Archive for the ‘New Jersey’ Category

(mikes bar)

Friday, October 21st, 2016

about Mikes bar was an old mans bar on Roosevelt avenue right before the West Carteret bridge. I t was the quintessential filthy bar with a Jukebox, pool table and black and white Tv up on a shelf. It’s not there anymore. It was refurbished with shiny new bar with mirrors and played disco music in the 80’s but now even that is gone. I’m not even sure whats there now.

This was my mother and fathers “hang out”. Especially my fathers as it was on the way home for him from Westfield. Most times he would just go in and get some “packaged goods” as they were called back then. A six pack to go. There was a neon light in the window even announcing: “Packaged Goods” and it would blink on and off ad nausueum.

As a seven or eight year old boy I would sometimes go in there with him. I remember going into a bar for the first time more than I remember riding a bike for the first time. It seemed the same song was playing on the jukebox all the time. It sounded like the saddest song in the world of a love lost. The background singers sounded like angels in heaven. Many years later I heard this song cracking on the AM radio and I memorized the name as “Rambling Rose” by Nat King Cole. Overtime, whenever I heard that song I thought my father.

I wasn’t allowed to sit at the bar so I was placed on a table behind the bar and underneath the TV.

I've created a Time Machine APP on my 'very smart now' phone."

I've created a Time Machine APP on my 'very smart now' phone."


There I was given a Coca-Cola and a box of pretzels holding hands. (The pretzels were connected when they were baked)There I was buried in Jukebox music and tremendous clouds of second hand smoke. My dad, always in his business suit, up at the bar having a cold one and laughing with the regulars. Perhaps arguing why the price of gas is approaching .50 cents a gallon because of the Vietnam war.

My father came and got me to introduce me to a pile of people in the corner of the bar by the front window. These people were always there. The same ones. Always. I was introduces as "George Junior" which I hated and wished I could just be called Butch for the rest of my life. Fifty years later I actually remember one of their names; Teddy. A strange looking old man with a fedora and a hungry nicotine appetite.

Teddy came close enough to my face where I could smell the stale cigarettes and fresh Schaffer beer and I notices he had no eye brows. "Go ahead, Teddy tell the boy why you have no hair." some old hag with long gray hair said. Teddy took off his crumpled hat and sure enough no hair there either.

Teddy then proceed to tell the story of how when he was a kid he went to the movies to see Frankenstein with his friends. The movie scared him so much that he had to be helped home and was shaking uncontrollably in the kitchen. His mother tried to tell him it was only a movie and put him to bed. When he awoke the next morning all the hair on his body had fallen out. And it never grew back again.

I quess the vision of that for me at the time was waking up in your bed with hair all over the sheets. Now that's a horror story. I suppose growing up the rest of your adult life with no body hair gives you permission to sit in the same seat at Mikes Bar in West Carteret for thirty years and slowly drown yourself in ice cold Schaffers and Lucky Strike cigarettes.

A screenshot from the movie: Pro tip: When putting a camera right up to your face, try to follow some easy rules of personal hygiene.

A screenshot from the movie: Pro tip: When putting a camera right up to your face, try to follow some easy rules of personal hygiene.


When my father took me home he told my mother about my first visit to Mikes Bar. So how did you like it Butchie?"
First I thought of how the bars lights are always dimmed. The loud echoing music. The muffled laughter and serious talk. An adult world. Deep dark and mysterious filled with story book characters. The romantic neon glow on everyone's face. I always got a nice "buzz" from the Coca Cola.
"I really liked the atmosphere." I said
And with that the laughter that followed lasted several days. Where a 3rd grader comes up with such a word, "atmosphere" is beyond me and I'm sure I heard it in a movie or cartoon somewhere but I honestly don't know how I came up with that.
This story became an ongoing thing for about a year. My mother would call me in the kitchen when she had guests, proceed to tell the story about me and Mikes bar and then I would get the Que from her:
"I liked the atmosphere." I said as I rolled my eyes and they laughed and laughed as I went back to my army men.

Hard to describe in words

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

window
You may find yourself…
One day I woke up here and the sun was spilling into our bed in what seemed to be huge buckets of yellow and orange paint. We had breakfast together and then went outside into the garden.

