I always used writing to soothe myself. My family was crazily disorganized. We weren’t very poor. My father always had several jobs. At the same time. So I guess we had money. We had one of the first TV’s in the neighborhood. But dad worked hard for the money.
He was a short order cook, in the day. I will now do a Google search for ‘short order cook’ because it just occurs to me that I never actually heard that phrase before. Just a moment!
Okay. But they got it wrong. Nowadays, a short order cook is a guy who turns burgers [Boigas. Were talkin’ about Brooklyn, remember!] in Micky D’s. But then; then it was more of an art.
The Occupational Handbook from the U.S.Department of Labor says that they:
- Grill, cook, and fry foods such as french fries, eggs, and pancakes.
- Take orders from customers and cook foods requiring short preparation times, according to customer requirements.
- Grill and garnish hamburgers or other meats such as steaks and chops.
- Restock kitchen supplies, rotate food, and stamp the time and date on food in coolers.
- Perform food preparation tasks, such as making sandwiches, carving meats, making soups or salads, baking breads or desserts, and brewing coffee or tea.
- Plan work on orders so that items served together are finished at the same time.
- Complete orders from steam tables, placing food on plates and serving customers at tables or counters.
- Accept payments, and make change or write charge slips as necessary.
It was hard work. We went bankrupt. Later on, my dad qualified for a civil service job with NYC-OSHA, and we got a more normal life.
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Back to my youth. My mother cared for my brothers and I. In the 1940’s most mothers didn’t work outside the home. So mom and I had four years together, before the family enlarged, and I actually have a memory or two from that time.
There’s a cute story of how my brother got his name, but its not relevant at the moment. It wasn’t “Washington, although”Irving” could be a Jewish name. But it was presidential. Of course its certainly relevant to him!
The youngest, the ‘little brother’, taller than all the extended family, was raised by us and is, by my own account, MY brother. But, technically, he came to us though a foster agency. The pivotal event on my family’s life. All else is commentary. Yet another post in the making.
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The ‘craziness’ in my family was initially just the disorganization of a energetic group of boys, with a over-worked mother, and a father who was always working, by necessity. Notice that I letting everyone off the hook. Its intentional. No bad actors here! Just the post-war, lower-class, Brooklyn Jewish, wanna-be-a-family blues. Doo Wah!
Two events changed my life. I got my own room. Finally, I was alone with my thoughts. I wrote. Everthing I could. All my ‘why’s were attempting organization. I didn’t have answers. I was only 12 or so. But, at least, I had room [phsycally and metaphysically] to think.
The most dramatic event was meeting meeting my wife. At a junior high school dance. At the Caton Scool gym, across the street from the Parade Grounds, at Buckingham Road, Brooklyn, NY. Were were introduded though Artie Rorhbacker; he of the geeky name. Its not an easily forgetable name, is it? I should look him up on Facebook. Maybe I will.
She listened to me. I’m sure my ramblings were obtuse. But she listened to me. Of course there was innocent ‘making out’. But she listered to me!
Stories upon stories.
Her family moved from Brooklyn to L.A. We wrote. I completed high scool. We wrote. I went to college. We wrote. Longingly, we wrote. Passionately, we wrote. Good and bad. We wrote.
When I got a job at a mom-and-pop grocery store I saved up money to buy a plane ticket. Before LAX, in some dinky aerodrome in Burbank, we met again. We’ve been friends like that since 1957.
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And now I write to you. With as much emotion and convention as the environment will allow. Then then a little more to push the envelope. My writing is ‘spastic‘ as the word was meant to be used:
[The word’s] usage has been documented as far back as the mid 1950s. In 1965, film critic Pauline Kael, explained to her readers, “The term that American teenagers now use as the opposite of ‘tough’ is ‘spaz’. A spaz is a person who is courteous to teachers, plans for a career, and believes in official values. A spaz is something like what adults still call a square.” [wikipedia]
I used to think of myself as “hypo-manic” in my spazicity. Medically, it might be true. It hardly matters now. I have a good life.
Now, I gladly own my label as a spaz! The thought takes me back to the beginning. Writing calms me. Period, exclamation point! Emphatically! Spazifically! That’s the long and the short of it.
Now, I feel complete.