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Book 1. We From UPSTREET Continued…and De Barracks Yad Bay and Beach Club

January 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 1. We From UPSTREET Continued… and De Barracks Yad Bay and Beach Club

In the days before the present waterfront drive was built, the waterfront from The West India Dock, to Carenage (French Town), was beach front property. True the beach front in the Upstreet area known as “Barracks Yard” was what you could kindly call “muckity muck” or perhaps describe more accurately by saying that mud and night soil in equal measure, equals muckity muck, (night soil from the big “gut” that emptied into the sea there) still, when ever they felt like it, the people of Barracks Yard could and would walk right into the water to cool off and refresh themselves.

By the time Tony and Joe went away to Mandahl, they had taken me into Barracks Yard sufficient times for me to feel (if not completely welcome) welcome enough to come and go as I pleased. The truth is, few if any people from outside Barracks Yard were welcome there, the folks that lived there were perhaps one step below  destitute, and they were (as you would be) somewhat sensitive about it.

Apparently they recognized and accepted things about me that I was unaware of myself. They  saw that my shoes were long overdue for the dungheap, that my clothing was unkempt, my hair unbrushed and uncombed. They may also have noticed that I didn’t notice any of that and if I did, it didn’t bother me a bit.

I was completely unaware that I too, might have reason to be embarrassed about my circumstances, or any thing else. Looking back, my time as a denizen of (what I like to call) “De Barracks Yad Bay and Beach Club”, may have been the final beats of that kind of innocence for me.

Somehow in that seventh summer, far away from the poverty of the barracks yard, I felt the beginnings of what it was to burn with embarrassment and shame for my color and for what my family didn’t have.

But before we get to all of that sort of thing, here (in the language of my childhood, known as calypso) is a little spoken  piece with that exact title from “The Virgin Islands Songs”

 “De Barracks Yad Bay An Beach Club”

It jus so happen dat one day roun de bay dere by de Barracks yad a big truck come an dump out a truck load a san.

Wha! Yeh meboy, (I se to meself) now yu talking boy, lemme go lay doun in it.

 No sooner said dan done an I was de fus man dare. Boy, ah lay back an cross me leg an crass up me han dem behine me head like ah contemplating de clouds in de clear blue sky.

De nex second, ah jump up ana run back home to de head a pave street for me Muddah towel ana umbrella fo style, den ah grab up a can a sardine, two French bread ana red soda ana fly back to de beautiful new san at wha I kno gon soon be “De Barracks Yad Bay an Beach Club” Yeh meboy, ah se to meself now yu talking now yu talking.

 By de time ah reach back, three o fo touris had done fin de spot, but ah tro doun me self right in de middle ah dem, put an me shades ana open me sardine.

Jus den a big hard face man se “Hey Buckra, wha de hell yu tink yu doin, yu can’ see we come tu mix up concrete an cement?”

Ah se “wha? Yu crazy? Wha yu commin’ to de beach tu mix up concrete and cement” De man se “Is you is de one who crazy, who de hell tell you dis is a beach, we makin’ a watahfront fo  bigtruck cou pass here” Ah se “wha? Is YOU is de one who crazy, look de beautiful blue watah de, look de san here, look de people in de middle. We here in de Barracks Yad waitin’ bocoups an many years plus fo somebody to bring de san fo de beach. Man de people dem  been laydin doun in de mud full a crab hole an rock stone an badein’ in de watah  wha de bottom fulla broke shell an beer can. De chrirren dem billin san calsel outtah mud an don’ talk abou when de gut runnin and de nightsoil commin’ doun, den dey makin mud pie outta dat!

 No man, we waitin’ two hundred years an mo for dis san tu come (an fo somebody to plug up de gut) We ain’ wan no concrete and cement fo de beach, how de people dem gon lay doun on concrete and cement?, why yu wan tu have to jump up wid yu coal pot an yu fry fish and yu mabi an yu blanket an everyting, everytime some schupid muddah skunk ina bigtruck want tu pass. Yu crazy? No man, bring mo san!

Dis is de place right here me boy, in fac we should exten de beach all de way from Wes Indian dock to Cha Cha Ta…ah.. ah mean French Toun! Yu kno de beach belongs to de people dem and dat way every day will be like Christmas Mahnin fo de whole ah Charlotte Amalia me boy. Man sellin fraco an jumbi bead lef an right, woman sellin pate an benye by de poun. Touris frum all ovah de place commin to see de most beautiful town in de wurl, wid de bigges an de bes and de most beautiful beach in de wurl, rite in de middle ait. An de people dem will own de whole ting!. Man ah tell yu bring mo san! Bring mo san!..

 Back at the very beginning of the blook I said that, from time to time we would be talking about “so called race” in ways that most so called white folks were not accustomed to, (and for that matter many people of color might find novel).

Gale and I were  little white children in the West Indies, which (in those days) would automatically suggest that we were children of privilege and a certain social status…

Hmm, let me come at this in a different way… there are/ were shades of color all along a continuum from darkest to lightest from blue black to the paleest white and every incremental degree of brown, red, yellow and gold along the spectrum.

In the isolated island world of Euro/Afro/Caribbean society those families who were descendent of wealthy white plantation masters or masters of the mercantile, generally enjoyed the most favored status. This is not news to anyone; however a fine complication arose when white (and black) Americans entered the mix. Neither rich or poor white nor black Americans were programmed or inclined to kowtow to the self important “old families” at the top of the fairly rigid local hierarchy.

 This of course made those folks that were about to lose “most favored status” resentful and angry and their often spoiled children (who of course were not as even tempered as their often spoiled adults)  were too often surprisingly cruel. Alas for the guiless “poor yankee girl or boy” who comes pogo sticking into view, as unsuspecting and trusting as a tail-wagging puppy dog. Yaaiiiee! 

Of course if I knew then what I know now…

But even then I knew that most people all round the color wheel, were people of good heart and good will.

What I didn’t know was that among them, (us) often indistinguishable from the rest, lurked miseries who were mean, resentful and vindictive and chomping at the bit to act on it.  Not to lift their hands “mano a mano” to do battle (thereby running the risk of being exposed, embarrassing themselves, and getting the good “assing” they deserved) but to whisper, conspire to hurt, diminish, undermine and humiliate the object of their affliction. Permanently and forever, as often as possible. Tragically, these kinds of miserable poisonous wretches have succeeded many times in many places, many times more than once.

