Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chrysler to file for bankruptcy


"Some lenders refuse offer to reduce debt, leading to Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. But Chrysler will remain in business and complete deal with Fiat."

Fiat?

When Chrysler built this four hundred horsepower rattle-trap back in 1970, Fiat was building cars with lawn motor engines. Hey, didn't Chrysler go bankrupt before?, and then was saved by Jimmy Carter, the K-Car, the first mini-van and Lee Eyeo Coconut? You know this is all turning into a bad dream again, because I would hate to see them bring back the K-Car.

Oh well, at least I still have my Cudas to foul the Kensington air, and bring back memories of the 70's, minus Jimmy Carter the K-Car and Saturday Night Fever.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It’s spring…so where’s my Stanley Cup?


You know even though I gave up on the Rangers back in 1972, I still felt bad seeing them get eliminated last night in game seven. And yes, the Devils too were quite a depressing sight falling to some “unknown” team from the South.

You see I grew up a real spoiled child of the 80’s. And that’s because my New York Islanders made all my wishes come true after I started following them in 1972. Yes, I even made my own “magic marker” Islander jersey that I wore on East Fourth before they even marketed it, and sold it at Paragon. I was a fan before they were good, and the guys from the block can back that up.

I was also fortunate enough to share season tickets from 1977 through 1987 with my old boss Nick LoBianco who lived in Wantagh. I was there for every Stanley Cup they won including Bobby Nystrom’s overtime goal against Pete Peters. No, guys, that wasn’t Bernie Parent, that was Pete Peters.

And the Islander “parades” were not exactly New York City “Broadway” parades you know. Oh man, they were really horrible. I think the first one just circled the parking lot of the Nassau Coliseum, but then again we were all drunk and never even noticed.

The second and third ones after they won the Stanley Cup were on some exit ramp or something. Hey the victory parades sucked, but at least they won the Cup.

And the fourth one?, who the hell knew where the parade was, and who cared. Because we were “The Champions” and we played that song over and over to our Ranger friends.

And then something happened in 1985, I was watching them play the Edmonton Oilers in the finals over at Circles in Bay Ridge and they lost. The Islanders lost, and there would be no lame parade over on Stewart Avenue or the exit ramp by the Coliseum.

Then the next year passed, and once again no Cup.

What the hell was going on here?
Was it something I said?

Yes, I was spoiled.
I just expected it to happen every year.

Psst… want to know a secret?
I dated Mike McEwen’s ex-wife, he was actually both a New York Ranger and New York Islander. Got to hear all the stories about what went on after the games. And yes you guessed it; the Rangers were party boys, while the Islanders were boring as hell. Late nights at Studio 54 with Carol Alt for the Rangers, vs. afternoons at Arbys on Hempstead Turnpike for the Islanders.

But then again, McEwen only won his first Cup after he got shipped to Long Island. So I guess the curfews worked in his favor.

Now, what the hell was this about anyway?
Oh yes, being spoiled.

Whenever this time of year comes around I get this strange sensation to drive out to the Nassau Coliseum and catch the Islander victory parade. Because it’s been more than 25 years since the last one and some old habits are hard to break.

Now isn't that sad?

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Finally some Green in the Catskills


Slow going, but it's getting greener on the mountain.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Just Skating Through Time

You know working for the same company for almost 26 years has been more than a wonderful experience. I gained life long friends, learned more graphic programs than you could shake a stick at. And seen the “commercial art” industry change from rubber cement, exacto knives and magic markers, to Adobe Indesign, Photoshop and Illustrator.

I’ve also learned that dating people you work with is a very bad idea, because chances are after the “relationship” is over you’re still going to have to work together just like before it all started. Gee, how come they never told us that in college?

But besides all of life’s lessons, working for the same company in practically the same neighborhood for almost 26 years has offered me the chance to take advantage of some of the surroundings.

And one of those “surroundings” has always been Central Park and the giant five-mile loop. You see for almost twenty years now I have been skating the giant loop at lunchtime three to five times a week.

Now, the nice thing about skating in Central Park at lunchtime during the week is that it’s not very crowded. I mean you do get all the school kids and tourists, but it’s nothing compared to the weekends. Oh and if you’re into “celebrity watching” the park is great during the week, because they are either walking their dogs or jogging without anyone hounding them for an autograph or a picture on their cell-phone.

Hell, who did I see today, oh, Kevin Bacon. You know he’s actually pretty tall for a move star. I mean he’s no “six three” Ron Lopez, but the kid’s pretty tall.

I also get to see my wife’s favorite, Howard Stern almost every day jogging with a couple of body guards and looking ever so funny with a headband from the 70’s.

Oh, but I’ll never forget the time I almost mowed down Alec Baldwin on the West side, he’s another pretty big dude that could have sent me flying.

And there have been hundreds more over the years, from Jim Jenson of the Channel 2 news to Salomon Rushdie (The Satanic Verses) author, all just minding their own business while I gently skated by. Never once asking them for an autograph or a picture on my cell-phone. Because when you're in Central Park, you're there for a reason, and that's to get away from the streets that surround it including the people.

Yes, we native New Yorkers know that,
so just enjoy your stroll in the park.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm not getting my Swine Flu Vaccine

You know my grandfather Paco died the same night he got his "Swine Flu" vaccine on October 16th 1976. And just like you'll never see me smoke because my father died of lung cancer, I'll never get a Swine Flu vaccine because of the fact that it killed my grandfather Paco. Sorry CDC, but that massive heart attack he had a few hours after his vaccine sticks in my mind like it was yesterday.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Monday, April 27, 2009

Walks with my father in Kensington


The memories are faint and hard to recall. When I picture them it’s like watching an old black and white movie. I remember walking next to him and looking at the belt he wore, I remember holding his hand as we would walk up to Church and inside one of the small newsstands that dotted the Avenue.

There was one in particular that I recall, it was where the tiny shoe store is across from Golden Farm. It had a tiny counter and a few chrome plated stools. They were round at the top and you could spin them around. The tops of the stools were padded with either a black or dark red vinyl. When my dad waited for his change I would gently spin the seat tops while peering under the counter for a glimpse of the hundreds of pieces of dried gum people left behind. “Hey Dad can I see the Camel?” My father would usually hand me the pack of cigarettes to look at. I remember staring at the Camel with the two columns on each side of it. Back then there was no surgeon generals warning on the pack, so a kid could look at it without a parent fearing a question about why you smoke. My father would gently tug me out the door and we would start our journey back down East 4th to our house.

