FAREWELL TO AN OLD FRIEND

Several of our recent blog posts have been about some of our favorite, multi generational restaurants near us here in Ocean City.  We’ve talked about Charlie’s Bar and Restaurant in Somers Point (3rd Generation) and Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern in Atlantic City (3rd and 4th Generation), but what happens when the family isn’t interested in continuing to run a restaurant, and the land the business sits on is worth more than the restaurant? Well, Ocean city is no stranger to that phenomenon, and that’s why the legendary take-out seafood place Campbells ,on Asbury in the 30s, is no longer with us, as well as Sims Seafood on the Boardwalk, and Watsons and Bookers on 9th Street.  All of these places were thriving businesses well into the 80s, but today, not one location is still a restaurant of any kind!  Add another name to that list…Mildred’s of Strathmere.

img_1077

Opened in 1952, Mildred’s has been a seasonal restaurant in Strathmere with a huge clientele of regular visitors.  With a menu that goes from a traditional turkey dinner, to a huge prime rib, to great seafood, to just about every Italian dish you can think of, the menu has something for everybody!  That’s why when our son-in-law Mike’s family joined us Fourth of July week, 2018, it was the perfect place to go for dinner with 10 people!

img_0272

It was the perfect place to go with our Maryland Family!

It’s also been a great place to go with our Pennlyn Gang, at the very least once a year.  Great memories of great meals, great friends, and great fun!!

Then there was the night our neighbor John Griffith was with us and brought an old bottle of wine to try.  The cork broke into the bottle, the hostess took it into the kitchen and had it strained, and you can just tell what her opinion is of it when John tries his first…and only, glass!

img_0710

 

Tonight we verified that what we’d heard was true.  Mildred’s will be open till Sunday, September 15th, and when it closes that night for the season, that will be the end for the restaurant!  When we heard that 2 weeks ago from our friend Dale Nicholas, we knew we wanted to get there before it closed. When several friends told us the same thing last week, we immediately made a reservation for tonight!  Counting tonight, this was our third time there this year.  Here’s a look at our last night at Mildred’s!

Of course, being it was our last meal ever at Mildred’s, we had to go traditional.  A cup of She Crab Soup for Susie and New England Clam Chowder for me, and the great house salad you get with Blue Cheese crumbles…except when we’re there with Chris Maiden.  Then for our meal…the traditional Turkey Dinner…roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, and last but not least, gravy.  Feast your eyes..

It’s sad to say good-bye, but totally understandable when the family is done with a restaurant, and the land is worth more than the business itself.  For over 60 years they’ve run the restaurant, they deserve whatever profit they can make on their investment, and tonight they get a hearty Bravo from us for going out in style!  As usual, a great meal!  You’d never know tonight from the staff’s performance or the food, that the end was near!

Good Bye Mildreds…we will miss you!

Here’s a newspaper article with more details….

http://www.ocsentinel.com/news/local/mildred-s-will-serve-final-meal-this-week/article_37642814-d495-11e9-b0d1-175507c3be53.html?mode=jqm

Memories

Two things are happening at the end of this month, that in the last couple of days, have made me think back to happenings of September of 1979. The first thing is that Susie and I are going on a two week cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, where Our Boys, Kenny and Chris are in their last months of a year long contract. The second thing that’s happening towards the end of the month, is that Susie and I will be celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the day we joined our lives together.

What this made me think about, is the first week of our Honeymoon, which started on September 30th, 1979. We got married at the Interfaith Chapel at CW Post College (where we’d both attended) on Saturday, September 29th, 1979. The next day, our Honeymoon started on the Holland American Line’s cruise ship, the SS Volendam. Unusual for those days, this was a Sunday to Sunday cruise to Bermuda, not the usual Saturday to Saturday schedule. Because of the Sunday sail away, a large percentage of the folks on the cruise were newly married couples.