People come in and out of your life for a reason
I come here immersed with gratitude. I am very lucky blessed and God has been very good to me. As I look back on Gods impeccable track record a glow of thankfulness covers me like a warm blanket in my new home.
In all that was chaos is blessings. I have done some of the footwork for I have no idea where I would be today if I wasn’t sober. Most times my mind goes faster than what I can keep up with but even that is getting better. It seems like so many many years ago I walked thru the doors of a place in Piscataway NJ, fresh out of jail, jobless and confused. It was a big room on the second floor covered with windows by a railroad track. There was always cofee and sweets, there was always clouds of cigarette smoke (yes, that’s how long ago this was.) but most of all there was always meetings. The building was not dedicated to anything else but recovery. Everyday, several times a day. And during holidays it was 24/7. I am very lucky blessed to have found people to talk to and phone numbers (there were no cell phones back then but I knew where every phone booth was)

she died a Hartman

she died a Hartman

I continue to be in awe of life …. and death. If you take for granted the billions of miracles that are going on around you and within you then you can lose touch with this whole amazing thing. You were actually a very sweet person, you just got a little lost. (like we all do) I’ve lost count of how many people have just slipped away from my life just so suddenly. They are up here, swimming and struggling* to stay afloat like the rest of us and then you turn around and
they are gone.

* and some people can just float

One day, a long time ago, I woke up on this farm in Canada too.

One day, a long time ago, I woke up on this farm in Canada too.

So this past June 16 was the 45 anniversary of my fathers death. I remember him telling me about the “7 year locust” next to that funny looking tree that is (still!) in our front yard. Obviously the seven year locust only come out every seven years. The story is that he was working on the rose bushes which he loved to do and one of those huge MF’ers flew into that tree and let out one of his crazy long noise/scream/bug sound. It freaked me out but my father soothed me by saying, “Don’t worry it’s only a seven year locust. He wont hurt you.” And that’s the end of the story pretty much. It’s funny how I can have memories that long ago! Actually if you asked me what my deepest longest memory EVER was, I might think it was the 1964 Words Fair in Flushing NY.

I lost you in the butterfly tent
So basically I have obtained a Flux Capacitor on Ebay and with the help of a friend of mine from New York City, we have created a Time Traveling APP. In a nutshell, when the phone is charging I can transfer through communication lines into different periods of time. My current quest is to travel digitally to a bar in West Carteret (Mikes Bar) and transfer my image onto the TV at that bar. The date I picked is October 10, 1968. A Thursday. My father frequented this bar ofter especially on Mondays and Thursdays when the Westfiels Sewing Center was opened until 9PM>
Since my father has never seen my kids, HIS grandchildren, I plan to show photos and small movies of them projected thru this black and white TV in Mikes Bar. My only hope is that dad sees them.

I haven’t traveled into the future yet. I’m too scared.

IDGAF
Sometimes I wish I never connected this blog to the family website. Sometimes creativity is hard to understand. Many

once a long time ago I woke up on the third floor of this Victorian mansion and had just impregnated my wife at the time with my first son.

once a long time ago I woke up on the third floor of this Victorian mansion and had just impregnated my wife at the time with my first son.

people need pure logic and straight thoughts. Sorry I don’t have much of that nor does this blog feature happy butterfly clipart and borders of flowers. I can view the number of times this blog gets “hit” which is actually pretty high probably only because it’s so public. So I’m sorry I can be so deep and dark and I know my audience isn’t keeping up with me nor caring but it’s this: Writing for me is incredibly therapeutic and the creative energy it creates just knowing I have a little corner in the world to turn to is so very nice. At least there is some family tree stuff and heritage so maybe one day one of our kids or their kids might be interested in that. I seem to be the only one.

Every time I start feeling Sorry For Myself I watch The News
I used to think I knew too much about life to have optimism. I was very wrong. When I was a teenager and into my twenties I wasn’t a very good person. In fact I was a big dick. I was indeed a racist, a sexist, an egomaniac and an irresponsible punk ass hippy. I’m very sorry to all the people I hurt, especially my family.

Everything that makes you happy is going to end at some point. I have gotten over that and have diligently tried to be a better person. I used to think that letting my divorce happen was one of my biggest mistakes. One day I woke up in my car and said “what the fuck have I done?” I should be waking up with my kids and teaching them how to sheetrock a fucking house or something! How to make a living in life. How to cook. How and when to put on underarm deodorant.
Actually I don’t have the first clue of how to sheetrock a house.
And today I don’t regret the sloppy one-sided nightmare divorce one bit. I know in my heart of hearts I did the absolute best that I could…..stressing with WHAT I HAD.

I am extremely blessed with these guys. You can not put a word to parental love.

I am extremely blessed with these guys. You can not put a word to parental love.

