Archives for category: Memories

 

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It’s the first day of school for most northern children. My daughter went back to school on August 8th…they do things differently here in the kinda sorta South.

I have fond memories of the first day of school growing up – especially in my teen years. My mom would always take us “back to school” shopping, which meant a trip to Paramus Park or the Garden State Plaza for school clothes. By late August, the stores were featuring all the hot fall fashions, so we would stock up on corduroy pants, long sleeved shirts, sweater vests and blazers.

Unfortunately, you couldn’t wear any of it right after Labor Day. The society calendar might say that summer’s over, but in reality, it was still pretty hot. So your new cardigan and your argyle knee socks would have to wait until cooler climes blew in from Canada.

So you just made the best with your summer wardrobe. it was a time to show a new you…did anyone lose weight over the summer? Did the freshman freak grow into the sophomore stud? Brunettes came back as bleached blondes after months of spraying Sun-In onto wet locks. Everyone was tanned and rested.

It never lasted long. Note-taking, quizzes and homework soon began to fill brand new Mead notebooks. The mean girls remembered how much they hated you back in June, and took little time getting back into the bully swing of things. And before long, it was time to study for your first test, or hand in your first book report.

But just when you thought school really sucked, a cold front would come through, and you could finally wear that brand new “back to school” outfit…

And hope that you turned some heads.

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Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.28.15 AMOn Monday, June 27th I got the call that I had been dreading for years…My father had died. He was 92, and died in his own bed with my sister and his wife by his side, which isn’t a bad way to go. It was just his time.

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to my dad, so I might just ramble on for a while and see where it leads me.

Pop was a morning man. I think this is where I get my love o’ the dawn from. Growing up, sleeping late on weekends was not an option. Before the smell of breakfast could reach your nostrils, dad was yelling up the stairs to “get the hell out of bed.”

Dad the Breakfast Cook. My father liked to cook breakfast every weekend. Anything from French toast, which I liked, to Liver and Onions, which I didn’t like, would be served up on our blue formica kitchen table. My favorite breakfast was Nana’s pancakes…Slovak crepes called palacinki. They are my daughters’ favorites to this day.

Dad was an adventurer at heart. While my mom was good for back to school clothes, or that pair of shoes you really wanted, she rarely let you walk on the wild side. But not when you were with dad…every tree was climbable, every rock was there for you to scramble up on, and every path was worth hiking down.

Dad liked to go visiting. I’ve blogged about this in the past, but Monday nights were his banking nights. He’d take us to his bank in Cliffside Park, and then we’d go visiting the various aunts, cousins and family friends who lived in the area. My father had no siblings, but he managed to make a huge family network for us made up of fairly distant relatives who felt like next of kin to us.

Dad in New York City. Many a Friday night my father carted all four of us kids into New York City. My brother and sister attended Slovak School, and my brother had accordion lessons as well. The lights and smells and sounds of New York in the 70’s is something that will always be with me. We usually ended up eating a dirty water dog from a NYC cart or a sack of White Castles in North Bergen.

Dad in front of the TV. My father had a bad back, so TV viewing was done on the floor laying flat on his back with head propped up against the couch.  He would do calisthenics and isometrics while watching “The Waltons,” or “Masterpiece Theater.” One of us kids would always make him a cup of Sanka, and bring him a piece of whatever Entenmann’s  cake mom had bought at the Co-op.

Dad on a Rant. Some weekends could be lethal at home when my dad was in a mood. Rooms had to be cleaned, the yard had to be raked, the garage needed cleaning out…you name it. I won’t even go into the lectures my poor mom got about all the food we had in the house that my mom wasn’t using – mainly because it was really far back in our ginormous kitchen cabinets.

Dad on Martha’s Vineyard. Dad was at his best up there…away from the pressures of work, and enjoying the place he loved. Mornings were for fishing (and catching a whole lot of nothing), afternoons were for the beach, and evenings were for dinner and a walk around town.

