Archive for the ‘New Jersey’ Category

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.

As I was saying, the moon was orange…

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

…thru the pine trees of our camp site. It felt like we were a million miles from New Jersey but there we were right squat in the middle of it. In the middle of what seemed to be nowhere. You couldn’t hear the turnpike screaming here and we weren’t under a direct 747 plane route to Newark. The only sounds we heard here was the crackling of a fire, beers popping open and our dog barking in the wind. These were the days, my friend. I don’t remember who discovered this “hidden” dirt road to Farrington Lake (Stuff or Glenn?) but it was the greatest discovery since rubber-coated baseballs. We drifted here often to get away. To drink, to sleep in tents, to fish and to just basically be crazy kids. I have some great memories (at least what I hazily remember anyway) of coming here on windy Fall days or blazing Summers. Into the cool shade of pines. Swimming in the cold lake. Cooking off the fire. Drinking and laughing into the late hours of darkness. We were men (and dog) living off the land (ha ha) and surviving the wilderness (yeah right)
About this photo: courtesy of Bonnie Ludwig Matthias on Facebook. This is actually a photo of a photo and I loved it the second I saw it. Wish there were more photos of the Farrington Lake era.

Two brothers and their dog.

Two brothers and their dog.

Other notes:
-Perhaps it’s part of our basic nature to drift into believing that we have a handle on life. Perhaps we think we’re all so experienced that we have seen it all, know it all and that nothing that comes our way anymore is shocking. And then someone you love dies.

-My awkwardness is at an Olympic level. I stumble into most rooms looking for a corner to hide. Except at work. I’m a quiet T-Rex that can explode in hunger at any given time.

-Latest discoveries: I’m over-emotionally available, have a strange brain and like it. I enjoy taking part in life for the most part, don’t we all? If you think you have a “miserable” life just stay in touch with the news and if you can’t radiate one OUNCE of gratitude from that then you probably won’t get along with anyone and certainly not me. Children with cancer, especially RARE cancer is seemingly becoming an epidemic. Do you ever really wonder what is in our food and milk after humans and technology get their hands on it? Do you believe that at the turn of the century and the industrial revolution has anything to do with this? Back then it was “OK” to dump millions of tons of toxins in the rivers and oceans and air. Do you think all of that has just gone away? Do you think we have completely stopped dumping on Mother Earth?

BLOGdissappearLikesmokeWith large families being so rare these days, I’m always asked how my mother did it? You have to give her tons of credit but do you mention the drinking, shoplifting and total loss of control? Some people just aren’t cut out to be the disciplinarian. Being part of such a large family means you always have someone to play with, but privacy is scarce. We had more bunk beds then a submarine. It makes me sick of what becomes a reality TV show these days. Anything and everything. While some can be interesting and educational most of them and 90% of TV is just pure trash anyway. If they set up a few cameras in Whitman street during our peak, I’m not sure it would sell. Some of our neighbors were pretty interested in our life. I remember being watched with an odd eye a lot as a kid playing in the yard or cars driving by slow to take a gander at the bizarre Brady bunch after Ed and his kids moved in. There were always haters but there were some that loved us. Some that loved us so much, that they actually became family. We took in anybody. Mom was like that after dad died. Hey we have ten kids but Bevs boyfriend moved in and friends slept over for days upon days turning into weeks.

-It isn’t hard to learn how to breathe more properly Deep breathing can be very relaxing, it reduces stress and is a wonderful way to get in touch with our body and our very self.

-Nothing can make people feel they have a purpose in life, like having children.
I am worried about what I do not know. There is too much of that. I don’t live with my kids. What is really happening? What happened?

Before Halloween became yet ANOTHER American made money making extravaganza there were very limited Oct 31 decorations. This cat is a huge part of my childhood.

Before Halloween became yet ANOTHER American made money making extravaganza there were very limited Oct 31 decorations. This cat is a huge part of my childhood.

Yes, that day of regret has finally arrived like I knew it would. I gave everything I owned and MORE in the trust that it would work out for their benefit.
I knew when they were just so young, and there was never a pet dog and worse thing ever, when I pulled up in front of the house on Oct. 31 to pick them up, there were never any Halloween decorations.
Children without a real home, will always seek a real home. What is a real home? The definition can vary, but when sickness and phobias create an unhealthy environment, then you can be left with no warmth. Warmth in a home can consist of many wonderful things. -Paintings and photos hanging on the wall. -A crowded refrigerator full of food and healthy snacks. -A crowded refrigerator door filled with magnets memories and fun. -A functioning TV. -An internet connection and family computer. -A comfortable positive environment. -Never worrying about losing your home to financial ignorance. -A dog with a wagging tail or a purring cat. -Halloween decorations.

1. .Just sit & observe. You’ll learn a lot.
2. Before you get married, spend one year living together first.
3. The best things happen unexpectedly.
4. Never trust coffee that isn’t coffee flavored.
5. Go camping once a year.
6. Take a few deep breaths daily.

