Angelos

img_1481

Susie and I are not the kind of people that eat out a lot, and when we do eat out, we tend to go to familiar places. I know that lots of our friends are all for experimentation, but for us, familiar settings, with folks that we know, and guaranteed food we like is more the way we eat out. (Not saying we don’t go to new places…just not that frequently!) In the 31 years we lived in Mineola, we developed this pattern, and on any given night of eating out, you’d probably find us at one of 4 or 5 places. Some people might call us boring, but we really liked the familiar surroundings of a known quantity.

That’s kind of the way our life has shaken out in Ocean City too. After years of vacationing here, before it became our permanent home in November of 2017, we’d eaten at many places, and several of them are still on our list of places we enjoy going to occasionally, but are not part of our weekly routine. Most weeks, our dining out is limited to three nights. On Saturday night we’re usually someplace with our regular OC Family group. Of the 3, this is the night that we are at different places and as close as we get to experimenting. On Tuesday night, most weeks, you can find us at the back bar at Charlies in Somers Point, eating and drinking with our good friend Sue, who bartends there on Tuesday night. Originally that was about it, but this past year, we’ve added another regular night to our week. On most Thursday nights, you can find us at Angelos Fairmont Tavern in Atlantic City, first having a martini with Michael at the bar, and then enjoying some good old fashioned, red sauce, neighborhood Italian food in one of this historic AC restaurant’s several dining rooms!

img_1479

Located on the corner of Fairmont Avenue and North Mississippi Avenue in the Ducktown section of Atlantic City, Angelos has been a fixture on that corner since Angelo Sr. and Isabella Mancuso bought a small bar with an even smaller dining room in 1935. Since then, for 4 generations of the Mancuso Family, Angelos has been a way of life!

The story goes that in the beginning, they sold two items…Fried Shrimp and Spaghetti with Meatballs. Over the years, the restaurant and the menu grew, and now you can find many of your favorite Italian American dishes, and your order will probably be cooked and served by someone in the Mancuso Family! Yes, this indeed is a Family Restaurant, for those dining there, and for the staff serving you. Since 1935, due to the ability to purchase adjacent buildings when they became available, the original small footprint of the restaurant has grown like topsy. There are now six dining rooms, but because of the nature of the expansion, they are all small and intimate and each has its own personality. They also have several large banquet rooms, and now the bar is larger than it was in the early days!

Speaking of the bar, as you sit at the L Shaped Bar, you will enjoy going back in time to old Atlantic City. There are pictures of pop celebrities of old, like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, Sports figures like Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, a whole wall of “Who’s Who” from the Godfather movies, and Mancuso Family memories. There are also “wine” taps and beer taps, directly from the cold room! The bar is a cozy place to wait for the rest of your party, or to have a drink before dinner. Oh and as you sit at the bar, if you look down you’ll notice the tiled trough at your feet. Rumor has it that in the early days, when women wouldn’t be caught dead sitting at the bar, and it was strictly a male domain, there was no need to head to the men’s room if you needed to relieve yourself. I’d like to believe that’s true, but true or not, it makes a great story! Speaking of the Men’s room, the bar also holds probably one of Atlantic City’s smallest Men’s Rooms, but trust me, it’s better than using the trough!

The bar is also the gateway to Angelos. As you walk in the front door on the corner of Fairmont and North Mississippi, the bartender, who may also be making a martini, pouring wine for a waitress, and serving food to a bar patron, will call out to you, “Hey Folks…how many for dinner?” You see, Angelos only takes reservations for parties of 8 or more, so be you a corporate mogul or a vacationer from Brooklyn, you will give your name, the number in your party, and he’ll write it down on the clipboard and give you an idea of about how long you’ll be waiting! Find a seat at the bar, order one of their very reasonably priced drinks, and feast on the old AC atmosphere! Bars like this aren’t designed, they grow!

When your table is ready, the bartender will direct you to head through the door into the restaurant proper. Here you will be met by the hostess, and shown to your table, which may be in any one of their six dining rooms. From small rooms with about 6 tables, to larger rooms with family sized tables, from the Baseball Room, to the Fireplace Room (without a fireplace), each room is a little different, and has a unique atmosphere.

What isn’t different is the menu you’ll be ordering from. It is extensive, and exactly the Italian-American experience you desire.Take a look at their menu, and tell me if I’m wrong!

http://angelosfairmounttavern.com/menu.html

So let me tell you about one of our typical Thursday nights at Angelos. If Michael is bartending, he knows exactly what we want, but if it’s Dom or Gina or somebody else, we tell them we’re going to have a drink before dinner, and order our Grey Goose Martinis! We enjoy them, and love to soak in the atmosphere and people watch! The bar at Angelos is the perfect place to people watch!

When it’s our turn, we go up the steps and through the door and are surprised on what room we’ll be eating in! Last week, Megan stopped by and asked how our diet was going (yes…they tolerate us being no-carb in this decidedly carb intensive environment), Theresa, her Aunt, was our waitress and wanted to hear about my knee replacement. Victor started to bring us a basket of bread, till he realized it was us, and Patty, Megan’s Mom, stopped by to say hello. Do I love that…you know I do, but what I really love about Angelos, is be they Mancusos or not, this is a family, with the same staff year in and year out! That to me makes the experience just that more special!

Oh..so what do we, two no-carb folks eat in this wonderful restaurant? Well, without a doubt, we always start with the Angelo’s Cold Antipasto Salad for One (years ago, when we first tried to order this for two, our waitress..I think it might have been Rhonda, told us one was enough for two. Boy was she right!). Take a look at the attached pictures and tell me that doesn’t look wonderful! That really is enough for the two of us to eat for dinner, but we usually will splurge and have one or two (and that’s pushing it) appetizers for our dinner! Love their Eggplant Parmesan appetizer and the Shrimp Jammers are to die for!!

