Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Up Above the Snowline

 Up above the snow line
where the cold wind blows,
it's rare to see a footprint
In freshly fallen snow.

You might see a deer track,
or some birds in search of seed.
Nobody comes out there,
unless they need to feed.

The snow hangs on the tree limbs
and it muffles all the sound
of the freshly fallen snow
covering the ground.

But sometimes late at night
when the temperature falls low,
you hear a tree limb crack and fall
softly in the snow.

Photo by Walter Francis Whitmere
Poem by Robert William's

January 24th, 2023

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Happy New Year!

Here's to a Happy and Healthy 2023 to everyone! 
May you all get as much as you give;  
 in love and in health.

Friday, December 23, 2022

My Fish Story

 My Mom and Dad were not the most encouraging of parents. For instance, at the age of ten I wanted a guitar and got one- but my parents said I would never be any good at it. When I wrote they would tell me that it was good but I would never make a living at it. So it is no wonder that, when I was 12 years old and planned to use my earnings from the delivery of the NY Post to go fishing, I was told that I would catch nothing.

Setting out early that day- at least by my standards- about 10 o’clock in the morning - I headed to Sheepshead Bay which is about 1 mile from where our family’s apartment was on Avenue R and East 14th Street. I had used my weeks earnings to buy a rod , reel and fishing tackle box complete with hooks, sinkers and lures.

I set up at the end of one of the piers along Edmonds Avenue and threaded my line with a hook and a fresh , live, wriggling worm. There was not, in my estimation, a fish in the sea that could resist this attractive piece of bait.

I sat for hours, hoping, indeed praying for a bite. I felt the sudden tug on my line several times and reeled in frantically to claim my prize, I was rewarded with a sucession of an old rubber boot, a large Horseshoe Crab, and other assorted non edible residents of the Bay.

Lunch had come and gone, I feasted that day on a bologna sandwich and a Yoo Hoo-But still no fish on the line. I was already dreading going home empty handed and listening to the “I told you that you wouldn’t catch anything” that I was sure to hear from my parents and the ribbing I would have to take from my older brother.

I was still sitting there with the weight of the world coming down on me at 3 PM as I realized that yet another dream was about to be dashed by the unrelenting forces of reality. At this time of day the fishing boats began to return to their piers, laden with fresh caught Tuna, Flounder, Snapper and the like, all underscoring my failure to catch something edible.

The merchants assembled on the pier to purchase the fresh catch, which they would then take back to the various neighborhood restaurants and fish shops for sale. I was devastated by my failure to make a single catch while all about me the boats were unloading tons of fresh caught beautiful, aromatic fish.

Slowly the crowds of buyers left the piers, bound for shops, restaurants and homes where there would be fresh seafood that night. The skipper of the boat nearest me was hosing down the deck and began tossing some things into the Bay, catching my attention.

Meekly, I approached the boat and standing dejectedly with my rod and tackle box in hand, I must have made a lonely and forlorn sight. “Catch anything?” asked the skipper, pausing in his cleanup. “No, no luck today, but tomorrow I’ll try again.” was the only reply I could make. “What ya using fer bait?” asked the man. “Worms” I replied. “Well, Hell’s Bells, no wonder you didn’t get nuthin’- you need some real bait.” With that he tossed me 2 fish, each about as large as my 12 year old hand. “Try these” he said and then returned to his work.

I contemplated trying them as bait when I realized the answer to my predicament was now right in my hands. Sitting on the edge of the pier I put hooks in the mouths of my 2 Behemouths and strung them to a short lead, just like in the movies, or like Opie and Andy on TV. Now I was ready to go home.

As I entered our apartment my Mom said from the kitchen, “Didn’t catch anything, right?” Now I had her, “As a matter of fact I caught two” was my reply. Surprised, she shot back- “ Well , you got lucky that’s all.” But there must have been some surprise that I had anything at all because my Dad arrived home a short time later and took a photo of me holding my prize catch. And then they threw the fish away, because they were probably “dirty” and not to be cooked or eaten.

But if you look closely at the picture , you can see it in my eyes and the smile on my face- I had 2 fish- no matter how I got them – I had them. And for years my parents kept that photo in a frame on the piano and would proudly exclaim “Look at the fish Robert caught in Sheepshead Bay!” I think that’s the part of the story I like best.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

For Phyllis Drivas

I watch as leaves fall from the trees
Like lives they fall til no one greives
And no one's left, and they all leave
life always ends this way.

Time goes by, both good and bad
Emotions pass, first joy, then sad
And when it ends we're sometimes glad
that no one's born to stay.

So why then do we take it hard,
when left here standing in the dark
Life seems empty, void and stark
and in our hearts we pray.

Reduced to only flesh and bone
We're all born to die alone
There's no reprieve from hard, cold stone
a void that's marked in grey.