The trips to the candy stores or newsstands as we call them today were fairly frequent for my Dad. You see my father smoked at least two packs of cigarettes a day,and filter-less of course. The news stand next to the bank and the jewelry store was another destination for my Dad and I. I think it’s the only original news stand that I can still remember from the early 60’s. Sometimes my Dad would buy Chesterfield’s, he would always let me look at the pack which I closely studied of course. And sometimes on the way home we would stop by the Beverly Theater to see what was playing. The marquee always cast a huge shadow with it’s lights blinking like a Coney Island arcade. There was a long wide entrance which lead into the theater. It gently sloped up to old time wooden and glass doors. You could always see the concession stand from the sidewalk too, it was probably where the counter is for the “Deal 99 cent store”. And no matter what time of day it was or even if the place was closed you could always smell popcorn in the entrance way.

By the time we would reach East 2nd street my Dad would be puffing away. Billowing smoke like an incinerator from the apartment buildings on Ocean Parkway, out of his mouth, out of his nose and sometimes looking like his ears too. My father was always off to work too, and no matter what time of the day it was. And of course, he had to finish his cigarette before he left the house.

“Your father works like a donkey” that’s all I heard my grandfather Paco say about his son. “Education is what will make you succeed in life”. “Your father refused an education and look at him now”

I guess my grandfather was talking about college, because my Dad did go to High School. John Jay in Park Slope. But then again, I never knew if he ever graduated.

My Dad worked two jobs and sometimes three, he worked in a restaurant called McPherson’s down by Trinity Place in Manhattan by day, and by night at the Trinity Place post office as a “part timer”. He also did catering work on weekends and even co-owned a coffee shop atone time on Vanderbilt right off Atlantic. So I didn’t see my Dad much, and if I did he was usually sleeping between jobs on a Lazy Boy in the living room. For my brother and me there was no catch in front of the house and there was no playing tag at Greenwood Park. And we knew better not to even ask my father.

One day when my brother and I came home from PS 179 we heard my mom on the phone crying to her sister. We looked in their bedroom and my father was lying in the bed, he was crying too. In those days no one told a little kid what was going on and you dare not even ask. All I heard from my mom was “Daddy's not feeling well and won't be going to work for a while". You see, it all started my father was offered a full time position at the Trinity Place Post Office. There was a routine physical he was ordered to take before he could become a full-time employee. Problems breathing were followed by X-rays. A "spot on his lung" was detected and before you knew it there were tests followed by more tests. Doctors in those days didn't "beat around the bush" like today. Dr. Weisel on Plaza street in Prospect Heights told my Dad straight to his face that he would be "dead in three months". My Dad refused chemo, but did opt to have one lung removed, and I will always remember that scar. It went from his chest all the way around his back, it just looked like train tracks around a mountain through the eyes of a kid. But hey, at least he was home for my brother and I, and that's all that really mattered to us.

Eventually though death did arrive and on August 24th 1965 at the age of 39 my Father died. Just about three months after he was told he would, leaving a seven, nine and two year old without a father. Oh, sure, I know there are old photos of my brother and I together with my Dad building a snowman in our back yard at 399. There are also ones taken upstate at our country house with me on his shoulders. But the truth is nothing sticks in my mind more than those simple walks to Church Avenue holding my Dads hand and smelling stale popcorn by the Beverly. For there are no photos of those times, but just the memories of a seven year old boy who barely knew his father.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Robbery on East Fourth

It was a warm May day in 1978; we were all sitting on Freddie’s front stoop talking about anything and everything. Suddenly someone noticed a guy walking out of Glenn Gruder’s house with a ten-speed bike. He carried it down the stairs and started walking it alongside of him on the sidewalk towards Beverley Road.

He must have been right in front of
Cookie’s house when someone said:

“Hey Gruder, isn’t that your bike?”

Glenn squinted with his eyes like he always did, because glasses were beneath him and he probably didn’t clean his contacts.

“No, that’s not my fucking bike you asshole”

“Hey, Gruder, I really think that’s your bike
because the dude just came out of your house.

Glenn squinted again, his dark eyebrows were almost
meeting and looked like two caterpillars ready to kiss.

“Holy Shitttttttt, that is my fucking bike!!!!!!”

“Hey you stop!”
“That’s my bike!”
“Stop!”

Glen raced across the street to confront
the guy just strolling away with his bike.

While Glenn was walking alongside of him trying to get his bike, the guy suddenly whispered something to Glenn as he simultaneously put his hand inside the breast pocket of his jacket.

Before we knew it Glenn ran away as fast as he could and hid
behind the massive chrome bumper of a Plymouth Fury.
Crouching on the ground he just sat there frozen until the
guy was almost to Beverley Road.

Once he turned the corner Glenn got up and walked
back to everyone sitting on Freddie's front stoop.

Glenn sat down alongside of us all looking dejected.

“Hey Gruder, what happened?” someone said

“He said he had a gun you assholes,”
“What did you expect me to do
get shot over a bike?

“Oh well fuck it, it’s just a bike.” someone said.

Glenn put his head down staring at the
worn red bricks of Freddie's front stoop.

There was little we could do to console him.

"You know what Glenn, thirty years from now
we'll all just think about this day and laugh
including you"


And you know what, it's thirty
years later and I guess it's true.
Because I know Glenn's reading
this and laughing too.


Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Still Snowing in the Catskills


Ok, so not to my amazement there was some wet snow falling yesterday morning way up in the Northern Catskills where we have our house. Thats right, those white things are snowflakes, and it's April 23rd. My wife once made a big mistake and started planting in April, only to have a blanket of snow destroy her plants. The locals say wait till after May 10th, and I think I know why.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Parent-less Play dates in Kensington


David and Russell Siegel had to be the two smartest and coolest kids at PS 179 back in the late 1960’s. While the rest of us were walking around with button down shirts, red bow ties and our hair short and slicked. The Siegel brothers wore tie die t-shirts, "earth shoes", and had long blonde wavy hair way past their shoulders. They were just a couple of “Park Slope” PS 321’ers way before their time. And their parents looked like real hippies too; with sandals and matching tie die t-shirts, they probably dragged the kids up to Woodstock back in 1969 in their Volkswagen bus they parked Avenue C.

