Mostly Spring Things

The first laughing gulls showed up yesterday. The egrets and some ospreys rolled in this past week. It seems just about everybody’s back in town with the exception of Mackie. He checked out for good back in ’73, after giving up a sailing career and considering entering the carpentry trades. In 1959, Mack the Knife was everywhere, and he kept coming back to town for a number of years.

Today brings some blustery weather, with Phineas T nowhere to be seen. This is what’s known as typical March weather, but it’s April now. Kite flying was supposed to be great during March, but our old friend, Norman, cared little about the month. Whenever he was teased a bit too much, his standard response was, “Oh, go fly a kite!” I can’t recall anyone actually taking that advice, but that’s not to say it never happened.

I’m not ready for spring and can only hope I’ll be ready for summer. The boat’s still sitting there in shrink wrap, and we just got the bill for the slip and winter storage. That means we’ll have to put it in soon. I hope I feel better this year with the new stents in my arteries, and maybe we’ll catch more than a single bluefish and a cold.

The springs of my youth were so much different, but only better in some ways. I mean, there was that school thing, and I started anticipating the summer ’round about October or so. I miss our ragtag games of baseball, but even if I could still play, where would we get up a game? The goal of builders here is to cover every square inch of vacant ground with homes with no yards to speak of. If a good house already occupies a lot, they knock it down and build a cheap imitation lacking character.

I’m not sure what I expected when I moved back here, but I’m pretty sure it involved better subs, cheesesteaks, and pizza than the current fare. It’s almost as if they saw me coming and decided to close up shop and get out of town. A shame they couldn’t have left a recipe of two with someone else. Two that come to mind are the toasted hoagies at the Gingham Club, and pizza steaks at the Four G’s. And a slice of Mutter’s Pizza, or Joe Mauti’s, would ease the pain.

You know, I see a lot of people raving about Mack’s Pizza and how it’s the best anywhere. Really? They use cheddar cheese! Any good pizza lover, whether Italian or not, knows that mozzarella is the cheese of choice for a pizza. Nice, stringy mozzarella! Mack’s puts the cheese on first, and they squirt on the sauce with a hose. Both Joe Mauti and Ralph Mutter first put a small ladle of olive oil on the crust before adding the sauce. Then it was sliced, not shredded, mozzarella. This seems to be becoming a lost art, and it’s hard now to even find a good crust.

One of the trends these days is thin crust, and they bake them in brick ovens, which are supposed to be hotter than the gas ovens, I guess. The result more resembles a cracker than a pizza crust, or for want of a better word, a matzoh. I guess nobody wants to bother with letting the dough rise before beating it down. They advertise it as thin crust pizza, or brick oven pizza, sometimes both. At Carluccio’s in Northfield, they offer coal-fired pizza, and their version of thin crust is quite different. It has a bit of rise to it, with excellent flavor. Their pizzas are really great, but if you find a parking spot in the cramped lot, it’s even more cramped inside, with people everywhere. The owners are quite pleasant and friendly. It’s worth a trip.

Anyway, I have no idea who or what else will show up for the season, but I’m pretty certain it won’t be too many relatives, unless we stage something spectacular. Our presence is always demanded at one of their venues, as it is tomorrow, for an Easter dinner at my wife’s older sister’s place. Happy Easter!

Getting Ready

Here it is Palm Sunday already. Morey’s Pier is not open, but is scheduled to open on Easter Saturday, which is next week. I remember, as a kid, when the Casino Arcade opened on Palm Sunday, including the bumper cars, which was one of my favorite rides back then. They had a height requirement, which we ignored, and most of the time, so did the operators. We just shoved the tickets at him and ran to one of the cars.

It took a few years to become “legal,” and now I seem headed in the other direction. I’ve lost an inch, but I often tell people I used to be 6′-4”,. not 5′-10”. Most people say, “Really?” and I say, “No.”

I spent a few years avoiding many rides because of an incident from when I was fairly young. Our Aunt Minnie took Larry and me to the boards one night and we went on the Tilt-a-Whirl. It put a lot of pressure on my neck, so I stayed off most adult rides. Sometime around the late 50s I ventured onto the Jack Rabbit and other rides, including the Wild Mouse. They seemed fun, but not that exciting. I even went on the Round-up, a ride I used to fear intensely. Now, as with my height, I seem to be headed in the other direction.

