The Christmas Tree is perhaps the one universal symbol of the Christmas Season, and has been the centerpiece of our Christmas celebration for all our lives. If you read my recent blog about Christmas Memories (https://rnewadventures.com/2022/12/12/christmas-in-the-city/) you may remember me saying that in our family, the tradition was that your folks put up the tree and that Santa decorated it, and that was indeed the tradition till it wasn’t, but it spawned a new tradition, making the decorating of the Christmas Tree an event. I remember back in our Jackson Heights apartment sharing the task with my best friend David, and some friends we both went to high school with. When we moved to Bayside, the tradition was expanded to include even more folks. Some were people I went to college with and others were folks I worked with. It just became another occasion and a way to celebrate the joy of the holiday season, with family and friends who were like family.
In a comment about my last post, my college friend Andy Bellenkes said “I rejoice in the memories I cherish, celebrating a Christmas or two with the D’Elias, watching your Dad put up the lights along the roof line of your house, sitting with you, your Mom and Dad (and others whose identities at the moment I cannot recall) in the living room and feeling the familial warmth and friendship that in my memories so characterized your home.” Even after Susie and I got married, we continued this tradition at my folks house.
Here’s a picture from my folk’s house in Bayside, at what was Billy’s first Christmas Tree decorating at his Grandparent’s home. An evening populated with good friends I worked with at ABC.
That baby in my arms is just born William Ryan D’Elia, who now is the father of our
three Grandkids. The little girl in front of my Mom is Melinda McGuire Geraghty,
now the Mom of two adorable little people.
As our kids got older, we also continued the tradition at our Mineola house. Some years there were friends of the kids involved, sometimes it was just family, but it was always an event. The holiday toasting flutes would be brought out, the André would be poured, and somehow the tree would always get decorated! I must admit that I am married to a lady with a sort of Christmas Tree Ornament OCD, who would often times rearrange the ornaments after they’d been placed on the tree (especially when the kids were small, and couldn’t reach that high), but we never objected! It’s a tradition of ours that started in New Hyde Park, traveled with us to Mineola, and now resides on Pennlyn Place in Ocean City!
And then there were the ornaments themselves that had become a D’Elia Family Tradition! There were a few things that came from our folks, that Susie and I remember seeing on the trees we had growing up, giving us a kind of time continuum from our childhood. Then there are ornaments that have memories attached to them from our 44 married Christmases, either from places we bought them or from events in our life. Although our tree is beautiful to us, it’s not a designer tree, with carefully curated ornaments! It’s a road map of our family, and our 44 Christmases!
So there you have it…the story of one family’s Christmas Tree, and the central part it has played in our holiday celebration!
As Susie and I sit here in Ocean City on this Christmas Eve, and look at the 44th edition of Our Family’s Christmas Tree, we think back on all our wonderful Christmas memories from Christmases past, and we reflect on the blessings of Christmas that we’ve experienced. We hope that this Christmas finds you feeling blessed, and knowing that you are loved by those in your life! Merry Christmas……
Well, it’s that time of the year, when Hallmark and almost all other networks are hot and heavy into Christmas movies. Watching them recently has made me think about Christmases way back in the 50s when I was a kid.
My Mom’s due date was just before Christmas of 1949, but apparently I had other ideas, so I missed what could have been my first Christmas, and cheated my Dad out of a tax deduction on their 1949 taxes. At 9:15 PM, on Monday, January 2nd, 1950, I was born at Physician’s Hospital in Jackson Heights, New York. It was a neighborhood hospital that has since closed, in the Queens neighborhood that my folks lived in, and that I grew up in. If it’s possible to say this in New York City, I was born in my home town. My Mom, Lilias Chalmers Sim D’Elia was 33 years old, and my Dad, Frank Vincent D’Elia was 39 years old at the time of my birth. Both of my folks were members of New York’s Metropolitan Opera Chorus, and from her stories, this was a very different time for mothers-to-be in the workforce. Being concerned about losing her job because of her pregnancy, my Mom worked every day from the time she found out she was pregnant till I showed up. In fact, Saturday, December 31st, she did both a matinee and an evening show at the Met, and less than 48 hours later, I joined the family, and made my Mom and Dad first time parents.
The story I always heard was that when my folks got married in 1947, they were lucky to get a sublet apartment from a friend in Jackson Heights, as apparently in post World War II NYC, apartments in their price range were not easy to come by. It was a 4th floor walkup apartment in one of Jackson Height’s many Garden Apartment complexes. It had been a somewhat fancy one bedroom, one bath apartment in it’s day. It even had a dining room, and looked out over what had been manicured gardens. That dining room became my bedroom, the gardens became overgrown and neglected, and the neighborhood changed, but we lived in that sublet apartment until I was 18 years old, when we moved to Bayside. Our apartment was just slightly off Roosevelt Avenue on 84th Street, so a feature of the apartment was also the #7 elevated line running by the windows! The 82nd Street stop of the #7 train was just a 2 block walk away, and my folks could be at the Met just off Times Square in Manhattan after a 20 minute ride, so it was a very convenient distance away from work for them and it was the first home I knew.