I have been calling Uncle Billy and I did that because I had some kind of crazy resentment with him. That he “abandoned” us or something. See, I can still be an idiot. After Carol died we used to think Barb was the last elder left in the family, then we found Jerry Jones but she sadly passed away almost as soon as I found her. Our fathers brother is still here and he such a nice, intelligent man with many many memories. He was so pleasant and patient when I last spoke with him and I had a hundred questions(knowing me yes some of them were strange) He is doing very well and will soon be out of assisted care.

Westfield NJ 1919. The Westfield Sewing Center not yet here (second store from the right) I hope to time travel here some day.

Westfield NJ 1919. The Westfield Sewing Center not yet here (second store from the right) I hope to time travel here some day.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve conquered it all except death. And maybe heavy merges on Rt 46 during rush hour.
When I see people in their twenties freaking out in their car, I laugh to myself. I was like that once too. Climbing the ladder of life. Knocking people down. Building a wall around myself and possessions. Yeah, this materialistic fever fed by American TV and movies. I’m reading a book now that changes all that. After the last France truck terrorism episode… it changed me greatly and I needed to find myself again. I’ll tell you one day soon how I made out.

POV #8

Friday, July 29th, 2016

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

POV #4

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

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

Ten Years After

Friday, February 12th, 2016

rememberwhen
It is (‘nt) funny how time flies. How it seems like yesterday I was sitting on top of a building in an office on the outskirts of Times Square NYC and with my down time I began playing around with web graphics.

This playing around and experimenting evolved into a family web site. I was fascinated by how things work on this thing The World Wide Web. I got books, I googled things. At the time there was a free web site hosting on Yahoo called GeoCities. GeoCities had become the laughing stock of the internet. It was just hilariously awful. Before I had begun “Family Ties” I wandered around GeoCities and saw some really bad amateur web design. Everybody and their friends wanted a web page. But I swore mine would be different.
vision
Ok yeah, I tried to be different and hope that I had achieved a little sophistication in what had become a very complicated family web site. I had fun and I learned. I had many problems that I figured out on my own. The page builder that Yahoo provided was horrible. Although I was impressed with their “layer” technology it was the beginning of a nightmare when it came to editing. The real issue was that web technology was growing by the speed of sound almost daily.
There became different codes and languages and software. I spent days learning Flash and trying to create animation. Today Flash is almost obsolete in web development. You have to go to school. Thanks to my many years in the printing business I was able to impersonate some form of design. When I did prepress for all these famous and not so famous designers, I tore apart their work to see how it was constructed digitally and I learned ALOT. I worked with many prepress guys and gals that just saw what we did as work. I saw the ART. I saw the colors and textures. I was inspired and I appreciated good design. I remember getting some artwork by a big design firm in New York to do a wall mural in a Barnes and Noble in Clifton NJ. I opened this thing up on my Mac and it was a hundred layer perfectly orchestrated Photoshop design. I grabbed the girl scanning things on the work station behind me and said, “Will you LOOK at that!?”
“Yeah. nice. Right. Ok. Is it lunch yet?”
And I spent my entire lunch discovering the layers of this wonderful artwork.

So it is the ten year anniversary of Family Ties. I still struggle with it. It has been flattened down to a much meeker version. I never have time for it anymore. I have lost my desire for it. It is like an old girlfriend that I was once very much in love with. Now I don’t know who she is anymore and I don’t care. Yet, I still come here, for the most part .. to blog. To vent. To express.

Because it is the ten year anniversary I want to bring some of the old stuff back. The good and the bad. The “Remember When” page was good. Here it is for you:
REMEMBER WHEN?
I used to think it was something that could always be added on to.

August 3 2000

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

glennBev
Today Beverly passed away 15 years ago and we approach the one year anniversary of Glenns passing August 17 (yeah, I know, already!). Bev would have been 58 this September which means she was a very young 43 when she died. Somewhere on this blog I write about the day Bev died and how I’ll never forget it. She used to raise and sell persian kittens and the funny thing is one of her cats is still alive and lives with George Poulo in Plainfield NJ.
Personally I have so many memories with each Glenn and Beverly but I did have a special relationship with Bev. It was just one of those things. We go way back. She understood me deeply. As she sailed further and further away from us in her sickness, I never tried to find her. I wasn’t strong enough.
It is these kinds of anniversary that tell you fast the clock ticks and how fragile our time here is. I really miss them.