I used to be pretty much Mr. Roller Coaster, but I went on the Excalibur, a wooden coaster at Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and thought it was a bit scary. Last October I went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, a ride I had been on before, but was not really pleased with the experience.

My friend, Rocco, and I used to go on the Rock-o-Plane (no relation) on Marine Pier and pulled the handle back so we would go upside-down. We also had a bunch of tickets for the Arcade, and, I hate to admit, we used to go on the Tubs-of-Fun, a kiddie ride, but we would make the tubs spin really fast! Doesn’t that count for something?

But now visitors can enjoy, for just a small fortune, the “Morey Experience,” as I like to call it. Yes, wristbands, as if there were a theme park somewhere, but there is not. And let’s not forget the water parks, which serve alcohol (nothing wrong with drinking and water parks, right?), as well as an $85 breakfast for two on the Giant Wheel. Look, I used to eat my supper (often a hoagie and a milkshake) on the Tilt-a-Whirl, which I ran, but why anyone would want to eat breakfast on a Ferris wheel escapes me.

Back in the day, tickets went for 5 cents, 24 for a dollar. Most adult rides were six tickets, kiddie rides three. Hunt’s Pier had a number of seven-ticket rides. Most families could afford those prices, even at the wage level back then. I can’t imagine where they get the money for the Morey’s piers, which are all owned by the Moreys, of course. What do kids do? We used to ride our bikes to the boards and go on a few rides sometimes. At night we usually walked, something that seems appalling to kids these days.

Yes, we walked to the beach, as did the guests staying at our rooming house. Now, our niece visits and thinks she’s entitled to a ride to the beach. Yes, her feet work fine.

I now have a hard time walking a block, not because I’m lazy, but because I tire very easily due to the number of illnesses I have. I’m working on it, though.

Anyway, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, in Ocean City, opened for Palm Sunday weekend, and they still sell tickets. Yes, of course they cost more than in the old days, but they’re not that bad. So a dollar is ten dollars. Who cares? I’m not a big fan of Ocean City, but there’s something to be said about not having to spend a small fortune to ride a few rides.

Looking up Things

Imagine some of the things my wife has to put up with! I often get in bed and just have to know about something, such as, “Who sang, Little Star?” Okay, maybe not that, because I can just look that up in my head. No, it wasn’t The Elephants, it was The Elegants.

Okay, okay, let’s find a better example, such as, “Who played third base for the Chicago Cubs in 1956?” To quickly ascertain this answer, should I consult the “Encyclopaedia Britannica, The World Book, Groliers, or the cheap encyclopedia volumes offered by the A&P, AKA the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company back in the fifties? Well, the last one is out, because I haven’t seen them since sometime around 1962, or maybe it was 1963. Yes, it could have been 1964, or even later, or earlier. WE THREW THEM OUT A LONG TIME AGO, OKAY?

I don’t even know which ones are spelled, “encyclopaedia,” but ever since Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, which we stubbornly watched in black and white, I’ve trusted Jiminy Cricket’s spelling, which was E-N-C-Y-C-L-O-P-E-D-I-A. I’m no fool, no sirree!

Where was I? Oh, that’s right, I was in Chicago. Not really, but I was in bed and had to decide which volume of which set to look in. Just to be safe, I got the volumes for C and B, for “baseball” That should be enough.

I plopped the books on the bed and my wife asked, “What are you doing, Honey?”

What did she think I was doing? “Lookin’ sumpin’ up.”

“Looking what up?”

“Nothing. I mean, just something,” I mumbled.

“Well, is it something or nothing? she asked.

“It’s nothing.”

“Then you shouldn’t bother looking it up, if it’s nothing.”

“I mean it’s not important, but I want to know anyway,” I snapped.

“Well, what is it?”

“Nothing you would know or care about. I’m just trying to find out who played third base for the Cubs back in 1956. It’s just something I’m trying to remember, that’s all.”

“I think it was Don Hoak, but you can wait until tomorrow to look it up.”

Now I wanted to haul out the H book to simplify things, but decided to wait.

“Okay, I’ll put these books back.”

“What books?” she asked. The light on your phone is keeping me awake. Please don’t play any YouTube videos, okay?

“Okay. Good night, Sweetie!”