I’ve seen lots of pictures over the years, so don’t really know when I actually start remembering Christmases, but think it was probably about 1953. Our apartment in Jackson Heights was pretty good sized, but the living room also contained a baby grand piano, a big console TV/Radio/Record Player, a large mahogany dish hutch, a couch, coffee table, an armchair, and a small pump organ. I’m sure the furniture worked out better when they’d had a dining room, but my arrival had taken that out of the equation, but we always had space for a Christmas tree…a real tree
Now, you may ask, did we drive out into the country (that would have been Long Island) and cut our tree down? Well, my Dad was a product of growing up in NYC, and didn’t even get a driver’s license till after I was born, and a car was several years later, so no. In those days in Queens, you got a tree in the neighborhood, either at an establishment that had popped up in a vacant lot, or you bought one that was leaning up against the front of the A&P or Dilberts grocery stores around the corner on Roosevelt Avenue. It was just like in the movies, but our trees never came with a wooden X on the bottom! My Mom and Dad would then carry it home, up the four flights of stairs to our apartment. I don’t know where the tradition came from, but the tradition in our house when I was growing up was that your folks put the tree up, but Santa was the one who decorated it. I remember one incredible year when it seemed to be magically decorated in minutes, but I’m sure I’d probably fallen asleep, and it just seemed like minutes! Ahhh, that Santa!
Speaking of Santa, a visit with the jolly round man was always a part of my holiday, usually at Macy’s on 34th Street, sometimes between a Met matinee and evening show. My memories are of that Toyland/Santa Village being as grand and incredible as it always looks in movies, and the toy department in Macy’s being huge. From large Lionel Train layouts, to every new toy you could think of! Of course, without the internet, we were a lot less informed than I’m sure our three Grandkids are today, but somehow, we knew about the latest from Remco, AC Gilbert, American Flyer, Lionel, or Fisher-Price, and they were always on our Christmas Lists.
One of my first Christmases, “Santa” brought me a red pedal fire engine, that I enjoyed for many years. This was also the first of the “problem” gifts I received at Christmas! Late this Christmas Eve, after my folks had done an evening performance at the Met, they opened what must have been a huge box, to assemble the truck. As my Dad put it together (probably with my Mom reading him the directions), he made an unfortunate discovery! There were only 3 wheels in the box! My Dad, ever resourceful, figuring that I should at least be able to sit in it on Christmas morning, fashioned an empty cigar box as a substitute wheel. FYI…before they went to sleep early on Christmas morning, they discovered that the missing wheel had rolled out of the box and was lodged behind the couch….Christmas was saved!
Christmas morning I found that Santa had set up a Lionel freight train under the tree, and that became a valued D’Elia Family heirloom. With a Pennsylvania Railroad steam engine (that actually puffed smoke) with coal tender, and then a box car, tanker car, gondola car, and ending in a light-up caboose, it made many passes around that tree until it eventually years later became a part of my yearly train set-up. That same little old Lionel train also made many revolutions around Susie’s and my tree in Mineola, and got to be played with by our three kids, and today it resides in North Carolina with our oldest son Bill, so the next generation of D’Elia kids can marvel at 1953 Lionel excellence!
Oh, and the presents I remember, besides that Lionel Train set. There seemed to be lots of building toys, like sets of Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Erector Sets, and I remember getting them all, and building incredible edifices. There were trikes and as I got older bikes (one that I couldn’t try on Christmas Day, because Santa had gotten a defective version). There were lots of Dinky Toys, and there were accessories for my trains. One year, the hot present was a slot racing set, a Lionel version of which I found under the tree…but only one car worked Christmas morning! There were also two-way radios, a crystal radio set, and other small electronics that probably were my early entry into my life in radio, but that was as far the electronic’s industry entered into those early Christmases of my life…so different from our kids and Grandkids! One “electronic” game I remembered getting was Tudor Electric Football Game! You set up the players on the field, plugged in the cord, turned it on, and a motor vibrated the playing field, and the players “magically” moved across the field…but not necessarily in the correct direction! I remember that one year I got a kid’s version of the very popular Polaroid Camera – magic! Then there were the “toys” that might seem questionable looking back from today’s world view. Things like my AC Gilbert Chemistry Set, where if you closely followed the instructions, you could produce a test tube full of truly noxious smelling material, with an odor that took days for your mother to get out of the apartment. Or the Wood Burning Kit, that allowed a young child to use a soldering iron type of tool to burn designs into balsa wood! But the worst had to be the Lead Soldier Kit, that came with molds, little lead bars, and a little plug-in electric hot plate and pot that you used to turn the bars into molten lead, that you then poured into the molds to make the soldiers. Today, that would be a lawsuit waiting to happen!