pawn to king four

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Early June. Welcoming the unofficial start of Summer. Here in the North/mid/east all the seasons don’t slowly blend into one like most of our southern friends .Our season are abrupt, extreme and sometimes frightening. Winter here was brutal and the snow piled higher than cars at times. It has yet to release us from her grip as here I am on June 7 seeking desperately a hoody to help me make it thru the morning.
It was an email from cousin Jim Gill “Paul McCartney and Wings (on the radio now) remind me of our visits to Jersey.” that triggered this post. Also a call from a very old friend Jim McSherry was filled with resurrected Summers.
This topic has been covered ad infinitum yet I feel a desire to write about it. I’ve waited 55 years to finally say, “You kids don’t know how good you got it.” or “Get off my lawn you no good sons of bitches!” Social media is swarmed with the “when I was young…” cliche. Social media will always be telling us about life before the internet. I remember the set of outdated encyclopedias in our rec room actually WERE my internet. And if it wasn’t in there, then I really did walk 20 miles in the snow (actually it was more like one mile and it was only in the snow once) to the little library on Carteret avenue. I filled many reports with cut out photos and charts from those encyclopedias……and I hate to admit I also used books from the library for my primative “cut and paste” knowledge.
Todays internet brats don’t know how good they got it. But the internet is just the first in-line glaring example of how things have changed. Summer has changed dramatically as I look around now at the empty streets and playgrounds. Most kids have resorted to cyber entertainment. When we played in the Summer, we had to use our imagination. First of all our Summers were at least three weeks longer! For whatever reason the school year has definitely lengthened for todays school kids.
It started on the carpet when Jim McSherry and I would play “little army” with plastic soldiers frozen in boring poses. We don’t know where he got them but Johnny Lambert had the coolest, meanest looking Japanese toy soldiers in unique poses of death and destruction. How we yearned for those politically incorrect yellow soldiers. They were never to be found in any toy store.
There was always our pool and Kenny Gitters pool which sometimes became strange when we decided to take off our suits and swim naked. Mrs. Gitter put an end to that real quick Most hot Summer days she could be found at the end of our kitchen table playing Scrabble with our mom. They had also discovered a fabulous new drink by reading “Hints from Heloise” in the Star Ledger. It was called Iced Coffee. It was this same Heloise daily article where mom found out that we could actually eat the skin on our baked potatoes and didn’t have to throw them away with the tinfoil that they were wrapped in.

Actually football is always compared to a chess match. Maybe because the knight wears a helmet?

Actually football is always compared to a chess match. Maybe because the knight wears a helmet?


As the Summers progressed we invented new things to do and keep us occupied. One time we spent an entire Summer in our backyard creating mazes with lego pieces and watching bugs walk around in circle. It would piss us off when some bugs would just say “fuck this” and climb the Lego wall to exit our “maze of doom.”
Unfortunately for these clever bugs escape usually meant being captured again and being subject to some cruel torturous death. Being burned to death with a laser from the sun via a magnifying glass was a popular choice.

In our neighborhood the 5th of July was much more popular than the actual holiday on the fourth. For it was the day after the nightly fireworks that we would walk the sidewalks and gutters looking for “duds” Unexploded fireworks. Anything. Fire crackers, bottle rockets, the remains of a roman candle. We bought hundreds of these used explosives home and carefully unraveled them into a box. It was long tedious hours with little payoff. I ate a few crabs last Summer and it kind of reminded me of that. A lot of work with little meat and never feeling close to having my appetite satisfied.
What we did with our gunpowder harvest hardly satisfied my appetite for destruction either. I was pretty keen on destroying plastic tank models that I spent weeks building but that was usually done with gasoline. Sometimes we got lucky and were able to purchase real fireworks from the local firework dealer on Tennyson street. We would knock on this teenage kids door and barter with him. A nickel, a dime, ANYTHING for one single firecracker or bottle rocket.
We played outside. Sidestreet baseball, touch football, man hunt. We built forts in trees and under bridges. We explored the endless miles of railroad tracks that led up the dirt hill from Daniele. We hung out on the trestle

Then there were the Summers of the Gills. I had already written about this in a previous posts but these were great times. Just a few years after the passing of our father, it was good to have a man in the house again. This was Summer at it’s very best. Carefree and happy. Lot’s of pool, barbecue and popcorn. Wherever we went, we all went together. Filled the station wagon and sang songs from the FM together. It never got any better than this.

We did surrender to TV though, although it was a different monster than it is now. A huge wooden box attached to an antenna on the roof. Seven channels and sometimes eight, if we could get channel 3 to come in. Monty Python was a Summer staple on Sunday nights along with all the other mindless sitcoms of the day. Greg got us into “Dark Shadows” Saturday Night Wrestling and eventually Mary Hartman Mary Hartman.

