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aliceAugust 1961, Rory is 5, I’m 7 and it’s 96 degrees. We have shorts, tee-shirts and sneakers on. Mom couldn’t take the heat in our airless apartment and dragged the three of us over to Central Park. We start racing ahead down the path to the Alice in Wonderland statute after my father yells, “Who’s King of the Mountain?” In a side glance I catch Mom muttering, “Shit Head,” towards Dad. Rory and I get there at the same time and jump on. To pull ourselves up, I grab the Mad Hatter’s Hat and Rory hangs on to the Rabbit’s ear. We scream simultaneously, “Ouch!!!!!” Our hands are on fire, our shins are cooking and the only way to get down is to use our hands and knees to shimmy backwards across the scorching toadstools.  I think Rory’s hands were beginning to smoke. He’s down runs to Mom, she says “Nice job,” to my father, and I run over to Sailboat Lake to put my thumping hands in the water.

If you like my work check out my memoir, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood.” Available at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
The book has 103 Amazon five star reviews out of 103 total reviews posted. We’re pitching a perfect game.

My old world echoes TV’s “The Wonder Years” ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs

Visit my blog, Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts, for further adventures and news on upcoming shows.

alice framed by blossoms

 

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Rory Pryor staring at the camera’s eye 1961

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Alice May 14, 2015

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author & his brother, Rory, swimming in Bethesda Fountain 1961

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Tom & Rory Under Bethesda Fountain Central Park 1962

 

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Posted & filed under Entertainment, General, Nostalgia.

Thomas E

Thomas E. Pryor at orphanage in 1914

 

 

 

I have a strong interest in the history of New York City orphanages. My grandfather, Thomas E. Pryor, spent seven years in Father Drumgoole’s Staten Island orphanage, Mount Loretto. Father Drumgoole first orphanage at 53 Warren Street two blocks from City Hall was for homeless newsboys. Prior to building the Staten Island complex through farm purchases, Father Drumgoole built “City House,” a ten story orphanage which stood at the northeast corner of Lafayette Street and Great Jones Street. It’s now the parking lot directly across the street from the restaurant that was formerly The Time Café. You can still see two City House chapel windows on a section of the building that remains behind the parking lot.

In 2011, I was in Dyker Heights in Brooklyn. I had time to kill before an appointment and walked around the neighborhood. At 12th Avenue and 64th Street I passed a property with a long tall wall surrounding most of the site. I saw an open entrance and walked in to a huge complex with a large garden taking up half the space. A fellow was working on his car, I asked him where I was, “The Angel Guardian Home for Little Children,” he said.

The Home opened in 1899; if you go to the link above you can read a New York Times article about the event. I walked around for 20 minutes and thought about the loss of family and being little in this place and though the garden was pretty not much else cheered me up. The worn beauty is interesting and the enormity of the institution is awe inspiring but it’s a sad spot. I can only imagine how difficult it must be trying to get through your childhood without family.

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If you like my work check out my memoir, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood.”  Available at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Saturday, May 9th @ 7pm to 10pm 

 

Ryan’s Daughter, 350 East 85th Street (between First & Second Avenue).

 

Our Stoops to Nuts artists: Abbi CrutchfieldWalter Michael DeForestJoe DettmoreApryl MillerLiz PhillipsLuke Thayer and Eric Vetter and musical guests. I’ll host and tell a good one. Free storytelling, free music, free comedy, a beer special and real prizes. I’m giving good stuff away. I’m 61, what’s my daughter going to do with this crap?

Thomas Pryor age 8.Orphanage intake card to Mt.Loretto 1909

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Paddy Mac. Rory. Tommy Mac. Mick Cacciolli .1964 cor of 83rd and York

Paddy Mac, Rory Pryor, Tommy Mac, Mike Cachioli

You know you’re old when you remember being stuck inside a discarded locked refrigerator.

