35

“Who are You? Who Who, Who Who”

Posted by Nelson on June 19, 2011 in Life Wisdom

The Title above is in the Chorus of a Seventies song by the “Who” if written in the fall of 1940, I would be singing it as I was being held upside down by my ankles.  There I was dangling head down being shaken like a Pepper or Salt shaker  until the intense burning between my shoulder blades suddenly ceased.

But let’s leave me in that predicament for the moment and calendar forward to the spring of 1948 when Mother received a letter from her ex-husband, my Dad, inviting me to spend the summer with him and his wife at their home in Redondo Beach California.  Bear in mind that I had known intelligence revealing who my Father was or how I would respond to him.  Mother always confident in her actions prepared and sent me off on the Journey of a Life Time.  This California summer was followed by additional three summers that spurred Winters of anticipation with a lot of “California Dreaming” many years before the “Mamas and the Papas” made it famous.

These summer vacations introduced me to Airplanes and the thrill of Flying.  Dad you see was the Chief Maintenance Officer for the Los Angles Airport hub of American Airlines.  He sent me Non-Revenue Tickets (Free Tickets) and I would fly on American’s famed DC 6 aircraft unescorted at the age of Eleven.  As Irony would have it fourteen years later in 1962 I would be working for the same company, Douglas Aircraft, that built those DC-6′s and in the very same Santa Monica factory. Only now instead of building Aircraft I would be building the Jigs and Fixtures used to assemble the Saturn S-IV rocket that one day carried the Astronauts to the moon.

Those four summers exposed me to the wonderful world that California proudly boasted and promoted.  Because of my Dad I was able go places and meet people that would never happen in my other life back home.   Two occasions standing out were one, the California premier of Lowell Thomas’s travelogue filmed in Cinerama, the precursor to today’s IMAX.  It was at the famed “RKO Pantages” theater that we viewed the revolutionary film.  I can still feel myself holding on to the seat to keep from falling off the Roller Coaster ride portion of the film.  All this is old hat today but in 1952 this was unbelievably exciting. The second was when I met “Glen Davis”.  Mr “Outside” of West Point Army football fame.  Doc Blanchard and Glen Davis, Mr Inside and Mr Outside, both Heisman Trophy winners and the most exciting men in College sports in the mid 1940′s.

Mr. Outside, Glen Davis<------------------>Mr. Inside Doc Blanchard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heady days for a teenager getting his first taste of the outside world.  I never really bonded with my Dad.  He worked during the days and frankly drank rather heavily in the Evenings and on the Weekends.  But he did his best I suppose to expand my horizons to the larger World.  The First family picture of Dad with me is below.   I do not remember it or anything prior to the first summer with him in 1948.

 

None of this explains why I’m dangling by my ankles in the first paragraph does it?  The year is 1940.  The place is a bed bug ridden home on Tioga Street, Philadelphia, Penna.  I’m in the kitchen standing next to the sink.  My brother Clayton is talking to a Man across the room.  The Man is smoking and talking.  I haven’t a clue who he is until later when I discovered his identity as my Father.  He is visiting his family after  his divorce from my Mother.  I did notice however the Cigarette in his hand which was suddenly propelled by his thumb and forefinger  over my head to the sink that was intended for its’ burial.   Dad, as I’ll call him now, was a great Aircraft Mechanic but not much of a cigarette flicker it seems.  The cigarette butt hit wall behind the sink ricocheting back up landing on my scrawny neck then sliding down inside my shirt coming to a rest between my shoulder blades where it initiated a howling Indian war dance routine.   The Cigarette flicker I must admit was quick to my rescue by grabbing my ankles and hanging me upside shaking me till the smoldering butt exited leaving me with the much need relief.  So there you have it, a scene describing my actual first known meeting with my Dad.  And the irony of this post is that today, 10 am June 19, 2011, as I document this piece of family trivia is Father’s Day.   Go figure!

 

Who are you?  Who Who, Who Who

 

Young Man<——————————————-> Successful Man

Old Man<———————————————->Dying Man

 

I'm a 74 year old man who loves this new medium of Blogging. I am also an Senior Manager in Send Out Cards which gives me a superior method of relating to the world through Greeting Cards. I have met and enjoyed wonderful friends who support me and actually LIKE me which is very rewarding. My online presence is growing and if I can hang on to life I will reap the benefits of establishing a business that will comfort me when I get old. Mostly however I Blog about my life which for some strange reason is well received. Like most of us the future is scary and the remembrance of older days give a measure of comfort. So I continue to reveal the past with optimism that the future will some day be the comfort of somebody else.

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38

“Mother’s Spit”

Posted by Nelson on May 15, 2011 in Life Wisdom

Saturday nights often were special nights.  Those who have read, The Saturday night Bath and Butterkruchen,

remember that my family indulged ourselves in the Saturday ritual of bathing. The Saturday night cleanings often made me presentable enough for dates.  These dating opportunities laid the foundation for much of the values that make up what I am today.

 

But before I get into the saucy details of my social dating, just where does a young man go to impress a lady?  That’s where my Mother came to my rescue.  Chinatown! Mother loved culture and she took great pains to see her youngest get exposed to a life not lived in our neighborhood.  The first time I saw Chinatown I couldn’t have been more than six years old.

