Category Archives: Ramblings

Once more with a smile …

I have posted this one three times since 2009 and I never tire of it … the images, the fabulous memories, and the unmatched wonder of a child’s world all grown up.

Enjoy if  you will my first Christmas re-run.

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Today I give you my homage to the magnificent edifice of Rockefeller Plaza and my cherished memories of the Radio City Music Hall.

As a child, I cannot remember a Christmas when we did not go to The City, walk around Rockefeller Plaza to see the tree, and the show at the Music Hall.

I cherish those moments spent with my mother, Mary Fois, and her two friends, Josephine Chiappe and Beatrice Napoli. These were my mom’s cohorts, confederates, her closest and dearest friends, and they were, among the six women who became our chaperones, the greatest fun to play with.

The Radio City Music Hall was to my mother the holy grail of events. Not wind, nor storm nor dead of night could keep her from her appointed mission, to herd eight to ten children with her two girlfriends as point and rear guards to the Christmas and Easter shows at the Music Hall.

It was not “are we going this year?” But “on which day are we going?”

We gathered at dawn with blankets, pillows, coffee, hot chocolate, and buttered rolls, and took the long subway ride from Brooklyn to Rockefeller Center. Soon the early hour and the motion of the trains, lulled us to sleep, resting our heads on each other’s shoulders or their laps.

With a round of hands clapping, we woke at our destination, yawned and rubbed our eyes … we were almost there.

Walking towards Rockefeller Center was always a delight. We were no longer sleepy or hungry and turned slowly in a circle to capture all the sights and sounds around us.

Rockefeller Center is an art deco marvel consisting of nineteen commercial buildings covering eleven acres in midtown Manhattan from Forty-Ninth Street to Fifty-Second Street, from Fifth Avenue to Seventh Avenue, with smaller buildings in a rectangle.

CHRISTMAS

On the first floor of these buildings are exclusive shops, their windows lit up and decorated for the holiday season. The tall building in the middle, Thirty Rockefeller Plaza, or as it is called, 30 Rock, looms over a golden sculpture of Prometheus which sits below the giant tree as a symbol of opulence for tourists and native New Yorker’s to enjoy.

Inside the open rectangle of buildings is the ice rink, and on the street above, a balcony with a steel railing. We ran around the circle above the ice-skaters, mesmerized by the sights, the music and the smell of the fresh chestnuts, the three mothers “simply could not resist.”

At Christmas the tree-lined pathways of the arcade are decked out in their holiday finest and lead to the giant tree in the middle and along the pathway from Fifth Avenue, the row of Herald Angels.

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The Radio City Music Hall

Hundreds of excited children and their parents mulled in the enormous vestibule of the theater enjoying the spectacle of it all.

The huge triple wide staircase lined with thick, rich carpeting, the sparkle of the chandeliers, the vendors selling their wares, the beautiful color program guides the parents purchased for each child, ushers dressed in formal wear and the giant Wurlitzer organ playing holiday tunes.

We whispered reverently, our eyes transfixed on the ceiling. My mother grabbed my collar. “Will you get a move on. I want to get orchestra seats.”

The majestic stage is encased in a dome in shades of gold liken to a sunset, a golden curtain across the back. The rows of seats curve upwards from the bottom of the stage … over five thousand soft, wide seats that push back for comfort.

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The three women rushed to the middle to give each of the children, even the shortest, a grand view of the show. Carefully the mothers took hats, gloves and coats and began folding and stuffing clothes in their large bags. For an added measure they put pillows and coats under the shortest children and stashed the rest under the seats.

The Christmas show at the Radio City Music Hall is an extravaganza of incredible proportions with live animals onstage and the Rockettes in synchronized, syncopation, organ music and a movie.

We sat in one long row with the three mothers positioned at the beginning, the middle and the end. It was hard not to admire their organization, their stamina and the den-mother patience with each trip to the bathroom, spitting up, the constant and persistent flow of questions, giggles, interruptions and tantrums of eight children aged six to twelve.