In 1963, the thrown-out fridge with an intact door and functional handle was on the sidewalk in front of the Sullivan McNamara house on 83rd Street. We wanted to see how many kids could get in there and still lock it. After we took the metal trays out, four guys did fit inside when everyone pulled their stomachs in. You only played this game with close friends.

Everyone understood this was fun only if the door reopened quickly. We knew that a few years back on 80th Street, kids were locked in a fridge and when the guys on the outside tried to open it, the door handle broke off and the kids were trapped (Parents like to repeat horror stories). A Con Ed worker was watching the action from his hole in the street. He grabbed a sledge hammer and gave the side of the refrigerator a few good whacks. The door popped open, the kids got out but spent the rest of the day with the shakes.

Old refrigerators provided hours of pleasure, but new ones did too, or at least the boxes they came in did. The fridge box was huge, taller than any kid and made of sturdy heavy-duty cardboard. There were three games.

When the box was intact, a guy would get in and the guys on the outside would rattle the box and knock it over a few times, then each guy would take a turn getting in and slammed around. It was preferable not to go last, since you probably pissed someone off for playing too rough and they were looking to get even. This game would eventually knock out the bottom of the box.

When the bottom fell out, the box became a tank. We turned it on its side, and as many kids as possible would crawl in it and we’d begin to roll down the street, screaming, “Gang way! Gang way! Coming Through!” No one could see what was in front of them. Most of the time, people cleared the sidewalk and gave us room. We rolled over my brother Rory once, but he had on double winter clothes and hardly felt a thing. After a few trips up and down the block the tank would blow a gasket and tear.

We no longer had a cylinder, just a long wide strip of cardboard that was perfect for a sliding pond down the longer stoops in the neighborhood. The closest tall stoops were on the east side of York Avenue between 85th Street and 86th Street. We dragged the box over to one of those babies and played until the box blew its last breath.

If you enjoy my work please check out my memoir, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood.”  

Available at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Mark your calendar, we’re doing a special Mother’s Day Eve “Stoops to Nuts” storytelling show on Saturday, May 9th from 7-10 pm, at Ryan’s Daughter, 350 East 85th Street. 

FREE w/ COOL PRIZES

 

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Murray Parker on corner of 83rd Street, 1966.

 

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Patricia Pryor on corner of 83rd Street, 1966.

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Ye Ol’ Fridge

 

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Posted & filed under Art, General, Nostalgia.

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Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home reflection

Imagine you are a life-long upper east side, Yorkville resident born in 1949 and you’ve spent 39 years in Mary Manning Walsh nursing home on York Avenue due to a life-altering brain injury suffered when you were mugged in John Jay Park walking your dog in 1976. You were twenty-seven when you became trapped to the wheelchair and you never had a trip outside the 72nd Street institutional building. Your family’s gone. It’s only you and because you are shy and have difficulty talking, people are put off and it’s impossible to make one friend in the home.

But a young nun, a new nun notices you, she sees the intelligence in your eyes and begins a conversation with you through furiously written penciled notes passed back and forth. She’s funny, street smart and she cares about who you are and what you like.

Once the comfort of connection sets in, Sister Beatrice asks, “How about I wheel you down to the river at the edge of 72nd Street and we watch the boats?” You force together the best grin you can manage with your uncooperative face muscles. She sees it, and smiles back. That’s all you need. As she pushes your wheelchair through the York Avenue entrance for the first time in 39 years you look up at the strange images across the street and your first thought is, “Where’s Kodak?”

Here are photos of scenes you would see from your wheelchair if an understanding nun took you down to the East River and along York Avenue. Here’s a link to more photos.

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If you like my work, check out my memoir, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood.”  Available locally at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Mark your calendar, we’re doing a special Mother’s Day Eve “Stoops to Nuts” storytelling show on Saturday, May 9th from 7-10 pm, at Ryan’s Daughter, 350 East 85th Street.

