Margaret Hartmann Memories

September 13th, 2017

Margret Hartmann Robarge. Circled. With her father, mother and 10 siblings. Our grandfather George is standing, second from the right next to his mother Clara.

(click here) Margaret Hartmann Memories

This is Margaret Hartmann Robage (circled in photo) memories of her childhood. Dictated to her daughter Leatrice in August and September 1966.

The Nerve Brooke Marie Cordray

September 13th, 2017

Mc

July 27th, 2017

Many people are taking the Great Escape lately. My brother Glenn just a few years ago and alot of friends. Just a little over a year ago I was tailgating in a hot Summer parking lot in Queens New York with a bunch of friends and two brothers. I was just looking at the photos we took and posted on Facebook. Everybody seems so happy and healthy. I spent hours talking with my friend Jonny and quite suddenly I look at that photo today and he is gone. I would need three hands to count the friends that have just disappeared lately.

Jim McSherry was a different story you see. Jim McSherry was strong in muscle and character. Jim McSherry would never die. He never told me he was dying when he was trying to reach out to me. He was never on Social Media, didn’t understand or like computers. I received a few text messages from him and it seemed like he was saying goodbye. I just shrugged it off as his dramatic personality.
I am so happy that I did call him….. finally. We talked for several hours. He told me a story of how a long time ago his wife Susan and his family were homeless. They broke down on the side of the road and a cop pulled over to help them. His help went on for years after that. Eventually giving them a temporary home until they got on their feet. That was just like Jim. Here he was preparing for the great escape and all he could talk about was how someone had helped him deeply in his life and he would never forget it.

I haven’t see Jim McSherry in almost three decades, yet it always seems like he was there in my life. Years would go by before we talked. It is a strange thing to feel so close to someone that isn’t even there.

This taken many years ago. This photo is so old, I was still living home. The McSherrys had moved to Arizona and Jim came back to visit. I beleive his jaw is wired here from a fist fight he had in a cactus filled desert. The location was somewhere in Port Reading by the railroad tracks. It was early morning. I’m impressed with myself to have a camera with me at the time. We were drinking Jack Daniels straight out of the bottle and singing Grateful Dead songs. Jim was playing harmonica. I remember going home so messed up and crawling to bed and staying there for two days. I remember my mother coming to my room feeling sorry for me and helping me recover.

Jim McSherry was a Golden Gloves boxer and part of his training would be to run from his house on Tennyson Street up Harrison Avenue to the VFW and back again. Then he would sprint the last few hundred yards. I followed him on my bike every night when he did this. My mind has taken a photograph of him huffing and puffing, taking off his shirt and recovering from one of those runs. There was sweat poring off him into puddles on the street. I carried this mind photgraph of him with me to this day. Jim McSherry – the strongest, the bravest, the funniest man I ever knew. He took me to places I would have never went without him. His love of life, family, art, music and God were his glowing aura that will last forever.

The Great Escape

July 10th, 2017

Jim McSherry was always our leader when we were young. We were mostly bored out of our minds desperate to find something to do. There was no technology, smart phones or video games as you have heard from us old timers ad nauseam on social media. We did do a lot of interesting things but in between those adventures mostly I remember walking to the Shopping Center to get a coke or a snack to start the day. Along the way we met with other members of the gang that lived along this route. So totally boring and mindless it seemed to me that I would spend the rest of my life walking to Carteret Shopping Center with this crew.

I thought I always had a plan in the back of my mind but it seemed too selfish and stupid to share to anybody. It was my secret.
My first love in life was the New Jersey Shore. I was carried there as a toddler by my parents, and was taken there in my early years by aunts, uncles, sisters and their boyfriends. Something magical happened to me when I sat in from of those endless rolling waves. It was mesmerizing inner peace and freedom. It attacked all of my senses, the salt air, the hot sun, the sand between my toes. This was always my heaven on earth.

As our fearless leader Jim McSherry was the one that started the football team (he was quarterback), he was the one that initiated side street baseball. He told us where to go. He told us what to do. If you didn’t listen or do what he said you were shunned mentally from the “gang” He was also much stronger than us and apparently a good fighter. (later on he did join a boxing gym and fought in the Golden Gloves).

