“My crown is called content, a crown that seldom kings enjoy.” Shakespeare

One of the positive side-bar situations from this historic, crazy period is the time allotted to simply think. Recently my thoughts contemplated the differences between “relaxed” and “content” and excepting those too highly personal moments to openly share, I thought about past moments I have found a strong sense of contentment at interesting places: at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, falling asleep under an African sky, twice in Greece, a seaside taverna in Paros plus a most spectacular sunset on Santorini, on the porch at Hydrangea Hill, many family gatherings at my Florida home’s dinner table and lastly, every single time in the past when I’ve been fortunate enough to hold and smell a baby.

Think about your own contentments and if you’re lucky like me, you will sit back a little more comfy, breathe a little more deeply, and smile a little more easily.

Jade Buddha
South Africa
Santorini Sunset
Hydrangea Hill
Family & Friends Florida Gathering Place
Baby Granddaughter Simone
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How I Met Tito’s Vodka And What Happened Next

IMG_0516Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer has an article about what alcoholic beverages Pennsylvanians’ purchased in the month of March as Covid-19 started to take hold and restrictions became real. It appears the good citizens of the Keystone state love their cinnamon, especially when added to whiskey and put into $1/ airplane-size bottles; they also love whiskey made by the Irish, because hey, during a pandemic, everyone is Irish; and above all, Pennsylvanians love their Tito Vodka. Vodka in general is probably the most mixable hard liquor as it goes with just about anything; the only liquid in which it didn’t work for me was when I mixed it with my colonoscopy prep solution. but it’s possible the disappointment came from the fact I couldn’t add ice to the solution, which always leaves satisfaction wanting.

I first came familiar with Tito’s vodka in the early 2000’s. I had traveled to Florida’s Panhandle to attend training in the mortgage lending business and was returning home to southeast Florida by way of a three hour layover in Atlanta. On the initial plane I had read an article on how good a restaurant was on Concourse E, at Atlanta Hartsfield’s International Terminal. Upon landing, I headed straight-away to “One Flew South” and was not disappointed.  There was one seat left at the bar and upon getting settled I asked the bartender what were my choices of vodkas. Tito’s was mentioned, and never hearing the name before, I asked about it. “Craft vodka from Austin Texas…unsurpassed quality”. I must have hesitated before ordering because the woman I was sitting next to (subsequently learning her name was Maria),  recommended I try it, as it was her favorite and pointed to her vodka and tonic sitting on the bar. I did and agreed with her that it was very tasty. That started a brief conversation until Maria had to leave to go to her departure gate. I ordered dinner and a second V & T and when finished, headed via the underground transport to my flight’s terminal. Eventually on board, reading, in my normally preferred aisle seat, I heard “excuse me, I have the window seat.” I looked up and saw Maria looking down at me and smiling…the same Maria I had briefly met at the bar, was on the same plane, on the same aisle as myself. I mean, what are the odds when you consider the sheer size of Atlanta’s airport. As it turned out, the middle seat went unoccupied and we started a longer conversation and eventually got around discussing what we both did for a living. I told her I was a mortgage lender in West Palm Beach…Maria said she was a mortgage lender in Miami! No, REALLY, what are the odds. She went on to explain her specialty was financing mortgages for migrant workers, and she was always busy, and from what I guessed, very successful. I told her my specialty was financing any live, breathing clients who could qualify for a mortgage. The flight passed quickly and upon arriving back in Florida, we wished each other all the best and I never saw Maria again. Unlike Maria however, my experience as a mortgage lender did not turn out so well; I never acquired the drive necessary to be successful dealing with a generally mercurial temperaments of more than a few real estate agents, and I also never developed the discipline necessary to work alone from home. I made no money that year but was always thankful I had the opportunity to try.

What I did get out of the whole experience was the introduction to Tito’s Vodka which to this day is still a favorite, the discovery of perhaps the best airport restaurant in the country, which I have since revisited many times, and to experience a serendipitously coincidental set of encounters with a woman named Maria, which now is a forever story to share. So grab your Tito’s, think about life getting better, and Cheers!

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Mixing The Beatles With Pavarotti

Little did I know last night when I left for the local movie theater on a sweltering summer’s evening, what a strange and wonderful musical treat I was about to experience. I seem to like all movies associated with English director, producer and screen writer Danny Boyle and “Yesterday’s” concept sounded like fun…during a catastrophic event, only one man on earth knew who the Beatles were; and that man also happens to be a struggling songwriter. You’ll enjoy all the familiar music and lyrics and I especially enjoyed the treat of hearing again my favorite Lennon/McCartney song, “In My Life”. For a couple of air-conditioned hours I got lost in this romantic comedy fantasy and when the credits finally rolled, most, if not all of the audience clapped enthusiastically. For summertime fun, I heartedly recommend this romp.