FREE w/ COOL PRIZES

ps Kodak was across the street from the Home from 1929 to the late 70s. Sotheby bought the building and opened in 1980.

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s/e corner of York Avenue & 72nd Street

 

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Nursing Home reflection off Sotheby’s on York Avenue

 

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York Ave Early in the Morning

This harsh New York winter is ignoring the calendar. It’s the thing that wouldn’t leave. But we had pretty snowfalls.

During each storm, and thereafter, I visited Prospect Park, Central Park, Carl Schurz Park and rambled through my Yorkville neighborhood.

Here are a few photos of NYC in snow and four links to photograph albums for each snowfall.

They are public albums. You do not need to be on Facebook to view them.

Carl Schurz Park and Yorkville on January 27, 2015

Snowy Sunny Day In Carl Schurz Park on February 3, 2015

Prospect Park on March 1, 2015

Central Park Northbound on March 20, 2015

I purposely left out an album from March 5th. My favorite day ever. Central Park was spectacular. Thought I was in heaven. I’ll show those photos next week. Hopefully I’ll be in shorts on a 65 degree day if the thing that wouldn’t leave leaves, you know….

 

If you enjoy my work, check out my memoir, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood.” It’s available at Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Avenue, or buy it online at AmazonBarnes and Noble or other booksellers. If you do read it, please leave a few honest words about the book on Amazon and B&N.

My photograph portfolio, “River to River – New York Scenes From a Bicycle” is also available for sale online at Amazon.  Thank you.

Mark your calendar… a special “Stoops to Nuts” Mother’s Day storytelling show ~ Saturday, May 9th  @ 7pm-10pm @ Ryan’s Daughter @ 350 E. 85th Street. It will be a good one. Promise.

 

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Central Park

 

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Carl Schurz Park

 

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Shorty, Patty’s pal

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Peter P. Strolling

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Carl Schurz Park

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Logos

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Harlem Meer – Central Park

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Botanical Garden – Central Park

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Bethesda Angel – Central Park

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Prospect Park

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Prospect Park

Prospect Park Mom Daughter Horses in Snow FULL

Prospect Park

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Carmelo “Don Mel” Spinelli

Last night, I got off the #6 train at Bleecker Street early for a Jonatha Brooke show at Subculture and walked around. Down to LaSalle Academy’s old building next to NYC Marble Cemetery on 2nd Street east of Second Avenue, along Bond Street and The Bowery and back up to Bleecker Street towards Lafayette. The one thought in my head coming back up Bleecker: I still an urge to punch Carmelo Spinelli in the mouth. No, not just for looking at me funny, I haven’t seen him since LaSalle graduation on June 12, 1972. No, I wanted to pop Carmelo for another reason.

1968, my mother’s torturing my fourteen year old sad-sack body with yells, pushes and shoves to get up, “you’re going to be friggin’ late again!” Ten minutes later, another push out the door for a run/walk to the subway and ride to school that took a little over an hour.

Arriving downtown on the #6 Local, I’d run up the stairs pushing through other almost late LaSalle students who had no interest in seeing Brother Michael Dean of Discipline’s sick smile waiting for late students, or better for him and worse for you, late without ties.

I’m on my way down the north side of Bleecker Street towards The Bowery  and who pops out one of these doorways (houses in the photo here) whistling and tying a perfect Windsor knot in his tie like he doesn’t have a care in the world?

Carmelo Spinelli, and he says to me, “Hi, Boyass!”


I still can’t tie a tie well. I wore a clip-on Freshman year until I couldn’t handle the humiliation anymore. Even the lunch lady made fun of me.