One day James Vincent McSherry began our daily routine walk to the shopping center with a plan. We listened intently as he explained what his old brother had recently done, we would now follow. The plan was to walk to the Woodbridge train station and take a south bound NJ transit train as far south as it would go which was Bay Head. From there we would hitchhike a few miles north on route 35 to Belmar. Belmar was a quaint little shore down. This was the McSherry beach of choice. You see each family in New Jersey had adopted a favorite beach to visit. I know for the Hartmans it was Point Plesant and the Gitter enjoyed Bradley (Bagel) Beach. Stuff’s family went to Seaside Park. Jim McSherry was our leader and Belmar was “his” beach so Belmar it was.

Belmar was unique in a way that they had huge wooden lifeguard boats that they turned over at night. We could tunnel underneath them at night to create a place to sleep. A couple times when we did this adventure we actually rented a room. Today I still wonder where all the adults were. Our parents for one thing, allowing us to travel by train 50 miles south, hitchhike and rent a room to stay over night. Also, what kind of responsible mature adult rents out a room to a group of teenagers all obviously under the age of 18?

So what stuck in my mind was that this great adventure and rebellious plan actually worked. This beach escape became a permanent fixture in the back of my mind. As the gang went on to different high schools and some of us to college we separated. It happened swiftly and without warning like life usually does things. I don’t really remember saying goodbye to anybody. Life just happened. If I would have known that our very last walk down to Carteret Shopping Center was our final, I would have done things so much differently. I would have a taken camera and lined us all up in front of Krausers holding our cokes and snacks in a cheer. I would ask one of the passing adults to snap our photo. Then I would individually hug each and every one of the gang and wish them well in life. “Bless your journey, whatever it may be.” I would say with tear filled eyes.

I struggled greatly in an all boy High School dominated by geniuses and talented sport playing fellow students. They had trophies with their names on them in the huge glass case out in the reception area of the school. The administration had a flawless reputation to keep. We are the best and nothing else. They hung up newspaper clippings on a board by the trophy case demonstrating that greatness. I was just barely getting by with my grades and at home it was now 5 years since the death of my father and almost pure chaos had kicked in. It was also around this time I started to drink. I drank to get drunk. This was a fine escape.

I was delivering the Star Ledger in the early morning my first three years of high school and I adored getting up early to do this. There was something magical and QUIET about being the first one up in a house loaded with 12 children. (at this point Barb had moved out and three step brothers had moved in). I loved the complete stillness of the early morning when I walked my route. Sometimes I would see stuff in neighbors garbage that I took. I found a cool wooden box hand engraved which I still have today filled with concert tickets. One time I found a box filled with National Geographic magazines and I picked up and took it home.

It was in these magazines I discovered the world. How huge and beautiful it is. There was something bigger, more important and much more beautiful out side of Carteret New Jersey.

I had concocted a plan and it was to run away from everything. I would save enough money for a one way ticket to Hawaii, pack nothing, fly there and then spend the rest of my life there. Since Jim McSherry had taught me that you can sleep on the beach that was my plan. I would stay on the warm beaches of Hawaaii until I could find a small job, maybe washing dishes and then just work my up. I told myself I wouldn’t tell anybody where I was. I would have just vanished with a new life.

With no internet checking flight prices and departure times was done with a phone and at times my vision of living on a beach in the Pacific ocean seemed unrealistic. But I was determined and several times I had saved a couple hundred dollars in the bank for my plane ticket but then “something always came up.” I don’t know whatever happened to this plan to escape. It got lost in the rough and tough tumbles of life. It was still always there, though, whenever I got frustarted or lost a job or fell behind on my bills.

It was only in writing this now and remembering that I realize a very influential friend has been gone in my life since I turned 20. It was one hot day in the Summer that Jim McSherry knocked on my door and said, “I’m leaving now. We’re moving to Arizona” His father had asthma so bad that the doctor told him that moving to Arizona would be the only left to save him. So Jim McSherry moved away and started a new life. He came back to visit a few times and I went there once to visit him in Arizona State University but it was never the same. He was on the other side of the country and so was his imagination, his laughter, his impersonations, his animated story telling and all the magic that he brought to any friendship.
Now he is slowly dying from congestive heart failure and I ask that anybody who reads this to say a prayer for him and his family. He is a great man.

