POP POP ENJOYS LIFE IN THE 50’S 10/27/14

Pop Pop in this one takes you on yet another audio tour of the early fifties.  In this show a personal guided tour of PS 14 in Elizabeth, NJ can be yours for the asking.  Beware of KIng Kong and the Elmora Avenue Maniac.  The moral of this tale is to always watch where you’re going when you’re riding your bike on a sidewalk full of old people.  Oh, and hears another moral don’t take bags of garbage from strangers.

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POP POP SHOW 10/20/14 LIFE IN THE EARLY 50’S

Here you go.  Pop Pop out did himself this time.  Life in the early 50’s awaits you with this episode.  Help his poor mom drag him back into Kindergarten on his first day of school.  Meet  cartoon star Flip the Frog.   Gather around that 13 inch black and white TV in the living room.   Radiation shield optional.  Thrill to the amazing Adventures of Superman.   return to those thrilling days of yesteryear….Pop Pop Rides Again!!!!

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AN OLD PHOTO OF THE OLD HOUSE.

My brother Ed brought over some old family photos he found in a crawl space.  He picked out a few of the ones he liked and let me have the rest.  I had a ball going through them.  I think the first one on the top of the pile was my favorite.  It was a picture of the house we lived in on Cherry Street in Iselin, NJ.  We lived there in the early 50’s.

     Our ’49 Ford Station Wagon is in the driveway.  There’s some small evergreens lining the walk to the front door.  The place had a car port off to the left.  Many folks who moved into the development kept the car ports just as they were.  Other’s made them into garages.  My folks  turned it all into a closed in porch.  They kept a picnic table in there for eating supper sort of outside on nice days.
      You can’t see it in the photo but the Pennsylvania Railroad main line is just 150 feet off to the left.  This was a great feature to the house as far as I was concerned.  Trains flew by doing 90mph every few minutes night and day.  Talk about good luck.   Sometimes, if a train went by with bumpy wheels, it would create a kind of mini earth quake in the house and stuff would shake off the shelves.  Who could ask for more.   There was a small window in the kitchen and, it overlooked the Pennsy.  There was a great one mile view of a long sweeping curve.  I’d often get up very early and, while everyone was asleep,  I’d get a tall kitchen stool and a box of saltine crackers and just watch the trains come and go.  Life was good.
     From the looks of things in the photo, the house was a lot smaller than I remember.  It looks like it wasn’t much more than 35′ by 30′.  There was the carport, a kitchen, living room, kids room, big bedroom, and a bathroom.  That’s it.  There was a vacant lot full of sassafras trees on one side, an Italian ice plant in the rear, and the home of an old Dutch guy named Pop and his wife on the other side.  Pop raised canaries and parakeets and if your ball went in his yard, he’d keep it for a day or two then, he’d give it back.   He had lots of tulips in the yard.  If you wanted a parakeet, he’d most likely give you one.
     My parents looked at the house and bought it all in one day.  They asked the realtor how much of a down payment they would need.  He asked how much they could afford.  My father said that he had five bucks on him.  The realtor figured that would be enough.   We moved in a day or two later.   Those were different times indeed.

MY FATHERS TRUNK

Today at 9:53 AM

FIRST STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

I’ve been playing records at The Chatterbox this afternoon.  It’s always fun to do a bit of people watching.  It’s kind of my hobby.  About midway through my show this young mom walks by the front of my booth with her little boy.  He couldn’t have been any more than sixteen months old.  He wasn’t any higher than two feet from top to bottom.  He had his hand in her hand and was doing his best to walk by her side.  As all moms do, she bent slightly over in his direction and walked with half steps as he made pretty long strides for a kid his age.  I made sure my microphone was off and hollered something encouraging to the little guys mom.  I must have said something like, “It’ll only be a few more weeks and he’ll be on his own Mom.”  She agreed.

     They’d both been to The Chatterbox before and he was looking around at all the stuff.  All the while, he firmly gripped his moms fingers and, fumble-footed along.  Then it happened.  There comes a time when a little guy has to break the bonds he has with his mom and , step bravely out on his own.  I was honored to see it happen.  The little guy just shook his fingers out of moms grip.  He stood there a few seconds wobbling.  Suddenly with his arms stretched out in front of his little body, he took a brave step out on his own.  He then took another, and then another.  Mom was smiling and, so was I,  He was being lured away from his mom and heading out on his own.  Left!  Right! Left!  It was as if a soft spoken drill master was counting out the cadence.  He didn’t fall and, he didn’t stop.  He just kept marching bravely apart and away from his mom towards  the Chatterbox ice cream counter.

THE LITTLE PINE IN THE YARD

Stand back Santa, let me through!!!!!   I’ve been waiting about seven years for this Christmas and, this year it’s gonna happen.   Let me explain.  About seven years ago I interviewed some conservationists on a show I did.  To show their gratitude, they gave me a pine tree seedling.  The little guy was only about nine inches high.  Heck, it wasn’t much more than a twig.  I planted it at our old house on the horse farm right near the corner of our bungalow and spread all kinds of horse manure around it.  When it was dry outside, I was sure to give it a drink from the garden hose.  I kept the weeds off it and, even got a rotten dose of poison ivy for my effort.   Heck, I loved that little green guy.