Movie Still #4 from Home Movies

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Times were good!

Times were good!

Yeah, back to that home movie. 3 min and 24 seconds into it. My favorite part.

Fear Of Abandonment

Sunday, July 14th, 2013
If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy. -Kurt Vonnegut

If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don’t need an enemy.
-Kurt Vonnegut

While many family historians struggle to discover any tiny piece of information that they can, we have been blessed (on the Hartman side at least) with a recent slew of photographs and now documents of our early nineteenth century beginnings. These new “Family Memory” documents are a really fun and interesting read. I would recommend downloading the links below and printing them out. Find a nice chair and enjoy. You are about to individually meet every one of our Great Grandfathers kids, his wife and him. The “industrious” Jersey City printer with a sense of humor. These words were originally taped and then transcribed with keeping curious future generations like us in mind. I’m thinking, how very generous and nice of them. These were recorded by the youngest of our Great Grandfathers children, Marie Elizabeth. She was also the last one to pass away.

Family Memories Of Marie Elizabeth Hartmann
Pages 1-17 Part One Memories (PDF) DOWNLOAD
and here are pages 18-45: Part Two Memories (PDF) DOWNLOAD

In her opening statement Marie writes:

“It may help you understand yourself” – I truly believe that this can be one of the benefits of heritage discovery.
“I am not planning on recording gossip or family scandals”
– Wow. How much does that suck! After reading this, I find it interesting that gossip or scandals even exsisted in this family!! Marie was very kind and honest in this document. But of course human nature dictates such things inescapable. And the bigger the family–the more gossip and scandals there will be! We can tell you that first hand experience!

There is another one of these documents written by one of Marie’s sisters that I possess and will share in a future posting. There will be no information overload on this blog.(that’s a sarcastic joke based on my last post date of 6 months ago) Actually it’s been quite the opposite. The family web site is slowly being worked on. Dead links. Outdated photos. Missing people, most in particular, Blake on the family tree.
Here is a list of things I have been working on in my spare time:
+ Redesigning the web site. Cutting a lot of the fat. Leaner, quicker and cleaner. More use of Adobe Flash.
+ Finding and interviewing John Karst our step brother. Last presumed residence Elizabeth NJ
+ Finding the grave sites of the two infants that Charles and Clara lost. 1892 Emma (9 months old) and Charles 1895 (3 months old) There are 5 cemeteries in Jersey City. I’m assuming maybe Holy Name cemetery and it is huge!
+ Create a family tree that begins with our mother and father. This has become quite extensive over the years.
+ Call and speak to my fathers brother, William Hartman, who is currently residing in California. (another fantastic discovery through Jaybird and Diane, as I had been looking for him unsuccessfully on the internet)

The reason this document is available to us is because of a chain reaction of events from finding our long lost cousins through this blog resulting in the rejuvenated friendship of cousins Diane Jones and Barbara Hartman. Since we have been reunited, Barb has visited Diane down south where she lives now and recently this past Spring, Diane came up here to visit what is barely left of the New Jersey Hartman’s. She also wanted to attempt to revisit some of her deep New Jersey roots. When I heard this I truly understood her desire for this. As a military child, her family stayed where ever her father, Jay Jones, was stationed. A huge part of our families childhood is visiting our cousins on these bases. Particularly Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn and Fort Dix in south Jersey. While Diane was here we planned a trip to Brooklyn for Diane. Unfortunately due to high security we were unable to get into the bases (despite the pleading by Diane to the security guard at the gate) but we did mange to see the house from outside the confines of the Fort on the Belt Parkway.

Childhood is the most beautiful of all life's seasons.

Childhood is the most beautiful of all life’s seasons.

Yes, even just this drive-by glimpse was all we had. Yet it had initiated a flood of memories from all of us on that heritage journey. My sister Barb and I are old enough to remember driving over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the station wagon.
We have so many wonderful memories of this place. Diane was almost bubbling over with flash-backs, friends and memories as she was the second oldest of the family. It was also a very interesting drive around Brooklyn. For some people that have at least a certain degree of sentimentality in their hearts, it is warm feeling to revisit your childhood. To walk down the old streets that slowly change over the years. It ignites old feelings and “where are they now” friendships.

