Postcards aren’t what they used to be, but they’re still a lot of fun to make. Thanks to his mom, Bannack and I have traded a few videos like this one in the past few days. It’s such a treat to be able to have a little album of videos to carry around with me too. It means that if anyone is halfway interested I get to perform my proud uncle ritual of pulling out my iPod and showing off Bannack’s cuteness.
We spent the afternoon with cousin Jill sipping Belvedere cocktails and playing Nerf tennis in Moët’s spaceport headquarters. Her company sponsors the US Open so they built a miniature tennis court in front of the bar, just big enough that you don’t have to put your drink down to play.
Bannack was pretty good at swinging the racket like an ax and yanking at the net but preferred running the ball back to the server to return it so I out-scored him pretty early in the match.
Before heading back on the train to Brooklyn we all got wide slices of pie at a little hole in the wall in Chelsea. We were just a few doors down from The Leo House, the small nun-run hotel that our family used to stay in for our first few visits to New York with the Carroll College plays.
Seeing the front door triggered memories of eleven year old me eating cold porridge from the early morning breakfast buffet, talking with my mom in the drizzly shabby back garden and asking the elevator operator for a lift to the sixth floor please.
“Are you sure?” He asks me from his worn out stool.
Suddenly unsure, I nod, “Uh huh.”
He closed accordion elevator grate and pushed the brass handle forward starting our slow and silent climb to the top floor. I took one step out of the elevator and knew immediately that I didn’t belong. The nuns lived on the sixth floor. I met one in the hallway and without a word she returned me to the elevator. I can’t remember if the operator apologized to her or not but it was an awkward ride down to whatever floor I was supposed to be on.
Sara and Chris and little June the Wheaten Terrier picked me up at JFK airport last night. It’s a short drive to their new apartment in Brooklyn and soon we were around the dining room table toasting over cold Manhattans. Maybe you’ve seen photos of their new place? It really is a unique and beautiful home, but what struck me most is that it is EXACTLY LIKE the last three places Sara and Chris have lived. So much so that Sara spent half a moment planning what to bring to a party back home, forgetting for that little while that she was in a New City. They’ve definitely found the right place.
This clown was catching up on sleep and had a long nap into the afternoon. He was up just after Chris and his brother Mike came home and the five of us, plus June, went for a meander through Williamsburg. McCarren Park was busy with little kids and littler dogs. Skaters filmed each other grinding on hurricane Irene’s one downed streetlight while outside the cameraman’s frame three sunbathers lay working on tans and a woman daubed at her plein air oil of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral that just peaked out over the trees.
Bannack alerted us every time he saw a subway station by asking for a, “Ride? Ride? Ride?” Sara and I had three dollar falafel at the corner just past the Bedford stop. We passed highfalutin dive bars, a few dusty book stores, a top notch cheese shop, a heavy metal barber shop with a pile of cow skulls in the window, a panoply of the coolest retail experiments of the millennium. But my favorites were the Brooklyn Art Library and Mast Bros. Chocolate storefronts sitting side by on North 3rd Avenue.
Sara, Chris, Bannack, and June the Moon arrived safe and sound in Illinois after three days worth of road tripping. We’re happy to have them for the next few days before they continue on their way to the Big Apple.
Their first stop was the Krizek’s out in Downer’s Grove and I couldn’t help but make the quick trip out here to greet them. We had a nice night around the dinner table chatting and anticipating the big pot luck Aunt Col is hosting Wednesday afternoon. We stayed up late with Rosie hearing stories about family, travel and dogs. Including a new one about my Grampa’s mean tempered, liver eating, half mutt Chihuahua, Rusty. I can’t believe I’d never heard that one before!
I’m pretty thrilled to be back in Montana for the weekend for a big Roberts’ family reunion. The family booked 22 rooms here at Fairmont Hot Springs, that includes one tipi. We’re off with a bang and a ROAR. (Roberts’ Outstandingly Awesome Reunion.)
But best of all is getting to see Bannack grown up and more capable of antics than ever. Here he is at around ten o’clock last night playing bell boy.
From My Ma:
Bannack loves to mow! Only pretend. When Mike starts the mower engine Bannack is frightened!
I’m missing my little guy.
