Friday, May 30, 2008

Recreation: Bronx Stardust













As stardust is the particles in the environment so is
Bronx Stardust
about the bits and pieces that are falling from bigger bodies. These are the fragments of and left overs from main issues, bodies and lives of the times. These are the crumbs from the table where you can only imagine the weight, substance and ingredients of the main dish. The real story has already been lived, the real place is already remodeled and reconfigured so all that remains is the stardust left behind and un-noticed by the the ebb and flow of social forces. If these are the crumbs we can only wonder what was the meal. If this is the stardust what was the heavenly body. As science gathers the stardust I have gathered my recollections of the details of time, place and a space labeled the Bronx.

Recreation

By Barie Fez-Barringten
www.bariefez-barringten.com

Many in the middle of the twentieth century predicted that recreation would become a major industry and national pastime to accommodate retired, underemployed and
unemployed persons.

It was reasoned that the efficiencies gained from industry and technology would supply society’s needs and make man’s labor partially redundant. And so was born nationalized retirement, recreation and varieties of welfare. In his first days as the leader of the Catholic Church Pope John exhorted government's and industry leaders to use there creativity to employ societies people. He saw the results of countries economic sloth on millions of people whose lives were being squandered because there nation could not create an atmosphere in which its people could lead healthy and productive lives. Of course, I later realized that this was the goal of communists states as well, to have 100% employment.

So the issue of recreation has changed my life as it has millions of others in affluent societies and globalizing world. In our stardust world this news was welcomed and somewhat disbelieved. Bronx stardust was already creative and dynamic and did not seem in need of being useless and out of touch. What was being offered was synthetic , made up and institutionalized. Very boring! I too “love the world”! “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whomsoever shall believe on Him shall not perish”. But God also coupled that with “be in but not of the world”. But God does so love the world and recreation in the world is an anti-anomie way of loving and loosing the “blues” of anomie. It is truly a dilemma of paradox in the experience of God’s gifts. The gift and blessing of the arts was a refuge from life and robbed me of the reality of God and His wonders as a child while it was the very source of pleasure, understanding and eventually profession. In other words the distraction became the life itself.

Secularism with flesh, sex and consumerism dominated the western world even in the seventeenth century and certainly loomed its tenacious head in the industrial revolution permeating music and media manifesting pornography, nightclubs, , radio, movies, magazines, newspapers, recreation and recreational sex and recreational relationships. Recreation is a metaphor that includes cultures and societies in righteous relationships. It is an anti-alienation dimension to civilization that makes the strange familiar and each talking about one person in terms of another. We become familiar and linked in both deeds and imagination. From athletics, sports and the arts to travel, dinning and entertainment.

On my first day in High School, The band teacher, Joseph Trunz visited our homeroom classroom and announced that any student joining the band would be in the band for the whole time in High School excused attending gym class. My hand went up immediately. I said yes. I had hated gym in public and junior high and this was an offer I could not refuse! I think this tells you what I think of sports, physical exercise, etc. Sports is a public areas where rural values enter the urban context and where my urban self never really caught the vision. The vision of people talking about things, hero, plays and strategies that was of no apparent value to me. On the other hand where classical dance became ballroom, popular rural square dance and hillbilly blue grass. I was able to relate to all these forms. Indeed, the crossovers are interesting and exciting

Spectator sports exhibited in urban settings on grass fields as Football, Baseball, soccer, golf, etc. I have attended these and never found them of interest. They were not the reality I sought.Recreation has been an opportunity for people to express themselves; especially the audiences in theaters and spectator sports. It is the secular and worldly attempt at the Holy Spirit‘s generation, regeneration and counsel. While recreation is an ancient antidote to individual, family, and national malaise I never found this malaise in my life. Yet I knew I needed re-creation. Re-creation was of interest. The big difference is that regeneration by recreation requires expenditure of resources, work, energy and personal involvement while Holy Spirit regeneration God does the work while we reap the benefits and emerge refreshed and whole. Much of re-creation is hard work and perfect for the retired workaholic.

In the New York City metropolitan area from my birth year in 1937 there was wide variety of efforts made to refresh the middle working class. And with that many landowners converted, deeded and sold their land for profit and tax benefits. These lands then were converted to recreational uses. Beaches such as Rye Beach Park with Rye beach Playland; an art deco style built park in 1930’s by the Boston post road historic district. I would go to Rye beach with Arlene. During this time the music of Perry Como played on the radio. I also attended Camp Cricklewood; in Westchester County where I was a camp counselor to the child of Patty Page the singer and my cousin Susan. I would go to Rye Playland on dates with one of the female counselors. Of course I visited New Jersey’s Palisades where I met Tony Bennett I was a matre’d for one summer while attending Pratt at a hotel in the mountains near Liberia, New York I attended a dude ranch named Wildwood in the country


Entertainment and consuming culture

All the things I did before exposing my self to the classics was a metaphor of “Things to Come”. I learned from my parents and our relationship, entertainment and work what the classrooms could not provide. They were “schools” disciplining for a class and societal metaphor. My experience with entertainment and recreation always gave me a standard by which to learn new things. New things must become songs and transfers to become personalized and reified from outside to inside and from words to picture, sound, texture, weight, mass, and action. I spent much of life as a manager of business and projects. Teaching and managing were kinds of songs and transfers.

I was not always amused by entertainment, but let it culture me because it felt good and satisfied curiosity. It communicated to me. I yearned to hear who I was. As the essence of education is to “bring out”. I was part of a new family listening to the same thing, having a common vocabulary of words and metaphors. Entertainment was compensation for anomic attacks in a changing society. This payment itself becomes a context upon which to rely as unchanging and unengaged in societal values and standards. It is not standard and outside of changes. However, it reflects, reports, confirms, explains and sympathizes with the rifts. Today’s entertainment has become rallies of like-minded aliens and victims of a society in crisis. An anomic episode of epic proportions. An anomic atonement and often an anomic proclamation and outcry. It is popular because many people are experiencing the same thing and welcome being fed with diversion and side shows parallel with ongoing real life.

Compensation is a payment for a service or loss in biology as when one organ makes up for the loss or dysfunction of another. In psychology when I behave to offset a real or imagined deficiency of personality or physical ability. Actors, performer singers, musicians replace their own identities with pretended personas in order to relieve and act out an identity. In any case, I sang, mimicked, memorized radio, music and enjoyed the city, etc. to supplant relationships that were missing and/or being severed and incarnate imaginary context and ideas. I was preoccupied secularizing my self by what was brought before me. When my mother would be upset I’d go to my room and listen to music and the radio. It became a New World away from the harsh realities. I learned to relate to the voices on the records and radio. They became my companion and some I could have with me as the bread and they the meet. They were always with me. I was incomplete without one or another of them as a sandwich without its filling in no sandwich I was not a person I'’ recognize without "“entertainment and recreational support" ”So what I learned as a child continued as I matured; to hear, memorize and repeat including the intonations, slang, twang, pronunciations, tone, etc.

My high school music teacher, Mr. Joseph Trunz told me and announced to the class that I had perfect pitch. He said I had the ability to I could recognize a precise pitch of isolated tones( as established by its rate of vibration measured on a standard scale) . Perfect pitch was why I enjoy hearing classical music and music of all kind. The more exotic the better.

Much of recreation and entertainment was meant to amuse and occupy in me in an agreeable, pleasing, or entertaining fashion. It was a luxury and places to retreat away form the reality of stress, neglect, tension and confrontation. Verbs such as amuse, entertain, and divert, and refers to actions that provide pleasure, especially as a means of passing time. And with radio, TV, records, and movies I sure did pass a lot of time. Amusement directed my attention away from serious matters including reading, mathematics, geography, history, science, etc. I indulged in a many acts of entertainment that furnished amusement: and this amusement diverted and distracted me from worrisome thought.

Operations of Recreation

As a child I tried to create equipoise because I did not know peace. Just like the song by Hogy Carmichael, “Georgia on my Mind”

“Georgia, Georgia, no peace do I find
Just and old sweet song
Keeps “Georgia” on my mind”

The truism of the song is that it is the song that keeps “____________” on my mind. You fill in the blank. It was the music, radio, movies, stage shows, and glitz and glitter that calmed and filled my heart and mind so that nothing else would fit. Those lessons I learned then are still on my mind.

  • I was all flesh and uncomfortable with it.
  • I longed for peace and found none.
  • I had trouble sleeping and feared so many things.
  • I had no peace.

My time was preoccupied with hanging drapes, disc jockeying and radio announcing, dancing romancing, singing, etc. When I could not sleep I roamed the streets exploring and learning about my neighborhood. My compulsions and anxieties became the force for learning and developing design, drawing, and acting talents. I always was a natural teacher, manager and researcher looking for equipoise. Why would I need all of the relationships that media had to offer? I was scared, alone, and vulnerable and felt unprotected. Media was a signal that at all times “life” was out there. I was not alone. Someone was always alive some where and I could hear that person confirming life.

Bronx Metaphors: (830 words)

Thinking that I am the thing that is around me.

Personalizing the created world with its objects and systems meant making the reality of my identity that which I sensed and understood. I saw myself in terms of what I could perceive and gave very little regard for my own peculiarities and behaviors. Who I looked like, sounded like and behaved like mattered more than my own appearance, sound or behavior. It was a way of escaping, covering up hiding low self-esteem and ignorance. Little was done to “bring out” Barie so Barie emulated, copied, impersonated others into a mindless cliché of behaviors, images and formations. Life was the consumption and processing of these inputs. There was nothing that was not a metaphor. I lived from stereotypes and became stereotype mimicker and carrier.

I Overcame alienation with art, metaphors and trust. I lived in a world without agreements, consensus, accord and belief. From home and neighborhood to school and jobs there was always a caveat of mistrust and strangeness which music, art, poetry and movies could overcome. The metaphors made the strange familiar by me relating to them in terms of the art form. When I sang a song the singer and the song became familiar. This familiarity in a strange world became a bridge to the strange world. A world in which I was an alien. An alien because I did not trust myself nor the contexts. Hence, I the need for either real or imaginary connections .

Between 1952-1958 Holland Ave was the last childhood metaphor. Up to then I measured my self and my identity to the rooms, building, neighborhood, borough, city and country. Today I remember my self as a product of the NYHC urban ghetto; South Bronx; and, particularly the tenement dwelling and street/hood context. The cavern created by five and six story walk up tenements centered in blocks defining streets with gutters and sidewalks in front and alleys in back. I can also relate to my Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn neighborhood in Hunts Point, which was a rural urb fringe only, connected to urban hub up by a trolley and a cobble stone boulevard called Hunts Point Boulevard. My father was my personal metaphor and Tony Martin was his surrogate. Dad’s cars were his trophies and means to earn a living. We cared for them and presented them on the streets as monuments to those in our neighborhood. It was my father’s business and his cars were his store and merchandise. It represented the distinction from others whose father’s labored in a factory or office. As an employer, my Father was independent of that.

Using and making metaphors:

The things I see, perceive and understand make the strange familiar. Though real and functional I can recall something other than this moment and the apparent identity of the thing's manifest reality.

I not only use metaphors but metaphors give my world value and pause to ponder and wonder. The metaphors of my environment are in the music, dance, paintings, cars, buildings, interiors, cloths, and foods. They transport me from the function at hand to what could be or was. They are what I think of when I sense the world around me. Each item I sense is a potential of its own use and its potential. It is both itself and another possibility. It speaks about one thing in terms of another. Metaphors are useful, functional, and healthy. I enjoy and experience metaphors. I have both used and made metaphors. I learned to fear and resent clichés and the potential I had toward stereotypes. In a way most of these memoirs are descriptions of the metaphors of my life that were either they’re for me to discover, create or imagine.