Now, unlike today, when cruise ships are huge floating cities, with thousands and thousands of passengers (The Liberty, while by no means one of the biggest ships in Royal’s fleet, still sails with 4000 passengers), 40 years ago, the Volendam was a much smaller ship, with but 400 passengers on it’s manifest. Because of it’s Sunday sailing, fully half of the passengers were married couples! That means we were one of 100 newly married couples, sailing from New York to Bermuda on Sunday, September 30th, 1979!

Cruising in those days was very different from the luxurious accommodations a new bride and groom might enjoy today. First, there were still more bunk beds in the cabins than there were full size beds…forget King Beds. We were very lucky that we booked our cruise early, through a travel agent that Susie knew, and we had one of the few full sized beds on the ship! In addition, there were also no Specialty Restaurants on the ship, you ate every meal in the dining room, at your assigned table. That’s really where my memory comes into play.

Our Dining Room assignment had us at a table for eight, and we were one of four couples assigned to that table. It was no big surprise to us, that with the large percentage of newly married couples on this sailing, all four couples were newlyweds. But, it doesn’t end there. All 4 couples had been married on Saturday September 29th. Again, no great surprise, since this was about the only cruise ship sailing to Bermuda from New York on a Sunday. What was surprising was not that we all shared the 9/29/79 wedding date, but that for all four of us, our Wedding Song was Billy Joel’s, Just the Way You Are!

As we approach our 40th Anniversary, Susie and I just hope that our tablemates are still together, and still as much in love as the two of us are. Susie, 40 years later, I Still Love You Just the Way You are!!

1976

1976 was a heady year in my young life. On January 2nd, 1976 I turned 26 years old. I was a Full Time Staff Engineer at 1050 AM WHN, which I’d worked at since April of 1972. I guess I should have said 1050 Country, WHN, because WHN was New York’s only Country Station, having switched from an MOR station about 6 months after I started there. During the 4 years I worked at the Nifty 1050, I’d worked with New York Radio Royalty, in the person of the creator of the WMCA Good Guys, WMCA Program Director Ruth Meyer. But wait, there’s more, as they say on television! In addition to having Ruth as the WHN Program Director, I’d also worked with a majority of the WMCA Good Guys! I was Jack Spector’s main engineer and worked with Dan Daniels, Ed Bayer, Joe O’Brien, and Dean Anthony. In addition, NY Sport’s Legend Bill Mazer was our Sports Director, and I worked a lot with Bill! We broadcast the NY Mets, the NY Nets, and the NY Islanders, and on days when we didn’t have a sports game on, we did Bill Mazer’s Sports Roundtable from the Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel.

Yes, it had been a heady four years for a young college graduate. I was making $333 a week, when some of my fellow Post Graduate friends were working in NY City Schools as teachers for less than $200 a week! But then it all came to an end!! It was time for WHN to negotiate a new contract with Local 1212 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and when the contract was signed, they’d agreed to a reduction of 2 Staff Engineer positions. Unfortunately, other people had come and gone in my 4 years, and when push came to shove, I was the lowest person on the totem pole. Only one person voluntarily agreed to give up their job, but when they needed the second person, it was me, the guy at the bottom!

But don’t cry for me, because I wasn’t really going to suffer! I got a whole year’s salary, and a whole year of medical insurance, and I was single and still living at home! I hated to give up the job, and leaving my new found radio family, but if I had to do so, well it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen!

And what did I do with that year’s worth of salary I’d been given??? I bought a boat!!! I’d always wanted a boat, and a couple of years earlier, when I had a steady job, and started making some good money (for the early 70s), I decided to buy a boat. I’d gone to college with someone who’s uncle owned a boat dealership in Westport, Connecticut, and through her, I met him and bought my first boat. It was a used 17 foot bow rider that had been set up by its first owner as a ski boat. It had a 175 horsepower outboard engine, and it was fast when it wanted to be. I had a lot of fun with that boat, and realized I liked boating. So, when in the Spring of 1976, out of work, and with the proceeds of one year’s salary in my bank account, the 1975 leftover 21 foot Wellcraft Weekender that Irwin had in his showroom looked very attractive! It was a nice boat!