Upon exiting the theater, we noticed that Ron Howard’s ” Pavarotti” would begin it’s last showing of the evening in fifteen minutes, and since we were already humming Beatles songs walking out, we decided to see that also. We were not dissappointed.  The musically gifted Pavarotti had a most amazing life to go along with his most amazing voice; a voice perhaps never to be duplicated again. Like many, I remember getting acquainted with him during the live performance of “The Three Tenors” in 1990. As I type this, tomorrow, July 7th, will be the 29th anniversary of that momentous collaboration. It also was the first time I ever heard Pavarotti’s signature song, Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s “Turandot”. The movie was a terrific documentary of his life, with all the ups and downs. Unfortunately there were only twelve patrons in the theater. Good news was that we were the oldest, and it was nice to see an asisan couple with two young sons watching. Bravo.

Every time I hear Pavarotti I am reminded of a long ago deceased radio listener and fan when I was a talk radio host in Florida’s Panhandle during the late nineties. Once a month, Tony would invite me over to his house and he would cook a great Italian lunch, usually some sort of pasta. He always played operatic music that featured tenor singers, which obviously included the great Pavarotti. These were wonderful get-togethers with great conversation, food, wine, and of course music. Unfortunately Tony passed away about seven months after we began these lunches, but I still remember…and in his memory every time I cook Italian, I put on Nessun Dorma, lift my glass of wine to the nearest window, and toast Tony and his big, generous personality.

If not done so already, treat yourself to either one or both of these summer movies and get away from the all the noise of everyday life.  Your spirit will be moved, uplifted, and in all likelihood, your gait will have a noticeable spring to it as you walk back out into reality.



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A Fathers Day Remembrance


A few days before his 60th birthday, my father passed away after a short illness. The year was 1970 and I was five hours away by car and didn’t make it in time to say goodbye. Not that there was much to say as there was little conversation between us during the seven years after I went off to college and his untimely death. Dad was a man of few words. He told me only once that I had to find out about life by living and learning from my mistakes, so it didn’t matter what he advised.

Born in 1911, he and his two teenaged brothers living in South Philadelphia became pool and ping pong hustslers during the depression to help their parents out. He would remain an excellent pool player and shark the rest of his life

In 1933, he and his two brothers concocted a scheme and made the first payment towards a new Ford roadster to travel to Chicago for the Century of Progress Exposition. Once there, they eventually ran out of money and drove the entire way back to Philadelphia by going from gas station to gas station draining hoses of unspent fuel. Once home, they never made a second payment on the car and it was finally repossessed. Their plan worked.

Prior to World War II, Dad joined the Merchant Marines and sailed all over the world, learning assorted crafts along the way, especially mechanical drawing. He loved to make things after drawing up the specifications. When the war came along, he joined the Coast Guard and was headquartered out of the Philadelphia Naval Yard. I am proud that all during those years, the United States was never invaded anywhere near Pennsylvania or New Jersey. Thank you Dad for your service. After the war he continued working at the Yard, heavily involved in building new ships. A few years ago I discovered a newspaper article from 1953 where he was specifically mentioned by the base Commander for his due diligence and hard work on a large ship project. He must have been so proud. Once during that same time period, he took me to a special commisioning of an aircraft carrier which included a short cruise on the Delaware River. The day was clear and sunny; not a cloud in the sky. The carrier was completely decorated with flags; there was a band playing patriotic songs and much to my father’s horror, on the deck was the young son of George Billingsley throwing up from seasickness on an aircraft carrier doing about four knots in calm waters. Dad was not proud, but I discovered that I would never follow his merchant marine footsteps.

Also in 1953, I was nine years old with two older sisters; one seven years my senior and the second sister was nine years apart. Often the story was told and retold that when I was born, my backyard was filled with neighbors as my father walked out onto the porch holding me above his head with outstretched arms. “Behold my son” or something like that and the gathering roared its approval. My sisters cringed. Over the ensuing years I realized my father became much less enamored by me. I took no interest in his love of tools to fix any conceivable broken object. I was a jittery child with a short attention span that found it impossible to either hand him the correct requested tool, nor could I even hold a flashlight on the exact spot where he was working. “Boy!” he yelled, (Dad always called me Boy when he was frustrated or angry with me.) “if you can’t do a simple thing to help me, go away.” And I did.

