Saturday, January 30, 2016

Amazons Of Then

The Amazons supposedly originated from Bronze Age tales of a tribe of women warriors living along the shore of the Euxine Sea or the Black Sea. The Scythians on the Don River called them the Oiorpata. Little else than myth forms their story, although according to Wikipedia reported that the Sarmatians were descendants of Amazons and Scythians, and that their wives observed their ancient maternal customs, "frequently hunting on horseback with their husbands; in war taking the field; and wearing the very same dress as the men". Moreover, said Herodotus, "No girl shall wed till she has killed a man in battle".

Homer wrote about the tribe in THE ILIAD and legend related that the Amazons lived apart from men and only engaged in intercourse with male slaves taken in battle once a year for breeding purposes.

Herodotus lived some six hundred years after the height of the Amazons. The historian traveled throughout the Persian Empire and Asian Greek States, so his mentions of the female soldiers were based on myth, although some say that the Amazons fought for the Persian satraps in the eastern empire.

Recent archaeological digs in the Russian steppes discovered a kurgan burial mound for women warriors of an above average height puportedly belonging to the Sarmatians, a mixed race of Sychtians and Amazons.

But no one knows for sure.

When history is lost to time.

Half of NASA's 2016 Astronaut Class

NASA announced that half of its 2016 class will be women and that the team will be training for a future Mars mission. This is quite an accomplishment, especially considering the state of NASA's space fleet.

NASA no longer has a Space Shuttle

And neither does Russia.

None featuring women.

Just a unisex mission to Mars.

Then again there's always the Devil Girl from Mars.

And she's trouble on any planet on the solar system.

As if any woman from Mars.

Christopher Lee RIP

This January has taken a heavy toll on the stars of Rock with demises of David Bowie, Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane, Lemmie from Motorhead, Glenn Frey of the Eagles, and Georgio Gomelsky, who managed the Stones in the USA, but these rocking dead were accompanied into the Here-after by the great movie actor Christopher Lee who passed from this life at the age of 93.

Born well back in the last century Mr. Lee survived a brutal bullying at public school to volunteer for the Russo-Finnish War and then fight with the RAF in North Africa and Italy before joining the secret services about which he said according to Wikipedia, "I was attached to the SAS from time to time but we are forbidden – former, present, or future – to discuss any specific operations. Let's just say I was in Special Forces and leave it at that. People can read in to that what they like."

Upon returning from the war Christopher Lee became an actor and achieved stardom as Dracula for Hammer Films and finished out his career as the evil wizard Saruman in the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.

Several years ago I saw him at the Worseley restaurant in Mayfair. I wanted to say hello and offered him thanks for terrifying me as a youth, but he seemed to be having a good time with his lunch companions and I was taught at an early age to never interrupt a man when he's having fun.

Strangely Christopher Lee recorded several heavy metal records in his 90s.

He shall be missed, but not forgotten.

To hear Christopher Lee's The Bloody Verdict of Verden, please go to the following URL

And I love Christopher Lee's Ghost Riders in the Sky

To hear this song, please go to this URL

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Our America - Vote Bernie Sanders

Watch this video from the Bernie Sanders. To hear tis political message, please go to the following URL

Death Of The Twinkie

Twinkies are not dead.

They just aren't what they used to be after Hostess' bankruptcy.

They've been reduced in size and calories.

New Twinkies have 135 calories and a mass of 38.5 grams, while the original Twinkies contained 150 calories and had a mass of 42.5 grams thanks to a hedge fund revival.


Another victim of capitalism.

Blizzard Conditions

No snow fell on Christmas Day in New York.

None fell on New Year's Day north in Duchess County either, although snow clung to the rocky shadows in the woods.

The North Atlantic states were experiencing an extraordinarily warm winter, despite my prayers to pagan snow gods.

Two days ago the weathermen predicted a change.

A spectacular Nor'easter was scheduled to up the Eastern Seaboard spraying epic snowfalls on the coast

They were not wrong.

Washington DC recorded 24' of the white stuff, while Fort Greene in Brooklyn was covered by 30", which was the second deepest snowfall ever to hit New York. Mayor DeBlasio declared an emergency and the city shut down for the duration of the blizzard.

As the snow tapped off in the evening, I emerged from the Fort Greene Observatory to see the accumulation of snow on the street as well as find someplace open.

Motorists were obeying the mayor's edict and not a single car was on Lafayette Avenue.

