West Side Cowboys

This cowboy is William Connolly on 11th Avenue on December 18, 1932. One of the last West Side Cowboys.

Have you been to The Highline in NYC? I came upon these pictures online, which preceded The Highline and the Elevatated tracks that are The Highline now. But these pictures depict an interesting time in NYC.

The trains used to go right up 11th Avenue, they literally were on tracks, sort of like trolleys. They started in 1846 for industrial reasons – bringing goods and services to that area, which became the Meat Packing District among other things.

So freight trains shared the streets with horses and buggies and eventurally cars and trolleys. But here is the amazing part – people would get hit by the trains at times. I don’t know how you don’t hear a freight train coming down the street, even at slow speeds, but people would acutally get hit.

So the City Council hired men to ride horseback in front of the trains and they would yell out to warm pedstrians. They became known as West Side Cowboys. In the early 1930s the Cowboys days ended because the trains were taken off the streets and became elevated (Els) and eventually went underground as subways.

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Italian-style Christmas?

Me with Laura (not Marsha or Jan)

We had a great Christmas despite the fact that we lost a lot of people this year – mainly my mother, my aunt (a second mother to me) and a cousin. We didn’t do Christmas last year due to the pandemic, so it was nice to get together. I have a large family and a few were missing due to illness and one niece was pregnant so she and her husband couldn’t travel – they had the baby last night btw.

Anyway, on Christmas Eve, we were at one of my brothers’ houses. One niece (let’s call her Marsha) and my nephew’s wife (let’s call her Jan) got into an argument. It got heated. I joked that it seemed like a Thanksgiving thing to do.

The next day, Christmas Day, we were all at said nephew’s wife’s house (with my nephew of course). I was the first one there. She (Jan) came up to me and said, “I’m concerned about Marsha. Do you think she’ll show up today?”

I said, of course, she traveled here for the holidays, she’ll come with her parents.

Jan then said, “That’s what I love about your family – it’s so Italian. There’s a huge blow out and it’s over in five minutes. If that was my family no one would speak to each other for months.”

I laughed and didn’t realize we were like that. I don’t really remember arguments, but we do talk loud and maybe that seems like arguments to her, who knows.

I do have a friend whose family don’t speak to each other for long periods of time over stupid things. They’re Italian, so maybe they are the exceptions who prove the rule.

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Christmas commercials

This commercial reminds me of my father and my uncle, who both lost their wives this year. Really sad.

And this, Publix commercial, of course, is my all-time favorite Publix commercial.

The “Last Train Home” commercial was shown for many years in the 1980s and ’90s.

The music in Last Train Home is from Still Life (Talking) an album by Pat Metheny Group, released in 1987. This Publix commercial ran from 1987 to 1996.

To this day, when Pat Metheny is performing, he’ll refer to the song as, “The Publix song.”

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The Christmas card

This year has not been kind to our family. We lost three family members – my mother, my aunt and a cousin. My father lost a wife, a sister and a first cousin (none from covid).

When my aunt passed this past Spring, I asked my cousins for something personal of hers. I wanted something with her energy attached – a coffee mug, an earring, etc. They gave me this little painting she made. It was in her dining room for many years – this little snowman image.

I took it home in July, after I spent time in New York and it sits on a table in my living room.

I would look at it daily. I thought, “It looks like a Christmas card – the snowman, the snow and birdhouse evoke Christmas. And it’s the size of a Christmas card.” And from there, I got the idea of making an actual card out of it. So in late July, that is what I did.

I held onto the card all summer and fall until this week when I mailed it. I didn’t tell anyone about the card, I wanted it to be a surprise. I only had 20 made and I sent it to my immediate family and my cousins and uncle. It went over well, everyone was touched and surprised at the image when they opened the envelope.

Let’s hope for a happier and healthier 2022.

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Saved by an angel?

An angel over a car accident

I’ve been waiting to hear from my Mom, you know, some sort of signal, but nothing yet. When my brother passed we all heard from him the first week, then he disappeared. I had a friend jak, who passed away and for two years, I would feel his presence in the passenger seat of my car. Never in the house, but always in the car. His songs would play on the radio and I just had a sense that he was there next to me as I drove around.

But I think my mom saved me from a bad accident yesterday.

I had a friend visiting for a couple of weeks and yesterday he was headed home. We were out and about all morning and my car was fine, but at 1:30 pm, we jumped in the car so I could take him to the airport and it wouldn’t start. I kept trying and nothing. It wound not turn over. So he ended up taking Uber to the airport.

About an hour later, I was arranging to have the car towed to the service station in the morning and I ran out to get the license number. While I was there, I tried starting the car again and it turned over perfectly! I turned it off, turned it on again and same thing, it started perfectly. I drove it to the service station to have it looked at and Ubered home.

I thought that that was quite strange. Then I thought, what if Mom was protecting my friend and me from a bad accident as we drove to the airport? What if she made the car not work and then it started normally just a short time later?