Now, while the rest of us were mostly “low achievers” and branded by our high class numbers, 4-15, 5-15, 6-18, the Siegel’s were both “SP” students, which meant they were in the “smart kid” classes. These were always the 4-1, 5-1, 6-1, low digit classes. I guess in today’s world you would just call them the “gifted” classes that everyone wants their kids to be in.

Oh, God, maybe I was in “special ed” and never knew it?

And you know what? I don’t think the Siegel’s ever studied either.
I never saw them reading or doing homework, and when they were
in school, they were always laughing and fooling around in the hallways. So just like some of us are born to be tall or short, the Siegel’s were just born to be smarter than anyone else.

The Siegel’s also lived directly across the street from PS 179, on the first floor of an apartment building on East 3rd and Avenue C. Most of the time they never even wore coats to school, because all they’d have to do was run across the street to class.

Now you have to understand we hardly ever saw them in school, because they were always in the “SP” classes on a different floor at PS 179. But the Siegel’s were a kind bunch you know, and always made themselves available for us to hang out with after school. Which usually meant a “play date” in their apartment directly
across the street from the school.

Now our “play dates” were a little different from the ones we have today. Sure we had the same kind of “fun” your kids may have today, we laughed, played games and told jokes to each other. But the biggest difference about our late 60’s Kensington version was that our parents were nowhere to be found.
And that included Mr. and Mrs. Siegel.

So what kind of “play dates” did we have you ask? Well, forget water balloons out the window or shooting marbles with a slingshot at a city bus. Killing roaches with a hair dryer?, No, we’re talking about the 60’s here, that’s 70’s fun. And Russell and David would be way too advanced for that anyway, and besides they were “SP” students. So all of our suggestions were just kid stuff in their eyes. No, we just left it up to the Segals to run the “play date”.

And the Siegel’s had a special game; a game that only a PS 179
“SP” student was capable of making up. And it usually started with them handing out real Army helmets when we walked in their apartment. I guess the ones their parents must have used during Vietnam War protests at Washington Square Park.

So what do you think? playing Army men with toy guns?
No, you better think again because these were the brightest PS 179 had to offer, and you could only expect the “best” from the Siegel boys when it came to a “play date”.

“Ok, everybody put on your helmets and get behind something fast”.

With that, we would all strap on our metal Army helmets and get behind a couch or wall. With a silver frying pan in his hand, David would place it on the stovetop, and light the gas. A few moments later he would take the box of 22 caliber bullets that he pulled out of a closet, and pour them into the pan. Quickly he would run away and hide either behind a wall, console TV, or just go into his bedroom. After a couple of minutes the shells would slowly start to fry and make a "sizzling sound", and then just like popcorn popping, they would start to snap and explode. "Hit the decks" said David. The bullets just flew through the apartment, breaking glass, hitting furniture, or embedding themselves in the heavy plaster walls.
And we would never move until we got the "all clear" message
from David. What do you think? we were stupid.

So like I told you, only the “best” from the Siegel’s.

And yes, I know what you’re thinking, what the hell were a bunch of “low achievers” doing with a couple of “SP” students who probably became Doctors or Lawyers twenty years later. Well, I don’t know either; and all I can think is they probably just found us “entertaining”, that’s all.

So the next time your 10 year is walking around with a frying pan on his “play date”, you better check his pockets and pat him down. Because somewhere in Kensington along time ago, kids were making more than just “popcorn” on their parents stove, and sure had "fun" on their “parent-less” play dates.

Ron Lopez

Monday, April 20, 2009

Kensington pictures from Nunzio







Here are some pictures from my friend Nunzio.
Anyone you know?

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 16, 2009

PS 179's most notorious graduate



Today I learned from a very old friend that mobster Joey Gallo was actually a Kensington resident who grew up on East Fourth Street between Ditmas and Cortelyou Road. In fact Gallo once walked the same halls as I did at PS 179, and probably bought a "bullet bar" from Morris our ice cream man too. Gallo's father owned a coffee shop where Walgreen’s is now back in the 40’s and 50’s, and Joey was a fixture on McDonald Avenue and Church for quite some time.

Joey Gallo was Kensington's neighborhood "loan shark" too, and if you ever owed him any money, you better just pay up . Because Joey Gallo never believed in a "grace period", no, that was for banks and charge cards and not "tough guys" from East Fourth Street Brooklyn.

Here’s his Wikipedia Biography…

“Joseph "Joey" Gallo, also known as "Crazy Joe" and "Joe The Blond", (April 7, 1929 – April 7, 1972) was a New York City gangster, gunman, and racketeer of the Profaci crime family (later known as the Colombo crime family). Joey and his two brothers would initiate one of the bloodiest mob conflicts since the Castellammarese War of 1931. His brothers were Lawrence Gallo and Albert "Kid Blast" Gallo.”