21-19 Bleecker Street

For that alone, I want to hammer my red LaSalle schoolbag over his head, but all I’m feeling is deep sadness thinking he gets to sleep an hour longer than me every Monday to Friday morning

Our antagonism lasted until Veterans Day in our junior year 1971. On the old grass field on 15th Street right off the FDR Drive next to the Con Ed plant my classmates and Yorkville friends played a tackle football game in the rain against Carmelo’s classmates and his Little Italy buddies. We beat them on a pass I threw to Kevin King, a 6’6″ stick figure of athletic excellence. Nothing like contact sports to stop the bullshit between snotty boys. After that game, we called each other whatever we wanted with a smile and respect.

Back on Bleecker Street last night, Jonatha Brooke was excellent.

Our “City Stories: Stoops to Nuts” finale at Cornelia Street Cafe is Tuesday Feb 10th. It’s a good one to go out on.  Our artists: Barbara Aliprantis, Phillip Giambri, Jim Hawkins, Adam Wade and Sherryl Marshall, one of my favorite musical talents on the planet will present a showcase set.

My memoir:


“I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood”
 

on sale

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I strolled the neighborhood with Dad all the time. Whenever I could I tried to direct our walk past Rappaport’s Toy Bazaar on the east side of Third Avenue between 78th and 79th Streets. They had gorgeous model sailboats in the display window perfect for cruising Central Park’s sailboat lake, south of the Alice in Wonderland statute. I pictured myself in my captain’s cap directing my “Flying Dutchman” over the sea just off Fifth Avenue.IMG_6406

One day in the early 1960s, I got Dad to turn left on 79th Street putting us directly in front of Rappaport’s. It was Saturday, and the street was crowded with people. Dad grabbed my hand and we did a punt return dance through and around most of the folks. I wanted to stop and pitch Dad on the boats, he wanted to get to 72nd Street to meet a friend. As he pulled me forward and I pulled him back, a tall man said, “Hi, Tommy.” I said, “Hi, John.” Dad gave me a funny look and we kept going. Crossing 78th Street a short chubby man with a moustache said, “Hey, Tommy.” I said, ” Hi, Jeff.”

Once we were on the sidewalk, Dad stopped dead and twisted my head with his hand straight up so we made eye contact.

“Who the hell were those two men?”
“Oh, they’re Emergency Room doctors at Lenox Hill.”
Dad shook his head and we kept walking.
Tom Helmet.5.26
Later that night, Dad said to Mom, “I think Tommy should wear his football helmet all the time.” The look on Mom’s face said she was giving the idea strong consideration. I had no defense. My stitch collection was starting to make my face look like a hockey goaltender. A clumsy fellow, I regularly fell off the ten cent rides in front of Woolworth’s, Lamston’s and Grant’s.

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The penultimate “City Stories: Stoops to Nuts” @ Cornelia Street Cafe is tonight, Tuesday, January 13th @ 6pm. Our show is a love letter to street life, the neighborhood and the characters in it. Our artists: Judith Heineman, Don Rosler, Michael Schwartz, and Robert White (Hunter College’s best teacher ever) ~ $ 8 admission includes a free drink, I’m your host and I’m telling one from my memoir, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood.”

If you read my book, please post a few honest words on Amazon and/or B&N ~ Thank you, everyone who has put a review up for me.
Tommy on.Lamstons.horse prior to injury

 

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David Terhune, Connie Petruk and Katia Floreska

The Losers Lounge has inspired my writing since 1999. It took four years to write my first story and then I couldn’t stop. Each show rich tales are laid out in song. If you want a creative push see the The Losers Lounge at Joe’s Pub. Here is a photo album from Thursday night’s Elvis Presley show.

