He had waited until 6:30 for HIS show to come on - The Rifleman.
I had never seen it. I had never heard of it, my understanding of Westerns gleaned from Florence's critiques of bus driving styles and Bucko's Cowboy Lands.
But my father pulled up his chair close to the new flat screen TV that my sister had managed to incorporate into his life from 3,000 miles away, and watched with the rapture of a little boy.
And then I remembered something. A conversation had when he was speaking in more sentences than the few dozen he now repeated over and over again.
Amidst the poverty and the brutal unhappiness, both at home and on the streets of the Lower East Side, every once in a while, an extra nickel would be found and the kids would race off to the Saturday matinee, probably on Delancey Street.
There, beloved heroes fought favorite villains, the cheers and boos of hundreds of exhausted, usually hungry, tough little kids filling the beat-up old theater. My father told me that every time the bad guy started sneaking up on their cowboy, they'd all shout, "Look behind you, Cowboy Hoot!!"
I telephoned him, seeing if I could shake loose from the mind slowly fading away, more of those days. But, other than the names of the cowboys he loved and the cost of admission, there wasn't much left.
Before ringing off, his growing impatience and panic for Meals-On-Wheels to arrive now crowding our conversation, I told him I had never seen The Rifleman until I came to visit him.
"I'm wondering when they are going to run out of plot. Awful lot of activity in that quiet little town," he said and then hung up to wait for lunch to be delivered. ** Related Posts: Getting Lost In The Dangling Conversations
Back in the fall, the lovely young lady in the picture strolled into Social Tees and told us she dreamed of adopting a small, scraggly, gray, grownup dog.
(We LOVE it when people request a grownup pet!)
Lo and behold, the small, scraggly, gray, grownup dog in her arms arrived at our shelter shortly after, and when they met it was a match made in heaven!
Yacha (formerly Tiki) is about as lucky as a pup gets. Her new "mom" and "dad" (a first-time dog owner) are beyond smitten, and Yacha gets all of the cuddles she can handle.
GOT A LOT OF LOVE
BUT NOT A LOT OF TIME AND SPACE?
BECOME A FOSTER PARENT!
Social Tees need temporary homes for its cats and dogs!!!!
Think of fostering as pretend-grandma or grandpa! Or test your your Auntie and Uncle talents!! You get to love them, spoil them, find them enchanting, and then at some point you send them off to their real home!!!
THIS IS RIHANNA!!
Rihanna got rescued from death row a few months ago when she was pregnant! All of her puppies are happy and healthy and safe, but this mamma needs a new foster home starting as soon as possible!
She needs to be the only pet in the house. Please help -- she deserves just as much love and attention as her puppies!
She looks like Halloween with her gorgeous orange and black torbie coat,
and she's the sweetest, most affectionate creature on the planet. She's
about 6 to 8 years old, and she leans into your hand so gently when you
scratch her cheeks.
WHAT'S FOSTERING, YOU WONDER?!
Fostering lasts a few weeks, and Social Tees can provide supplies if you need them. Fostering is SUPER important because it's much healthier for our animals to be in homes than in cages, and it expands our shelter virtually.
AND for every cat that is placed in a foster home, Social Tees can pull another out of the kill shelter. So if you are an animal-lover, and have limited time but tons of love, FOSTER!!!
I've only seen this twice in the last year. The barber shops on 14th Street devoid of the twirling candy cane, I had glimpsed one a couple of months ago as the M15, going too fast to get a picture, barreled down Madison Street.
Then of all places, there was this one, in a mall on Staten Island. Mounted between two doors of a huge room divided by a wall, the men's barbers on one side, the women's hairdressers on the other.
I only peeked into the women's side as I followed the Mariner to his usual guy. There were a lot of heads wearing ferocious colors demanding their youth back.
The men's side was quieter, both in color and resignation. There were careful cuts and subtle bracelets. One or two rings that stated pride and virility, and chains that maintained devotion and prayer. Even the guy with the blondish pompadour napping in his chair seemed perfectly understated in his style.
The men's side had their version of a radio playing familiar music - Roy Rogers on the TV. A man, maybe facing 60, with thinning dark hair and a proud, impeccably groomed 1980's mustache stood transfixed. For a second he looked like a six year old but with serious facial hair.
The Mariner had been going to his barber for almost twenty years. One day, he needed a haircut, the chair was free, his hair looked neat after and that was that. Every couple of weeks for twenty years. He was very glad his barber was a Met fan.
Today, as hair got trimmed and cut and buzzed, between murmurs of the season beginning and the dreaded roller coaster the Mets took everyone on, the merits of Staten Island were considered.
Maybe it was the cocoon men step into when they sit down in a barber's chair. Or perhaps it was the space and privacy of their own vanity that was allowed to unfold. Or maybe because today a woman was there, one not sweeping up small mountains of hair. But unexpectedly, the Mariner's guy said almost too softly that he didn't care for Staten Island.