Early years
Born in Red Hook, Brooklyn to Neapolitan parents, Gallo earned his nickname in mafia circles as a hitman who, along with his brothers Larry and Albert, were believed to be responsible for the barbershop hit on Albert Anastasia. His two brothers, Lawrence and Albert, would later follow their older brother into the life of organized crime and align themselves with the Colombo crime family. Joseph is also the brother of Carmella Fiorello-Gallo. He is the father of Colombo crime family associate Aldo Gallo who was born to Jaffie on March 9, 1954 in New Hyde Park, New York and is alive as of 2007. He would follow his father into a career of organized crime, but not be as successful as his father or uncles.
Joseph was a very colorful character and talkative by nature. In the 1950s he was nicknamed "Joey the Blond" because of his full head of blond hair. In 1947 after viewing the Richard Widmark film Kiss of Death Joseph began to mimic Widmark's film character, "Tommy Udo" with his drowsy, heavy-lidded appearance and in later years could recite long passages of the movie's dialogue.
Joseph Gallo was married twice. He married, divorced and later remarried the woman only identified as Jeffie for the second time in July 1971. Little is known about Jeffie other than, "Though she [Jeffie] had yielded to Joey [Gallo] as the dominant partner in their marriage, it was a highly qualified surrender. She would abide by his decisions only if she approved of them. Mutual respect was her watchword, and if, on minor matters, she did sometimes give away against her better judgment, she would always make it clear to him that this was without prejudice." But after rekindling his first attempt at a failed marriage with Jeffie he began pursuing Sina Essary. He finally settled down and married in April 1972 to 29--year old Italian-American dental assistant, the former Mrs. Sina Essary who he had married a mere three weeks before his death in April 1972. The wedding ceremony was performed by the same priest who conducted the ceremony for musician Tiny Tim and Ada Jones. Joe's best man was his close friend David Steinberg. After being released from prison after ten years Sina would later comment about her first encounter with Gallo in 1971 saying he appeared, "extremely frail and pale. He looked like an old man. He was a bag of bones. You could see the remnants of what had been a strikingly handsome man in his youth. He had beautiful features-- beautiful nose, beautiful mouth and piercing blue eyes." After consummating his marriage to Sina, Joseph became the stepfather of Lisa Essary-Gallo, born c.a. 1962 who was ten years old at the time of her new stepfather's murder. Joseph's wife, stepdaughter and biological sister were all present and witnesses to his unsolved gangland slaying. Lisa Essary-Gallo became close friends to Joe's children who had been mothered by the unidentified "Jeffie Gallo".
He secretly owned several nightclubs on Eighth Avenue and two sweat shops in the Manhattan garment district where he had forty or fifty girls make fabric for dress suits. He also ran floating dice and high-stake card games and extortion.
Sometime in the early to late 1960s Gallo befriended African-American youths from the black-populated enclaves of Brooklyn, New York realizing that joining forces with the African-Americans, rather than by fighting them, there was a lot of money to be made. The idea of uniting the major African-American and Italian underworld leaders became an obsession with him which would be his life's credo. It would later be a philosophy that was later put in to practice by several fellow capos and mob bosses and led to building ties to other criminal organizations. While incarcerated at Auburn Correctional Facility Joseph took up the hobby of painting, trying to become a painter of water colors and broaden his considerable horizons in the legitimate employment field. He was an avid reader of Jean-Paul Sartre, Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Leon Tolstoy Ayn Rand, his literary role model and life icon Niccolò Machiavelli, and The New York Times. He had a philosophical outlook on life which was: if you're a cab driver, be the best cab driver in the world; if you're a gangster, be the best and do not settle for second rate. Donald Frankos would say, "Joe was articulate and excellent verbal skills being able to describe gouging a man's guts out with the same eloquent ease that he used when discussing classical literature". While he was incarcerated at Auburn with Donald Frankos he would tutor Donald on the principles of his hero Niccolò Machiavelli. Donald in turn taught Joe how to play bridge.
While in jail, Joseph was an outsider among his fellow incarcerated Italian counterparts and was constantly seen with an entourage of African-Americans. In prison he worked as an elevator operator in the prison's woodworking shop.
[edit]Gallo-Profaci war
In the late 1950s, Gallo tried to overpower mafia boss Joseph Profaci to take control of the Profaci family. Gallo was helped in this war by his brothers Larry and Albert. Albert was himself nicknamed "Kid Blast". Due to Profaci's unpopularity with his men (he was seen as somewhat stingy and required constant tribute), the Gallos and their chief ally, Carmine Persico, believed they had a chance (Persico would later switch sides and rejoin the Profaci ranks).
In May 1961, several gunmen tried and failed to kill Gallo. Profaci also placed his soldier, John Scimone, into the Gallo gang as a spy. Scimone set up the murder of Joseph "Joe Jelly" Gioelli, who was one of Gallo's top enforcers and biggest hitters. Profaci gunmen kidnapped Gioelli and took him out on Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn in a fishing boat. Once on the water, Gioelli was shot and dismembered. His clothing was stuffed with dead fish and thrown in front of an auto shop frequented by the Gallo gang. On August 20, 1961, brother Larry was lured to a meeting at the Sahara Lounge, a Brooklyn supper club. Once inside the club Profaci hitmen, reportedly including Carmine Persico who is suspected to have set it up and double crossed the Gallos, tried to strangle him. However, a police officer happened to walk inside the club and stop Larry's execution. The Gallos would later seek revenge on Carmine Persico, opening fire on his car. Although it failed to kill him, Persico was wounded in the arm and jaw.
In 1961, Gallo was convicted of extortion and sent to prison for the next ten years. After Profaci died of cancer, underboss Joseph Magliocco was the new target of the Gallo revolt. Eventually Magliocco was forced to step down after the Mafia Commission discovered he was plotting against them.
[edit]Attempted poisonings
Joe was a very cunning and conniving man who would politely invite fellow convicts into his cell and attempt to poison them, most of the attempts were made with the use of strychnine, and one time nearly killed a fellow convict by offering him antipasto laced with the deadly chemical. A prison friend of Donald Frankos became aware of Gallo's poisoning methods and brought Joe poisoned lasagna, and at the same time Joe offered him anchovies marinated in strychnine. During a prison protest riot at Auburn Joe saved a severely wounded corrections officer. The corrections officer later testified in court after the riots and Joe was released early for his civic duty. After talking down to his incarcerated Italian Mafioso and standing up for some African-American convicts he earned the nickname "The Criminal" for his betrayal. After his release from prison he became a figure with great status among elite society, a "must attend" on many guest lists. Members of the "in crowd" wanted him to attend their dinner parties, and hung on his every remark as if he was royalty. His elevated status among the jet-set trend setters started when Jerry Orbach played a role in the movie The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, based on the novel by Jimmy Breslin in which the main character supposedly depicts Gallo. After he had dinner with Orbach and his wife Martam she would later comment that he had "absolutely" charmed her. Joe also became a close friend of actress Joan Hackett who found it amusing when he called her a "broad", comedian David Steinberg and the writer Peter Stone.
The Gallo brothers did some work for Carlo Gambino and also had a close relationship with one of Vito Genovese's most powerful capodecinas, Anthony Strollo, until Genovese had him killed.
[edit]Colombo murder
Upon his release in 1971, Gallo started battling family boss Joe Colombo and the renamed Colombo family. Gallo was one of the first mafiosi to predict a shift of power in the Harlem rackets from the Italian mafia to African-American gangs. While in prison, Gallo had made numerous connections with African-American gang members such as Nicky Barnes. Gallo was allied with Carlo Gambino, who disliked all the publicity that Colombo garnered with his Italian-American League. Joe Colombo was shot on June 28, 1971 by an African-American gunman named Jerome Johnson. Johnson, who was immediately shot dead by Colombo's bodyguards, was believed to be a Gallo associate, thus shifting suspicion to Gallo.
[edit]Death
On April 7, 1972, Gallo was celebrating his 43rd birthday with friends including his bodyguard, Peter "Pete the Greek" Diapoulas at a restaurant, Umberto's Clam House at 129 Mulberry Street in Little Italy, Manhattan. At least two gunmen burst in the doors and opened fire with .32 and .38 caliber revolvers. Gallo was hit five times while he burst away from his table. Diapoulas was shot once in the hip during the melee. Joey stumbled into the street and collapsed while his killers sped away in a car. The gunmen were never positively identified. At his funeral, Gallo's sister cried over his coffin that "The streets are going to run red with blood, Joey!"
As the Roman-Catholic church would later protest concerning the burial of slain Gambino crime family mob boss Paul Castellano later in 1985, Joe was refused a proper burial by the local parish priest. His widowed wife Sina arranged for a substitute priest to fly in from Cleveland to perform the ceremony.
Informant Joe Luparelli later testified that Gallo's killers were Carmine DiBiase a.k.a. Sonny Pinto, and two brothers whom he knew only as Cisco and Benny. Luparelli also stated that mobster Phillip Gambino played a secondary role in the hit. Despite Luparelli's accusations, none of these men were ever charged with Gallo's killing. Pinto was sought, but never found, managing to evade police for over 30 years.
A differing account of the murder was offered by hit-man and union activist Frank Sheeran in a series of confessions made before his 2003 death. Sheeran claimed that he was the lone triggerman in the Gallo hit. Distant relatives include Nicholas and Patrick Gallo.
[edit]In popular culture