Another fascinating thing to look at when you’re at Angelos, is the numerous stain glass windows all over.

So that’s how we spend our Thursday nights. We head to AC and we dine with the Mancusos! Thanks for allowing us to be a member of the family, even if it’s just for a couple of hours once a week. We’re customers for life!!

Enjoy some old Mancuso Family pictures from their menu.

img_0743img_0744img_0745img_0746-1

Kristen Anne D’Elia

 

 

 

As a parent, it seems that the years just pass too fast.  You turn around, and that little girl who was just learning to walk, is driving.  Then she’s going to college, and then to graduate school.  Then she’s moving out of her teenage bedroom and into her own apartment.  Then she meets a guy she likes, and the next thing you know, she’s getting married!  Yep, life just flies by!

In just a week, our little Krissi, all grown up and now an administrator at Weill-Cornell Medical Center, will officially change her last name from D’Elia to Mikowicz, as she and Mike tie the knot!  Susie and I are so very proud of what our little girl has made of her life, and thrilled by her choice of Michael Joshua Mikowicz as her life partner!  These are two great kids (excuse me…adults), and we are so happy to have Mike, and the Maryland Mikowicz Family join together with our family!

57C25F7D-5C6F-4C4B-8C25-D34BC0DC962F

Twins Krissi and Kenny and older brother Bill

Krissi is our “middle child”, the two minute older sibling of her twin brother Kenny, and the 4 year younger sister of big brother Bill.  Right from the start, these twins couldn’t have been any more different.  Well, the obvious is, of course, him being a boy and she being a girl, but they were 6 weeks premature, and basically that’s because Krissi wanted to get out and see the world, while Kenny would have been happy to bake a little bit more in Susie.  Because of that, she was out of the NICU in only 18 days, while Kenny needed 28 days to get to 5 pounds.  As they grew up, Kenny was the one more likely to take a risk, while Krissi liked the safer side of the street.  Kenny was also one to cut people off quicker, while Krissi was in for the long hall!

 

As Krissi grew, it became obvious that she cared greatly for people and their welfare.  She was the girl to sign up for a cause!  When her brother Kenny came out to all of us, she was his staunchest defender when kids at high school would give him a hard time.  When you have Krissi on your side, you’ve really got all you need!!

When she went off to college, we were a bit worried about how she’d take being away from her twin brother.  The day we dropped her off at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., I’m not sure who was crying more…our daughter or her Mom!  But quickly we realized we had nothing to worry about.  She made friends (most of which she still has to this day), attacked her studies with passion, and got involved in extracurricular events.  She graduated with dual majors, a ton of friends, and a nice resume of achievements, many having to do with the welfare of Clark students and the residents of Worcester!  Then she came home.

A couple of pictures of the “Original Five” first at Brother Bill’s Wedding and then in Atlantic City!!

 

 

As hard as that was for any college kid, this girl had direction.  She wanted to help people, so she got herself an intern position with the NYC Human Rights Council.  She loved the work, the causes, and the people she worked with, and wondered if this could be a career.  She decided that perhaps getting a Masters of Public Administration degree might be a good first step, so she applied to several graduate schools. She also decided that she needed some money of her own, so she set out to get a job.

Getting accepted to several graduate programs, she decided to go to my Alma Mater, LIU Post, and for money, she got a part-time job at a local cardiologist’s office.  Once school started, she was working several days in NYC, several more at LI Heart near the Mineola Train Station, and traveling nightly from Mineola to Greenvale.   She was one busy young lady!  She originally was hired at LI Heart to digitize medical records, but pretty soon her work ethic brought her to the attention of the folks who ran the place and forced her to make a decision.  They wanted her to work there full-time, but that would mean giving up her internship.  She loved her intern work, but realized that taking the full-time job was the smarter move on her part!  She was great at getting the job done and at customer service, which I always credited on her three summers working at Bed Bath and Beyond. 

Working at LI Heart, she realized that there were many people she could help working in the medical profession, so she tailored her MPA degree more towards Medical than Non-Profit.  The girl had found what she wanted to do, and knew how to get there!  She continued to work at LI Heart, continued to excel in her graduate studies, and continued living at home.  

5A8FF66A-3435-4CF8-9684-B65E8D3AF903

Mom, twin brother Kenny, and Dad celebrate with the new MPA

DC1CD082-FB2F-4C1B-8AFD-B08C6A65E2FE

Her Weill-Cornell Office

Once she got her MPA Degree, she moved to Astoria, but continued working at Long Island Heart and commuted every day from Astoria to Mineola.  They were hot to keep her at LI Heart, but she knew that to really grow, she had to find a position in a bigger organization, and sent out resumes and went to many job interviews, till she was finally offered an entry level position at Weill-Cornell.  Foot in the door, our girl excelled, as usual, and as they say, the rest is history!

C0A5CB87-EBA3-4B1D-B9BE-F1CF24F14839

At brother Kenny’s Wedding last October

cd54e6f2-1c9b-4d89-856e-6e45b5f9893c.png

Nail Night w/ Dennis

She met Mike through on-line dating, and being the cautious person she is, didn’t saying anything to Mom and Dad for several months.  When she finally spilled the beans, they were well on their way to having a meaningful relationship. Mike joined us one Wednesday for “Nail Night” at the St. James, and after the first night, we were sold on him.  There were more nail nights with Mike, and pretty soon we felt like he was part of the family!  He went to the bathroom one night and I told Krissi, “If you break up with him, we’re keeping him!”  They didn’t and we’re thrilled!