Diane Jones and George Hartman in front of Whitman Street in Carteret. Spring 2013

Diane Jones and George Hartman in front of Whitman Street in Carteret. Spring 2013

What now seems like many moons ago a “super” storm smashed into this side of the country doing things to us that I never thought possible. This time all the hype and warnings were very correct and most people that lived anywhere near any kind of water were devastated! Our little family was in a tiny room on the second floor of an old wooden house, many miles in-land and north, yet our house was actually BENDING.BLOG_gaslines I will never forget that helpless feeling of being in that moving house. I had fears of being homeless or someone getting hurt. A tree fell down on our street. That was it, and oh yeah, we lost our power for a week. (that really sucked) but that was it. As the days unwound afterwards, the images and stories that unfolded before my eyes made me feel very grateful. This was one very serious ass kicking by nature and yet while I was embedded in this swaying room I had no idea how serious it really was.
Coming home to darkness everyday and the sound of the neighborhood generators echoing in the backyards became very depressing. No refrigerator, no TV, no lights, no heat until we were granted a single extension cord snaked up into the apartment. We lived in a room with candles, one extension cord, and glued to the images on the TV.
When something like this happens you can feel a compassion in people that overflows into all the nooks of your life. Most people care. Most people will help you. The human race is temporarily changed into a caring kind soul. I haven’t seen this since the 9/11 terrorist plots. For months after that the northeast was greatly humbled. The “mean” streak was lifted. It lasted for quite awhile. Then people returned to what they were. I have been to many different areas of the USA. The northeast is mean. I took that photo while waiting in a gas line. People would wait in those gas lines for HOURS and HOURS on end. I met the greatest, funniest people in those gas lines. I actually began to look forward to waiting in some kinda gas lines. Even in a gas line for cars that usually went around the block three times and hardly moved, people would get out of their cars and talk and laugh and shake hands. There was a sense of community there. We were all just human beings. Nobody was rich, nobody was poor, nobody was black, nobody was white and so on and so forth. This is what disasters and tragedy do to people. Damn, I miss those gas lines.

Current Status: July 12, 2013 3:28 PM Life has just become a series of moving from one air-conditioned spot to the next. I love potato chips.

And So It Goes
Billy Pilgrim was my hero when I was a teenager. This turned out to be a HUGE mistake.
I read Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut in my freshman year of High School. This book just really blew my mind wide open. It so greatly affected me that I became (or tried to) one of the characters. Recently I have witnessed this with a friend of mine but with the epic novel Catcher in the Rye.
I so loved Slaughter House Five, that I became obsessed with the author and began to systematically read every one of novels. It was also around this time that I discovered writing. I was a night owl and spent many nights pounding my old fashioned typewriter and scribbling long hand poetry in journals. I had some great teachers in a time a true turmoil at home. I began to write just like Vonnegut.

Billy Pilgrim 1972. a worthy reflection on the big screen. Punk ass bitch!

Billy Pilgrim 1972. a worthy reflection on the big screen.
Punk ass bitch!

Fear of abandonment is an anxiety disorder which is characterized by an acute fear of being alone or isolated. It is backed with the fear of having to deal with the difficulties of life all by yourself. I believe that in many ways, I am still a little boy waiting by the door for his father to come home from the hospital.
Billy Pilgrim was pretty cool in many ways. He was so humble that it was hysterical. He was smart. He was wise. He lived through a catastrophic fire bombing in Germany. He met so many cool people. But most of all… Billy Pilgrim could time travel.
The bad things about Billy Pilgrim mostly was that he let people push him around and walk all over him. I did this. I still do this.
I reread Slaughter House Five thirty-nine years later, cover to cover, as an adult now. My conclusion was that Billy Pilgrim was a punk who deserved everything he got. Even I wanted to kick his ass. WHAT WAS I THINKING? To model myself after this pussy. Oh yeah, I had issues but being Billy Pilgrim was the easy way out. I needed a father to grab me by the shirt collar, shake some sense into me and scream WAKE THE FUCK UP!
I was constantly seeking and finding father figures. I could list at least ten guys who I chased looking for a father figure. Danny Braza was a Daddy for me. And then he just disappeared one day! Abandonment comes in many forms, but leaves similar scars. The negative impact that this type of trauma can have on someone cannot be understated. The feelings of apprehension and anxiety that are associated with this form of loss can pervade every relationship that follows in that person’s life, whether intimate, social, or business. Fear of abandonment can cause significant impairment and result in a diminished quality of life.

-Diary Of A Sex Addict-
Act II scene III
Coco and Butch are on the balcony of an ocean front resort. The tops of palm trees surround them as they pour each other glasses of red wine. The sound of the ocean and seagulls can be heard. The lights are slowly lowered to simulate the on coming dusk. Red and yellow lights slowly light up the background “sky” as the sun drops into the ocean.