The Chinatown Entrance Gate

Gate at night like an Chinese Dragon welcoming you into its’ lair

Mother liked to take me down there in the early evenings when the rhythmic pulse of the community was in its’ best display.  We never went to the same Restaurant but always prowled for the different or most authentic.


Many times however a movie replaced the Chinatown excursion capped with a stop for a Black and White Milk Shake or in Moms case a Chocolate Ice Cream Soda.

These occasions with Mother came with a price. Etiquette classes! I was schooled in table manners, proper way to walk with a lady, and most importantly how to listen and talk in a meaningful conversation.  Things like not excusing yourself from the table to blow your nose to this day strike terror in me because I can still see Mothers rod of correction (her right arm) mounting its’ attack to my bottom.

These lessons went on and never really stopped until Mom was satisfied that her son would not embarrass himself or his company because of his lack of manners.

 

Memories of these times with Mom reinforce the feelings of how important it is for parents to instruct and train the charges under their influence.  Fifty years after my graduating from Mothers Boot Camp I was visiting her.  Time had taken its’ measure on her.  Nearly blind and hosting a dozen different ailments in that frail frame, Mom ask me to take her out one last time for one of our Mother-Son dinner dates.  So off we went to a nice county restaurant.  Only now I was one helping her navigate with the eyes she gave me at birth as her own eyes had long ceased to service her.  It was hilarious seeing me instruct her that the peas were at three o’clock and the meat at six o’clock on her plate.   To watch and listen as her wisdom and intellect remained robust while her  loss of hand to mouth coordination transported me back to my own attempts at dinning in those restaurants of Chinatown.  Like the Chinatown Dinners from years gone by, a good meal had to have a dessert that was some derivative of those cherished Chocolate ice cream sodas which in short order entered a place of honor with the mash potatoes and gravy on her smiling grateful face.

 

Now it’s my turn to grab a hanky and apply some of what would pass for that time tested cleaner “Mothers Spit”.  The waitress watching me ask if I needed anything to which I responded “Maybe a garden hose would help”.  Mom started laughing, I started laughing and the waitress  laughing brought me another supply of napkins.  That was the last time I was with Mom.  She died a short time later and all I can say to her going and my loss is,

Well done thou Good and Faithful Servant

Certainly you’ve guessed by now my early Social Dating life was with that Life Molding Woman who first taught me the value a woman’s companionship.

Bee Bee

My Friend and Mother

 


I'm a 74 year old man who loves this new medium of Blogging. I am also an Senior Manager in Send Out Cards which gives me a superior method of relating to the world through Greeting Cards. I have met and enjoyed wonderful friends who support me and actually LIKE me which is very rewarding. My online presence is growing and if I can hang on to life I will reap the benefits of establishing a business that will comfort me when I get old. Mostly however I Blog about my life which for some strange reason is well received. Like most of us the future is scary and the remembrance of older days give a measure of comfort. So I continue to reveal the past with optimism that the future will some day be the comfort of somebody else.

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36

” The Mother Lode”

Posted by Nelson on April 30, 2011 in Life Wisdom

It was a small bag probably three inches wide and six or seven inches long with a pull string sowed in the top.  Made of sturdy cotton or muslin which allowed it to slip into your pocket.  I preferred to tuck it under my belt  letting it hang down my side like an Indian’s prized scalps.  All I needed is a Loincloth to complete this image.

However I would not be in the Forest this day and the preferred covering would be heavy corded Knickers.  Today I would be spending many hours on my knees matching my professional Marble skills with other neighborhood kids.  The bag hanging on my side housed a stash of marbles won from past “For Keepsies” contests and among them, in addition to a stick of chalk and a length of string, were my two prize “Aggie Shooters”, Pearlie and Old Blue.

 

For some what I’m gonna say now will seem far fetched or just plain gross.  As center City Concrete Street urchins during a particularly difficult time for the Nation, the shortages of certain products were legion.  One such shortage was Chewing Gum.

The Fleers Chewing Gum Co


 

Fleers has been producing Gum since the 1800′s but had to cease production during the Second World War because essential ingredients were imported from Asia.  Not that we could afford chewing gum, it just wasn’t readily available.  So as enterprising “Knuckle down, Keepsies playing, Marble athletes” we discovered a substitute that produced the satisfying Chewing and Spitting tough guy visual necessary.

 

 

Digressing from above for a moment, I would like you visualize the neighborhood that housed me.  Block after block of row homes sitting on street after street of concrete.  Truly a “Concrete Jungle” putting the old rhyme “step on a crack and break your Mothers back” to good use.  A product made from heating pine tree wood and resin was widely used to fill the millions of cracks that developed in that maze of concrete.  Tar is what it was called.  Been around since the Colonial days when it was used to seal boats and occasionally Tar and Feather miscreants as a form of Vigilante Justice.

 

Back to the Chewing and Spitting tough guy stuff.   On hot and humid days that Tar resin in those cracks softened. If you found a particularly large crack you could grab  the crusty top of the Tar and pull it out of the crack revealing a seemly clean, so we thought, shiny soft ball of Tar easily broken off becoming many hours worth of satisfying chewing and spitting.  There you have it, little seven and eight year old kids playing Marbles chewing and spitting, acting out on what we saw in the older kids.

