Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Back to Dad's Musical Finds

Between some regular searching through my late dad Edward's musical collection, getting the records (33s, 45s and 78s) ready to move here and to sell where possible, discard where necessary, I've found more fun and standout discoveries, and gotten behind in describing them.
So, here are the contents of one of those old, thick volumes of records, a red leather and cardboard one embossed "Record Album" on the front cover containing 10 78s. I'll mention them in order of their appearance, with things getting better as they progress.
The first record is "Leap Frog," b/w "Show Me the Way to Go Home," by Les Brown and His Orchestra, Columbia 36857; next is "Twelfth Street Rag," b/w "Somebody Else, Not Me," by Pee Wee Hunt and His Orchestra, Capitol 15105; next, "Blue Bird of Happiness," b/w "Sunset to Sunrise," by Art Mooney and His Orchestra, MGM 10207; this is followed by "Swedish Rhapsody," b/w "Song of the Vagabonds," David Rose and His Orchestra, MGM 30196; next, "Bolero in Boogie," b/w "Production on Melody," Earl Spencer and His Orchestra," Black & White (B&W) 795; then, "That Lucky Old Sun," b/w "I Get Sentimental Over Nothing," Frankie Laine (with Harry Geller and His Orchestra and Carl Fischer on piano), Mercury 5316.
Then, a record you might have heard of, "Take the 'A' Train," b/w "The Sidewalks of New York," Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, RCA Victor 27380; next,"Hong Kong Blues," b/w "Stardust," Hoagy Carmichael at the Piano, Decca 18395; "How High the Moon," b/w "The Night Is Young and You're So Beautiful," Ziggy Elman and His Orchestra," MGM 10332; "Mule Train," b/w "Carry Me Back to Old Virginney," Frankie Laine (with the Muleskinners on song one, Carl Fischer's Orchestra on song two), Mercury 5345.
I hope you fine readers are enjoying this exploration of my father's musical collection as much as I am, and there is more to come.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Welcome, Readers Old and New

For some reason, yesterday, Monday, March 28, was the busiest day on this blog in several months, maybe longer.
This includes not only visits and hits, but people actually staying around, reading several posts and leaving a few comments. Thank you for your interest, whether you are a new reader or a return fan of this blog, and I will try to keep up the increased posting.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Retirement Humor, New York State Style

I received mail from the New York State Office of the Comptroller a couple of days ago, and it looked official enough for me to immediately open it.
Inside was a letter and other information sent to me about the New York State Retirement System; while I worked for Erie County for 5 years and almost 11 months, I am officially credited with 5 years 9 months of service with the system, which makes me a vested member.
Apparently, every vested member of the system receives this mailing when he or she turns age 50, because it made mention that as I approached retirement age, the earliest which is 55 with 30 years of service in New York's system, that I needed to know that I had to file my intention to retire and start collecting at age 55 before I started receiving benefits. It also reminded me that I would not receive my full New York State retirement amount upon my early retirement, and that the full amount would kick in at age 62.
I'm sure the mailing was chock full of more important information, but my laughter overtook any other serious review. If anyone thinks that I (or they) can retire on 5 years 9 months worth of state retirement credits based on the salary I earned at the Erie County Legislature, they are more wrong than climate change deniers.
Quite frankly, I wonder if I will ever truly be able to retire, although it would also be nice to have a career from which I could retire.
Dear New York State Office of the Comptroller: Don't wait up for my filing for state retirement system benefits.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Old Neighborhood Sadness

As the process of emptying and selling my mother Sheila's suburban house gathers momentum, another sad event came to my former neighborhood.
Mary Ann Prusakowski, the wife of Paul Prusakowski and neighbors to my mother, late father Edward and family since the early 1970s, died in Hospice care last week. While suffering the debilitating effects from advanced multiple sclerosis for years, she recently fell ill and never recovered.
Mrs. Prusakowski (it is hard to call your adult neighbors starting almost 40 years ago by their first names; we were raised to respect our elders) was a loving, caring mother and wife, and she always had a smile and a kind word for neighbors, including us no doubt frequently annoying kids. The Prusakowskis were also long-time parishioners of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Depew, of which my parents were founding members.
Paul, er, Mr. Prusakowski, is an amazingly generous, caring, giving man and was a wonderful husband to Mrs. Prusakowski, always being there for her needs and transportation and never giving in to self-pity or bitterness. A U.S. Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War as well as a churchgoer, he obviously took to heart the notion of service to others. He is a retired television station chief engineer.
This service to others was also more than amply demonstrated in the help he gave my mother, and before that mother and father, over the years, especially since my mother was widowed in 2004. In so many big and little ways, Mr. Prusakowski looked out for my mother and helped her, and has continued to do so since she entered assisted living last year.
Mr. Prusakowski, Paul, would just kind of pshaw this blog entry if he ever read it, because he never looked for thanks yous or credit, but looked out for the welfare of others. He truly demonstrated, and still demonstrates, how to be a good neighbor, and I join many others in offering my deepest sympathies for his loss.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I've Been Framed

Along with everything else I've been mentioning, I seem to have hit the mother lode in photo frames as I go through my mother Sheila's items while clearing out her house.
Not only those with photos (which are rather plentiful), but lots and lots of empty frames, frames that may have held photos or other documents in the past and many that were apparently never used. There are wood, metal and plastic frames of all colors and sizes.
The ones with photos range from displays of photos of more than 100 years of Hoseys and Connellys (my mother's family), as well as those made for my mother and late father Edward's 40th anniversary party in 1997, and tons of photos of family here, Arizona, Ontario and even Ireland.
It may seem flip and even disrespectful to some, but the empty frames will be up for sale at a yard sale (probable neighborhood one) this spring. There just isn't room for any more here or at my mother's residence.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Open House, Empty House