I had a lot of fun setting up that boat, buying things for it, and eventually getting it out on Long Island Sound. It was a great life, but eventually I knew I needed to get back to the real world, and that real world return happened when my friend and mentor Bill Mozer called me one day and said, “Hey…we need some VRs at ABC..you interested?” It was late in July, I’d been “unemployed” for 3 or 4 months, so I said, “sure” and I went in and talked to WABC Chief Engineer Win Lloyd and WABC Assistant Chief and WPLJ Chief Bob Deitch.

I’d spoken to both of these gentlemen 4 years before when I was first looking for a job in NY Radio, but this was different. Now we were 3 radio veterans shooting the shit about the state of the radio business. After an hour, Win said, “So, when can you start?” I replied, “Whenever you need me?”. So, at 11:45 PM, on the night of Sunday, August 8th, 1976, as Hurricane Belle headed towards New York City, I reported to the 8th Floor of the ABC Building at 1330 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, for my first shift as a member of the WABC/WPLJ Engineering Department, and as they say, the rest is history!

Bees Knees #4 – The Final Chapter

Yesterday was a banner day for my new left knee! First, I was released from PT! Grady, my Physical Therapist, said there was nothing more he could do for me, as he’d given me all the exercises and I was doing them with zero problem! That was nice to hear! An hour later, I had my 5+ week post surgery appointment with Dr Zabinski. I had three X-rays taken, and Dr. Zabinski is thrilled with what he saw, with the way my scar is healing, and with the progress I am making! He even agreed with our time table of having the right knee done when we return from Florida in April! Like I said, a banner day all around!

So, as a way to wrap up this journey, thought I’d write one more blog and look back on our experiences (make no mistake about it, Susie was as much or even more involved in this procedure than I was!). Things that I worried about up front, that retrospectively I wasted time worrying about!

Any time you embark on something you’ve never experienced before, there is always an element of fear involving the unknown. I mean, they are going to cut open my leg, remove the knee I’d had since birth, and replace it with a man-made implant! Now that was certainly something I’d never experienced before!

I guess the number one fear was, “Would I survive?” Even in simple surgeries, things happen and the unthinkable becomes reality. I will freely admit that there were a couple of days pre-surgery when these kinds of fears did enter into my brain. Perhaps it was a stupid path to take, but rather than dwell on it, I used the fear to a good end. I spent a good part of one day collecting all of our bank account information, including banking websites and sign-ons. I did the same thing with Susie and my Life Insurance policies, creating a document called Money and Insurance. The next day I started to write another document called Paying Bills. In this one, I noted all the different ways I paid bills every month, including a step by step checklist, that if followed, should allow the user to do everything I do every month. In creating these two documents I gave myself peace of mind that should something happen, Susie would know what to do. It was a good exercise, a good use of the fear, and in the end, totally unnecessary!

I also had some worries about the anesthesia. When you put someone under General Anesthesia, there is always the possibility that there will be complications. When going to Pre-Op Testing at the hospital, we were told however, that they did the operation under a Spinal Block, and a Nerve Block, and that you were in an induced Twilight state during the surgery. The day I found that out, another of my fears came off the table!

So, they put in a brand new knee…would I be able to walk the stairs? There are 14 steps from the sidewalk to our front porch. Was I going to be able to get up to our front door the day after surgery? Piece of cake! Another stupid thing to unnecessarily worry about!