My First Real Culture Shock

My first jolt of culture shock hit me about seven months or so after leaving for boot camp. First, they sent me to Newport, Rhode Island for QM (Quartermaster) school. Quartermasters in the U.S. worked in navigation, whereas quartermasters in the Army worked in supply. In the Navy, we had Storekeepers instead.

QM school ended in February, and my orders, I learned, were for the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, at the time, the second-largest aircraft carrier in the world. As if to prove its hugeness, while also commemorating the Wright Brothers, two brass plaques sat anchored in the flight deck. Both of these were placed in front of the bridge structure, and they were spaced the distance apart of the Wright Brothers’ first flight! Neither marker sat anywhere close to the bow. At 1047 feet, only the America was slightly longer. I could have placed about 130 of my 8-foot prams bow to stern, although there was no reason to do that. Hey, it’s just a statistic!

Well, the Kitty Hawk, according to my orders, was located in WESTPAC, a Navy term for the Western Pacific. The Navy liked anagrams, such as COMCARDIV7, which meant, Commander, Carrier Division 7, AKA the admiral. And let’s not forget, CINCPACFLT, or Command-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet.

But I digress, whatever that means, but it sounds like something I should say when I stray off course a bit. That never happened much, because a huge computer, complete with tapes, sat in the room behind the bridge, ready to tell us where we were, as long as we had a satellite within range. Oh yeah, this was supposed to be about culture shock, or something like that.

Well, I didn’t know where the Kitty Hawk actually was prowling, but I didn’t have to, because others, more important, and more knowledgeable than I would figure all of that out, or at least that’s what I figured.

So, I missed my flight out of Travis, the details of which are not important, even though the Navy disagreed somewhat. In the end, they just shrugged and said, “Okay.” No, they never managed to get me on a plane, so I went home, and. . . No, that’s not what happened, but it seemed like a reasonable scenario at the time. So I hung around for five days, shooting pool, sleeping on one of the cots they had set up in the back, and eating anytime I wanted. Yep, they had a mess hall right there!

On the fifth day, someone apologized to me for not getting me on a flight and asked if I would mind taking a commercial flight out of San Francisco. This somehow became a pattern I followed when going to Vietnam, except that after three days, they asked if I would be upset if I had to take a flight out of LA International. Both times, I did my best to not be offended.

The plane, with me on it, flew up to Seattle, and as I remember it I had to transfer to another plane run by Northwest Orient, which I would have recommended at the time. We took off around sixish and headed out across the Pacific. Whether part of the plan or not, we seemed to have plenty of room, and the flight attendant (they called them stewardesses back then), removed the arms from the seats, provided blankets, and asked if I cared for more wine. The stewardess was Asian, although in 1968 she was actually Oriental. Orientals have since been eliminated as a race, I think. I wonder if the airline would now be called, Northwest Asia?

We landed in Tokyo at about nine o’clock local time, and I noticed the illuminated airport signs were all just funny-looking symbols, so if we were in Tokyo I had to take their word for it. We came in over what I guess was a residential area with a lot of non-electric lanterns.

I almost panicked when the pilot said we would be resuming the flight the next morning! Where would I stay, and how would I pay for it? I had not a single credit card at that point in my life! When we entered the terminal, the problem was solved. A couple of Japanese guys told us to pick an envelope from a rack. I did, and it told me where I would be staying, all paid for!

Three of us occupied one room, but hey, we were used to multiple berthing. At least it wasn’t a barracks. We decided to go out, so we went down and hailed a cab and went somewhere. The cabbie, acting as if our money was on fire, refused to accept it. He said we needed MPC, or Military Payment Certificates, because greenbacks were illegal. So what? Wetbacks are illegal, too, but they’re here anyway. Yes, he would have accepted Yen, but we had none of that either, so we got a free ride.

Well, whatever. They hustled us down to the restaurant for breakfast, assuring us that whatever we ordered was already paid for. A nice-looking waitress actually pulled out the chair for me and pushed it in as I was seated. She seemed to be oriental. Actually, they all did!

Back to the plane. I still had no idea where we were going, and nobody was going to tell us, although the mission was not classified. So we landed at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, for fuel. While waiting on the tarmac, we watched a few fighter jets take off. Then it was off again.

After some period of time, we landed in Manila and were pretty much told to get off the plane. This was the middle of March, so when I left I was wearing my dress blues. I was still wearing them, although the temperature was hovering around 86!