They were the contexts, family, friends, females, professions, recreation, etc In telling my story I tell what was significant distinctive about my life. I give the importance that it had in my perception and recollection. These metaphors are my thoughts and pillars giving my life its value and character. It is by these metaphors I know my life and through them that I have lived.

Trains, trolleys, cars, building countries, songs, instruments have all been the elements composing the symbols and meanings I look toward for identity. My room, house, cloths, suit, girlfriend, car, hat, pictures, etc all were bridges between the world context and me. Each thing made the strange world familiar and engaged me in a dialog of contextual language of things and stuff.

Bronx Art and Media Culture

As a child, my first exposure to painting and drawing was at school and television. Jon Nagy had classes on the television and I bought his art kit and learned art from the kit and watching his demonstrations on television. But I was stiff and awkward. I learned the techniques he demonstrated.Many in my classes at school were innately talented and gifted. I was not. What I did was build stages, make spaces out of boxes. I had no idea of art and its depths and complexities. It was all play and fantasy. I could day dream and control an environment. I loved to do this and would make so many variations. I went to the Museums and looked. Yes, art was every where; on the walls of theatres, shops, schools, and on my mothers round metal manicure box.

There was a time when art was sponsored and used by the church and nobility to represent themselves as the characters and personalities of the stories in the bible. Art was used to legitimize religion and religious leaders by depicting them and there costumes in the roles of bible characters. Museums and books are written on this subject. The works of art are used to metaphorically speak about one thing in terms of another and there fore in this instance to misrepresent and mislead. It gave the impression that church leaders and leading merchants were saints and incarnations of characters from the bible. The art defined these people. Media and corporations legitimize products, lifestyles, behaviors, consumption and dependence on commerce; industry, government, etc use Art. In this way much of today’s culture is synthesized and controlled rather than evolved and natural to the context. As art’s early ancestors, art is once again under the service and will of the new royalty of commerce and industry.

Yet the Bronx was filled with charm and romance that endures till today. It is complex but rooted in its German, Swedish culture and investments of its heroic past. As a child I enjoyed cartoons and could imagine my ancestors on ”Tinker trolley” by Al Capp based on a real person who lived in Brooklyn who lost his leg named Frank Frazzetta. Al Capp was born in New Haven where I later went to school. The other metaphor was “Toonerville Trolley by Fontaine Fox of Louisville Kentucky which ran from 1908 to 1955 and based on historic Pelham where I lived, swam, rode horses and schooled. The cartoon featured a lady who spoke in broken German (as Christina) and they lived in gatehouse of trolley on the tracks. It has always been by soul metaphor for home and good family relations, intimate, bizarre and tolerant. Where the couple communicated in simple but often misunderstood quips but still loved and supported one another. To me that explained the ideal home.

In those years the extent of Technical gadgets included Wire Lights; Multiple Radios For Stereo Sound; Colored Light Bulbs; Wire For Switching of Phonograph and Radio; Shadow Box with Cut Our Sets and Lights; Use Of Old Doors and Construction Lumber; and Orange Crate Boxes In Sun Parlor As Partitions/Storage.

One of the earliest experiences I had with devises was a product called “Tru-view” by looking into the binocular lenses and with roll of film in the front of the viewer and holding it up to any light source you could see three dimension still views of such things as Yosemite National Park, Mickey Mouse, etc. this along with my 16 mm projector and its accompanying Charlie Chaplain movies was a wonder media event for me. I would buy these films and urge my family and friends to share these experiences with me. It was so much fun. The Tru-view viewer was a plastic ivory and brown and the 35-mm film rolled tightly like microfilm. It had to be inserted into the viewer and then one by one you could see the pictures. I would often put ON nice classical music and look in the viewer. I would show it to my parents and bother, It had words on the film describing what we were seeing. I bought many films.


Naming all the icons does occupy a great deal of pages but there are few which remain after all is said and done. Toni Martin for being a little boys good father and Jonnie Ray for calling me out of the doldrums of the tenements.

Shore Haven Beach Club:

Shorehaven faced Classon Ave. and after showing your card you could enter. You faced a green midway, which was flanked on either side by a paved walkway. To the left were the men’s and family cabanas, lockers and showers while to the left the brick two story buildings housing the women’s lockers, showers and dressing rooms. At the end of this building was the office, which housed the PA system, playing the music we heard on the speakers through out the park? Continuing on this side was the open decks of chairs. At the end of the green midway were the surround horseshoe levels holding Adorondex wooden beach chairs and in front of them was the enormous swimming pool. After the pool was an overhead walkway giving you a view of the sound to the south and the pool to the north connecting the huge cafeteria and the band stand and picnic area. Continuing to ward the sound and behind the band stand were the wooden four wall hand ball courts, shuffle board courts and fields for playing basket ball, soccer, etc.

For many summers from 1948 when my father first bought a family pass we would go every day arriving before it opened to be fist in the pool. It was here I taught my brother to swim and met good friends like Donald. We used all the facilities and loved to play shuffleboard and go to the great shows on the weekends. Mom would come later with rotisserie chicken, potato salad; pots of food, sandwage, and Dad would sometime bring White Castle hamburgers.

We would dance in the daytime and evenings to live bands. One evening a week Piute Pete would call Square dances. I bought his records and memorized most of his songs including Duck for the Oyster””; Buffalo Gal”; etc. It was here I met and the most beautiful girls including Joyce Gelbart. I was a star because I was a great dancer, swimmer and all around handsome guy.

It was here that a hypnotist hypnotized me and taught me to hypnotize others, where I learned to kiss pretty girls, and where I learned to dance and teach others. There major lightning storms and my mother screamed as we hit the floor when wind and rain smothered the cafeteria. The sounds of Al Martino, Don Cornell, Theresa Brewer, Jo Stafford, and Rosemary Clooney filled the air with “Comana My House”, Here In My Heart, I’m Yours, Shrimp Boats, You belong To Me, Tzena, Irene, etc. Shore Haven was family, friendly and romantic. We were often the first and last to leave.

I loved the weekends and would really schmooze with the entertainers. Not only getting their autographs, but also talking to them and asking them a thousand questions. They would return year after year and remembered me. There was one really big beautiful girl who loved to show dance with me so she could strut her stuff. She showed me how to dance to make her look good. The other girls flock around and I took turns dancing with them all. They were great. We were all friends having great summers. My mother and I danced here a lot, she too enjoyed our times, and it gave her the rest and relaxation she so well had earned.

Home development is surging at the site of the former Shore Haven Beach Club in Sound view Later, Shore Haven was New York City’s first modular housing development and the largest of its kind in the Northeast United States. It is a 47-acre Bronx site, directly on the East River.


My Shore haven best friend was Donald who had two beautiful sisters and was my best friend at Shore Haven. He lived on Theriot Ave. in a private house at the interchange of the Classon Ave. and Westchester Ave. bus to go to Shore Haven. I visited his hose. His parents has removed the dividing wall from there living to dine room and added mirrors to the whole wall of there living room, the sister s were very flirtatious and we had great fun together. I took man picture of Donald and Saul, which does to trick photography I had learned, miniaturized their size. We swam, played four wall handball, and Shuffleboard. Donald was a great sport and his parent and sisters were very friendly toward me. There were stage shows at Shore Haven on the weekends and at the stage square dancing and other events.

From the time I was a little boy until they stopped in the fifties I went to practically every stage show there was. The theaters were in Manhattan on or near Broadway built as movie theatres of converted vaudeville houses.

They featured one ”A” rated movie followed by a first class stage show. Usually, “B” or “C” quality class movies were shown at neighborhood local theaters. Occasionally, later the “A” movies would play the local theaters but with out a stage show. They were the equivalent of royal urban churches, with royal decoration and latest technology for amplification and magnification. The entertainers were spiffy and popular. They exuded urban vocabulary and explained the highlights and benefits of the urban context. The power, pomp and pageantry of the productions renewed me. They were lavish.

The theaters were the Roxy; Strand; Paramount; Radio City. These shows presented the latest in the popular singers and bands of the day preceded by dancers, comedians, etc. Each theatre had an orchestra pit and excellent spotlights that shine on the stage in so many different sizes and colors. The term “blue smoke” arises from the smoke showing on the light beams. The Typically as the last projected movie image was ending the music from the pit would start and the connoisseurs like me would be keenly watching the special effects of the curtains being drawn, and back lights coming on. The stage show was starting. It could open with the orchestra playing while some dancers came out or by an announcer coming on stage to announce the evening’s events. It was in such a mammoth scales and scope that my heart would beat and eyes pop. I was thrilled and by the time people like Louis Prima, Jonnie Ray, Toni Bennett, etc. got on I was in orbit. It was television that ended all of this and more. I am not here talking about the legitimate theater on or Off-Broadway or vaudeville, which had already been decimated by radio; many of radio’s stars were ex-vaudevillians. Yes I did follow the shows to the Ed Sullivan theatre, etc. Radio City Music Hall is the only one that endured and survived. It was my favorite theatre then and it is today. The other theaters were gorgeous and wonderful but it was the show and the special effects that we sought. Radio City has it all.

Even I won a talent contest for singing on the stage of the Loews’s Boulevard when I was fourteen. I won a years supply of bologna Bubble gum for singing: ”Mammoiselle” (originally sung by Frank Sinatra). I shared the gum with the few friends that would accept such a gift. The rest we stored for a long time.

Between 1939-40 the New York World's Fair marks a significant moment in American history and my personal life.

As the nation looked backward over the scarred landscape of the depression and outward to ominous clouds gathering in Europe, the Fair offered a vision of tomorrow that was clean, safe, and brimming with consumer goods.

I was a child, but an impressionable and feisty child.

My mother recalls my running away and getting lost at this event.

I recall the images and experience of what I saw and heard. It is only in retrospect that any of the more subtle concepts of the fair made and sense, but the impact of the overall ethos and gestalt of opportunism and belief that it all was possible were born here.

I became a believer and looked for the fulfillment of these possibilities and potentials.

Money and effort was no object. We had a lifetime and the power.

Under the shadow of the gleaming Perisphere and Trylon, the New York World's Fair depicted futuristic technologies such as television and the interstate highway system while displaying the crafts and products of its day.

The fact is the technology existed and needed to be marketed so that the industrial complex could build and equip its factories for mass production of inexpensive and affordable products that can be consumed by the masses. I was one of the masses.

These two monuments were retained in Lake Success and many of Roosevelt’s meetings were held in Lake Success.

My father had many customers who he drove to and from Lake Success.

To go to this fair was to have your life changed forever.

It was there that I was amazed by a General Motors vision of 1960 (I asked my mother whether I'd still be alive at that distant time in the future), by mighty Railroads on Parade and Railroads at Work, by climbing up to look into the cockpit of a real airplane, by witnessing for the first time something called television

For me The Fair was an adventure, as well as an actuality that spoke of the future, "the world of tomorrow”.

"In the darkest days of the Depression, the organizers dreamed of orderly hygienic cities and houses.

Bronx Play

Play is the action of lightly and briskly wielding as it may astonish and catch an opponent off guard.

Play is also to exercise an operate oneself with allusion of the other senses.

At its ideal the activity of play is and expresses freedom is unrestricted and unsupervised. Undirected, spontaneous and random.

It is not a game with rules and mental or physical competition.

The below list of activities was acted out with little or no consequence and occasionally resulted in beatings and severe punishment by my Mother. However, they persisted as the normative weave of life and making of the context in which I was to call my mental and spiritual home. I never thought my mother did not love me but that she was determined to thwart evil in my life.