POV #6

April 21st, 2017


E X P A N D the P H O T O

February 3rd, 2017


A classic photo. You can find this photo in December 2016. Probably taken 10 or so years after World War II. Our father still has pimples and our mother very much in love. This is before Seton Hall college, the Korean War, taking on a business and 10 children. When they first got married they were able to get a free apartment above The Westfield Leader, the local newspaper. Having a cop for a father entitled you to some perks in those days and that’s how they got the apartment. The only catch was that they had to clean the bathrooms of the newspaper. It wasn’t an easy task as this was way before the digital age and the bathrooms were blanketed in black ink seven days a week.
In 1960 shortly after having their first child, Barbara they purchased a home for 12,000 in a budding new suburban town called Carteret. The New Jersey Turnpike was just built (1951) and it’s short ride to New York City made it a perfect nest for new families in search of the American dream.
The American dream consisted of a white picket fence that our father planted rose bushes next to. Our neighbors were steady thru out our 25 year stay at 121 Whitman street. (to be continued)

claustrophobia

February 3rd, 2017

this was our first summer
Under the canvas gazebo
Encased by the towering rows of impatiens,
petunia’s
and daisy
where 8 foot tall sunflowers leaned into
the bursting tomatoes conversations
deep in three Layers of balanced stones
where we met each morning Covered in cool shadows
starbucks coffee and melted wax from last nights candles
you, chasing the bees and butterflies and weeds,
me interrupted by the screaming locust trying to
understand my struggle with claustrophobia
“the last time i died…” i said, “i drowned
in a wave crushing ocean.”

synchronicity

January 27th, 2017

nucleomituphobia.

January 25th, 2017

Here is the obituary of trying: millions cascaded the streets swinging signs of hope. The skies were dreary but there was love and unity everywhere.
“america first” is what we are told we will become. When once we were so remarkably blessed because we always wanted to help other people. what is so wrong with reaching out? accepting? loving? This is difficult to do in an ego generated dog eat dog world- to be generous or even thoughtful but for two centuries we did that.

My youngest son once shocked me and cried out from his college campus podium:
“There is no such thing as karma” and yet now I, 56 years removed from being a helpless infant, have witnessed more karma in one lifetime to last three lifetimes.
my point is this: when you help other people, good things will always come back to you. when you turn your back on them, you better keep a close eye on the karma waiting for you just around the next ( or 478th) corner ahead.

Frequent Improvisation
the internet is the great masterpiece of civilization. it is the great karma of technology that has come to bite us all in the ass. it has alienated us while giving us the illusion that we are closer together.
what is it you fear?
while once I was a little boy crawling on a gold shag carpet lost in imagination. Leggos and blocks. My living room was safe. My house was heated from the cold. My town was never being invaded or bombed by another country. The president insured me on TV that we are the “most powerful country in the world” we have the biggest everything especially army. my friends were safe, the sky was blue with big puffy white clouds most of the time. my school bus never got hit by a train when we crossed over the rail road tracks by the FMC factory, our family always got City Line pizza on Friday nights.
then one day I was watching the huge wooden cabinet television in the rec room. It was a special about how the soviets have built submarines capable of launching nuclear tipped missiles. that moment (most) my innocence was lost. I thought the cold war back then was about snow plows but boy was I wrong
advice is given to be ignored but here’s mine: never take anything for what it is given to be.

To Write Is To Leave This World
the more technologically advanced we get the less we want to do.
Discarded technologies: watches, newspapers, hand written letters, telephones hanging up on your kitchen wall, typewriters, movie projectors, needle and thread, 8 track tapes. Although I could make a case for vinyl records, watches and newspapers.
I am happy that we have become aware of the need to get back to nature. Gluten free, organic, no hormones, grass fed, cage free. I see men with baby carriages. I see more women in pant suits driving $40,000 SUV’s. There are no bad ideas.
Yet I continue to struggle with my identity.
I am-?
-clever?
-leery?
-a cracker mother fucker?
-a good father?
-LMAO?
-complicated?
-cool?
-full of shit?

Table for Two
Here on the verge of the fall of the American Empire three years removed from the Handshake School, still deep in debt, I did some number crunching for my retirement and came up with this: homelessness. Lets make a deal. If I can design and build my own robot before my resume becomes ancient yellow and crusty then I’ll gift wrap my future for you. I’ll be your janitor, butler and boner for the rest of your art saturated days on this melting planet.
This has gone on long enough and so I end it with my deepest darkest secret: I write messages of hope on slips of paper and hide them in books at the Barnes & Noble.

Maria

November 4th, 2016

I draw the blinds as the sky goes black on another
day
when we found out you were sick
we cried more than
at the smothering silence at your funeral
except for the angels singing
yeah, we all heard that
even years later the sadness continues to follow me
for someone I hardly knew
when I think that even towards the very end
you took out your school books to do homework

neonduskfridaynovember420161027am

(Maria was a 17 year old girl that died from cancer)