Butch: As humans on this planet we are never happy enough. There is always something “wrong” with us. We are either too fat or not smart enough or we drink too much or work too hard. We never have enough money. We worry about the future, shun the past and forget all about what is happening in the now.
Coco: You’re always too serious.
Butch: Where were you last night?
Coco: (surprised at first but then recovers) Uhhh, what? I told you. I worked late. You know that design project in Brooklyn I’ve been telling you about.
Butch: Oh yeah, work. It’s always work.
Coco: It is. Yes.
Butch: There are always these gaps of unexplained time….
Coco: (interrupting) ..we have gone over this Butch. My job is very demanding. Sometimes I sleep there.
Butch: Yeah yeah.
Coco: I don’t like this conversation. Especially as we are someplace nice with a beautiful sunset.
Butch: I’m sorry. I care. I..
Coco: …lets just have fun. Live in the moment. Like you just said.
Butch: Yes! Here’s to us! (pours more wine in Cocos glass and raises his own glass. They touch glasses with a “tink” and smile at each other.) You really needed this. You work too hard.
Coco: So do you but don’t think about that now. Take a deep breath, suck in this air sip wine.
Butch: (grinning as he changes the subject) I just love your ‘daddy issues”
Coco: What in the name of god are you talk…
Butch: They say girls with daddy issues are good in bed.
Coco: I, I, I…don’t know whether to accept that as a compliment or should I slap you in the damn face.
Butch: (holds up his hands to block a potential slap) A compliment! A compliment!
Coco: Where the hell did THAT come from? Shit, you know how sensitive I am to my dad.
Butch: I’m sorry. (reaches out to stroke her face, she pushes it away) no, really baby, I’m sorry. I forgot. I know he left you but what happened? You never really told me.
Coco: My mom and dad lived life pretty roughly. They were always drinking and chain smoking AND fighting. All the time. It made me crazy. I never knew what “normal” was. Well, one day we were driving down the road. One big happy family. Me and my sister in the back seat. I knew something was wrong because I could just feel something very uneasy in the air. It was high noon. Bright sunny day. My mom and dad were fighting really bad the night before. It kept me awake. Well, on this day that we were driving it was TOO quiet. I knew something was wrong. We were going over a bridge. A big steel one, I remember and my dad, who was driving, just pulled the car over, very nonchalantly got out, walked to the side of the bridge, and leaped over the fence. That was the last time any of us ever saw him again.
Butch: (holding his hands against his open mouth) Oh my god! (grabs Cocos hands from across the small table) Oh my god! I’m so sorry. Why didn’t you ever tell me this.
Coco: Oh shutup. You never asked and I HATE telling this story.
Butch: Oh no, you should tell this story, you poor little girl. How horrible and you…
Coco: I said SHUTUP! (she slams her wine glass down) This is why I hate telling this story. I hate all the stupid sympathy that comes after it. I’m an adult now. I dealt with it. He was a sorry excuse for a man. A drunk. An ass. The funny thing was, my mom just sat there and watched him. Never said a word. She hopped into the divers seat and took off….like nothing fucking happened! Can you believe that? Me and my sister were waiting for him to come home that night. Probably soaking wet, but we were waiting every day for him to come thru that door like nothing ever happened. One day the cops came and they found his body and my mother threw away all his clothes and that was when I said, “He aint coming back”
I remembered then when I was a little girl before my sister was born I ran away from home. All I did was go in the shed and sit on the lawnmower but it was dark and I was angry and scared. I was there for about two hours before my father opened the shed door and came and picked me up.
This was the greatest feeling in the world. I had left home. And someone DID love me. Someone DID look for me. Someone DID find me.
So I did it again. After my sister was born and I felt neglected, so I ran away to the shed. This time it took a little longer but my father finally did come to get me. This time he was angry. My parents were stressed out with two kids and drinking all the time. I felt really lousy. If someone runs away they are not abandoning the people they love. They are NOT giving the people they love a hard time. Chances are that if somebody you love runs away, they are in desperate need of feeling loved. They haven’t been loved or hugged or talked to, or listened to in days….in weeks!!! Don’t neglect the people you love in your life. Get down to their level, look them in the eyes and tell them THAT YOU LOVE THEM.Then grab them and hug them and squeeze them and say “Don’t ever leave me again! Because I worry about you. I care about you AND I LOVE YOU DARN IT!!!!!!!!_*

Movie Still #3 from Home Movies

Friday, February 22nd, 2013


Nobody misses Beverly. It’s all about Brenda. I just don’t understand it sometimes. Can you believe Bev is gone 13 years this August already. Maybe that’s why. It was so long ago. Pretty soon your existence on this planet becomes nothing. Unless you are a president or a celebrity. Unless you are leaving something important behind, like a legacy of inventions or books.
One hundred years ago our great grandfather struggled everyday with making ends meet for eleven children. He had hundreds of different relationships with family and friends. He walked down the streets of Jersey City to the German butcher to talk in his native language to the people that worked and hung out there. In his mind this world that he knew and loved would be here forever and in the back of his human thoughts maybe he would be here forever too. New technology to him was cars going down the street, photography, indoor plumbing and electricity. Now the entire family is dead. All their everyday worries, heartaches and triumphants don’t mean a blessed thing anymore. Think about how minuscule your deepest desires will be in one hundred years. Some freckle-faced little future cousin of ours will be looking at a photo of you posing with your large family from Carteret, New Jersey and thinking, “He’s dead now. I wonder what concerned him in 2013?”

Soon the breeze you feel pushing against your face as you walk down your sidewalk, surrounded by your own technology friends and family will make you smile at the simple joys of being alive. You carry a phone in your pocket and you have almost three hundred friends in your combined social networks. Your Great Grandfather had chickens in his yard and you buy your chicken already cooked at a place called KFC. Did you ever look at old photographs and wonder just WHO those people were? Are they still alive? What kind of life did they have? Was it happy?