56E9E867-DE3F-4CEE-B055-8FDA282FECF2

Their Astoria Roof

So on Saturday, June 15th, Kristen Anne D’Elia and Michael Joshua Mikowicz, on the rooftop of their Astoria Apartment Building, will become one.  It will be a small private ceremony with just parents and siblings, because that’s what they want.  Later in the day, there will be a party for their New York Family and friends at an Astoria Wine Bar.  In July, there will be a gathering at his sister Sara’s house in Maryland for Mike’s Maryland family and friends, and in the fall, there will be another gathering down here at the shore for family and friends.

Susie and I couldn’t be any prouder of these two.  They care about people, they are smart, they are fun, they are financially responsible (Krissi has already paid off her graduate school loans), and they are perfect together!  Mike makes Krissi laugh at herself, take chances, and to be an all around happy person!  I wish she didn’t work as hard and long as she does, but perhaps we can blame that on Bed Bath and Beyond too!  Just like with Susie and me, we think this match was made in heaven, and we could not be happier!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To Mike’s Mom Paula and Dad Jerry, his sister Sara and her husband Gabe, and their kids Maddy and Ethan, welcome to the Family…but then I think you know you were part of our family already!  Saturday just makes it legal!

7803FB40-6B80-4588-A0D2-0CC32D43BE2B

Cheers to the new Krissi and Michael Mikowicz!!  Mom and I love you both so much and couldn’t be happier!!!  

Three kids, three weddings, I think we’re done!

 

 

The Bees Knees

CA8A59AE-110F-4EF2-AC7C-B884A782D232According to statistics, approximately 700,000 knee replacement procedures are performed annually in the US.  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, says that “total knee replacements are one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine.”  They also say, “the most common reason for knee replacement in the United States is severe osteoarthritis of the knees.  Osteoarthritis is an age-related “wear and tear” type of arthritis. The cartilage that cushions the bones of the knee softens and wears away. The bones then rub against one another, causing knee pain and stiffness.”

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “knee replacement surgery was first performed in 1968” and that “more than 90% of people who have total knee replacement surgery experience a dramatic reduction of knee pain and a significant improvement in the ability to perform common activities of daily living.” And in case you were thinking otherwise, they warn you that,  “total knee replacement will not allow you to do more than you could before you developed arthritis.”  (good to know)

They also warn that, “Excessive activity may speed up normal wear and may cause the knee replacement to loosen and become painful. Therefore, most surgeons advise against high-impact activities such as running, jogging, jumping, or other high-impact sports for the rest of your life after surgery.” (Damn!  Oh well, guess those activities are out!)

Hmmm.  So I’m sure you’re wondering why I would choose to write a blog post that I begin by sighting all kinds of research statistics about knee arthroplasty (a knee replacements technical name)? Yea, some might find it interesting, but really, so what?  Well, the so what is because I am about to join those 700,000 folks in the US and have one or both knees replaced in 2019!  

This procedure started many years ago for me, when back in 2008  I had a right knee arthroscopy to repair a torn meniscus.   At that time, the Orthopedic Doctor warned that this was just going to be a bandaid procedure, and that eventually a knee replacement (or replacements) would be in my future.  A number of years later, when I figured the pain was such that it was time to talk about the next stage, I called to make an appointment with this same Doctor, only to be told that the poor man had died.  As you might imagine, that was somewhat of a road block in my effort to move to the next level.  Time to find another Doctor!

I did, and although I almost even scheduled surgery after I retired from ABC, I just didn’t go any farther with it on Long Island.  In November of 2017, we officially moved down to Ocean City, and it was time to start the procedure over again.  One day, Susie and I gave our neighbor Doie (97 year old Marine veteran of World War Two) a ride to her Orthopedic Doctor in Somers Point, and I found my new Orthopedic Doctor!

49E85164-ACC3-4C5C-89F9-2AB472DA0E5EDr Zabinski is a NYU Medical School trained Orthopedic Surgeon, who practices out of Shore Orthopeadic.  He’s an adrenaline junky (he’s off on vacation now for 3 weeks climbing mountains in Alaska), and a very nice guy and someone I have total trust in.  A couple of bad discoveries though when I first started to see him.  3B3D2BBD-DD9B-4FF4-A1F6-FB517508DEB1#1 I have apparently lost 2 inches in height, measuring out at 5 foot 6  (he says I will gain most of that back after surgery….but does that mean I’ll limp after having just one knee done?), and  #2 He wouldn’t do surgery on me till I lost some weight and took my BMI down to a level he was comfortable with.  

In case you wondered why Susie and I have been on a low/No Carb diet since right after the Christmas/New Year holidays, now you know.   I want to get back to being able to walk the boardwalk of Ocean City without pain, meaning I want these old tired knees replaced!  Several months ago, I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Zabinski for the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.  New X-rays were to be taken, and I was to be weighed in.  If I’d done my job, we’d talk surgery.  If not, well, it would be back to a waiting game for me.

Not to keep anybody in suspense, I did good!  While he’d still like me to lose more weight, what I’d lost is enough to bring my BMI to a level that he’s comfortable with moving forward.  One surprise…after years of thinking the right knee was worse, we’re starting with the left knee!  He said I’ll be driving 10 days after the surgery!

