Sunday, October 24, 2010

My friend, BOB

The top photo is my favorite of Bob.  It was in our hey-day, when everyone was young & beautiful.  The bottom pics are of Bob dancing & Bob with Richie & Joe Butler.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I'm in Asheville now & got two messages that my oldest friend died yesterday.  Bob was 80 & he's been my friend since I was 12 years old.  What a chunk of my life.  He was my memory keeper.  He was there when I would sneak out the back door to get away from my father.  He was there when he, my mother & I would go to Dr. Monto, the diet pill pusher....we'd get weighed in, get our pills, then head to the donut shop to celebrate the lost pounds.

He was the only one brave enough to go on all the Coney Island rides with me....but discovered that we could only do so on a full stomach.  

He was so handsome.  People were always stopping us & asking who he was...Harry Belefonte?  They always assumed he was someone famous. 

Bob was there for my wedding, my parents funerals.  He took my brother Mike in when MIke was down & out & not too long after he was holding me up at Michael's funeral.  There were periods that we were not in touch, but then we were again.  He was a constant in my life.  We both knew we could call on each other at any time.  We had the same telephone numbers since the phones in Great Neck were dialed by operators and the number started with a name - ours was "Hunter".

I used to pick him up to go to the concerts at Steppingstone Park.  His favorite was always when Joe Butler, our friend, would come back to town to perform with "The Lovin' Spoonful".  A few seasons ago, Joe looked out at the audience, pointed to Bob & credited him as being the one who taught him to dance.  I guess he was the one who instilled the love of dance within me.  He was absolutely JOYFUL when there was music & the opportunity to dance.

I would also pick him up, stop at Howard Johnson's for food, then go to visit my Aunt Paul at her nursing home.  They absolutely loved to eat & talk & laugh together.  In fact, I'm almost positive that I've never had a conversation with Bob that did not eventually lead to a discussion about food.  Food that was presently being eaten, food that was already eaten and food that was dreamed of being eaten.....usually all the above.   He was sad, when in the last few years, his appetite was diminished.

Bob was also sad when I began to speak of moving.  He feared that he would never see me again although I promised I would return often & always come to see him.  He tried to convince me not to move by warning me of the danger of snakes in the mountains.  He could not stand the thought of snakes....could hardly say the word "snake".

May God Bless you, Bob. I will write more & post photos when I return home.

Friday, October 8, 2010

OMG, I'm moving!  I know - this is not news, but somehow this week it's visibly happening.  I actually just packed my first carton two days ago. 

I started with my books.  My books are like friends.  I know exactly which one to reach for to get what I need.  Their absence from the shelves makes me feel lonely.  I've had some books for a very long time.  One book, "The Prophet", I've had since I was 19.  I remember just how it was introduced to me.  I had just moved into the City.  My friend, Johnny Z... called and told me I had better sit down...'cause he was going to read something to me that would knock me on my butt if I wasn't already on it.  It did. Ahh, love at first listen.  "There are men to gentle to live among wolves" by James Kavanaugh was also an instant love.  I couldn't stop buying everything else he wrote. 

I have many books that I've loved for years.  Books, unlike people, are never jealous of each other.  They are secure and confident in their status.  Although there may be long periods that I am engaged with other literary loves, I will always return to them.

Eric Butterworth's book literally fell on my head when I was sitting on the library floor searching for answers in the Spirituality Section. I flipped through the pages and came to the chapter that told me my brother Mike didn't "come to stay, he came to pass". 

I just thought of how Susan H....& I  loved to read "Winnie the Pooh" to each other.  One of us would be in the bath, while the other would be reading.  We would get hysterical laughing....we were 19. Seems that 19 was a good year for new books.  

A few years later John bought a Pooh book for me.  He also bought me a stuffed Piglet, hand-made by Agnes Bush, then the other characters followed.  Years later, I read from the very same book to my children.  Joshua, Ben & Barret  would all gather on my bed after their baths to have  me read Pooh stories to them.  Timeless, fabulous humor...we would also crack up laughing.

There is consolation in knowing that when I finally do move to our new home, my old friends will be there waiting for me.  They will have brought my history, my memories, consolation, hopes, dreams, adventures and my escape routes to.....everywhere I have been and anywhere I may need to go.

Monday, October 4, 2010


How weird is this?  Yesterday I thought of the letters & got a bit nervous that they may not have been delivered, as I have not heard from Michael. 

 Ten minutes ago, I looked for & found my Post Office Delivery Confirmation Receipt and accessed the site on the computer I wanted to make sure they did indeed, arrive.  As I was that very moment about to type in my id number the phone rang.  (I wish I could print the sound of "Twilight Zone" music".  It was Mike, wanting me to know that he did receive the letters, apologized for not letting me know sooner, but was not able to actually start to read them - yet.  He said he had to emotionally prepare himself & find the right time in which he could slowly savor the experience.