When I was teenager, I remember Sunday afternoons riding with him to discover new bars where he would order only one shot of whiskey, note the size of the shot glass in a little black book (he loved to make notes for future reference of fun places with healthy pours and lively pool tables) and try to hustle up pool games by challenging anyone to play after promising to make every shot a bank-shot. He found lots of takers…he never lost. But unfortunately he never took me with him again after one particular excursion; the one when as I was watching him, I leaned against a Jersey establishment’s front glass panel and somehow fell backwards through it, shattering glass everywhere! Suddenly Dad picked me up by the back of my shirt, asked if I was alright, and immediately took off to the car for our getaway from having to pay repair costs. We made a clean escape but that ended my bar-hopping escapades.

When I began junior high school, Dad encouraged me to try out for the JV football team. I tried it and hated it. I was injured one day during a tackling exercise, and was told by an orthopedic doctor only six years ago that the cause of my newly diagnosed spinal stenosis was most likely caused by fracturing a small bone that day so many years earlier on the football field. “Thanks Dad” was my first immediate sarcastic thought after the diagnosis. Back then I quit the football team and shortly thereafter joined the first ever co-ed cheerleading team. I “lettered” in cheerleading in my senior year and proudly displayed it on my new “letter sweater”. My father was not impressed. Also in my senior year I was voted Class Clown and when my father read that in my yearbook, I made up a story using all my powers to sound convincing…”Dad, actually I was voted two honors: 1) Most Likely To Succeed and 2) Class Clown. The school has some silly rule about not being able to have more than one title, and because I had slightly more votes as Class Clown, that was the one I would claim.” I held my breath. He wasn’t buying it. He closed the yearbook. handed it to me and told me to go away. It was never discussed again. College was on the horizon and my poor father hung all his hopes on the dream that I would be the first family member to graduate from college. I lasted three years accumulating a whopping ..6 average out of a four point system which led to my not being invited back. I never had the courage to tell him but waited until the letter arrived one day announcing the situation. Looking back, I knew I was smart enough, but college was not where I wanted to be so I took the lazy, slow, painful way out.

The Philadelphia Navy Yard officially closed in 1967 and Dad was laid off prior to its closing. It was extremely difficult and frustrating to him trying to secure decent employment after any prospective employer found out he had not graduated from high school. He could do almost any mechanical engineering task, but without the proper diplomas, no one would consider his life learned skills. Consequently Dad fell into a deep and long-lasting depression. He drank more and more, and started to have episodes of not being able to deal with reality. He became paranoid towards his family. Hospitalizations followed, some voluntary and some not, where he underwent shock therapy, and by 1969, he was only a shell of the man he once was. (As an aside, I never could watch completely the movie “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” because of the harrowing depictions of shock treatments at state-run facilities.)

The death certificate read “pneumonia” as cause of death, but it really was a combination  of low self-esteem magnified by years of alcohol abuse and in the end just giving up after being left in almost a zombie-like trance after all the hospital stays.

I was 26 years old when he passed and am now approaching my 75th; every year after my 60th birthday I have thought of him, realizing just how young he was at 60 and how much time was robbed from us both by not being able to see and talk to one another.

So I end this as Fathers Day, 2019 ends and a new day begins.  I am writing and thinking about my father who somehow through it all gave me a base upon which to carry on for so long, learning from all the good and bad decisions made during my lifetime and trying to be a man that he would approve and like. I think he would, and that makes for an enlightened understanding and that allows me to smile.



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Auld Lang Syne

“For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.”

Growing up, I spent every New Year’s Eve at a relative’s house party for family and friends. After the stroke of mid-night and hugs and kisses had been shared, everyone sang “Auld Lang Syne” . I had no understanding of the meaning, as this was a singing family anyway, but it was very comforting.
Seems that the 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns first penned the words and attached them to a popular melody of the time and submitted it for publication. Later he would write a poem about it.
“We’ll take a cup of kindness yet” was the act of men and women drinking with each other to celebrate old memories and their friendships in general. Over the centuries the song evolved to be especially popular at New Year’s, funerals, graduations, and other social events.
“Auld Lang Syne” has lost some of its popularity in the 21st Century, but for me, today’s expanded version of the meaning just might very well be FaceBook, and Twitter, and my blog “Moving On”. These provide us all with an opportunity to see on a daily basis what we are doing, thinking, and sharing, especially anything pertaining to animals. 😽 And it does so not only for the present, but for years past courtesy of F.B.’s “On This Day”. Our very own “cup of kindness yet” in digital glory.
I’m not embarrassed to say how important it is for me to see, learn, laugh, cry, and generally admire each of you and the ability to know what’s makes your world, in the words of the Chairman of the Board, go ring-a-ding-ding. It also provides me with daily opportunities to express to you all my imagination in assorted ways that make me happy, and as a bonus, hopefully add a smile or two to you all.
2016 had its fair share of glorious moments, but taken in totem, I’m very much willing to let it go in anticipation of new possibilities in 2017. Looking forward to continuing this magnificent life with you by my cyber-side. HAPPY NEW YEAR !! Love, Alan