 These days we all know that the point of all that crazy action is to put you down or diminish you, in an effort to elevate or feel better about themselves, but what kid of any color comes into the picture armed with that information. What a different world it would be if kids were armed early on with that info. If the bad guys and bullys were immediately identified for what they really are and why they do what they do.

 Anyway, aside from having the seeds of shame planted by wacko shame propagator types, and unfortunately, having the idea that we were less than, and beyond pitiful somewhat watered and  reinforced  by the fact that all we had to eat at home was green pea soup for literally weeks at a time, We (Gale and I) had  the wildest, warmest,  and most wonderful fun while we lived UPSTREET. Tomorrow (Sunday Jan 31.) I will be doing a concert in the new Jarvis Museum the UPSTREET part of Charlotte Amalia…I am filled with emotion about the whole thing and I will sing like crazy. Yep. Continued…

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Book 4. and Book 1.The Concert, and We From UPSTREET!

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 4 and Book 1. The Concert, and We From UPSTREET!

I’m writing from St.Thomas, having arrived yesterday, Sunday, January the 24th. (One of my very favorite days of the year, by virtue of the fact that it is the Birthingday of my beautiful twins Lelia and Archie)

I am here to do a concert performance of The Virgin Islands Songs, for “The Virgin Islands Cultural Heritage Institute” and the “J. Antonio Jarvis Museum and Learning Center”.

Tuts and I have just returned from meeting with the Director, Myron Jackson and his extremely talented assistant Yvette Finch and taking a look at the performance area. 

The stage will be set up under a tent on the grounds and I will be looking south, directly at the hillside location of the “Bandmaster Alton Adams” family home. Alton Adams is the most highly regarded musician to have come from the Virgin Islands, he was the bandmaster of a local Virgin Islands Brass Band that was so good, that the Navy enlisted the whole Oompa kit and kaboddle, and sent them all around the world representing the USA. They were gentlemen of color each and every one, whose sense of possibility and self had not been saddled with the innumerable and onerous burdens of segregation. They represented themselves, the Islands and the Country well, and made beautiful music for many years.

Bandmaster Adams is considered second only to John Phillips Sousa in quantity and quality of Marches composed, and authored our own “Virgin Islands March” the Official Anthem of the Virgin Islands, which is a wonderful song. His Grand Daughter is the afore mentioned extremely talented Yvette Finch who on top of everything else, is a brilliant singer, and his Grandson is Cliff Finch the extraordinary Bass player on most of my album “Dreams Should Never Die” (The Virgin Islands Songs Vol. 2) which songs make up one third of the score of “The Virgin Islands Songs”. If ever I had occasion for inspiration it is certainly this coming Sunday. As I will be (from the stage) looking directly up at Bandmaster Adams familial home, with his granddaughter looking directly and me and his grandson’s wonderfully melodic bass leading us away from staggering off one musical precipice after another. Yes indeed, this ought to be stimulating and fun.

Since the Second Coming has not yet impressed any journalists (or for that matter anyone other than those still impressed by the first coming…well not true, some folks are saying some very nice things about my singing and treating me like I’m the greatest thing since freshwater, but they’re way back up in the states), I will probably have to review the concert for you myself.

Actually while I would have real difficulty reviewing the performance from the audience prospective while at the same time swacking the guitar and screechin’ on stage while saying nice things about how well and goodly handsome myself are, it probably couldn’t be much worse than what you may have read about me already. I suspect that some of you are aware that the lasting echoing journalistic statement of the entire forty five years of the first coming, is the oft (really oft, irritatingly oft) dismissal of me as “Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Field’s father, who did an album for ATCO in the 60’s, the obscure folk singer Scott Fagan ) 

If however (for reasons known only to me, until I finally spill the beans in perhaps book Twelve and a half) there are no post concert comments coming from yours truly, you may feel absolutely free to make up all kinds of stuff yourself…because even though I am with out question a real high ball, Ah, I mean a real high brow, ultra double artsy dude, there is no business like show business, and my dear dear friends, in spite of the best intentions of mice (“mike men”) and musicians, you just never never know.

P.S. Am I anxious? Yes I’m anxious…but I will do my best, to do my best, and then I will do my best. 

 We From UPSTREET

Yesterday after our meeting at the Jarvis museum, I pointed out to Morita (Morita is Tut’s ex-wife, the Mother of his fourth child, daughter Jamaine. She is also the Grand Mother of Tut’s Grandson “Nikell” who is the cheery little round headed fellow riding along in the truck with us. Morita is also a former class mate of mine to whom I carried sweet messages of young love from Tuts, at Charlotte Amalie High School) The “wall house” (concrete block) at the head of “pave street” (the century old name for Main Street) in which I used to live and which qualifies me to be accepted as a member of the “We from UPSTREET” organization. Whew!

 “We From UPSTREET” is a neighborhood organization very similar to the “We From DOWNSTREET”neighborhood organization in fact they are almost exactly alike except they are on opposite sides of Charlotte Amalie, UP on the East and, DOWN on the West. Each is convinced that their “We from” is best and better than all the rest (and there are many, ie. We From DOUNDEROAD, De SAVANEROS, We from ROUNDEFIELD, Dem from SILVAHDALLAH and so forth). Which is of course quite true in every case. Yep,

 When I pointed out the house and told her that I had lived there, and that that’s what made me a member of “We from UPSTREET”, she said “Man you live all over the place, you mus’ be a part of everyting” I said “Yes, that’s right, I did, I am” while Tuts chimed in “Yes, that’s why everybody know Scottie.” 

It was true and it was a very interesting reality, an interesting alternative to actually having a home and belonging somewhere. Was belonging (to a degree) everywhere. I am really grateful for that, as it allows me to feel at home just about everywhere I go, at home and all over the away.

 The “smoke truck” (a mosquito eradication truck, spraying what was commonly known to be DDT, out of a high pressure nozzle mounted at nose level for leaping, laughing, gyrating children) came to visit UPSTREET once or twice a week just after nightfall. When that high pitched hissing, the crazy flashing lights, and those billowing clouds of smoke arrived, it meant hysterical fun for all the children in the neighborhood. We would disappear into the thick white smoke, leaping and laughing dancing and carrying on to beat the band, for what seemed like hours on end.

More than once I realized a certain odd power as I emerged staggering, oiled to the bone, from the cloud and bystanders (who had no reason to suspect or way of knowing, that the pale apparition was one of two white children  (Gale and I) who had moved into their part of town), would cry out in shock upon seeing me “Oh GOD! Look a Jumbi! It was great fun.