 

Rules for the game of Marbles varied with the age of players.  For instance the size of the Marble ring could be anywhere from 3 foot to 10 foot.  The play was similar to to how a game of Pool could be played.  A really good player with a solid heavy shooter could possibly run the ring and get all the Marbles.  When I hear “He’s lost his Marbles“, “He’s won all the Marbles“, or “He’s Knuckling Down” memories of this fun game, Marbles, makes me laugh because I can feel that Chaw of Tar exercising my Jaw.

 

As for the reference to “The Mother Lode“, on occasions we would come across Roofers resealing roofs with Fresh Hot Tar.  You guessed it.  By Hook or Crook we would get some of that Virgin Tar for those days when the Streets yield of Chewable Tar was slim.

 

 

I'm a 74 year old man who loves this new medium of Blogging. I am also an Senior Manager in Send Out Cards which gives me a superior method of relating to the world through Greeting Cards. I have met and enjoyed wonderful friends who support me and actually LIKE me which is very rewarding. My online presence is growing and if I can hang on to life I will reap the benefits of establishing a business that will comfort me when I get old. Mostly however I Blog about my life which for some strange reason is well received. Like most of us the future is scary and the remembrance of older days give a measure of comfort. So I continue to reveal the past with optimism that the future will some day be the comfort of somebody else.

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17

OTC and Horseradish

Posted by Nelson on April 17, 2011 in Life Wisdom

It’s late on a Friday evening and a small group of Tradesmen were in a local Pub for their weekly meeting.  They call themselves “The Leather Apron Club” later to be Nicknamed “The Junto”.  Ben is talking and the others are listening.  This scene is repeated thousands of times over the next decade with always the  same purpose.  How can they better themselves and their Businesses.

 

The pulsating Heartbeat of America is Entrepreneurs networking together. The above meeting takes place in 1727, and Ben is the one and only “Ben Franklin“.  While Ben is not the discoverer of the American Entrepreneurial Spirit.  He does epitomize the obsessive nature of Americans to succeed.

 

Fast forward a hundred plus years.  The city is the same, Philadelphia.  The Spirit of individualism is still thriving.  Visualize a typical center city block of homes.  Row homes 14 foot wide configured in a straight through manner.  A living room with a stair case on one wall.  Next the dinning room then the kitchen with a back door leading to the Concrete back yard.   Where I lived, 2528 W Silver St., was between 25th Street and 26th Street.  One block of 54 row homes, 27 homes on each side of the street.  Block after Block of tiny 14 foot wide row homes. Thousands and Thousands of them seemly without end stuffed full with humans.

This was years before Walmart and Strip malls, who like giant Hoarders, display  endless mounds of stuff available for purchase.  We had what I prefer think something better.  A home delivery system of limited products and services.  Several mornings each week I would hear the clip clop beat of the Horse drawn Milk wagon.  It was so cool to watch the ballet of Horse and Milk Man delivering those white bottles of essential nectar.   The Milk Man would exit at the beginning of the street loaded with Milk in a metal carrier.  The Horse would continue on and stop precisely where needed for the next refilling.  The Milk we received was Pasteurized but not Homogenized.  Therefore we got a “Two Fer”.  Low fat milk and heavy cream in the same bottle.  The cream rose to the top and was a cherished extra for Ice Cream making, Coffee enhancements and some of the Worlds best remembered home cooking.  I was the gatherer of the milk when delivered and I still laugh at how I loved seeing the cream freeze in the Winter pushing the cardboard bottle cap up and forming that delightful tower of creamy goodness.  It was during this period that a popular song was coined and sung by many singers of the day.  “Ella Mae Morse” probably was the most popular and the song was Milk Man, keep those Bottles Quite“.

 

Along with the Milk Man,  a steady flow of Merchants traveled down the Block.  The Ice Man stopping at every home that had an Ice Card in the window.  These Cards were large Square waxed cardboard signs with printed numbers on each edge.   25    50    75    100 You put the number which was the pounds of ice you wanted delivered at the bottom.   The Ice Man would deftly wield his ice pick chiseling the proper sized block of ice needed.  Then with Ice Thongs swing the ice block up onto his Leather padded shoulder and carried it into the home putting it into the bottom ice drawer of the trusty wooden Ice Box. You didn’t even have to be home to receive this service.  You just left the door unlocked.  Try that today.  We had Knife Sharpeners, Pots and Pan repairers (panhandlers), in season Vegetables, and many other human needs, all marching down those endless blocks of Humanity.  Other than the regular trades, ie: Milk, Bread, Ice,  each purveyor of these services would announce at the entrance of the Block with a loud Shout what they were selling.  As they traveled through the block people, if they had a need, would come out of the homes and do business with the Tradesman.

 

In the Summer when the Sun would melted the tar in the cracks of the streets, the most welcome sound for the kids would be the shout of the “Snow Cone” man.  He was, to the us, our “Good Humor” man.  He pushed a large wooden cart with open sided cap.  Inside was a large block of ice ringed with Bottles of flavored syrup.  Root Beer, Grape, Vanilla, and many other flavors.  My pick was always Root Beer or Vanilla.  He would take a metal ice shaver and make the best ice snow cone any seven year old ever tasted.  And all for five cents.  What a summer treat.

Bare in mind these neighborhoods were populated ethnically.  German, Italian, Irish, and Black.  So in addition to the usual Trades you would also have the “merchant specialist” selling to the predominate Ethnicity of the Block. The area of Philadelphia where I lived was called Swampoodle and had a large German population.  So one of the Merchants that serviced us was the Horseradish man.  Horseradish, get your Horseradish. Always loud and always accompanied with a stringent aroma as he entered the Block.  Very popular guy in the German neighborhood.  This was no ordinary Horseradish.  This was Horseradish on Steroids.  Sinus clearing, eye burning, colon cleansing Horseradish. I still love the stuff on Prime Rib or Hot Roast Beef sandwiches.  You may be wondering what “OTC” in the Post title means.   Original Trenton Crackers” A hard compact cracker made for Oyster stews and appetizers with Horseradish or cocktail sauce. Many restaurants would have as an appetizer on their tables Creamy Horseradish and OTC’s.  Not unlike Salsa and Chips in a Mexican restaurants today.

 

This Life was repeated over and over in the cities of America.  It is what honed us to be what we are today.  And I suppose every county has some History of Ethnic culture that is also a treasured memory to its’ people.  I love my Life, both present and past, but it is always the past that warms my heart and floats strong emotions through my wrinkled noggin.

Horseradish, Get your Horseradish!

 

I'm a 74 year old man who loves this new medium of Blogging. I am also an Senior Manager in Send Out Cards which gives me a superior method of relating to the world through Greeting Cards. I have met and enjoyed wonderful friends who support me and actually LIKE me which is very rewarding. My online presence is growing and if I can hang on to life I will reap the benefits of establishing a business that will comfort me when I get old. Mostly however I Blog about my life which for some strange reason is well received. Like most of us the future is scary and the remembrance of older days give a measure of comfort. So I continue to reveal the past with optimism that the future will some day be the comfort of somebody else.

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14

It’s 5 O’Clock

Posted by Nelson on March 27, 2011 in Life Wisdom

It’s getting close to 5 o’clock and the Postman hasn’t arrived.   Getting worried,   my favorite Radio show is about to start and I’m not prepared.

Before Television invaded the Family there was Radio.  Weekday afternoons and evenings the Ether waves transmitted any number of programs designed to captivate and addict children with adventure and suspense. Tom Mix, Jack Armstrong (The All American Boy), and my personal favorite, Captainnnn Midnight.

 

To this day I still see myself tuning the Zenith Magic Eye Radio with the precision of a Surgeon getting the absolute best reception possible.  Mondays through Thursdays I would, when not engaged in outside activities, positioned my scrawny frame in front of that “Magic Eye” and enter a World of intrigue and action.  Radio could do that.  Imagination of seven year old is a magical thing.  From Jack Armstrong and Tom Mix to Captainnnn Midnight I ventured through amazing adventures. I spent hours with Tom Mix catching rustlers and all sorts of Western bandits. I traveled the world on exciting quests with Jack Armstrong and his Uncle.  But the ultimate was fighting the Nazi’s while flying planes in Europe with Captainnnn Midnight.

I feel the vibes of doubt from some of you reading this.  Perhaps the hours viewing “MTV” has fried the “Imagination nodules” of your Cerebral Cortex.   Don’t doubt me!  I routinely was transported though the Radio waves and into Captainnn Midnights Secret Squadron“.  After all I had sent away for my “Secret Squadron” membership and the all important “Code-O-Graph” which if it hadn’t been for the “Bloody Postman” being late would be in my hands as I recall this episode.

Those great Radio programs all had sponsors that worked the listeners with determination and ingenuity.  Tom Mix had Ralston Purina Company of “Checkerboard Square“.  Jack Armstrong pushed “Wheaties” the Breakfast of Champions, and Captainnnn Midnight used “Ovaltine” as a medium for getting kids their daily vitamins in a tasty chocolate drink.  To this day I still love Ralston Purina Wheat Chex’s and Wheaties, who can not like them.  However I resently tried Ovaltine.  What was I thinking.  That stuff is awful.  But Captainnnn Midnight is still cool.

As it nears the shows end, Captainnnn Midnight begins to transmit the Secret Coded message to his “Secret Squadron

AZ BZJ RZYHDJ JZ AYCBS UZXY ZTKGJCBD

 

There it is, the secret message.  I copy it down for decoding later after the “Bloody Postman” finally delivers my “Secret Squadron” membership papers along with the super secret “Code-O-Graph“.  Captainnnn Midnight ends with his signature sign off to us Secret Squadron.

 

HAPPY LANDINGS.

 

P.S. Later under the cover of darkness (under a Blanket) I decode the message.

DO NOT FORGET TO DRINK YOUR OVALTINE

 

 

I'm a 74 year old man who loves this new medium of Blogging. I am also an Senior Manager in Send Out Cards which gives me a superior method of relating to the world through Greeting Cards. I have met and enjoyed wonderful friends who support me and actually LIKE me which is very rewarding. My online presence is growing and if I can hang on to life I will reap the benefits of establishing a business that will comfort me when I get old. Mostly however I Blog about my life which for some strange reason is well received. Like most of us the future is scary and the remembrance of older days give a measure of comfort. So I continue to reveal the past with optimism that the future will some day be the comfort of somebody else.

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28

“The Stalker”

Posted by Nelson on February 7, 2011 in Life Wisdom

Laying there in the grass behind the Stone wall I spied my prey walking towards me.  My mind surveyed the path it was taking as I steeled my body for the encounter.

Not sure why I have these thoughts and reminiscences at my age, but I do feel a warm cathartic surge bringing them to life.  My youth was often lonely and I quickly learned to entertain myself by acting out things read or seen in  movies.  A very natural event for a young boy or girl I suppose and I delved into these mind games with relish.