I did not know who I was or who appreciated what I did, but I liked doing these things.

They made me happy.

For the moment in which I played the world in which I lived was real and genuine.

I was authentic and could understand the matter in front of me. I could control and see the outcomes.

I consider “play” originating the experiences of the subject and noun of metaphors. It built the vocabulary by which I think and reckon.

List of Bronx Play:

  • Exploring The Neighborhood Before Sunrise
  • Building Interior Rooms In Sun parlor
  • Marbles Round On Table
  • Collecting Records
  • Lighting Design In House With Wires, Sockets And Bulbs
  • Following The Big Boys
  • Singing Songs, Commercials
  • Listening To The Radio
  • Sleigh Riding
  • Little Red Wagon
  • Learning To Swim At The YMCA
  • Marcel Tissue Box Stage Design
  • Puppets And Ventriloquism
  • Playing With Cats
  • Investigating Dish And Food Pantry
  • Shopping
  • Throwing rocks at things
  • Skimming rocks over bodies of water
  • Sliding and skidding on ice, snow and sand
  • Skipping
  • Running and leaping
  • Digging and piling earth up
  • Chasing cats and dogs
  • Racing by running with friends
  • Board games such as Monopoly and Chinese checkers
  • Miniature golf with Dad and Saul: about 1951; at course on Boston Post Road at Colden; just a ½ block from White Plains Road Elevated. We were amongst the first customers of this course and we went regularly. It was so special. We felt that we were doing something very special. I remember Saul being very good at the game. I was not. It was a dignified look at what life could have been like if we were a normal family. At some point we stopped and later the course was abandoned and removed. Since I could see the sight from my bedroom window or when I drove to Arlene’s or walked to Eileen I looked at the place and wondered what ever happened to the owner.

Street Games:

Aside from roller-skating, bike riding, stick ball, and fighting we played hide n'seek, and ring a leeve e o.

Our roller skates had four metal wheels and needed a skate key that made the skate clamp tightly to our shoes. We skated for hours up and down the street until it felt like the skates were part of our feet. When you took them off, it felt like you were still skating.

Games we played outside were hide-and-seek and ringolevio, a more sophisticated version of it. However, the team who is hiding can free prisoners by charging the jail and getting through someone as the guard tag his or her players and go free, and the chase begins!

We played kick the can a lot, too, but the rules escape me. There weren't many cars until after WW II so we played safely in the street. We played stickball in the street using broom handles for bats and manhole covers for second base. Sometimes the ball went in the sewer and we let the boys try to get it out.

I played marbles (which we called Immies) along the gutter. "Hit and span" was two! That meant if you hit your opponent's marble and could then put your thumb on it and stretch your hand so your pinky touched your marble, you won two marbles!

We had Good Humor (the first ice cream on a stick) and Bungalow Bar trucks that came to sell us ice cream.

Do you remember the blue and white Bungalow Bar truck that looked like a little house (a bungalow) with a shingle roof?

I was anxious to see if the empty stick said "Bungalow Bar" on it. That meant you got a free ice cream!

There was excitement when someone was brave enough to open the cast iron fire hydrants we called "Johnnie pumps" on a sweltering summer day? There was always the fear that when the fire department or the cops come to turn it off somebody might get in trouble. It didn't stop us from running under the water to cool off.

Besides making countless friends during my childhood their, its the flavor of the neighborhood that really sinks in. The many horse-drawn wagons that made their rounds each summer day...the watermelon man, the junk-man with his tired-looking horse, the vegetable guy and his wagon loaded with produce, the knife and scissors grinding truck, the Good Humor man, the pony rides, the traveling amusement rides like "the whip,' and the 'Half-moon,' Remember them?

What about the iceman and the siphon bottled seltzer man delivering right to your door.
Apartment life was fun; there wasn't a dull moment. On hot steamy days we'd turn on the Johnny-pump and have a ready-made beach. Many times passing cars would get doused with a jet stream of water. We'd always get a laugh out the cars that left their window open! The street games were endless, from ringolevio, king-queen, stickball, punch ball, skullsies, and fly’s-are-up...on and on.
Those were precious years, long past, but
unforgettable.

The streets were tarred and usually very uneven, therefore finding the best spot was essential. You lined up your box exactly opposite from your opponent and played for hours. My middle finger would ache to flick a marble across the street and see it make the mark. At the end of the game upon occasion, someone had no Immies left and the victor was pleased and proud of the round cold little spheres filling up the pants pockets.

In the summer we would have block parties, dance in the street, and eat all night. We would get a permit to close off the street. I remember when the war was over; we had the biggest block party ever. The adults would decorate with streamers, invite other blocks to join us and it would go on and on.

There was a group of kids that lived in the building as well as some from across the street. We would play marbles, the girls would play skip rope or "A my name is...” until The Whip came by. Then we would all scramble home for money.

There is no other smell that compares with hot bubbling apple jelly boiling in the big black cauldron pot on the peddler's wagon, or the smell of the hot roasting chestnuts or sweet potatoes. I can still remember the sliced pieces of coconut stored in their own milk in a glass jar.

Growing up in the Bronx during the early 1940's was definitely a wonderful and adventurous time. My loving parents would often caution me as I left our apartment to meet my pals "Do not hitch onto those trolley cars!" Now, I ask you, what Bronx street kid of those days would seriously heed that advice?

The title of Emmett's book is Ringolevio, taken from the ancient New York street game of the same name.

As cities were reconstructed and transformed, poetic architecture begins to develop: people knock out back fences between houses to create open lawns and bamboo jungles, build covered bridges between apartment houses, create arbors, arcades, and tree-lined walks with sculptures. While private space did not disappear, it became more porous to the common life. Elaborate neighborhood games -- like ringolevio in Italian neighborhoods in Brooklyn -- provide opportunities for courtship, friendly rivalry, and adventurous encounter.



I Play Therefore I Am
Welcome to the play ethic. First of all, don’t take “play” to mean anything idle, wasteful, frivolous or even necessarily childish. The trivialization of play was the work ethic's most lasting and most regrettable achievement. This is "play" as the great philosophers, and recently mind scientists, have understood it: the experience of being an active, creative and fully autonomous person.


Little girls teasing little boys is also part of play, and when I was ten two little girls insisted I learn the following mantra so that I could play with them:

“Santa la goola

Moola to fata

Sami da fata”

I looked up the Latin and as best I can translate it came to say:

“Sacred throat

Sounds of mules

___________Off death"

More Bronx Play (2,718 words)

Play is exercised free movement.

Chasing Games - "Tag": children the world over play chasing games. The person who does the chasing is "It". ." The game is simple but the code of conduct is very complex! First, they must choose who is going to be "It”: usually this is done with one of the time-honored counting out rhymes: One two three, out goes HE!" and the person counted on "HE!" is "It." A more complex counting out involves the cry of "Spuds up" and all the players will stand in a circle with both hands in front of them, clenched in a fist. The counter goes round the circle, counting the fists as he recites "One potato, two potato, three potato, four. Five potato, six potato, seven potato MORE!" and the "spud" (fist) struck on "MORE" is put behind the back. The rhyme continues round the circle - two "spuds" and you're out, and the last one left in is "It."

Having chosen who is "It" the rest of the children scatter; the simplest Tig game is simply "Tig-and-you're-it" which is self-explanatory.

Hunting Games - Hide and Seek Etc. Plain old hide-and-seek is the same the world over - the person who is "It" covers their eyes and counts to a pre-arranged number whilst the rest of the players scatter and hide; when the count is finished, to a cry of "Coming-ready-or-not!" the hunter goes to look for the hiders. In the version known as "Block," the hunter has a base, or "Block" and, on spotting a hider, calls out their name and where they are hidden, and it then becomes a race to see which can get to the "Block" first - if it is the hunter, then the shout of "Block-one-two-three!" means the hider is caught, and has to remain at the block; if the hider gets there first, then his shout of "Block-one-two-three" sets free all the others previously caught, and the hunter has to hide his eyes and begin another count, this time halving the original number (or "counting in twos" for the more ambitious!)
A similar game, also with a base, allows the captured to be freed if one of the other players can sneak back to the base unseen and set them free with the shout of "relieve - o" or "Relavio" to scatter and hide again while the hunter returns to base and begins another count.

Ring Games etc., are accompanied by singing and rhymes and are more usually the province of the younger children although in a mixed-age group you will usually find some of the older children joining in too.
Ring-a-ring-o-roses is the simplest of all the ring games and is played by even the smallest children. They join hands and dance round in a ring, chanting:

"Ring-a-ring-o-roses
A pocket full o' posies.
Atishoo! Atishoo!
We all fall down!"

And on "we all fall down" - we do indeed "all fall down!" to much giggling and laughter. This is a very old rhyme and is attributed to the Black Death of the 14th century: the "ring o' roses" is the rash which was a symptom, the "pocket full o' posies" the herbs carried in an attempt to ward off the disease, "Atishoo!" was the flu-like effects and "we all fall down" - dead!

The farmer wants a wife is another game, which starts with a single child - the "farmer" - in the centre of a circle of children, all singing

The farmer wants a wife, the farmer wants a wife
Ee - I - ally - o, the farmer wants a wife.
Who do you want for your wife, who do you want for your wife?
Ee - I - ally - o, who do you want for your wife?

And the "farmer selects a "wife" from the outer circle, and she joins him in the centre. The children continue to circle in the following verses, the two circles moving in opposite directions and the inner circle growing (and the outer one shrinking) as each verse is sung:

The wife wants a child, the wife wants a child,
Ee - I - ally - o, the wife wants a child
The child wants a nurse
The nurse wants a dog
The dog wants a pat
We all pat the dog.

And the "dog" is "patted" vigorously on the back by everyone, and becomes the "farmer" in the next round of the game.

I wrote a letter to my mother: in this ring game all but one of the children are seated facing inwards, with one going round the outside of the circle with a handkerchief in one hand. As the children sing, s/he drops the hankie at random and carries on round the ring:

I wrote a letter to my mother, on the way I dropped it
and one of you has picked it up and put it in your pocket.
Not you, not you, not you, not you...

And on round until s/he reaches the child who has the hankie behind her, with ".... Not you, but YOU!" and a tap on the shoulder. The chosen child then has to jump up and race the child outside the ring, in opposite directions, back to the gap left in the circle - the loser is "it" for the next round of the game.

Woods of bluebells: all but one of the children stand in a circle, hands joined and raised to form a series of arches; the remaining child threads his/her way in and out of the arches in time to the song:

In and out the woods of bluebells,
In and out the woods of bluebells,
In and out the woods of bluebells,
My fair lady

And stops behind the next child and acts out the next verse:

Give a little tip-tap upon her shoulder,
Give a little tip-tap upon her shoulder,
Give a little tip-tap upon her shoulder,
My fair lady.

The chosen "fair lady" then joins the first child in threading their way through and repeating the song, collecting another child each time until the line gets too long, the circle is used up, or boredom sets in.

"Oranges and lemons" is a very well known singing rhyme and has a game to go with it:

Ball Games (Stick ball on the streets and in the gutter) frequently consist of variations on a basic theme of football (i.e. soccer on this side of the Atlantic) with a ball being kicked through makeshift goals (usually piles of jumpers or jackets) or against a target chalked on a convenient wall. Otherwise, simple cricket games are played in the street or playground, with sides of unlimited size and using any available style of bat and "wickets" which may be the bottom of a lamp-post, an upturned box or more unusually someone may even have a set of proper cricket stumps.

Other ball games involve formal rules of play and require no other equipment other than a suitable ball - usually smaller than a football - and plenty of space to play in.