 I learned or (began to learn) a great many things in our time living  “UPSTREET”. Among them, that even “good” children could be “taken away by the government” never to be seen or heard from again.

 When we first came to the house at the head of “Pave Street” I was befriended by two brothers, Tony and Joe, who appointed themselves as my protectors. They lived with their father in a very interesting old wooden structure on “The Beljan Road”. An actual “Sail loft” left over from the days of the massive canvas square riggers and the great Clipper Ships. Tony and Joe were bright, alert, friendly and kind boys (maybe nine and eleven years old) that for the most part, (when not taking care of me, seven going on eight) took care of themselves.

Their father was a large silent shambling man, who (in retrospect) was not able to properly care for them. One day they said goodbye by announcing that they were going to be sent to the dreaded Mandahl.

Gale and I had been in the Islands long enough to have heard one and another teacher, parent, or grumpy citizen threaten a child with “Ah gon sen yu ass Mandhal if yu don behave” We knew that being sent to Mandahl was akin to being delivered to de “Ol’ Man stinkin’ toe” who stuffed disrespectful and naughty children in his crocus (burlap) bag and took them away, most likely to cook and eat them for supper. Tony and Joe hadn’t done a thing to deserve such a fate…but the day came and they were gone. 

In reality, the dreaded Mandahl was the only resource that the system had for children without the benefit of parental or familial care givers. While I never saw them again, from time to time I would hear that they were fine and doing ok. I hope that their’s is a tale that ended well.

Years later, while still a minor myself, I watched helplessly as social services put my younger brothers Larry and Lonnie into foster care. But that, (and how I managed to avoid being snagged by the system myself), is another story… which soon come…

Book 4. and Book 2. The Second Coming..Continued. and Cover, South Atlantic Blues

January 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 4. and Book 2. The Second Coming… Continued. And  Cover, South Atlantic Blues 

But that‘s all beside the point and neither here nor there…The point is that I am on my way back to “Babylon” ah..I mean the states, to try and “do it right” this time, against exactly the kind of odds that it takes to stimulate a fellow like me, a freakin’ trillion million to one.

I’m 36,000 feet up in the air and believe me we are going like a bat out of hell. Heading straight for the heart and brains and soul of Babylon, Washington DC.  (Hmmm, well perhaps it would be more accurate to say “nerve center” instead, because the heart and brains and soul of America are..in my experience, certainly not concentrated in  Washington DC.  Those with pathology for power are concentrated in the district but it seems pretty clear that the heart, brains and soul are everywhere, anywhere but there)

 Least ye take offence thinking that I have no right to speak frankly about the USA, you’ll be relieved to hear that my direct ancestry (on me dear Mudders side) arrived in Virginia before the revolution, And my Great Great Great Grandfather fought for the Union in the battles of Shiloh, Hatchie, Vicksburg, Jackson, The Red River Campaign, Kennesaw Mountain and The battle of Atlanta as a member of Third Regiment, IOWA Infantry. He (Edwin B. Slatterley) was wounded, left for kaput, “caught himself” got up and survived to fight on to the bitter end. Eventually dying (years later in Grass Valley Ca.) as a result of his Civil War wounds.

Other Great Great Grand Parents crossed the plains (it took six months) to California in a covered wagon (leaving Terre Haute, Indiana) in April 1852 and as a result of moolah made during the Gold Rush, were able to purchase (and have been working) a thousand acre ranch outside of “Rough and Ready” “Wheatland” and “Spencerville”, Nevada County, California, ever since. I would add that I voted for Margret Mead and James Baldwin for President and Vice President respectively, in 1968. And ask that you don’t discount my paternal’s history in a Convent’s Garden in New Orleans and eight children and a candy store in Hells Kitchen and the death of Pater dears Mater dear (Sally the orphan girl from Scotland in the TB wards of Welfare Island in New York City’s East River) all of which (though very much a partial history) establishes the right of their descendent to fight with wit and pen (and light sword as available) against “schupidness” and the sick and twisted forces of aggressive ignorance and repression.

 Forces so well represented in recent years in the actions and intentions of those that would weld bars across the Golden door and bomb the beggars with the audacity to hope for a better life in the welcoming arms of the land of the free…

 In Washington, I will de train from de plane and hop on a puddle jumper which will take me to my destination, Middletown, Pa. Of Three Mile Island fame. There I will  take a, make a, stand along side The MAAC (The Middletown Area Arts Collective)  in pursuit of the Second Coming…We shall see what we shall see.

 A few days ago, I got back to the pad to discover a bootleg copy of “South Atlantic Blues” in digital format (A bootleg CD) was waiting in the mailbox…

Looking at the quality of the Joel Brodsky photograph that is the South Atlantic Blues cover, shrunk down to CD size, it occurred to me that CD Covers miniaturized an art form that was better maximized. We would have been better served making records and album covers the size and weight of a locomotive drive wheel.

 In fact, if this photograph were to reflect the fun that we had making it, it would have to be the size of a barn door.no…a double barn door. Mort (Mort Shuman) picked Roberta and I up in his little MG first thing in the morning and took us to an extremely upscale hair salon.(keep in mind that I was a semi savage) where in (maybe after spritzing me once or twice with the perfumed  “eu de knock out drops” reserved for biting, scratching, screaming and kicking children) we got me (in 1964) a mighty fancy (so fancy and subtle that it’s probable that they didn’t do anything at all) hundred-dollar haircut.

Then we headed down to Joel Brodsky’s studio in the garment district, where we broke out the Guitars and the Rum and Coca-Cola, and proceeded to sing in English, Spanish Calypso, and “Rum tongues”. A medley for the ages. Merrily  bashing guitars stopping only to splash and resplash “Cuba Libres” down the screech pipe.

While directing the Don Q  to where we thought it would do the most good, we had migrated/fallen out onto the roof of the building, within moments the musica brought hundreds of seamstresses and garment workers to their windows all around and above to cheer us on, Mort and I were both fluent en espaniol at the time and sang every verse of Morty and Doc’s song “Sweets For My Sweet”, every “Trio Los Pancho’s” and Ishmael Rivera tune we could, along with much extemporaneous and highly complementary improvisation dedicated to the ladies in the windows above and around. It was the greatest great fun. I don’t know how in the world Joel wound up with such a serioso shot, however as ultra serioso was my natural state of being; I suppose it was by natural default.  