Dad behind the wheel. I’ll admit, driving with my dad could be a drag. He never got lost, but you had to listen to what he wanted to on the radio. That meant a whole lot of Bob Grant, and financial shows. I sent up a silent prayer when the Walkman was invented, and another when we could actually afford to buy me one.

Dad the Storyteller. Dad was always good for a story about his colorful life. Like how he used to get chased by the grumpy old man at the Palisades Amusement Park pool for digging holes in the sand…and then later in life, he became the grumpy old man as it was his job to fill in the holes the kids dug. Or how he and his friends would swing on a rope out over the Palisades, praying the rope wouldn’t break. And the one about him having to out-run some ruffians in his souped up car out in California. My dad had adventures, yes sir.

Dad the Healthnut. My dad was a bonafide health nut. He was always sneaking wheat germ and flax seed into our pancakes and oatmeal. When my mom boiled vegetables, he drank the water she cooked them in from a coffee cup because that’s where all the vitamins were. He took crazy vitamin pills like shark cartilage, and bee pollen way before it was hip and trendy. I am certain it is why he lived to be 92.

Dad the Helper. My father helped quite a few people over the course of his lifetime. He took my Aunt Carol, my mom’s sister, out of a mental facility to come live with us when he saw that she was never going to thrive there. She became a vital member of our family, and I cherished her presence growing up.

He was also a one-man Czechoslovakian UN.  My father sponsored my cousin Stello to come live with us for a year, where he worked in New York and was able to send money home to his family. He also sponsored my cousin Gitka, who came and stayed with us for a month and saw all the sights of the East Coast in the good old USA. He sponsored quite a few relatives to come and see the US – many of whom became citizens.

I also remember a couple who moved here from Czechoslovakia …Darinka and Louis, with their young son Renee. My father helped them get accustomed to the States, and we had them over our house many times for dinner – he let them know they had a friend nearby as they made their way in a new country.

I also recall him having the young son of a family friend stay with us over the summer. They lived in upstate New York, where there was little to do besides get high and get in trouble. This son was going down that wrong path, so he came to live with us for a few months. I had to take him to my volleyball matches, and listen to The Fixx.

I’m really going to miss him. I’ll miss breakfast at his house in Florida, sitting around the table as he yelled at CSPAN, while I did the crossword puzzle. I’ll miss his far left arguments, and his refusal to believe anything the right has to say. I’ll miss seeing him on the ferry to the Vineyard, big giant sunglasses and what was left of his hair whipping in the wind.

The world is a little dimmer without you here dad, that’s for sure. But know that you left some damn fine humans behind in your wake, and for that we are grateful.

The other day I found out an old family friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I have to tell you, this news bummed me out.

Growing up, my parents were good friends with Dan & Tina Morielli – and our families spent a good amount of time together, and I always looked forward to our outings…whether it was a trip to the Poconos or just a Saturday night hanging out at home, it was always a good time.

Dan & Tina had two kids, and we had four, and the six of us always managed to have a blast. A lot of our chuckles originated from the fights our parents used to get into over politics or whatever. I’ll tell you one thing, the visits were never dull.

We lost Danny years back, and now, Tina has cancer. I wrote this post years ago as part of a private collection I keep, but I feel the need to share it now. Because these people were such a big part of my childhood, and all the times with them were the best.

The Morielli’s Condo in Miami Beach – A Summer Playground

The summer we went to Miami Beach with the Moriellis was one of the best vacations of my entire life. It was  1973, which must have made me 8 1/2 – wow, I can’t believe I was that young. I remember so much from that trip, perhaps because it was made of the stuff that makes family legends. We retold these stories among us over and over during car trips and holidays growing up because we had a full week of hilarity and hi-jinx.

The Moriellis were, in my opinion, our closest and coolest family friends growing up. I have no clue how our families met – I’ll have to ask Dad about that one – but when we were getting together with The Moriellis you were in for a fun time. Parents: Danny & Tina. Kids: Anthony and Antoinette. Neither kids were close to me in age. They were about the age of my older siblings, but it didn’t seem to matter. I never recall being shunned or ousted from the action because I was a little runt.