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That Kind of Day

Why is it that different devices show different postings on social media platforms. I like what I see on Twitter using my cell phone more than the tweets I see on my iPad, but I prefer the iPad because the screen is bigger. It’s going to be THAT kind of day, is it?  What to do? Aha! I go to my Mac Air but its not charged. And I don’t have an iWatch, or I would check that too. Never mind, I’ll watch TV. Wait, there’s a problem there because I took a solemn oath last night not to turn on commercial TV until further notice (my only exception will be CBS Sunday Morning, fast-forwarding past the headlines).  Speaking of headlines, I read earlier that there is now a 51% chance of either Trump winning the presidency or the Cubs winning the world series. If either comes true, I’m guessing the end of days is nigh.
I forgot what was I thinking? Oh yes, the TV. I can get the TV on, but not the cable. Now the cable is on but the TV just went off. Either my dyslexia is getting worse or I have too many remotes. The sun is shining so a good walk is in order. But its not even 11 am, the temperature is 90 degrees and I don’t like to sweat. Unfortunately, the new color-coordinated exercise outfit will have to wait. I have an audible book to start but it is over 10 hours long about a girl on a train or something, and just listening is too sedentary. In a couple of hours I could go to the movies in an air-conditioned theater that serves buttered popcorn but the best movie showing right now is about an airplane crash in NYC. I’d rather take a shoe-less walk on a sizzling sidewalk in south Florida and look like one of those giant floppy armed blow-ups outside of car washes. That said, I might change my mind because I think the movie’s main character is Sully, the “best scarer” from the movie Monsters, Inc.. What to do…what to do?
I know…I’ll vacuum! I love to vacuum because it always both soothes my mind and allows me to sing at the top of my lungs without alarming the neighbors. Looking back, most of my most important decisions were made while either cleaning or simply putzing around. OK, times a wasting…gotta go and fire up the Electrolux…

“The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it down give the vacuum one more chance.”


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First Alan; Then POTUS

“To travel is to take a journey into oneself”   Danny Kaye



[This is a picture I took during early fall, 2011, in Hanoi, Viet Nam. Three years later, my wife had it enlarged and framed, and gave it to me as a birthday gift. It now hangs in the master bedroom at our second home, Hydrangea Hill in Massachusetts as a reminder of amazing travels.]

As I write, President Obama is currently in Viet Nam, the first President ever to visit Hanoi. His three day trip is opening my memory floodgates of the wonderful three weeks my wife, one of her sisters, and I spent traveling the entire length from Sapa, near the Chinese border in the north, to Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta in the south; a distance approximately from Albany NY to Miami, FL.

One of my sharpest memories stems from touring Ho Chi Minh’s home site and a conversation I had with the young guide. I mentioned I was in the Army during our war, but never was stationed in Viet Nam. Although not alive during that period, I asked the young man his overall impression of that war and Americans in general. His response surprised me. He explained that the Vietnamese generally don’t think much about our approximate twenty year war. “The Chinese occupied my country for a thousand years; the French for almost a hundred. The U.S. involvement is just a blip in our long history”. He added the two biggest reminders of that time is 1) the lack of males of my generation in his country, and the physical disfigurement of so many people by “Agent Orange”. He added the opinion that “only those in power want war. The people want peace.” I will never forget that conversation, that young Vietnamese man, and that beautiful location.

Viet Nam today is a gorgeous  country with friendly citizens everywhere. The various sights and sounds and smells, fills the senses in totally different and totally pleasant ways. From the tiered rice fields in the clouds of Sapa, and Halong Bay’s limestone islands in the North, the ancient towns of Hoi An, and the former imperial capital of Hue in the central region, to the city formally known as Saigon and the vibrantly thriving life of floating markets, pagodas and and villages on the Mekong Delta in the south, Vietnam offered a wonderful travel experience.