     We eventually moved from the farm and I was worried that the new residents wouldn’t even notice him so close to the house.  I shuddered at the mere thought of some oaf, ripping my poor little pine out by his roots thinking he was some kind of goldenrod.   On moving day, I just couldn’t stand it.  I grabbed my shovel and a shoebox and saved the little guy from a grizzly death.    First thing I did when we got to our new home overlooking the Musconetcong was to find just the right spot.  I found a nook where the little pine could welcome visitors, guard the driveway, and wave his limbs at passersby.   I also picked the spot so, that when my tree is fully grown, it will be able to see the river passing by from east to west.  When the tree is a bit bigger, I also plan to cut an opening in the sticker bushes lining the yard so that passing critters can come by and anoint the tree without getting yelled at.  But, that’s still a ways off.
     This year the little pine has hit three and a half feet in  height.  It’s time it did a few chores around the house and, it’s first duty will be to hold a small string of Christmas lights for all to see.  I’ve got a pretty good and long extension cord and Sandy’s on the lookout for a nice short string of outdoor lights.  We’ll probably have the project done in about two weeks tops.   Look for the glow in the sky right around Thanksgiving.   It’s going to be a very merry Christmas indeed.

THE SOLDIER IN AISLE 13

 

 
      As most of you know, I like to think of my dairy aisle at the A&P as my own personal living and breathing facebook page.  It’s there that I interact with my non-cyber friends.  I know it’s quite a concept nowadays.  Who’d ever think that there’s actual living and breathing people out there who would agree to be your human friend.  It’s amazing.
     Today, this young man came around the Christmas Coffee Creamer display pushing a shopping cart.  Like I try to do with most everyone,  I searched for a way to start a conversation.  You’d be surprised how a simple hello works.  It stopped him right in his tracks and, he said hello right  back.  I continued, ” I see you’re working on getting supper there huh?”  “Yeah” he said. ” I’m afraid it’s not shaping up.  I wish I knew how to cook.”
     I looked in the cart. “Well you got most of the fixings there.  Let’s see, sliced chicken breast, minute rice, and potatoes, you’re almost there.  I see you got ice cream for dessert.  But, you’re going to need more stuff.  Let’s see, cooking oil, get some vegetables, salt and pepper, or a spice you like.  That’ll do it.  You cut up the chicken and fry it a bit in the oil.  Then, add the vegetables all cut up, add the spice, mix it up good.  Add some water, let it boil, add the minute rice, cover it  and let it sit a bit on low heat.  Add a little soy sauce too.  Then every night add a new veggie or meat and make more rice.  When you get the hang of it, you’ll find it to be different every night.  Or better yet maybe you should just get married.
     He said getting married or even getting a girl friend would be great but it’s kind of a hard thing to do when your new in town.  I think he figured he’d best cook his own meals till things improved.
     His sweat shirt said ARMY so I took a wild guess and asked.  “Are you in the Army? ”  He said he was reserve now but he was back from multiple tours in Iraq.  I’m guessing he was in our area for work or school.  He said he was originally from Miami.  I told him, he’d probably meet people if he went out to eat but, he said that was costing him too much money.  We got to talking about the middle east and, he sad it was tough.  He also said that many of the folks in Iraq we’re wonderful people in a very bad situation.  What got me was that he said that he was worried about a little girl who used to hang out with his unit.  She was a kind of mascot.  He was afraid that she might be hurt if more radical forces took her town.  He wasn’t into bravado, or bragging.  He was just worried about a nice little girl getting hurt.
     I thanked him for his service and he went on down the aisle after asking where the gravy mixes might be.   I did mention that he’d get a very good meal at the American Legion in town and, that there’s a lot of great people there who’d love to meet him.
     As he headed off I remembered how I had such good luck in the city of Wilson, NC. many long ears ago.  I moved to Wilson, very broke, very alone, and very troubled.  Those wonderful Tarheels took me into their lives without batting an eyelash.  I wasn’t in town more that a day or two before I started getting invites to dinner, picnics, clubs, events, dances, and hog callings.  Best of all, most of the Carolinians, loved to just stop whatever they were doing and have a great gab fest with me.  They would jabberjaw at the drop of a hat.   It was considered rude down there to pass an approaching car on the road without waving.  I think you could get a ticket for not waving at the on coming car.  Whole neighbor hoods were set up to initiate a block party with just an hours notice.   Down South, it was ok to practice your banjo in a laundramat.   You get the idea.
     I hope this young soldier finds some good people here in our area.  It’ll be our loss if he doesn’t.   I hope he gets all the dinner invites he can stand.  That would be very good for us all.