My sister, Chris and Bannack are staying up at my parent’s house so they can get their place rented before the big move to New York in August. So when I called home recently I got to talk to everyone, including little Bannack.
My mom wanted him to show off his newest word to me and put him on the line. I could only imagine what he looked like, but the little tyke growled something that sounded an awful lot like “garage” into the telephone and it made my day.
I must have been twelve or so. I was rummaging around in the storage space formed by the roof and the hip wall, behind the chimney in our old house on Billings Avenue.
Maybe I was going through an old suitcase, but I came across a threadbare black athletic shirt. Was it made out of jersey netting? On its front was a big graphic in white ink: a wicked looking dagger, impossibly jabbed through a pair of over-sized dice. Their may or may not have been a mean looking snake on there, and in a big arc over the graphic, the initials P. I. T. A. in big block letters.
P. I. T. A.
This strange piece of clothing was my dad’s. I asked him about it and got a great batch of stories of his high school days. As I remember it, he and a group of dudes that made mischief together dubbed themselves the Pain In The Asses. (Or Pains in the Ass?) I really wanted him to have stories of rumbles with rival gangs or at least a drag race or something. I think he told me all they did was organize tag football games. I really wanted that jersey to be a gang shirt.
Anyway, I got to thinking about all this because I came across this great site full of old greaser gang names and compliments cards. A real treasure trove.
These guys were the closest to where I’m living now:
COAL YARD GANG:
The Coal Yard Gang was at Lakewood and Wolfram, near Southport and Lincoln Avenue. Just a local white gang originating in the early 60′s. Mostly just taking care of local business. Our colors were Black and White. I was mostly a partier. I was too small, and often found myself in over my head way too many times. I remember Lennies across from Lane Tech. I can still taste that greasy bag of fries, ten cent pin-ball games. It was neat place. Everyone was safe there. Even girlfriends could meet you there. (Via Reddit)
Digging a little more, I found this little documentary on the Gaylords. Finding out that my dad wasn’t really a gangster was bad, but it’s even more disappointing to find out how hung up on race these dudes are.
My Uncle Dan gives a little background
P.I.T.A. well…. NOT a group of ‘gangbangers’ ! More like neighborhood guys in desperate need of a name for their floor hockey team. We used to all hang at da park. Every group (grade level) or age had a bench to sit on and to ease the tensions between us older, younger, really older (High School) kids. The Phs Ed. Instructor for the Park District created a hockey league for us to beat the shit out of each other in a organized way. It was fantastic! It had rules, and penalties, just like the BlackHawk games we loved to listen to on the radio. Because none of us could afford a game ticket or play on REAL ice cuz we were city kids. Middle class families living from paycheck to paycheck….and yah they were a real pain in the ass!
THIS POST COMPLEMENTS OF:
Crazy Ralph • Zofo • Demon • Tex • PW Lake • Lucifer • Pope • Dopey • Bee • Fish • Knight • Ears • Angus • Oscar • Lil Rich • Lil Worm • Capone • Shorty • Chaino • Hoss • Tiny • Ceasar • Lil Cisco • Cocolo • Nino • Lil Drago • Chaco • Coco • Shadow • Lil Man • Dobe • Boxer • Puttet • Indio • Duke • Pappo • Chanco • Junior • Pro • China • Froggie • Chet • Rican • Vida • Smuckers • Unicorn • Bubbles • Giggles • Sweet Pea • Chaser • Rebel • Skippy • Sir Lazy • Maggs • Lil Boz • Crazy Tom • Lil Freak • Satan • Lil Rich • Skull • Monk • Deuce • Dragon • Warlock • Lil Spike • Sahama • Hitman • Groucho • Big Jim • Butcher • Lil Dago • Fro • Lil Capone
I extended my stay in Montana so I could have a little more time with my family and friends before really diving into life in Chicago. I was glad I did.
Chris hard boiled some Easter eggs and dyed them Martha Stuart style in red cabbage and turmeric. He and I took Bannack a little way up Mount Helena to collect some grass for his basket and I made a little Easter nest.
This was the first year Bannack was able to attempt an Easter egg hunt and he did very well! We took him to the one hosted by the Hibernians at Memorial Park. Bannack was raring to go at the starting gate and held his own against the six year olds towering above him.