A Car-Full of Yankees Heading South
The Moriellis bought a condo in Miami Beach, and our summer vacation that year, rather than heading to Martha’s Vineyard, was the long drive from New Jersey to Miami. I remember a few little things from the trip down. I recall our absolute glee upon reaching Florida (yay!), only to be told that Miami was still like 6 hours away (boo!). I also remember stopping at a “Welcome to Florida!” rest stop which had a machine that would cast a little figurine out of wax, I think. One of my siblings (can’t recall which) decided to use some of their money to buy a figurine, which was exciting as I would get to see this machine in action at no cost to myself.

Money was inserted and the machine did its magic and out popped a light blue statue of a dolphin jumping in the waves. We all “oohed” and “aahed” and whoever bought it decided it would be best displayed on the window ledge of the side back window in our station wagon. This proved to be a big mistake in the hot Florida sun. I don’t think that little statue made it to Miami before it melted and folded in on itself.

Mom, Dad (complete with belly flab) and Tina Morielli at the pool

Six Kids Run Amok
Once we arrived in Miami the fun began. the Moriellis condo was small and meant only for a family of four, not a hoard of 10. A bunch of us had to sleep on sleeping bags in the walk-in closet, which to a small kid was a blast. The condo had a pool, elevators, a gym and card rooms all waiting for us to explore.

We soon found out that this condo catered to much older, child-less clientele, and we were loose and on the prowl. When we weren’t at the pool, the beach or eating, we didn’t have all that much to do, so off we would go in search of adventures in a 15-story condominium.

One of our favorite games was elevator races. You would start in the lobby and the object was to race in 2 different elevator cars to the penthouse and back. The fun of the game was you never knew when the elevator was going to stop to pick up people, thus slowing your trip. I recall being amazed at how the hallway in the penthouse was wide and lavishly decorated with plants and statues, and that one floor always smelled of chicken soup.

The gym had some kooky machines!

We would also amuse ourselves by whipping bottles and other garbage down the garbage chute, which made quite a noise and was probably very bothersome to those who could hear it. We would often try to sneak into the gym which had a whole bunch of old-timey exercise machines, and medicine balls to goof around with, but eventually some grown-up would come along and yell at us to hit the bricks.

We were allowed in the card rooms only if no adults needed it. The card rooms were small rooms with felt-covered card tables designated for Men & Ladies.I recall one girl came along to play with us. She was a bit older and her name was Doralee, and I think she was a little slow. I used to make faces behind her back to make Antoinette and Wendy laugh, which I realize now was mean, but at the time I was young and doing what I could to get a laugh.

Hi-Jinx in the Florida Ocean

The Sparkler Affair
Another moment sealed in the memory vault was the great sparkler incident of ’73. My sister Wendy and Antoinette had gotten their hands on some sparklers and had decided to light them up on the balcony. Danny caught them out there and screamed at them to get the hell off the balcony. So, Wendy and Antoinette walked back into the living room and stood there with sparklers blazing, in the process dropping little bits of fire onto the new carpeting. It was funny because they had obeyed Danny, but were making matters worse by burning the carpet.

After being ushered into the kitchen, and sparklers doused in the sink, Danny proceeded to chase Antoinette around the condo, screaming, darting in and out of rooms trying to administer a few good cracks. I stood like a statue in awe taking the whole scene in. Danny walked back into the room shaking out his hand and muttering “that kid’s got an ass like a rock.” Repeating that phrase to family members is still good for a laugh today.

Tina, Judy, Antoinette and Anthony – Bathing caps were mandatory for women

Here I am with Judy in my halter and shorts in front of Cinderella’s Castle

The Clan Takes On Disney World
The highlight of the trip was our visit to Disney World. Orlando is quite a distance from Miami, so as an adult I’m impressed the adults dared to make this trek with 6 unruly and often wise-cracking children. Disney was going to be a one day trip; no hotel stay; just there and back. I imagine whoever had to do the driving was pretty tired at some point during the day because I know we left well before dawn and did not return till the wee hours of the following morning.

