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It Never Rained in The Bronx

It Never Rained in The Bronx



True humorous stories of the author, his friends and family while growing up in The Bronx, New York, and continuing with his move to Florida where he now resides.

True humorous stories of the author, his friends and family while growing up in The Bronx, New York, and continuing with his move to Florida where he now resides.



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    It Never Rained in The Bronx It Never Rained in The Bronx Document Transcript

    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”True, humorous stories From a real life Meshugana Steven Chanzes
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” Copyright ©2012 by Steven Chanzes All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, ortransmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher or author. Printed in the United States of America The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows: Chanzes, Steven “It Never Rained In The Bronx” Copyright Pending Page 1 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” DEDICATIONUsually an event takes place that causes someone to write a book. I rememberexactly where I was and what inspired me to put pen to paper. We had justmoved to Marco Island, Florida from the Fort Lauderdale area. One of thefirst things I did was join the Y.M.C.A. I used to play tennis there everyTuesday and Thursday morning. I made many friends and acquaintances,one of which was Bob Grivicich, a gentleman who became a very good friendof mine. One day, in between games, we got into a discussion and I asked Bobhow old he was. He replied “72, but Steve it’s just a number’” I thoughtabout what Bob just told me and in all seriousness I said to him, “tell me Bob,how many people do you know with the number 100?” He picked up histennis racket and proceeded to chase me all over the court. I couldn’t believehe was 72. If I make it to 72 I only hope that I have one half of Bob’s stamina.That’s when I gave thought to writing a book because experiencing the pain ofseeing loved ones depart this earth way too early made me decide to put mymemories into the form of a book, because once my turn comes to depart thenit won’t be possible to do it and I have so many memories and stories to tellthat I hope you enjoy them. Anyways, Bob left us when he was 88, but he hada good run at life. Thank you Bob for giving me the idea for a book.So besides dedicating this book to my good friend Bob Grivicich I alsodedicate it to the following people.Mrs. C., my wife Joy who is my best friend and the best darn doctor that I’veever seen and I’ve seen many. Honey, I love you with all my heart and soul.Thanks for putting up with all my Michigas (See a Jew for a translation)My three sons, Lorne, Derek and J-Man (Jarrett). I haven’t had therelationship that I would have preferred with Lorne and Derek but Jarretthas more than compensated for it. I love you all.My Mom and Dad. They gave me every chance in life to become a Menschand to succeed through their love, educational opportunities and advice. Imiss you and love you both very much.Granma. She was more than a Granma. She was my second Mom. In hereyes I could do no wrong. In my eyes she was the perfect individual. I loveyou Granma. As I said when you left us, “Your shoes will never be filled.” Page 3 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Phyllis. My sister who left us at the tender age of 60. Philly, you were and arean inspiration to me with your love of family and righteous way of life. I loveyou and miss you very much.Uncle Aaron or as I sometimes called him, Tonto. We worked together for awhile and he used to bust my chops on a daily basis, but I looked forward to it.He was a surrogate father to me as well as my very best friend. His love andconcern for family is something that sticks out in my mind. I miss you UncleAaron and love you deeply.Uncle Jack. I cherished the times we spent together. You treated me as if Iwas your very own son. I love you and miss you.Aunt Jeanie. You took me into your home, no questions asked and gave mean overabundance of love for which I will be eternally grateful.Listed above were some of the very important influences and loves of my life.But there were more, many, many more.Adele and Howie (Cousins – When my sister Philly was in the last stages ofher illness I remember Cousin Adele saying to me, “Stevie, the circle is gettingsmaller.” Boy, was she right.), Sam, Irene and Ira Kleinrock (Neighbors, veryLoud Neighbors), Sam, Ella, Sherry and Jeffrey Grosky (Neighbors), RonnieKrauss (Friend, killed in VietNam), Patty, Glenn, Jackie and Scott (Cousins),Paul, Amy, Griffin, Jake and Luke (Cousins), Tsippi (Cousin – also nicknamedSnippy because she was clipping her Parakeets toe and accidentally cut it off),Aunt Tillie and Uncle George, Aunt Veyla and Uncle Charlie, Joel Klarreich(Friend – Became an Attorney), Mike Lewis (Friend – Became a FinancialAnalyst), Alvy Bregman (Friend – Became a Doctor), Irwin Halfond (Friend –Became a History Professor), Mike Jaffe (Friend – Became a Psychologist),Arthur Katzenberg (Friend – Became a, well, still a Friend), Aunt Rosie andUncle Manny, Aunt Ruchel and Uncle Jake, Ronnie Garber (Step-Brother),John Catona (Friend – he is as close to me as anyone), Carmine (Boss atMutual Trust Life – He didn’t have time to sell insurance because he wasalways in his office at night with a new woman), John and Pat Candela(Friends), Bobby Pata and Leslie Morrow (Friends), Paul Geller (Friend – MyGranma called him a Trumbanik (Troublemaker – Little did Granma realizethat I was just as big a Trumbanik), Linda Schwabish (First Girlfriend – wewere going to get married but my Mom didn’t think it was such a good idea. Page 4 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”It’s a good thing that my Mom was an exceptional cook), Annie Firkser andLouie the Cop (Neighbors – They lived next door to us and whenever Louiesaw me he made sure to tell me a joke), Mr. Dill (8th Grade Science Teacher),Mr. Pablo Rosario (High School Spanish Teacher), Mrs. Patrick (3rd GradeTeacher), Jiggy (Friend – all 4’5” of him), Mark Feldman (Employee), PaulPodhurst (Employee), Jim Bell (Employee), Jeff Backoff (Friend), Joe Stein(Father In-Law), Gladys Stein (Joe’s Wife), Tom Lippett (Brother In-Law),Larry Nelson (Boss at Industrial Lighting), Steve and Sheri Crown (Friends),Jesse Fox (Friend), Randy Johnson (Boss at Progressive Lighting), Al Greiner(Boss at Lighting Company), Leon Saja (Business Associate), Marty andArlene Mayor (Friends – well, they used to be. Arlene passed away and therest is a long, long story), Connie and Myles Loud (Friends – another longstory but at least they’re both alive), Joe and Rhoda Radoslovich (Friends),George Adler (The General-Cousin), Aunt Ettie and Uncle Yiddel, AuntLorraine (The one person to go to for advice and Love), Marv Kurz(Bandleader at my Bar Mitzvah), Stacey, Andrew, Jamie and Ethan (Nephewsand Nieces), Greg, Marcy, Will and Jack (Nephews and Nieces), Roger Benson(Brother In-Law), Aunt Ethel and Uncle Morris, Stuart, Ronnie, Diane andStan (Cousins) Ronnie Kay (Friend and Attorney – well, not an attorneyanymore, but he was the best), Patty Caia (Friend – If I’m going to war then Iwant Patty in the trenches with me), Dr. Russo (My Nephrologist), Dr. Paone(My General Practitioner), Dr. Frank (My Cardiologist), Dr. Vera (MyNephrologist), Dr. Gadala (Nephrologist), (All of these Doctors are chargedwith keeping me alive and so far they are doing a pretty good job which iskind of amazing because one of them never even reported to his classes.), Elvis(It’s over 50 years and I’m still his #1 fan.), Mel and Doris Goldberg(Cousins), Fay and Dick Duchin (My adoptive parents), Eddie and BobbyDuchin (Friends), Chanz, Charlie, Koko, Muffin, Henry, Binx, Zoey, Sammieand Maxie (Our Beloved Pets) and many, many more too numerous tomention; not pets but people.Thank you all for all the times spent together, sometimes laughing, sometimescrying but most importantly spending it together with each other. Page 5 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” CONTENTSForeword 8Preface 13The Neighborhood 162075 Wallace Avenue 42I Remember 49Sex - Part 1 55Sex – Part 2 63Sex – Part 3 66Sex – Part 4 68P.S. 105 76P.S. 83 78Christopher Columbus High School 87New York University 92The VietNam War 104Relatives 112Dad 119Granma 125Mom 132Philly 136Tonto 139The Lion Sleeps Tonight 140Unforgettable Characters 141Employment 153Goodbye New York, Hello Florida 163The Journey 166The Taylor‟s 167Transition 173Swollen Cheeks 175General Finance…Part 2 177My Most Unforgettable Dating Experience 179General Finance…Part 3 183Blazing Saddles 191My Wife, “J. Stein”, The Beginning 194Choosing a Career 199The Comet Kohotek 202Johnnie Cochran…Move Over 204Dumper Two 209The Shrink Who Needed a Shrink 214 Page 6 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Ouch!!! I Think a Bug Bit Me 218An After Dinner Heart Attack 221Don‟t You Ever Call Me Again 226I‟ll Have a Pastrami Sandwich 228Not For Doo-Doo 229The Art of Recruiting Salespeople 231Undercover Football 234I‟ll Trade You Two Blues For One Red 236Are You Sure You Want To See Dr. Rodriquez? 238Win a Free Job 239The 44th Brigade 244H.E.L.P. or Should I Say HELP 248Very Funny…Very Funny 251He‟s Not My Uncle Sam 254Aloha…Oy Vey 258I Can Help You Sir 261May I Have Your Signature Mr. Catona 264Don‟t Answer the Door 266Pets 268Help…They‟re Trying to Kill Me 272The Bitch Won‟t Sleep Walk No More 274It‟s 7 O‟Clock…Go to Your Room 276The Hell‟s Angel‟s Motorcycle Gang 278The Hawk 279What Do I Look Like, a Valet? 283Is There Any Name I Can Use? 285U.S. Bureau of Records, Inc. 287James “Burnell” Bell 289What If I Didn‟t Have Any Money? 291You‟re Under Arrest 293What Are You Doing With Your Hands? 294I Know a Good Deal When I See One 296Pass Me Some Water 298You Must Be Presentable 299Bend Over Please 300 Page 7 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” FOREWORDIts Sunday, July 19, 1987. I was born forty-three years ago on this very day. Whatnormally would be a very happy time in ones life has been tinged with sadness.My basic family roots that have shared my pleasures as well as sorrows havealways been my GRANMA, my MOM and my DAD. In the space of six shortyears they have all left me. It doesnt seem fair. It never does. But death is a partof life. You cant have one without the other. What matters most are the memoriesyou have, and in that sense death never fully arrives. We all have memories of ourloved ones as well as of our experiences in life. This is what sustains us. This iswhat helps me keep my sanity intact.And so now Im sitting on my patio in Florida overlooking our pool which in turnoverlooks a lake stocked with bass, snakes and sometimes an alligator or two. Ourproperty is enclosed by a fence which keeps the alligators out. For some reasonthe snakes dont come onto our property. (Maybe they dont like kosher food.)Thank God. And of course the bass know their rightful place. My oldest boyLorne is defending his country in the service of the army. Hes stationed inGermany. My other two boys, Derek, age 13 and Jarrett, 7, are away for the veryfirst time at a summer sleep away camp in the Pocono‟s. I thought that it would beimpossible for me to ever miss their sibling rivalry. You know what I mean. Theyelling, screaming, slamming of doors and eating us out of house and home. But Imiss them. I really do. I cant wait for them to return home. Yes, I cant wait forthe yelling, the screaming and so on and so forth. But too much of a good thing isnot healthy, so of course next summer wont come quick enough for me.My wife is visiting her Dad who was hospitalized with a stroke some twelve weeksago. He spent 10 weeks in the hospital and finally he was transferred to arehabilitative home. His right side is paralyzed but that hasnt prevented his eightyyear old left hand from pinching many a nurses‟ rump. His first ten weeks in thehospital cost $77,000. I guess you cant put a price on a good time, especiallywhen Medicare is paying for it.And so Im home, almost all alone. My one companion lying down by my rightside is my German shepherd, Devil. Devil is ten years old and while at times sheshows her age, shes still a puppy. Shes very active, frisky, friendly and extremelywise because above all else Devil is fully aware that we humans believe her to be(in human terms) not ten but seventy years old. Therefore Devil has in ten shortyears become the oldest living being in our house. For this she receives manyconsiderations and privileges afforded to the matriarch of any family. For instance Page 8 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”when we pile into the family van Devil must be physically assisted by yours trulydue to her arthritic legs which were diagnosed by my wife Joy who has never beeninside a Veterinary school, much less possess a degree. (But after all, what doesour Veterinarian know.) And when I help Devil into the van she looks at me with agrin on her snout that most assuredly befits her name. And now when Devil eats Ihave to stay with her until she finishes every last drop, as if someone else wouldeat that CHAZARAI. (Chazarai is Yiddish for drek, which similarly is Yiddish forshit.) And so here are Devil and I on the patio amidst a thunderous rain storm, andIm thinking..........My Granma on my Moms side was in retrospect no different than my Mom. In allactuality I was blessed with two Mothers. My Granma was the only grandparent Ireally ever knew as both my grandfathers died prior to my birth and my Father‟smother died when I was just four years old and I barely have any recollections ofher. Granma was never sick a day in her life and up until the time she passed awayfrom cancer at age 81 in 1981 she had only previously been hospitalized once forremoval of a tear duct in her right eye. Consequently my Granma had no controlover the fluid buildup in her eye and always walked around the house with tissuesrolled up and tucked into the sleeve of her blouse. In this manner she was alwaysprepared to dab at her eye when it teared up. In addition, most of the time thetissues would fall from Granmas sleeve, so if you wanted to know which roomGranma was in, all you had to do was follow the trail of tissues. Approximatelytwo years after Granma died I was in New York and went to visit her grave. Bothof my sisters and their families were there too, as we had previously madearrangements to meet. It was a cold and overcast day and the wind was blowingrather briskly. I remember walking down the path to Granmas resting place withone hand holding my YARMULKE (skullcap) in place on my head for fear of thewind blowing it off. As I approached the grave site I looked down and there on theground right next to the foot stone was a tissue. I looked around in the generalvicinity and couldnt find any other tissues. I guess that none of the other residentsin the cemetery had ever had a tear duct removed.Granma was the first to leave me. Even though she was 81 years old when shepassed away, it was very difficult to accept her death because she had never beensick a day in her life and she was the picture of vitality. On the other hand myMom was a very young 61 when she died. Her death was harder to accept, for tworeasons. First there was her youth and secondly my Mom contributed greatly toher own demise because of her smoking habit. Now that I think back, I dontremember my Mother without a cigarette in her hand. Yet when she found out thatshe had contracted lung cancer she immediately stopped smoking. Unfortunately Page 9 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”she made that decision too late. Approximately four months after my Mom wasdiagnosed with lung cancer, she died. I was and still am very angry at her for whatshe did to herself, but if any good came out of it; it did cause me to stop that awfulhabit. But my Mom paid the ultimate price for it.My Dad was a very gruff individual. He came to this country from his birthplaceof Odessa, Russia in 1923 when he was either 14 or 15, depending upon whichpiece of identification you chose to believe. I really dont know if my Father wasactually sure of his date of birth, after all he was very young when it occurred. Inany event my Dad worked very hard all his life just so that his family would haveno material wants, and we didnt, except for the companionship of our Dad. Dadhad his own butcher store, Supreme Meat Market in Harlem, New York. Harlem isa rather large community of mostly black families and a rather large percentage ofthose families are to this day struggling for their very survival. On more than oneoccasion a black man with no money, but lots of pride would come into my Dadsstore and literally sing and dance for his supper. And my Dad would always besure to give that person some food to get him by that day.I mentioned before that my Dad was a rather gruff individual. I never saw or heardof him getting into any fights at all, but then again I never heard of anyone whowanted to fight him either. But he had a knack for agitating you to the point thatyou wanted to get into a scuffle. Thankfully that didnt happen in the followingstory. One day my Father was getting into his car to go to work. Now I grew upon Wallace Avenue in the Bronx. Seven story apartment buildings housing sixtyfamilies were lined up one after the other. Within a three block radius we had agreater population than in the same size area in virtually any other part of theUnited States. And because of the congestion of people there really wasnt enoughspace to accommodate all the cars. Cars were always double parked on the street.That was the rule, not the exception. There was never a study but I would thinkthat the lack of parking spaces had some impact on the migration to the suburbs.What a blessing that must have been. To have your own private parking space onyour own property. No more riding around half the night looking for a parkingspace only to find one a mile from your house. And if thats not bad enough, yougot up the next morning only to forget where you parked your car the night before.So anyway, getting back to the story, my Dad got into his car and started it up. Hebacked up a bit and then pulled out into the street. About a half mile down the roadhe looked into his rear view mirror and saw a Volkswagen tailgating him. Insofaras driving was concerned there were only two things that my Father detested. Onewas cars that tailgated him and the second thing was cars that were on the road,because no one knew how to drive except my Dad. At least that is what he Page 10 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”believed. So my Father keeps driving and the Volkswagen keeps tailgating. MyDad sped up, slowed down and sped up again. It didnt matter. The Volkswagenwas in pursuit. Finally my Father had enough and stopped his car, got out andapproached the Volkswagen fully prepared to engage in at least a verbal battle. Butthat didnt occur because much to my Fathers amazement there was no one in theVolks. You see when my Dad backed up in his parking space he latched onto thefront bumper of the Volkswagen which was parked directly behind him and pulledit into the street. So there was my Dad standing in the middle of the road lookingat this Volkswagen that was attached to his car. Dad looked around and spottedthis guy who was standing off to the side and asked him for assistance. The two ofthem managed to free my Fathers car from the Volks. Without saying anotherword my Father got into his car and drove off into the west, leaving this fellow andthe Volkswagen behind in the middle of the street, making it impossible for anyother cars to pass.The last time I told that story was barely two weeks ago on July 6, 1987 when Ieulogized my Dad at his funeral. He died at the age of 77 or 78, depending uponwhich set of identification papers you chose to believe.And so within a span of six years, the three people that had the biggest impact onmy life have left me. When I eulogized my Dad I said that I wasnt going to saygoodbye to him because as long as I have this ability to remember, then theres noneed to bid farewell. Thankfully I have lots of memories. Memories of myGranma, my Mom, my Dad. Memories of family life in the 50s and 60s.Memories of holiday festivities, family get togethers, friends, the fun times, thesorrows, riding the elevated trains, Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds, EbbetsField, the Mick, the Say Hey Kid and the Duke and the arguments that ensued as towho was better. Summers in the mountains, winter snows in the city. Dating girlsand hoping you could get a kiss on the first date, even if its just on the cheek.Playing stickball in the schoolyard as well as basketball, softball, two hand touchfootball. Getting dressed for the holidays and then waiting for the holidays to endso you could change into your jeans and sneakers and go back into the schoolyard.Memories of the 5 cent pickle in the barrel at Moishes supermarket, the 2 centplain, the 6 cent Coke, the cherry lime rickey or the malteds with the pretzel sticks.Knishes, hot dogs, pizza, Chinese food, Italian food, steak houses. Literallydozens of the finest eating establishments and all within walking distance of whereyou lived. Thousands of people walking in the streets safely without fear, day andnight. Vegetable and fruit stands, Chinese laundries, doctors of all kinds, clothingstores for men, women and children. Movie houses, teen clubs. This was theBronx, a world of its own. Page 11 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”In effect until it stops raining, its as if Devil and I are confined to a prison cellbecause we cant go anywhere and no one is going to trek through the storm to seeus. And so now my mind slowly drifts back to Pelham Parkway and specifically2075 Wallace Avenue where I grew up. We had over 60 families in our buildingwith a common hallway leading to another 60 families and an underground passageleading to the next building which housed an additional 120 families. Friends?More than you could imagine or even want. And on inclement days like this wewould gather in someones apartment or even in the hallway, and entertainourselves for hours. Yep,......................It Never Rained In "The Bronx." Page 12 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” PREFACE"It Never Rained In The Bronx" is a compilation of stories, all real, none imagined.This book is partially a remembrance as well as a dedication to a very special placethat seemed to exist so many years ago. It was compressed into a relatively shortland mass that housed upwards of a million residents. Today people spendhundreds of thousands of dollars to live in condominiums in each and every part ofthe United States as well as abroad. In actuality the very first condominiums wereprobably constructed in the late 1800s. They werent called condominiums backthen. These new wave immigrants were plain, hardworking people who didntcategorize large edifices with such fancy names. So instead of labeling thesestructures as condominiums, they were simply called apartments, or should I sayapartment buildings. Now many of today‟s condo residents live right near thebeach which makes it very convenient for them to sun bathe or take a refreshingdip in the water. We basically had the same benefits and for a lot less money. Inthe summer time when the temperatures swelled into the nineties we wentdownstairs into the street and with our trusty wrench we loosened the nearestfireplug (there were at least two or three on each block) and within seconds, thecoolest, cleanest and most refreshing water came spouting out for all of us to frolicin. And we didnt have to worry about getting sand in our bathing suits either.While the opening in the fireplug was large enough for vast amounts of water tocome gushing out to cool us down it still wasnt quite so big that we had to worryabout Jaws and his friends. And I might add something else....nobody everdrowned. As far as sun bathing was concerned, we took a blanket and rode ourelevator to the top floor and then walked up one more flight to the roof of ourbuilding. There was plenty of room, it was never congested and you didnt have toworry about someone walking by and kicking sand in your face.The roofs served a dual purpose. We also used them for target practice. We wouldgo up to the roof with balloons. Then we would fill the balloons up with water andseal them up. At that point we would wait for someone to walk by on the streetbelow. As soon as we saw our intended victim we would toss the balloons fromour seventh floor perch down to the street hoping to hit our target. We nevermissed and a residual effect was that all of the water splattering on the streets keptthem very clean. Even at a young age we were all very ecologically sensitive.Now I know what youre thinking. Some of today‟s condo residents have chosen tolive on golf courses as opposed to the beach. As you know golf wasnt in vogueway back then. But what we lacked by not living on a golf course was surely made Page 13 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”up by the fact that we actually lived in and around a sports pavilion. On any givenday you could look out your condo, excuse me, I mean apartment window and youwould see hordes of people playing any number of games such as stickball, stoopball, Johnny on the Pony, Ring-a-Levio, Iron Tag, touch football, potsie, etc. Sowe didnt have golf. Anyway, thats just one sport. We had a regular Olympicsgoing on each and every day and you didnt have to train for four years before youcould participate.Back then we didnt need cars to go shopping because anything and everything thatwe could possibly want was right in our very own backyard. Within a four or fiveblock radius there were three or four Chinese restaurants, two pizzerias, Italianrestaurants, four delicatessens, candy stores that had a fantastic assortment offountain drinks, with all sorts of ice cream concoctions, and of course rows uponrows of candies. We had Chinese laundries, grocery stores, vegetable stands,supermarkets, all types of clothing stores, schools from grade school through highschool and all of this within walking distance of our apartments. You didnt need acar to get around back then. Just a pair of hush puppies and maybe a shoppingcart. Movie theaters and bowling alleys were just as convenient and the cost of ourcondo back then was approximately $85.00 per month….. And that included themaintenance.This magical place in time was called "The Bronx." Each square block hadapproximately six apartment buildings with 60 families per building. Eachbuilding would bristle with the sounds of excitement that only children can make.There was even a labyrinth of underground tunnels that connected buildings so thatin the event of bad weather we children werent a problem to our parents. Wecould always find a friend in our building or in an adjoining building that we couldplay with. We would get together either in someones apartment or we wouldsimply play in the hallways.On any given day there would be four or five guys standing on the street cornersinging Doo Wop only to be interrupted by the sound of a bell which signified thatthe Good Humor Man was approaching on his bicycle driven cart to sell his icecream pops.If you lived in The Bronx during the 1950s or 1960s then you lived through an erawhich can best be described as our "Camelot." This entire book is about people, allreal, none imagined. This book, in part, is about the interaction of people pre-Viet-Nam, before demonstrations, when people danced to music that had no hint ofsexual or deviant behavior in its words. Its a story of exciting times. Hundreds of Page 14 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”thousands of people living in close harmony with each other, caring for each other,sharing happy moments together and being at each other‟s side when comfort wasneeded. This then was as close to pre-innocence as one could get. This book isprimarily about the remembrances that I have of my family and friends as well asyours truly. But who knows, maybe some of these very same stories are also aboutyou or your loved ones and friends, or at least bare some similarity. If thats thecase, then you, like me, run the risk of being committed. Page 15 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE NEIGHBORHOODI grew up in a section of the Bronx called Pelham Parkway. It was a very healthyenvironment to grow up in because of the many distinct and divergent types offolks that lived there. Pelham Parkway, circa the 1950s was a dichotomy of manydifferent peoples. There were old Jewish people, middle aged Jewish people andyoung Jewish people. A little of everything. The elders were the new waveimmigrants that arrived in the early 1900s from places such as Russia, Rumania,Hungary and other European countries. Their decision to come to America wasdue to any one of a number of reasons. Some came to avoid religious persecution.Some came to avoid conscription in their countries army and some made thepilgrimage to seek a better life in a land whose streets were paved with gold. Theescape to America was not easy. It was very costly to make the trek by boat to theNew World, and because of this many families were split up, never to see eachother again. If a family could not cross the Atlantic together due to finances, thenthe parents would usually send their children first, hoping to rejoin them at somelater date. These new Americans landed at Ellis Island, a processing point for theimmigrants which is located off the tip of Manhattan, in New York City. MyFather was thirteen years old when he came to America with his older sister Veyla(Vay yah). They landed at Ellis Island in 1923. My Father and his sister, like somany immigrants spoke little or no English. This presented a problem to theimmigration officials. The new arrivals spoke no English and the immigrationofficials spoke mostly English. Cecil B. DeMille couldnt have planned a betterplot himself. All that these immigrants had on them which would attest to theiridentity was paperwork from their mother country that listed their name and otherpertinent information, all spelled out in their native tongue, which in my Fatherscase was Russian. Many of the immigrants who came to this country were given anew last name because the officials had a difficult time understanding them. Insome instances you were given a name that closely resembled the hieroglyphics onyour paperwork. I suspect that is how a nice Jewish boy like me acquired thesurname of Chanzes. Some of my relatives spell their name Chanzit. No one tothis day seems to know what the proper name really was. Maybe it wasChanzekovich. Sounds Russian. Apparently some people who made the trek toAmerica‟s shores only knew their father‟s profession and that is why some peopleare named Schneider, which in the Yiddish language means tailor or some peoplehave the surname Blacksmith which once again indicates the profession that theirfather was in. Im quite confident that there were many other immigrants whocame to the New World only to leave behind in the old country their parents,relatives, friends and most assuredly their last names. Page 16 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Most of these New Americans had family and/or friends living in the States. Uponlanding at Ellis Island they were processed by the immigration officials and theythen took their belongings, which was usually the clothes on their backs andmoved on to their new living quarters with relatives who had proceeded them toAmerica.By the time the 1950s came around these immigrants had formed the largestmiddle class in the history of the United States. While few were college graduated,most were hard working, productive members of society with very strong familyties and equally strong cultural values. These immigrants were heavily involved inthe garment center, in retail services, in the various trades and professions such asplumbers, electricians, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. They were industriousemployees who came to this country with little understanding of our language andin time many rose through the ranks to eventually own businesses of their own.Interestingly enough, while the average husband put in an eight to twelve hourwork day, the wives tended to the care of their children. During the 1950s mostwomen were housewives. Their role was to raise the children. They made surethat they got off to school on time after having consumed a nourishing breakfast.Then they would clean the apartment, do the shopping, and make sure to be backon time when the children came home from school for their lunch break. Thenthey would darn the socks, do the laundry and ironing, greet the children whenthey came home from school at the end of the day and of course make sure that ahot dinner was ready at supper time. Work? They didnt have time to breathe.I grew up on Pelham Parkway which is situated in the northeastern part of theBronx. Its western border is the world famous Bronx Zoo. Everybody fell in lovewith this place because it had something to offer all who visited it. On any givenday there would be thousands of people visiting the Zoo which is laid out overendless acres. While the Bronx Zoo at the time was located within a heavily zonedJewish population, the visitors to the Zoo were from all ethnic and socio-economicareas of life. Such was the magnitude of the Zoo that it drew people to its gatesfrom all over the world. When someone was coming to New York for a visit,invariably, time permitting, a trip to the Bronx. Zoo was a must.You could spend a day at the Bronx Zoo and still not see all of its inhabitants; suchwas the enormity of the place. You would see people strolling through the Zoo armin arm. Mothers and fathers pushing the little ones in a baby carriage. The soundof childrens laughter. The look of happiness on the faces of people watching thevarious animals at play. The unforgettable odor of the elephants. Watching thechimpanzees cavorting in their cages, the lions and tigers on patrol in theirs, the Page 17 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”mammoth snakes in the reptile house. Walking through the winding walkways inthe Zoo which were surrounded by big, beautiful trees, barren of leaves in thewinter but displaying their beauty in the summer and shedding their majestic colorsin autumn. Feeding the animals, the open air caravan car which transportedhundreds of people from one point in the park to another, and of course the BronxRiver which at its greatest point was no more than 100 feet wide, bending its verysoul throughout the Zoo.The Bronx River was stocked with various types of fish but its most famousoccupant was the Carp. Now for those of you that dont know, a Carp is a JewishCatfish. In other words its a scavenger fish. It feeds itself on the remnants of thesea, or in this case the river. But something within the system of the Carpprocesses the garbage that they eat into one of the best tasting fishes foundanywhere. My Granma used to make a dish called Knubbel Carp. Now thepronunciation of Knubbel Carp is not to be confused with the pronunciation ofKnute Rockne, the famous coach of the fighting Irish of Notre Dame. In Knute,the K is silent, so therefore the word is pronounced Nute. Unlike our Irish friends,Jews dont like to waste letters. If we took the time to put the letter in the word,then you should take the time to say it. So the word is ki-nub-el, knubbel. Nowknubbel is a Jewish word which means garlic. So Knubbel Carp is Garlic Carp orCarp very, very heavily seasoned with garlic. Granma would marinate the Carpovernight in garlic along with other types of seasonings. She would also cut theCarp into three quarter inch strips so that it would resemble a sparerib without thebone. The next morning Granma would bake the Carp and refrigerate it after itwas done. That evening, this jewel of a dish was served to us straight from therefrigerator. Granma didnt warm it up. She served it cold and we would consumeit ever so slowly. We devoured this delicacy cautiously for a couple of reasons.First theres a large amount of little bones throughout a Carp which cannot befilleted prior to baking and secondly the taste of this fish was second to none. Sowhats the rush? Granma left us in 1981 and while she left behind her recipe forKnubbel Carp, the one ingredient that she couldnt leave with us was her absolutelove in cooking for her family and friends. And so all I have now are the memoriesof that delectable dish. Other people have tried to duplicate it, but none havesucceeded. Thank God for memories. No. Thank God for Granma.Anyway, thats enough about the Bronx River.Pelham Parkway consisted primarily of apartment buildings. These buildings wereeither six or seven stories high with approximately nine families to a floor whichtranslates to roughly sixty families per building. Most buildings were connected to Page 18 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”other apartment buildings via a common lobby, access across the roof or alabyrinth of underground tunnels which housed the boiler room which providedheat to us during the cold winters. So while there were approximately sixtyfamilies per building, in all actuality we could have access to as many as twohundred and forty families without venturing a foot into the streets. On each blockthere were approximately twelve apartment buildings. Therefore there were sevenhundred and twenty families on each block and with an average of 3.2 people ineach family, then each block housed over 2300 people. And this statistic stretchedfor blocks on end. It wasnt too difficult to find a friend back then because after allthere were 2300 people living on your block and if no one appealed to you then allyou had to do was walk across the street and there were another 2300 people.While friends were easy to find because so many people lived in such aconcentrated area, one could imagine that you could have pulled your hair outtrying to find a parking space for your car. Seven hundred twenty families livingon one square block. Because of the transportation system which was ingenious toNew York, a car was not a necessity, so some people didnt own one, but then againsome families had more than one car. It would be safe to say that those sevenhundred twenty families owned a few hundred cars and one square block couldonly accommodate about one hundred twenty five automobiles. There were hardlyany parking garages, certainly not enough to satisfy the demand, but then again noteveryone wanted to pay to park their cars anyway so therefore additional garageswould not necessarily have been the answer to this problem. The answer wasrather simple. You either double parked your car or you drove around your areauntil you found a parking space, and more often than not the parking space thatyou eventually found could or would be as much as five blocks from where youlived.The average New York block or street is rectangular in shape. A walk around theentire block takes about fifteen minutes, only ten minutes if youre taking home aquart of Carvel ice cream. If you couldnt find a parking space close to yourapartment building, then it wouldnt be uncommon if it took you ten to twentyminutes to walk to your building from where you parked your car. Ten or twentyminutes and sometimes it was raining cats and dogs and you had no umbrella. Ormaybe a twenty minute walk on a blustery, windy day with a thermometer readingof 14 degrees, and this was before the "wind chill factor", which probably broughtit down to minus 14 degrees. Or take that same cold day and add two or three footembankments of snow that you had to plow through, except your plow was yourfeet. And of course when you have snow on the ground and you add a touch ofrain, then the snow turns into ice. And now what would normally be a brief ten Page 19 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”minute walk to your dwelling has just turned into what appears to be a qualifyingheat for an Olympic event. Imagine walking on ice through the city streets.Walking or shall I say sliding. Trying to keep your feet under you as you walkuphill only to find yourself sliding backwards and awkwardly grasping forwhatever is near you to prevent your fall from grace. You grab the bricks on thebuildings or the ledges that surround the apartment buildings. Car door handlesprevented many a fall as you reached out for them and held them ever so tight asyour feet did a pre-Michael Jackson moonwalk on the icy streets. If you werewalking with a friend and you felt yourself going into a free fall, then it was onlynatural to grab onto the arm of your companion and together you both made yourdescent to earth.People that have garages for their cars have a tendency to take the simple pleasuresof life for granted. Such as knowing where your car is when you leave for work inthe morning. If I had a dollar for each time someone in my neighborhood forgotwhere they parked their car the night before then I would have been a millionairebefore I got out of my teens. So many times I remember my Father leaving forwork in the morning only to come back up to the apartment in an hour to enlist myhelp to find his car. Like Sergeant Friday from Dragnet I would give my dad thethird degree. "Dad, what kind of car are we looking for? What color is it? Areyou sure that you brought it home with you last night?"As I stated before, people also double parked their cars when no spots wereavailable near their apartment building. This created a problem not only for theperson who they parked next to but quite often for all the occupants of thebuilding. Envision one entire street that could accommodate approximately thirtyparked cars on each side. Thats parking for sixty. Now with cars being doubleparked, sixty could easily turn into one hundred. The next morning you leave yourapartment to go to work. If your car is double parked then theres no problem. Youjust get into your car and drive away. Suppose though that the person who wantsto use his car is legally parked but theres a car double parked next to him. Theperson that is legally parked now has a problem. He has no idea whatsoever whoowns the illegally double parked car. It could be someone in his building orsomeone in any number of buildings within a five block area. The double parkedcar is locked, so he cant enter it and unleash the brake and move it. There is a carin front of him and there is a car in back of him. In other words this guy has gotTZURIS (troubles). GROISA TZURIS (Big troubles). What do you do? Firstyou turn a bright shade of red. Secondly you start reviewing your vocabulary ofcurse words. The third thing you do is open your car door and blast your horn.Theres hardly a sound more disturbing to the human ear than a car horn. First you Page 20 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”give two or three short honks. This is repeated about three times. If you fail toachieve a favorable response to your three short honks, you then move to battleplan B, which is a series of short honks repeated over and over. By now you arestarting to get the attention of people in your building. Not so much the peoplewho are preparing to go to work, because they couldnt care less. Although whenthey see you on the street they offer their sympathies, but as they walk away fromyou theyve got a grin from ear to ear. Suddenly you can hear windows opening upand people are sticking their heads out and yelling at you to be quiet. They dontcare that you cant get out of your parking space. They dont care that you aregoing to be late for work. No, all they care about is that the noise from your carhorn is deafening to their ears. All they care about is that you are waking them upfrom a sound sleep. The windows from the apartments are open and scores ofpeople are hurtling down insults upon you. This is where you draw the line. Youdo what any good field commander would do when the odds are seeminglyinsurmountable. It is your decision to use psychological warfare so that all of thesepeople will be on your side and help you find the real enemy, the person that isdouble parked by your car. You now call upon all of your wits to deliver theultimate battle plan. This is war and you have decided to end it in a quick andefficient manner with as few casualties as is possible. With complete confidenceyou now firmly place your hand on the horn of your automobile and................PRESS DOWN. Your hand stays firmly entrenched on the horn. You gaze up atthe people who are looking at you through their apartment windows. Its the samelook that a General emits to his troops just before the big battle. Its a look ofconfidence. Those troops that see this look know very well that the final outcomeof this battle rests squarely on their shoulders. And now all of these people thatwere mad at the person who was disturbing their sleep with this constant honkingof the car horn have just switched their allegiance. You can see these peoplelooking at each other through open apartment windows asking everyone who canhear them who they thought the double parked car belongs to. By now one of thepeople who were looking out the window has disappeared into their apartment.Perhaps they recognized the double parked car. Perhaps they are calling the doubleparkee. Usually, within two minutes, your mission will have been completed.Someone will have come down, apologetically I might add, and drive away in thedouble parked car, leaving you with only your thoughts on a day that has notstarted out very well. How often did an event like this occur? Just about everyday.By now Im sure that you realize that parking spaces were a premium in the Bronx.In excess of seven hundred families lived on each block with a parking capacity ofless than one hundred fifty. So what did the geniuses that we elected to public Page 21 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”office do to uncomplicate matters? NOTHING. Instead they chose to add morefuel to the fire by coming up with the noblest of ideas to clean up our belovedBronx, and in the process, unbeknownst to them, they took a problem and turned itinto a full blown CALAMITY. It was a calamity of monumental proportions. Thiscalamity was called, Alternate Side of the Street Parking. Wednesdays, Saturdaysand Sundays were free days. In other words you could park anywhere you wantedto on those days. Those free days were very important. It helped you recover fromMondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays which were not free days. They werehorrific days. On Mondays and Thursdays you couldnt park on one side of thestreet between 8 A.M. and 11 A.M. On Tuesdays and Fridays you couldnt park onthe other side of the street during those same hours. The purpose of this was sothat on those days these huge machines could lumber down our streets sprayingwater and cleaning it of debris. Besides further complicating an already verycomplicated parking problem, this was also an unwarranted expense. Why? Theneighborhood was like Ivory soap. It was 99.98 % Jewish. Did you ever see aJewish person eat? Not even a crumb is left on the plate. A dog doesnt even wantour steak bones when were finished with them. So it was totally unnecessary tosend these machines into our fair community to clean the streets. They were neverdirty and there certainly was never any garbage on our streets. And as far as thesemachines watering our streets, all I can say is this………. Plants you water.Most people eat to live. Jewish people live to eat. We had as many eatingestablishments in our neighborhood as can be found in neighborhoods five timesour size. Within a five block area we had the following: No less than six candystores, two pizza parlors, two Chinese restaurants, one Greek restaurant, one Italianrestaurant, one carvel, one steak house, four delicatessens and one kosherrestaurant.The candy store on Pelham Parkway served many functions. Besides having amore than ample display of every candy bar known to mankind, it also was theplace to go to buy a newspaper. We didnt have newspaper machines back then butwe did have a wide variety of papers to choose from. There was the Daily Mirrorand the Daily News. These papers were very similar. As a matter of fact the majordifference was their name. The Mirror and the News each had a morning and anevening edition. They were about the size of the National Enquirer, except theaverage paper had 128 pages. And for those voracious readers we also had anafternoon paper which was called the New York Post. The Post was the same sizeas the Mirror and the Daily News. These three papers, although they were writtenin English, closely resembled Jewish Prayer Books, at least for most males. Thiswasnt because of their contents but rather the way they were read, because just like Page 22 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”a Jewish Prayer Book the reader of these newspapers would start at the back of thepaper. Why? Because that is where the most reverent and holiest of informationwas placed. And that information was all of the sports scores from the day beforeas well as up dated sports stories. For a male growing up in the Bronx and notknowing which teams won and which player scored the most points and who wasin first, second and third place was tantamount to treason. Coming down into theschoolyard on Saturday or Sunday morning unprepared to discuss the sportingevents of the day before was, well it was like taking a stroll in the street withnothing on but your family jewels. IT JUST WASNT DONE!After the sports section the want ads were listed followed by the movie guide. Wehad two movie theaters within five blocks of each other in our neighborhood.There was the R.K.O. and the Globe. Movies werent rated back in the fifties.Children didnt have to have parents with them in order to gain admission to thetheaters. There was violence portrayed in the movies, but rather a subduedviolence. There were no unearthly sights of bloodshed, nor was theredismemberment of limbs. Horror movies of the fifties used more ingenuity toachieve their results than films of today. A blood curdling scream from the femmefatale put a scare into any movie patron. Who could forget the chills that ran downour spine when Vincent Price, star of the 3-D chiller House of Wax had hishandsome face literally peel apart in front of our very eyes to reveal the gruesomelooking monstrous ogre that was hidden beneath his mask? Sex in the movies wasalso portrayed in a distinctive and equally different manner in the fifties. The firesthat lit our imagination were kindled so as to give our minds a chance to wander.More often than not the image of what a naked person might look like was farmore exciting than the actual nakedness that is displayed in today‟s movies.Movies that had a comedic tone to them were also very different from those oftoday. The directors understood that they could achieve the desired effect withoutresorting to vulgarity, whereby in today‟s environment, vulgarity represents thehumor.Years ago parents had an entirely more prominent role in the rearing of theirchildren. Today the television networks, the movie producers as well as thetabloids have taken it upon themselves to help educate our children to theirstandards and one of the by-products of this has been a tremendous moral decay inour country.Back in the fifties a day at the movies was almost just that, a day at the movies.Mom would usually pack a lunch for me. Right next to the R.K.O. theatre therewas a confectionery store called Jesses. Jesse used to sell peanuts and candy by Page 23 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”the scoop. All types of nuts and candies were displayed in big fishbowls. Withbarely a dollar bill you could purchase enough candy and nuts to feed your face forthe entire day.Once inside the theater we settled down for "a day at the movies." The fare wasroutinely the same. A few cartoon shorts that included Bugs Bunny, Tweetie Bird,Heckle and Jeckle and Popeye and friends. This was usually followed by acomedy short of the Three Stooges or the Dead End Kids. Then of course therewere previews of coming attractions followed by two full length feature films. Atthis point we had spent about four hours at the theater. Unlike today‟s moviegoers, we werent required to leave after the showings. If we wanted, at noadditional charge we could sit in our seats and see the films over and over, againand again. It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning............... and afternoon.Getting back to the newspapers, all three tabloids that I mentioned previously hadplenty of advertising space used by all the major department stores such asAlexander‟s, Macys, Gimbals, Willoughby Electronics and Kor-Vettes to name afew. After this section you were near the front of the paper which had local as wellas state and worldwide news, with the exception of the New York Post. The Posthad one other interesting article that appeared in the paper every day between themain stories and the advertisements. There wasnt one self-respecting guy in theneighborhood that would skip this section. Sometimes we would read this orshould I say look at this before the much heralded sports section. Im referring toEarl Wilson‟s column. Earl Wilson was a very famous New York columnist whowrote a daily article for the Post. His column was very stylish and it set him apartfrom all other columnists. His articles each day dealt with famous personalitiesfrom all walks of the entertainment field that were seen in New York the day orevening before. There were stories about movie stars, television personalities andsports greats who were seen in various restaurants and night spots. Some of thestories reported fights that these personalities were involved in such as theinfamous barroom brawl at the legendary Copacabana that involved New YorkYankee legends Mickey Mantle, Hank Bauer and Billy Martin. As great aballplayer as Billy Martin was, due to the fight at the Copacabana, coupled with hisinfluence over his teammates, he lost his position as second baseman for the Yanks.Soon after he was traded or fired from the Yankees, a trend that continued right upuntil his untimely death.One year Bridgette Bardot was visiting New York. She was staying at the WaldorfAstoria and was not granting any interviews. Earl Wilson was determined to seeLa Bardot. I dont think that he cared as much about the interview as he did in Page 24 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”getting a glimpse of the hottest sex star since the advent of the silver screen. Aswas reported in Earls column, he walked into the Waldorf and donned a maid‟suniform, complete with a kerchief around his head. To fully appreciate thisanecdote you must visualize what Earl Wilson looked like. Earl was well under sixfeet and quite portly with black rimmed glasses. He bore a slight resemblance toOfficer Gunther Tuddy from the hit television series, "Car 54, Where Are You."Picture in your mind Gunther Tuddy with a kerchief around his head in an attemptto impersonate a maid. One wonders what Bardot thought. Earl didnt care andneither did his readers.The main attraction to his column was that in the center of his article each andevery day was a picture of a female, some more well-known than others, but allsharing something in common. They were all abundantly endowed and were eitherwearing tight sweaters or were showing an ample amount of cleavage. The Postwas an afternoon paper and I might add an afternoon treat. And just like radiocommentator Paul Harvey, Earl Wilson also had his signature sign off at theconclusion of his column, which was, "thats Earl Brother."The candy store was also a social gathering place for teenagers and adults alike. Itwasnt uncommon to walk into a candy store at any time of the day, as they wereusually open from six in the morning until eleven or twelve at night, and findpeople congregating in the booths or at the counters engaged in conversation orreading a paper while at the same time enjoying a snack, having a sandwich orsipping on one of New Yorks more popular fountain favorites. The drink that wasprobably the most popular in New York was the egg cream. There were a coupleof secrets inherent to the making of a good egg cream. An egg cream consisted ofchocolate syrup, milk and seltzer (club soda). Many an egg cream was spoiled fora number of reasons. First of all the ingredients had to be put in the glass in a setorder with the chocolate syrup first, followed by the milk and lastly the seltzer. Doit any other way and you louse up the drink. It just wont taste the same. The otherkey was in how you poured the seltzer into the glass and last but far from least,great care had to be given as to the type of chocolate syrup that you used as onlyone brand was permissible.Now heres how to make a New York Egg Cream, and if youve never tasted itbefore then be prepared to experience "a drinking sensation," guaranteed to haveyou begging for more. Take an eight ounce drinking glass and add about one inchof Foxs U-Bet chocolate syrup. Now add about one inch of milk. If yourefortunate enough to be able to get an old fashioned bottle of seltzer, the one thatcomes in a glass bottle with a silver headpiece, then by all means do so because Page 25 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”your egg cream will be authentic in every sense of the word. On the other hand ifyou cannot get the old fashioned seltzer bottle then use the common variety clubsoda found in super markets. Make sure that the seltzer is refrigerated and verycold prior to use. When you drink seltzer that is good and cold youll GREPS(Belch). Dont be ashamed. Let it out. In Europe it was customary to greps after agood meal. It was considered a compliment. My Mom and Granma gotcomplimented every day of their lives. When we had a family get together itsounded as if there was a symphony orchestra in our dining room. Now, withregards to the egg cream, take a teaspoon and place it in the glass towards thebottom. Pour the seltzer directly onto the spoon. This procedure provides theproper amount of head for your drink. Continue pouring, leaving about two inchesof space at the top of the glass. Now stir your drink. If youve done this properlythen the two inch space will fill up with a frothy white foam. Bet you cant drinkjust one.Now if you ask someone what a chocolate soda is, theyll tell you that its madewith chocolate syrup, seltzer and ice cream. In the Bronx a chocolate soda was anegg cream without the milk. Its made the same way except you dont use milk. Ifwe added ice cream then we called it an ice cream soda. If we asked for a black nwhite, then we wanted an ice cream soda with chocolate syrup and vanilla icecream.Another very popular drink was the malted. This was a thick drink that wasusually made with vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream. A big tin canisterwas used and into this canister was placed ice cream as well as the syrup of yourchoice along with a small amount of malt and a lot of milk. Then the canister wasplaced in a mixer for about a minute. When done the canister filled up two and ahalf eight ounce glasses of one of the best drinks that youll ever have the pleasureof tasting. The price? Just twenty-five cents. Actually it was twenty-seven centsbecause a malted tasted better with a pretzel. We used to get these pretzels thatlooked like bread sticks and we would dunk then in the malted and bite off a piece.Finally, one of the most splendid thirst quenchers on a hot day was a cherry-limerickey. This drink was served in a tall, slender, frosted glass and was composed ofan equal amount of cherry and lime syrup and to that seltzer was added. Stir andthrow in a piece of lime and youve got one super tasting drink.As you have probably guessed by now, the candy store was not conducive toweight control. Page 26 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Some candy stores were directly responsible for making capitalists ofneighborhood children or at least those children that had a yen for the freeenterprise system. Most candy stores had sliding glass windows in their storefront. The window was in place approximately four feet up from the ground andextended to the ceiling. The purpose was to accommodate customers who were ina rush and either wanted a newspaper which was stacked up outside the candystore or some gum or candy which was on the counter top. At that point thecustomer did not have to go into the store but rather go to the sliding glass windowand put their money in a little PISHKA (dish) which was readily available on thecounter top. At any given point in time there could be a couple of dollars inchange in the PISHKA. Now two dollars might not sound like a lot of money inthis day and age but back in the fifties you got three plays on the jukebox for aquarter. A frankfurter with mustard and sauerkraut was just twenty cents; withpotato salad it cost an extra nickel. A two cents plain was just that and a large cokewas just ten cents. A loaf of white bread was twenty-five cents and you could getan Italian hero UNGERSHTOOPED (loaded) with meats for less than half abuck. You could take the train to Yankee Stadium, see a ball game, have a hot dogand soda and still come home with change. You could go into the supermarket andget the biggest, juiciest sour pickle that you ever saw for just a nickel. You couldbuy a Spalding ball for a quarter and a stick ball bat for twenty-six cents. With twodollars you could eat and entertain yourself for days. But now with two dollarsyoure lucky enough to be able to buy toilet tissue to cleanse your TUCHAS (rearend). Thats what two dollars is good for now. But back then two dollars put youon Broadway. And there it was, sitting in that little pishka. The owner of thecandy store as well as his employees didnt have time to clean out the pishka everytime a customer dropped a nickel, dime or quarter in it. They were too busyserving customers inside the candy store so the employees never knew how muchor how little money was in it. The approach was simple. Walk up to the windowand take a newspaper from the rack. Through the open window alert the owner ofthe store or one of his employees that you were putting a nickel in the pishka forthe paper. They would acknowledge you and then as you placed your nickel in thepishka you scooped up the remaining change that was there, leaving in its placeyour nickel. To the best of my knowledge no one ever got caught.The one Chinese Restaurant in the neighborhood that we frequented was calledDirty Harrys, and that was before Clint Eastwood popularized that name. Actuallythe real name of the restaurant escapes me. I dont think I ever knew it and I musthave eaten in there over a thousand times. Someone, I think it was my Father, gavethe restaurant a nickname in honor of the owner Harry and in honor of.....gee, whydid we eat there so much? Anyway, the food was absolutely fantastic. We either Page 27 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”ate there or brought the food up to the apartment at least every other week. Whenyou entered the restaurant Harry or his wife would greet you. The front of therestaurant was approximately twenty feet deep with tables on either side. Thewaiter walking down the aisle could serve the tables on each side as there was nomore than a three foot separation. Beyond the aisle there was a circular area thathad an additional five or six tables. The entire restaurant had no more than twentytables and they were almost always full. Harry knew me very well as my familywere steady and loyal customers. He had a very keen sense of humor. I dontknow if that is indicative of Chinese people but it certainly was of Harry. One timeI was in the restaurant with some of my friends having lunch. Now as you mayknow Chinese food causes one to drink water excessively. The restaurant wasfairly crowded and I decided to have some fun with our waiter. After he would fillup my glass with water I would wait for him to walk away from my table and thenI would hurriedly drink it up. As I said before the restaurant was small in size andexcept for when the waiter was in the kitchen, he was always in my sight. As hewas serving another table I would yell out, "Waiter." Hed look up at me and Iwould hold up my glass indicating that I needed more water. After repeating thisabout a half dozen times the waiter became very agitated. He must have told Harrywhat I was doing because all of a sudden there was Harry standing right next to mytable with a large pitcher of water. He poured a glass of water for me and stoodthere with a devilish grin on his face and in his unmistakable oriental dialect hesaid to me, "So, you like to dlink watah Mr. Chanzes? Go ahead, keep dlinking." Igot the message.About a year ago my wife and I made the trip to New York and visited my oldneighborhood. I hadnt been back there for quite some time. Sure enough, DirtyHarrys was still there. We went in for lunch. Harrys wife hadnt aged a day. Irecognized one of the old waiters. He was still old. And then I saw Dirty Harry.He looked the same except that he had streaks of gray throughout his hair. Hedidnt recognize me and for some reason I was glad. If he had Im sure he wouldhave asked me about my family and because my Mom, Dad and Granma had allpassed away, it would have been difficult for me to keep my composure. As it wasI sat down with my wife and my eyes welled up. That was because I was thinkingof all the memorable times I had at Dirty Harrys with my friends and my family.I might add that Dirty Harry has progressed with the times. He now has a smokingand a non-smoking section. When you walk into his restaurant you can sit in thesmoking section on the left or in the non-smoking section on the right. Althoughboth sections are separated by a common aisle of no more than three feet in widthand although smoke from the smoking section fills up the non-smoking section, Page 28 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”this in itself has not deterred Harry from keeping up with the times.We also had four delicatessens in the neighborhood and all of them were locatedwithin three blocks of each other. There was Zion‟s, Sonnys, The Palace andLevines. Zions was on the corner of Holland and Lydig Avenue. Sonnys Deliwas on Lydig, just three quarters of a block down from Zions. Directly across thestreet from Sonnys was The Palace. Continuing down Lydig Avenue just oneblock brought you to White Plains Road. Make a quick right onto White PlainsRoad and a few stores down was Levines. Four Delis within three blocks of eachother and you had to fight for a table.My Granma liked to go to the Palace. My Father swore by Sonnys. My sisterspreferred Zions. My mom had no preference and I loved them all because therewas no difference between any of them. They were all equally delicious. Anytimemy Dad would send me down to get some Deli he would give me specificinstructions. "Professor." My Father always called me Professor. Maybe it wasbecause of my grades, or lack of them. Anyway when he sent me down for Delifor the family he would say, "Professor, make sure you go to Sonnys. Dont go toZions (which was about a block closer) and make sure you only let Phil (one ofSonnys workers) wait on you and make sure to tell him that you want lean cornedbeef and lean pastrami, okay?" So I would SCHLEP (go) down to Sonnys. Nowon any given Sunday in my neighborhood all of the delicatessens were crowded.As a matter of fact the Chinese restaurants and the pizza parlors were equallycrowded. Jews dont eat to live, rather we live to eat. All we need is an excuse andwithin seconds our knives and forks are going ninety miles per hour. OurNACHAS (pleasures), as well as our sorrows are placated by food.....and lots of it.So I would walk into Sonnys ready to heed my Fathers advice. Usually there weresix to ten people in front of you waiting to place a takeout order. Sonny had threepeople behind the counter including himself waiting on customers as well as fillingthe waiter‟s orders for his restaurant trade. There was Sonny, Phil and Curly.Curly was a portly man in his forties with a horseshoe shaped hairdo. His hairlinewas no higher than his ear and curved around the back of his head to his other ear.The top of his head was probably used as a landing field for flies because it wasvoid of all remnants of growth except for a few strands of hair that seeminglyjoined in unison three inches above his dome and curled to a peak. So there I wasin the Deli waiting my turn which could take thirty minutes to an hour. Have youever been in a Jewish Deli waiting to place your order with six to ten ALTACOCKAS (old Jewish men) in front of you? Sonny didnt give out numbers likethey did in bakeries to determine who was next in line waiting to be served. Page 29 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”This was the honor system or should I say a system without honor. The thirty tosixty minutes that you spent waiting to be served was pure torture. For a numberof reasons. If you werent hungry going down to the Deli, I can assure you that assoon as you approached the store your mouth would start to salivate. The aromasof a Jewish Deli could make a convert out of an atheist. And when you open thedoor to the Deli and walk in, the heavenly smells of the corned beef, the pastrami,the franks on the grill, the knishes (remember, Jews pronounce the k, ki-nish-es),the salamis hanging from the ceilings greet you as if you were royalty. And justabout then the TUMULT (aggravation) starts. "Whos next?" "I am," said oneA.K... (abbreviation for Alta Cocka) "No, I am," said another A.K. "I was herefirst"... "No, I was"... "I had to go to the bathroom"... "Too bad"... "I was talkingto a friend who is seated in the restaurant"... "You lost your turn"... "Sonny, howsthe corned beef today?" "Are you sure its good?"..."Is it lean?"..."You think Ishould try the pastrami instead?"..."Maybe you better give me a taste"... And afterall of this the big spender would order an eighth of a pound and pity the workerwho goes a slice over. "I told you I just wanted an eighth of a pound. How muchextra will that be?"... When my turn finally came around, I didnt care who waitedon me, I didnt bother the counterman by asking for lean meat, I didnt care howmuch over he was on the scale. I just wanted to get out of the Deli with my sanityas well as my appetite intact.The restaurants in my community absolutely adored my family on most Sundays.Why, you ask? Because if we werent off visiting family and if my Dad wasnttaking us out to eat, then we would order in food. And because I was the oldestchild in the family, that in itself would cause me to be elected "delivery boy for theday." On the surface this honor doesnt seem so bad because if there was inclementweather such as snowstorms, rain, sleet, hail, etc., the "Delivery Boy ElectionCommittee," which consisted of my Mom, Dad, Granma and two sisters, wouldrefrain from voting me into office and my Mom and Granma would cooksomething up for us. But on those days whereby the dubious title was bestowed onme, I want you to know that it required a keen sense of skill, preparation andtimeliness to fulfill what was expected of such an exalted position, and thatexpectation was that I would return to the apartment with piping hot food. Notfood that had to be reheated, because reheated food never quite tastes the same asfresh food, but food that was hot and ready to eat. Sounds easy, because as I havepreviously stated we had no less than a dozen restaurants within a short walkingdistance. We had Chinese restaurants, delicatessens, pizza parlors, to name a few.And it would have been easy if only I could have gone to either a Chineserestaurant, a delicatessen or a pizza parlor. But unfortunately life was not sosimple. My Granma was kosher and that eliminated Chinese food and pizza. So it Page 30 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”was off to the Deli for Granma. While my sisters liked Chinese food and Deli,their first preference was pizza, and my parents were partial to Chinese food. So ina manner of speaking I became the first "Galloping Gourmet." It was my job topick up delicatessen for Granma, pizza for my sisters and Chinese food for Mom,Dad and me. And furthermore it was expected of me to deliver the food pipinghot. My Mom would call Dirty Harry to place the order for Chinese food. Itusually took about forty-five minutes for it to be prepared. As soon as my Momplaced the order for the Chinese food I would don my track shoes and head for thepizza parlor to place that order. It usually took about twenty minutes for the pizzato be baked. While the pizza was baking Id go across the street to the Deli and getGranma her food. With Granma‟s food in hand I would go back across the street topick up the pizza. Now with a hot corned beef sandwich and an equally hot pizza Iwould go across the street to Dirty Harry to get the Chinese food. When I got outof Dirty Harrys I may not have looked very organized, what with my arms filledwith Chinese food, delicatessen and pizza, but one thing was for sure. I smelledFANTASTIC!!!Of course every neighborhood had its own version of the infamous MadisonSquare garden. Our Garden was called Public School 105 or P.S. 105. Adjacent tothe school was the schoolyard which was completely enclosed by either a chainlink fence, or a combination fence and cement wall ranging in height from ten feetto well over forty feet. The dimensions of the schoolyard were approximately twohundred fifty feet by four hundred fifty feet. The schoolyard served manypurposes, not the least of which was where aspiring future Hall of Famerspracticed their craft. P.S. 105 had four basketball courts where we played halfcourt as well as full court games. It wasnt unusual to come down to theschoolyard on a Saturday or Sunday and find all four basketball courts in use andat the same time there would be two softball games in progress or a touch footballgame pitting twenty-two guys in action as well as five to seven stickball gamesgoing on. The cast of players for all of these games were usually the same. It wasguys known only by either a nickname or just their last name. The only people thataddressed us by our first names were our parents, relatives and sometimes ourteachers. We had guys like Pee Wee Cohen. Pee Wee might have been short instature but he was a dynamo when it came to athletic competition. His diminutivesize became one of his greatest assets in athletic competition. His greatest assetthough was his desire to excel. Two examples come to mind. Stickball was a verypopular game at P.S. 105. When we played stickball it was usually one on onecompetition. With a piece of chalk we would draw a box on the concrete wall inthe schoolyard. From a distance of about forty feet we would pitch to the batter.Any ball not swung at and either landing in the box or hitting the lines around the Page 31 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”box was considered a strike. A ground ball past the pitcher was a single; if caughtby the pitcher it was an out. A ball hit by a batter that bounced for the first timepast the pitching line was a double. A ball traveling far enough to hit the fence atthe opposite end of the field was considered a triple and if it went over the fencewhich was about two hundred and fifty feet away, then it was a home run. Thefield of play was very narrow as it was approximately fifteen feet on either side ofthe pitcher. We used to use a ball that the Spalding Company made... It was calledappropriately enough, .... a Spalding. Now if you had a half way decent throwingarm you could make this ball hum. Guys could throw this ball so fast that it wouldcause batters to be very nervous standing at the plate. A black and blue mark wasoften the result of being hit by the ball. Thats how fast and hard it could bethrown.I could always throw the ball fast. My problem at times was my control. On thisparticular day Pee Wee and I were playing stickball and I was throwing the ballfaster than usual with pin point control. Now I dont mean to imply that I wasplacing the ball in the exact spot that I wanted to but if you could consistentlythrow the ball into the chalked box then that was for me at least, evidence of pinpoint control. After two innings I was actually a run up on Pee Wee and delusionsof grandeur were dancing through my head. Thats not to say that Pee Wee wasntinvincible, but I wasnt in his league when it came to stickball and social status inthe Bronx in the 1950s and early 60s was to a large degree attributable to howmany points you scored in a basketball game or who you beat in stickball. So Ihad a lot riding on the outcome of this game. It had gone beyond being a game. Itwas for status, it was for acceptance. It was mano a mano. This was what lifewas all about for a fourteen year old kid growing up in the Bronx. There wasnothing more important in life at that time than establishing your athleticcredentials. Victory in athletics meant that in team games you were chosen first.Victory in athletics gave you a new found acceptance, so much so that the toughguys in the neighborhood would not pick on you because the "unwritten law" ofneighborhood sports is that you dont hit the jocks. You can bother the jocks, youcan intimidate the jocks, but you dont hit a jock because that jock might hit a homerun that will cause your team to win. Unfortunately not every tough guy playedball, so, so much for that theory. Anyway, so there I was with all of this pressureon my mind, projecting my new found acclaim some seven innings into the futureand what does Pee Wee do? Pee Wee did what I had not seen anyone before orsince do. He was having a difficult time hitting my fastball so he stood at the plateand started bunting. He bunted the ball over my head, he bunted it to my right, hebunted the ball to my left and each time he bunted the ball I became morefrustrated and as a result I threw the ball that much harder which in turn made Pee Page 32 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Wees job that much easier because the harder I threw the ball then the farther ittraveled off of his bat. When I slowed my pitches down so as to prevent Pee Weefrom bunting the ball past me, he would then take a normal swing and whack theball all over the place. I dont remember the final score of the game but I vaguelyremember who won. It was the short guy. Anyway Ive tried to get a rematch withPee Wee but I think hes ducking me.The other story that sticks out in my mind about Pee Wee was when he made theChristopher Columbus High School basketball team. During the school year, at theinsistence of some of the members of the team, Coach Roy Rubin was persuaded togive Pee Wee a special tryout for the team which was created when one of theother members either hurt himself or got ill and was going to be out for the rest ofthe year. Pee Wee got the tryout and made the team, although not as a starter.Back then there was a tournament held every year at the original Madison SquareGarden in New York City for the top high school basketball teams. Thecompetition was referred to as the P.S.A.L. tournament. Students of the variouscompeting schools would fill the seats at the Garden and we were treated to asmany as three games on any given day. I forgot the team we were playing that dayand quite honestly I dont even remember if we won, but I do remember Pee Weebeing put into the game late in the contest. There was hardly any time left on theclock and you could see that the guys from the Columbus High team werefeverishly trying to set Pee Wee up so that he could score a basket. The ball camedown the court and with little time left on the clock the ball was passed into PeeWees hands. The court was crowded with guys almost twice the size of Pee Wee.Pee Wee reacted instinctively as any good ball player will and he realized that itwould be difficult to successfully drive to the basket for a score and it would beequally difficult to shoot the ball from his present position on the court because hewas being guarded so closely. With quick reflexes and speed to match, Pee Weedribbled the ball to the corner base line of the court, a distance of some thirty-fivefeet. The person guarding Pee Wee backed off a little due to the distance betweenPee Wee and the basket. That bit of hesitation on the part of the defender gave PeeWee the opening that he needed to take a shot at the basket. Up went Pee Wee. Hereleased the ball and as it made its arc towards the basket you could sense thateveryone in the Garden was rooting for him. The ball arrived at the basket and inschool yard parlance it was a "swish shot." The ball went through the basketwithout hitting the rim as it swished the nets. The crowd, friend and foe alikeerupted with joy. A good basketball crowd applauds not only the finesse of theirplayers but the opposing players as well. Pee Wee started jumping in the air,raising his right arm high up and with one fell swoop bringing it down to signifyhis accomplishment. The Garden announcer, the late John Condon, announced to Page 33 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”the crowd that the basket was made by Pee Wee Cohen. You would have thoughtthat Columbus High had just won the championship game but instead it was one ofmany memorable events for a memorable guy.There were many other guys who had nicknames. There was Tubs. And he was.But you couldnt tell him that unless of course you were tired of living. Tubs was areal MESHUGANA (crazy person). He was a teenage Jewish Godfather. Thatslike Godfather spelled D-O-N C-O-R-L-E-O-N-E. If you had a problem withsome kid in the neighborhood, then you went to see Tubs. On the other hand ifTubs had a problem with some kid in the neighborhood, then that kid consideredleaving home...and quickly. Its not that Tubs went around killing people. Insteadhe would usually give you a good shot in the KISHKAS (kidneys) to get yourattention. One time Tubs got a little carried away. Someone was bothering one ofhis friends and Tubs paid this kid a visit. Not exactly a friendly one. Tubs tookthis kid on a trip. Not in a car. But in an elevator. To the seventh floor. You seethe elevators in apartment buildings would not go to the roof. They only went tothe top floor, usually the seventh. From the seventh floor Tubs walked this kid upone flight to the roof. At this point the story gets a little fuzzy. I dont know ifTubs hit this kid or if he just talked to him when he got him to the roof. I do knowone thing though. Tubs held on to this kid and he wouldnt let go. Tubs held ontohim by his ankles. Tubs grip on this kids ankles was so tight that the kids anklesswelled up. And its a good thing that Tubs had the presence of mind to hold thiskid tightly by his ankles. Because if he didnt then this kid would have fell off theroof to the ground below which was seven stories down as Tubs was holding himover the edge. After that episode everyone did their best not to upset Tubs.Especially the kid with the swollen ankles.Another character from the neighborhood who frequented the schoolyard was aguy that everyone called "The Babe", as in Babe Ruth. The Babe loved to playstickball with kids four or five years younger than him as his chances of winningimproved dramatically. Now the Babe, like his namesake, was stout and alsobatted from the left side. The Babe was also given a tryout by the New YorkYankees, and that is how he got his nickname, but unlike his predecessor, theBabes home run feats were limited to the confines of the schoolyard of P.S. 105.On any given weekend you could go to the schoolyard and see the Babe. He wasabout 5 10" tall, portly and he appeared to have had a grin impregnated on hisface. I dont think that I ever saw the Babe without a smile. I also dont believethat I ever saw the Babe without a Spaulding in one hand and a stickball bat in theother. There was one other thing that the Babe always had with him and that washis own personal statistics with regards to his stickball prowess. On any given day Page 34 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”hed be able to tell you how many home runs he had hit in the schoolyard that year.The real Babe would have been impressed. Humm. Maybe now I understand whyour Babe always played kids four or five years his junior.A few years ago I went to pay a condolence call at my friend Harveys housebecause his mother had just passed away. Harvey was living in Fort Lauderdale.When I walked into his home, Harvey introduced me to everyone there. Duringthe course of the introductions Harvey introduced me to his brother in-law Shelley.I looked at Shelley and said, " Your name isnt Shelley, its the Babe." This was1978. I hadnt seen the Babe in at least fourteen years. He looked the same. It wasif the aging process had passed him by. I desperately wanted to ask him how manyhome runs he had hit in 1956, 57 and 58 in the schoolyard of P.S. 105 but commonsense told me not to. I mean, think about it. Did Roger Maris ever forget howmany home runs he hit in 1961? I asked the Babe for his phone number and toldhim I would call him and we could play a game of stickball in our version of anOld Timers Game. He asked me how old I was. I told him that I was only abouttwo or three years younger than him. He said, "nah, forget it."Then there was a man we all called Pops. Pops was in his sixties and you couldalways find him on the basketball court with all of the teenagers. Now Popscouldnt move like us kids, but he had his own distinct and effective style. Popswould only play half court games with us. We would have six guys playing, threeagainst three. Pops would usually guard the kid who had the poorest outside shot.Why? Because Pops would usually take a defensive position underneath thebasket and allow you to shoot to your heart‟s content from the outside. Theres noworse shame in basketball than having your opponent give you a free shot at thehoop, only to have you miss. Pops style on offense was equally adept. He wouldstand in one spot about fifteen feet away from the basket and wait for you to passhim the ball. Then he would throw a two hand set shot up at the basket and moreoften than not the ball would go through the hoop.There was a kid who lived two blocks away from me in my Granmas buildingwhose name was Warren Dolinsky, yet for some unknown reason the name heanswered to was "Jiggy." Life had dealt Jiggy a cruel blow. Jiggy had some sortof bone disorder which was evident by the protruding lumps on both of his wrists.In addition Jiggy maxed out in height at slightly over four feet. His diminutivesize kept him from competing in most sports, except for Ping Pong. In the game ofPing Pong this little guy was a giant. A funny giant, but nevertheless a giant.Jiggy could barely see over the Ping Pong table but there was hardly a ball hedidnt or couldnt return. He could volley and slam with great ability. When you Page 35 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”played Jiggy a game of Ping Pong it was almost as if you were just playing Jiggyshead, because that was all you could usually see at the other end of the table, justJiggys head. You would hit the ball to Jiggy and then all of a sudden a crippledhand holding onto a Ping Pong racket would come up from underneath the tableand return the ball to your side. Usually successfully. I was and still am anexcellent Ping Pong player and I played Jiggy on a number of occasions and aftermost games Jiggy walked away from the Ping Pong table taller than I.Of course some guys had last names that were funnier than any nickname couldpossibly be. Like Lipschitz (pronounced Lip Shits). And other guys hadnicknames that made no sense at all, like Zorch. It was rare for girls to havenicknames, but some of them did. My Aunt Tilly nicknamed my sister Phyllis,"Murphy." I have no idea why. Neither does Murphy, I mean Phyllis.Kids werent the only ones to have nicknames. Some adults had nicknames fortheir friends and the nicknames either described the line of work that the peoplewere in or it alluded to a particular characteristic of that individual. For instancemy Dad belonged to a club just across the street from our apartment building thatwas frequented by the neighborhood men who enjoyed playing cards. There waswagering on the games, but I couldnt tell you how much because kids werentallowed in there and my Dad would never discuss it with us. He would talk aboutthe people that went to the club. There was Maxie Bagels or as he was morecommonly called, Bagels. Now Bagels wasnt his real last name. It just describedthe line of work that he was in. The most notorious of my Fathers‟ entire cardplaying companions was Jake the FARTZER (one who passes gas). Now as myFather would tell us, the Fartzer had a special talent. Jake could cut the cheese; laya bomb or just plain fart on cue. The Fartzer would be called upon to demonstratehis special abilities when my Dad or his cronies were involved in a card game andsomeone would sit down at the table and just KIBITZ (clown around). Moneywas at stake in these games and there was no room for Kibitzers. So when aKibitzer appeared at one of the card tables, and if Jake was in the club, the highsign would go out to him and the Fartzer would take up his position at that tableand do his thing. In no time flat the Kibitzer would leave and the game wouldcontinue uninterrupted. I would ask my Dad how he and the other guys couldstand the odor and my Dad would indicate to me that it was a small price to pay inorder to continue the card game.Our neighborhood also consisted of four Synagogues which are Jewish Houses ofWorship. Now in the Jewish religion, the Sabbath, which starts at sundown onFriday and continues until sundown on Saturday, is considered to be the holiest of Page 36 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”days with the exception of certain holidays that fall throughout the year. For thosethat wanted to attend there were Friday night and Saturday morning prayer servicesin the Synagogues. In