One of my main Christmas Eve memories, that I’m sure started as a convenience for my Mom and Dad long ago, is a tradition of long standing in our family. Now remember, most Christmas Eves my Mom and Dad would be getting home after 11 PM, having just done at least one opera performance (and 2 if the Eve fell on Saturday). Sometime, before I was aware of it, they started having their own quiet time celebration as they decorated the tree, assembled gifts, and set everything up. There was some food and a drink or two as they both played Santa for me (amazing how Santa and my Mom had such similar hand writing). When I got older and got to participate, the tradition became Italian Cold Cut Sandwiches and André Champagne, before I’d scurry off to bed, to get up way too early. Eventually, the opening the presents part of Christmas became a part of that Christmas Eve celebration too, as then on Christmas morning I could get up as early as I wanted to play with my gifts, while my folks could get some shut-eye, as they probably had to do a show that night! Now, we don’t open presents on Christmas Eve, but the tradition of Italian Cold Cut Sandwiches and André was a staple of our kids growing up, was something we continued to do as they became young adults, and is still something Susie and I still do, as do the kids in their own homes! It’s something that Kenny has even tried to duplicate when he’s been away from home performing on Christmas Eve, either on National Tours or even Cruise Ships! Funny how Family Traditions sometimes get started, and then endure!
So I’ll be thinking of my folks, and the Christmases of my childhood, and all those wonderful Christmas memories as we eat our sandwiches this December 24th, and probably shedding a tear or two thinking back to when I was a kid, and when Billy, Krissi and Kenny were little too! Christmas is a time for memories, and Susie and I are very blessed to have so many wonderful ones, shared with family and friends that are like family…people that we truly love! Hope you get to bathe in your Christmas memories this year, and even make some new ones! To quote the immortal words and sentiment of Clement Moore’s classic story, The Night Before Christmas………
“Happy Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!”
This recent Memorial Day, Susie and I did something we haven’t done for years. In a very real sense, we Turned Back the Hands of Time! Let me give you a little background….
In August of 1986, Susie, Billy, and I moved to our new (to us) house at 40 Fairfield Avenue in Mineola, NY. About 3 months later, our family of 3 morphed into a family of 5 when Billy’s sister and brother Krissi and Kenny were born. For the next 31 years, we called 40 Fairfield our home and the Village of Mineola the place where we lived. When Billy was in first grade, he along with several of his school friends wanted to join Cub Scouts, so off we went to Cub Pack 246 that met at Mineola’s First Presbyterian Church. Billy’s friend John’s Dad, Andy McInnes, volunteered to be Cubmaster, and as I remembered my great experiences being a Boy Scout, I volunteered to help in anyway I could, and I became the Pack Treasurer. Starting that first year, in May of 1987, Billy and I joined Pack 246 and marched in the Mineola Memorial Day Parade. For the next 28 years, with and/or without our sons Billy and Kenny, I continued to march in that parade…first with Cub Pack 246, and eventually with Mineola’s Boy Scout Troop 45.
Whatever happened on that year’s Memorial Day Weekend, marching in Mineola’s Parade was a given. In the early years, we’d go to see fireworks at Bar Beach in the Town of North Hempstead on Friday night, and then many times head down to the Jersey Shore for Saturday and Sunday, and then head back to Long Island for the parade. Starting in 2005, when we bought the house in Ocean City, NJ our routine changed. Now instead of Fireworks on Friday, we’d head down to Ocean City, and spend the weekend at our house with our Ocean City friends! Some weekends we had kids and their friends with us, and some weekends we were alone, but every year, we’d set an alarm for 5 AM on Monday, throw clothes on, and head up the Garden State Parkway, to Long Island and our parade.
In 1998, our good friend Steve Grosskopf became the Scoutmaster of Troop 45 (I talked him into taking the job), and starting that first May, we gathered at their house and he fed the boys breakfast with the help of his wife Pat and my wife Sue. Eventually the breakfast morphed into an after-parade gathering for the Scouts and the families of the Troop at their house, and we were always there! We’d arrive home about 9 AM, I’d change into my Scout uniform, Susie would get herself ready, and we’d head over to Pat and Steve’s house for the parade. After we all headed off to the start of the parade, Susie and Pat would settle on the house’s front porch, and watch the parade pass by, yelling their support for the Boy Scout contingent!
It was a tradition of long standing, that continued through 2015! Then something changed… I retired from WABC in January of 2016, and now since I was no longer working, there was no reason not to extend our celebration of Memorial Day at the shore. It was very strange for us, that something that had been a part of our family’s life since 1987 was no longer there. It only got stranger when we sold the Mineola house in 2017, and now we really had no connection with the village! We might not have been there for the parade, but it was still a part of me, and every Memorial Day, my Facebook posts were filled with pictures of the Scouts of Troop 45 carrying flags and marching in Mineola’s parade!
So since that first May in 2016, our Memorial Day Weekends have been centered in Ocean City, but we have fondly remembered our time in Mineola, our friends in Troop 45, and years and years of parade participation. For six years that was our MO, but not this year. This year, we grabbed that clock and turned back the hands of time, proving once again that you can go home!