Skipping Games played by groups of children (as opposed to solo skipping) involve a long rope with one child turning it at each end and the rest jumping the rope as it turns. The simplest games are in-and-out games, with the children jumping through the rope in succession, first one jump, then two etc. More complex games involve rhymes with actions, but the basic overall rule is the same - stop the rope and you're out, and have to change places with one of the rope-turners.

Rhymes: there must be literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of rhymes with new ones or new variations being added all the time, but the really old traditional ones still continue to be used.

Charlie Chaplin went to France
to teach the ladies how to dance.
First he did the heel-toe, then he did the kicks,
Then he did the Rumba, and then he did the splits.

Marbles (Immies) is a seasonal game - the autumn and winter are far too wet and cold to be squatting down and scrabbling around in the mud playing marbles, but the coming of fine weather in spring is marked by a rattling in the pockets and groups of children huddled round preparing for a game.
There is a mystique attached to the marbles themselves, and a great deal of time is spent collecting, swapping and admiring marbles. Certain types are much prized and are "worth" several ordinary glass marbles. "Glass Alleys" have a rarity value and are the antiques of the marbles world - when I was a child we got ours by smashing the necks of the "Cod" lemonade bottles, which used them to prevent leaks. There are still "Glass Alleys" around but few and far between and usually donates them. "Bollys" (large ball bearings) are also sought after, particularly for their devastating effect on ordinary glass marbles when fired with any force, and may be banned by mutual agreement if any particularly valued marbles are being played with.

Jacks or five stones is one of the oldest recorded games: sets of knuckle bones have been found at prehistoric sites, and the Romans had beautifully-crafted ceramic fivestones. Modern "jacks" are made of lightweight metal alloy, and are designed with six "arms" arranged at right-angles so that no matter how they land, three legs are on the ground and the jack is relatively easy to pick up. Like marbles, jacks is a fine-weather game, which involves small groups of children sitting around playing the game in any out-of-the-way corner of the playground. Two basic variations on the game exist, one which uses a set of five jacks and a small rubber ball, and the other (preferred by the purists as requiring more skill) without a ball. Both start by tossing the jacks into the air and attempting to catch them on the back of the same hand. If any are caught successfully, they are then thrown up off the back of the hand to be caught in the palm - any that are caught this time are then considered picked up and the game continues with the jacks which were dropped. The fallen jacks are then picked up with one hand whilst one of the jacks which was caught previously is thrown into the air with the same hand. (If none of the jacks were caught, the play passes to the next child.) The jacks on the ground are picked up in singles, pairs, three-and-one and all four together, with the jacks on the ground being flicked into position whilst another jack is tossed in the air; any dropped jacks and the play passes on. If a ball is used, it takes the place of the jack being tossed up whilst picking up fallen jacks, and the ball is usually allowed to bounce once before being caught, thus making an easier game suitable for younger players.

Hopscotch used to be played on paving or "flagstones" which were conveniently laid in the correct pattern; nowadays many school playgrounds have hopscotch grids painted on them, otherwise the layout can be chalked on any suitable surface. The squares need to be big enough to accommodate a foot with plenty of room to spare, and are marked out with one square at the bottom, then two, then one, then two etc., and numbered (again from the bottom) 1, 2 & 3, 4, 5& 6, 7, 8 & 9, and 10. Each child needs a small flat stone - a piece of slate or tile is ideal but a flat pebble will do. Taking it in turns, the children stand below the number 1 square and throw their stone to land in square 1. It must land entirely within the square - on a line, or even touching a line, and it counts as out. If the stone is in the correct square, the thrower then hops in single squares and jumps in pairs (one foot in each) as far as number 10, turns and hops and jumps back again, pausing to pick up their stone without touching the ground with the other foot if on a "hop," or the free hand. Again, tread on a line and you're out, and also you may not hop into, or even touch, the square with your stone in. In the next rounds, the stones are thrown into number 2, then 3 and so on - the higher numbers being harder to hit. Once one of the players completes all ten numbers, he or she may write their initials in any square they choose, then only they may step in it, the others having to hop or jump over it. As the game progresses, and after several of the squares have had initials written in them, it becomes quite a feat of athleticism for some of the children to get from square to square whilst avoiding those banned!
Jump to it!

This Jump Rope for Heart participants is obviously having a blast. The fund raising program for the Heart and Stroke Foundation has helped reintroduce skipping to schoolyards

"Had a little sports car, two forty eight. Took it around the co-o-o rner, slammed on the brake.

Policeman caught me, put me in jail. All I got was ginger ale.

How many bottles did you drink? One, two, three, four..."

Listening to a seven-year-old chant this rhyme as she jumps rope on the front sidewalk, it's easy to forget that skipping is more than just a child's pastime. While it's certainly a fun and inexpensive way to spend a spring or summer afternoon, it's also a great workout, for boys and girls, and for grown-ups too.

Jumping rope is cheap, it's easy, and it can be done solo, or as part of an organized team. And the benefits to your body - or your child's body are fantastic!

This recess activity can improve cardiovascular fitness, tone your muscles, strengthen your upper and lower body, and burn calories, all at the same time. In fact, 15 to 20 minutes of jumping time can burn more calories than an eight-minute mile. There is some added stress to knees, ankles and hips; however, done properly, it's a lower impact workout than jogging.

Rope jumping can also offer a creative approach towards fitness. A variety of skills such as footwork, rhythmic dance steps, and body movements can encourage individual expression, and older children can experiment with choreographing their own routines. Skipping clubs and teams are springing up across the continent in schools and communities.

Whether you're using it as a warm-up exercise, part of a cross-training program, a sport in itself, or just a way to get fit with the family after dinner, there are some things to consider.

Choosing A Rope: Lightweight cloth and vinyl ropes can be difficult for young and novice skippers to maneuver properly. Look for a heavier or beaded rope, with handles. The rope you choose should be an appropriate length. The skipper should hold both handles and stand on the rope. If the handles reach past the armpits, the rope is too long. Likewise, if the handles do not reach the armpits, the rope is too short.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

The two turners turn the rope and you jump the rope and chant the rhyme - doing the actions to each line

"Teddy Bear Teddy Bear touch the ground (touch the ground while skipping)

Teddy Bear Teddy Bear turn around (turn around)

Teddy Bear Teddy Bear climb the stairs (pretend to walk up stairs while skipping)

Teddy Bear Teddy Bear say your prayers (join hands to say prayers while skipping)

Teddy Bear Teddy Bear turn off the lights (reach up to turn off a light while skipping)

Teddy Bear Teddy Bear say good night (wave and say Good Night as you skip out of the rope)

Then the next skipper comes in and the rhyme starts again.


Chapter One: Part Three, Horseback Riding on Pelham Parkway:

(270 words)


The place we rented the horses was a makeshift barn and stables off the parkway just before the Hutchinson River Parkway. I did this with my father, brother, Milton and girlfriends. It was part of the benefits, context and advantages of living in the area. It was just so different from what you could do on Simpson Street. So I did it as often as I could. They charged by the hour so we’d go out for just a couple of hours and the horses knew what do. I learned and was able to ride. The first couple of times I did get cramps and a burning rash. It was the subject of jokes. I had to wear a women’s sanitary pad so that I could walk. I was an Urban Cowboy I enjoyed riding a decently trained and highly willing horse, feeling the wind on my face, and getting a good workout. The horses needed no urging and never wanted to stop; they showed a remarkable amount of energy for average-looking rental animals



The Pelham Bit Stables, where horses are available for rent and one can ride along the highway, parkway, and streets.

Bronx Holidays: (409 words)

Christmas

The first Christmas tree I ever saw was at the Nuzzi’s home on Faile Street. On the radio and later black and white TV was the mass from the Vatican and in the kitchen was Jean Nuzzi cooking. I remember the first Christmas I did not even know what was happening but my mother hung a felt stocking which had a distinctive musty smell which I always found distinctive and singularly belonging to Christmas. She would hang them on the door and tell me to open it the next morning. I did, and, I recall the thrill and hers when I would open my presents. Later, this custom was elaborated on when Mom would take us to Alexander’s to see Santa Claus and he would give us presents. Christmas was always special time for mom to give us presents. Later when I grew up I could not give my mother enough. We bought her grilles, musical ballerinas, etc. But it never was with the same joy and excitement as when she gave on Christmas. Because she designed toys visiting Aunt Shirley and receiving gifts from her and singing Christmas Carols was very special

New Years

The first New Years celebration was in Babylon for the new moon of spring vernal equinox, first day of spring. I always found it wonderful that the world was celebrating Christ’s birthday. The poem by Robert Byrnes where we all sing of the good old days be really is a gentle but pathetic plea for us to somehow take hold and keep the friends and moments that are marked by the new year that have slipped away.

  • Mom: we’d celebrate at home in front of the radio with noisemakers.
  • Arlene: we went to a party where I drank a full bottle of Rye. I got drunk and fainted. She and some friends drove me home. The next day I awoke early, went to her house and we went to the matinee performance of an Elvis Presley movie at the Paradise where we bill and coed in the balcony. She was so kind and loving.

Bronx Live Theater while in the Bronx before 1958 : (523 words)

My own personal experiences as a member of the audience was that theater is a “two way street” (communication) in the sense that performers and audience have both a common and different role. Their common role is to play at some cultural theme. They both think and react to the ideas and subjects defined in the script according to prescribed rules. The rules being that the players perform the script while the audience reacts by applause, boos or throwing things. Both participate. The audience perceives watches and listens but also thinks and measures the words, attitudes, and opinions of the author and players.

The numbers of live Broadway plays or shows we have attended in our lifetime is actually very few compared to many who could afford season tickets. Our attendance has been measured and rare. We have seen more Off-Broadway productions at various locals playhouses and theater groups. As a child I saw amateur productions of Brigadoon; Accent of F6 with my teacher, John McGiver; and with my mother attended a broadway performance of My Fair Lady paid for by Nan Birmingham.

Circus: New York Madison Square garden: Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey with Clyde Beatty the lion tamer. I had to remind the Ringling Museum in Sarasota about Mr. Bailey because he was not shown in their exhibit. The nest time we visited he and his many photos appeared. They had never heard about him.

Plays:

“Ascent of F6”: co-starring my English teacher: John McGiver: He later went on to co-star with Audrey Hepburn in several movies and then have his own television show.

Commercial signs in NYC

Borden’s milk advertised “Daisy” the Borden cow with a picture on the containers and a gigantic poster at there plant on the Bronx side of the 138 street bridge at there plant. It symbolized mother and women

What we saw from our windows:

Hoe and Home other red brick walls, wooden sash double hung windows bounding alleys bathed in sunlight with shadows cast to the ground. Rain and snow. Vendors selling, playing musical instruments and singing. On Simpson Street I could see across the street to watch people sitting in window. I watched my friend Robert sitting by his window. I could seethe cars and cats on the wrought iron stairs and under the cars in rain, snow and sunshine. I could see the garbage cans and the parked cars. Often, even, my fathers car if he got a good parking space in front of the building.

From the window in Faile Street I could see the garden in front and the hoses and street. I could see the alley on the side where my father drove his car to the rear. Frow my bed room and spare room window I could see the back alley.

Hypnotize

At Shore haven I learned to hypnotize people and could hypnotize my friends. I soon lost the interest and the ability

Telling story

I one told my brother a story about a black horse that made him cry. He willingly listened and then after I developed the character of both the horse and the little boy I then told of that the horse died and the little boy was sad. My brother cried and seemed angry with me afterwards for having made him cry. He had asked me to tell the story.

Before and after

The Daily News ran a spot showing thousands of places in the city the way they looked before and after, then and now, etc. Many of the places were known, others were in other neighborhoods.