He grew up, he lived, he loved in Brooklyn. But after the wife's funeral, the memories were too painful. He had to move. No memories in Staten Island. But he still didn't like it.
Later, the Mariner said he never knew that. Twenty years of every couple of weeks, he never knew that about the man who cut his hair.
I wondered about my father. His face brutalized by adolescent acne, he had gone frequently to the barber on Grand Street to have his face steamed and his pimples attacked. I wondered what quiet secrets he might have heard, what wishes he might have risked.
There's a reason Friday's Child is now a part of Her New York, if only to say thank you.
Derek, a completely magnificent and truly loving - not to mention ridiculously gorgeous - flame point Siamese was adopted a few days ago! He's a few years old and came to Social Tees from the kill shelter.
He is now in a warm, loving home with a lovely young gentleman who visited him many times -- thinking carefully and respectfully about taking on a new pet -- before deciding that he couldn't live without him.
Three cheers for Derek and his new dad!!!!!!
GOT A LOT OF LOVE
BUT NOT A LOT OF TIME AND SPACE?
BECOME A FOSTER PARENT!
CAN ANYONE FOSTER A CAT (like this little hunk named Donnie)?
Please help! Social Tees need temporary homes for its cats!! (Ok, like is Donnie adorable or what?)
Fostering lasts a few weeks, and Social Tees can provide supplies if you need them.
For every cat that is placed in a foster home, Social Tees can pull another out of the kill shelter. So if you are an animal-lover, and have limited time but tons of love, FOSTER!!!
Before my auspicious interview with a famous artist to be his intern, Florence begged, "Please don't curse. And don't talk about sex."
I'm not sure where she got the idea I talked about sex with strange men who could or could not allow me gainful employment. I had never slept my way - literally or metaphorically - into any professional commitment.
But the cursing? Perhaps she had forgot lessons learned at the feet of masters, me following her down beaten-up streets as she screamed at me or my father curses more foul and vicious than the shocking comments I sometimes spy on a niece's facebook page or now overhear on nicer streets.
Perhaps her spewing blew off enough steam that she was too tired to make a third attempt at stabbing her husband with the letter opener. Perhaps it was why she only swung at us with open hands or closed fists, not with knives.
Perhaps, like my dad locking himself behind bedroom doors so he wouldn't destroy us, her cursing allowed her to say what was on her mind and not go to jail for murder.
In the middle of a 12-hour day hammering out words of peace, news came of the bombings at the Boston marathon.
It's tougher to find words than throw punches. It's harder to curse than to destroy. It takes longer to build than to bomb.
But, if you really want to change the world, use your fucking words, asshole. Use your fucking words. ** Related Posts:
There's a reason Friday's Child is now a part of Her New York, if only to say thank you.
A two-month old Jupiter, then called Jimmy, when he was brought into the shelter with his five brothers and sisters. So sick, they were slotted to be put to death when a friend showed up 45 minutes before it was scheduled, brought them home and nursed them back to health.
Some folks say their pet saved their life. At least a guy on a PBS show said that.
I don't think Jupiter saved my life.
I think he saved me from frostbite seeping into my life and killing off bits and pieces. If it hadn't been for him, I probably would have lived on just fine for years, never noticing that parts of my heart no longer felt.
Three year old Mama the Himalayan was just adopted a few days ago!
She was in a foster home for a while. When space opened up at Social Tees, she returned and BOOM! Just like that, she was snatched up. Her new family just couldn't resist that fluffy cream coat and killer blue eyes!
RESCUE PUPPIES AND KITTIES BY LAUGHING YOUR HEAD OFF !!!!!
April 17!!! 8 pm!!!! Laugh!!! Laugh!!! Laugh!!! Great comics!!!! and tee shirts!!!!
HOW MUCH IS THAT DOGGIE IN THE WINDOW?
Fuji, an adorable 55-pound American Bully only looks like a badass. He's actually a mega sweetheart, mush-pot, delicious one who is unbelievably gentle.
Bonus!!! He gets along wonderfully with other dogs AND cats!!!
With a body like a tank and a soul that is golden. Housebroken, too!
So, even if the Staten Island Ferry does have to lock up the toilet paper in the women's bathroom so it doesn't get stolen a hundred times a day, the fact that it is even there means we're more than lucky. It means that of the 3,000 children who die every day from diseases and illnesses related to the lack of sanitation and clean water, not a whole lot of them come from New York City. ** Related Posts:
"...no... the ... I wove...the straw, a dollar, a dollar fifty, I was ahead of the game..."
"...the baby, when they were in Virginia... the baby..."
"...no, not that name...another name... he died at three, 'summer complaint' but I think it was dysentery... they went back to New York... had the girls, Ruth and Freda, but the girls didn't count... I came 1921... Ruth and Freda treated me like a doll... they called me Captain Belly Button Moishe A Regular Hersch... Who's Hersch?
"...I guess a relative..."