The 1969 novel and 1971 film The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight are a roman à clef of the life of Joey Gallo, whose fictional counterpart is played by actor Jerry Orbach in the film. Gallo and Orbach were longtime friends, with Orbach attending Gallo's funeral despite negative press.
In the 1974 film The Godfather II, the character Frankie Pentangeli, played by Michael V. Gazzo, survives a strangulation attempt in a bar that is reminiscent of the attempted strangulation of Larry Gallo in the Sahara Lounge. Ironically, the Rosato brothers are most probably based on the Gallo brothers themselves, right down to their beef with the Corleone family i.e. Profaci family.
In the 1990 film Godfather Part III, the character "Joey Zasa", played by actor Joe Mantegna, is based in part on Joey Gallo.
Singer Iggy Pop's song "Play It Safe," from the album Soldier, includes the lyric "slippin' and slidin' like Joey Gallo."
Joey Gallo is portrayed by actor Peter Boyle in Carlo Lizzani's 1974 film Crazy Joe.
Joey Gallo is referenced in the 1990 film Goodfellas by Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, when he states "It was before Crazy Joe decided to take on a boss and start a war."
In an episode of The Sopranos, Jon Favreau, playing himself, expresses an interest in producing a film based on Gallo.
The album Desire by Bob Dylan includes a version of Gallo's life in the song "Joey." The lyrics are a collaboration with Jacques Levy.
[edit]Gallo Crew members

Albert "Kid Blast" Gallo
Frank "Punchy" Illiano
Nicholas Bianco
[edit]References

Brandt, Charles. I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran and the inside story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the last ride of Jimmy Hoffa. Steerforth Press, Hanover (NH, USA) 2004. (ISBN 1-58642-077-1)
Hoffman, William, and Headley, Lake, Contract Killer: The Explosive Story of the Mafia's Most Notorious Hit Man Donald "Tony the Greek" Frankos Thunder's Mouth Press (1992)
Albanese, S. Jay Contemporary Issue in Organized Crime
[edit]External links

Gallo article at americanmafia.com
Death of Gallo at crimelibrary.com
Joey Gallo at Find A Grave
Former Umberto's Clam House at Google Maps
http://www.nashvillescene.com/Stories/Cover_Story/2007/05/03/Married_to_the_Mob/
Categories: 1929 births | 1972 deaths | Italian-American mobsters | Americans convicted of murder | Murdered Italian-American mobsters | Colombo crime family | Unsolved murders | Burials at Green-Wood Cemetery | People from Brooklyn | American murder victims | People murdered in New York

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My first car in Kensington


It's always hard to forget your first boat. Mine was about 18 feet long and a dark forest green. It had light tan captains chairs and a 350 Buick V8. And you had to be real careful when you backed it out of the dock too, not to sideswipe the house or scratch the freshly compounded paint on the bushes.

Then when you’re rolling down the river you gotta make sure to have your “Boston” 8-Track on full volume, and at least one hand on the wheel. Just washing the kids and the elderly into their front stoops from your powerful wake. Oh, and you better not have any small stones in-between your hubcaps and the whitewall tires, because that noise just ain’t cool. Ting, Ting, Ting.

And you never have to worry about getting lost at sea or Prospect Park either, because all you’d have to do is shoot up a flair and have the Coast Guard land right on your hood.
Yeah, that hood was so damn big!

I think it was late October back in 1976 when I got the bug to buy my first car. I was 19 at the time and always imagined it to be something real cool too. Oh, lets see........70 Cuda, 68 AMX, 69 Dodge Charger. All the car models I built as a kid with my cousin Pete upstate in the Catskills, on those very rainy days. And now, I could own one all for myself!. Heck, my friend from work Peter LoBianco even had a Pontiac Astra lined up for me, nice two door with a small V8, but the deal fell through.

“You know Ronnie, my sister and Frank are thinking about selling their car” said my Mom. “Oh, I don’t know Mom, that’s not the kind of car I really had in mind”.

Now, let me tell you about my Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Frank’s Buick. It was only three years old but looked like it went through the mill. Although my Uncle Frank worked for "Wonder Bread" in Queens, by the look of the car you’d think he used it as a cab. It was constantly dirty and the interior was yellowed and smelled like cigarette smoke. There were scratches all over it and it had a big dent in the rear passengers side quarter panel from when my Uncle Frank sideswiped a Amish Buggy in Lancaster, PA. Oh, and buy the way don’t believe that crap that those people don’t go in cars, they chased my uncle and shook him down for 300 bucks. In a red pick-up truck no less. So you see the idea of buying that car and possibly being a marked man for the rest of my life in Amish Country wasn’t exactly something this Brooklyn boy had in mind.

“I think they want 2000 dollars for it” said my mom. The price wasn’t exactly a bargain, but then again the car did have low mileage and with some Clorox, compound and wax, you never know what you could come up with. “My sister said that if you don’t want it they would buy it back”.