Disney Ticket Book – 7 whole adventures? Gee Mickey, where do I start!

Back in ’73, Disney operated a bit differently than it does today. Rather than fork over the equivalent of a mortgage payment to enter the park, and ride all you want for that once price, you purchased a ticket book. There were a certain amount of tickets for each park section (like Adventure Land, for example) and each ride in that section required a specific amount of tickets. This proved to be rather sucky, because there were sections of the park that had better rides than others, and you had to make hard choices as to which rides you wanted to spend your tickets on.

I remember the Grand Prix car racing being a very big deal, but I was too little to ride alone so I had to ride with somebody which sucked. I held onto my tickets for Fantasy Land because I wanted to ride the Dumbo ride something fierce. I also recall us all going to the Hall of Presidents. It was pretty cool for its time because they had animatronic robots portraying all the past presidents, and I could have sworn they were real people.

Space Mountain wasn’t open yet in 1973, so our favorite ride at Magic Kingdom was the Haunted Mansion. There was really nothing like it at that time, and we were amazed. The special effects were mind boggling, and we simply had to ride it more than once. But, the ticket book only had enough coupons for one ride. This would require the purchase of additional tickets. For four kids. Asking Dad was a crap-shoot at best because we were always on a budget with 4 kids to pay for. But dad came through and bought us the extra tickets. I guess even he realized this was a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience. As it is, I didn’t make it back to Disney World until I was an adult.

The Fire Drill
After the long drive back to Miami, the parents were exhausted and the kids were all asleep. It must have been a real chore to herd our group of zombies up to the condo, because they let us flop right down to bed in our clothes. The next thing we knew, we were up again with bells ringing. The building’s fire alarm went off, and we were required to evacuate to the lobby.

Once in the lobby we felt totally out of place – everyone else was standing in their pajamas and robes. Several woman had curlers in their hair with nets over them. But us kids were standing there fully dressed. I recall getting odd looks from people who were wondering why our folks would either (a) dress their kids before coming down to the fire drill, or (b) let their kids sleep in their clothes like a bunch of slobs.

It was a great trip, just as every adventure we had with the Moriellis was. It’s why I’m so sad about this news. I want to send Tina a card and let her know how much our family treasures the memories she helped to build…and that I’m thinking of her.

Because I know for sure, that until we are old and gray, my siblings and I will talk about our times with the Moriellis, and we will laugh.

 

Everyone can remember foods they loved as a kid, but can’t stomach the thought of eating now. Fluffernutter sandwiches come to mind, as do tuna fish and baloney. But there are some foods that I was never quite able to shake my love for.

GAOCB.jpgPickles: My mom nicknamed me Pickle Annie when I was a kid because I could tear through most of a jar of dill pickle spears in one sitting, along with drinking half the juice.  I don’t know what it is, but I adore pickles in almost every form except the bread and butter variety. I find a sweet pickle repulsive.

And I like any and all brands. There are times I am more partial to Claussen, and then other times, I need Vlasic or Mt. Olive varieties. But I don’t drink the juice anymore…my youngest daughter does that now!

HashCorned Beef Hash: One of my favorite breakfast choices of all time is Hash. But it’s terrible for you, so I mainly avoid it.

My first memories of hash is having it for dinner. My mom would cut both ends of the can off, push out the hash, cut it into slabs and fry it up. I guess back then two cans of hash was a way to feed a family of six cheaply. To this day I don’t know how she managed to keep the hash in individual patties, but she did.

If we are in a diner for breakfast and hash is on the menu, I will almost always order it. And I have to admit, every now and then I cannot resist reaching up for a can at the grocery store to make for Sunday breakfast. I’ll fry it to within an inch of it’s life and plop an over easy egg on top.

Doritos2000sDoritos: After school my sisters and I would demolish a bag of Doritos along with a two liter bottle of Diet Pepsi. We’d watch General Hospital and Match Game while licking orange dust off our fingers.

If I buy a bag of Doritos for a party or company, I find myself repeatedly reaching into the bowl. And if my kids have a bag open, I manage to find a reason to visit them so I can grab a handful.