I hope the President feels the same way after his trip is completed. I feel luckier in a way that as a tourist, I had a chance to meet some lovely people, eat some delicious food, learn about a foreign culture that existed for thousands of years prior to mine, and most of all feel a thrill greater than any amusement park ride, by walking across any busy traffic intersection in Hanoi! Travel books mention it as unforgettable. It is. The secret…keep walking no matter what. Uniquely amazing experience. Unfortunately POTUS will never be allowed to have such fun, even when he is out of office, and that is a shame. On the plus side, I’m confident if he is introduced to Pho, the noodle soup mainstay of the country, he will be culinarily hooked forever. Enjoy your visit Mr. President.


Sapa-Find the flag…


Peg, Alan, and Ho in Hanoi


Halong Bay


Discovered if everything else failed, I could sell bananas in Hanoi


You can get a driver’s permit at the age of four in Viet Nam


Happy trekers

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When Mom Met The Hard-of-Hearing Dwarf, The Love of My Life

My Mom was one of those “unconditional love” types of mothers. Anything I did; anywhere I went; each and everything in my life was met with approval from the woman who birthed and raised me. In 1986, I was planning a trip from Albany NY to Philadelphia to introduce her to a beautiful woman I had recently met and had become infatuated with, and realized it was turning into a serious relationship.

To humor myself, I told my mother that she should know beforehand, that this woman she was about to meet for the first time, Peg, was short…very short. dwarf short. “I don’t want you to stare Mom, that’s why I’m telling you in advance. I really like her and once you get to know her, you’ll forget all about her being a little person.” Mom said she understood and thanked me for giving her the heads-up. “Oh, and there’s one more thing you need to know before you two meet.”, I added. “What’s that honey?” as I heard a slight hesitation in her voice. “Peg’s deaf in her left ear, so when talking to her, you should try to stand to Peg’s right side and towards her good ear.” “Really Alan?” “Yes Mom…Peg had a childhood ear infection and it caused permanent damage. If you just make sure to always stand to her right and speak up just a little, everything will be fine. Thanks Mom…love you and see you next weekend!”

On the drive down to Philadelphia the following weekend, I casually mentioned to Peg that I just remembered something she needed to know before meeting my mother. “Mom is deaf in her right ear as a result of a fireworks accident when she was a teenager. Just make sure when talking to her, you try always to be on her left side. Otherwise she won’t know what you’re saying.” “You’re kidding me right?” Peg asked. I was impressed she knew me more than I knew. “No, I’m not kidding. Why on earth would I kid about something like deafness. No big deal and I’ll be there to remind you if conversation becomes awkward.”

We arrived at my childhood home on a beautiful, sunshine-filled afternoon and Mom greeted us at the front door. She gave Peg a big hug, and looked my way saying”oh Alan, she’s not short at all! You devil you!” Peg looked at me quizically and I shrugged and rolled my eyes signaling the “oh, my crazy mother” look, and we all entered the house. For the next ten minutes or so I watched in silent glee the creation of my imagination as the two ladies kept moving in circles, jockeying for the right position in which to be speak and to be heard. And both talking much louder than normal, with the volume increasing as they were both thinking they might not be talking loud enough. It truly was a sight to behold before Peg realized the joke, and punched me so hard in my arm, my sister felt it four states away. My mother of course hugged me and told me what a great son I was, kidding his mother like that…unconditional forgiveness. It was one of everyone’s favorite stories to tell and re-tell over the years. I eventually married the faux hard-of-hearing dwarf and we lived happily ever after. Thinking and missing you Mom, and happy Mother’s Day to all the rest of the moms who gave and continue to give all their love to their children, no matter what.

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Procrastinating Pope (A Fantasy)


(my phone rings late yesterday morning)

Hello Big Al, my friend, this is Francis.

Hi Papa, Merry Christmas!

Not so merry I’m afraid.

Oh no, what’s the problem?

I can’t find my manger set.

You’re the Pope, ask for another set.

No, you don’t understand; I’ve had this set since I was a boy. Won it with coupons from playing Skee-ball. I know I packed it when I left Buenos Aires.

Can you remember putting it away last year?

I didn’t set it up last year. My room is not that large and one of the Cardinals gave me a miniature version of Radio City Music Hall with a 36 piece Rockettes ensemble complete with two dance outfits each.

Wow…so why not just set that up again?


Why not?

I broke it.

Oh…too bad.

You’re telling me.