Now out of the house I thought about getting a drink.

A beer.

Fort Greene was known for its bars.

One had to be open.

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Not all the sidewalks were shoveled, so I walked in the street.

It was safe for once.

I like a world without cars.

Ralph's Meat was closed, so I wandered down the street.

Mullane's Sport Bar was dark. I continued my search.

General Fowler's statue wore a cloak of snow.

The Civil War hero's visage never changed no matter what the weather.

His gaze was focused on Frank's Lounge across Fulton Street.

The door to Frank's Lounge was locked shut.

None of my friends were at the bar.

I had sat out plenty of snowstorms at the bar, but not tonight.

Nothing was open.

Not even Mo's Bar.

The blizzard had won and I walked home glad to have cookies and milk in the fridge.

A good blanket too.

And I sat by the window and counted snowflakes.

There were billions of them.

Every second.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Vote Early For The Bern

Drudge Report has a poll on who will win the election. trump has 40%. Bernie 7% and Hillary 1.23%. log onto drudge report and vote for Bernie.

That was earlier, now Trump has 37% and Bernie is 28%

An upset in the making in the land of the beast.

As they say in Boston, vote early, vote often. You can poll more than once.

The vote is under DRUDGE REPORT

PS Clinton is only getting .98%

And Cruz is 3rd with 21%.

Trump versus Bernie.

Round 1

Feel the Bern.

Mutation Not Genetics

America has been plagued by obesity.

When I was young few fat people existed in this country.

When Big Food switched from sugar to fluctose, the country expanded from size L to XXXXXL.

People think the fat scourge is natural and say, "It run in my family."

Big Pharma agrees with their opinion and has spent billions on researching the 'fat' gene.

It's not genetics. It's not a fat gene. It's processed food.

I'm sure of it, but I have no idea why Americans are so crazy.

That must be in the genes.

Because nothing else can explain our craziness.

Other than we're mutations

Deaf Dumb And Blind

I hate smart phones.

I hate people who think it's life.

lightnin' hopkins - bring me my shotgun

Jealousy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins and few sing it better Lightning Hopkins on his BRING ME MY SHOTGUN. To hear BRING ME MY SHOTGUN, please go to the following URL


Gronkowski 69.

All day long.

Giselle 69

This weekend Tom Brady will play his 17th Game versus the Denver Broncos.

The AFC Championship will be an away game for the Patriots.

#12 is 2-6 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and many other teams have trouble with the Broncos and the main reason is the altitude.

None of the other teams in the NFL play so high.

Rodney Harrison said in the Boston Herald, “I remember Junior Seau, one of the best-conditioned athletes you’ll ever see, and after two or three plays chasing Terrell Davis down, he’s out there breathing hard."

I once shoot B-Ball in Lhasa against the Chinese Army. I had two Tibetans for the 3-3. Within a minute the Chinese and me were sucking for oxygen in the thin air. The Tibetans told me to just feed them the ball. No D. We ran the court the entire day and I wasn't even wheezing.

Not the same for the Patriots, who will arrive in Denver on Friday to allow the team a spell of acclimatization, but while the 2000 199th Draftee might be 2-6 against the Broncos, Tom is 11-5 against Peyton Manning and I like that number just right.

I shall be in the Chinatown at the 169, if Johnny is at the bar.

19 feet above sea level.

And I'll be wearing my GISELLE 69 shirt.

Go #12.

May the numbers be with you.

A LOSS OF MEMORY by Peter Nolan Smith

The Catholic Church and other derivatives of the Judaeo-Christian faith extol monogamy as the true state of man and woman, then explain sex through the mysteries of the birds and bees. Actually my parents never lectured their children on that subject, although they said that the stork had delivered each of my new brothers or sisters from the hospital.
“A stork?” The long-winged bird was not native to New England.
“Yes, a stork,” my parents said the word with reverence and they remained faithful as mating pigeons to each other. Bees never entered into the conversation about babies, because the queen bee had so many lovers.

Just like me. I can’t count the number of my paramours on one hand and while I don’t remember all their names, I do recollect their faces, smiles, and smell, yet very little of the sex.

Woman on the other hand pride themselves on their acute memories and quote a man’s utterance twenty years after the words left his lips, so I imagined that all females would be equally recollective about the act of love, but not all of them.