What is different? Well, our friend Steve Grosskopf announced that he was in his last year of being the Scoutmaster of Troop 45. 24 years of work and dedication, and of making Troop 45 one of, if not the best Boy Scout Troop on Long Island, had not been easy, but Steve had done it, and now it was time for him to pass the torch to the next generation. A couple of weeks ago, I got a crazy idea, and one day I shared it with Susie. “You know, we were there for Steve’s first parade, what do you think about being there for his last?” Susie liked the idea, and for the next week or so we batted around the idea. We really wanted to be there for our dear friends Pat and Steve, but wondered if we’d feel out of place and would we know anybody? After all, the last time we’d been there for the parade was 7 years ago in 2015! On Sunday afternoon, I sent him this text message, “Just checking in with you…How are you doing? Are you all set for the parade?” His answer to that text took away any doubt we might have had. “All good thanks! I know this will be my last one, so it is bittersweet. Wish you guys were here having cocktails on the porch.” Game On!
On Sunday we picked out the clothes we were going to wear, made sure our overnight “to go” bag was fully packed, and filled the car with gas. A shower before and an early bed time, and we were ready to go! The alarm woke us at 5:15 Memorial Day morning, and by 6:25 we were backing out of the garage and on our way to the Garden State Parkway! The trip back to Mineola is just under a hundred and 20 miles, and since we were on the road early, traffic was not an issue. The parade was scheduled to start at 11 AM, and we were in great shape time wise. At about 9:15, we rolled down Westbury Avenue, and parked the car around the corner from their house!
Activity was already in full parade mode as we walked up to the house, with Scouts and Adult Leaders gathering flags, and preparing for the after-parade party. As we came around the corner, and walked up to the front of their house, Steve came off the front porch, looked at us, and said, “Oh My God…what are you two doing here?!” We exchanged hugs and told him, “We were here for your first one, no way we were missing your last one!” Mission Accomplished! Pat was equally surprised when she came downstairs, but thrilled that we were going to be there for the day! She insisted that we spend the night, and we gladly agreed.
As the 11 AM hour got near, Steve and the Troop moved over to the parade starting point around the corner, and Susie, Pat, and I settled in on their front porch. Something new for me this year…for the first time since we first marched in 1987, I was going to see the parade, and what better place to see it, than Patrice and Steve Grosskopf’s front porch, a location on which the 4 of us had spent many, many enjoyable hours over the past 20 years they’ve owned the house! Promptly at 11 AM, the parade set off from Mineola’s Wilson Park, rounded the corner of Union Street and Westbury Avenue, and sailed by our front row seats! Lots of memories and lots of folks we recognized from our 31 years in Mineola, and we enjoyed all the groups from the Boy Scouts to the Mineola High School Mustang Marching Band (which all 3 of our kids were members of), and from the Mineola Fire Dept to the Portuguese Dancers and their castanets, and everybody else!
The parade route is 1.8 miles through the village, ending at Mineola’s Memorial Park for a brief service of remembrance and placing of wreaths. Steve was the MC for the event (I wrote his speech), and from all accounts it was a brief but meaningful reminder what the day was all about. Just after 12 noon, the Troop started to arrive back at the Grosskopf’s house for what has become a Troop 45 Tradition over the years, the Troop’s Memorial Day Parade after-party! The men of the Troop immediately went to work grilling hamburgers, hot dogs and bratwurst, while the boys changed out of uniforms and into proper attire for the pool and games. Troop Families showed up, and a great time was had by all!
Susie and I looked at each other several times during the afternoon, and commented about how the 7 intervening years since we’d last been in Mineola for a Memorial Day seemed to melt away, and how easy it was to fall back into old routines. A lot of the people we knew over the years are not still involved, but the folks of Troop 45 are always like family..old or new. We were welcomed back and made to feel at home, and were so glad we were there for Pat and Steve, and Steve’s last Memorial Day as Scoutmaster. All in all, it was a great plan, and worked out perfectly! As TR used to say, “BULLY!!!!”
Anyone who was just about anywhere in the New York Metropolitan area on the morning of September 11, 2001 will always remember that day, and where they were. I know in our family that’s the case. My wife Sue was at work at Hampton Street School in Mineola. Our oldest son Billy was in his second year at Ithaca College, and his brother and sister, Krissi and Kenny, were sophomores at Mineola High School. I was at work at WABC Radio, 17 floors above Penn Station.
I remember it was a great looking, if uneventful, September morning. There was just a touch of fall in the air – it was one of those special kinds of days we get after the humidity of summer leaves. I was, as usual, on the 7:24 LIRR train from Mineola to Penn Station. As I said, a totally uneventful September morning in all respects….but that was soon to change.