Inner City

I faced discrimination at both Pratt and Yale because of my ethnic and inner city origin. This discrimination follows where society matches me to the places I've worked, my origins, and associations. If someone is not familiar with the Bronx or Brooklyn the inner city ghetto resonates with enough ammunition to defer an acceptable metaphor. It is only when we enter neighborhoods and states far enough form New York that the inner city stigma is irrelevant. The inner city is usually older, central part of a city, especially when characterized by crowded neighborhoods in which low-income, often minority groups predominates.

In a persistently slack economy, it is the place where workers with the fewest marketable skills and least education are the least likely to be employed. At least some of these would be poor people living in ghettos, although the benefits of macroeconomic growth probably would not apply proportionately to central cities and suburbs. Many ghetto residents would fare poorly in any job market. In addition to lacking education, skills, and work experience, many household heads living in ghettos are women with young children. Current antipoverty programs and policies meet with special problems in ghettos. We were never the target of discriminatory barriers preventing mobility to better neighborhoods It depends on where the poor who move end up. Simply hastening the emptying out of ghettos through residential mobility would not have much impact on the fortunes of poor people who had lived there. They would continue to face problems because of their low levels of education, skills, and work experience; care, and transportation.

My radio training included memorizing commercials as:

“How does Harry Rothman do it,

Well the point is he does do and has been doing for the past 35 years

So men get down to Fifth Ave corner of eighteenth street and you too will say: How does Harry Rothman do it” ?

This was written by Ted Brown and he let me use for my auditions. He also trained me how to say it.

At Pratt my opening lines for may part in the play :”that’s easy for you to say Ross”

There were other commercials for Howard cloths: “I’m the little Howard label and I’m proud as I can be” ,etc.

My Bronx dialect:

  • Brer bar
  • Go’wan
  • Getouta here
  • Diya wanago or stay
  • Comeon over
  • Lets go shoppin
  • Aw gee its beateeful
  • Shes really purty
  • The car needs earl
  • Filerup
  • Lets get goin
  • Did ya see that?
  • I hate ta woik
  • Doya want cooitons o drapes
  • Dese are my friends
  • Do you liketa dance wit me
  • May I have this dance?
  • ya wana dance
  • When dancing I could sing the songs to the girl with whom I was dancing and my accent would disappear, as I became the singer of the song.
  • Tamarraw
  • Woild war
  • Be nice
  • Chick
  • It’s a gas
  • My squeeze
  • Twist
  • Tripping
  • Groovy
  • Cool
  • Happening; what’s happening?
  • Psychedelic
  • Neat
  • Sit-in
  • Nuke em
  • Peace
  • Hippy
  • Mod/rocker
  • In-crowd
  • Loosy-goosy
  • Free and easy
  • Heavy
  • Dude
  • Smooth
  • Fine
  • Smooth
  • Downer
  • Upper
  • Babe
  • Pad
  • The man
  • Hi-ho Steve-o-reen-o (for Steve Allen)
  • And a way we go (for Jackie Gleason)

Disasters

1. Hurricanes:

1.1 Faile street; the tree in the memorial cemetery was hit by lightening and the branch fell. I a friend being killed and I fled. I ran home; I was lifted by the wind. I was Mrs. Parks ON my street. She was lifted by the wind. We both were lifted by the wind and she helped me get into the door of my house.

1.2 Shore haven: Lightning hit the barrels and trees making snapping sounds. My mother rushed us into the cafeteria, which was covered by a roof and open sides. We could feel the wind, hear the lightning. We hid under tables along with the others. It was a hard storm

1.3 Asbury Park: I stood at the shore walk holding onto the iron rail feeling the wind and rain try to tear me from the rail.

1.4 Snow blizzard in New York City when we visited Dad and Lee where our Austin Healy Sprite sank into the snow. We had arrived in a blizzard and parked our car on a pile of snow which we mistook for a safe spot.

1.5 Snow blizzard on Simpson street and the Kaye's get stuck in subway

Bronx Places during the mid-twentieth century:

There was a time when ever I visited a restaurant I’d collect a book of matches to add to my collection to help me remember visiting. I still have the collection of matches and the accompanying memories.

Bronx and Manhattan Restaurants of the period:

· Adventurer’s in Yonkers

· Dominick’s Steak House

· Marie’s Italian

· Southern boulevard Chinese

· Charlotte Ruse place

· Grants

· Horn and Hardart

· Romeo’s

· Katz deli

· Carnegie Deli

· Stage Deli

· Hunts Point Dairy on Southern Boulevard

· Manny Wolf’s steak House

· Village Gate

· Coffee shop in MOMA

· Mama Leone’s

· Jan’s Ice Cream Parlor on Bainbridge Ave

· Nathan’s in Coney Island and then on site of Tafenetti’s.

· Mama Leone’s in New York City: best Italian

· Bronx steak house with white table cloths and male servers in white aprons ( Same as Manny Wolfs in Manhattan and Alfredo's in New Orleans)

· Neighborhood Italian as Maria’s in the Bronx

· Subs at sandwich shop new Columbus High in the Bronx

· Nathan’s in Coney Island for hot dogs and fries

· Little Italy Italian restaurants

Fordham Skating Rink: I went on Sundays: at first I rented, and then I bought my own skates. I traveled to Fordham by bus. I met a very nice girl and she was my partner. She lived on Burnside Ave. Her name was Nancy. The only time her parents would let her see me was at the Rink. The music was excellent Wurlitzer organ music. I loved this place. I often dreamed I was flying.

Auto Trips:

With mother, father, brother, and Christina I could say lets make a trip and if we were wrong and got lost or found nothing we would just come back and say we had a nice trip. It wasn’t where we were going but going together that made the trip worthwhile. There were many drives I took with Mr. Silverman and Harry where I was getting paid, did not have to work and I could just sit back, relax and enjoy driving, there conversation and looking out the window. I too enjoyed drives with my father especially at night driving through Canarsi and seeing the lights of distant cars.

Bronx Reading:List of Books

I am one of those people who fall asleep reading and it takes me a long time and effort to read. The most intensive reading I have ever done is in the Bible and for classes in school for such courses as Great Books, Philosophy, Aesthetics, History, Contemporary Theories, Architecture, Planning, design, etc.

The public school class went on a field trip to the neighborhood public library, which was located on Simpson street several blocks past the Yeshiva down toward Bruckner Blvd. The librarian lady gathered us together and explained what all the books were doing on the shelves and afterwards gathered us together and read from one of the books. She read us Dumbo and showed us the pictures. My imagination as Dumbo flew and soared to the heavens. I then came back on my own many times to read Dumbo and the other picture books in the library.

My first exciting reading experience was English medieval literature in the PS 20 library which excited my fantasy and imagination about ancient roman times life styles, cortisans, court life, etc.

Giants in the Earth was a text in Public school which we read repeatedly and had many references to eating porridge which cause me and a friend to go hysterical. John McGiver turned me on to Shakespeare by reading to us and inviting me to read to the class. I loved reading Shakespeare. I did a major paper on Hamlet for my course at Columbia and had to research the many archives at Columbia University, which was a wonderful experience.

It was a very pretty and kind librarian on Simpson Street who introduced me to Dumbo. She read to us. The punch line to the Circus of Dr. Lao “all was left was strings and wires “resonated with me for years. I shared Norma Vincent Peale’s book with my mother.


As myself, Mickey Spilane was born in Brooklyn, New York, as the son of a bartender. (my Dad drove cars). In his youth he read such writers as Alexander Dumas and Anthony Hope, and as I, was also fascinated by comic books. He attended briefly Fort Hays State College in Kansas, but dropped out, moved back to New York, and began his writing career in the mid-1930s. Spillane's first stories were published mostly in comic books and pulp magazines. He brought my world to life and explained the soul and heart of the characters in New York. It was more than a movie or radio program because I carry on the train and as I read identify with the thoughts and motivations of the characters. They were all around me.


Comics:

Of course I collected and traded but mostly I read and fanaticized about the characters and the stories. Some were reenacted on the radio and others were made into movies. Frankly, nothing ever surpassed the thrill and enjoyment I had of reading the words and seeing the drawings. Imagining and understanding the sentiments and heroes. I especially enjoyed the ones, which explained the derivations of the characters; where they were born and came from. They like me were created and could live.

1. Tales From the Crypt I read on the bus going to Washington Heights to deliver groceries

2. Captain Marvel

3. Superman

4. Wonder Woman

5. Classic

6. Mighty mouse

7. Super Boy

Themes

The songs, Movies and radio programs of the forties and fifties always had some point. Few were totally recreational and concupiscent. Their message was to extol virtue, valor, truth, nobility, selfless service and unconditional love. They built urban role models and urban heroes who championed public welfare and care for the underdog. They forgave weakness and showed villains who se greed, vanity and sin brought harm to the plebeians, beurocrats, and victimized masses. The public who was suffering and boot strapping to survive and help others. They presented culture and class as virtues and worthy of achieving. They showed Family, obedience, citizenship and patriotism were the order of the day.

They were personas in whom you could focus your identify and find a libretto for urban life. They nurtured the hope of the culture and the world. Performances are urban role models: Apostles of urbanism/ Icons of urbanism. Songs, plays, operas, musicals, etc. are urban models and scenarios where the setting, scenes and backdrops are every thing. My life was al about becoming part of the urban drama. With each song, movie, radio program’s roles, characters, scenes, and places I became my personal behavioral model. I could emulate, label, relate and adopt names, behaviors, vocabulary, attitudes, values and themes. I could select. In the end I developed my own persona and not the ones I thought I copied. They were only the voices in my head and the standards I observed. They were neither me, nor I any of them.

I was taught urbanism be the media. I learned to exude and extol urban values. I learned to teach and promulgate what I had been taught. I learned how to teach what I learned. I became urbanism’s advocate and champion in such vocations as dance instructor, disc jockey, radio announcer, writer, teacher, professor, etc. Perhaps, I could not live every role, attitude or scene, but I could encourage others. Urbanism’s entertainment gave my life purpose and me a role. I was law biding and “right” in the law; not a gangster or out law. I never wanted to be an outlaw. Being a criminal was scary and upsetting to me. My whole life’s mission was to be competently within the law and harmonious with its values. Not in disagreement but in agreement and upholding God’s, states and social values. Not an out law. It is the very thing that prevented me from perusing various professions. The probability that I’d be identified against the law with intention. I was not a gang member, good student, or happy child in a happy home, but, I was a very happy urbanite.

Vaudeville, Radio, Stage shows, and TV were ways of bring rural and country humor, mores, and values to urban contexts. Entertainers such as Phil Harris, Jack Benny, Jack Parr, Johnny Carson, Tom Brokaw, George Burns and Gracie Allen and Laurel and Hardy, Hogy Carmichael, Johnnie Mercer, and Arthur Godfrey exuded their persona and brought the country store into our home and conscious. No judgments only kindness and friendly conversation contrasted to urban confrontations, competition, and rivalry. They separated their personal private lives form their public persona. At the time we overlooked that there private may differ from the public. The country humor and chat were about people listening and responding kindly. The entertainment influenced my life. It was the life I enjoyed while the rest was work and a reality, which was hard work.

I found a man after my own heart in the autobiography of Irving (Swifty) Lazar. He too went in “fantasy land” and urbanism. He worked out side the law but we had some thing in common. His desire to dress-up and look a certain way. I did this a lot. But not like Swifty. I dressed in a variety of characters depending on the role, scene, and attitude I visualize in my day’s fantasy. In every was I was cosmopolitan and conforming to an ambient standard of attitudes and characterizations acceptable and socially accepted. There was a time I carried a walking stick type cane given to me by Nan Birmingham. I carried a gold pocket watch and wore a three-piece suit. Other days I’d go barefooted in my neighborhood with my cat “Silky” on my shoulder. Later I did this in Saudi with “Spatzel”

Urban recreation leads city dwellers to rural metaphors and artifacts for relief and change. The cosmopolitan person goes to the country for relief and to other cities for confirmation of his own values and choices. The urban person idolizes urban Gods and urban contexts.