I don’t know how Lay’s coined the slogan “you can’t eat just one” because that’s how I feel about Doritos.

spaghettios_sizedSpaghettios with Meatballs: Okay, this one is really embarrassing because there is no way to justify my liking of this food as an adult except for that it’s so utterly comforting for me.

When I was in Kindergarten, I would come home from my half day at school and eat a bowl of Spagettios with Meatballs and watch Underdog. But it had to be the kind with the meatballs because the plain kind had a sauce that was too sweet. For some reason the meatball version had a sauce that was zestier.

But I wouldn’t touch the kind with the little hotdog pieces ’cause that’s just gross.

If I’m in a real rush I will grab a can of Spaghettios with Meatballs for lunch at work…but I bury the can in the garbage and cringe if anyone actually sees me eating it.

28556Salami: We always had a package of Oscar Mayer hard salami in the fridge growing up, and that yellow package was my go-to food after a late night at the bar. I’d peel off 6 or 7 slices, slap them between two pieces of Wonder bread, and watch TV before going to bed.

I stopped buying the Oscar Mayer brand long ago, but I still love getting it cut at the deli counter. I remember one deli guy at the Grand Union supermarket by my house up in Jersey would slice it on the bias, so the slices were oblong rather than round. Mmmmmm – those were the days. I still enjoy a good salami sandwich from time to time…super thin, piled high and dry on rye. For some reason I don’t use any condiments on salami.

What are some foods that you never lost your taste for?

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This post is in response to Childhood Revisited, where the question was asked, What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.

I think back on this memory from time to time, and have no clue as to how old I was, or why my little baby brain decided to store it in long-term memory.

I’m in my crib in the corner of my parent’s room. I can see the white slats making up the side of the crib. I can hear women’s voices downstairs…my mom is having a women’s club meeting of some sort.

I am content. Maybe it’s because my mom has just checked on me – perhaps she changed my diaper and with the late afternoon sun streaming through the windows, I am happy to just play with my toes and listen to the laughter of the women downstairs.

It’s a memory that is very comforting to me.

This post is in response to the Prompt  Pick Your Gadget – where the question is asked, “Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?”

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This one wasn’t even tough for me, because the possibilities of a time machine are endless and infinitely more rewarding.

The other two options? Here’s why they hold little interest for me…
Anywhere Door: So I guess it might be nice to walk through a door and instantly be on Martha’s Vineyard, or in front of a White Castle in New Jersey. But say I jettisoned myself to Paris – I still have no car, no hotel, and in my case, no money when I get there.

Invisibility Helmet: I find this notion freakishly voyeuristic. I fail to see the use of being invisible unless you have a knife wielding lunatic in your house. I mean, yeah, you can walk right into a Springsteen concert and stand in the front row, but isn’t being part of the crowd half the fun?

But with a time machine you can revisit the best parts of your life. If I could go back, I would…

Eat My Mom’s Cooking – I would love to sit at our gianormous kitchen table, with it’s funky blue boomerang linoleum, and inhale bowl after bowl of her soup, a pile of her pot roast, and a tub of her beefaroni. And then I’d hug her for 10 minutes straight and do the dishes for her while she drank a cup of Sanka in the living room.

Attend a Hody – This was an all night party in late September attended by every self-respecting Slovak in Northern New Jersey. It took place at Sokol Hall in Guttenberg, NJ and it was the fall highlight of my youth. It was a night filled with soda and chips and dogs with kraut and running in and out of couples doing polkas on the dance floor. Every year the band would play the Alley Cat, which was my favorite part of the night. And when the party broke up at 1 or 2 am, we would go to a diner and get pancakes.

Go Visiting With my Dad – Almost every Monday night I would go with my dad to the bank, and then visit one of my many Aunts, Uncles or cousins. I don’t know why I liked this so much. My night usually involved sitting at a kitchen table sipping tea with milk and sugar and eating delicious Slovak cookies or pastries. My Aunts always had some sort of baked goods on hand. My dad and them would mostly speak in Slovak, trading news from the homeland and discussing the family.

