Welcome back faithful readers. I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I just got back a few hours ago from a great Sunday brunch. My wife and I went to a nearby eatery called Black Finn, which sponsored a benefit for the local humane society. We enjoyed an all you can eat brunch with sausage, eggs, hash browns, French toast, fruit and, the best part, endless mimosas.
Pets were allowed at the Al fresco buffet, so we petted some cute doggies and chatted a bit with their humans. Luckily the affair was just a couple blocks away, because after several rounds of drinks and a big meal in the outdoors, this cowboy was ready for his afternoon nappy.
When we got home, I immediately changed into my comfy clothes and headed to my favorite deck chair for some serious zzzs. It didn’t take long before I was out cold. When I awoke I opened my eyes to a beautiful clear sky with a couple contrails streaming behind air planes.
I hadn’t really formulated any subject matter for my blog opening, but, as I watched the airliners cross the sky, it reminded me of something I saw on TV yesterday.
Cassini, NASA’s 13-year Saturn mission, had ended. The spacecraft deliberately sank into Saturn’s upper atmosphere at a high speed and plunged itself into the planet just after 6:30 a.m. ET Friday. It is truly mind-boggling to me that we’ve mastered this technology. We’re talking 746 million miles here folks, and we can see clearly what is happening. This is an incredible success.
Then my wife reminded me of another unmanned probe that didn’t do quite as well as Cassini. Here is a headline from CNN posted on May 27, 2017. “European Mars Lander Crashed Due to Data glitch, ESA Concludes.” The article further explained that the reason Europe’s Schiaparelli Mars lander failed to touch down safely last fall is that conflicting data confused the craft’s on-board computer.”
My wife’s brother is an astrophysicist working for JPL in California. He offered a little different slant on the cause of the crash. It seems that Europeans and Americans were both involved in the Mars project. So, wait for it, metric system vs. non-metric system, cause probe to go boom!
I’m just glad we can learn from our mistakes.
How about a few outer space funnies?
Einstein developed a theory about space, and it was about time too.
I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.
Q.How many ears does Captain Kirk have?
A.Three. A left ear, a right ear, and a final frontier.
Q.Why didn’t the Dog Star laugh at the joke?
A.It was too Sirius.
Sorry about those. Feel free to use them, but please, don’t let on where you heard them.
Here is the final chapter of Pinky’s Drive-In. I sincerely hope you found some enjoyment from reading my memoir. Please leave a comment at the end. Good or bad, I promise I can take it. Enjoy.
We finally ran out of yarns and decided to call it quits. Ken turned out the bar lights and we exited by the side entrance. We stood out in the parking lot that had once been Pinky’s Diner. There were several inches of wet heavy snow on our vehicles, so we began to wipe them off with our hands and windshield brushes. The storm gave way to a clear moonlit sky, which held the promise of a pleasant spring day.
I felt rejuvenated, once again, as I grabbed a handful of snow and tossed it onto Pat’s windshield, which he just cleaned off. Pat didn’t know who threw the snow. He thought it came from Jeff and retaliated with a direct hit to Jeff’s temple. That was all it took. Game on!
I was the brunt of Jeff’s revenge as he threw a snowball at Pat that got me in the face as Pat ducked out of the way. Ken’s pickup was parked next to Ted’s rental. He swept his arm over the hood of his truck and covered Ted with wet slush. We felt like kids again as we laughed, and yelled our usual obscenities at each other. The onslaught went on for a couple minutes, until we called a truce.
As we leaned against Ken’s truck catching our breath, Shawn stepped away and faced the rest of us. He began waving his arms slowly, over his head, as if leading an orchestra, and as he started to sing, we all joined in.
“We are Pinky’s raiders; we’re raiders of the night.
We’re dirty sons of bitches who would rather fuck than fight.
Hidy tidy God Almighty, who the hell are we?
We are Pinky’s Raiders and will always be.”
It was invigorating, as we once again resounded our refrain. We didn’t care who heard us, and held our heads high, hoisting our phantom beer mugs in the air as we sang out.
Then, as we quieted, a strange feeling came over me. The empty lot seemed to take on a familiar feeling. As the six of us stood there, we appeared as shadowy figures against the dim light.
When Ken said, “See you guys next time,” I caught a sharp glimpse of the past.