I have been saved in traffic situations in the past by people from the other side. I just know it. I’ve almost been in accidents where I knew they were going to happen and nothing happened. Not too long after my brother passed, I was almost in an accident. The truck was coming right at me, I steeled myself for a side door impact and nothing happened. It was as if by magic, the oncoming, speeding truck missed me. It was as if it just drove through me and ended up on the other side of my car.

An angel over a truck

A few years back a friend was telling me about a dream he had where his mother, who had passed, told him she had protected me in an accident. As he described the details, I remembered the incident from about 10 years earlier. He had every single detail right – the color of the car, the type of car, the location, and even that the guy was on a cell phone, which caused him to drive through the red light. A brick phone at that!

At the time I couldn’t explain how my car squeezed into the size of an inch between two cars. Literally, the car had to squeeze that small for me to have survived that accident. I could never wrap my head around it, but I knew at the time it was some sort of divine intervention and when my friend explained it all 10 years later, regarding his late mother’s intervention, it made sense.

I’ve had quite a few incidents like that. Am I a bad driver or is it others? I believe it’s others, but either way, I was saved from terrible accidents by divine intervention and I wonder if that was the case yesterday where my car would not start when needed and then when not needed an hour later, it started without any hesitation.

UPDATE ON THE CAR: The service station called me this morning. There is not a thing wrong with the car. It starts up perfectly. It starts right up. THANKS MOM!

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My Mom, Madeline Falco

My mother passed away October 20. Madeline Falco.

It was and wasn’t unexpected. She had been ill for awhile and each time she went into the hospital we were told that was it, the end, so we sort of mourned throughout the year. Each time we were told that, I expected the worst and I went through the grieving process. Now that it actually happened, I am not in too bad of a shape, since it was building up to this point.

I’m probably at the funeral as you read this.

I didn’t post the memorial info anywhere and didn’t tell any of my friends until this post now. I figured those who needed to know didn’t need to see it posted on social media and I just couldn’t do it – I didn’t have it in me to post it and make it real.

She was 88, and lived a wonderful life. She did it all, and was into everything. One of her grandchildren wrote this about her: “Grammy, I will never forget your unending love for all of us, your laugh, your sarcasm, your meatballs, and your encouragement to blast the music and dance around the house. You were one of a kind.”

Another wrote: “I’ll never forget playing records and dancing around the kitchen with you, watching endless musicals during our sleepovers, sneaking to the kitchen for ice cream or frozen watermelon in the middle of the night, seeing you at every show and every performance I ever did, and cooking with you and the massive amounts of garlic you used. 😂 You were an extraordinary grandmother and I’ll always be so grateful for our time together. I hope they play lots of Frank Sinatra for you in heaven. Rest In Peace. I love you forever, Grammy.”

Truth be told, “Sweet Child ‘o Mine” was her favorite song, or one of her favorites. I would always request it when one of my cousins, a musician, was performing. I suspect everyone thought it was my favorite song, but I would always request it thinking of Mom, who was alive and well all those times.

Mom not only loved to dance around, she loved to cook, she was a gourmet cook a gourmet baker, an artist – she painted wonderfully, she also loved any type of music, including Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Elvis, AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Van Halen, Guns n’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen and so much more.. She loved it all. I remember her at Bruce Springsteen’s concert at the Orange Bowl one year. She used to call him “Bruce,” just “Bruce”. One name. She used to call “Murder She Wrote,” ‘Jessica,’ She would say, “Jessica’s on.” Or “Archie’s on, for “All in the Family.”

One time we had Merv Griffin on tv, and someone was talking about music not being any good anymore. I think it was the mid ’70s, and he was saying all the good music was from the past. Mom said, “Not true, what about ‘The Spy Who Loved Me?” And I laughed because the title of the song is funny, but she was always up on the latest music.

She traveled – she loved to travel and she loved astronomy. So many times we would get in the car in the middle of the night to drive to a secluded spot, away from city lights, to look for whatever was in the sky that night – a shooting star, Jupiter, a full moon, whatever. I bought her a big telescope once, because she loved it all so much.

She loved Britcoms and would always call me to tell me something funny was on. We loved Archie Bunker, we would quote his nonsense to each other. When I was a kid she would sometimes cut my hair and she would ask me how I wanted it, I would say, in Archie’s voice – “Without blood, ma, without blood. And when you get to an ear, for god sake, stop!”

We would go on adventures, like one time we went searching around Brooklyn for the Moonstruck house in Brooklyn Heights and we would do so many things like that.

She worked out at a gym well into her 80s. She would laugh and say, “I was working out at the gym today and there working out next to me was my grandson!” because one of her grandchildren happened to be working out at the same gym.

She worked when we were growing up and she did that along with all her other activities, but I don’t ever remember her not being there. She fit it all in and always had dinner on the table. She never neglected us. Ever. She was at every school event, every sporting event, gymnastics event, etc. She was involved at both – for her kids and her grandkids.