our neighborhood it was usually the elderly that attended theservices, not us kids, and for a good reason. As for Friday night services I can onlyspeak for myself and not the other kids on the block. It was inconceivable for meto attend services on Friday nights because my Mom and Granma cooked a dinneron that night, that if all the elderly men had known about it, they would havepetitioned the Rabbi to change Friday night services to Thursday night so theycould eat in our home. But to be perfectly honest with you, these same peoplewould have loved to have eaten in our home on any night of the week. Come tothink of it, they wouldnt have complained over breakfast or lunch either, such wasthe ability that my Mom and Granma possessed in the art of cooking. I have yet tomeet or hear of an individual that tasted either my Moms or Granmas cooking anddidnt rant and rave about it. They couldnt wait to be invited back for anotherroyal feast. I can honestly say that I dont ever remember an invited guest notshowing up for one of my Moms or Granmas dinners. Im willing to bet that overthe years there were friends and relatives that showed up for dinner in pain or witha high fever. Im not so brash as to say that their cooking alleviated pain orreduced a fever, but if their cooking got someone out of a sick bed to travel milesto our apartment, then just maybe their secret blends did have some medicinalpurposes. A dinner cooked by my Mom or Granma on any night was special, but aFriday night SHABAS (Sabbath) dinner was extra special. The first course servedwas a FORESHPICE, which in English means appetizer. The foreshpice couldhave been any one of a number of delectable dishes, such as chopped liver whichwas served over a bed of lettuce, encircled by sliced tomatoes and topped off witha radish placed directly in the center. Or it could have been chopped eggs andonions. This dish was a blend of hard boiled eggs and onions, chopped andblended together with salt and pepper and a little oil. This simple dish wasexquisite to the taste. Or the foreshpice could have been my very favorite, whichwas a GEDEMPSE (mixture). Now a gedempse consists of tiny meatballs andchicken gizzards which included the neck and the PIPPICK which is a chickensPUTZ (Penis), served in its own juices which was seasoned with lots of pepper.This was some tasting putz. There are no adequate words that could describe thetaste and flavor of the gedempse that my Mom and Granma prepared. If six peoplewere going to sit down at the dinner table, then Mom and Granma cooked fortwelve, but they could never make enough gedempse. It was that good.For that matter they could never make enough of anything that they cooked. Whenmy Mom and Granma cooked, the smells that emanated in the apartment made youQVELL (gloat with delight). And above all, both Mom and Granma believed in a Page 37 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”proper presentation of any food that they served. I mean it looked almost as goodas it tasted. I say almost because no one in their right mind could expect food totaste that good.Granma was also very meticulous regarding the preparation of her food. She onlyused white pepper. I once asked her why and she told me that black pepper makesthe food look dirty.After the foreshpice came the chicken soup. Now this wasnt just chicken soup.This was CHICKEN SOUP. There was an old time Jewish comedian whoappeared in the Jewish theatre and from time to time he was on the Ed Sullivanshow. His name was Menasha Skulnick. Menasha had a certain trait about himwhen he told stories and this trait became his trademark. When Menasha Skulnickwas telling a story about oil wells and if he wanted you to know that his oil wellswere far greater than any others he would say in almost a whisper, "There are oilwells, " and then he would raise his voice, "and there are OIL WELLS." Well thereis chicken soup and there is CHICKEN SOUP. My Mom and Granma madeCHICKEN SOUP. Some people will swear to you that chicken soup has certainhealing qualities. Supposedly the A.M.A. has even subscribed to that theory. Icant swear to that, but I can unequivocally swear and attest to one thing about myMoms and Granmas chicken soup. This was some kind of chicken soup. Itcooked for hours on top of the stove in a big, big pot filled with chicken, soupgreens, dill, onions, carrots, salt and pepper. When the chicken soup was served, itwas generously poured over mountains of LUXION, which is a Jewish word fornoodles. Even the noodles were carefully selected. They had to be Goodman‟sFine Egg Noodles. No other noodles would do. Dont ask me why. But when myMom or Granma said, "Stevala, go down to the store and get me Goodman‟s FineEgg Noodles," then Goodman‟s Fine Egg Noodles was what they got. Why wouldI want to upset them by getting them another type of egg noodle? After all, did Iknow how to cook chicken soup? And to this delicious blend of chicken soup andluxion was added CANADELACH (matzo balls). Mom and Granma made matzoballs to perfection. They were soft, tender and perfectly round with no lumps inthem. They were so beautiful to look at that you wanted to take a picture of them.But who had time for pictures? We werent there to challenge Cecil B. DE Mille.We were there to eat, and eat we did.After the soup came the piece de resistance, which was the most outrageous roastchicken that you have ever tasted. The roast chicken was my Moms secret recipe.Mom gave the recipe to my sisters and my wife, but only my sister Phyllis hasbeen able to duplicate it. Page 38 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”To start with, Mom and Granma only used kosher chickens. Now for those peoplethat havent eaten kosher chickens, there is a very discernible difference in taste.Just like that famous soda commercial says, "Its the real thing." And once youvetasted a kosher chicken youll only want the real thing. Mom would cut thechickens in quarters and season them with kosher salt, pepper and garlic. Thechickens would find a home in our refrigerator for the night. The next day Momwould place the chickens in a large pan that was well oiled. Mom would then poura couple of cups of water into the pan and start to roast the chickens. Every twentyminutes or so she would baste the chickens with the juices from the roasting pan.The chickens would cook until they were golden brown and dry, not juicy, and theywere served hot, right out of the stove. In the event there were any left over‟s, thenwe would eat it cold the next day.Sometimes we would even eat it cold that very night. You see our house wasnt abakery. You didnt take a number for service. Whoever got to the food first couldeat it. If you put it back into the refrigerator for consumption later on, that foodbecame fair game for anyone who found it. If you left the dinner table for a briefperiod of time, then there was a possibility that when you returned to the table, theonly thing left of your dinner was your dinner plate. Just your dinner plate. And ofcourse your knife and fork.The roast chicken was served with either a luxion or potato kugel. Now thatdoesnt sound right, so let me say that again. The roast chicken was served witheither an OUTRAGEOUS luxion or potato kugel. Kugel means pudding and apotato kugel is a mixture of potatoes, onions and seasonings blended together in aMixmaster. The ingredients are then placed into a well-oiled six inch high bakingpan and placed in the oven. The finished product is unbelievably good. The luxionkugel consists of Goodman‟s Fine Egg Noodles (Do you think I should ask theGoodman company for a commission for advertising their product?) boiled inwater and then drained. The egg noodles are blended together with eggs and saltand pepper to taste. Then the mixture is also placed in a well-oiled six inch highpan and baked in the oven until it is golden brown. While I loved both kugels, myfavorite was the Luxion kugel. It was good hot or cold, with a main dish or just byitself. So now you see why I couldnt attend Friday night services. My Mom andGranma cooked a very heavy meal and you couldnt eat it late at night. So whilewe were eating our Shaba‟s dinner, coincidentally Friday night services were beingconducted in the Synagogue. Since I couldnt be in two places at once, I had tomake a decision. Now insofar as the other guys my age who didnt attend Fridaynight services, shame on them. Page 39 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Now as I mentioned before there was also Saturday morning services. Virtually allof the guys in the neighborhood did not attend, and for the same reason. Just likewith the Shaba‟s dinner on Friday night, Saturday morning services presented aconflict for most of us. You see Saturday morning services would start at about 8A.M., which was when our basketball, softball, football or stickball games started.Theres nothing worse than having nine guys show up for a basketball game orseventeen guys appear for a softball game or twenty-one guys appear for a footballgame. Well, in all actuality there is one thing worse than all of that. What if onlyone guy shows up for a stickball game? So in keeping with the spirit of athleticcompetition and schoolyard harmony, we had to put our priorities in order. Nowthat didnt mean that we didnt attend any Saturday morning services. In order tobe BAR MITZVAHED it was a requirement of most Synagogues that its youngcongregants attend at least ten Saturday morning services. While this presentedmajor problems for most of us, somehow we were able to alter our athleticschedules so as to accommodate the Rabbi. There was one other time that wewould have to attend Saturday morning services and this happened to virtuallyevery guy in the neighborhood, but just once. You see, Jewish people dont like todo anything by themselves. When we eat, we like to eat with other people. Wedont have to eat with a lot of people, but at least one other person. We dont evenhave to eat with someone that we like. Jewish people just dont do anything bythemselves. We dont go shopping by ourselves; we dont go to the movies byourselves. We need someone to take us to the doctor‟s office and we needsomeone to take us home from the doctor‟s office. We need someone to take awalk around the block with. We need someone to watch television with. Wealways need to be with someone. But to the bank we can go by ourselves.With regards to Saturday morning services Jewish people will not, cannot and areforbidden from praying in a Synagogue by themselves. Not only cant we pray byourselves but we must have nine other people praying with us. And I might addthat we are particular about who we can pray with. There must be a minimum often people and these ten people must be all Jewish and all men. The minimum often people needed to pray in a Synagogue is called a Minion, which is pronouncedMin-Yun. As I said, the minion must consist of only Jewish men. GOYIM (non-Jewish people) dont count. Boy, are they ever so lucky. And in the Jewish religionyou are considered a man if you are at least thirteen years old. You may not beable to drink, but youre a man. You may not be able to vote, but youre a man.You may not be able to stay up late at night, but youre a man. Come to think of it Page 40 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”I cant think of any other privilege that is extended to a Jewish kid of thirteen yearsof age other than being allowed to be a member of the Holy Ten. Now mostRabbis have in their possession an emergency religious service sheet (ERSS). Thisis a list of Jewish men who can be called up on the telephone in the event that aminion is not present to conduct religious services. Of course if its about a quarterto eight on a Saturday morning and there are only nine men present in Synagogueand the Rabbi cant get a hold of anyone from his E.R.S.S, does a calamity like thisprevent the start of Saturday morning services? Not at all. This is where the "wisemen" of the Synagogue put their alternate plan into action. What they attempt todo, and always successfully, is to kidnap a ballplayer. These old men peer out thewindows of the Synagogue and wait for unsuspecting kids to walk by. As soon asthey see a kid afoot, they open up the door of the Synagogue and walk out withtheir ever present cane in hand. Whoever designed this plan knew that if they sentout an elderly man with a cane, then their chances for success would be that muchgreater because who could say no to an old man............. with a cane no less. So asyoure walking by the Synagogue, this old man with a cane walks up to you andsays, "Sonny, youve been Bar-Mitzvahed yet?" Not suspecting any devious intenton the part of this elderly gentleman you immediately reply in the affirmative. Atthat point, faster than a locomotive, quicker than the disappearance of a piece ofmy moms roast chicken, this old man whips his cane out and grabs your arm anddrags you into the Synagogue. He pleads with you to stick around for the servicesbecause if you dont then they wont be able to conduct them. What are you goingto say to an old man with a cane? What are you going to say to an old man with acane thats quicker than a speeding bullet? On that day there were only nine guysthat showed up to play basketball. The next week you found a different route totravel to the schoolyard. Page 41 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” 2075 WALLACE AVENUEThats where I grew up. Bordered on the south by Brady Avenue, on the north byLydig Avenue and to the west is Holland Avenue. To the average reader these arejust names, but to me they represent memories. Memories that I cant escape.Memories that are forever imbedded in my mind. Memories that bring tears to myeyes, and at the same time conjure a smile on my face. It wasn‟t just the placewhere I grew up. No, it was much more than that. In retrospect it was an event, ahappening. A magical time period that has never since been duplicated. I‟m soelated that I had the pleasure of living in that time period, in that very specialcorner of this wide world. And yet my heart is saddened because my children andfuture generations of children will never be able to experience that brief moment intime that has etched an unforgettable and idyllic imprint on my very mind and soul.Our apartment building was similar to virtually all the other buildings on PelhamParkway. It was a seven floor elevated building. The first floor had twoapartments. For the most part those apartments were underground. Light shone inthrough their living room windows which were above ground, but the livingaccommodations were below the surface of the building.The second floor had eight apartments and the third through seventh floors had tenapartments each. Thats sixty apartments in all in our building and some buildingshad more while few had less. Our building was split in half because there werealmost an exact number of apartments on the other side of a common hallway thatwe shared.The only other living quarters on the first floor belonged to Joe, oursuperintendent. At the time Joe was a colored man. He later became a black manand had he lived long enough he would have matured into an African American. Idont think that Joe really cared much about names, but if I had to give him onethen Id say that above all Joe was a NICE man. A very nice man. His job was tomaintain the building and keep it neat and orderly. That was no easy task with somany children living in the building, because if we werent playing ball in theschoolyard, then we would carouse in the hallways, usually just after Joe hadmopped the floors. But never once did I hear him utter a harsh word. Joe alwayshad a smile on his face and was always trying to be of help to his tenants. Hetreated everyone with respect and in turn we gave him the respect he so richlydeserved................Except when we played ball in the hallways just after hefinished mopping them. Page 42 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Next to Joes apartment was the Boiler Room. This massive room had pipesrunning overhead which transported hot steam to the apartments in the building.Thats assuming that there was a sufficient supply of coal to heat the building.Sometimes there was. But.......sometimes there wasnt. There was many a coldnight when my Mom would bang on the radiator pipes in our apartment to signifyto Joe that we needed heat. Of course if the city hadnt supplied Joe with enoughcoal or if the boiler was malfunctioning then all we could do on those nights was toput on a pair of pajamas.......maybe two pairs, and huddle under our bed sheetswith two heavy blankets on top of us. Once the morning came and in the eventthat the problem with the boiler wasnt corrected then we would either take a coldshower or dampen a face cloth and wipe our bodies. If we elected to take ashower, then I can assure you that it was a very quick one.In actuality the boiler room served two purposes. One was to provideheat........sometimes, and the other was to provide passage to the next buildingacross the courtyard, 2077 Wallace Avenue. In bad weather we could escapegetting wet and still visit our friends in the other building by simply going throughthe boiler room. Of course if you were being chased by a neighborhood bully whowas unfamiliar with your building, then once you made it into the boiler room youwere safe, because there were so many mazes within the boiler room, that youcould easily escape unharmed.Of course a malfunctioning boiler room in the summer in New York bore noconsequence to us, but nevertheless we did have our problems which to a degreewere still heat related. Summers in New York can be awfully hot and humid.Some people would escape the heat by retreating to their air conditionedapartment. We didnt have that luxury because our building was not wiredsufficiently for air conditioning. So we did the next best thing. My Dad bought abig fan, three feet by three feet. He placed it at the entranceway into the livingroom.........where no one slept.My sisters bedroom and my parents bedroom were hot as hell, but the livingroom...............it was a MACHIA (a pleasure) in there.............except no one sleptthere to enjoy it. My little bedroom was fairly comfortable on even the hottestnights. The room was originally a small dining room. When we moved into theapartment my parents converted it into a bedroom for me. It measured 10 x 6, andthats being generous. The room (cell) had four windows in it. They lay caddycorner to each other, two on one side and two on the other. The head of my bed laydirectly between the converging windows, so in the summer I would open them upand I would enjoy the delightful breeze that would flow through my room. And so Page 43 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”other than the living room, my little bedroom was definitely the best place to sleepin the apartment.The other advantage to my bedroom was that it was only three short steps to therefrigerator. There was never a shortage of food in our apartment. If fouruninvited people would ever show up at our apartment at dinner time, there wouldbe enough food for them without depriving us. Fortunately there werent that manytimes that uninvited guests showed up at our door, so therefore there were alwaysleftovers to be placed in the fridge. That same fridge that was right next to mybedroom. And so many nights I would "raid the refrigerator" not out of boredom,but because my Mom was such a fantastic cook that it was hard to resisttemptation.We lived on the fifth floor in apartment 548. One night on one of my infamousraids, I opened up the refrigerator. It was about two in the morning. My sistersand parents were asleep in their respective bedrooms. When I opened up therefrigerator it emitted a light. Apparently in the darkness of the apartment the lightshone into my parent‟s bedroom and it awoke my Dad. He knew where the lightwas coming from yet in his mind he thought that a burglar was raiding therefrigerator. After all it was a well-known fact that my Moms cooking wasoutrageously good. So my Dad armed with nothing but his GATKAS (underwear)slowly walks into the entranceway of the kitchen. I didnt hear him coming. I stillhave the fridge open and Im munching down one of my Moms hamburgers whenall of a sudden my Dad yells out something totally indistinguishable, "BUH,BUH, BUH." I recognized his voice and yelled back, "DAD, ITS ONLY ME.ITS STEVE." I flicked on the light in the kitchen real quick because I didnt wantmy Father to think that not only was there a burglar in the apartment, but it was aburglar who was good at imitations. I wanted my Dad to see that it really was me.We never kept guns in the apartment and so after I caught my breath I asked myDad what he expected to accomplish if there was a burglar in the apartment, sincemy Dad had neither a gun or a knife or any weapon in his possession. And beforemy Father could answer I also pointed out that indeed if there was a burglar in theapartment, then there were only two ways for him to get out. One way was tobreak through one of the windows in my room and dive to the streets five floorsbelow, but I quickly ruled that out because that seems to work only in the movies.The other way was to run past my unarmed Dad. He thought about that for amoment and finally he just told me not to open the fridge in the middle of thenight. Nevertheless I went back to bed that night with a big smile on my facebecause I had a loving father who showed that he would risk his life for his family.That sent a gush of warmth seeping through my body........................ Or was it the Page 44 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”food that he was so concerned about?Originally we lived in apartment 244 on the second floor. It was a one bedroomapartment. My two sisters and I slept in the bedroom and my folks slept on a foldout sofa in the living room. While it was a very small apartment, we never feltconfined at all. We were five people sharing one shower and just one bathroomand yet other than on rare occasions, it never presented a problem for us.Eventually we moved three flights up to apartment 548 and we now had twoshowers and two bathrooms. The shower in my parent‟s bathroom was a needleshower. It had an overhead shower jet and two additional side jets about two feetoff of the floor. The shower was extremely stimulating. I had never seen a showerlike that, yet for some unexplained reason my parents eventually decided to usetheir shower as a storage place. So there we were, back to one shower.I lived at 2075 Wallace Avenue in the Bronx for over twenty years, first havinglived in apartment 244 and then moving up to apartment 548 where most of mymemories of my childhood come from. To this day my alarm clock is set for 5:48in the morning. Its a good thing that the bulk of my memories didnt come fromapartment 244.Every building had its own list of characters and people who stuck out in yourmind. Certainly ours was no different. I dont even have to search my memory forsome of them because they made such an indelible impression on my mind. Onthe second floor there lived Sam and Irene Kleinrock along with their son Ira. Irawas a brilliant young man. He was extremely proficient in the subject ofchemistry. Im quite sure though that one of his experiments had gone amokbecause his hair bore a striking resemblance to boxing promoter Don King.Because of his hairdo my father nicknamed Ira, "the mad scientist." Ira alsopossessed a different type of laugh than most people had. His lips would curl upand his face would resemble a pumpkins with its broad smile and big teethshowing and you would hear Iras infectious laugh, "hee, hee, hee, hee, hee, hee."Back in the 1950s Ira was two years older than me. Come to think of it he still is.Back then we kids used to pal around and play with other kids our own age. Theonly time that I can think of where age didnt come into play in our relationshipswas in the schoolyard. All you needed in the schoolyard was the ability tocompete. Age had nothing to do with it. Yet I never saw Ira in the schoolyard. Iused to run into him in the hallway in our apartment building and there were alsotimes when his family and mine would go out to eat together on a Sunday. Page 45 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Although I truly liked Ira and his folks, I used to shudder when we had to go out toeat with them. Iras father Sam was a plumber. He didnt own a car. He had apanel truck that housed his plumbing supplies. Therefore whenever we went outto eat, Sam, Irene and Ira would always come along in our car. To this day Icannot for the life of me figure out how Sam and Irene stayed married for so manyyears. Irene was very talkative, to put it mildly. I cant begin to tell you how oftenwhen we were driving along I would hear Sam say, "Irene, come up for air." Butshe would just keep talking. And then Sam would say in a louder tone, "IRENE,thats enough. Give someone else a chance to talk." But without missing a beatIrene kept up her end of the conversation. Then Sam would erupt. "IRENE, IFYOU DONT SHUT UP IM GOING TO THROW YOU OUT OF THIS CAR,WHILE JOE (MY DAD) IS DRIVING." That statement usually caught Irenesattention.....for all of five minutes. Then she would start in again. That scenariowas repeated over and over again, many times over many years.Irene and Sam eventually moved to Florida. I had also moved to Florida and myfolks and Granma were visiting me and I invited Sam and Irene over to our house.Sam and Irene had gotten noticeably older.....but their act was still the same. Boycould she talk and man oh man could he yell.We found out that Ira had also moved to Florida with his family. Now that Ira andI were adults, the two year difference in our age didnt matter anymore, so I invitedIra and his family over for dinner one Sunday. I thought it would be nice to seeeach other, reminisce and possibly strike up a relationship.It was an unusually cold and nasty day for South Florida. Ira arrived with his wifeand son. Ira was wearing slacks and a shirt. Here we were, some twenty-fiveyears after we had last seen each other. The world had changed in many ways.Man had landed on the moon. The computer revolution was beginning. Polyesterwas out. Black people were for the first time being identified as African-Americans. We now had Heavy Metal music. Yet with all the changes, somethings still remained the same. Well, at least one thing. Ira still had a Don Kinghairdo.Of course that wasnt all that still remained the same. Iras son Adam and myoldest son Lorne asked me to take them to the park so that they could play ball. Idrove them there and was back at the house within fifteen minutes. My wife, alongwith Ira and his wife were sitting on the patio. Raindrops began to fall. The rainmade the temperatures drop. I was about to turn around and go back and pick upthe kids when I noticed something strange about Ira. He no longer was wearing Page 46 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”slacks. He now had on a pair of shorts. He also had on his "Pumpkin Face," alongwith the noticeable hee, hee, hee coming out of his mouth. I asked what happenedand my wife told me that our German Shepard Devil did something that she hadnever done before or since. She just walked up to Ira, opened her mouth andregurgitated all over him. I dont know if Devil thought it was funny, but judgingfrom Iras reaction he thought it was hysterical. Hee, hee, hee......some things justnever change.And that was the last time that I saw Ira.When I lived in apartment 244 I was best of friends with Ronnie Krauss. Ronniewas one year younger than me. We had a lot in common. We both loved to playball and we both loved to play ball. Our building had quite a few entrances. Oneof them was a ramp that had a downward slope which would take you into ourbuilding on the first floor. Ronnies apartment was on the eastern side of the rampand mine was directly across on the western side, separated by less than ten feet.Our windows faced each other. Instead of walking down the hallway some fiftyfeet to each other‟s apartment we would simply open up our window and yellacross to each other in order to see if we wanted to go down to the schoolyard toplay ball. We didnt need Alexander Graham Bells invention.Ronnies mom Evelyn was a fantastic baker. Sometimes by opening my window Icould smell the luscious aromas coming from her apartment. On those days Iwould most assuredly run down the hall some fifty feet to Ronnies apartment tosee if he was there. Mrs. Krauss always saw to it that I didnt go away emptyhanded. The other memory I have of Mrs. Krauss is that she had a fascination withmouths. Particularly Ronnies and mine. It all started when a vendor placed acigarette machine in the building. For only 25 cents a pack back then you couldget cancer and heart disease. Now it costs 10 times what it cost then, but thathasnt deterred people from smoking. Ronnie and I were about 13 and 14 years oldrespectively. We were able to jimmy the machine to get a pack of cigarettes. Wewould go into the boiler room and light up. We wouldnt smoke just one cigaretteapiece. No, instead we would smoke about five each. We would come out of theboiler room green at the gills. Then for some stupid reason we would go toRonnies apartment to get a drink or just hang out. As soon as we walked in Mrs.Krauss would line us up against the wall. Shed make us open our mouths andshed put her nose right up to our lips and inhale. She must have done this 20 or 30times over a two year period. And each time she would say the same thing."Stevie, Im going to tell your parents that youre smoking, and Ronnie, when yourfather gets home Im going to tell him too." Then Ronnie and I would go into our Page 47 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Clarence Darrow routine and beg forgiveness with a promise never, ever to smokeagain. She caught us smoking 20 or 30 times and 20 or 30 times we beggedforgiveness. She never ratted on us. And after her tongue lashing she wouldalways give us a piece of cake. She was always baking. She made a banana cakesecond to none.Maybe thats why Ronnie and I would always go back to his apartment after wesmoked a couple of cigarettes. We didnt mind being berated because we knewwhat the end result would be. Page 48 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” I REMEMBERAs I stated in the previous chapter, our neighborhood was a self-containedcommunity. Virtually all of our activities, social, academic, spiritual, etc., could beaccomplished within a few short blocks of where we lived. It was a rare occasionfor us to venture outside the borders of our hamlet which we called PelhamParkway. Come to think of it maybe the genius that stated that ninety-five per-centof all accidents occur within a five block radius of one‟s home wasnt such a geniusafter all, because ninety-five per-cent of the time thats where we were; within fiveblocks of our home. And in case you had an accident it didnt really matter anywaybecause within five blocks of everyones home there was a doctor. Now theseDoctors didnt live in gargantuan fancy homes, they didnt drive big Mercedes carsand they didnt wear thousand dollar suits. When they spoke they used one or twosyllable words, all readily identifiable and easily understood. They sounded justlike any other adult. They looked like any other adult. The only discernibledifference in their lifestyle was that their office was in their apartment. They livedwhere they worked. Their office was in their home. Their living room was aliving room by night only. During the day it was a waiting room. What mighthave been a childs room was now a medical office complete with x-ray machines,sutures, needles, medicines, etc.We had all sorts of Doctors in our neighborhood. There were GeneralPractitioners, Orthodontists, Podiatrists, Dentists, and Ophthalmologists. Youname it and we had it. And if you were too sick to see a Doctor, then they wouldsee you,......right in your own home or apartment. Have "Medical Bag," willtravel. That was their slogan. A twentieth century Paladin. Fortunately theselearned men did not have to travel too far, usually just across the street, butnevertheless they traveled. And unlike today when youre not supposed to get sickon a Wednesday because thats when Doctors hone their golfing skills, back then itwas okay to get sick seven days a week because Doctors didnt golf, they doctored.And because these Doctors didnt drive overly extravagant cars and because theydidnt wear such elegant clothes they therefore didnt charge such fancy prices fortheir services. These people were truly dedicated to the art of healing and notnecessarily at the expense of their patients. The Doctors who practiced medicine inthe 1950s were regular everyday people, so much so that one of the only ways todistinguish if someone was a Doctor was by the way they filled out a prescription.You cant understand their writing today and you couldnt understand it back then.Some things just never change.Two Doctors that stand out in my mind are "Quick Draw Levine", the General Page 49 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Practitioner that lived across the street and "Oops Jacobson," a dentist that had anoffice in our apartment building. Now Dr. Levine or Quick Draw had office hoursand home hours. In other words if you couldnt see him in his office, then hewould see you at your home. And when Dr. Levine wasnt working, more oftenthan not you would see him standing in the street in conversation with hisneighbors who represented American middle class civilization. These people wereeither self-employed or worked in the retail trades, such as butchers, bakers,clothing, shoes, etc., or they were in the service sector which included plumbing,electrical, air-conditioning and heating, etc. There were attorneys, insuranceagents, and taxi-cab drivers. All of these people were either sitting or standing sideby side in conversation with one another discussing any one of a number ofsubjects, such as world affairs, last night‟s ball scores, bargains available atAlexander‟s department store, their children, their grandchildren, whats for dinnertonight, what theyre doing this summer, what they did last summer, chat, chat,chat, chat, chat. On each block, especially on the weekends, day and night therewould be lined up no less that 50-75 YENTAS (blabbermouths) giving their adviceon anything and everything. It was like a sea of mouths, opening and closing,opening and closing. If they were fish you would have a month‟s catch in fiveminutes. Yet amongst all the conversations and the mixture of people there was noclass distinction. A doctor talked to a plumber. A baker talked to an attorney. Ateacher talked to a cab driver. No one was held in awe and everyone got alongwith each other.Now when Dr. Levine had to visit you at your apartment because you were too illto go across the street to his office, he would examine you, possibly give you a shotof penicillin, converse with your parents over a cup of coffee and a piece ofDanish, write a prescription for you and then either make another house call orhead back to his office with usually no more than five dollars to show for hisefforts. That must have been some Danish that my Mom gave to him. Oh, and oneother thing. I guess that Dr. Levine felt embarrassed by charging so much for hisservices, so for your five dollars he also through in some entertainment, hence thename "Quick Draw." Now when the Doc diagnosed you and felt that a shot ofpenicillin would cure you he would load up his gun, I mean needle, and then hewould take out a piece of cotton and dip it in alcohol and gently rub it on your armwhere the needle would be injected or shall I say fired, because thats exactly whatDr. Levine did. He held your arm with his left hand. He had to do that because hewasnt skilled at hitting moving targets and in this way he was sure that your armwould remain stationary. With his right hand he held the needle in place betweenhis thumb and fore finger. He then cocked his right hand with the needle in placebetween his two fingers and with his eyes peering above his glasses at his intended Page 50 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”mark he would then coil his right hand back about eight inches from the chosenpoint of impact and WHAM, the needle would fly out of his right hand and travelunimpeded and unattended eight inches through the air landing precisely on target.In all the years that "Quick Draw" Levine gave shots to my family I never ever sawhim miss his target.Now I only wish that I could say the same about "Oops Jacobson," our familyDentist.Dr. Jacobson maintained a "House of Pain" in our apartment building. He rented aone bedroom apartment and converted it into his very own torture chamber.Unlike "Quick Draw Levine," "Oops Jacobson" did not maintain living quarters inhis office. As a matter of fact no one knew for sure where Dr. Jacobson lived andthat was probably for security reasons because if we kids knew where he lived thenIm sure that we would have made his evenings equally as miserable as he madeour days. Every year, prior to starting school my Mom would send us to Dr.Levine for a physical, Dr. Rubin for an eye exam and to Dr. Jacobson for a dentalexam. Did I say send us to Dr. Jacobson? Actually she would let me go across thestreet by myself to Dr. Levine. She would let me walk five blocks all by myself togo to Dr. Rubin, but when it came time for my dental exam and all I had to do wasgo down to the first floor in my apartment building, my Mom insisted on escortingme there. My friends would tell me that when they had to have a cavity filled,their dentist would give them Novocain or gas or quite possibly both to ease thepain. There was a dentist across the street from us whose name was Dr. Shaefferand besides Novocain and gas he also let you wear earphones so that you couldhear music while he was working on you. The only music that you heard in Dr.Jacobson‟s office was the primal screams of his patients. There was no gas and hedidnt believe in giving Novocain for cavities. When I was thirteen years old myMother felt that for appearance sakes it would be in my best interests to go to anOrthodontist. How bad were my teeth? My mouth resembled a watered lawn.Watered, not manicured. My teeth were very healthy and as white as could be butthey were sprouting out all over the place. I didnt have a row of teeth, I had rowsof teeth. I had teeth growing on top of teeth. My mouth looked like a battlefield inprogress. My teeth looked so unattractive that when I was Bar-Mitzvahed myMom made special note to tell me not to open my mouth when the photographerswere shooting pictures. I have at least one hundred still photos of myself at myBar-Mitzvah as well as moving pictures and in every photo you see me with a bigbroad grin on my face with my lips curled up and my mouth completely closed.After my Bar-Mitzvah my Mom sent me to Dr. Hader, an Orthodontist whoseoffice was on Pelham Parkway. After examining me Dr. Hader advised my Mom Page 51 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”that my jaw was too small for my mouth and that is why I had teeth growing overeach other. He suggested that prior to any orthodontia work I should have fourteeth removed. Four healthy teeth. Four healthy teeth that never botheredanybody. Four healthy teeth that never complained. So my Mom made anappointment with "Oops Jacobson," excuse me, Dr. Jacobson. He hadnt earnedthe dubious title of Oops as of yet. Dr. Jacobson was going to pull out my fourteeth one at a time over a four week period. What a thrilling time in my life thiswas. Little did I know how thrilling it would be? We lived on the fifth floor in ourapartment building and Dr. Jacobson was on the first. My Mom and I left ourapartment and walked down the hall to the elevator which would take us to the firstfloor. I was of course walking rather slowly and my Mom was right next to megiving me words of assurance. The elevator, which rarely worked, seemed to takeus from the fifth to the first floor in record time. At this point my Mom and Istarted to walk across the hallway leading us to Dr. Jacobson‟s office. The distancefrom the elevator on the first floor to Dr. Jacobson‟s office was approximately 200feet and within that distance there were actually three different exits leading out tothe street......and freedom. My Mom, sensing my unrest immediately grabbed myleft arm and walked me to the entrance of the Docs office. Once inside the officeyou went into the waiting room. This is by far one of the worst tortures known tomankind. The waiting room. You are being asked to WAIT for your turn toexperience pain. You try to take your mind off of the reason that you are there.You go to the magazine rack and thumb through all of them but your heart is notinto reading at this moment. And Dentists know that. Thats why all of theirmagazines are outdated and ancient. They know that you cant possiblyconcentrate on magazine articles so they stopped subscribing to them after theirfirst two weeks of practice. If you ever want to take a history course then go into aDentist‟s office and read their magazines. Youll find out about all sorts of thingthat happened years ago because none of their magazines are current.All of a sudden Dr. Jacobson comes out and calls my name. My feet turned intoJell-O. My Mom lifts me up and escorts me into his lab and Dr. Jacobson directsme to the chair. As I sit in the chair the Doc takes off my glasses and attaches atwo foot square of cloth to my chest. I felt like a convict in one of those gangstermovies walking the last mile to the electric chair...... Only I had to do it three moretimes. Dr. Jacobson knew my family very well and he let my Mom sit in his lab,no more than three feet from me. Besides, by State law there must be a witness toevery execution. Today the tooth that was going to be pulled was located in mylower jaw on the right side of my mouth. Dr. Jacobson saw my discomfort and hetold me to relax, that all would be well and that the only pain I would feel would bethe brief sting of the needle that would administer the Novocain. With that Page 52 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”reassuring thought in mind Dr. Jacobson approached me with needle in hand andtold me to open my mouth. In unison my mouth opened and my eyes closed. Ifigured that while it was bad enough that I would feel some pain from theNovocain injection, I didnt necessarily have to watch the person that was causingmy anguish. And so, moments later I was injected and I remember thinking tomyself, "Well if this is the worst of it then its all downhill from here." Afterinjecting me Dr. Jacobson turned to my Mom and struck up a conversation withher. About two or three minutes later the Doc turned to me and tapped me on thebottom right side of my mouth and said to me, "Stevie, does that hurt?" I said,"Yes, it does." Dr. Jacobson told me that the Novocain hadnt taken full effect as ofyet and with that he proceeded to once again talk to my Mom. Well another two orthree minutes goes by and the Doc once again turns to me and taps me on thebottom right side of my mouth and asks me if that hurt and once again I told himthat it did. Now the Doc looks puzzled but in a flash, as if a light bulb went off inhis head, the puzzlement disappears from view and Dr. Jacobson asks me, "Stevie,did I ever give you Novocain before today?" I shook my head and said no and atthat point this genius (Im referring to the Doc), the man that graduated fromcollege and dental school, the man that had been practicing his craft for at leasttwenty years, the man that had treated thousands of patients, this very same manwho possessed infinite wisdom then called upon all of his resources and said to me,"Stevie, you dont realize it, but because you are so nervous, you think that yourmouth hurts where I tapped it, but in reality it doesnt hurt at all. Its just yournerves. Sit back, relax, it will be over before you know it. You wont feel a thing.TRUST ME."He gave a beautiful speech. He sounded just like a politician. Unfortunately I wastoo young and very naive or I would have certainly realized that politicians alwaystell you what you want to hear, but what you want to hear and what actuallytranspires are usually two different things. And two different things it was. TheDoc bent over me and placed his pliers on my tooth and started to jiggle it. Atabout that very same time I started to scream. He kept jiggling and I keptscreaming. It was as if we had an act. A jiggling and screaming act except theonly one getting paid in this act was the jiggler. My Mom didnt know what to do.One thing that she could have done would have been to tell the Doc to stop what hewas doing but as I just said my Mom didnt know what to do. So the Doc kept uphis jiggling and I kept up my screaming. Now the Doc clamped those pliers on mytooth and started to pull. Now Alan Shepherd may have been the first U.S.Astronaut in space but I can assure you that I was the first non-astronaut to see thestars. How many stars did I see? I saw stars that werent even in our galaxy. Dr.Jacobson kept pulling on my tooth for what seemed like an eternity. I was slowly Page 53 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”slipping down in the chair and the Doc then placed his knee on my chest to preventfurther slippage. Blood was pouring out of my mouth and my screams were soloud that Im sure patients walked out of the waiting room that day, never to return.My Mom was frantic when finally Dr. Jacobson pulled the tooth from my mouth.As you could imagine I was in tears, blood was still coming out of my mouth, thepain was almost unbearable, my Mom was of course consoling me and the Docwas cleaning me up. He wiped the blood from my face and had me rinse out mymouth and then placed some gauze over the new hole in my mouth which was onthe right side of my lower jaw. He looked at me and you could see that he feltabsolutely terrible about what had just happened when all of a sudden I saw thatlight bulb go off in his head again. He bent down and looked directly into my faceand raised his right hand and tapped my bottom jaw on the left side of my face andsaid, "Stevie, can you feel that?" I said, "No." He said, "Oops." The SCHMUCKinjected me on the left side of my mouth and pulled out a tooth on the right side.Thankfully he did pull out the right tooth.SCHMUCK is a Yiddish word that has many meanings. The story you have justread is but one example. Page 54 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” SEX ..... Part 1Sex in the fifties, or as we referred to it in the Bronx, "as a good old fashionedSHTUP," was more often than not just like fishermen‟s tales. Everyone braggedabout what they did the night before when in reality the night before they werethinking about what they were going to brag about the very next day.In today‟s environment a 13, 14 or 15 year old teenage boy meets a girl and rightaway hops into bed with her and after theyre finished he first says hello and by theway my name is.......Not so in the fifties. Back then we had to go through a whole deal or should I sayordeal. The very first thing that most guys had to do if they wanted to have sexwas to find a girl. (Otherwise it was the Ivory soap.) Girls could be found in anumber of ways. In the Bronx there were two beach clubs that were open duringthe summer months. They were Castle Hill and Shorehaven. They were both openfrom Memorial Day through Labor Day. The cost was about $50 or $75 for theentire summer and for that sum of money you received a locker to store yourtowels, bathing suits, tennis rackets and condoms. The reason we carried condomswas:1-In case we should ever get to be so lucky,2-to lead our friends to believe that we were lucky or,3-because they made great water balloons.I belonged to Shorehaven Beach Club for two seasons. I joined with three of myfriends, Irwin, Mike and Joel. It was a fantastic way to spend a summer vacation.The guys and I would meet at about 9 A.M. every day and go by bus for the thirtyminute ride to Shorehaven. A typical day at the club consisted of playing softball,basketball, shuffleboard, tennis, lounging by the pool and of course swimming.Shorehaven conducted dances every Wednesday and Saturday night. Saturdaynight was social dancing like the Lindy, the Stroll, the Cha-Cha, etc. or slowdancing which we referred to as grinding which was the touching or pressing ofboth bodies together while dancing to a slow tune. Unfortunately my friends and Iwere known as the left footed gang because when it came to social dancing we allhad two left feet, so we chose not to attend the Saturday night dances. Now onWednesday night there was square dancing at Shorehaven which is something wealways attended because square dancing had many distinct advantages when youreon the make for a girl. Every square dance has a square dance caller. AtShorehaven his name was Piyute Pete, otherwise known as the Junior Samples of Page 55 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”the Bronx, the character on the television show, Hee-Haw. Now whats nice abouta square dance caller is that he can make the lame look like Fred Astaire becausethe caller is constantly telling you what to do. "Swing her to the left, swing her tothe right. Hold your baby good and tight." (I always liked that part.) That wasone great thing about square dancing. Everybody looks like a professional. Thesecond great thing about square dancing is that everybody, boys and girls, show upin groups of four. Think about it. There are eight people in a square. Everybodyknows that. Therefore if youre going to go to a square dance, youve got to gowith three other people. That means that the only way you get shut out (no girl forthe night) is if more foursomes of guys show up than girls, and to avoid that youjust get there early and as long as your group doesnt resemble Godzilla and hishenchman then youre a shoe in to have a girl for the night.Now the main reason that square dancing is so fantastic is because just supposethat for whatever the reason such as looks, shyness, breath, height, weight, etc., thegirl who is your partner doesnt like you, yet you like her. If this were Saturdaynight social dancing, then after the song ends shed say thanks and walk away. ButNO-not with Wednesday night Square Dancing at Shorehaven. Shes stuck withyou for the whole night which is usually a solid three hours. So even if she doesntlike you, youve still got three hours to win her over to your side because theunwritten law of square dancing is that once youve made a commitment thenyouve got to stick out the entire three hours, come hell, high water, an ugly guy ora fat, flat bitch.Well now, the evening is set. Youre going to a Square Dance. You know thatyoure going to meet a girl and you also know that youve got three hours to wooher. Normally the hardest part of socializing is in finding a mate. Not here. Yourmate is waiting for you. There is a much different problem here, and its this.Whos going to ask the four girls to dance?Well first we would arrive at Shorehaven and go to our lockers to spruce up andalso to get our nerves up. Then we would survey the place. All around the dancefloor are groups of four girls. You would think that pretty girls would like to hangout with other pretty girls. Maybe they do, but not at Shorehavens Wednesdaynight square dance. Youd invariably see a group of four girls, two of which youwould be proud to take home to your mother and two that you would beembarrassed to take home to their mother. This is where our friendships werealways tested.Here is where the fun began. After surveying the flock we then had to decide Page 56 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”which group of girls to ask to dance with us. At least three of us had to consent toask the girls and once that was accomplished we simply walked to within no morethan ten feet of them, formed a circle and in unison said, "the odd finger out asksthe girls." Usually within three or four tries we had a winner. That person wouldhave the sole responsibility of asking the girls to dance and in so doing would alsohave first pick of the litter. That was compensation for having been selected as ouremissary. During my second and final year at Shorehaven when I was eighteen, Imet at the Wednesday night square dance a beautiful girl named Linda. Linda was16 with a face comparable to Elizabeth Taylors. She was also ZOFTIG (topheavy). In other words she packed a set of head lights that would knock your eyesout. She was absolutely gorgeous and was always the center of attention whereverwe went. Linda and I saw each other constantly for two years. We experiencedjust about everything that boys and girls experience in their relationships. Justabout. I never did hit a home run. Lots of singles and doubles and one triple. Butnever a home run. I think if I would have renegotiated my contract with her foranother year I could have hit one over the fence, but in all fairness to Linda Iprobably would have had to marry her first. She was that kind of a girl. More girlsshould be like her.Linda and I had some memorable times. One that Ill never forget happened onYom Kippur, the holiest day in a Jewish person‟s life. On that day you are notsupposed to carry money on your person. Thats why the incident rate of Jewishpeople being mugged on Yom Kippur is very, very low, because most GENTILES(non-Jewish people) know that Jews dont carry money on that day, so they dontbother us.You cant use the telephone, youre not supposed to ride in any type of vehicle andfor 24 hours you cant eat. In other words we must fast for one solid day. That ishow it is referred to. It is called a fast. A Jew cant go without eating for 24minutes let alone 24 hours. The fact that we cant carry money or ride around townis one thing. But not being able to eat for 24 hours? This is almost unheard of.Anyway, Linda and her family were very Jewish. On this particular Yom KippurLinda wanted me to meet her and her mom, dad and brother at their Synagogue forservices and then we would all go to her parents place to break the fast. Now theSynagogue was approximately ten miles from where I lived. I was dressed up inmy nicest suit and proceeded to walk the ten miles to meet Linda and her family. Itwas a hot September day. I had to go there. I couldnt even come up with anexcuse and call because they wouldnt pick up the telephone. They were veryJewish. I also knew that by going over there I still wouldnt have any chance ofscoring with Linda because recreation of any kind is not permitted on Yom Kippur. Page 57 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”I mean its the type of holiday that makes you want to lie in bed all day until sunsetwhen Yom Kippur is officially over, because there is nothing to do. You cant evenread a newspaper on that day. Nothing. So I walked to the Synagogue and meteveryone. For a couple of hours we prayed in the Synagogue. Yom Kippur is theDay of Atonement. You confess to God the sins you committed during the pasttwelve months and ask of Him permission to let you live another year. Being thecomedian that God is, He doesnt tell you what His final decision is. He lets youfret and worry. So if you make it until the next Yom Kippur, a year from now, thenyou know what His decision was. If you didnt make it, then A ZOY GAYSTUS(thats how it goes).We didnt stay for the completion of the services. We left a couple of hours prior tosundown which discloses the end of Yom Kippur. Actually the official conclusionof the holiday is marked by the "Blowing of the Shofar." Now before you givethought to changing occupations, the Shofar is a Jewish word for a Rams horn. Itlooks like a wilted trumpet without the keys. The Rabbi gives a couple of toots onit and then the congregants wish each other a happy and a healthy new year andlike ants flowing out of their hole, the doors to the Synagogue open up to let thepeople escape to their homes to break the fast.Linda, her family and I left the Synagogue to walk approximately another mile totheir apartment building. Its been almost twenty-four hours without food. This isthe longest mile Ill ever walk. Her parents look like theyre in their early sixtiesbut walk like theyre in their late eighties. Very slow. We finally make it to theirbuilding. We enter the lobby. Its a sixteen story apartment building. They live onthe fifteenth floor. I press the button for the elevator. Linda says to me, "What areyou doing?" I told her Im waiting for the elevator. She says to me that its still theholiday. We cant ride, remember? And so all five of us walked up the entirefifteen floors. Her parents were the first ones to complete the journey. I had totake a couple of rests between floors.So now were in the apartment and Lindas parents are setting the table for dinner.Its approximately one hour until sundown. Linda and I are in casual conversation.She asks me, " So what did you do today." I told her that I got up, showered,shaved, got dressed and made my pilgrimage on foot to the Synagogue. She askedme if I ate anything. I said "No. Like I said before, I got up, I showered, I shavedand I walked the ten miles to the Synagogue." Once again she asked me if I wassure that I hadnt broken the fast. Again I repeated myself, although this time alittle agitated because she apparently didnt believe me. "Linda, for the last time, Idid not eat anything. As I said before, I got up, I showered, I shaved, I brushed my Page 58 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”teeth....." With that remark she yelled at me, "YOU BRUSHED YOUR TEETH?"I said "Yeah, I brushed my teeth." She said, "You broke the fast." "I did?" "Yes,you did." She started carrying on so much that I couldnt take it anymore and sincethere was about an hour to go until we could eat I just bolted from the apartment. Itook the elevator down to the first floor. What the hell, I already broke the fast, sowhat if I also ride the elevator. I then put my hands in my sock and pulled out a tendollar bill. (You think my Mother raised a Schmuck. You should always beprepared.) I walked across the street to the Pizza parlor and had two slices with acoke, then hopped a bus and rode home. The next year I confessed to God what Idid and apparently it didnt annoy Him. Now I dont even bother telling Himanymore.There are three events that every guy remembers in his relationships with girls.When and how they first met, when they first went all the way and thecircumstances surrounding their ultimate break off. With regards to myrelationship with Linda I only can remember two events. Not because I have a badmemory, but because unfortunately one of the events never occurred.I used to see Linda every Friday and Saturday night. For two years. We would goout with a group of other people or by ourselves to either the movies or thebowling alley, fraternity parties, amusement parks, etc. We did lots of fun thingsthat all young people do. Sometimes crazy, sometimes idiotic. Laughs, arguments.The whole spectrum. I didnt have a car, so therefore we relied on publictransportation such as buses, trains and taxis. Our evenings always ended up thesame. Linda and I going back to her parent‟s apartment and sitting alone on theliving room couch. Just Linda and I............. And our bodyguard. You see Lindahad an older brother, Howie. At that time Howie was in his mid 20s. Veryintelligent. You could tell by the conversations he would engage in. Yes, he wasvery intelligent. Also very brown. Brown as in sun tan brown. Whenever thesubject of his employment arose, the issue was always side stepped. Finally after ayear, when it looked like I might become a member of the family, Linda told mewhat her brother did for a living. He worked for the New York City Department ofParks. On any given day you could find Howie in a park with a big burlap bagover his shoulder and in his right hand a long stick with a sharp, thick needle onthe end. Howies job was to walk around the park and with stick in hand thrust theneedle into papers lying on the ground and throw the garbage into his burlap bag.Now please dont get me wrong. Its no shame to be a garbologist, because it is animportant job. And someones got to do it. But you wouldnt think that someonewith lots of intelligence would want that job. Of course you never met Howie.There were a lot of things about him that I didnt understand. Remember the Page 59 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”bodyguard? That was Howie. For two years, every night that Linda and I wentback to her apartment after our date, who would meet us at the door? Howie thebrother and Howie the bodyguard. Lindas parents were usually asleep when wegot home. Howie wasnt. NEVER. Linda and I would sit on the couch in theliving room and Howie would position himself in the dining room which oversawthe living room. We could see him and of course he could see us. He would sit atthe dining room table and stare at us with a grin from ear to ear. This twenty-fiveyear old, deeply sun tanned, paper picking putz. And on occasion, like once everyfifteen minutes, Howie would burp. Not a normal burp. But then again youwouldnt expect Howie to do anything normal. But a burp that would last forseven, ten, sometimes fifteen seconds. I never saw or heard anyone burp for suchan extended period of time like he did. And after he burped his grin got wider as ifhe was showing us how proud he was of his accomplishments.There were times that I honestly thought that Linda and I would eventually getmarried. I often thought of tape recording Howie when he was in action. Then onour wedding night I was going to put the tape recorder under our bed and turn it onbecause it wouldnt have seemed right if Linda and I were alone together.As I stated before, Linda and I had a two year affair (I wish), relationship. Whilewe shared lots of good times, there were more bad times than would be considerednormal. And the person it bothered more than anyone else was my Mom.And so towards the end of our relationship, words like engagement and marriagewould come out of Lindas mouth and words like over my dead body would comeout of my Mothers mouth. It was getting to be quite a hassle. Linda and I wouldhave our not so occasional fights. Then I wouldnt talk to Linda. Linda would callup my Mom and threaten to kill herself by jumping off the roof. My Mom wouldthen tell me that Linda wasnt rapped too tight. Then Linda and I would make upand before you knew it the same thing would happen all over again. It wascreating a lot of dissension in my house, especially between my Mom and me andso I had to make a decision. Linda or my Mom, Linda or my Mom. It wasnt easy.I seriously gave it a lot of thought. Here I was, twenty years old. On the verge ofmanhood. About to enter the real world. You know, marriage, children, full timework. Was I going to let my Mother make all my important decisions for me? WasI afraid to render a decision that would go against my Mothers thinking? Was I orwas I not going to stand on my own two feet. I was only twenty years old and thiswas by far the most excruciating and difficult decision that I had ever had to make.I pondered long and hard as to what my decision would be and then I realized thatmy Mom was a much better cook than Linda and so I broke off our relationship. Page 60 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Of course how we broke off is another story. Once I realized what I had to do, Ithen had to figure out a way to do it. At the same time that I decided to break offmy relationship with Linda, New York University, the college I attended, decidedto break off their relationship with me. What a coincidence. The fact that duringmy fourth term at N.Y.U. I had only Ds and Fs to show for my efforts wasntentirely my fault. It acutely points to the failings of the school system itself. Myfirst year at N.Y.U. I was on the freshman basketball team. In order to stay on theteam you had to maintain a 2.0 (C) average. My average for my freshman yearwas exactly that, 2.0. During the first term of my second year I pledged the PhiEpsilon Pi fraternity house. In order to become a "Brother" you had to maintainonce again a 2.0 grade point average. Bingo. Right on the nose. That wasprecisely what my average was. During the last half of my second year in collegethere were no more activities that I could join or participate in that required anykind of academic excellence. Thats the reason my grade point average droppedfrom 2.0 to 0.5. It really and truly wasnt my fault. N.Y.U. should have had somesort of incentive programs for students at all levels in college. Im living proof thatincentive programs work.Things have a way of working out for the best. N.Y.U. didnt want me and myMom didnt want Linda. This gave rise to an easy way out of the problem. MyMom spoke to her sister Jean (my Aunt Jeanie) and her husband (Uncle Jack) wholived in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She informed them of my dilemma (N.Y.U.,not Linda) and my Aunt and Uncle told my parents to send me to Albuquerque andthey would pull some strings and get me enrolled in the University of New Mexicowhereby I could continue my education. I told Linda that I was going to vacationin Albuquerque for a couple of weeks because I hadnt seen my Aunt, Uncle andcousins for quite some time. Linda made me promise her that I would write everyday. I assured her that I would.I decided to travel to Albuquerque by bus for two reasons. It was cheaper andsafer. Up until that point I had never been on a plane out of mostly fear. MyGranma, Mom, two sisters and Linda accompanied me to the Port Authority busterminal in New York City. There I was on the bus looking out the window waitingfor the bus to pull out of the terminal. There was Linda and my Mom, both cryingalthough I suspect for two different reasons. Lindas tears were those of sadness.My Moms were ones of mixed emotions because although she would miss me, shewas at the same time glad that this would be the final episode in the relationshipbetween Linda and me. So there I am, sitting on the bus, looking down at mygirlfriend, soon to be my ex and most of my family. If I didnt know better I would Page 61 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”have thought I was in Israel at the wailing wall. As they were crying I suddenlyremembered my promise to Linda and reached into my pocket and pulled out apacket of post cards. I once again looked out the window and saw the tearsrunning down Lindas beautiful face. I then looked down at the post card andwrote, Dear Linda, Just arrived in Albuquerque. It sure is a picturesque place. Illwrite again tomorrow. Love, Steve. The busses motor was starting to warm up. Iagain looked out the window and Linda was still sobbing. I took out another postcard and wrote, Dear Linda, My Mom called and told me that I flunked out ofN.Y.U. Im very depressed. Ill write again tomorrow. Love, Steve. As I lookedout the window, Linda was using a Kleenex to wipe tears from her eyes. I tookanother post card and wrote, Dear Linda, In spite of my poor grades at N.Y.U., myUncle Jack was able to convince the Dean of Admissions to let me enroll at theUniversity of New Mexico (true story) and upon reflection I think it would be veryimportant for me to finish my college education. I dont expect you to wait for mefor two years. Please go out with other people. Love, Steve. I once again lookeddown at Linda and my family, all in tears. I started to choke up. I was afraid thatif I started to cry, my tears would fall on the post cards and ruin the print and Iwould have to write them again. Somebody up there was looking down on mebecause at that point the bus pulled out of the station. It took 48 hours to get toAlbuquerque. One by one I mailed the post cards out. Within three days all threepost cards were gone and so was my union with a very beautiful person. My firstromantic relationship and one that I will never forget, my Linda. And so I enrolledin the University of New Mexico. I joined another fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Phi.Unfortunately there were no grade point requirements. Page 62 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” SEX ..... Part 2The summer months were the time of year that I always looked forward to for tworeasons. First of all it signified the end of the school year and secondly it meantthat we were going to vacation at a bungalow colony in the vicinity ofPoughkeepsie, New York. The day after school ended we packed up my Dadsstation wagon and off we went, my Mom, Dad, Granma, two sisters and I to theForest Lake Country Club, which we referred to as Mitzman‟s, in honor of theowners, Nadie, Shirley and Fannie Mitzman. Forest Lake Country Club wassituated on Sylvan Lake. The lake was surrounded by other bungalow colonies.Each colony had anywhere from 25 to 125 bungalows on their grounds. Thebungalows were filled primarily with families who had children ranging in agefrom infancy to the late teens. All the residents had something in common as theywere looking to escape the heat of summer in New York for a more relaxed andcongenial atmosphere.From sun up to late in the evening there were plenty of activities and things to dofor everyone, children and adults. And of course there was plenty of wild,unadulterated sex. I know, because I was a participant.......almost. I was sixteen atthe time. I had a job at the canteen which was the soda parlor at Mitzmans. Itwould get very crowded there at night. It seemed that just about everyone in thecolony, young and old alike would go in to have an ice cream soda, malted or cokeand listen to the tunes that we kids would play on the juke box. The owners werePaul and Ruth and they had a son about two years older than me named Jerry. Onthis particular night my shift ended at 6:00 and Jerry then clocked in. There was aneighboring town not too far from us called Hopewell Junction. It was inhabitedby a lot of tough guys. Our softball team used to play theirs and through that unionwe had made friends with them. All of a sudden the door to the canteen openedand in walked one of the guys from Hopewell Junction. It was Ernie. He hadblond unruly hair; muscles on muscles, about 510", stocky build, wearing a teeshirt with the sleeves rolled up so as to support a pack of cigarettes. He had thetype of face that when he smiled he looked menacing, so you could imagine whathe looked like when he didnt smile. He went over to Jerry and whisperedsomething in his ear. All of a sudden Jerry looked around the canteen and once hespotted me he said, "Steve, come over here." Jerry asked me to cover his shiftbecause Ernie had two hot babes in the car that were looking for action. WhatJerry didnt know was that he was talking to a sixteen year old virgin who neverhad many opportunities to devirginize himself. As far as I was concerned this wasa no brainer. I told Jerry that I had just completed an eight hour shift and I didntwant to stand on my feet for another five or six hours. No sooner did I finish Page 63 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”disappointing Jerry when Ernie turned to me and said , "cmon Steve, lets not keepthese two fine girls waiting." Jerry was visibly upset. He yelled out, "Steve, Illnever do you another favor, never." I thought about that implied threat for all oftwo seconds and said, "Okay."And so off I went, a sixteen year old virgin on the brink of a major conquest. As Iwalked to the car Ernie took his hand out of his pocket and said to me, "here, youllneed this." It was a water balloon, I mean a prophylactic. I couldnt hide myexcitement. I was on cloud nine. At long last I was going to enter into manhood.No more would I have to make up stories about my sexual triumphs to my friends.No more would I have to listen to my friends telling me about their most intimateliaisons. Finally, it was my turn. Ernie got into his car on the driver‟s side and Iopened the door behind him and gazed upon this very pretty young lady sitting inthe back who was no more than seventeen or eighteen years old. She had longbrown hair that extended below her shoulders. My eyes met hers. They were theeyes of a seductress, a teenage seductress. And then I saw her moist lips ever soslightly ajar. I thought I was going to shit in my pants.I positioned myself in the back seat next to this young beauty and introducedmyself. Ernie then introduced his date to me and off we drove into the sunset. Itseemed as if we were driving for nearly an hour. Ernie had his arm around the girlin the front seat and I was making small talk with Miss Seductress. The sun washanging ever so gingerly in the lower reaches of the sky when Ernie turned off themain road onto a dirt path. I said, "Ernie, where are you going?" He said relax,well be stopping soon and within two minutes thats exactly what we did. Itlooked like we were in the middle of a farm. Ernie shut the engine off and startedkissing the girl in the front. True to form I did what I was doing on the ride out tothis desolated place. I just kept talking, or should I say babbling to the girl next tome. She was ready to do anything I wanted and all I could do was attempt to holda conversation. All of a sudden Ernie turned to me and said, "Will you just shut upand kiss her." I wanted to. But I just kept talking. With that Ernie turned aroundand grabbed my girl by the neck, pulled her toward him and kissed her. He thenlooked at me and said, "Now thats what I want you to do." Sounded easy.Looked easy. But easy it wasnt. So I kept doing what I did best and that wastalking. With that Ernie shot up, opened his door and got out of the car. He wentaround to the passenger side and opened the door for his girl. She got out of thecar and they ran off into the woods. There I was, alone in the back seat of the carwith this alluring enchantress. God knows what she thought of me. I know what Ithought of her and what I wanted to do with her but my brain had a difficult timedelivering the message to my lips and hands. So after a few minutes I asked her if Page 64 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”she wanted to hear some music on the car radio? She said yes and I tried to turn onthe radio. It didnt work. I realized that I would have to start the car first. I gotinto the front seat and turned the ignition on. The car started and the noise it wasmaking could have woken up the dead. I turned the radio on and just about gotinto the back seat when I heard what sounded like horses on a stampede comingever so closer. I looked out the window and there was Ernie running towards thecar while at the same time trying to pull his pants up around his waist. Not too farbehind was his girl, also running, also adjusting her clothes. Ernie and the girl gotinto the car and didnt say a word. I thought it would be a good idea under thecircumstances if I didnt say anything either. Ernie drove to one of the girl‟shomes, let them out and told them hed call them tomorrow. I got into the frontseat for the long ride home. Ernie looked at me and as if he was measuring eachword for its impact he said, "Don‟t say a fuckin word." He seemed kind of upsetso I honored his request. Page 65 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” SEX ..... Part 3It was easy to find girls in New York that would go all the way. If all else failedyou could always find a hooker. I didnt say pay one, I said find one. Back in 1970I was living in a hotel in Manhattan. Two of my friends, Paul and Ben came overone night. We decided to go out for dinner. The only problem we had was that wecouldnt rustle up three dollars between us. I looked at my friend Paul andimmediately came up with an idea. You see Paul looked like Columbo. A 400pound Columbo. Paul was about 510" tall and walked with his shoulders hunchedover and his head down. It wasnt that he was looking for money on the sidewalkthat made him hunch over, rather I think it was due to his weight and eventuallygravity took hold of him. Anyway, Paul looked like a detective. The idea was toimpersonate a detective, arrest a hooker and in exchange for her freedom we wouldrelieve her of all of her money, or at least enough money that would enable us tobuy dinner. Preferably a nice steak dinner…………….. With an appetizer ofcourse. All three of us went to Times Square in the heart of the city and bought aphony detectives badge in one of the stores. Since this was my idea, naturally Iwas chosen to carry out this devious plan. Paul was driving and Ben was in thepassenger seat with me relegated to the back of the patrol car, I mean car. Wecruised the streets of New York checking out all the hookers offering their wares.Finally we saw one who we thought had the qualifications that we were lookingfor. We were looking for someone who looked stupid. This girl that we sawlooked stupid and while we werent overly concerned with her looks, if we werelooking for someone who was also pretty than we would have hit a home runbecause this girl definitely looked pretty stupid. We pulled up next to her and Ibeckoned her to the car. As she approached I asked her if she was going outtonight? She asked if all three of us were interested in her and I said yes. She saidthat it would be pretty expensive, but to quote my friend Paul, "If youre not goingto pay, then money is no object." I told her we would meet her price and so thisattractive young lady entered the car and sat next to me. We told her that we weregoing to our hotel room just a few blocks away. As Paul was driving I reached intomy pocket, pulled out the badge and flashed it in front of her eyes. I then said toher, "Youre under arrest for prostitution. Anything you say can be held againstyou as evidence in a court of law. You have the right to remain silent. You havethe right to an attorney. Do you understand what Ive just told you?" With that shestarted to cry. I asked her why she was crying and she told me that she had neverbeen arrested before. I yelled out to Paul, "Pull over." I looked at this girl and saidto her, "if we let you go do you promise to never, ever work the streets again?”She promised me she would give up this life of prostitution. She must havethought that I looked stupider than her. All of a sudden Ben shouts out, "We‟re Page 66 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”taking her in. Shes lying to you. Shes not going to give up her trade." The girl isby now frantic and she cries out, "I promise I will." For a brief moment I thoughtwe were really detectives. I immediately came back to reality. I told her that I wasgoing to let her go but I never wanted to see her on the streets again. She assuredme that I would never lay eyes on her again and she put her hand on the handle toopen the door. As she did that I grabbed her arm and said, "You know the least youcould do for us as a gesture of appreciation is give us your money." She looked mesquare in the eyes and said, "You guys are my first trick tonight." What adevelopment this was. Before I came up with this bright idea we at least hadenough money to buy some sodas and candy bars to satisfy our hunger pains, butnow all we had was a phony badge and a hooker without any money. So, we tookher back to my room and took it out in trade.But we were still very hungry. Page 67 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” SEX ..... Part 4When I was twenty-four I was employed as a salesman by a company that soldencyclopedias. It was by far the toughest job I have ever had. Thankfully wedidnt have to make cold calls. The company provided leads to its salesrepresentatives. They provided many different types of leads to its reps. Forinstance, we could get shopping center leads. The shopping center lead systemwas developed by some schmuck who decided to place big cardboard signs up atvarious supermarkets offering people an opportunity to win a free cruise by simplyfilling out a slip and dropping it in the bin. All winners would be notified by phoneby a sales representative in the event they won. Guess what? Everybody won. Wewould call people at their homes and ask for the person who filled out the entryslip. If I was asked who was calling I would simply identify myself and the nameof my company. At that point the party on the other end of the line would usuallysay that they werent interested. I would then remind them of the drawing theyentered, to which they would usually respond, "oh, that encyclopedia company."We would then proceed to tell them that they were a winner in our drawing thatwas held at their local supermarket. A lot of people at that point would jump upand down and shout out to anyone within ear shot, "I cant believe I won a cruise. Icant believe it." They were so happy. Real, real happy. Until I told them that theydidnt win the major award, which was the cruise, but they qualified for the secondplace award and I could deliver it at a time convenient for them as I did need theirsignature. That schmuck at the encyclopedia company thought of everything. Sothis is how we made appointments to sell the books off of the supermarket leads.What did they win? It was a discount on a vacation. Who didnt win a prize?Only those people who didnt fill out a form.We could also obtain the Uni-Card leads. Back in the 1960s there was a creditcard called the Uni-Card. The encyclopedia company would pay Uni-Card toplace advertising inserts inside the statements that were mailed to the card holderseach month. The ad copy would describe our encyclopedias and ask the cardholder to fill out the form and send it back directly to us if they were interested infinding out more about the product. On those leads we would simply call thepeople and remind them of their interest and try to schedule an appointment.We were also provided with call back leads. These were people who for onereason or another didnt purchase a set of encyclopedias but wanted to be calledback at a later date.What was the difference between all of these leads? Well, on the shopping center Page 68 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”leads the company only charged us $1.00. The call back leads were $2.50 and theUni-Card leads were $5.00 apiece. It didnt matter to the company if we sold anysets of encyclopedias. They were making a fortune just selling us leads.It was a tough business to succeed in. And yet I learned a lot about salesmanshipworking there. The encyclopedia company that I worked for did more for me thanall my years spent at college. I spent five years in college and never did get myB.S. degree, but within three short months I qualified for my B.S. degree, believe itor not, working for this company……B.S. as in Bull Shit. And I say that proudly.I was taught that the sale begins when your prospect says no. Based on thatassumption I had an opportunity to make many sales because all I ever heard wasno. "No thank you. Not now. How much did you say it costs? Call me back later.Much later." But I did make a few sales while working there. I had to. Otherwisehow could I have afforded to pay for their wonderful leads? The sales I producedwere invariably made due to a technique which many years later I nicknamed theColumbo Close, in honor of Peter Falk, who portrayed the legendary detectiveColumbo on television. There comes a time in every sales person‟s life when theyhave to accept the fact that they are not going to sell the person who is in front ofthem. The better a sales person you are, the least amount of times you walk awaywithout the sale. The poorer a sales person you are means you learn to walk awaymany times without the sale. Good encyclopedia sales people walk away many,many times without the sale. People like me go through a pair of shoes once aweek because it seemed that all I did was walk away without a sale. Talk aboutrejection. You dont know what rejection is until youve tried to sell encyclopedias.But I did make a few sales because of the Columbo Close. When it was apparentthat I wasnt going to make a sale I would start to pack up my materials whichconsisted of one condensed book of topics found throughout the encyclopedias andvarious leaflets. You could feel the tension disappear as the prospects before youare very relieved that youre finally leaving. One of the reasons that I didnt make"regular" sales was because at the conclusion of my presentation I would try to sellthe heirloom edition that the company offered. The cost then was $1,200.00. Thenyou proceed to drop in price by offering other less expensive sets. They allcontained the same material. The only difference was the binding on the books.The last price drop was to $600.00. If the prospect says no, you thank them fortheir time, pack up your materials, say good bye and head for the door. Youre nowat the door. Your back is facing the prospects. You open the door and suddenlystop dead in your tracks and raise your left hand to your forehead and turn aroundwith a look of bewilderment on your face. You look at your prospects and say, Page 69 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”"Excuse me. How stupid of me. You know the encyclopedia‟s that you see in theschool? You know, the ones with the red bindings?" Invariably one of theprospects will say yes. "Well it just dawned on me that every once in a while thereis an over run. In other words the factory prints too many sets and we are left withone or two extra editions. Its the same exact set that I have shown you heretonight. There are only two differences. One, the binding is red and two, insteadof $600.00; the price for the school book edition is only $300.00. The only thing isI dont know if there are any left. I would have to make a call now to thewarehouse to find out. If there is a set left I can reserve it in your name so no othercompany representative can claim it. Would you be interested?" If they say no,you thank them and leave, but if they happen to say yes, then youve just made asale.After they say yes, you ask them if you can use their phone to call the warehouse.You then proceed to call your spouse, a friend, a relative, a stranger, anyone youwant to because there is no warehouse. I once called my Mom, who wasnt awareof the Columbo Close and when she answered the phone I said, "Hi, this is SteveChanzes and Im a representative with the encyclopedia company. I need to talkwith someone in inventory control please." My Mom said, "Stevie, stop playinggames. So how are you TOTELA (son)?" I said, "Hi, inventory control? I needto know if there are any red book editions left over from our latest school order.Okay." Id turn to my client and tell them that they were checking to see if thereare any left. At the same time my Mom was repeating into the phone, "Steven (Sheonly called me Steven when she was upset with me), have you lost your mind? Ifyou dont talk right to me then Im going to hang up." At that point I would talkinto the phone and say "hold on, let me find out." My Mother was yelling, "findout what?" I turned to the prospects and said, "We‟re in luck, they have oneedition left. Do you want it?" My Mom said, "Steven, call me back later whenyou find your mind." And she hung up. Now Ive got to keep my ear glued to thephone because after a while the phone will start making that loud busy signal noiseonce the party on the other end (my Mom) disconnects. The prospect indicatedthey wanted the red book edition and so I spoke into a phone that had no one onthe other end and told the inventory control person to reserve it in my prospectsname. I quickly hung up the phone, opened up my briefcase and filled out thenecessary forms, collected a check either in full payment or a small depositbecause the company would finance the balance…………….. Now I had enoughmoney to buy more leads.Now you must be wondering, what does this story have to do with sex? The storyobviously had nothing to do with sex unless you feel as I do that the encyclopedia Page 70 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”company was SCREWING its very own reps by selling them leads. Well inreality I got screwed twice working for them. Once by the company due to thenature of their lead program and once in the more conventional way.One day at work I got a call from my former boss Carmine Guerriero. He had aninsurance agency in Long Island and at one time I was one of his sales reps.Although I no longer worked for him, we still kept in touch from time to time.Carmine at that time was in his mid-forties, a good twenty years older than me. Hehad a very entertaining personality and although he was married at the time, he wasmost definitely a ladies man. He used to bring women into his office, lock his doorand hammer them while his agents were at work within earshot of his escapades.Discreet he wasnt, but to his credit he didnt try to boff every woman he met. Theyhad to fit a certain criteria he had established. I once asked him what that was andhe said, "Steve, they must have two arms and two legs."Knowing how selective Carmine could be, whenever he would try to turn you on toa woman you had to be very careful before making a commitment, because if youcomplained to Carmine he invariably would ask you, "Steve, didnt she have all herlimbs?" As I previously stated one day Carmine called to tell me that he went outon an insurance appointment the night before and he met this divorcee in Paramus,New Jersey who had a lot more than insurance on her mind. He told me that thiswoman was recently divorced. Her former husband was a doctor. She lived in abeautiful home in Paramus with her two young children. Her name was Madelineand Carmine told me that apparently she was sexually starved during her marriageand that she was more than making up for it now. He gave me her number and saidthat all Ive got to do is call her and mention Carmines name and thats it. He saidId have the time of my life. Carmine said that there was no need to try to impressher. As Carmine said, "just call her, see her, and lay her." Sounded pretty easy tome……… Except that wasnt my style. I mean I didnt get that B.S. degree fornothing. I tried to use it at every opportunity I got. Especially now, because I was24 and the target of my affections was on the north side of 40. About 4 degreesnorth.So one evening, with