The Day I Beat Walter Lambert In Chess
In the Summer of 72 we sat in front of channel 13 and “watched” the championship of chess between Russia and USA. This was huge when we were young. There still was a cold war going on and anything Russia vs USA was must see. At this time Bobby Fischer was still in the progress of losing his mind and didn’t allow cameras in the room where they were playing. So, for the entire Summer we sat in front of the TV and watched some guy move paper chess pieces on an upright paper board. There were sometimes HOURS between moves. It was like watching grass grow yet this is how we spent an entire Summer. This championship match had ignited a national interest in the game that we caught.

In 1973, this was worth more than three bars of solid gold.

In 1973, this was worth more than three bars of solid gold.

So when chess wasn’t on TV, we were playing it everywhere. Nobody was better at the game than Walter Lambert. One of those wise ass kids a few years older than us that “knew everything” and actually owned the yellow plastic Japanese soldiers that we craved.
I had gotten rather good at the game and even got a book from the library. Next to Fran Tarkenton, the then quarterback of the New York Football Giants, Bobby Fischer was an absolute hero to me. I studied and envied his life and his mysterious quiet way was even more intreging.
So one day, it happened. In the Lamberts always open garage door, I challenged Walter Lambert to a game of chess. Nobody had ever beaten him or even come close. And he would smirk and let out a whinny laugh everytime he beat one of us and called us knuckleheads for even trying.
But as the game went on, it became interesting and a small crowd began to gather around. I knew I had him on the ropes and he was just waiting for one stupid move, like we always seemed to make, to beat us. Not only did I keep my head in the game but I actually check mated the older, the wiser, the much cooler Walter Lambert. There was a shock of silence first but then the place erupted. George beat Walter Lambert. Yes. George Hartman had beat Walter Lambert in a game of chess. In the Summer of 1972 in a small rural town off the New Jersey Turnpike where planes flew overhead to land in Newark… I had become a folk hero for a few days. I had indeed beaten Walter Lambert at chess.
For me,
I want every anticipated Summer to be good. I yearn for the sun in my face. I watch our tomatoes and flowers grow. I BBQ ribs and steak on weekends. I’ve seen a Summer moon rise from the deck. I love each abrupt season better than the next. I couldn’t stand ‘summer all the time” or rainy seasons but Summer is a great time to feel alive. There is no greater swim than body surfing on an Atlantic ocean wave. Much like George Costanza, today, I proclaim this THE SUMMER OF GEORGE!
the abrupt seasons

the abrupt seasons

Of graphics and junkyards

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

websiteTOP
In many ways on the internet the blog has seemed separate from the Family Web site but maybe this will (reluctantly) connect the two. So this is the The Family Web Site. I say reluctantly because in many ways I don’t want them to connect. I don’t want to feel obligated to always have to write about this family. Not that there’s lack of material but besides the sad deaths, happy weddings and births, life is pretty much a trivial journey through monotonous (not mountainous) highways. Boring with a capital B. I’m not calling everyone boring, I’m just saying everyday life is just that. Everyday. There is social media to blow your steam or toot your horn and we’re all pretty good at using it. I can’t even list how many of my writings, poetry, photography and digital artwork I would rather “publish” here but am frightened to do so. You see, I am a rather strange dude with weird taste. I have always had a huge appreciation of art, animation and creative writing. As a result of that keen appreciation I have tried (rather unsuccessfully) to actually BE a respected “artist” When I am surrounded by really intelligent writers, artists, teachers, graphic designers, voice over artists, and even ridiculously skilled puppet builders, I can’t even come close. It goes back to what I am. A really strange dude with weird taste and amateur skills. In art there are those that create it….and those that just appreciate it. I have surrendered to the latter.

I am a rather strange dude with weird taste.

I am a rather strange dude with weird taste.