What a great photographer and great good fellow he was. And what a great writer, producer and friend Mort was. Unfortunately our best musical work together drifted up and into the air, here there and everywhere but the recording studio, but good lord, what a great and beautiful spirit he was and what great and beautiful joy he brought to me and to us all with his music.

 Another interesting element of the South Atlantic Blues cover is the black and white design done by a company called the “Graffiteria” their clever concept allows the boy’s name and his hundred-dollar hair “cut” to coexist and complement one another. Further, I personally was thrilled to bits to see the little ATCO logo on a recording of mine because Ben E. King was on ATCO and Ben E. King was my man!

 Album covers were fascinating and often full of content. It’s now fairly well accepted that the music business went to the CD format for purely moneymaking reasons. And they made a fortune with it, however not only did their decisions impact every associated art, distribution wholesale and retail business, they destroyed almost every element of an entire  industry. Anyway, my bootlegger friend Tony has been more kind and more supportive of me and my music in the three years that I have known him, than ATCO/Atlantic has been in the forty two years that they have sat on and then buried (and now lost the master tapes of) my first  album. “South Atlantic Blues”.

I could go on about this stuff and perhaps I will elsewhere in the blook, but for the moment, Tony cleaned up the “pops and clicks” and “South Atlantic Blues” sounds really good. I can’t send you a copy, ATCO/Atlantic won’t sell you a copy, but Tony might know where you can get one…I will post his webaddress in the near future so that you may go and contact him there.

 My friend Tony is a full on ttrriipp! Fully functional in at least four dimensions at a time. He contacted me through the internet wanting to help in which ever way he could because he is moved by my music and thinks it’s a shame that more people have not been exposed to it. Tony had spent a number of years living in St. Croix (Virgin Islands) And was a refreshingly enthusiastic action oriented gent. I traveled to New York in a beautifully snowy March, and we spent two round the clock days and nights attempting to get the live California recordings of “SOON” to a listenable state. We will be able (with just a little more work) to release “SOON” on CD early this year (2010) thanks to Tony and his beautiful work AND the warm hospitality of his sweet sweetie the lady Pola.

 I am back in the states and pursuing the second coming. This night, I am carrying my guitar and slowly walking back to my little pad after performing at the MAAC space,  www.middletownarts.com  I’m walking between and through  red brick walls, dark alleyways and  bitterly cold, gritty streets of an old swept aside industrial age railroad town,

I’m remembering my sainted sister Gale, who after the high drama and excitement of the life we shared as “kids in chaos” chose to make a life for herself in this little town on the banks of the Susquehanna. For years, (although I would visit her here regularly), I just didn’t get why she would do that. Good lord a’ mighty, I didn’t get it.

Now I think I understand, it has to do with the human relationships that are possible in the “wings of life” away from center stage. The low key, rather than the screech of life above high C. Good straight forward uncomplicated people.  Gale was the President of the local “Friends of the Library” for 25 years. When she died we gave most of her book collection to the library for their annual book sale and Gale’s Cook Books and Mysteries alone, raised close to seven thousand dollars for them (at fifty cents and a dollar apiece) can you imagine?

I love my sister Gale and I walk past her Beautiful old three story red brick house (now owned by the bank) coming and going to and from The MAAC (The Collective). Every time I do I am filled with missing her and the times that we had together many of them in this very house, in this very town. In any case, this cold night, these sporadicly placed misty street lights, the weight of time in the air, the guitar on my arm, the lingering excitement and heightened awareness of the just done performance, are like dejavu all over again. I have walked this way in a thousand places. They come tumbling back this still night This time I hope to do it right.

Book 4. The Second Coming. Continued..

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment
Book 4. The Second Coming. Continued.. 
 
No, not the day of El Senor, The return of Jesu Christo, not the Morning of Armageddon, The up close and personal, desperate “splainin’ of Judgement Day, No Herald Trumpets, nor big fat smirking self-satisfied “I Told You So’s” faces in your face, No pillars of flame, and brimstone rain, pitch forks “a forking””imps a imping”, or mighty book of life unveiled. no back to back to back televised famous faces making last-minute confessions of shocking infidelities and perverted lust fueled obscenities at the last just in time minute to be sin free, no Stereo Technicolor 3-D Revelations, nay, tis ain’t the sky splitting, sun splitting, Uranus splitting thunderous thunder-clap of almighty settle up and pray, pay your debt, face the music and dance day, gateway to eternity day, nope, it’s just scaddywaddy do dah, the boy who wouldn’t give up, and wouldn’t go away, coming back for more, day.
 
Yea, though I have traveled the skyways back and forth between the Isles of dreams and the greystone mainland a hundred times or more, this trav is different. This is me myself and oy, on my way to battle the bull (my own) nose to nose, eyelash to eyelash, mano a mano, to grab ‘im by the snortin’snorter and fling ‘im up and over me shoulder and “wrascal him down” into the dust, and make him say ankle!, uh..inkle!..oinkle? (ah..heck, you know what I mean!)
 
Actually, to do something even more difficult, unheard of and unlikely than that. To break through the scrim scram scrum, over under around and through To, to, to, the unthinkable, oh nirvanita in rags, to seek out, search out, uncover and discover.. Oh glory day in the morning, and finally find my ever elusive, non-intrusive self-effacing, timid and dream struck, long-lost, star-crossed, drunk on the milky way, wandering in the wilderness, trembling lipped, dewy eyed, tender-hearted and good to the last drop, invisibly inked audience, and then somehow earning the ultimate cereal box prize in life, their love.

And and and.. there fore from and by, my success as an artist at the uber ripe and pleasantly plump age of ..well…sixty four. (and beyond, heck yes, and beyond too, don’t forget that part) Empty-handed except for the git-fiddle on my knee, and with nothing more than a mumbled mantra and the continued amusement of the almighty, to assure my success. (The mumbled mantra part requiring that I never forget to close each set of my ‘umble musical offerings, with the sobriquet “Goodnight Mrs. Pennyfeathers, where ever you may be.”)