As the show began to unfold, we became uncharacteristically quiet and still. Not wanting to miss one second as the stage moved up and down in three parts, revealing Christmas scenes like real ice skating, the Nativity with Joseph pulling Mother Mary on a real donkey, and a giant tree, rising from below to the squeals of the audience.

In the darkened theater we sat mesmerized by the sounds, the lights and the best of all, the Rockettes as they slowly began their final routine; arms and legs in perfect unity, kicking one, two and three … one, two and three … kicking and circling … kicking and fanning the length of the magnificent stage … adults and children, babies and old women fascinated by the perfection in their dance.

rockettes

There were three more trips to the bathroom with the youngest children as the Wurlitzer was winding up intermission. When we heard the announcer warn the audience to come back to their seats, each child got the second half of their chocolate bar. Then the final delight, a full length movie.

My fondest memory, the year White Christmas premiered at the Music Hall.

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Thanks to Peter Allen, a wonderful Broadway entertainer and many of his friends and patrons of the arts, the Music Hall was saved from the wrecking ball, saved from the same fate as the old Metropolitan Opera House, and preserved for generations of adults and children to enjoy.

My trio of angels …

In Loving Memory, to Mary, Josephine and Beatrice.
Your image lingers, like the twinkle
Of freshly fallen snow
Always new, always beautiful,
My trio of angels. Together again.
From the pest, la “rufiana,”

Tell me, who was your angel … that one special

person who remains in your heart?

fOIS In The City

Christmas Maxine

Crabby Road

Rockefeller Center Wiki

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Thanks …

for the memories … for the many pleasures we all share … and thanks for visiting with me today.

This little darling was the second thank-posts, originally published in November of 2010.

The sentiments and the list are very much the same.

Wherever you will be tomorrow … have a good one.

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In honor of this BIG thankful day I present the short list.

Thanks to my family, all of the collective pieces of them from the original, to the kids to those families of friends who have made being away from my other families more tolerable.

Thanks for the various means by which I was educated, from the crazy nuns to the crazier professors in college, to the gifted librarians and their amazing knowledge of books to those patient folks who have taken their valuable time to read me and teach me how to be better.

You can fill in the other blanks, and of course, there is always the longer menu with thanks for food and shelter, and the luck of biology and geography. Biology gave me my looks, my health, my brain power and my winning smile. Geography put me in Brooklyn with a smart mouth and not in a third world country where I might already be dead from talking back to the wrong person.

My crazy Christmas blogs will also return in December. Remember, these appear but once a year and are not saved in archives.

Have a great day and a better weekend.

Who and what are you thankful for today?

fOIS In The City

turkey maxine

See the picture credit here.

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Sadness is contagious …

There are dozens of blogs, books, video, workshops you can view on YouTube, dozens of ways to learn a craft. Should you want to learn to crochet … you can. Would you be interested in the technicalities of a sewing machine that embroiders delicate designs …  you can learn those as well.

And the craft of writing? But of course. And a half dozen or so blogs I read regularly, they also are most insightful in the craft of the written word. One such blogger has an entire encyclopedia of emotions. There is yet another where you can learn thousands of synonyms for dialogue tags, descriptive, different … what is called “fresh.”

My mother always told me I was a fresh kid, a stubborn brat to the last.

I do not purport I could in any way equal these amazing posts or craft books.

Instead, I claim my natural rights to dissect my own reactions to my world … her sadness and her joy … the comedy and the tragedy … in my own words and for my own edification.

Sadness …

She first came to me at the tender age of seven. It was a significant number … that number seven. For me it heralds the hump year of a decade and the year in every decade since in which something terrible has happened to remind me.

In my late twenties, this incurable passion for which there is no reprieve, came to me when the two were mere babes, when life was still a promise yet fulfilled, when it seemed anything was possible.  She prodded and poked at me, her laughter mocking my efforts to stretch my psyche across the page for your entertainment.