The human experience.

The human experience.

What Number Am I Thinking Of?
I believe in ghosts, UFO’s, the after-life, angels and God. I used to believe in magic until my brother Gregory actually “became” a magician. He collected magic tricks and purchased them at a “Magic Store” I think in Westfield NJ. We got most of our cool stuff from downtown Westfield. He paid a lot of money for this magic because basically he was paying, not for the props but for the “secret” of how this magic trick worked. This is why I don’t believe in magic anymore. It’s not magic. They are all tricks and delusions. I was very disappointed when I saw all this in my closet that Greg and I shared.
This was the same closet where my brother collected Charlie McCarthy dolls. There were seven of these dolls “living” in our closet. I saw all the magic tricks and their secrets. The hidden doors and collapsable boxes.

For the record Greg had a few great moments as a magician. He may seem quiet and a little anti-social but once during one of Beverly’s three weddings (maybe it was the denim one with John Morgan the ex marine and steel worker) that Greg performed one of his best magic shows. It was magnificent. I remember people actually saying “oooooohhh” and “aaaahhhhhh” after one of his tricks. This was the last night that I ever believed in magic.

If You Believe In Ghosts…
pepBoys…then Joan, Carol and Fred are sitting on the empty table next to you in the dimly lit bar. They are giving you Keno numbers written on Pep Boy match book covers. You wonder why the numbers aren’t all winners. You can’t see a ghost of course but sometimes if the light from a mirror bounces off a wall at the right angle… I do believe in the other dimension, the one right in front of you. The one defined by quantum physics. There is no present, past or future there. Smoking their fucking brains out and lining up cans of Bud and shots of Rock and Rye. The lushes they were, they will always be and hoping that this time in upside-down-land they might finally feel the buzz. Joanie as she is known here, would do anything to fall and break her leg (again) and feel the pain because you can’t feel anything in that ghost dimension. Who can forget Mom laying in the dark middle room in agonizing pain from her sciatica. Sciatica can be induced with pregnancy. My mother was very good at pregnancy. In a micro moment they are walking with Rebel down the property line of 2850 Pioneer 9th street.
“I just can’t fucking believe it.” Rebel says over and over again.
“I just can’t fucking believe it!” as he walks a straight line down the outskirts of his property. He looks down at this imaginary line and paces to the northwest corner. Stops. Turns left. Then continues down the invisible line.
“That fucking Butch. That god-damn son of bitch fucking no good Butch!”
“Where’s my property?? Son of a bitch!!”

dummyThere were moments when I fantasized living there. It was always sunny and there were cows and horses everywhere. A perfectly symmetrical cornfield. Chickens clucked during the long hot days and rooster woke me up at 4:30 in the morning. Kryha told me that the cows are a lot of hard work but they are worth it. The froth at the top of fresh warm milk in a bucket is supposed to splendid. Perhaps even containing secret ingredients to good health and a long life. (I’ve never had it) Technically I was the only homeless man that actually owned a home and property in the whole world. It was one of aunt Carols greatest last wish in this life here in the non-other-dimension that the property remain in the family. Greg tried. Then nothing. Truth is the place is better off with someone to take care of it. To give it the love and attention that it needs. Nethertheless I failed greatly. Carol doesn’t care much but Rebel has been trying to kick the shit out of me for the past month. He is stalking me with this southern rage. I find his beard hairs on the bathroom floor. I feel the whiplash of the breeze every time (six or seven times a day) he tries to punch me in the face. His ghost arm goes right thru me. So the ghosts of our heritage past watch over us, speak to us in German in our dreams, they toast to our upcoming deaths with Irish whiskey.

James Fredrick Gill our cousin keeps in touch with me since we rediscovered his and his sisters existence again on the cute social network FaceBook. Basically we text one-liners to each other during the football season and exchange cool emails. This has been a great find in my life. I am really grateful for the internet in this respect. His love and knowledge of sports is ferocious and he has turned out to be quite a great dad and person. Since our reunion he always stretches out his arms in invitation and tells me that there is a free room waiting for me and Kryha in Ohio. All we have to do is get there. This invitation has become relentless. In the beginning it was nice and then it started to piss me off. It made me crazy because as simple and sweet as the invitations were….I just couldn’t make it a date. I always had an excuse. Work, money or time. I never had any of them…..and THIS just pissed me the hell off. That if I can’t take advantage of this beautiful thing….then there is something deeply wrong with me. Life is too short as I have explained in detail this entire post and actually my entire blog.