The time was 1945-46.  The place, Lansdowne, a Suburb of Philadelphia.  Our family had just moved to this strange place that had grass, trees, and creeks with clean water.  Things previously in short supply just a few weeks earlier. The concrete waste land of West Philadelphia did not lend itself to the luxuries of grass or anything green.  So, understandably, my new world rich with these new wonders had me living the dream and loving every moment.

The home Mother and my Grandparents purchased was a thing of wonder. Three floors with ten foot ceilings, six bedrooms, two bathrooms, fireplace and the best of all a basement with an Oil fired furnace.  Those who have read “The Saturday Night Bath and Butterkruchen” understand why I could be so excited over this home.  However the excitement was short lived.  I wasn’t aware, being inexperienced with this new green environment, that this wonderful green stuff, grass, bushes, and trees, required maintenance.  So my duties of cleaning the coal bin in the basement now transition to grass cutting and the other outdoor duties.  Even so I still was ecstatic over my good fortune.  Grass cutting trumps Coal bin cleaning every time.

This half acre of paradise was also the resident of a (sorry for this next word) humongous Apple tree.   Easily Thirty to Forty feet tall my new found tree became my love and when I was missing the family’s first search area was out back to the Apple Tree.  I would climb to the top where the branches were just wisps of wood and survey the neighborhood.  I could see over the house to the street. To me I was on top of the world and would spend hours climbing that tree.

By now I can imagine you are thinking, okay the old boy has “gone around the Bend” and has forgotten what started this story,  The “Stalker” laying behind the wall on the grassy lawn.  No I just wanted express how happy I was living in this Dream Land. Stalking this prey was to be repeated dozens of times over the next year.  I would vary the place to spring the trap, but always the prey was the same and the time never varied.  The prey had an unfailing ability to follow the same path and time to travel.

The prey appeared in front of me and I sprung into action leaping over the wall taking a boxers stance and shouting “ Put em up, Put em up,  go on I dare you Put em up”. Like I said I was a product of what I read and saw, and what I had recently seen and loved was the “Wizard of OZ” with Bert Lahr as the “Cowardly Lion”.  The Prey looked at me doing this Kabuki Dance and laughed putting her arms around me and walked me to our new home.  Yes, the Prey was my Mother and she never failed to laugh and enjoy her youngest who delighted in Stalking her.

I'm a 74 year old man who loves this new medium of Blogging. I am also an Senior Manager in Send Out Cards which gives me a superior method of relating to the world through Greeting Cards. I have met and enjoyed wonderful friends who support me and actually LIKE me which is very rewarding. My online presence is growing and if I can hang on to life I will reap the benefits of establishing a business that will comfort me when I get old. Mostly however I Blog about my life which for some strange reason is well received. Like most of us the future is scary and the remembrance of older days give a measure of comfort. So I continue to reveal the past with optimism that the future will some day be the comfort of somebody else.

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27

“Cocoon”

Posted by Nelson on January 25, 2011 in Life Wisdom

As I laid there, metaphorically speaking, staring at the inside of the Cocoon where I had placed myself last December just before Christmas, with recurring thoughts of “get your butt in gear Old Boy or the world will have seen the last of you “hammering my ego.  Without a lengthy digression let’s just say Christmas is not a favorite time of year for me.  Lots’ of History there leaving me always pushing to get it over and start the New Year.

With the finishing of my last Blog, “Meet me at the Eagle”, I took my old Man’s body and mentally shut down much like the  ugly caterpillar does when spinning itself into a cocoon to wait for that glorious day when it emerges as a work of beauty spreading its’ wings and flying off to caress the World.  Well so much for that Fantasy.   I always emerge old, wrinkled and just as ugly when I entered my self imposed isolation.   Sometimes life is just life, a journey with a certain end, and no amount of wishful dreaming can change it.

Not totally without thoughts in my Cocoon, I often drift through my Garden of Good and Evil thinking of my Mother.  A popular early Television in 1948 was titled ” I remember Mama”.  I identified with this show because the young son play by Dick Van Patton was named “Nels”, my most used Moniker.  And like that Norwegian Mother, my Mama displayed much of her common sense only without the accent.  One of the most pleasant memories I have of Mother was her method of pushing me to think and concentrate.  Often on the weekends as I was getting ready for bed I would jump into Moms bed and beg her to scratch my back.  But rather than just scratch she would have me play a word guessing game.  Taking her long finger nails to my scrawny back she would spell words and make me guess them.

But not all the time in my Cocoon was spent with thoughts.  Men, especially the old ones, have learned to build compartments in their minds.  Little boxes.  One for the car, one for the Honey Do List, actually we have boxes for every interaction we encounter.  The important things about these mental boxes is we never mix them together.  We even have a box that is empty.  This box allows us to Fly Fish, watch reruns for the tenth time, and the best of all to not heard anytime the wife is saying when the Empty box is open.

I first learned to use the Empty Box when I was only seven.  I left home to go to the movies at 12 noon.  I can not even remember what show I was watching.  I only remember that my Mother was standing at the end of the row calling in a loud whisper, Nelson, Nelson, Nelson, come here.  Seems I had found the Empty Box and opened it.  I went in the Movies at Noontime and was now being drug out by my Ear Lobes at Seven.  My first time in my Empty Box lasted Seven Hours.  My learned usage of this “Talent” called “The Empty Box” is to relax and unwind.  Recently I read a FB post from a friend.  “One who can be alone with themselves doing nothing for hours and not feel guilty has a higher level of Intelligence”. Of course I comment back to her post.  ” Gee, and all this time I thought I was just Lazy.”