So the process has started, and after I got a call from Gina, Dr. Zabinski’s surgery scheduling person, I know it’s official.  I’m scheduled for Thursday morning, July 11th, as I start on my path to new knees!!  Wish me luck!

May 28th, 2019

Today is the 41st birthday I have spent with the most important person in my life!! 

3868BEF2-ECF6-47BA-A4FF-2F895726B2D4

I met my Susie Q on July 3rd, 1977, and I spent her first birthday with her the next year on May 28th, 1978.  Since then, I have been lucky enough to spend every birthday with the love of my life!  She is simply the best thing that has ever happened to me, and the reason I have the life I have today!

She is the most giving, loving person I have ever met, and frankly, most of our friends love the hell out of her and tolerate me because I am part of the deal that comes along with her!!  She is so much better a person than I am.  Frankly, we are not even in the same league, so once again, were it not for her, I wouldn’t have anywhere near the kind of life I have!

img_1243AE72E6CA-0B0A-406D-B087-8E65B48D0ACEI am so blessed (cant really call it lucky…got to figure it’s more like God’s plan) that she said yes when I asked her to marry me.  Love that she is the mother of our 3 kids, Grandmother of our three little darlings, and the lady that keeps me in line every day of my life.

CB3E08A5-32B4-404E-AA5F-8B074EED5CF8

Susie, like most of the folks in our life, I love you and am in awe of your ability to touch folks and to be loved by them.  Thank you for including me and giving me a better life than I could have ever dreamed of!  You are my life!!  I will love you FOREVER!!!

 

983B913E-E9DC-4256-8B05-E4A1980F2E2B

 

 

A disclaimer…the above was written and published without the benefit of my #1 copy editor, so any and all typos, miss-spellings, and punctuation errors are solely the work of your author.  See, another thing she does for me!

95.5, WPLJ….New York’s Best Rock!

img_1435

If you Google Irish Wake, this is what you get:

“The Irish Wake is perhaps one of the best known funeral traditions associated with Ireland. The Wake, the glorious send-off of departed loved ones, is a prominent feature of Irish funeral traditions.”

Well this pastTuesday night, at the Cutting Room on NYC’s East 32nd Street, former WPLJ VP of Programing Tom Cuddy did what Cumulus couldn’t or wouldn’t do… he hosted an incredible “Irish Wake” for a great New York radio station, and it truly was a “glorious send-off of departed loved ones”!

If you remember a blog I wrote back in March about Cumulus selling WPLJ (if you don’t remember or didn’t read it, and want to, here’s the link  https://fdthird.wordpress.com/2019/03/11/95-5-wplj/), this was something that most of us who worked at the station through the years never thought could ever happen!  Separating the AM/FM siblings was not even fathomable to us, but it happened.  Welcome to the radio business, 2019 style!

So rather than let it go out with a whimper, Tom Cuddy decided that he was going to make sure that it went out with a bang,   It was a hell of a party, attended by folks who in one way or another had been part of WPLJ in the 48 years since it’s call letters were changed to that from WABC-FM.  Having spent 40 years of my work life there at WABC and WPLJ, there were years worth of memories, and people to sort through.  It was an incredible night!

After Ubering to the city from our daughter’s apartment in Astoria, Susie and I started our night with a little pre-party at The Ginger Man on NYC’s East Side.  We called this a “70’s Party”, and the guests included folks that were at WPLJ when I got there in 1976, people that started about the same time and I did, and folks that got there shortly after I arrived.  

I’d have to say that this really is our core group, as we were all about the same age when we started at ABC.  Because we were the same age, and several in the same family situation, we not only worked together, but we socialized.  Birthday parties at work, drinks after, visits to each other’s houses, Good-bye and Batchelor Parties, Weddings, and oh yeah, working together.  It was universally agreed by Engineers, DJs, and office folks that this was indeed the best time of all our work lives!  Sometimes in my later years at ABC, when I’d complain to Susie that I kind of felt left out, when younger folks went to lunch or out for drinks after work, she’d remind me that when we all were their age, we did the exact same thing!  Point Taken!

So as it approached the 6 PM start time of the real party, we all settled up our bar bill at the Ginger Man, and started out on the 4 block walk to the Cutting Room (http://thecuttingroomnyc.com).  Because this party had been widely publicized in the radio trades in an effort to reach as many alumni as possible, you needed to email in a request to come and be put on a list. As we got to the club, there was a line of folks waiting to check in.  Of course, after working at the stations for 40 years, there were lots of folks I knew, and luckily I remembered everybody’s name!!  

After a period of mingling (there were probably 400 folks there, so there was only so much mingling and hugs that one could do), our host Tom Cuddy opened the evening’s presentations.

img_0597

Tom Cuddy…our host for the evening

The number of on-the-air people past and present that were in the house was amazing!  From the early day folks like Jimmy Fink, Jim Kerr, Carol Miller, Bob Marone, Marc Copolla, people from the middle years like Fast Jimi Roberts, AJ Hammer, Bobby Ray Rossi Vallentine, Blain Ensley, Tony Roma, to the recent past and present staff like Scott Shanon, Brad Blanks, Jimmy Diele, Chris Marino, Joe Nolan, Race Taylor, Annie, Joey Kramer, John Foxx, Robby Bridges, Mike Allan! , and others I’m sure I’m forgetting,,,please forgive me. News folks like Shelli Sonstein, Cathy Maloney,  Naomi Diclimente Salvatore, and Patti Steele.

Our friends Jimmy Fink and Jim Kerr spoke, talking about those early years of WPLJ and how they were tied to today’s WPLJ.