Shortly after the first plane hit at 8:46 AM, word started to come into the newsroom that a plane had hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower. It was primary day in New York, and there were reporters around the city for the various TV morning shows. Almost immediately, Dick Oliver of channel 5 went on the air from Park Row, just outside of City Hall. They weren’t the best shots, but you definitely could see the fire and damage to the tower. Everyone assumed that it was a small plane that had hit and no one could understand how someone could have missed seeing a structure as big as the World Trade Center on a beautiful, clear morning. There was speculation of a student pilot, or someone who had a heart attack – just about anything, but what had really happened, which up until that point was unthinkable to most of us.
By 9 o’clock, better pictures of the damage were available on TV, including long shots of the buildings from further uptown. Just before 9:03 AM, I was standing in studio 17E next to Chief Engineer Kevin Plumb, when we noticed a plane flying into the frame of the shot. Assuming we were looking at a small plane trying to get a better view of what was happening, one of us commented, “what the heck is that plane trying to do?” At 9:03 we were shocked when we saw that plane (which we later found out was a Boeing 767) crash into the South Tower and explode in a ball of flames. In that moment, everyone who saw that happen live, knew that life as we had known it up until that moment was over, and that there was a brand new reality.
I remember all hell breaking loose at the station as we all went into high gear. There was an incredible amount of misinformation flying around, and frankly, open fear from some. Everyone tried to act professionally, but since no one knew exactly what was going on, and since we were all working 17 floors above Penn Station and a couple of blocks west of the Empire State Building, many wondered if we might be in the target zone too. The next hour was a blur of news reports, discussion and speculation. Shortly after the first plane hit, our morning anchor George Weber took off downtown armed with a cell phone and a recorder. He phoned in a couple of reports about what he was seeing, but as the cell phone system overloaded, we stopped hearing from him. Then at 9:59 AM, the South Tower collapsed. Faces stared at the TV pictures, and as a group, were almost unable to fathom what we’d seen. Less than 30 minutes later the North Tower collapsed, and these twin buildings, which were so identified with the skyline of New York City, were incredibly gone, along with close to 3,000 of our fellow New Yorkers.
So many questions hit us all at once…who would do this, how did it happen, how could these two huge buildings collapse, and one that was on all our minds at WABC, where was George Weber? The news reports continued, but with all the confusion it was hard to tell what was true and what wasn’t. Were there more hijacked planes out there, and had other attacks taken place in Washington and elsewhere around the country? Getting a landline phone call was very hard; cell service was pretty non-existent, communications among families and friends was almost impossible. It was over an hour later when we heard from George. He’d walked for blocks from the WTC site and had waited on a line at a pay phone before he was finally able to check in with the station. Okay, we knew one of our friends and coworkers was alive…but what about everyone else.
WABC’s 2001 9/11 Montage
The day dragged on, and we watched TV as they tried to figure out what had happened, and what was happening. One of the hardest tasks of the day was getting in touch with friends and family, finding out if they were okay, and assuring them that I was fine. The first response of the city was to shut down, and a lot of us wondered how we’d get home. Being above Penn Station, we kept looking down at the crowds milling around a closed Penn Station. We also kept looking a couple of blocks to the east at the Empire State Building and realizing it was once again the tallest building in New York!
Later that day, the Long Island Rail Road started running and those of us from Long Island headed downstairs, and like every other commuter that day, got on any train as long are it was leaving New York City! As we came out of the tunnel into Queens, everyone looked to the south where the twin towers of the World Trade Center had been on the way in that morning, but now were replaced by smoke. It was very quiet in the train as everyone realized that those two buildings we’d seen every day on our commute into Manhattan were gone, along with all the folks who were working in them.
The days after September 11th were very strange to say the least. The fact that there were absolutely no planes in the sky made for a very eerie quiet that was very unlike the norm. I know that for weeks after the planes started flying again, every time one flew over I would find myself stopping and looking at it. Taking the LIRR into the city in the days after September 11th was also different. There was an uneasy quiet on the trains, that I guess came from a lot of folks who would rather be somewhere else, but who had responsibilities and had to do what they were doing. I remember not seeing people that had been regulars on our trains, and wondering if they were in the towers when they came down, or were they perhaps too scared to venture into Manhattan again. Questions I’d never have the answers to….
One thing that made the post 9/11 strangeness livable was the feeling that we were all in it together. There were American flags on houses, cars, businesses…virtually everywhere! Groups were banding together collecting items for families that were affected, or to help rescue workers at Ground Zero. People were friendlier to each other and more respectful…even politicians! From New York City to Washington, the political discourse had a united front. We weren’t Republicans or Democrats, Liberals or Conservatives, we were Americans. There was no finger pointing, just everyone shouldering the load and helping to move forward. If every cloud has to have a silver lining, that was September 11th’s.