Was it going to hurt? I am definitely one of those folks that has an issue with Opioid drugs. No, its not that I’m afraid I’ll get addicted to them, it’s that I know they stop-up my plumbing! So let’s make this a double headed fear…Managing Pain and Constipation! I came home with 2 prescriptions, and did take them on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but I also didn’t go to the bathroom. Now, on the pain front, with the exception of the first day or so, I wasn’t really in pain. It was more discomfort, so it was pretty easy for me to transition from the Opioids to Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Susie did have to call out the big guns in the fight for regularity, but after one dose of Dulcolax, I was back in regular action. Scratch a double-headed concern!

In so much of your pre-op orientation, they make a huge thing of Preventing Infection and Swelling, so you can’t help but have that in your mind. The act of inserting the knee prosthetic into your body, has become so matter of fact, that the biggest concern they have post-surgery is preventing infection and swelling. We did everything pre-surgery we were instructed to do, and after the surgery, Susie made sure that I religiously elevated it (your leg above your heart), iced it, and that we kept the environment clean. The end result is that this issue, which we really think was more of the scare tactics they employ pre-surgery, than our own mental state, never came to pass!

Other things lower down the fear/concern ladder, included PT and the horror stories we both had heard! My Physical Therapist Grady was the absolute best, and at no time was there even the slightest issue with either my home, or at the facility PT! Another area was sleep…would I? Honestly, I’m not the best sleeper when I don’t have a new knee, and Grady had told us before the operation that I’d probably be sleeping on and off most of the day, because you just don’t sleep that well at night. And that was it..

I told Susie going into this, and I will say it anytime I’m asked, we are rule followers, and that’s exactly why we did what we did, and why my recovery was so successful! We bought everything we were instructed to do up front. I took the prescribed vitamins pre and post surgery. We had the house set up as per our instructions. When I came home from the hospital, we kept my leg elevated above my heart for the 20-22 hours a day we were instructed to do. Susie made sure to apply ice as instructed. The bottom line is that we did what we were told to do, and that’s why, along with Dr. Zabinski’s excellent work, Grady’s perfect PT for me, and being married to the world’s best caregiver, this knee replacement was as successful as it was!

And what did this all cost, you may wonder. Well, by the time you add up the Hospital Costs, the Doctors’ bills, the cost of Physical Therapy, as well as the cost of everything we had to buy pre-surgery, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s very close to $100,000. I mean the cost for the actual implant that now lives where formerly my left knee was, cost a whopping $22,028 and the Operating Room for the 2 hours or so it was dedicated to my knee was just over $24,000! Thank God we have great insurance, and in the end, if I’m responsible for anything, it will probably be pennies! Wonder what the Six Million Dollar Man would cost in 2019 dollars??

My final take? I sit here 5 weeks and 4 days after having a Left Total Knee Replacement ready, and willing, to have my right knee replaced next Spring! I have no fear that it won’t be as successful as the left one was, and no concern that Susie and I aren’t up to the task! Thank God we live in a time when operations like this, and so many others are common procedures that give us our mobility and our life back! Anyone who’s reading this, please don’t let your fear of the unknown keep you from getting the help you need to return to the life you were meant to lead! I’m looking forward to chasing my Grandchildren Layla, Henry, and Anna down the boardwalk! Life is too short!

HoJos

Lets be honest, I’m being lazy today and letting others write my blog! Thanks Facebook Friends!

So, this morning I posted this picture of an old Howard Johnson’s magazine ad on Facebook, and commented,

“Who’s old enough to remember when these were everywhere across America? A HoJo was the turnaround point for many of our Sunday drives as a kid in NYC. We’d drive out of the city to the “country,” and stop at HoJos. The funny thing was that the city was our apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens, and the country was the more suburban Queens. The Howard Johnson that we often stopped at was on Northern Blvd. in Little Neck, which was really just down the road when my folks moved to Bayside! Oh what flavor ice cream do I want today???”

From the likes (and loves) and the comments, I was not the only one of my Facebook friends who had fond memories of HoJos in their childhood!

Our non-Baby Boomer Ocean City neighbor Laura Dawson said, “Surprisingly I am, as a grew up in North/Central Jersey where there were lots of them!”