Several years ago I ran into Valda at a Lower Manhattan studio opening. The ex-La Rocka model was still a beauty. Not a surprise, since the Polish emigre had been Jean-Michel's muse as had many women in the artist's short life. We sat on a gallery's window sill recounting our past and a younger women with a younger male asked, “Are you a couple?”

“Not really.” I smiled at the tenderness in her voice. I had once been that young.

“You seemed so comfortable together.” Her beau beamed with the glow of two hearts beating as one and he held his girlfriend’s hand with tenderness. They had a lot to learn, but I wasn’t in the mood to educate them about the hills and canyons of love, so I said, “No, we were never a couple, but we once were lovers.”

“No, we weren’t.” Valda harshly answered with darkening eyes.

“We weren’t?” I remembered certain spending hours together on a hot August night in 1979.

“Not at all.” Her adamant denial bristled with certitude.

“Are you sure?” Her kiss was etched on my mind.


That encounter couldn’t have been a phantasm of my fantasies. She had scratched my back to shreds.


“Yes.” A fury settled in her eyes.

The young couple fled from the charred ashes of my displaced memory.

“Sorry, guess I was thinking about someone else.” I waved the white flag of surrender.

“And there were plenty of someone elses.” Valda sway from the window. I remained seated, thinking that she was right, because a woman is never wrong about a man, but I had slept with one of her best friends.

Lucille and I had lasted a weekend.

My imaginary tryst with Valda went on for a month.

1979 wasn’t a time for monogamy.

I stood up. Valda stood by the bar. I was exiled from her thoughts and I wondered what other men else dwelled in her gulags. It really didn't matter, because 1979 was a long time ago and even worse maybe I wasn’t so memorable in the affairs of the birds and bees, then again I had slept with one of her best friends.

Lucille wouldn’t know if I was right, but I was gracious enough to allow Valda her victory, for as the philosopher Pascha Ray paraphrased, “As you get old you forget. As you get older you are forgotten by everyone but yourself.”

Sad, but sometimes true.

Especially in the mind of a woman.

Other photos of Valda and Mary Beth and Lucille.

In 1979 we were friends and I never forget friends.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

FAMOUS FOR NEVER by Peter Nolan Smith on Kindle

FAMOUS FOR NEVER is a semi-fictional recounting of the life of a ne’er-do-well living in the East Village during the 1970s, Paris throughout the 1980s, and Asia for the 1990s. Peter Nolan Smith’s pingponging through the world ricochetted him through the ranks of the famous and near-famous such as Jean Michel-Basquiat and Klaus Nomi without success ever threatening his firm grasp on failure, for there is no failure greater than premature success.

Here’s an excerpt:

New York City teetered on the edge of bankruptcy during the mid-70s.

The Daily News splashed the headline FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD, after the GOP president refused to bailout the Democratic metropolis.

Without federal funds the mayor was forced to slash every department’s budget to the bone and the city collapsed into a ruin rivaling Rome after the Goths burned it to the ground.

Subways broke down on the tracks. Muggers ruled the streets and parks after dark. Arsonists torched the Bronx and Lower East Side for fun and profit. Shooting victims overwhelmed Harlem’s emergency wards, while heroin ODs became the Oueens’ leading cause of teenager death. When Staten Island proposed a referendum to secede from the city, no one accused the distant borough of treason, because the worst was yet to come for the East Village.

The 9th Preceinct police rarely ventured farther than Tompkins Square Park. Shooting galleries outnumbered bodegas and hordes of thieves fearlessly prowled their new-won turf for victims. Nobody honest could survive in a neighborhood more burnt-out than a junkie’s vein and families of all races, colors, and creeds fled the outlaw DMZ for the suburbs.

The population of the Lower East Side shriveled from 120,000 to 60,000. It never hit zero, because cheap rents, proximity to the subways, and minimal police presence attracted a nation of malcontents disenchanted with the morality of the country’s Silent Majority and this diverse smattering of gays, drifters, artists, musicians, and addicts reversed the exodus from the smoldering desolation.

Stutterers read poetry to NYU coeds without ridicule. Hopeless derelicts squatted derelict buildings without fear of landlords. Teenager girls denied cheerleader suburban destinies were offered flesh ballerina careers at sordid go-go bars and graffiti artists painted heaven on charred walls with spray cans.

It was the place to be, if you were young.