Ok - I rest easy now. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Barrett's letter to the tooth fairy

Ah, treasures everywhere.  This one I found on the attic floor yesterday morning when I was digging/cleaning.  What is not visible is Barrett's signature - "Love, Barrett".  This is one in a series of "Tooth Fairy" letters. 

I absolutely love - like hugely love - our family rituals.  We made really big deals out of events that could have sadly been simply passed by.  Loosing teeth & writing to the tooth fairy was a family affair, as was writing to Santa Clause.  Perhaps even more memorable was writing to Aunt Paul.  I will blog more about this later.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Black & White TV's

Yeahhhh!  My second sale on E-Bay.  I sold my old 1950's Dumont TV.  I bought it years ago at the Hadassah Rummage Sale for a great price.  It was a fun item.  Surely a conversation piece. After I purchased it, a friend gave me a vintage TV Guide featuring Ozzie & Harriet on the cover, which  I displayed on top of the TV.  I considered taking the Dumont to Asheville, but decided NO.  It just won't fit in with the way I envision the new house to look (& feel). 

The photos above are of me, of course - & my brother Michael.  The two of us are in front of our console radio/phonograph; the one of me alone in front of the tv.  I know we got the set when I was 10 years old.  I was actually told it was for my birthday, however, that did not mean that I had first choice to watch whatever I wanted.  The photos were taken in the living room of our apartment on Bristol Street in Brownsville, Brooklyn.  Michael was about 5 in the photos.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

cute little girl me

I've been up to my neck in photos this past week....dug up two of my favorites of Me.  I think they were both taken in the country.  One of the Bungalow Colonies that we went to each Summer. 
Fond memories of family life in the mountains. The movie, "walk on the moon" which I watched again just last week portrays Bungalow Colony community.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The following is from my son, Josh.  I called him needing some attention, commiseration and his sage guidance.  I was upset re an inconsiderate neighbor & didn't want to hold onto the anger I felt. I needed 2 minutes of "letting go of steam" time. I just really wanted to be heard.

 I also felt like I wasn't  accomplishing very much of anything in my preparing to move process.  Every time I picked up something, there were 10 more "somethings" hidden beneath it.  I was overwhelmed & it seemed there was no end in sight. I thought Josh could relate, as he has just moved from his own apt to a shared space.  When I asked how his process was progressing, he basically told me what I have posted below.  I loved it.  It was so visual as he was describing the need to move 3 cartons in order to get the one in the back, in the corner, then having to slide them to different positions to get out of the corner. 

It's a familiar formula, but one that so often slips away from me. I call it my "A B C's".  Ex:  I'm at A.  I want be at C.  I can see the end result.  I actually MUST see it - clearly & in great detail.  The more specific the vision, the more specific the reality will be.  So....what about B?  Don't focus on it.  Don't worry about the "how's".  Let it go, trust, give it to God, whatever.  I will manifest what I focus on.  Simply:  See "C".
"My apartment, like life, is just a puzzle with a solution and if I moved the pieces into the wrong places it's just a matter of repositioning them until they fit. I don't think of it as a cruel joke with no answer created just to frustrate me but rather as a practice in patience with a reward for seeing it through to the end.
we all remember how satisfying it was to finally see the finished picture after all of our hard work and time invested but do we remember that we already knew what it was supposed to look like when we picked up the box it came in?
 Let's keep our sights focused on that beautiful finished picture because this is our guarantee that the universe would never sell us a defective product :)"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bye-Bye letters

When I found the letters in the attic, they were bound with a disintegrating rubber-band.  I believe they are surely ribbon worthy. And so, before I put them in the envelope to mail to Mike, I will tie them with a pretty silk ribbon I was saving for a special package.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Last night I left my message on a machine with a non-human voice recording, so there was no hint if it was the correct phone number, but I did it.  Then I spent the rest of the night gathering, sorting & tossing piles of photos till I was exhausted.  I did, however, read 2 more letters before I fell asleep....I actually read them while I fell asleep, as I would doze, wake up, find a letter in my hand & continue to read.  There was one letter left when I shut off my light.

This morning I had a decision to make....wait to the end of the day to read the last letter & perhaps learn the conclusion of the story and possibly the relationship - or read it then & there.  I had been so cought up in the letters & felt an involvement with this young man I was becoming re-acquainted with, as well as the renewed relationship with the me that I was then.  It truly did feel like the reading of a favorite book.  Yearning to get to the end, but reluctant to say goodbye to the characters that had become so personal to me.  There is always a type of mourning at the end of a book like that. 