Founded by Joe McGinty and Nick Danger in 1993 at the Pink Pony, the revue grew into a musical force when it merged with the Kustard Kings led by David Terhune (David formed the band in 1992.) Four to five times a year, the Losers pay tribute to a band or songwriter (sometimes two artists in a show down like the next show in February: The Pretenders versus Blondie.) Here’s the plan: each night, 20 or more artists spill their guts on one song with the band behind them. Today, The Losers Lounge are brilliantly led by Joe McGinty and David Terhune on lead guitar in the Joe McGinty 7 (Kustard Kings merged into the 7.) The band roster changes a bit but the steadys are: Julian Maile, Jeremy Chatsky, Clem Waldman, Eddie Zweiback, Connie Petruk, Katia Floreska, Tricia Scotti, Claudia Chopek, Garo Yellin, Jeff Hermanson & Eleanor Norton clear your minds of worries with fabulous music at each show. The sensational Nick Danger continues to perform at each show.
My first Losers show at West Beth in 1999 blew me away. I followed the music to Fez under the Time Cafe, and later north across Lafayette Street to Joe’s Pub. Where they go, I go.

Don’t be a ninny, be a Loser. 

 

My memoir, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood,” will make a great stocking stuffer.

The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and all other online booksellers.

 

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Ward White

 

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Many Losers

 

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Anna C. Cabanna

 

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Blythe Gruda

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Joe McGinty in song

 

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Mike Fornatale

 

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David Terhune, Connie Petruk and Katia Floreska

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Wilder Seltzer

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Nick Danger, Yoga Guru

 

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Claudia Chopek

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Blythe Gruda & Katia Floreska

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Posted & filed under Entertainment, General, Humor, Nostalgia, Write On New York.

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Washington Arch at W.S. Park

Do you know New York City has an extraordinary and diverse storytelling community? It’s all over the five boroughs, every night. And many of the events are free. All you need to do is check out newspapers and magazines and online sites like Time Out New York and NYC Storytelling. I’ve been part of this community since I started putting it to paper in 2003. If you like to write – if you like to tell – if you like to listen – get to it!

Yesterday, the weather delivered driving rain and swift winds, but a flock of loyal fans of story and music paddled down to Cornelia Street Cafe to see and hear great performances by these fine artists: Muneesh Jain, Margarita Pracatan, Jeff Rose and Elizabeth Rowe at last night’s “City Stories: Stoops to Nuts.” Their work knocks me out. A welcoming crowd braved the weather to get there and cheer us on (I was the host.)  Michael and Josh kept the customers satisfied with warm professional service. The Café opened their home and let us play. The Cornelia Street Café does that for all the guests.

Storytelling at the Café on the second Tuesday of the month is a given. I’ve been the host for the last five years. Our next show is January 13, 2015. My special guest, Professor Robert White from Hunter College – the best teacher on earth. Our show case artist on February 10th is the outstanding singer and songwriter, Sherryl Marshall.

These are my last two “Stoops to Nuts” shows at Cornelia Street Cafe. After five years I’m onto something new, and will always treasure my time hosting the storytelling series going strong for 18 years. I thank the entire Cornelia Street Cafe staff for treating me like family. I love you all.

Barbara Aliprantis, thank you, my dear friend, for telling me I was storyteller when I was clueless, and wrapping your arms around me and pulling me into the series to meet new friends, extraordinary artists. One thousand kisses and hugs. Thank you, Angelo Verga and Robin Hirsch for choosing me to lead this amazing series. I never could have done it without your friendship and steady support. Thank you, Josh Rebell for watching my back and working with me to ensure we got the word out.

Please come down to “Stoops to Nuts” in January or February on the second Tuesday of the month to say hello, goodbye. I wanna see you.

My memoir, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood,” is available at Amazon and other online booksellers. Take a trip back fifty years to street life in one rough and tumble New York City neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s where humor is the lead remedy for pain.

 

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Jeff Rose

 

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Elizabeth Rowe

 

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Muneesh Jain

 

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Margarita Pracatan

 

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Tommy, Cornelia St Cafe, 2013

 

 

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Dad and I did four things together: play sports, attend sports, watch TV, and go to the movies. I liked movies the best; it’s much harder telling a kid what to do in the dark. You would have loved taking me to the movies when I was 6 years old. I was a cheap date, one box of Pom Poms caramels and a dime soda kept me blissful through the whole film and I shut up. Didn’t want to miss anything.