But the news here is that the web site is back. Not that anyone noticed but it was down for quite awhile. I had come across many obstacles in the last year or so. Most devastating was a hard drive crash of my Mac book pro laptop. This was essentially the heart and guts of the web site and it held all the data and functions for Mightyten. Although, I was sensing something wrong with the computer and instinctively did an emergency back up on an external drive one week before the crash…I still lost key passwords and expensive software that I used. At the same time the ISP provider for themightyten dot com (Yahoo) decided to upgrade editing and uploading capabilities that left me out in the cold. Yahoo is a company that just ASSUMES everyone has the money to just go out and buy or update expensive software. They have also increased the annual fee that I pay to keep this name up and running on their server.
Forty-four years ago (a tiny history) the “Family Ties” was called “The Hartman News” and it was printed by hand on school loose leaf paper. There wasn’t a server, Adobe Dreamweaver, Photoshop, hard drives, corrupt fonts, blogs, and the closest thing to a hard drive crash for me was crumbling up a piece of paper and starting over. After that my sisters and brothers took over and released some absolutely beautiful paper editions of the now called “Family Ties” Some of these will be digitized and available for download I hope soon. Then nine years ago while working the night shift at a large format graphics company on 3oth street in New York City I became fascinated with the internet, web design, Adobe Flash and slowly self taught myself to put up a new “family news” site.
It was a lot of experiments, failures and fun and the main thing was that I was learning. The website I created was a bulky amateur mess that became outdated rather fast. I didnt have the time or resources to keep it updated.
Actually my main goal at that time was to discover any bit of information on our family heritage. I become totally intrigued by our great grandfather and his 12 children that lived on this earth around the same time the Titanic sunk 400 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada. I was also fascinated by the stories aunt Carol, uncle Brother and our mother had told us about the Gill and Westfield NJ. While I was creating this huge list of questions in my mind for them, but then they slowly and softly passed away and left all my questions unanswered.
blogForm_masterpiece I have had many inspirations, influences and teachers in my time. I’ve had some lucky breaks. I remember the first time I saw somebody doing Photoshop on a PC in the late 90’s. It was version 4.0 and I was floored by the use of layers which had been released a few years earlier. Even I knew at that time how absolutely ground breaking that was in digital art. I also knew right then and there that that was something I wanted to do. I wanted to learn. I asked a few people at my job at Lucent Technologies in Holmdel NJ to “please just sit down with me a few minuets and show me some things” and nobody ever helped me. I will never forget one guy looking at me right after I asked him for help and saying.. “why don’t you go to school like I did and learn it”.
So I went to Barnes and Noble all the time read and purchased books. I practiced at work. I practiced at home. Then I got into Adobe Illustrator and was completely baffled by that. I self-taught myself all that I could with books and YouTube didn’t come out until April 2005 and it was even a few years after that when it became the mother of all tutorials on the web.
And yeah I did, at age 40 went back to college and the small Brookdale Community college I went to had just built a brand new computer lab with 30 brand new Macs. I was in heaven and I was blessed with good teachers who insisted on me learning how to cut a perfect path. At the same time I buried myself in art magazines and tried to duplicate other peoples work as practice.
After the dot come bust from 2000 to 2002 and the collapse of Roman Empire Lucent Technologies (Many argue that the dotcom boom and bust was a case of too much too fast.) I ended up on the streets searching for anything to provide for my young family. I ended up in a auto graveyard in Carteret NJ. Far far away from anything creative, or digital or what I had inside of me pushing out.
I was driving a huge fork truck in an car auction crash “graveyard” Moving around automobiles that were in accidents. Some of the accidents were not so bad. Most of the accidents were totals with fatalities. There were detonated blood covered air bags. Shredded windshields and doors. Jaws of life claw marks on the hoods and roof. There is money in car parts. Sometimes a totaled car is worth more in parts then the car itself. We cleaned these cars out and lined them up for an auction every week. Big shots from all over the tri-state area would come with their tow trucks and car carriers and buy these wrecks for parts. It was a highly depressing job. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get along with anybody there.
I was never a “car guy” and they found that out quickly. I reported the unsafe working conditions to Occupational Safety and Health Administration and wasn’t afraid to put my name on the report (even though it could have went anonymous) because I wanted to get fired. They demoted me to the grungy job of cleaning out wrecks and took me off my fork truck. In many of these wrecks that I cleaned in the hot sun it was the last stop for many people. There were even stories of the accidents from the tow truck drivers that dropped these cars off. “Oh this was an old couple that got hit head on by a tractor trailer. They never had a chance.” or “This was a car load of teens with no seatbelts that rolled over three times.” I was too sensitive for this shit as I collected their loose change in the ashtrays and tried on some cool coats that would find in the back seats.
I was ready to surrender myself to a life of physical labor, warehouses, factories, bleach lines, blue collar punching in and out until one day, a newspaper ad. This was still web infancy days. There was no Monster.com or Craigslist although emails were the thing at that time. There were still newspapers publishing wanted ads.
Every night the Summer that I worked here I would lock the huge barbed wire fences and watch the sky turn gold and purple then black. I had that newspaper ad and the next day I called it a man named John answered the phone. He was in a complete panic. “George…I need someone to come in here….get behind that Mac and get all this prepress work out the door. I need a quick mind. I need someone that knows graphics…knows prepress….understands printing..I need help.”
So a few days later I was hired. At this point in my digital career, I wasn’t very good. I was slow. I had a lot to learn. I was basically a poster and powerpoint designer with pussy footed deadlines.
This job threw me out of the pot and into the fire. I learned the incredible details and hectic world of large format prepress for huge companies like Barnes and Noble, Cigna Insurance, Morgan Stanly, The Holocaust Museum. I learned fast and I learned hard. John insisted on using software “shortcuts” and being quick and precise. He was a great tough teacher. At first I really didn’t know what I was doing. I had major panic attacks when they gave me job envelopes. I almost quit several times. It was very rough times for me and a few years before I was comfortable with ANY challenge.
I often wondered why I was hired. I know they had a quite a few people lined up for the job. Turns out, because of my “lack of” experience the CEO got me cheap and he liked the fact that I was…
German.

