of age and sickness as he plays and sings for those who can't sing or dance the way they once could but he lifts their hearts and spirits so that for a brief but joyful moment their spirits sing within where their youth still lies.

He found his car in the movies parking lot and he was still musing to himself about these silent Superheroes when his mind drifted to two beautiful young ladies he knew who worked in a beauty salon in the same place the musician played. The fail residents would come to them in their wheel chairs and for another brief moment their spirits would be lifted as these beauticians would bend over their chairs and dye the hair, cut the hair, style the hair and for as long as they could the residents would feel like they felt when they were young, going out on dates, alive for another day. The beauticians would be bending over and their backs would be hurting, I am sure, yet they were always of good cheer even when some resident unknowingly would strike out trying to hit them.

Driving home from this Superhero movie his mind caught a glimmer of his own family, cousins who quitely fought in the big war and left wounded or the cousin who gave up his dream of playing ball because he knew he had to provide for the girl he loved and the family they were sure to have. He became a cop and even though there was no Bat signal on the moon he was there to chase the drunken driver and perhaps run towards danger while we ran from danger. He thought of his own brother who wanted the best for his mother even when he himself was dying from cancer.

His car came to a stop in front of his house. He got out and proceeded to the front door where he proceeded to unlock it. As he entered the darkened house he thought his life was certainly filled with light by the Superheroes he has encountered who are doing the little things that need to be done or this civilization of his would crumble.  As he finally got into bed he chuckled to himself because a silly picture was needed to make him realize that his life was full of Superheroes and he was so thankful for them.      


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hazing Now Called Bulling

Let me make one thing clear while what has happened in Football (Martin?Incognito) does include bullying it is the ritual of hazing. Bullying among children are encouraged by these football players as they gang up on weaker individuals who do not have a strong support system. This is intolerable and should be stopped by the adults, Parents, Teachers Police and the like. What I want to do is take the Miami Dolphin's situation and explore that and what it really is, and how it has come to this ridiculous situation where the media, sportswriters, educators and the establishment express surprise while most knew about and condoned it for as long as it has existed.

The initiation process into any new environment, society, athletic team or any group effort always had what is called hazing. Wikipedia defines hazing in the following way:

Hazing is the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group. Hazing is seen in many different types of social groups, including gangs, sports teams, schools, military units, and fraternities and sororities. In the United States and Canada, hazing is often associated  (college fraternities and sororities). Hazing is often prohibited by law and may comprise either physical abuse(possibly violent) or psychological abuse. It may also include nudity or sexually-oriented offenses.

Take this into the locker room of testosterone jazzed up men who have spent their lives being told that they should be a "man", "man up", "don't be a girl", and we have what has been going on in football but not only football but all the areas specified in the Wikipedia definition.

As to college hazing refer to the following Washington Post article:

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Unbelievable. Can't convince me that College officials didn't know that hazing was going on.
The nauseating fraternity/sorority stories  – many of them involving hazing — just keep on coming. The latest is from Wilmington College in Ohio, where three pledges of Gamma Phi Gamma who were taken to the basement of the fraternity, called “Gobbler House,” and subjected to a series of miserable exercises, including being blindfolded, told to […]

Click on to the page and see how many other Colleges are experiencing Fraternities hurting by hazing.

These activities have been going on forever and if they officials in charge of the institutions continue to say they don't know about it they lie because if everyone, from students and players know about it certainly the people who run the schools, teams and what have you know about it and if they don't they should be stripped of their positions.

If we as a collective society find these stories horrifying then we as a collective society should take an active role in raising our children. For the boys we should stop defining being a man as a virile, womanizing, brow beating unfeeling individuals. The mantra shouldn't be "winning is everything" but play the game to the best of your ability always fairly and not cheating. For the girls we should stop telling them to be successful they have to be tough like the guys. We have to stop telling them that being popular is worth giving up pride and following the guys wherever the guys might lead them. And most of all being popular with their female friends should never compromise their individual values and mores.

To our professional athletes and entertainers we should let them know that their sport or field of endeavour is not life, not death, it is after all just a game or a method of providing entertainment for which they are well compensated so that the general populace can get on with the meaning of life which is providing food, shelter, clothing love, most important love, so that the human race can survive and become what the human race can be a loving caring society for all who live in this world.

Yes the hazing thing is going on in this world of ours and people are getting hurt some even losing life. If we as a society can't make the changes starting with our kids and ending with not supporting those in any form of public life who continue to bring moral values, such as respect and love for our brothers, down to the basest levels then the practice shall continue, people will continue to hurt and get hurt and we as a society must share the collective blame.



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

At Any Age Stay Young At Heart


We all know the phrase "Young At Heart", there was a hit song of the same title. Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Durante had hit singles of that song. While Sinatra" rendition was a mega hit Durante's lives on longer being accepted by the listener as a truly masterful interpretation by an understanding performer. Durante's gravely voice actually brought out he meaning of the song better than Sinatra's smooth rendition because here was an old timer speaking of what he knew and it wasn't just connected with romance.