Scott Shannon talked about his years at PLJ during which he captained the PLJ Morning Show!

img_0616-1

Scott Shannon

Then Tom Cuddy brought the two longest term morning show hosts in PLJ’s history to the stage, both of who still hold forth on New York Morning Radio…just not PLJ!

img_0656-2

Scott, Jim, and Tom

 At one point, Tom Cuddy asked everybody in the room who’s voice had ever graced the WPLJ airwaves to come on stage!  That was a hell of a picture!

img_0678-1

An incredible group of voices and friends

But as many of those folks as there were, that was just a fraction of the folks in the room!  There were several past General Managers like Mitch Dolan and Steve Borneman,  production people from Jim Brownold in the 70s, to today’s Dan Kelly and Phil Micari, lots of past and present Engineering folks, Sales Folks, and office friends that kept the radio station running!  It was a wonderful night for me with so many old and new friends!

img_0659-2

Jim Kerr, Jimmy McGuire, Jimmy Fink…another 3 Jims!

But remember when I started, I called the gathering a great “Irish Wake”, and sadly, that’s truly what it was.  Had it not been for the sale of WPLJ by Cumulus, and the transfer of the station on June 1st, and the fact that so many of the folks that I stopped working with a little over 3 years ago will be without a job after May 31st, there would have been no reason for the party.  Like an Irish Wake, Tuesday night’s gathering was indeed, in a way, the glorious send-off of departed loved ones.  That’s a radio station, and the people that still call the 17th Floor of 2 Penn Plaza home!  

I want to end this blog by copying something I posted on Facebook the night of the party.  We spent the night at our daughter Krissi and about to be son-in-law Michael’s Astoria Apartment….they get married in just a couple of weeks on June 15th.   A little before midnight, while Susie was settling down to sleep, I was sitting on the edge of Krissi and Mike’s sleeper couch, and using my iPhone, I posted this to Facebook along with some pictures:

“I walked onto the 8th floor of the ABC Building on August 8th, 1976, and I left the 17th Floor of 2 Penn Plaza on January 29th, 2016.  Between those two dates, I had the honor of working with some wonderful radio folks at two great radio stations. Tonight, thanks to Tom Cuddy, we got to say goodbye to what will always be to me 95.5, WPLJ…New York’s Best Rock!  At the end of this month, PLJ will no longer exist as Cumulus has sold the station to a Christian Broadcaster.  It was great being with old friends,  I’ve known and worked with for over 40 years, but sad for my friends who still work there.  Thank you to the love of my life, my ever patient Susie Q who endured her husband hugging and kissing folks all night (men and women…hey, I’m Italian) and having a great time. It was a night I will long remember filled with people from my youth, and folks who are younger then my kids!!!  I love you all, but especially Susan Johnson D’Elia!!”

Good Bye WPLJ…God Speed to all the great radio people who will ride it to the end on May 31st!  You are in my heart!

All Access’s story about the party:

https://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/186606/wplj-throws-gala-going-away-party-reunion-in-new-y

Some Interesting WPLJ YouTube videos..

https://youtu.be/JJiyMC1xhDs

https://youtu.be/VMEFVVYyUwk

https://youtu.be/DkXRubz2cak

https://youtu.be/B4xp02qfU14

https://youtu.be/anpeNQUZQ80

Meeting our New Granddaughter

Last October, at our youngest son Kenny’s wedding, oldest son Billy informed us that he and his wife Lori were expecting their third child.  Having started with a girl and then a boy, we figured they were done, but we were overjoyed when we heard that their family would be growing.  

Just over a week ago, on Wednesday afternoon, April 17th, Billy sent us the following text, “Annabelle Lorraine D’Elia is here!  Lori and baby are both doing great!”, and we got to see the first pictures of our just born Granddaughter!

A little later, we got details that she was born at 4:06 PM, was 7 lbs. 4 oz, 21 inches, “And beautiful”, said the proud Papa!

The next day was a big one in little Annabelle’s life!  First, she got to meet her big sister and big brother, when our 5 year old Granddaughter Layla, and her 3 1/2 year old brother Henry visited Mommy and Annabelle in the hospital.  Just looking at Layla and Henry with Annabelle, it’s easy to tell that both of them are thrilled to have a new baby sister, and are going to be a great big brother and sister!  The other big event in little Annabelle’s life was that she and Mommy were going home!  Hard to believe, but within 24 hours of being born, Lori and her newborn baby were getting out of the hospital, and going home.  How time changes the way things work.

Another thing we learned on Thursday was that they were going to be calling her Anna.  I had to tell Billy at that point that his Anna D’Elia was not the first time that first and last name had gone together in our family.  His grandfather’s mother, my paternal Grandmother was also named Anna D’Elia.  She died in 1953 when I was 3 years old, and I don’t have any recollection of her beyond pictures and stories, and don’t know if Billy had ever even known, but little Anna and her Great Great Grandmother share the same name!

img_1402

My Dad’s Mom…another Anna D’Elia

Although pictures kept coming from North Carolina to Ocean City, at this point Susie and I could not wait till Saturday when we were heading down to NC to spend Easter weekend with Billy’s family and to meet the newest member of that family!

Our trip started early Saturday morning with torrential rain as we left Ocean City, but by the time we got to Delaware, the weather had calmed down, and the further south we drove, the nicer the weather got.  The drive was long, but once we got to their house Saturday afternoon, that was all forgotten and we were taken with how incredibly beautiful and small our new Granddaughter was.  We tend to forget the size babies are when they come home from the hospital, but even though it’s been 30 plus years since any of our babies were that size, Susie had absolutely no trouble sliding right into Grandma mode!