trembling hands I picked up the phone and called Madeline.She had a very sultry voice. Sort of like Marlena Dietrich but without the accent. Itold her who I was and that Carmine had given me her number. She said,"Carmine who?" What an impression he must have made on her. I said, "Youknow, Carmine, the insurance guy." She said, "Oh yes, I remember. But why didhe give you my number?" I wasnt prepared for that question. As a matter of fact,I really wasnt prepared for any questions that Madeline might ask me. I was Page 71 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”prepared to wing it, but I never thought she wouldnt remember Carmine, nor did Iever think she would ask me why he gave me her telephone number? Thats whyIm glad that I got that B.S. degree. It certainly came in handy this time. As soonas Madeline asked me why Carmine gave me her number I told her that I waslooking for a date to escort me to a board of directors meeting at the encylopediacompany and Carmine thought that she might like to go with me. I went on to tellher that I was nominated to the board and that I was the youngest member in thehistory of the company and that another board member, Joe Namath, was going topresent me with a special award marking the occasion. "Carmine knew that I waslooking for someone sharp to go with me to the meeting, so he suggested that I callyou and see if you might be interested." Well, it didnt take too much to convinceMadeline to be my escort. As a matter of fact it didnt take anything else other thanwhat I said over the phone to convince her. She had never met me and after barelythree minutes of conversation on the phone she was asking me what type of dresswould be appropriate and should she wear a lot of jewelry, etc., etc. I told her thatwe could discuss that later. She then asked me if I wanted to see her first before Icommitted to taking her with me to the board meeting. So I set up a date to takeher out to dinner and a movie.Now at that particular time in my life I didnt have a car. I was recently divorcedand living with my folks. I had a key to my Dads car and he would let me use itwhenever I wanted to. In that way my Dad and I had a terrific relationship. All Ihad to do was tell him that I was going to use the car and as long as he wasnt inneed of it I could have it for the night. My parents had no plans on the night I wasto take Madeline out. I told my Dad that I was going to use the car for the eveningand he said no. I said "Why?" He told me that I had already used it once thisweek. My Father, God rest his soul, had a way of looking at and analyzing thingsfar different than anyone else. He graduated from the Joe Chanzes School ofLogic. He was the only student at that school. In my life I have never met anyoneelse who thought quite like my Dad.Well logic told me that I had a piece of ass waiting for me in Paramus, New Jerseyand I wasnt going to be deterred from my appointed rounds. So I told my parentsthat I was going to go over to see one of my friends and I went downstairs with onethought in mind. I knew that my Dad wasnt going out anymore that evening andmy Mom didnt drive, so therefore they would have no need for the car. At thatparticular time my Dad didnt park his car in a garage. But it could be parked onany street within a five block radius. Each complete block had room forapproximately 125 cars. Nevertheless I was determined. As luck would have it,about three blocks away I found my Fathers car. And talk about luck, his car was Page 72 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”parked at the corner and there was a fire hydrant directly behind him. Now I knewthat when I returned that evening his spot would be taken. It would probably betaken within five minutes of me driving off. But I also knew that the space withthe fire hydrant would be open because if you dared to park by a fire hydrant thenyou were sending out an invitation for the police to have your car towed. I alreadyknew what I would do when I returned that evening. I accepted the fact thatsomeone was going to take my Dads parking space so I would simply pull behindthem, next to the fire hydrant, and nudge the car in front of me out into theintersection. At that moment I had a distinct vision. Think about it. This was mybig night. What were the chances that my Dad would have parked in a space thatconvenient for me to pull off this escapade? It dawned on me at that moment thatthere was a God in heaven, and that God in his infinite wisdom was most definitelyon my side. HE wanted me to get laid.Not wanting to disappoint HIM, I drove to Paramus and met Madeline. She wasvery beautiful, very intelligent (a former school teacher), and very horny. Thatsthe ultimate trifecta. We went into New York City to an Italian restaurant calledProfessors. Besides the great food served there, the charm of the restaurant wasthat when down and out actors or actresses came into the place, the Professor (theowner) would always feed them, no charge. For a brief moment I thought ofbecoming an actor, but I realized that with Madeline I was acting. I was playing arole. And it looked like I would get free sex at the end of the play. So I thought,free food, free sex? Hummm? I chose the latter. And besides, it wasnt fattening.And not only that, but I knew that I would get tired eating Italian food every day.And so we finished dinner and went to the movies and saw an underground filmcalled Putney Swope. Putney was a black man on the board of an advertisingagency. Putney was the only black person on the board. At their weekly meeting,the C.E.O. died of a heart attack while giving a speech. Now the other boardmembers must elect a new C.E.O. and you can hear each one of them thinking, "Illvote for Putney because no one else will." To the chagrin of everyone on the boardtheir new C.E.O. is now Putney Swope. And while we were watching the filmMadeline placed her hand on my thigh and gently moved it back and forth, downto my knee and up to my groin. It seemed as if she was sending me a message.But the movie was kind of entertaining, especially with Madelines traveling hand.And I knew she wasnt going anywhere because I had the key to the car tuckedsafely away in my pocket. So we watched the rest of the movie and then left forour trip back to New Jersey.Once inside her home it didnt take more than five minutes for Madeline to begin Page 73 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”showing me why Carmine was so enthralled with her. I didnt want to leave but Iknew my Dad would be real pissed if he couldnt find his car in the morning.Thats how my Dad was. Never could take a joke. So after a couple ofentertaining hours in her house I said good night. As I was leaving she asked meagain about Joe Namath and the board meeting and dinner and I told her I wouldcall her in a couple of days to go over all the details with her. So I went back to theBronx and sure enough there was a car parked in my Dads space and there wasntany car parked behind him due to the fire hydrant. I eased my Dads car into thespace by the fire hydrant and pushed the car in front of me a good four or five feetinto the intersection and went upstairs to my room. It was about four in themorning and everyone was sleeping.The following night my Dad came home from work at the usual time of six P.M.As soon as he walked in, my sisters, Mom and I instinctively knew something waswrong. I thought for sure that he was going to accuse me of using his car the nightbefore, but thankfully he didnt. Not only did God want me to get laid, but Hedidnt want my Dad to find out. All of a sudden my Father in a very disgruntledvoice blurted out, "How do you like that?" Like were supposed to know what hestalking about. And he would actually get angry at us for not knowing why he wasso upset. Its that school of logic that he went to. My Mom said, "Joe, whats thematter?" My father went on to say, "Some schmuck couldnt find a parking spacelast night so they pulled in front of me and pushed me back near the fire hydrant."This event took place in 1968. It took me approximately 12 years to muster up thecourage to tell my Father who that schmuck was. My Mom, Dad and Granmawere visiting me and my family in Florida and after I told them the story they allbroke up in laughter. Well, not all of them. My Dad looked at me and without atrace of a smile said, "Dont do that again." Hes living in the Bronx and Im livingin Florida and hes telling me not to do that again to him. Its that school of logic.So there I am in my office at the encyclopedia company and the secretary tells methat there is a woman by the name of Madeline on the phone. I was taught a longtime ago that to fully enjoy your day the first thing you should do every day is toget rid of the most unpleasant task facing you. The only problem with that logic isthat the way I was leading my life back then I had unpleasant tasks all day long. Ipicked up the phone and said hi to Madeline. She told me how much she enjoyedour date. I told her that I too enjoyed her company and then she told me that shewent out that day and bought a beautiful and apparently expensive dress as well asa jewelry piece. We had some small conversation and I told her I would call her ina day or two and make final arrangements for the board meeting and dinner. Ihung up the phone and immediately began to analyze my future at this company. I Page 74 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”wasnt making money. I didnt see anything on the horizon that would have apositive effect on increasing my earnings. I didnt think that I had a ghost of achance of moving into management and on top of all this I had this woman in NewJersey who expected to go with me to a board meeting and dinner that didntexist………. I walked into my manager,s office and told him I quit.As I said before, I got screwed twice working for the encyclopedia company. Thesecond time was far more enjoyable. Page 75 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” SCHOOLS P.S. 105The first school I attended was P.S. 105. I was there for seven years, kindergartenthrough the sixth grade. The school was less than one block away from where Ilived. That was an advantage in more ways than one. If I had to be at school bynine in the morning I could leave my apartment at 8:55 and make it on time withroom to spare. I also had the luxury of going home for lunch. My Mom was afantastic cook and even her tuna sandwiches were unlike any you ever tasted. Iremember all of my teachers in grade school, some more than others, butnevertheless they all made a deep and lasting impression on my mind. While noneof us had to wear a uniform, all the boys and girls were neatly attired. The boyshad to wear a white shirt and tie and the girls would don skirts. We usuallygathered in the schoolyard around eight in the morning. Why so early? Simpleexplanation. The guys would put their books down and someone would pull out aSpalding ball. They dont make Spalding balls anymore, but they were fantastic forstoop ball, punch ball, stickball and slug. Slug was the game that we most oftenplayed in the mornings before the school bell rang. Four guys would play at atime. The schoolyard at P.S. 105 was comprised of big blocks that measuredapproximately three feet square. Each participant was responsible for his ownblock which was adjacent to the schoolyard wall. The first player was designatedKing. The King would bounce the ball and hit it bare handed towards the wall on abounce. The ball would come off the wall and had to land in an opponent‟s box orthe King was out. If the King was out, then he would move towards the end of theline and the person closest to the King would now have that title as everyonewould move up one box. On the other hand, if the ball hit by the King went into anopponent‟s box then the opponent would have to hit it back to anyone and thegame continued until someone made out. The object was to remain King for aslong as you could. By the time the school bell rang, our shirts were out of ourpants and we were in need of a shower because we had worked up such a sweat.The school bell would ring at 9:A.M. and we would go to our designated area inthe schoolyard and stand single file until the next bell rang, at which point wemarched into the school and went to our classrooms.Each day in grade school we had a milk and cookie recess around ten in themorning. I believe it cost us two or three cents for a pint of milk and a cookie thatthe school would distribute. In the fourth grade I was one of a few studentsappointed as a milk monitor. My job was to deliver the milk to the students. Eachday I would report to a certain area in the school and was given a crate that held Page 76 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”approximately forty-eight pints of milk. I then had to go to the designated classrooms and the teacher of the class would take as many containers of milk as wasneeded for his or her students. Once the crate was empty I would go and have itrefilled. The school had four floors. There was an elevator in the building, but notfor students. Not even milk monitor students. I had to SCHLEP (trudge) up anddown the stairs every day delivering milk to my fellow classmates. I wasSCHVITZING (sweating) and schlepping and schlepping and schvitzing and forno pay. Well, almost no pay. Every now and then I would rest on one of the stairwells in between floors and drink a container of milk. I would say that I restedfour to six times each day. It didnt take too long for the school officials to takenotice that there was a shortage of milk in the school because not all of the studentswere getting their milk with their cookies. There were many complaints andfinally the officials traced down the shortage to my route. Thankfully I wasallowed to remain in Public School but I did have the distinction of being the firstand only milk monitor fired at P.S. 105. I believe the record is still intact.My fifth grade teacher was Mrs. Sweeney. She was in her mid-fifties and alwayswore granny dresses. Her hair was completely white and she made more than onestudent over the years turn white with her antics. She was a mean spirited bitch. Iremember the following incident as if it were yesterday. We were sitting in classand one of the students, Louis Falkenstein, was being disruptive. She made himcome up to the front of the class room and loosen his tie and undo the top button ofhis shirt. She then told him to hang himself. Poor Louie. He had to stand in frontof his fellow students with his right hand grasping his tie and holding it as farabove his head as he could. Thankfully she permitted his feet to remain on thefloor. I guess she had a heart after all. Page 77 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” P.S. 83After graduating from P.S. 105 I went to P.S. 83 for the seventh and eighth grades.It was about a twenty minute walk from where I lived. P.S. 83 is located in anItalian neighborhood. I lived in a neighborhood that was 99% Jewish and for thenext two years I would attend a school in a neighborhood that was 99% Italian. Upuntil that point in time, or for the first twelve years of my life, I really only knewand associated with Jewish people. It was a learning experience. I learned thatthere are many similarities between the Jewish and Italian people. Both peoplesare very family oriented. They both enjoy traditional foods. Pastas, sausages andmeatballs for the Italians and corned beef, pastrami and knishes for the Jews. Andat affairs the music is lively. The Italians have their tarantellas and the Jews havetheir bulgars. Even the two most popular songs for Italians and Jews are verysimilar in name and meaning as both peoples have a tremendous devotion to theirmothers. The Italian peoples praise to their mothers is sung in a song called,"Mama", and Jewish people honor their mothers by singing the song, "MyYiddisha Mama." Both songs when heard will bring tears to your eyes. In realitythe only major difference between Jews and Italians is that Italian people dont takeshit from no one. In some cases theyll take everything else. But they dont takeshit. I found this out at P.S. 83 when I was just twelve years old. After about aweek of attending school I realized that the best thing a Jew could do for himselfwas to have an Italian friend. Not necessarily a girl. You dont want to piss offanyone and have them think that youre invading their turf. No, you need to makefriends with an Italian guy. Someone named Frankie. Or Tony. Someone with thename of Anthony could go either way. An Anthony could be meek and timid or hecould be tough. But theres really no room for error so youre better off with aTony. Think about it. Have you ever seen anyone named Tony who wasnt tough?I havent. And other than Frankie Avalon, every Frankie Ive ever met was onetough guy.So there we were. A bunch of Jewish guys between the ages of eleven and thirteenyears old who all grew up in an ethnic Jewish neighborhood and for the most partonly had contact with Jewish people and now we were finding out for the very firsttime in our lives that theres more to life than potato pancakes and matzo ball soup.It was a tremendous culture shock for most of us. On a couple of fronts. Whilemost of the Jewish boys and girls that attended P.S. 83 were between eleven andthirteen years old, there were quite a few Italian boys who were between thirteenand sixteen years of age in the same classes that we attended. A fair amount of theItalian boys didnt have time for their studies because the clubs they belonged to Page 78 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”didnt permit or provide them with the time needed to succeed in school, sotherefore many of these kids were left back a number of times. Actually clubswould be the wrong word. These kids belonged to gangs. And the gangs usedclubs. Hard clubs. There were three gangs at P.S. 83. There were the GoldenGuineas, the Golden Guinea Juniors and the Golden Guinea Midgets. Three verytough gangs. Jews werent in these gangs. I think the only way a Jew could evensee the clubhouse was if the Jew was on a spit, being roasted.As I said before, these were tough gangs, ala West Side Story. They really existed.There were other gangs in the Bronx. For instance, there was the FordhamBaldies. You didnt have to be Italian to belong to this gang. You didnt even haveto be bald. You just had to be tough. Jews didnt belong to the Baldies either. Notbecause we were excluded. That wasnt the reason. If we belonged to a gang, thenwe wouldnt have had enough time for our studies, and we certainly wouldnt havehad a fair amount of time to play basketball, stickball, softball, etc. in the schoolyards, parks or streets. And last but far from least, the main reason we didntbelong to gangs was because we were pure chicken shit. We werent raised tofight. We were raised to negotiate. Not that there werent any tough Jews. If anItalian guy ventured onto our turf and a Jewish guy saw him, the Jewish guy wasntafraid to tell that Italian guy to get out of Dodge City. Ive seen plenty of toughJewish guys under these circumstances. The Jewish guy would look the Italian guydirectly in the eyes and tell him to get the hell out of the area if he knew what wasgood for him. The Jewish guy didnt even need a club. Especially if he had nine orten other Jewish guys standing next to him. Well, maybe fourteen or fifteen.I had a friend by the name of Steve Pozmanter who lived on the same floor as Idid. Steve was about a year older than I was and a car accident at birth left himwith a scar on the left side of his face, very similar to the one Al Capone had.Steve was a big guy; nevertheless he was the target of many unseemly jokes. Hisnickname, not of his own choosing was Scarface. Unlike his namesake, Steve wasnot a tough guy and he didnt belong to any gang. When someone makes fun ofyou, in particular calls you Scarface, theres really not too much you can do to themif youre holding a kosher hot dog in your left hand and a pickle in your right.Those two items were Jews weapons of choice. They cant compete with a billyclub or tire iron. But they sure tasted better.Ill never forget the following incident that took place in the schoolyard of P.S. 83one Halloween morning. Steve Pozmanter and I, along with some other peoplewere walking to school. Steve had on a brand new leather jacket, ala Fonzie fromHappy Days. This was the first day he had worn it. We arrived at school and as Page 79 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”customary we all mingled in the schoolyard until the bell that signified thebeginning of classes for the day rang. Some of the tough guys at school came upto our crowd and started to pick on Steve. I dont know if any of these guysbelonged to the Golden Guinea Seniors, Juniors or Midgets. But they were tough.They started pushing Steve around. Then they pulled out some chalk, all differentcolors and began to mark up his jacket. I went up to a couple of them and askedthem to leave Steve alone. A Jew never tells a tough Italian to leave someonealone. It sounds like youre ordering them around. You ask. This way if they dontwant to honor your request you can always look in the mirror and say, "I tried."This is how you learn to negotiate. But at twelve years old I wasnt exactly aHenry Kissinger. Worse than that, Steve, or Scarface, wasnt a tough guy. Thisdidnt make for a very good combination. A couple of other students went and toldsome teachers what was happening. The best that can be said of this unfortunateincident is that Steve; (Scarface) had a huge audience of students and teachers whoall watched as he got the shit kicked out of him.As bad as it was to have teachers just stand by when a student was being beaten up,it was even worse when teachers would let students have the run of the class. Onesuch teacher was Mr. Okon, who taught shop. Wood Shop. Mr. Okon appeared tobe in his sixties. He wore a hearing aid in his right ear. His hair was completelywhite and he walked rather slowly around the class room. A hot fire under hisTUCHAS (rear end) could not have motivated him to walk any faster. Mr. Okonstime had long past. About a hundred years ago. Nevertheless he was our assignedteacher when class met for shop instruction. In the four years of high school that Iattended, and considering all the subjects I studied, and the many different classes Isat through, and the various teachers I had, I can honestly say that Mr. Okon wasthe only teacher who took a fifteen minute break for himself during class. Hewould simply get up from his desk at some point during his class and tell thestudents that he would be back shortly. Our shop class met twice a week and twicea week Mr. Okon would take a siesta. And he wasnt even Spanish.Well, when Mr. Okon was away, naturally the mice would play. And in this casethe mice were all Italian. These mice put Topio Gigio to shame. These wereMICE. The Italian students, the tough Italian students ran P.S. 83. The teacherstried to compete with them for "rights of ownership," but in the final analysis whilethe school appeared to an outsider to be run by the Board of Education, those in theknow, students and teachers alike realized that it was a different board that ran P.S.83. This board consisted of very tough Italian students, 14, 15 and 16 years oldthrown into the same classes with 12 and 13 year old kids who by and large grewup on the other side of the tracks. Page 80 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”My friend Mike Lewis also had Mr. Okon as his Wood Shop teacher. ThankfullyMike wasnt in the same class with me. Or should I say that thankfully a classmateof Mikes who went by the name of Sal Raimondo wasnt in the same class withme, or any other class of mine for that matter. Sal qualified as a tough guy. Nodoubt about it. Worse than being a tough guy was the fact that Sal was about sixty-two cents short of a dollar. And Im being overly generous. When youre sixty-twocents short of a dollar, that means you only have thirty-eight cents......sense left. Inother words, not very much. With thirty-eight cents (sense) Sal didnt even havetwo quarters to rub together. Not in his pockets and certainly not in his head. Hewas an accident going to a place to happen. An attorneys dream. A studentsnightmare. Sal used to come to school with knives hidden on the inside of hissocks. He was a tough guy. I dont know if he was really a good fighter or if hewas really that tough. But who the hell wanted to find out? At our eighth gradegraduation exercises one of the teachers announced the names of the different highschools that the graduates would be attending. It was pointed out that most of thestudents would be attending Christopher Columbus High School. Then the namesof the students accepted into the Bronx High School of Science as well as PeterStuyvesant High School were read because in order to be approved into either ofthose schools you had to pass certain equivalency tests which certified that youwere nothing short of a genius. And after the names of those honored studentswere read, the teacher emphasized that last but not least Mr. Sal Raimondo wasgoing to enroll in some trade school. The student body almost without exceptionerupted into applause for two reasons. First of all everybody was happy that Salwas going to this trade school and secondly everybody was happy that theywerent.For sure my friend Mike was glad that he had seen the last of Sal Raimondo. Thereason for that was because when Mr. Okon, the shop teacher, would take hisperiodic siesta from class; it seemed that Sal appointed himself as the person incharge. And since Sal decided that only he would be able to vote in this election,then he won in a landslide. But it was a close vote. Very close.And so when Mr. Okon left the room Sal would gather up some of the wood chipsthat had fallen to the floor. He would have my friend Mike stand at one side of theroom and Sal would stand at the opposite side some thirty feet away. At that pointSal would instruct Mike to walk in a straight line from one end of the room to theother. And while Mike was walking back and forth, Sal would start to fire thesewood chips at him. Now back in the 1950s there was a very popular arcade gamewhereby a bear would walk back and forth across the screen and the object was to Page 81 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”fire your rifle at the bear and when you hit him he would raise both arms up in theair, emit a loud groan, turn around and walk in the opposite direction. Well thatsexactly what Sal had Mike do. He would fire the wood chips at Mike and everytime he hit him, Mike would have to raise his hands up in the air, emit a loud groansimilar to the one the bear in the arcade game made, and then turn around and walkthe other way. The game stopped when Mr. Okon returned from his self-imposedbreak. Yes, my friend Mike was not the least bit upset when he heard that SalRaimondo wouldnt be attending the same high school with him.Ironically Mike Lewis was a tough guy. But there was a difference back thenbetween a tough Jewish kid and an equally tough Italian kid. That was exhibitedone day when Mike got into a fight with this tough Italian. Mike was kicking theliving hell out of this guy. We were all so proud of him. Then about four Italiantough guys joined in to help their comrade. Now from the Italian point of view thiswas now an even fight. The tables were turned rather quickly on Mike as he gothis head handed to him. After the fight, I mean massacre was over, Mike onlywanted to know why his friends didnt jump in to help him. And that signifies thebasic differences, even at a young age between Italians and Jews. I mean after all,someone had to be concerned with booking the rematch...............who had time tofight? I was busy negotiating.Lunch time at P.S. 83 gave most of us Jewish guys an option. Either we could gointo the community and buy our lunch from a number of great Italian delis or pizzashops or we could brown bag it and bring our lunch to school. After our firstcouple of weeks at school we still had two options. We could brown bag it or wecould go without eating. A sort of self-imposed fast. You see at the beginning ofthe school term we all ventured out into the streets at noon and found some of thegreatest places to eat. The pizza places were no different than the ones in ourJewish community because Italian people ran the pizza parlors where we lived, butthe delis in the Italian neighborhood by P.S. 83 offered us some of the mostmouthwatering sandwiches and heros that we ever ate. When you walk into aJewish deli there is a certain aroma that seems to say Jewish and delicious. Its nodifferent when you walk into a good Italian deli. The aromas that fill the air sayItalian and delicious. Instead of hard salamis hanging from the ceiling, which youfind in a Jewish deli, in the Italian deli there are different cheeses and sausageshanging from above. The smells of matzo balls, chicken soup, hot dogs andknishes are replaced by the superb scents of meat balls, minestrone soup, manicottiand lasagna. All the Italian delis were good, but my favorite was one called Als.Al had a rather small store, approximately 20 feet in length and about 10 in width,yet it was packed with people, mostly students at the noon hour, each waiting in Page 82 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”line for Al to make them a hero. He just made cold subs, but they were the best Iever ate.When you walked into his store you immediately fell in line, waiting your turn. Asyou were waiting you would turn to your right and face a big window whichlooked out into the street. In the window on any given day there were at least fiftyor sixty hero breads. Each hero bread had a hard shell and was about fifteen incheslong. Then as the line shortened you were able to pick a cold soda out of the case.Next to the sodas were candies of all types. M&Ms, snickers, milky ways. Youname it, Al had it. At this point there were usually four or five students still infront of you. Al was the only worker in the place. He was busy waiting on thestudent in front of him. Al had to cut the hero, put mustard or mayonnaise on thebread and then slice the meat that the student chose. The meat wasnt precut. Alwould take out the salami, bologna, ham, cheese or whatever else you wanted andslice it on his machine and make you one of the finest sandwiches known tomankind. He was busy as a beaver, which was kind of good, because that meantthat he didnt have the time to look over by the counter and see some of thestudents (not me) putting candy bars in their coat pockets. When my turn came Iusually had Al make me a bologna and provolone cheese hero, loaded withmustard. The hero was so huge and crammed with meat and cheese that it wasdifficult to finish. But I always succeeded. Al would charge us fifteen cents forthe bread and believe it or not just fifteen cents for the meat and cheese. Thirtycents and you ate like a king. An extra ten cents for the soda. Forty cents for anunbelievable lunch. The candy was free.It didnt take too long for the tough Italian students to recognize the Jewishstudents. For one, even though we were in the same class as they were, we werefor the most part two or three years younger. Besides that, the tough Italians hungoutside Als deli, while the Jewish students hung inside Als deli. You see Al had arule. If you couldnt pay for a sandwich, then he wouldnt make you one. That wasjust one of his idiosyncrasies. The tough Italian students didnt have much money,so they couldnt afford a sandwich and therefore stayed outside his place, althoughthey did go into Als for the candy. After a few days these tough guys wouldapproach us as we got to Als and ask us for money. We would tell them that wedidnt have any extra money and therefore couldnt lend them any. I was surprisedat how understanding they were, especially from all the stories we had heard aboutthem. We would go into Als to order our sandwiches and when we got out thesevery same tough guys were kind enough to let us have half of our sandwiches.They were very kind. Then on any given day, while walking through the hallwaysin school to go from one class to another, one of these tough guys would ask us for Page 83 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”money so they could eat lunch. They werent satisfied with half of our lunch. Nowthey wanted us to front them so they could have the lunch all to themselves. Thatswhere I started to really learn the art of negotiation. I came away without a markon me. And also without a dollar in my pocket. Thats also when I decided tobrown bag it. After a couple of weeks at our new school, we had a pretty fullcafeteria at lunch time. Mostly Jews.The principle of P.S. 83 was Freida Rosenberg. Ms. Rosenberg was like a Jew inKing Arthurs Court. A brown pair of shoes in a black tuxedo. A worm in a pondfull of fish. In other words, she didnt fit in. Yet here was this short, feisty Jewishwoman running a prison, I mean a school comprised of loads of mental misfits.During my second and final year at P.S. 83 I ran into some serious problems withsome of the inmates, uh, students. I didnt get into any fights but I was of theopinion that I could hold my own in the event that I had to defend myself. But outof compassion for some of those so called tough guys I felt that it was onlyinevitable that one day, because of their threats and insults I would lose my cooland I would wind up doing a tremendous amount of damage to their fists with myface .There was one student in school, about three years older than me who wasconstantly threatening me and after many conversations with my parents, myMother made an appointment for both of us to sit down with Ms. Rosenberg to seeif she had any ideas on how we could prevent this tough guys fists from beingbrutally mauled by my face. At the meeting my Mother told Ms. Rosenberg aboutthe student who was seriously threatening me with bodily harm. Ms. Rosenbergdidnt blink an eyelash. She looked me square in the face and asked me for thename of the student. My Mom wanted to know what she would do once she foundout the name of the person who was menacing me. The principle told my Momthat she would call that student on the carpet and warn him not to lay a hand on meand if need be she would expel him from school. Ms. Rosenberg was the judge,jury and executioner. And you werent allowed any appeals. She was a tough lady.My Mom was about to ask me to give Ms. Rosenberg the name of the student whowas threatening me when it seemed like a light bulb turned on in her head as shelooked at the principle and asked her if she had had any problems with the studentsat the school. Ms. Rosenberg said that one student in particular was verydisruptive in class and she was left with no alternative but to expel him for anindefinite period. My Mom asked her if there were any repercussions from heractions and Ms. Rosenberg said that this student threatened her life. Back in the1950s the only way the police would have interceded would have been if thestudent actually carried out the threat. Thankfully that hadnt happened. But my Page 84 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Mom was acting like a dentist. She was pulling teeth because while Ms.Rosenberg wasnt about to lie, she also wasnt volunteering the truth either. MyMom asked Ms. Rosenberg if she was in fear for her life and Ms. Rosenberg said,"No, because the police escort her back and forth to school every day." Thats allmy Mom had to hear. With that she picked herself up and told Ms. Rosenberg thatshe would think of another solution other than having me give out the name of thestudent that was harassing me. Mom and I left the school and as we did she lookedat me and said, "Stevie, promise me one thing?" "Whats that Mom?" "If thatstudent picks a fight with you, promise me you wont hurt his fists too badly withyour face, okay?" "Ill try not to disappoint you Mom." I suppose word got outhow tough my face was because that student never bothered me again. I guess hedidnt want to risk having me hurt his hands.During the eighth grade at P.S. 83 my science teacher was Mr. Dill. He must havebeen around 64", fifty or fifty-five years old with a muscular build. His hair wassolid white. A good number of his students, I included, had their hair turn solidwhite after Mr. Dill got finished with us. He was a great teacher. He had a way ofgetting your attention and once he got your attention, he never lost it. That wasbecause once he got your attention, you never knew what he would do to get itback again. And you didnt want to know because once was enough. One day Mr.Dill brought into class a small generator. Homemade. The instrument was nomore than eight inches by six inches. In the center of the panel there was a lightbulb screwed into the wood and there was a wheel on the side of it with a handleattached. There were a couple of wires and screws holding this contraptiontogether. On one end of the generator there were two knobs separated by four orfive inches and standing four inches high. It looked like something you wouldmake in shop class. A crude little gadget. Mr. Dill informed us that he neededseven volunteers for his experiment. Five students immediately got up. Threeguys and two girls. Mr. Dill told the girls to sit down because this was a specialexperiment for just the guys. The three male students standing up at the front ofthe class thought they were real special. They were gloating as if they were pickedto compete on Jeopardy. Mr. Dill requested four more male volunteers. No onemoved. He looked at me and said, "How about you Chanzes?" I said, "Nah, nottoday Mr. Dill. Maybe some other time." He came to my desk and stood over me.He had a devilish grin on his face as he told me to stand up. I stood up and facedhim. He said, "Are you sure you dont want to be a volunteer Chanzes?" I wasbeginning to have second thoughts but I stood my ground and told him no thanks.Quicker than a speeding bullet, as soon as I declined Mr. Dills invitation, his righthand shot down inside my pants and grabbed my bare stomach. With that hestarted walking towards the front of the class with my paunch firmly in his grip. Page 85 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Unfortunately for me I was a bit overweight at the time and I had a rather largestomach. Unfortunate for me. Fortunate for Mr. Dill, as there was plenty for himto hold onto as well as squeeze tightly. When we got to the front of the class Mr.Dill looked down at me and asked me if I would remain there if he let go of mystomach. I assured him that I would. At that point he didnt have any problemgetting the balance of volunteers he needed. Once all seven of us were assembledMr. Dill directed all of our eyes to the light bulb sitting in the middle of hisgenerator. He started to turn the handle on the wheel and all of a sudden the lightbulb began to glow. He then had all seven of us form a semi-circle and hold hands.Then he had the lead person on each half of the semi-circle place their free hand onone of the two protruding knobs. Then Mr. Dill started to turn the handle on thewheel at top speed. Two things happened all at once. Number one, we all weregetting shocked by the current that was being generated through our bodies.Number two, none of us, including the two guys holding the knobs could let go.Mr. Dill looked like the mad scientist so often seen in comic books, with his whitehair in disarray and his mouth breaking out into a broad grin as he yelled out at us,"Boys, you will be good for the balance of the school year, wont you?" Y-Y-Yes,we all shouted out. And we were. Page 86 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS HIGH SCHOOLThere are some teachers that I will never forget. Then again there are someteachers that I would like to forget. And then, just like Pablo Picasso, Elvis Presleyor Babe Ruth there is probably one teacher in every student‟s life that makes anindelible impression, so much so, that if all teachers were like that one particularteacher, then scholastic scores would shoot way, way up. There wouldnt be a hintof an educational crises. That is the fond remembrance I have of my second yearSpanish teacher, Senor Pablo Rosario.I was never a good student. Its not that I wasnt capable, but in order to succeed inschool you had to study. I never had time for that. I was always too busy playingball, watching television or just plain goofing around. When it was time for a test Iwould buy a bottle of No-Doze (pills high in caffeine), pop a few pills in my mouthand stay up until three or four in the morning, cramming for my exam. Thismethod enabled me to maintain a constant C average while in high school. Onoccasion a D, once in a while a B, but on average a solid C. Im sure that I couldhave increased that average to at least a C +, but they didnt grade you for lunch.Too bad. Because I was very good at that. Never late.It was a requirement to study a foreign language in high school. Prior to choosingany subject most students gave thought as to how that topic would impact theirlives. So did I. I chose Spanish because many people told me that it was by far theeasiest language to learn and therefore I wouldnt have to do much studying. Afterall, they werent giving away No-Doze pills. You did have to buy them.During my freshman year in high school, my Spanish teacher was Ms. Rodriguez.There are three things that I remember about Ms. Rodriguez and my first year ofSpanish. One was that she hardly spoke any English. That made it terriblydifficult to understand what she was saying, even for the bright and articulatestudents. And if they were having problems, then I didnt stand a ghost of a chanceat succeeding. The second thing that sticks out in my mind about Ms. Rodriguezwas when the class met her for the very first time. She walked into the room andsaid, "Buenos Dias," which means good morning in Spanish. Even though it wasour first day in Spanish, I believe every student knew what Buenos Dias meant.That very same day she proceeded to teach us how to pronounce the vowels inSpanish which was much different than the English pronunciation. "Ah, eh, ih, oh,ooh. El burro mas sabe que tu. (The burro knows more than you)" When it comesto Spanish, the burro still knows more than me. The third remembrance I have ofMs. Rodriguez was that she gave me a D for the semester. And even then I wasnt Page 87 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”upset at her for giving me such a low grade because on reflection I thought that shewas overly gracious in giving me a passing one.I now had one more year of Spanish to endure. I was sweating it out. I was now asophomore. It was my first day in Spanish class. We were collectively about thirtystudents sitting in class awaiting the appearance of Mr. Rosario. No one knewmuch about him. Rumors spread through class that he was a tough no nonsenseteacher. Just what I needed. As we were sitting there awaiting his arrival the doorburst open. In walked a man of about thirty-five, 58", and a bit portly sportingblack rimmed glasses. And he had brown hair along the sides of his head with afew sprouts on the top. He was carrying a book under his left arm. As he walkedin he proceeded to his desk located at the front of the class, and his eyes never lefthis audience. When he got to his desk he firmly placed the book on it and lookeddirectly at us and said, "Remember this, if you want to open a door, it must first beclosed." I looked at Mr. Rosario and thought rather quickly about what he said. Itmade sense. How can you possibly open a door if it is not closed? I immediatelytook a liking to him. The only thing is I didnt understand his prophecy then and Idont understand it now but it makes sense and in the final analysis, thats all thatmatters.Mr. Rosario in less than five seconds had done what no other teacher before orafter had been able to do. He got my attention and in a very positive manner. Andhe could talk in English. Mr. Rosario made me want to succeed. For the first andonly time in my student career I enjoyed studying. He had a way of makingschoolwork fun and exciting. He had a great sense of humor and wit which heused to his advantage in his teachings. I received a final grade of B+ from SenorRosario, but even though he made such an impact on my outlook in class, a littlebit of the old me was ever present. One day I walked into class and took mynormal position which was in the first column of seats about five rows up. Mychair was lined up against the wall. Mr. Rosario walked in with his ever presentbook under his arm. As usual he walked to his desk, placed his book upon it andturned to the blackboard. He picked up the eraser and started cleaning the chalkboard when all of a sudden he turned around and flung the eraser in my direction.If I hadnt of ducked, it would have been a direct hit between my eyes. He yelledout at me, "Senor Chanzes, would you like to tell your classmates about yoursprained wrist?" I then proceed to tell the class what Mr. Rosario found out the daybefore during open school week. About two months prior I had been in amischievous mood so I decided to make believe that I severely sprained my hand,my right hand, the very same right hand that I used to write with. I bought an acebandage, wrapped up my hand and put it in a sling and for one solid week I was Page 88 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”excused from all written assignments in each of my classes. I would wrap myhand up after I left for school each day and remove it just prior to getting home.Well, some two months later its now open school week. Thats when parents goand visit with your teachers to check on the progress you are making in school.Mr. Rosario had taken a liking to me and was extremely sympathetic during myweek of agony. During his visit with my Mom he expressed how happy he wasthat my hand had healed properly. My Mom was taken aback and since she wasnot a very good improviser she asked Mr. Rosario what he was talking about. Heexplained what I had been doing. Mr. Rosario made my mom promise not to let onthat he knew of my deception. She didnt and that is why Mr. Rosario flung theeraser at me. I apologized to the class and to Mr. Rosario. Our relationship inclass carried on throughout the rest of the school year as if nothing had happenedalthough occasionally he would ask me how my hand felt. This was a man whotruly enjoyed teaching and it showed in the performance levels of his students, meincluded. Im glad he did choose teaching as his profession, but if he hadnt hewould have made one hell of a baseball pitcher.Christopher Columbus High School was approximately a one mile walk fromwhere I lived. We had to be in school by 8:30 in the morning and classes weredismissed for the day at 3:30 in the afternoon. The school day consisted of eightperiods or eight different classes. Your lunch period for the school year wasalways the same. As early as the third period which started at 10:30 A.M. or as lateas the seventh period which began at 2:20 P.M. During my freshman year I hadthird period lunch. That was probably the worst time of the day for me to havelunch, for two reasons. Number one, I was never nor am I now accustomed toeating lunch at 10:30 in the morning. The only people who ought to eat lunch atsuch an ungodly hour should be those prisoners facing execution at eleven, becauseif they dont eat lunch at 10:30 then theyll never get the opportunity again. Thesecond reason that lunch was not appetizing so early in the morning was because Ijust finished eating breakfast at eight. Who was hungry? But I had to eat because Iwouldnt get another opportunity until I got home at four in the afternoon and thatwas too long of a wait.The only choices we had were to brown bag it or eat the food that the schoolserved in the cafeteria. We werent allowed to leave the school grounds for lunch.I never brown bagged it at high school. Most people would complain about theschool food because it didnt taste like home cooking. As a matter of fact theywere correct because it bore little or no resemblance whatsoever. I took a differentapproach. Although it was true that the food didnt taste anything like what wasserved at home, nevertheless it was tasty. Its just that their hamburgers didnt taste Page 89 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”like hamburgers. As a matter of fact, whatever they served had little comparison intaste to its name. So instead of asking for a hamburger, I would wait on the foodline and when it was my turn I simply would say, let me have some of "that." Iwas never disappointed because I didnt eat their hamburgers. I ate "that."One morning I ate too much of "that." My stomach started grumbling. I went tothe bathroom to relieve myself. When I walked in it was as if I had entered a gaschamber, so thick were the fumes from the guys who were in there smoking.Every now and then a teacher would walk into the boy‟s room and make thestudents put out their cigarettes as smoking wasnt allowed in school. Not on thisday. At least not right then and there and I couldnt wait. And I wouldnt use thecubicle to relieve myself because some of the guys would boost themselves up tothe top of the booth and fire spit balls at you, pour a cup of water on you or light apiece of paper and let it descend on you. The bathrooms in our school were usedfor everything but their intended purposes. I had to make a decision, a quickdecision. I decided to violate the school rules as opposed to having some of thestudents violate me and I bolted from school and headed home. Normally it tookabout twenty minutes to walk home from school. I didnt have twenty minutes;such was the gravity of the situation. I was running at full speed, which for aJewish person is not very fast at all. Thats not in our training regimen. Besides,we can only run fast for about thirty seconds. Then we have to rest for an hour. Soinstead of the normal twenty minutes that it would take to get home, I made it ineighteen…………… Almost made it.Its a truism, when you are heading home and you have to relieve yourself, thecloser you get to home, the more you have to relieve yourself and the harder it is tocontain yourself. I reached my apartment building. We lived on the fifth floor ofan elevated building. I pressed the button for the elevator. It seemed like it tookforever to arrive. The pains were more frequent by now. I knew it would be aclose call. I instantly pressed the fifth floor button. As the elevator was ascendingI reached into my pants pocket for the key to the apartment. I remember saying tomyself, "Oh Shit." How apropos. I couldnt find the key. I forgot to take it withme when I went to school that morning. There was no turning back. I had torelieve myself in the worst way. My forehead was perspiring; my body was soakedwith my own sweat. The elevator stopped at the fifth floor. I was praying that myMom was home. More than that I was also praying that I could make it across thehallway some one hundred feet to my apartment door without all hell breakingloose. I opened the elevator door and I realized that I couldnt walk to myapartment door; such was the agony I was enduring. I knew that if I started towalk I wouldnt be able to contain myself and I would leave a bloody trail (not Page 90 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”exactly bloody) leading to my apartment door. Pains were shooting across mystomach wall. There were approximately eight apartments to each floor. I washoping that no one would come out into the hallway. How embarrassing it wouldbe. I couldnt walk to my apartment so I started to hop. Just like a bunny. It waslike I was at a wedding or bar mitzvah doing the dance called the Bunny Hop.Except there was no music. Unless you count the noise that the farts coming out ofmy ass made. About one minute or forty hops later I reached the door. It was nowclearly a race against time. I rang the doorbell five or six times in a row. Noanswer. I pounded on the door. All of a sudden I heard my Mom yell out, "Whosthere?" I yelled back, "Ma, its me, Steve. Hurry up and open the door. Hurry,please." My Mom came as fast as her feet could carry her. She opened the doorand immediately clasped her nose with her fingers and said, "Oh, Stevie."Her feet hadnt carried her fast enough. Superman couldnt have gotten there intime. My Mom said, "Dont move." She taught me an invaluable lesson thatfateful day. My Mom told me to put the bottoms of my pants into my socks. Inthis manner nothing would fall out onto her floor. I did as she asked and made myway into the shower, clothes and all. That invaluable lesson paid off many timesduring the ensuing years. Thanks Mom.The next day my Mother had to write a letter to the Dean at the high school fullyexplaining why I left school early the day before. My Mother was a very honestwoman. She wrote down the truth as to why I left. The Dean admonished me andat the same time had all to do to control himself from not bursting out withlaughter. I went back to class failing to see what was so funny. Page 91 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” NEW YORK UNIVERSITY (N.Y.U.)I never graduated from college. Its not that I didnt try. I should have graduated. Iwent to college for four years but only came away with two years‟ worth of credits.Once again, not my fault. N.Y.U. must shoulder some of the responsibility for mypoor showing in school. For a school that prides itself in academic achievement,they should have had the foresight to understand the needs of their students. Andin some ways they did, but not enough.When I entered N.Y.U. my parents decided that I should be an accountant. Back inthe early 1960s Jewish boys didnt have the right to decide what they wanted to bein adulthood. Their parents knew best. For most Jewish parents it was a tossup asto what their sons should aspire to. The big three were medicine, law andaccounting. My grades in high school all but eliminated me from anyconsideration for the first two vocations, so it wasnt too difficult for my parents todecide what I should become. I didnt argue with them for a number of reasons.First of all they were sending me to a prestigious school. Secondly, they werepaying for it. Thirdly, I hadnt been exposed to an awful lot of things in lifebecause I was too busy playing basketball in the schoolyard so the thought ofgoing to college wasnt such a bad alternative. And last but not least, if I decidedthat I didnt want to go to school then I would have had to go to work. I was onlyeighteen. Whats the rush?So off to N.Y.U. I went. During my first year at school my friend Irwin and I triedout for the N.Y.U. freshman basketball team. Surprisingly we both made it.During the 1960s, N.Y.U. had a powerful basketball program. There were lots ofhigh school basketball players who were being courted by N.Y.U.s scouts. Thefreshman basketball team was difficult to make because there were so many kidswho excelled in their high school basketball programs that were trying out for theteam. I never played for my high school basketball team. I never tried out for it.Therefore I didnt think I had a ghost of a chance of making my college freshmanteam. And in all honesty if there had been people showing up for the tryouts, thenI wouldnt have made the team. But in 1962 the recruiting efforts of N.Y.U.sbasketball scouts fell apart and that gave me the opportunity to realize a dream.Not exactly the dream I had in mind when I made the team, because once on theteam I, along with some other team members became "scrubeenies." I dont knowwho invented the name, but basically a scrubeenie came into the game if we wereahead or behind by at least twenty points with no more than twenty seconds left inthe game. This didnt give me the opportunity to get into too many games. Nor didit give me an opportunity to alter the outcome either. Actually I got into one game. Page 92 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”I was fouled and made both shots. But my tenure on the team did improve mybasketball skills. Not during the games though, but during the scrimmages we hadamongst ourselves and also against the varsity team.And N.Y.U. would only let its students remain on the team if they maintained a "C"average throughout the year. And thats exactly what my average was during myfreshman term at college, a "C."When my second year at N.Y.U. started I couldnt join the varsity team because myskills werent good enough, so instead I pledged the Phi Epsilon Pi FraternityHouse. There were three prerequisites needed in order to pledge and maintain yourpledge status at a fraternity house. At the outset you had to have a minimum of a Caverage in order to pledge. Then, during your pledge year, you had to maintain aminimum C average. And last but not least, you had to be a schmuck. Becauseonly a schmuck would put up with all the bullshit they put you through. It was ayear Ill never forget as long as I live. When a school year starts, all the fraternityhouses compete for students to join or "pledge" their frat house. Those studentsthat seek to join a particular frat house are called Pledges. After their pledgeperiod, which runs anywhere from three to six months, they then become membersof the frat house and are now called Brothers. At the onset of the school year thevarious frat houses attempt to recruit students. They throw wild parties where thebeer, booze, food and women are plentiful. And the Brothers treat the prospectivePledges as nice as can be. Theres nothing they wont do for you. Up until the timeyou decide to pledge their fraternity house and give them your dues. Then theresabsolutely nothing that they will DO FOR YOU. And they are very smart in theway they bring you along as a pledge. They dont abuse or humiliate you rightaway. They do it very slowly, over a period of time. Each week is a little worsethan the previous one. All of a sudden you realize that you are being belittled anddehumanized but you decide to stick it out because you only have to put up withtheir shenanigans for a couple of more weeks. And thats what keeps you going.I had a couple of friends that pledged Alpha Epsilon Pi (A.E.P.). They had ashorter pledge term than I did at Phi Ep, but at the end of their pledge term theyhad to endure a "Hell Week," where I only had to endure a Hell Weekend. Duringmy friends hell week all the pledges of A.E.P. had to come to school naked. Well,not exactly naked, but almost. They couldnt wear any clothes. The only garmentthey were permitted to wear was a bed sheet rapped around their entire body. As ifthat wasnt bad enough, their pledge week took place during January which isnormally a very cold month in New York. When these pledges walked through thehalls of N.Y.U. with their white bed sheets wrapped around them they resembled Page 93 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”members of the Roman Senate or more aptly some of the characters in the filmAnimal House that starred John Belushi. In addition to having to wear the bedsheet around themselves, the pledges were also required to carry with them a bigonion. The reason for the onion was because every time a Pledge saw a Brother inthe school, the Pledge was required to say hello to the Brother and prior to sayinghello the Pledge had to take a big bite out of the onion in front of the Brother.Although the pledges werent told to do so, each one of them carried breath spraywith them. And did they ever need it.Alpha Epsilon Pis Hell Week culminated on a weekend where all hell truly brokeloose. If it werent for the fact that the following events happened to my friends,then I would have had a difficult time putting any credence into these stories. Butthey did happen. Thankfully not to me.One story concerning Hell Week is fairly typical of frat house behavior. Eachpledge was given a cup and led to a bowl of water. They were to fill the cup withwater and then drink it. On the surface it seems harmless. And it was, providingyou didnt mind a little goldfish in your water. All the pledges had to drink a cup ofwater with a goldfish swimming inside of it. As distasteful as that may seem, itturned out that the goldfish prank was by far the most easygoing one that wasplayed on the pledges during Hell Week.It is important to note that these pledges had endured a limited amount of hazingfor about three months at Alpha Epsilon Pi. They were now down to the finalweek, just a mere seven days and six nights of pure hell. They had no intention ofletting the past three months go to waste as the following two stories will illustrate.The pledges were gathered into a room and blindfolded. The lights were shut offand they were instructed that one of the pledges would be given an object. Thepledge would hold the object in his lap and rub his hands over it. Then that pledgewas to pick up the object and kiss it. After doing so he would pass the object to thepledge sitting to his right. This procedure would continue until all the pledges hadparticipated in the exercise. Once everyone had an opportunity to fondle and kissthe object they were told to remove their blindfolds and the lights were turned on.At that point each pledge saw what they all had held and kissed just moments ago.It was a cows head. Now cows are not the most beautiful animals in the world tostart with. But just a cows head? Freshly severed? Blood stains all around it? Tothink that you just kissed it too? Yuck. A couple of the pledges threw up. One ofthe Brothers magnanimously offered to buy them hamburgers for lunch but they alldeclined. Who knows, maybe the pledges just finished eating breakfast and they Page 94 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”werent hungry.The following day a group of the Brothers went to Loeb Student Center at around6:30 in the morning. They carried an unobtrusive brown paper bag with them.Inside the bag was the cows head. Now Loeb served a myriad of purposes. Youcould play games there with your fellow students such as checkers or chess. Youcould shoot pool, play cards, just relax or study. You could also go there in themorning for breakfast. The Brothers got there bright and early prior to the arrivalof the students. The dining room was very large and could accommodate hundredsof students and teachers. There were just a couple of workers there getting theplace ready for the morning onslaught of students. Actually there were two blackwomen there that day cleaning off the tables. They were at one end of the diningroom. The Brothers emptied the contents of the brown paper bag they werecarrying onto one of the dining room tables. The cleaning women were too busy atthe other end of the room wiping the tables to take notice of the Brothers activities.The Brothers placed the cows head on the table. Then one of them pulled a capout of his jacket. The cap had two big holes cut out on its top. That was for thecows ears to fit through. So they placed the cap on the cows head. Now one ofthe Brothers reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of reading glasses. Heplaced the glasses on the cows face. And finally, the very last act of humiliationthat this poor dead cow would suffer was when one of the Brothers placed a cigarinside its mouth. They then went off to the side, out of eye shot of the workers.All that remained behind them was a cigar smoking, four eyed, hatted cows headsitting smugly on one of the tables. Then the cleaning women approached thetable. They didnt have any idea what it was at that point because they werenearing the head from the rear. Then one of the women started to slowly circle thetable to see what this object was. She was carrying a mop and pail when all of asudden she realized what she was looking at. She let out a deafening scream,threw her hands up in the air sending the mop and pail to the floor and for a briefmoment it looked as if she was being executed because the hair on her head shotstraight up. From seeing her reaction it was hard to imagine her not having a heartattack. Thankfully she was able to walk away from the table that day all in onepiece, although her hair was a bit disheveled. Cant say the same thing about thatpoor cow though.There was one more prank that the pledges of Alpha Epsilon Pi were subjected toprior to being inducted into the fraternity.....................They had to be branded. Allthe pledges were brought into the "branding room" together. Once there thepledges would be shown a real branding iron, as hot as could be with thefraternitys initials on it, A.E.P. The pledges were required to have their fraternities Page 95 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”initials branded onto their ass forever and ever if they wanted to become a Brotherin this prestigious fraternity. This prestigious and nutty fraternity. The A.E.P.insignia was the last remaining obstacle keeping these pledges from gaining entryinto fraternityhood. Amazing as it seems, nobody refused. And everybody gotbranded.....Sort of. The pledges would all drop their pants and lay down on thefloor, asses up. It looked like a Polish parking lot for bicycles. Some of thepledges would usually give a quick glance up at the piping hot branding iron with alook of terror on their faces and then turn their faces down between their foldedand clenched arms. Then one of the Brothers would suddenly hand to each otherBrother a lit candle. Each Brother would then hold the candle over the rump of thepledge and wax would drip off the end of the candle and fall onto their rear ends.From listening to the yelps and screams you would have thought that they reallywere being branded. Shortly thereafter they would become Brothers and takedelight in torturing or should I say, carrying on the traditions of Alpha Epsilon Piwith the new seasons recruits.My pledge period at Phi Ep was six months and instead of a Hell Week we had aHell Weekend. One that I will never forget. From the very beginning of our HellWeekend, we the pledges were made to look like complete, utter fools. From thevery beginning.........We were given a list of items to bring with us for the weekend. We each had tobring a mop. We also needed a big valise to house soap, toothpaste, deodorant, anelectric razor or blades, a new can of shaving cream, one towel, Cray paper, acarton of cigarettes even if we didnt smoke, one set of shorts, toilet paper, onecomplete change of clothes, one pair of dress shoes, a suit and tie as well as abathing suit and a brick. Oh, and a pail for the mop. In addition we were allrequired to take the train to the fraternity house that Friday evening where we wereto begin our memorable Hell Weekend. Each Pledge had a Brother assigned tohim. We all had to let the Brother‟s know which train stop we would get off at, andat what time. I thought that was a nice gesture on the part of the Brotherhoodbecause every train stop was at least a mile away from the fraternity house. Andbesides the lengthy walk, we would also have to carry with us the mop and pailalong with the valise that held that heavy brick. Yeah, it was a nice gesture. Itsjust too bad they never made it. You see, it wasnt until we exited the train stationthat we found out that our dear Brothers-to-be were not in the taxi or transportationbusiness. Nope, they didnt have time for business because they were still playingthe abuse and humiliation game. And it was the ninth inning. This weekendrepresented their last at bats. And they knew it. And we found out about it........Right from the beginning. Page 96 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”The Brothers insisted that each of us wear certain clothing while riding on the trainthat was bringing us to Greenwich Village, which was where our fraternity housewas located. Let me start from the ground up, because the last bit of attire that wehad to wear really made the entire outfit what it was. And that was, completelygoofy. And that is what we looked like, Completely Goofy.The ensemble started off with a white pair of tennis sneakers adorning our feetwhich were encased in a purple pair of socks. We also had to wear white pantswith a white shirt and a purple carnation. Obviously white and purple were thecolors of the day. Once we were dressed we looked like the "Good Humor" icecream man. The only difference was that we just had one flavor that day, and thatwas "Tutti Frutti." To illustrate the point, there was one other item that we had towear. And it wasnt white or purple. It was black.....Black Mickey Mouse Ears.So each of the pledges said goodbye to their loved ones that Friday night andwalked away wearing the hideous outfit I described, including the Mickey Mouseears. At the same time we carried a valise that had a brick in it which wasweighing down on our arms. You had to constantly switch the valise from arm toarm because of the weight of the brick. But first you had to stop and put downyour mop and pail. We were a sight for sore eyes.At the time I lived in the Bronx, and it was a 40 minute train ride to the Village. Itwas the longest forty minutes of my life. Especially if you consider the fact thatIm sitting on a train full of people and Im wearing a Mickey Mouse hat. My eyesare riveted to the floor because I know that everyone on the train is looking at me.Every now and then youd hear a little kid yell to his mother, "Mommy, why is thatman wearing a Mickey Mouse hat?" And invariably I would hear the motherwhisper to her kid, "Shh. Be quiet." And on occasion I would lift my head up onlyto see someone turn their gaze away from me. Its not as if I was five years old. Iwas 19, a man. And there I was, this 19 year old man, sitting on a train, wearing aMickey Mouse hat. Some man all right. I looked like a 19 year old manlyschmuck. Thats what I looked like. And you had to wear the Mickey Mouse hatbecause you didnt know if there was a spy on the train watching you. It was veryapparent that the Brothers could and would do anything to either embarrass orcause us grief. Sometimes both. And if any of us were caught without our "ears"and without the carnation in place, then we would have been instantly expelledfrom the fraternity. And now, by adding the mop and pail it instantly transformedus into a different character. We went from resembling the Good Humor man tomore like looking like Cousin Ernie (Ford) on the I Love Lucy show. Page 97 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Once we got off the train we were greeted by our assigned Brother. It was thenthat we were first told that we would have to walk to the fraternity house while ourBrother drove along in his car right next to us. The walk through the Village whiletiring wasnt really humiliating, because we were in the Village, GreenwichVillage. We looked just as good, if not better than most of the people living thereat the time. At least it seemed that way.The Brothers arranged it in such a way that each pledge would arrive that Fridaynight in half hour intervals. During the previous week we were told that onceinside the fraternity house we could not speak to another pledge unless a Brothergave us permission to do so and we were also told that in order to talk to anyBrother we first had to have that Brothers permission. And the only way to getpermission to speak was by asking for it in a certain way. We were given a scriptthat we had to memorize. We were told that once we got to the door of the frathouse, we should knock on it and when a Brother answered we were to repeat thefollowing. And we were told to also repeat it every time we wanted to talk to anyBrother for the balance of the weekend. Ive never forgotten it."Most efficacious, perspicacious, capiocious, vice-gerund. It is with the utmosttolselemnity that I dare address thee. Oh Lord, oh master, may I speak?"And if the Brother didnt respond to your request, then you were told to go back towhatever you were doing. But there were exceptions. If you had to do somethingthat required a Brothers permission, like asking for a glass of water because youwere dying of thirst considering they havent let you drink anything in ten hours orasking if you could go to the bathroom because your bladder was bursting at theseams, then under those circumstances, if the Brother didnt respond to your firstrequest, then all you had to do was repeat the same request again and add anadditional sentence, which was, "Oh Lord, oh master, may I speak freely." Nowthe Brother had to make a quick decision. Should he let you talk to him andpossibly ask him a non-sensical question or should he run the risk that you weregoing to urinate on him if he denied your request. It wasnt too difficult of adecision for them to make. Although there were times during that weekend thateach of us wished that they would deny us the right to talk to them.One of the only times that I definitely remember a Brother talking to any of us onour first request for permission to speak was when we first knocked on the door ofthe frat house that Friday evening. One of the Brothers said, "Who goes without?,"to which I responded, "It is I, Pledge Steven Chanzes." The Brother opened the Page 98 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”door, and if looks could kill, then I wouldnt be writing this story, because helooked mean and nasty. He stared at me and said, "Come in Pledge StevenChanzes. Weve been waiting for you."My ordeal started Friday night around eleven and continued unabated throughthree oclock the following Sunday afternoon. Once inside the fraternity house Iwas stripped of all of my rights. I was now a thing, an object. And I quicklylearned that there were going to be three changes taking place in my life.Immediately. And lasting for the entire weekend. First of all, the Brotherhooddecided that all pledges should go through a vigorous fitness schedule. Thankfullyit was just a ten hour program. Ten hours of pushups, sit ups, running, etc. Yeah,just ten hours. Ten hours every damn day.Upon entering the fraternity house you have to open your valise to account for thevarious items you were required to bring with you. Once it was inventoried youwere told to change into your shorts and go into the main room. When I walkedinto the main room it reminded me of Vic Tannys Health Salon. Well, almost.Ours didnt have any machines. Just a bunch of fraternity Brothers yelling out atsome of my fellow pledges, "I SAID GIVE ME TWENTY PUSHUPS RIGHTNOW COHEN. DO IT, DO IT, DO IT. I DONT CARE HOW TIRED YOU ARE.EITHER DO IT NOW OR GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE AND PLEDGEANOTHER FRATERNITY. DO IT, DO IT, DO IT." Youd hear shouting allaround you. Music blasting in the background. Brothers yelling out, "GIVE ME50 SITUPS SHITHEAD." "JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP AND KEEP RUNNINGIN PLACE. I KNOW WHEN IT WILL BE TIME TO STOP."Of course the more you exercise, then the hungrier you get. We certainly exerciseda lot, and you couldnt imagine how hungry we would get. I dont know if my firstmeal was breakfast, lunch or dinner because all the windows were boarded up andafter a while you lost all perception of time and you had no idea if it was day ornight. We werent allowed to wear watches and of course when in our presence,neither did the Brothers. For our first meal we were given a menu from some localdiner and we were told that we could order any sandwich plus either a cup ofcoffee, tea, glass of milk or soda. In addition we were allowed to smoke onecigarette with each of our meals. One of the Brothers brought back a big boxcontaining our food. We all sat down in a circle and as the Brothers placed ourfood in front of us we were given instructions not to open our sandwiches until wewere told to do so. Once we all had our sandwiches in front of us we were thentold to open them and to our surprise we each did have a sandwich..........Not theone that we ordered, but nevertheless it was a sandwich. And they were all the Page 99 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”same. Two pieces of dry white bread, with lettuce and a slice of tomato inside.Once we got over our initial disappointment, each of us devoured our sandwich. Itwas the most delicious dry white bread, lettuce and slice of tomato that you everate in all your life. Of course in our condition, just about anything would havebeen delicious. As for the drinks we ordered, once again we all got the same thing.A glass of warm water. If you were a smoker you were given one cigarette. If youdidnt smoke then the carton you brought in was divided up by the Brothers.During our Hell Weekend we were fed five times. Three on Saturday and two onSunday. And each meal was identical to the first one.The third change we had to get used to was our sleeping accommodations as wellas sleep time. After we finished our first meal the Brothers said that they wantedus to get some well-deserved sleep. None of us argued. We were in completeagreement. We were absolutely tired and exhausted from a natural lack of sleep aswell as the amount of exercising we were being subjected to. We were told to getthe Cray paper and brick that we had brought with us. At that point we wereinstructed to wrap the brick in the Cray paper and put it on the floor. Once thatwas done we were told that the brick in front of us, the one with the colorful Craypaper wrapped around it was now our pillow, and furthermore they told us thatevery pledge must sleep with his head on the pillow. Now I dont care how tiredyou are, believe me when I tell you that its very difficult to sleep with your headon a pillow when the pillow is a brick. And so there we were, five guys wearingour sneakers, socks and shorts. Nothing else. No shirt, no pajamas. Not even ablanket. Just sneakers, socks and shorts and lying on a bare wooden floor with ourheads propped up against a brick.Although it was difficult to fall asleep, nevertheless we did. But not for very long.Just for eight hours. Or so we were told. Actually we were permitted a mere thirtyminutes of sleep. Then we were awoken. In our condition it would have beendifficult to have been roused by an atom bomb and fortunately for us none of theBrothers had access to such types of weapons, but they did have the next bestthing. And that was a stereo which started to blast rock n roll music at a feverishlyhigh pitch. We all awoke instantly as if a bomb had detonated.Immediately we were put through some drills. Exercises. And then some moreexercises. We were all on the verge of physical exhaustion. There comes a pointin time when your mind plays funny tricks on you. I was at that point. One of theBrothers noticed how lethargic I was and he beckoned me to the back room. WhenI walked into the room there were a couple of frat brothers there and one of themwas wearing a doctors white uniform. He asked me if I was tired and exhausted Page 100 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”and of course I told him I was. It was very evident. He told me to drop my pantsand he would give me a shot that would perk me up. Even though I was fatigued Iwasnt stupid. Well, not completely. I looked at him quizzically and heimmediately told me that he was studying medicine in school and I had nothing toworry about. As I said, I wasnt completely stupid, but I was stupid enough to dropmy pants, lie down on the bed and let him give me a shot. I felt a sharp pain but Imust admit that ten minutes after I got the shot I felt like a new man. In rapidsuccession I could see each of my pledge brothers lining up for their shots. Weeach received three shots over the weekend. It enabled us to get through somevery difficult times. After the weekend was over we found out how the shots wereadministered. It was done in a very simple manner. When we lay down on thebed, a brother would place the needle in his left hand, bring it down towards ourrump and then with his right hand he would pinch our ass. In other words, insteadof getting shots we were getting our asses pinched. And we thought that we feltmore alert.If you remember we did bring toothpaste, soap, shaving materials and deodorantwith us. But we never used any of it during our weekend. Except the shavingcream. Sometime Saturday morning we were told to change into our bathing suits.After doing so we were brought into the main room and ordered to empty our cansof shaving cream on each other. As messy as it was it was still a lot better thandoing pushups, sit ups or any other type of physical exercises. After the shavingcream fight was over we each toweled off and changed back into our shorts.At this point we looked like shit and we smelled worse. But our ordeal was farfrom over. After we ate we were told that we would now go downstairs toWashington Square Park. Each of us wondered what the brothers had in store forus. It didnt take long for us to find out. The brothers were in a gambling mood sothey thought it would be a good idea to have us run approximately one mile aroundthe park and they would bet on us as if we were horses. How could they possiblymistake us for horses? Horses smelled much better than us. At least on that day.The odds that I would win the race were 100-1. Obviously I wasnt one of thebetting favorites. As a matter of fact I was picked to finish dead last. And I almostdid. Thankfully I just finished last. All of us were totally exhausted that day. Ihonestly thought that if I got out of the gate fast (there I go again, thinking Im ahorse) and opened up a big lead, then my pledge brothers would give up and justfinish the race without giving me any competition. I might have been right. But Inever did find out. At the outset of the race I did just what I wanted to and that wasto open up a big lead. I was about one third through the race. I was way out in Page 101 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”front. There was no one close to me. My adrenalin was pumping....................Andthen it stopped..............And so did I. I didnt just stop. I collapsed. I fell right tothe ground in the middle of the park. At that point the brothers ran up to me andexhorted me to get up. I told them that I simply couldnt because I felt like I wasdying. The brothers, with all the compassion they could muster up told me thatthey didnt give a shit and that if I didnt get up they would blackball me (preventme from joining the fraternity ) in the event I didnt die. At that point mysuspicions were confirmed. These guys were a bunch of sadistic bastards and Iwas in a no win situation. Die or be blackballed.......... I chose to die. When thebrothers saw that I wasnt getting up, a couple of them lifted me by the shouldersand walked me back to the frat house. I didnt die, as you probably noticed, andthey didnt blackball me. But I found out later that day why they were soconcerned about me. It had nothing to do with me being blackballed. Certainlynothing at all to do with my health, God forbid. The reason for their anxiety wasbecause in the middle of the park there was a police station and the brothers wereafraid that if a policeman saw the condition I was in, that it might cause him to filea report with the school which could have a negative effect on the fraternity houseand the way they haze their pledges. And to think that I maintained a C averagefor this abuse.And so we all returned to the frat house. It was late Saturday afternoon. Thiswould all be over in less than twenty-four hours. Every one of us was determinedto stick it out, no matter how much mistreatment was showered upon us. Nomatter how intolerable the conditions were. And just when we thought that itcouldnt possibly get any worse, it did.We were all told to dress up. Suit and tie. Dress shoes. There we were. Five guyswho had just been through what seemed like a war. And we looked the part.Worse than that, we smelled it too. But we were wearing our finest duds. And forgood reason. Because no self-respecting girl would want to dance with anyoneelse. And thats what we had to do. The brothers had arranged for a sister sororityhouses pledges to visit us that afternoon. We were told to pick a partner and dancewith her. And the girls were told by their sisters that they had to dance with us, soonce the girls entered the frat house they too lost most of their rights. Like theright to dance with someone who didnt stink. They lost that right. Of course, toadd insult to injury, the only songs that were played that afternoon were slowballads. So between the smell of our bodies and the smell on our breath, it was avery long afternoon for the girls. Very long.The next day Hell Weekend came to a close. I was now a brother. Now it was my Page 102 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”turn to exact revenge and ridicule the new core of pledge recruits. But that wasntmy style. I think the worst thing I ever did to a pledge was to give him a fivedollar bill so he could go downstairs to the deli and bring me back a pastramisandwich.My first two years at N.Y.U. came to a close shortly after I became a brother in PhiEpsilon Pi fraternity. During that time I maintained a C average, in part due toschool requirements regarding the freshman basketball team and equally in partdue to mandates regarding the pledging of fraternity houses. And so I entered myjunior year in college, eagerly awaiting the challenges that lay in front of me. Andthere were many, the least of which was attaining passing grades in my classes.But there were no more basketball teams or fraternity houses to join, so myscholastic career came to a screeching halt. If only N.Y.U. had the foresight toacknowledge what made some of their students successful............... Page 103 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE VIETNAM WARNo other war has divided this country to the extent that the war in Southeast Asiadid. Our country was equally split apart regarding this conflict. If you listen to thepolitical pundits they will tell you that people of stature and prominence were onboth sides of the issue. And they are right......Partially. I say partially becausethese so called "People of Prominence" who opted to extricate us from Viet Nam,people like Senators Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, Vice-PresidentHubert Humphrey as well as many other dignitaries, all came to their rightfulmoral decision as a result of listening to the youth movement. But not after manythousands of Americas finest had laid down their lives for a cause we had no rightbeing involved in. It was after all the people of my generation who were trulyresponsible for eventually getting the "ear" of the Washington bureaucrats throughour "Marches for Peace" and our loud voices that constantly told the establishmentin no uncertain terms, "Hell no, we wont go."Our involvement in Viet Nam was in no small part aided by President Kennedysdetermination to send advisors to that region. There has been unprovenspeculation in the years since his assassination that had President Kennedy lived,he would have brought our advisors home and we never would have engaged in awar that cost this country the lives of more than 50,000 young Americans.Unfortunately for those that lost their lives as well as those Americans that didreturn home but suffer from various ailments, both mental and physical, the answerto that question will forever remain a mystery and subject to debate.The youth of America saw no reason to die for a conflict that was primarily a civilwar, a struggle that had been going on for generations. We were branded cowardsby the "establishment" as well as the veterans of the various wars this country hadbeen engaged in. No one wanted to listen to us. But we kept talking. As weultimately found out, our leadership did in fact lie and deceive us. GeneralWilliam Westmoreland and Secretary of State Robert McNamara wereinstrumental in prolonging the conflict by their ill-timed and quite oftenpurposefully erroneous advice to President Johnson. We, the youth of Americastopped the Viet Nam war. Not the endless array of loud and destructive bombsthat our armed services dropped along the countryside, but rather the reasoned andcontinuing resonant voice of the young whose impassioned pleas changed foreverthe course of American politics. Finally our political leaders paid heed to what wewere saying, either out of a sense of morality or because they saw their politicallives coming to an end. And so they joined our ranks as did many people from allwalks of life. But while the war was in progress there were difficult decisions that Page 104 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”had to be made by many young adults. At the time of the Viet Nam conflict wewere still under the laws of conscription. Many of us received the call to ourcountrys service with the all too familiar letter that opened up with the word,"Greetings."Some of us didnt get the welcoming letter from our Uncle Sam. My friend Ronniedidnt. He chose to enlist in the armed services when he was just eighteen. Thatwas in 1963. We just had advisors in Nam back then. No war, just advisors. Thearmed services offered a way to serve your country and also see the world,compliments of our government. Ronnie enlisted with dreams of going to France,Germany, Italy or some other European country. Shortly after his enlistment thearmed conflict in Viet Nam began. Dreams of seeing the Eiffel Tower,participating in an October Fest or seeing the Vatican would have to wait. Ronniewas needed in Viet Nam. But he didnt stay there very long. Not long indeed. Youcan now find Ronnie, or rather his name on the Viet Nam Memorial Wall inWashington, D.C. Or you can go to Valhalla Cemetery in upstate New York to seemy friend. Ronnie never did get to see France, Germany or Italy. He also neversaw his twenty-first birthday.I was a bit more fortunate than my friend. First of all I didnt enlist and secondlywhen I was drafted the war was on. I, like so many of my friends and other youngadults across our nation now had to make a choice. We didnt have many, but wedid have some.Many American boys ran away to Canada to seek asylum and start their lives overagain. I had a friend who did that. As far as I know he is still there. Some yearsafter the war ended, our government offered complete amnesty to any boys whowanted to return from Canada.Other guys opted to face the possibility