It was the fall of 1960, which I remember for three reasons. I had just started first grade, the Yankees had lost to the Pirates in the World Series, and Dad was rooting for Nixon against Kennedy to spite my Irish grandfather. I still believed my father was infallible. He never had to use this line on me — “Are you gonna believe what you see or what I tell you?” He accomplished his goals without direct engagement. Looking back, I suspect he periodically forgot I was his son and thought I was the most intelligent dog in the world. But this day would be different.

Dad’s charm was in full swing as he pulled me along up 86th Street. I kept my eye out for friends. The last thing I needed were the guys giving me the business, “Daddy still holds ya hand, Tommy the baby!” Resistance was futile, so I decided to keep tight to Dad’s side so it looked like we were just walking very close together.

“So, what do you want to see?” Dad stopped at the corner of Third Avenue, moved the cigarette out of his mouth and looked down at me. “The Mouse that Roared, a very funny comedy, or that other film up there, The Time Machine?”

Up ahead of us on the north side of 86th Street were two movie houses, the Loew’s Orpheum and the gigantic RKO.

“What are they about?”

“Well… The Mouse That Roared is about a tiny little country that declares war on the United States. The star of the film, Peter Sellers, is a famous English comedian. You’ll love him.”

I just stared at Dad hoping he’d move on. I didn’t like war. Finally he said, “The Time Machine is a science fiction movie I don’t know much about.”

“What do you know?”

“It’s about time travel.”

“I want to see The Time Machine.”

Dad stared down at me, holding the look, hoping I’d keep talking. I didn’t. Getting this look made me nervous and I usually blabbed on just like Dad wanted so he could carefully talk me out of something. But this time we just stared at each other.

After a traffic-light-missing pause, Dad said, “What???”

“I love time travel.”

Dad rolled his eyes. He had no clue how crazy I was for Mr. Peabody and Sherman on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, which I watched faithfully every Sunday. Mr. Peabody invented the WABAC Machine (pronounced “way back”), which allowed him and Sherman to time-travel to ancient Rome, the voyages of Columbus, the dinosaur era, you name it. I wasn’t sure what science fiction was, but I loved time travel. peabody_and_sherman

Dad recovered. “Oh, I bet it’s going to be one of those talky films you hate.”

I said nothing.

Dad threw a wild punch, hoping it would land. “If we go to The Mouse That Roared I’ll take you to Prexy’s afterwards for a hamburger and a milk shake.”

I ducked his shot. “Why can’t we go to Prexy’s anyway?”

Dad’s shoulders rolled forward and his chest fell as he grabbed my hand. Swiftly, we crossed Third Avenue, sidestepping the spray from a street-cleaner truck, and headed to the RKO to see Rod Taylor, whoever he was, in The Time Machine.


This is an excerpt from my memoir, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood,” available at Amazon and all other online booksellers. If you would like to buy a signed copy directly from me either in person or by mail – email me at  tommy.pryor@gmail.com. I t will make a great a great stocking stuffer.

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“Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts” is coming home to the old neighborhood on Thursday, December 4th for a terrific Holiday Show @ RyansDaughter 350 East 85th Street @ 7 to 10pm. Our artists: Eric Vetter & his unplugged band, Michele Carlo, Lincoln C. Chinnery, Abbi Crutchfield, Walter Michael DeForest & Colin Dempsey. FREE show, come on down!

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If you can’t make Yorkville on December 4th, Monday, December 1st I’m be telling a story in the East Village at We Three Productions Reading at 2A, 25 Ave A @ 2nd St. – Upstairs ~ FREE

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Tuesday, December 9th ~ our next monthly “Stoops to Nuts” storytelling show at Cornelia Street Cafe with these fine artists: Muneesh Jain; Margarita Pracatan; Elizabeth Rowe; Jeff Rose.

 

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