Have you looked in your garage?

Of course I looked in the garage. It’s where I keep all my decorations.

Ok, sorry. Everywhere in the Apostolic Palace?


Room of Tears?


Sistine Chapel?

Of course.

Wait a minute, how about the Sobieski Room?

I thought of that too, but no luck.

Sorry Francis, I think it will show up but not this season.

Do you have a manger set?

No, but I visited one many years ago in St. Petersburg.

You were in Russia?

No Sir, Florida.

Ah, Florida…If I ever resign, I want to retire there. Oh well, I should go. I have two masses tomorrow and I need to prepare.

Merry Christmas Francis

Merry Christmas Big Al


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“The End of Labor is to Gain Leisure.” Aristotle

A friend commented the other day that it seemed that I had a large number of assorted  jobs over the years and after thinking about it, decided to begin writting something on Labor Day to pay homage to assorted experiences that work afforded me. When finished I’ll count them up and compare my number with that of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which states the average number of jobs over a lifetime is 11.4 different jobs for men and 10.7 jobs for women. So lets start at the beginning and work through relatively chronoligically as I remember them.


My very first job was obtained for me against my will by my father. He thought I needed some experience in the work force, so while in high school I went to work in my uncle’s  CPA firm in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Paperwork was the name of the game and I remember thinking the last thing I EVER wanted to do was be an accountant.


How hard could this be? I will ride my bike to a pick-up center, fold my allotment in a canvas bag, ride my bike back to my neighborhood and throw them on patron’s lawns or porches. Trouble was the papers were more likely to break a window, or a piece of porch lighting, or land high up in a tree, or in a big puddle if it was raining. The Philadelphia Inquirer and I both agreed it would be better if we parted ways. My father was not pleased.


Once upon a time there was an A&W drive-in restaurant where you gave your order over a speaker and the food was delivered to the cars by servers on roller-skates. I was always good on skates going straight on flat surfaces. The A&W parking lot was not level. The restaurant was higher that the cars, so you were skateing down to the cars with food trays, and skateing up hill returning with trash filled trays. I would always have to thrust one arm out to stop me from crashing into the trunk, or side doors of the cars, and amazingly I spilled very little of the food. My body was bruised, but I got the job done. They also had the best onion-rings and root beer floats than any other in-town eatery.


When I was a senior in high school, my sister was a restaurant manager for the Marriott Corporation and she pulled some strings to get her little brother a job as a lifeguard at a suburban Philadelphia location. The position was conditional that I take and pass the lifeguard’s examination. I was hired and expected to produce a certificate of completion. I was a very strong swimmer at the time and this was a pool at a luxury hotel. So how hard could this job be? I never bothered to take the course. If you remember the old Henry Fonda movie, “Mr Roberts”, there was an Ensign Pulver in charge of the laundry on a WWII supply ship,  who was terrified of the Captain and spent the entire war avoiding meeting the commanding officer. That role was played by Jack Lemmon. Well, I was the Ensign Pulver of hotel employees trying continuously to avoid the Marriott Corporation executives who were checking to see if all the lifeguard certificates were current. I managed to make it through the summer and I also had the opportunity to meet and eventually have dinner, along with the other guards, with the Duke himself, John Wayne. He stayed at the hotel and was on a promotion tour for a new movie. He came to the pool everyday and we all fawned over his every wish.


Before heading off to college I was hired as an employment agency counselor for “Sales Consultants” in Philadelphia. A year later two other counselors and I formed a new employment company in Newark, N.J. A year later we were the largest employment agency in the State. and this time frame was to eventually become known as “The Vietnam Era”. I was drafted and decided to enlist instead. The Newark riots completely destroyed our business. Our insurance company informed us that riots were considered “Acts of God” and therefore, not covered. The partners lost everything.

During my college years I had four jobs that included both full and part-time positions.


Every night I left the factory covered in pink sugar dust. As soon as I went outside, the sugar dust turned into a sticky pink goo that completely covered me as I drove home in search of a shower. I think I always looked like a pink Gumby when I got home and said hi to my Mom.


Dressed as a walking, breathing, Cheer Laundry Detergent box, I would drive to designated neighborhoods and stop at designated addresses, and if the little lady of the house had any Proctor & Gamble product, I would give her a mail-in coupon that could be redeemed for cash. If not, I gave them a plastic soap measuring cup. A few times women who had Cheer in their home, but whose addresses were not on the list, yelled suggestive ideas to lure me across their lawns and up the porch stairs. Me, being ignorant and a virgin, stuck to the exact list in hand, and did not falter from my appointed rounds. And stupid. Did I mention stupid? On another day, after becoming lost, I was robbed in a South Philadelphia neighborhood of over three hundred measuring cups, and was warned that “Soap Boy” should never come back to their neighborhood. If you were there that day, reading this, and remember the incident (robbing a giant soap box), please know that I have always honored your command.