What is clumsily penned here is that it is all right to go into your mental Cocoon to do or think of nothing.  You’ll know when it is time to emerge and again interact with the world.  And so it is with me.  I’m out of the Cocoon and back in the game.  Still Old, Still ugly, but rested and full of P&V.

I'm a 74 year old man who loves this new medium of Blogging. I am also an Senior Manager in Send Out Cards which gives me a superior method of relating to the world through Greeting Cards. I have met and enjoyed wonderful friends who support me and actually LIKE me which is very rewarding. My online presence is growing and if I can hang on to life I will reap the benefits of establishing a business that will comfort me when I get old. Mostly however I Blog about my life which for some strange reason is well received. Like most of us the future is scary and the remembrance of older days give a measure of comfort. So I continue to reveal the past with optimism that the future will some day be the comfort of somebody else.

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34

“Meet me at the Eagle”

Posted by Nelson on December 12, 2010 in Life Wisdom

This was to be the third Chapter of my Book, however today it is a couple of weeks before Christmas so I thought I’d work in some Christmas memories that are not necessarily in the Biographical order of my life. So let’s move on to “Meet me at the Eagle”

Because of my having lived in so many different towns and States, I’m somewhat a “Mutt” when it comes to my roots.  I choose Philadelphia as my home town because I have the most vivid memories from living there.  Memories that are the strongest are of the John Wanamaker Department store.

Not all are familiar with Wanamaker’s so bear with me as I bring some readers up to speed.  In the late Eighteenth Century after the Civil War the Era of Entrepreneurship began.  John Wanamaker, a strong Christian, began his journey to success by selling clothes and anything else that the public wanted at reasonable and affordable prices.  He opened his first store in 1861 at Sixth and Market Streets in Philadelphia on the site of George Washington’s Presidential home.  His business grew because of his revolutionary principle of one price with a guaranteed return of merchandise.  Years later after opening stores in New York and Philadelphia, Wanamaker built the Granite Twelve story Department store at Thirteenth and Market destined to become a National Landmark.

To comprehend to size of this store one has to visit it.  It is best described as a city within a city within a city within the city of Philadelphia.  That’s right I didn’t stutter! 

Grand Court rises One Hundred and Forty Nine feet.

Surrounding the Grand Court are Eight floors of Merchandise selling space.  Almost Two million square feet.   Surrounding that space are the stock rooms where the surplus Merchandise is stored.  At one end of the main floor are Elevators. Twenty Four in all standing ready to whisk shoppers to the floors above.  Six Elevators are Express Elevators that rocket you to the ninth floor in seconds.

What was so important on the Ninth Floor that required six dedicated Elevators.

The Crystal Tea Room

What a wonder that room was.  My first experience was as a young boy with my Mother.  She took me to Lunch in the Crystal Tea Room.  It was enormous.  Fourteen hundred seating capacity.  Seemed like acres of tables most which were for seating of only four patrons.  Crystal Chandeliers hung from the ceiling everywhere.  Dozens of Waitresses scurried in and out of large wooden doors with platters piled high with plates of steaming food.  When entering the Tea Room the custom was to sit at any table that had empty seats.  That was normal in those days to sit with total strangers and have a meal.  Along with this first adventure to the Crystal Tea Room, as luck would have it, I met for the first time the two loves of my life.  An open faced Roast Beef Sandwich with Mashed Potato’s and Brown Gravy along with “Sugar Cubes” used to sweeten your Tea or Coffee.  I pilfered many of those morsels of delight over the years. The Crystal Tea Room had the same effect on children of every generation.  Thirty years later when taking my own young family up the Express Elevator to the Tea Room upon exiting the elevator my six year old daughter ran ahead of us around the corner only to return shouting “Dad Dad we’re at the wrong place.”  “It is too nice, we can’t afford to eat here.”

Meet Me at the Eagle

When arranging a meeting Downtown just say “Meet me at the Eagle” to any Philadelphian over the age Thirty their response will be “gotcha“.  “Meet Me at the Eagle” is code for “I’ll meet you at the Wanamaker’s Eagle” The Eagle weighs Two Thousand Five Hundred pounds.  It resides dead center in the Grand Court facing the massive Court wall that houses seven Floors of The Wanamaker Organ Pipes.  Twenty Eight Thousand Four Hundred and Eighty Two Pipes to be exact.  Both the Organ and the Eagle were exhibits at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.  John Wanamaker purchased them for his Store and brought them to Philadelphia.  It took Thirteen Freight cars to transport the Organ.  The Organ is the World’s Largest operational Musical instrument.

The Wanamaker Organ

Twice a day, six days a week, the Wanamaker Organ is played.  The beauty and sound mesmerizes the shoppers.  I’ve witness people filtering into the Grand Court from surrounding area offices for the noon concert lounging around and sometimes eating their lunch from brown paper bags.  Wanamaker’s is no more, but thankfully after several owners, Macy’s of New York purchased the building and as the current Organ Master Peter Richard Conte says “Macy’s gets it — it understands how to use this instrument and market it to the public.”  Unfortunately the Crystal Tea Room is no more but is now operated by a  a Catering Company for events and Weddings.  However “The Christmas Light Show” along with many special concert events that thrill us with Music and Beauty that never gets old continue.

