Where’s Danny?

Where’s Danny?

The very last time I recall my cousin Danny (my partner in crime), and I, getting into trouble, occurred just before he left our 32nd Street home for his new life. I don’t recall that we ever attended Sill School together, so I’m guessing it was some time during my first year attending public school that the event took place. It had all of the repercussions we experienced when we tried flushing the paddle down the toilet a year or so earlier.

I was five or six years old at the time and we had a pact about not eating certain foods. Mine was “Dinty Moore Beef Stew” and “sweet potatoes.” The potatoes gagged me, and still do to this day. I do not know what triggered this phobia I have for them. Danny’s hurdle was drinking all of his milk. One night I had been forced to eat a bowl of the aforementioned stew when I wasn’t feeling so well… “You’re not leaving the table until you finish your dinner” was the usual instruction, which in itself isn’t an abnormal request by any parent. I recall feeling feverish and managed to down it somehow. I went to bed shortly after dinner and within a few minutes I rolled to the side of the bed and threw it all up. I learned then throwing up is not the greatest of experiences, especially when it makes its way out through your nose as well as your mouth. And, here it is almost seventy years later, I have never had another bowl of a Dinty Moore product of any variation.

In our little kitchen, where we generally ate our meals (at a little table by the window), was a pipe on the floor about a foot high and six inches in diameter. It sat right next to the sink under the dish drain counter top. This pipe had a domed metal cap that could be rotated horizontally with just the littlest bit of effort on our part. When our parents became frustrated with our dilly dallying with our food, sometimes a strategic move on our part, they would wander off to another room or out on the front porch leaving us with the usual, “you aren’t leaving the table until you finish this.” Once they were out of sight it was then that Dan and I made good use of the pipe. Yup, everything went down the pipe. We got away with that for a very, very long time.

It was a Saturday morning, Dad had put out our breakfast, probably a cereal of some sort, leaving Danny and I with very large glasses of milk to finish. “I don’t want to see you two outside until you finish your breakfast” he instructed. And so… we thought he was headed for the little shed out near the alley, where he normally spent his Saturdays tinkering.

Well, you know what we intended on doing don’t you? And we (of course) did it! It wasn’t a full minute before Dad stood in the kitchen doorway asking… “Did you two drink all of your milk?” Dan and I looked at each other and lied… “Yup!” We then turned to look at Dad… he was covered head to waist in what he said felt and tasted a lot like milk. It seems Dad hadn’t gone out to his shed as we thought, but instead, was under the house cleaning out the sewer pipe, just as we let loose the milk. He had a face full of it. It was not a pretty site for us or him, and besides our suffering the paddle… our little secret dump zone had been exposed forever.

My cousin Danny, my best friend and accomplice, soon thereafter began a new life. His mother had married and it was time for him to join her in her new home. Dan became Dan Brennan and with his mother and new stepfather Bob Brennan, moved to Plymouth, Michigan. His mother worked there for the Diasy Air Rifle Company. Not long after that I became the proud owner of an official Red Ryder BB Gun. It added much to my newfound cowboy persona.

Danny didn’t disappear totally, although I do recall coming home from school one day and he was gone unexpectedly. We were able to stay close for many years visiting on weekends and during our summers down on the farm in Indiana. After High School, he joined the Navy and I joined the Air Force. I still feel very close to my cousin, who I think of as a brother, even though we have lived almost a continent apart for most of our lives. I don’t get to see him as often as I would like, but when we are together we just seem to take up where we left off.

Got milk anyone?

Birds, Bees and Butterflies

Birds, Bees and Butterflies

Birds:

It’s the time of year, the coming of spring, the Easter season that one tends to re-examine their faith and spiritual awareness (or lack thereof). Growing up on 32nd Street I was aware early in my life there were differences in what my relatives and neighbors believed in regarding their faith. All I wanted then was to belong and be a member of the same club as my friends, even though I knew nothing about their club? Belonging in this regard, I believe, is a need of the human condition.

“Of the manor born,” can and does, come most often with an attachment to the family faith, generation upon generation. There is no choice given or offered. In many places in the world it automatically comes as a result of local culture… which is a totally different animal. When taken as a whole, the myriad of different faiths, customs and cultures in the world, can be mind boggling.

We are very fortunate that our country was founded on the principals of religious freedom, allowing us to make choices based on our own belief system. I don’t feel it’s proper to question the origins of one’s faith or to impose my belief on others. I am comfortable in my own spirituality.

I never thought much about the word “infinity” while a student in school, especially so because it was taught in relation to measurements during my studies in math and physics. I feel fortunate to have had a bird’s eye view of the world during my flying career as an airline pilot. Having visited many corners of the world, including the third world, I was able to experience firsthand, its many cultures.

The word infinity resurfaced in my mind in a curious way; during the many times I sat in the cockpit during night crossings of the north Atlantic, in route to various destinations throughout Europe, I had the benefit of what would be considered an astronomers dream vantage point. At thirty-seven thousand feet above the Earth, without an intervening light source, I could see with an astounding clarity the many stars in the beyond. The beyond became my new infinity. While I believe there is something to the beyond… I don’t know or presume to know for sure what it is all about?

I do pray. It is a need of my human condition to seek help or give thanks, to whom ever or whatever is responsible for my existence. I am cautious about saying I know someone is listening, because I don’t know anything for certain about that. Nor, do I believe, that anyone else does either. What I have is hope?

On being a Bird:

Somewhere out there, a wondrous place
To wander free, in endless space.

Good reason why, men need to fly
Is in a word, to be a bird.

-ron hart