Most of the military personnel on the plane were Air Force, but there was one other Navy dude, which made things easier. He had been on a minesweeper out of Subic Bay, so he knew the territory. He at least had enough sense to change into his whites, but mine were on the bottom of my seabag, and probably not fit to wear without first ironing them, but I had no iron.

We took a Jeepney (their version of a taxi) to what looked like an old barn. He exchanged some money for some pesos and bought two tickets for Olongapo City. I wouldn’t have known to do that, but there we were, waiting to board an old rickety bus with a bunch of noisy Filipinos. The trip itself was way too interesting and scary to relate right now, but maybe next time. . .

Worthwhile Drivel

It’s no wonder the Republicans have such a hard time overcoming the mainstream media. I mean, is it pure coincidence that CBS comes out with the show, “Madame Secretary?” Add that to the list of shows I’ll never watch, along with any phony awards show, any “Survivor” show, any “Bachelor” show, any singing contest, anything with Ellen Degenerate, or any other queer show, and you get the idea.

I don’t know what “Battle Creek” is about, but I’m thinking maybe a cereal serial? Why Battle Creek? If they’re looking for frosted flakes they need go no further than Hollywood, with a few always in the Hollywood Bowl.

So Tiger Woods hopes to play in the Masters this year. That’s nice. It used to be the main reason some people showed up, mostly before he changed his swing four times. There’s an old saying that goes, “You have to dance with who brang ya’.” Apparently, he never heard that. He reminds me of the guy from California I just read about, who bought a million-dollar lotto ticket, but misplaced it. Yes, it expired, and they identified him by reviewing the video of him buying it, but the rules say the actual ticket must be presented. The money went to California schools. What a waste! Has Tiger’s ticket also expired? Hard to say for certain, but it’s just not that exciting watching a frustrated, aging golfer who might resign on any given hole.

He seems to have company in Phil Mickelson, also struggling with health issues. Meantime, Vijay Singh, at 52 years of age, hovers near the top most of the time, even if he doesn’t win all the marbles. Still pretty impressive.

For anyone believing in evolution, it seems that Chip Kelly is attempting to change Eagles into Ducks. Maybe not completely, but I’ve noticed a few webbed feet here and there.

Has Joe Pa’s statue been returned to its rightful location? Nope. That should be done immediately. The Creamery still sells Peachy Paterno ice cream, as far as I know.

Ever heard of the elephant in the room? You know, the thing that certain people try to ignore, hoping it won’t be noticed? That’s how it is with nobody asking Obama what he’s hiding by keeping his personal records sealed. He’s paying large amounts to attorneys, and I think we have the right to know. If he were flipping burgers at a fast-food joint, who would care, but president of the U.S? If there’s nothing to hide, why would the records be protected from the public?

When Mr. Peanut was president, he made a lot of mistakes, but at least he comported himself as a president should, that is, until he was out of office. Obama, however, doesn’t even pretend to act presidential. He gives speeches, usually to his fan club, spewing sarcastic rhetoric like a wise-ass teenager. This is pretty much what one can expect from someone with extensive experience as a community organizer, in the manner of Saul Alinsky. If the Hilldebeest manages to get elected, we can expect more of the same, considering that she wrote a college thesis about his community organizing. She met with him several times, and corresponded with him.

Bubba was also a wise guy, but on reflection, even he seemed more presidential than Obama. In my opinion, neither should have ever been president, what with their past ties to communism, but that’s not how our system works. Actually, our system isn’t really working the way it was designed, and it never will unless many critical parts are replaced, starting from the top all the way to the bottom.

Bison Wings?

Q: My English teacher keeps talking about present tents, past tents, and future tents, but I have no idea what she’s talking about. Does this have something to do with Indians?

A: Originally, it did, but now it applies mostly to hikers and campers. Present tents are those currently on the ground. Past tents, as you may have suspected, are tents that were once in one spot but have since been removed, either voluntarily or by Mother Nature. Future tents are those that have yet to be pitched.

Q: How do you pitch a tent? Do you just throw it on the ground?

A: That could be part of it.

Q: Speaking of American Indians, we were waiting for a table in a restaurant when factions of a tribe came in, checked their tomahawks at the door, and were immediately seated. What’s the deal?