Too bad that these many years later, so many seem to have forgotten. There’s no way that anyone who lived through that day will not be thinking today about their experiences, about all the New Yorkers who are no longer with us and about how the rest of us pulled together as a team. I’ll also be thinking about my friends who were involved after the towers came down. People like NYPD ESU Officer Scott Strauss who pulled the last survivor out of the rubble, or PAPD Detective Don McMahon who spent the next 6 months at the on site morgue, or the many Fire Men I know, both NYFD and others who spent so many hours on the pile digging. Thank God there are so many people among us who run towards trouble as the rest of us run away! Thank you for your service and for your friendship and for setting an example for the rest of us.
Even in our new world, I know we live in a better world because people like Scott and Donnie are a part of it. As we remember those who died that day, I hope we will all also remember the heroes of September 11th. Friends, neighbors, family members, and people whose names we will never know, who stepped up on that horrible day. Ordinary folks who did extrodinary things, and renewed our faith in our fellow human beings. That’s the lesson I try to take from that horrible day.
WABC’s 2002 9/11 Montage put together for the first anniversary
Last Saturday, April 3rd at about 8:15 AM, Susie and I pulled the Honda CRV out of our garage and headed towards the Ninth Street bridge. Just about an hour later, at 9:12 we crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge, entered the city of Philadelphia and our neighbor state of Pennsylvania. For the FIRST time since we returned from Florida on March 14, 2020, we had left the state of New Jersey! 4 states, and about 7 hours later, we pulled up in front of our son and daughter-in-law’s house in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Grandma and Grandpa were ready to spend Easter weekend with our three precious Grandkids and their Mom and Dad!
Last year, on January 30th, 2020, on our way to Florida, for what we thought was going to be a two month stay, we stopped overnight to see Billy and his family. The next morning, when we left, headed south on I-95, we expected that we’d see them again in a couple of months later on our way home from Florida. Little did we know that on January 31st, 2020, we would see Lori, Bill and Layla, Henry and Annabelle for the last time till last Saturday afternoon. At that point we knew nothing about something called Covid-19, or what America and our family would look like during a pandemic, or that we’d lose an entire year out of our Grandchildren’s lives!
Our son’s family had been at Busch Gardens for several days, and they arrived home about an half hour after we got there. It took zero time after hugs and hello kisses for the kids to put us in Grandparent mode…and we loved it after a year away! It took Annabelle a bit to warm up, but before too long she was calling us Grandma and Grandpa, and we were so happy to once again be back in our three Grandchildren’s lives! Billy and Lori went out to shop for Easter brunch, and Grandma and Grandpa had Chinese food with the kids and then settled in for a night of playing games!. From Henry and Grandpa playing with his Nintendo Switch, and Grandma and Annabelle playing with Stickers, and Grandma and Grandpa as a willing audience for Layla’s performing, up to and including watching some show called the Haunted Hendersons, we had a great night!! When Lori and Billy came home, they thanked us for watching the kids. We thanked them for giving us several uninterrupted hours with our 3 favorite people 7 and under!
Easter morning was wonderful as we watched them hunt for Easter Eggs and try and find where the Easter Bunny had hidden their Easter baskets. Then we were almost as excited as they were as they discovered what surprises were in the eggs they found, and dove into their Easter baskets!
Then it was time to check out Easter presents from Mommy and Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa, before it was time to shower and get dressed before the rest of the family arrived!
The rest of the family included Lori’s Mom Kathy, her sister Keri and husband Bill, along with their two kids Molly and Max, and Lori’s brother Sean and his girlfriend Lauren. Lots of hugs and kisses were exchanged, and we were all thankful that everybody in the house (but the kids) had had both vaccine shots! It was wonderful to once again be with family. To eat (oh what a spread Lori and Bill put out), drink, and as they say, be merry! The kids played, the adults played, and a good time was had by all!
We slept very well that night after a day spent with young kids. They were all wonderful and we were so glad to be back on track after a year of FaceTime calls! The next morning, after breakfast and getting dressed, we were off to see Bill and Lori’s new Lake House! The cars were packed, Layla and Henry rode with Grandma and Grandpa, and we departed Wake Forest for the hour and a half trip to Roanoke Rapids lake!
To say we were thrilled by where Lori and Billy’s life has taken them would be an understatement! What a wonderful life they have created for themselves, and their 3 incredible kids, and what remarkable memories they are going to create with this great Lake House! They’ve done, and had done, a lot of work already, but the vision is very clear and we loved it! It’s a 2 bedroom/ 2 bath house, but Lori came upon with this great idea to convert the upstairs bedroom to a bunk room, which is able to sleep 10 people in comfort! A great idea and we loved the execution of Lori’s idea by their handyman Oscar!
We totally enjoyed the rest of Monday, on the large deck overlooking the lake, on the pontoon boat on the lake, and around the fire pit that night! It was a magical time, in a magical place, with 5 people that we love so much!
Tuesday morning, after some more Grandparent/Grandkid time, it was time for Susie and I to head back to Ocean City. The traffic wasn’t the greatest around Washington, DC, but what’s new about that? We safely got home, with nothing but wonderful memories of Easter, 2021! Thanks to the Miracle of Science, and the Modern vaccine that Susie and I got back in February, we were once again able to enjoy hugs and kisses from our family, and to put memories of 2020 in the background, as we move ahead to make many more new memories in 2021 of Family Time!! Stay tuned…we’ve just begun to live again!! Thanks Moderna!