of a five year jail term by refusing to beinducted. As for me, I kept my options open. That was because I didnt want to goto Canada and to be honest with you I wasnt that thrilled about sitting in jail either.So I decided to just play the waiting game to see if my government really wantedme. The only problem with that option is that they never come out and officiallynotify you that they are not interested in your enlistment. So every day you livethrough a hellish nightmare. And for me that nightmare usually occurred aroundone in the afternoon. Because thats when we received our mail. And when themail came the walk to the mailbox was excruciatingly, painstakingly slow for me.I would always wonder if this would be the day that I would receive a letter frommy infamous Uncle Sam. And for over one year I never did. And each day that Page 105 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”the government passed me over was both a cause for celebration as well as nausea.Celebration because I wasnt being called into service. Nausea because it could bea very short lived celebration as there was always tomorrow‟s mail. Thankfullythere wasnt any mail delivery on Sunday. It truly was a day of rest that both Godand I needed.But the inevitable finally occurred. My Uncle Sam remembered me and he sentme his "Greetings." I was notified by the government to report for my physical at39 Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan. At that particular time once you passedyour physical you could expect to be inducted into the army within a month or twoand then as soon as you completed six weeks of basic training in all probabilityyour ass as well as the rest of your body was going off to Viet Nam. That wasntsomething that I wanted to leave up to chance, yet I had no concrete idea on how toavoid the service. Once again I had to play it by ear.The day of my physical arrived. I went down to Whitehall Street and saw manyguys from my neighborhood there, just like me, hoping and praying that theywouldnt pass the exams. Some of them, like myself had notes from their doctorsstating for one reason or another why they werent fit for service. My optometristwrote a note stating that I was color blind. It didnt help. I could have been blindand it wouldnt have done me any good. In those days if you could walk, evenlimp, you passed the exam. And thats not too much of an exaggeration.As it turned out I passed every physical and written exam given to me that day.Time was running out. There was only one thing left to do before I would beofficially classified 1-A and in all probability inducted into the army within amonth. And that was to sign the loyalty oath. And so at the end of the day wewere all taken into a room no different than the average grade school room. Lotsof individual desks, all lined up one behind the other, about fifteen deep, ten rowsacross. We all took our seats. There were about one hundred fifty of us. Onehundred fifty young men. Some of us were scared out of our minds because wewere cowards, some of us were terrified because we felt that America didnt belongin this war and we shouldnt have to risk our lives for an unjust cause and yet therewere some young men that day that wanted the opportunity to go to Nam. I wasntassociated with the latter group. The only Orientals I wanted to see were those inmy neighborhood that owned the Chinese restaurants. And I might add that I didnthave to take a physical to go there either.As we took our seats, papers were passed out to us. You could feel the tension inthe room. The instructor told us to print our name and address on the cover sheet. Page 106 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”He then told us that there were a series of questions that we had to answer, allpertaining to our political affiliations, such as were we members of any communistor fascist party? In a very distinct tone he advised us that we could check yes or noto each question and then in a barely audible manner he also advised us that wecould plead the Fifth Amendment to any of those questions. And then in a shrillvoice he barked out, "Is anyone a member of or have you in the past been amember of any communist or fascist organization?" I looked around. No oneanswered in the affirmative. He then said, "Is anyone a member of or have youbeen a member of any organization that preaches the overthrow of the U.S.government?" Once again I looked around and once again no hands went up. Andfinally the instructor looked at us and said, "Does anyone here today plead the fifthamendment to any of these questions." At that point I didnt bother to look around.My hand immediately shot up. Once the instructor confirmed the reason I hadraised my hand, I was taken a short distance to a Colonels office. The Colonelintroduced himself and then asked me why I was pleading the Fifth Amendment tocertain questions? I told him that it was my right to do so. Again he asked mewhy and again I repeated my answer. With that the Colonel handed me a piece ofpaper and told me to immediately report to the army psychiatrist located on thethird floor of the building and after I was examined I was to report back to him.So I trudged upstairs to see the shrink. His secretary let me in immediately. Nowaiting. I thought for sure that there would be a line up and down the entirehallway waiting to see the Doc. But I was the only one there. The Doc wasextremely professional. Stupid, but professional. Probably symbolic of mostpsychiatrists. At least those in the army. He was about sixty years old. White hair.He had half-moon glasses so that when he looked up at me I could see his eyesrising above his eye glass frames. No sooner did I walk into his office when heglanced up at me and said "Whats your name?" I said, "Steve Chanzes." He thenasked me why I was there? I told him that the Colonel sent me there because I wascrazy. He said, "Let me see your papers?" I gave them to him. He wrotesomething on them, handed them back to me and sent me on my way. I said, "Doc,arent you going to give me any psycho evaluation tests?" Once again he lookedup at me over his spectacles and said, "I just did." I looked down at the paperworkthat he just handed me. The Doc had used the dreaded "N" word in his evaluationof me. I was enraged. I was seeing red. My blood was boiling. How despicableof him. How nasty. How cruel. He had signed his name below the "N" wordwhich was the one word evaluation of me that would send my head spinningaround and around. "N"ormal. It was at that point that I became convinced thatthe army was run by mental incompetents. I went back downstairs and gave thereport to the Colonel. He quickly glanced over it and told me to report back Page 107 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”tomorrow at nine in the morning. I asked him why and he told me that there wouldbe one other person that would have to talk to me. I asked him who and he justsaid, "See you tomorrow."I went home to ponder my fate. I had no idea what lay in store for me thefollowing day but I was determined to tough it out. Once again I went over myoptions and I concluded that I wasnt going to run away to Canada or anyplace elseand if it meant that I had to face possible imprisonment, then I would do so if thatwas the only alternative left.I didnt sleep very well that night. When I arose that morning I saw an unshavenface in the bathroom mirror. It was at that point that I realized that I was fighting awar. Not the one the army wanted me to fight, but the one I chose. And like anyother warrior about to engage in battle, grooming wasnt at the top of my list. Atthat moment I decided that whoever was going to interview me would know thatthey were in a war too. They would know by my look and by my smell, becausenot only wasnt I going to shave, but I also wasnt going to bathe or put on anydeodorant. My Mother thought I was crazy. Thats when I told her, "Mom, if onlyyou would have been the shrink that examined me, then I wouldnt have to gothrough all this MISHIGAS (unnecessary troubles)."And so once again I traveled down to 39 Whitehall Street. I used the subway trainwhich was the common mode of transportation. As usual the train was jam packedwith people heading to work in Manhattan as it was the morning rush hour. All theseats on the train were occupied. It was standing room only as was usually thecase at this time of the day. We were like a can of Sardines. All crammed together.The only difference between the people on the train and the can of Sardines wasthat there was only one person that day in my train car that smelled fishy. And thatwas me.Finally the train arrived at my station. After standing on the train for over an hourI was glad to get off. Equally glad that I got off were the people who werestanding next to me. I reported to the Colonels office and announced myself to hissecretary. No sooner did I sit down when a gentleman about forty years old in athree piece suit came into the room and introduced himself. As he told me hisname he also showed me his business card. He was a special representative for afirm in Washington, D.C. called the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the F.B.I.He asked me to follow him and we started to engage in some small talk when Isaid, "Sir, I apologize for my rudeness." Sensing a quick victory he stood still and Page 108 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”said, "Steven, what are you apologizing for?" I looked at him and said, "To behonest with you, I forgot my business cards. But I could write down my name,address and telephone number for you?" He placed his hands on his hips, lookedat me, and shook his head up and down and a smile developed on his face as hestarted to walk down the hallway blurting out, "Mr. Chanzes, I already have thatinformation. Just follow me please."We went into a rather large room which could have seated fifty people easily. Yetthere was just a big desk in the front of the room with two chairs five feet in frontof it. There were windows up front looking out onto the street. The rest of theroom was outlined with three bare walls. My interrogator asked me to take a seat.At that point he once again tried to ingratiate himself to me. He tried to win meover to his side, but I knew the game. He was the enemy. He didnt give a shitabout me. Couldnt care less. If after our meeting I was inducted into the army andwent to Viet Nam and got killed, then when he found out he might have said, "Ohyeah, I remember Chanzes. He was the unshaven guy who smelled as if he hadnttaken a bath in weeks. Yeah, I remember him. Too bad he got killed." I wasdetermined not to let him have that opportunity.After some small talk he told me why he thought our country was right in engagingin the Viet Nam war. We discussed the pros and cons about it and of course hedidnt see my side of it at all. As far as I was concerned he was thoroughly brainwashed. Then the questioning began."Mr. Chanzes, are you or have you ever been a member of any subversiveorganization that has preached the overthrow of the U.S. government.""Mr. Chanzes, are you a member or have you ever been a member of anycommunist or fascist organization?"He continued with questions along the lines indicated above and to each question Ianswered, "I plead the fifth amendment."You could see his face grow angrier and angrier as I constantly exercised myrights. It got to the point where he started shouting at me and implying that Iwasnt a true American. That got me very upset and I said to him, "You know, forsomeone who believes in our country and what it stands for, then how come youdont believe in our basic rights as Americans and one of those rights is to beallowed to plead the fifth amendment when questioned in a scenario such as this?It seems to me that youre the one who is un-American." He didnt answer me. He Page 109 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”just looked at me with a smirk on his face. I didnt know what he was thinking andI couldnt care less. He was using his credentials to try to overpower me and herealized that it wasnt working. He then tried a new line of questioning."Mr. Chanzes, have you ever been outside this country?" I thought about that for awhile and it dawned on me that when I was about three years old my parents tookme to Canada on a vacation. I answered the question honestly and said, "Yes." Hethen said, "Where?" I said, "I plead the fifth amendment." He then said, "Mr.Chanzes, have you ever visited any communist country?" Once again I exercisedmy rights. This type of questioning went on for another fifteen minutes. Myantagonizer thought he was on to something as I kept giving him ammunition,except my bullets were all duds. Thankfully he didnt know that and at thatparticular time he couldnt prove it either. After about an hour of intensequestioning I asked my adversary if I could have something to eat. He said that allhe could offer me was a cup of coffee. I took him up on his offer.When he returned the questioning continued with the same results. He was miffedand perplexed. He then decided to try a new tactic. This educated man bendsdown so that his eyes are looking directly into mine and says with all candor, "Mr.Chanzes, Im going to ask you once again all the questions that I have previouslyasked you. Im only going to ask them one more time." That was the best newsthat I had heard all day. He then continued, "And if you dont answer yes or no tothese questions, then for the rest of your life you will never be given a job thatenables you to have access to top secret information. Do you understand that?" Atthat point he stood up and stared down at me, confident that he had finally brokenthrough my protective shield. I took a sip of my coffee and looked up at him andsaid, "Does this mean that I could never become president of the United States?"Again he went into his routine which consisted of him staring at me with a smirkon his face while shaking his head up and down. If he could have hit me andgotten away with it, then Im sure he would have exercised that option. Thankfullyfor me he didnt. After a few seconds he told me that our interview was over and Iwould receive a letter from the Selective Service within a couple of weeks.Approximately two weeks later I did receive a letter from the Selective ServiceSystem which said in part that my induction into the army was in abeyance. Inother words it was being held up while the F.B.I. investigated my background.About two years later I received another letter from Selective Service telling methat the F.B.I. had cleared me for induction into the army and I was being Page 110 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”reclassified 1-A. I wrote a letter back advising them that in the interim I had gottenmarried and that my wife was pregnant. I asked for a hardship deferment to whichthey agreed.And so I never got the opportunity that the army offered me to defend the SouthVietnamese and equally as well the North Vietnamese never got the opportunity totry to kill me. I also wish with all my heart that they never had the opportunity tokill the 50,000 plus young Americans, one of which was my friend Ronnie whohopefully along with the other victims of the Viet Nam tragedy did not die in vain.Let us all hope and pray that our beloved America will never make such an idioticmistake again.May God bless you and take care of you Ronnie and all the other American boysand girls, men and women, who gave up their lives or who are suffering fromphysical wounds or the mental defects caused by that war. Page 111 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” RELATIVESAunt Ethel- She really wasnt my Aunt. She was my cousin, but from the time Iwas a little kid I always called her Aunt Ethel and I called her husband UncleMorris. Two very nice people who left an indelible impression on me and who Imiss. My Aunt Ethel was a great cook. To be honest with you, everyone on myMoms side were great cooks except my Mom and Granma. Thats because theywere fantastic cooks. One summer my folks along with Granma went on vacationto Albuquerque, New Mexico. Actually they didnt go on a vacation toAlbuquerque because nobody vacations in Albuquerque. Think about it, did youever meet anyone in your entire life who said to you, "You know, I think Ill take avacation in Albuquerque." Actually they went to visit my Moms sister, my AuntJeanie who happened to live in Albuquerque.One day my Aunt Ethel calls me and asks me if Id like to come over for dinnerthat night. I didnt have to ask her what she was making because I knew thatwhatever it was I would enjoy very much. Aunt Ethel lived on the same floor, thefourth, as Granma. On any given day you could see either one of them in theirhouse dress shuffling down the hall with a small portion of food asking the other totaste it and see if it needs any seasoning. Whenever my Granma or Aunt Ethelwould ask me that I always gave them my stock answer. "You know what, Im notquite sure. You better give me a little bit more to taste. Then Ill be able to tellyou." So anyway, I went to my Aunt Ethel‟s for dinner. As soon as I walked intoher apartment I knew that I was in the right place at the right time. I wasnt quitesure what she was cooking but by the smells filling the air I knew that whatever itwas would be absolutely delicious. She didnt let me down. Then again, she neverdid. The main course that evening was meat loaf. It was a meat loaf like youvenever tasted in your life. How good was it you ask? It was the kind of meat loafthat didnt require a salad, vegetables or potatoes; because once you tasted thismeat loaf you didnt want to fill yourself up with anything else. You wanted moreroom for more of my Aunt Ethels meat loaf. She called it her French meat loafdish. Aunt Ethel placed the meat loaf on the table and started to slice it. As she didyou could see hard boiled eggs throughout the middle of the entire meat loaf. Icouldnt wait for her to give me my portion. My first portion. It wasmouthwatering. Delectable. Aunt Ethel, as my Mom and Granma did, only usedthe finest meat. I dont know about the eggs, but you couldnt buy better meat. Illtell you how good this meat loaf was. It didnt require ketchup. Now thats goodmeat loaf.Some years later when I had moved to Florida I told my wife about my Aunt Page 112 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Ethels French meat loaf with the eggs and how delicious it was. I got so excitedabout it that I decided to make it for dinner that night. I went to the butcher storeand bought some HOCHFLAISH (The best ground meat that money can buy) andbrought it home and prepared it with various seasonings and of course the eggs. Iput it in the oven and Joy and I couldnt wait for it to be done. I knew that itwouldnt taste just like my Aunt Ethels, for after all she had been a cook for aboutforty years. I just started ten minutes ago. There is something to be said aboutexperience. Even I knew that. But I was hoping that it would in some small wayremind me of my Aunt Ethels meat loaf. All of a sudden the timer on the ovenwent off, signifying that the meat loaf was ready. I told Joy to sit down at the tablebecause I was the chef and waiter for the evening. Joy sat down and I opened theoven and I almost started to cry. I yelled out, "What happened to my meat loaf?"Joy came running over and we both stood and looked at my Aunt Ethels meat loaf.No, it wasnt my Aunt Ethels meat loaf because her meat loaf wasnt yellow on theoutside like mine was. The eggs had oozed through the meat loaf and were bakedon the outside of it casting a yellow tint to my dinner. I looked at my wife and toldher that I must have used too many eggs. I guess thats where experience comes inhandy. The meat loaf was very hot and needed to be cooled off, so while we werewaiting I decided to call my Mom to tell her what happened. I reached Mom athome and told her about my meat loaf. She then asked me how I made it. I toldher that I seasoned the meat and then I placed the meat in a pan and molded it intoa loaf. At that point I made a well in the middle of the meat and cracked a feweggs in there and then braided the meat together to enclose the eggs in the middleof the loaf. My Mom screamed with laughter into the phone as she said, "Stevie,youre supposed to hard boil the eggs before you put them into the meat." Hum.How was I to know? Id only been a cook for ten minutes. Page 113 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Aunt Tillie- My Aunt Tillie was my Fathers brother‟s daughter, making her mycousin Tillie. But I called her Aunt Tillie. Why should she be any different thanmy other cousins? Aunt Tillie and Uncle George, her husband, lived in Elmont,New York, in a big, beautiful home not too far from the Belmont Race Track.During the summer months we would go there for a Sunday barbecue. Aunt Tilliewould usually have about ten to twenty people over at her house, mostly relatives,not including our family which was an additional four or five, depending if myMom and Dad could convince Granma to go. And the one thing that impressed meabout my Aunt Tillie was that she was very fair and understanding when it came tothese get togethers at her house. My Dad would bring the steaks, about twenty orthirty, and my Aunt would let my Dad use her grill to do the cooking. As I said,she was very fair and understanding. She understood in a very fair way that thesecookouts wouldnt cost her a plug nickel.But in all honesty I always had a great time. Especially with my Uncle George.He was a conversationalist extraordinaire. I remember one time I sat down next tohim and he said to me, "Hi Stevie." He was remarkable.One Sunday when we were over at my Aunt and Uncles house, Aunt Tillie askedmy folks if it would be all right if I spent the week there. My Aunt decided thatshe wanted to put in an above ground swimming pool but first she would have tohave the ground leveled. I was about sixteen at the time and in pretty good shape.I thought it might be a good learning experience and fun as well. So my parentsand I agreed that I would spend the week there and my folks would pick me up thefollowing Sunday. I was up every morning at six. Breakfast was either a couple ofeggs with toast or toast with a couple of eggs. My Aunt Tillie wasnt veryimaginative when it came to food. Lunch was the same every day. Tuna fish.Sometimes my Aunt would even take it out of the can. But most times she justopened the can and gave it to me with a piece of bread. Dinner was either franks nbeans, spaghetti or roast chicken. I must admit that the chicken was delicious, butof course you would expect it to be because my Aunt would get that from thesupermarket, already prepared. Julia Childs didnt live in fear of my Aunt Tillie.My Aunt and Uncle were putting in a very big pool both in size and depth. For onesolid week I used a shovel to dig into the ground, remove dirt, move it to anotherpart of the property, then use a leveler only to find out that the part of the groundthat was even now needed to be leveled and the part that was uneven was nowlevel. Dig into the ground, remove the dirt, move the dirt to another part of theproperty and then use the leveler. For one solid week. Ten hours a day. The onlything I had to show for it after one week was a good sun tan. The ground was as Page 114 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”uneven as it had ever been. What I thought would be a good learning experienceturned out to be exactly that, a good learning experience. During that week Ilearned that if I was going to earn a living in life, it certainly wouldnt be in theground leveling business. When my parents picked me up that Sunday they wereamazed at the condition of the property that I had worked on. It looked as ifdozens of groundhogs had been at play. The next week Aunt Tillie hired threeburly men to level the ground. It took them one solid week to accomplish the task.I personally think these three big strapping men could have done it in much lesstime, but where were they going to get such delicious tasting tuna fish like myAunt Tillies?At one point in time Aunt Tillie and Uncle George were operating a combinationnewsstand, candy store, which was so typical in New York. They also servedbreakfast and lunch. She could handle that. She and my Uncle could make eggs,bacon, tuna sandwiches and the like. That was easy. I didnt say it was good. Ijust said it was easy. But she couldnt stay open for dinner. Word would getaround in no time about her meals. She would lose every customer. She knewthat. She was far from stupid. She could have hired a cook. But what cook wouldwant to work just for food. So they were open just for breakfast and lunch, sevendays a week.Their place wasnt too far from the Belmont Race Track. Maybe two miles at themost. Apparently they were doing very well, but they were putting in lots of hours,and considering their age and with the type of work they were doing, where youreon your feet all day, it was a grueling grind. They could have hired a couple ofworkers to ease their burden but instead they offered my parents a full partnership.Nothing down. It must have been a great offer, because my Mom, who up untilthat point had never worked while she was married, decided to take my Aunt andUncle up on their proposal. But first Mom and Dad thought that they better workthere on a trial basis before actually committing to the offer. Maybe my Mom wasalso wondering why my Aunt and Uncle didnt hire a couple of workers.Mom and Dad soon found out. According to my parents they were both beingverbally abused by my Aunt and Uncle, particularly by my Aunt Tillie. And on topof that, my Aunt had a way of doing business that went against my parents basicway of treating people. My parents lived through the depression and possiblybecause of that they were very giving people. Actually so was my Aunt Tillie. Itsjust that she would only give you something if you paid for it.She once yelled at my Dad for giving a customer a glass of water with his meal. Page 115 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”The diner only wanted water with his meal, nothing else. My Aunt lambasted myDad for not insisting that the diner order something to drink besides water,something that costs money. That was the straw that broke the camels back so tospeak. After that episode my parents called off the partnership. Now my Aunt andUncle had no partners and no workers. The one thing they didnt have though wasa water shortage. Page 116 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Uncle George-A major part of my Aunt and Uncles business was sellingnewspapers. In particular the Sunday newspaper. More people bought the paperon Sunday than on any other day of the week. Probably because it was so thickand had so many sections to it. Of course it also cost more. The papers weredelivered in the middle of the night around two or three in the morning. A truckwould make its rounds dropping off the papers which were in sections and tiedtogether by string. It took quite a bit of time to put the various sections together tocomplete a paper. Im sure it would have taken less time had my Aunt and Unclehired someone to help them, but that was against their religion. And so my Unclewould come to work on Sunday around four in the morning to put the sections ofthe paper together. One Sunday Uncle George arrived at the store at his usual timeand there were the papers right next to the door of his business. He looked down atthe bales of papers and noticed that some of them were wet. As he bent furtherdown he smelled an all too familiar odor. It was urine. During the night someonehad peed on his Sunday papers. My parents related the story to me and as they didthey were laughing hysterically. They said that now my Uncle goes into the storeon Saturday nights, sleeps there and sets his alarm for when the newspaper truckcomes by.He probably used to sell a hundred papers every Sunday and just because one wasa little wet, he decided to sleep there on Saturday nights.Prior to having the luncheonette, Uncle George had a grocery store in Harlem,New York. One morning he was opening up his store when he was held up by agunman. All my Uncle remembered was that he was knocked to the groundunconscious. One of his workers showed up and revived him and they opened upfor business. My Uncle was complaining that he didnt feel good and that he hadpains in his stomach. His worker suggested that he go to the hospital but UncleGeorge decided to tough it out. About an hour later the worker noticed red stainson my Uncles uniform. My Uncle took off his clothes to find out that not onlywas he knocked to the ground earlier that morning but he was also shot in thestomach. He was like a mailman because nothing could keep him from hisappointed rounds. Not even a bullet. Thankfully he survived.Some years later Uncle George had a stroke. Thankfully it didnt really impair hisspeech because he never talked a lot anyway. My sister Madeline was gettingmarried and of course Aunt Tillie and Uncle George were invited. I hadnt seeneither of them in about five years and I was looking forward to seeing them again.My Mom warned me that Uncle George now had to use a cane due to his stroke. Itseemed that it had impaired his mobility. Page 117 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”I was in the hallway and walking towards me were my Aunt and Uncle. He waswalking rather slowly. I looked at him and immediately felt a tinge of sadness forhim. But then the sorrowful expression left my face and was replaced with a smile,for after all that my Uncle George had been through, he was still my Uncle Georgein every sense of the word. He hadnt changed one bit. There he was, walkingtowards me. A man who had recently suffered a stroke and who now had todepend upon a cane so he could get around. And he indeed did have his cane. Notwhere most people would though, under the circumstances. But most people werenowhere near like my Uncle George. He had the cane by his side as he wassupposed to. It just wasnt by the side of his feet. It was by the side of his chest.Right next to his chest. Actually he had the cane wrapped around his neck. Iwalked up to my Uncle, kissed him and said hello. I then said, "Uncle George,arent you supposed to use the cane to give you support when you walk?" Helooked at me and said, "Yea," and he kept on walking with his cane fullysupporting his neck. Even though he had suffered through a stroke, he still hadntlost his uncanny ability to communicate. Page 118 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” DADMy Dad was a very nice and caring person. You just couldnt tell that from the wayhe talked. Yet he was like the dog whose bark was worse than his bite. But boycould he bark. He never once laid a hand on me. He didnt have to. Heaccomplished the intended effect with just his voice. And his look. If I didsomething wrong, which was only once a day, he would look at me in such a waythat I would start to tremble. I think sometimes it would have been a blessing if hewould have hit me instead. Wham. A smack in the face and its over. I guess hefelt that was the easy way out. Because he never hit me. He just looked. Directlyat me. I was both afraid to look back at him and I was scared to look away fromhim, probably for fear that he would start to yell at me. And then as we looked ateach other he would start to shake his head from side to side. And he would keeprepeating the word, "Ah." Then after what seemed an eternity, probably twominutes or so, he would just turn around and walk away, his head down, shakingside to side with the word "ah" coming out of his mouth. I always wanted to knowwhat the word "ah" meant to him, but I was scared as shit to ask him. Ah, I mean,oh well. And he couldnt take a joke. He couldnt tell one either. Maybe thatswhy.I remember a joke I once played on my Dad. It was shortly after my Father retiredfrom his business, which was a meat market in Harlem, New York. Well he didntactually retire. My Dad was a butcher and after much careful consideration hedecided that he wasnt interested in the business anymore. Being held up fourtimes within one month with guns blazing did have some effect on my Dadsdecision. And so Dad just closed up his shop and took Mom, my youngest sisterMadeline, Granma and me to Florida for a well-deserved vacation. On our wayback from Florida Dad let me drive the car and we were going to try to drivestraight through to New York which was about a twenty-four hour haul. Alongaround eleven at night Mom was getting nervous about driving through the nightand so she suggested we check into a motel. Dad registered at the front desk andgot two rooms next to each other. We took the luggage out of the car and Dad putthe key in the door but it wouldnt open. He tried and tried but to no avail. I sawmy Father struggling with the key and I noticed that just below the slot where thekey was inserted, there was a little knob. I asked Dad to let me try to open thedoor. He said, "You think I dont know how to open a door? They must have givenus the wrong key." I said, "Let me try Dad." And so I reinserted the key into thelock and while turning the knob I pressed the little button below the slot and ofcourse the door opened. I opened the door just enough to get a foot in. The roomwas dark and as I started to walk in I blurted out, "Oh, excuse me. Im sorry." And Page 119 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”I shut the door. Everyone behind me thought that I had walked in on someunsuspecting people in the room when in all actuality there was no one there as Iwas just playing a practical joke. Mom, Granma and my sister thought it washumorous that I walked in on other people but my Dad was furious that the motelkeeper gave us the key to an occupied room. Just as he was about to go back to thefront desk I told Dad of the prank I played and as loud as he could he yelled at meat the top of his lungs, "SCHMUCK." He yelled so loud that you could have heardhim in Jacksonville, Florida which was pretty good because we were in Florence,South Carolina. You could see the lights of quite a few rooms illuminate as someof the occupant‟s faces appeared in the windows as they looked outside to find outwhat was causing this commotion. My Mom, Granma and sister were stillchuckling from the prank I played, but true to form there was my Dad walking intothe room, head down, swaying side to side, with the only noise coming out of hismouth, the inevitable, "ah." The rest of the trip was uneventful as my Dad refusedto let me open any more doors to the motel rooms. "Ah."My Dad came to this country when he was thirteen years old. By law he had to goto "Continuation School" until he was sixteen. His English at that time waslimited. The following story was relayed to me many times by him. I have noreason to doubt it because he was never one to make up tales. It seems that oneday in class the teacher asked my Father a question. My Dad had no idea what theteacher was talking about. One of the students sensed that my Dad didnt know theanswer so he told my Father, "Joe, say shit." My dad, with a broad grin on his facesaid to the teacher that the answer is shit. I asked Dad what happened next. All hesaid to me was, "Stevie, I never asked that kid again for any help."While were on the subject, some years later Dad woke up in the middle of thenight to get something to drink out of the refrigerator. At the time we had a dognamed Bo-Peep. Bo-Peep was a toy poodle, very tiny. Bo-Peep only saw theoutside world when my Mom took her to the vet‟s office. Otherwise she truly liveda dog‟s life. Mom would place newspaper on the floor leading into the kitchen forBo-Peep to alleviate herself. Our dog was definitely house broken. She only did itin the house. And she did a lot of it too. And for good reason. Bo-Peep never ateKibbles n Bits, Alpo or any other type of Chazerai (You should know thedefinition of that word by now) that most people feed their pets. Not Bo-Peep.She ate whatever we ate. For breakfast Mom would usually make her a scrambledegg. No toast, just the egg. For lunch she would have tuna fish or egg salad.Dinner was a snap. If Mom made steak for us, then Bo-Peep had steak. If Mommade lamb chops, then Bo-Peep had lamb chops. And there were never anyleftovers. Certainly not on our plates and never on Bo-Peeps. That dog lived a Page 120 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”very long time, cholesterol and all. And so my Dad got up in the middle of thenight and started to walk into the kitchen when he stepped on one of Bo-Peepspresents. There are two disadvantages common to not walking your dog outside.One is the odor, which thankfully wasnt noticeable in our apartment because Bo-Peep was very small as were her bowel movements. Besides, as soon as sherelieved herself, someone would roll up the newspaper and toss it down theincinerator. The second disadvantage that befalls any pet owner who does not walktheir dog is that you never know when your pet is going to relieve themselves.That night my Father didnt know. All he knew was that he stepped in somethingmushy. So what did he do? He hopped into the adjoining bedroom which wasoccupied by my sisters Phyllis and Madeline. Unfortunately my sister Phyllisoccupied the first bed in the room. My Dad tapped her on the nose. Phyllis stirredin her sleep. She opened her eyes only to look directly into my Fathers foot whichhe had raised to her eye level. Dad said, "Phyllis, look at this." She couldnt seewhat Dad was pointing to because it was still dark, but being a human being mysister did have to breathe every now and then and once the odor hit her shescreamed out as loud as she could, "DAD." My Father simply said, "Phyllis, lookwhat Bo-Peep did."Phyllis immediately applied for a transfer of beds with Madeline. Madelinewouldnt budge, Phyllis kept her old bed and my Father started using a flashlightwhenever he decided to get up in the middle of the night to raid the refrigerator,much to Phylliss delight.One summer when we were vacationing at Mitzmans bungalow colony or as it wascommonly called, Forest Lake Country Club, my Mom and Dad bought me afishing rod for my birthday which is in July. That was my first rod n reel. Thebrand name was Shakespeare. If youre into fishing then you will be very satisfiedwith their equipment. If fishing isnt your game, then try reading his books.Anyway, Dad decided to show me how to fish. Let me preface this story by statingthat up until that time my family would succumb to the religious experience ofeating appetizing at least once a month. The appetizing would consist of Lox(Smoked Salmon), baked Salmon, Sable, bagels, cream cheese with scallionsmixed in, little black olives, and smoked Whitefish which was one of my personalfavorites. As anyone who has ever eaten Whitefish knows, it is served in as closeto a natural state as is possible. From the sea it goes to the smokehouse and then toyour house in an almost pristine condition. When you sit down at the dinner tableyou look directly at the Whitefish and it appears that the Whitefish is looking rightat you because its eyes are wide open staring into space. Other than being smoked,the only markings on the fish are on its belly which has been sliced so that you Page 121 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”could peel back the skin. You tear back the skin and take chunks of the fish off ofits bones and either eat it as is or put it on a bagel with some cream cheese(tomatoes, onions and lettuce are optional) and boy do you have a good tastingsandwich. When my parents gave me the rod n reel I was sixteen years old. So upuntil that point in time I can remember eating appetizing since I was five or six.We ate it at least once a month if not more. Why was it a religious experience youask? Because I used to pray with all my heart and soul every week for my parentsto buy appetizing for that night‟s dinner. And once a month God would honor myrequest. I guess He would have done it more often but His schedule is verystrenuous. Anyway, being the type of person I am, I forgave Him.One day Dad decided he was going to teach me how to fish. The bungalow colonywe stayed at was adjacent to Sylvan Lake. The lake was huge and surrounded bysimilar bungalow colonies such as ours. The lake was also filled with, amongstother fish, lots of Bass. My Dads plan for the day was to catch a few Bass andthen fillet them and put them on the grill for that evening‟s supper. I couldnt waitfor Dad to show me how to fish. Although I was a teenager at the time, I had neverdeveloped an appetite for fishing. My Dad was going to show me what I had beenmissing all these years. And to his credit he did forever change my feelings aboutfishing. And that is certainly one of the many memories I have about him.So we went to the dock fully equipped and confident that this would be amemorable day, one that we would not only enjoy but one that would see us returnto the bungalow with loads of Bass. And my Dad didnt let me down because ittruly was a very memorable day. It started at the dock that morning. Dad had abucket full of Minnows which we used for bait. He attached a Minnow to the hookand cast his line into the lake. Within a couple of minutes something bit at the bait.My Dad was ecstatic. He was landing a fish within minutes of showing me how.He was so proud of himself and I of him. Dad was fighting with the fish, but itwas evident that the fish was going to lose. BOY DID THAT FISH LOSE. All ofa sudden the fish jumps out of the water in a last ditch attempt at survival. But hecouldnt release himself from the hook. Most fish usually take twenty minutes todie once they are pulled out of the water. They die from asphyxiation. When youthink about it, it is a slow and tortuous, agonizing death. It would be as if someoneheld your head under the water until you died. Ooh. This fish didnt have theluxury of worrying about a slow, tortuous and agonizing death. It was over beforeit was over. The fish comes out of the water as my Father is reeling it in. It was aneight inch Perch. My Dad was holding the rod upright and there was this Perch,just flapping in the air trying to release the hook from its mouth. Now a Perch isvery similar to a Whitefish. The major difference in appearance is that a Perch has Page 122 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”stripes around its body. Deep brown stripes. Take away the stripes and it looksjust like a Whitefish. You know, the Whitefish that I was so crazy about? Well myDad looks at the Perch as its flapping in the air and then looks at me and says,"Stevie, this fish is too big to use for bait to catch Bass." Without so much as asecond for me to respond, Dad turned back toward the "flapping" fish and placedboth hands around its body and twisted the poor fish until it broke in half.At least the fish didnt suffer very long. As an eye witness to that event it causedme almost irreparable harm. I immediately told my Dad that I didnt feel likefishing anymore that day. As a matter of fact I didnt go fishing for over 7,000more days. And then only because my oldest son Lorne kept begging me to takehim fishing. I took him to the pier in Pompano, Florida. After we finished fishingI asked him if he enjoyed it. He said, "Yes." I said, "Good. Remind me next yearand well do it again."But worse than that was the fact that it took me over thirty years before I could eatWhitefish again...............................................Stories about food abound when I think of my Father. Partially because that wassuch a big part of our lives. We spent a lot of time around the dinner table, eating,talking, and kidding around. My Mom never had to call us for dinner. We werealready there.My Dad, like all of us, had certain habits. One of them revolved around food. Inparticular, soup. Dad didnt like his soup hot. Not at all. Because hot was too coldfor him. His soup had to be so hot that it could melt iron. Now of course hewouldnt eat soup that hot. Not my Dad. He wasnt stupid. He didnt want to scaldhimself. So he would put his spoon into the soup, bring it up to within an inch ofhis mouth and blow. He would hold that tablespoon of soup in front of his lips andblow on it for what seemed an eternity and then he would sip it out of the spoon.He repeated this process over and over throughout his life. He never varied it.Tablespoon of soup to the lips, blow on it for a minute or so, then slowly sip it.Never changed his routine. Always the same results. Well......... almost always.One time my Mom and Dad went to a restaurant along with my sister Phyllis, mybrother-in law Roger and their kids, my nephew Gregg and my niece Stacie. Rogerordered Vichyssoise which is cold soup. My Dad didnt know what Vichyssoisewas. He asked Roger and of course Roger told him what it was..................... Sortof. He just told him that it was soup. He didnt tell him that it was served cold. Somy Dad told the waiter that he wanted the same soup that Roger ordered. Roger Page 123 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”started to tell Dad not to order the soup because he didnt think that he would likeit. My Father wouldnt listen, he told Roger to be quiet and he ordered theVichyssoise, not knowing that it was served cold. The waiter brought over thesoup and my Dad went into his routine. Tablespoon of soup up to the lips, blow onit, and start to sip. As soon as the soup entered my Fathers mouth it did an aboutface as my Dad spit it out, at the same time yelling, "Its cold, the soup is cold."Roger then told him that Vichyssoise is cold soup and he thought my Dad knewthat. (Yeah, right.) My Dad wouldnt hear any of that and he just kept mumbling,"What kind of a way is that for soup to be served. Ah." Page 124 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” GRANMAShe was the love of my life. My second Mom. My protector. The person I mostadmired. There are no words adequate enough to describe the loss I felt when sheleft me and the void that exists in my heart to this very day. When my Granmadied I donated prayer books to our synagogue in her memory. The inscription Iplaced inside says: In Loving Memory of my " Granma " BESSIE TEITELBAUM Her Shoes Will Never Be Filled StevalaI am her Stevala. She will always be my Granma. That will never change. Norwill the wonderful memories that I have of her. Above all, the memories of myGranmas devotion to her family. Her bright, cheerful attitude that lit up a roomwhen she walked in. She couldnt read, she couldnt write, yet she communicatedwith everyone and everyone wanted to communicate with her. She was the centerof attention at any gathering, whether it was family, friends or people she wasmeeting for the first time. She was left a widow at the young age of forty andraised three children, putting one son, my Uncle Aaron through college and lawschool. She worked in the garment industry as a sewer. She was sought after inthe work place for her integrity, her work ethic and her superb skills. In herpersonal life she would have been the Grand Prize for any man, except no mancould catch her. She lived her life for her children and then her grandchildren. Shecould have been one of the world‟s master chefs and to those of us who werefortunate to taste her mouthwatering preparations, she indeed was the world‟smaster chef. Instead of being paid in money, she was repaid with love andkindness by all those who knew her. In the event that one of her children,grandchildren, relative or friend took sick, then she was there. You didnt have toask twice.Sometimes she would even offer medical advice, as when my Aunt Ethel, wholived on the same floor as Granma, took sick. The doctor came over to theapartment, which was a usual custom back then. The doctors fee was $2.00 and ifyou needed a shot then it cost $4.00. If you didnt have the money the doctorwould put it on your tab. Maybe thats why in those days the doctors worked seven Page 125 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”days a week if they had to. They were there for you. So the doctor wasprescribing medication for Aunt Ethel, who had a very bad cold. Granma told thedoctor that my Aunt didnt need the medication that he was prescribing. Instead,Granma said she would cut a raw potato into slices. Then Granma told the doctorthat she would dunk the potato slices into urine and place the potatoes on AuntEthels forehead. To be totally honest, I dont know whose urine Granma wasreferring to. I dont think she would have asked the doctor for his. My guess is itwould have been my Aunt Ethels urine. Unfortunately, all the participants are nolonger here, so well never really know. But I do know that the doctor politelyvetoed Granmas suggestion and told my Aunt to take the medicine he prescribed.Aunt Ethel did get better. She was back on her feet within three days, withouthaving to wear potato slices on her forehead. Wet potato slices no less.Now Im not talking from experience, but knowing my Granma as well as I do, Imsure that had Aunt Ethel taken Granmas advice and put the potato slices on herforehead, then she would have been better within twenty-four hours, not seventy-two. But what do doctors know? Granma was never herself sick a day in her lifeuntil her bout with cancer that lasted three months and took her at the age of 81 tohopefully a better place.Granma always had her own apartment. She was very independent. She lived justa block or so away from us. There were many times that I would go up toGranmas apartment to fix either her television, vacuum cleaner or some otherappliance. As I write these words I can see her now answering both my knock onthe door and ringing of the bell. I loved to kid around with her. "Who is it?" "Itsme Granma." "Stevala, quiet, Im coming. Stop ringing and knocking." I can hearher feet shuffling down the hallway. And then the door opens and this womanshort in height but not in stature looks upon me with a smile that says I love you.And she knew that I loved her back. We didnt just kiss at the door. We huggedeach other with all our might. I knew at a very young age that my Granma was avery special person and I was so lucky to have her.During the last five years of her life Granma lived with Mom and Dad. She wasstill as independent and mobile as ever but didnt want to live alone any more. MyMom had gone to work for the first time since she was married and my Dad hadopened up a new, but unlicensed business called Coast to Coast with Yussel(Yiddish for Joe). After Dad closed his butcher shop, people in the neighborhoodwould ask him to either drive them downtown to work, or drive them to a doctor,airport, etc. And of course they would pay Dad for his service. It didnt take toolong for Dad to build up his business and I gave him the name for it. He never Page 126 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”officially used it. Coast to Coast with Yussel was a name known only by a fewclose friends and relatives. He didnt have an official name for his business. Noname, no business cards. Can you imagine how big he would have grown if he hadadvertised? "Ah."So Granma is now living with my Mom and the heir apparent to Yellow CabCompany when the phone rings. Let me backtrack for a moment to set up thisstory. Granma came to the U.S. from Rumania. She went to work as a child andtherefore didnt get a formal education. In other words, Granma couldnt read orwrite. She also couldnt pronounce the letter W. Apparently things were bad inRumania and the government couldnt afford a complete alphabet. So they omittedthe letter W and the W sound. It was replaced by the letter V. Makes sense to me.I mean, after all, the letter V is right next to the letter W in the alphabet. Thereforethe Rumanian government didnt have to go too far to find an acceptable substitute.So on occasion when I would ask Granma what she did that day, she would tell me,"I Vent shopping."So as I said, Vun day, I mean one day (its catching) Granma was alone in myparents apartment and the phone rang. The person on the other end wanted tospeak to my Father. Granma told the caller that my Dad wasnt home at the timeand the caller asked Granma to take a message. Now Granma is not going to letthe caller know that she cant read or write. So as Granma is searching for a penand paper, she is repeating to herself the caller‟s name over and over. She ismaking sure that it is imbedded in her mind because Granma cant spell. Now eventhough Granma cant read or write, she can do numbers. BIG numbers. Peoplewho cannot read or write have a tendency to write big. Dont ask me why, but theydo. So Granma gets a piece of paper, 8 1/2" x 11". This will give her plenty ofroom to write down this person‟s telephone number, especially if she uses bothsides of the paper. So the woman says to Granma, "My number is 234-6677."Granma is still writing down the number 2 and the caller has already given her thecomplete number. Granma tells the caller that there is a bad connection, so pleaserepeat the number and say it slowly. And so the caller had to repeat the numberthree or four times and finally Granma gets the number written down and repeats itto the caller to make sure its right. Then the caller tells Granma that when my Dadcalls her, in case she is not at the number she just gave to Granma, then here isanother one. At that point, Granma with conviction in her voice calmly tells her,"Listen lady, Im not a secretary. I just take VUN number." And VUN numberVAS all that Granma took. Page 127 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”In October of 1968 we went to Florida for a vacation after my Dad retired. Dad,Mom, Granma, my sister Madeline and myself. It was an exciting time of the year,especially if you were a New Yorker. The New York Mets, who less than ten yearsbefore were the laughing stock of baseball, were now on the verge of winning theirfirst world series ever against the Baltimore Orioles. But even more amazing thanthe Mets was that my sixty-eight year old Granma was still knocking em dead onMiami Beach.We were staying in the Carillon Hotel on the infamous Collins Avenue in MiamiBeach. We had just finished eating dinner. It was about eight in the evening. MyMother, Father and sister were going to their rooms for the rest of the night.Granma said to me, "Come Stevala, vill (well) go out and have a great time. Vereyoung and alive, not deadheads." So Granma and I vent downstairs to the cabaretlounge. Granma was bedecked in a mink stole with a string of pearls around herneck. She looked fantastic. But then again, why should that night have beendifferent than any other night? A sixty-eight year old Granma with her twenty-fouryear old grandson. A sixty-eight year old Granma walking ever so proudly withher twenty-four year old grandson. There were about 150 people in the cabaretlounge that night and we were the only people aware of our relationship. Wewalked to our table arm in arm. When we sat down Granma continued to holdonto my arm. After a while it became very apparent that people close to us thoughtthat the relationship I had with my table mate was anything but that of Granma andgrandson. I let Granma know that people were watching us and were probablythinking that I was a gigolo. Granma looked at me and said, "Stevala, lets notdisappoint them. Give me a kiss.............On the lips." Im sure that everyone inattendance that night remembered the show. Not the one on the stage. The one atthe table where the elderly woman and the young man sat. Our show wasdefinitely better.One other thing. My Granma was a darn good kisser.One year for my Granmas birthday I bought her a parakeet. She named himButchie. She fell in love with him and he with her. Granma taught him to talk andas a reward she would always give him a sampling of food, her food. Once hetasted her food and realized what he had to do to get Granma to feed him, hestarted to talk up a storm. Butchies cage was on the kitchen table. This birdwasnt stupid. He wanted to be where the action was. When dinner time camearound Granma would open Butchies cage and say, "Butchie, come here. Its timefor dinner." She didnt have to ask Butchie twice. He would jump from the cageentrance to the top of Granmas glasses. Granma would extend her finger to Page 128 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Butchie and he would jump on it as Granma drew him closer to her lips. She thenwould ask Butchie for a kiss and there they sat, at the kitchen table, pecking ateach other. Then after they finished making out, Butchie would jump onto thetable to await the evening‟s meal. He would either eat off of Granmas fingers orshe would place some food on the table for him. Whatever Granma ate, Butchieate. And he lived to be nine years old which for parakeets is considered to be anadvanced age. Must have been the chicken soup.One year Granma was going away on vacation and because Butchie wasnt used tobeing alone, she asked us if we would watch him for her. Of course the answerwas yes. One evening we were playing with Butchie in my sister‟s bedroom. Weopened up the cage and he flew out. He would fly back and forth to each one of usand then take off again. All of a sudden he flew to the top of the window, landingon the curtain rod. It was raining cats and dogs outside. My sister‟s window facedthe courtyard. Butchie was hiding behind the curtain and after a while we noticedthat he wasnt answering our calls and we didnt hear him speaking, I meanchirping, so we looked up behind the curtain and noticed that the top of thewindow pane was slightly open. Not open quite enough for a person to fit through,but just enough for a parakeet. I opened up the window and I could hear Butchiechirping. As I said, it was pouring cats and dogs and we all felt that this was thelast anyone would see of Butchie. It was dark outside, so I couldnt see him, justhear him. I called out his name but to no avail. Now his chirping finally ceased.Either he died or flew away to an impending doom. We were preparing what tosay to Granma. We knew she would be heartbroken. Then I decided to godownstairs in the pouring rain to see if I could locate Butchie. So there I was, inthe courtyard some five stories below our apartment, yelling out, "Butchie,Butchie," as the rain cascaded down upon me. I was drenched. I was about to giveup when I looked up to my apartment window and there was my Mom gesturingwith her hands to come on up. I signaled that I couldnt just yet as I had to makeevery attempt to find Butchie. When Mom realized that I wasnt coming up sheopened the window and yelled out that Butchie was back. I ran upstairs to findButchie in Moms arms. She was drying him off. He wasnt about to leave. Heknew that he never would have found a better home.Granmas sister-in law was Tonta (Aunt) Rosie. My Aunt Rosie was a very niceperson. She lived down the block from us and yet we didnt see much of eachother. But whenever we did, it surely was memorable. Aunt Rosie outlived twohusbands. I didnt know the first one, but her second husband was a favorite Uncleof mine, Uncle Manny. He always had a smile on his face and whenever he sawme he would greet me by saying, "Hi Stevie" and at the same time he would take Page 129 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”his thumb and forefinger and with all his might he would squeeze one of mycheeks. I really did like my Uncle Manny, but I am so thankful that we didnt seehim that often. My cheeks couldnt stand the abuse.Aunt Rosies first marriage produced a daughter, my cousin Tsippy or as we laterlearned to call her, Snippy. The reason for the name change was that cousin Tsippyhad a parakeet. Cute little bird. And very different from most other parakeets.You see this parakeet only had one leg. He was born with two legs, but cousinTsippy one day decided to cut the birds nails. In her exuberance to do a good jobshe accidentally cut off one of the birds legs. Hence the name change from cousinTsippy to Snippy.Aunt Rosie had one other child, my cousin Murray. He was a nice guy too. Youcould certainly tell that he was part of the family. Not ours though. My AuntRosies. Murray and Snippy were definitely a quinella. Birds of a feather as youmight say. What I remember about Murray was that he used to walk around withan Elvis Presley type hairdo. Slicked back hair with a big pompadour in the frontof his head. Murray was about two inches shorter than Elvis. But that wasnt theonly difference. He wore big black rimmed glasses that would invariably falldown to the tip of his nose. So Murray was constantly pushing his glasses up withhis fingers. And whenever he saw Granma, he would yell out, "TONTA, HOWARE YOU?" And he would grab Granma and try to kiss her. Oh did Granma hatethat. You see Cousin Murray had some sort of skin pigmentation that wasconsuming his entire body. It seemed like a dark stain was engulfing him. Granmadid everything within her power to avoid kissing or coming close to Murray. Iguess she thought it might be contagious. Maybe thats why we never saw toomuch of Murray and his sister Snippy.But you could always see Granma and Aunt Rosie sitting together on the parkbenches by Bronx Park East on any day of the week. Day in, day out, you couldsee the two of them holding court. You would think that besides being related toeach other, that they truly enjoyed each other‟s company. Maybe they did, but itseemed to me that Granma always loved to give Aunt Rosie a dig, an aside. Andso one time after I had moved away from the Bronx, I returned for my sisterMadelines wedding. I was in my parent‟s apartment and of course Granma wasthere. The wedding was less than a week away. The conversation around the tableturned to Aunt Rosie and I asked Granma if she would like me to play a joke onher. When I told her what I was going to do, she nearly fell off her chair and shesaid, "Stevala, go ahead and do it." Page 130 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”I then called Aunt Rosie on the phone. She answered and I pretended that I was aradio announcer calling people at random. I went on to tell my Aunt that if shecould sing the Campbell soup song then she would receive a free case of herfavorite Campbells soup and that we would play this spot on the radio in abouttwenty minutes. All of a sudden Aunt Rosie started singing, "Um, um, good. Um,um, good. Thats why Campbells soup is Um, um, good." I told my Aunt that shewon and we would be sending her a case of soup and I also told her to call all herfriends and relatives to let them know that she would be on the radio very shortly.Granma was in hysterics. All of a sudden she started naming people that shewanted me to play this prank on. Fortunately for me, dinner was about to beserved. And when dinner ended Granma forgot about it. Until the day of thewedding, when I reminded her......The wedding day arrived and we were there sitting at our table. It so happened thatI was sitting at Granmas table. It was a beautiful affair. The band leader wasMarv Kurz. Marv had first played at my Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Aaronswedding. Since then he played at my bar-mitzvah, my sister Phylliss wedding andnow my sister Madelines wedding. He didnt need any other customers. Just theChanzes family. He was a great musician, but more importantly an excellententertainer. During dinner Marvs band would play different selections in betweencourses. Soup was about to be served and I noticed that a couple of tables awayfrom us sat my Aunt Rosie, so I told Granma that I was going to ask Marv to playthe Campbells soup song. I started to get up from my seat. As I turned away fromthe table I could hear Granma whispering rather loudly, "Stevala, dont go.Stevala, shell know." Of course I wasnt going to tell the bandleader to play theCampbell‟s soup song. And my Granma knew that. It was just a game that weboth enjoyed playing. And we played different versions of it many times over theyears.From the beginning I never called her Grandma like all my friends called theirBUBBIE (Grandma). I intentionally omitted the "D" sound when talking of her orto her. She was and will always be a very special person. Very special and verydifferent from all other grandmas. Thats why I call her Granma. Page 131 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” MOMMy Mother passed away on August 24, 1985, just a scant ten days short of hersixty-second birthday. It may sound funny but I could never envision my Momgetting old. She was always so beautiful. Inside and out. In April of 1985 wefound out that she had developed cancer. Approximately one month later werealized the severity of it. Three months later she was gone. From the physicalworld. She still lives on in the eyes of all those she loved and those that loved her.And there were many.The last time I had seen Mom prior to her final hospital stay was about one monthbefore she left us. I had specifically come up to New York to be with her, knowingfull well that time was not on her side. One month later I eulogized her at herfuneral. Although I had committed those words to memory, for some inexplicablereason I saved the speech. Had I not, then they would have been forever gone.What I said that day was:"Approximately four weeks ago I came up to New York to visit my Mother. Onemorning, while reading one of the local papers I came across an anecdote whichnow, one month later, appears to be quite prophetic. Id like to share with youpeople here today what I had read.It was the inscription on the tombstone of a former boxing champion, and it said:"You can stop counting now, because Im not getting up anymore."Well, about four months ago, my Mother entered into the fiercest battle of her life.She fought valiantly and with more courage than we thought humanly possible. Atone point during her hospital stay, she looked up at us, and with true grit in hervoice she said, "Im not giving up." Such was the fighter my Mother was. Butunfortunately the inevitable finally occurred and last Saturday we too stoppedcounting, because our champion wasnt getting up anymore.Those of you who knew my Mother know what type of individual she was. MyMother was a very, very decent woman. Rich in tradition and high moral values. Ibelieve the highest tribute that I could pay to my Mother would be to say thefollowing:She was a friend to her friends, a Daughter to her Mother, a Grandmother to hergrandchildren, a Sister to her brother and sister, a Wife to her husband and aMother to her children. All of these in the truest and finest sense of the word. Page 132 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”My Mother will be sorely missed by her many friends, co-workers and relatives,and in particular by her two son-in laws, her daughter-in law, her many wonderfulgrandchildren, her sister, her brother, her husband and of course by her own threechildren, that is my sisters Phyllis and Madeline and me, her ZEIN (son).And so, while my Mothers physical presence has been taken away from us, there isno power on the face of this earth that can ever remove her spirit and that which itstands for, nor diminish the many, many wonderful memories that we have.And so while it is true that we mourn the death of my Mother,It is also true that we shall forever celebrate her life."------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------When I think of my Mom, many words pop through my head to describe her.Beautiful, phenomenal cook, loving wife, doting mother, caring and devoteddaughter, a gifted singer. Anything nice. That was my Mom.Ive searched my memory for stories relating to my Mom that have a comedic flairto them and unfortunately I dont remember many. I do know that she got a lot ofNACHIS (pleasure) out of her life, although because of her premature death, shemissed out on a lot as well. But the most vivid memory I have of my Mom is thatshe showed her love for us every day of the week, 365 days a year. Shedemonstrated all through her life what a good parent should be.Even such a simple task as ironing clothes took on a new meaning when my Momdid it, and it turned out to be no small chore. Forget about the shirts and the pants.Everybody did that. My Mom wouldnt let me go out of the house unless myGOTKIS (Jewish word for underwear) were pressed. Like someone was going tonotice if they werent. Even my socks were ironed. Do you know what its like toput on freshly ironed socks and gotkis? Let me tell you. It a MACHIA (pleasure).And I was never late when my Mom cooked dinner. In fact I was always early. Iwas the official taster in the house. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. It didnt matterbecause my Mom was a gourmet cook. Every meal was an experience that we alleagerly looked forward to with anticipation.At some point in time my Father realized that Mom was working awfully hard ormaybe my Mom was the one that realized that. Anyway, one of my parents had thegood sense to recognize that fact and so my Father hired a maid for my Mom. Im Page 133 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”sure that other people in the building had maids, but quite honestly I dont everremember seeing any. My Dad had a butcher shop in Harlem, which was and stillis a rather large community that had many impoverished SHVARTZES (Blackpeople) living there. Dad hired one of his customers whose first name was May toclean our apartment one day a week. My Moms first name was the same as ourmaids, except my Mom spelled it Mae. That was one way that I could tell thedifference between my Mom and our maid.In addition it would be a cold day in August when my Mom would let anyone enterher apartment if it wasnt clean and presentable, and that included the maid. I canstill see my Mom running around the apartment, cleaning here and there, pickingup laundry, getting rid of SCHMUTZ (dirt). Like what was the maid going to doif she came into a dirty apartment? Was she going to complain to the union or Godforbid picket us? All maids should have a job like our maid had. May worked formy Mom for fifteen years or should I say that my Mom worked for May for fifteenyears. May would get to our apartment at about 8:30 in the morning and beforeshe could get her coat off Mom had coffee on the table along with some Danish ormuffins. May would usually be finished with her breakfast break by 9:15, unlessmy Mom was still talking to her. Mom did most of the talking when she and Maywere at the breakfast table. May would drink her coffee, take a bite of her Danishand occasionally look up at my Mom and say yessssss Misssss Maeeeee. It wouldtake her all of 20 seconds to say three words. If you ever watched the old Amos NAndy shows, there was a character called Lightnin. He was very slow andpronounced in his ways. Mae was our Lightnin.When Mom got up from the table and took her coffee cup and plate to the kitchen,May figured that break time was over and she also took her cup and plate to thekitchen sink. At this point my Mom would delegate the responsibilities for the day,making sure to give the maid all of the easy jobs and keeping the difficult ones forherself. I guess my Mom felt that if she gave difficult tasks to the maid, then shemight not ever see her again and my Mom would be relegated to doing all of thework. So while the maid was ironing, my Mom was running around with a featherduster, doing the floors and in general doing her best to guarantee that theN.A.A.C.P. never accused her of overworking the maid. It must have workedbecause we were never picketed, we were never sued and in fifteen years Mayhardly ever missed a day of work. May was so dedicated that she refused to take avacation. Vacation? She had 52 vacation days a year. Thats broken down into theone day a week she came to our place, each and every week of the year.Now one of the traits in my family is that we virtually all have thin hair. My Mom Page 134 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”and Granma both wore wigs. My Aunt Jeannie, (Moms sister) and my Aunt Ethel(Granmas niece) have each worn wigs for years. Well our maid did not know thatmy Mom wore a wig and one day when she was cleaning the apartment, Momasked her for assistance. My Mother wanted to clean the drapes, so she got thestepladder and climbed the three steps up to undo the hooks that held the drapes tothe drapery rod which was attached to the wall over the living room windows. Ourmaid‟s job was to take the drapes from my Mom and lay them down on the floorand at the same time observe what my Mom was doing so that at some point in thefuture she could climb the ladder and undo the drapes from the hooks. Of coursethe maid only worked for us for fifteen years and quite obviously this wasnt a longenough training period, so all during that time, twice a year, my Mom would makethe pilgrimage up those three steps to undo the drapes.On this particular day, while removing the hooks that held the drapes, Mom losther footing and fell down the three steps to the living room floor. As her bodystruck the floor the wig flew off, and there was my Mom lying prone on the groundwith her wig lying about three feet from her head. With that our maid startedyelling at the top of her lungs, "Miss Mae, your head fell off, Miss Mae your headfell off." As scared as our maid was, that was nothing in comparison to how shereacted when my Mom turned around on the floor and showed her that her headwas still firmly attached to her body. The maid‟s hair literally stood on end and fora brief moment she looked just like part of our family because my Mom said thatshe was as white as a ghost. Page 135 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” PHILLYWhoever thought that I would be writing about my sister Phyllis, or as I called her,Philly, in the past tense. She passed away in June, 2008. She was only 60 yearsyoung. She died from the disease that is slowly eradicating my family……cancer.God forbid if someone in the family should die from a good old fashioned heartattack. Nope. Cancer. That‟s what we have to look forward to. Oh boy, I can‟twait.Philly had the most severe form of brain cancer that one could get. It‟s calledglioblastoma, a stage four cancer and the average life expectancy once diagnosed isa mere two years and that‟s just about how long my sister survived…..two years. Itwas about three months before Philly passed away that I found out how severe hercancer was. Up until that time I was led to believe that the disease was inremission and at the time I didn‟t know that it was a glioblastoma. When thedisease surfaced again, I started going up to New York every other week to spendas much time with Philly as I could. Anyone who has seen a loved one‟s conditiondeteriorate knows what I and everyone close to my sister went through. At firstyou‟re in denial. It can‟t be as severe as the doctors make it out to be. It‟s mysister Philly. She‟s only 60 years young. She has always been the epitome ofhealth. Very conscious of what she ate. And her exercising was power walking,her arms moving to and fro, back and forth and her legs moving as fast as theycould without breaking into a run. How could my sister Philly be sick…..but shewas and slowly denial became reality. Seeing her deteriorate right in front of myeyes. Not being able to conduct a conversation with her. Questioning theexistence of the Almighty. Staying up half the night on the internet hoping beyondhope to find some answers that will lead to her cure. Finally it sets in and yourealize that there‟s nothing you can do but let nature take its course and in theinterim make your loved ones last days as peaceful as is humanly possible.I was in Hawaii when Philly passed away. I eulogized her and asked Cousin Paulto read it at the funeral, which he did. Page 136 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”EULOGY FOR MY SISTER PHYLLISIm sorry that Im not here today, but I would like to thank all of you for being hereto pay tribute to and to honor my sister Phyllis, whom I affectionately called Philly.I came up to New York a few times during the past couple of months to see mysister Philly. Most of the time she was sleeping and completely unaware of hersurroundings. Id find myself sitting by her bedside, holding her hand and staring ather beautiful face, hoping beyond hope that she would acknowledge my presence.Now, having had time to reflect, Im comforted in the fact that my sister …Phillywasnt suffering, but rather getting ready for her next journey, one that will give herwhat she so richly deserves, and that is an everlasting peace.Yet as I held Phillys hand and looked down at her I didnt see my niece Stacy andnephew Greggs mother. I didnt see my brother in law Rogers wife. What I sawwas my little sister, my little sister Philly. My little sister Philly who carried myTalus down the aisle at my Bar Mitzvah that doesnt seem so many years ago. Mylittle sister Philly who could hit the heck out of a ball, better than a lot of the guyswhen we were kids. My little sister Philly, who shortly after she got married toRoger invited me over for dinner where she made for the very first timePirogen........or at least thats what she said they were. To me they looked likeminiature Mexican sombreros. Lots of dough. We could have used them asFrisbees. But after tasting one I realized that Philly had promise and sure enoughshe became a cook "extraordinaire." My little sister Philly who at one time washelping me move from one hotel to another. As we were driving through the streetsof New York, all of a sudden Philly yelled out, "Look, Steve, its hangars." I lookedthrough the car window to see what Philly was looking at. Then I turned to her andsaid, "Philly, hangars are what you put your clothes on. Those two young ladiesstanding on the street corner over there......why, theyre called hookers.Everyone who has known my sister for any period of time will have their ownstories to talk about but the one story about my sister that everyone knows issimply this. She was a very decent and caring individual. I always told my sisterPhilly how much I loved her but for some reason I never told her how much I trulyrespected her. I had the utmost respect for her because amongst other things she Page 137 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”created a very loving home for her family and helped raise two fantastic childrenwho gave her much nachus in return. After all, isnt that what life is all about?Although her life was unexpectedly cut short, we can all still rejoice in the manypleasures she witnessed in her lifetime. The pleasures of a loving and caringhusband who saw that her final days were spent in comfort. The pleasures of twooutstanding children who were at their mothers side, day and night, attending toher needs. The pleasures of four loving grandchildren, a caring son and daughter inlaw. The wonderful relationship she had with my wife Joy who many times saidthat Philly was the sister she never had. Not to mention the many relatives andfriends that she leaves behind who were touched by my sister Philly.One of the last times I visited Philly, cousins Howie and Adele came over to seeher. Adele looked at me, and with tears welling up in her eyes she said, "Stevie, thecircle is getting smaller."Cousin Adele is right. The circle has become smaller. But the good news is thatthere‟s going to be one hell of a welcoming party up there to greet my sister Philly.I love you Philly.....Rest in peace. Page 138 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” TONTONo, this isn‟t a story about the Lone Ranger‟s trusted Indian companion. Insteadit‟s about a very learned individual. Arguably one of the brightest individuals Ihave ever known. He knew just about everything there was to know…….Justabout. I‟m referring to my Uncle Aaron. When I first called him Tonto, he said tome, “Steve, do I look like an Indian?” “Of course not. You don‟t look like anIndian. The problem is that you think you‟re so smart and you‟re really not,because if you were then you would realize that in the Yiddish language an Aunt iscalled a Tonta, so therefore it stands to reason that an Uncle must be a _ _ _ _ _.”As I said, my Uncle knew JUST ABOUT everything.My uncle Aaron (my Mother‟s brother) and I had a relationship that lasted a coupleof months shy of sixty years before he passed away in April of 2004. The firstforty years weren‟t extraordinary. As a matter of fact they were probably nodifferent than most relationships between uncles and nephews. I always saw himon the holidays because that was a time that families got together for scrumptiousfeasts, conversation and storytelling. And on an occasional Sunday he and auntLorraine would visit us or we would visit them. Nothing special. Then my uncleand I had an argument, a disagreement and we stopped talking to each other foralmost a year. I like to tell people that my uncle and I stopped talking to each otherbecause of health reasons………we got sick of each other.One day while at work I received a call from Cousin Patty (aunt Lorraine and uncleAaron‟s daughter). She wanted to know what caused the problem between us. Itold her my side of the story and within days she arranged a meeting between myuncle and I at her house in New Jersey as I had told Patty that my wife, sons and Iwere going to New York for a vacation within the next couple of weeks. That visitstarted a 20 year relationship second to none. My Uncle and I buried the hatchetand proceeded to talk to each other over the next 20 years at least 4-5 times perday, sometimes just picking up the phone to tell the other party a joke, sometimesto discuss business and at other times to attempt to solve some of the world‟sproblems. And always at the end of a conversation my Uncle would say, “Steve,kiss Joy and kiss the boys and tell Joy to give you a big kiss from me.”I don‟t know of any other uncle and nephew that had a relationship similar to minewith my Uncle Aaron. He was like a father to me, also a confidant and my bestfriend. When I knew that his days were numbered I flew up to New Jersey to saygoodbye. It was the toughest goodbye I ever had to make. I miss my Uncleterribly……..and I miss his kisses. Page 139 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHTSome events happen on the spur of the moment, you know, not planned ashappened in the following story. Joy, I and the kids went up to New York to visitfamily. We stayed at my sister Philly‟s house. One day Joy and I along with oursons Derek and Jarrett went to the Bronx Zoo. We took my nephew Gregg with us.The Bronx Zoo is a place that everyone should go to at least once when visitingNew York. I grew up within walking distance of the Zoo so as a child and youngadult I ventured there many times. All five of us were walking through the Zoowhen my nephew Gregg says to me, “Uncle Stevie, what do they do with the Lionswhen they get old?” A fair question and it certainly deserved an answer. Withoutgiving much thought to the question I told Gregg and my two sons that once a Liongets on in years their teeth start to rot. Instead of putting them to sleep, becauseother than their teeth they are still healthy, the Vets at the Zoo pull all of theirremaining teeth out and clip their claws and then let them roam freely around theZoo with all of the visitors. Well the kids, all of them got excited. They couldn‟twait to see a lion so that they cloud go up and pet him. Then, without any warningI yelled out, “There goes a Lion”, and the kids started running in the direction thatI had pointed but they couldn‟t get a glimpse of the Lion. That episode wasrepeated about four or five times that day and then when we were ready to leavethe Zoo I confessed my sins to my kids and nephew.So here we are, some twenty years or so after that episode and I get an email frommy nephew Gregg. He told me that he took his two sons to the Zoo and told themthe story about the Lions and watched as they went running after one in the hopesof catching him. I don‟t know if Gregg told his children the truth about the Lionsbut I‟m sure if he hasn‟t then at some point in time he will so that they can playthis prank on their children in the future.Hey, that‟s what Uncles are for. Page 140 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” UNFORGETTABLE FRIENDS & CHARACTERSPaul -My granma called him a TRUMBANIK, which means trouble maker. Littledid granma know that I was just as much a trumbanik as Paul was, if not more. Imet Paul when I was 22 and he was 23 and for the next four years, until I moved toFlorida, Paul and I were virtually inseparable. He even helped me move to Florida,although not knowingly. But thats another story. We shared the same desires.Broads and food. And not necessarily in that order. Paul tipped the scales at closeto 350 pounds. I weighed about 225. His desire for food was obviously greaterthan mine. But not by much. His dress code was always the same. It neverchanged. He wore a Detective Columbo rain coat every day, rain or shine. And hehad a special phrase that I heard him use many times and it always cracked me up.He would say, "Money is no object." You have to understand that the only thingthat stood between Paul and the poverty level was the fact that his parents let himlive at their home. Hmmm? Sounds familiar. And while Paul didnt give theappearance of wealth, nevertheless he could convince you that he was J. PaulGetty, Jr. He had the gift of gab. And so if Paul was negotiating for something oncredit, invariably the lender would look at this 510", 350 pound Columbo wannabeand ask him if he could afford whatever it was he was buying. And then Paulwould utter, "Money is no object." And that was enough to convince the lender.And yet Paul was as nice as they come. Hed give you the shirt off of his back.And if he did, then you wouldnt need any other clothes because Paul was so bigyou could actually wrap his shirt around your entire body. And I used to goof onhim incessantly. And he always believed my stories.I was always a schemer. A plotter. You know, someone who was up to no good. Idont mean no good in a harmful sense, but rather in a playful one. At least Ithought it was.I was living with my parents again, shortly after my divorce. I was twenty-fouryears old and although I loved my Mothers cooking, that wasnt the reason I wasliving at home. I had a severe case of that Italian disease, myfundsarelow." But Iwas working and I was ambitious. As a matter of fact I ambitiously worked at adifferent job once every three or four months. It was mostly my Mom and Granmawho would MITCHA (bother) me. They couldnt figure out why I kept quittingevery job I would get. And I would keep telling them the same thing, over andover. "I DONT LIKE IT." And they would say, "How do you know? Youve onlybeen there for three days?" It was a regular comedy routine. And it was a longrunning one at that. It actually lasted until I was thirty-two because it wasnt until Page 141 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”then that I held a job for at least a year. Thats when the mitchating stopped.But as I said I was ambitious and my friends knew that, but Paul one day fell for ithook, line and sinker. I had gotten him a job as an insurance salesman at myformer place of employment. The owner was Carmine Guerriero. Carmine was asuper, super guy. He was the type of boss that you wanted to please. He was verycongenial, a good looking man, dapper dresser and loved to play jokes. Of courseif you play, then youre not always the pitcher. Sometimes you have to catch one.And both Carmine and Paul did in the following story.One evening I was sitting at home (my parents place) when the phone rang. It wasPaul. He barely was able to speak his name when I yelled out, "Paul, call metomorrow. Im working on a big deal and I need the phone line free. So call metomorrow." I didnt wait for his response and I just hung up the phone. My Momlooked at me and asked me what kind of prank was I playing on Paul. She didnteven think to ask me if I was working on a big deal. A big meal, yes. A big deal,well it never even entered her thoughts. Such was the faith she had in her son. Itold my Mom that I acted on impulse when Paul had called, and I have no ideawhat I am going to tell him when he calls back tomorrow. And I didnt. And so thenext evening the phone rings and of course its Paul. I still hadnt formulated a planso I once again told him about the deal I was working on and I needed the phoneline free. Paul asked me to please give him some details. As soon as he said that Iresponded, "All I can tell you is that Im working on a deal that will take me allover the United States, state to state whereby Im going to make a fortune. NowIve got to go. Call me tomorrow." The same thing happened three days straight.The pitch of Pauls voice was getting higher and higher every day as the excitementgrew. On the fourth day when he called I let him know that Im on the verge ofputting together a deal that will enable me to make thousands of dollars each weekgoing from state to state and this project will last one year. Over the phone line Icould hear Paul suck in his breath and ask me, "Stevie, is there anything for me?" Isaid, "Paul, I dont know?" He then said, "Stevie, I dont want to work for Carmineanymore. Im sick of the insurance business. I want out and maybe we can helpeach other. Heres my idea. Ill be your valet. Ill see that all your clothes are laidout properly each day. Just give me three hundred dollars a week and pay myexpenses and Ill be the best valet any man has ever had." I said, "Paul, I wouldlove to do that. The only thing is I need someone who can move on the drop of ahat." Paul says, "Stevie, dont worry. Say the word and Im gone." I said, "ListenPaul, I may find out today or tomorrow if the deal is good. If it is then I gotta go toLas Vegas because thats my first stop. Ill be there about a week." I could hearPaul grow short of breath over the phone. He says to me, "Stevie, Im going to stay Page 142 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”home tonight, just in case you hear anything. Tomorrow Im going into work andIll wait there all day until hopefully I hear from you." I told Paul that would befine and we hung up.The next day around three in the afternoon I called Carmines office asking forPaul. His voice gave away his emotional stance. He was poised, anxious andabove all ready. What I had to say would either be one of Pauls biggest letdownsor quite possibly one of his most treasured remembrances. It turned out to be alittle bit of both because he answered the phone and said, "Stevie, did you findout?" I said, "Paul, its a done deal. You must meet me at Kennedy Airport in onehour, at 4 oclock. If you dont have a change of clothes then dont worry becauseIll buy you another wardrobe when we get to Vegas." Before I had had anopportunity to gauge Pauls reaction and tell him that I was just joking, I heard himliterally yell out at the top of his lungs, "CARMINE, FUCK YOU, I QUIT." Andthen he flung the phone down on its hook. I immediately called Carmines officeback only to be told by the secretary that Paul had just cursed out Carmine, quitand ran out of the office.So Paul went to Kennedy Airport and I asked the secretary to please connect me toCarmine. When I told him what happened he couldnt contain his laughter. Heknew that Paul would call him back for his job. He only asked that I relate to Paulthat he was livid with anger and wasnt going to hire him back.Then I had to face Paul. I thought of that and decided to call himinstead...............After he got home from the airport.Paul and I shared a philosophy. "Just because youre poor, it doesnt mean youshouldnt eat.......................well." And well we ate, many, many times. Uponreflection I dont understand why we were so daring back then. We could havegotten into a lot of trouble. And we came awfully close too.It all started one evening when Paul and I decided to go out and grab a bite to eat.I was living in one of the hotels in the city. More frequently than not, Paul wouldstay over. There were two beds in the room. Pauls didnt cost anything. Mine was$55.00 a week. We were deciding which restaurant to go to when we both realizedthat there wasnt a restaurant in town that could satisfy our hunger pains since allwe had between us was a lousy three cents. Normally we dined at around four inthe morning. Thats when the Fink trucks, the ones that carry fresh bread andwarm pastries would roll through the city dropping off the day‟s food supplies ateateries that were just opening up or hadnt opened. It got to the point where we Page 143 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”knew the route pretty well. We would wait for the driver to drop off a supply ofbread and pastries at the front door of a restaurant that hadnt opened and then afterhe left we would help ourselves to either a late dinner or an early breakfast. If wewere going back to the hotel to grab forty winks then it was obviously a late dinner,but if we were going to be up a while then it was an early breakfast. It didntmatter what you called it because the menu never changed. Hot rolls, muffins andDanish. Sort of like a buffet. There was nothing to drink though, but the price wasright, so why complain.But this night was different. It was about seven oclock. We were very hungry andwe werent going to be able to hold out until four in the morning. It is said thatnecessity is the mother of invention. How true that is, because if we werent sohungry and if we werent equally so poor, then I never would have thought of howto solve our problem. But as it is I came up with a solution in very short order. Iturned to Paul and told him to shower, shave and put on his best threads and Iwould do the same because I was taking him out to dinner. He said, "How,where?" I said, "Dont worry, just remember not to take your wallet with you."That was probably the only thing that made sense to Paul because there wasntanything in his wallet anyway.I remember what happened as if it were yesterday. We both walked out of the hotelwearing three piece suits. We looked sharp. Two sharp bums. We drove toGreenwich Village, about three miles from our hotel to one of the more renownedsteak houses, O‟Henry‟s. Years ago, before the restaurant occupied the space, itwas a slaughtering house. When the restaurant opened they maintained some ofthe ambiance of the former occupant by having the waiters wear butcher uniformswhich were white smocks. In addition there was saw dust all over the floors,which is something you find in butcher stores and slaughtering houses.Paul and I walked in, sat down and literally ate everything from soup to nuts. Allduring the meal Paul kept asking me how we were going to pay for dinner. Hewanted to know if I was holding out on him. I kept telling him not to worry. Justenjoy the food. And enjoy we did, but eventually we couldnt eat no more and wehad to pay the bill. I asked the waiter for the check. Im sure that he wascalculating the heavy tip he would get from these two Park Avenue type gentlemenas he brought the bill over I reached for my wallet. It wasnt there. I put my handsin my other pants pocket, only to find that my wallet wasnt there either. I thenreached inside my jacket pocket. Same results. I was putting on a show for thewaiter and he was just standing there, taking it all in. I turned to Paul and askedhim if he brought his wallet with him. Paul was now starting to understand and he Page 144 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”said he didnt. I then looked at the waiter and threw my hands up in despair andasked him to please bring over the maître‟s. When the maître‟s arrived I simplytold him that I was taking my client out for dinner and I inadvertently left mywallet at my hotel room. I told the maître‟s that Paul and I would drive back to myplace, retrieve my wallet and we would return within thirty minutes. The maître‟swas sort of suspicious so he called over one of his workers and told him to followus in his car. This way we wouldnt have to come back to the restaurant. Like wewere going to anyway. All three of us walked out of the restaurant. I told theworker the name of the hotel we were staying at just in case he lost us in the traffic.Of course I didnt give him the name of the actual hotel we were staying at. Theworker got into his car which happened to be parked a few cars in front of Pauls.Paul and I got into our car and proceeded straight up the street behind therestaurants employee when I told Paul to signal as if he was going to make a rightturn at the next corner. Paul signaled and also honked his horn to make sure theworker saw him. The fellow saw Pauls signal and turned right.Paul and I kept going straight......................That episode started an eating spree, no an orgy of food, second to none. For thenext three weeks Paul and I ate as if we were going to the electric chair. And wealmost did. Well, not the electric chair, but we almost got executed. More of thatlater. It was apparent to me that it was relatively easy to eat for free, provided youpulled off these stunts in high class restaurants. My reasoning was that the owners,maître„d‟s, or waiters wouldnt start a commotion because of the clientele. On theother hand if you tried to pull off these shenanigans at a greasy spoon, then youcould get your hands chopped off. And so over the next three weeks we ate at NewYorks finest restaurants. Even when we had money in our pockets we wouldntpay. The reasoning was quite simple. It was important that we keep practicing ourcraft. And practice we did. On all types of restaurants and all over the city.We would always alternate. One time Paul would take me out to eat and the nexttime I would take him out to eat. After a while we thought that we were infallible.We felt so confident in our abilities that one evening we invited our friend Ben outto dinner. We decided to go to Chinatown. It was my turn to be the spokesman forthe group. This was the very first and also the very last time that we tried to do thiswith more than two people. When we finished eating we went up to the counterand I told the cashier, who as we found out was also the owner, that I had invitedmy two friends out for dinner and I left my wallet at home. I told him that wewould be right back. He looked at us and said in his unmistakable oriental dialect,"Let me see identification." I told him that I accidentally left my wallet at home Page 145 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”and therefore I had no identification on me. He then said, "Let me seeidentification of other two men," to which I responded that they too didnt havetheir wallets because I was taking them out to dinner. Now he was starting to getangry and he bellowed out at me, "You mean no one have identification on them?"I said, "thats right, but dont worry, well be right back with your money." He thensaid to me, "You go get money. Friends stay here till you get back. Then they cango." I told him that they both have to come with me because one of them must gethome immediately and the other person has the car. Surprisingly he gave upwithout any further hassle and in a low condescending voice said, "Make sure youcome back with money." I told him not to worry and then I really pressed my luckwhen I said to him, "Can I also have a large order of ribs to go. Its for my wife."When he heard that he yelled out at me, "FIRST YOU BRING BACK MONEY,THEN YOU GET RIBS." I said okay and off we went.We never did get the ribs...............................The very last time that Paul and I ate for free was also almost the last time that weever ate. We ventured out of Manhattan and went to a well noted Italian restaurantin Brooklyn. It was Pauls turn to buy. As usual we were dressed up in our finestthree piece suits. Since it was the only suits we owned, it wasnt too difficult topick out our wardrobe for the evening. It was a very expensive restaurant, but asPaul would say on many occasions, "Money is no object." And so we ate.Rockefellers money couldnt have bought a better dinner. Thats how good thefood was. And the service was impeccable. Everyone in the restaurant, from thewaiters to the maître‟s, treated us like royalty. That is until Paul told them that heforgot his wallet. Then the maître‟s asked us to follow him. If we had anythoughts of bolting for the door they were quickly dispelled when the maître‟sasked two of his associates to make sure we followed him. And follow him wedid. We followed the maître‟s to a place in the restaurant that most of his patronsdont see. It was a place for his‟ very special customers‟ like Paul and me. Therewe were. Three tough Italians and two wise ass Jews. We were definitelyoutnumbered, although if it was only one Italian we still would have been in adistinct minority. Then the maître‟s, who just moments before was so courteous tous as we ate dinner and who spoke so well, all of a sudden looks at us and says,"So you guys taught you could cop a free meal, huh?" Paul told him of course notand he repeated the same story that he and I had told other people in similarsituations countless times before. The maître‟s then looked at his two friends andsaid, "Whatcha we do wid dese bums." One of the guys said, "Wadda ya want usto do wid dem?" I felt a sudden urge to relieve myself as I looked at these threeguys. If looks could kill, then they would be saying YISKOR (prayer for the Page 146 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”dead) for us. The maître‟s asked Paul when could he come back and pay the bill.Paul told him that he would pay it the very next day. Surprisingly the maturedsaid, "Fine. But make sure youre back here tomorrow, you understand?" We bothsaid yes. I felt a sigh of relief. Our nightmare was about to end on a happy note,but then the maître‟s said to Paul, "Gimme your phone number." Paul gave him anumber which I knew wasnt his. The maître‟s told his friends to watch us as hedialed the number that Paul had given him. It turns out that the telephone numberdidnt belong to anyone as it was disconnected. And thats exactly what I thoughtwas going to happen to us. I thought for sure that our arms would be disconnectedfrom the rest of our body. Thankfully the matured had a sense of humor. Helooked at Paul with daggers coming out of his eyes and said that he was only goingto ask him for the correct number one more time. Once more I felt that urge torelieve myself, but this time Paul gave him the right number. The maître‟s musthave also realized that it was the right number because he never dialed it. He gothis point across to us and the very next day Paul and I went back to the restaurantand paid the bill.Since that episode occurred I have eaten in many Italian restaurants. But beforegoing in I always check to make sure that I have my wallet........ Page 147 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Irwin Sherman-Irwin was about fourteen years older than me so we didnt palaround, but he was best of boyhood friends with my Uncle Aaron. Two storiesstick out in my mind regarding Irwin. One was related to me by my Uncle and theother I saw firsthand.For years my Uncle would occasionally tell the following story about Irwin. Inever fully believed it until Irwin came up to our apartment to pay a condolencecall after Granma died. I asked him to repeat the story and he did, verbatim. Itseems that when my Uncle and Irwin were in either their late teens or earlytwenties, Irwin had purchased a beautiful winter coat. The coat had wide lapelswhich were in fashion back then. Both my Uncle and Irwin were standing on thecorner of Wallace and Brady Avenues with my Uncle admiring Irwins coat. Thiswas the very first time that Irwin had worn his new coat and he was very proud ofit. He had worked hard and saved up his money so that he could by this coat. Allof a sudden my Uncle noticed a thread hanging from one of the lapels. My Uncletold Irwin to stand still as he pulled on the thread. And he pulled and pulled. Irwinwas getting nervous but my Uncle assured him that he knew what he was doing.And so there were these two young adults standing on the corner, one with hishands at his side and the other with his hands at shoulder level, pulling on a threadthat had no end or so it seemed. Irwin grew more hesitant and my Uncle grewmore confident as finally my Uncle pulled the remaining thread from its place inthe lapel. My Uncle looked at Irwin and said "Thats much better. Now your coatlooks perfect." And then Irwin took his lapels in his hand and turned themupwards and as Irwins hands stretched up beyond his head, so did his lapels asthey came up and off his shoulders. My Uncle had removed the very thread thatsecured the lapels to Irwins coat.My uncle was never fully aware of the speed in his legs until that momentousday................One day Mrs. Sherman came up to my folk‟s apartment and told them that thefollowing week her son Irwin would appear on the television game show, "Who DoYou Trust," which was hosted by Johnny Carson. This was just prior to Carsonhosting the Tonight Show. The following week we all gathered around ourtelevision set as the show started. Within minutes of the opening of the show,Johnny introduced his first guest, Irwin Sherman. Carson proceeded to ask himwhat type of girls he liked and Irwin replied that it depended on his mood at thetime. Sometimes he liked flat chested girls and sometimes he preferred the buxomtype. Carson then asked him if he was going out with anyone at the time and if so,what type of girl was she. Irwin indicated that he was seeing someone who was Page 148 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”the buxom type but he didnt think that she was too crazy about him. Carson askedwhy and Irwin said, "Because she told me she just got engaged to some other guy."Irwin had Carson and the audience in hysterics. Page 149 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Mr. Goidel-He is my Aunt Lorraines father. Therefore he wasnt related to myfamily but he could have been because he truly was a character. He possessed avery raspy almost guttural type quality to his voice. He resembled Myer Lansky inlooks. I dont know about anything else although I suspect that he could have heldhis own in any fight.What sticks out in my mind about Mr. Goidel was his appearance. Through all theyears I knew him it seems that he always wore the same thing. Dark pants, a whiteshirt, tie and dark jacket. I never saw him wear a bathing suit, shorts or any otherattire. I saw him in the winter time, I saw him in the summer time. I saw him allthrough the year and I can honestly say that I do not remember him wearinganything other than what I have described. Who knows, maybe he had the rightidea. When Mr. Goidel got up each morning he didnt have to give thought as towhat type of shirt or pants to wear. He didnt have any concerns about which shoesto put on or if he was color coordinated. I guess many years ago Mr. Goidel founda nice outfit that looked good on him and he decided that as long as it looked goodwhy not wear it............continuously. And he did. Or so it seemed.And something else I remember about Mr. Goidel was the way he positionedhimself on a chair. As soon as he came into your home and said hello to everyonehe would ask for an ash tray and head for a chair. And he would never sit on acouch. It wasnt because he was anti-social. Not at all. I believe he chose to sit byhimself because if he hadnt then it would interfere with his special way ofpositioning himself. He would sit down on a chair and cross his right knee over hisleft knee bringing the heel of his right foot to within six inches of the floor. Hisright foot would then start to move back and forth. Not far. Just a short six inchesor so. But if you happened to be walking by Mr. Goidel without paying attention,then its very possible that your shin may have met the fronted point of Mr.Goidels shoe.....on the upswing.Then he would light up a cigarette. I never saw any person in all my life light upas many cigarettes as Mr. Goidel did. And then again, I never saw a smoker smokeso few. He would cradle the ashtray in the palm of his left hand and place it on hisright knee, which by now was stationed above his left knee. Then he would leanforward and with the cigarette held firmly between the first and second fingers ofhis right hand, he would slowly bring the cigarette up to meet his lips. He wouldthen inhale some smoke, remove the cigarette from his lips, and leave it remainingno more than four inches from his mouth with the lit end of the cigarette facingskyward. He would then exhale the remnants of the smoke he just ingested andenter the conversation that was being held in front of him. And there he would Page 150 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”remain. Leaning forward. Conversing with friends and family with his left handcradling the ashtray which was resting on his right knee. And as he engaged inconversation the two fingers of his right hand continued to hold his cigarette whichwas facing skyward. The smoke would curl up the cigarette and head to the ceilingas Mr. Goidel kept involved in conversation. There would come a point in timewhereby his cigarette consisted of two inches of paper and three inches of ash.Usually someone would tell him to flick his ashes. Thats when Mr. Goidel woulddemonstrate his acrobatic qualities. You see at this point if there was anymovement whatsoever from Mr. Goidels right hand, the same right hand that wasnow holding a cigarette which consisted mostly of ashes, then it was possible thatthose ashes would break up and fall to the carpeted floor below. And so Mr. Goidelwould slowly move his left hand that was holding the ashtray towards the cigarettebeing held by his right hand. Distance to travel? About twelve inches. Time oftravel? Seemed like ten minutes. Performance wise, I would give Mr. Goidel aten. His eye hand coordination was excellent. You could see his eyes focusing onthe movement of the ashtray while at the same time glimpsing at the cigarette forfear that if the ashes would tumble from their place then he would have to movethe ashtray very quickly to capture the ashes. Finally the ashtray would be restingunder the cigarette. With the pointer finger of his right hand he would tap thecigarette and the ashes would fall harmlessly into the ashtray. The ashtray wouldnow return to its original spot above the right knee. The only difference is that Mr.Goidel was still holding the cigarette over the ashtray and every once in a while hisfinger would tap it.It looked like he averaged two puffs a cigarette.........Mr. Goidel was also responsible for altering my career. We were sitting in theliving room of my parent‟s apartment. Just Mr. Goidel, my Uncle Aaron (Mr.Goidels son-in law) and myself. There was Mr. Goidel, in his position, one legover the other and holding a cigarette facing skyward when something promptedhim to ask me in his deep, raspy voice, "So Stevie, whatta you wanna be when youget outta school?" I said, "I want to be an actor." Rosily he said to me, "Okay,imitate your Uncle and me." At that point while I wasnt quite sure what I wantedto be in life, I certainly knew what I didnt want to be, and that was an actor. Page 151 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Norman Weiss-Norman was my Uncle Aarons third father-in law. My uncle wasmarried only one time and he only had one mother-in law. His mother-in lawHelen was first married to Mr. Goidel. That union produced my uncles wife, myaunt Lorraine. After Helen and Mr. Goidel divorced she then married HarryKaufman. That union produced two children, Steven and Florence. HarryKaufman passed away and some years later Helen married a truly unforgettableloving character by the name of Norman Weiss. That union produced an endlesssupply of lox, baked salmon, sable, sturgeon, bagels, cream cheese, etc. It wasntbecause Norman owned a food store. Not at all. But he did work in one. AndNormans prices were a lot different than the ones posted on the board.On any given Sunday my Dad would walk into the store that Norman was workingin and wait on line to be served. He wouldnt let anyone wait on him exceptNorman. When it was my Dads turn to be served Norman would say, "Gentleman,what would you like?" Thats how Norman addressed his customers."Gentleman." My Dad would order the usual supply of appetizing as I mentionedabove. The bill would come to sixty or seventy dollars…………. if you werepaying the board price. But Norman didnt charge my Dad the board price. Hegave him a special price of $10.50, or something close to that figure. Normanwould place the order in a big brown paper bag and mark on the outside of the bagthe total amount due. My Father, with SCHPILKES (fear) in his pants wouldtimidly wait his turn to pay at the cash register. And when it was my Dads turn hewould approach the register with a sack of goodies weighing him down and overflowing the bag. He would show the bag to the cashier, pay his bill and walk out.I would often ask my Dad, "What kind of a schmuck did the owner employ at theregister, whereby they couldnt see that it was impossible for the bill to be that lowconsidering the amount of food you had in the bag?" My Dad would tell me thatthe schmuck that the owner employed at the register was the owner himself. To theowners credit though, he always gave the right amount of change. So I guess hewasnt a complete schmuck.My uncle Aaron had a better deal with Norman. At the end of the work dayNorman would wrap up some lox, whitefish, baked salmon, etc. Each would be intheir own wrapper. Then Norman would stuff his pants and jacket pockets withthese delicacies, go home and pick up his wife Helen, put the appetizing in a bagand off to New Jersey they would go to visit my aunt Lorraine and Uncle Aaron.Lox and baked salmon are to this day the types of fishes that you never grow tiredof eating…………………….. Especially at Normans prices. Page 152 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” EMPLOYMENTWhen I was 24 years old I was hired by the Cohn Hall Marx Corporation. Theywere a division of United Merchants, which was a leader in the garment centerbusiness in New York. The company sold the materials that ultimately wereconverted into clothes, such as blouses and sweaters by the various manufacturers.My sister Phyllis and my Uncle Aaron had preceded me into the garment industry,with Phyllis having a secretarial position at J. P. Stevenson and my Uncle havingrisen to the position of Vice-President of Hanora Fabrics. My Uncle more so thanmy sister was responsible for my entrance as well as departure from this industry.To say that my Uncle couldnt see the forest through the trees was never moremoving as I recount my rise and fall from the garment industry.The year was 1968. I was 24 and recently divorced. I had just quit a job as aninsurance salesman. I had been with the firm for almost a year and I didnt want todisappoint my folks by staying with the company. After all I had a reputation topreserve, which was never having held onto a job for at least one year. I wasgetting perilously close, so I quit. Once again, it was one of those jobs that I justdidnt like, so I decided to explore other avenues for my career advancement. Myparents were at their wits end. Here I was, there 24 year old son, unemployed andwith no idea as to how I would make my way in this world. Back then, in the1950s and early 1960s, if a Jewish guy wasnt married by the time he was 22, andbesides that, if he wasnt an accountant, a teacher or pursuing a law or medicaldegree, or if he wasnt working for one of the major corporations like Texaco orGeneral Motors, then it seemed as if the roof was about to cave in or even worse hefound people questioning his religious affiliation.Was he a Jew or wasnt he a Jew? Was he only pretending to be Jewish? Did heknow he was a Jew? Did he know what was expected of young Jewish men?PRESSURE, PRESSURE, PRESSURE.My parents and Granma were upset and very nervous. Their friend‟s children hadall graduated college, had wonderful jobs and gotten married. And here I was,there only son, recently divorced and unemployed with no discernible future aheadof him. They wondered what would become of me. As far as I was concerned Ihad a roof over my head, courtesy of Mom and Dad. I had three square meals eachday, once again, courtesy of my parents. And my Dad would let me use his carmost of the time. So I figured, whats the rush? Am I going to do that much betteron my own? I figured that I had plenty of time to make a decision regarding mycareer. Page 153 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”My parents didnt exactly see it that way. So one day my Mom and I went out toNew Jersey to pay a social visit to my Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Aaron. Little did Iknow that it was a subterfuge to get me out there specifically for the purpose ofdeciding what kind of jobs or industries I should look into. My Uncle immediatelytook charge. He asked me what I was interested in and I told him that I didntknow. So he took out the Sunday paper and methodically went over every joblisting in the employment listings to see what peeked my interests. He quickly sawthat the only thing I was interested in was in going back home to the Bronx. So asa last desperate attempt to save the day and not look bad in the eyes of his sister(my Mom), my Uncle suggested that I seek employment in the garment industrywhich had been so fruitful for him as well as my sister Phyllis. That was his firstmistake. Unfortunately I didnt realize it then.I applied to a few firms and finally I was hired by Cohn Hall Marx to work in theadministrative department. It was the most hectic and competitive environmentthat one could work in. Salesmen would push the company‟s latest line of goods tothe manufacturers and then submit orders which had to be filled yesterday. Andthere was no room for error. Salesmen would carry swatches of materials withthem to show to the buyers. When an order was placed the salesman would attachthe proper colored swatch to his paperwork for processing. Then after the orderwent through normal credit procedures, the paperwork, including the swatch weresent to the dying plants located in New Jersey. The dyers would process a sampleof the order for the simple reason that the salesman had to make sure that the colorof the sample exactly matched the swatch. On any given day you could walk downSeventh Avenue in New York City, which is the heart of the garment industry andsee people hanging out windows 5, 10 or 20 stories above the ground. And theyare all doing the same thing. They are holding in their hands the swatch and thesample order, comparing them in natural daylight to make sure that before theygive the go ahead to the dye plant to fill the order, the two pieces of material are aperfect match. One slip up and the salesman could lose the account and Cohn HallMarx would have to eat the dye job. Im willing to bet that the garment industrywas the leading cause of heart attacks and ulcers over all other types of industry.And so here I was, working in this highly competitive industry. I was the first onein the office in the morning and the last to leave at night. I loved my job. For thefirst time I could see myself breaking my employment record of not having everworked a job continuously for at least one year. I honestly thought up until thatpoint I would have a tougher time breaking my record than anyone else wouldhave in breaking Roger Mariss record of 61 homers in a single season. All the Page 154 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”sales people liked me. Murray Wolfson who was in charge of our department tooknotice of me and was enamored by my work ethic. Then one day Mr. Wolfsonsassistant gave notice of his resignation. Mr. Wolfson interviewed three people forthe newly opened position. I was one of the three. I wasnt employed nearly aslong as the other two. I felt that Mr. Wolfson was interviewing me for the solepurpose of letting me know that while I wouldnt get the opening this time, restassured that there was going to be a spot for me down the road. I was honored. Ialso got the job. Now I was more than honored. I was ecstatic. It seemed likeonly yesterday that I was in doubt as to what my future held in store and nowthanks to my Uncles advice, here I was, the assistant to the head of the department.Of course I received a substantial pay increase which made it that much moreexciting. I felt that I owed my Uncle Aaron big time..........................Thankfully Ididnt pay him because my ecstasy didn‟t last very long.About two months later a former salesman of the firm, Mike Stevenson, calls me atwork and asks me to stop up at his place after I was finished for the day. I went tosee Mike and he told me that when he worked at Cohn Hall Marx he was veryimpressed with my skills and work ethic. He had just opened up his own textilebusiness and made me an offer to be the inside man and he would be the outsidesales representative. Just the two of us. As the company grew I would partake inits profits. He made me a very generous offer. I then gave a two week notice toMurray Wolfson.Each day after work at Cohn Hall Marx I would go up to Mikes office for twohours of training. I was catching on real quick to Mikes system and he waspleased with my efforts. Then one day towards the end of my first week of trainingMike took me over to the rack of textiles he had and he said to me, "Steve, whatcolor are these goods?" I looked at them and told him, "Theyre blue." Mikelooked at me and said, "Almost. Theyre purple. Lets try again." He then pointedto another sampling of material and asked me the same question, to which Ireplied, "Theyre green." He looked at me and said, "Very close Steve, but theyhappen to be brown."Im color blind. I knew it and my Uncle knew it. And if youre color blind, thenyou dont stand a ghost of a chance of making it in the garment industry. Since Iwould have been the person approving the dye jobs for Mikes orders, he obviouslysaid that he couldnt use me, which I understood. I told Murray Wolfson whathappened and he was willing to let me still keep my job, but I saw no future in thegarment industry because I couldnt distinguish colors. Although for some timeafter when I looked at my Uncle I frequently saw the color red........................ Page 155 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” “LADY WE JUST KILL EM, WE DON’T BURY EM”I was employed by Prudential Life Insurance Company located at 26 Court Streetin Brooklyn. They compensated their new recruits by putting them on a three yearvalidation pay schedule. It worked in the following manner. My draw was$500.00 per month and during the first two months of the contract period I was notexpected to make any sales and I would still receive my draw. The next month Iwas expected to earn at least $50.00 in commissions in order to receive the$500.00 draw and each month thereafter I would be responsible for bringing inmore commissions than the month before in order to justify the $500.00 draw thatPrudential was paying me. During the third year of the contract I would actuallybe making more in commissions than the draw that I was being paid so that at theend of the three years my commissions earned was equal to the draw that I waspaid. This is how insurance companies can hire new recruits because success isnot instantaneous. There is a learning curve. They were no different than anyother insurance company that would hire you. In other words you were expectedto approach your relatives and friends in order to try to sell them a life insurancepolicy. In short order you immediately find that your friends are no longer yourfriends and your relatives have disowned you. It‟s that simple.Anyways I was right on schedule after my first two months of employment withPrudential Life Insurance Company. They paid me $500.00 per month and I hadno sales. I probably would have had a stellar career with them except for the factthat now I was expected to make sales. That was the fly in theointment……………But I tried.There was a sales agent at Prudential who had an in at the phone company and thatperson would provide the agents with a monthly list of the names, addresses andtelephone numbers of people who had just received telephone service. The onlyother way that you could find the new telephone listing of an individual was bycalling information because their name wouldn‟t appear in the telephone book untilthe new one came out, so this was a very valuable list. The Prudential agent had agreat business going for himself because he would give out sheets of the newlistings to those agents that wanted it. There were approximately 1,000 names oneach sheet and the Prudential agent would charge two cents per name or $20.00 persheet. Then the agents who purchased these lists would send out letters to theseindividuals advising them of some new, outstanding insurance policy thatPrudential had and those that were interested would send back the bottom part ofthe letter which had room for them to insert their date of birth, telephone numberand best time for an agent to call them. About 5% of the people who received Page 156 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”these letters actually responded and then we would call them to set up anappointment and hopefully sell them insurance. The Prudential agent that sold usthese lists also received 50% of any commission from sales that we made. Hisname had to appear on our order sheets so that Prudential could pay him his 50%and give him credit for half of the insurance sale. He had a great business going onat Prudential Life Insurance Company. He received $20.00 for every sheet ofnames that he sold to other agents and he also got credit for half of their sales. Hewas the leading salesman for the company and yet he didn‟t sell any insurancehimself.I had bought some lists and one of the people that responded to the letter I sent wasArthur Milden who lived in Brooklyn and worked for a pest control company. Isold Arty a life insurance policy and pretty soon we became good close friends.Every time we had a conversation he would drum into my head what a profitablebusiness pest control is. He said the markup was phenomenal and if he left hisplace of employment to open up his own pest control company then most of thepeople he serviced would come with him. I always had the entrepreneurial spiritand that coupled with the fact that I wasn‟t doing well at Prudential Life InsuranceCompany made me lean towards going into partnership with Arty. One thing wasstopping me from making that decision. Arty said that we needed about onethousand dollars to go into business for rent, utilities, furniture, product, etc. Sincehe had the license to practice pest control and he was bringing accounts with himhe felt it was only proper that I fund the venture. I couldn‟t disagree with him but Iwas about one thousand dollars short. Then a dramatic event occurred that mademe decide to go into business with Arty and at the same time figure out a way toraise the thousand dollars. Prudential Life Insurance Company terminated me. Ihad no job and I was married with an infant son. It‟s not that I couldn‟t findanother job but the lure of going into business at the tender age of 24 was like adream come true. But I needed a thousand bucks, That‟s all that stood between meand who knows, maybe becoming the next Lee Iocacca. I racked my brain. Howcould I come up with a thousand dollars? Then all of a sudden it hit me. It was asplain as the nose on my face. Well, not exactly, but it certainly was as plain as thediamond engagement ring on my wife‟s finger. After appealing to my wife‟s logicas to how this could change our lives she finally agreed to let me pawn the ringwith the promise that as soon as we made money I would buy it back from thepawn shop.And just like that Arty and I were in business. We found office retail space onbusy Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. We named our business A & BExterminators. Arty and I were partners and the agreement we entered into was Page 157 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”that I would build up the business by getting additional accounts and Arty woulddo the servicing of the accounts as insects and me never did get along. Most of theclients that Arty brought with him lived in the poorer black sections of Brooklyn.If they lived in an apartment building then we would charge them $5.00 and if theylived in a house then our monthly fee would be $7.50. Besides those accounts Artyalso brought with him landlord or as we called them, “Slumlord” accounts. Theaverage Slumlord that we had owned between 25 and 50 buildings in Brooklyn.All the buildings were similar in the sense that they were in dire shape, needing allsorts of repairs and they were all inhabited by poor black tenants. The Slumlordwould pay us $3.00 per building once a month for our pest control services. Now$3.00 to do an entire building seems pale in comparison to the $5.00 we chargedtenants for their apartments but it made good sense to have Slumlord accounts.First of all we didn‟t have to service every apartment in the building, just those thatleft a notice with the superintendent of the building requesting our help. Thatusually numbered around four or five. Secondly we had approximately fiveSlumlord accounts with each one providing us with about forty buildings. Do themath. Those Slumlord accounts paid our rent, electric and telephone bill eachmonth. The private accounts we had would provide us with some take home payeach week until the business was built up and we could generate a decent check.And business was building up for a couple of reasons. The first thing I did was topurchase a cross street directory which is a telephone book listing people by theirstreet address as opposed to alphabetically. The purpose of using the cross streetdirectory was to acquire new accounts in close proximity to each other. That wayour service rep didn‟t have to spend a lot of time traveling from stop to stop sotherefore he could service more accounts in any given day. The second thing I didwas to call people during the dinner hour because that is when they were mostlikely to be home. I still remember my pitch over the phone. It went like this.“Hi, Mrs. Brown, this is Steve Charles (I never used my real last name) with A & BExterminators. I‟m calling to see if you are having any problems with rats, mice orcockroaches.” At this point any one of a number of things could happen. Somepeople would yell into the phone, “I‟m eatin dinner, why you callin boutcockroaches.”……and they would hang up. Some people would just hang up thephone but some people would ask us what we charge for our services and in thatmanner we were able to add additional accounts to our business.Arty was still our only pest control service man but pretty soon we had to hireanother person to do service work. That was after my next brainstorm.Better than 90% of our clientele were black so I decided to place an ad on a blackrun radio station, WWRL. At the time they had in their employ the number one Page 158 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”rated black disc jockey, Mr. Frankie Crocker. The cost of radio advertising backthen was relatively inexpensive and it gave us an opportunity to reach our audienceas most black people listened to WWRL. My sales representative at the stationbrought me down a script that the disc jockeys would use. I looked it over but itdidn‟t have any pizzazz. No oomph. So I decided to write my own radiocommercial. I remember it as if it were yesterday.You‟re in your car or at home listening to WWRL radio station. A song is playingon the air. After the song ends you hear the disc jockey repeat the following.“Bulletin, bulletin, bulletin.” (I could imagine that some people would now beturning up the volume on their radio to hear what was happening.) And theadvertisement continued, “ The president of A & B Exterminators has justannounced that his company has gone to war against rats, mice and cockroaches.At a press conference earlier today the president said, (in an upbeat fashion) We‟regonna sock it to the mice, We‟re gonna sock it to the rats, We‟re gonna sock it tothe roaches, now how about that. And for the first fifty people who call and takeout our service we are going to include at no charge a gallon of our revolutionarychemical that will kill roaches and insects on contact.”Well the phones rang off the hook with people who wanted to sign up for ourservice. They rang so much that we had to get an answering service to take ourcalls when we weren‟t in the office. And we also had to hire another rep to servicethe accounts as Arty could no longer handle the influx of business that we weregenerating. Arty told me that at times when he serviced new accounts thatresponded to the radio advertisement the people would start to sing, “You gonnasock it to the mice, you gonna sock it to the rats, you gonna sock it to the roaches,now how about that.“ The slogan was catching on. Business was picking up.Things were looking good. I could see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.Arty and I were discussing ways in which we could expand our business and thenout of the blue two things happened that put a halt to our ambitions. The first eventthat occurred was that our new rep got sick and couldn‟t go on his route. And itwas a Saturday which was our busiest day because that‟s the day that most peopleare at home. Arty said that we had no choice. I had to don the pest control garband cover the rep‟s route. I pleaded with Arty not to make me go out and cover theroute; such was my fear of cockroaches and rodents. But my pleadings fell on deafears. And then Arty gave me my final instructions. Don‟t forget to wear bootsand coveralls. And when you come out of a person‟s apartment make sure that youstomp your boots on the ground a couple of times. I of course asked why and hesaid because if any cockroaches were either on your pants or had crawled up yourlegs, then they would fall off. Obviously my partner was a very experienced pest Page 159 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”control service man who was imparting his wisdom to me. I was now certainlyconfident that I hadn‟t chosen a dummy to be my partner. After all, our partnershipconsisted of two people and one dummy was enough. After Arty imparted on methe benefit of his years of experience in the pest control industry I almost tenderedmy resignation. My nerves were on edge but somehow I knew that I had to and Iwould get through the day and hopefully return to the office the same way I leftit…..free of roaches.Arty told me that I only had one account to service and that was from our biggestSlumlord. He had over seventy buildings that we serviced and I was to do as manyas I could, making sure to visit the superintendent at each building to see if any ofthe tenants wanted pest control service that day. And so I went on my way. And Ilearned from the experience. The first thing I learned was that this wasn‟tsomething I ever wanted to do again. The second thing I learned was that most ofthe tenants that requested our service would have been better off without it. Why?Because if a tenant saw a few cockroaches during the preceding month andrequested us to spray their apartment then by the time I finished spraying, a fewcockroaches turned into literally hundreds as they all came out of every nook andcranny, the baseboards, the oven, behind the stove, the kitchen cupboards, theceiling. They were running for their lives and so was I. As soon as I got out ofsomeone‟s apartment I would stomp my boots ten times or more and sure enough afew roaches would fall to the ground. But even though I decided that I wouldnever do this again, my next experience sealed my fate. I didn‟t have to worryabout telling Arty that I wouldn‟t go out on any service calls anymore because hewouldn‟t let me under any circumstances. And that‟s because the next tenant that Isaw told me that she had a dead mouse under her stove. I said, “Good, that showsyou how well our chemicals work.” She then asked me to remove the body. I said,“lady, we just kill em, we don‟t bury em.” She yelled and screamed at me insistingthat I remove the dead mouse but I kept telling her that we weren‟t morticians orshould I say miceticians and I went to the next tenant. By the time I got back tothe office my partner was there and he was steaming. He asked what happened andI told him. It was then that I found out that the tenant complained to thesuperintendent who in turn called the Slumlord who in turn called Arty to tell himthat he was canceling his account with us. I looked at Arty and told him that I triedto warn him not to send me out. He promised me that he would never send me ona service call again. He kept his promise and I kept my partnership…….Oh, andwhen I got home I threw out the boots and clothes that I wore thatday…………But not before I stomped my boots a few times in the hallway outsidemy apartment. Page 160 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”And so business was doing well. Our visions of financial success were fastbecoming a reality. The phones were ringing day and night as people wereresponding to our ad that we placed on the radio. Then one day our accountrepresentative at WWRL radio station paid us a visit. The news he gave us sentour dreams crashing down. He told us that the powers that be at WWRL believedthat through the use of our commercial we were pandering to a black audience. Ilooked at the rep in utter amazement. I couldn‟t believe what he was saying. Ithen proceeded to ask him a series of questions. “How many of your sales repsaren‟t black?” “ None”. “How many of your disc jockeys aren‟t black?” “None”.“How many records are played by the disc jockeys from artists that aren‟t black”?Once again the same reply……”None.” I said, “You‟re right. We are catering to ablack audience and that is exactly what your station caters to”. My sales repunderstood my plight but there was nothing that he could do. He arranged for meto speak to his boss at the station but they wouldn‟t budge. They implied that I waspoking fun at black people. How? They never did adequately explain. WWRLdid the radio commercial over and it was a dud. Hardly any response. Theycompletely left out the “sock it to me” phrase and of course business suffered.Although our business was ailing, that still didn‟t take any of the fun out of it thatwe occasionally experienced. Like the luncheonette down the block from us.Max‟s Luncheonette. The owner of course was Max, a man in his fifties who wasa concentration camp survivor. He still bore the numbered identification that theNazi‟s put on his arm. And yet with all of the hardships that he suffered he had afantastic outlook on life and a keen wit about him. Arty and I used to go there acouple of times a week for dinner because he had a cook who reminded you ofhome cooking. And we never missed dinner on Friday nights at Max‟s because hiscook would prepare chicken soup with matzo balls and either roast chicken or abrisket, both of which were delicious. After a period of time Max let us service hisrestaurant. Arty would go in at night after Max closed and spray the restaurant. Itold Arty never to go in on a Thursday night because I didn‟t want any uninvitedguests in my matzo ball soup when we went in on Friday for dinner. So Arty toldMax that he could only spray on either Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night.And that‟s what he did, but one week Max was having a problem and he askedArty to please spray on Thursday night. So Arty did his thing and the next nightwe went to Max‟s for our customary Friday night dinner. A black fellow walkedinto the luncheonette, sat down in the booth next to us and ordered a tunasandwich. All of a sudden I heard the black fellow yell out, “Hey,” and he got out Page 161 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”of his seat, sandwich in hand and walked up to Max who was behind the counter.He said to Max, “Look at this; I‟ve got a cockroach in my sandwich.” Withoutbatting an eye Max said, “What color is it?” The guy said, “Brown.” And Maxsaid, “It‟s not mine, we only have black ones.” I thought the guy was going to hitMax, but instead he threw the sandwich down and stormed out of the place. Maxturned to us and said, “Boys, didn‟t you spray last night?” I said, “Sure we didMax. The cockroach was dead, wasn‟t it?” And without another word Arty and Icontinued eating our Friday night dinner at Max‟s. Page 162 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” GOODBYE NEW YORK, HELLO FLORIDAIn late 1970 I moved into my bachelor apartment in Queens, New York. It was aquadplex owned by a German landlady who lived in one of the units. The nameof the street, ironically, was Normal Road.I had turned twenty-six that previous summer and I had a lot of free time on myhands as I had saved up a couple of dollars. So I decided to take some well-deserved time off from work.....At least I thought it was well deserved. Since I hadso much free time I thought I would get the most out of my self-imposed vacationby catching up on my reading.I had heard about this new publication that had come out that was getting lots ofunfavorable reviews in the media. My thirst for knowledge was so absorbing that Iwas determined to find out once and for all if everything that the press was sayingabout Allan Goldsteins new publication was true or a complete fabrication. Andso I bought the most recent edition of his weekly paper called "SCREW."Mr. Goldsteins paper in many ways resembled Playboy magazine. Both wereadult in nature with many pictures of womens naked bodies. Of course Screw wasby far more graphic in detail than Playboy and definitely appealed to ones prurientinterests. They both published articles or commentary detailing the sexualrevolution, but Screw published one feature that Playboy did not and that was apersonal column. Both men and women detailed, sometimes quite graphically,exactly what they were looking for. I saw one ad that appealed to me. It said,"Lets meet over coffee, tea or me." A woman in Pennsylvania authored the ad. Iwrote back to her and said, "Lets skip the coffee and tea."About two weeks later I got a phone call from her. Not only was she in dire needof male companionship but she had one other distinct quality that attracted me toher. Her father owned a major, well known department store in Pennsylvania. Inother words, the bitch had bucks. What a quinella. Shes in heat and shes gotmoney or shes got money and shes in heat. Either way its a no lose situation forme.We made arrangements for her to meet me. She was going to fly into Kennedyairport in New York on a Friday and stay with me the entire weekend. She told methat once I got to the airport I should look for a woman with a name tag on her Page 163 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”chest. When I first laid eyes on her I wished the name tag was bigger and insteadof being placed on her chest that it was covering her face. Now I knew why shewas advertising. And she certainly picked the right paper to do so in, because itlooked like I was going to get SCREWed........Twice. If ever the old adageregarding putting a flag over ones face and doing it for "old glory" held true, thiswas it. And this wasnt even a woman. This was the Titanic that I was gazing at.She was HUGE. I had to make some quick decisions. I knew that she was comingdown to meet me for a sexual dalliance. Under normal circumstances I wouldnthave approached her at the airport. I would have kept walking and gone backhome and not answered the phone or any knocks on my door. But in the back ofmy head I kept hearing a little voice that said, "Schmuck, shes got money." Andso with my heart pounding out of fear that in the event we had sex she would wantto sit on top and crush me to death, I introduced myself.She was obviously happy to meet me. Actually she would have been happy tomeet any man. She said she wanted to go to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner. Ilied and said that I inadvertently left my wallet at home. She immediately told menot to worry as she wanted to take me out and that she had plenty of money, so Ishould pick a very nice and expensive restaurant. At that point the thought of avery good restaurant was the farthest thing from my mind. My main concern wastrying to find a restaurant that was very dimly lit because I didnt want to have aclear view of her face while I was eating.I found a restaurant and the only thing I remember about the evening was thatwhen she paid for dinner she took out a wad of travelers‟ checks to pay for themeal. Then I had to take her back to my apartment dreading what lay ahead. Aswe were driving there I pretended that I was sick. Well, actually I was, except Icouldnt tell her what I was sick of. And so when I awoke Saturday morning I wasstill a virgin.That Saturday and for approximately three succeeding Saturdays, we did the samething over and over. We would go down to the Port Authority Bus Terminal inNew York City and buy very inexpensive bus tickets. Why? Because bankswerent open on Saturday and therefore we couldnt cash her travelers‟ checks. Soin order to do so we had to buy a bus ticket for $1.50 or so and pay for it with a$20.00 travelers‟ check. The ticket agent would give us the ticket and $18.50 inchange. We would go from ticket agent to ticket agent, buying the mostinexpensive bus tickets they had. We would cash in a few hundred dollars oftravelers‟ checks so that I could have some spending money for the week. After afew weeks she understood why I really wanted her to come down to visit me and Page 164 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”so she decided to end our relationship. Its a good thing too, because I was runningout of excuses as to why I couldnt consummate our union..............As I stated previously the name of the street I lived on was called Normal Road. Ifnothing else I certainly proved the theory that opposites attract because withinthree months my very normal landlady requested that her very abnormal tenant(me) leave.It was January 2nd, 1971. There was a knock on my door. It was my landlady.She told me that I was a very noisy tenant and she was asking me to leave. I said,"When?" She answered, "Now." She handed me my security check of $145.00and said she would appreciate it if I left before the day was over. I had nowhere togo. I could have gone back to my parent‟s apartment but as tempting as it was Iknew that would be a last resort for me. I was a twenty-six year old man. Well,young adult. Okay, big kid. And I couldnt bring it upon myself to go back hometo live with my parents. I still had tremendous pride. Not much money, but lots ofself-esteem. So I started to load up my car. Well it really wasnt my car, but Itreated it as if it were. About one week before my landlady asked me to leave Ireceived in the mail a B.P. credit card that I had applied for. I made some calls andto my surprise I found out that Hertz was accepting the card for their car rentals. Iwas now driving a very big and beautiful brand new Ford Fury. With the caralmost packed with my belongings I decided that since I was homeless andunemployed and had nowhere to go then why not take a vacation in Florida. Itseemed like the natural thing to do. It would give me an opportunity to get myhead straight. I didnt relish making the drive alone so I called my friend Paul andasked him if he wanted to vacation in Florida with me for a week or so. Paul was ayear older than me, also unemployed and living with his parents, so he didnt havetremendous pressures. He didnt think twice. Within an hour I picked him up athis folk‟s home and I bid a silent goodbye to my beloved folks, Granma, New Yorkand the many wonderful memories of a magical place called, "The Bronx." WhileI knew that I would see my loved ones again, little did I realize that the Bronxwould very quickly become a memory etched into my mind, never to be duplicatedagain. Page 165 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE JOURNEYPaul took one suitcase with him. When we opened up the trunk of my car henoticed that I had everything but the kitchen sink in there. He wondered why. Ididnt want to tell him that I was evicted so I just said that you never know whatthe weather is going to be like in Florida at this time of year and I just want to beprepared. He bought my explanation, put his suitcase in the trunk of my car andoff we headed down south.It took us exactly twenty-four hours to drive down to Florida as we drove straightthrough stopping only for gas, a quick bite or a rest room stop. Once in Florida wesettled down in a Ramada Inn on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. We wouldhave preferred the Holiday Inn on the beach, but they werent accepting the B.P.credit card.And so that night we decided to venture down to Miami to go to one of theirsingles bars. No sooner did we leave the hotel room and get in our car whenanother auto with two young women pulled alongside us and honked their horn.When I looked at them the driver resembled the wicked witch of the east. Hercompanion looked like she was from the west. The Bobsey Twins. I smiled andkept driving. The girls pulled behind my car and kept on honking. Paul told me topull over because the girls obviously wanted some action. I told Paul to clean hisglasses and take another look at the women. But Paul couldnt care less what theylooked like. His philosophy was, "In the darkness of night every woman looks likeMarilyn Monroe." It was hard to find fault with Pauls philosophy except that itwasnt completely dark and I knew what they looked like. As things turned out Iowed Paul a deep debt of gratitude for making me stop to talk to the women thatnight although I didnt realize it then, but I would within a week. All we did thatnight with the girls was buy them a soda and get their phone numbers. I took thedrivers phone number. Her name was Ann Taylor. The next time I saw Ann was aweek later. It was a memorable night as well it should have been. After all howcould you expect me to forget the night I proposed to marry someone? Page 166 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE TAYLORSI had been in Florida for about a week. In that short period of time I decided thatsomehow, someway, this is where I wanted to settle down. I felt that there wereenough opportunities here whereby I could achieve some form of financial successand enjoy a lifestyle much different from my native New York. So I called myparents and Granma and told them that I wasnt coming back to New York otherthan to visit as I had made up my mind to stay in Florida. I tried to get Paul to staybut he missed the warmth of his bed in his parent‟s home.So there I was. All alone, some 1250 miles away from where I had spent the firsttwenty-six years of my life. It was very sobering. Reality was setting in. I hadsome pressing problems that I knew had to be taken care of as quickly as washumanly possible. For starters I knew that the Ford Fury that I rented for one weekwas now one week past due. Then there was the matter of my B.P. credit card. Iwas charging my motel room to the card and also the food that I ate. And of coursemy gasoline purchases. Normally that wouldnt be a problem except I wasntmaking any payments to the card company. You didnt have to be a rocket scientistto understand that this couldnt go on forever. I had less than $200.00 to my name.It was time to go to work. While I didnt know exactly what I wanted to do, I didknow that I definitely had to increase my cash reserves, so I applied for a job at thelabor pool.I reported at six in the morning. Me and ninety-nine other men, most of whomwere alcoholics. There were more people there than there were jobs. The regularswere chosen first. As luck would have it I was selected that day for one reasononly. I was a rare commodity. I was an individual seeking employment who alsohad a car. Because I had transportation I was therefore able to transport some ofthe men to the job site. I drove four of my new found buddies to a highway thatwas being enlarged in Miami. Once there the "boss" of the project gave me ayellow flag. I asked him what it was for. He told me to stand by the medium anddirect the traffic. I was on the job at eight in the morning and except for a thirtyminute lunch break I worked or rather stood continuously until seven at night. Iworked over eight hours that day and netted less than $5.00 an hour after taxes. Atthat rate I didnt have to be overly concerned about a night life because first of all Icouldnt afford one and secondly when I got home I was so tired that all I wanted todo was take a long hot shower and go to sleep. I got up the next morning and saidto myself, "This is not a job for a Jewish boy." If they wanted me to be the boss, Page 167 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”then I would consider it. But to stand in the middle of a highway holding up a flagas cars sped by at high rates of speed was not my ideal way to earn a living. Andso I said to myself the heck with it and I didnt bother to report to work.Just then the phone in my room rang. It was the front desk. They told me that thecredit card company wouldnt let them charge the next day‟s room to my card andthey needed me to make arrangements to pay for my accommodations. I told themthat there must be some mistake and I would take care of it immediately. Andimmediately I did because immediately I packed my belongings, placed them inmy car and high tailed it out of Dodge.I knew now that it was only a matter of time before I would have to give back thecar and so I began to think. I needed someone to talk to. I had cousins in the area,Lil and Harry Chanzes. Harry was my Dads nephew. I was too embarrassed toconfide in them and I wasnt looking for a handout. Somehow I knew that I couldsolve my problem. I just didnt know how, but I knew that I would.Then I remembered the witch, I mean the girl Ann that I met about a week ago. Icalled her and asked her out for that night. She agreed to meet me at a coffee shop.When we met I found out that she lived with her parents and younger sister Ellie.Ann was eighteen and the first real "Hillbilly" that I had ever met and I think that Iwas the first New York Jew that she had ever come into contact with. After abouttwo hours of conversation I could see that Ann had taken a liking to me. I alsoknew that I needed a place to live, so having nothing to lose I asked Ann if shewould marry me. Not right away, but sometime in the future. She didnt even batan eyelash. She jumped up and said yes. I was on a roll now, so I decided to seehow far I could press my luck. I then asked her if she thought her folks wouldmind if I moved in with them. She said hold on, walked over to the payphone,dialed a number and then in a thick southern accent I heard her say, "Pa, I foundme a New York Jew who wants to marry me. Can I bring him home?"About fifteen minutes later I met the rest of the Taylors. They lived in a very niceneighborhood in Plantation, Florida which was a sub division of Fort Lauderdale.They had a three bedroom home. One for each of the girls and one for the Taylorsor Ma and Pa as I shortly came to call them. When I first laid eyes on the Taylorsthat evening I quickly realized without even talking to them that the only thingmissing to complete the picture was the still that produces "Moonshine." Theywere very nice people. Very nice "Hillbilly Type" people.Mr. Taylor was in his early forties, slightly over 60" tall, lanky with a grip that Page 168 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”could drop you to your knees in an instant. He had a responsible position atFlorida Properties as their transportation manager. And thats exactly what helooked like. When you looked at Mr. Taylor you said to yourself now theres a manthat works with cars, trucks or similar type vehicles. He had that look. He alsohad certain idiosyncrasies about him which I found out about within a week. Oneof them was that he couldnt stand long hair.The best way to describe Mrs. Taylor was that if she would have dyed her hairwhite then she could have been Mammy Yokums twin sister. She would walkaround hunched over carrying an empty Maxwells House coffee can with her thatwas lined with sheets of paper towels. She always had a big chaw of tobacco inher mouth and every now and then she would lift her homemade spittoon up to herlips and spit some tobacco juice into the can. You never saw her without herspittoon. As I found out later Mrs. Taylor was a nurse‟s aide. For the life of me Ijust couldnt imagine her tending to some sick elderly person and then using herspittoon within their sight. Maybe thats why they were sick.Ellie, the youngest daughter, was sixteen years old and a bit chunky but she had abeautiful face. She always had the opposite sex on her mind. I suspect too muchso.Ann introduced me to her family and within a mere fifteen minutes or so I actuallyfelt like I was a part of the clan. They were the most hospitable people you couldever want to meet. Ellie offered me her bedroom. She decided that she wouldrather sleep on the sofa in the living room. I didnt argue with her.I lived with the Taylors for approximately four months. I truly was living the Lifeof Reilly. Ma and Pa would leave the house around seven in the morning. Annwas also a nurses aide but didnt have to report to work until eleven, so as soon asMa and Pa left for work Ann would come into my room. The first morning thatshe came into my boudoir I literally shuddered. I still hadnt adopted my friendPauls philosophy about women and besides at seven in the morning its very lightoutside and consequently inside the house as well. That first morning I was aboutto tell Ann that I had a splitting headache when she surprised me by letting meknow that she was a virgin and she wouldnt consummate our relationship until Igave her an engagement ring. I immediately said to myself, "Honey, dont holdyour breath." So for the better part of four months Ann would come into mybedroom every morning and lay down beside me. As soon as she did, myinstinctive response was always the same. "Okay, whats for breakfast?" Page 169 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”It usually worked. On the days it didnt I went through a lot of Listerine.Around 10:30 in the morning I would drive Ann to work. She had a brand newCamaro that she let me use. Once I moved in with the Taylors I gave my rentedcar back to Hertz. I originally rented it for one week and had kept the car for closeto four. There was no sense in keeping it anymore because Anns rental rates weremuch less and she even gave me a credit card for gas and around $25.00 a week inspending money. Hertz couldnt match the offer. So after dropping Ann off atwork I would bum around town and usually get back home at two, just in time forEllie to make me lunch. Then I would have to listen to her confide in me about hermany boyfriends and of course she was always seeking my advice in so manyways that as far as I was concerned I was really earning my keep.I would pick Ann up at her place of work at six in the evening and bring her homefor dinner. Ma Taylor was a great cook. Just as you would suspect, there wasalways plenty of homemade corn muffins to go around each evening and equally aswell there was always plenty of food. I ate virtually everything that Ma madeexcept when she got "real southern." I quickly learned to ask whats for dinnerbefore I ate anything that was on my plate. Thats because one night Ma said thatwe were having Mountain Oysters for supper. I immediately told her that I neverdid acquire a taste for oysters or clams. Fortunately for me Ma Taylor was a veryhonest person. She told me that these werent really oysters. She had me comeover to this big pot that was on the stove. She uncovered it and told me to lookinside the pot and take a whiff. I did as she suggested and to be truthful it didsmell good but whatever was in the pot didnt resemble oysters. I asked Ma whatwas cooking? Thats when she told me that Mountain Oysters were another namefor Pigs testicles. I said, "You know what Ma? It doesnt look like you haveenough in the pot for everyone. Ill just make myself a sandwich." Sheunderstood.One evening Ann and I along with Ellie and some fellow she recently met were allsitting around the dining room table engaged in conversation. This kid was aboutnineteen years old with real long hair down to his shoulders. He was kind ofboisterous and every now and then Ellie would tell him to lower his voice becauseif her Pa got up and saw this guy he would go ape over his long hair and theres notelling what he would do. The guy asked why her father would get upset and Elliekept telling him that Pa just dont like long hair on men. Well we all started talkingagain and sure enough this kid starts raising his voice and once more Ellie tells himthat he better lower it, because if her Pa wakes up and comes out and sees this kidwith the long hair, then anything could happen and for sure it wouldnt be good. Page 170 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”By now the kid thought that Ellie was goofing on him so he purposely startedtalking loud and sure enough Mr. Taylor awoke, walked into the kitchen, saw thislong haired kid and screamed at Ellie, "What the hell are you bringing these longhaired hippies into my house fer? You got ten seconds to get the hell out of myhouse son or Im gonna blow you to kingdom come." With that Mr. Taylordisappeared. Ellie told this kid to high tail it because her dad was going to get hisrifle. Now I must tell you that Mr. Taylors looks could scare the hell out of youwhen he was dressed up in his Sunday finest, but just having awoke he was evenmore menacing. The kid got up and bolted for the door and ran into the street. Allof a sudden Mr. Taylor appeared, rifle in hand and asked where the kid was? Elliesaid that he ran out of the house. Mr. Taylor ran outside and all I heard was thiskid yelling from a distance, "Please, dont shoot." Mr. Taylor yelled back, "Dontyou ever come back here son, ya hear?" "I promise, I wont." Those were the lastwords I ever heard from that kid. And the last time I ever saw him too.Mr. Taylor came back in and muttered, "I told ya Ellie, I dont like long hairedhippies." As he turned to go back to bed I said, "Pa, is my hair okay." He turnedaround and said, "Well, you could use a little trim."I went to the barber the very next day..............I had been living at the Taylors for about three months. Life was great. I wasreally enjoying myself. Ma and Pa were real happy too because it appeared thattheir daughter Ann found a nice young man to settle down with. That was a minorpredicament that I had gotten myself into, but I was confident that I would be ableto extricate myself from it in due course. Meanwhile I had a roof over my head,three square meals a day, a beautiful Camaro to ride around in and some spendingmoney. No sense upsetting the apple cart.Then one day, out of the blue, Ma came up to me and said that she and Pa wouldlike to talk to me. I had no idea what they wanted. The only thing that ran throughmy mind was that they were going to try to pin me down to a wedding day. Thewheels started to turn. I wasnt ready to move out. After all, how much could yousave when youre only earning $25.00 a week? Soon my gloomy despair turned tocheerful optimism. Ma and Pa told me to have a seat at the kitchen table. It wasjust us three. Pa just kept staring at me as Ma approached and with a quizzicallook on her face she said, "Steve, Pa and me just wanted to know if yer aprofessional gambler?" I told her that I wasnt. Then her voice got real low andshe looked over her shoulders one at a time and returned her gaze to me and said ina barely audible tone, "Steve, are you in the Mafia?" I said, "Ma, of course not. Page 171 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Why would you even ask me that?" She looked at me and with a very puzzledvoice said, "Steve, Pa and I cant figure out how you are surviving?" I said, "Whatdo you mean?" At that point Pa chimed in and said, "Now Steve, youve beenliving here for better than three months and you aint worked at all and you seem togit along jus fine. We cant figure it out."Statements like that by Ma and Pa made me wonder what kind of a life I wouldhave had, had I been born and raised in Butchers Hollow, Kentucky.It was now becoming very apparent that the end of the rainbow was in sight andthat there was no pot of gold waiting for me, just a long lonely highway, so Istarted to make preparations for life absent the Taylors. But first I needed a car anda job, and in that order. Page 172 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” TRANSITIONMy life was now undergoing a transition. I was twenty-six years old with novisible means of supporting myself, no transportation to take me to theunemployment office and no money for the very basic necessities to sustain life,such as food. Since I didnt have a job there was also no compelling reason for abank to approve a loan application for me to buy a car. Then all of a sudden itdawned on me that if I had been working for a fair amount of time, then I couldprobably qualify for a small loan.I told Pa about my problem. He told me to call a finance company and tell themthat I worked for his firm and to use his name as my immediate supervisor. Ilooked in the yellow pages under the heading "Finance Companies" and one namejumped out at me. It was General Finance which was advertised as "the friendlyfinance company." I called them on the phone and spoke to the manager RaleighBaker and applied for a $600.00 loan which at that time was the maximum amountthey would lend. The very next day I went down to their office to meet my newfriend Raleigh and watched him as he peeled off six fresh one hundred dollar billsand placed them in my hand. I walked out of Raleighs office with a new foundattitude, a new lease on life and six new one hundred dollar bills. Life was onceagain on the upswing for me. It was now time to get my own car, then a job andfinally my own pad.There was a B.P. gas station on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale that I used togo to for gas. They werent far from the Ramada Inn where I originally stayedwhen I came to Florida. It was run by a nice young kid by the name of Randy whowas always trying to make an extra buck through various and sometimes deceptivemeans. My kind of person. Occasionally Randy would have cars for sale on thelot. I figured I could get a pretty good bargain there so I went to see if he had anydeals on cars. Sure enough he had one clunker. We agreed on $150.00 for it. Ireached for my wallet to plunk out the cash and there staring me in my face wasmy B.P. card. I knew it wasnt good but I told him to see if he could put it through.Randy had a book from B.P. that listed cards that could no longer be honored. Ofcourse my card number was listed in there. Randy told me the bad news and as Iwas about to give him the cash he suddenly informed me that he could put mypurchase on the card if I let him boost the price of the car up to $300.00. I was at aloss for words because on the one hand I couldnt charge $150.00 on the card, butnow I could charge twice that price. I said, "How are you going to do that Randy?"He said, "Simple." And it was simple. It seems that B.P. instructed its attendantsto verify any charge on a card in excess of $15.00 but anything less could be Page 173 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”automatically put through. Randy ran off thirty charge tickets, each one for $10.00and of course back dated each ticket so as not to run off all the charges on the sameday.So now I had my wheels, but more importantly, I still had my six crisp and freshone hundred dollar bills. One down, two to go. A job was next, then my own pad.I pulled into the parking lot at Florida Properties and walked over to thereceptionist and asked to see the transportation manager, Mr. Taylor.Pa came out and greeted me, took me into his office, had his secretary pour me acup of coffee, had me fill out a few forms and told me to report back for work atfour in the afternoon. I told him that this had been a pretty eventful day what withme getting a car and a job within the space of a couple of hours and I felt likecelebrating with his daughter Ann that night, so I asked him if I could start worktomorrow. He granted my wishes.I called Ann at her place of work and told her the good news. She was ecstatic. Iasked her if she wanted to go out later that evening for dinner so that we couldcelebrate my good fortune. Of course she said yes and that night we went out toone of Fort Lauderdales better steak houses. Ann insisted on picking up the tab.Being the type of person I am, I didnt want to disappoint her, so I let her have herwish.And so the day came to an end. I had gotten a loan, a car, a job, a fantastic steakdinner and I still had six crisp, fresh one hundred dollar bills in my pocket. Ofcourse I still had a major problem but one that wouldn‟t rear its head for aboutthirty days. You see the folks at General Finance weren‟t really that friendlybecause on the one hand they gave me six hundred dollars, but on the other handthey expected me to start repaying them the six hundred dollars plus interest inmonthly payments beginning in about thirty days. Obviously they were nothingbut Indian givers. Oh well, that was a problem that I would have to deal with inabout thirty days, but right now as good as things were I still had one unpleasantchore to do before retiring for the evening. As unpleasant as it was, I was gettingused to it. Well, sort of. It was time to kiss Ann good night. Page 174 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” SWOLLEN CHEEKSIt was April of 1971. My three month vacation was over. Once again I was aboutto enter the work force. My position at Florida Properties wasnt very difficult norwas it very strenuous. The company sold land in Florida. They had solicitors whowould approach tourists either on the beach or at hotels or at various entertainmentspots in the area and these solicitors would offer a free breakfast in exchange forthe tourists attending a ninety minute presentation on one of the many propertiesthat the company was promoting. The tourists would be picked up in the morningat their place of lodging and driven to a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. After theyfinished eating they would then be taken to another location to view a film of theproperty being offered and then a sales representative would try to sell them. Thenthey would be driven back to their hotel or wherever they were staying. All I hadto do was call our drivers in the evening and tell them the names and addresses ofthe people they were to pick up the following morning and at what time. I wouldreport for work at four in the afternoon and leave at ten in the evening. Very easywork and naturally very low pay. But it was a start. After all I hadnt worked forover three months. I needed to get back into the swing of things and FloridaProperties offered me that opportunity. Now the company had an office in theHoliday Inn which was located on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. I would reportthere at four in the afternoon and there would always be three or four people in theoffice, but by five I was the only one there for the rest of the evening except fornightly visits by Leroy.I met Leroy my very first night on the job. Leroy was a black man in his mid-forties who worked for a florist company during the day and ran his own janitorialcompany at night. One of his accounts was the Holiday Inn. He was a very hardworking, compassionate and fun loving individual. He would usually get to myplace around seven at night and we would sit and chat for ten minutes or so. Ialways had fresh coffee brewing and sometimes he would bring in donuts orcookies that his wife made. I looked forward to his nightly visits even though hecould only stay for a short period of time.One night I was on the phone when Leroy came in. I waved hello to him,continued my conversation and watched out of the corner of my eye as he went topour himself a cup of coffee. Just as he took his first sip I put the phone down,turned around towards Leroy and blurted out, "LEROY, DONT SWALLOW THECOFFEE." I had a look of concern on my face as I approached Leroy. MeanwhileLeroy looked as if he had been hit on both sides of his face because when I yelledat him not to swallow the coffee his lips closed tight and his cheeks puffed out as if Page 175 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”they were swollen. He was looking at me with grave consternation, not knowingwhat to do and wondering what was in his mouth. I told Leroy not to worry andthat everything would be all right. I continued to explain that about fifteen minutesbefore he arrived I had to relieve myself and since no one was in the office toanswer the phones I emptied my bladder into the pot of coffee and then the phonesstarted to ring and I hadnt had a chance to empty the pot and make fresh coffeeand.......Well as soon as I started to explain what happened, Leroys eyes started to bulgeout of their sockets. If Leroy would have been a white man then Im sure his facewould have turned green, but under the circumstances I couldnt tell. He ran overto the bathroom and spit out the contents that were in his mouth and then started towash his mouth out with water for what seemed like an eternity. He would take aswig of water and swoosh it around in his mouth and then spit it out into the sinkonly to continue the process over and over, all the while hearing me howl withdelight as I was actually doubled over with laughter.After he finished cleansing his mouth he came over to me and said, "Steve, whatsso funny? I almost swallowed your piss. That aint funny. Youre a sick man,pissing in a coffee pot. You really sick, you know that?" After I composed myselfI told Leroy that I was just joking. I told him that I had never peed in the coffeepot. He didnt believe me so I went over and poured myself a cup of coffee anddrank it in front of him. Leroy just stared at me and said, "Steve, you a sick man,you one sick man?"I worked at Florida Properties for another two weeks and saw Leroy every night.We chatted and laughed as we had done before. He still brought in homemadecookies or donuts. I enjoyed his company. He was a good man and he certainlycould take a joke..... But he never did have any more of my coffee. Page 176 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” GENERAL FINANCE........PART 2I was still living at the Taylors home saving my money for my own place when thetelephone rang one afternoon. I answered it and the person on the other end of theline asked for me. I didnt recognize the voice so I said that I wasnt there. At thatpoint the party identified himself as a representative of General Finance and heasked me to have Steve Chanzes call him. I asked him what it was in reference toand he told me that Steve had taken out a loan a little over a month ago and hadfailed to mail in his very first payment. I quickly thought over what this fellowwas telling me and I realized that while I was thankful for the loan that GeneralFinance gave me, I wasnt in a position right now to start paying them back. Ineeded every penny that I had because of my circumstances in trying to obtain myown apartment. General Finance would have to wait. Immediately I told the guyon the other end of the line that Steve Chanzes had moved out about a week ago.He asked me if I knew where he moved and I said, "Sure, California." He askedme for the address in California and I told him that Steve didnt leave one.About two days later I heard a knock at the door. I peeked out the window and sawsome guy standing by the door that I didnt recognize, so I opened the door. Thefellow standing there was about 58", portly, in his early thirties with blonde hair.He said, "Steve?" I said, "Nope, he moved out a while ago. Can I help you?" Heidentified himself as Claude Cooper, the assistant manager of General Finance. Iwent through the motions with him and gave him the same information that I hadgiven over the phone the other day to the General Finance representative thatcalled. He thanked me, gave me his card and told me that if Steve ever called toplease get his phone number and address and notify him at the number listed on hisbusiness card. I said, "Sure Claude, youll be the first person that I call." Onceagain he thanked me and drove off.It was getting hot in Dodge City. I checked my finances. It was time to relocate. Ifound an affordable apartment in a development complex in Fort Lauderdale calledKey Palm Villas. It had a swimming pool and clubhouse. The units were nestledamongst literally hundreds of trees. It was absolutely gorgeous. I even had myown dishwasher as well as a private patio overlooking the complex. It remindedme so much of the Bronx........Yeah, right.Now I just had to say goodbye to Ann and let her know that I didnt think that ourrelationship would work out and of course I had to say goodbye to her family andthank them for all of their help. It wasnt as difficult as I thought it would be.Everything went smoothly. They were really very nice people. Strange at times, Page 177 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”but very nice and if you needed a friend, then you couldnt ask for anyone betterthan Ma and Pa. Everyone understood my decision and of course since I was stillgainfully employed by Florida Properties, I would still be seeing Pa (I couldnt stopcalling him that) on occasion.Remarkably enough I even enjoyed kissing Ann goodbye.......Thats probablybecause I knew that I would never have to do it again. Page 178 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” MY MOST UNFORGETTABLE DATING EXPERIENCEIt was now mid April. I had been in Florida for almost four months. In that shorttime I had accomplished quite a bit as far as I was concerned. I had gotten a car,my own apartment and a job, albeit not the one that would provide me with thefuture that I aspired to, but it was a start. There was one thing missing though. Ineeded the companionship of a member of the opposite sex to fulfill my naturaldesires. And my opportunity came when I least expected it......I had contacted my cousins Harry and Lil and made arrangements to visit them inHollywood, Florida. I hadnt seen them in maybe ten years and I was lookingforward to spending a pleasant day there. When I arrived a couple of their friendswere also there. We all had a great time and of course everyone wanted to knowwhat I was doing and why I came to Florida. I filled them all in on what hadhappened in my life and then out of the clear blue sky Harry and Lils friends saidthat they knew a very nice girl who they were sure would be interested in going outwith me. (Obviously I didnt tell them everything about my life.) I thanked themand took down her number.The next day, which was Monday, I called her on the phone and introduced myself.Her name was Lori and she knew that I would be calling. We had a very pleasantconversation. I asked her out for the following Saturday. She said she would loveto go out with me. During the week leading up to our date I spoke with Lori everynight on the telephone. We just seemed to hit it off. We basically liked the samethings. Furthermore, she was full of pep and vitality and that alone made me lookforward to our date. We left our plans open for that Saturday evening.As you could imagine Saturday couldnt come fast enough, but finally it did arriveand when I showed up at her place I was very pleasantly surprised. She was a veryattractive young lady of about twenty-three or four and adding to her beauty wereher breasts which were amply exposed as she was wearing a low cut blouse thatrevealed quite a bit of cleavage. She was very friendly and I knew that had thisbeen a baseball game, then when my turn came to go to bat, I would mostassuredly hit a home run. I couldnt wait to get up to the plate.But first I had to take her out. I had thirty-five dollars in my pocket. Surely Ithought that would be enough for a nice dinner and maybe a movie. This was backin 1971 when prices were a lot less expensive than they are today. And of course ifwe had gone to dinner and to a movie then I would have had enough money for theevening, but that was not the