 As far back as 1963, my fadder dear was convinced and tried to convince me that if I didn’t maker it by 18, or 19 or at the latest 20, it would be too late, I would be too old. I think (and thought) that his prospective was singed by bitterness about his own career in music, and the deep resentment that he and many other older musicians harbored about Rock and Roll, displacing their cherished genres and rudely shoving their sophisticated romantic, melodic dreams aside, in favor of greasy haired vulgarians gyrating while emitting farmyard noises,  and singing lyrics like “Uh Huh Uh Huh Uh Huh” and Uh Huh Uh Huh Oh Baby” (which was of course exactly what I aspired to be, do and sing..which flipped him out even further)

 Poor father dear, he sired (when he realized he had) in his words, a “young prince” who rather than aspiring to become “William The Wonderful”, and someday purchasing a likely bar in a good drinking locale for the beautiful and beneficent retired king “Fadder Dear the First” was instead “Fidel The F%*kin’ Bomb thrower from the Islands” who appeared to imagine himself as Elvis The Pelvis’s misplaced twin “Enis The Pe*is” but who (by decree of King Fadder Dear) was hence forth to be known instead as “William The Helpless” (except of course when he was singing “Danny Boy”,  “Galway Bay” or “The Rose Of Tralee.”…Continued

 

Book 3. and 1. and 3. Caribair and The Second Coming

January 16, 2010 Leave a comment
Book 3. Caribair 
It was hot as  double ultra caraho, so I went over to Lindbergh to get in the sea and cool off. I have a “beach outfit” that is the biggest hoot ever, it’s great fun to wear. My “beach suit” is an enormous blue flowery Hibiscus pattern shirt over enormous baggy blue flowery Hibiscus pants. The blues are out of kilter with one another and the Hibiscus are drawn by entirely different artists in entirely different styles. The closer you look the more mind boggling it is, just like any really good tourist outfit.
 Is it possible the tourists have been goofing on us all these years? I’m thinking yes.
 The water was wonderful, the contemplation of the clouds as I lay on/in the Caribbean was wonderful
 The sound of a DC 3 taking off was immediately recognizable to me and I stopped contemplating, and stood upright. to watch it..A very old DC3 with a more shrill sound than most, (but only in one engine) with “4 Star Airlines” written along the side.

I watched it climbing and banking south then east. Immediately after, a second one took off. The sound of a DC 3 is such a comforting reassuring sound from my childhood, I love them. 

Further, it was the aircraft of the greatest airline ever “Caribair.” Caribair’s DC 3s were painted a cool white with a golden stripe running along the side where the windows were (so the windows looked like little jewels set in a golden band or bracelet) the tail featured a classic image of “El Morro” the Spanish fort in Old San Juan, painted in Red against the Golden background of the mighty upright tail.

 The planes were immaculate, in and out and smelled of romance and sweet peppermints, the stewardess were the exact Spanish beauties of your dreams. The kind of ladies that inspired you to  get grown up, just so you could fling yourself babbling at their feet.

The dashing “Don Caballeros” in the crisp pilot’s uniforms were clearly capable and mucho macho. More than enough, to fly you into and through any “cat 10” Huracan! No problema..mon.

In those days, this airlines planes had never crashed. But if one did, (they didn’t, but IF one did) you knew that “You flew with Spanish Angels in the air, when you flew with Caribair” so if you did accidentally wind up with them in Puerto Rican Heaven, well… you knew you would be welcome there.

 Not only were the planes and people beautiful but the sound of the powerful always steady engines (seemed tuned to concert 440) A full throated celestial “A” chord that did not waver, that did not roar. Their harmonic consistency was the background sound every day, morning noon and night through the sweetest years of our lives. “dungderoad” in Bournfield.

 I lay down this afternoon on the warm soft sand as I had done through out the sweet days of yore, with the sound of DC 3’s taking off and landing in the background… just like a favorite song playing over and again on the juke box…

Book 3 And 1 And 3… The Second Coming 

 

The Plane climbs into the orange dusk above Charlotte Amalia, and I am on my way back to the states. As we bank into the setting sun, I think,” I’m doing it again, I’m doing it again. I’m leaving the Island, and going to the states… with the same intention that I held forty five years and lets see..five months and twelve hours and a lifetime ago.

 

To sing, to change the world, to change my family’s economic situation, to prove myself, to demonstrate to other Virgin Islanders that we are good enough too, that we’ve got what it takes to make it, and be equal in this world, To get famous and… (lets not forget, or overlook, diminish or deny the primal, primary force that has driven many many men of music)… Chicks.

 

Only perhaps this time the priorities might be listed somewhat differently.

 To sing, to write wildly wonderful things, to change the world, to change my family’s economic situation, to demonstrate to all Virgin Islanders that we from the V. I. are good enough too, that we’ve got what it takes to make it in this world, and this time to get the fame nesessary and sufficient to take care of the chicks I’ve got. (My daughters and Grand daughters, their beautiful Mamas and Mamas Grande)
 
I’m doing it again, only this time I have to do it right, But how to do it right is the mighty mighty question..begging (in my case) the obvious question “How or what did I do wrong?”
 The answer that comes is 

1. Do not drink or use absolutely no matter what

2. Do not allow myself to be constantly and continuously distracted by the promise of a kiss. Sublimate that to taking care of those already in my care. 

3. Do not be dismissive of ideas other than my own 

4. Remember to be grateful for the beautiful gifts that I’ve been given, and to let them shine. 

5. Stay committed to doing it better, by doing the things I do, better than I’ve been doing them.

6. Choose my battles thoughtfully and carefully 

7. Listen. and 

8. Learn 

9. Remember alsway, to pass it on.

While this octave plus one, of ideas may not be the whole story, it could lead to a better story than the one I’ve got.

Puerto Rico is below and the whole majestic Island is moving to the south east at five slow hundred miles per hour. Every dream and heartbreak, pot of arroz con pollo, beautiful bighearted, black-eyed, big bottomed beauty, and her Abuelita, every tousled haired little one and their sinewy armed Abuelos, every conga pounding, bongo beating, high note hitting, guapo big dreamer, every surviving Taieno and Carib, every Don Santiago de Espana, every child of Africa, every perfumed Princessa De la Noche, every hysterical television personality and dancing melocoton, electric plug, telephone cable, naval installation, politician, supermarket, history book and so on, is slipping away “al Oriente”. I will miss it when it’s gone.

On July 2nd, 1964, (forty five years, five months, twelve hours and a lifetime ago) It took the entire day, (dawn to dusk), to sail the fifty foot Ketch “Success” this far. Sailing into San Juan harbor in the dark that night, was a bilge-rat’s first lesson in finding the navigational lights hidden among the dancing neon, red, green and amber traffic lights and the ever blinking diamond twinkle of a major sea side city.

On July Fourth 1964, as we were leaving the harbor at Areciebo, bound across the dreaded Mona Passage for Hispaniola. I looked back towards “The Virgins” beneath the rising sun, and felt my heart all but break with longing.