To purchase FAMOUS FOR NEVER please go to the following URL

Monday, January 18, 2016

JFK on the March to Washington

Two years ago the BBC News reported that JFK had attempted to block the March on Washington for fear of violence and painted a picture of a president apathetic to the plight of blacks in America, however the article ignored to mention the Justice Department descending on Birmingham after the police chief sicced dogs on peaceful Civil Rights demonstrators and focused on Martin Luther King's Statement that 'the events of the early summer had transformed the struggle for black equality from what he called a "Negro protest" into a "Negro revolution". America, he feared, had reached "explosion point".

For the most part the violence was one-sided with white supremacists bombing churches and firing at SNCC volunteers, however the specter of a slave uprising scared whites and JFK was concerned about losing the South to the GOP on the issue of equal rights.

Upon hearing on the March on Washington JFK called out the National Guard and the FBI spied on march organizers and radicals opposed to non-violence.

Snipers were placed along the parade route.

But on August 28 there was no violence.

JFK listened to King's I HAVE A DREAM SPEECH.

He's good - he's damned good”

I thought the same thing in Boston.

I hoped for a better day.

And so did JFK.

After the speech the black leaders came to the White House.

It was hard to stop being a white man and see all men as men, but this country was founded on the tenet that all men are created equal.

JFK understood that and his brother even more.

We are all family.

CHOCOLATE MAN by Peter Nolan Smith

Maine is the northern most state on the Eastern Seaboard. The distance from its southernmost border to the Potomac River is approximately 500 miles and in the winter of 1863 the 20th Maine Regiment crossed into Virginia to confront the Confederate forces at Fredericksburg. That summer they avenged the one-sided slaughter beneath St. Marye’s Height with a desperate charge at Gettysburg.

“At that crisis, I ordered the bayonet. The word was enough.” The bare steel of Joshua Chamberlain’s troops repelled the threat to the Union left and the 20th Maine fought with distinction to war’s bitter end.

The mayhem of four bloody years ended at Appomattox and Colonel Chamberlain and the 20th Maine were present for the formal cessation of hostilities. As the rebel soldiers passed to surrender their arms and colors, Chamberlain ordered his troops to attention.

His memoir THE PASSING OF ARMIES captured the solemn dignity of their submission to a great force.

“Gordon, at the head of the marching column, outdoes us in courtesy. He was riding with downcast eyes and more than pensive look; but at this clatter of arms he raises his eyes and instantly catching the significance, wheels his horse with that superb grace of which he is master, drops the point of his sword to his stirrup, gives a command, at which the great Confederate ensign following him is dipped and his decimated brigades, as they reach our right, respond to the ‘carry.’ All the while on our part not a sound of trumpet or drum, not a cheer, nor a word nor motion of man, but awful stillness as if it were the passing of the dead.”

More vengeful Northerners had regarded his chivalry as treason, however to his fellow soldiers Chamberlain’s gesture had signaled the resumption of brotherhood and the State of Maine had commemorated the sacrifice of their native sons with bronze statues of facing south. The defeat of the Confederacy had liberated millions of slaves. Few ventured north of the Potomac and by the middle of the 20th Century the black communities of Bangor and Lewiston numbered about 6000 out of a population of one million souls living within the borders of the Pine State.

In 1954 Maine was the whitest state in the USA.

That spring my father was transferred by New England Telephone from Boston to Portland. My mother and he looked for a house close to the city and found a newly-built three-bedroom house on Falmouth Foresides. Eastern Heights lay across the harbor. The scent of the sea mixed with the fragrance of fresh bread from the Nissen Bakery on the Back Cove. Work at the phone company was a ten-minute drive down US1.

The neighborhood was filled with young couples like themselves. The hordes of children from the Baby Boom played on the lawns and my parents wanted this house on McKinley Road to be their home.

After the agent agreed to a closing price my mother asked, if there was a Catholic church nearby.

She was Irish-Catholic out of Jamaica Plains. Her family were city people.

“Are you Catholic?” The real estate agent made a face. Maine was predominantly Protestant.

“Yes.” Our last name was Yankee, but my father had converted to marry my mother. He loved her that much. “You have a problem with that?”

“I guess it’s okay. We have a Jew living on the next street.” The man shrugged with indifference. He lived on Bailey’s Island in a house over two hundred years old.

Catholics and Jews belonged in this neighborhood and not his.

“Thanks for telling us.” My father was a Maine native and his family had come over on the Mayflower.

“What about the house?”

“We’ll let you know.”