case.... Page 179 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”We got into my car and she asked me if I liked jazz because Buddy Myles and hisband were playing in Miami at the Marco Polo Hotel. I said of course I like jazz.That night I would have done anything that she liked. I wanted to make asfavorable an impression on her as was humanly possible. And I also wanted to getback to her place as quickly as we could because then I was hoping we would dosomething that I enjoyed........and hopefully her as well. So off we went to Miamito see Buddy....We walked into the hotel and the first thing I noticed was that there was a $4.00cover charge. I only had $35.00 on me and quick as a flash eight of it went south.We sat down inside the club and the waitress came over to take our order fordrinks. At the same time she told us that there would be three acts prior to BuddyMyles coming out and the entire show would last about four hours. All I wasthinking about now were those beautiful breasts sitting across the table from meand now I would have to wait approximately five hours or so before I could make aformal introduction of them to my hands. I couldnt wait for the show to start.Actually I couldnt wait for it to end...........The cocktail waitress brought our drinks to us. She said that she wasnt allowed torun a tab and we would either have to pay for our drinks each time they wereserved or she could hold a credit card. I had destroyed my B.P. credit card, not thatit would have been of any help to me if I hadnt, so all I could do was pay cash asthe drinks were delivered. The tab for the first round was $3.50. It was $1.75 perdrink. I didnt want to look cheap in front of my date, so I also included a $1.00 tipand as quick as you could say bye-bye, thats exactly what happened to $4.50 ofmy money. It went bye-bye. I now had only $22.50 left. The first act came on thestage. Four hours to go. I started computing in my mind and I realized that I hadenough money for five more drinks. Not five each, but five in total. That alsomeant that there wouldnt be any money left to tip the valet. No big deal. He wasgoing to get a good look at her boobs and that was worth more than any tip I couldpossibly give him.I figured if I only had one more drink the rest of the night, then my date could havean additional four, or one an hour. Problem solved........Or so I thought, becausejust as I realized that all would be well the waitress came by and Lori orderedanother drink. Within ten minutes she had finished her first one and now wasabout to start on her second. At this rate I wouldnt be able to stay at the show foran hour, let alone four. All sorts of thoughts were going through my mind. ShouldI tell her that I didnt feel good and that we would have to go? I quickly ruled that Page 180 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”out because I thought that by the time I got her home it might look awfullysuspicious if I suddenly felt better and tried to come on to her. So after muchthought I finally decided to play it by ear and see if I could convince her to ease upon the drinks. And to my amazement it worked............For all of ten minutes. Wehadnt been in the club for thirty minutes and she was already ordering her thirddrink. I had $18.00 left and now it looked like my only hope would be for Lori tobecome inebriated. Then I could get her some coffee to sober her up..........Put herin my car................And take her back to her apartment. But unfortunately thatdidnt happen because apparently this chick was a professional drinker. Booze hadno effect on her whatsoever.I did my best to try to get her to slow down, but to no avail. We hadnt been in theclub for much more than an hour and I had less than $5.00 left. It was decisiontime. I looked at Lori. She was a pretty sight for sore eyes. If it werent for herdrinking or if I had more money with me then my final decision might have beendifferent, but alas such was not the case. I looked at her again. She smiled at me.She was having a good time. Then my gaze diverted to her bosom. To me theywere "picture perfect." And it was the beauty of her breasts that ultimately causedme to extricate myself from the problem that I was facing. I got up from the tableand told Lori that I was going to the mens room. And I did.....And upon leavingthe mens room I went outside and gave the valet my ticket. He brought me mycar. I gave him a dollar tip, got into my car and as I drove off I kept picturingLoris bosom. Her big and beautiful bosom. Yes, that convinced me beyond ashadow of a doubt that when Lori finally realized that I had left the club that shewould have no problem finding someone else to drive her home......Lucky guy.A few months later my parents and Granma came down to visit me for a couple ofweeks. This was the first time I had seen them since I left New York some eightmonths ago. I was now married and starting a new life. All of us were having agreat time during the visit and one day my Dad said that he, Mom and Granmawere going to visit his nephew Harry and his wife Lil. He asked Joy and me if wewanted to go and I made up some excuse as to why we couldnt. When theyreturned later that evening my Mom, Dad and Granma all said what a nice timethey had and that Harry and Lil were sorry that Joy and I werent there. Iimmediately felt relieved that my cousins didnt dime out on me.A few days later as my folks and Granma were preparing to leave for their tripback to New York my Mom pulled me on the side and said to me, "You knowsomething Steven? Youre not normal." I said to her, "What do you mean Mom?"She looked at me and just shook her head and said, "You know. You know what I Page 181 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”mean."She never did tell me what she meant by that comment......But I had an idea. Page 182 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” GENERAL FINANCE........PART 3It was now late April of 1971. I had been in Florida for almost four months and Ifelt that now was the time to pursue a career, one which I knew did not exist for meat Florida Properties. So I started scanning the want ads in the newspaper. Therewas one ad that attracted me. The company was advertising for a manager traineein their finance department. It offered a fair starting salary with opportunities foradvancement. The ad did not state the name of the company but it did give atelephone number to call and the name of the person to contact. That person wasRaleigh Baker. The name certainly sounded familiar. I called the number that waslisted and the person on the other end answered, "General Finance, may I helpyou?" I immediately hung up the phone. Not out of fright, but because I decidedthen and there that I wanted that job and I might as well go down there in personand apply. After all, I did know the manager of the company, so its not as if I wasa stranger coming in off the street. As a matter of fact, not only did they know me,but I was listed on their books as an asset to their company. I was an accountreceivable. A delinquent account receivable, but nevertheless a legitimate asset ofthe company and as such I felt that I should be given preferential treatment.I walked into their office and the young lady at the counter asked if she could helpme. I saw Raleigh Baker sitting in the back doing some paperwork. I raised myvoice and said that I was there to see Mr. Baker. The receptionist asked me if I hadan appointment to see him and as I was about to answer her, Raleigh lifted up hishead and saw me. He then blurted out, "Steve Chanzes, is that you?" I told him itwas and he told me to come on back.We exchanged some pleasantries and then Raleigh told me that he understood thatI had gone to California and he asked me how long Id been back in Florida? I toldhim that I never left. He was taken aback and then I told him the complete story.It was at that point that he asked me when I intended to repay the loan. I told himthat if he hired me to fill the position he was advertising then I would repay aportion of the loan each week until it was paid off. Otherwise it would be a while.He looked at me and said, "Mr. Chanzes, youve got one set of balls." I said tohim, "Does that mean Ive got the job." "Yeah, you got it. Be here tomorrowmorning at nine sharp and my assistant will train you." I thanked Raleigh from thebottom of my heart for the opportunity and told him that I would be the bestcollector he ever had and he acknowledged that he honestly felt that I would be,due to my brazenness. As I started to leave a familiar face walked into the place.It was Raleighs assistant, Claude Cooper. Raleigh said, "Claude, I want you to say Page 183 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”hello to our new addition to the company, Steve Chanzes." Claude looked at meand said, "That aint Steve Chanzes. This is the guy who said Chanzes went toCalifornia." Raleigh undid the confusion and Claude had a fit. He threw a tantrumand told Raleigh not to hire me and Raleigh just looked at him and said, "Claude,Ive got a feeling that Mr. Chanzes is going to work out just fine. If hes goodenough to fool you then hes going to do us some good here. Mr. Chanzes will behere tomorrow morning at nine. Now you two guys shake hands and lets work asa team." Begrudgingly Claude shook my hand. I reported the next day for workand over a period of a couple of months I came to respect Claude for his talentsand by the same token I also earned his respect as I became one of the bestcollectors that General Finance ever had, partially due to my fiercecompetitiveness and partially due to the fact that my moms critique of me wascorrect............................... Im not normal.I quickly learned that General Finance had four types of customers. Those whoreligiously mailed in their payments each month, those who you had to physicallysee each month in order to collect their payments, those who you had to harass orbe inventive enough in order to collect monies due and those who just plainwouldnt or couldnt pay.As a collector the most exciting part of the job was to be assigned the name of anindividual who had been written off as a dead beat because they hadnt made apayment on their account in over six months, even though many collectors in thepast had made many attempts to secure payment.One such individual was James Smith. Mr. Smith was in his fifties and had takenout a $600.00 loan three months ago and had never made a payment. He nowowed in excess of $700.00 due to interest charges being added to his delinquentbalance. Raleigh told me that no less than four collectors had tried to get Mr.Smith to make a payment but each attempt was met with empty promises thatresulted in dismal failure. He further told me that Mr. Smith usually could befound sitting on a wooden orange crate in front of his home on the weekend. I toldRaleigh that I wanted to have an opportunity to work the account. He didnt object.That Saturday I drove by Mr. Smiths home and sure enough, sitting in the backyard on an orange crate was a gentleman who fit Mr. Smiths description. I got outof my car and introduced myself and it was indeed him. He gave me the samestory undoubtedly that he had given the other four General Finance representativesthat had preceded me. He said that he couldnt pay now, but maybe he would beable to in a couple of months. I listened. Then when he finished explaining to me Page 184 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”why he couldnt make a payment I asked him if he had eaten breakfast. He said noand I told him to come with me and we would grab a bite to eat. He was elated.He told me that I was by far the most understanding representative that GeneralFinance ever had. He said that all the others would yell at him when he couldntmake a payment, but not only didnt I yell at him, I was taking him out forbreakfast. He assured me that he would make a payment next month in part due tomy nice manners. I thanked him as we drove off.We pulled into the parking lot and as soon as I turned off the ignition Mr. Smithturned to me and said that there wasnt any restaurant in this shopping center. Ididnt say a word. I just got out of the car and walked over to his side and openedthe door and beckoned him out. He asked me where we were going and I told himthat as long as I was taking him out for breakfast I would appreciate it if he coulddo me one small favor. He said, "Whats that?" As we walked through the center Ipointed to the sign straight ahead. Mr. Smith stopped dead in his tracks and as Igrabbed his arm he yelled out, "OH NO, I AINT GOIN THERE." I said, "Cmon.Itll be over in a flash and then we can use some of the money they pay you to puton your account at the loan company." He looked me straight in the eyes and said,"Did anybody ever tell you that youre not a normal man?" I asked him if he knewmy mother, but as it turned out he didnt......Mr. Smith calmed down fairly quicklyand when he did we walked through the doors of the John Elliot Blood Bank.Thirty minutes later Mr. Smith and I walked out of the blood bank. He now had aband aid covering the small puncture in his arm where the technician drew blood.He also had fifteen dollars more to his name than he had had prior to giving blood.I quickly relieved him of the fifteen bucks and we drove off to a restaurant forbreakfast, just as I had promised him. I was the first General Financerepresentative to collect money from Mr. Smith. I couldnt wait to tell Raleigh. Iwas on cloud nine. Once inside the restaurant I told him to order whatever hewanted. He said to me, "You really are a nice man."After breakfast I drove Mr. Smith back to his home, thanked him and gave him areceipt for the first payment on his loan. It was only three months past due and itwasnt for the full amount but it was a start. He thanked me for breakfast and justas I was about to drive away he yelled out, "HEY." I said, "Whats the matter?" Hesaid, "This receipt is only for five dollars. I got fifteen for the blood. Whathappened to the other ten?" I said, "We ate breakfast, didnt we? And I had to payfor it, didnt I? Did you think they were giving away the food?" I started to driveoff and he walked into the middle of the street and once again yelled out, "YOUCRAZY BASTARD, YOURE NOT NORMAL. DONT EVER COME BACK Page 185 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”HERE AGAIN." I stopped the car, leaned out of the window and said, "Are yousure you dont know my Mom?"...............Friday and Saturday were referred to as "chase" days in the collection business.We would hit the streets Friday afternoon around four and work until nine and startover again Saturday morning at eight and work straight through until nine in theevening, because if you didnt make your collections on the weekend then you hadto wait until the following weekend when your clients got their paycheck beforeyou could "chase" them down again for payment.General Finance had offices throughout the state of Florida and the officescompeted with each other on a monthly basis to determine which one was the mostefficient. There were many variables used to determine which office was the bestone. The number of loans made for the month was one item. The total dollaramount of loans made was another item. Of course total dollars collected for themonth was a part of the equation to determine the number one office. And last butnot least, the percentage of delinquent loans outstanding was also a considerationto determine the most efficient office. The last point, the delinquent percentage ofloans outstanding was in my opinion a very false and misleading figure. Thereason I say that is because all we had to do was collect $5.00 every sixty daysfrom an account and by doing that it would keep them off the delinquent report. Toshow the disparity, a $600.00 loan required the client to repay $34.00 a month. Soif they couldnt make a payment, then as a last resort we could collect as little as$5.00 every sixty days, and by doing so they wouldnt appear on the delinquentreport and therefore on the surface it would appear that it was a good loan. I didntagree with that philosophy because I felt that once you let a client know that theycould get by with a $5.00 payment every sixty days, it would become difficult toget them back on a regular pay schedule. So as a result I would never allow aclient to pay such an inconsequential amount. Never...........Of course there werealways exceptions to the rule. Like Mrs. Peacock...........One Saturday morning I went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Peacock. They were avery good account of General Finance...... That is, until they met me. They usedto pay their monthly obligation like clockwork.....But then I spoiled them. RaleighBaker couldnt understand what had happened to the Peacock‟s. He said that theywere such a good account and now they were struggling and only makingminimum payments. I told him not to worry. One day they would get back ontheir feet again and start to make full payments, but right now we would just haveto live with the minimum payment of $5.00 every sixty days. Raleigh just couldntunderstand. Page 186 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”It started that Saturday morning when I knocked on the door of the Peacock‟s. Itwas around ten oclock. I had never met them before. The loan they had taken outin finance parlance was called a "full boat." In other words they had applied forand received the maximum loan allowed which at the time was $600.00 and everymonth the collector would go to their home and pick up the $34.00 payment.Mrs. Peacock greeted me at the door and I introduced myself. She invited me inand told me to have a seat at the dining room table while she went and wrote out acheck to my company. As soon as I had walked into her house there was thisunmistakable luscious odor that confronted my nostrils. I said, "Mrs. Peacock,what are you cooking?" She said it was fried chicken, which was something shecooked every Saturday morning. I told her that it smelled fantastic. She knewwhat I was hinting at so she walked me over to the stove and pointed to this hugepot that had at least a dozen pieces of chicken frying in it. She said to me, "Do youknow when the chicken is ready?" I said, "No." "When it rises to the top, then itsready." I told her that I didnt know that and as soon as the words exited my mouthMrs. Peacock blurted out, "Look, that piece just came to the top. Its ready. Wouldyou like to try it?" She didnt have to twist my arm. I sat down at the kitchen tableand within minutes had consumed some of the finest fried chicken that I had evereaten in my life. I thanked Mrs. Peacock and told her that her chicken was the bestI ever had. She asked me if I wanted some more. About three NeHi Orange sodasand five pieces of chicken later I once again thanked Mrs. Peacock. I told her torip up her check and that I would make a payment for her. Not the full payment,just a partial one. She was so glad that she told me to stop by every Saturdaymorning around this time and she would gladly feed me some of her chicken. Andso for the next four months I stopped by Mrs. Peacock‟s home every Saturdaymorning around ten and sat down and ate some of the most scrumptious friedchicken known to man........And once every sixty days I would give GeneralFinance $5.00 to be credited towards her account.....And Raleigh couldntunderstand what had happened. Of course if he had eaten some of Mrs. Peacock‟schicken then he would have understood completely............I thoroughly enjoyed working at General Finance. It gave me a good education onhow to deal with people, one which was not taught in schools. Each day we wereconfronted with applicants who would tell us anything to get us to approve a loanfor them and subsequently each day we were challenged by folks who would comeup with an endless array of excuses as to why they couldnt repay their loan. Ourjob quite obviously, was to make prudent loans and at the same time understandthat while people did have legitimate excuses as to why they couldnt make Page 187 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”payments on their obligations, it was still our duty to collect and at times topressure people into honoring their legal responsibilities. Just as some of ourdebtors invented stories as to why they couldnt make payment, we too would use a"creative" if not ethical approach to secure restitution. Raleigh usually turned tome when all else failed as he did with an unpaid and overdue account by the nameof Betty Brooks, a/k/a Betty Wright.Raleighs desk was directly to my left, about three feet away. One day at work myphone rang. I picked it up to hear an all too familiar voice. The party on the otherend said, "Mr. Chanzes, I need to see you in my private office immediately." Iturned to my left and looked at Raleigh as he hung up the phone. He gesturedtowards the front door. I knew what he meant. This wasnt the first time thatRaleigh had called on me. Instinctively I arose and headed towards the front doorto go into Raleigh‟s private office which was located at one of the tables in therestaurant next door. Raleigh had a penchant for feeding me when he assigned mea tough case. I took my seat at one of the tables and sixty seconds later in walkedRaleigh with Claude Cooper. They took their seats next to me and Raleigh told meabout this latest case that he wanted to assign to me. The total debt was only$125.00 but it was now a matter of principal and Raleigh wanted this debt wipedoff the books. The debtor was Betty Wright. She had borrowed $75.00 to buy asewing machine and had never made a payment. With delinquent interest added onto her account she now owed $125.00. To compound the problem, it seemed thatBetty Wright had used an alias when she took out the loan. She had used the nameBetty Brooks and in addition she had produced false identification to secure theloan. Raleigh and Claude told me that if I could get Betty to honor her rightfulobligation then that would go a long way in increasing my chances of running myown office for General Finance. Using that as an inducement along with the factthat Raleigh was buying me breakfast made me feel extremely confident that Icould collect the debt. If nothing else, it was a matter of taking pride in the workthat I was doing and wanting to prove the old adage, "You can run, but you canthide," and once I found you, then it was all over but the counting.Early on in my brief career at General Finance, once I had proven that I had anuncanny ability to collect past due delinquent accounts, Raleigh and I hadestablished some very basic ground rules. I was given complete freedom anddiscretion in my collecting techniques. Raleigh had adopted the Armed Forcesstrategy of "Dont Ask, Dont Tell" with me, long before Bill Clinton had everthought of it. And so Raleigh would never ask me how I was able to collect someaccounts that had been dormant for months if not years, for fear of what myanswers would be. But sometimes Raleigh knew what I was doing. He just Page 188 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”pretended not to hear, as with Betty Wright or Brooks, whatever her name was.We went back into the office and Raleigh handed me the Wright/Brooks file. Thefirst thing I wanted to do was ascertain if she had a working telephone number. Icalled the number listed in her file. A woman answered and I said, "Betty?" Shesaid, "Whos calling?" At that point I felt confident that indeed I had found theperson in question, but I had no idea what to do or say so I said that we have a badconnection and Ill call back. I hung up the phone and started to think......It didnt take long to come up with an answer. I called back within five minutesand once again a woman answered the phone. I said, "Betty?" She said, "Yes, itsBetty." I asked her if she was Betty Wright and she said yes. I then identifiedmyself as Sebastian Carlyle, Attorney at Law for General Finance and I told herthat I had sworn out a warrant for her arrest. I looked towards my left and Raleighhad his elbows on his desk with his arms facing straight up as they cradled his headwhich by now was shaking from side to side. I kept hearing him moan, "Oh no, ohno." At the same time Betty was screaming into the phone, "What do you meanyou have a warrant for my arrest?" I explained to Betty that what she did to obtainthe loan for the sewing machine was illegal and if she didnt immediately bring themonies owed into our office then I would have no recourse but to have herarrested. She said she didnt have any money but if I would give her an hour shewould borrow it and bring it down to the office. It was now ten in the morning. Itold her that in the event she doesnt raise the money by eleven, she should call meor else I would have no choice but to have her arrested. I hung up the phone andwaited for her to either appear at our office or at the very least call me in an hour.As I was tending to other business I kept hearing Raleigh repeat over and overagain, "Im going to need an attorney because of you Mr. Chanzes. I can see itnow; Im going to need an attorney." I told him to relax and not to worry. Sureenough at exactly eleven oclock the phone rang and my receptionist told me thatBetty Wright was on the phone and wanted to speak to Sebastian Carlyle. I got onthe phone and Betty told me that she wasnt able to raise the money and asked meif I would give her another hour to do so? I told her I would and once againreiterated that if she wasnt able to raise the money then I wanted to hear from herwithin an hour. She assured me that she would either be at my office by noon or atthe very least call me. Noon came and once again I got a call from Betty tellingme the same story as before and once again she asked for a one hour reprieve. Iconsented and for the next three hours, at one, two and three, Betty called with thesame story. Each time she called I agreed to withhold filing the warrant as long asshe tried to raise the funds and called me with the results of her efforts. The last Page 189 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”time I heard from Betty was at three oclock. I tried calling her at four and also atfive that evening, but there was no answer at her number. It was Wednesday. I hadno idea what happened to her. I thought that maybe she just stopped answering herphone out of plain fear. For the rest of the week, both Raleigh and Claude keptribbing me about Betty Wright and my nom de plume, Sebastian Carlyle. It wasnow Saturday. Another chase day in the finance business. I had gotten marriedabout two weeks ago and I asked my wife if she wanted to accompany me to seehow I earned a living. She hopped into the car and off we went. I took with memy usual assortment of accounts that I would try to get payments from and I alsowrote down Betty Wrights address. I couldnt figure out what had happened to her.I had put the fear of God into her, which was very evident by the hourly calls shemade into the office asking me not to have her arrested as she was trying to raisethe money to clear her account. Something had gone wrong. I was sure of that,but I didnt know just what had happened..............But I would soon find out.Joy and I pulled up to Bettys complex. I decided that I would identify myself bymy real name, not that of Sebastian Carlyle. And its a good thing I did. I knockedon Bettys door and a woman about 25 old answered the door. As soon as I sawher, I prayed that this woman wasnt Betty. I identified myself as Steve Chanzesfrom General Finance and the reason I was there was because Mr. Carlyle had sentme out to see if Ms. Wright still lived there. As it turned out this woman was BettyWright and she instantly went off on a tirade as to what a low life this SebastianCarlyle was. How he had her calling him every hour while she was trying to raisethe money she owed. She also complained about what a hot day it was lastWednesday when she was running all over town trying to scrape up the money.My wife and I looked at her and we both felt compassion. Then Betty Wright toldus that after she made her last call at three to Mr. Carlyle, she passed out on thestreet and was rushed to the hospital where she stayed for two days. Thankfullyshe was okay, but my wife and I felt terrible, because here was this woman whohad taken ill on the streets because I had her thinking she might get arrested andshe wound up hospitalized for a couple of days. We were both grateful that shewas okay and of course we were even more elated that no harm came to the childshe was about to have as Betty Wright was in her ninth month of pregnancy, acondition that Sebastian Carlyle knew nothing about.After Betty calmed down my wife and I took her back to the office and had her fillout a new application using her proper name. Over a period of three months, BettyWright paid off her loan in equal monthly installments.And Sebastian Carlyle never practiced law again........ Page 190 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” BLAZING SADDLESIf I was a wealthy person I would probably sue Mel Brooks for stealing my idea.Blazing Saddles was a great movie but the campfire scene was first performed byyours truly along with a couple of friends of mine. But first let‟s go back to thebeginning, as this book would not be complete without a discussion of my use ofdrugs.My first twenty-six years I lived in New York and my total consumption of drugswas limited to one joint that a friend from N.Y.U. supplied to me. In all honesty Ididn‟t get high, either because the pot wasn‟t robust enough or because I didn‟tinhale it properly.Shortly after moving to Florida I became friendly with a couple of guys, Chris andJohn, and they taught me how to smoke pot and to do another drug as well. Once Ihad my first joint it then became difficult to resist, so occasionally I would light up.I remember once that I had to take a lie detector test for a position I applied for.Prior to taking the test the examiner asked me some questions so that he would beable to adjust the machine based on my answers. One of the questions he askedwas if I ever smoked pot. I answered, “Occasionally.” He wanted to know whenwas the last time I smoked a joint and I told him, “last night.” He then asked mewhen did I smoke prior to last night and I told him, “the night before last.” Onceagain he asked me when did I smoke prior to the night before last and I told him,“the night before that.” He then said to me, “I thought you only smokedoccasionally” and I replied, “Well, I only smoke at night, not during the day.” Hethen administered the lie detector test and I passed with flying colors…..It‟s a goodthing that I only smoked pot occasionally.On another occasion my wife and I had over two of our friends, Marty andRoberta, for dinner. Joy had set the table with tuna fish, bagels, mayonnaise,tomatoes, lettuce, onions and cucumbers. She set the table prior to our guestscoming over because it was one of those occasional nights, you know, where wewould smoke a joint or should I say joints. The normal practice of smoking a jointis to light one up, take a hit and then pass it to the next person. No one would everaccuse me of being normal. We didn‟t do it like that. Everyone had their ownjoint. In this manner you didn‟t have to worry about catching any communicablediseases. We sat down in the living room and each of us smoked a joint. In notime we were all higher than a kite…….and good and hungry. Page 191 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”We then went to the dining room table to make our tuna sandwich. I was the firstone at the table. Normally it would take no more than five minutes to prepare asandwich, but as I said no one could accuse me of being normal. I picked up abagel. I now wanted to put some mayonnaise on my bagel. The mayonnaise waslocated on my right, behind me. For some reason that didn‟t sit well with me so Iwalked around the table to get to the mayonnaise. Joy, Marty and Robertafollowed my lead, all of us laughing our asses off. After the mayonnaise I wantedto put some lettuce on my bagel and once again it was to my right, neccesating meto once again walk around the table as if I was the Pied Piper because everyonefollowed me. The same sequence of events held true for the tomatoes, onions,cucumbers and tuna fish. What should have normally taken no more than fiveminutes to make a sandwich took almost twenty minutes. Now what does thishave to do with the title of this chapter, Blazing Saddles?…………Nothing,absolutely nothing, but the following story does.Shortly after arriving in Florida I made friends with Chris and John who introducedme to pot and a drug called mescaline. Mescaline has basically the same effects onyour body as LSD, the only difference is that Mescaline is inorganic and passesthrough you at the end of your trip. I took four trips on successive weekends withChris and John. While all were memorable, my first trip was something I‟ll neverforget. The drug comes in the form of a grey tab about 1/8th of an inch on all foursides. All three of us were in my apartment and we each placed a tab on ourtongue in front of each other and then swallowed it. The purpose of this was toshow each other that we actually took the drug. I didn‟t know what to expect butsince I was in the company of two good friends I felt that all would be well. And itwas………well almost. After about a half hour I started to feel a tingly sensationall over my body. The best way to describe it was that my entire body from thetips of my toes to the top of my head felt as if it was having anorgasm…………….I could live with that. We then went downstairs and Johndrove us to Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale. We took our Sestas (mitt that Jai Laiplayers use) with us. Holiday Park had three wall handball courts and we wouldoccasionally go there to play Jai Lai. Two of us would play at one time and thethird person would sit on a bench directly behind the court. Chris was playingJohn and I positioned myself on the bench. It was about ten at night and it startedto rain slightly. Either John or Chris hit the Pelota (ball) over the court and went insearch of the ball. As I‟m sitting on the bench I gaze up at the top of the wallwhich had a light shining from it to illuminate the court. And there were the raindrops falling from the sky except they didn‟t look like raindrops to me.Illuminated against the rain they looked like stars in the galaxy and I thought that Iwas in a space ship speeding through our solar system. And there I was sitting on Page 192 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”the bench, rocking back and forth, steering my ship through the solar system whentwo gentlemen walked up to me. I didn‟t recognize them. Maybe they werestowaways on the ship. In any event at that time both Chris and John came backand quickly came up to me and pulled me up and took me to the car. They left thestowaways on the ship.We then went to a restaurant because we all had the munchies. I don‟t rememberwhat we ate. I just remember that it was a lot of food. After eating we went backto my apartment and listened to some music. It was the Moody Blues album, “InSearch of a Seventh Cord.” I‟ve heard parts of the album since but it didn‟t havethe same feel as that night.The third part of the trip was the most frightful. All of a sudden I started havingbad thoughts. All I remember now is that I wanted that trip to end as it ceasedbeing fun and all I could hear either Chris or John say is, “Steve, it‟s gonna bealright”, which they kept repeating. The following day I wrote a song called, “It‟sGonna Be Alright” as well as another druggie song entitled, “Space Man”. One ofthe verses went like this.Shadows appear and there‟s really nothing, It‟s your mind playing tricks,searching for something, Don‟t need no ships, I‟m gonna take you higher.Higher than you‟ve ever been before, higher than you‟ve ever been before, Higher,HigherFinally the third part of the trip ended. I was coming back to my senses when allof a sudden I felt an extreme urge to release gas, you know, fart. Not wanting toembarrass myself in front of my friends I did my best to hold it in, butfinally………….poof……it came out and as soon as it did both Chris and Johnexploded, not in laughter but from their rear ends. And so the three of us sataround for ten of fifteen minutes farting and laughing. That‟s when they told methat the trip comes to an end when you pass gas as the drug passes through you. Idid three more trips on the next three weekends and then made a consciousdecision not to do it anymore……………….but I‟m glad that I had the experience. Page 193 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” MY WIFE, "J.Stein"............The BeginningIt was May 1, 1971. I was in the process of furnishing my bachelor apartment. Ineeded the usual supplies of pots, pans, utensils, dishes, etc. I went to W.T. Grants,a chain of department stores which has since gone out of business. I loaded up myshopping cart and was waiting my turn on line. I took notice of the cashier whowas a cute young girl with blonde hair. Finally it was my turn and she startedringing up my purchases. The first thing that struck me about her was the way shecarried herself. She appeared to be in her late teens, attractive, friendly and at thesame time very virtuous and of good moral character. It was just a gut feeling thatI had about her and as I was about to introduce myself I noticed the name tag shewas wearing. It said, "J. Stein." I was immediately taken aback because my firstwifes maiden name was also Stein. I thought real quick and decided that completehonesty would be the only way to proceed so as she continued ringing up mypurchases I asked her if she knew Mimi Stein (my first wife)? She said no, so Icontinued with my questioning. I asked her if she knew Dave and Helen Stein (myex in-laws)? Once again she replied in the negative. Then I asked her if she knewany Steins from Brooklyn as that is where my ex-wife and her folks were from.Again she said no. At that point I felt comfortable so I said to her, "Okay, give meyour telephone number and Ill call you later and we can make a date to go out."Once again, true to form she said no. She was now bagging my purchases, so Iknew that I didnt have much time left to get her phone number so I asked her oncemore for it and once again she replied in the negative. She was just about to giveme the total amount due for what I bought when I noticed that there were about tenpeople in line behind me waiting their turn to check out so I just plopped myselfdown on the floor and told her that I wasnt getting up until she gave me hertelephone number. She looked down at me and frantically said, "Get up or theyllfire me." I looked back up at her and said that I wasnt leaving until she gave meher telephone number. All of a sudden she blurted out her number. I quickly aroseand asked her for a pen and had her repeat the number to me. I asked her what the"J" on her name tag stood for and she said, Joy. I told her that I would call her laterthat evening.Around 9:30 that night I called the number that Joy gave me and much to mysurprise she had given me the right one. I guess she was afraid of what I might doif she had given me a wrong number. We talked on the phone for approximately anhour and at the end of our conversation I asked her out for the following evening.With little hesitation she said yes. I did ask one favor of her. I told her to makesure that she told her parents that she was going out with a nice Jewish boy. Shepromised me that she would honor my wishes.... Page 194 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”It was now the following day, May 2nd. I was preparing for my date with Joy. Iwanted to make as good of an impression on her as I possibly could under thecircumstances. I had everything under control except for two problems. One that Iwas aware of and one that I would find out about later on during our eveningtogether. The problem that I knew that I had was a relatively minor one. I had aused car........ A very used car. One of the things it lacked was a floor board on thepassenger side of the car. It had rotted away and there was a big gaping hole thatgave a clear view of the ground below. I took some cardboard and placed it overthe hole. It made it a bit uncomfortable for the passengers because they wouldhave to plant their feet far apart on the floor or else risk that their foot or feetwould go through the floor. While it was a tad unpleasant for any passenger ofmine, it was still a lot cheaper than me having to buy another car. Monetaryconsiderations won out. Easily...Joy and her folks, along with her older brother Tom lived in a very nice home in amiddle class neighborhood in Lauderhill, Florida. Joy greeted me at the door andintroduced me to her family. At that point Joy excused herself and said she wouldbe ready in a couple of minutes. Mr. and Mrs. Stein made me feel welcome and aswe all engaged in some light talk my eyes took notice of the walls in the livingroom and how they were decorated and all of a sudden my face turned red and Icouldnt wait for Joy to reappear. The reason for my discomfort was because I hadgrown up in what I refer to as an "Ivory Soap" neighborhood or community. It wasninety-nine percent Jewish. Virtually everyone who lived there was Jewish and thename Stein was a very distinct Jewish surname. As a matter of fact, up until thetime I met Joy and her parents, I didnt know that they made Steins any other way.Not only werent the Steins Jewish, as I could tell by the picture of Jesus Christ onthe wall, but as I found out later the Steins were also German.....A Jews bestfriend. The only thoughts going through my mind was that Joy did what I hadasked her to, which was to tell her parents that she was going out with a niceJewish boy. All of a sudden I started to sweat. It was as if I was in an oven. Ilooked at the Steins and I didnt notice any perspiration on them at all. I wonderedif it was my seat?.... I never found out because Joy suddenly reappeared and weleft...We went to an Italian restaurant on our first date. Well.......... it really wasnt anItalian restaurant. It was like an Italian restaurant. Actually it was a diner thatserved spaghetti and a couple of other Italian dishes. And if I hadnt of found outthat Joy wasnt Jewish when I went to her home, I would certainly have surmised itwhen we went out to eat because Jewish people dont order spaghetti and meatballs Page 195 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”with a glass of milk. And when she did I told her, "Listen, spaghetti and meatballsgoes with soda, beer or wine. Milk goes with Tuna fish. Which do you want?"Our date wasnt more than thirty minutes old and already we had had our first fight.Notwithstanding the spaghetti, meatball and milk story, the evening proceeded onvery smoothly. We were enjoying each other‟s company and planning for oursecond date when on our way back to her house (I had to have her home by tenbecause she had school the next day) I found out about the second problem. It hadrained very heavily the night before. Many of the streets had huge puddlesthroughout them. Joy and I were talking as we were driving in the car when all ofa sudden I went through a large puddle. Thankfully this happened towards the endof our date. As my car went through the puddle, the force of the water came upunder the car and entered into the glove compartment, forcing it open andsplashing directly onto her. She was drenched. I was hysterical. Little did I knowat that moment that the event I had just witnessed would be the start of what has sofar been forty years of unexpected and fun filled incidents that we have enduredtogether.The next day I traded my car in for a 1967 Bonneville convertible. It didnt havethe "glove box" feature that my other car had. Listen, I was a young kid. I couldntafford every option. I thought the convertible alternative was more suitable and asI was driving it home to show to Joy I imagined that we were out on a date with thetop down and it started to rain and when I tried to close the convertible top it gotstuck. Now we would both get wet. Fortunately that never happened.It was now May 24th. Joy and I had known each other for twenty-four days.During that period we had dated about ten times. We would have seen each othermore often except that her mother didnt approve of our relationship and dideverything she could to break us up, in part because I was eight years older thanJoy and in addition because I was Jewish. That was the very first time in my lifethat I was discriminated against because of my religion. But I got even with Joysmother.........I married her daughter.It was the twenty-fourth of May and Joy and I after having known each other foronly twenty-four days were now eloping to Dillon, South Carolina. We couldntget married in Florida because at that time if you were under twenty-one youneeded parental permission and since Joy was only eighteen the only permissionher parents would give her regarding me, was permission for her not to see me andof course that doesnt make for a great marriage, so we eloped to the nearest statethat would accept our hands in matrimony without anyones permission but ours. Page 196 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”The night before I prepared about twenty sandwiches for our ride to Dillon. It wasa twelve hour trip and we had to be there by nine at night in order to be married bythe Justice of the Peace, so we didnt really have too much time to stop along theway. I met Joy near her school. She parked her car and hopped into mine. It wasabout six thirty in the morning. Six hours later her mother would start to getsuspicious because Joy hadnt returned from school. That was cutting it closebecause it would take six hours for us to drive through Florida and enter Georgia.My one major fear during our trip was getting stopped by the Florida StateTroopers but thankfully that never occurred.At about 8:40 on the night of May 24th, 1971, having known her for only twenty-four days, Joy Stein became Joy Stein Chanzes. We took the honeymoon suite at"Pedros South of the Border," a motel resort in South Carolina by the SouthCarolina, North Carolina border and dined on fried chicken. It wasnt quite asgood as Mrs. Peacock‟s and it certainly cost a whole lot more but there wasnothing I could do about it. After all Mrs. Peacock only made fried chicken onSaturday. Joy and I got married on a Monday.We made our return trip to Florida the very next day. Much to my surprise my newfound mother in-law had a welcoming committee for us.....The Lauderhill Police.They showed me their credentials (their badges) and I showed them mine (ourmarriage certificate). They gave us their blessings and left.Now Joy and I had one piece of unfinished business left to do. We had to go toJoys parent‟s home so that they could meet their new son in-law ......... and Joyalso needed her pillow. I dont remember exactly what was said that night. Mymemory is blurred. What I do remember is that there were a lot of high pitchedvoices, mostly coming from Joys mom and brother.Joys mom refused to let Joy have her car back. Usually cars get repossessed fornonpayment. This was probably the first time in the history of mankind that a cargot repossessed because its owner eloped. I was furious. We needed the car butthere was nothing I could do about it. Visions of suing my mother in-law werequickly dispelled because since we were just starting out in life I thought that oncemy mother in-law got over this episode she would probably have us over for dinnermany times since we only lived about ten blocks away and that would surely saveus some well needed money. Of course after having eaten my mother in-lawscooking a few times, I realized later that I should have sued her instead. Page 197 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”And to this very day she has never forgiven us for what took place on May 24,1971. She still holds a grudge, albeit a small one, but its there. In some ways Ican understand because I too still hold a grudge against her. The difference is thather grudge against me is for something that happened only one time, over fortyyears ago. My grudge against her is also for one thing, but its one thing that sheconstantly does and has been doing for over forty years and I think she does it onpurpose. Just to upset me. And I wish and pray that she would stop doing it, butshe never does. But in some ways I can now control it better so I dont get upsetthat often. I just tell her, "No mom. I cant.......... Why dont you just come over toour house for dinner".................. Page 198 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” CHOOSING A CAREERNow that I was married there were two pressing issues that I had to deal with. Ineeded to choose a career and I needed to earn money.........And not necessarily inthat order......I quickly realized that I didnt want my life‟s work to be in the finance businessbecause it wasnt that enjoyable and the pay was even less accommodating. Idecided to temporarily seek employment in the insurance industry because it wassomething that I was familiar with as I had worked for two insurance firms when Ihad lived in New York. In addition, due to the nature of the business, wherebyyour time was mostly spent outside the office, I would be able to continue mysearch for a "career opportunity" while still earning a decent pay.The insurance industry at best is a difficult business to succeed in. The usual"modus operandi" is to have the new sales representatives make a list of all theirfriends and relatives and contact them with the express purpose of selling them aninsurance policy. The end result is fairly obvious. Before you know it you have nofriends and your relatives all want to disown you. But I had just moved to Florida,so I didnt have many friends anyway and as far as relatives were concerned, whatsthe worst that could have happened? My mother in-law wouldnt have talked to meanymore? That thought alone was the motivating factor that made me apply for aposition as an insurance agent.There was another appealing aspect to the insurance industry. Those that run itrealize the adversity that faces all new sales representatives in their quest to gainacceptance in the community as an insurance professional, so most majorinsurance companies offer a remuneration program which is referred to as avalidation schedule and this payroll plan is for new reps only and the duration isnormally for three years. It works in the following manner. Lets say that yourstarting draw is $250.00 per week. In order to justify the company paying you thatsum of money you must earn in actual commissions only $25.00 per week duringyour first three months. In effect the company is advancing you $225.00 per weekabove and beyond your actual earnings if in fact you only earned $25.00 per weekas in the above example. Then during your next three months, in order for thecompany to continue to pay you your draw of $250.00 per week, you have to earn$50.00 per week in commissions. In this manner the average new insurance agentcan survive financially because the company is actually carrying the agent for aperiod of time while the agent learns his craft. With a normal validation schedulepay program, during your first two years the company is actually paying you more Page 199 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”than you have earned. During your third year you start to pay back yourindebtedness to the company because in order for them to continue paying youyour draw of $250.00 you must actually earn more than that so at the conclusion ofyour third year, in theory you are no longer indebted to the company.I applied for a position at Western Life Insurance Company. I was hired at astarting draw of $200.00 per week. That was in 1971. To put things intoperspective with regards to the cost of living back then, we had bought two newDatsun‟s. Our payments were $55.00 per month on each car. Joy was earningapproximately $150.00 per week, so together we were keeping a roof over ourheads. Other than the validation schedule that I had to adhere to, the only otherrequirement at Western Life was for its sales representatives to attend a weeklysales meeting every Monday morning at ten. With that type of an office structure Iunmistakably had a lot of time on my hands as most of my sales were residentialwhich required me to work at night, giving me my days to myself. Most of theother agents used that time to sun themselves on the beach or to do othermeaningless things. I thought otherwise. I saw an opportunity to earn some decentmonies over the next few months. It was as plain as the nose on my face.....I then applied for a job as a sales representative at MILICO, MassachusettsIndemnity and Life Insurance Company. It was a perfect job for many reasons.First of all it was in the insurance industry, something I was presently involved in.Secondly they also had a validation schedule and they were going to pay me$250.00 per week. And last but not least, they had their weekly meetings onTuesdays, so it didnt conflict with my Monday meetings at Western Life InsuranceCompany. Of course neither company knew that I was working for the other.Quite obviously they wouldnt have tolerated that so I kept my mouth shut anddidnt rock the boat. I was now earning $450.00 per week and I still had three daysto account for...I still had plenty of time on my hands so I kept on applying for other outside salesjobs. I almost landed one at Prudential Insurance Company but I had to turn itdown. Their meetings were on Monday, the same day and time as Western Life. Ineeded a company that had meetings on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Therewere many times that I would call an ad listed in the paper and ask the recruiterover the phone if they had weekly sales meetings and if so what day was it on?They had no idea why I was asking that question and Im sure many of them putthe phone down in a stupefied state of mind because they felt that I sounded like agood applicant but they couldnt understand why I would refuse an interviewbecause their sales meetings were either on a Monday or Tuesday morning. Page 200 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Finally I found a company that had sales meetings that didnt conflict with thepresent ones that I was attending. It was Zenoll Furniture Company. Zenolls soldfurniture in predominantly black neighborhoods. This was in the days before blackpeople found out that they really werent black, but rather African-Americans. Itwas my job to go into an assigned area and sell furniture to the residents andcollect the monthly payments as well. In addition I had to attend a sales meetingevery Wednesday........Perfect. For this position I earned a salary of $150.00 perweek plus commissions equal to another $150.00 per week. I was now earningabout $750.00 weekly and I still had two days unaccounted for.....My multi-facetted career came to an end about four months later. The insurancecompanies, Western Life and MILICO were putting lots of demands on me. Eachcompany wanted me to earn approximately $50.00 per week in commissions inorder to justify paying me $200.00 and $250.00 per week. I couldnt take thepressure so I had to resign..... Page 201 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE COMET KOHOTEKIt was sometime in 1972 I believe. Joy and I lived in the Meadowbrook apartmentcomplex. We moved into a brand new unit. The complex had a pool and tenniscourts. It was heavenly. I was still in a dream world because I couldnt get overthe fact that not too long ago I had lived in the Bronx, whose memories I wouldnttrade for all of Rockefellers money, but here I was living in Florida and having apool and tennis courts and beautiful weather all year round. It was almost like adream come true. We lived on the third floor and our patio overlooked Inverrarywhich was a large development that Jackie Gleason not only promoted but alsolived in, and for many years he was also the host of the Inverrary Golf Classic.Many mornings on my way to work I would ride down Rock Island Road whichwas adjacent to the Inverrary golf course and I could see Jackie Gleason out on thegolf course. Even at a distance he was very noticeable because his golf cart had aRolls Royce Grill and he always wore knickers. Just about the time that we movedinto Meadowbrook, Inverrary had just completed building its million dollarclubhouse. The event was publicized in the local papers. About the same time theInverrary Clubhouse was opening up there was another event receiving muchpublicity. It was the imminent arrival of the Comet Kohotek. This was a once in alifetime opportunity to see the Comet because it wouldnt show itself for anotherhundred years or so. It was going to be visible in the southern sky which our patiooversaw. The comet was going to make its appearance at approximately twooclock in the morning. Joy set the alarm to wake us up so that we could be an eyewitness to this once in a lifetime celestial event.The alarm went off precisely at two. At least thats what Joy told me, because Ididnt hear it. I was out like a light. All of a sudden she started screaming at me toget up. She said the Comet Kohotek was visible in the sky and was emitting aclear cut flame across the southern atmosphere. I told her that I was tired andwould see it on the news in the morning. She tried to get me to change my mindbut when she saw that I wasnt budging she quickly returned to her seat on ourpatio to watch the galactic show.That morning Joy told me what a beautiful sight I missed the night before. Shesaid that the Comet Kohotek created a visual effect that lit up the night sky givingit the appearance that it was on fire. I was in a rush that day, having gotten up late,and I told Joy that I would have to see it on the evening news. I kissed hergoodbye and left for work.I got into my car and turned on the radio and drove off. Within minutes the news Page 202 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”came on and there were two lead stories. The first one had to do with the CometKohotek. The reporter said that due to cloudy atmospheric conditions the CometKohotek was not visible in Southern Florida last night. The second story had to dowith the Inverrary Clubhouse. It had only been open less than a week and lastnight a freak fire caused it to burn down to the ground, illuminating the sky formiles and miles.Joy still swears that it was the Comet Kohotek that she saw............. Page 203 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” JOHNNIE COCHRAN...............MOVE OVER!!!Everybody names their kids and their pets. Some people even name their boats.Very few people have a name for their hot tub. We did, and for good reason. Wecalled it "Oppies Tub," named after a former employee of mine, PaulOppenheimer.I had a company called Fantastic Finds and Paul was one of our salesmen. We soldadvertising specialties to businesses. My salespeople worked on a commissionbasis and I would advance them their full commission pending payment from theirclients. In the event their accounts didnt pay me then I would deduct the chargeback from their next commission statement. It was a system that worked fairlywell and enabled me to recruit salespeople with minimum exposure on my part.One day Mr. Oppenheimer walked into my office and said that he was quitting. Hedidnt tell me why and he didnt tell me if he was going to a competitor, which Isuspected he was. He just quit without an explanation. I wished him the best andtold him to come back in two months for a final accounting of his orders. He toldme he would and we shook hands.Usually when a salesperson resigned or was terminated there would be a smallbalance due them once all their open accounts settled. On rare occasions the salesrepresentative would have a negative balance and actually owe monies to mycompany after their accounts were resolved. In those cases I would never ask therepresentative to pay me and for two good reasons. Number one, I had usuallymade a fair profit on their sales and I could absorb a small loss when they left andsecondly they would laugh at me if I tried to collect monies from them that wererightfully due me, so why bother.But God forbid if I owed them money, even if it was a dollar, you could restassured that they would be camped at my door with their palm extended, expectingand rightfully so, for me to pay them.Mr. Oppenheimer waited two months after he quit and one Thursday called me tolet me know he would be in for his final paycheck the next day. I told him thatafter his accounts had settled, he actually owed me over $300.00 but I wascanceling the debt because he had been such a good employee of mine. Heimmediately got very defensive and accused me of cheating him out of monies duehim. I told him to come in the next day and we would go over every account thatwas outstanding when he left the firm and if need be he could call any of the Page 204 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”accounts that didnt pay me to confirm that I was totally honest with him. He saidthat he would see me the next day.Sure enough he came in on Friday and I had all of his accounts on my desk. I toldhim to have a seat so we could start to go over his orders so I could show himwhich ones didnt pay the company. He just looked at me, gave a smirk andwalked out. I then put together a detailed analysis of his account file and mailed itto him.About a week later Joy and I went to New York to visit my folks. One day I got acall from my manager saying that Oppenheimer was calling the office on a dailybasis and insinuating to whoever picked up the phone that I hadnt been honestwith him and had cheated him out of commissions. I told the manager to ignorethe calls and eventually they would cease. And I was right. But not immediately,because the calls persisted for the two weeks that Joy and I were in New York andthey endured for an additional two weeks upon our return to Florida. But finallythey did stop. We hadnt received a phone call from Oppenheimer for at least amonth when one day a process server came into my office and handed me somepapers. It was a subpoena. Oppenheimer was suing my company (which was me)for $2,500.00 in small claims court.I gave tremendous thought to the lawsuit............ About two seconds worth. Then Icalled my attorney and scheduled an appointment to see him. One thing that Ifound out about most attorneys many, many years ago is that theyregood..............for nothing. My attorney was no different.On the day of my appointment I went to his office and showed him the papers thatwere served on me and told him my side of the story, assuring him thatOppenheimer owed me money, not the other way around. Without flinching mylegal advisor told me to offer Oppenheimer $1,000 to settle the case. I said to him,"ARE YOU NUTS? Give him $1,000 dollars? He doesnt deserve 1,000 cents letalone dollars. No, were not settling this case if settlement means that I have to payhim." My attorney told me that in order to defend me in court he would have tocharge me at least three grand. I said, "Fine, charge me three thousand and whenyou go to court I want you to counter sue the son of a bitch for $100,000.00 forharassing my staff with all of the phone calls he made to my office." My attorneyknew me very well from past dealings and he wasnt going to try to alter myfeelings because he knew that I was adamant in my views and that if he got meriled up then the only person that would really suffer would be him....To the tune of$3,000.00 because I would use another attorney. Page 205 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”On the day of reckoning I sent my attorney to the courthouse by himself as I wasntsubpoenaed so therefore I didnt have to appear. Oppenheimer elected to representhimself. When the case was called in front of the bench my attorney handedOppenheimer and the judge who was presiding a set of papers. The judge lookedthem over and asked Oppenheimer if he had an attorney? He responded, "No." Atthat point the judge advised him to give thought to retaining one because he wasbeing counter sued for $100,000, and since my lawsuit was out of the realm of thesmall claims division, then Oppenheimer‟s suit would also be heard in the regularcivil court. And so Oppenheimer and my attorney left the courthouse withOppenheimer carrying an additional piece of paper that he hadnt had when heentered the courtroom. That piece of paper had a price tag.........$100,000.00.Our court date was three months away and within three weeks I quickly realizedthat this wouldnt be your typical courtroom case. I submitted a set of questions tomy attorney and told him to put those questions into a set of interrogatories which Ias the petitioner had a right to ask of the defendant (Oppenheimer). They weresent out via certified mail, signed for by Oppenheimer and never returned. I thentold my attorney to subpoena Oppenheimer so that we could ask him questionsunder oath. Once again the request was ignored. My attorney then went in front ofthe judge presiding over the case to advise him of the conduct of the defendant andthe judge authorized a certified letter to be sent to him advising him to appear forthe deposition or risk being held in contempt of court. This time Oppenheimerdidnt sign for the certified letter. The court date was rapidly approaching and itwas anybody‟s guess as to what would happen. And nobody guessed right.....The pre-trial conference was set up approximately one week before the actual trial.It is at that hearing where the attorneys for both sides are asked if they are ready toproceed with the case and they also have to list their witnesses, if any, that they aregoing to call upon. They are also given the option of requesting a trial by jury orby the judge. If one of the two parties in a lawsuit decides that they want a trial byjury then the other side must abide by that decision. I told my attorney to request ajury trial because I felt that judges make decisions based on law and jurists maketheirs based on which attorney is a better actor. The law has little place in a juristsmind.My attorney called me in my office and said that we would be going to trial thefollowing week and it would be in front of a jury and furthermore he went on totell me that Oppenheimer didnt object, mainly because he never showed up for thepre-trial conference. The judge, given the circumstances of the case and actions or Page 206 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”inactions by Oppenheimer said that the trial would go on as scheduled.My attorney and I showed up at court for our trial. The judge was there and so wasthe jury panel. Conspicuously absent was Oppenheimer. After the jury wasselected the judge looked at the six jurors and remarked to them, "This trial isgoing to be very unusual. As a matter of fact I dont remember ever havingpresided over one quite like it. The reason for its peculiarity is because thedefendant will not be here. Therefore you will not hear any objections from himand it is up to you to decide if the plaintiff is telling the truth."And so the trial proceeded. It took approximately thirty minutes for my attorney topresent our case. I was the only witness. The jury deliberated about an additionalfifteen minutes. They found Mr. Oppenheimer at fault and awarded me $50,000.00in damages. Compensatory damages. That means they were compensating me forproductive time lost at work because of the nature of the complaint which was theunending harassing phone calls by Oppenheimer which prevented my staff andmyself from doing our work.But they didnt stop there. They decided at my attorneys behest to also award mepunitive damages which in effect is a punishment for the hurt that was inflicted onmy company by Mr. Oppenheimer. The punitive damage award was for$250,000.00. I thanked my attorney, I thanked the judge and I certainly thankedthe jury. The judge then dismissed the jurors and told my attorney, "Okaycounselor, now lets see you collect any of it."At first I was a bit angry at the judge for his closing remark to my attorney, butafter thinking it over I realized that the judge didnt know that if it was up to mycounselor then there wouldnt have been a lawsuit to begin with. So why should Ibe upset with the judge? Besides, I had more important things to attend to, liketrying to find out if Mr. Oppenheimer had any assets that I could attach.From the courthouse I went back to my office muttering to myself, "$300,000.00,$300,000.00." It was very difficult to give thought to anything else. I got backinto the office and checked my messages. Joy buzzed me on the intercom andasked if she could come into my office. I told her not right now because I wasdeep in thought. She then told me that the payroll checks needed my signature andas soon as she said that a light bulb went off in my head and I yelled over thephone, "BRING ME IN THE CANCELLED PAYROLL CHECKS FROM THEPAST FEW MONTHS." Page 207 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”I went through the payroll checks that had been cashed a few months ago andfound four of them that were issued to Paul Oppenheimer. He had deposited all ofhis payroll checks into, much to my surprise, two different accounts at the samebank. I called my attorney and told him what I found out. His first words to mewere, "Steve, now you dont THINK that he is going to have any money in thoseaccounts, do you?" I wanted to tell my attorney that if he could THINK then hemight be able to up his hourly rate, but I didnt want to upset him. Of course thiswasnt the proper time nor the place for me to pontificate my views, so instead Ijust told the "barrister" to IMMEDIATELY file the necessary papers to freezewhatever monies that might be in those two accounts and in the event that therewas money in any of the accounts to have them released to his trust account as percourt order.Approximately one week later my attorney called me at my office. His voice wasvery upbeat. I knew that something was up but before I could say anything hesaid, "Steve, youre not going to believe this but I just heard from Oppenheimersbank and he has over $7,000.00 in one of the accounts." With tongue in cheek Isaid, "Great job counselor. Now, how do we get the money?" He said, "Wait, Imnot finished. In his other account he has more than $14,000.00." With even moreemphasis in my voice I once again said, "So how do we get the money." Myattorney told me that the bank, prior to releasing the money, wanted to ask thecourt if it would consent to giving Mr. Oppenheimer one last chance to appear incourt to contest the judgment. My attorney saw no use in objecting because thebank was apparently going to file the necessary paperwork anyway, so he gave hisconsent.The bank received approval from the court and then sent a certified letter to Mr.Oppenheimer advising him to appear in court to show cause why they shouldntrelease the monies in his frozen bank accounts to my attorney. The letter advisedhim that in the event he didnt show up for his court appearance then the bankwould have no alternative but to release the monies to my attorneys trust account.The court date arrived as did the attorney for the bank, as did my attorney, as didthe judge. The only one who didnt arrive was Mr. Oppenheimer. Approximatelyone hour later my attorney walked out of the bank with two certified checkstotaling over $21,000.00.Now Mr. Oppenheimer only owed me $279,000.00. So that‟s how we purchasedthe hot tub and we thought that it would be only proper to name it after itsdonor…………..so we called it “Oppie‟s Tub.” Page 208 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” DUMPER TWOI bought my first boat in 1990. It was a 19 Bayliner. Why I bought the boat is aquestion that I still cant answer because my boating experiences up until that timewere all nauseating, potentially disastrous and miserable beyond belief for me andsometimes for others, as you will be able to tell regarding the circumstancessurrounding the naming of my boat.My earliest boating experiences were with my dad. He used to take me (or shouldI say drag me) to City Island, a small community just east of the Bronx on theshores of the Atlantic Ocean. Once there we would board a charter boat called TheApache and head out for a day of fishing. Most of the people that boarded TheApache went fishing. Actually I was the only one who didnt. Not because I didntwant to, but rather because once the boat headed out it would normally take meabout fifteen minutes to develop a queasiness in my stomach and in about anotherfifteen minutes my face would turn a pale green and I would then position my headover the side of the boat........and feed the fish.I used to beg my dad not to take me fishing with him but each time he wouldassure me that eventually I would get over my bouts of seasickness. And he wasright as he usually was, because ultimately I did get over the nausea that envelopedme when I went fishing with him. And coincidentally the nausea stopped the veryday that I stopped going fishing.In 1984, Joy and I along with two of our friends, Howard and Carolyn, vacationedin Captiva, a small island on the Gulf of Mexico in proximity to Fort Myers. Wehad two boating experiences that weekend of which the first one resulted in thenaming of my boat, Dumper Two. Our second experience that weekend almostproved disastrous, but having survived it, we can now laugh about it.On our way home from Captiva we stopped in Fort Myers beach and had a bite toeat and then decided to rent a boat. Howard took control of the wheel and after wehad been out on the water for a spell I asked Howard if I could drive the boat.Howard asked me if I had ever piloted a boat before and I told him no and thatmade him a bit hesitant to turn over the wheel to me so I then reminded him that Iwas paying for our "day of fun on the water" and Howard very hesitantlyrelinquished the captains chair.Everything was going along very smoothly. Off in the distance we saw somepeople swimming in the water and sunning themselves on the beach. It looked Page 209 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”inviting so we decided to dock our boat and go swimming and lay out in the sun aswell. As we approached the beach in our boat we noticed that there was a pierjutting out into the water. To the side of the pier about ten feet away were woodenpoles sticking out of the water and running down the entire length of the dock.Howard told me to pull our boat in between the wooden poles and the pier so thatwe could anchor the motorboat. As I approached the dock I started to steer theboat between the poles and the pier when all of a sudden Howard told me to slowdown. This was the first time that I had ever piloted a boat. I yelled back in allseriousness to Howard, "WHERE THE HELL ARE THE BRAKES?" He shoutedback, "STEVE, THERE ARENT ANY BRAKES ON A BOAT. JUST EASEBACK ON THE THROTTLE A BIT." I followed his instructions and as I easedthe throttle back the boat started to drift under the pier. Joy and Carolyn weresitting in the back of the boat when Howard blurted out at them, "DUCK DOWNNOW." Its a good thing they did because there wasnt much clearance between thewater and the dock and they would have had an awful headache if they didnt duckdown. Of course thats assuming that their heads would have still been attached totheir bodies. At the same time that Howard told the girls to duck down he yelledout at me to push the throttle forwards. I must have pushed it too far forwardsbecause the boat lurched ahead and slammed into one of the poles and as it did twothings started to disappear real fast. One was the pole that I hit as it started tocollapse into the water and the other thing that started to vanish were the people onthe beach, because they gathered up their belongings and ran as fast as their feetcould carry them far and away from the lunatic that was piloting the boat.Thankfully Joy, Carolyn, Howard and I were okay.......But the boat wasnt. It hadlots of scrapes and dents on the side. Scrapes and dents that werent there prior tomy commandeering the boat. By unanimous vote we decided to wait until the sunwent down before we returned the boat, hoping that the damage wouldnt benoticeable.In addition, by a clear majority vote it was also decided that I would turn over the"Captains Chair" to Howard......Actually after some contemplation I made the voteunanimous.I still dont understand why they dont put brakes on boats...................I had one other boating experience the day before and what happened on that dayin 1984 caused my good friend John to come up with the name for my boat that Ibought some six years later. When he found out that I bought a boat, he asked meto name it "Dumper Two." And I did.....And heres why........ Page 210 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”The day before the Fort Myers catastrophe, we had rented a boat in Captiva at theplace where we were staying. Howard asked the dock master if there were anyplaces that he could recommend for us to go to and he replied that about an houraway there was a place called Cabbage Key. It used to be the home of an authorand it was now a museum and restaurant accessible by boat. He told us that therestaurant was strictly burgers, dogs and fries, but that it was very unique and hewas sure that we would enjoy it. He then instructed us on how to follow the watermarkers and within an hour we were docking our boat at Cabbage Key. By thenwe were very hungry so we went immediately to the restaurant. The motif of therestaurant was very unusual. All along the walls and ceiling were dollar billssigned and dated by the diners. Of course not every customer posted a dollar billon the wall. As you would look around, every so often you would see someonewho thought they werent being watched take a dollar bill off the wall. I guess thisenabled them to either leave a bigger tip, eat more or eat for free.The food happened to be very good and when we finished we decided to skip themuseum and instead got back into the boat and started to head back to port andthen thats when it hit me. I started to get cramps in my stomach. I was doubledover in pain. I had to relieve myself and quick. Howard told me to drop mybathing trunks and lean my rear end over the boat and unload in the water. But itwas daylight and there were boaters all around us. I couldnt do that. Then, all of asudden, as if my prayers were answered, there appeared out of nowhere, right inthe middle of the waterway, a fishing shack. The shack had a ledge completelyaround it, sitting atop stilts that were about fifteen feet out of the water. Sittingalong the ledge were fishermen with their feet dangling over it and their fishinglines falling into the water.Howard guided the boat to the shack and yelled up to one of the fishermen, "Isthere a head up there?" The guy said yes and as I arose from my seat to climb upthe ladder to the shack the pains were becoming unbearable. I knew that I wouldntbe able to hold it in much longer. I was just hoping and praying that I could makeit to the bathroom. The pains had now become so intense that I couldnt even partmy legs for fear that all hell would break loose, so I started to hop up the ladder. Icould hear Howard, Carolyn and Joy start to laugh as I did my imitation of BugsBunny. I finally reached the ledge and literally started to hop across it. I asked oneof the fellows who were fishing where the head was and he pointed and said it wasjust around the corner. I turned the corner and saw the head. It was maybe fifteenfeet from me, a good twenty hops. I reached the door and opened it. The roomwas about three by four, if that. The only light inside the head was coming from Page 211 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”the round hole in the floor that was about one foot in diameter. That hole was mytarget.As I pulled my trunks off I could see water below as well as a tree trunk curvingunderneath the hole in the floor. My swim suit came off in a flash and Iimmediately went into action. Nonstop for what seemed like an eternity but inreality lasted for a few minutes. I had a bad case of diarrhea, not that theresanything such as a good case of it, nevertheless mine was very bad but thankfullywithin a few minutes I was finally relieved......well, almost. As I was remedyingmy problem I noticed that something was missing from this "outhouse" and whatwas missing was toilet paper. I did the best I could under the circumstances, pulledmy trunks up, opened up the door and did something that I hadnt been able to dorecently.............I walked. As I proceeded across the ledge I noticed that thefishermen were just gazing up at me. Their fishing lines were in the water but theywerent paying attention to it. Instead they were just looking at me. Staring. Itmade me very self-conscious. After all, what did I do that was so unusual? Didntthese guys take a dump every day of their lives?As I turned the corner I could hear Howard, Carolyn and Joy howling withlaughter. I started to yell at them. I walked along the ledge heading towards theladder to make my way down to the boat. The more I yelled, the more theylaughed. I was pissed. As I was climbing down the ladder I told them to grow upand stop acting like children. They continued to laugh. I got in the boat andHoward put her in gear and we took off with all three of them in hysterics. Finallythey couldnt contain themselves any longer and Howard said to me, "Steve, whenyou were up there in the bathroom did you notice anything appearing through thehole in the floor?" I told him that all I saw was the water below and a tree trunkthat sort of curved underneath the head. Then Howard told me why the fishermenwere staring at me as well as why everyone was laughing so hard. It seems that atthe base of the tree, fishing, was this kid about twelve years old. The kid feltsomething hit him on the head and when he looked up to see what itwas..........WHAP...........he got hit again........right on his face........It didnt take me too long to figure out that if this kid lives to be one hundred yearsold and if someone would ever say to him, "Do you want to go fishing?" Hisimmediate reaction will be to bring his hands up over his head and yell out, "NO."I would imagine that he would have the same reaction if someone would ever askhim to go on a picnic in a park like setting with lots of trees....................."NO."Interestingly enough we drove the boat by the fishing shack about a half hour later Page 212 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”and there wasnt a sole around............. Not even the kid who was the inspirationfor the name of my boat, ............... "Dumper Two." Page 213 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE SHRINK WHO NEEDED A SHRINKThe year was 1990. Joy and I were experiencing some marital difficulties. Shedecided that it might benefit us if we went for professional help. Now Im notenamored with the Psychiatric profession, if you could call it that. Think about it.How many times have you seen or read that during a trial the Psychiatrist for thedefense swears that the accused is suffering from some type of emotional disorderand should therefore be forgiven for their transgressions. At the same time thePsychiatrist for the prosecution says just the opposite; that the accused was fullyaware of what they were doing, has no disorders and should be held completelyaccountable for the crime. It happens every time. How can you call this aprofession? These people arent skilled experts. Theyre lying bastards preying onthe public. They deceive, they falsify information, they betray, they delude, trick,hoodwink, dupe, beguile and bamboozle people. Theyre the lowest of thelow........................I couldnt wait to see the shrink.Joy found one whose name was identical to a very famous sports personality. Illjust call him Doc.His office was less than a mile from ours. Joy and I saw him together the firsttime. He was in his early forties. Thin, good looking and very disheveled. Onappearance you would never think that he was a psychiatrist. And after youattended one of his sessions, you most certainly wouldnt think he wasone..............................But who cared? I was there for the entertainment aspect andnothing else. Of course I didnt tell my wife that.............And certainly not theDoc.............................At least not at first.We were the only people in the waiting room. The Doc was in his office with apatient. After the session ended, the Doc escorted her through the waiting room tothe exit door. He offered a quick hello to us and said that he would be right back.He opened the door and said goodbye to his client and then as he started tointroduce himself to Joy and I he suddenly bolted for the door once more andyelled out her name as she was walking down the hallway. He thrust his hand upto his forehead and said, "Did you forget to give me a check?" His patient thencame back and paid the Doc for his services. After she left he once againwelcomed us and took us into his office. One of the very first things that wenoticed was that his shirt was half in and half out of his pants. The Doc was veryunkempt. I thought that maybe he had a brief tryst with his patient, but thatthought was quickly dispelled because I realized that he would have had a lot ofnerve to then ask her to pay him too. I mean, how good could he possibly have Page 214 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”been? Over the next few weeks I learned that the Doc was just your everydaybasic good natured slob and nothing more.He asked us to have a seat and as we talked I kept thinking that I knew the Doc,but I couldnt figure out where I met him and then it hit me. He looked like ayounger version of Colombo, the detective that Peter Falk portrayed on television.I was just hoping that he wasnt as smart as Colombo and thankfully the Doc didntdisappoint me.As Doc listened to us he had a tendency to lean back over to one side of his chair.I kept thinking to myself that his chair didnt look that sturdy andthen.......BOOM........his chair tipped over, propelling him to the ground. In thesucceeding three months that Joy and I saw the Doc, both together and separately,that incident happened at least once every session. That episode alone was worththe price of admission.But it got better.....................We were at the point where Joy and I were seeing the Doc separately. Joy wouldsee him on Monday night and I would see him Tuesday evenings at 7:30. It wasnow seven oclock, Tuesday night. I was sitting in my office. I was going to leavein about twenty minutes and drive over to see the Doc for my weekly therapeuticsession. I picked up the phone and called him. I knew that he was in session witha client and usually when he was his answering service picked up. But not thistime. Doc picked up the phone and I told him that I would see him shortly. Heasked me if I had anything else to tell him because he was with a client. I said,"Yeah, just one quick thing Doc. Ive got a joint. Lets you and I get stonedtonight." He replied at once, "Steve, I dont do that anymore. Ill see you at 7:30."And then he hung up the phone.It was now 7:25. I was sitting in his waiting room. A few minutes went by and theDocs door opened and out stepped his patient and then the Doc. I nodded at hisclient and the Doc gave me a quick hello. He opened the door to let his patient outand after he said goodbye to her he came in and he pointed towards his office. Istarted to walk in the direction of it when just as I expected I heard a shuffling offeet. All of a sudden the outer door to the hallway opened and I heard the Doc yellout, "Excuse me." I turned around and there was the Doc with his hand in the nowall too familiar position resting on his brow. I heard him yell down the hall to hispatient, "Did you forget to leave me a check?" Page 215 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”A couple of minutes later the Doc and I were sitting comfortably in his office. Hehadnt noticed that I had placed the joint on his desk. He asked me the usualquestions. "Did you have a good week? Are you and Joy working out yourproblems?" I answered yes to both questions and then I picked up the joint and litit. The Doc looked at me and said, "Steve, what are you doing?" I said, "Doc, ifyou cant figure this out, then Im going to have to find another shrink." With that Istarted to take a hit on the joint. I gestured with the joint towards Doc but he shookhis head no. And so I took another hit and then placed the joint in the ashtray. Docinstantly grabbed it and said, "Im just going to have one toke. I havent smokedpot in over twenty years, so Im just going to have one hit." I said, "Whatever yousay Doc." He took a hit and then passed the joint to me. I took a toke and the Docat that point literally took the joint out of my hand. Pretty soon it was like a pingpong match because as soon as I took a toke the Doc would then take one. And soit went, back and forth until the joint was almost finished. And if our smokingcontest had been a best of seven than I would have won by default, becausesuddenly the Doc turned white as a ghost and he said, "Excuse me." And with thathe collapsed onto the floor. He just laid there muttering out, "Steve, this is veryunprofessional of me." I said, "Doc, this is the most professional thing that youhave ever done." He said, "Steve, how can you say that." "Because Doc, this justgoes to show that youre a real human being...............A real human being whos shitfaced." "Steve, do you really think that Im stoned?" "No, Doc. Youre not stoned.Youre just lying on the floor because youre tired."I then told Doc that I was putting a check on his desk for my hourly consultationfee. He was straight enough to tell me that he couldnt take it under the present setof circumstances. I told him that I couldnt buy better entertainment anywhere elseso I was insisting that he keep the check. I then asked him if he wanted anothertoke on the joint and he blurted out at the top of his lungs, "NO-O-O-O."So there I was, sitting on a chair and right at my feet was the Doc, stretched out onthe floor. I said, "Doc, why dont you sit up?" He said, "Steve, I cant move. Myhead is whirling around. What was in that marijuana?