I wanted more than anything to go back home (even though home was at that time, a small clearing on the side of Sara Hill.) I stood on the deck, looking back for a long long time.

In truth, no small part of my pain was the realization that “today, the 4th” was wild, raucous, rambunctious, crazy ruckus, Carnival Day in St. John. I felt ever so strongly that I should have been heading there, rather than here, going who knows where. (but clearly in the wrong direction).

The good question of whether I ought to have been heading east to England rather than west to the U.S. has been posed many times by sincere people aware of my history in the music business. While I very much appreciate their concern and perhaps it is true that I might have been a better fit for Britain, Truth be told, on July Fourth 1964, standing on the deck of the good ship “Success” longing for the “Islands of the Virgins” I was much more an “instinct driven, lusty, dipsomaniacal youth,” than a thoughtful, practical, prescient planner. Ah well…

I’m remembering how at 18, I was alone in the full moon night at the helm of a 50 foot ketch, under full sail, just off the coast of Haiti, holding a course W.N.W, on the Midnight to 4 AM watch, with four souls asleep below.

What an amazing series of moments. I was as hyper alert as I had ever been, hyper aware of the wind, the current, the strong pulling of the wheel, the glowing compass and what would happen if I slid off course. I was sure that I could hear the water crashing against the reefs that line the northern coast of Hispaniola, and if you ask, to this day, I could almost swear that I remember (clear as a ships bell), the leaping fires on the Mountain side and the crazy pounding of Haitian drums. My heart was pounding my, my mind was racing, and I knew that I would never forget that moment, that time and place, the spirit in that boy. And I never have.

There were many other wonderful exhilarating unforgettable nights at sea, standing at the point of the bowsprit, flying high and plunging deep above and between the dark and dangerous waves. Singing into the wind as it whipped my hair my open shirt and my words away.

Scrambling in crazy wind lashed rain storm to follow the Captain’s command, to haul in the franticly beating jib, in spite of the fact that it’s already slapped you silly. To this day I dream of magnificent beautiful flying Jennys…

Or still quiet nights when the sea and the sky and the stars in the sky ARE everything, are everything that is the world, everything that is except our poor little pondering noggins with their peculiar little imaginings,

A boy of beating heart, of fragile little (but conscious) brain, my feeble little man-child wonderings, sandwiched between billions of years above and billions of years below. A “consciousness” floating on a wood chip smack dab between double eternities. Yikes! There perhaps, the waddling baby duckling birth of reverence and humility. Continued…

 

 

Continued..Book. 1 Favorite Singers and Rockaway Days

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Book. 1 Favorite Singers and Rockaway Days

We lived in a “court” a collection of summer bungalows gathered around a concrete “court yard” maybe there were four or five bungalows on each side, with one or two across at the end.

Just outside and to the left was a movie theater, just outside and to the right was a custard and French fry stand, The French fries came in a little pointy bottomed Dixie cup and they were the real salty greasy greats. The custard was beyond language. Among the neighbors were a couple who were war refugees from Hungry. He was the ‘super” (a New York term for the superintendent. A representative of the land lord or management company, whose job is to fix any problems or breakdowns in the building or court) and she was a housewife. They had a little boy named Adam, who’s head looked a little misshapen, but who seemed nice otherwise.

Alas, his parents decided to make friends with me so Adam would have someone to play with. I swear to you I don’t know how I got “the come to me sign” tattooed across my forehead, but it is there. You may not be able to see it, but anyone who is dinged, danged, damaged, desperate or dub-doodled, sees it as clear as red flashing neon, and the message says..”come to me..I’ve got the cure, I’ve got the answer, that’s for sure!”

Dear Lord Amighty, You above all know how grateful I am for my unearned and undeserved gifts, but..but..but..but..

So I was encouraged to play with Adam and as I was/am a nice, sensitive, well-mannered boy, I was encouraged to come/go back again. One day pretty soon, Adam is insisting that I come up stairs with him because there is something that he has to show me up there..as we pass the bathroom he pushes me in, slams and locks the door, and produces a friggin’ butcher knife  at least three feet long. (yes, yes, its like a pre-ja vu,) The boy is making the most horrible faces, speaking hysterically in some gutteral eastern European language, and indicating that he is about to stab me to death.

Between my own hysteri-ac-s I’m thinking “Mother, I please don’t ever make me go play with someone just to nice ever again,” I’m squeeking and yodeling at the top of my voice for his Mother’s help, while wondering if she may be part of the deal and busy readying the roasting pan. In my wonder thunks, I’m thinking “if you grown ups know he’s crazy why did you take your eyes off of us, am I sacrificed so you can pretend he’s ok? (Can you do that? think, wonder, yodel and screech all at once? It makes for a noisy noggin, I can tell you.)

Finally his mother responded to my caterwauling and came to the locked bathroom door. After God’s own eternity she was able to de-escalate him, open the door and get the knife. She wanted me to.stay and play some more but God bless her and him, I could not. I was out of there, I fled for my flerking life. When his father came home he came over to our bungalow to apologize and to give me a shiny penny to come back and play again tomorrow, but ah, dear God, I would not. I was sorry for him and for them, but good God awmighty.

At that time the song “Enjoy Your Self It’s Later Than You Think” was a big hit. That’s when it first occurred to me that songs could have real meaning. My earliest favorite female singers were Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Edith Piaf and Teresa Brewer. I think that you know about the emotion with the first three, but an additional reason is of course, phrasing, phrasing and phrasing. With Teresa Brewer, it was her spunk I loved her recording of “Music Music Music” (Put another Nickel in, in the Nickelodeon). It just jumps for joy. Later on I also loved “This Ol House” by Rosemary Clooney (and while we’re on records, “Blue Velvet” by Mr. Benedetto doing the once and for all rendition, of that once and for all song and Ella Fitzgerald singing “A Tisket A Tasket” a masterpiece)

In those Rockaway days, Gale and I each had our own very favorite song. The grownups made a big deal out of that, I guess they were reinforcing in us what we reinforced for them, the idea that songs are important. Gale’s song was “Dinah” It started out.. “Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, someone’s in the kitchen I know, oh oh oh , Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah strumming on the old Banjo” and then it went

 “Fe Fi Fiddle de I oh, Fe Fi Fiddle de I oh oh oh oh , Fe Fi Fiddle de I oooh, Strummin’ on the old Banjo” .