I’d eventually wander off looking at all the chachkies; My Aunt Steffie had a bunch of antique cars that I used to love playing with, and a Mr. Peanut statue that turned peanuts into peanut butter. And Aunt Margaret had a cuckoo-clock that not only had a little bird pop out of a door every 15 minutes, but also had dancers that would polka around a little platform on the hour.

Go to the Dalton Diner with John – There was a diner in the town next to us called The Golden Eagle, but somehow it got the nickname of The Dalton Diner. My best friend John and I would spend hours and hours there eating burgers and fries and drinking milk shakes. I think I ate a hundred or so Dalton Swiss burgers in my teens while John and I made fun of the very blonde hostess…I think we dubbed her Secretariat because she used to stride through the diner like a prize racehorse.

Spend a Week in my Old House – I’d need a week. I’d explore my backyard, make a fire in our fireplace, use the griddle on our ancient stove, and sleep in my old bedroom.

Other time destinations would include summer vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, trips to Great Adventure with John, and any weekend I spent at Seaside Heights.

That’s why going back is so perfect, because you can visit the things you loved as a kid, but you can still come home and hug your kids.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “From You to You.”

Right now it’s 1979 and you’re in highschool – most likely 10th grade. I know it sucks right now. I know you get bullied by those horrible, souless girls from Edgewater. But you have your best buds John, and Joe, and a family who loves you, so hang in there. And while we’re back in ’79, here’s a few things to think about…

I know you think you have a fat ass, but you don’t. The 50 year old version of you would LOVE to have the ass you have now. So when Brendan D. makes that joke in history class about you needing to wear a “Caution – Wide Load” sign, smile at him sweetly and ask him how it feels to be the product of so many years of inbreeding.

Don’t ever cut your own bangs. You are going to make a horrible, horrible mistake and cut them ridiculously short.

When you stay home from dress rehearsal to watch the episode of “Little House on the Praire” where Almanzo kisses Laura for the first time, you are making the right move. After all, those school plays directed by Mrs. Marshall are always going to star the same kids she favors, and you will always, only be cast in the chorus.

You’re going to quit the volleyball team. I know it’s no fun because the girls who are supposed to be your team mates barely give you the time of day, let alone a pat on the back. I know that they get to go to fancy sleep-away volleyball camp and learn all sorts of intricate plays. But when Mary M., who knows full well that you were NOT one of her fellow campers, complains that you don’t know anything and are dragging the team down, maybe you should do something besides stomp off to the locker room and quit.

Instead, maybe you should ask her if she earned her bitch merit badge at camp on the very first day.

If you haven’t already, forget about Leif Garrett. He sucks. Tear down the 996 photos you have haning in your room and repaint. But don’t let Judy and John have access to the paint. They are going to paint a huge cock on the wall that you can still see, even though you feverishly painted over it, when the light is just right.

Keep seeing Rocky Horror. Throw rice, shoot water pistols, hurl rolls of Scott toilet paper. But don’t idolize Janet as much, and don’t bore your chorus class with your Janet “quote of the day” on the blackboard. You were a dork for doing that.

Right now you are staunchly opposed to smoking, but believe me, you are going to start, and you will smoke for a very long time. Don’t grub cigarettes from people at college parties – don’t even start. It is going to be very hard to quit, but if you don’t heed my warning, FYI – you do manage to kick the habit in your 40s.

When you are in NYC with John and Dave W., and a man hands you a flyer for a sex club, don’t read it and ask if oral sex is when you just talk about it.

You are going to Czechoslovakia this summer. When you are walking around a spa town, I think Piešťany, a man is going to walk up to you and grab your boob. Cock block that asshole. Aside from that, remember everything about this trip – keep a diary so you know what you did everyday. Later on, you will have slides of this adventure to look back on, but it won’t seem like enough.

You are going to contract an ovarian cyst. This will require surgery, and after that surgery a popular boy will hit you in the stomach during a game of ultimate frisbee in gym class. You will hate him, and rightly so, for a very long time. But here’s a news flash. He winds up being your brother-in-law.