For America’s emerging middle class post war late forties and fifties in which I came of age, led to the emergence of Loews Theaters and Miami's large lobby Hotels. Today’s holidays are for suburbanites wanting activity where-as urbanites wanted large and majestic royal courts. Courts, which breathed ideological life and meaning into there, compressed tenement living. We went from tenements to Grand Hotels; large and fancy.

Movies, Radio and television popularized and amalgamated Americanisms, vocabulary, slangs, and languages. Hollywood and New York City became the harbinger of body, oral and apparel communications. What we did we knew others followed. It became a built in megalomania peculiar to our big city. We were a fountainhead and vicarious author. The nation became unified in way it had never been before. By learning the music of the records, jargon ON the radio and the fashions of the movies I was plugged in to the rest of the nation and the world. The reverse was also true; tat the world was hearing what we had to express and when I traveled they already had met my type or me.

I had toys when I was a child such as ones I made out of two cups and string to talk across rooms or space outdoors. Later I got a walkie talky and my brother and friends would play. I built a periscope with two mirrors and a milk carton. I would go under the covers or below tables and see over the top. I had a science kit and made invisible ink, minor explosives and sulpher. I had a Tru-view camera with many rolls of film slides to see 3D pictures. I had a 16-MM movie projector to watch Charlie Chaplain, Abbot and Costello. Later I bought an 8-MM camera and could make and watch movies. I had an erector set and could build Ferris wheels and small structures. I had plane kit to make a flying plane out of balsa wood and let it glide. I would sit for hours with my brother and friends with out and thing except our hands shaped like planes and simulated dogfights. I had a set of soldiers and tanks and cannon and would act out military strategies attacks defenses and retreats.

Bronx Radio: (8,099 total words)

Radio was the ultimate one way communicator. Someone talks nicely to me, whether it was Christian or secular, and, in whatever language. I have always kept a radio near by and listened. Now when I lay down to sleep I listen to God and His message without the radio. But, when I’m in the car traveling I listen to the news and commentary; preaching and teaching; and stories. Often it is the tone and steady chatter that appeals; while, other times it is the familiar character and its mantra of persona whom I could worship and adore. Yes, I said worship and adore because that is exactly what it amounts to when you listen with rapt attention to the sounds of another soul. Rarely is it edifying and turning heart and soul to God. However, when it does that radio is a blessing. Radio taught me to believe, imagine and perceive the “unseen”. With these gifts I am able to receive the Holy Spirit.

Later, while listening to late night TV that Charles Stanley taught me that the Bible was the word of God because so many in so many different times so testified and God’s words harmonized in the whole and detail of the Bible. In that same sermon he likewise dispelled my overt anger at Jesus for Him to become m y best friend as God come to earth to personally walk me toward eternity away from evil flesh. Christina and my father both learned to know God in a special because of the TV evangelism of Oral Roberts. The music, theater, radios and television programs were portrayed public truth about who we were. The arts have been used to sell cloths, fashion, furniture, food and real estate; used to fight wars, establish family values and marriage and procreation. Radio especially reified self and clan; context and life’s opportunities.

Radio was also my urban connector reifying and feeding me the mantras of urbanity and teaching what it meant to be a city boy, cosmopolitan and urban. It combined music with drama and information with myth. It stimulated my intellect and my ability to imagine and picture what words and music were “saying”. I learned about the places and sounds, and myths of the metropolis and was introduced to the heroes of the city. These heroes included the sound effects men, actors, actresses, musicians, and studio directors and bandleaders. They were all my heroes. Of course the characters in the programs were also urban heroes and I learned that a city isn’t complete with them. It is for that reason that I have meticulously listed there names , themes and sponsors below. As an intellect, with a very vivid imagination, they were as much a part of my history and what shaped and filled my life as real family, neighbors, school chums, etc.

Between the characters and places in radio, movies and records my urban landscape was full and bubbly. I lived in media and balanced it with the experience on the streets, boulevards, subways, downtown, theaters, shops, etc. Life was full and rich with personas so colorful and functional that the dysfunctionals of my own family was eclipsed and dimmed. I had friends and neighbors who were very pleasing and would let me focus on their good will, charm and stories of peace and kindness. The below are just a few of the key players of this period. Of course I pictured all of them as living in the Bronx.

Arthur Godfrey ranks as one of the important on-air stars of the first decade of American television. Indeed prior to 1959 there was no bigger TV luminary than this freckled faced, ukulele playing, host/pitchman. It was from him that I ordered my first ukulele and sheet music. By listening to him I learned to play. He demonstrated how to finger the chords and strum the strings. When I sand I mimicked his style and voice tone. I learned to resonate the lower tones of my voice from him and Vaughn Monroe.

Radio was my connection with downtown, intelligence and coherence. My soul identified, authenticated and was built by what I heard on the radio. Radio and thee characters with there dialog spoiled me for the rest of the world because it became my standard. My early year favorite was “Ethel and Albert”: a program where a couple would talk to each other about life, neighbors, and current events, Ethel and Albert (sitcom, starring Peg Lynch and Alan Bunce)

Ethel and Albert had been a long-running network radio series since 1944 starring Peg Lynch and Richard Widmark (the actor);

  • Another curiosity was the fact that the theme of this series was also the signature theme of another well-known couple which had another sitcom on radio and TV -- "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show".

  • Another was “My friend Irma”: In 1947 Marie Wilson starred in the radio sitcom "My Friend Irma," throughout its radio run, in a 1952-54 television series and in two films that introduced the new comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Her open, grinning face belying her age. Irma spoiled me for the rest of the girls that would follow.







Ed Gardner - "Archie" - host of Duffy's Tavern Duffy’s Tavern: Duffy would answer the phone:” Where the elite eat Meat” Duffy's Tavern was a place on Third Avenue and 23rd St. in New York City, where the "elite meet to eat, Duffy ain't here, Archie the Manager speakin'…" Anyone who loved old time radio probably knows that phone patter by heart! Ed Gardner played Archie, the manager of Duffy's Tavern, and he was as "real" sounding as any character on radio, as he had grown up in the Big Apple. His use and abuse of language was "exemplary" - the same type of local "parlese" that made The Damon Runyan Theater a favorite with New Yorkers everywhere. Gardner was a theatrical veteran, whose wife, Shirley Booth; well-known stage and screen actress began on the show with him

William Bendix who played Riley was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1906The Life of Riley radio show starred the wonderful William Bendix and aired from 1944-1951(ABC, NBC). The airplane riveter with a heart of gold, Chester A. Riley got himself and his family into the funniest craziest misunderstandings. (Bendix ran a grocery store until the business failed. He was a batboy for the New York Giants and New York Yankees when he was a child. He saw Babe Ruth hit over 100 homeruns. He later played Babe Ruth in the 1948 movie, The Babe Ruth Story. Also, he was nominated in 1942 for best supporting actor in the movie Wake Island).
He’d often say: "...what a revoltin' development this is..." This show lead into the television version that started in 1949 and ended in 1958. Numerous actors played the radio characters over the years including Rosemary DeCamp (born November 14, 1910, Prescott, Arizona) PEG RILEY (Riley's wife); John Brown as DIGBY "DIGGER" O'DELL (the undertaker) Digger's Quotes

"It is I indeed, Digby O'Dell, the friendly undertaker."

"A new calendar, have a happy year."

"You're looking fine, very natural."

"I've covered a lot of ground today."

Riley: "Take a few minutes out, stretch out some place." Digger: "Oh, I don't dare, you see I have a nearsighted assistant."

"Cheerio, I'd better be shoveling off."

Life with Luigi

Originating on radio as The Little Immigrant, Life with Luigi is the story of gentle Italian and other immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia taking US citizenship night school classes. Their new home is Chicago, and their heartwarming encounters with American ways makes this show as contemporary now as it was post W.W.II, or at any time in the 19th or 20th centuries. J. Carroll Naish, veteran character actor of stage and screen, makes Luigi Basco come to life in each and every show. He is a perfect Luigi! The cast is stellar. Hans Conreid is Schultz, a German with more of an upright and straightforward manner. Alan Reed is Pasquale, Luigi's friend and sponsor who have already made a success of him in America, as a restaurateur. Jody Gilbert plays Pasquali's chubby daughter, Rosa. Mary Shipp is Miss Spaulding, the teacher of the night class. Joe Forte is Horowitz, and Ken Peters is Olsen, Luigi's classmates. Gil Straton is Jimmy, who is Luigi's partner in a small antique business that Luigi has opened, as he grew up on the outskirts of Rome and has always loved the past and its glories. But his eyes were on the New World, and now, that New World is his own.

Baby Snooks

Baby Snooks came about through bad dentistry. Fanny had had teeth problems for years, and before one particular radio rehearsal her dentist let her come away without her dentures. Fanny was unable to speak properly. Frantic, the producer suddenly remembered a cute baby act Fanny would do at parties and in front of friends. It was the only thing she could do in her current condition. “What do you call her?” the producer cried. “Schnooks,” lisped Fanny.

But she needed material – instantly. Rapp and David Freedman (his writing partner at the time) frantically searched the nearest bookcase and came up with an out of print (public domain) collection of sketches by Robert James Burdette titled Chimes From a Jester’s Bells. Finding a humorous piece about a kid and his uncle called “The Simple Story of George Washington,” the kid was switched to a girl, Rapp changed “Schnooks” to “Snooks,’ and history was made.

Fanny Brice was born on October 29, 1891 and found early fame starring in the Ziegfield Follies from 1911 to 1923. And it was on Ziegfield Follies of the Air (which Phil Rapp wrote and directed from 1936-37) that Baby Snooks took her first hilarious step. The Snooks sketches began as a regular feature in 1937 on the variety show Good News, and became the main attraction on Maxwell House Coffee Time in 1940. In 1944 the impish problem child began her own radio program, The Baby Snooks Show. The series dealt with the childish innocence and constant questioning from little baby Snooks, which clashed with considerable force against the long-suffering “Daddy,” first played by film actor Frank Morgan. Alan Reed next took over the adult role. But it is Hanley Stafford who is best remembered as Daddy, with his incredibly painful line readings of “Oooooh……. Snooooooks!”

Listening to radio, as a child on Home Street, I thought that when we’d return the program to which we were listening would resume and we would not miss anything. I could not understand that it continued without us being there to listen. Why would it continue? I believed entertainment was a means by which we focused on God’s peace, joy and righteousness per Romans 14:17 The radio was always an anathema, one hand it extolled the myths and virtues of urbanism while itself providing relief form the infrastructure and woes involved in living inn the city. It lifted the city off its stark reality and opened it up to another and more polite view of our darkest and dirtiest corners.

I enjoyed listening to late night, up-all-night radio; just to leave it on as I went to sleep. As a child I’d listen to static, and tune into remote and hard to hear stations from far away. I did the same thing in Saudi listening to so many foreign stations from around the world. As a child I enjoyed sounds and the din of the trains coming and going from the station , the sirens of the police and fire trucks. The sounds of people passing in front of our ground floor window on Simpson Street. And, of course the endless sound of traffic no matter where we lived. Prayer calls and the rooster that crowed in beneath our window in Saudi and the bird’s animal sounds in Kitzbuhel and Fort Myers.