A: This would be your tax dollars at work. Uncle Sam makes reservations for Indians who want them. Sometimes even for those who don’t want them.

Q: Since we’re on the subject, where do the Plains Indians live?

A: They live in Georgia, producing mostly peanut crops.

Q: I’ve noticed that Indian tribes seem to have disappeared with the American Bison. On that note, I was wondering if you could tell me why chicken wings are not called Bison Wings?

A: Yes, I can. Last time I checked, Bison, New York doesn’t exist. Can we return to English questions?

Q: I have an English question. What is an adverb?

A: Have you ever seen those TV commercials that push a product and tell you to call now? Well, “call” is an adverb, meaning, literally, that it’s a verb within an ad, short for advertisement.

Q: Can you tell me about colons and periods?

A: Those subjects would be more appropriately discussed in health class.

Q: What about contractions?

A: Those should be discussed with your Ob/Gyn physician.

Q: Can you straighten me out on the usage of pronouns?

A: Possibly. Obviously, Peyton Manning is a pronoun, as is his brother. There’s disagreement concerning Archie, however. Some experts think he still deserves to be called a pronoun, while others think “former” pronoun would be more appropriate. On a personal note, who cares?

Q: What about the Washington Redskins? Should they change their name, so as to not offend some people, such as those living in Washington State?

A: Absolutely. The DC Redskins would satisfy all parties. Washington should not be a part of the team’s name. Or they could just move to another city. The Reno Redskins has a nice ring to it, and it’s alliterative, whatever that means.

Q: Is there a difference between because and since?

A: Not usually, but sometimes. I’ve been waiting since an hour ago for this question to pop up, because I’m getting hungry. I’m outta here!

More Worries

As if we needed more things to worry about, now we have to worry about GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms. Many types of food now get modified genetically, and no one knows whether this is good or bad, but I assume new things are bad until proven otherwise. It’s like the reverse of our legal system, where someone accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Incidentally, if that really is the case, why do we lock them up and let the news media ruin their lives before even going to trial? Well, in many cases, it’s for public safety. That’s why I’m not sold on GMO food.

If you want to avoid buying and eating these foods, you can, although it’s almost as difficult a task as someone faces who has to eat gluten-free food. It could be worth it, however. This started circa 1996, and some doctors suggest that this could be the cause of so many getting multiple illnesses.

Besides all that, food started tasting not as good as the old days even before 1996. I’ve extolled the virtues in the past of Shafer’s hotdogs, which graced the Wildwood boardwalk for decades. Yes, a lot was due to Art slicing and grilling each wiener, and grilling both the dog and the bun with weights on them. However, he sold the now defunct Burk’s frankfurters, a fancy name for hotdogs, and the little statue holding a Burk’s pennant while sitting atop the Hires root beer barrel was not a cow, but a pig. Yes, these wieners consisted of ground up porkers, and if a snout or maw made it into the mix, all the better. These babies smelled great, tasted even better, and who worried about the health or calories? Slap some mustard on there, fill the crack with chopped onions and green pickle relish, and imagine what Heaven might be like!

Now we have all-beef hotdogs, often nitrate-free and flavor-free. Yes, eat one if you must, but I’ll pass, because even the buns taste strange these days, what with most wheat being genetically modified. And I’ll stick with Raye’s mustard, thank you. Grey Poupon is for snobs with very little taste.

So then we get to the chicken thing. Chicken used to make your taste buds stand up, or at least sort of sit up straight. No more. Perdue and Tyson corner most of the market, and the little chicks get inoculated automatically, then grow up eating chicken feed, of all things! Chickens, when not raised by the thousands, used to roam around the yard eating everything in sight, including bugs. Perhaps that explains why they used to taste so much better and why the mass produced chicken tastes just slightly better than cardboard. No, I’ve never eaten cardboard, but I can imagine its flavor.

So, speaking of cardboard, have you eaten a pork chop lately? Blandness at its peak, requiring considerable enhancements to make it palatable. My mom used to fry pork chops and I’d chew the fat just to get as much as possible out of the meat. So maybe the garbage the hogs used to eat gave them more flavor, and the meat retained that flavor all the way up to 165 degrees, the safe cooking temperature of pork back then. Now a restaurant asks how you want it cooked. Pink, the say, is okay, because the pigs eat food free of trichina worms, I guess. They might still eat slop, but it’s sanitized slop, so you get sanitized flavor, only slightly better than no flavor at all. Or cardboard.