She came in the night when my defenses were worn, and she attacked my senses until they bled. And the words grew from my type-written journals to compact flash drives.

Often when the poet paints her words across the page, she uses the lightest touch, the faintest hint of colors, the soft hues of night, the splashes of seasons, the kaleidoscope of daylight playing in her head.

Conversely, she might strike out, slash the page with her words, tear your heart with her sad songs, penetrate your brain to unleash the beast hidden in caverns where few may travel.

When at last I left my beloved Brooklyn for the hills of Northern Manhattan, my babes were at my knees. Each took a hand which became symbolic of our unity and strength. When life hit hard, each held me solid, reminding me how fragile the connection of our union could be, and how easily it could be severed. But not yet.

All was possible, all waited around the next bend in the road … white lightning and wine filled the new rooms with delightful delirium.

Several decades evaporated and I began again. My parole from the confines of personal responsibilities garnered me eight glorious years.

During that amazing time I found my voice, I attempted to learn my craft and I played with style, form and function, the eternal battle, waged a war inside my bobble head.

I love the idea of playing with my girls. One might call it women’s fiction. Another one might call it young adult fiction. People who have read some of the stories from Sunset Park can never agree. Few have read The Five Seasons, half by size if not by emotional content. And again, they would read about Viola and Sandy, Lucille and the Bradley Street regulars and they would not be able to agree.

These are the stories of young girls growing up in the fifties. I am so in love the idea of little girls as they grow, like a butterfly as it struggles from its cocoon, I love the idea of them growing up to fly free and wild.

For that reason, I carved out over two years of my writing life to tell about them, the girls and boys, their parents, teachers, their struggles and their vindications.

One little girl broke my heart. I have no idea how a fictional character can break one’s heart, but I do know without a single conflicting thought, Betty Jean broke mine.

Shadow of a teen

Shadow of a teenage girl

At first I wanted her to triumph over her adversity. I wanted her to grow up and rise above …

But in real life, we do not always rise above. In real life many are beaten down, never to rise again.

Why then tell her story?

Because it is the Betty Jeans of our world that makes all women tender and vigilant, powerful and determined. We live not so much through them as for them. We become what we would have loved for them to become.

As of this day, I cannot tell you with any certainty that I know what will happen to her as a grown woman. All I know is that the shadows of her past stay with her and that bright promise, that hopeful seed that was planted in the rich soil of life, did not bloom.

You know her as well as I. She was the kid in the back of the room, the one who never quite fit in, the kid whose face no one remembered later. “You know that girl. The one who sat next to Mary Spinoza.”

But heads would shake and no one could recall. She was the kid who you saw walking alone in the park, the one who was detached. Kind of cute in her own way, but you shrank from her. Something told you to give her a wide birth, to stay on the other side of the street. Maybe because when you were a kid, you thought that what she had was contagious.

Ah, but you became convinced that what she had was not contagious. No matter. She turned the corner and you gratefully went off to meet your friends for the weekend dance in the high school gym.

And as you grew, you shunned them. Those hallow eyes that penetrated your skull … the women who panhandle, those lost souls who wear long sleeves to cover the evidence of personal shame, the old lady bent and broken, wishing now only for final peace.

You were wrong. Sadness is most contagious. It clings to our souls, haunts us in nightmares. It follows us like a persistent shadow, the premonition of a terrible truth.

And it is the reason I cherish funny. I embrace laughter. I crave escape from the truth in their eyes. I turn the music up and I pretend.

And despite all my lame efforts, that one who does not exist haunts me, looms the tallest, and will remain with me forever. It is so very simple you see.

Betty Jean broke my heart.

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Don’t ask or wonder where I think I am going with all of this. Only that I so enjoy using this venue to play with words and people, images and those loose ends we need so desperately to tuck into the cloth.

Has a character ever haunted your dreams or

demanded your attention?

Tell me if you know the answer …

is sadness contagious? 

fOIS In The City

Another Maxine

Find her here today

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