When she was younger, she drove fast. We used to say she rounded the corners on two wheels.

I heard so many nice things at the wake, that I didn’t know. Our former next door neighbor, for so many years, Brian, my youngest brother Joey’s friend, was telling me about a time when Brian’s brand new car was in an accident about 50 miles from home. He and Joey were out for the night. He was scared to call his father, so my mother ended up driving the 50 miles to bring them home. She never mentioned the accident to Brian’s father. But the father found out and started to shun Brian.

My mother found out and went over and really let the father have it, saying things like, “How dare you treat your son like that ….” She was feisty. Love that. She was the first one to Brian’s mother’s side, when she found out his mother had cancer. Brian remembered all this and told me it all at the wake. But we were next door neighbors or so many years, our fathers worked together, so our mothers were each second mothers to us.

My aunt passed six months ago, another second (third?) mother to me. Two wonderful women dancing with the angels today. My father lost a sister and a wife this year. But he is doing quite well, all things considered.

I sent a big thing of flowers to the funeral home and it says, “Thank you, Mom – Love Tommy.” It sounds like a weird message to have on flowers, but I am thanking her for being my mother.

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Summer in October

Friday in NY was fantastic. It was like summer.

I usually prefer fall and would want the weather to be in the 50s and 60s, but this past summer was crap – 107 degrees or heavy rain constantly and this past week was blah, overcast and not really cool, but not really hot.

But Friday, was bright, the sky was blue, the temperature was 80 degrees and it seems like the whole city was out. Every park was full of people of all types from school children to office workers.

I watched in delight as some school boys climbed up on one of the statues in Union Square, where one of them struggled to get up there with his friends. Just matter-of-factly, two friends grabbed him by the arms and dragged him up. And then it looked as if they all had lunch sitting up on the statue base.

An older guy played the guitar and sang old hippie songs from the 1960s, and was amazing. The whole day was amazing.

I took the subway out to Coney Island. While the weather was great, strangely enough, there weren’t many people out there and it wasn’t as lively as it was in the summer. But I still enjoyed it.

Thursday night I spent with my cousins, We all went to dinner and it had been almost two years since we did that due to the pandemic, so it was very enjoyable, one of those nights I’ll always remember.

We may go apple and pumpkin picking upstate this weekend, but the weather is supposed to turn to rain again, bringing in a cold front, so we’ll see. The rain would stop us from going, not the cold front.

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I left my cell phone in an Uber

I left my cell phone in an Uber the other day. You can imagine what that’s like.

I had taken the Uber to pick up my car, which was in for service. I had the driver leave me at a supermarket, which is in the same shopping center where the car was being worked on.

Anyway, she left me off across the lot, in front of the supermarket and as soon as I got out, I realized I didn’t have my phone. And there she went, driving off.

Luckily there was traffic in the parking lot and she wasn’t going that fast, but every time I reached the car, she drove on a bit. I kept reaching the back of the car and she kept driving more. I kept calling out, “Wait! Stop!” I’m sure people were looking at me wondering what happened. I’m glad I can run fast.

Finally I managed to run around to the front of the car and stop her and I got the phone. I’m glad I had her drop me on the other side of the shopping center, because if she had dropped me off where the car was, she would have been on the highway and long gone.

It’s scary how much we rely on our cell phones.

A couple of years ago, my cousins, mother and son, dropped me off at the train in Queens, NY so I could get the subway back to the city. As I walked up the steps (it was an El train, at Woodside, Queens), I realized I didn’t have my phone, I had left it in their car.

As I rode back to the city I realized I had no way to reach them, I didn’t know their home or cell numbers. It’s funny how we remembered all the numbers in the past, but these days we don’t need to, unless you lose your phone of course. So as was on my way back to the city, I tried to think of how to reach them. I didn’t know anyone else’s numbers and so I couldn’t call my cousins or aunt or whatever. I thought I would call my parents, I remember their number and then have them call my cousins and arrange something.

You fell so naked without the phone, your who life is on there.

When I got back to the city, realized I could leave a message for my cousins on Facebook. I did that and we arranged for me to pick up the phone the next day – in Hoboken of all places, one of my favorite places. One of my cousins works in Hoboken and I ended up going at lunch time and I got my phone and we had lunch.

I always wonder how people lose their phones, but it’s quite an easy thing to do.

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CBS all night

Saw this old tv guide page on Facebook. It’s from December 1962, a Monday night. Looks like a NYC edition by the channel lineup.

I think I would watch CBS, channel 2 all night. Maybe up till 10 pm and then change to ABC Channel 7 for Ben Casey.

When we were kids my father was supposed to be on To Tell the Truth. It was live I think, because he was coming home late from work and my mother told me that the reason was he was going to be on To Tell the Truth, so we put it on and waited, but he never came on the show. I forgot the reasoning, maybe a technical issue or something and they showed a rerun.

He was going to be one of the liars/false people, making believe they were the person who was supposed to be the subject. I have to ask him about that, see if he remembers all these years later.

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