Gettysburg 1970

Friday, December 6th, 2013
July 1970 11 months before his death, Dad "pulls" and Brenda resists.

July 1970 11 months before his death, Dad “pulls” and Brenda resists.

two score and three years ago our father, full of determination and
curiosity gathered his young family into a green Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
and journeyed 200 miles southwest into the belly of American history,
the fields of Civil War death, the tourist traps the land of hotels and

cyan colored swimming pools. The fierce fighting for the window seats
as mom chain-smoked Viceroys with windows up, AC on, seatbelt s off,
FM radio tuned to rock classics of the day “Which Way Ya Going Billy?”
Poppy Family,”In the Summertime”by Mungo Jerry,”Hey There Lonely Girl”

by Eddie Holman, The Hollies with “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”
this station wagon featured speakers in the back seat panels, and
this was modern day coolness unheard of in the day. We breezed thru
Interstate 76 pass the Esso billboards and Roadside America invitations

Bushkill Falls, Crystal Cave, the Amish in Lancaster, covered bridges, and
the Hershey Factory. So it was, we as a family took our one and only
vacation and not everyone was invited and some invited guests didn’t
want to come! If you were clad in diapers than you stayed home

with Mrs. Askew. Beverly was lost in teenage phone world and requested
to be left alone forever. Against her will she was dragged into the
overcrowded station wagon and we endured the three hour struggle
into the sweet beauty of Pennsylvania’s mountains with our mighty V8

spectacular blue skies, puffy white clouds, fields of lazy cows and
a dreary mundane depression that forever lurks in these small towns.
Their shops, schools and slow walking slow talking locals with accents.
We stopped once for 36 cents a gallon gas as Apollo nine flew hundreds

!969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Wagon

!969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Wagon


of miles overhead and the Vietnam War raged on overseas.Just being in a
hotel is the vacation.Soda and candy vending machines.Running down
hallways screaming and taking the elevator up and then down, over and
over Dad sitting in the chair smoking a cigar, planning our days with

maps and brochures the TV blaring,nobody watching Jumping on the bed
suddenly,how many glass displays of dug up bullets, marble statues of
men on horses, riffles hanging on walls, hundreds of B&W photos
of dead men can one person view? This was an endless history class in

the hot Summer sun.It wasn’t my fault I was a kid with different ideas of
adventure and that by the third day of endless hundred year old history
I had enough and made it my point to say so. Somewhere in between
Little Round Top and Devils Den, my whining had warranted a beating

I was sent to the car crying On the way home this hungry family did
breakfast and dad ordered pancakes for all which finally came stacked
bigger than anything we had ever seen. Psychology won and just vision
had made us full. Dad paid the bill shaking his head at the biggest waste

of money and food and Brenda picked up her “underbrella” and we left
The longer drive home hypnotized sleep. Dad the accountant adds
expenses in his head. It wasn’t a vacation it was an education he later
said. And as we finally pulled into the concrete driveway I knew that

if I became a dad, my kids would be riding roller coasters on our
vacations.We would take luxury ships and planes to get there. Never
long lines, hot sun, ‘education’ or hours to get there but then if I did
would my future son ever write a memory poem such as this?

Because she is missing, Bev probably took this photo. Lost tourist.

Because she is missing, Bev probably took this photo. Lost tourist.

All we are, is all we will ever be.