Oh right, my aunt would send bogus letters to GE, saying all her light bulbs were defective just to get a box of free ones. So, I knew the car was “never” going to be returned. “So, what do you think Ronnie?” “Should I tell her OK?”. At that point I looked towards the heavens asking my Brother and Father what I should do. Hoping to hear some voice whisper in my ear. But, there was no voice, and all I could think about was the time we got stuck on route 17 near Monticello, in my Dad’s 63 Rambler on our way to Downsville. Thinking we were going to never be found and freeze to death just a few hundred feet from a Jewish bungalow colony. And then those two letters just came out of my mouth, there was no turning back now. “OK”.

So the next morning we went to see my next door neighbor Mr. Blank over at Nationwide on Church avenue for the insurance cards, and then Greater on McDonald Avenue to cut us a money order for 2000 dollars. It was down the subway stairs to the F-train, and a long ride to 179 street Jamaica, last stop.

Now at 19, I was an F-train veteran you know. From changing prices on hockey sticks at Mays on Jay street, when I was 12. To my daily ride to the High School of Art & Design on Lexington ave. until I was 17. I had it down. But today the ride was especially long, and forget about Queens. Anything after Lexington avenue should just as well be Kansas, because I never really go to Queens. Except of course to see Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Frank. But “Queens Village” is so close to Long Island, I never really considered it was part of the city anyway. As we walked up the stairway I could see my uncle Frank in his new 77 Olds Cutlass waiting by the curb. “So, you must be excited Ronnie” said my Uncle. I got inside the car, smiled and nodded to my uncle. As we got closer to their house I started to become more excited, and with a money order for 2000 dollars in my pocket, I knew I would be driving back to Brooklyn in my first car.

My uncle parked his car in front of his house and it was up the driveway we went to take a look at the Buick. “I didn’t get a chance to clean it or anything” said my Uncle. Knowing my Uncle never cleaned it anyway, I just said “that’s OK”. And everything was just like I remembered it, cigarette butts in the ashtray, the yellowed interior, the smell of stale smoke, and the dent from the Amish Buggy. Not to mention the scratches and the overall look as though it was waxed with sand and Brillo.

Well, we handed my aunt and uncle the money order and celebrated with coffee and cake on their kitchen table. It was congratulations, kisses and hugs and then it was on our way to Kensington, Brooklyn.

The ride on the Belt Parkway was smooth sailing, My poor Mom indured about an hours worth of WPLJ. “Meat Loaf” “that’s a real funny name” said my Mom. “In my day singers used their real names, like Tony Bennett and Bing Crosby”. “What a bunch of idiots today”.

And then finally I saw it, like a beacon in the night. Exit 7N, Ocean Parkway! We made the right off the Belt and on to the service road, another right onto Ocean Parkway and it wouldn’t be long now. As the alphabet got closer to C, I started to feel the excitement and reality of finally owning my own car. We made a big left hand turn onto Beverly Road and then another onto East 4th.

To this day I clearly remember the reflections of the trees above moving along the dark green hood as I got closer to my house. I just felt so damm proud finally driving my own car. Another big left and up the driveway we went. The guys were there too sitting on my front stoop, just watching. I guess word travels fast on my block. As I put it in park and started opening the drivers door to get out, Glen, Neil, and Pete opened up both back doors and got in. “Hey Lopez, what do you think you’re doing?” “Lets go for a ride” “I think Coney Island sounds good” “Don’t they have a Nathans there?”.

Well, from that day on the “Buick” became the car for the guys on the block. I cleaned her and polished all the scratches from her hood and fenders. I scrubbed the white walls and hung a cherry air freshener from the radio knob along with a disco ball from the rear view mirror. The “Buick” was nothing less than a Saturday night cruiser. We also had the latest in technology too, an 8-track and a CB, along with bowling balls in the trunk for a stable ride. But don’t read me wrong here, the “Buick” was also tough as a Hummer too. On one ill faded camping trip to Downsville NY, I drove her up our logging road on a Friday night. Too tired to carry all our backpacks and equipment, we just set up camp as an electrical fire from the starter motor almost sent her to “hubcap heaven”. But regardless the beat just went on and on for the Buick. Although sometimes it almost stopped for us as well.

One Sunday morning back in 1980 on the way to McCarren Park in the wasteland known as Williamsburg, we lost some valuable hockey equipment that was piled inside our hockey net strapped to the roof. I stupidly stopped the Buick on the other side of a curve, just East of the Brooklyn Bridge on the BQE. We almost became a newspaper headline that day, but thanks to an alert oil truck driver all we got was cursed at. And there were weddings, funerals and everything in-between for the Buick. All the time nourishing itself on an endless supply of Diehard batteries, alternators and tail pipes. Yes the late 70’s and 80’s were surely this dinosaurs heyday, but the "Ice Age" was coming soon. And the asteroid just hit the earth, and its name was “Monte Carlo”.

I don’t exactly remember how it happened but one day I woke up and the Buick just didn’t look the same anymore. She was looking old and worn out, her lacquer skin was cracking and peeling and the seats were all ripped. The 8-track was out dated and the cats sleeping in the back seats during cold weather wasn’t exactly impressive on a first date either. I tried my best to spruce her up with a new paint job and rubber mats. I even sealed up the hole in the floor so the cats couldn't get in anymore. But still, the feeling just wasn’t the same anymore. We were just growing apart.

So out came the automotive personals simply known as the “Buy Lines”. With other candidates being circled in red along with late night phone calls to “for sale by owners”. My quest for something young and new was making me restless. And all along she slept right outside my window, just leaking her tears of "Dextron transmission fluid" on the cold concrete floor. Unaware of my wandering feelings. Then one day I just saw her, the “Monte Carlo” of my dreams. With smooth lacquer paint, two perfect doors and a magnificent tail panel. I just couldn’t wait any more and had to do it. Well, it was another trip to the Greater on McDonald and 8,500 dollars less in my account. The cash was all I needed to bring her home from Seaford Long Island. And it was just a part of life you know.

I did try my best to keep them both, just bumper to bumper in my driveway. But the beauty of the new won over the memories of the old. And the insurance was too damm much anyway. A “Big Love” this was not, and the Buick had to leave. I tried hard not to get emotional when I took off the plates, just gently counting rotations as I backed off on the screws. Trying not to look into her GE headlights. But then without warning it suddenly all came back to me, the trip to Queens Village, the cigarette butts in the ashtray and the image of my uncle Frank sideswiping an Amish Buggy. The ride up my block, the trees reflecting on the hood, the guys watching me as I pulled up the driveway. No, I just couldn’t do it, No!
I reversed the rotation of the screws and put the plates back on.