Anna was very awake and totally aware of what was going on around her.  She sized us up, and we like to think decided we were acceptable as Grandparents!  I know for sure she liked snuggling with Susie, and enjoyed the bottle she fed her and even the diaper change Grandma effected!  And for Grandma, it was of course, love at first sight, especially the new baby smell!  And what was I doing while Grandma was bonding with her Granddaughter, why Grandpa was playing Mouse Trap with Layla and Henry!

I don’t remember if our kids ever had the game Mouse Trap, but it’s something Layla and Henry always drag out and want to play with Grandpa.  It’s a diabolical game, that takes about 3 times as long to set up as it does to play, but the kids love it!  Honestly, the game itself is rather lame, but the board, with all it’s levels and Rube Goldberg kind of ball drops is a lot of fun, and what they really love about the game.  As the saying goes, “Some Assembly Required” and this time took the efforts of Grandpa and Dad before we could play.  About halfway through, Henry tired of the game and Layla and I continued to play for him and in the end, he won, Layla came in second, and Grandpa last!  Not my favorite game, but playing with those two is some of the most fun I have whenever we visit!

Talking to Billy and Lori, we discovered where Annabelle’s name came from.  Annabelle was Lori’s late Dad, Fred’s ,Mom’s name, and Lorraine was Kathy, her Mom’s Mom’s name.  Once Billy knew that Anna was his Grandfather’s Mom’s name, he commented, “So she was named after 2 old Italian ladies”.  

The next day was Easter, and we were all going to a big family gathering at Lori’s sister’s house, and Billy and Lori needed some items from the store, so while we watched the 3 little ones, Billy took Lori on an outing to the grocery store!  Is there anything better in life, than spending time with your Grandkids??  Love talking to Layla and Henry, and getting their take on life.  Grandma was in 7th Heaven with Anna, while honestly, Layla and Henry are more my speed.  Love hearing them call me “Grandpa”!

Easter Sunday dawned cloudy and the weather forecast was for a cool and cloudy day.  We arrived at Lori’s sister Kerry and her husband Bill’s house at 11 AM, and were immediately surrounded by family, including 11 kids under the age of 10, including Layla, Henry and Anna!  Everyone had brought something to contribute (we’d brought traditional Easter Pies from my Dad’s heritage), and there was so much food, including the very good Shrimp and Grits our son had made.  It was a great day, with lots of food and conversation and the kids playing, and participating in an Easter Egg hunt, and Anna spending time in a lot of folks arms…even Grandpa’s!  

After a busy Easter, Mom and Anna were pooped and just looking for some down time, so we spent our last day in Raleigh with our son Billy and Layla and Henry.  First on our schedule, lunch at Chik-fil-a and playing in the playroom (Layla and Henry that is).

Next we were off to see The Missing Link at the movies.  The theater we were going to was in a neat shopping destination called North Hills.  Along with the theater there were restaurants and shops all along carefully laid out streets.  Once we got the tickets, we went on a short walk to look around, before Dad got a Starbucks coffee, and we settled on a park bench while the kids played a bit in the gorgeous sunshine!

Once we got to the movie theater, it was tough to steer Henry away from the little arcade that was right inside the entrance, but with the promise of soda and popcorn, we moved to the theater.  Like when we went to the movies in Florida, this is one of the new theaters with reclining seats, and all the comforts of home, and the two kids made full use of them!  Grandpa had to sit next to Henry and Layla had to sit next to Grandma.  Then Daddy wisely got both the pop corn and soda split into two for them, and after about 20 minutes of previews, the movie finally started.  I don’t know why they have to do the same endless previews with kid’s movies, because every time a preview started, Henry would ask me, “Is this the movie Grandpa?”.  What a pain!  We enjoyed the movie, but by the end, Daddy had both kids in his lap, forgetting the carefully crafted seating plan they’d earlier devised!  After 30+ years, you forget what it’s like to have little kids!

By the time the movie was over, and we’d gotten Henry off the motorcycle in the arcade, it was close to 5, and as it was a school night, it was time to say good-bye to our son and grandkids.  Hugs and kisses were given all around, and promises to see each other real soon were uttered, as they walked Grandma and Grandpa back to their car.

As we always do, we loved our time with our North Carolina Family, loved being with our Grandkids, and loved meeting little Anna.  It’s hard when your kids and their kids live a 7+ hour drive away from you, but you make it work, and you enjoy the hell out of the time you get to spend together.  I know we both did, and will enjoy the memories till we get together again, either in Ocean City or in Raleigh.  It is what it is!

Week 2

Pardon the delay, but waited till we got back home so I could finish this on the computer rather than my IPhone!

B5EE606E-BCB5-4E2D-A8AD-55A53552B830

On Sunday morning, we woke already tied to the dock, back in Galveston, Texas.  This was the boys weekly “turn around day”, and the plan was for them to show us what they do weekly.  Just before 10, armed with our old and new Sea Pass cards, our In-Transit cards, and our passports, we worked our way off the ship, down the gangway, and through Immigration.  We were the happy people in the group, as we knew in a couple of hours, we’d be joining the Liberty again!

Once through Immigration, we met up with Kenny who told us Chris had taken off to make the long walk to a store he needed to get something from and he’d join us soon, so the 3 of us headed off to The Strand.  This is a tourist area just a couple of blocks from the port, and where the boys spend most Sundays.

Once Chris met us, it was off to their first weekly stop…a store that sells everything, including drinks!  Apparently, to sell booze on Sunday before 11 AM, you’ve also got to provide food, so a piece of a cut up hot dog was provided. Then it was to a table on the sidewalk to enjoy the Mimosas.