His comments had kiboshed the deal and my father sought out a real estate agency with a French-Canadian name. Canucks were Maine’s real minority. The woman selling the house was Mrs. Benoit. The petite brunette lived in the neighborhood and knew the seller. Hearing about the other agent’s comments, she loped a thousand dollar off the price.

“I’ll see you in church.”

We moved into the house and our family paid little attention to our minority status. My older brother, younger sister, and I were blonde-haired and blue-eyed. My mother’s Hibernian beauty and her soaring alto were welcome additions to cocktail parties in the coastal suburb north of Portland. They became best friends with the Noyes and the years passed into the late 50s.

Mrs. Noyes’ oldest son was my age. Chaney was my best friend. We attended a one-room schoolhouse off US 1. Mornings began with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer. We were loyal American and the stigma of Catholicism was never mentioned in school, however my mother never failed to express her loyalty to her Irish blood with green milk on St. Patrick’s Day and the IRA call to arms, “Up the rebels.”

Our world was our neighborhood, the school, and church until my father brought home a Zenith black/white TV. My older brother and I were soon obsessed with the Red Sox, HOWDY DOODY, BOZO THE CLOWN, THE YOUNG RASCALS, and THE THREE STOOGES.

“Moe, Larry, cheese.” Curly’s cry for the calming cure of cheese was the height of humor for boys under the age of six.

“Idiots.” My father hated my comic idols and threatened to throw out the boob tube, however my mother had reserved Sunday evening as family night and my father drove into Portland to buy two pizzas, which we ate in the living room watching LASSIE to THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW on CBS.

At Eight o’clock my father ordered my older brother, younger sister, and me to bed.

One November night my mother let me stay up a little longer to see her favorite program.

“He should be in bed.” My father scrunched his mouth in frustration. His one-on-one time with my mother was governed by our sleeping.

“He wants to be with me.” My childhood was slipping from my bones.

“You’ll spoil him.”

“He’ll turn out just like you, won’t you?” Her hand brushed my crew cut. Our town was plagued by lice. My father owned electric clippers and shorn our skulls to the bones twice a month.

“Yes, m’am.” I hugged her with all my might.

She smelled of fresh bread. The whole house smelled the same. The wind was from the south and Nissan Bakery was working a night shift.

“Be quiet and don’t ask any questions. Your father likes this show.”

Throughout the opening segment of THE JACK BENNY SHOW my parents laughed at Jack Benny’s stinginess and the man who said, “Yeeee-essss?”. I didn’t laugh with them, but came to life when a dark-skinned man appeared on the TV.

“A chocolate man.”
Jack Benny’s servant was darker than a Hershey Bar. His face was round and his hair was slick as a grease stain at the

garage on Route 1.

“He’s not a chocolate man.” My father’s voice spiked with exasperation. He wanted to watch his program without my interruption. “He’s Rochester.”

“Rochester?” My teacher had taught the classroom a song about his kind. “You mean like Little Black Sambo?”

“No, he’s called a negro or colored.” My mother informed me.” His people came from Africa as slaves. A war was fought to free them.”

“Like Moses freed the Israelites?” I attended Sunday school after Mass. Our teacher had read us Exodus this morning.

“Yes, only their Moses was Abraham Lincoln. His face is on the penny.”

“Why’s he speaking different from us?”

A commercial came on the TV and my mother stood up to clear off the plates.

“They have their own way of speaking,” she said on her way into the kitchen.

“You mean like Chaney’s grandmother?” Shane’s white-haired grandmother spoke German. She had been born in Europe.

“No, they speak another version of English. You know Amos and Andy?” My father believed in telling us the truth as he saw it.

“Yes.” I had heard them on the radio.

“Those are Negroes too.” He explained and added that their roles were stereotypes.

“If blacks are on TV, why don’t they live with us?”

“Negroes live in their own communities. It’s better that way. Everyone staying with their own kind.” My mother re-entered the living room. She was from Jamaica Plain in Boston. Her neighborhood was Irish. She had met my father in the elevator of the 51 Oliver Street Telephone Building.

“You’re Irish and Dad’s English. Shouldn’t you have stayed with your own kind?”

“That’s different.”

“How?” I had no idea about kinds.

“Just is?” My mother’s patience was wearing thin. She wanted peace and quiet and most of all golden silence during these Sunday TV sessions and what my mother wanted she got from both my father and us.