Below I’ve posted  videos of “A Random Act of Culture”  where Six Hundred and Fifty Choir members of the Area Churches performed the Hallelujah Course, a clip of the 2009 Christmas Light Show and a short video from the Nineties by Mr Keith Chapman who was the Wanamaker Organist for twenty three years.   Events like these occur often though out the year and are sorely missed by me.

I'm a 74 year old man who loves this new medium of Blogging. I am also an Senior Manager in Send Out Cards which gives me a superior method of relating to the world through Greeting Cards. I have met and enjoyed wonderful friends who support me and actually LIKE me which is very rewarding. My online presence is growing and if I can hang on to life I will reap the benefits of establishing a business that will comfort me when I get old. Mostly however I Blog about my life which for some strange reason is well received. Like most of us the future is scary and the remembrance of older days give a measure of comfort. So I continue to reveal the past with optimism that the future will some day be the comfort of somebody else.

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32

“The Seedlings”

Posted by Nelson on November 25, 2010 in Life Wisdom

The place is Scotch Plains New Jersey where I find “The Seedlings” of my earliest memories. My sister and a really big house.  Funny how you try so hard to recall early events only to discover that you colored them with thoughts of your brothers and sister.  I see my sister Joyce so clearly.  I feel her playing with my toes and reciting “This little piggy went to market, this little pig stayed home” A little thing to some but to me with that memory she leaps back into into my mind.  I lost Joyce eight years ago.  She was only Seventy six and I miss her dearly.

Other memories that flood my mind are the playing on large Statues in the yard.  Seems that this house was once a Palatial home with what my Brother Clayton thinks might have been a yard used to play Miniature Golf.  Drifting along with these memories are Chocolate Chip Cookies and Pop Corn.   I remember Joyce making Pop Corn with a wire meshed Corn Popper over a fire in a large fireplace.  Chocolate Chip Cookies takes me to the kitchen and my climbing up on the counter looking for them but instead pulling down on me a canister of flour. I’m sure I was pretty funny looking white flour covered urchin.

Don’t remember getting a spanking for the above because this next memory has me standing on the banks of a slightly frozen Mountain Lake with my father swinging a burlap bag with what I thought was a dead dog in it.  It floats though the air and plunges though the thin ice disappearing beneath the icy water.  I somehow have connected the dispensing of the deceased animal with my flour spilling gig.  Perhaps the dog ate the flour and died.  Anyway I’ve linked the flour and the killing of a dog to those two memories for over Sixty five years.

Over the years from my sister and brothers I’ve learned many fun things about that big old house.  The basement it was believed was where the servants might have lived in several rooms.  Joyce one day discovered a loose brick in the wall of one of the rooms.  Wiggling it out of place she discovered a cloth sack with coins.  She struck the Mother lode so too speak.  I’m sure it wasn’t a lot of money but to a young girl it must have been an exciting experience.  It was speculated that the stash might have been tip money one the servants had hidden.

Another vision I retain was a path that led over little bridge under which flow a stream.  My brother Jack would tell me that a “Troll” lived under the bridge and liked to eat little boys.  Took many years to overcome fear of things under bridges, beds or anything I couldn’t see completely.  Never like my brother Jack that much.  Learned later that Jack and Clayton would steal cigarettes from Dad and go under that Bridge to smoke.

Past the bridge the path led up to what I vision as a Highway.  The point of this part of the narrative is Joyce on occasion took me up to the Highway to wait for a Good Humor cart to buy some Ice Cream.  It is these small things that bring the reality of how small this world sometimes can be.  Many years later Joyce now married and living in San Diego California ran into this very same Good Humor man.  There you now have it.  Memories of an old fool from close to seven decades ago.  But just how accurate are they, or, are they just imagined images picked up listening to the stories my brothers and sister told when I was little?

Now when I explain this next thing, I want all of you to understand things were different in the Thirties.  Political Correctness didn’t exist so don’t leave me because of what I’m about to confess.  Okay……  That dog in the bag thing seems so real to me,  however just last month I learned the truth about my Dad and that burlap bag.   Are you ready?  Oh, I just know some of you are just going leave in disgust.  So just go now, I won’t mind, I’ll understand.  Honest just go.

Okay,  those who are still here,  here’s the deal.  My Dad loved animals.  Dogs, cats, whatever.  He brought them home from the Airport where he worked.  I think I might have inherited this liking to having animals around from him.  However they were just animals to him and they served at his pleasure, so to speak.  As I was telling Clayton about this memory of the lake and the bag with the dog in it,  he stopped me saying, “you got that only partially right.”  It seems there was a lake.  However Dad would bring home these animals and the Cats would start breeding and multiplying until there just were too many.   So Dad, being the soul arbitrator life in the home, remember I did said the animals served at his pleasure, would gather up the overflow of kittens and put them in a burlap bag to be sent to the briny deeps of the lake.  So what my memory witnessed was the thinning of the “Cat herd” and not the burial a dog I killed.

For those who have not fled and remain, I’m penning this confession on Thanksgiving Morning thinking how can I end this on a good note.  Well here goes!  I’m so thankful that at last after a half a Century I can now go to bed with a soul at peace because it has been finally cleared from being the “Dog Murderer” of Scotch Plains New Jersey.