Some two thousand years earlier a young fellow named Jesus said the same thing when he instructed his close friends that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven they would have to become "childlike". He didn't say childish which can be annoying and irritable. He meant like a child's awe and wonder of all things around him like the trees, the stars, the wish to laugh, be happy and the trust that those who loved would always love and care for one another.

Being "Young At Heart", "Childlike", means having hope that what will be will be better than what was no matter how good or bad the situation might be. Sometimes we might forget that smiling is healthier than frowning and that depression kills while hope, trust and love uplifts and makes everything around us so much better. The sun is brighter, the music is even more pleasurable and uplifting in it's sound and we can accomplish things thought impossible because we had dreams and lived our desires.

To Hope is to expect things might get better. To Trust is to know things will be better….
It can happen to you
If youre young at heart.
For its hard, you will find,
To be narrow of mind
If youre young at heart.
You can go to extremes
With impossible schemes;
You can laugh when your dreams
Fall apart at the seams;
And life becomes exciting with each passing day,
And love is either in your heart… or on its way.
Dont you know that its worth
Every treasure on earth
To be young at heart?
For, as rich as you are,
Its much better by far
To be young at heart.
And, if you should survive
To a hundred and five,
Look at all youll derive
Just by being alive!
Now, here is the best part:
You have a head start
If you are amongst the very young…
At heart.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Reflections On A Life Well Lived

He really had no complaints. He grew up in the nicest neighborhood. Way back when the place was dotted with empty lots, plenty of trees and single family houses. Only ten miles from New York City yet it was country. Had a public school with a great schoolyard where all the guys learned how to play softball, fast pitch, stickball, handball and basketball.  You learned how to fight there too. But no gangs and no grudges. The guy who beat you or you beat him was the first guy you picked for the pick-up softball game the next day. The high school was only a mile and a half away and in those days was great.

The neighborhood was his second family, everyone knew everyone and looked out for each other. What was great he had a great family he was born into. The fact that it was just he and his brother with a Mother and Father who were always there for them didn't mean his growing up didn't include a grandmother, plenty of uncles and aunts and great cousins who seemed more like brothers and sisters made his growing up a swinging affair with lots of laughs, yelling, kissing and food great food with plenty of servings of music.

His first love was Baseball. He never made it past "Open Y" ball and an offer from Dem Bums (Brooklyn Dodgers) for a trip to Class D but at least he had a shot which he turned down because Class D probably meant he'd become a baseball bum before a major leaguer. So he turned to music his second love and he tooted his horn for the Army Band for two years, played local gigs even had a few songs published which never went anywhere. He did have the pleasure of playing ball and music, before crowds. Baseball before a crowd of a couple of hundred once in an all star game for one of the YMCA leagues. Played before a group of Three Hundred as a soloist in the Army and as many as there might be as a member of a wedding band. He always remembers the big hand his solos got and even one time in Baseball when he made a sensational catch and threw a runner out at home. Good memories!

In the business world he even had the rush of being a young man on the rise for an Independent Motion Picture company. Became Assistant Treasure at thirty one. Traveled all over the world in this capacity and felt the rush of success that didn't last longer than fifteen years but he enjoyed every minute of it. The special moments he really savors comes when the young attorney, the only attorney, was going through a nervous breakdown and could not function at all times and he wrote the contacts and negotiated some deals. For a year he practiced corporate law and acted as a salesman. None of his deals ever fell through nor were any of his contracts challenged. He even participated in selecting pictures offered to the firm as part of a team

At a later stage he got into acting and taught for two years as an Adjunct at a Community College. He really enjoyed performing. Some of the larger crowds he performed before were as large as five hundred and once or twice only two or three. The one movie he made for satellite played the I Max at Lexington Ave, but not for long. Another movie is still playing in some foreign countries. Never made too much money but met some stars and some that were on the rise. No complaints.

With all that was going on the best thing that he ever experience was this Hot, Beautiful Puerto Ricana whom he pursued until she caught him and spent the next fifty years raising their brood and loving deeply and strongly. She loved her kids greatly and he did also but he let her love shine through he figured his kids would get to know how he felt towards them He was always there, faithful as she was, they understood a loving long term relationship. His kids recognized that faithfulness and fidelity not because it was a burden but freely given and they have returned it a hundredfold. He always felt she left too early but when the Master calls we gotta go. No regrets.

All this was done through the Spring, Summer and Autumn of his life. Now he is in the Winter of his life but he isn't going to lie in the snow of age and fall asleep peacefully. His life was full of love, romance, laughs, personal achievements and he saw no reason to let that stop. He knew he couldn't play sports or music anymore but he could view it and listen to it and appreciate the fervor of the fans and the heights a good trumpet solo can raise one to. Many feel that the Winter of one's life should not feel the hot breath of love and should settle for companionship. He felt if the situation arose why not jump in the water and take a swim as long as there is a willing partner who wants to share a life full of love and trust, regardless of age. There was much to share, to give, to receive.

Looking back on his life he had no regrets. Everything he wanted to taste he did. Maybe some things were not a full meal but sometimes a taste or two is better than not having the sense of the great bouquet and aroma any part of living can give. But he was not looking back he was looking ahead. Hopefully he will continue to have his special someone to share the future's great surprises until, of course, one closes one's eyes and slips into eternity.