On Thursday, March 12, 2020, Susie and I were sitting in the living room of our Cousins Jeanne and Walt’s place in Barefoot Bay, Florida. The two of them had left that day for a month in Hawaii, and Susie and I were looking forward to spending the rest of the month in their house acting like we were Florida residents, before heading home to New Jersey and another knee replacement for me. Yes, we knew all about the pandemic, and the cases of Covid that had been reported in the country and even in our home state, but we were still weighing our options and deciding exactly how much it was going to affect our Florida stay.
That was until we got the news that MLB, the NHL, NCAA, and every other sports acronym you can think of were canceling their games. Then in quick succession, Broadway, Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando announced that they were closing, and our discussion turned to whether we wanted to be stuck in Florida, or if we wanted to be in our little beach town in New Jersey! In our minds, the very real possibility existed that states would be closing access, and that if we didn’t get home ASAP, we might not be able to travel north on I-95 to the Garden State. That was the moment we decided that it was time to bring our Florida 2020 Adventure to a close, and get back as fast as possible to Ocean City!
Early in the morning on Friday, March 13th, we closed up Jeanne and Walt’s house, turned off the water, put the garbage out, and hit the road! Within a half hour, we were on Interstate 95 heading north. We decided to not stop two nights on our way home, as we usually did, but to rather get home in just two days, driving more each day, and just spending one night in a hotel. That decision meant we would miss our usual stop for the best fried shrimp at B&J’s in Darien, Georgia, but we really wanted to be back in NJ. At about 4:30 that first afternoon, we were approaching Fayetteville, North Carolina and found a Doubletree Hotel on the Hilton app just off I-95, and made that our night’s destination. As luck would have it, there was a Cracker Barrel restaurant just across the parking lot!
The last time we ate inside a restaurant, was at that Cracker Barrel in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Friday, March 13th, 2020! When we got home on the 14th, looking ahead, we’d wondered if we should go to our usual Tuesday night at Charlie’s Back Bar with our friend Sue, and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but the day before, on March 16th, New Jersey restaurants closed down, and we no longer had a decision to make. When outside dining opened in New Jersey in June, we did partake in meals at the “Lot at Angelo’s” and the Tent at Charlies, but once outside dining stopped, we just didn’t feel that safe eating indoors, and we went back to take-out only. For close to a year, we had not eaten inside a restaurant, that is not until last Thursday, March 11, 2021 when we joined our Mancuso Family friends at Angelo’s in Atlantic City! So what changed?
Well, on Friday, February 19th, I got my second Moderna vaccine shot at Shoprite in Rio Grande, and on Thursday, February 25th, Susie got her second Moderna shot at the Shoprite in Glassboro, New Jersey. According to the CDC, “Someone is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the final required shot,” which made Thursday, March 11th our “Coming Out Day!” What better way to celebrate than to dress in “going out to dinner clothes” and to return to a place and people we love, and a place we used to be at every Thursday night! We’d been looking forward to it for a long time (really since March 13th of last year), and I’m happy to say we were not disappointed!
We were sad that our friend Michael didn’t greet us from behind the bar as we walked in, as the pandemic has changed schedules for many, but none the less, it was great to be back inside! It was good to see that there were so many people waiting to eat when we walked in, and it was good to see our long time friends Rhonda, Theresa, and Victor were working, along with our new summer friend Suzanne and our take-out friend Wendy. Every week will be a new experience for us, and we can’t wait till we see Patti, Angelo, Ed, Trinidad, and Michael as time goes on, and more and more dining opens up! It was great to be back inside, feeling safe after a year, but we must be realistic and realize getting back to what was our normal will take a bit of time….if it ever happens. I guess the mind set has got to be, be happy for what we’ve got, and not sad for what used to be!
So now that we are fully vaccinated, what else that we’ve not done in the past 12 months is on our horizon? Well, a visit from our daughter Krissi and son-in-law Michael, who we have not seen since August, as well as a visit from our great friends Pat and Steve, who we last saw at Susie’s Mom’s funeral in February, 2020. Then, something we’ve waited so long for, Easter with our son Billy and daughter-in-law Lori in North Carolina, and getting to see our three Grandkids, who we haven’t seen in the flesh since January 30th, 2020! We’ve missed all these people (especially the three youngest members of the D’Elia Family), and can’t wait to see them, to be with them, and to exchange hugs for the first time in a year! Then down the road, there will be the fun of getting back together with our Ocean City friends, and seeing our life get closer to what it was, and maybe even a visit to Florida. My new knee and Susie’s new hip are still on our radar too!