Thursday, December 5th, 2013
moon and sun

moon and sun

I’d like to bring you back again and see if you changed your mind about death. Brenda called “SHOTGUN!” as my sisters ran to my car. Beverly just smiled and elegantly squeezed her long lean body into the crowded back seat of my small Kia Reo.
“On my God, it’s been SO long!” she said.
Brenda popped into the front seat and was so excited she was just making noises.
“Put your seat belts on”, I said as I started the engine
I was a little surprised when they listened to me because I didn’t know what to expect. Death can do strange things to people, I thought.
I put the car in gear and they both squealed simultaneously.
“Stop and get cigarettes!” Beverly yelled from the back.
“Oh yeah, Georgie, do THAT!”, Brenda chimed in.
Oh what the hell, I thought I spent almost $17.00 for two packs.
“Holy crap!” Bev said. “They were three bucks last time I remember. John Karst used to always get them for me.”
So I drove and they smoked. We drove and we drove all around New Jersey. Carteret, Rahway, Linden and Perth Amboy. We stopped for Taylor ham and cheese at Burger Express drive-in, TWICE. I picked up Wise potato chips in Linden and Slim Jims at a Krausers along with more cigarettes. We drove past Bevs old haunts including Grandma Wilski’s house in Linden. We got out of the car on Whitman street and walked outside around the old abandoned house we used to live in. When I told Beverly that one of her Persian cats had already out-lived her by 13 years she blurted, “Nooooo Waaaay!”
Beverly then started to cry as she lit another cigarette but I just let that moment go by. There has to be a lot of emotion coming back from a “deep sleep” after so long. You realize that life doesn’t stop when you do, it’s just keeps going on and on and on.
With windows down to let out the smoke and the constant ramblings and memories of my sisters words, it soon started to get dark out. We are watching time pass but with no anxiety and no attempt to alter the past or present.
Brenda and Beverly asked me question after question. Before I could finish answering one, there was another or a round of laughter. Everything had changed and was “funny looking.”
“I thought there would be flying cars by now, Butch. Remember the Jetsons? Is that still on?”
I finally took my iPhone out of my coat pocket and to their amazement I showed them how it worked as we parked in Carteret Shopping Center for more Slim Jims. They fought over the phone but Brenda eventually won because there were photos of Becca and Brooke all over Facebook. Bev took a long deep drag on her cigarette and as smoke flowed out of her mouth she asked, “So everyone has one of these things?” pointing to the phone.
I told her technology was getting out of control and since she had been gone the longest, she was the most amazed by current life.
“Oh my God George. TAKE ME TO OHIO RIGHT NOW!” Brenda barked as she stared open-mouthed at the photos of her kids on my phone.
I took the navigator out of the glove compartment and plugged it into the dash. “Another phone thing?” Beverly asked?
“No, this thing will tell and show us how to get to Ohio.”
“Whatever!” Bev says shaking her head. “So mom died a year after me?, were people sad at my funeral?, who came?, I don’t remember the coma. did you tell Danny Braza??”
The questions went on and I answered the best that I could and sometimes I didn’t know or I lied. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wasn’t afraid. Any fear was totally overwhelmed by seeing them sitting in my car. They seemed young, healthy, full of vigor and curiosity. I think life is a good thing where they come from. A Gift. They seemed to have missed being here but they also had nothing to say about where they had been. “It’s such a wonderful place. I do miss it already.” was all I got out of Brenda at one point. But they were only interested in this moment. Driving around in my car. They both had a strange glow to them and their eyes were almost wild with excitement.
In front of us has we drove West on Interstate 80, the sun was blazing and clouds were turning into a molten lava of oranges and reds. When I pointed at the sunset in front of us and said “Look at that!” they seemed uninterested as if they had seen things much more beautiful while they were away. It was at this point I felt a small tug on my existence here with them. Something was happening. Something weird.
Brenda was showing Bev a photo of Brooke in a high school play when a tingling sensation in my arm shook me, I heard Brenda’s crazy laugh and looked over at the passenger seat and it was only my phone. My arm hurt. It hurt bad. I looked in the rear view mirror for Beverly and she was gone too. The fog was lifting. No, it can’t be. Was it? My arm is under my body and it is asleep. The fog is lifting quicker as the tingles in my arm stir me back into reality. No, no no. It was a dream? A DREAM??
“Look at that sunset sisters!” I yelled as I tried to get back to where I was. I didn’t want to leave. Now it feels like cob webs are all over me. My eyes are crusty. There is droll all over my chin. Oh my gosh. I was out of it. One of those rare deep sleeps. I remembered everything. My entire day driving with them. It seemed so real. I wanted to go back. We never got pizza. We never made it to Ohio.