Now the cows might be right about eating mor chikin. Why eat beef from a grain-fed cow? Cows don’t naturally eat corn feed and wheat feed, nor do they inoculate themselves. They eat grass, which God designed them to do, which is why they suffer from no shortage of stomachs, from what I hear. Grass-fed beef tastes better than the rest, but it has to be fed totally on grass or it’s not much better than the grain-fed beef. While we’re on the subject, what’s the deal with spelling-challenged cows telling us to eat more chicken? If they’re smart enough to make signs, shouldn’t they be at least average spellers?

Yes, many cattle are fed genetically modified feed, which may explain why the old 15-cent McDonald’s hamburger tasted so much better than the most elaborate burger the company puts out today. That, and the sad truth that McDonald’s products all come from a central warehouse, whereas many of the components of a burger used to come from local suppliers per strict specifications. Now, Lopez foods supplies the beef, sausage, and Canadian bacon. This degree of blandness in the beef patties no longer excites my taste buds.

Millennials will never experience the flavors of the foods we grew up with, before conglomerates started taking over everything and looking for the bottom line. They’ll probably never eat a sub or lunch meat wrapped in heavy paper, or never take a sandwich to school or work wrapped in waxed paper. What’s that? In the movie, “Chicago,” the one guy sings of Mr. Cellophane. Do young people even know what cellophane is? Hint: It’s see-through material that doesn’t require hand tools to remove. Worst of all, they’ll never know what a TastyKake pie is supposed to taste like.

The Winner is Winter

Q: I keep hearing some people using the term, “price point.” What’s the difference between price and price point? Is there some special meaning associated with this?

A: Yes. It’s a smarmy term for price. When a consumer tells a seller that he’s looking for a price point of about $20,000, that signals the seller that the sky’s the limit. Conversely, if a seller says that the price point is $20,000, the buyer knows he can pick the item up for a song. In a nutshell, stupid people like to say stupid things that they think make them feel more sophisticated, although the projected effect is that they’re idiots.

Q: Can you tell me what prose means?

A: Of course. It’s a level of achievement that exceeds that of an amateur, especially in sports. Example: “He excelled in football while in college, but now he’s in the prose.” I hope this helps.

Q: Is it acceptable to say, “Three other guys and myself went hunting?”

A: Only if you qualify it by saying, “Three other themselves and myself went hunting.” Of course it’s not okay! Have we totally forgotten the pronouns, “I,” and “me?” “Three other guys and I went hunting,” No, don’t say, “Myself went hunting with three other guys,” either. Just say, “I went hunting with three other guys.” By replacing “I,” or “me,” with “myself,” doesn’t make you sound sophisticated, it makes you sound ignorant.

Q: Well, then, how about, “John, Joe, Bill, and myself went hunting?”

A: Duh! Read my last sentence above.” The correct sentence would be, “John, Joe, Bill, and I went hunting.” All “self” pronouns are reflexive, and must relate the subject to the object in the same sentence. “John, Joe, and Bill didn’t want to go hunting, so I went by myself.” Or, “I didn’t want to go hunting, so John, Joe, and Bill went themselves.”

Q: Can a “d” sound like a “t?”

A: I ditn’t know it could until I moved back to South Jersey. It’s also as popular in Philly as soft pretzels. Not only that, but a “t” can sound like a “d.” Example: “I’d like a glass of wooder.” It can also be completely silent, as well as confusing, as in, “It’s cold, but I’m here for the winner.” I don’t know what the people here are hooked on, but it ain’t phonics.

Q: What the heck does “fro” mean? You know, like the boat was rocking to and fro.

A: If you thought it was an ethnic hairdo, you would be wrong. That would be, ‘fro. It means, “from,” Ding Dong, although why not just say, “back and forth,” or would that be too much to ask? Yes, the Cape May Ferry goes to and fro, meaning it goes to Lewes and comes from Lewes.

Q: What is the meaning of “do-si-do?”

A: Only a square would be familiar with that dance term. It means to go around your partner while facing the same direction. Hey, wait a minute! Our grade school principal and his wife, my fifth-grade teacher, were certified hog callers, so they made us square dance in the schoolyard. Not my idea. . .

