3rd Post July 7,2017

Hello to all, returning and hopefully new readers. I hope you enjoyed the short work week. I’ve been retired from the daily grind for a couple years now, but still instinctively feel less stress during holidays. Well, for the most part at least. For some reason, the Christmas season always seems to add some angst, but heck, that’s six months away which should be plenty of time for all the shopping, gift wrapping, Christmas cards, party planning, party going, decorating, getting ready for the overnight stay by the kids and their animals. Yikes, I’m doing it again; raising my anxiety for no reason. Calm down, Woody, all is well.

Whew, that’s much better. I’m sure some of you understand daily stress. It’s just there sometimes. Well the doctor is in. Today’s Woody’s Words & Wit is here to help with some good old fashion humor and storytelling. And I have a little surprise for you. Movie trivia. Ready? Here ya go.

Oh, I almost forgot. After the chapter of the day you can scroll down and become a follower of my blog. Just fill in your name and e-mail and perhaps a brief comment, and you will be sent an e-mail every time I post. No worries, it is all managed by WordPress and completely secure. Or just look for me on Facebook for my postings. Enjoy.

*****

Credit the Reader’s Digest June 2017 edition of, Laughter the Best Medicine, for this one:

While in surgery following a heart attack, a middle-aged woman sees a vision of God by her bedside.

“Will I die?” she asks.

God says, “No. You have 30 more years to live.”

With 30 more years to look forward to, she decides to make the best of it. So, while in the hospital, she gets breast implants, liposuction, a tummy tuck, hair transplants, and collagen injected into her lips. She looks great. The day she’s discharged, she exits the hospital with a swagger, crosses the street, and is immediately hit by an ambulance and killed.

Up in heaven, she sees God. “You said I had 30 more years to live!”

“That’s true,” says God.

“So, what happened?”

God shrugs. “I didn’t recognize you.”

*****

 

Movie Trivia

Just match the movie line with the correct movie. The answers are at the end of today’s chapter of Pinky’s Drive-In. Good Luck.

Movie quote

Movie

1.       “Don’t call me Shirley.”

2.       “Spared no expense”

3.       “No wire hangers, ever!”I

4.       “I’m not a smart man.”

5.       “Louis, I think this is the beginning    of a beautiful friendship.”

6.       “Are you not entertained!”

7.       “You talking to me?”

8.       “Rosebud.”

9.       “I’m walking here, I’m walking here!”

10.   “I’ll have what she’s having.”

A.      Taxi Driver

B.      Midnight Cowboy

C.      Gladiator

D.      Airplane

E.       When Harry met Sally

F.       Jurassic park

G.      Mommy dearest

H.      Citizen Cain

I.         Forrest Gump

J.        Casablanca

 

*****

 

 

Here’s your weekly chapter of Pinky’s Drive-In.

Chapter 3

Krabby Ken’s

(8:30)

 “Well Shawn, your mom had one hell of a life,” I said as I leaned forward to look around Jeff and Pat. “I wonder if she’s looking down on us right now and if she approves or not. That could be quite scary, if you know what I mean. What if it’s true that after you die and go to heaven, you know everything that went on with everybody while you were alive? She would know about all that crap you pulled on her over your entire lifetime. What do you think about that?” I asked with a sly grin.

Shawn looked over at me wide-eyed, gulped down a shot of Jack Daniels whiskey and said, “Where’s the nearest church? I think I’m screwed!”

That got all four of us laughing loudly.

Jeff called for another pitcher of beer and filled my mug with the icy suds. He was sitting next to me so I bumped his glass in recognition, and we both took a gulp.  Jeff and I shared a long history, and I considered him one of my closest friends, for many years. We met in the second grade at St. Benedict’s catholic school, but I feel our relationship really started when we played basketball together on the 8th grade team. We were the big men on the squad, with Jeff playing center, and I was power forward.

“Hey, Jeff, remember the intramurals,” I said?

“How could I forget, 95 to 93,” he said as he winked and clinked my beer mug.

“You know, if you ever passed the ball off instead of hogging it all the time, that scoring record would be mine, I said. You’re lucky we didn’t get to play your team in the finals, we would have kicked your ass.”

“I guess we’ll never know, will we, said Jeff with a smirk, although it would have been one hell of a game.”

St. Ben’s grade school held an intramural basketball tournament every March. There were 8 teams, and we boys who played on the 8th grade team, were captions. Tryouts were held for grades 5th through 8th to fill out the rosters, and the high school varsity players were coaches. There were even two cheerleaders for each team with outfits that matched their team’s colors. It was like a mini NCAA ‘March Madness’.