As I turned to face him, I didn’t see a middle-aged man with a slight beer gut, but a much younger, vibrant image appeared. Ken’s gray hair was replaced with the blonde wavy crop he sported in his teens. It was as though we all morphed back to our youthful selves when our bonds were fresh and new. The old pink cinder block structure that once stood there reconstructed itself around us.
My head was filled with the sounds of those cherished days when our adventures were just beginning. It was 4:30, after school, and the juke box was blasting “Shutdown” by Jan and Dean and I smelled that fabulous aroma of greasy burgers and fries on the grill, as Scrubby yelled, ‘Order Up’, from the pick-up window. Little Tony and Bugsy were playing All-Star Hockey, as Big Al appeared in the back room and shouted, “Out, ya bums!”
The warm emotion I felt was almost overwhelming as we finally said our goodbyes. We reluctantly traded handshakes and hugs, and vowed to meet again on a yearly basis, or at least remain in contact more closely than before. One by one, we started up our vehicles and waved as we headed for home.
The drive to my sister’s house only took about twenty minutes. It was about 6:30 A.M. and the sun was just beginning to rise. It reminded me of many other times that I drove home in the wee hours, after a night with the Boys.
As I began to take stock of myself, I came to realize that the time my friends and I spent together when we were younger, was so compelling, that it was I’m sure, a major donor to my current makeup. I strongly believe that our past experiences effect the decisions we make throughout our lives. I am astounded at how a flashback to something that happened years ago could influence even the most important choices I make today.
As we age hopefully we grow more tolerant. I understand that my children will create their own memories and experience many life-changing events as they grow into adults, just as I did, and I’ll probably never know the extent of most of those events, just as my parents didn’t.
I parked on the street in front of my sister’s red brick two flat. She and my brother-in-law occupied the first floor. She left the back-door open and a nightlight on in the kitchen, so I slipped in quietly, trying not to disturb their sleep. The guest room was right off the kitchen, so I headed straight for bed. I was totally exhausted and intoxicated, but it was worth it. I threw off my shoes and plopped onto the soft mattress, fully clothed.
As my head settled into the fluffy pillow, I immediately started to drift off. I felt a grin come to my face as I found myself, once again, amongst my old friends, at my old hangout, in a simpler time.
So, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed my stories. The Pinky’s Boys were as real as it gets and still are to this day. We’ve lost a couple brothers over the years, but most of us are still out there, scattered throughout the country.
We kept our commitment to meet again on a more regular basis. The year after Mrs. Kelly’s wake we met again on a Sunday in early October at a bar and grill in Lake Geneva Ill. Shawn as usual was the one who took charge of holding us all together. He contacted everyone. He even invited Ted and Arnie in Southern California. They couldn’t make it but many of us did.
Ken underwent triple bypass surgery in 2013 and after a difficult recovery period, decided to have another reunion. Shawn called or emailed the whole crew for one last get-together at the old bar. The turnout was pretty good. Most of the local boys showed up. It was great to catch up on everything.
Myrat was the first to arrive, he is still a house painter and lives just several blocks from the bar.
Moose loves being a successful businessman and says he’ll never retire.
Red retired after 40 years in the printing business. He’s dropped some weight and is living the good life.
Weaser came by with his wife, Mary for a brief visit on their way to their monthly card party.
Paulie couldn’t get away. He still lives in Arizona with Linda. They’re approaching their 50th wedding anniversary.
Ted couldn’t make it in from San Diego. He had just retired too. I caught up with him that summer at a party at his sister’s house in Illinois. Mikey and Arnie were there too.
Ski was out of town, and sent his regrets. He’s also retired.
Little Tony couldn’t make it either, but his older brother Tommy showed up, as did several of the older guys from the original Cameo Club.
Shawn lives in Southern California so Jeff picked him up from O’Hare airport and brought him to the get-together. They arrived just after me. Shawn was loaded down with photo books and snapshots from the past 50 years. Many of them were old black and whites or sepias.
I was told that Pat might show up late, but I had to leave for a dinner engagement with my wife and son at Mike Ditka’s restaurant before he arrived.
That was the last time we met. We keep in touch, mostly through email or social media, and some of us exchange Christmas cards. Hopefully we will all meet up again soon.
~ In memory of Spoolie and Bugsy ~