This job was so boring, a number of us would stretch thick rubber bands over a ruler and fire them at each other to help pass the time. One night I was zeroing in on an arch proofer-enemy and just as I let it fly, my peripharal vision saw the supervisor walking  towards my planned trajectory. WHAP…a red welt immediately swelled on the supervisor’s forhead. I knew immediately my fate and collected all personal belongings.


Telling a small fib to an interviewer that I had experience as a short-order cook, I was hired for the graveyard shift at the Louisville Municipal Airport. My very first customer’s order was two “eggs in the hole” and a cup of coffee. At that moment, whatever the equivilent to today’s WTF was in 1964, that’s what I thought. After that job ended, I never worried again that I might someday either starve to death or have a steady diet of sandwiches. I could cook and this would prove to be an advantage many times over in the future.


After flunking out of Officers Training School, I was sent to Fort Bragg in North Carolina (a.k.a Hell on Earth) to armored infantry training. Overseas I managed to fanagle a fuel supply sargeant slot and stayed behind the lines where it was much harder to get shot. While stationed in Korea, I took a thirty day leave to get married to the mother of my children. (That is an entire bizarely wonderful story previously retold on this blog.) At the end of my three-year tour in 1969, I was stationed at the Pentagon and was offered a double promotion to re-up and become Army Liason to Nixon’s White House. What possibly could have gone wrong with that scenario? I respectfully declined, and became a civilian.


Imagine Ernestine from the show “Laugh-In”, and you have a visual of the switchboard in an E.J. Korvettes Department Store. Things were going along swimmingly until the night I had to page our store manager, Mr. Deutch. I pressed the storewide intercom and spoke very professionally into the microphone…”paging Mr. Douche, Mr. Douche, please call 55. A few minutes later I collected my personal belongs and left the premisies. An honest mistake made into a mountain.


In Arlington, VA in the late sixties, the Federal government owned city blocks of apartment buildings to house young single women who were primarily secretaries in the Pentagon and Department of State, etc. I sold waterless cooking pots and pans, and would   use them before ten-fifteen women in a single apartment demonstration. I stacked the pans one on top of the other and cooked an entire meal. If anyone bought an entire set, they would receive a free cedar hope chest. I was top salesman for that company for fourteen straight months, and my wife was the proud owner of a new cedar hope chest. (Yes, she rolled her eyes but used it for many years)


I started as a tire changer at a Firestone retail outlet and was eventually found to be  generally incompetent at manuel labor, so I was promoted to credit manger. At that time, tire stores also carried other products; refrigerators, vacuums, and hair dryers to name a few. One Christmas I bought my wife one of those bubble top hair-dryers with the long handle to the motor, that she would sit under. I thought it was very cool and she would love it. She took one look at it, and warned me if she ever got another similar Christmas present, I would collect my personal belongings and leave the premises. Message received. It was always jewelry after that.


In the early days before the term “chinese take-out” became part of our normal lexicon, my chinese brother-in-law, textile engineer by trade, decided he wanted to own and operate a chinese restaurant whose main business volume would be take-out. He asked me to be his partner. We both took a six-month training exercise in his relatives’s Philadelphia restaurant and eventually opened our own in Albany, N.Y. It opened to much fanfare and people seemed to like being able to order and take the food home with them. Eventually we had two storefront operations and two roving food trucks that serviced summer parks and “China Tom” was the very first food vendor permitted to operate outside Albany’s capitol building. Today, weather permitting, they are packed one next to the other on two separate streets. It was tough work with very long hours and I had a young family that I hardly ever saw, so when I got a request to interview for a state job, I took it and left the restaurant business after eighteen months. I must have made ten thousand wontons over that period.


Based on my previous private sector experience, I was hired by New York State to assist others in finding employment, however this job lasted less than a year because it was federally funded and the program eventually ran out of money and I was laid-off from the state…laid off from the state! Whoever thought that was possible?