I ceased to call Rochester a ‘Chocolate Man’, but at Underwood Primary School our classmates explored the borders of kind. Steve Gordon was a Yid. Shane Benoit was called a ‘Canuck’. My brother and I were Micks. There were no Negroes.

When Chaney joked in class about “Micks’, our teacher, Miss Stange, lectured the K-2 students on race.

“I don’t want to hear that word again or any of the other words,” warned the stout teacher. "And if you do, I'll tell your parents."

“But they’re the ones saying these words,” Chaney said and Miss Stange ordered him into the corner.

“It’s true. Our fathers call German, Italians, and Japanese ‘Krauts’ ‘Wops’, and ‘Japs’.”

I joined Chaney in the corner, but what I had said was true.

Different kinds were called different names.

During our Davy Crockett phase we killed thousands of ‘Spics’ surrounding the Alamo.

Negroes were spared our bullets, because we knew none and Boston Celtics’ Bill Russell was a Negro. His stop of a Syracuse National player’s shot at the end of overtime had stolen the voice of Johnny Most, the Celtics radio announcer.

Steven Gordon had been to Boston Garden and informed us that the Celtics’ Jones boys were not brothers. They weren’t black either.

“More brown like different shades of chocolate. And they don’t like being called ‘negro’ or ‘colored’. They want to called ‘black’.” Steven went on to say that he didn’t want to hear the words ‘kike’ or ‘yid’.

Steven was bigger than the rest of us and his father let us watch Red Sox baseball games on their color TV. The entire team was white. Only three teams in the American League had black players; Carlos Paula of the Washington Senators, Ozzie Virgil of the Detroit Tigers, and Elston Howard of the Damned Yankees.

That summer the Red Sox finished 3rd in the league. Steven Gordon’s father said that they needed a black player like Satchel Paige.

“Who was Satchel Paige?” I asked in total ignorance.

“Only the best pitcher of all time. He couldn’t play in the big leagues because of the color clause. No blacks. No way.” Steven’s father was a tall man with a big nose. He liked to fish by the dock at the end of the street. He gave his catch to the poorer families in the town.

“He played for the St. Louis Browns in 1948. Subbed for Bob Lemon. He took it soft on the first two batters, but struck out Whitey Platt so bad that he lost touch the grip of his bat and it ended up down near 3rd base,” Mr. Gordon recounted the at-bat, as if he had been there that day. “He would have been rookie of the year, except he was 42. Best pitcher ever was.”

Chaney, my older brother, and I accepted his judgment.

Mr. Gordon knew his baseball.

After that every time my family went into Portland for dinner, I searched the streets for a black face. There were none downtown or on the docks. My Aunt Sally said that Westbrook had a black postman and supposedly migrant workers from Jamaica picked apples in the orchard farms.

No one else had seen one either, so I served as a substitute for our neighborhood, because my summer tan was darker than that of my brothers and sisters.

My mother called me ‘Black Irish’ and explained, “After the failure of the Spanish Armada the galleons sailed along the coast of Western Ireland. Many of the ship were wrecked on the rocks. Some of the survivors were Moors from Africa. Maybe a little of their tar got in your blood.”

Labor Day Weekend families deserted the Foresides. Chaney went to Sebago Lake. Danny Benoit’s family drove north to visit his grandmother in Quebec. My grandmother had a cabin on Watchic Pond. Steven Gordon spent the long weekend in Boston and upon his return, he said, “There are hundreds of blacks moving into Roxbury.”

He made it sound like an invasion.

“Why?” I thought blacks stayed far from the North, because the climate was too cold.

“Because the KKK are hanging them from the trees. Lynchings. Murder. Burning houses.”


“Because they don’t know their place,” Steven said with sadness. “The Nazis treated the Jews the same”

“My grandmother had to leave Prague, because she was a commie.” Chaney’s grandmother was a sweet old woman. Her apple pie was spiced with cinnamon. It was good enough to be a sin.

“A commie?” Nothing was worse than being a commie in the 50s.

“Not really, but her name was on a list.”

She had told us many times about escaping the Nazis by riding on top of a train. Chaney’s mother had been 10. My grandmother left Ireland at age 14. Nana told a story about an uncle shot by the Black and Tans. My mother had few good words for the British.

That fall I watched THE JACK BENNY SHOW with a hidden agenda. Jack Benny’s character treated his valet more as a friend than a worker and with good reason. Rochester was smarter than the rest of the cast. My older brother and I laughed at his jokes. They were actually funny.