Big Joe whose theme song was ”Somebody cares” could be heard only on NYC radio from Midnight till 2:00 am weeknights. It was a call in program. Most of his guest was chiropractors. I called in many times and listened often. Nobody that I knew I listened to this program. And nobody I knew then nor now ever heard of him. I loved him!

So who was "Big Joe" Rosenfeld(Courtesy Don Browne) I was to young then to know all the details but Don Browne writes that Big Joe's Happiness Exchange was a time-brokered program which first appeared on WABC in 1959. David Fentress wrote that he may have read in a paperback book about him, titled: "The Happiness Exchange that he ran this street front social services agency until, one day, a little old lady, died and left him a million bucks (?) In her will and he disappeared, others say that "The Happiness Exchange" was funded by The Salvationists (the Salvation Army folks). I recall he'd been a big drinker and on the air in New Orleans, before he came to NYC.

David Fentress writes that "Big Joe" Rosenfeld (sometimes spelled Rosenfield) is one of those New York radio personalities who have been surrounded by a culture of mystery. The fact that he was usually heard "after Midnight," in that radio "no man's land" dedicated to time-brokered shows (as an alternative to "sign-off"), adds to his mystique. I personally listened to his unusual program, called "The Happiness Exchange," on several occasions in the late fifties/early sixties. As a "radio person," the program was difficult to listen to. There was plenty of "dead air" during which times the audio processing of the period (Gates Level-Devil and Sta-Level) would bring up the studio "room tone" to a point where you could hear a creaking chair or paper rustling”. I just loved all that and would listen to him every night. Both my mother and father were out working and I was all alone with my brother.

"Big Joe" hosted one of the first "telephone-talk" shows in early New York City radio. But you only heard his side of the conversation, then "dead air" while he alone heard the caller speaking, then he would paraphrase the caller”.Bob Donnelly, a transmitter engineer at WHBI (105.9 Mhz, Newark, NJ) in 1962, reported that "Big Joe" time-brokered at that station for a time, but originated the program by landline from his Manhattan (storefront) office. After that, "Big Joe" became a mythological radio figure. Here is Joe’s song remembered by Donald S. Browne:

“Somebody cares if your blue and ever little thing that you do, so believe me my friends in case you didn’t know it, somebody cares”

Big Joe had a "street-name" that was the complete opposite of his actual size. Big Joe was diminutive in stature...about five feet tall without "lifts". Perhaps the "big" referred to the size of his heart. The success of "Big Joe's Happiness Exchange" on a New Orleans radio station, probably WNOE (1060 kHz), brought Big Joe's brokered radio program to NYC. There were many "urban legends" about Big Joe during his long career on time-brokered NYC radio. One persistent story, that Big Joe's "Happiness Exchange" was bequeathed a million dollars from the estate of a loyal female listener.... Is absolutely true! In 1959, the "Happiness Exchange" received a bequest of 22,060 shares of General Motor’s stock, then worth $1,213,300, in the will of Mrs. May Rockwell Page of Bristol, CT, widow of a General Motors vice president. She had been a loyal "Happiness Exchange" listener on WMGM. I remember that Joe would always say:

“Have no fear, Big Joe is here. I don’t wanna be rich, I can’t be good looking....All I wanna be is happy, and what do you want to be. You do, well good, until four o’clock in the morning, let’s be happy together, because somebody cares.

Somebody cares about you
And every little thing that you might do
Somebody cares if you sleep well at night
If your dreams have gone wrong
Or your day has gone right
Somebody cares if you’re blue
And worries til the sun comes shining thru
Please believe me it's so
But in case you didn’t know

Somebody Cares.”

My father’s name was Joe, which made listening to Joe even more attractive. Joe made urbanity a small family He was the clear communicator, especially educating me about chiropractic, which my father depended upon to ease his back pain. What I learned about that profession still is with me til today.

In addition to NBC the radio stations playing music were:

WPAT (music only) in Patterson: Paul diSovino was the radio engineer then he hired me in Hartford to be his voice on WLAE. 93.7 FM

WMGM: Ted Brown and the Redhead in the AM WINS: ”Listen to Lacy” WNEW: ”William b Williams”:” Good evening world, this is William b Williams” Theme “You are the One” aquvia

WNEW re-established the "Make Beleive Ballroom" at WABC on January 4, 1954. The pioneer DJ filled more than 4 hours starting at 2:35 on weekdays and in morning and evening slots on Saturdays. Announcer Martin Block was the first radio disc jockey to become a star in his own right. Late in 1934, WNEW/New York hired Block, where he played music while the station awaited developments in the trial of accused kidnapper Bruno Richard Hauptmann. Block created the illusion that he was broadcasting from a ballroom with the nation’s top dance bands performing live. Block appropriated the name Make-Believe Ballroom and the show was an instant hit.

Make Believe Ballroom became so popular that when WNEW moved to a new studio on Fifth Avenue, they constructed a simulated ballroom—complete with chandelier and black linoleum—for Block’s broadcasts. Block left Make-Believe Ballroom on January 1, 1954 to host The Martin Block Show for ABC Radio. Towards the end of his career, he was heard on WOR/New York. At the time I was a drape hanger driving and one day under the Bronx EL Martin Block bemoaned the onslaught of the vulgarities and dissonance of rock. Of course I agreed and sympathized with Block; One day he announced that his station due to its ratings brought on by the alternates in taste and style that the Make Believe ballroom was going off the air. I remember listening to the last broadcast as he played the songs and the for the last time signed off. My heart broke.

Martin Block died September 18, 1967. Martin Block was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988. Of course I could think of nothing I’d like to do more than be a disc jockey. What I did not count on is that: ”things change”. It was devastating and important because my link to the future with all the values I cherished was failing, falling and disintegrating and I was being abandoned to be alone and a ship at sea with an anchor. All my anchors were being abolished and with it my easy inclinations and intuition for career and potential applications of natural talent.

Commercials (Jingles)

LSMFT "Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco"; I’d Walk A Mile for A Camel

Alka seltzer. Alka seltzer…(like the hiss of trains going faster and faster) TV

Mary, Mary with Mary Hartman, Late night TV: one of Woody Allen’s former wives.

  • Radio in 200 includes greats such as rush Limbo and Garrison Keeler doing “Prairie Home companion” which is revival of old time radio, as I knew it a child combining Arthur Godfrey, etc.


Ethel And Albert, which - also titled The Private Lives Of Ethel And Albert - began life on American ABC radio (1944-1950), then transferred to TV (1953-56, first for NBC then CBS and finally ABC) before returning to radio as The Couple Next Door. The TV version starred Peg Lynch (also the series' author) and Alan Bunce as the Arbuckles, who lived in Sandy Harbor. Before finding fame as a film actor, Richard Widmark played Albert when the series first aired on radio. One of the earliest forces for women in American radio and TV, Lynch, born in 1917, continues to perform Ethel And Albert scripts at US universities up to the 1990s. Peg’s voice and the candor between the two-presented conversation and communication between a married couple that I could net hear in my own home. It was revealing and demonstrated a functional relationship.

Morey Amsterdam was an early face on television and my father said he grew up with Morey. It turns out that my father must have mistaken Morey for someone else. At the time entertainers did not tell all the details of there background so I assumed my father’s story was correct. Comedian, actor Morey was born in Chicago: 12/14/1908

The wisecracking television writer on the Dick Van Dyke Show started his career in vaudeville and on the nightclub circuit in the 1930s and made the move to television in the 1940s. Remembered for his corny jokes, Amsterdam also appeared on television's Broadway Open House, Keep talking and Hollywood Squares.

TV Programs: (1,605 words)

All of TV was a kind of awesome experience for our family and friends. We believed that we will save money because we won’t go so much to the movies” and we can see what our friends are seeing; and “everyone else that is anybody is getting one”.

Seeing characters and personalities we grew up imagining on radio and experiencing the transformation from radio to movies or TV was like seeing gods. Seeing superman, lone ranger, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, etc.

I can remember the theaters all competing by offering lower prices and “air-conditioning” and extra shows, etc. I remember the “stage shows “ which lured one and all to pack the theatres. You could not beat seeing your favorite personality in person. Oh yes, there was then getting tickets and seeing live broadcasts. As we did with radio, so we di with TV: We saw Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason and others. Part of the excitement, was starting to finally see some of our most beloved radio personalities…in person…on TV. It was very odd. In person on TV. Real to see but not actually there. Just like radio.. To hear, but not to see. Some how the visual was more dramatic.

When TV went from black and white to color was very traumatic and exciting. It seemed wonderful. Eventually we fond watching TV to be an inexpensive pacifier while living in places where we needed inexpensive way to pass the time as well and satisfy our need for entertainment and contact with the world we knew. This was particularly true in Puerto Rico and Saudia Arabia.

The earliest Programs I can recall

  • Don McNeal and the Breakfast club (radio and related to Fran Allison)The show was divided into four 15-minute segments for the "four calls to breakfast," and featured music, comedy, inspirational verse and McNeill’s sunny, easygoing personality. Supporting players included actress Fran Allison as the gossipy Aunt Fanny and Sam Cowling, who offered "Fact and Fiction from Sam’s Almanac."

o I had listened to Franny for years as a baby growing up; now to see her was amazing.

Fran Allison is perhaps best known for playing the warm-hearted human foil to the Kuklapolitan Players, a troupe of puppets familiar to almost every viewer in the early days of U.S. television. Allison appeared with the puppets on the children's program Kukla, Fran and Ollie, which aired regularly from 1947 to 1957 and in subsequent reunions in the late 1960s and mid-1970s.

  • Kukla, fran and Ollie {1947) I was 10 and we had just got our TV. Knowing this date will help to link other activities, such as ShoreHaven, Work, School, etc. I knew Fran Allison from Don Mc Neil’s “Breakfast Club”; I remember watching the very show on which she first appeared. She was so nice! Just right for a 10-year-old boy!

¨ John Cameron Swazee was the first TV newsman in 1948: sponsored by Timex watch. I watched his first and last broadcast, and most in between. Even today I have a Timex watch with a Spidel watch band (Spidel was the Sponsor of the Paul Winchel and Jerry Mahoney Show; Starring Paul Winchell and mc’d by the same MC of Groucho Marx: ”You bet your Life “ show (on radio)




¨ Show Of Shows: 1950 with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca and costarring Carl Reiner and Robert Alda with writers such as Woody Allen.

Your Show of Shows aired on NBC, Saturday 9-10:30pm. The program starred Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, and Howard Morris, and was produced by Max Liebman. The show's writers included, among others, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Woody Allen, Lucille Kallen, Mel Tolkin and Larry Gelbart.


Captain Video (Al Hodge) and the Video Ranger (Don Hastings) are alerted to a dangerous situation on a distant planet, by one of the Video Rangers stationed all over the galaxy! Leaving their secret mountain headquarters on Earth, Video and the Ranger will rush in the giant space ship Galaxy II to continue their never-ending battle against crime, tyranny, injustice and the unreasoning fury of nature!


Later as we moved from city to city, country to country we noticed the differences and similarities to programs we knew in New York. We compared announcers, styles, quality of picture and preparation. In Puerto Rico we watched laugh in wit sub-titles. In Saudi Arabia we watched the fist stations as they came on the air, reminding me of the early days when we watched Dumont's teat patterns. You could really notice the difference in the local news as to the subjects and pictures compared to other places and topics. It was a study in itself. However as time went on TV’s value to report live events filled air time and soon wars, hurricanes, disasters, and most horribly terrorist attacks. We watched the two gulf wars live and then the terrorists attack on the world trade center on September 11,2001.