I'm a 74 year old man who loves this new medium of Blogging. I am also an Senior Manager in Send Out Cards which gives me a superior method of relating to the world through Greeting Cards. I have met and enjoyed wonderful friends who support me and actually LIKE me which is very rewarding. My online presence is growing and if I can hang on to life I will reap the benefits of establishing a business that will comfort me when I get old. Mostly however I Blog about my life which for some strange reason is well received. Like most of us the future is scary and the remembrance of older days give a measure of comfort. So I continue to reveal the past with optimism that the future will some day be the comfort of somebody else.

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34

“The Seed”

Posted by Nelson on November 14, 2010 in Life Wisdom

I was flying in a B-36 on a routine mission over New Jersey when we rendezvoused with two other B-36′s.  It was really something to see all three of these big “birds”  circling the LakeHurst Naval Air Station.  As I leaned out into the Scanner’s blister and watched the show, my eyes and mind went to what was below.  History! I was staring down on the very spot where the mighty Graf Zeppelin Hindenburg entered History by bursting into a ball of fire upon landing.

That was May 6th 1937.  I was three weeks old and living a few miles North of Lakehurst in the town of Elizabeth, my place of Birth.  Did I remember it, of course not.  But this recounting of that day is the germinating seed for my story.

1937, my birth year.  How cool, I thought, would it be to commemorate a books beginning with wonderful stuff that happen in my first year on this planet.  I gotta rule out Hindenburg however.  Thirty six dead and who could forget those words, “Oh the Humanity of it” that alerted the Nation of the disaster.   What else happened that I can use.   Amelia Earhart,  Oops,  didn’t she and her co-pilot disappear in July of 1937?  Yep!  So much for Amelia.  Well there has to be something good that happen in 1937?  However what I find is Japan invading China and Hitler announcing his plan to expand Germany thus the beginning of World War II.  Let’s skip that idea and move on to what good happened on my Birthday, April 14.

Dang! Forgot, Abraham Lincoln got assassinated on April 14th.  Then there was that little incident with that big Ship and an Ice Berg.  Sometimes I’ll use the Titanic sinking as an “ice breaker”, pun intended, when I am giving a speech or talk.  I’ll make reference that the Titanic and I share the same Date of April 14 by remarking that “I remember it well, in fact I still got the Dress I wore to get into the Life Boat.

Perhaps I can use what transpired in my lifetime as the threshold to this emerging Herculean effort to document a Life.  In Seventy three and one half years I’ve witness six wars, one depression, three recessions, thirteen Presidents, two attacks on American Soil, Air Travel, birth of TV, Civil Disobedience resulting in Civil Rights for millions of Americans of Color, Assassinations of a President and two leaders of the Civil Right movement.  The list goes on and on predominately with negative themes.  If I focused  on the above I easily could justify that I’ve had a life surrounded by the misery of others and leave this world with “What’s the Point” as the meaning of life.

Then I look and see the beauty of the Human Spirit begging me to engage myself with the most precious of all thoughts, Faith.  I weep that I may not have done enough with my life when I meet a young man severely injured in an Auto accident as a teenager.  A brain injury leaving him almost in, I hate this word, vegetable condition.  Doctors encourage his Mother to place him in a institution where his life will be lived out with professional care but minimal love.  The Human Spirit rises to the challenge and the Mother says, “no way, this will not happen to my son“.  So she brings him home and with the aid of the Insurance settlement a long journey begins.  Today over twenty years later this young man is able to lead with limited ability a rewarding life.  Watching how he with the use of only one arm, unable to walk, with devastating brain damage leaving him with a permanent elementary school age mind, struggle without complaint life’s simple tasks like brushing his teeth.  Drew rewards us with his faith.  Drew everyday wakes up the same way,  cheerful with love and faith that his day will be the best day of his life and eagerly greets you with his smile.

I’ve recently found two  friends, Darlene Davis and Linda Grace Cox.  Beauty exudes from their very beings while MS is robbing their bodies of the things I take for granite.  I would be tested to the very core of my belief if I was bound with their struggles.  But because I have witnessed their Faith as they struggle with MS I am blessed with the humanity of their spirit that lifts me to place I would not willing go.

Limiting my spiritual growth through the struggles of Drew, Linda and Darlene however would sell short the multitude fellow travelers who without fanfare blessed me with their silent contributions to my journey.  I have met the most extraordinary people and had I not been looking, I would be a much diminished human spirit.

Thinking back on the Broadcaster’s immortal words when seeing the Hindenburg burn, “Oh the Humanity of it“, I choose to look at my Life’s journey and proudly shout to all who wish to hear,  “Thank GOD for the Humanity It.”  Now as you continue to read the trailing tales of a life well lived, bare in mind I’m only the messenger and you are the author.  Without you “What’s the Point

x

I'm a 74 year old man who loves this new medium of Blogging. I am also an Senior Manager in Send Out Cards which gives me a superior method of relating to the world through Greeting Cards. I have met and enjoyed wonderful friends who support me and actually LIKE me which is very rewarding. My online presence is growing and if I can hang on to life I will reap the benefits of establishing a business that will comfort me when I get old. Mostly however I Blog about my life which for some strange reason is well received. Like most of us the future is scary and the remembrance of older days give a measure of comfort. So I continue to reveal the past with optimism that the future will some day be the comfort of somebody else.

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