In 1963, I was the captain of Notre Dame and Jeff had Marquette.   I scored 93 points in just three games, but we lost our first game, and took third place in the tournament. Marquette won the championship, as Jeff was MVP and scored 95 points.  I believe that record still stands to this day. Although, I was a bit disappointed to fall short of the scoring record, I truly felt glad for Jeff.  That was by far the best sports week of our lives.

Outside of school, Jeff and I were inseparable, and did everything together. We formed a small click with two other classmates, Mickey and Shotzy, and called ourselves the ‘Sensationals’. We bought matching black, light weight, jackets and even had our own walk, taking long strides, as we marched shoulder to shoulder, rudely forcing people to walk around us as we encountered them on the sidewalk.  It really wasn’t my style to act like a tough guy, but to save face, I played the part. Don’t get me wrong, I was quite capable of handling myself,  but,  I just didn’t care for the conflict.

Timmy Shotz was sitting across from us, at a side table, munching on an Italian beef sandwich. ’Shotzy’ was the instigator of our click, and was always getting us into sticky situations. I motioned to him to join Jeff and me at the bar.  He was about my height, but a good 50 lbs. lighter and his thick brownish gray hair looked good against his clean-shaven olive complexion.

“How’s the beef sandwich, Shotzy, I said?

“Great, have you tried the wings?  They’re really tasty, but man, are they hot,” he said wiping his fingers with a napkin. What’s up?”

“Jeff and I were just talking about 8th grade, you know, the ‘Sensationals’, and all the shit you used to get us into, I said.

“Who, me, said Shotzy?  You must be thinking of Mickey, man. I never got you guys into “Oh really, I said?  Unfortunately, Mickey isn’t here tonight, so he can’t defend himself. So, who was the asshole that wanted to see a penny turn into the size of a quarter, by having it run over by a train?   And I’m sure it wasn’t you who almost got us shot, up on the Van Lines building.”

“Jesus H. Christ, how do you remember that crap, said Shotzy? That was over forty years ago.”

 

*****

Viaducts and Roof Tops,

(Summer 1963)

The summer between eighth grade and high school was a time of change for me. I loved being a teenager, as I shed my cloak of adolescence and embraced a newly found self-confidence.  It was truly a great feeling.  We ‘Sensationals’ had a blast that summer, as we tried to spread our wings to new heights.

The neighborhood that had spawned most of my childhood friends was approximately a two square mile area. It was made up of a combination of two-story brick buildings and single family Bungalows. There were several Mom and Pop grocery stores, barbershops, butcher shops, bakeries and taverns scattered about the tree lined side streets, and it was a melting pot for the Irish, Italian, Polish, and Germans.

I lived on Bell Avenue, in the first-floor apartment of a red-brick, two-flat, with my parents, older brother, and two older sisters. My dad inherited the building, and rented out the upper to another family.

The large catholic parish for my neighborhood was St. Benedict’s. Our house was just a half block from St. Ben’s, where we four kids attended grammar school. I can still recall how we would fly out of our house at 8:25, and make it to morning Mass by 8:30, just in time not to be marked tardy, by the sentinel nun, standing guard at the ten-foot-high wooden church doors.

Bell Avenue was teeming with kids of all ages.  I fondly recall hot summer evenings, when, my mom and dad strolled down the sidewalk, and stopped to chat with my friend’s folks,  as they sat out on their front porches,  while we kids played tag or capture the flag up and down the street.  Air conditioning was a sparse luxury in those days, so being out in the evening was the only way to get some relief from the sticky indoors.

My friends and I hung out at my house, in the basement in those days.  My dad acquired a pool table from my uncle, who owned a tavern, and set it up for us kids.  Our basement wasn’t finished, by any means. The old coal burning boiler had been replaced with a gas furnace, but that was the extant of any remodeling, so my brother and I set a few old chairs, a couch with a couple small tables, and some lamps around the pool table. It was a great hangout for us and our friends.

 I always left the door to the basement open, so my friends could let themselves in. Sometimes I wasn’t even home when they came over, but they would still hang out and shot some pool. My folks didn’t mind, and always made them feel welcome.

