On June 15th, 2014, a Sunday, Fathers Day visited us. A short time ago I was watching the return of a prominent television show. It started me thinking when the narrator said the following words….
‘We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we do get the things we want. And then, in the end, we wish for what we had so many years ago.
I truly believe that in the end, what we want as a people, each and every one of us is to go home, just one more time, and to take that trip, that very special trip. To be young again, and to listen to our parents, and take to heart with what they had to say because it was all so true, despite what we thought, and how much we believed we knew so much better. And didn’t we believe we were so much smarter?
I long for the days gone by. If I could return to the age of 12 years old, 1967, I would be the happiest person alive.
I grew up in Elmhurst, Queens. I went to P.S. 102, J.H.S. 73, and Newtown High School. I watched a Zenith black and white television with wide rabbit ears promising to give my household a better picture. If that didn’t work tin foil was used, and if someone positioned it just right we begged them-‘Not to move.’ Remember?
Cable TV was a dream and High Definition Television was 21st century science fiction, an exhibit that may have been shown in the 1964 Worlds Fair, a dream none of us thought we would see in our lifetime.
My family, and my neighborhood, had the following channels, maybe you remember. Channel 2 was CBS, 4 for NBC, and then there was Channel 5. Channel 7 gave us ABC and the number 9 on the dial belonged to WOR and the New York Mets games. WPIX was Channel 11, home of the New York Yankees, and Channel 13 was that special channel that we watched, privately, and despite the network asking us to pay for the privilege to give a donation, most of us never sent them the money. The only show I remember watching on that channel was, ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus,’ a very funny comedy from England. This station was the Public Broadcasting Channel. These seven channels were all we had, and it was wonderful. At times the picture was grainy, fuzzy; on some days the horizontal hold rolled and rolled and made our heads spin, and yet it was all we had and in the end we didn’t know any better. It was perfect to each and every one of us. Oh how times were so much simpler, so much better.
And that was just fine. We smiled as we watched The Ed Sullivan Show, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, and Gunsmoke. The Twilight Zone scared us while Archie Bunker on All in The Family shocked us, and yet we couldn’t help but to laugh with him and at him.
If I could return to 1967 with the knowledge I have learned so later in my life; I would give anything for the opportunity to get it all right, and to live the right way. To change the mistakes I’ve made, and to do the right thing at the right time. Isn’t that true for all of us?
As I think of going back in time it is only natural that I recall my parents, and in this case I’m thinking about my father; a very special man.
Earlier this year my father, 87 years old, was diagnosed with lung cancer. He is not well. He is very weak and I feel helpless. He had stopped smoking more than forty plus years ago. And as a strong willed man his condition is devastating for him because he is a very tough minded man. And yet I know he is a tough man who can accomplish anything.
I help him the best as I can. But is it enough? I don’t know. And at times I really don’t know what to do. And do any of us ever know? In life we all have a vision of our own father, our mother. In my mind my father is a wonderful man. Honest to a fault, loyal, and faithful. He is a World War II veteran, and as the years passes us by so quickly very few of these honorable men and women of great integrity, who gave so much to our nation, are no longer living among us.
I know I can trust my father, that he will always do the right thing, and in the end what more can we ever ask of as a person, of any human being.
My father and I share a love of all sports. New York sports, the Yankees, Rangers, and the football Giants. The Knicks, what ever happened to them?
Years ago when my Dad came home from work after a long ride on the NYC subway he was glad to have a catch with me in the driveway. Hey, I needed to work on my Police Athletic League Little League curveball, my fastball, and my father was more than happy to squat down, catcher’s mitt in hand, and wait for my pitches. He may have been tired but he never showed any signs of slowing down. He held the glove straight and true and waited as I snapped off my pitches.
And then there were times when I waited for his return from work so we could get a good start out for our drive to Yankee Stadium over the Triborough Bridge. We bought roast beef sandwiches from Bruno’s Deli, on Grand Avenue for our dinner.
The toll on the bridge was 25 cents, maybe 50. I’m afraid to ask what it is today. We rushed along so we might be early enough to watch Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris take batting practice. God; was there anything better than this?
It was the time of the original Yankee Stadium, the one Babe Ruth built in the 1920’s, the high arching facade, the three monuments set deep out in center field, the only Yankee Stadium; and to me it was a cathedral, a world within itself. I’ll never forget its image, the enormity of its presence. The beautiful green grass, the bright brown dirt of the infield and nothing will ever be the same. They may have rebuilt the original stadium and eventually created a brand new one in 2009, but nothing can compare to the original Yankee Stadium, the real one, the only one! Its memory must always live on, and on, for those great players, Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Berra who for years dominated the world of baseball.
We all knew it couldn’t last forever but to a child, a sports fan, it was a dream come true, come alive! No sports setting will ever live up to the excellence of the Yankees, and the real New York Yankee Stadium; their classy and sleek pinstripe uniforms. Did you know the Yankees made their uniforms pinstripes in hopes of making the great Babe Ruth look thinner? It’s true. Look it up.
June is the month we all celebrate Father’s Day, and I hope all of you will celebrate your father as I am celebrating mine. I hope all of you that are reading this article have fond memories of your father. Maybe you will be taking him out for a special day this Father’s Day or maybe you have a very fond memory of him that you keep all to yourself, a memory in which you can close your eyes and be brought back to a special time in your life when you were young, innocent, and the man who made things right, who made your worries go away, and the man who put a smile on your face was, and always will be, your father.
And maybe you are a father today and deep down you hope to come close to teaching and nurturing your own child, your children, the same way your Dad did for you. And if you’re lucky you’ll be a little bit better from the lessons your Dad taught you. And years from now your son or daughter will look back on you with great fondness, with great love. They will tell stories of you; your compassion, your love, and your guidance. The circle of life goes on. One son becomes a Dad, and so on. On and on it goes. It always has; it always will, and it will never end.
Happy Father’s Day to the all the Dads out there. And to my Dad, Robert Henry Sr., thank you for all you’ve done for me. I wish I could pay you back but that would be impossible. You’ve done so much.
In the end life can be so simple, and yet so complicated. It has been said that we all live life forwards and learn life backwards–live and learn. As we get older, we get wiser. It seems to make sense.
And in the end is it enough? I just don’t know, and yet each and every one of us must try to do our best, and value what we’ve learned from day one. It’s all we can do. And let’s all hope that special feeling that lies within our hearts was, and always will be, the right choice to have been made. And if so, we have most certainly won! And are love will always be like those driveway pitches, all caught, straight and true.