And then It went “Dinah won’t you blow, Dinah won’t you blow, Dinah won’t you blow your horn.. or.. ..orn Dinah won’t you blow, Dinah won’t you blow, Dinah won’t you blow your horn.. or.. ..orn”

The song tangled up my poor noggin, there were so many sections that I didn’t know which went where and what went next,..But I loved my sister Gale. And I wanted to love her song too..

I just didn’t understand what the heck was goin’ on when we were singing it.. On the other hand, I had a favorite song that took about four seconds to sing before I’d got swept away and lost completely “Down by the station early in the morning, see the little puffer bellies all in a row” after “all in a row” I always found my self singing “Aluetta shantee alouetta” and then (even now) saying “Huh”? And starting all over again.

I listened to the music on the radio with great interest, I loved the singing and I loved the songs. They really touched me. I was interested in how I felt listening to them. “There’s A Small Hotel”, “The Tennesee Waltz”, “Three Coins In The Fountain” Even though I had not yet had the experiences being described or referenced, I was able to imagine my self in a same similar situation and be empathetic. And man, the harmonies in “Three Coins In The Fountain” were down right magical.

I remember being in a marshy sand dunes area at maybe Jones Beach, with Mud and Lea (and Lea’s boyfriend “Slope”) and Gale. It was fall. The car was parked and the top was down and although we were out walking around, the radio was on. Frankie Laine was singing “I Go Where The Wild Goose Goes” The power of the singing, the song and the imagery, eliciting an involuntary “wow” from me.

Incidently, for years I associated Frankie Laine with that record and related songs (like Rawhide) but Gale and I recently came across a CD of his Greatest Hits and we couldn’t stop listening. He did some really great work before (and after) being pigeonholed with “Wild Goose and Rawhide.” Listening to him sing through his catalog on that CD, One could make a really really good case for Frankie Laine being a White Rhythm and Blues or Rock And Roll singer.

Again, his phrasing is just beautiful. I recently saw his old hipster self singing “That’s My Desire” (a great tune) At ninety odd, on PBS, and then heard shortly after that he had passed away, God Bless Frankie Laine, he was the real McCoy.

The Rock and Roll singers that were my influences and favorites were Frankie Lymon, pre-army Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Roy Orbison, Chuck Berry, Johnny Maestro (of the Crests, (“16 Candles” says it all,). Paul Anka, Jackie Wilson, Bobby Rydell, Ray Peterson, Ray Charles and most of all Ben E. King. Every one of them with a great and expressive voice but ultimately, masters of phrasing.

The Rock and Roll Girls (I have learned an awful lot from female singers, particularly in the area of dynamics and..yep, phrasing) Lavern Baker, Arlene Smith of the Chantels, (after “16 Candles”, “Maybe” says the rest). Timi Yuro, Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, The Shirells, Dusty Springfield and The Ronettes.

As I’ve noted earlier, down in the Islands we had an awful lot of Southern Gospel and Country and Western, and some of those singers were important influences for me. Gene Autry, Hank Williams, Jim Reeves and Marty Robbins (El Paso is a Masterpiece) and the Great Patsy Cline.

In addition, we had Calypsonians who were second to none in their Vocal technique and presentation. The Mighty Sparrow (still going strong) Lord Melody, Lord Kitchner and The Duke Of Iron every one a great phraser. Out of Puerto Rico there was the incomparable Ishmael Rivera, singer with El Magnificante, Cortijo Y Su Combo, The Trio Los Panchos (The greatest harmonies ever), and Lucho Gatica singing “El Camino Verde”,.

Now, having listed all of these favorites, I have to say that I learned more about singing from my own dear Fadder dear than anyone else. As a teenager I often found myself (for one reason or another) “on the road” with him. We traveled together on and off for years, drinking and singing..”It’s all in the phrasing Fidel, it’s all in the phrasing” (My father called me “Fidel the F##king bomb thrower from the islands” well..because,)  he also said that my Mother had named me “Scott” after her army pilot “boyfriend” who had crashed his bomber into the Empire State Building, and she shoulda let him name me Claude like he wanted to.)

When he realized that he had sired another singer. he immediately auditioned me on one word and one word alone, “lemme hear you sing it Fidel, just lemme hear you sing it, cause I’ll know in a second if you can sing, jus lemme hear you sing it! Sing the word.. love”.  The interesting thing was, with that particular word, I didn’t care what any body said, I knew with all the confidence in the world that I could sing and express love vocally.

Fortunately he agreed and we got busy singing every kind of song under the sun including every Irish tune ever written or imagined… There were many a nerve-racking midnight performance (the first one especially) for women in sentimental settings when he would say, “Ah, Fidel, sing Danny Boy for me Fidel, sing Danny Boy for me”

One of the proudest moments of my life, was the first time I sang it through for him. Opening the song with just the right phrasing and dynamics, coming up to and hitting those high notes just right, hanging there just long enough and singing it through ever so tenderly and beautifully with just enough hope just enough cry.., just the way he had sung it for me. Yep..this singing is a good thing, an I like it…

Book. 2 Scott it’s gonna be rough, you sing too good and..

January 10, 2010 Leave a comment
Book. 2 Scott it’s gonna be rough, you sing too good and
Book. 1 Favorite Singers and Rockaway Days

 I’ve been working on sets and tunes most of the day and decided to design sets in different genres. I love to sing and the song is the thing. Who cares which genre it is? The criteria for these songs is “Do you like to sing it”?There are so many beautiful songs that I like to sing. I guess I ought to accept and confess that I like beautiful songs and I like to sing them. Not only, but also.

In 1964, on my first day in New York City, I went up to Doc Pomus’s room at the Forrest Hotel on 49th Street and Broadway, to sing for him. In the conversation that occurred immediately after I had sung, and he had announced to me that “he was going to sign me,” Doc said “Scottie, it’s gonna be rough, you sing too good.” That is most certainly still among the very nicest things any one has ever said to me…

It meant that my efforts to beat back my shyness, sharpen my ear, master dynamics, phrase the phrasing, control my emotions and gather, focus and direct these elements towards producing a vocal sound that accurately expressed the depth of my feelings, had been realized. I could have stood up right then and there, shaken his hand, left the room and gone back to the islands, because I had been successful at doing what I had hoped with all my heart and soul to someday be able to do. Sing how I felt, sing what I was feeling.