I think I kept the Buick for a few more years and finally just gave it away to a friend at work in 1990. She tried to offer me money for it more than once. But you know, like they say. Some Brooklyn memories you can buy, while others remain priceless forever. And that 73 Buick was nothing less than “Priceless” to me, in the Brooklyn of my youth.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Kensington Birthday (1962)


It has almost been 46 years since this picture was taken in my Grandmother's apartment upstairs from us.
I'm not sure who's Birthday it was, but I do remember it well.
Our friends from Downsville, New York drove to Brooklyn that day and were scared to death of all the "city" traffic. They are shown seated in the backround, Harold Conklin and Frank Shaver. My Aunt Dolores Liria holding my cousin Denise, cousin Pete is next to her, and me in the high chair in front. My Mom with my brother Joseph to my right.
399 East 4th used to be the center of the universe for the entire family, maybe someday it will happen again.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Catskill WebCam Storm Pictures

These are a series of screen captures I took of a storm last week.











Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Windsor Terrace Murder


Fred Cooper could never stand still when he spoke to you. With short black hair parted to the side, a polo shirt and gray polyester pants, Freddie had a voice that was oddly high pitched for a six foot sixteen year old. With his two pudgy hands tucked in his pants pockets, he would gently rock from side to side as he discussed last night’s Ranger game. Freddie always smiled when he spoke too.

Freddie also carried a black briefcase when he went to school, just swinging it by his side as he walked down our block. Freddie had a walk similar to a duck too; his two gigantic brown shoes practically took up the entire sidewalk as he strolled by. Yes, Freddie was sure a “fish out of water” when he walked down East 4th. But then again Freddie was a “Techie” or Brooklyn Tech Student, so that alone may have explained a lot back in 1975.

And we were the East 4th street boys, long hair, engineer boots and bell-bottoms. Just thinking we were “oh so cool”, and then there was Fred Cooper, a kid who looked more like our Grandfathers than us.

But Freddie was a good friend of Robert Brennan our “go to guy”. So no matter what Freddie looked like or sounded like, he was “in” when it came to our block. And besides, Freddie was a real nice kid who wouldn’t hurt a fly, and probably helped hundreds of Kensington Grandmothers cross the street on Church Avenue. A real sweet kid that Freddie Cooper.

Now, back in 1975 Bartell Pritchard Square was simply known to us as the “Circle” up by the Sanders Movie Theater. Forget Connecticut Muffin, The Pavilion, or any of the other Park Slope places up there now. No, the “Circle” was not a place where you would want to be walking around at nighttime, especially alone.

But knowing Freddie Cooper, I don’t think he thought about it twice, because the “Kind” rarely recognize the “Evil” that the city of Brooklyn breeds.

Freddie would have given his money to any one too. He was probably one of those people you see on the train that always sticks their hands in their pockets as soon as the panhandler walks on. So I know there was no reason why they should have hurt Freddie that night, no, none at all.

And I’m sure the “wolf pack” of kids that attacked Freddie never knew that he may have helped one of their Grandmothers cross Prospect Park West at one time. No, they just saw an innocent victim, a “Gentle Lamb” grazing in their “Lions Den” that night back
in 1975.

The knife that stuck out of Freddie’s back just glistened in the Windsor Terrace moonlight. The lights of Bartell Prichard Square reflecting off the long silver blade that was buried deep inside his still warm body. The back of Freddie Cooper’s Blue Brooklyn
Tech jacket turned to a horrible dark red. The blood of his body just dripped onto the dirty sidewalk by his side. Fred Cooper breathed his last breath as a sixteen year old that night, and died right there on the dirty sidewalk of Bartell Prichard Square.

A sad and lonely death for a son of Kensington, Brooklyn, A senseless killing of one of the sweetest kids you ever met. I guess Freddie was just in the “wrong place at the wrong time” that’s all. Yeah, how many times have you heard that?

So the next time your up by the Pavilion or having a “Latte” at Connecticut Muffin, say a prayer for Fred Cooper. Because he died on the cold concrete sidewalk of Bartell Pritchard Square so many years ago, in a time before Windsor Terrace was cute and Park Slope was pretty. Somewhere in the Brooklyn of my youth, so many years ago.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Catskill Webcam 3:27 pm today


Finally some blue skies in the Catskills. You know May 10th is the day the locals say you wait until before you plant. May 10th?, thats at least three weeks after Brooklyn. But then again these are the Catskills and Winter's not over yet.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Morris our ice cream man


His fingers, yes there was something so beautiful about his fingers.
They were the longest and most gentle fingers you have ever seen.

And he stood like a giant too.
He had legs that just seemed to go on forever, and arms that could reach as far as the Brooklyn Bridge.

Oh, his uniform, let me tell you about his uniform. It was always the brightest of white you know, and clean as a whistle. He also wore a little white hat too, it looked something like a ship captains hat.

And with long nicotine stained fingers as cold as ice and as yellow as corn, Morris would gently pick the change out of the palm of your hand and then lean down and give you your ice cream bar.

Yeah, just like the giant in “Gulliver’s Travels”, that was Morris.

I think he also wore one of those change machines on his belt too, it was silver and had these different cylinders for pennies, nickels, quarters and dimes.

You see,
Morris was our ice cream man.
Not anyone else’s ice cream man.
No, just ours alone.

The bells on his truck had a very distinctive ring too. They jingled like those on Santa’s sleigh. Full of music, full of life. Nothing at all like the cheap sound of the Good Humor man. No, Morris’s bells were probably made of sterling silver instead of tin.

And what made Morris special to us was his kindness. Pure gentle kindness from a man who probably would have scared the living daylights out of anyone if he wasn’t dressed in an ice cream
man’s uniform.

You see Morris had to stand about six feet five, was as skinny as a flagpole and chain-smoked to no end. From what I remember too, he smoked the same brand as my dad. That distinctive “Camel” could always be seen sticking out of his shirt pocket.

And Morris also died young, just like my dad. Too many “Camels” bought him a headstone way before his time, and only left us with a nasty Good Humor man who never liked us.

Yeah, I could just see him like it was yesterday, his truck parked on Avenue C between East 3rd and East 4th, long tall and lean standing there like a gentle giant. Waiting for us hand him our dimes and quarters after another day at PS 179.