Q: Since you know so much about square dancing, what does. . .

A: Bye!

Thanks for my Memories

While driving past what used to be the Halbruner and Hanson Ford dealership it reminded me of a time when I waited there with my mom to get our car serviced. My mom was on her way to our relatives’ house in Millville but had to get the car serviced first. I played hooky that day and went along for the ride. Our car was fairly new, a 1958 Fairlane 300, tan and brown. I liked it more than the Fairlane 500 model, even though the 500 was an upgrade. I sat there patiently, but anxiously, tolerating the time but also anticipating getting out of there. Thanksgiving was approaching, and I loved the four-day holiday from school it would cough up. The ’59 models were out, and several sat in the showroom. I remember staring at the grills, with four-sided stars seemingly suspended in midair in neat rows. Flat black paint became empty grill to anyone a distance away.

Probably everyone remembers insignificant times in their lives that became etched vividly and permantly in their minds for one reason or another. I remember an early summer day when my mom sent me to the store for a few things. Riding back on my dark green Schwinn, a paper bag in one arm, the memory became permanent for no apparent reason. The weather seemed perfect and the shadows from the sycamores blanketed the street. Life was good!

Days in Vietnam generally blended together, but certain times seemed more important than others. One evening, about ten o’clock (22:00 Navy time) our boat headed out of Danang Harbor for a run up the coast to one of the rivers. For some reason, just about the entire crew was out on the deck on a dark but clear summer night, and the Vietnamese fishing in their sampans waved to us as we went by. Usually, most of the crew not on duty stayed below, catching some zees, but that night we all felt something different in the air, for no specific reason. It never happened again.

My friend, Rocco, and I, worked a slide ride for countless days and nights over a period of several summers. The one, specific incident we both remember, almost 52 years after it happened, was the “Either she do or she don’t,” occurrence during an afternoon in 1963. The answer was, she never got to find out if she did or she didn’t. Oh well, we both remember the guy’s appearance and the weird gesture when we told him no, she couldn’t try out the ride to see if she liked it. After Rocco told him to ask me, working the top, he asked the question again. When I obviously didn’t understand what he meant, he expounded a bit and said, “Either she do want to go on the ride, or she don’t want to go on the ride.”

It’s easy to remember events out of the ordinary, as when Robert tagged me in handball and sent me into the curb, splitting my chin, or when I broke Dick Lange’s window with a tennis ball. The ride in the 8-foot pram around the bell buoy, or when Johnny’s grandmother kept asking me, “Why you no hava the fif-eh-ty cents?” to help pay for a broken window.

What’s more difficult to understand is why I would remember certain times sitting on the front porch, but not necessarily others. Long before the Brothers Four released, “Try to Remember,” I spent part of my life trying to etch in my brain certain times that were not particularly pleasant, but not really bad, just so I would remember being there and wish I could go back. I’d love to go back to that time when I sat there impatiently in the showroom, or when I sat in the pew at mass thinking about the donuts and pastries I knew my grandfather would buy before going back to the house.

I remember boot camp, and how we thought we’d never get out of there, and later, how we all had short-timer’s calendars in Vietnam. I thought that four years in the Navy would never go by, but next thing I knew, I was out. Maybe they weren’t all good times, but I was young, healthy, and most of my relatives were still alive, but are now long gone.

You Went the Right Way, Louie, Louie

“Rock and roll is here to stay, it will never die, it was meant to be that way, though I don’t know why.”

That line, for anyone who doesn’t know, is from, “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay,” by Danny and the Juniors. Very prophetic, except that it never really stayed around. Boomer parents found it hard to accept the music, after relaxing to the likes of Perry Como, Eddie Fisher, Patti Page, Frank Sinatra, and others. Elvis seemed especially offensive at the time, and they said they didn’t like the way Elvis shook his pelvis.

Well, not all rock and roll sounded that offensive in the way of “Get a Job,” by The Silhouettes. Less harsh music made the scene, by the likes of the Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson. It didn’t take long for even the older people to put the doggie in the window up for adoption and quit dancing to the Tennessee Waltz. They started liking the sounds of “All I Have to do is Dream,” and “Traveling Man.”