My Death
My great grandfather died at age 55 and he had diabetes. Before he passed away he had his left leg amputated because of the disease. My grandfather also died of diabetes but he lived to be 71. He also had his left leg amputated before he passed away. My father died at age 38. He didn’t have diabetes but his death was very complicated.
Here is a page from his autopsy. Click Here.
This was so long ago and officially they say he died from a bleeding ulcer. It is so obvious here that we inherit so much from our past generations. Do you think it’s ironic that both my grandfather and great grandfather had their left legs amputated? It’s surely not a coincidence also that our sister Beverly also died from diabetes although drug usage and anorexia also played a part. Beverly had begun to slowly kill herself in her teens. I called her death a slow-motion-suicide because that’s what it was. Do we believe that alcoholism is inherited? Or any of the other addictions. Do I have my fathers nose or my great grandfathers penis? I am glad I don’t know the answer to that but I do know that he made his living as a printer. I am a printer.
So what is the lesson here? Should I have a doctor check out why two middle toes in my left foot are slightly numb?
I have already out-lived my father by fourteen years and in two my years I will have caught up to Charles Hartmann from Jersey City. What happened to my dad? There was something burning his insides out. They couldn’t figure it out. The doctors seemed to have did everything wrong. I was never one to go around suing everybody for every little thing but this was quite possibly an open and shut case of medical malpractice. I even remember hearing someone telling that to my mother shortly after Dads death. Just think how much more complicated and deadly our little family of ten would be with a couple million of dollars injected into the already chaotic state?
This is why so many people have become so interested in their heritage. Where did we come from? It is an amazing journey through time to catch a glimpse of your past. A photograph. An old letter. A lock of hair. I hope it is, that whatever my father died from, is NEVER inherited into the family. Hopefully it was just botched doctor work. For the record all his siblings were “sick” to some extent. His brother William (that is still alive) is a polio survivor. His sister had lupus and was told she wouldn’t be here long (but lived an very long life).
There are two sides to every heritage however. We have a father and a mother. We are the combination of both heritages. Mixed in a blender and spread out on a plate of surprise. Nobody knows what the heritage blender is gonna mix up as a person. Sometimes it even creates a new trait, feature or addiction for the next generation to handle.
For the most part I have succeeded in obtaining a huge chunk of the Hartman side of our family. Two years ago, I thought I would never see a photo of my great grandfather or his children. Not only do I now know what they look like but I have also obtained two huge documents they contain an oral history of the family. They are written by two of the eleven children. In my next post I hope to have them obtainable here in PDF form for downloading/printing and reading.

I have neglected the Gill side of our family. My mother Joan’s heritage for the most part is a complete mystery. The people that I would like to ask even the most basic questions to…are all ghosts now. That is very frustrating because I had my entire life to ask these questions to all of these people when they were alive and now when I need them they are in another dimension chain smoking Viceroys.
I always did have a curiosity for the past. My mother was a strong story teller and I loved when she would get into that story telling mode. Sometimes she would get TOO HONEST. A couple of “King of Beers” in the white can and a pack of smokes and she would sit at that kitchen table and tell us all about Grandpa Gill and May Gill. How they would get their children into the cinema for free during the depression just by saying that their dad was a policeman in town.

Somewhere, somebody named “Bernie” had or took what was called the “Gill Family Bible”
I do remember this thing being mentioned in one of my mothers rambling stories. Supposedly it contains names and layers of the Gill tree. Photos and other information too.
It is now the quest of cousin James and I to find that treasure.

For the Hartman explosion of heritage discovery it all began with a letter. Barb took the time to write to a nuns retirement home to ask about our great aunts who were nuns. The information we received back helped greatly in the discovery of our Jersey City New Jersey heritage. I am surprised that even the simplest facts of Gill family tree heritage is not even know. Grandpa Gill, the Westfield cop…did he have any brothers or sisters.

From what I remember he did have at least an uncle Frank but I wasn’t sure. I also remember my mother telling me the story of how Frank went to WWII as a sailor in the Navy and his submarine was lost at sea. Nothing or nobody was ever recovered from the water. How could a young boy like me who obsessed with combat movies ever forget that tale.
Here indeed is a letter verifying “Uncle Frankie” existence.

"March 25, 1938 8:30 AM"

“March 25, 1938 8:30 AM”

Here is what is inside the letter. HERE This beautifully scripted hand-written letter post marked almost exactly seventy-five years ago, a short but sweet introduction to a newborn is just classic. Real letters like this, from the heart are almost extinct now. FaceBook, twitter and emails are the new norm. There were probably hundreds if not thousands of letters delivered between all the members of the Gill/Hartman family and yet this one ended up saved. It survived I believe because it was written by a man that he would “see you soon” and maybe that never happened. Uncle Frank was lost at sea and never found.
Are there any more siblings of Fredrick Gill? Perhaps we think a sister Caroline? (according to…not confirmed.) Maybe this is who our aunt Carol is named after? Also with this letter we get a different address presumably the one they lived at before Austin street.
The lost art of letter writing and the US Post Ofice has announced that they will soon end Saturday deliveries! At one point in the beginning of the century, when our great grandparents were not ghosts, the mail was delivered seven days a week and two times a day!! Twice a day deliveries ended in 1950 and it’s been pretty much downhill from there.

Does expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected?

Things Greg collected:
charlie McCarthy dolls
horror movies

What happens when you say that you don’t believe in magic anymore? Your life can become a dull senseless voyage to nowhere. I have always been connected with the news. I waited by the door for the newspaper to be delivered when I was a kid. Three different times I worked for newspapers and I read every daily issue from from to back everyday. Now with the internet the news is at your fingertips everyday. There have been so many sad news stories lately that I keep telling myself that I am just going to stop reading the news. The Sandy Hook school tragedy affected everybody greatly. For me it was comparable to 9/11 which took me months to get over. Or do you even ever get over something like that? I haven’t. It changes you. It changes the world.
In my news musings I found this viral video of a little girl who was going to ride on a train for the first time. She was almost the same age as the children that were machine-gunned to death in Connecticut. That video is HERE.
When I first saw this I realized how magical life is when you are a child. Everything seems fresh and new and then what happens? There is magic, never lose faith. Even when you think you have seen all the hidden doors and collapsable boxes, you really haven’t. There is always another magical trick awaiting around the corner. It will surprise you when you least suspect it.
“There is magic, but you have to be the magician. You have to make the magic happen.”
SIDNEY SHELDON, Are You Afraid of the Dark?

764 Central Ave Westfield

764 Central Ave Westfield

When is the spaceship coming to pick me up?

Rising to the top

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

My love of New York City began when my father took me to my first Giants game in “old” Yankee stadium and we took the subway from Manhattan into the Bronx. I was nine years old and my right arm was glued to my fathers huge hand as I was dragged through the streets towards the stairwell that led to the underground train. The whole scene seemed too fast and noisy for any talking, but I do remember looking down the street towards downtown and seeing the World Trade Center being built. It was quite a sight, not just the size of them, but because there were two. One building was higher than the other and I thought that was funny. Was it a race? If they were to build twin skyscrapers then they should be built…..together….right? I pointed towards them and asked my dad, “What’s that?” because I had to know.
“That is the World Trade Center and they will be the biggest buildings in New York City.”
Wow. To a nine year old that is really exciting. Dad was the smartest man in the world because he was always watching the news and reading newspapers. After their completion, they had become the biggest building in NYC. It seemed like forever until that fateful day 9/11. But more interesting then that, they had broken the record (1931 – 1972) of the Empire State Building which was NYC’s largest building for 41 years. Before the Empire State Building there was the Chrysler Building on Lexington Ave that held the record for less then a month.

The Empire State Building as seen from New Jersey. Days before becoming the second tallest building in New York City.......again.

There has always been an aura of magnificence and history surrounding this building. It was amazingly built in a little over a year during the Great Depression. Six people died building it. Five were construction workers and the other one was a woman on the street that had her leg grazed by a falling object. She died several days later from an infection. Unlike the World Trade Center the Empire survived a plane crashing into it’s side (1945) and has witnessed 30 suicides. The most famous being Evelyn McHale when a photographer captured her cradled death on the roof of a limousine just four minutes after her plunge.

Life Magazine called it: "The Most Beautiful Suicide" and Andy Warhol made this photo into art prints.

The building was designed “Art Deco” style from the top down in just two weeks and was built by Mohawk Indians and European Immigrants in record setting time. The changing spectrum of colors lighting it’s peak actually mean something. The famous variation of floodlight colors have celebrated holidays, people, sports and seasons. For the most part I have tried to figure out what the colors might be celebrating and I have been horribly wrong most times. Who would really know that all yellow flood lights would signify that the US Open is going on in Queens? This link HERE will take you to the floodlights schedule on the Empire State Buildings official www site. The movie King Kong when I first saw it as a little boy on the MILLION DOLLAR MOVIE (probably a rainy Sunday afternoon) scared me so much that I ended up having out-of-scale stop-action nightmares for weeks !!


In this corner.....the rising champ of the century.

And now a new target for terrorism rises in the distance. Maybe that’s why they changed the name from “The Freedom Tower” to “World Trade I” Nothing will deter an attack on this building and it may not be in my lifetime and I hope and pray never. Such an insignificant event it seems today in the news… The Empire State Building losing it’s “Bigger is Better” title but it caught my eye. I read everyday about all the children murdering their parents, guns being pulled everywhere, corruption corrupting my very soul. But the moment the Empire State Building loses it’s title, New York City will lose it’s 1930’s innocence again. “The World Trade I” a modern marvel of octagons, twisted steel, plastic and glass is just asking for trouble. The world will change and step deeper into the future of high tech terrorism, suspicion and doubt. Here in New Jersey, we are always in the shadows of these giants. We can only watch from a distance the rising concrete mountains as it takes center stage to the troubled world. I do love New York, especially after my stint of working large format graphics there. But unfortunately, the darkness never goes……in some mens eyes.