My friend Bob Acampora from way back in high school at Garden School said, “I used to love to go to Howard Johnson’s! Fried Clams were a favorite, and of course the ice cream.”

My WPLJ Alumni friend Naomi DiClimente Salvatore said, “Was a favorite of the fam as a kid – I remember their chocolate chip ice cream with the nice flecks of chocolate instead of big wax chunks like you get now, and my Mom liked the fried clam strips”

                  Bob Acampora replied to Naomi, “Yes, the chocolate chip was one of
my favorite flavors! Nice flecks of chocolate!”

                 Naomi continued their exchange with, “Funny right! Can’t find that
in anyone’s chocolate chip ice cream today!”

Johnny Donovan, of WABC fame said, “Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park”, specifying the exact one he remembered!

Childhood Garden School friend Joyce Cohen Leibert said, “Petty Fours!”

Jim Nedelka, who I worked with a lifetime ago at WHN said, “Any flavor ice cream ensconced by that iconic conic scoop works for me!”

WPLJ Alumni Jimmy Fink said, “Those special New England Hot Dog Rolls were made by Fink…we just called them HoJo rolls.” (Jimmy’s family were the ones behind the famous New York area Fink Bakery) after I asked Jimmy if they made them for the whole country, he replied, “We made them and delivered to all the local locations in the tri-state area, then shipped a bulk order to their warehouse where they distributed to their other locations.”

I replied to Jimmy, “Well, then I often enjoyed your family’s rolls  on those Sunday drives!”, while WABC Alumni Howard Hoffman commented, “HoJo took an already awesome bun, then grilled it in BUTTER which sent it into the stratosphere. Stuffed with Tendersweet Clams? MWAH!!”

My friend Frank Dunne remembered. “I was embarrassed on a date in the Westbury one on Jericho Turnpike when I didn’t have a jacket and had to wear one of the waiters!”

Alan Seltzer from WCWP and I had a back and forth about the huge HoJos we both remembered from our childhood. Alan said, “My family used to go to the one on Queens Blvd. in Rego Park, which I believe was the largest in the country”

My fiend Linda Walters commented, “Our Wedding Cake was a coconut loaf cake sold by HoJos. We eloped and wanted a white cake!”

My friend from WCWP, WHN and the Mineola Long Island Rail Road platform, Joe Honnercamp commented, “And the HoJo chocolate fudge cake was the best!” He should know because as he commented, “I ended up in the HoJos in Little Neck frequently because it was just across the street from my grade school”. Like my Sunday rides to the same location, “What a treat it was. I only went there with my folks.”

Jeff Kroll, WCWP and WHN friend said, “Miss the burgers & ice cream. When I first moved to Roslyn while in High School, we were right up Willis Avenue from the HoJos”.

The owner of a wealth of HoJo information, which he blamed on “The things I learned while living in New England”, Howard Hoffman, also contributed, “Anyone remember their “upscale” attempt at finer dining – The Ground Round? Lots of sawdust died for the floors!”    Many of us had no idea of that connection!

Old WABC friend Steve Goldstein said, “My favorite was the “Ham Quickie”, while WPLJ friend Jim Brownold only had 2 words, “Clam Strips!!!”

For those of us of a certain age, we remember when HoJos were everywhere as you traveled. They were on the highways and the new Interstates, they were in neighborhoods, and even in cities, such as the one that was located in Times Square.

I think my cousin Walt Pratt summed it up very well, for most of us in the Baby Boomer generation, “For many families Howard Johnson’s was the place to get a good meal without having to spend an extravagant amount of money.  Often, it was the choice for a dinner after a Sunday afternoon drive.  When my mother closed her diner in the late 50s, she went to work for Howard Johnson’s and recruited a lot of the neighborhood teen-agers to work there part-time.  My youngest brother Eugene who is a culinary school graduate also worked for Howard Johnson’s.  Little known is that renowned chef Jacques Pepin turned down an offer to be President Kennedy’s White House Chef to go to work at Howard Johnson’s.  He wanted to learn about American food.”