When your sister throws a party, and lets you join in, a very cute boy, on a dare, is going to pick you up and tell you how cute you are. Try to keep a straight face…because you have a nose full of snot that is going to spray out all over your mouth and chin when you laugh.

That creepy neighbor Wayne, who watches you and your sisters while you sunbathe, is going to forceably kiss you against your will in a few years. So when he asks you inside his home under the guise of helping him and his wife move, politely refuse.

You will be in the New Jersey Miss Teenager Pageant. Learn the words for “Good Morning” in Slovak, because during your interview, you are going to get the one judge who speaks Slovak, and muttering out “Dobre noc” (good night) doesn’t fool anyone. Oh, and while you are in the front row on stage singing the obligatory lame pageant song directly in front of the judges? While you remember the dance moves, the words to the song are going to fly slap out of your head. You will smile lamely and continue dancing.

That being said, when they call out the name “Tracy” during the top 10? It ain’t you.


There you go, mini-me – a handfull of useful advice to get you through some of the tough times during your 14th year and beyond. I hope this makes life a bit easier for you than it was for me.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Always Something There to Remind Me.”

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I guess I am one step ahead of the Daily Post, because I wrote about this exact thing a few weeks ago. So here it is again…

The Forgotten AM Radio Song

The other day my husband began singing a tune…I’d heard it before, and asked him “I know that song…wait, what song is that?” He answered, “You and Me, by Alice Cooper.” Holy cow. I must have heard that song hundreds of times, yet I had totally forgotten that it even exsisted.

So I YouTubed it, and listened. I was immediately transported back to 1977.

I could imagine sitting in my mom’s mint green Pontiac Catalina, tuned into WNBC and WABC – both on the AM dial; which was all we had in our cars back in those days. When my dad bought a car, he didn’t upgrade anything – you got what the car came with, which usually meant only AM.

When you had to listen to AM, you heard the same top 40 songs over and over again…kind of like half the shitty FM stations that are around now-a-days that play Maroon 5 and Wiz Khalifa every 15 minutes, and Taylor Swift every 10.

But hearing this song again? I could picture days at the pool, hearing the tinny quality of someone’s transistor radio playing this old Alice Cooper song – and possibly the crackle from some far away lightning strike. I love that crackle.

I could imagine myself in the backseat of my dad’s station wagon, driving over the Triboro bridge on the way to one of our Friday night excursions, watching all the twinkling city lights, window down, breathing in the distinctive smell of New York City.

Or a warm night on Martha’s Vineyard, eating a soft serve cone from the Quarterdeck, and keeping my eyes peeled for a glimpse of my summer crush.

How could I have totally forgotten this song? While I didn’t love it or anything when it came out, I had heard it over and over again driving around with my mom, or listening to the radio while I cleaned my room. Or maybe while I did homework.

Listening to it again was almost like opening up a time capsule. Something that was buried in me decades ago was suddenly unearthed by my husband absent-mindedly humming a tune. I know I’m not describing this right, but when I played that song again on YouTube it was like 2015 just melted away.

I was somewhere else for a very short while. It was pretty cool.

1965-pontiac-catalina-dash

The other day my husband began singing a tune…I’d heard it before, and asked him “I know that song…wait, what song is that?” He answered, “You and Me, by Alice Cooper.” Holy cow. I must have heard that song hundreds of times, yet I had totally forgotten that it even exsisted.

So I YouTubed it, and listened. I was immediately transported back to 1977.

I could imagine sitting in my mom’s mint green Pontiac Catalina, tuned into WNBC and WABC – both on the AM dial; which was all we had in our cars back in those days. When my dad bought a car, he didn’t upgrade anything – you got what the car came with, which usually meant only AM.

When you had to listen to AM, you heard the same top 40 songs over and over again…kind of like half the shitty FM stations that are around now-a-days that play Maroon 5 and Wiz Khalifa every 15 minutes, and Taylor Swift every 10.