At about 8 a.m., after being awake for over an hour, still in my bed, I read it. It offered no answers, no conclusions, not even a hint. I was relieved that it was not a response to a "break-up" letter I may have sent  I still had a vague feeling that it was I that caused the end. I also wondered if there were other letters in another carton somewhere in the attic that would continue the story.  Today was not the day I was going to look for them.

At 8:20, the phone rang, & without my glasses to identify the caller, I heard: "Hi Sue, it's Mike H.....".

OMG, I was so glad that he was alive.  I couldn't believe that he was on the phone.  I don't exactly remember how the conversation started, but after 49 years, I doubt that it was with: "So, what's new?" 

We did speak easily, filled in some details, cought up on present situations. Then I had to ask:  "Mike, how did it end, I have no memory of an ending."  His response was something like....."I loved you very much, but your father loved you even more.  When I came to see you he quickly figured out that I was a troubled drinker and sent me away".  When I told him that I had no hint of this then, and surely his letters never indicated alcohol in any way now, he responded that he was able to hide it from me, but my father knew right away. .

He spoke of how he had starting drinking as a 10 year old alter boy, sampling the ceremonial wine. He used it for effect.  He needed it to "get out there & not be afraid".  He told of rampant alcoholism, a ruined marriage, and finally intervention, rehab & sobriety.  He never picked up a drink again.  He told me he damaged a lot of lives and was always grateful that I had escaped his path of destruction.

Well, what a story.  I havn't quite digested it all yet. So much for my brief excitement that there was a time in my life that I wasn't attracted to or attracting the bad-boy alcoholic.  Dunno, there is a reason for everything....& I'm sure I'll know why this piece of my life has come back to me at this time.
(or I'll never know, & that's ok too)  Perhaps it's because my life is changing so drastically now.  I'm in a peaceful, loving relationship, I'm moving, I'm growing, I'm happy.  Perhaps I needed to finally get what my mother was always trying to tell me..... how much my father loved me. 

I still have a feeling that the end of the relationship wasn't all my fathers' doing.  I have the vaguest, fuzzy memory that I was getting a bit bored.  The Mike that he presented to me was so kind, loving, and straight.  He never cursed, didn't party with his buddies, adored & wanted me.  What was the challenge? If I had really wanted him, I would have lied, snuck around, rebelled against my father, made my mother miserable & perhaps I would have married him. After all, that is just the way it happened a few years later with my husband-to-be.

So - the great "Great Neck Novel".  Where are we now?  Happy to have connected.  I will send him the letters.  For one moment, I felt a bit reluctant to let them go.  They have become so....personal.  When I told him that he said I should keep them.  I said no, if I ever have a need to see them again, he can mail them back to me.  I know I never will have a need for them.

We exchanged phone numbers & addresses (although my address & phone number has been the same for 55 years).  I will mail the letters to him tomorrow.  Perhaps we will stay in touch.  Perhaps not. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I feel like I'm living in a novel, anticipating the ending, but afraid to reach it...and find out what?  AND's my own life that I'm reading about.

In the archeological process of digging through 55 years & 3 generations of accumulation in my home, I found a pack of letters.  There are 20 or more big, fat letters from 1961  I was barely 18 years old, studying for finals in preparation of my high school graduation

Some letters are 12 pages long.  I vaguely knew they they were there.  Living in a house for so long - I rarely felt the pressure to toss out, however now that I'm in the process of moving, I have decisions to make each day.  Sell, keep, toss, donate to thrift stores or give to friends, family, etc. (my family does not want anything)

Back to the letters.  They are from PFC Michael P. H......., US Marine.  At first, I  read 3 or 4 letters in quick succession & tossed them into the bathroom trash.  I felt proud of myself.  Good!  I got rid of something.  Hooray.  But then I got to thinking....he was writing in such depth & detail & he....the marine, the young man on the other side of time and history began to rise up like the image in a photographers pan of chemicals.  Before I left that evening, I went on Facebook.  I thought if I could find him, I would send him the letters.  I thought of it as returning a piece of his life & memories to him....a gift of himself to him.  There was only one FB match that seemed age-appropriate & I sent a note.  No response.

That evening at a wedding showcase, I spoke with Donna re: my emotional process of moving & spoke of the letters...those I threw out & those I had not yet read.  She was so excited about my letters & my relationships that went so far back in my life.  She wanted to hear more - she wanted me to update her.  "Please don't throw them little space they will take up in your new home". We exchanged emails.  Now I couldn't wait to get home & remove those I had read  from the trash.