 

After that, we headed off to their “brunch” place, a taco “stand” with about 50 beers on tap, and a very eclectic menu of gourmet type tacos.  We had some great ones, and it would be great if I had any photographic evidence, but we ate everything before I thought of it!!!  Tell me we haven’t done that before!

After lunch, we headed off to their “after-lunch Bar” with their favorite bartender Sophie, but alas, she was at a baby shower and not working!  Oh well, perhaps next Sunday.  Then it was time to walk back to the ship.

We said goodbye to the boys (they go on via a crew entrance), and with our In-Transit cards and our new Sea Pass cards already in hand, we got to skip the lines, and in not much time at all, we were back in the R Bar starting week 2 the same way as week 1!

5E759F0C-43C9-4323-BD06-438EA07E4911

After another boat drill, the boys joined us on our balcony for sail-away, and then dinner in the Windjammer.  A brief stop in the casino, and then it was time for bed…we were all pooped!

Day 2 dawned sunny and warm, and on this sea day, our plan was lunch for 4 in one of the Liberty’s specialty restaurants, Sabor, Modern Mexican! We met Kenny and Chris at the restaurant at 12:30, and as usual, we were served too much food!  We didn’t eat it all, but we did our best!!

After a brief stop in the casino, Chris went off to work the ice show, Kenny retired to their cabin for some R&R, and Susie and I went to the Ice Show.   A great show, more so because it’s on a cruise ship!!

After the show, it was time to shower and dress for the Captain’s Champagne Reception on the Royal Promenade. Some free champagne, an hour spent people watching (and some is sooo good), and listening to the Captain speak.  You must admit, we did clean up well!

 

Then it was time for Chris to hit the hay, while Susie, Kenny, and I headed to Vintages Wine Bar for something a little better quality than the cheap Royal Champagne!

9434CBB1-5431-44D2-8E3D-82640F1E5DE3

We had several glasses of wine, had a nice talk with Julia who we’d met earlier in the Jewelry Shop on the Promenade, and with Remy, who works in Vintages. There are a lot of nice people who work on the Liberty, if you just take the time to meet them!!  We enjoy meeting these crew folks from all around the world. learning a bit about them and where they’re from, and hearing their experiences!

After 3 glasses on wine each (I think it was three???), a profitable visit to the casino, a couple of pieces of pizza at Sorrentos, it was time for bed, ending day 2.

 

Day 3 was Cozumel again. As you may recall, this was our only duplicate port, and since we’d had an incredible day there at the El Cozumeleno Beach Resort just 4 days earlier, and since the boys had a busy day with a tech run and two performances of In the Air, Susie and I decided to stay on the ship and let them go their own way.

We started with a lazy morning, headed up to the pool deck and the adult Solarium, with our books, and a couple of Pina Coladas!  We read, we sipped, and we dozed a bit. The Liberty was quiet, with the majority of folks wandering the streets of Cozumel.  It was nice!!!

E4237BA0-FAD1-486A-9B2D-4CF4049ABAC7

Because the ship was so empty, just after they opened at 1, we decided to go to Johnny Rockets for lunch!!!  Great burgers!!!

 

That night, performances of In the Air, after which the boys came to unwind in our cabin.  A nice day.

We awoke the next morning, already at anchor in Grand Cayman.  There’s no pier there, so this was our only tender port of the cruise.  The water was the most incredible color blue, and we sat on our balcony watching the tenders come and go, while waiting for the boys to finish a meeting.   A short tender ride, and we were walking the streets of Grand Cayman, heading to the boys favorite lunch spot!

 

Tell me those drinks, and that background doesn’t look magical!

Then, another stop at another outdoor bar, on the way back to the port.  I’d call this more of a “dive bar”, but good drinks, great setting, and a fun atmosphere!

 

Back on the ship, the boys joined us for a small Sail-Away party on our balcony and a little champagne.  

 

I think that this was the most beautiful port we stopped at during our two weeks on the Liberty, and reminded me a lot of our several visits to Bermuda.

 

That night, while Chris was doing some Dance Captain stuff, Susie and I joined Kenny in the Star Lounge and enjoyed 4 of his fellow singers in a presentation called the Jazz Set.  Really mislabeled, as I’d call it more American Standards, we enjoyed listening to his 4 very talented friends.

 

Then we met up with Chris and after discussing where to go to have a bite, it was decided to give Johnny Rockets another shot!  Good burgers all around!  On the way out, we paused to take a photo in front of one of the art pieces on Deck 12.  A little bit of Chris’ home town of Reno, Nevada on the Liberty of the Seas!

2BEAD1F2-AF30-4D73-AB26-405AA855A161

Our stop the next day was Falmouth, Jamaica, in a port that was created a number of years ago by Royal Caribbean for the Oasis Class ships, that were really too big to fit in other ports on the island.  Created to resemble a 15th or 16th century town, the port is full of shopping opportunities, because that, it seems, is what most folks do on a cruise.  However, we had other plans!  Our first stop, the Jamaican Beef Patty stand for a round of patties for all!  Then it was off to Margaritaville, with their potent drinks, some of their delicious food, and the pool with a swim up bar!

 

The water was cool, the sun was hot…it was a great way to spend the afternoon, before heading back to the Liberty of the Seas!

