The earliest memory I can summon has me standing in my crib by the window in my second story bedroom at 7 Yorktown Terrace, in Livingston, NJ. Today, the most recent memory I can relate is berating …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
The earliest memory I can summon has me standing in my crib by the window in my second story bedroom at 7 Yorktown Terrace, in Livingston, NJ. Today, the most recent memory I can relate is berating myself for not remembering to Mapquest the address of a photo-shoot I was late for about an hour ago, due to my aimless wandering on both sides of the High Line Canal near Eisenhower Park. It’s absolutely astounding all that’s happened between those two points in time. And now, some highlights. Catching crawdads in Canoe Brook was big for me. I’m guessing I was about 5 years old. It was down the street from Carol Rondeau’s house. My brother went out with her a few times, which was big news because Carol won the coveted Miss Livingston contest at the annual 4th of July celebration at Memorial Park. She was a pretty lady. My first girlfriend was Karen Zeeb. I think she loved me because I could play kickball pretty well. I loved her back because I think I was supposed to. Our romance lasted about 10 days, when my heart was captured by my flaxen-haired fifth-grade flame, Jill Shafter. We sat together on the bus ride to New York to tour an ocean liner. Raymond Hicks’ grandfather was a big muckety-muck on the ship. Television was my earliest friend – my first taste being a stick figure cartoon entitled Farmer Gray. Couldn’t wait to catch the weekly episodes. Captain Video appeared somewhere about 1952 in a stylish costume with a lightning bolt across his chest. I’m not quite sure what he did, but I was very impressed when he appeared as the Celebrity Guest at the Livingston Little League opening day parade. We didn’t see color TV until I was in high school. Barry Zamelsky’s parents had the first color set, which showed the one hour of color programming each week – Friday Night At The Movies. American Bandstand, I Love Lucy, Ed Sullivan, Howdy Doody. Oh, how I pined for Buffalo Bob’s sidekick Princess Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring. TV brought our family together. We laughed together at Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason and Martin and Lewis, and we all sang along with Perry Como and Bing Crosby. My dad, my brother and I watched the Yankees beat everybody, year after year. The Cold War was always there. We had a Nike missile base in Livingston that you could visit on weekends. The sleek weapons were pointed to defend the skies over New York in case of attack. We hid under our desks at school which we were led to believe would help us survive when the bombs started falling. I loved all sports, but we were a baseball family. You could put your eye out playing football, you see. I was not strong enough to wrestle, nor quick enough for track. In my final year of Little League, I finally was selected for a “major league” team. This was important not only as an esteem-builder, but gave me a chance to go out in the outfield on Opening Day, to try to catch one of a dozen or so balls that Yankee catcher Elston Howard (we were only 40 minutes or so from New York) hit to the assembled 12-year-olds. Being the smallest of the lot, I worked my way to the front of the crowd, with a new, black Japanese outfielder’s glove Dad bought me because we couldn’t afford the Rawlings model I really wanted. Until I breathe my last, I will believe that Elston intentionally hit his first ball directly to me. I ran up to make the play, caught the ball in the webbing of my black, Japanese mitt, which promptly tore open, letting the ball spill behind me to the great glee of Ralph Hasbrouck, who stole the treasured orb for his own. Music was second only to sports in vying for my attention, and it rapidly took its rightful seat in first place. Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Carl Perkins. The Everly Brothers, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Spinners, Vito & The Salutations. The Beach Boys. We took a bus into the City, and a train out to Brooklyn where the local DJ – Murray The “K” – held all-day rock ‘n’ roll extravaganzas at the Brooklyn Fox, and the Paramount Theater featuring either the latest Motown Revue, or British Invasion, depending on the year. For $3.69 you could stay all day, through two full shows. Between the music, they showed a full length motion picture. Never saw Elvis or Sinatra, but so many memorable shows. Saw three of the four Beatles in their solo incarnations (no Ringo), Dylan many times including the 1976 “Hard Rain” show in Ft. Collins. The Dead at Red Rocks and in Telluride, among other sites. We had tickets to Woodstock (the original) but didn’t go, because we all had summer jobs and were planning to go up Saturday morning, by which time the New York thruway was shut down. After spending a year and a half of my college tenure at the Military College of South Carolina (The Citadel), I made the break to a small liberal arts college in East Orange, NJ – Upsala College. If you remember much of the 60s, you had a different experience than I. We’ll leave it at that. Anti-war demonstrations from New York to Washington, D.C. Saw John Lennon and Yoko Ono from so far away they could easily have been celebrity imposters, but I choose to believe it was them. Cut my foot on a piece of glass in the reflecting pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. Got little sympathy from the guys in the medic truck. Later realized how little appreciation I had for the guys who suited up for that war, and I now try whenever I can to thank them for their service. For those who were lost, I offer my prayers. John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King. Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison. Each loss had its own impact. All senseless, and each one felt deeply at the time. We were aware of the race for space from early on. Our next door neighbor, Frank Biondi, worked at Bell Labs, and was “responsible” for the battery systems in the first Telstar satellite. Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” was no more impressive to me. During my life in NJ, I worked for Seymour’s Luncheonette as a soda jerk, the Livingston Water Department (painted fire hydrants in the summer), worked a brief stint with the East Orange Welfare Department and sat behind a desk at IBM. With a new bride and dreams of Rocky Mountain High spurring me on, I headed west for Colorado in 1971, landing in Breckendridge on Halloween night. Not being a carpenter or waiter, work was slim, and Denver beckoned a few miles down the road. Stores Equipment Co. hired me as an assistant bookkeeper. My tenure was highlighted by being ordered to use my middle name (Joseph), as there was already a Paul on staff. Every time someone called my name, I thought my father was in town. Finally getting my feet on the ground, I sold business forms for NCR until the Washington Park Profile captured me in 1978. So many people and places have come and gone over the years, it would take days to scratch the surface of that journey. Perhaps in another column. Let’s just say we’ve ridden The Profile express from Selectric typewriter to cyberspace. Lest anyone think I’ve forgotten, my longtime teammates on the journey: Amanda (37), Pete (35) and Jesse (26). In recent years the family stew has been enriched with the addition of the lovely Ms. T, and her sidekicks John (25) and Jen (19). Amanda and husband Charlie have blesssed us with Asher (3) and mighty, mighty Sam (10 months). John and new bride Jessica brought little Jocelyn into the fold in September. All that in a mere 60 years. And I haven’t even told you the story about meeting Dustin Hoffman on the street in Manhattan. Or Ramblin’ Jack Elliott at the Folklore Center. Or . . . Stay tuned.
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.