Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Tray

This story was first written as a “stand alone” and then incorporated into “It’s Only Me”; my 2009 attempt at an autobiography. I still like the story – which is true.

The tray pictured here belonged to Seth Herman's Grandma Bee Bee. She lived at 1900 Quentin Road in Brooklyn, N.Y. When I was in Junior High I thought nothing was classier than this tray- which was always filled with goodies like Bridge Mix and other delights we didn’t have in my home.

I’m not really sure of the year but it was around 1971 or so when Bee Bee passed away. I was offered a “souvenir” to remember her by- and I chose the tray. To me it epitomized an era of genteel living, when people had “company” on Saturday nights, or “guests” during the week for cards or Scrabble. TV came along and changed all that.

The real “meat” of this story involves the loss and later recovery of this tray- possibly with the aid of “cosmic” forces beyond our understanding or control.

The tray had been on top of a black steamer trunk which I used as a dresser in 1973 while living at 2132 Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn. Remember in July of 1973 I packed up and moved to Ohio where I ended up engaged to Monica and working in the paint factory.

In December of 1973 I left Ohio by car (a 1964 Ford Galaxy 500) for NY- trunk in tow. But the car didn’t make it and I was forced to abandon it on the side of Route 80 in Ohio within sight of an Arco station. Not being able to hitch with the trunk I carried it over to the service station and asked the owner if I could leave it there for a bit, intending to send for it later. The owner gave his consent and I lugged it up a ladder to the attic/storage area and continued to the airport and a flight to NY.

I mentioned to Seth that I had left the trunk at a service station in Ohio alongside Route 80. And then I don’t think I thought about it again except in a passing- “Gee, I wish I had my trunk back” kind of way.

So here it is, almost 2 years later at 2:30 in the morning and my front door bell rings back at 2132 Ocean Avenue. At the door is Seth with a black steamer trunk on his back going “Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas!” It was my trunk!

Inside we opened the trunk and I started going through all the things I had missed in the previous 2 years. And the big surprise was that not only was the tray in there- but Seth, who had given me the tray to begin with, had no idea it was in there!

Eventually I got the whole story- he had been driving back to NY from school at Ohio State in Antioch and along Route 80 found himself outside of Cleveland when he remembered that I had lived near there a couple of years back. And then he remembered that I had left a trunk at a service station somewhere alongside Route 80.

Looking up he saw the sign for an Arco station at the next exit and got off. He went in and asked the guy if he had ever stored a trunk for some tall, skinny guy with shoulder length hair. The reply was something like- “Yeah, and if he doesn't come for it soon we’re throwing it out!” So he took it and drove through to Brooklyn and woke me up.

And that’s when he saw the tray!

We have pondered this little oddity between us over these many years. He didn't know it was an Arco station- he didn’t know exactly where on Route 80 I had left it- and only a brief whim caused him to stop and check it out. Was it Bee Bee calling out to get the tray? Or just one of those odd coincidences that make life the joy it sometimes can be?

Who knows; but while I no longer have the friend; I still have the tray!

Life would go on in this vein for 2 and a half years. The only change would be where I was living. In June of 1975 Mr. Rosenberg came down and knocked on our door; smiling ear to ear. "Boys," he said, "We've sold the house and we're moving to Florida."

And so the era of 2132 Ocean Avenue came to an end. It was time to find a new place to live. It was also the start of what I refer to as my "lost year."

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