“ I said, "If I tell you, doyou promise you wont tell anyone?" He said of course. I then told him, "Doc, theonly thing in the marijuana is marijuana." He then wanted to know why I was ableto function. I told him that it was probably because I havent been "dry" for twentyyears like he was.I was trying to have some conversation with him when he abruptly said, "Whatsthat wire and whats that sound?" There was a white wire coming out from underthe Docs desk running along the floor and into another room where there was a Page 216 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”whirring sound that the Doc was referring to. I said, "Doc, that wire is coming outfrom under your desk. Dont you know what it is?" He said that he didnt and hewas also very upset about the whirring noise that was coming from the other room.I told him not to go anywhere, as if he could, and that I would check on it. I thengot up from my chair and followed the wire into the other room. I came back andsaid, "Doc, this wire goes to a machine in the other room. That machine is causingthe whirring sound and the machine is a smoke exhaust. He looked at me and said,"Oh yeah. Thats right. Thats my machine. I bought it a few months ago. Funnythough, because I never noticed the whirring sound before." I said, "Doc, did youever notice the white wire on the floor before?" He looked at me and said, "Steve,Im all messed up." I said, "Doc, I know that, but I thought the grass would makeyou better." He just looked at me.I asked him if he wanted me to take him home. He said he couldnt go homebecause his wife would kill him. He decided to sleep in the office until he soberedup. I asked him if there was anything I could do and he just told me to shut thelights off and lock the door on the way out.The next morning, shortly after I got into my office I called the Doc to see if hewas okay. He answered the phone and told me that his wife called his office lastnight around midnight. He told her that he wasnt feeling good. He thought it wassomething that he ate and as soon as he felt better he would be home. As it turnedout he didnt leave his office until four in the morning. He then made me makehim two promises. One was never to tell anyone what had happened that night andthe other was never to bring grass into his office again. And then he said, "Steve,you know I have a feeling that youre going to cause me to seek psychiatric help."I could never do that to him. I wouldnt want that responsibility. So I told Joy thatI was better and didnt need any more help.You know, that episode happened over thirty-five years ago and Joy and I are stilltogether. I guess the Doc did a good job after all....................... Page 217 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” OUCH!!! I THINK A BUG BIT ME...Im blessed with flawless teeth. Perfectly aligned with no cavities. Well after allthey should be perfect and when you think about it I shouldnt have any cavities. Imean who in their right mind would buy imperfect teeth?My original choppers werent flawless, but once the orthodontist got through withthem they were okay, and if I would have seen a dentist more than once everyfifteen years then I think that I would still possess them to this very day, but alasthat is not the case.One day, about ten years ago, I awoke with shooting pains throughout my head.My wife immediately pin pointed the problem. She thought that I might have anabscessed tooth, so at her suggestion I made an appointment to see the dentist. Asit turned out I did have an abscessed tooth but the dentist told me that he felt thatone day, sooner rather than later, I would have to have most, if not all of my teethremoved due to my neglect of them throughout the years.The dentist repaired my damaged tooth and some of the pain went away, but not allof it and as the days stretched into weeks and the weeks into months, the pain grewmore intense, so much so that it was unbearable. I made another appointment tosee my dentist and he confirmed my fears. My teeth were rapidly decaying and thepoison that they were emitting into my body was causing the pains in my head. Hefelt that he could save just four teeth, my eye teeth; and he didnt think that theywould hold up for more than a year or two at best.My dentist wouldnt pull my teeth out because he didnt use anesthesia, justNovocain and he felt that it would be easier for me if I was anesthetized. So Imade an appointment with another dentist and I showed up on the designated dayfor the outpatient procedure. I wasnt alone either. My wife accompanied me asdid my new teeth that I was holding in a brown paper bag. I felt like a condemnedprisoner being led into the gas chamber, and to add insult to injury, I was the onethat was holding the cyanide tablets.Unfortunately the execution was delayed. I say unfortunately because by now thepain was excruciating. But as I was being strapped into the chair, the Dentistnoticed that I had a slight cold and he told me that he couldnt anesthetize me untilI got rid of the cold because once sedated there was a possibility that I could chokeon my own phlegm. Page 218 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”So I took back my cyanide tablets and left his office. I couldnt wait for my cold togo away due to the pains in my head, so I called my original dentist and told himmy problem and begged him to pull my teeth out. He told me to come down to hisoffice and he would do the procedure.Once in his office he gave me gas and no less than thirty Novocain shots. I guesshe couldnt stand to see a grown man cry. All I remember was the sound of myteeth as he dropped them into a pail......Plunk....Plunk....Plunk.I heard twenty-four of those plunks and with each plunk the pains in my headlessened until there was no more pain and almost no more teeth. He did leave myfour eye teeth in my mouth. He told me not to take my false teeth out for anylength of time during the next two weeks because if I did, then my mouth wouldswell up and I wouldnt be able to put my teeth back in until the swelling subsided.That night I went to bed early and around three in the morning I heard Joy start toyell and then she began to hit me. Before I had a chance to ask her why, she toldme that when she rolled over in bed she thought that a bug bit her on her rear end.Thats what caused her to yell. Upon investigating, she noticed that it wasnt a bug,but rather my teeth that had fallen out of my mouth.....And thats what caused herto hit me. I guess that proves a point.....You should never bite the "Tush" that feedsyou.About two weeks later Joy, the kids and I left for a vacation. My teeth were stillsore. As we were driving I placed my dentures in a cup in order to relieve thediscomfort that I was in. Around seven that evening we decided to look for a motelto bed down for the night. I stopped at a Days Inn and told Joy and the kids to waitin the car while I went in to see if they had any vacancies.The gentleman at the desk was very courteous to me. In fact he was overlygracious. He told me the price of the room and then asked me if I belonged toAAA because if I did then he could discount the room. I told him I did and startedto pull the card from my wallet when he told me that it wouldnt be necessarybecause my word was good enough for him. I thanked him. Then he asked me if Ibelonged to the Days Inn Discount Lodging Club, because once again if I did, thenI could get an additional discount. I told him that I didnt. He said that he wouldmark down that I did so I could qualify for another discount on the room. Ithanked him again. Then he asked me if I worked. I was only forty-four years old.I couldnt imagine why he asked me that, but I told him that I was employed andsure enough I got another discount. I figured if this kept up, then pretty soon he Page 219 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”would have to pay me to sleep there but that was the end of the questions and alsothe end of the discounts. Nevertheless I got a pretty good deal and when I returnedto the car I told Joy and the kids what happened and what a nice desk clerk thefellow was. Thats when Joy told me that he probably felt sorry for me. I askedher why and she pointed to the cup in the car. The same cup that still had my teethin it..... Page 220 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” AN AFTER DINNER HEART ATTACK...It was September. The Jewish holiday of Roshashana which signifies thebeginning of the New Year was going to start that evening. It was around three inthe afternoon and I was doing some paper work in my office when my receptionistbuzzed me on the intercom and told me that one of my salesmen, Steve Smith,wanted to see me. I told her to send him in. Steve had been in my employ forabout eight months. He was in his early twenties. A nice kid but always causingproblems. The kind of problems that would cause you to want to pull the hair outof your head.....and sometimes out of his.Steve came into my office and wished me a happy and a healthy new year. Ithanked him for his kind thoughts and returned to my work. Then I heard Stevesay, "Arent you going to wish me a happy new year?" I looked at him and said,"Steve, I didnt know that you were Jewish." He told me he was and that madeSteve the first Smith that I ever met who was of the Jewish faith. I asked him whathe was doing to celebrate the New Year and he told me that he was going over tohis moms house for dinner. I asked him if his mom was a good cook and hereplied, "The best." I felt sorry for the schmuck because he never tasted my momand Granma‟s cooking so he didnt have an accurate basis for comparison, but Iaccepted the fact that his mom might be a good cook. But in all fairness I had tomake sure so I asked him what his mom was cooking for the holiday and he ran meoff a list that still makes my mouth water. Chicken soup with luxion (noodles),matzo balls, brisket, turkey, potato kugel (pudding), etc., etc. I told him to bringme in some of the leftovers the next day and he told me that he wouldnt be able todo that. I said, "Steve, you wont bring in some of your moms cooking for me?"Again he said no. I then said, "Steve, come in Friday for your final paycheck." Hesaid, "Youre firing me because I wont bring you in any food?" "Its the principleof the matter Steve. Its the principle." "Youre joking, right?" I told him that thiswas no joke and he should seek other employment. He said to me, "Steve, Imyour fourth best sales person. Doesnt that mean anything?" "Of course it does.""Well what does it mean?" "It means that every sales person below you just movedup a notch."With that remark he asked me if he could make a call from my phone. I told himthat he could. His party answered and I heard Steve say, "Hi mom. Ive got aproblem. Ive just been fired." His mother must have asked him why and he toldher what had just transpired. He turned to me and told me that his mom wanted tospeak to me. She wished me a happy new year and invited me over for dinner. Ithanked her and politely declined her invitation and I also told her that I was just Page 221 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”kidding about having her son fired. She said she knew that I wouldnt do that. Andthen she said that she would give Steve some leftovers from their dinner to takeinto work with him tomorrow just for me. I thanked her and I wished her a veryhappy and healthy new year and hung up the phone.The next day I was sitting in my office reading the newspaper when myreceptionist called to tell me that Steve Smith wished to see me. I asked her if hewas carrying anything with him. She said that he was holding two big bags. I toldher to let the young man into my office.Sure enough Steve did have two huge bags filled to the brim with all sorts of food.I took the bags from him and placed them on my desk. I thanked Steve and toldhim to please give my special thanks to his mom. I then told him to have a goodday in sales and he said to me, "Dont you want me to tell you what my mom sentover?" I said, "No, Ill figure it out. I just want you to leave. Thanks again andhave a good day."It was 8:30 in the morning. I had enough food to feed a small battalion.Thankfully there werent any small, hungry battalions around. And if there were,then they would have had a difficult fight on their hands in order to pry away whatwas in my sight. I was practicing the age old concept ofDarwinism................."Survival of the fittest."I picked up the phone and called in one of my employees, Paul Podhurst. Paul wasmy customer service manager. He was twenty-three years old and a very likableindividual. Very loyal. Very friendly. Very funny. Very round. Paul was about56".....Both ways. He resembled a big beach ball.....with blond hair. Paul and Ihad had many pig outs together, but never so early.He came into my office and saw all of this food. He asked me where I got it fromand I related the story. He told me that he couldnt eat now because he had justfinished eating breakfast not more than an hour ago. I then told him my baseballstory and that convinced him to sit down and dine with me. The baseball storyrepresents the epitome of logic when trying to convince someone to see things yourway in a situation such as the one I was facing. I asked Paul the followingquestion. "What does a baseball team do an hour before the game?" Paul thoughtabout it and quickly responded, "They go out on the field and practice." I said,"Right. Breakfast was practice. Now weve got to play the game." Paul said henever looked at it quite like that, but it did make sense and so we started to enjoythe foods that Mrs. Smith sent over. I called my secretary and told her to hold all Page 222 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”my calls until further notice.The first thing I had Paul do was heat up the chicken soup and matzo balls. Wehad two bowls apiece. It was a wonderful start to a meal that lasted a solid twohours. We had brisket, turkey, potato pudding, noodle pudding, gefilte fish,chopped liver, all sorts of vegetables, pies and cakes. When we were finished wewere stuffed to the gills. Two solid hours of non-stop eating. And we ate heavyfoods. We both felt ill at ease. It was about eleven in the morning. It wasextremely difficult to go back to work. Fortunately I was the boss, so I didnt haveto. But poor Paul did. He would have forfeited his pay for the day if I would havelet him go home, but there was work to be done so he had no choice. I told him toturn off the lights to my office and close my door as he left and tell my secretary tosee that Im not disturbed. I put my feet up on my desk, leaned back on my chairand dozed off for about four hours.It was now three in the afternoon. I awoke, checked for any messages and resumedmy work. About an hour later my sales manager Mark Feldman, who was Paulscousin, came into my office and told me that Paul thought he was having a heartattack and Mark was going to rush him to the hospital. I told Mark about all thefood that Paul and I had consumed earlier that day and that in my opinion Paulwasnt having a heart attack, but just a bad case of indigestion. By the way, younever got indigestion with my mom and Granma‟s cooking, which just goes toprove that Mrs. Smith wasnt such a great cook after all. Good, but not great.Mark went back and told Paul what I had said but Paul insisted that he was havinga heart seizure so Mark rushed him to the emergency room. This was Tuesday.Around seven that night Mark called to tell me that the doctors ran tests on Pauland were now admitting him to the hospital. Mark didnt have any otherinformation other than to say that it seemed that there was a problem. I told himnot to worry about it. I was still sticking with my original diagnosis of indigestion.The next day Mark came into my office with tears in his eyes. I knew that it had todo with Paul. Mark told me that the hospital confirmed that Paul did suffer a heartattack. I asked Mark why it took so long for them to find out. He didnt know. Hewas very upset. Both Paul and he were cousins, Mark being two years older. Theygrew up together in the same town in upstate New York and both came to Floridato start a new life. They had been together all their lives and now this. It wasdifficult for Mark to accept. It was difficult for me too. First of all I had to re-examine my diagnosis and figure out why I didnt recognize that Paul might behaving a heart attack. Secondly, it looked like I might need a new customer service Page 223 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”manager because it was a stressful job and I didnt think that Paul could handle itanymore. This incident was definitely causing me problems...............and of coursePaul too.Mark told me that Paul didnt want his parents to know about this. He didnt wantto cause them to worry. Mark asked me my advice and I told him that he shouldcall Pauls folks and tell them the situation and let them make up their mindregarding traveling down to Florida from New York. Mark decided not to tellthem.It was now Thursday. Paul was beginning his third day in the hospital. Mark cameinto my office, this time with a smile on his face. I said, "Whats up?" He told methat the doctor had reevaluated Pauls condition and had now determined that Pauldidnt have a heart attack this past Tuesday, but did have one sometime last year. Isuggested that Paul ought to give thought to checking out of the hospital and admithimself to the Miami Heart Institute where they have real doctors. Mark assuredme that one of the top cardiologists was taking care of Paul. I asked Mark for thename of the cardiologist so that in the event I ever needed the services of one, Iwouldnt call him. Mark went on to tell me that they were going to schedule Paulfor a stress test later that day.Mark came into the office on Friday and this time he didnt have a smile on hisface. Before I had a chance to ask him about Pauls condition he told me thatduring the stress test the doctor administering it abruptly stopped the machine andtold Paul that he saw something disturbing on the screen as he was monitoring him."What was it," I asked? Mark said that the doctor couldnt tell Paul at that time andthat he would have to analyze the information because it looked like somethingwas drastically wrong. He said that they just put Paul back into his wheel chairand took him to his room. I thought to myself that if this poor kid didnt have aheart attack, then for sure the doctor was going to cause him to have one.Now the weekend was upon us and it is very rare that hospitals will conduct testson their patients on Saturday or Sunday. This hospital was no different than mostothers. Paul just languished in bed over the weekend not knowing what to expect,not knowing if he had had a heart attack last Tuesday, last year or ever. All heknew was that the doctor had said, "Somethings wrong."Its now Monday. Paul was spending his seventh day in the hospital and he didntknow if he was coming or going. Over the weekend Mark had relented and finallycalled Pauls parents to tell them what had been going on. They decided to Page 224 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”temporarily stay in New York but asked Mark to keep them updated on Paulscondition.Later that day Mark told me that the hospital was going to administer anarteriogram test on Paul the next day, his eighth day of confinement at the hospital.This test is administered by a hospital team that has equipment that takes serial X-ray films and motion pictures of the hearts action. This is an expensive test.Under local anesthesia, a catheter, a long, thin tube, is inserted into an artery of thegroin and gently worked into the aorta where the coronary arteries originate. Thetip of the catheter is moved successively to the mouths or openings of the right andleft coronary arteries and a dye is injected. The dye clearly defines the size andlocation of plaques, narrowing‟s and obstructions of the coronaries. Mark said thatthis test would finally indicate to the doctors the exact condition of Pauls heart,arteries and the cause of his problem.It was now Wednesday, around noon. Paul had taken his arteriogram the daybefore and Mark was about to call Paul to find out the results when the door to myoffice opened and standing in front of us in living color was none other than theaforementioned Paul. Mark and I both blurted out in unison, "What happened?"Paul looked at us and said that the doctors finally determined that he didnt have aheart attack a year ago and that he didnt have a heart attack a week ago. In fact hehad never had a heart attack. I said, "Wait a minute. Did they say that you just hada bad case of indigestion?" Paul looked at me and said, "Yes Doctor Steve. Thatsexactly what the problem was."I said, "Great. Lets celebrate. My treat. Lets go out for a buffet lunch." "Nothank you," was all that I heard Paul say.About a month later the doctor and hospital bills started coming in. For eight daysin the hospital with expert physician care, the bills totaled well over twenty-threethousand dollars and to make matters worse, Paul didnt have insurance. At thattime it wasnt a benefit that I offered to my employees. And besides, if he wouldhave listened to the Good Doctor Steve, he never would have went to the hospitalin the first place. His total bill of twenty-three thousand dollars verified mydiagnosis, which didnt have a price tag. But then again, I didnt have a collegeloan for medical school that I had to pay back. Page 225 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” DONT YOU EVER CALL ME AGAINVirtually all of my life, whether working for someone or in business for myself, Ialways put in a twelve to sixteen hour work day. And at the end of the day mydesk was never clear. There was always work for me to do tomorrow. Because ofthe hours I kept at work it was important to relieve some of the tension from timeto time. The following story was one of those times and once again it revolvesaround two of my employees, Paul and Mark, the cousins who grew up inWoodbridge, New York, a small town in the Catskill Mountains.It was around eight in the evening. Paul and Mark came into my office. It wasanother hectic day at work which began around eight that morning. We were aboutto wrap it up for the day when Mark came up with an idea based on some crazythings that I had done with the telephone. Periodically I would play games withpeople using Alexander Graham Bells invention. I had a feature called conferencecalling which would permit me to connect two different parties whereby each onewould think that the other person called them. It created a lot of funny moments,especially when the two people knew each other and even more so when the twopeople not only knew each other, but also hated each other.Woodbridge was a very small town of no more than 3,000 people. Just abouteveryone knew everyone else. It was the type of town that people lived in for theirentire lives. Therefore there were long standing friendships of twenty, thirty, fortyyears or more and equally there were feuds between families and individuals of thesame duration. Mark and Paul knew many people who hadnt talked to each otherin years because of their dislike for each other and they wanted me to connect themover the telephone.I had a speaker phone on my desk which enabled us to hear both parties talking toeach other once they were connected. This was a splendid way to end a hard day atwork so I quickly agreed to their plan. If you have the conference call feature it isvery simple to utilize and it can produce hilarious results. Youre only inhibited byyour own imagination. You call the first party and when they answer you simplytell them, "One second please, Ill be right with you." Then you put that party onhold and dial the other person. Once that person answers you depress the holdbutton and the two parties are now connected. We did this for about two hours.We heard people yelling at each other over the phone saying things like, "I didntcall you. You called me." "Dont tell me I called you. You called me. Dont evercall me again." "I didnt call you. I wouldnt waste my time calling you. I didntlike you thirty years ago and I dont like you now." "Well I didnt like you either, Page 226 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”so I dont know why you called me. You ever call me again Ill come over to yourhouse and beat the crap out of you. Youre a no good son of a bitch, you alwayswere a no good son of a bitch and youll always be a no good son of a bitch." Andon and on it went.We went home that night laughing as hard as we could, with tears actually comingout of our eyes.Three days later Paul and Mark came into my office in uncontrolled hysterics. Iasked them what was up. Paul told me that his mother called him that morning andtold him that there was a major problem in Woodbridge with the telephonecompany. Paul asked what it was and his mom said that a couple of nights ago thetelephone lines got all screwed up and people were being connected to other peoplewithout even dialing. She also told Paul that some of the people were connected topeople that they hadnt talked to in years because of arguments that they had had inthe past. She said that it created so many complaints that the telephone companyliterally dug up most of the streets in Woodbridge to see if they could find thesource of the problem.About two weeks later Paul spoke to his mom and she said that it looked like thephone company fixed the problem because the phone lines were working properlyand there havent been any more complaints.Its reassuring to know that telephone companies can resolve problems so quickly,such as the ones that the good people of Woodbridge faced.It‟s also reassuring to realize that the statute of limitations on what I did has finallyexpired. Page 227 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” ILL HAVE A PASTRAMI SANDWICHIn all the companies that I have had and with all the people that I have employed,they all share one thing in common. If a vote were taken amongst them, then theywould concur unanimously that I have a few screws loose upstairs. Thats patentlyuntrue. Theyre not loose, because if they were, then they could be tightened. Thescrews just arent there.My people were always on guard because they knew that I was capable of doingthe unexpected and true to form, when they least expected it I would ultimatelycause them some minor discomfort or embarrassment as when one of my people,Paul Podhurst was conducting an interview.This young black man came into our office to apply for a job as a salesrepresentative. Paul took him into his office and started the interviewing process.Some months before I had a paging system installed in the office. I couldcommunicate with any one individual over their speaker phone or at my discretionI could make an announcement to the entire office that would be heard over ourpaging system.In this particular case I chose the paging system. It was around eleven in themorning. Paul was conducting his interview and then my voice came over thesystem. "Attention. Attention please. All representatives of Ewing Fairchild, mayI please have your attention as we are about to order lunch." Paul had no idea whatI was about to do except that he was pretty much assured that he would have adifficult time maintaining his composure, and he was correct. I continued. "Hereare the selections for the day. Press #1 on your phone if you want a pastramisandwich, #2 if you want a tuna salad and #3 if you want a plate of chitlins."Through Pauls window we could see that he was doing his best not to keep fromcracking up. "Then press #4 on your phone if you want a coke, #5 for coffee and#6 for an orange soda. For dessert please press #7 for apple pie, #8 for vanilla icecream and #9 for a slice of watermelon."After Paul was finished he came back to my office and told me that the person heinterviewed was quite impressed with our lunch selection. Paul told him that theowner tries to have something for everybody. Page 228 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” NOT FOR DOO-DOOI had a company called Ewing Fairchild International Corporation and thefollowing story happened there.Once again Paul was conducting an interview with a gentleman when my mindthought of a trick to play on him. Suddenly my voice came over the intercom."Ladies and gentlemen, may I please have your attention. As you may recall it wasexactly one year ago today that our founder, Bryce Ewing, perished in anautomobile accident. Out of respect for our founder, will everyone please rise for aminute of silence?" The office staff working in proximity to Pauls office all roseand they could see Paul stand up as well. So did the gentleman that he wasinterviewing. The office staff could see that Paul was trying to contain his laughterand look serious on what was supposed to be a solemn occasion. Once again myvoice came over the intercom saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, you may now beseated and continue with your work."And then Paul continued with his interview only to be interrupted by me again,about one minute later. "Ladies and gentlemen, please forgive this secondintrusion but as you realize Mr. Ewing did not die alone in that tragic car crash oneyear ago. His wife, Mrs. Ewing, also perished. Please stand up and observeanother minute of silence out of respect for our founders wife." Once again Pauland the gentleman he was interviewing both rose and observed the minute ofsilence. It was even more evident than before that Paul was having a difficult timecontaining his laughter. Some of the office staff could see through Pauls windowand as he stood at attention to observe the silence it appeared that he was sobbing,but in reality his body was pained with laughter. And the person he wasinterviewing kept patting Paul on his shoulder to help ease his suffering, or so hethought. And every time that the fellow patted him on the shoulder, Pauls bodywould start to heave a little more. After a minute my voice came over the intercomthanking everyone for their observance.At this point Paul couldnt imagine what I was going to do next so as he told melater he tried to speed up the interview, but theres only so much you can tellsomeone in one minute, because in sixty seconds I was back on the public addresssystem, once again apologizing for the interruption. "Ladies and gentlemen, pleaseforgive this intrusion. I promise you that it will be the last one of the day regardingthe untimely passing of our founder and his wife. One final thing though. Mr. andMrs. Ewing did not perish alone in that car crash. With them that day was theirdog Doo-Doo, and you all know why we called him that. Yes, their dog that we all Page 229 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”grew to love also perished and smiling down upon us now from Heaven are Mr.and Mrs. Ewing and Doo-Doo. Will you all please rise for a minute of silence inhonor of Doo-Doo?" The office staff rose as did Paul. Conspicuously absent fromthose standing was the gentleman that Paul was interviewing. It was also difficultto understand how the fellow couldnt see that Paul was laughing uncontrollablyand not crying. I guess he mistook the tears flowing out of Pauls eyes as ones ofpain and anguish, not laughter.When Paul finished the interview he came into my office and told me that he hiredthe guy under very trying circumstances. He also said that our new salesrepresentative thought that we were a marvelous company to take the time to honorour founder and his wife. But when it came time to stand up for Doo-Doo, he toldPaul, "Listen, I dont mind standing up out of respect for a man or a woman, but Iaint standing up for no dog."I told Paul that we couldnt have insensitive people like that working for us. Paulunderstood what I meant. We had fired people before for various reasons such asconstantly showing up late for work, for making misleading statements, for lowproductivity, but this was the first person fired for insensitivity. Page 230 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE ART OF RECRUITING SALESPEOPLEBuilding up a sales organization, especially a telemarketing sales organization is anever ending process. Your ads are in the newspaper three hundred and sixty-fivedays a year. The rule of thumb is that you have to hire twenty people to find onethat can do it properly. Thats how tough of a business it is. There are manymethods that telemarketing companies use to recruit salespeople. The obviousones are newspaper advertising and referrals. From time to time we have alsoposted flyers advertising the position in store windows, in schools, on supermarketbulletin boards, in billiard parlors and hosts of other establishments. Its notuncommon to have recruiting contests within your company, offering prizes to thesales representatives that bring in the most new potential reps. Weve also hadbusiness cards printed and from time to time they are distributed to people we seein everyday life who we feel have the ability to succeed, such as the clerk at theMcDonalds window, or the newspaper delivery person, etc. But sometimes whenyou least expect it, not only do you recruit a sales rep, but an outstanding one, suchas in the following story.I had met this fellow Jerry when I was in the insurance business. He answered anad that I was running in the newspaper and he turned out to be a fantasticsalesperson. I eventually left the company and he became a manager there only toeventually depart and become a stock broker. We had been out of touch for aboutten years when a mutual friend of ours suggested that we get together. We met afew times and pretty soon he made an attempt to get me to transfer my brokerageaccount to his firm. He appeared to be very knowledgeable and I thought he mightbe able to do a better job with my account than my present broker so I switched myaccount over to his firm.Things were going pretty well. He had suggested some stocks to me which Iprofited from and I was very happy with his service. I had a difficult time breakingaway from my office during the day, so on occasion he would wait for me in hisoffice until I arrived there which wouldnt be until seven or eight at night so thatwe could discuss my portfolio. His value to me as a financial advisor was secondto none.One morning, prior to the market opening, he telephoned me at my office and toldme that he had some shares of an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and he had put someinto my account. He said that the stock would open up at ten dollars and would goup very quickly that day to twenty. He suggested that I sell my shares at aroundfifteen bucks and make a very tidy and quick profit. Before I could say anything Page 231 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”he also insisted that after I sold the stock and realized the gain that I should sendhim three hundred dollars for what he did for me. I was irate. And for good cause.I didnt have a discretionary account with him. In other words, I had to initiate allbuys and sells myself. He didnt have the discretion or liberty to do so without myconsent. I told him to take the shares out of my account immediately, before themarket opened. He told me that he couldnt and that I shouldnt worry because thiswas a lock. The stock was going to go up right from the opening bell. Youcouldnt lose. And then he repeated himself when he said, "Its a lock." I said,"Yeah, right. Its a lock. Just like the first Sonny Liston, Cassius Clay fight whenListon was supposed to destroy Clay, only to quit after seven rounds. And SuperBowl Three was supposed to be another lock with the Baltimore Colts, a solidseventeen point favorite over Joe Namath and the New York Jets. The final scorethough was 16-7, with the Jets being victorious." I decided right then and therethat I was switching accounts, but first I had to sell the position that he placed intomy portfolio. The market opened up at 9:30 and sure enough the stock took off.Within an hour the stock was trading at seventeen. I didnt care at that pointbecause I had sold it at fifteen, raking in a very nice profit. I didnt bother thankingJerry. I just told him not to do it again. I didnt tell him that I was switching firms.He was leaving for vacation the next day and would be gone for two weeks. Bythen my account would have been transferred to another firm.Jerry told me that I could wait until the funds were placed into my account beforesending him the three hundred dollars, but I was confident there wouldnt be anyproblem with the transaction so the following day I decided to send him his money.He had already left for vacation and I didnt have his home address so I sent mycheck to his business address along with a note indicating what the money was for.A couple of days later I got a call from Jerrys manager. He told me that hereceived the check that I sent to Jerry along with the note and he briefly went overits contents. I thought nothing of it, other than to wonder why anyone at thecompany would open Jerrys mail.Two weeks later I got another call. This time it was from Jerry. He said to me,"Steve, did you get a call from my manager while I was away?" I told him that Idid. Then Jerry asked me what I told his manager with regards to the threehundred dollar check that I sent him? I told Jerry that I had told his manager whatthe money was for but that he shouldnt worry because I didnt tell his manager thatJerry had put the shares into my account without my permission. At that pointJerry hit the roof. He said to me that it was illegal for any stockbroker to accept akickback from his client and that if I didnt change my story that he would lose hislicense. I felt terrible for Jerry. I really did. I called my attorney and asked him Page 232 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”for his advice. Then I called another attorney to see what he would recommend.Both lawyers told me the same thing. Stick to the truth or I could be in serioustrouble.I heeded my attorney‟s advice and stuck to my story, which was the truth.Unfortunately not only did the truth cost Jerry his job at the brokerage house heworked for, but it also got him banished from the industry. I had all intentions ofreplacing Jerry as my broker anyway, but certainly not in this manner. The badthing about all of this was that Jerry wound up losing a job where he was earningwell over $100,000 per year.Jerry was now out of a job and it so happened that I had an opening for a salesman.Before you knew it Jerry was earning about $40,000 per year with me. He wasable to survive even by taking a pay decrease of $60,000 per year and of course Ihad no problem in taking a $15,000 increase in my pay which represented theprofit that I made off of Jerrys sales. I even said to Jerry, "Things have a way ofworking out for the best." And then I heard a loud bang. That was because Jerryslammed down the phone and hung up on me.It goes to show you though, sometimes when you least expect it, a good salesmanwill come to work for you. Page 233 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” UNDERCOVER FOOTBALLThe year was 1997. A young man by the name of Tony Vultaggio answered my ad.Tony was twenty-four years old, a strapping 63" and had been married for onlythree months. Both he and his bride Nina could have been on the cover of anymajor fashion magazine. They were and are two very beautiful people. Moreimportantly they are two very, very nice people. Tony came to work for me and webonded from the start. He was a very hard working person, intelligent and loved tolaugh. We had a lot in common. We both would work 12-15 hours per day but itseemed as if it were only three or four because the time would fly by so fast.While it is true that we worked hard, its also true that the office was always full oflaughter making it a real pleasure to go to work on any given day.For some reason Tony always tried to imitate me. He had an uncanny knack ofpicking up on peoples habits and copying it to a tee. I also found out that he wasvery gullible so one day I asked him if he ever played Undercover Football withhis wife Nina? He had never heard of the game so I explained it to him.I told Tony that when you go to bed at night, and if you feel that you have to emitsome gas, then as soon as you do it you should pull the covers over Ninas face. Ifyou keep her under the covers for seven seconds, then its a touchdown. Fiveseconds is a field goal and three seconds or less is an interception. Tony turned toJoy and said, "Did Steve ever really do that to you?" Joy said that I did, and onmore than one occasion. Tony had a big smile on his face. He couldnt wait for thegame to begin.The next morning Nina drove Tony to work. I happened to be by the door and Isaw Tony get out of the car and walk towards the office grinning from ear to ear.Nina was following and shouting something at him. She didnt seem very happyand I had completely forgotten what I had told him the day before regarding thegame of Undercover Football. Tony came into the office jumping up and down,yelling out at the top of his lungs, "TOUCHDOWN, TOUCHDOWN,TOUCHDOWN. I SCORED A TOUCHDOWN" Nina followed him in and said,"Tony, youre a disgusting pig." Tony looked at me and with the glee on his facethat only a student could relay to his teacher, he said, "Steve, I made a touchdown."I said, "Tony, you didnt really do what I think you did, did you?" Suddenly hislips curled downward and he looked at me and said, "Steve, are you telling me thatyou never played Undercover Football with Joy?" "Tony, if I did that, then Joywould beat the living daylights out of me." With that remark, Nina yelled out atTony, "I told you Steve would never do that." Page 234 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”And then she proceeded to beat the living daylights out of him. Just like Joy wouldhave done to me if I would have ever done that.................... Page 235 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” ILL TRADE YOU TWO BLUES FOR ONE REDIt was 1972. I was managing a firm called Reserve Life Insurance Company. Wespecialized in Medicare Supplements. I employed telephone solicitors who wouldwork out of my office. Their function was to call people to determine if theywould want to see an insurance representative. My telephone solicitors wereprovided with a cross street directory which is like a telephone directory exceptthat instead of listing people in alphabetical order, it lists them by the street thatthey live on. In this manner the solicitor could provide leads for my sales peoplewithin a confined area, so they wouldnt have to travel too far in betweenappointments.Most of the appointments that I handed out to my representatives were between tenin the morning and three in the afternoon, because we primarily worked theMedicare market which consisted for the most part of retirees. Most of the repswould return to the office between four and five and turn in any applications theywrote that day and generally cut loose and let their hair down. I had three verygood salespeople. There was Freddy, Marty and Jerry, the same Jerry who laterbecame a stockbroker………. for a short period of time.The boys, as I referred to Freddy, Marty and Jerry, had all worked together prior tojoining Reserve. They were three very crazy guys.I got to see how crazy these guys were when one day they came into the officeafter having seen their appointments for the day. I was the only one there at thetime. Freddy looked at the other two guys and said, "Did you get any?" Marty andJerry said, "Did we get any?" And with that all three boys put their hands into theirpockets and took out different color pills and placed them on the table. There wereblue pills, orange pills, yellow pills, red ones, purple ones. You name it, they hadit. By the way, although I refer to Marty, Freddy and Jerry as boys, Freddy was inhis late twenties and Marty and Jerry were around forty.I said, "What the heck are those." In unison they shouted, "PILLS." I asked themwhat kind of pills they were and they all shrugged their shoulders upwards. Iasked them how they got them and they all told the same story as if they hadrehearsed what they were going to tell me many, many times. But as I soon foundout, they had been doing this for years. It seems that whenever they would go intoan elderly persons home, they would ask if they could use the bathroom. Thenthey would rummage through the medicine cabinet and take some pills. One fromthis bottle, one from that bottle and so on. Page 236 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”I asked them what they intended to do with the pills and together they said, "Weregonna swallow them." I said, "Are you guys crazy?" I didnt have to wait for areply to my question because I already knew the answer. I asked them how couldthey take pills if they didnt know exactly what they are? They gave me a logicalexplanation. They told me that people take pills to make them feel better. I toldthem that they should then take lots of pills because they were three very sickindividuals.Thankfully they were smart enough not to take more than one pill at a time. Butthere were many days that they would come into the office and I would hear themyell out, "Listen, Ill trade you two blues for one red." Or, "Come on, this greenpill is three times as big as your orange pill. At least give me two oranges for oneof my greens."They also did their best to take the same pill each day so that they could comparethe side effects that each one had to offer. Sometimes I wondered if they reallycame to me to sell insurance or if they were working undercover for a drugcompany and conducting medical experiments.I was starting to get concerned for them until one day they each came into myoffice white as a ghost. I asked them what was the matter and they replied, "Steve,when we went to urinate this morning we all peed blue." I asked them if they werenow going to throw away their pills and they said, "Of course not. We just wonttake the ones that make us pee blue anymore."A logical answer. Page 237 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO SEE DR. RODRIGUEZ?Reserve Life Insurance Company was on the 2nd floor. We didnt have our ownprivate rest room facilities. They were in the hallway and we shared them with theother tenants on our floor, one of which was the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).Just about every weekend the VFW would have a party at their office and when wecame to work on Monday morning there were empty beer cans in the parking lot,on the catwalk and also in the bathrooms. By the time the VFW would concludetheir weekend festivities, the rest rooms were left in a very unsanitary condition.One evening while at home I felt the urge to scratch my stomach. The skin aroundmy stomach area was extremely itchy and no amount of scratching seemed tosoothe it. The next evening it got worse. Ironically I didnt have any problemduring the day, only at night.At work the next day I mentioned it to one of my salesmen and he told me that Iprobably had scabies which is a type of lice that imbeds itself in your skin. Itsusually caused by inhabiting unsanitary rest room facilities. He went on to tell methat there is a medication that will cure scabies and it is called Quell. Its a lotionthat you apply to the afflicted area and you can only get it with a doctor‟sprescription.There was a directory sign in the parking lot which listed the tenants in ourbuilding. One of them was Dr. Rodriguez. I called his office and made anappointment to see him the following day.Upon entering his office the receptionist said, "May I help you?" I told her that Ihad an appointment for the doctor to examine me. I thought that I heard someonesnicker behind me, but I didnt pay any attention to it. The receptionist asked me ifI was sure I had an appointment for the doctor to examine me. I said, "Of courseIm sure. This is Dr. Rodriguezs office, isnt it?" She said that it was. And thenshe told me that there was another Dr. Rodriguez in the building and she was prettysure that it was the other Dr. Rodriguez that I wanted to see. I asked her how sheknew. She then told me that this Dr. Rodriguez was an obstetrician.I turned around to walk out and for the first time took notice of the other patientswaiting their turn to see the doctor. They were all female.............and they were allvery pregnant..........And I was very red.....with embarrassment. Page 238 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” WIN A FREE JOBIt was the mid 1970s. The country was in the midst of a terrible recession. Atleast I think we were in a recession. All I know is that I couldnt find a good job soI told my wife what terrible conditions our country was in. She said to me, "Howcome I dont have a difficult time finding a good job?" I looked at her and said,"Well, you know." That answer works all the time.So I put my thinking cap on and suddenly realized that there were a lot of peoplesuch as myself who were really having a hard time finding a good job. Then it hitme. I said to myself, why should I worry like everyone else does about not havinga job? Why dont I just open up an employment agency. At least Ill have a job andhopefully people who need my services will seek me out. It seemed like a brilliantidea. I got in touch with my friend Marty, not the same Marty from the insurancebusiness, who was also in an involuntary retirement and explained my idea to him.He loved it. He wanted to be my partner which I willingly agreed to. He said atleast he could get out of the house and feel productive and not have to listen to hisnagging wife. I understood exactly where he was coming from.So we went into the "employment" business. Marty and his wife put up $1,000.00for the business venture. I didnt have to put up any money because it was my idea.I tried to explain to both Marty and his wife “Roberta that they got off cheapbecause you cant put a price on creativity. It made sense to them and it certainlymade sense to me because I didnt have $1,000.00 for a business venture. As amatter of fact, I didnt have $1,000.00.We quickly found out that in order to have a successful employment agency therewere two basic requirements. Number one, it was imperative that you advertise inthe newspapers because if people dont know that you have an employment agency,then in all likelihood they would never use your services. The second thing wefound out about running a successful employment agency is that you have to havejob interviews to send your applicants to.To say that business was slow at the beginning would be the understatement of theyear. We couldnt compete with the big and traditional employment agencies likeSnelling and Snelling and Marty and his wife felt that their $1,000.00 contributionhad by now equaled if not exceeded my creative input into the business, whichmeant that they werent putting any more money into this venture.Marty and I toiled at the business day and night and made very little headway. I Page 239 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”then started to research the regulations and laws regarding employment agencies inthe state of Florida. I found out something that was interesting and unique inFlorida law relating to employment agencies. Most agencies charge a fee foremployment to either the applicant or the company that hires the applicant, whichis based on a percentage of the yearly salary. A little known law in Florida saysthat the employment agency can also charge the applicant an additional two dollarsjust for trying to find them a job. In other words if the applicant agrees to pay theagency two dollars for its services, then in the event the agency does not find asuitable position for the applicant, the agency does not have to return the twodollars. If the agency does find a job for the applicant then the applicant wouldthen owe the agreed upon fee.I felt confident that we could get two dollars out of virtually every applicant thatcame up to our office. The only problem we had was that we werent getting morethan two or three people coming up to us each week. The promise of an additionalsix bucks which I would have to split in half with Marty didnt exactly turn me on.So I continued to think.Then the light bulb came on. I had to figure out a way to get lots of people up toour office. Why would anyone want to come up to see us for employment?Simple. We had to be different. We couldnt run the same "traditional type" adsthat employment agencies so often run. We had to be different, non-traditional.The new kid on the block. The new kid with new ideas. A rebel................And then, like a lightning bolt out of the sky, the answer hit me........... FREEJOBS. I told Marty that we would advertise FREE JOBS. The first words out ofhis mouth were, "Steve, youve flipped your lid. Please give me back the$1,000.00. Ill even take $500.00." I told him to relax and if he wanted his moneyback then I would give it to him, but at least give me the courtesy of listening tomy complete idea. Thankfully he listened because if he hadnt then it would havebeen very embarrassing to have to ask him to lend me another thousand dollars sothat I could pay him back his original investment. I dont think I could have pulledthat off.And so I proceeded to tell Marty my idea. After I finished explaining my concepthe said, "Steve, youre a genius."The idea was this. Place an ad in the paper saying the following" Page 240 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” "FREE JOBS" Come up to our employment agency and try to WIN a "FREE JOB" Call Steve at 222-0000My thought was that when someone came up to our office in response to the ad, wewould give them a pair of dice. They would then get to throw the dice one timeand if they rolled snake eyes, which is a one on both dice, then we would beobligated to get them a "FREE JOB." The odds of throwing snake eyes are one outof thirty-six. I also felt that whoever came up to our office was either out of workor not happy with their present job, so therefore in the event that they didnt qualifyfor a free job, we should have no difficulty in collecting a two dollar applicationfee from them. And I was right. Instead of having two or three applicants come upin a week, we were now getting twenty to thirty coming up every day andpractically all of them paid the two dollar registration fee after they took their turnat attempting to win a free job.We were still experiencing a difficult time in finding jobs for people, but we didmake one very interesting observation...........Most of the people who came up toour office seeking a job were two dollars poorer when they left.Now if we could only find jobs for our applicants then we could have a goodthriving business. At least for now we had established a positive cash flow, due toall of the two dollar registration fees that we were collecting.One day Marty came up to me with excitement emanating from his eyes. He toldme that he found an employer that had virtually unlimited job openings. We couldsend as many applicants there as we wished and each one stood a good chance ofbeing hired. On the surface it sounded fantastic because up till then we didnt haveany standing job orders to fill. After an applicant came in and gave us two dollarsfor their registration fee, we would tell them to call us back the following day forthe address of their job interview. Then either Marty or I or our employmentcounselor would get on the phone and call businesses out of the Yellow Pages tosee if they had any openings.Now we actually could send someone to a job interview.......Immediately.Of course most of the people we sent on this particular job interview werent overlyhappy or impressed with the position because we never actually told them what it Page 241 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”was. And for good reason. Because if we did, then they never would have gone onthe interview. The only thing we told them about the opening was that it was withLoeb Seafood Company and this position would give them an opportunity to learnthe business from the ground up. Then, after they came back from the interview, itwould be up to Marty or me to explain to our job applicants that this position wasonly a temporary one while we worked on securing for them the career opportunitythat they desired. Sometimes it worked......Most of the times it didnt. Especiallywith those people that were pursuing a career in accounting or those that wanted tobe legal secretaries or just plain secretaries. As a matter of fact, no one could everimagine the type of job opening that we were sending them on. There were manytimes that we would get a call from the personnel department at Loeb. The callwas always about the same thing. They would ask us to screen the applicants alittle better because they felt that we were sending them people who were overlyqualified.It became a minor and continuing problem for us because it was very difficult forus to try to convince our applicants to accept the job offered to them by the LoebSeafood Company...............Very difficult.The first thing that an applicant noticed when they applied for the position at theLoeb Seafood Company was the odor. It was the smell of fish that permeated theentire building. You would get used to it after a while. At least that is what wetold the applicants when they informed us about their experience on the interview.After their initial interview, they were then taken to the work area where theywould be performing their job......that is if they accepted the position. The workarea was in one big room. One very big room. One very big room with a pooldirectly in the middle of it. The pool was for swimming.......But not forpeople......Only for shrimp.Their job was to sit in the pool with water coming up to their knees (Loeb SeafoodCompany supplied hip high boots) and then pluck the shrimp out of the pool thatwere deemed ready to go to market. These people were affectionately called,"Shrimpers."Just about everyone who came through our door at the employment agency wassent to Loeb Seafood Company to become a "Shrimper." People that wanted to beaccountants, secretaries or gain employment in the marketing field of a majorcompany were sent to Loeb Seafood Company to become a Shrimper. Those thatwere seeking a career in the hotel industry or had completed a course to become a Page 242 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”para legal were first sent to the Loeb Seafood Company to become a Shrimper.Some of the applicants would come back to our office screaming at the top of theirlungs at us after their interview at Loeb. "Do you realize what kind of a jobinterview you sent me on? I want to be an accountant. I dont want to pick shrimpout of a pool. ARE YOU NUTS?"It was up to Marty and I to calm them down and convince them that the job marketwas tight and that this opening presented an opportunity for them. And believe itor not, some people actually took the job......But not enough to keep us in businessvery long.As for the Free Job that we offered, the odds tipped heavily in our favor. Only oneperson out of seven or eight hundred who came up to our office actually threwsnake eyes. It was a woman who was about twenty-five years old. She wanted tobe a secretary. She was very pleasant to the eyes and she had very goodcommunication skills. She could type in excess of ninety words a minute and shealso took short hand.I told her that I would have no trouble in finding her the position that shedesired...........That is as soon as the job market opened up a bit. So in the interimshe became a "Shrimper." Page 243 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE 44TH BRIGADEMarty and I had been in the employment agency business for a couple of months.The only thing that kept us going and at the same time was also giving us a littlebit of hope were the two dollar registration fees that we were collecting. But inreality we both saw the writing on the wall and we knew that before too long wewould have to seek other employment unless some miracle took place that couldturn our business into a business. We were hoping beyond hope that we couldsurvive because it was OUR business and we didnt relish going to work foranyone and we also enjoyed each other‟s company tremendously. There weremany days when we wanted to call it quits but invariably one of us would pull eachother out of the doldrums and the day would end on a high note. One filled withlaughter as well as anticipation of a better tomorrow, as was the case with thefollowing story.It was close to four in the afternoon and it had been what had now become a verytypical day for us. About twenty-five people came up to our office to attempt towin a free job and twenty-two of them left our office a good two dollars poorer.We had sent a couple of people to Loeb Seafood Company for an interview andsome of the people who we had sent to Loeb the day before had either called us onthe phone, screaming in our ears, or worse, came up to our office to vent theirfrustrations at us for having the utter CHUTZPA (nerve) to send them on aninterview to be a "Shrimper."Marty and I were sitting alone in our office. The expressions on our faces told thestory. We both knew that we needed a miracle to save us, and if we didnt know,then our wives would certainly remind us of it when we went home for theevening. We both needed some cheering up so that we could walk out of the officewith our heads held up high, face our wives and return to our office the nextmorning to attempt to reverse our fortunes.Directly across the street from us was a little strip shopping plaza that had as atenant a 7-11 store. The 7-11 store was facing us. We could see inside it. As Ilooked over there, I could see someone behind the counter and I could make outtwo shoppers in the store.I turned to Marty and asked him if the 7-11 that was across the street from us had alisted telephone number. Marty pulled out the telephone directory and found thenumber for the 7-11. Page 244 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”As I dialed the number I instructed Marty to pick up the extension and not say aword. The phone rang and Marty and I could see the clerk pick up the telephoneand say, "7-11, may I help you?" Marty had no idea what I was going to do. Upuntil two minutes ago, neither did I. As I heard the clerks voice I then said in myfinest southern dialect, "Is this the 7-11 down on S.E. 2nd street off of Atlantic inPompano?" The clerk replied that it was. "This here is Sargent Carter with the44th Brigade, 5th Battalion out of Fort Benning, Georgia and were on the turnpikeand well be passing your place in about thirty minutes or so son, and I mean to tellyou I got lots of hungry boys with me, ya hear?" "YES SIR," replied the clerk."Now son, we goin to need you to fix us up some grub and plenty quick. Now gogit yourself a pencil and paper and Ill tell you what we need." "One minute sir.Let me get some paper to write on." "Hurry up son; Ive got me some hungryyoung men." "Okay Sargent, what would you like?" "Okay, I needs two hundredbologna sandwiches. Put them on white or rye bread, about half with mustard andabout half with mayo. I also needs one hundred fifty salami sandwiches and makethem on….." The clerk interrupted me and said, "Sargent, Im the only one here inthe store. I dont know if I can do all this. I need to call my boss. Can you call meback in five minutes please?" "Okay son, but hurry up because my boys are startinto howl. The only food theyve had today was the rock gut food they serve on thishere turnpike and you know how awful that is, dont you son." "Yes sir. I sure do.Just give me five minutes please." "Okay son, Ill call you back shortly."Through our window, both Marty and I watched as the clerk picked up thetelephone and dialed a number. We could see him in conversation as his head keptnodding up and down as if he was telling the party on the other end, okay. Theclerk finally laid the phone back in its cradle and after a couple of minutes passed Ionce again called him up. "Son, this is Sargent Carter with the 44th Brigade, 5thBattalion out of Fort Benning, Georgia. Did you talk to your superior?" "Yes sir.And heres what he said I could do. I wont be able to make the sandwiches for youbecause I dont have the time, but I can put all the meats and breads and whateverelse you want in boxes and theyll be waiting for you when you and your troops gethere, if thats okay with you." "Well it will have to be okay son. Now you still gotyour pencil and paper?" "Yes sir. What do you need?" "We need about thirtypounds of bologna and twenty pounds of salami. You got liverwurst?" "Yes sir.""Then give us ten pounds of liverwurst too. We need about ten jars of pickles andthree jars of mayonnaise and two jars of mustard. Give us about twenty loaves ofwhite and rye bread. Give us also some plastic forks and knives and well need acouple gallons of milk, twenty big bottles of mixed sodas and some plastic cups.Throw in some pies, cakes and doughnuts. Lots of it. Also need paper plates andnapkins. You got all that written down son?" The clerk read back the entire order. Page 245 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”"Now son, well be comin through your area in about twenty minutes, so get amove on it, ya hear?" "Yes sir. Ill get on it right now."Marty and I watched through our window as the clerk began to fill one box afteranother with our order, I mean Sergeant Carter‟s order. As he would fill a box hewould place it near the door only to start filling another one. It took him at leasttwenty minutes to complete our order. There must have been at least ten boxes bythe entrance to the store, some stacked one on top of the other.About thirty minutes had gone by since I had placed the call and now it appearedthat the clerk was starting to wonder if the 44th Brigade had made a wrong turn orhad gotten tied up in traffic. Marty and I watched from our vantage point as theclerk came to the front of the store and pressed his nose up against the window. Heput his hand to his forehead and turned to his right and looked down the streetwhich was bristling with rush hour traffic. Then he slowly turned towards his leftand looked up the street, only to see the same thing. Lots of people in their carsfighting traffic on their way back home after a day at the office. Lots of people.Lots of cars. But no 44th Brigade.Marty and I were sitting up in our office observing this clerk who every fiveminutes or so would come to the front window of his store and repeat the gesturedescribed above. Every time he looked up and down the street it literally broughttears to our eyes as we couldnt contain our laughter.Finally we decided to close up for the night. Marty and I had come to work thatday in my car so I was going to drive him home. When we got into the car Martysaid that he needed a pack of cigarettes. He asked me to drive him across the streetto the 7-11. The same 7-11 that was waiting for the 44th Brigade. I told Marty thatI couldnt do that because once inside the store I would burst out laughing when Isaw all the food packed in the cartons standing by the door. Marty told me that Icould sit in the car and he would go in by himself. I cautioned him against itbecause I knew that he wouldnt be able to control himself.........And I was right.I pulled up next to the 7-11. Marty was a dead giveaway because he was laughingwhen he got out of the car. He walked inside the store with tears actually flowingdown his face. And these werent tears of sorrow. The man was laughinghysterically. Marty is about 59" tall, if that. He was in his late thirties and he borean uncanny resemblance to the comedian Marty Allen, except Martys hair didnthave the Don King effect as did Marty Allens. Marty was slightly portly and hishair came down well over his ears. The type of hair cut that was fashionable in the Page 246 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”mid-sixties, except this was the mid-seventies.Marty walked into the store, went up to the counter and the first thing that I couldsee him do was to say something to the clerk, and as he did Marty pointed to all thefood that was stacked up by the door. I couldnt tell what the clerk was saying tohim, but suddenly Marty erupted into non-stop laughter and ran out of the store asfast as his legs could carry him. Once inside my car he could barely talk. He waslaughing and crying at the same time. He just pointed towards the road as if to say,get out of here.As I drove away he finally calmed down. I asked him what the clerk said to himthat made him lose control of himself. Marty said that he had asked the clerk whyall the food was stacked up by the door. The clerk gave him a relatively simpleanswer when he said that he was just waiting for the 44th Brigade to arrive at anymoment. And at that moment Marty lost control.Marty never did get his cigarettes that night and as far as I know, the 44th Brigadenever showed up either..................... Page 247 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” H.E.L.P. or should I say HELPIn the early 1980s I opened up a company called H.E.L.P. The initials stood forHandicapped Employees Labor Pool. I decided to telemarket various products thatpeople with afflictions either made or assembled.For instance I retained the services of an artist who was born without any arms. Ipaid her a fee to draw a series of greeting cards by using a brush held between hertoes. The casual observer could never detect that a handicapped person wasresponsible for the picture on the card. The only way the end user knew that thegreeting card was drawn by a handicapped individual was because they were toldso by the telephone solicitor and there was also a brief biography of the artist onthe back of every card.I also employed handicapped people to assemble ball point pens and to fill ordersby packaging the products so that we could ship them out to our customers.You acquire a different appreciation for life when you work with people who arementally or physically handicapped. You learn to enjoy and appreciate the simplethings in life, like tying your shoelaces or feeding yourself. Or just being able toconduct your life without the aid or assistance of another human being.I also came to appreciate that people with various afflictions do not considerthemselves handicapped. And the only time they want your assistance is if theyabsolutely cannot help themselves. Otherwise they would rather be left alone tofinish their tasks without the aid of anyone else.And one of the greatest joys in life is to see the look of achievement on the face ofan afflicted person. It makes you want to hold that person as tight as you can andtell them how proud you are of them and how much you love them.But every human being has their limits or their tolerance level. Sometimes I wishmine were a bit higher, but each of us is different and unique in our own ways andas I write this story I honestly wonder how the reader will interpret my remarks. Iwonder how the reader will judge me. All I can say in my defense is that myfamily and I have always been very considerate, compassionate and benevolent tothose people who are in need. The following story is a part of my life. It happenedto me and I want to share it with you, the reader.One day I called up the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. I told them about my company Page 248 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”and indicated that I would like the opportunity to employ any individuals that werehaving a difficult time finding gainful employment. The people at CPF assured methat they could provide me with an ample supply of individuals who had beenstricken by this debilitating disease and were in dire need of work.The following day a representative of CPF called and said they could send overeight individuals to be interviewed for various positions at my firm. We then setup a time and day for the people to come up to my office.On the appointed day nine people from CPF showed up at the office. One of thefolks was a CPF representative who made the necessary introductions. There weretwo people in my company that day that were helping me conduct the interviews. Itook one of the applicants into my office. His name was Mark. Mark was aboutforty-five years old. He had a severe case of cerebral palsy. His hands wereshriveled up and practically useless. He was also confined to a wheelchair. Yet,other than by looking at Mark, you would never know that he was handicappedbecause he had one of the greatest dispositions that Ive ever encountered in ahuman being. He had an infectious laugh and you couldnt help but like him. Iwanted to feel sorry for him but he wouldnt let me. This was his lot in life and hewas determined to make the best of it. Sympathy was a word that was foreign toMark. It wasnt in his vocabulary, but I found it difficult to get it out of mine.I had no idea what kind of work Mark would be able to do in my firm because hewas so incapacitated. I didnt have the heart to tell him that because he was also solikeable. Finally I told him to call me the following day as I had seven otherapplicants and only five positions available at present. He understood but heimplored me to hire him because he said he could outperform anyone else. At thatmoment I decided to put him in the telemarketing department. I thought he wouldmake a great salesman. He sold me and I felt that he would be one of the best salesreps that I had ever had, such was his enthusiasm. My intentions were to hiresomeone to dial the phone for Mark. The fact that Mark couldnt hold a telephonein his hands didnt present any problem at all because we could utilize a speakerphone that didnt require you to hold the instrument.I was about to tell Mark that I had found the perfect job for him. One in which Ihonestly thought he would excel, when he unexpectedly said to me, "By the waySteve, if you hire me I will need some assistance from you once or twice a day." Isaid to him, "Thats not a problem Mark. Ill do anything within my power to helpyou. Just name it and Ill do it and if I cant help you then one of my people herewill assist you. Now tell me, what kind of assistance will you need?" "Well after I Page 249 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”go to the bathroom Ill need you to clean my rear end for me, okay?"I thought about what Mark had just asked of me. We were both looking into eachothers eyes. His eyes seemed to say, "Steve, please dont say no." My eyes werecarefully disguising my thoughts. I finally realized what it meant to be severelyhandicapped. I didnt have the heart to tell Mark that I wouldnt be able to helphim. I wanted to be of assistance to him in the worst way but I couldnt envisionmyself doing what he had asked of me. I quickly thought of the other people whoworked for me and wondered if I could convince one of them to help Mark out theone or two times a day that he needed it. In the meantime I told Mark to call methe next day to see if he was one of the people selected for the job.Later that day I spoke to my wife, my sales manager and a few other people whowere in my employ. They each said no to my request.........And it was a very quickno. There was no thought whatsoever given to my request for someone to come toMarks assistance. I then offered each of them a slight pay increase if they wouldtake on this chore. Once again, a very quick and resounding no. As a last resort Iasked them to consider this. Instead of one person coming to Marks aid, what ifthey all participated. In other words they could share the duties amongst them.One day one person would do it; the next day another person would help Mark."No, no, no."Every one of my employees told me that no one in their entire work career hadever asked them to do what I had asked of them. No one.Mark called the next day and I had my sales manager tell him that he wasntselected for the job. It was unfortunate for Mark and it was unfortunate for me andmy company because I believe he would have done very well. Page 250 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” VERY FUNNY...............VERY FUNNYLife is a roller coaster ride for virtually everyone. Its saturated with peaks andvalleys. Hopefully as you mature and grow older you dont fall into the valleyswith the same rate of frequency as when you were younger and just as hopefullythe valleys arent so deep. And as you age the peaks you attain will hopefullysustain themselves for longer periods of time with only infrequent and minor dipsevery now and then.The year was 1974. I was in a valley. Nope, let me correct that. It was a hugecrater. So huge that it resembled the Grand Canyon. Joy was the sole support ofour family. To coin an all too familiar cliché, I was trying to find myself. I wasntcontent with just working. I had the entrepreneurial spirit within me. Therefore Ididnt have time to work. I needed time to think about what I wanted to do and if Igot a job, then it would take away from my "Thinking" time. It sounded logical.One day I was with my friend Al. Two years prior to meeting Al I was managing afirm called Reserve Life Insurance Company. Als mother in- law was mysecretary. She told me that her son in- law was seeking work and would I mindinterviewing him for a position in sales. I told her that it would be my pleasure.Al came in for the interview and we hit it off immediately. He was about fiveyears younger than me. He grew up in Brooklyn and he loved to talk about sportsand participate in it as well. We had a lot in common. I asked him a few basicquestions such as what type of work did he do in the past and what was he lookingto accomplish in the future. He then gave me an answer that I had no troublerelating to. He said he was still trying to find himself. I understood completelyand of course I hired him.As Al and I worked together we also became friends. Very good friends. And thatfriendship taught me a very valuable lesson that I have tried to apply in all mybusiness endeavors, sometimes successfully and sometimes not so successfully.The lesson I learned is that you cannot combine business relationships andfriendships. A decision must be made. Either you want to be a friend or you wantto be a boss. Its difficult to be both. Regarding Al, the decision wasnt all thatdifficult. He was a crummy salesman, so I fired him and we remained very closefriends.Eventually I left the employ of Reserve. I was now in the "Thinking" stage of mylife. In other words, I was a man without a job. Thankfully my wife had one, so Page 251 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”conditions werent completely out of hand...................But they were getting there.Al was also married and his wife Ellen was working but his life had turned entirelyupside down. His problem was that even though he was married, his wife wouldntcontribute to the upkeep of his household. The reason she wouldnt do that wasbecause they were separated and no longer living together. His life was a mess, somuch so that I had to do the thinking for both of us. But thats what friends are for.It was a Saturday afternoon. Al and I were in North Miami Beach playingbasketball in one of the school yards. After the game, we were both dripping wetwith perspiration. Neither of us had enough money to buy a soda so Al suggestedthat we go up to his parent‟s condominium which was just a few blocks away andwe could get a drink there.When we got there, his parents werent home. We each had a couple of sodas toquench our thirst, then freshened up in the bathroom. I then told Al that I had tohead back home as Joy and I were going out that night.The next day, Sunday, the phone rang. Joy picked it up and told me that Al was onthe phone. I took the phone from her and said, "How ya doin Al?" All I heardcoming through the receiver was his voice in a very stern manner saying, "Veryfunny. Very funny." I asked him what he meant by that and once again he repeatedhimself by saying, "Very funny Steve. Very funny." I said, "Al, stop playinggames. What the heck are you talking about?" In a thoroughly disheartenedmanner he said to me, "You know what Im talking about Steve. You know. Veryfunny. Very funny." I said, "Al, stop with the riddles. What are you talkingabout?" He then proceeded to tell me what had occurred in his house onlymoments ago.He said, "My dad came to the table in his slippers and bathrobe in preparation forhis traditional Sunday breakfast. My mom poured him a cup of freshly percolatedcoffee. She opened up the refrigerator and put a carton of orange juice out. As mydad poured the juice for all of us, my mom continued setting the table. She tookthe bagels off of the counter and served them. As my dad was cutting the bagels inhalf my mom got out the cream cheese, the lettuce, tomatoes, onions andcucumbers. My dad was sipping on his juice, delighting in its taste. Then Iwatched him as he smeared some cream cheese on his bagel. He then added apiece of tomato, a couple of cucumbers, a slice of raw onion and some lettuce. Itwas like watching Picasso at work because thats how precise he was in preparinghis sandwich. Then as he was waiting for the piece de resistance we heard my Page 252 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”mom yell out," "What happened to the lox?""She asked me if I ate it. I told her that I didnt. Picasso, I mean my father wasstarting to get upset. He made my mother take everything out of the refrigerator tosee if she could find the lox. When she couldnt find it, thats when my dad reallygot mad and he accused my mom of forgetting to buy the lox. My mom screamedback that in twenty years she never, ever forgot to buy lox for my dad for hisSunday morning breakfast. They just kept yelling at each other for what seemedlike an eternity. Then they directed their venom at me and accused me of eatingthe lox. I told them that I didnt even know that the lox was there and if I had, Icertainly wouldnt have eaten it. Anyways, they dont believe me. All because ofyou Steve. I dont know how you did it, but Im convinced that you took the lox.Steve, how did you do it? And why did you do it?""Al, why would I take the lox? We were there together in your parent‟s apartment.When could I possibly have taken it?" "I dont know, but I think you took it." "Al,Im sorry about what happened today, but you know your mom is starting to get onin years. Maybe she thinks she bought the lox because shes been buying it everyweek for so many years, but in reality she just plain forgot to get it." "Yea, I guessyoure right."And with that, we said goodbye and made arrangements to meet on Monday.Now it so happens that I love lox. Basically there are two types of lox. One iscalled Nova, which is unsalted and the other is called Belly lox, which is salted. Iprefer Belly lox because to me it has more flavor than Nova. That morning, bothJoy and I had lox for breakfast........... It was Nova. But under the circumstances, Ididnt think that I had a legitimate right to complain........And I certainly couldntask for my money back.........And I definitely couldnt exchange it for the Belly lox.I will say this. It pays to be observant because if an opportunity presents itself thenyou just might have to act quickly..............Like when your friend goes to thebathroom to freshen up.............. Page 253 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” HES NOT MY UNCLE SAMBoth Al and I were still doing a lot of thinking. Work would have onlycomplicated matters. I was still giving thought to what kind of career I wanted topursue. I was now thirty years old and I was hoping that I would come up with ananswer before I reached retirement age.One day Al and I were walking on 163rd street (a main drag) in North MiamiBeach when we passed a store front that had the all too familiar sign of a manwearing a suit of red, white and blue with his finger stretched out as if he waspointing directly at you. The caption said, "Uncle Sam Wants You." An armyofficer was standing outside and he said to us, "Fellas, can I see you for a minute?"We said sure and we followed him inside.He was a recruiter for the U.S. Army. He told us about all of the benefits we couldderive by joining the armed services. He made it sound very appealing. Theofficer told us how the army had changed through the years. One of the manychanges was in allowing new recruits such as Al and I to not only serve together inthe same unit, but in addition we would be allowed to choose the country where wewould like to be stationed. Paris, France. London, England. Europe, Asia or thegood old U.S.A. The choice was ours. Three square meals a day, lots ofexercising, a roof over our heads, a monthly paycheck and a chance to visit distantplaces that heretofore I had only seen in my dreams. This appeared to be a once ina lifetime opportunity. And who knows, there was a distinct possibility that myservice in the army could be the optimal career that I was searching for. After all Iwas only thirty years old and I could retire from the service in twenty years with afull pension at the relatively young age of fifty and seek other employment with allof my new found skills. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. And thepart that sold me was that I would be permitted to live off base with my family (mywife and son).Al loved the idea too, but for different reasons. By now his parents were fed upwith him and his excuses for not being employed. He couldnt sell his parents onthe idea that he was "just trying to find himself." His parents told him that when hefound himself, then and only then could he return to their place where he wasliving. They made Al give them back the key to their apartment (I guess Id haveto buy my own lox now) and told him to start conducting a full time search forhimself.Coincidentally, right after his parents kicked him out of their apartment; Al went on Page 254 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”a diet and lost lots of weight. Of course it was not a diet of choice. Rather he hadno choice. He also had no living accommodations so on some nights he wouldstay at the Salvation Army. The sleeping quarters were incorporated into one bigroom with thirty or forty cots. Most of the residents were substance abusers. Fordinner they would all be served a bowl of soup and a slice of bread. And therewere no refills. Breakfast consisted of a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee. Theydidnt serve lunch and it wasnt on Zagats list of recommended places.Joy thought that Al was a bad influence on me and therefore she wouldnt let himsleep at our place. Every now and then I would try to sneak him some food. ButJoy was such a good cook that I would usually eat it on my way to meet him.....Atleast my intentions were good.The Salvation Army would only let Al stay there for two consecutive nights. So onthe nights that he wasnt sleeping there he would have to find otheraccommodations. And he did. He was quite ingenious. He told me one day thathe was going to stay at the Holiday Inn for about a week. Now this was a manwithout a job and without any visible means of support. He had a few dollars onhim, but certainly not enough to pay for a room. I figured that maybe he appliedfor and received a credit card. I couldnt figure out how he could possibly stay atthe Holiday Inn. I went to pick him up there one day and true to his word, he wasstaying at the Holiday Inn. He had a beautiful spacious room overlooking the poolwith a magnificent unobstructed view..............of the sky. The question of how Alcould afford a room at the Holiday Inn was answered very quickly. He would goto the Inn around midnight and lay down on a chaise lounge by the pool and go tosleep. Nobody ever bothered him and the rent was within his reach.And since Al was having a difficult time "finding himself"; the offer of joining thearmy was even more appealing to him than it was to me.And so both Al and I filled out some forms that were necessary to start the wheelmoving. A wheel that would move us away from our non-restricted civilianexistence and one that would lead us into a more restrained military lifestyle. Therecruiting officer gave us some additional paperwork to take home to complete.Once we submitted it the next step would be to take an army physical andinduction would soon follow. In a matter of a few short weeks we would besinging that old refrain, "Youre In The Army Now."Al and I left the recruiting station with a new found attitude. It was as if all of ourproblems had been solved. We were going to be employed by a division of the Page 255 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”U.S. Government. A company that had been in existence for almost two hundredyears. A company that had an unparalleled record of never bouncing a check.Always paying its employees on time. A company that offered fantastic medicalbenefits, free room and board, travel opportunities, educational grants, probabilityfor advancement and a great retirement program. And what did I have to do tofully enjoy the many benefits of a life in the army? Simple. Just hope and praythat we didnt go to war where the enemy could shoot me in the ass. Why the ass?Because at the first sound of enemy fire, then my ass is going to be the last thingthat the enemy sees. And he wouldnt be seeing it for long either.I went home and told Joy about my plans for our future. Surprisingly she offeredlittle resistance. She was ready to make the transition. So was Al. We had alldecided that we would like to be stationed in Paris, France after we completed ourbasic training. It sounded too good to be true. Paris, the home of Bridget Bardot.Sunning ourselves on the French Riviera. Walking through the many vineyardsthat dotted the hillsides. Learning the native language. All I had to do was getthrough six grueling weeks of basic training. That was it. Just get through basictraining and hope that war didnt break out.WAR!!! That was the fly in the ointment. It had already had an adverse effect onme as one of my friends was killed in the Viet Nam conflict. The United Stateswas now quickly becoming the policeman of the world. What if a war did breakout? What if I was one of the servicemen chosen to either defend our countrysvital interests or protect the sovereignty of some lesser equipped nation?And then I gave thought to who the leader of the free world was. It was PresidentGerald Ford. A nice man. But he never got my vote for president. As a matter offact he never got anyones vote for president because he wasnt elected to office.He snuck in..........through the back door. Only a year before, our president andvice-president were Goniff and Scheister (Jewish words that describe people whoare greedy and dishonest), otherwise known as Nixon and Agnew. Agnew wasinvolved in kickback schemes while Governor of Maryland and when the casecame to court he pleaded "Nolo Contendre", which meant that he was guilty but hewasnt admitting it. He then resigned as vice-president and Ford was approved bythe House of Representatives to replace Agnew. Then Nixon resigned in disgraceand Ford automatically succeeded him. All we knew about Ford was that heplayed collegiate football and as a member of the House of Representatives he wasvery well liked. But nobody knew what he stood for. As a matter of fact he couldbarely stand. He was always bumping into things and falling down. He possessedthe grace of a one legged chicken. The man would constantly trip over his legs and Page 256 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”fall down. And this wasnt reported. This was seen on television virtually everytime he gave a speech. And it was seen by millions upon millions ofpeople......................worldwide.I started to give serious thought to what effect President Ford could have on myfuture in the event I enlisted in the army. All of a sudden I figured it out. I wouldenlist in the Army and with my luck this schmuck would accidentally trip and fallon the "Red Button", the one that would start a nuclear world war. That thoughtchanged my mind regarding my service in the army. It would have to wait untilFord was replaced as president. If I was going to serve my country then the least Icould expect was a president who possessed some degree of agility. I couldntserve my country knowing that the man in the White House had difficulty puttingone foot in front of the other. It would cause too many sleepless nights..........And Ineeded my sleep.I told Joy of my new plans. But I didnt have the heart to tell Al because he was soexcited that he was finally going to have a roof over his head along with threesquare meals a day. I didnt know what his reaction would be. My gut feeling wasthat he would still enlist, even if he knew that I wasnt.Four weeks later I received a letter from him. The beginning of the letter said,"Dear Steve........WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?????"Another four weeks went by and this time I got a call from Al. He was home at hisparent‟s apartment. He received an honorable discharge after having spent lessthan two months in the army. He spent a good deal of his time in the stockade. Hedidnt want to be in the army and he didnt hide his feelings. The last thing that hedid prior to getting his discharge was to walk into the Colonels office and tell him,"Sir, with all due respect, this place is run by idiots for idiots."Als anger at me quickly subsided, in part because I now had my own employmentagency and I told Al that I would get him a job that had a tremendous upsidepotential and in addition I wouldnt charge him for the position...........Just thenormal two dollar registration fee........ So I sent him to the Loeb SeafoodCompany........... Page 257 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” ALOHA................. OY VEY!!!In December of 1982 I met John Catona. We became very close friends, more likebrothers, almost from the time we met. The fact that John was a phenomenalsalesman who through the years made me lots of money had no bearing on myfeelings of closeness to him. He was more than a money tree to me. Much more.He was like the brother I never had. He was someone who I could share a laughwith. Someone who was as competitive as I am in everything he did. Someonewho I could tell my troubles to. Someone who I could trust with my deepestinnermost secrets. But more importantly than anything else, John was a "ChefExtradonnaire." He loved to cook and I loved to eat. It was a perfect match.Many of our most enjoyable moments together were spent either around a dinnertable or in some way associated with food, as in the following story.John had a very good client in Hawaii. His name was Fred Tamiose and he ownedthe Fred Tamiose Pineapple Plantation. We were selling advertising specialtyitems such as imprinted pens, key tags and calendars and Fred was one of Johnslargest accounts. One day Fred called John to tell him that as a token of hisappreciation he had just sent two crates of pineapples to him via United Airlines.John turned towards me and said, "Boss, (a nickname he gave me shortly aftermeeting me), a name that he calls me to this day, were gonna be eating welltomorrow," as he explained the conversation he just had with Fred.Sure enough the next day a representative from United Airlines called my officeasking for John. John got on the phone and all I heard him say was, "Okay, beright over." John hung up the phone and said to me, "Boss, lets take a ride to theairport because the pineapples are here." I told John that I was real busy and Icouldnt go. And neither did John. The next day United Airlines called again andonce more John asked me to accompany him to the airport. Again I told John that Ijust couldnt break away from the office as I was behind in my work. And onceagain John wouldnt go to the airport without me. A couple of days passed andUnited Airlines called again. This time the representative wasnt very polite. Hetold John that the pineapples were starting to emit an odor and he would appreciateit if someone came to cart them away. Again John asked me to accompany him tothe airport, but this time I gave him a very logical explanation for not going therewith him. I told him that if the odor of the pineapples was offensive to the airlinepersonnel, then wouldnt that same odor be offensive and distasteful to us as well?John found it difficult to argue with my logic so once again he broke his promise tothe good people at United Airlines by not showing up at the airport to claim hispineapples. Page 258 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”About a week later John came into my office and told me that Fred Tamiose wason the telephone. I said, "So?" and John replied, "Boss, hes gonna ask me aboutthe pineapples. What should I say?" "Simple, just tell him that the pineapplesnever got here." "Good thinking Boss." John went and told Fred the absolutetruth. He said that we never got the pineapples. Of course Freds interpretation ofJohns remark was that the pineapples never made it to the mainland.John came back into my office with a sigh of relief spread across his face. "ThanksBoss. It worked. Tamiose thinks someone pirated the pineapples. He told me thathe sent Maui pineapples which were tastier than the regular ones that wereaccustomed to eating." I told John that I was glad he had solved his problem andjust as the words escaped from my mouth John said, "Boss, hes sending anothercouple of crates of pineapples today. This time we have to pick them up at theairport. Its costing Fred a lot of money to ship these pineapples and the least wecan do is pick them up when the airline calls us. Okay?" I promised John that thistime I would go with him to get the pineapples.Sure enough the very next day our friendly representative from United Airlinescalled the office asking for John. He told him that two crates of pineapples hadjust come in and it was imperative that they be picked up immediately because thelast two crates had gone rancid and besides giving off a very foul odor, thepineapples had attracted flies and the airline had to have someone come in tofumigate the storage area. John assured him that we would be there within an hour.And so off to the airport we went. When we got there the people at United treatedus as if we were royalty. They were very happy to see us arrive, and.........theywere equally as happy to see us go..........especially with the pineapples.John and I were traveling north on Federal Highway (U.S. 1), the main street inFort Lauderdale. Other than the conversation that John and I were having the onlyadded sounds coming out of my car was that of the two crates of pineapplesknocking against each other. John couldnt wait to get back to the office to eat oneof them and I just couldnt wait to get back to the office when my eyes spotted aVienna Hotdog sign, just ahead up on the right. The sign was in red and yellow. Itstarted to make my mouth salivate. I immediately pulled off of Federal Highwayinto the Vienna Hotdog parking lot. The place was packed with cars. John askedme what I was doing and I told him that I was very hungry and I just wanted to getsomething to tide me over. I headed for the drive through. There was no one infront of me. I pulled up to the speaker box, rolled down my window and didnt Page 259 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”wait for anyone to ask me for my order. I just blurted out, "Were in a hurry. Giveme two Vienna beef dogs and one Vienna sausage. I want a large order of fries anda large coke." I turned to John and asked him what he wanted. He said he wasnthungry. I couldnt take a chance on him changing his mind once we drove off,because then he would have eaten some of what I ordered so I turned back to themicrophone and said, "Make that four Vienna beef dogs and two large fries and....."Before I could finish the order I felt someone tap me on my left shoulder. I turnedaround and there was this woman with a big goofy grin on her face standing by mycar. She looked at me and said, "Sir, Vienna Hotdogs moved out about a couple ofweeks ago. This is now a Hertz car lot." I looked around and for the first timenoticed that just about all the cars on the lot were GM autos. I didnt bother sayinganything to the woman. I just rolled up my window, looked straight ahead andproceeded to pull out of the drive thru without my hotdogs, without my sausage,without the fries and without my coke.I was still very hungry, but the day wasnt a total loss because after all I had twocrates of pineapples in my trunk and if I ever had occasion to rent a car, then Icertainly knew where to go. Page 260 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” I CAN HELP YOU SIR.......NO THANKS, ILL WAIT FOR HIMJohn had recently broken up with his girlfriend. We were both working day andnight and it was becoming evident that he missed the companionship of a memberof the opposite sex. So one day unbeknownst to John I placed an ad in thepersonal column of the Fort Lauderdale News. I ran it for a week. The ad said asfollows: BIG NOSE And very little hair. But hes a great guy. Hes 46 years old. Hes my friend And I want to find a nice woman for him. Im his agent and everyone will be considered. Photo a must. Send replies to: Box 22, Fort Lauderdale NewsI told John what I did and of course he thought that I was nuts. Meanwhile as nuttyas I was he couldnt wait for the mail to be delivered to the office each day to see ifanyone was responding to the ad. And boy were they ever. We were like kids in acandy store for the first time. We averaged about ten letters a day. Virtually all ofthem had photos. What John soon found out was that most of the photos weretaken about ten or twenty years ago. And the women who didnt send photosinstead sent in its place excuses. Excuses like, "I wanted to take a recent picturebut my camera is broken." Or, "I just moved and havent unpacked any boxes as ofyet." The women had more excuses than Carter has pills and of course all lettersthat didnt have photos enclosed went to the bottom of the pile.For a period of two weeks my company‟s sales suffered because my crack salesperson would routinely come into the office bright and early and await the mail.Then after we both previewed the letters and photos John would place them in oneof three piles. The primary one was labeled the Immediate Response pile. Thesecond grouping was labeled the Ill Call Them Next Week pile and the last set ofrespondents was labeled the Ill Call Them When Hell Freezes Over pile. That washis infamous third pile.Finally after John and I read the letters and looked at the photos he would go towork on the phones..............not for me though. Instead he would call the womenwho wrote to him and arrange to meet them at a restaurant for a cup of coffee.Most of his encounters took place during the day.............during working hours.Hence the decrease in production. But the resulting stories of his potential Page 261 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”conquests seemed to be a fair trade off for his lack of productivity.John would arrange sometimes as many as four or five meetings with these womenduring the day. Of course John had a distinct advantage. He knew what theylooked like............or what they used to look like. All they knew about him wasthat he had a big nose and a receding hairline. There were many times that Johnwould walk into a restaurant and make an immediate U-turn. Usually for the samereason. Because the woman in the picture looked like she was thirty-five but inperson she looked closer to fifty-five.Towards the second week some of the letters we received had the same tone tothem. They usually started with, "Dear John, I was waiting for you in therestaurant but you never showed up. I hope everything is okay. Please call mebecause I am worried about you." John had no intentions of calling these womenagain, but he didnt discard their letters. Instead he just put them in his third pile.....Finally John met someone he liked. It looked like he was starting to get seriousabout her. As serious as you can get after seeing someone two days in a row. Onemorning John came into the office and said, "Boss, lets go where we can talk inprivate." We went into my office and closed the door. I told my secretary that untilfurther notice John and I didnt want to be disturbed. By now John had seen thiswoman on three consecutive nights. John went on to tell me that he took her todinner last night. During their time in the restaurant she had made it very clear tohim that she wanted to become intimate after they finished dinner. John, being thetype of guy that he is didnt want to disappoint her, so he readily accepted herinvitation. She then went on to tell him that he had to have protection before shewould go to bed with him. As I stated earlier John was 46 years old and he hadntused a prophylactic in over twenty years. John then asked her if she had any withher and she said of course not. Then John asked her if she would please go into thepharmacy when they finished dinner and buy the prophylactics because he was tooembarrassed to do so. Once again she said no. John told her that he just couldntgo into a drug store and ask for prophylactics. She told him that it wasnt aproblem, but the only thing that John could look forward to at the end of theevening was a good night kiss. John immediately rethought his position and afterdinner was completed they both drove to a pharmacy. She waited in the car andJohn walked inside.John walked to the back of the store, towards the pharmaceutical department and awoman behind the register said, "May I help you sir?" John replied, "No, Im justlooking around." "What are you looking for sir?" "I dont know. Just looking. Page 262 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Thank you anyways." A few minutes went by and the woman once again said,"May I help you sir?" John looked at her and said that he was waiting for thepharmacist (who happened to be a man). She told John that she could help him,but he insisted on waiting for the pharmacist. Finally another customer came up tothe register and while the woman was waiting on her John went up to thepharmacist and motioned for him to come up to the counter. John then whisperedto him, "I need some rubbers," and the pharmacist, who must have been an M.C.comedian on the side, blurted out for all within earshot to hear, "Oh, you wantprophylactics? There they are, right in back of you. Right next to the aspirin. Wehave rib tipped, lubricated, extra-large." In the meantime John is turning a brightshade of red. "Which one do you want sir?"It had been quite some time since John had bought prophylactics and through theyears there have been many changes associated with them. One of the majorchanges, as John found out that day, was that prophylactics are no longer sold frombehind the counter. Rather they are on display for all to see next to all the otheritems that are traditionally stocked on the shelves of your local drugstore.And so in some ways one could say that John got screwed twice that night. Onceby his female companion and once by the pharmacist. Page 263 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” MAY I HAVE YOUR SIGNATURE MR. CATONAI had a company called J.A.C. Marketing. It was named after my wife, Joy AnnChanzes. She was raising our children, keeping the house clean, doing the weeklyshopping and also working forty hours a week in the office. And with no pay. Ifigured the least I could do was name my company after her. It gave her a lot ofprestige and it also kept my payroll taxes down.When prospective sales people came up to our office in answer to my advertising, Iusually did the interviewing. One day a woman came up to our office to apply fora job. She looked very snobbish. So much so that I didnt want to interview her soI asked John if he wouldnt mind doing it. He readily agreed and ushered her intomy office. I went into the customer service department and one of my employees,Harvey Mandel was there along with some other people. Harvey was in his mid-thirties. Id say that he was 56" tall and maybe 115 pounds soaking wet. Helooked like a string bean. A string bean with hair. Lots of hair. In all actualityHarvey looked like a skinny gorilla because his body was loaded with hair. Black,bushy hair. All over his arms, his chest, his legs. You would have had to hire DickTracy to find flesh on Harveys body. Thats how much hair he had. He even had athick beard along with his full head of hair. The only thing you could see on hisface was his nose, his eyes and his ears. Everything else was hair.I went up to Harvey and asked him to do me a favor. I gave him a blank yellowlegal pad and told him to go into my office and have John put his signature at thebottom of the first page. Harvey said to me, "Steve, the page is blank." I said,"Dont worry. Just have John sign it." With that Harvey takes the pad from me andstarts to leave when suddenly I grab his arm and tell him, "But first take your pantsoff." He yells back at me, "Take my pants off? I cant do that." I quickly took outa twenty dollar bill and handed it to him and just as quickly he started to removehis pants. Harvey was wearing red B.V.D.s and unlike most Jewish men, Harveywas in full bloom. It was either that or he had a lot of hair there too. I dont know.But he gave new meaning to Gods words that Jews were the chosen people.....Atleast Harvey was.As Harvey was removing his pants he looked up at me and said, "Steve, you knowyou are a crazy man. Real crazy." I said to him, "Harvey, there you are in your redunderwear, holding a yellow legal pad with no writing on it and youre about towalk in on John while he is in the middle of an interview with a woman to ask himfor his signature and you have the nerve to say that IM CRAZY?" Page 264 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”And so Harvey trotted off to see John. He walked in and asked him for hissignature. John by now was used to my shenanigans and acted nonchalant as hesigned his name on the blank paper. The woman took one look at Harvey, stood upand said to John that she would prefer not to work here and then she left.I often wondered if she would have stayed if Harvey was wearing blue underwear? Page 265 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” DONT ANSWER THE DOORMy company was growing. I moved to larger quarters. The move was exciting formany reasons, one of which was that I now had for the very first time my ownprivate bathroom. I had a new large office, and off in the corner was my very owncommode. It was big and spacious. No longer would I take refuge in thebathroom only to hear one of my employees yelling at me, "You know Steve, thereare other people who have to use the bathroom." And no longer would I enter abathroom only to start gagging from the odors emanating from it. Finally I hadachieved success.We were in an office complex on the first floor. Entry was from the street, ratherthan the building. The previous tenant had installed an elaborate security systemon the premises. One of the features was an automatic lock on the front entrancedoor. The secretary had to press a button which would deactivate the lock in orderfor anyone to gain admittance to our office.One day I was handling a very important telephone call when John brought agentleman into my office for an interview. John told him to sit down and wait forme to finish my call. As I was talking on the phone the fellow got up and started towalk away from my desk. I kept up the conversation on the phone but my eyesstarted to follow him and before you know it he disappeared into my bathroom. Iwas fuming. This stranger was using my bathroom. I didnt even permit my wifeto use my bathroom but this stranger was using it. I was very upset. Just as Ifinished with my phone call, the fellow came out of the bathroom as if there wasnothing wrong. I didnt even say hello to him. I just looked at him and said,"Follow me. I want to show you something." He had no idea what I was doing orwas about to do. I walked out past my secretary to the front door. I opened it andsaid to him, "Did you happen to see that when you walked in?" He said to me,"See what? What are you talking about?" I told him to look outside and he wouldunderstand. He walked outside and I shut the door. The door with the automaticlock. As I walked back in I told my secretary that this guy would probably startbanging on the door. "Just ignore him and whatever you do, dont let him in."Then I went and told the rest of my staff the same thing. I told them to just goabout their business and ignore the fellow who by now was knocking on the door.And knock he did. For about fifteen minutes he would alternately knock on thedoor and then ring the bell. People in my office would walk by the front door andthis guy couldnt figure out why no one would acknowledge him. And we couldntfigure out why he wouldnt just go away. Finally he got down on his knees and Page 266 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”opened up the mail slot and yelled through it, "THE KEYS TO MY CAR ARE ONHIS DESK." One of my employees Richard Olzewski, or Ski, as we called him,went and retrieved this fellows keys from my office. Ski opened up the mail slotand passed the keys through it. The fellow said to him, "Was it because I used hisbathroom?" Ski said to him, "Yeah. Nobody is allowed to use his bathroom. Noteven his wife. He gets real upset about that." "Tell him that Im a fantastic salesperson." Ski looked at him and said, "Im sure you are sir,................ but youshouldnt have used his bathroom. Page 267 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” PETSAll of our lives we have had pets, both dogs and cats. As we have found out,animals offer unconditional love. Just give them some food to eat, praise themwhen they do something well and pet them every now and then and you‟ve got afriend, a very good friend for life.We‟ve been blessed with very good friends. And what we have found out aboutour friends is that they are just like humans in the sense that they all are different inthe way that they relate to you. They all have their own distinct personality whichseparates them from other animals. Some are much smarter than others, some arefriendlier than others but they all share in one common trait and that is theirunconditional love for their owner(s).You can go to the pet cemetery in Broward County to visit our pets. Thatrepresents their final resting place after they pass on. When we go there we place alittle rock on each of their graves. A rock you ask? Yes, because in the Jewishtradition, whenever you visit a loved one‟s gravesite you are supposed to place arock on their grave to signify that they had a visitor. I told my wife and childrenthat when it comes my time to leave this earth, then the heck with Jewish tradition;don‟t place no rocks on my grave, but instead place a pastrami sandwich. I mean,what the hell am I going to do with a rock?For those of you who are not going to venture to the Broward Pet Cemetary, thenlet me tell you about some of our pets.Chanz – He was the first pet that Joy and I had. Chanz was a little mutt. Little butspiteful. Couldn‟t stand being left alone. Then again he wasn‟t so joyful whenpeople were around him either. He definitely had an attitude. One day when Joyand I had come home from work we were met by the apartment manager who in nouncertain terms told us that either Chanz or Joy and I had to go. It seems thatwhile we were at work, Chanz, who had the run of the apartment had torn thewindow shades to shreds. Well, it wasn‟t a difficult decision to make. Within aweek Joy and I along with Chanz moved to another apartment complex…onewithout window shades.Koko – She was our first cat. We got her when she was about eight weeks old.She was a bit nervous so that night we let her sleep in bed with us. Not too longafter all of us turned in for the night we heard a very distinct sound coming fromKoko. It was like a clicking noise. We thought that maybe she swallowed Page 268 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”something. We were about to take her down to the Veterinary hospital when Joysaid that we should call our tennis instructor Connie who had three or four catsliving with her. And so we called Connie, woke her up naturally, and told her theproblem that we were experiencing with Koko. Connie thought about it for nomore than a second and then asked us if we ever had a cat before. We told her thatKoko was our first cat. Connie then said, “relax, what Koko is doing isPURRING.” And for almost seventeen years Koko purred quite a lot and quiteloud. One day we noticed that Koko wasn‟t herself. She was very lethargic. Shewas nearing fourteen years of age and we were quite nervous so we took her to ourVet. Our Vet told us that Koko was in kidney failure and she advised us to put herdown. I said to the Vet, you know putting her down is kind of final. Isn‟t thereanything else that we could try in order to sustain her life? The Vet said that wecould try dialysis for Koko. It would necessitate us to bring Koko into the Vet‟soffice twice a week for twenty minutes a session and each session would last abouttwenty minutes; the cost would be $17.00 per session which wasn‟t so bad (I‟m ondialysis and I have to go three times a week, for four hours per session and the costruns into thousands of dollars). Fortunately I have insurance which picks up mytab. Joy and I had to pay for Koko‟s dialysis but it was something that we couldcertainly afford. Well, to make a long story short, Koko became like a newbornkitten and lived another 2 ½ years.Henry – Henry was a German Shepherd and far and away was the smartest animalthat we ever had. Henry was born to a liter of three. We went to the breeder‟shouse and saw Henry for the first time when he was about four weeks old. Floridalaw says that you can‟t take a newborn pet from their parents until they are eightweeks old. When we saw the three newborn puppies we immediately chose Henrybecause he had a very big nose. He was very different from his siblings. So fourweeks later we went back to the breeder and picked up Henry. We named himHenry in honor of my good friend John Catona. When John and I first startedworking together I noticed that he called every guy he would meet Henry andevery woman Henrietta. I asked him why he did that and he gave me a logicalexplanation. He told me that he was very bad with names and in this manner hejust had to remember two, Henry and Henrietta.So we brought Henry (the dog) home and the very next morning I went to get thepaper which was delivered every day to our house and I also took Henry for awalk. Henry finished doing what he had to do and we walked over to where themorning‟s paper lay and I placed it in Henry‟s mouth and started to walk with himback to the house. Henry knew that he was doing something good because he wasprancing to the house with his tail going a mile a minute. I never had to show Page 269 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”Henry what to do regarding the paper again. Every morning we would go out for awalk and every morning Henry would religiously pick up the paper and prancewith it into the house. Every morning except Sunday mornings. The Sunday paperis in most locales three to four times bigger than the weekday papers because of allthe advertising that accompanies it so when Henry would try to pick the paper upusually half of it would fall out of his mouth because he couldn‟t fit it all in.Henry was also a very observant dog. Our front door inside the house had a lockand a hook. You would unlock the door and then lift up the latch or hook to openup the door in order to go out. Henry took notice of it and one day after I unlockedthe door, Henry put his nose under the hook and lifted the hook up. He then movedbackwards with his nose firmly entrenched on the hook and the door would open.In the future, all I had to say to Henry was to open the door and that‟s what hewould do after I unlocked it.Henry also loved to go for rides in my car with me. All I had to say was, “Henry,do you want to go in the car?”, and he would go to the drawer where we kept hisleash. I would put the leash on him and he would walk with me to the door. Iwould unlock the door and Henry would open it. He then would run to my car andwait there patiently for me to come. One day I asked Henry if he wanted to go inmy car because I had to send out an envelope U.P.S. So there are Henry and I inmy car with me behind the wheel and this 125 pound German Shepherd sitting upin the passenger seat next to me. The 7-11 by my house had a U.P.Sdrop box, so that is where I headed. When I got there I got out of the car, toldHenry that I would be right back and walked the ten feet or so to the drop box,placed the envelope in it and turned to come back to the car and what I saw causedme to burst out in uncontrolled laughter. There was Henry, not where I left him butrather in the driver‟s seat. He had moved over into my seat, sat straight up and putboth of his front paws on the steering wheel. I opened the door and asked him if hebrought his license with him. Apparently he didn‟t because as soon as I opened thedoor he moved over to the passenger seat.All of our pets would sleep in bed with Joy and I. All of our pets with theexception of Henry. Henry had his own bedroom. Well not exactly his ownbedroom because he shared his with our son Jarrett. But he didn‟t share Jarrett‟sbed. Oh, no. Henry had his own bed and no one was allowed on it.Unfortunately Henry only lived five short years. One day he scampered down thestairs and collapsed at Joy‟s feet. She called our Vet and since they knew us very Page 270 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”well and since their office was only a mile away, one of the Vets came to our houseand gave Henry mouth to mouth resuscitation. It didn‟t work. He was gone. Wefound out that Henry‟s life was cut short by a condition all too common in largeanimals. His stomach twisted and it cut off his circulation. We were told that if ithad happened at the Vet‟s office they still wouldn‟t have been able to save himbecause death is virtually instantaneous.Krisi – Krisi was a Yellow Lab. Very smart and very affectionate. She used to siton our couch with us to watch television. She wouldn‟t lay down like other dogs,but rather sit up. I never saw any other dog do that. Krisi also loved to swim, somuch so that when we went into our pool she would follow by jumping in to it. Itgot to the point that you had to keep your eye on Krisi until she jumped into thepool because there were times that she would jump on us. We couldn‟t figure outwhy she would do that but then we realized that she thought that either Joy or Iwere in distress so she was trying to save us. Many times she would jump into thepool, swim up to us and push against us so that we in turn would grasp her collar.Once we did that she would swim to the steps leading into the pool.Devil – Devil was a German Shepherd. Her parents were police dogs. When wepicked Devil up, her owner showed us how her parents would react to commands,both oral and silent. It‟s amazing to know what can be done with a dog if you takethe time and effort to train them.One year Devil went into heat. We didn‟t want her to spot up the house so wecame up with the bright idea of putting bloomers on her. It would have been agood idea if only we had remembered that we had put the bloomers on her, but wedidn‟t. Sometime during the night Devil let us know that she had to go out, so welet her into the yard to do her thing. When she came back inside the house wenoticed a distinct odor as well as little droppings that Devil was leaving. Instead ofmaking her nightly deposit onto the grass outside, she made it into her bloomers.We took her into the garage, took off her bloomers and cleaned up the mess.Shortly thereafter we had Devil spayed and therefore she never had to wearbloomers again.We also had Charlie, a German Shepherd, Muffin, a gorgeous cat and our presentmenagerie, Zoey and Binx, our cats and Sammie and Maxie our Yellow Labs.You are and were all very special, very loved and your unconditional love for ushas made us better human beings. Page 271 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” HELP…THEY’RE TRYING TO KILL MEI went on Peritoneal Dialysis when I turned 60. As opposed to traditional dialysiswhich requires you to go to a dialysis center three days a week for usually fourhours at a time, Peritoneal Dialysis is done in the confines of your home, at night,while you are asleep. It has to be done every night, seven nights a week but itdoesn‟t really interfere with your lifestyle , due to the fact that you do it while youare sleeping. The one major drawback to Peritoneal Dialysis is that you are subjectto infections, major infections and because of that most people opt out ofPeritoneal Dialysis and instead take part in the traditional Hemodialysis which Iam now on. But, I learned the hard way, the very hard way.I started to experience pains in my stomach, which over the course of a few daysgrew worse and worse. It was so bad that at times I couldn‟t even stand up. I wentto my Nephrologist and he confirmed my worst fears. I acquired a major infectionin my stomach and I had to be hospitalized to clear it up. Well hospitals aren‟tnew to me as I was hospitalized no less than twelve times during 2010 and 2011.There were times that I felt I should have bought stock in the hospital because I feltlike a major contributor to their success.So there I am in my hospital bed and the pain was becoming excruciating. I wasliterally yelling at the top of my lungs. Thankfully I had a private room, notbecause I could afford it but because during one of my hospital stays I came downwith Mersa which is highly contagious; so on all future hospital stays I wasafforded a private room at the insurance companies expense.It was late at night and one of the nurses came into my room and gave me somemorphine. I had never had morphine before but I was acutely aware of the drugand what it could do which was to relieve pain……..but not this morphine. Afterabout ten minutes I‟m still racked with pain and the nurse administers someDemerol to me which had the same effect as the morphine……….no effect andI‟m still in pain and still yelling. Now the nurse comes in and this is all withintwenty or thirty minutes and gives me some oxycontin. It didn‟t take five minutesand all the pain was gone. Finally I would be able to go to sleep but just as I beganto close my eyes something came over me and I picked up the phone to call Joy. It Page 272 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”was about one or two in the morning. Joy picked up the phone and I said, “Hon,they‟re coming to kill me.” She said who‟s coming to kill you? I told her that theywere going to bomb the hospital, They were serious and they wanted me dead.Joy told me that all would be well and go to sleep and she would see me in themorning. I hung up the phone and instantly got out of bed. Now I was wearing ahospital gown which is cut out in the back. So there I was walking out my doorwith my left hand holding my gown closed in the back because I didn‟t want toexcite anyone. That‟s the type of person I am. My room was directly across fromthe nurse‟s station and all of a sudden one of the nurses yells out, “Steve, where doyou think you are going?” I told her that I was going to go to the hospital to takeJoy home at which point the nurse told me, “No Steve, you‟re the one in thehospital. Joy is at home. Now go back to bed.”I got up the next morning with vivid memories of the events of last night and tothis day if I am hospitalized I‟m given a wrist band which states all of themedications that I am allergic to and Oxycontin tops the list. Page 273 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE BITCH WONT SLEEP WALK NO MOREIve had a fair amount of friends in my life and they all seem to have one thing incommon........ Theyre all nuts. Now I dont know if its because I have a tendencyto attract people like that or if they have a proclivity to attract me, but almost all ofthem have been ten cents short of a dollar. And its not because, as the old sayinggoes, that opposites attract. Id rather believe it more closely resembles the otheradage, "Birds of a feather flock together."Back in the early 80s I became friendly with a fellow named Steve Crown. Steveand I had some great and memorable times together and if most of my friends werenuts, then Steve was the largest Pecan in the barrel.Steve was a night owl. He rarely went to bed before four in the morning and heusually slept until noon. He liked to stay up late just because it gave him anopportunity to enjoy some peace and quiet. Steve was married and had two sons.Whenever you walked into his house it was as if you were on the set of CNNsshow, Crossfire, because all you heard were the sounds of four people yelling ateach other. Nobody in his house, with the exception of his wife Sherry knew howto talk in a civil tone. And of course Steve had the loudest voice of all and it didnttake much to upset him. He didnt have a short fuse. He just didnt have a fuse atall.It was two in the morning and Steve was laying down on his living room couchwatching a movie when his wife walked out of the bedroom. This wasnt the firsttime that Sherry had gotten up in the wee hours of the morning, but it was about tobe her last. You see Sherry had a habit of sleep walking, a condition she had hadfor many years. Whenever this would happen Steve would wake her up and shewould go right back to bed. As usual, Steve woke her up..........but not in the usualway.Steve and Sherry lived in a private home and when Steve saw her sleep walking hequickly got up off the sofa and opened up the sliding glass door that led to thepatio. He then very gently guided his wife through the living room towards theopen door and onto the patio. Now the patio overlooked their pool and Stevepointed his wife in its direction. In less than thirty seconds Sherry took that onebig, final step. The one that took her into the pool. She started floundering around,crying for help and all Steve could do was yell out at the top of his lungs,"THATLL TEACH YOU TO SLEEPWALK," and he walked back into the houseto finish watching his movie. The fact that his wife couldnt swim didnt seem to Page 274 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”bother Steve at all.Thankfully the story had a happy ending as two unexpected things wereaccomplished that night. First of all Sherry learned how to swim, which just goesto prove that youre never too old to learn and secondly she never sleepwalkedagain. Page 275 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” ITS SEVEN OCLOCK...............GO TO YOUR ROOMSteves mother in- laws name was Carla. Of all the meshugana friends I have everhad, Steve was definitely Commander in Chief. And if Carla would have been myfriend, then she would have been second in command. She put up with atremendous amount of abuse from Steve and the only way I can rationalize it, isthat she wasnt dealing with a full deck. Not even a pinochle deck. I mean therewere an awful lot of cards missing.Now you must understand that when I first met Steve he wasnt a kid. At least notchronologically. When I first met him, he had just turned forty. Forty, going ontwelve. And Im being generous.Carla lived about a block away from Steve and Sherry. One day Steve called Carlaat her place and said that Sherry needed to see her right away. Like a dutifulmother, Carla came right over. Steve was looking out his window, awaiting herarrival. When he saw her walking towards the house he opened up his window andbrought over a hose that he had hooked up to the sink in preparation for his motherin-laws visit. As she approached the front door he turned the hose on andsaturated her. And of all the pranks that Steve played on his mother in-law, thisone by far was the funniest, most innocent one of all.......But the following one wasprobably the cruelest.Carla couldnt afford to live by herself anymore so she asked her daughter if shecould move in with her. Steves immediate reaction was a negative one, but finallyhe consented. Steve converted his garage into a bedroom for Carla. On the dayshe moved in he let her know she was to go to her room at seven each night. Stevewas emphatic in his demands. He reasoned that he would only entertain a minordisruption to his life and if he could keep his mother in-law out of his sight fromseven at night until seven in the morning, then the thought of having Carla move inwould be tolerable to him.Steve also felt that there had to be a "breaking in" period. Sort of like when youbring home a new puppy. Except Steve didnt exhibit the same amount of patiencethat a dog owner would. Steve made sure that Carla was house broken the veryfirst night.Everyone had finished eating dinner around six thirty and they were all in theliving room watching television. As soon as the clock struck seven, Steve toldCarla to say good night to everyone. Carla did as she was told and got up from her Page 276 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”chair, said good night to everyone and walked off to her room. Steve wasfollowing behind her and as soon as she entered her room he quickly closed thedoor and put a combination padlock on it. Carla yelled out, "What are you doing?"Steve told her that he padlocked the door and he would let her out at seven in themorning. Once again Carla yelled out, "OPEN THE DOOR BECAUSE IVE GOTTO GO TO THE BATHROOM." Steve yelled back, "CARLA, I TOLD YOUTHAT YOU HAD TO BE IN YOUR ROOM BY SEVEN. YOU SHOULD HAVEGONE TO THE BATHROOM BEFORE. ITS TOO LATE NOW. YOULLHAVE TO HOLD IT IN UNTIL THE MORNING." Carla pleaded with Steve tolet her out, but he wouldnt give in to her wishes.Promptly at seven oclock the next morning Steve unlocked the door and let hismother in-law out of her room..............But by then she didnt have to go to thebathroom anymore. Page 277 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE HELLS ANGELS MOTORCYCLE GANGIt was around nine in the evening. Joy and I were watching television when wenoticed a light from the street shining into our living room. I peeked out throughthe blinds and I saw a police car parked in my driveway. I walked outside and Iwas confronted by a policeman who asked me if I was Mr. Chanzes. I replied thatI was and he asked me if the motorcycle gang had left and did they do anydamage? I said, "What motorcycle gang?" He then told me that his departmentreceived a phone call from me, no less than ten minutes ago stating that the HellsAngels motorcycle gang was terrorizing my house. I said, "Officer, unfortunatelysomeone has just played a cruel, practical joke. I dont know who it was, but I canassure you that everything has been peaceful around our house." As the officer leftI walked back into my house wondering who would have played a joke like thatand the one name that stuck out far and above the rest was.........Steve Crown.I got on the phone and called Steve. He thought what he did was hilarious......OnlyI wasnt laughing. I told him that I would get even and the only way I would stopis if he cried out "Uncle." Thats when he started to do his imitation of WinstonChurchill. Because all I heard him say was, "NEVAH, NEVAH, NEVAH."It was now ten at night. Steve finally did say uncle, although it took him six hoursto do it. At four in the morning his white flag finally went up, but not beforescores of people visited him.I had various restaurants deliver food to his house. Just about every cab driver inBroward County came to his door to give him a ride to the airport. Everylocksmith, every plumber, every electrician, every alarm company. They allshowed up at his house for emergency repairs. I went through the yellow pagesand called any service company that made house calls.Finally, at around four in the morning, my phone rang. It was Steve. Now Stevewas a good sport with regards to my shenanigans. He could take it as well as dishit out, but he said that it ceased to be funny when the coroner came to remove hisbody. He then uttered the magic word. "Uncle." Page 278 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE HAWKTheres an expression that is used to characterize people who are a bit ditzy or notall there and the expression is, "Theyre out to lunch." Well I have a friend by thename of Patty who is not only out to lunch,............but breakfast and dinner as well.His real name is Patty but if you saw his nose then you would know why they callhim The Hawk. The Hawk is a Philadelphia boy, living there most of his life,except for six months when he came to live with Joy and I.To say that The Hawk is different from most people would be the understatementof the year. I mean do you know anyone who tips toll booth collectors? The Hawkdoes. Do you know anyone who goes to the barbershop two or three times a week?Yep, The Hawk does.Joy and I made arrangements for The Hawk to fly down to Florida and stay with usfor a spell. The night he arrived was one of the most memorable nights of ourlives. I had a gizmo about three inches by six inches that operated off of a remote.I planted the gizmo in Patty‟s room, plainly out of sight. Eventually Joy, I andPatty said goodnight and went into our respective bedrooms. We peeked out ourbedroom door and waited for the lights in Patty‟s room to go off, signifying hewent to bed. That‟s when the fun began. I pressed the remote and all of a suddenin Patty‟s room we heard, “Get the fuck up.” The light in Patty‟s room went onand immediately thereafter I pressed the remote again and we heard, “You lazybastard.” With that Patty ran out of his room and went into the kitchen. Joy and Iwere bent over in laughter. We came out of our bedroom and asked Patty what wasall the commotion about. He told us that someone was outside his bedroomwindow shouting obscenities and he was going to get a knife, go outside and scarethe intruder away. Joy and I couldn‟t contain our laughter and eventually we toldPatty what we had done. The Hawk put the knife back into the drawer and wentback to bed…….he didn‟t share our humor.The Hawk is a major gambler. He‟ll bet on anything. He‟ll bet if the sun willcome up tomorrow, how many times you‟ll go to the bathroom, total number ofpoints scored in a basketball game, etc., etc. You name it and he‟ll bet it. One timehe was given the name of a horse that couldn‟t lose. Patty told all his friends aboutit and before you know it he had a small fortune that they all had given him toplace a bet on the horse. Keep in mind that The Hawk has been betting his entire Page 279 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”life on sure bets and you can count how many winners he‟s had on yourfingers……………and you‟ll still have ten fingers left. Anyways, The Hawk is offto the track in his brand new Cadillac………………Well, not exactly brand new.It was ten years old but The Hawk just bought it. As he‟s driving he notices that heneeds gas. He pulls into a station that had a few cars ahead of him. Time wasgrowing short. He had to make it to the track. He looks across the street and seesanother service station; only this one didn‟t have any customers. The Hawk pullsout of the crowded station and heads across the street to the empty station. He rollsdown his window and says to the approaching service attendant, “Fill err up.” Theattendant says, “Sir.” With that The Hawk says, “Don‟t sir me, just fill err up.”Once again the attendant tries to say something and this time The Hawk says,” Ifyou don‟t fill this fuckin car up I‟m gonna smash your head into my windshield.”With that the attendant fills up the Cadillac, The Hawk pays him and naturallygives him a tip and then The Hawk proceeds to the track………. But he didn‟t getvery far. About a block from the service station The Hawk‟s car began to sputter.You see the reason there wasn‟t anyone at that service station was because theyonly had diesel fuel. The Hawk never made it to the race track, the horse won andPatty had to pay about one thousand dollars to have his tank flushed.The Hawk met this girl Sherry in San Francisco. Patty liked her and after Sherry‟smother passed away and left her three million bucks, why Patty liked her evenmore. She moved in with Patty for a few months. Then The Hawk had a brightidea. Why not retire to Mexico. Sherry wasn‟t a dummy. She wanted to knowhow The Hawk could retire to Mexico if he wasn‟t working. Patty told her not toconfuse him with facts and off they went to Mazatlan, Mexico and had a homebuilt for them. The Hawk was living the life of Reilly. He would go out everymorning and golf with his buddies. After golf they would go to the 19 th hole forlunch. Then they would settle down and play cards until five or six at night. Pattywould go home, tired from a hard day‟s retirement and grab a sandwich and go tobed only to repeat this process the next day and every day thereafter. As I said,Sherry was no dummy. She wanted to know when The Hawk would have sometime for her. Patty‟s reply was always, “Hon, I‟m tired.” This went on for almost ayear when finally Sherry kicked Patty out of the house………………But he didn‟tleave quietly. No, not at all. Somehow, someway The Hawk convinced Sherry togive him $500 a month in alimony. That lasted for well over two years beforeSherry stopped paying him…………………….Well, I told you she„s no dummyPatty has a girlfriend……..at least she thinks she‟s Patty‟s girlfriend. She giveshim money every so often so he can feed his gambling habit and in return he goesup to her house to play “let‟s hide the bologna.” One day she asked Patty why he Page 280 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”never takes her out to a restaurant or a movie and Patty gave a classic reply, “It‟snot dark enough.”Patty recently underwent a minor operation whereby he had to be sedated. Hisgirlfriend asked him if she could come to his hospital room when he came out ofrecovery and once again Patty issued a quick response, which was, “Why the fuckwould I want to wake up and look at you.”……………….and she still lets himcome to her house and she still gives him gambling money. Amazing.Patty grew up in Philadelphia and was boyhood friends with John Catona. Theycame to Florida together and through John I met Patty. The best way to describePatty is that he was an accident going to a place to happen. Wherever you foundtrouble, then you probably found Patty. He was a miniature version of "TheTerminator," a potent character popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yet asvicious as he could be, he was also one of the nicest people you could have as afriend, and besides, if Patty was your friend then you knew that no one would everdare bother you.Patty is about 56" tall. Very lean, trim and powerful. His nickname is the Hawk,because his nose looks like a birds beak. Long and curving downwards. He didntmind being called the Hawk, but you could never call him shorty, which was areference to his height. He couldnt stand anyone calling him shorty. Hed clockyou for doing that. Hed put your lights out. And he didnt care who you were.He was a bartender at the prestigious Boca Raton Hotel and Country Club in BocaRaton, Florida. It‟s an expensive and luxurious resort that accommodates very richand famous people. A Sheik from Saudi Arabia along with his entourage wasoccupying two complete floors at the hotel. They had been there for two weeksand their tab was already well over a hundred thousand dollars. They hadintentions of staying another two weeks except one day the Sheik got Patty realmad and all hell broke loose. Well, actually all hell didnt break loose.................butPatty did.The Sheik and some of his Sheikettes came down to the bar for a drink. Patty wason duty that day. There were a lot of people around the bar. It was very hectic.Patty was doing the best he could to see that everyone was being waited on asquickly as possible. The Sheik was growing impatient. He yelled out across thebar, "Hey shorty, how about some drinks?" Now Patty could be in a crowdedfootball stadium with 75,000 fans standing on their feet screaming at the top of Page 281 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”their lungs for the home team, but if anyone said the word shorty, Patty would hearit. Well this wasnt a stadium with 75,000 screaming fans. It was just a bar withmaybe thirty customers in it. Patty heard the word shorty and immediately startedwalking towards the Sheik. Patty looked at the Sheik and he said to him, "Excuseme. What did you say?" The Sheik said, "I asked you for a drink." Patty then saidto him, "No, no. What did you say before you asked me for a drink?," and theSheik responded, "All I said was hey Shorty, can I have a drink? Why? Dont youlike it when people call you shorty?" And then the Sheik turned around to thepeople near him and started to laugh. Before the Sheik knew what had happened,Patty put his hands behind the Sheiks head and slammed his face onto the bar.That move broke the Sheiks nose. Patty continued his assault on the Sheik. Eachtime he slammed the Sheiks head onto the bar, Patty would yell out, "Now Sheiky,whats my name?" The poor Sheik couldnt talk. Well he wasnt really poor. As amatter of fact he was very rich, but nevertheless he still couldnt talk. He was abloody mess. The Sheik left the hotel the next day. He never paid his bill and thehotel didnt press him for the money. They were just glad that he didnt sue them.As for Patty, the hotel management fired him that night. Patty asked them if theywould give him a good recommendation. They just saw what Patty did to theSheik. They didnt want a repeat of the event, so they assured Patty that theywould only have nice things to say about him to any prospective employer.Patty then went and got a job as a bartender at the Palm Aire Country Club inPompano, Florida. The Palm Aire was also an exclusive resort that was knownworldwide for its health spa. People such as Jackie Gleason and Elizabeth Taylorused to frequent the place from time to time.One night Patty was tending bar. It was very crowded and a man sat down atPattys station and very politely and in a barely audible voice asked him for a beer.Patty looked at him and said, "Excuse me, but aint you Paul Newman?" The guysaid that he was. With that Patty says to him, "Now listen. You cant walk in hereand whisper to me, can I please have a beer? Youre Paul Newman. I want you totalk like youre Paul Newman. What I want you to do is this." And with that Pattyslams his fist on the bar and yells out, "IM PAUL NEWMAN AND I WANT ABEER." "Now let me see you do that Mr. Newman." And just a few momentslater there was Paul Newman, slamming his fist on the bar, yelling out at the top ofhis lungs, "IM PAUL NEWMAN. LET ME HAVE A BEER."Paul Newman made a lot of new friends that night. He bought a couple of roundsof drinks for everyone and enjoyed himself until the wee hours of the morningwhen the bar had to finally close down. Page 282 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE, A VALET?One evening Patty, John and I were going out to dinner at the 15th Street Fishery,located in Fort Lauderdale on,.........thats right........................15th street.Patty was a compulsive gambler and on this night he had bet a few hundred with abookie on his favorite baseball team, the Philadelphia Phillies. On our way over tothe restaurant Patty was listening to the game on the radio. The Phillies weretrailing in the game and each time they made an out Pattys voice would rise,uttering one obscenity after another. Patty was upset for a couple of reasons. Firstof all he hated to see his team lose and secondly he also hated to part with threehundred dollars. Three hundred dollars that he didnt have in the first place. But alack of money had never stopped Patty from gambling before. Somehow he wouldalways survive, probably because he could be a mean son of a bitch and no bookiewould dare threaten Patty with bodily harm if he didnt pay up. I could visualizethe bookie telling Patty, "Dont worry; if you cant pay me this week, then you canpay me next week. Dont worry." And Patty didnt.John was the driver on that particular night and as it turned out we were lucky thathe was. John to this day will never let anyone valet park his car because of theway some of them drive, so when we arrived at the restaurant John drove arounduntil he found a place to park. Most of that night John and I were alone at thedinner table because Patty was hanging out at the bar watching the game ontelevision. Every now and then Patty would come to the table and utter a curseword because his Phillies were losing and then he would return to the bar tocontinue watching the game.Dinner was over and the Phillies were about to come up for their last turn at bat inthe bottom of the ninth inning. They were down by three runs. There was still achance that they could pull it off. As a matter of fact there were two chances thatthey could do it. Slim and none, and slim was half way out of town. I had to go tothe mens room and Patty was in a rush to get to the car so he could hear the finalinning on the radio. John said that he and Patty would get the car and they wouldmeet me out front.When I walked outside I saw both John and Patty by the valet stand. When theywere walking towards the car they noticed that there was a television next to thekey rack. Patty asked the attendant if he could watch the last inning of the gameand the fellow said sure. In the meantime the attendant had gone off to retrieve a Page 283 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”car for one of the restaurant patrons and that left John, Patty and I standing by thevalet counter. To the uninformed, you would think that we were the valetattendants.Meanwhile the Phillies had one man on base and there was one out. They werestill in the game. Pattys eyes were riveted on the screen when this couple walk outof the restaurant and come up to the valet stand and hand John their ticket. Johnsays to them, "Which one is your car?" The guy told John that he had a blueCadillac. John then turns to Patty and says, "Hawk, this guy and woman have ablue Cadillac. Go get it for them please." At that moment Patty went crazy. Heyelled out, "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK I AM, THE VALET? LETTHEM GET THE FUCKIN CAR THEMSELVES." And with that Patty lifts upthe board that had the keys to about fifty cars on it and he throws it to the ground,sending the keys flying off in different directions. The guy who gave John theticket for his car was standing there with his mouth wide open in disbelief and thenJohn yells out, “Cmon, lets get out of here before the cops come."We made it to our car and hightailed it out of there. As we were peeling out of theparking lot, Patty turns on the radio only to hear the Phillies make the third andfinal out and lose the game.The Phillies lost the game but they could return and play again the following dayon the same field. Patty not only lost three hundred dollars but he also forfeited theright to return to the 15th Street Fishery.........Most people that run afoul of the lawhave their picture positioned and hanging in the post office. Not Patty. His pictureis on display in a restaurant................. ..................................And by a valet stand. Page 284 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” IS THERE ANY NAME THAT I CAN USE?I had just opened up a telemarketing firm called DuPont Specialty Company, Inc. Ihadnt been in business for more than a week when one day as I was walkingthrough the sales room I overheard John talking to a prospective customer. John,to his credit, was always very innovative, especially when it came to making sales.As I passed by his desk I heard him say into the phone, "You know, DuPont. Aname you can trust." I liked the sound of it. It had a nice ring to it. It soundedclassy to me. I immediately called my printer and ordered a new set of stationeryand envelopes. They looked just like this: DUPONT Specialty Company, Inc. "A Name You Can Trust"The business was doing very well. I had about ten sales people working for meand while I had only had the company for a couple of months, it was apparent thatI would soon have to give thought to expansion. Thats a problem every businessperson should have.Then one day I received a letter from an attorney who represented a company thatbore a name similar to mine. The name of the firm that he represented was E. I.DuPont, DeNemour. The attorney for E. I. DuPont stated in his letter that if Ididnt cease and desist from using the name DuPont Specialty Company, then hewas instructed by his client to proceed with civil litigation against my firm.I went to see my attorney and he told me that E. I. DuPont had no legal right tostop me from using my company name and slogan. I felt gratified to hear that.And then he wrote a letter to E. I. DuPonts attorney stating his opinion in thematter.About two weeks later the attorney wrote his own letter of opinion to my legaladvisor. And his opinion hadnt changed one iota. His client was ready to proceedwith a lawsuit if I didnt cease using the name DuPont Specialty Company.It seemed grossly unfair. I had applied for and received an occupational licensefrom the city and county that I resided in to open a business under the name Ichose, and in addition the state of Florida granted me corporate status for the nameDuPont Specialty Company, Inc. I was irate. So much so that I decided to take onE. I. DuPont and its high priced lawyers. Page 285 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”My attorney felt that I could beat them hands down and he was elated that I was aman of principle. He said that if I prevailed in court then the other company wouldhave to pay my attorneys fees. I was charged up and ready to do battle. Then myattorney told me that it would cost me approximately $50,000 to defend myself.So much for principle.I was in the marketing business. I always felt that one of the major keys to successis to get the attention of your prospect as quickly as possible. Get their interestpeeked and theyll listen to your spiel. And I felt that one of the best ways ofgetting their attention is by the very name of your business. It should be somethingdifferent. A name that indicates "Grandness." A name that gives the impressionthat youre a huge company. A name that provokes thought. A name that is notonly distinct but one that has a hint of familiarity to it. DuPont had that ring to itbut I had to give it up.But finally I came up with another name. I called the state of Florida and they toldme that it was available and I could incorporate it. I called the county and cityoccupational license bureaus and they too approved my new business name. I thenapplied for incorporation and within a week of the demise of DuPont, I had a newcorporate entity. One that was more majestic in stature than any that I had had inthe past or for that matter would ever have in the future. My new company wascalled: Page 286 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” THE U.S. BUREAU OF RECORDS, INC.Within a month business was booming. I was sending out thousands of letters aday to residents throughout the United States, giving them an opportunity topurchase recreational gift ware. Those people that were interested would call myoffice and speak to one of my sales representatives to inquire about my offer andthen it was up to my reps to close the deal.Once again business was going great, but in the back of my mind I kept wonderingif I was going to get another letter from some attorney telling me that I couldnt usethe name I had chosen for my business.But this time I didnt get a letter..................Instead I was paid a personal visit by amember of the FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement). He literallystormed into my office and demanded to know why I was deceiving people bytelling them that my company was the U.S. Bureau of Records. He read me theriot act and then after he calmed down I pointed towards my occupational licensesthat were hanging on the wall and then I showed him a copy of the Articles ofIncorporation that the state of Florida had sent to me which gave me authorizationto use the name U.S. Bureau of Records, Inc.He looked at me with complete amazement. This tough talking guy who just aminute ago was threatening me, all of a sudden turned very timid and he said, "Youmean that the state of Florida said that you could use this name?" Once again Ipointed to the paperwork. He scratched his head and walked out.About two weeks later my wife called to tell me that she just had a nice visit froma member of the F.B.I. Joy said that he wanted to talk to me at his office regardingmy new company. I called him up and made an appointment to see him.We sat across the table from each other. He was very professional, very courteous.He wanted to know why I had chosen the name U.S. Bureau of Records and I thenexplained my reasoning. He asked me to explain in detail the operations of thecompany. After I had finished enumerating my companies marketing plan, theagent looked at me and said, "Steve, youre not doing anything wrong. As a matterof fact I think it was ingenious on your part to come up with the name for yourfirm. BUT, because we constantly receive complaints on your company for noother reason than the name you are using, I will always have to maintain an openfile and continually investigate you in order to satisfy my superiors. Now, let memake this clear. Youre not in violation of any laws. None whatsoever. But every Page 287 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”time we get a complaint, then we have to investigate. So the choice is yours. Youcan stay in business using the name U.S. Bureau of Records or you can utilize yourmarketing skills and come up with another, less offensive name."I gave some thought to calling my attorney to fight this bureaucratic quagmire thatI had fallen into, but after some prudent deliberation I realized that $50,000 wouldonly be a down payment on this case.Once again principle gave way to reasoning. Page 288 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” JAMES "BURNELL" BELLSo you the reader can have a better understanding of my friend Jim Bell, let medescribe how I have listed him in my telephone directory. I have the usual fields ofinformation in there such as name, address, city, state, zip, phone, etc. I also haveone field titled "Children." When you look up Jim Bell in my telephone directoryyou will see the following comments in some of the listed fields.Name: James "Burnell" Bell City: Kingman State: AZChildren: He keeps looking up in the sky for the stork.Every now and then as we travel the many "highways of life" we meet someonewho leaves an indelible impression on our minds. During my life I have met a fewpeople who fit that pattern and one such individual is James Burnell Bell, or Jim. Ifirst met Jim in 1987 when he came to work for my company, Ewing FairchildInternational Corporation. At the time Jim was 25 years old, or so he thought. Hewas a former high school and college football player out of Colorado. He was bigand strong and very likable.........and also very gullible. In addition he was a veryhard worker who rose through the ranks to become a sales manager at mycompany. We still to this very day maintain a close relationship, even though Jimhas since moved back to Arizona.Prior to moving to Florida, Jim grew up in Golden, Colorado, which was famousfor producing Coors Beer. He was a motorcycle cop and he was probably the onlyone in the history of Golden, Colorado who got a severe reprimand for doing hisjob......................At least thats what Jim says, but you be the judge.Jim had gotten up on the wrong side of bed one day, as we all do from time to time.He was on his motorcycle and had come to a stop at a red light when this car pullsup to him. The driver rolls down his window and says to Jim, "Officer. I dontthink that my speedometer is working properly. Would you please do me a favorand follow me and then Ill signal you when my speedometer says that Im doingthirty miles per hour. Then you can tell me the actual rate of speed that I amtraveling." Without hesitation Jim said that he would do it. The light turned greenand the guy starts to drive off with Jim right beside him. Suddenly the driver of thecar turns to Jim and says, "Officer, my speedometer says that Im doing thirty milesper hour. What is my actual speed?" "Sir, youre actually doing thirty-five and thisis a thirty mile per hour zone. Pull over." The driver did as he was told and Jimgave him a speeding ticket. The fellow then registered a complaint and Jimreceived a reprimand. Jim still cant figure out what he did wrong. Page 289 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”In 1988 Joy and I moved to a larger house. We sold our former home to Jim. Hewas jumping for joy because this was the first house he had ever bought. And Illnever forget the day he came back from the bank after applying for a home loan.He was a bit despondent. I couldnt figure it out and the first thing that wentthrough my mind was that he was turned down. I asked him what was the matterand he replied, "Steve, the bank officer told me that I was 27 years old." I said,"So?" "But Steve, I only thought I was 26. I dont know how I misplaced one fullyear."I told Jim that I truly hoped he did well in his position as a sales manager because Iknew for sure that he could never be my accountant. Page 290 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” WHAT IF I DIDNT HAVE ANY MONEY?Jim and I both lived in the same community of Coral Springs, a relatively smallsized city ten miles west of Fort Lauderdale. One day Jim had to bring his car intothe repair shop and at the end of the day he asked me if I would give him a lifthome because his car still wasnt ready. I told him that not only would I take himhome, but Id also take him out to dinner.After we finished eating I asked Jim if he wouldnt mind dropping over at myhouse for an hour or two so we could play some video games. Now Jim was awareof the reputation I had of inviting some of the guys over to the house to play videogames for an hour or so and ultimately that hour lasted until the wee hours of themorning. Since Jim didnt have a car, he couldnt risk the possibility of such anevent happening.I told Jim that we would just play a few games and then I would take him home,but my reputation had preceded me and he said no. I told him that if he couldnt atleast come to my house and play a couple of games with me then I wasnt going togive him a lift home. He thought that I was bluffing, so I got into my car anddrove off........without Jim.The next morning Jim came into my office and told me that he couldnt believe thatI left him stranded at the restaurant. I asked him how he got home and he told methat he called a cab. And then Jim said to me, "Steve, what if I didnt have anymoney on me? Then I really would have been stranded with no way to get homeother than by walking at least five miles." I said, "Jim, in a case like that, all youhave to do is give the cab driver a bogus address. One that is two or three blocksaway from your house. When the cabbie pulls up to the address you gave him,simply open the door and run like hell. By doing that you will have caught him offguard and he wont know what to do. And if you do it at night when its darkoutside, then hell lose sight of you very quickly and youll be home free." Jim justkind of looked at me rather oddly and then went back to work.About three weeks later, a couple of my employees, Mark and Paul, who lived withJim, came into my office hysterical with laughter. They said, "Steve, youre notgoing to believe what happened to Jim last night?" They went on to tell me that hewas all right but he was going to be a little late today because he just went to bed.I excitedly said, "Just went to bed? What do you mean he just went to bed? Itseight oclock in the morning. Hes supposed to be at work. Doesnt he value hisjob?" Then they told me what seemed to be an unbelievable story, and if it would Page 291 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”have happened to anyone else, then I wouldnt have believed it. But it didnthappen to someone else. It happened to Jim Bell and thats why I knew it was true.Mark and Paul went on to tell me that Jim was at a bar last night and he had onedrink too many. Actually, the way they relayed the story to me, Jim probably hadten drinks too many. In any event Jim was pie eyed, inebriated, and just plaindrunk as a skunk as they say. What made matters worse is that he had gonethrough all of his money. He had no way to get home. But then a light bulb wentoff in Jims head as he suddenly remembered the conversation we had had not toolong ago.Jim then called a cab company and did what I had jokingly told him. Well, healmost did what I had told him. When the cab driver pulled up at the address thatJim gave him, Jim jumped out of the cab and ran. He did that part correctly. Theonly problem was that Jim gave him his actual address and when the cabbie pulledup to it, Jim bolted from the cab and ran behind the back of his house and laiddown on the patio in a drunken stupor. It was around two in the morning. Now thecab driver bore no resemblance to Albert Einstein, but then again he didnt have to.He simply called the police and told them what had happened. Shortly after thecabbie called them, the police arrived at Jims house with no intention of everfinding the person who committed the mishap. But they had to file a report andfollow up on the cab driver‟s story so they walked behind the house and much totheir surprise, sitting on a chaise lounge sipping a beer and watching television wasJim. The cabbie yelled out, "THATS HIM," and with that Jim started to run. Oneof the cops screamed out, "Stop or well shoot." Jim stopped dead in his tracks.All the excitement woke up Mark and Paul and probably the neighbors as well.The police took Jim to the station and put him in a holding cell for a few hours, justuntil he sobered up, and then they released him and the matter was settled.When Jim came into work later that day I asked him what made the cab driverdecide not to press charges against him. It seems that the cab driver felt that only adrunken person would do what Jim did, so he didnt want to cause him any furtherembarrassment and he dropped all charges.As Jim left my office he said, "Steve, do me a favor. Dont give me any moreadvice. Page 292 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” YOURE UNDER ARRESTTrouble had a way of following Jim. Especially when he least expected it. Andwhen he had done nothing to deserve it. One of those times sticks out very vividlyin my mind. It was a typical work day except for the fact that I had ordered a cakeso that the office staff could join in and help celebrate Jims birthday. Everyonewas enjoying the day, especially Jim. Suddenly the festivities took on a sour tonewhen a policeman came into the office and asked to speak to Jim Bell. As soon asJim identified himself he heard the officer utter those frightening words, "Youreunder arrest." It took everyone in the office by surprise. What was just momentsago a celebration of a very happy occasion had instantly turned into one of horrorand disbelief. The officer told Jim to lean against the wall and put one hand behindhis back. Jim did as instructed. Then the officer proceeded to read Jim his rightsand after that the policeman took out his handcuffs and attached one to Jims wrist.As the officer was placing the handcuffs on him, it suddenly occurred to Jim thathe had no idea why he was being arrested. He turned around to question theofficer, but by now the officer was no longer wearing his uniform. At least hewasnt wearing his policemans uniform. He was wearing a different uniform. Hisnormal uniform. And his uniform consisted of a G-string and nothing else. I hadhired a male stripper to pose as a cop.Jim turned red as a carrot and started to run through the office trying to flee fromthe cop, I mean stripper. The only problem with that was that one of the handcuffswas attached to Jims wrist and the other cuff was attached to the strippers. And asthey both ran through the office, the stripper in his G-string was singing happybirthday and Jim was yelling, "STEVE, ILL GET YOU FOR THIS." Page 293 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR HAND?I have a tendency to get bored with whatever I‟m doing…..except making love. Ithas no bearing on how successful I may have become, because I know that I‟mgoing to become bored. It has happened time and time again.Well, one day I was sitting in my office, very successful and very bored. I startedgiving thought to what I would like to do……….and then it hit me. Why notbecome a Concert Promoter. And so I had a couple of people in my office do thenecessary due diligence and before you know it I was ready to book my first act.Now I didn‟t want to book just any act before if we didn‟t sell a lot of tickets thenI‟d be in serious trouble, so I went after major acts. I subscribed to anentertainment periodical which lists what venues various artists or groups would beplaying and I saw that The Beach Boys were scheduled to perform in Orlando,Florida. I was a couple of hundred miles south of Orlando so I thought that as longas The Beach Boys were going to be in fairly close proximity then maybe theywould entertain the thought of playing in Fort Lauderdale or Miami. I got thename of their manager through Pollstar and we opened negotiations. It wasexciting. Faxes being sent back and forth. One of the faxes said that I had tofurnish food for the group prior to the show and amongst everything else theywanted M & M candy. No problem………………But without the red ones.Everyone in the office was excited…………..except the person I chose to pull outthe red M & M‟s. Well, we were about ready to sign the contract when I got somebad news. The group‟s management new that I was not only a novice promoter butthat this was the first time that I ever booked an act, so they decided to go withsomeone else. I was pretty down and I decided not to tell anyone just yet.There was a club not too far from my office which featured a female piano player.I saw the advertisement for her in the newspaper. I told most of my staff what myintentions were and they thought that there was only one person that was fit for thisjob and that person was Jim Bell. I told Jim that it looked like The Beach Boyswere a certainty and I needed an opening act for them. I told him about the femalepiano player and that I wanted him to go up to see and evaluate her for me. Jimfelt honored to be put into such a position of trust and he readily accepted. As youprobably can guess by now, I didn‟t quite tell Jim everything. Page 294 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”And so off Jim went. I lent him my car and my cell phone so we could stay intouch. A couple of hours later, having not heard from Jim, I placed a call to him onmy cell phone. No answer. I tried again and again for some time but he didn‟tpick up the phone. Suddenly I got a call from one of my employees, Mark, and hetold me that Jim was fine but he doesn‟t want to speak to me…..and he didn‟t. Hedidn‟t speak to me for the next three days. He came to work and performed hisduties but he wouldn‟t say boo to me.Finally when he did speak to me he said, “Steve, I walked into the club. Thefemale piano player was already playing. She was pretty good. I ordered a drink,looked around and thought something was wrong but I couldn‟t quite figure outwhat it was. Then I realized what the problem was and as soon as I did this fellowsitting next to me puts his hand on my thigh and I said to him, What are you doingwith your hand?” “He then asked me to dance”. “Steve, you sent me to a gay barand I don‟t think that‟s funny.”I‟m still laughing as I write this story. Page 295 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” I KNOW A GOOD DEAL WHEN I SEE ONEIm sixty-seven years old and Ive never worked for anyone in my life for morethan two years. As my own boss Ive never had a business for more than fouryears. I might add that Ive had plenty of businesses and most of them havesucceeded, so its not that my businesses have failed. Quite the contrary. Its justthat I have a tendency to grow impatient and yearn to try different things so I eithersell my business or wind it down.It was the mid 1980s and I had just finished winding one down. I had decided totake a breather for a couple of months before deciding what my next venture wouldbe. But I still needed an office because its very difficult for me to think at home.One day John saw an ad in the paper that offered two free months‟ rent. The adsaid that there was office space available ranging from 150-15,000 square feet andthe small offices were renting out for $125.00 per month. John also wanted hisown office so he told me to call the number listed, make an appointment and go seethe premises and take two offices, each with 150 square feet. I told John that Iwasnt the best of negotiators and that he ought to go and rent the space. Johndidnt want to hear me say that. He said to me, "Steve, theres nothing to negotiate.Get two small offices. Were each going to pay $125.00 per month and were goingto get two free month‟s rent apiece. Theres nothing to negotiate. Now go call theguy and set up an appointment." I told John that hes making a mistake, but hedidnt want to hear any of that so I made the appointment.I went and saw the space and when I returned to the office John asked me how Idid. I told John that I made a fantastic deal. Almost too good to be true, but Iknow a good deal when I see one. I got Johns adrenalin flowing and he said, "See.You were afraid to go and you wound up making a super deal. Im proud of you.What did you wind up taking the space for?" When I told him, he hit the roof andraised his voice a bit. "$7,500.00 A MONTH? ARE YOU NUTS? HAVE YOUFLIPPED? What space did you take?" I told John that the guy made me a greatoffer on the entire second floor, all 15,000 square feet. Normally it would rent outfor $12,000.00 a month. I got it for almost half price. Then John asked me arelatively simple question. "Steve, what are we going to do with all of that space?"I didnt have an answer.John immediately called the landlord up and told him that I had been releasedrecently from a mental institution and that I was only supposed to rent two smallspaces and that we couldnt take the entire second floor. The landlord understood Page 296 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX”and shortly thereafter we moved into our own little 150 square foot offices.But I kick myself in the ass because deals like that dont come around veryoften....................If only I could have figured out what to do with the space. Page 297 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” PASS ME SOME WATER.....AND LOTS OF ITAbout three or four years ago my Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Aaron came down tovisit us. One day my Aunt asked Joy and me if she could prepare dinner thatevening. Without batting an eyelash we said yes.........................That was our firstmistake.My Aunt asked us if we liked pepper steak. Joy and I had never eaten pepper steakbefore but I wouldnt tell my Aunt that. I simply told her that it so happened thatpepper steak was one of our favorite dishes.She then told me that her pepper steak was unlike anyone elses.......And boy wasshe right. I watched her as she prepared the steaks. She lined them up andsprinkled a little pepper on them. Then some salt. Then some more pepper. Thena touch of garlic powder. And then the pepper again. Just when I thought she wasfinished, she turned the steaks over and repeated the process. Pepper, salt, pepper,garlic powder and pepper.Then she opened a jar of pepper corns and started to insert them into the steaks.One pepper corn after the other was inserted into them. On both sides. Her fingerwould reach for a pepper corn and then push it into the steak. About twenty peppercorns on each side. After a while my Aunt Lorraine looked very much like a ConEdison worker. She just substituted the steaks for the streets of New York as shebored into them.Once again she insisted that I had never tasted anything quite like her pepper cornsteaks................I was starting to believe her.We put the peppers, I mean steaks on the grill and within ten minutes we weregathered around the dining room table ready to feast on what my Aunt Lorrainehad prepared. The steaks smelled absolutely delicious. Almost too good to eat.Hindsight being twenty-twenty, I should have listened to myself, but instead I cutinto the steak and placed it in my mouth anxious to savor its flavors.That was my second mistake.....................But as with everything else that happensin life, you try to make the best out of any situation and this one was no different.You see most doctors will tell you that you should drink eight glasses of water aday.................I had eight glasses with just one meal. Page 298 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” YOU MUST BE PRESENTABLEIn all my business endeavors we never had a specific dress code and for two goodreasons. First of all, I live in Florida and it gets real hot here. Secondly I havenever had a business where you meet your prospects or customers. All of our workhas been done on the phones, so dress codes weren‟t a top priority.Joy and I had just come back from a vacation in New Orleans and this was our firstday in the office since returning and I was wearing a tee shirt that I bought in theBig Easy, when the phone rang. It was a potential job applicant and afterinterviewing him on the phone we both decided that the next step should be aperson to person interview. I told him that he could come in right now but he saidthat he was just getting off from work and he was a little dirty as he was a garagemechanic. Immediately I let him know that his appearance was paramount aseveryone here wears a tie and jacket. So he said that he would then go home,shower and put on his suit. I said fine. About two hours later my secretary callsme and tells me that the fellow is here for an interview. I came out to get him. Helooked very presentable in his three piece suit but as soon as he saw me he boltedfor the door, never to come back again.I don‟t understand why. I mean I was dressed. Not quite as good as he was, butnevertheless I was dressed. I had on sneakers, shorts and the shirt that I hadbought in New Orleans which said, “WHO FARTED” Also on the shirt wereblotches that looked like doo doo.Some people can‟t take a joke. Page 299 of 301
    • “IT NEVER RAINED IN THE BRONX” BEND OVER PLEASE.........THIS WONT TAKE LONGBesides lawyers, overpaid ball players, insurance companies and broccoli, Im alsonot overly fond of doctors. Its a known fact that you should never get sick on aWednesday, unless of course youre on a golf course because thats where they canbe found on that day.But some doctors are nice and one in particular has a medical practice in thecommunity where I live. I went to see him for the first time about four years ago,because I was due for my annual physical which I religiously take once every fouror five years.Just like a patient has to get to know the doctor, it is also true that a doctor shouldget to know the patient, otherwise a person could draw the wrong conclusion or forthat matter not know what conclusion to draw as illustrated in the following story.I went to the doctor to get a complete physical. An EKG, x-rays, blood work, etc.The last test happened in the privacy of the doctors examining room when he toldme to drop my pants. I watched as he put a glove on his hand and then he told meto bend over and breathe in deeply.The doc went digging for gold and as quick as he started, thats how quick it ended.He instructed me to pull my pants up and then I turned towards him and said,"Doc. Approximately how much is this physical going to cost me?" He said itwould be around $250.00, to which I replied, "You know doc, for $250.00 I shouldbe entitled to more than five seconds of pleasure." THE END I HOPE NOT Page 300 of 301