Found a great article from New York Magazine’s Grub Street from 2016 that talks of the history of Howard Johnson’s and even verifies what Walt mentions about Jacques Pepin, and ultimately what went wrong, and why there are only remnants of former HoJos around the country! You may find it an interesting read. http://www.grubstreet.com/2016/08/there-will-soon-be-just-one-howard-johnsons-left.html

I think one of the best Howard Johnson memories I’ve gotten today is from my new son-in-law, Mike’s dad Jerry Mikowicz. I know he’s on a cruise with his wife Paula and his grandkids Maddy and Ethan, so obviously he had a real soft spot for HoJos to take the time to share this story, “One time my brother visited me in Laurel, MD, for Thanksgiving Day.  We planned a late afternoon dinner, but drove into Washington, DC, for the morning to sightsee.  On the way back to Laurel it was early afternoon, lunchtime, and we stopped at a HoJo for a hamburger to tide us over.  After we ordered, the waitress went over to talk to the manager, and after a few minutes he stopped by to offer us a free, complete turkey dinner.  He may have assumed we couldn’t afford the full dinner.  We declined and explained, but I will never forget that kind offer.”

 

So for better or worse, it appears that many of us have a shared history with the Howard Johnson chain. We remember Sunday drives, or family members that worked there, or hot dog buns, fried clams, and 28 delicious Ice Cream flavors. We’re also the people that every time you see a building on the side of the road, with a particular shaped roof, whatever color it now is, you know that at one time it was bright orange and topped with a cupola and a weather vane. It’s amazing to me, when a simple picture of a magazine ad from years ago, can generate so many comments, and it obviously jump started many memories for my Facebook friends, as it did for me! So, as I originally asked…what flavor ice cream do I want today???

There Goes The Bride!!

On Saturday June 15th, Krissi and Michael became Mr. and Mrs. Mikowicz, and the young man we fell in love with the night we met him, has become our 4th son (#1 & #2, Billy and Kenny by birth, #3 & #4, Chris and Mike by marriage)! And you want to talk about a smart young man? Michael Joshua Mikowicz met our daughter on June 15th, asked our daughter to marry him on June 15th, and married our daughter on June 15th! One date to remember! Romantic or highly practical? If you ask him, he’d say highly practical, but I think romantic!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Wedding Weekend really started a week before, on Sunday night (June 9th) when we picked up Krissi’s two minute younger brother at the Philadelphia airport. Kenny and his husband Chris, are in the middle of a 12 month contract on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, sailing out of Galveston, and Kenny had signed off for a week to attend his sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, Chris couldn’t get the week off too, and we have dearly missed our 3rd son this whole week! Kenny had 3 days with us in Ocean City before we headed to New York, so his pre-wedding festivities included dinner at Angelo’s in AC, a drink at Crabby Jacks, dinner at the back bar at Charlies with our good friend Sue, and a visit to our favorite bartender, Ralph, at Harrahs!

 

Then it was off to New York for the real Wedding Weekend, and for the D’Elia Family, this started where our relationship started with Michael, in Mineola. For a number of years, it had been a twice a month tradition for Krissi and Susie to have their nails done late on Wednesday afternoon, while Dad held down a spot next door at the bar of the St. James restaurant.
When they were done, my girls would cross the driveway between the two buildings and join me for a drink, and then we’d all have dinner. “Nail Night”, as we called it, was a long established tradition, and the place Susie and I first met Mike, and a few weeks later, Kenny met Mike, and then Chris met Mike.