And if you didn’t have enough money, Morris would let you slide and pay him another day. Or he would even break an ice pop in two pieces, if you only had a nickel. Just the gentle kindness of a man who drove an ice cream truck and knew all our names.

Yes, The ice cream man of Kensington.
Not anyone else’s ice cream man.
No, just ours alone.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

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Friday, April 3, 2009

A Dark Day Upstate


We got some real low cloud cover today up on the mountain.
A dark and dismal day in more ways than one you know.
Especially for many folks up in Binghamton, which is only
about 45 minutes away up route 17.

Like the locals say, "you can take my wife, but don't
take my gun". And just like buying a slice of pizza at Korner,
you can buy your gun at Walmart just as easily.

Wow, doesn't that make you feel good,
angry, loser, trash with guns.

Boy is the country great or what.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Darth Vader and IHM


Now tell me you wouldn't be scared shitless going to a school where someone like this looked over you? Not to mention pull your ears or smack you on the top of your head once and a while. Yes, her little "Storm Troopers" walking in a straight line going back to the "Death Star". Breath heavy oh Darth, because you are our master.

This picture was sent to me by one of my best friends, Nunzio.
The kids were probably returning from Communion practice over at IHM church. I know my brother had to be in this line somewhere too. Probably a 1965 or 1966 photograph in the days when we were bused there from PS 179 for religious instructions.

Now, I know the school is nothing like it was back then, in fact we were planning on sending our daughter there too. No, the days of "Darth Vader" nuns are long gone, along with having your ears pulled and your head slapped.

But you know what, maybe they knew what they were
doing after all. Because unlike in the classrooms of PS 179,
we acted like angels at IHM.

Yeah, little angels,
I guess they knew all along.

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com


As I sat in my third grade classroom in PS 179 I could hear them roaring towards us. From my desk I could look out the window and see their long yellow roofs. They parked in front of the school entranceway on Avenue C. With their diesel engines just clattering away, I knew it was my time to go. On every Wednesday at 2 o’clock my stomach would start to hurt. It was time for the public school Christians to leave our sanctuary of bliss and head North up East 3rd street to The Immaculate Heart of Mary school. It was time for “Religious Instructions”.

As I gathered my books and headed out the door I looked back and said good bye to Miss Saltzman. She just smiled back at me looking as beautiful as ever in her white go go boots. As I started to walk down the battle ship gray stairs I really started to feel nauseas. But you see I wasn’t alone, about four other children followed me down. All of us silent, no words ever spoken. “Ronnie are you feeling OK” asked the school bus matron. A friend of my Mom’s whose name always escaped me. I tried to smile at her, but my lips always had a problem arcing up on the sides on a Wednesday afternoon. I always sat in the back of the bus too. Right under the “emergency exit” sign. Maybe hoping it would open up one day and I would just fall out. As the bus driver closed the doors, I closed my eyes.

The bustling clatter of the diesel engine got louder as we pulled away and made a left onto East 3rd street. The ride up East 3rd street was the greatest torture. Especially as we passed Church Avenue, because everything I loved was right outside the school bus window, almost within reach. Kennys Toy Store, Lee’s Toy Store and a brand new Pizzeria called “Korner”. All the places I loved to visit with my Mom, yet here I am sitting on a cold school bus seat heading towards my doom. Church Avenue just vanished in the distance behind me. The bus made a left on Fort Hamilton Parkway and gently stopped in front of IHM School. We all silently gathered our belongings and filed out the bus. At this point I would really start to dread them. With my stomach feeling worse I was hoping to start throwing up this time before we got inside. One of them opened a heavy red metal door, dressed only in black, she just stared at us through her little round eyeglasses, not saying a word. The
public school heathens had just arrived.

We sat in the classroom, all silent. One of them stood in front of the chalk board, she too was dressed in black with something white around the top of her head. Some kind of hat. Right below her head was a large white disc that looked like it was sawed in two. She held a long wooden yardstick in her wrinkled old hand. She just stood there glaring at us. I could make out her bee bee eyes behind her glasses, they were dark blue. She started to speak, “Now who can tell me about Jesus......And then it happened like it always did. There she was standing in front of the class. She had to be the most beautiful teacher at 179. Miss Saltzman, with beautiful dark eyes and long silky black hair. She had to be a dream, because when she spoke to me I just melted. When I’m old enough I’m going to marry Miss Saltzman, my third grade teacher. And even when she handed me my test papers that usually scored no more than 65. I just stared at her beautiful milky white hands and then her beautiful face, then down her neck to her tight pink sweater and then at her two beautiful full......Wack!, Wack!, Wack!, the tip of the wooden yardstick slammed hard on my desk, just barely missing my little fingers and almost hitting my Timex Dumbo watch that my Mom just bought me for Christmas. “I said wake-up and pay attention young man!” “Don’t you care about Jesus?”

At that point I was too scared to look up at her, I could only stare at the cross that was hanging on her waist with some sad looking skinny man with a long beard nailed to it. “I said look at me when I speak to you!” Now she was screaming at the top of her lungs. “I said look at meeeeeeeeeee.........and that’s when it happened. Without warning it just burst from my stomach, hot and steamy, with little pieces of the hot dog I just had for lunch. And it was all over her black dress, with some of it hitting the little man on the cross. I had just vomited like so many times before, and the “nerve medicine” my Mom gave me every Wednesday morning failed to work, again. I just sat there frozen and she just stood there silent. “Now go to the boys room and clean yourself up”.

I got up from my desk, I could feel evey ones eyes staring at my back as I walked out the door and down to the Boys room. I tried my best to wash myself off and I must have been there for a while, because when I walked out I could see my Mom talking with the Nun outside the classroom. My little sister Isabel was there too, just sitting in her stroller staring at the Nun. We left early that day and as we walked along Fort Hamilton Parkway towards East 4th the Church bells started ringing.

“Mom do I have to go back?”
“You know what you have to do Ronnie”
is all my Mom said.

Well, I did somehow manage to survive “Religious Instructions” and even made my Communion and Conformation at IHM. All because I knew “What I had to do”, Something thats just in your blood when you’re from Brooklyn. But the truth is even today some 43 later, I still can’t help but feel a little nervous when I see a Nun. The memories of “Religious Instructions”, the bus rides and the vomiting just come back to me like a nightmare. Because you see, even at 50, Some Bad Habits” are just too hard to forget!

Ron Lopez
Mopar195@yahoo.com