But hearing this song again? I could picture days at the pool, hearing the tinny quality of someone’s transistor radio playing this old Alice Cooper song – and possibly the crackle from some far away lightning strike. I love that crackle.

I could imagine myself in the backseat of my dad’s station wagon, driving over the Triboro bridge on the way to one of our Friday night excursions, watching all the twinkling city lights, window down, breathing in the distinctive smell of New York City.

Or a warm night on Martha’s Vineyard, eating a soft serve cone from the Quarterdeck, and keeping my eyes peeled for a glimpse of my summer crush.

How could I have totally forgotten this song? While I didn’t love it or anything when it came out, I had heard it over and over again driving around with my mom, or listening to the radio while I cleaned my room. Or maybe while I did homework.

Listening to it again was almost like opening up a time capsule. Something that was buried in me decades ago was suddenly unearthed by my husband absent-mindedly humming a tune. I know I’m not describing this right, but when I played that song again on YouTube it was like 2015 just melted away.

I was somewhere else for a very short while. It was pretty cool.

diplomat date

I’ve written in the past of my semester spent in Vienna, Austria – it was during the spring of my Sophomore year in college – 1984 to be exact. I was thin, and young, and single.

I had spent the afternoon at the Stadtpark enjoying the warmer weather and watching the ducks in the pond. I was heading back to the Graben, which was a large pedestrian mall off Stephansplatz, when a man approached me and asked in German for directions.

I began to answer him in German/English, when he smiled and said, “Hey, I’m American too.”

He was looking for the Graben, and since I was headed that way, I told him to follow me. We walked and talked, me explaining how I was a student studying abroad for the semester, he telling me how he was an American diplomat to Budapest visiting Vienna for the weekend.

Hmmm – a diplomat, eh? My somewhat sluttish roomates had had run ins with foreign diplomats in the past – big spending womanizers who got them drunk and tried to take advantage of them. In the case of my very loose roomies, they probably succeeded.

Once we reached the Graben he gestured to a cafe and asked if I would let him buy me a drink as thanks. I began to refuse, but he insisted, and I have to admit, I was enjoying his company. His name was Dave, and we sat outside and drank beer after beer, and got to know each other. I remember I was supposed to meet somebody to play volleyball that afternoon, and I totally blew it off.

It was getting late, and he asked if he could take me out to dinner. I have to admit, I was attracted to him. He was older…in his early thirties, and me? I was only 19. Not wanting our day to end, I agreed, and we set a time to meet a few hours later.

We dined at some outdoor restaurant in the city. I remember I didn’t eat much – I ordered a modest bowl of soup/stew. After dinner we went back to his car only to find it gone. He was furious because the car had diplomatic plates and shouldn’t have been towed.

We found out where the car had been towed to and took a cab there. He told me to not let on that he was fluent in German – we should just act like two Americans waiting for their car. It was a brilliant move.

We sat and watched while the two tow guys talked amongst themselves about how much to bilk us for in order to get the car back. Dave was listening, and understanding, every word exchanged between them. When they finally quoted him a rather large price, he began screaming at them in German. I don’t know what he said to them, but we were given our car back very quickly and without having to shell out as much as a single Groschen.

I was amazed by this man. The swarthiest men I’d seen at U of D wore plaid shorts with blazers and boat shoes at the football games. But this guy? He was as slicker than James Bond in my eyes.

It was very hard to say goodnight to him – he was headed back to Budapest the next day. As we stood outside the door to my Pension he asked me back to his hotel. It was very tempting, but I was a good girl.

I said no.

We exchanged addresses and wrote each other a few letters. I remember getting one on official US Diplomat stationery, which I thought was super cool at the time. I wonder if I still have that tucked away somewhere? I still have his photo in one of my old albums – it’s old and cracked. It’s hard to believe he sent it to me almost 30 years ago.

Diplomat

It’s one of those nights a girl just doesn’t forget…a whirlwind spring romance crammed into one magical, adventurous day. Do dudes remember days like that, or is that reserved for love-struck 19 year olds spending spring in Vienna?