 

Krissi thought it was only right, that this trip down memory lane include a traditional Nail Night for the family, so that’s exactly what we did. Kenny and I dropped Susie off a little after 3 at Kim’s Best Nails (Kim happens to be the Mom of a very good high school friend of Krissi’s), while the two of us checked in and dropped off our stuff at the Homewood Suites just down the street from our old Mineola house. Then it was time to head to the St. James and meet Mike, who was getting off the train a little after 4 at the Mineola Station. Hugs were exchanged and drinks were poured, and it was our usual part one of Nail Night. Then when the girls were finished with their pedicures and manicures, they joined us, and the picture was complete!

img_0775

We were sorry that our regular bartender Dennis no longer works there, but hugs were exchanged with Mo and Cathy (a couple of favorite waitresses over the years), and the new bartender Barry did a great job making us feel we were home! After drinks, it was time to take the party to a different venue for dinner, Piccolo’s!

Susie and I first went to Piccolo’s the night we purchased our 1989 Ford Taurus wagon, so it has been 30 years we’ve been customers. Over those 30 years, we’ve become friends with the owners and watched their kids grow and they have watched ours do the same. Piccolo’s has become the D’Elia family’s special celebration place for birthday dinners, anniversary dinners, the place to take special friends, even my Mom’s surprise 80th birthday, and a place our kids have enjoyed since they were little! What better place to have a wonderful celebratory dinner, and it did not disappoint! Our old friend Bert was in the kitchen and his son Robbie was working the floor, and the D’Elias once again felt right at home!

 

Then it was time for the kids to return to Astoria, while Mom and Dad relaxed at the hotel, in preparation for the real Wedding Weekend!

After checking into the Paper Factory Hotel Friday afternoon (it had been a paper factory in a former life), getting to see Mike’s folks Paula and Jerry, and our North Carolina Family (our son Billy, our daughter-in-law Lori and grandkids Layla, Henry, and Anna), it was time to head down 2 blocks to Tacuba Mexican Cantina for the big family dinner. From Michael’s side of the family there was his Mom and Dad, and his sister Sara, her husband Gabe, and their kids Maddy and Ethan! From Krissi’s ,there was Susie and I, twin brother Kenny, older brother Billy, his wife Lori and our three grandkids, 5 year old Layla, 3 1/2 year old Henry, and the baby, two month old Anna! It was great, and so familiar to spend time with the Mikowicz Family, or as we like to refer to them, Our Maryland Family! They are great people, and Susie and I are so thrilled to officially make our families one!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

img_0801-2

Krissi, Henry, Layla, Paula, Jerry, Mike, Ethan, Maddy

img_0802-1

Gabe, Sara, Kenny, Lori, Anna, Sue, Bill

The wedding day started rather leisurely for us with a couple of Queens Bodega egg platters (Damn Kenny…I really wanted the egg Sandwich, but thanks for trying to keep Mom and I low carb) and showers and dressing. Just before noon, Susie went up to help our little girl get dressed, and she loved it…Susie that is! 

 

Then she and I Ubered over to the kids apartment, where the rest of the family was waiting!  Kenny and his sister were the last to arrive, and when they got there, Dad went down in the lobby to stay with his daughter, while Kenny got everybody up to the roof. When it was time, Kenny texted me, and rather than walk my daughter down a long aisle, I rode up to the roof with her in the elevator. Now, just a word about Krissi and Mike’s ceremony desires. They both wanted a small ceremony, with just parents, siblings, and their kids, and that’s what they got! Susie and I, Paula and Jerry, his sister Sara (Maid of honor) and her husband Gabe with their kids Maddy and Ethan, Krissi’s twin Kenny (Best Man), and her older brother Billy, his wife Lori, and our Grandchildren Layla, Henry and Anna. Small, intimate, on the roof of their apartment building in Astoria, NY, with the Manhattan skyline as a back drop. Nobody would have any problem if she wanted 12 Bridesmaids and 12 Groomsmen, but she and Mike wanted to be married this way, and it was wonderful! A perfect setting on a perfect day for a perfect couple!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wedding Video Courtesy of Ms. Madeline Smith