I recall a Friday night in June, when Jeff,  Shotzy, Mickey and I met up at my place, as usual. We didn’t have any plans, so we just shot the shit for a while, along with a couple games of pool.  My brother, Bill, joined us for a while, so we played eight ball, partners. Bill was two years older than, us, but didn’t mind hanging with us if he didn’t have anything better to do.

We usually played for a dime a game when we played doubles, and would lag the cue ball to pick partners. The two players who left the ball closest to the far cushion were partners. Jeff and I beat Bill and Mickey two out of three games. When Bill went into his pocket to pay up, a large, flat, copper coin fell out onto the cement floor, and I picked it up.

“What’s this, I asked.  It looks like a giant penny.”

“It is, said Bill. I put it on the Ravenswood tracks, and the train flattened it out, pretty cool huh?  You can have it instead of the dime, I’m broke anyway, but don’t tell mom or dad.”

“Okay, I won’t tell,” I said.

Bill went back upstairs, so we ‘Sensationals’ decided to find something to do. We ‘long stepped’ up Bell avenue at our usual fast pace, past St. Bens to Irving Park, a busy four lane Boulevard,  and headed east past the church.  It was only about 7:30 and still hot and humid, so we stopped for a coke at Sunshine’s drug store and fountain for a Green River phosphate. We sat up at the counter and ordered our sodas.

“Hey, Woody, can I see that flat penny,” said Shotzy?

“Sure,” I said and handed it to him.

Shotzy examined the penny as he rubbed its smooth finish with his thumb and pointer finger, and, I knew exactly what he was thinking.

“Do you guys want to go to the Ravenswood viaduct and make some of these,” he said?

“I knew you were going to say that,” I said.

Shotzy had a knack for implanting ideas that always sounded adventurous, but where usually a bit risky.

Ravenswood Avenue was about five blocks east of Sunshine’s, so we finished our sodas and headed out to flatten some pennies. We walked up Irving to the ‘L’ train viaduct, but it was too well light and there were people around,  so we went north on Ravenswood for a couple more blocks to  Berteau street,  a much darker,  and more secluded bridge.

We had a general idea of what to do, but of course, had never laid pennies on the tracks before. The bridge that spanned Berteau Street was made of steel with large stone walls on either side that supported it. The walls were a series of giant, rectangular, granite slabs that formed large steps along the side next to the sidewalk. This looked like the way up to the tracks.

We had to walk down about a quarter of a block to where the top of the wall was only  three feet high,  then trudge on up to the first slab,  and climb the others until we reached the bridge.  There were two sets of tracks running north and south, one was for the elevated commuter trains that stopped at viaducts, like the one at Irving Park, and the other was for freight trains and the Amtrak passenger trains. The steel sides of the bridge were about six feet high, so we were completely hidden from view.  I thought it was pretty cool.

I had no idea when the next train was due. We also didn’t have a plan for getting off the tracks when the train came through.

“Okay, Shotzy, how do we do this,” I said?

“Well, I guess we just lay the pennies on the tracks and wait for a train to come by, said Shotzy.”

“Ok let’s do it, I said. Which way is the train coming from?”

“I dunno,” said Shotzy.

“How long do we have to wait,” said Mickey?

“Don’t know that either,” replied Shotzy.

Jeff, Mickey and I looked at each other, and then turned to Shotzy.

“I never did this before either, how am I supposed to know what to do,” said Shotzy holding up his hands.

I decided to take control of the situation. There were large steel braces about every ten feet along the inside of the bridge that extended out about five feet, and another two feet of gravel between the braces and the actual tracks.

“Okay, I’ve got an idea, I said. We place our pennies on both sides of the tracks, and keep watch for trains coming from either direction. When we see the train light we lie down and tuck ourselves in between the steel braces until the train passes, but don’t move while the train is going past. Then we just pick up the flattened pennies.”

“You are out of your mind if you think I’m going to lie next to a train, exclaimed Mickey!  I’ll be sucked under the wheels.”

“Come on Mickey, you chicken shit, said Jeff.   There’s no way you’ll get sucked in, just stay low and keep your head down.”

Mickey paused for a couple seconds. “Ok, if you guys do it, I’m in.”

We each placed about five pennies on the tracks. It was still light out so we decided that as soon as we saw the train light, we would hide by the braces, so the engineer wouldn’t see us and radio the cops. So, we sat along the side of the bridge, in our own protected sections and waited.

About ten minutes went by, when a light finally appeared from the north.

“I see a light, I shouted.  Hide! Hide!”