However, I didn’t go back home because there were two more very important aspects of my intention that had not yet been realized. People, specifically you, had not yet received what I was sending, so the circuit was not yet complete, and, my family was depending on me to bring home at least a calabash full of cash… The welfare (social services) had taken my little brothers Larry and Lonnie. They were in foster care hoping and waiting for me to get them out, Mud was on her way to becoming a homeless alcoholic woman in Miami, my dear fadder dear was living in a skeeter riven rust bucket semi-collapsed trailer at the concentric center of swamp central hell in Dipso Swampo, La Florida. My beautiful big sister Gale was traveling the country is a grass skirt as a Hawaiian Dancer. Aka Lelanie, aka Edie Isle, and I of course, before sailing two Thousand miles as a bilge rat on a woodchip with a name, had most recently been residing in the bushes on the airport runway side of “Sarah Hill” down in the Bongo Isles.

And therein lay the root of my soul splitting conflict for the next forty seven years. “Art or commerce” (which meant to me, “to be an honest or a dis-honest artist” “to be real or be phony” “to maintain your integrity or lose your soul” “to hold the line at any costs or sell out.” I chose to hold the line, because I believed that it really mattered. I thought that if I were sincere in my art, we would be alright materially, as a just and fair by-product of a cosmic karmic preference for truth and justice and the Amer-artisti-can way.

However, while I am a “true believer” the “possibility” has become a possibility that possibility is indifferent to our subjective anthromorphic projections about justice, artistic compromise, and all that…further, I realize more completely than ever, that it’s the artist (her or him self) that gets to decide how they wish to express themselves, certainly not the self appointed experts who earn their attention by sitting on the sidelines being cruely (though sometimes cleverly) critical of artists and their efforts.

Still, whatever the cosmic yin yan, I love to sing and the song is still not completed, the circuit is still not satisfied until the song is received by you…until you hear it. SoI’m a singing, I’m a sending….

Book. 1 Favorite Singers and Rockaway Days

 

People ask me from time to time who my favorite singers are or were, they expect a fairly simple and direct answer. Generally, I shift the subject away to something easy like the recipe for Kalaloo or Quantum Physics, but we have a moment here in which I can try to answer what I view as a relatively complicated but fair musical question, somewhat seriously. My early musical exposure was across the board, so naturally my musical influences are across the board.

 I will talk about male singers first, the females will follow anon…

My first favorite singer was one of the greatest master phrasers of all, and the little one’sdelight, Jimmy Durante. I loved him and what a lesson in phraseing he is. “Ink..ka..dink..ka..dink..” Then came Gene Autry, he had a warm, really reassuring quality to his singing that seemed completely effortless. He, is who I was going to be when I grew up, (if not Johnny Appleseed.) A little later came Johnny Ray, I loved his quasi-hysterical presentation, his wonderful phrasing and the powerful emotion in his voice. I loved his songs too, especially “Cry” and “The Little White Cloud That Cried” they captured some of each of the worlds that I was bridging at the time A child’s anthromorphic cartoon world and heartbreak. Clearly a guy that spoke (or sang) for me. (incidently, I think one could argue successfully that Johnny Ray (like Johnny Ace and believe it or not Frankie Laine before the “Wild Goose Goes” and “Rawhide” stuff) was a Rock and Roll Singer, but that’s another story.)

I loved the warm full reassurance of “Nat King Cole” the Popular singer, (although I was already familiar with the “Nat Cole Trio” from my Mother’s Jazz records,) the expanded arrangements and back ground singers of his hit records, like “Answer Me My Love” “Mona Lisa” and “Nature Boy” were just beautiful and inspirational to me.

I was familiar with Billy Eckstein and Al Hibbler from Mud’s records but the Billy Eckstein vibrato seemed too wobbly for me and Al Hibbler was maybe too romantically adult. So the other on my list of favorites from that time is Anthony Bennideto. What a beautiful singer. We were some how connected to him through “Johnny The Greek” a dear friend of both Mud’s and Frankie’s who had a little Greek restaurant and Hotel in Rockaway, New York.

Just before Mud and Aunt Lea moved to the islands we were living on beach 16th street in Rockaway Park, Just in from the boardwalk and the sand. I have a number of interesting memories from that time, but a big one was a hit record (by Nat King Cole) called “Calypso Blues” (Sittin’ by de ocean oh how I feel so bad, ain’t got the money to take me back to Trinidad, Wa oh oh wa oh oh wa oh wa oh oh oh wa ay) Spoke (or should I say sang) my language right off the bat. It’s interesting how things work out…

There are a number of Calypso Singers that had a direct Influence as well. Among them are Lord Melody,The Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchner, and Yes Harry Belafonte, he sang beautifully Lord Burgess was the writer of many of Harry’s songs and he certanly was an influence as well. Lucho Gatica, The Trio Los Panchos and Ishmael Rivera were also quite influential. I loved the anonymous Jibarito singers and will try to honor them always.  

Another powerful Rockaway image is of a freighter, washed ashore after a tremendous Gale. There it was, “shipwrecked” completely aground, rusty and wind blown, tilted on its side but gigantically romantic, especially for a lad of four, born with a head full of wild imaginings.

A third is walking along the Boardwalk in the fall with a little friend and his father. The father pointing to a hotel and saying “that’s where the Jews stay, they have/keep snakes on the floor in the lobby” When I asked why? He said “I don’t know, It’s because they like to do that, because that’s the way they are” That didn’t feel right to me, it felt like the kind of thing that you call “A big fat stinkin’ lie” but why would someone’s father tell us little kids to believe a big fat stinkin’ lie like that? That didn’t make any sense to me. When I told my Mother what he had said, she confirmed that it was a big fat stinkin’ lie.

Mud arranged that I never saw them again or I might have asked him (in my naïve way) why he would make up a big fat mean stinkin’ lie, and tell us sweet little kids a big fat stinkin’ lie like that.

 There are a few other Rockaway memories that I suspect were powerful in shaping my alter ego “Sad Glad Lad”,

One is of a beautiful little girl named Maria a little dark haired dark eyed Borinquenia, who lived in the apartment building back to back with our pad, she went to the same nursery school as Gale and I did, we rode there together every morning, in an honest to God cream colored woody .(it was the best car ever, the texture and smell of the leather interior the warming heater the sound and power of the engine, the shussh shussh of the windshield wipers)
We were little little kids, in this wonderful woody with this kindly gentleman of color, safe and sound, and secure. The next thing we know, no Maria.

This beautiful angel girl, my special “friend” was no more. She had choked on a little rubber “jacks” ball and died. To this day, I still can’t believe it… Continued…