A few days short of the Columbus Day holiday my father, mother, and my younger sisters and brother traveled south to Boston. My older brother and I had school. My grandmother took care of us throughout the week. On Friday Edith packed a bag and drove us to Union Station below Western Promenade. She parked her new VW Beetle and we walked inside the granite building to buy tickets.

Only two.

“I’m not going with you, but don’t worry the porters will take care of you.”

“Porters?” Surprises were reserved for cheeseburgers at Simpson’s or a trip to Old Orchard Beach. I had never been with a stranger.

“Don’t worry, they knew your grandfather. He treated them like white people.”

My grandfather had been a general practitioner in Westbrook. He had been dead since 1952, but people still came to the office door for help. They said that he had been a good man.

"You're not coming?" I thought it was a joke.

"You'll be fine." Edith sat us on a passenger car. There were three other travelers. They looked foreign, maybe Canadian.

Our tickets were stuck on the seat. Paper name tags were pinned to our jackets. Our grandmother handed us two Italian sandwiches without onions and peppers with two bottles of Orange Crush plus $5.

“Your mother will be waiting at the other end. North Station. Think of this as your first adventure. You know your great-grandaunt sailed around the world when he was only 8.”

I wouldn’t be 8 for another two years. Our days were supervised by parents, teachers, family, and babysitters.

This couldn’t be right. Someone had persuaded our grandmother to sell us into slavery. This awful person must have paid here $1000. That was the price for a new Volkswagen.

Edith waved from the covered platform. The train pulled out of the station. My older brother clutched my hand as tightly as he had seized my body after our father threw us into the lake last summer.

His father had taught him the same ‘sink or swim’ technique off the same dock.
My brother had climbed on my back. My head had sunk underwater. I had fought to get him off me. My father had rescued us by standing us up.

The water was only chest-deep.

My grandmother, Uncle Russ, Aunt Sally, and my sisters and brother laughed at our discovery

My mother didn’t think it was so funny.

“Six inches is enough to drown in.” Mothers liked their children safe.

I didn't feel safe. The train was picking up speed. Jumping off was not an option.

"Tickets, please."

I turned around to see a giant black man in a uniform approaching our seats. His skin was the color of burnt coal. I tapped my brother on the leg.

“A chocolate man,” I whispered in the voice taught by older boys in our grammar school.

“Ain’t no chocolate this dark.” His voice rumbled like the words were forged from thunder in his large belly. “I think of myself as the color of black coffee. No milk. No cream. But plenty of sugar. Black as Africa. You ever seen a black man before?”

“No, sir,” my brother and I replied with a machine gun stutter.

“Then the times there are truly a-changin’. White boys callin’ a colored man ‘sir’.” He pocketed our tickets and leaned over to check out the name tags. His over-sized body smelled different from my father.

“We’re not supposed to call black men ‘colored’.” My answer straightened up the porter.

“And who told you that?” The hands resting on his hips were the size of my head.

“Me and my friends decided that. We don’t like what the KKK is doing,” My older brother usually spoke with better grammar.

“Is that so?” His yellow-rimmed eyes were taking no prisoner.

“Yes, sir.” My hands trembled so fast that my soda was fizzling.

The conductor snatched the bottle from my hand and wiped the foam with a snow-white napkin.

“Sorry to scare you like that. You the grandsons of Doctor Smith. He was good to my people. I’ll be as good to you. My name is Leroy Brown. But you call me Leroy.”

His smile lit my heart afire like a nuclear bomb in the Nevada desert melting like frozen fear to molten metal.

“Good to meet you, Leroy.” I offered my hand. His swallowed mine.

In our family children were to be seen a little and heard even less, but I asked without any hesitation, “Do you know Bill Russell?”

“Do I know Bill Russell?” His laugh shivered the windows. “This train’s final destination is North Station. Above the station is the Boston Garden.”

“The home of the Boston Celtics.” My older brother had found his nerve too.

“The 1958 Champions and next year too.”

“The Jones Boys.”

“KC and Sam.”

“You know your basketball. I see Bill Russell from time to time. He’s a warrior on the hardwoods and I’ll tell you why after this stop.” The train pulled into Old Orchard Beach.