"....when we moved to the lower east side it was the first time we didn't live in a middle-class Jewish neighborhood... now there was one of everyone on the street and the gangs..."
While Her New York is on the road, an encore about reaching out and touching someone.
Originally posted Sunday, December 20, 2009
This is a telephone.
Florence's apartment has one just like this in her kitchen.
You stick your finger in one of those holes and then rotate the dial for each number of the number you are calling.
You can walk and talk on this phone as far as the cord goes.
A long time ago, like in the 1970's, when the phone company owned everything, this was the official phone of the apartment. Any extra phone, you had to pay extra. Nobody paid extra. We all had illegal phones. All wired up to this main phone with splices and electrical tape. If the phone company suddenly appeared at your door you had to quickly dismantle all the jerry-rigged illegal phones and hide them.
One time the guy showed up unexpected and I got my hair wet so he'd think I had been in the shower and that's why I kept him waiting outside the door, but really I was dismantling our extensions. And another time the phone guy grilled me for 5 minutes insisting there must be other phones in the house because he couldn't believe three girls could share one phone that resided in a then bedroom. I insisted we were all very close and could. He knew I was hiding ill-gotten equipment.
Then everything changed and the phone company owned nothing. The height of modern technology was pushing buttons instead of sticking fingers in holes. That and longer cords. Then things got crazy and you didn't need cords or wires at all.
Now, you don't even need a home to have a phone.
What I love most about this phone: during the blackout and 911 it still worked.
Pretzel Doodle Roberts (formerly Cinnamon), a 2-year-old super handsome and friendly Dachshund, was adopted last week! He had been rescued by the ASPCA, with whom Social Tees works, from a hoarding case.
Social Tees found him an amazingly perfect home TWO DAYS after he arrived! His new "dad" works from home so they spend tons of quality time together, and they live right near Madison Square Park -- this pup is living the life!
LAUGH YOUR HEAD OFF AND HELP RESCUE AT THE SAME TIME!!!!!
THIS WEEK'S FRIDAY CHILD:
Interested in the next LOVE OF YOUR LIFE???
is a 45-pound, 3 year-old pittie mix full of snuggles!
She was found
tied to a post in the cold, but from her great personality you wouldn't
know she was poorly cared for!!
Her foster mom
says: "Penny is a real sweetie who looooooves people. With her
beautiful rust-colored coat and compact muscular build, people in the
street are constantly complimenting her. She has a lot of energy
outside, loves to play fetch, and is a great running partner. She is
very calm indoors and is always up for a cuddle! She has been learning
basic training: sit, down, and leash training, which should be
continued. She also loves her stuffed animals. Penny would be so happy
to have people to shower with doggy kisses.”
Penny doesn't do well with
other dogs or cats, so she needs to be the only pet in your home. She's a
glutton for attention!
"OCCUPY ME", a small romp through decades of accumulation that happened when no one was looking just got published in TRIVIA!
Getting the announcement, I missed Florence. Work was where we met, and saw and heard one another. Not my personal life (with the exception of Joni), not my make-money-pay-rent life, not the small joys or the big hopes, not even illness or adventures to lands she had never visited. Just work - the work that required sitting down and dropping in deep to places very few went.
TRIVIA, deriving from "tri-via" (crossroads), was one of the names of the Triple Goddess. Recognizing that what is of primary importance in and about women's lives tends to be relegated to the margins of patriarchal history and thought, dismissed as "trivial," we conceive TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism as a place at the crossroads where women's ideas, words, and images can assume their original power and significance. We operate with (and within) an expansive definition of feminism, one that recognizes diversity of thought and practice across boundaries and borders of all kinds.
Henry Street Settlement's sleep-away camp must have been paradise to them, since they had spent most of their young lives on the Lower East Side either hoping not to get beaten or getting over getting beaten.
Seymour stayed behind in New York. George briefly dated Florence and it's up in the air if she was madly in love with him or Seymour, but she married Seymour. George, after his WWII stint headed out. Got a couple of degrees including a PhD and eventually landed in California.
But his life, like Seymour's, was haunted by those beatings, the poverty, the misery, the rats, the going hungry, the witnessing of horrors inside the tenement, outside on the street. His sunny suburb 3,000 miles away from where he had started couldn't keep ghosts away from his dreams, his waking hours, his happiness. So, like Seymour, he kept keys in locks to keep from becoming the worst of his past.
You can lock doors, but ghosts have a habit of slipping in through the cracks.
After rubble cleared and many things ended, there were small spaces of respite: Seymour now retired and living in California, a third new marriage for George, tons of food, no rats, and their children finally grown and far away, not reminding the brothers that despite their best efforts and their heartfelt desires, they had failed to truly be different from whence they came. Still, they had each other, company to keep in the midst of old echos from past battles.
And we, their daughters - sisters and cousins to one another - somehow rose from their lives and somehow built what they had maybe wished for during those summer days in Camp Henry.
George died yesterday. He was 90. At 92, Seymour will one day follow him.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.