Memorial Day Reflections on My Life

Dad in WWII.

It's Memorial Day weekend, and ultimately, a time to remember.

It is 40 years, next month, since I moved from Manhattan to South Florida. 40 years; more than half a lifetime.

It's a time to pause and reflect, think about what has been and what will be.

Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, in New York, Memorial Day would be the first big beach weekend, a trek with the family to Jones Beach. I miss that.

I miss a lot of things.

I miss mom and dad.

I miss grandma's Kreplach, and grandpa fishing in Sheepshead Bay.

I miss grandpa's bungalow colony on Masten Lake.

I miss the rides in Dad's 1953 Buick up old route 17 to the Catskills Mountains in the summer time, when we would always stop at the Red Apple Rest.

I miss watching my dad burn leaves in the backyard of our house in Little Neck.

I miss Seder and Passover and all the holiday dinners with my entire family of now passed aunts and uncles, and far away cousins.

I miss the Saturday movie theater matinees in Kew Gardens with double features.

I miss the 1964 World's Fair and the Unisphere.

I miss taking the number 7 train to Willets Point and Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York.

I miss my summers at Camp Sequoia in Rock Hill, Camp Kendale in Connecticut, and Trail's End Camp in Beach Lake, Pennsylvania.

I miss the friends from those camps, the bonfires, road trips, Color War, and water skiing in a pristine lake.

I miss the city, too- playing kick the can, whiffle ball, ring o levio- and stickball in the street.

I miss Bungalow Bar, the Good Humor Man, and all the ice cream trucks that used to roll down Hungry Harbor Road in North Woodmere.

I miss playing for the Robins in the Harbor Little League at Alley Pond Park.

I miss having sleepovers at my best friend's house.

I miss my Newsday paper route, where I collected 30 cents a week for the paper, and if I was lucky, got a 20-cent tip.

I miss being a 15-year-old food runner at the Lido Beach Club, and a little league umpire for the Harbor Little League.

I miss putting baseball cards in the spokes of my bicycle, and just flipping them and trading them- instead of grading them.

I miss the days when pro athletes were normal people like the rest of us, and the only weights they lifted were 8 ounces and in plastic cups.

I miss the feeling I had the first time I walked into Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to watch Mickey Mantle step up to home plate.

I miss waiting on Longacre Avenue to get on School Bus Number 53 to take me to Lawrence High School.

I miss the Senior Breakfast Club at Nathan's in Oceanside.

I miss Walter Cronkite telling me the news every night.

I miss the Five Towns, Wetson's, Bernie's Diner, Mother Kelley's Pizza, Rocky's Subs in Inwood, The Woodro, Shor's, Green Acres Pizza, White Castle, Bargain Town and the Atlantic Beach Bridge.

I miss climbing the ropes for Mr. Seeger in high school gym class.

I miss going to a high school football game to watch the Lawrence Tornadoes on a Friday night with the rest of my class.

I miss living in the dormitories at Hofstra University, and the hamburgers at Bill's Meadowbrook Inn.

I miss the energy and excitement of being a college student in the electrifying and mobilizing 1960's, when students cared about Earth, war, and the future of our planet. I remember, but I don't miss, that day I went for my draft induction physical on Whitehall Street.

I miss Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock, and the feeling you get watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

I miss all my frat brothers in ZBT, and wonder where they are and where they have gone.

I miss a few girls in DXD, too, one of whom got married without me.  :-)

I miss the feeling the first time I ever took an airplane flight, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1967, with my best friends, Joey Smith and David Kestenbaum.

I miss Mykonos, London, Amsterdam, Brussels and all those amazing European vacations I took as I grew older and more independent, discovering how small and large the world was in one moment.

I miss the amazing feeling I had holding my lover's hand one day in Vondell Park in Amsterdam.

I miss Amsterdam, too, and not just those coffee shops, but the 300 year old windmills in the countryside.

I miss so many friends that fate, illness, accidents and fortune took away all too soon.

I miss my trips to Black's Beach in San Diego, the boy I met in Balboa Park and volleyball games  on the seashore in Laguna Beach.

I miss the Laguna Beach Arts Festival every summer on the side of a mountain, and walking barefoot on Venice Beach in 1972 when it was a commune.

I miss the days when I could just lie and bake in the sun and it consumed my soul; when I did not feel I had  to get up and 'make a to do list.'

I miss the sunsets in Key West and on Mallory Square when the only people there were bare foot artists,  the Iguana Man, and the banana bread lady.

I miss my first car, a 1964 red Ford Mustang with a black vinyl top.

I miss 1960's style coffee houses.

I miss the feeling I had the first time I ever smoked a joint, burning incense in my dorm room to mask the smell.

I miss my older brother, Richard's really cool house, standing all alone, on Iron Forge Road in Sugar Loaf, New York.

I miss the absolute boy-like feeling of jumping off a dock in the Catskills Mountains into a quiet lake without a single care in the world, my best friend by my side.

I miss fishing and walking through cold streams,  hiking through Mount Rainier, or biking through Aspen in the summer.

I miss the feeling of urgency and excitement I had in 1975,  during the year I spent living in Point Lookout on Long Island, walking along the beach alone, trying to decide whether I should leave New York and move to South Florida or Southern California.

I miss playing softball in Central Park on Sundays in Manhattan.

I miss not being able to go to the San Diego Comic Con every year, or being at the Sundance Film Festival each winter in Park City, Utah.

I miss the old Japanese films where you would hear the actors talk 5 seconds after their mouth moved. 

I miss watching Jack Benney, Burns and Allen, and All in the Family with my dad.

I also miss real family values black and white TV, from The Lone Ranger to the Rifleman; the Honeymooners and Happy Days. Even The Man From Uncle, too. And yo-yos. I miss yo-yos, too.

I miss all my dogs, so many amazing wonderful pet partners, from King to Daybreak to Woodstock to Lighting and Ice.

I miss playing softball for so many years, and the annual rendezvous with best friends at Los Angeles Dodgers baseball camps at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, now just a Memorial Day memory.

I miss being able to run fast and round the bases, line a baseball 340 feet into the gap between two outfielders, or throw a strike from centerfield to home plate, gunning down the runner trying to advance.

I miss doing my radio show every morning live on the air, from the Floridian Restaurant on East Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

I miss the fraternity we had at WFTL 1400 AM for almost a decade, and the daily banter with my on-air colleagues every single day.

I miss teaching college courses at FAU, so bad, and the amazing inspiration and interaction it stirred in my heart every time I started a class.

I miss bouncing out of bed in the morning ready to swim a mile, instead of searching for my heart meds.

I miss being able to eat an Oreo cookie and not worry about my sugar count. Ecstasy? Only from within.

I miss Bob Dylan when he sung like Bob Dylan.

I miss Simon and Garfunkel performing together in Central Park.

I miss New York, because no matter where I am or what city my plane lands in, New York is always the place I will call 'home.'  No offense, Florida, but Rockefeller Plaza and Broadway have deep roots.

Don't feel sorry for me, because if I miss so much, it simply shows how enriching this all too short and precious journey we call 'Life,' has been.

And remember, forever, if you cry too much about losing the sun, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, and enjoy those water slides at Gay Days in Disney while and when you can.


Forever Young

May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung

May you grow up to be righteous.

May you grow up to be true

May you always know that truth

And see that light surrounding you

May you always be courageous

Stand up and be strong

May your  hands always be busy

May your feet always be swift

May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shifts

May your heart always be joyful

May your song always be sung

May you stay forever young 

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