 

 

 

After the wedding, we adjourned to their apartment for some champagne to toast Krissi and Michael Mikowicz!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

img_0674-1

Cousins…sort of

Then it was off to the Boulevard Wine Bar for the party!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The staff in this place couldn’t have been better, and the food and drinks kept coming. Being a wine bar, most seemed to be sticking with that (they had Rose, Cabernet, and Pino Grigio on tap), but there were drinks available too! I did ‘Rose-All-Day’ (a shout-out to son #3 on that phrase), and enjoyed seeing, and in some cases meeting, so many old friends of Krissi’s, other members of Mike’s Family, Susie’s sister Barbara and her husband Robbie (Krissi’s Godparents) and their son Ryan, our great friends Pat and Steve from Mineola, and people Krissi and Mike work with. Look, I’m gonna be honest here. When we came in the place, I sat down on a bar stool with my back to the bar, and I stayed there for the entire party! Everybody had to pass by me going in and going out, and I had no trouble getting Gabby the bartender to refill my wine glass! Worked for me!

img_0730

My Brother-in-law Robbie, my great friend Steve, my Beautiful Granddaughter Anna – Three (old) Men and a Baby!

Unfortunately, youngest son Kenny had a 7:55 flight to make out of LaGuardia to get back to Texas so he could re-board the Liberty of the Seas on Sunday morning. Just before 6, he changed out of his wedding suit, grabbed his bag, and amidst a lot of hugs and tears, Susie and I walked him out to the street to wait for his Uber. It was great that we had him this week, wonderful that he was able to be there with and for his twin sister, but sad that he couldn’t stay for the rest of the evening, and that his husband Chris couldn’t get off the ship too!
img_0734

Uncle Kenny says goodbye to Anna

After the last of the guests left the wine bar, we Ubered over the the Brewery that was to be the first after party, with Mike’s folks Paula and Jerry. We took a look, and the four of us decided that maybe this was time for the “older folks” (or as Jerry called us The Mommas and the Papas) to head back to the hotel and leave the carousing to the younger crowd! So I got us a chicken burrito bowl packed to travel from the food truck outside the brewery… and back to the hotel we went!

As our oldest son Bill and his family were leaving early Sunday morning to head back to North Carolina and celebrate Father’s Day, we said goodbye to our son and granddaughter Layla. (Mom, Henry and Anna had hit the hay by the time we got back to the hotel.) Susie and I then had a quiet, much needed, relaxing night in the hotel!

On Sunday morning, we found out that at the second stop on the after party circuit, Krissi and Mike realized they were done, and walked down the street to a diner, and ended their night sharing mozzarella sticks and potato skins. Just the two of them! Wish there were pictures of that!

To wrap up this weekend, we helped Krissi get her stuff from the hotel back to their apartment, and then the those of us left, joined in the apartment for a bagel before the families headed back to New Jersey and Maryland!

It was a wonderful week for Susie and I. First with our youngest child, then with Krissi and Mike, then adding son Billy, Lori (daughter #2) and the Grandkids, the rest of Mike’s family, and finally putting them all together with even more of our family, friends, co-workers, and people who were special to our kids, Krissi and Mike. Krissi, has always said she doesn’t like being the center of attention, and she had exactly the kind of wedding she wanted. I asked her Sunday morning if she’d gotten tired of smiling. She said no, she’d been fine. I asked her if she was okay being the center of attention. She said she kind of liked it. She summed it up by saying, “It was the best weekend of my life!”, as well it should have been! It was the wedding of her dreams!

Susie and I couldn’t be happier that Krissi and Mike are together, and we couldn’t have had a better weekend either! Surrounded by your family (by birth, by marriage, even by friendship), having something wonderful to celebrate, and feeling the love! What could be better!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present Krissi and Michael Mikowicz, our daughter and son!

img_0934

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!