ATTACK AT VINYL PASS

Some of you may know how I’ve been facing a clear and ever present nightly danger each evening on my nightly trip to the bathroom in the dark.   In the past, the trip was a kind of death march and certain to end badly.  I can’t count the times I’ve stepped on a stack of 45 rpm records and slipped to my bony knees.  Oh the awful night I stubbed my toe on a cassette player and banged my head into the wall.  Paramedics and mountain rescue teams almost had to be called when I inadvertently just nicked the  bottom edge of a giant pile of LP’s and caused this vinylanche that pinned me against the wall gasping for air.  They had to use Millie the Hound and her super nose to find me under the pile so they could send in oxygen.  In short, the studio, which is also where I sleep, has been a bit overrun with records and equipment and, it was getting dangerous   In fact, the other night I could hear rumblings under my room in the earth below.  That was pressure on the continental plates coming from the massive weight of my record collection causing a reverse in New Jerseys continental drift.  Something had to be done before all of New Jersey washed into the sea.  Yesterday I had to take decisive action.

     It took hours to plan and execute but, now, New Jersey can once again rest easily.  I can safely say that the crisis has passed.  Yesterday, I securely locked myself in the studio and,  with the help of wheelbarrows and steam shovels, I cleared a path through my record collection.  It was a  dangerous enterprise.  One false move could have pinned me under a crushing mountain of doo wop and big band albums.  Help would have arrived too late.  Like Big Bad John they could have only put a marble slab on top of the heap.  Maybe my poor wife Sandy could have made a few bucks charging admission for folks who wanted to file by the disaster sight in tears.  I don’t know.  It seemed to take forever but, all of a sudden the light of day shone thru and glistened on my tearful eyes as I surveyed my handiwork.  Sunbeams danced in a room that once only knew dusk and dust.  The rays of joyous light danced on symmetrical rows of milk crates lined up in precise rows along a strong and reinforced outer and inner wall.  Each case filled with LP’s aligned and filed according to music style.  I fell to my knees and thanked a merciful and forgiving God in Heaven for giving me the strength to accomplish this daunting and almost impossible task.  I then stood and vowed with my fist clenched towards the sky that from here on I will never NEVER!!!!! slip on a record again.
     Last night, around 3am, I had to visit the bathroom.  I bolted out of bed and walked with confident quick paced strides through areas that once, just the night before, would never have allowed such a breakneck speed.  I could not remember ever being  more proud of a days work as I strode like Hannibal over the Alps into the john as triumphant as a king.
    Of course, once in the bathroom, I slipped on a wet towel and kind of twisted my knee when I landed in the bathtub.  Perhaps I’ll conquer the laundry pile today…..or maybe next week.

 

GETTING SPOOKY OUT THERE FRIENDS

Ahh!  Halloween is coming and the kids are getting wormy.  I love watching their preparations for the big day.  My daughter Sunshine and her family are busy finding big pillow cases they plan to fill with candy.  Sunny, Sadie and Richie figure that, with luck, and a little strategy, they should be  able to lay up enough candy to last most of the winter.  At least they should be able to make it to the Easter candy refill day.   The girls probably have Richie working on making the costumes.

     At the A&P, I’m seeing shopping carts rolling by stuffed with mini candy bars.  Cases of small bags of chips might be the hand out stand out this year.  Each one contains a mouthful or two of corn chips, pretzels and the like. Myself, I could eat the whole case and not even flinch.  Still, each bag is a nice little treat.  One lady, last night, rolled by me with one third of her cart filled with Kit Kat Bar mini’s.  That’s about twenty mini bars per bag.  Multiply that twenty by thirty bags.  Oh my gosh, that’s around 600 Kit Kats.  The look in her eyes, kind of said that most of those bars wouldn’t make it to her house.  She just kept staring at the bags and smacking her lips.
     At the Chatterbox last Sunday, a cute little girl came by dressed as Super Girl.  She was about one or two years old and was still in diapers.  Somehow I can’t quite picture a famous super heroine in diapers.  But, I guess diapers had to be the case for all the super heroes at one time.  Batman, Green Hornet, The Flash, even Superman I guess at one time had to wear diapers as standard issue.  I can see Ma and Pa Kent trying to catch the toddler of steel for a change.  They probably had to stick Kryptonite in his talcum powder to slow him down.  Anyway, the little super girl at the Chatterbox was having a time climbing onto the first step of the car podium and jumping off into space with her cape flapping behind her as she sailed off on a mission of mercy.    She’s going to do well for Halloween.
     Me, I’ll be busy with shows to do. We’re going to do a mischief night show from Fractal Recording.  Sunshine amongst others will be there to tell ghost stories and such.  I’ll be spinning records all weekend at one place or another.  The Wanderers are having their Halloween Party at the Chatterbox this Saturday night.  The next day, they’re doing a food drive at the Sussex A&P from 9am to 2pm.  Me, I’m waiting for all the Halloween Candy to go on drastic markdown for quick sale.  That’s when this candy ghoul strikes in the dark.  It’s a great time of year