Archive for December, 2012

Christmas Dickie-Quickie

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Here’s a Christmas story from Carole who is appropriately named for a story like this, and I am pleased to tell you that she has been an important member of our “Huddle” since the beginning. When you’re finished reading Carole’s story, please send me one of your own.  Thanks.


Dick, I’m with you – regarding the Christmas and Holiday Season, with all the joy, love, and good feelings it entails.

I have one particular memory that I thought I’d share with you.

Like you, I was raised (mostly) in Brooklyn. There was something that my Dad and I did each and every Christmas season — usually between Christmas and New Years’. He and I would take the train to midtown Manhattan, and take a walking tour of all the beautiful decorations and attractions. (The tree and displays at Rockefeller Center, the animated windows of Saks 5th Avenue, and many other department stores which have long since ceased to exist.) If memory serves, there used to be at least 3 animated store windows in Manhattan, with Saks’ always being the grandest and most memorable. There was St. Patrick’s cathedral, the illuminated Snowflake at 57th Street & Fifth Avenue. We’d walk all the way down to 34th Street and over to Macy’s before stopping at a Chock Full ‘O Nuts for a cup of coffee and one of their memorable date-nut bread and cream cheese sandwiches before hopping the train home to Coney Island.

One year, Dad decided (because it had snowed and was very, very cold) that we’d do something different and drive into the city and park somewhere before taking our tour.

We got as far as the middle of Red Hook when the car began to sputter and we had to get off the Gowanus Parkway to get some help. He parked in front of a mariner’s bar under the el, admonishing me to stay in the car while he called for help. Someone finally came and got the car started again, but by that time it was pretty late, so Dad decided to head home thru the Brooklyn streets instead of risking getting stuck on the highway. We got as far as the middle of Bay Ridge when the car sputtered and died again. We were in the middle of a residential neighborhood with no stores or phone booths (this was LONG before the advent of cellphones, which we so take for granted today) and had no idea what to do. Dad had the hood open when a young man stopped his car to see if he could help. He was very kind, and got us going again. We finally made it to a gas station where they fixed whatever the problem had been. I called my Mother from the gas station phone booth and I was so cold I was shaking uncontrollably and my teeth were chattering.

I was never so happy to get home in my life! Mom greeted me with a glass of blackberry brandy.

Even though we never did make it to the City, it’s one of those memories that I treasure. I think that was actually the last Christmas Dad and I “did our thing”. Those times with him were very special. Interestingly, I haven’t thought about that for many years – but when you asked for a Christmas story – it popped into my head.

I was around 16 years old that last trip — but we started going into the city for Christmas when I was 8 or 9 years old, and the magic of the season has remained with me ever since.

Sometimes, things that seem unremarkable at the time turn out to be the most memorable and treasured of all!!!

Christmas Dickie-Quickie

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

I love Christmas stories. Please send yours to To find out what this is all about, go to

My buddy Al wrote a Christmas story to remember last week in his blog at He gave me permission to put it here this week. Enjoy

I awoke to find myself in the less-than-bustling metropolis of Comstock, Michigan.  No, I hadn’t been on an all night bender — it only felt that way. I had been on a fifteen hour drive with Vigi to visit her family for Thanksgiving and I did all of the ‘aiming’ for the final seven hours.  It was our last chance to make the trip before winter closed in and I looked forward to spending a holiday with a house full of people once again.

Since the kids moved out and scattered around the country raising their own families, the peace and quiet I longed for while they were growing up had become deafening, especially around the holidays.  Besides, things were getting kind of crazy at the radio station and we were sloshing our way through the middle of a financial rough patch at home;  not the greatest timing with Christmas just around the corner.

After the obligatory slide show and catching up on several years of National Geographic, I was more than ready to prowl two of my favorite haunts in town — the only two haunts ‘in town.  It felt good not to be sticking to a schedule for a change and, in my absence, Veege could visit with her folks without being concerned about keeping me constantly entertained.  After meandering through the aisles of the local Meijer’s ‘everything store’ I headed over to the one place that was an absolute, positive, don’t miss any time we made the trip: The Kalamazoo Air Zoo.

They had vintage aircraft from World War II and Korea through present day classics hangared there and many were still operational.  On the right day, you could even catch a glimpse of a local pilot putting one of those two-thousand horsepower beauties through her paces!  They had everything from flight simulators and a pink [believe it or not] P-40 flown by a very talented pilotress, to a mighty gull-winged Corsair — the plane that makes my heart go thump and has held the kid in me hostage ever since I first saw the movie  Flat Top.  You could actually walk up close enough to get a whiff of grease and oil mixed with just a hint of musty leather.

No tour of The Air Zoo was complete without a trip to the gift shop.  I entered expecting to see the usual models, banners, books and displays — but what to my wandering eyes should appear but a shiny Corsair, perfect scale to the gear!  She was carved from mahogany and painted in such painstaking detail that you could almost hear the roar of her engine.  She was gorgeous!  She was, also, $139 and I couldn’t afford to spend the price of a post card at that point.

I was unusually quiet for the last two days of our visit and most of the ride home.  I am never quiet.  Never.  ”All right, what’s wrong?” Vigi finally ventured.  ”Shows, huh?”  ”Not if you’re a mime,” she answered.  I told her all about the Corsair and explained that it wasn’t so much that I wanted it but that I couldn’t get it.  We both had good jobs and worked hard.  We weren’t extravagant.  It’s not like it was a car or a boat or something — just a stupid airplane model that shouldn’t even require decision making.  She reminded me that the financial rough patch was only temporary, and I stopped my whining.  In my generation guys were supposed to do better than that for their families; the little airplane became a symbol that continued eating at me — and she knew it.

The remaining few weeks until Christmas sped by.  Our ‘rough patch’ was beginning to smooth out and I had, at last, put the whole episode with the Corsair behind me — mostly.  Christmas morning, the two of us did our usual Santa thing but when the ripping and tearing of brightly colored paper had ended, there was still one more present under the tree.  She smiled and handed it to me.  Unlike the others, I opened this one carefully unveiling a plain brown box.  I was puzzled.  Slowly I opened the flaps marked “This Side Up” — and what to my wondering eyes should appear but THE shiny Corsair!  The one from The Air Zoo!

That incredible lady actually pirated all of the money from her change jar, where she had been dumping stray nickels, dimes and quarters for years, contacted the curator of The Zoo and ordered one very important Corsair for one grumpy old man.  So many times through the years Vigi has lighted a torch when she found me in a dark place — and that Christmas, she did it again!

Thanks Al. Please take a moment, and send your favorite Christmas story to: And watch for it here in the next few weeks.