That night, it was time for Kenny to do one of his other jobs on the ship, and that was the 70’s Set on the Royal Promenade during the ship’s 70 Disco Party themed night!  Because Mom and Dad wanted to have a good view of the action, we got there about an hour and a half early, and sat at a table outside of the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Parlor.  Having not eaten since Margaritaville, we passed the time by having a couple of sandwiches from Cafe Promenade for dinner, along with a couple of drinks from the R Bar.  As we were waiting there, who should come along but our personal photographer Jennifer.  We called her that, because she was the only one who’d taken pictures of us on our second week, and she obliged us again and took 3 wonderful pictures, that were the only ones we bought that week!

 

We had a lovely conversation with her and discovered that although her name tag said Columbia, she was really from Venezuela, but had escaped the problems there, and called Chile home.  She would be signing off the ship after a couple of more months and told us it would be winter when she got home…a season she hasn’t seen for some time!  Another great member of the crew we were happy to get to meet!

Then, what we came for…our baby (he really is our baby….being the youngest of our 3 kids!) on the flying bridge, above a couple of thousand passengers and crew, performing with his partner about 15 minutes of songs from way before he was born!

4F583B62-6A94-4533-9228-B45FE27B98C4

 

 

 

So much fun!!!

After Kenny changed, we met the boys down at the Schooner Bar, had a couple of drinks, and then went into the casino for a little One Armed Bandit action!  Tonight, Lady Luck was on our side, and we had a really great run on a Wheel of Fortune machine!

 

Following our stop in Jamaica, we had two sea days, our last two days of the cruise as we traveled over 1,000 miles back to the Liberty’s home port of Galveston, Texas.  

After sleeping in a bit, Susie and I had a cappuccino at the Promenade Cafe, then selected a table near Sorrento’s Pizza and waited for the Move It, Move It Parade!  Kenny joined us and we played cards for a bit, till the participants started to arrive for the big Dreamworks Cast parade all along the promenade, that Chris, as Dance Captain, coordinates.  The parade lasts about 15 minutes, and is supposed to end with Chris shooting off a confetti gun, but just before the parade started, one of the Dreamworks characters picked the gun up, and dumped all the confetti out!  

 

 

Night 6 of the cruise was our second Formal Night of the week, and since we’d cleaned up so nicely on our previous Formal Night, we decided to do it again and journey, once again to Giovanni’s for a wonderful Italian meal!  Thanks to Alex the host, and our favorite waiter Melvyn, it was another memorable night, with great food, wine, and laughs!  

As day 7 of the cruise was a busy one for the boys (a tech run of Saturday Night Fever in the morning followed by two shows of SNF that evening), following dinner, we let them head off to their cabin, while Mom and I headed back to see our friends at the Schooner bar, and have an “after dinner”  Martini or two!

 

This has really been our go to bar this week of the cruise, being the place we’ve stopped most for daytime Mai Tai’s or nighttime Martinis, with bartenders Antonio, and Francisco and waiters Alexander and Fernanda.  You know us, we like feeling like we’ve got a home, and when folks know your name, and you enjoy the conversation with them, well, that’s what makes us feel like home.  So when Antonio would say, “Susan, Frank, the usual?” we were happy!

 

After a couple of drinks, and listing to Phil at the piano bar, we decided to head back into the casino, and see if the night before had been a fluke, or if our luck was indeed on the upswing.  Well, if Lady Luck was on our side the night before, she was in our laps tonight!  Just saying…..

 

A nice way to end what had been a wonderful day!!

So, that brings us to day 7 of our cruise and our last sea day before Galveston.  This was a full day for our boys, as they prepared for tonight’s 2 shows of Saturday Night Fever, and therefore an alone day for us!  It was time to drag those 3 suitcases that had been stored under the bed in cabin 7344 for 2 weeks out, and to empty the closet and the drawers, and to prepare to leave a place that had been our home for the past 14 days.  It was a sad day because we’d had a wonderful time, and tomorrow would be the last day with Our Boys for some time, but all 4 of us knew it was also time to get back to the real world.  

So drag out those suitcases we did, and Susie packed, while I brought her the items she asked for.   In short order, we were packed and headed to the Windjammer for some lunch.  We relaxed on our balcony that afternoon, reading and honestly napping, and a little after 5, we met Kenny outside the Platinum Theater as he let us in before the doors opened for the last time.  We love watching these two on stage, seeing them both do something they love.  Hope you do too!

 

 

A little after 9:30 the next morning, we were off the ship, through Immigration, and out into a cold and damp Galveston!  The week before on turn around day, it had been sunny and in the 70s, today it was hovering right around 50!  Yikes…not the Caribbean anymore!  Our plan today was simple…once we met up with the boys, they were going to roll our suitcases to one of their Sunday hangouts while Susie and I Ubered to pick up our rental car.  That done, we drove over to the local Walmart so that they could do probably the most extensive shopping they’ll do during their time on the ship, spending close to $300!  Then we had a marvelous lunch at a place on the Galveston Sea Wall called, My Spot.  It was our last Family Meal….

 

Then it was time for Susie and I to drop the boys back at the pier, and to make our way to George Bush International Airport in Houston for our flight home to Philadelphia.  We finally arrived back on Pennlyn Place and home in Ocean City about 1:30AM, ending what had been a wonderful two weeks in the Caribbean sunshine with Our Boys!  And so ends the story of week two of Sue and Frank’s Excellent Adventure on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, with the Fox Boys!

A couple of postscripts…

One thing Susie loved was some of the art that was featured around the ship.  Here are some of her favorites that she captured via her IPhone camera.

 

Last, but not least, even though we were in the Caribbean, we’re never really far away from our Jersey Shore home at heart, as you can see from this picture of our cabin door!

BD4EE27B-F244-4103-8365-805FBBC55346