My mother loved listening to Al Martino and Patsy Cline, neither of whom could have been accused of dabbling in rock and roll, and she also liked Marty Robbins, another crossover singer with hits, “A White Sport Coat,” “El Paso,” “Devil Woman,” and others, before his untimely death. All of this was easy-listening music, and it slid into the ears quite smoothly. The older generation realized that Como and Crosby had become relegated to TV specials, but Andy Williams came along, providing a spark of hope for the parents of the boomers.

In the early sixties we went through the Hootenanny stage, with quite a bit of folk music, from the Kingston Trio (they started in the fifties), Peter, Paul, and Mary, The Seekers, etc. Almost everybody liked that sound and who couldn’t appreciate, “Walk Right In,” by the Rooftop Singers?

In the mid sixties we saw the British Invasion, with The Beatles dominating the charts, but we had new singers that appealed to both parents and offspring, such as Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield. However, drugs started influencing music, leading to acid rock and heavy metal. I liked neither of them, with only a few exceptions. Some of this I considered little more than a bunch of noise, and an insult to the music world.

My point in all of this rambling is that I simply lack the ability to appreciate much of what the Gen X-ers and Millennials call music these days. I didn’t watch the Grammys, because I never do, but I saw on the news that idiot Kanye West ran up on stage and interrupted Taylor Swift, who had won best video, I guess. He said that Beyonce had the best video of all time, or some such garbage. I say that because her songs are nothing but garbage. They make no sense and are, for the most part, filthy.

A great example is “Drunk in Love,” and I provide only some of the words here:

I’ve been drinking, I’ve been drinking, I get filthy when that liquor get into me, I’ve been thinking, I’ve been thinking, why can’t I keep my fingers off it, Baby? I want you, na na, why can’t I keep my fingers off it, Baby? I want you, na na. Makes sense to me, I suppose, or maybe not. Let’s continue:

Cigars on ice, cigars on ice, feeling like an animal with these cameras all in my grill. Flashing lights, flashing lights, you got me faded, faded, faded, Baby, I want you, na na, can’t keep your eyes off my fatty, Daddy, I want you, na, na, drunk in love, I want you. So far, so bad.

We woke up in the kitchen saying, “How the Hell did this sh_t happen? Oh, Baby, drunk in love we be all night. Last thing I remember is our beautiful bodies grinding up in the club, drunk in love.

We be all night and everything alright, no complaints from my body, so fluorescent under these lights. Boy I’m drinking, park it in my 7-11, I’m rubbing on it, rub rubbing, if you scared call that reverend. Boy, I’m drinking, get my brain right, Armand de Brignac, gangster wife. Louie Sheets, he sweat it out like wash rags he wear it out. Boy, I’m drinking, I’m singing on the mic to my boy toys. Boy I’m drinking, I’m singing on the mic til my voice hoarse. Then I fill the tub up halfway then ride it with my surfboard, surfboard, surfboard. Graining on that wood, graining, graining on that wood. I’m swerving on that, swerving, swerving on that big body. Been serving all this, swerve, surfing all in this good, good. I admit I’d have a hard time coming up with these lyrics so far, but we’re not done.

I’m nice right now, hold up. That D’USSE is the sh_t if I do say so myself, if I do say so myself, if I do say so myself. Hold up, stumbled all in the house, time to back up all of that mouth that you had in the car, talking ’bout you the baddest bitch thus far. Talking ’bout you be repping that third, I want to see all the sh_t that I heard. Know I sling Clint Eastwood, hope you can handle this curve. Foreplay in the foyer, f_cked up my Warhol. Slip the panties right to the side, ain’t got the time to take draws off, on site. Catch a charge, I might, beat the box up like Mike. In ’97 I bite, I’m Ike, Turner, turn up. Baby, no I don’t play, now eat the cake, Anna Mae. Said, “Eat the cake, Anna Mae.” I’m nice, for y’all to reach these heights, you gonna need G3, 4, 5, 6 flights, sleep tight. We sex again in the morning, your breastases is my breakfast. We going in, we be all night.

I’ll save everyone the agony of the last short verse, but it makes as much sense as the others. For those of you who think “Louie, Louie,” by the Kingsmen, was an off-color song, you would be wrong. The song is a sea shanty, with nary a bad word in it, no matter how the Kingsmen made it sound. I never liked the song, but I could listen to it, unlike some of the trash being spewed out by the likes of Beyonce and others.