On March 11, 2020, we rehearsed the usual Lenten songs in preparation for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Easter services in early April. We casually walked out of the choir room with our friends and said, “See you Sunday,” as we usually did.
Three days later, we learned that Sunday church services were cancelled due to restrictions on large gatherings caused by the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases.
Churches were encouraged to remain closed because being indoors in close contact with fellow worshippers was a palpable health risk. Worse yet, a March choir rehearsal in Washington State caused the deaths of two choir members and significant illness in many other choir members due to COVID-19.
This news was shocking for this lifelong singer and choir member since age 8. How could an activity that has given me so much pleasure, both individually and in groups, be so deadly? (More…)
“Remember Colombino,” said my dad, “no matter what you do in life, always do your very best.” Now Colombino was not my given name; it was my Dad’s way of telling me he loved me by calling me “little pigeon” in Italian. He was never demonstrative in his affection – I seldom saw my mother and him embrace, but I knew he loved me, and he showed me in so many ways.
One way was his daily invitation, when I was old enough to leave my mother and the back of the store where we lived, to come “help” him in his shop. A cobbler who learned his trade when he emigrated from Sicily at the age of 16, he considered repairing shoes and leather garments an art. He never used anything but the finest materials and was so meticulous in his stitching and dyeing that customers seldom could find where the tear had been.
Because his little shop was located in what is now known as Wrigleyville, he became the repair expert for the Chicago Cubs, and I remember players (More…)
In 1960, during my freshman year at Harvard, I decided after reading Jack Kerouac’s On The Road that studying and exams were a waste of time and that I’d take a year off to hitchhike across the country, experiment with drugs and sex, write a novel, and get in touch with my inner self.
Among those who weren’t exactly thrilled by this news was my father, who in an uncalm manner asked such questions as, “And how the hell do you intend to support yourself, may I ask?” Though a little vague on particulars, I assured him that the income from odd jobs and my writing, plus the seizing of various financial opportunities as they arose, should see me through.
The prospect of being drafted for two years by the Army caused me to amend plans, and in the summer of 1960 I enlisted in a military alternative then available: six months active duty followed by six years active reserve. My first stop: Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC, for basic training. (More…)
I have always admired Japanese culture. For example, I have always admired award-winning Japanese movies like Rashomon or Seven Samurai. My enjoyment of these movies goes way back before my pilot training, and I joke that when you go to one of these movies, bring an umbrella. Why? Because in addition to the interesting costumes and the realism, only in Japanese movies does rainfall seem so real that you feel like you need an umbrella.
It was a welcome surprise then that my first assignment as a fighter pilot out of my Replacement Training Unit was to Misawa Air Base. Flying the F-4 Phantom in Japan and deploying and flying in Korea was a super assignment, with great flying missions and many interesting episodes. There are many other stories I am compiling into a book, like my temporary assignment to Fuchu where I watched the first moon landing sitting on tatami mats in our off-base Japanese apartment. (More…)
An eagle flies gracefully over the prairie and leads me to animal adventures where I frolic with bears, beavers, squirrels, and porcupines. I bring my young son Gary with me. We go fishing with bears named Blackie, Brownie, and Slicky and collect feathers from the eagle’s mountaintop nest.
It felt natural to take Gary to join other adventuring animals squatting in a circle and wearing beaded vests as we played games and told stories. It was 1959 when we started in the YMCA Indian Guides program in Wilmington, Delaware. We met with other fathers and sons to develop our imaginations in an atmosphere of Native American lore. We made boats, a church and aircraft models in our workshop at home and played in the woods. We adopted animal spirit names. Gary was Diving Eagle. Our motto was “Pals Forever with my Dad.”
Two years later we moved to Bradenton, Florida, and my second son, Bryan, joined us as Hunting Eagle. In addition to meeting in various homes, we occasionally took field trips. Once when camping in Myakka State Park, I set up a large teepee, and we told stories around the campfire. When Diving Eagle and Hunting Eagle graduated to Cub Scouts, my third son, Scott, came of age as Flying Eagle, followed by my blonde-haired David, Golden Eagle. (More…)
I’m currently teaching an online course for OLLI called “History and Science of Sex” which implies that I am an expert on the subject of sex. This isn’t quite true.
I grew up in a traditional Brahminical culture in post-independence India. Sex education in school was limited to the birds and bees. Nothing about people. Most of the information I got came from older boys and a few racy magazines. Indian laws were, and still are, based on Victorian laws left over from the British Empire. Ironic for the land that created the Kama Sutra. I remember reading a banned copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and being shocked at seeing the “F word” in print. Most of us (at least the men) grew up reading the articles in Playboy while carefully ignoring the pictures. (More…)
When I retired to Tampa, I was introduced to several local experiences. One of the most notable was Gasparilla, a series of several events throughout the year, but mostly the annual invasion and parade on the last Saturday of January.
Since many locals consider Gasparilla to be “just like Mardi Gras,” I realized that most people just did not know the difference. So, I volunteered to teach an audience of fellow seniors who were curious. I was eager to share my lifelong experience and new research on the similarities and differences. (More…)
Growing up in small town America where Route 66 went straight through it and with freedom to do most anything was just too much of a temptation for me. I was never thrown into a juvenile jail or correction facility, but I surely would have been had I grown up in a city. So, what did I do that was so juvenile?
For starters, the local culture was gun friendly, so I wasn’t very old when I acquired a BB gun, a perfect weapon to shoot out street lights and do other nasty things. At age 15, apparently my father thought I was old enough to handle a shot gun, so he bought me a 16-gauge automatic firing Remington, so I could hunt. I also acquired a .22 single shot rifle. (More…)
First, I am grateful because all of my friends and family are in good health, and so far they are financially secure. And I am thankful to all the people who are putting themselves in harm’s way to keep things working as much as possible – not only those people in the medical field, but also grocery store workers, restaurant owners and workers, and all of the unsung heroes out there.
I am 80 years YOUNG and cringe every time that I hear or read, “the frail and elderly.” I definitely am not frail and hadn’t felt elderly until the coronavirus hit. This is a picture of me celebrating my 80th birthday in Italy last year. All of a sudden, I went from having a full calendar to having an empty one. So far a dental appointment has been cancelled as has (More…)