Gordon’s Fried Clams was down the street. The amusement park was opening for the short summer season. I loved the fun house called NOAH'S ARK. My brother and I stuck straws in our sodas and unfolded the Italians on our laps. Leroy joined us half way through the sandwiches.

“I like them too. Good eating. Cheap too. Now where were we?” We lived the 1957 Championship season game by game through Saco, Wells, Dover, Exeter, Haverhill, and Woburn. He added an aside that Woburn was the birthplace of the fried clams.

“A trainman fried them up in batter. Woodman’s in Essex claims the honor, but we railmen know the truth. Your other grandfather was one of us. Trolley man out of Forest Hills. Anyway Game 7 had a few seconds left in regulation. Inbounds pass to Coleman. Russell is on the baseline, but blocks the shot. Overtime with only seven Hawks left on the bench. Game 127-125. Bob Petit’s shot rolls around the rim and out. Celtics win their first championship.”

The men listening to Leroy’s recounting of that game burst into applause. The Red Sox hadn’t played in the World Series since 1918 and the Bruins were exiled to the lower ranks of the NHL. One black man had brought Boston the Big Win.

Bill Russell.

The train crossed a river.

“Only a few more minutes to North Station. Been good ridin’ with you boys. Your grandfather was a good man and they ain’t easy to find. You have any idea how your kind treat us?”

“No.” I wasn’t sure what my kind was.

"You can keep a secret?” His voice rustled from his throat with a hush of dried leaves.

“Yes.” It was another year until my First Confession.

“Your kind treats my kind like we aren’t as good as them and I have to pretend that is the truth or else.”

His eyes seared fear into ours. Steven Gordon had spoken about the whips and chains. I shuddered with the horror that Leroy and his kind had been treated worse than bad by my kind and the laughter on THE JACK BENNY show was proof that my kind thought that Rochester was funny for another reason other than being funny.

I didn’t know what to say.

“Don’t say sorry. You ain’t don’t nothing wrong yet, have you?” He had been hurt in his life by the names white people called his kind and they had suffered pain worse than sticks and stones.

We shook our heads.

“Your grandfathers and grandmothers aren’t like the rest of you white people. They were good people.” Leroy stood up with a grin and this smile said a better time was coming. No one could say when.

The train pulled into the North Station. The passengers gathered their possessions from the overhead racks. Leroy escorted us off the train. My mother and father were waiting on the platform with my Irish grandmother. Nana gave Leroy a tip of $5.

“Thank you, m’am.” Leroy tugged on the visor of his cap with a wink of the eye. His secret was safe with us.

“You boys have a good time in Boston.”

“Yes, sir.”

“The name’s Leroy. It means King in French.”

Leroy walked down the platform into a crowd of white people.

My Nana hugged me, as if I had crossed the Atlantic.

I looked for another black face. There were none.

My mother kissed me on the cheek. My father pointed above us.

That’s where the Celtics and Bruins play.”

“Boston Garden.” I looked for Bill Russell, as we walked to the trolley station.

His number was 6.

He was not a chocolate man.

Leroy wasn't either.

No one was.

Not even a young Black Irish boy from Maine and I was glad of that, because I liked my chocolate to be chocolate.

America Same As It Ever Was

Today is an important day in the American holiday calendar marking the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., who fought the forces of racism, saying, "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

Sadly the forces of hatred ended the peacemaker's life in Memphis. I would like to uphold his path of pacifism, however race hatred in America burns brighter than a KKK cross.

Today I was speaking with a white friend and said, "I have the day off."

"What? National Nigger Day?"

"What did you just say? You're Italian and I don't consider none of you white." I was half-Mayflower descendant and 50% Black Irish.


"You better be." Racism has been a hatred taught to us whites at an early age and later this afternoon I heard a rich white woman saying, "I hate the city. It's so dirty."

She wasn't speaking about the litter, but the filth of the races.

I said nothing, because I was trying to sell her a diamond and the best revenge was to hit her pocketbook.

Money is all the rich have and I try not to hate them or white people, because there's nothing wrong with taking cash off the rich.

Long live the man of peace and even a dead Martin Luther King Jr. is better company than the filthy rich.

He gave his all for the world.

For everyone.

Martin Luther King Lives

Martin Luther King was a man of non-violence.

He led his people to greater freedom.

MLK showed others the righteousness of his beliefs.

His words ring as true today as back at the time of his death.

We Have A Dream.

To hear Martin Luther King's Speech I HAVE A DREAM, please go to the following URL