Thursday was Day II of the major clearing out/cleaning out of items from my mother's suburban house, and the job is about 98 percent complete.
The washer, dryer, refrigerator, television, couch, all but one reclining chair, dinner table and chairs, kitchen table and chairs, bedroom furniture, dressers, everything of that nature is gone. One recliner, the stove and a corner stand are all that remain upstairs, items that Val and I will be moving to our home soon, as well as my father's record collection and part of my record/vinyl collection, which is stored downstairs at my mother's house and will also be moved here soon.
We knew it would happen, but now, finally, a home has become a house. I kept busy both times I was there while the people moving and eventually selling my mother's items were working, because I needed to get a lot of personal effects out of the house and to keep myself from going crazily maudlin or starting bawling.
It really hit me at one particular point; just before I left at about 6:15 p.m., I walked through the house one more time with Stephen, the man in charge of the effort, to see that everything that was to be removed had been and that all of the windows and doors were closed. As we finished and he went back outside, I was standing between the living room and dining room, looking at the reclining chair we will soon make a new home for here. I looked in the mirror next to it, and all the reflection showed were two empty rooms and four walls stripped bare. I felt a chill and sense of loss I hadn't felt before, shook my head and left, my footsteps echoing through the house.
With the melting of the snow, the deer tracks are now all but gone, with only those left in the mud between my mother's garage and one neighbor's house. I haven't had the heart to tell them that Mom won't be returning.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stacks and Stacks of Memories, Part One

As my sister Heather and I continue to clear possessions and items out my mother Sheila's house in the suburbs in preparation for its sale, more circumstances arise. Even the expected ones make one pause, and I'll mention them here occasionally over the next few weeks.
Our mother was a major scrap book compiler, making up one each for the three kids, including my late brother Brian (and his wife, Janet). Mine has become two books, as has my sister's, and I think my brother's was as well, and my mother compiled an additional one for Brian upon his death and the ceremonies and honors that occurred and continue to occur in his name. There are also books concerning his three children, Kim, Dan and Colleen, including the marriages of his two daughters, and Kim's son, David.
All told, I have found at least 12 scrap books and photo albums so far, as well as folders of information we thought were lost, and I think there are more to come.
Some of this concerns my father's U.S. Army Korean War service, and I was happy to have found a folder containing much of his military information. I had possession of his DD-214 and honorable discharge, but this grouping contains his induction and discharge papers, transfers, promotions, assignments and training, or at least the training he could have paperwork about, since the most important part of my father's military service is accounted for only by one sheet of paper with scant information marked "Restricted." Dad had a top secret clearance (FBI background check, etc.) and told me that he destroyed a lot of paperwork upon reading and that he never actually received his own copies of other things in his Army Security Agency service. He was asked to join the National Security Agency when he left the Army, but he chose to come back to Buffalo.
I was even happier to have found an old, very expensive looking photo album made in Japan, and when I opened it, it was what I had hoped it was, the legendary but never-seen-by-me album of photos my father took while stationed with the ASA in Japan. It showed the building of barracks and offices, fellow servicemen and some touristy sites. Halfway through the album, it suddenly switches from black-and-white photos to color, and each page has a protective sheet of wax paper between keeping the elements away from the photographs.
I have some old slides taken of my father when he left California to fly to Hawaii before shipping out to Japan, as well as a couple of when he first landed in Japan (wavy dark hair and looking almost too thin for his uniform), but this album had been lost/misplaced for years. Dad only appears in two or three photos, and he had become a bit of a photo nut while overseas.
I had been thinking about Camp Oji and other places my father was assigned in Japan as the pictures of the recent deadly earthquake and tsunami show utter destruction, and I have to wonder how these people and places are doing today.
But in the midst of some personal turmoil and difficulty, these and other items have given me a bit of a boost and filled in some memories. These memories can't wait.

Commercial Music (Almost Forgot)

I frequently note the use of music in television and radio commercials that impresses or surprises me here, and I have forgotten recently to mention one that did both.
A Kinect xBox commercial, often seen on NBA and college basketball broadcasts, uses the choppy, abrasive but great sounds of the intro of "Natural's Not in It" by the Gang of Four, from its classic 1979 album, "Entertainment."
While I used to be more tight-assed complaining about the commercialization and commodification of music, particularly that of a band with serious Marxist and Dadaist roots and influences such as the Gang of Four, I love hearing this advertisement, although I suppose I am still a bit miffed that the band did not get its commercial as well as artistic reward when "Entertainment" was first released. In other words, yes, I am pissed off that the Gang of Four did not earn the recognition and reward I believe it deserved, but of course, would have wondered about if they had received it then, me having been a know-it-all music critic for so long.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Trying to Be Ready for Today

Today, Thursday, March 10, is going to be one of those days that has to occur, that my sister Heather and I knew was coming and yet still, hard as I try, I am not sure how it will go.
With my mother Sheila now residing in assisted living, we are selling her house in the suburbs, and today will be the day the person I have spoken and met with, and we are almost assuredly hiring to do this part of the process, will come over and commit to what possessions and items he and his company will take and sell, what they will dispose of and what few items that are left that we want that my sister and I are taking.
Little by little, Heather and I have taken things over to my mother that she needs, taken a few things that we want and need that she no longer needs or uses and disposed of other things. But considering my mother and late father Edward bought and moved into the house new in 1959, with my then one-year-old older brother, Brian, and she and my father raised my brother, my sister and I there and my mother lived in the house until late July 2010, we're talking about a little more than 50 years of objects, clothes, appliances and items, and, mainly, more than 50 years of life, love, happiness, sadness, memories and simply being the Hoseys.
This is the house we used to live in; this is the place that I called home.