A social friend of mine was chief of staff for the Assembly Ways & Means Minority and one night at a social gathering my wife told him I had just been laid off from the State (he couldn’t believe it) and could he help me find a job? I was hired as a summer intern and liked it so much, was sucessful in staying with the Assembly committee for twenty-three years, mostly in the majority party. I began as a tax and fiscal anaylst until I couldn’t take it anymore and begged to switch to being a budget analyst. I stayed until I couldn’t take it anymore and asked to switch to local government finance. Under my tenure in that position both the city of New York and the city of Yonkers almost went financially belly-up and financial control boards were established for both. I’m sure the timing was just coincidence, and no one can prove otherwise. Also coincidentally, shortly thereafter I took over the administrative oversight of state funded local government grants, commonly referred to in legislative slang as “pork barrel projects”. I ask you, is a “cheese museum” pork barrel? Is it pork barrel for the construction of a handicapped ramp for a building owned and operated by lesbian witches? I rest my case.


I had always dreamed of being a radio morning drive talk show host, and after completing  a three hundred hour training course and receiving my FCC license, I quit my job in the legislature, my second wife quit her job working for NYS Division of Housing and we took off for Florida to find, in her case a new job; in mine, I was looking for fame and fortune. Over the next five years I eventually hosted two different radio morning drive talk shows, and additionally, hosted a similar format on a local cable network TV station. Money was far from abundant and fame was elusive but I was living my dream and having fun every single day.


On weekends I would be a party disc jockey, and because of my age, specialized in weddings. My strangest wedding was held in an Alabama school gym and I was told to set up next to an open doorway where twenty feet away, two whole pigs were slow-roasting over coals. I don”t know which one of us had it worse, the pigs or me. Meanwhile the music was playing while the bride stood at half-court awaiting two lines of men who individually would take a shot of vodka from bottles on stools, then walk up to the bride and scotch-tape money to her. The men loved doing this because they would get in line again and again as the more evocative placements were still to come. Very classy.  As a rule, I found brides to be extremely wound up prior to the ceremony and almost always drank too much too soon after the ceremony. My advice to “eat something” went mostly unheeded, which was too bad because in Alabama the pork parts that weren’t staring at me were absolutely delicious.


I spent the better part of one year valeting cars for a hospital corporation. I took the bus to and from work. If you really want to know what people are thinking, ride the bus with the same people twice a day; you get an earful  of opinion. The outdoor valet service was positioned next to a cancer treatment office to one side, and a mamography office on the other. I found it astounding how many people would come from receiving a cancer regimen and immediately light a cigarette. and the ladies would drive up frowning and fretting, and then an hour later come out all jovial and joking. To help ease their anxiety when they arrived, I sometimes would tell them I was in doctor training and I could do the same procedure with my portable machine in the parking lot and would only charge them half of what the hospital would. It was only a matter of time before someone complained and I was told to report to the head of valet parking (ouuu, I wasn’t scared) where I was properly admonished and ordered to stop being funny on the job. Being funny had no place in the art of parking cars, I was emphatically informed. I promised the gentleman I would  not be funny ever again and returned to my duties head held high.


After limited training, I opened a local office for a mortgage lending company headquartered in a different part of the state. I lasted a year dealing with the public and realtors, and appraisers. I think I was the only mortgage lender in the country that did not make a lot of money during the early years at the turn of the century. I didn’t have the fire in the belly needed to make a successful career in anything dealing with real estate. I really like easy things…easy things given to me…that’s ideal. Time to move on.


The most important, amazing, satisfying and rewarding job I ever held was becoming a court-appointed child advocate in which a charge of abuse, neglect or abandonment were alleged. Over the span of ten years, both as a volunteer and as a staff person, I advocated for over three hundred children, children whose names I keep as a reminder of what went before. The last few years, I specialized in the most difficult of cases alleging sexual abuse.  The lack of passion I displayed being a mortgage lender was reversed a hundred times over in the attempt to ensure a child was safe, thriving and receiving needed services. I didn’t make a lot of friends with the various cast of characters involved n the process, and I pushed people’s buttons to the extreme if I thought the process was not being well served, but on the other hand, all the frustrations quickly evaporated when children were retuned to their original homes, or if that was not possible, to witness a child being adopted by a loving family. For me, there is no greater reward than seeing a child happy and laughing.


It’s been five years this month since I last received a paycheck. I don’t miss working at all; what I do miss is the social interaction with people that jobs often provide.

So there it is, twenty-two different money-generating situations so far over my lifetime. Twice the national average. I suppose the difference is not surprising to me when I realize I never had a plan or goal, simply a desire to go with the flow and discover what awaits me around the next corner. I’m still discovering.

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