Roller Derby featured female roller skaters usually in a tag team being up ON each other as the rolled around the rink. I had especial empathy for them since I skated in rink at the Fordham Skating rink.

Other firsts were John Daily and the News; and of course wrestling with the likes of Gorgeous George.

Goldbergs (509 words) Radio was exploding then, stations merging into networks, with fierce competition for new potential hits. But Berg's show went on the air unsponsored because no one wanted to be first with a European program. By 1932, "The Goldberg’s" was one of the two or three most popular shows on radio. In 1936, it moved from evenings to days. It ended its radio run March 30, 1945, and while it would resurface four years later for a brief radio encore and five years of TV, 1945 was already far removed from 1929. "Better a crust of bread and enjoy it than a cake that gives you indigestion" Was good everyday wisdom during the Depression? In 1945, with the smell of prosperity in the air, it sounded like something grandma would say. To keep up, Berg moved the Goldberg family to the suburb of Haverhill. Rosalie joined the girl scouts and Jake ran for the town council, where he could no longer say things like, "I'm the father here, and I won't stand for any more of this shilly-shallying."






Stage Shows

The art deco interior design and interior architecture are magnificent.

Radio City Music Hall was a bright beacon in dark days - a celebration of light and life. When the stock market crashed in 1929, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. held a $91 million, 24-year lease on a piece of midtown Manhattan property properly known as "the speakeasy belt." Plans to gentrify the neighborhood by building a new Metropolitan Opera House on the site were dashed by the failing economy and the business outlook was dim. Nevertheless, Rockefeller made a bold decision that would leave a lasting impact on the city's architectural and cultural landscape. He decided to build an entire complex of buildings on the property—buildings so superior that they would attract commercial tenants even in a depressed city flooded with vacant rental space. The project would express the highest ideals of architecture and design and stand as a symbol of optimism and hope.

Christmas at Rockefeller Center is a Holiday Tradition.

Lights twinkling on the tree, skaters gliding across the ice, carols ringing in the air and the annual Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.

Rockefeller Center is the nation's favorite Christmas destination. The spirit of the laborers who decorated the first tree on the site almost seventy years ago lives on in the giant, gloriously lit spruce that graces the Plaza throughout the holiday season. The tree lighting ceremony draws huge crowds eagerly awaiting the official start of the season. And for weeks, the sight of the gossamer angels with golden trumpets and the sound of music in the winter air stop happy kids and harried commuters in their tracks.

I have seen so many performances at This theater but the most breath taking was the Ravel’s Bolero where the drummer soldiers come marching down the aisles from behind and then opening up on the both side lodges balconies to full orchestra while the dancers on stage perform under the lights. In all the theatres including radio city there was the beautiful Hammond organ. Often there was a piece or two by the organist. And, nothing could be more dramatic then the orchestra rising out of the pit while playing in the dark seeing only the lights of the music stands and then the lights slowly glow to reveal them.

Capitol - built in 1919 by Thomas W. Lamb (5,230 seats) - demolished

*Palace - 1564 Broadway @ 47th (Nederlander-1, 683 seats

RKO Roxy Theatre - 6th Avenue & 49th Street - 1932 - 6200 seats - 1933 name changed to RKO Center Theatre Roxy Theatre -

Rialto Theatre

Rivoli

Comedy

Humor is a social confirmation of metaphors. Secular humor diverts us from our spiritual inclinations while allying us to our fleshly world. While humor is my favorite way of communicating I am mindful that it diverts as James 4:9; Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom”. Where God encourages us to be sober in these perilous times. Times where evil lurks in our midst. Actors, comics, announcers and narrators all put voices and personalities to the thousands of faces and bodies I’d see daily on the streets of New York...

The urban persona avoids God by satire. In their rebellion, they attack rather than acknowledge sin. They are a hairline away from being evangelist where the word of God exposes folly, vice and stupidity and man is led to eternal life. Rebellious souls attack and expose folly, vice and stupidity with irony, sarcasm or cosmetic wit to acknowledge and accept to lead to eternal death. This humor desensitizes and inhibits maturity and spiritual growth. Jesus says blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted and the truth shall set you free. He wants us to face our selves with Him and let him and His Holy Spirit transform and redeem us not acknowledge and accept, laughing our way to eternal damnation. However, humor and comic relief works well in preaching and personal evangelism. It all in the timing and knowing when to shift and close with an altar call. A preacher named John Warneke is an expert in such humor. My contemporary and fellow Bronxite, Earl Carlin did the same.

Before he died he was even is as blunt as I. . I attack human vice and folly through irony, derision, and hopefully, wit. Like comics, I hope to expose the folly, vice and stupidity. My art is satiricIn the tradition of The National Lampoon (between 1973 and 74) and the Fire sign theater From the time I can remember there were comics and there humor. Most of their humor seemed so relevant and gauged for people like us. We listened to them on radio, then on television and saw them in the movies. There were the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Sid Caesar, Henny Youngman, Mort Saul, etc. But those were the famous media related comics. There were so many others that entertained at Shore haven and the hotels in the Adorondex Mountains and European Theater. Ed Sullivan had stand up comics on one per week and they’re other variety shows on radio and TV having stand-up comics. People liked to laugh.

There was vaudeville and the comics that appeared on the stage shows at the Roxy, Radio City, Strand, etc. They defined the culture and explained our urban dilemmas. They called our attention to the heart and passion of cross and multi culturalism in the confines of our city. They gave our world a voice and characterized us.

We could see ourselves, friends, children and parents in their humor, jokes and comedies.Most of the humor was about Urban and common conditions such as marriage, relationships, driving, the police, army life, politics and political leaders, and our jobs.

The jokes were about life in the city and relations with neighbors and relatives. Many comedians made us aware of the clashes and farce of mixing cultures and the nonsense that conflicting behaviors present. People suffering from these sometime frustrating language, meaning, vocabulary, and behavioral difference could only derive this kind of observation and 0presentaion in urban contexts. There were lots of mother-in-law jokes and many jokes about wife’s cooking and husband’s quirks.

Fiber Magee and Molly, Archie, Ethel and Albert, My Friend Irma, and others poked fun at married life and how we say and do things that are ridiculous. The writers of theses programs were comic writers and famous in there own right. TV’s Milton Berle did it all by totally making a fool out of himself every Tuesday night. Martin and Lewis were latecomers mostly seen in the movies.

Feigned ignorance as Irony in humor has prevailed much of my adult life. I am particularly alert to the incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs and will resort to the use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning. I will try to make a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning. Between sarcasm and irony many around me find themselves off guard but favoring my compassion and concern.

Irony and noticing ironic situations seems to have prevailed in my persona and self expression. In his explanation of “Ironic Detachment as an Escape from Routine” Christopher Lasch explains that anxious self-scrutiny not only serves to regulate information signaled to others and to interpret signals received; it also establishes an ironic distance from the deadly routine of daily life. On the one hand, the degradation of work makes skill and competence increasingly irrelevant to material success and thus encourages the presentation of the self as a commodity; on the other hand, it discourages commitment to the job and drives people, as the only alternative to boredom and despair, to view work with self-critical detachment. It is a way of framing the circumstance and thereby making is it a metaphor with ones self as the subject. When jobs consist of little more than meaningless motions, and when social routines, formerly dignified as ritual, degenerate into role playing, the worker—whether he toils on an assembly line or holds down a high-paying job in a large bureaucracy—seeks to escape from the resulting sense of in-authenticity by creating an ironic distance from his daily routine. I attempt to transform role playing into a symbolic elevation of daily life. I takes refuge in jokes, mockery, and cynicism. When I go to a party, I show by my actions that it's all a game—false, artificial, insincere; a grotesque travesty of sociability. In this way I attempt to make myself invulnerable to the pressures of the situation. By refusing to take seriously the routines I have to perform, I deny their capacity to injure. Although I assume that it is impossible to alter the iron limits imposed by society, a detached awareness of those limits seems to make them matter less. By demystifying daily life, I conveys to myself and others the impression that I have risen beyond it, even as I go through the motions and does what is expected.


Eve Arden Biography Born in Mill Valley, California/USA
April 30, 1907
Real Name: Eunice Quedens Died: November 12, 1990 (heart failure)
Our Miss Brooks Best known as “Connie Brooks” on both the radio and TV versions of Our Miss Brooks, and as mother-in-law “Eve Hubbard” on the 1960s TV series The Mothers-In-Law, Eve Arden’s career spanned seven decades. Born Eunice Quedens in Mill Valley, California, she began her career on stage with the Alcazar Stock Company and the Bandbox Repertory Theatre. She made her on screen debut in the 1929 film Song of Love, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the film Mildred Pierce.

Arden’s other films included Stage Door and Anatomy of a Murder, and late in life she became recognizable to a whole new generation of kids as “Principal McGee” in Grease.

  • There were also Olson and Johnson; Burns and Allen; Charlie Chaplain: I bought a 16-mm movie projector and Charlie Chaplin films in black and white.
  • And, Three Stooges; Amos and Andy; William Bendix: The Life of Riley
  • Peter Sellers and, Jan Murray (he graduated form my junior high school and spoke at my graduation)
  • Also, Edgar Bergen and Imogene Coca.
  • Earnie Kovacs, entertainer and TV show host from the 1950s. His show was a gas, along the lines of the Steve Allen and Jimmy Durante shows. Every body said I look like him:

I also found humor in books. When I attended public school we were taught to read and appreciated books. One of the books we read for several years was:” The Good Earth”. We found it funny that when after the settlers stopped prayed, read the bible; they always ate porridge. It was reported with such clarify and simplicity. As children ,the predictability and mundane nature of the report and their diet seemed funny .


Broadway shows and music such as New York, New York; Chicago, San Francisco are all urban Jazz teaching us the virtues of urbanity. They lament, personify, portray, picture, and overlay the sticks and stones with emotion, color, tone, attitude and personality. I bought a 16mm projector and black and white Charlie chaplain films, which I watched and showed to my family before television.

They personified the cosmopolitan urban mind. It was the content and subject of their humor. They would observe and reveal our obvious behaviors and help us see them and agree by our laughter that our behavior was at variance with good sense and logic. It was always hilarious. They key to there success was there writers for the material and the timing of there delivery of the material.

Some of them dared to point out the absurdity and bedlam of our choices to perpetrate urbanity and its inevitable pitfalls. I was able to see parallels to our home life and my parent’s situation. I realized that my parents were preparing me for the foul play and farce of much of life’s challenges. The late fifties and early sixties brought the humor of Henry Morgan, Lenny Bruce and Nat Hentoff: Lenny was a metaphysical philosopher whose method of expressions defied the first amendment and got him ruled off limits and so ruined his career. Other and I enjoyed his insights and revelations but not his use of vulgar language. It was this language that caused the problems. In December 2003 the governor of New York pardoned Lenny Bruce who died at age 37 so many years before.

I have come up with a number of humorous and occasionally funny lines; as:

I only smoke when I’m burning.

The real world; where nothing makes sense like non-sense.

My own experience with using Indian and Pakistani vocabulary and accents mirrors those of the actor and comedian Peter Sellers. In so doing I gained an identity and manner which is comfortable and clear. In this guise and accent I use such expressions as “very terrible” ;namis de” etc. I also find it very easy to wag my head in compliance and acceptance during a conversation.



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1 Comments:

At June 19, 2013 at 12:14 PM , Blogger yizkor book family trip said...

I am also writing my memoirs. It must be a sign of age. Anyway, I was remembering my days at CCHS and specifically the high school orchestra with Mr. Trunz as the conductor. Thanks you provided me with his first name. Do you have any idea of the student population in the late 1940's?
Thanks,
Florette Lynn

 

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