From me and Sue. ❤

December 7, 2022

Thursday, November 24, 2022

"Thanksgiving Day 1621" - Jean Leon Jerome Ferris

 "Thanksgiving Day 1621" was painted by Jean Leon Jerome Ferris in 1915. It supposedly depicts the Pilgrims at New Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts.

​Ferris was a 19th-century painter who was primarily known for painting 78 scenes of significant events from American history. He was born in Philadelphia in 1863.

Among his most known works are "The Landing of William Penn" and "The Fall of New Amsterdam." His paintings have come to be criticized for their idyllic versions of the events they puport to show.

That aside, he was painting what was known as the truth at the time he created the paintings. So, I still enjoy them for their perspective and color.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and I hope that your Thanksgiving will be as idyllic as Mr. Ferris' paintings. Enjoy the holiday, friends, family and food. And if you are traveling, be safe!

Saturday, November 5, 2022

When I Was Young

When I was young and healthy
and held our baby in my arms,
I felt so strong and wealthy,
couldn't conceive that any harm,
would ever really reach me,
my wife and Iife were charmed.
When I was young and healthy
I believed with all my heart.

Even on a winter's day
when a chill was in the air,
I didn't need a coat
and didn't have a care.
My smile was like the Chershire Cat,
the one who'd got the cream.
Maybe I was foolish
but i believed the dream.

Now as I look back upon
a cherished photograph,
I see the joke was on me,
and finally grasp the laugh.
Youth doesn't last forever
even babies become old.
Fair weather's not forever
and winter's all run cold.

And though I might build a fire
the flames will soon burn low.
When I was young and healthy
this is something I didn't know.
Now the cold air finds me
and it permeates my bones.
The truth's there to remind me,
that we all pass on alone.

November 3, 2022

Baltimore Zoo Pennguin House
January 1990
Photo by Sue.

Friday, October 14, 2022

"Mister 880" with Burt Lancaster, Dorthy McGuire and Edmund Gwenn (1950)

This is a true story. One of the most unusual counterfeiting cases ever recorded, it originated in Manhattan but played out in Brooklyn, from Boro Park to Flatbush to Coney Island. Even Kings Highway was targeted. It took place over 10 years, between 1938 and 1948 and was the toughest case ever undertaken by the Secret Service.

It is the story of Emerich Juettner, also known as "Skipper", an ex Navy Machinists Mate from World War One who made his living as a junk dealer and only printed the counterfeit $1 bills in order to make ends meet. They were of extremely poor quality, which made the case even more baffling. Even the word Washington was mis-spelled!

The case came to a head in January 1948, after a fire forced him to leave his apartment in Manhattan. The firemen left his belongings in an alley where some kids found them. In the film the kids use them to trade and play cards, but in reality they turned them over to the Police, who had been alerted by the Secret Service of their existence.

Agent Steve Buchanan and his boss had discussed their longest running case, called Case 880, for 10 years, never turning up a credible lead. Out of respect for their quarry they nicknamed him "Mister 880." The counterfeit notes passed by him were even called "880s".

When a woman, Ann Winslow, a  translator at the newly formed United Nations, was found passing 2 of the counterfeit notes, the Secret Service cultivated her as a possible conspirator. She became interested in Agent Buchanan romantically, as he did with her.

Soon, it became apparrent that the bills had merely come into her possession accidentally. But how? That was the key to solving the case.

Eventually it was determined that she lived in the same rooming house as the old man, who was still not a suspect. But, when she bought 2 small spinning wheels from him for $3 each, she had paid with two $5 bills, receiving 4 of the bogus bills in change. This was his only mistake in 10 years.

He had only undertaken the enterprise as a way of survival. Had he placed himself in the care of the government and lived at the Old Sailor's Home it would have cost the United States $85.70 a month to care for him. Needing less than $50 a month to live on, he began doing the whole thing as a way to save the government money.

Agent Buchanan was a relentless man who believed in the maxium penalty for any counterfeiter, even "Skipper", but as the case unfolded he began to have a begrudging respect for the old man.

Eventually, Juettner was arrested, and sentenced to nine months in jail. But when the judge is informed that a sentence of less than a year makes Skipper ineligible for parole he changes the sentence to 9 months and a $1 fine, making him eligible for parole in only 4 months. Agent Buchanan paid the $1 fine for him.

When 20th Century Fox bought the movie rights to his story, "Skiper" earned 8more money than he had ever made as a counterfeiter.

Edmund Gwenn, who played 'Skipper", won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. Agent Buchanan was played by Burt Lancaster and Ann Wilson was portrayed by Doroth McGuire.

The exterior scenes were all filmed on locaion in Manhattan and Brooklyn, while all the interior scenes were shot on soundstages in Hollywood.

This is a most endearing and entertaining film. It can be viewed here: