Went, Goes, So

When writing I start a lot of sentences with the word SO. And that is bad. Sloppy, lazy, bad grammar, bad writing.  Recently I have noticed, when speaking, people are starting sentences with SO – lots and lots of people. It irks me, my ear picks it up immediately and I automatically frown. Since I am also guilty of this, not so much in speech I don’t think, but in writing, I have no standing in criticizing anyone else. Still, it grates.

There is this bit of language usage where instead of saying ‘he said’ a person says ‘he went’ or ‘ so he goes…’ and ‘then I went..’ Went and Goes instead of  said or says. 

I always thought this was a New York thing but I’ve heard this usage in movies and tv shows so I’m guessing not. Unless the scriptwriters are New Yorkers – could be, probably not.  What say you? Do people talk this way where you live?

I use a lot of slang, but to my mind it’s not slang so much as a regional/cultural language quirk. When I was writing papers in college I wrote the way I spoke, as I do even now on this blog, and it cost me in the grade department. It’s why I could never be a professional writer or even be successful in graduate school. You know my writing style, can you imagine a thesis written in this style? Me neither.

The question is, can I write ‘properly’? In good, solid academic English? Probably, if I tried really hard, if I really put my mind to it, of course I could. I simply don’t have the inclination therefore it mustn’t be important to me. My love affair is with words, in and of themselves, words are solid things to me. I can feel them, smell them, taste them. How I put them together in a sentence is personal.

The only time I labor over how I choose and use words is when I write poetry. While I think in quatrains they aren’t always exactly how I want them the first time they present themselves, well rarely.

If you have ever seen my notebooks (and you have if you remember) then you know how carefully I craft a poem.

Prose and poetry – different voices, different effort. Even my humorous poetry is carefully honed. Therefore not a matter of content or even intent.

I’m just meandering …

Overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness (and a little glee)

for having been born and brought up in New York City and having the father that I had.  New York City is the entire universe in 300.46 square miles. Thanks to my father I got to experience just about every square foot of it.

How do I keep this short and sweet? It all started this morning, with me being grumpy about some inconsequential shit on the internet that pissed me off and that I couldn’t let go of – ignorant yahoos.

But then I received a New York Times ‘newsletter’ in my email that featured a story about Marvin Gaye singing the national anthem. When I shared it with my husband his reaction was “meh” whereas I was blown away. This led to a discussion about music and the realization that because of where I grew up and with whom I grew up my views and tastes were more far ranging than my husband’s.

And that is due to my father.

I know of people who have lived for several generations in New York City and know jack-all about what’s there. So sad.

As soon as we were toilet trained and had acquired manners my father took us to every single museum in NYC.  Not just the art museums but the numismatic museum down on Wall Street, all sorts of museums covering every topic imaginable.  He took us to white-tablecloth restaurants; to the theater.

And yes to the zoo, the botanical gardens, the planetarium, the circus,the rodeo, the horse races, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden – no type of sport was left out – we were introduced to it, if only as spectators.

At home we were surrounded by music of every form and format. And books – my father came from a family of readers – anything with print on it was perused.

Music? Oh my word – there was ALWAYS music. And NYC, being NYC, you could twirl your way around the radio dial and there was no music unrepresented. There was no culture unrepresented. There were radio stations that broadcast in languages other than English.

So much popular music originated in NYC – doo-wop, rap, beatbox, hip-hop – we heard it all first. Nothing was banned, nothing was off-limits. You only had to be curious enough to stop and listen.

Food? Oh hell do not tell me anything about food, just don’t. From the mundanity of mashed potatoes to haute cuisine – I ate it. And not the Americanized versions. The real deal.

It wasn’t just that you lived in a city with people of other cultures, you experienced their culture, and they yours because you were in and out of their homes. They were your friends and when we were young we took our differences for granted.

My parent’s friends – all my “Aunts” and “Uncles” – a veritable United Nations.

That’s how I grew up. As an adult my native curiosity took me farther and wider. I’m thinking I got my curiosity from my father –  it’s something people have commented on my whole life – my shrink said “You are the most curious person I have ever met”

How do you not wonder about the world that surrounds you especially when the world you live in is so diverse and strange and magical.

So, yes, right now feeling happy and bouncy and lucky and grateful that I had the father I had, growing up in the city I did and being blessed with a sense of curiosity that leads me down rabbit holes even Alice never dreamed of.

The unmeaningful incident that still makes me smile

Time: Mid- 1980s or so

Place: New York City – specifically Long Island City in Queens, at the foot of the 59th Street Bridge. The White Castle drive- thru at 1 in the morning. Long Island City at that time was a crime ridden, former industrial area. That particular White Castle was a drug and prostitution hotspot.

Background: I worked for a very successful international real estate company. One of the perks of my job was access to “Black Car” service. Cars were usually Lincoln Continentals, with uniformed drivers. Limos were also available.

A co-worker and I were invited out to dinner by one of the company’s Vice Presidents – one of those fancy popular restaurants of the time that served tiny portions of fancy food artfully arranged on the plate. When we were done the VP ordered a limo to take all of us to our respective homes. My co-worker and I lived in Queens, the VP in Manhattan.

After we had dropped the VP home it was still early and co-worker and I decided to go out clubbing. We kept the limo. We decided to wrap it up for the night, and on the way home, as we exited the 59th Street Bridge we spied the White Castle – we were starving having had little to eat for dinner. Now here’s the fun part.

Keep in mind the other business that was conducted at this White Castle,  we had the limo driver go through the drive thru. The driver was a teeny tiny bit apprehensive. Ok, he was scared out of his mind. All the pimps and dealers gathered around the limo, which had tinted windows, wondering who the new player was. Driver rolled down his window, put in our order. We rolled down our windows to look around – 2 40-ish good looking women, all dressed up. The pimps and dealers became even MORE interested in our car. Food was passed out and that limo drivers screeched out of that parking lot like a bat out of hell.

My co-worker and I laughed our asses off. We thought the whole thing was a hoot, the driver not so much.

End of story. And I’m laughing even now as I type this.

Things Old People Say…

Back in the day…Yeah, we say that a lot.

Back in the early days of the interwebz there were bulletin boards. That’s how we connected with each other.  Some boards that I perused were given over to nostalgia and my attitude towards that was – If i wasn’t there to share the experience with you why would I care?

How do you differentiate between telling a story about a time and place and experience that other people might be interested in and telling a story that is meaningful only to the people who were there at that time? What’s the difference between nostalgia and recounting a meaningful incident from your past.  What makes it meaningful and what is just something that happened that still makes you smile.

Yesterday as we were coming home from a doctor’s appointment in an Uber, it was long past lunchtime and my husband and I were hungry. Traveling along we passed many restaurants and I jokingly said “Maybe we can stop at a drive-thru and get some food”.  Which reminded me of a story I like to recount about an incident that makes always me laugh but is totally unrelatable except to those of us who were there or anyone who is familiar with Long Island City in the 1980’s.

Aside from the friend I was with and possibly my brother – no one reading this would understand why it was such a hoot to go through the Long Island City White Castle at 1 in the morning in a limo…

Yet that memory will always make me laugh. Just remembering my limo days makes me smile. What was a working class girl from Queens doing tootling around New York City in Lincoln Town cars and limousines?

Good times – but my good times. Why would anyone else care?


Mention chewing gum and it reminds of my father

and I smile. Rivergirl had a post about chewing gum  and while I’ve never been much of a gum chewer my mind immediately went back, happily, to my childhood and my father.

Back in time the New York City subway was chock-a-block with subway platform vending machines. You could buy most anything from a subway platform vending machine, from essentials like a comb to candy, tissues, plastic rain hats, juice, your weight and horoscope and even toys and…gum.

My father delivered beer for the Jacob Ruppert Knickerbocker Beer Company, as did his father before him. The facility was located on the upper East Side in an area called Yorkville. I don’t know how he commuted there when we lived in the Bronx but when we moved to Queens he took mass transit – a 5 block walk to the bus stop, a bus to the subway and probably at least one train change. It was a hike and he left home at 4 in the morning.

Ah, but when he came home. He had the newspapers with him – The Daily News, The Mirror and the Journal American. And best of all, hidden in his pockets somewhere was California Fruit Gum. Little squares of chewing gum, 1¢ from  a vending machine. It was a game we played. He handed over the papers (oooh, all the comics to read!) and then we waited.  Would there be gum? We waited expectantly, he patted his pockets, looking puzzled and then, and then – YES! California Fruit Gum!

The gum looked like this –

The vending machine looked like this –

Photo was taken from an auction site and shows it in someone’s home on display.

You put your penny in the slot under the kind of gum you wanted – we always and ever wanted California Fruit.

I’m telling you that was the highlight of our day – Daddy’s home! And California Fruit gum!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  

Interesting Links – (All links will open in a new tab/window. No need to use back buttons or go off-site)

History of Chewing Gum

Vintage Gum Brands

A Tour of the Jacob Ruppert Brewery – 1939

Remnants of Old Brewery

Jacob Ruppert