March 21, 2022
“There’s a certain nostalgia and romance in a place you left.”
Here we go again, I am off to an eye specialist early this morning so we will revisit the past.
Ray’s Daily first published on March 21, 2005
I had the good fortune on Saturday evening to attend a story telling session given by an internationally renowned story teller. She told stories about her family, her childhood, and her life, all with respect and great humor. She started me to think about my life in the 50’s, the places I had been, and the people I had met. Especially those times when I was away from home.
As some of you know I started my post Navy career working for Remington Rand, which later became Sperry-Rand, then Sperry-Univac, and finally UNISYS. When I was hired I was sent for training to Ilion, New York, a small town located upstate, in the heart of the Mohawk Valley on one of the last remnants of the old Erie Canal.
I took a train from Chicago to Herkimer, N.Y. and then a bus to Ilion, I think my expenses for the first trip was something like $27 which included transportation in Chicago, the train ticket, food on the train, and bus fare in New York, with some additional meals thrown in. I rented a room in a private home for three dollars a week (Remington gave me $14 per week to live on), the first time I stayed. There was no television, no transistor radios, I spent my time with books and people.
Even in those days fourteen dollars did not go too far, especially when we had to wear starched white shirts and ties every day. Managing clean clothes and feeding myself without eating up the budget was a new experience. But I managed, the breakfast special was always thirty-five cents, lunch would cost me sixty-five cents, and I could get the dinner blue plate special for a dollar and a nickel, and I could buy a meal ticket good for five dollars and fifty cents worth of food for only five dollars. If my memory is correct I got my shirts washed, starched, pressed, folded, and boxed for thirteen cents each.
My family was too far away to visit, so I lived a temporary life amongst really good people, people who live on in my memory. For example, my friend Ralph and his wife Natalie owned a small restaurant where I spent a lot of my time. Every Saturday their two under ten-year old daughters would walk me to the laundry mat to help me do my weeks laundry, they would tell me about their week in school and we would just have fun waiting for my clothes to wash and then dry in the dryers.
I was back to the Valley often in the ensuing years, each time I saw and enjoyed old friends and made new ones. It was wonderful. There was so much to see and do. Ilion is in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains providing all that nature has to offer. It was James Fennimore Cooper country with revolutionary war ghosts all around us. We had the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, Howe Caverns, and the horse races at Saratoga Springs. But mostly we had friends, friends to walk with and to talk with. We watched the Pabst Blue Ribbon Tuesday night fights together at the town tavern where a beer cost a dime. We got six plays on the juke box for a quarter and would listen to the likes of Ray Charles, the Tijuana Brass, Connie Francis, and Johnny Cash. On the weekends we would visit one of the small restaurant/bars located all up and down the valley that had live entertainment. Those were the days of the small trios that played in a different place on the East Coast every week, and the lounge singer who entertained on Friday and Saturday nights and then ran a drill press in the factory the rest of her week. The fall was extra special since we could drive up into the Adirondacks to a place called Old Forge where we could almost hear the leaves as they changed color.
I could go on but this is enough for now. I have enjoyed spending much of the last 48 hours in imaginary conversations with those special people from so long ago, people who I have not seen for almost fifty years. I owe much to these friends from the past, I wish I could tell them how much they meant to me. I hope they would be happy with how I turned out.
True happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise; it arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one’s self, and in the next from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions.
Joseph Addison (1672 – 1719)
An older couple went on a cruise for their anniversary.
Their conversation with the other couples they met tended towards political and international events.
At one point, the husband asked, “Honey, what do you think about the Middle East position?”
She replied, “Oh, I don’t know, dear, you know I’m not into any of that kinky stuff.”
EVER STOP TO THINK AND FORGET TO START AGAIN?
Old Mrs. Cohen sidled up to a guest at one of her daughter’s social evenings. She had heard him addressed as doctor and now she said, “Doctor, may I ask a question?”
“Certainly,” he said.
“Lately,” said Mrs. Cohen, “I have been having a funny pain right here under the heart–“
The guest interrupted uncomfortably and said, “I’m terribly sorry, Mrs. Cohen, but the truth is, I’m a doctor of philosophy.”
“Oh,” said Mrs. Cohen, “I’m sorry!” She turned away, but then overcome with curiosity, she turned back.
“Just one more question, doctor. Tell me, what kind of disease is philosophy?”
BEING OVER THE HILL IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN BEING UNDER IT.
Abe is in New York on business. On his third night, he goes back to his hotel room feeling quite miserable. Although the trip’s going well, business-wise, he’s feeling very lonely – he’s missing his wife Sarah. He casually picks up the Gideon bible from his bedside table and opens it. On the first page, he reads: –
“If you’re sick, read Psalm 18.”
“If you’re troubled, read Psalm 45.”
“If you’re lonely, read Psalm 92.”
That’s it! He stops there, immediately turns to Psalm 92 and starts to read. How surprised he is, then, when he gets to the end of the Psalm, to see someone has written: – “If you’re still lonely, why don’t you call Monique 212-755-1234.”
She said: MY HUSBAND AND I DIVORCED OVER RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES. HE THOUGHT HE WAS GOD AND I DIDN’T.
Rabbi Bloom and Rabbi Levy are sitting in their local kosher deli and when the waitress comes over, ask for two glasses of water. When the water arrives, they take out homemade sandwiches from inside their coat pockets and start to eat.
Moshe the deli manager is not happy with what he sees. So he goes over to them and says, “Look, I’ll give you both one of our snacks free of charge. My customers won’t mind, seeing you are Rabbis. But please, you can’t eat your own sandwiches in here!”
Rabbi Bloom and Rabbi Levy look at each other with twinkles in their eyes. Without saying a word, they shrug their shoulders, exchange their homemade sandwiches and carry on eating.
The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.
A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found himself in the women’s locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement and then asked, “What’s the matter –haven’t you ever seen a little boy before?”
“I’m trying to read a book on how to relax, but I keep falling asleep.”
A woman was shopping in a fairly nice dress store. Trying on a dress and liking it, she asked the salesman the price.
When he told her she launched into a tirade about prices these days, covering just about everything from housing to auto tires.
After ten minutes or so, the salesman had obviously had enough and said, “My dear lady. If the cost of living is so high and obviously so offensive to you, why do you bother?”
Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time- we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.
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