Home Movies

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

On the plane back from Las Vegas Nevada my prized possession was a dvd that Jaybird had burned for me. Several attempts at viewing proved futile and finally a visit to a "dvd specialist" gave me the bad news. The dvd never really burned. What I had was three seconds of Comedy Centrals Happy Days. Well, these weren't the happy days I was looking for.
When I called Mr. Jaybird with the bad news he almost instantaneously resent the dvd along with some other surprises. The movie then had to be converted in order to edit it. I found some free software on the web.
Originally this movie was just thrown together. It is a scrambled mess of dates and places and is in no way in any kind of chronological order. Some of the earliest stuff on here is around 1961 and the pool scene is probably a two years before dad died.
I want to thank Robert Jaybird Jones our long lost cousin for getting so many memories to me. It has been so good to be able to talk to him randomly on the phone.
For me, it is really quite eerie seeing dad "moving" That many of us probably never even remember seeing him move. To see someone you love acting goofy and even clowning around with his father is quite amazing after 41 years. The few seconds of mom being a loving mother is just priceless. You can almost forget at this point in your life that she did indeed give birth ten times in her life. She was a mom practically her whole life. A good mom too.

Most of these movies were taken by Jay Jones. Our uncle. He too, died terribly too young before any of us could really grow up to appreciate what a great guy he was. I remember him fondly. I am very fortunate. He had a heart of gold in his own military way!

A further analysis of this tape including a "who is who" list will come quickly after this posting.

Got guts?

Monday, February 20th, 2012

written in Dads last journal.

In heaven, men can smoke cigars and watch football.

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Once a long time ago in the 1960’s when things were different. Friendships and families were etched in real life, and not “on-line”. Face to face with booze, cards, cigars, cheap bars, real talk, real people and you couldn’t hide behind a monitor and a mouse. The TV broke down all the time because it had picture tubes in it. Men watched the NFL because it was a great game and not a big business nursing over-paid egos. There were REAL heros on the REAL grass playing half back for half ass salaries. There were heros circling the earth in tin cans and The Daily News had “all the news that’s fit to print” Those were the days. Lucky Filter commercials on the tube while sipping Schaffer beer…..and me and my cousins were around to remember this. To witness the love and togetherness of two families.
Since my reunion with Jaybird my memories have broken open and the things that I thought I remembered were only the tip of the iceburg. That as a very little boy I went around the living room while Jay and George drank beer from cans (that you had to open with a can opener) and I was “allowed” to take sips. And I loved it, cause it made me feel all warm and fuzzy and it had nothing to do with Y.A. Tittle throwing touchdowns against the Cleveland Browns on a mud field covered in straw.
Jay was a very tall man with a pom pom and a military uniform. His laugh was contagious and his smile endless. He loved my father and my father loved him. They journeyed into the Bronx New York together to watch The New York Football Giants play in a baseball stadium. They drank beer and laughed and celebrated life like two happily married men with children should. The economy was good, The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan and the Worlds Fair (the most famous EVER) was alive and well and only a stones throw from NJ. Gas was cheap and driving to and fro even on school and work nights was easy.
Brother-in-laws that cared for and took time to see each other whenever they could. They created a pact whether they knew it or not. That life is way too short to fight or cry or ignore. Life was good. But then like everything that is supposed to last forever……it changed. The endless happy visits to military bases suddenly cut short because fate had other plans.

Jaybird and Butch. Las Vegas November 2011. George Sr. and Jay Sr are smiling from the eerie glow of the night sky.

Turns out George Sr. died rather mysteriously and quickly and Jay followed right behind him about a year later. They left a legacy of fourteen children and two totally confused and frightened wives.
They missed everything that life had to offer after that. The cousins fell between three thousand miles and over thirty years of weddings, funerals, grandchildren, Super Bowls, vacations, sunsets, new cars, sickness, disappointment, happiness, technology, and all the extreme highs and lows that life can bring.
And one windy Fall night on the roof of a Parking lot, in the depths of Sin City’s neon glow, “The pact” was renewed. And whether they knew it or not…it all came together again….survivors, dreamers and lovers. The first time he grabbed me and hugged me…it actually shocked me(it wasn’t in front of a pool)….and when I asked him about that hug he said, “It’s just the type of person I am.”

Day two.

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

In a desperate plunge for the camera from my laptop bag after realizing that day two was running low, I zeroed in at anything hoping for some art. In route 46 north Jersey traffic jam, and perhaps moving the camera on purpose, I snapped at least twenty shots in the dark out the front windshield. This is the one I picked for day two.
Last night on a warm couch, instead of Everybody Loves Raymond, I ended up watching NOVA. It was about something that I could never even to begin to understand: Quantum Physics.
The show tried really hard and succeeded, (at least I thought) in explaing something so complicated as “how an atom works” Wow. The graphics they were using gave me inspiration for day twos photo:

My ride home in traffic as explained in the Quantum Physics theory.

Next Episode:-Drinking out of a colored tin cup in Las Vegas.-