I re-read them.  Slowly this time.  I re-read them again.  Savoring the details.  The importance of someones life.  The gift I was given with each word & image.  It is 5 days later & I read one or 2 in bed before I fall asleep each night. There was a love story unfolding.  There was history & tragedy.  There was humor & sweetness as he described the soggy details of jumping into the sea to retreive my letter that had blown out of his hand.  "I got it before the glue melted on the stamp."  At times he described how he was the only one choosing to stay on ship as the others were on liberty leave.  He would write to me at 2, 3, or 5 am. 'til he could no longer keep his eyes open.  He counted the days 'til he would hear my voice or return to Great Neck.  He signed his letters "Sayonara, with all my growing love, Mike."  "If I can see you, even if it's for just for a day, Suzi, all the long days and the sleepless nights will have been worth it. But until then, there are 25 days and nights and they'll be the longest days and nights I'll probabally ever see.  I'd gladly go thru the hell of the past 2 months one-hundred times over again and twice as bad, just to hear the sound of your voice right here this minute.  A lot of guys would have made it back if they had someone to live for.  I did.  I realize my being here is because someone wanted me to be here.  I did what you told me to do in your letter.  I "took care of me for you."  If it weren't for you, I know positively I'd be "back there" along with many of my best buddies."

My friend Ellen told me this discovery is more valuable than 20 years of therapy.  I agree.  What a view of myself.  How blessed I was to have such sweetness come into my life.  He described me as I, the 18 year old, could never have seen myself at that time.  This discovery is history-changing for me.  My spirit did attract goodness. 

I have about 5 letters left.  I will read them slowly.  I don't want this story to end.  I don't really remember how it did end.  I hope I was kind.  If, perhaps I was not...I hope to forgive my 18 year old self for any hurt I may have caused.

Speaking with Vicky at a dance Friday night, I spoke of moving (of course, that's what I always speak of these days) & "the Letters".  Another interested party wanting updates.  At Vicky's suggestion - I once again related a version to Caroline who is a genealogist & happened to be at the dance. For some reason, I hesitated to email the data I had garnered from the letters to her...but did 3 days later.  I think I was (am) afraid to know the end of the story?  However, she emailed back within a few hours (last night).  She found an address in Ct & a phone number listed in his brother Joe's name.  How did she do that so fast??  And now I hesitate to call the number or write to the address she has found. 

I think I will wait & read one more letter before I call.  Am I afraid that I will reach him....or that I will not?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

another storm

Tonight I was in Port Jefferson  for a wedding showcase & it began to pour soon after I arrived.  I didn't know that & was feeling so  sorry for myself because I couldn't go to my women's group - which was cancelled because of weather warnings.
People at the showcase were talking about a tornado in Queens & I kept thinking back to June 24 & the tornado that raged through Great Neck.  I listened to the news on the way home & it spoke of  drastic weather conditions in Staten Island, Bklyn & Queens - trees down, no service on  the LIRR & part of the LIE with backed-up traffic due to downed trees.
What a surprise when I drove down Allenwood from the park & saw the streets strewn with branches....really big branches.  More of a surprise when I couldn't pull into my driveway because there was a big piece of tree in it - or walk down my front walk for the same reason, but with a different tree piece.  Can't really see the extent of the damage, but the side fence has the Shmuel's tree in/on/through it.
If I had not gone out, the tree would have been in the exact spot I keep my car.
Poor Lucy was upstairs in the dark....when I went up to get her, she  ran right into the bathroom for me to give her water....& slurped it right up.  She must have been a wreck while the wind & rain were being so noisy.
Once again.  Thank you God.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

just crazy

It just  does not make any sense that it will cost $84 for me to fly each way to Asheville ON a seat.  It will cost $125 for my 6 pound dog Lucy to fly each way to Asheville UNDER a seat.

Why can't I purchase a ticket for $84 and put Lucy's carrying case ON a seat? 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I was up in the attic at approx 5 am yesterday going through & weeding out my "XMas" carton.  I have decorations that I collected before I was married. 

One year, approx 1965??? I worked at Georg Jensens on 5th ave in the Christmas Dept.  One job perk was that I was able to adopt all the esthetically challanged, maimed & un-sellable hand-made wooden decorations.  John & I would re-arrange their limbs, often using extras that did not quite fit - we would whittle, glue & paint 'til they stood proud.

Yesterday morning I actually made decisions to put to rest the wingless angels, the nose-less troll, etc. Most will go into the garage sale collection, as I'm sure the kids DO NOT WANT ANYTHING.  A few chosen items...including the little figures that once hung from Josh's baby mobile will go into a much smaller carton & move to NC with us.

Last year, as a gift for Barrett, I created a "winter wonderland" shadow box that incorporated family photos, a bazillion crystal beads, many of the teeny wooden decorations, etc 

Writing these words to my friend Carla was the incentive to start a "Moving to Asheville" blog.  I have wanted to keep a diary type of record of this exciting and emotional time.  Yeahhhh, I get so happy when my wishes can be actualized into the world of technology.