We tucked in and curled up as small as possible against the bridge. I had never been so close to a train before and was scared shitless. As it got closer the bridge began to vibrate, so I looked up quickly, and saw that the train was just a block away and coming fast, so I tucked back in and held my hands over my head.

The vibrations turned into loud rumbling, and I opened my eyes just as the bright light was upon me. It felt like the bridge was going to fall apart as the engine blasted its horn. It was deafening, and I held on for dear life as it roared past. I thanked God that it was a commuter train, and only had several cars.

We did it!  I slowly stood up, as did Shotzy, Mickey and Jeff.  I felt exuberant, and started laughing almost uncontrollably.

“Holy crap! That was unbelievable, I screamed. Are you guys ok?”

“Wow, yea I’m fine,” said Jeff.

“Me too,” added Shotzy.

“I’m ok, but I think I crapped my pants,” said Mickey.

Jeff was searching for his pennies.

“Hey, I found one. It’s flat as a pancake and still hot. This is really cool, said Jeff.

Shotzy, Mickey and I scrambled to look for our pennies, and found several, all flattened and, also warm to the touch.

We collected a few more pennies, and headed back towards St. Bens.

“So, what do you guys want to do now, said Jeff?   I can’t believe how hot out it still is.”

“I dunno, let’s go to the gas station and get some water, I said.  I’m really thirsty.”

We walked several more blocks up Irving Park to Western Avenue, and stopped in the Standard gas station to get a drink of water from the drinking fountain.  Shawn was coming out of the station with a bottle of coke he just bought.  He lived just across Western and was returning home.

“Hey Shawn, where ‘ya going,” I said.

“Hi, Woody, I’m on my way home, what are you guys up to,” said Shawn?

Jeff showed Shawn his flattened pennies, and related the whole tale about our harrowing experience with the train and viaduct. Shawn was quite impressed and wanted to go with us next time.

“Why don’t you guys get a coke and we’ll go up on the Van Lines building and cool off for a while,” said Shawn.

“That sounds like a great idea,” I said.

There were several manufacturing buildings in the area just a few blocks north of Pinky’s.  On hot summer nights, we would like to climb the fire escape up to the roof of the three-story Van Lines building which was adjacent to the apartment complex that Shawn lived in with his mother and sister.

We crossed Western Avenue to the alley next to the Van Lines building, and climbed the fire escape to the top.  It felt much cooler up there, so we sat down along the three-foot wall on the alley side to remain out of sight.  Shawn’s apartment was across the alley and down about ¼ block, and I could see into a small corner of his kitchen.

“Does your mom know you come up here,” I asked Shawn.

“Hell no, she would kill me if she knew, he said. So, never mention it when you’re over at my house.”

“No problem,” I said.

We sat for a while, and drank our cokes as we talked a little more about our penny adventure.  It was starting to get dark,  and it didn’t take long before we got bored, so we had a little contest to see who could spit the furthest over the edge of the building down onto the sidewalk. There were no people below, so we started spitting on the cars, trucks and occasional buses that passed by. The spittle drops were easily taken by the wind and barely made it worthwhile, so we decided to up the ante.

The roof was made up of tar and gravel and some larger stones about an inch in diameter. Now you’re talking. We could throw a one inch stone across the street and up the block so it was impossible to tell where it came from. What harm could a little stone cause anyway?  The worst that could happen was a small chip in a windshield, or a nick in the paint-job, I thought.

We tossed the stones onto the street and stood back on the roof to listen, for any reaction. There were no accidents, but the screeching of tires could be heard for a block. OOPS! Traffic came to a halt as several drivers got out of their cars to see what was going on. We stopped throwing and ducked down low, out of sight. The fire escape was on the rear, alley side of the building, so we were able to get away undiscovered.

The next night I went over to Shawn’s apartment after dinner, and his mother was telling us about all the commotion that went on the previous evening. She said that she was standing in the kitchen, and heard some tires screeching, so she looked out the window and saw some vandals on the Van Lines building, throwing stones and causing havoc on the street below.  Juvenile delinquents she called them. She said that she had her 22-gauge rifle loaded with rubber bullets, aimed and ready to fire.

“It was too dark, and those lucky sons of bitches kept moving too fast, and I couldn’t get a good shot off,” she said.

WOW!

 

*****

 

Movie Trivia answers: 1-D, 2-F, 3-G, 4-I, 5-J, 6-C, 7-A, 8-H, 9-B, 10-E

 

*****

 

Have a great week.

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