Yes, we have indeed survived the last 12 months, but we are sad that so many other Americans didn’t! With the advancing rollout of the vaccines, we hope that no one else will lose their life due to Covid, that folks who have been financially affected by the pandemic can get back on their feet, and that America will never forget this past year, but will be able to move beyond it!
This is just our opinion, (but then this is our blog, so what better place to express our opinion), but has there ever been a time in recent history when more folks seem to be wearing their politics on their sleeves? We have never been particularly political folks, and frankly, we are more comfortable keeping our beliefs to ourselves, but boy does that get hard today when you are bombarded by others’ opinions at every turn!
Consider the Trump or Biden flags you’ve seen all over your neighborhood, or the big This Is Trump Country placards you see on porches, or the cars covered in bumper stickers extolling their candidate. Then let’s not even get into Facebook, Twitter, and all the other various Social Media around today! Oh my God! At every turn we are bombarded with what somebody’s political opinion is, as they seem to set their sights on trying to convince us that their opinions are correct! When did this happen, and were we just asleep as this great transition occurred???
We’re kids of the 50s and 60s, and remember the I Like Ike buttons, and other political paraphernalia that the dedicated have always worn, but there was always the old admonition that one should never discuss religion or politics in polite company! That seems to have gone out the window, and boy was that evident during the most recent political season!
I mean, at one time, many of us believed in Political Privacy! The Wikipedia entry for the Secret Ballot starts off with these words, “The secret ballot, is a voting method in which a voter’s choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous. This forestalls attempts to influence the voter by intimidation, blackmailing, and potential vote buying. This system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy.”
I think one of the saddest consequences of the loss of political privacy is that many now use others political views as a yardstick to determine if they can be our friends! I’ve always tried to approach people with an open mind and base my reaction on how they interact with me, rather than somebody else’s option or label. If you want to see a great example of how you can vehemently disagree with someone’s politics but love them as a person, do some research on the relationship of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the Supreme Courts most liberal judges, and Antonin Scalia, one of the most conservative. They were long time friends, even though they agreed on virtually nothing politically. Life and people are more than politics! Remember that old rule of etiquette…never discuss politics, religion, or money among friends! There was a reason for that!
We know these thoughts are so “Pollyanna” in the times we now live in, but boy was life easier when you didn’t have to run the politic’s gauntlet everyday! Everybody had friends that they knew didn’t believe as they did, and they knew that there were hot button topics you avoided at all costs, so you didn’t hit the start button with these folks, but that too seems to be gone. This may be like trying to put the stopper back in the bottle, or get the toothpaste back in the tube, but boy would we love to go back to the times when one’s political view was not the first thing that came up in conversation! We’d love to go back to the days when you could go through Facebook in the morning and see funny cartoons, or great food pics, or you having fun with your kids. We long to go back to the days when what you believed, and which candidate you supported was your own business and nobody else’s. We long to go back to the days when having a differing political view was not a reason to unfriend someone, either on Facebook, or In Real Life!
As you read in the last stanza of this epic story, we’d gotten rid of just about everything we could in the Mineola house, and now the next big task was selling the house!
We’d lived and raised 3 kids in a house that was built in 1928.It was old, and needed some work, and we assumed it would go the way of other old houses on our street…demolition or gutting!I was really concerned about the how and why of selling the house, but once people heard that we were moving,we kept getting “keep me in mind” messages about the house.By late summer of 2017, Susie had a list of 4 people that were interested in buying our house!Who knew!! When the first person dropped out because of financial reasons, Susie called the second person who’d messaged her.This was a teacher that Susie used to call in when she arranged the substitutes atHampton Street School, and she was still very interested in the house.She knew the house and the location because her cousin lived right across the street from us.
Susie set up an appointment late one afternoon for her family to come look at the place.She came with her husband, two kids and her father.They wandered from the attic to the basement, all around the property, and through the garage.About a month earlier, we’d worked out a price with our Lawyer Glenn, when he told us our original asking price was way too low.Susie had shared our price with the prospective buyer, and after the tour, we told them to go home and talk it over, and if they were really interested, make us an offer.They called us that night, made a slightly lower counter offer, we agreed, and like that, we’d sold our house!
We felt good about the fact that a house that had been good to us, was going to go on and be part of another family’s life.We probably could have asked more, and had the house on the market for months, but in the end we decided on a price that was good for us, and still left some money on the table so the new buyers could start to make our home their home.The house sold quickly, we didn’t have to pay a real estate agent a commission because we used none, we got the price we wanted, and after all our expenses, we were able to replace the money we’d taken from my 401K.We figured it was a win win for all!
So now, it was real. The house had a buyer, we had a closing date, and now we really needed to empty out the house.We gave whatever we could of our furniture to friends and family, took what little we could to Ocean City, and called the guy we’d had recommended to us to clean out the house.He showed up one morning, we handed over $3000 in cash, and before we we left for Ocean City, he told us he’d found needy families for our furniture.That made Susie feel better!
The next time we saw the house was early on the afternoon of November 9, 2017.That day, we drove back to Mineola, and after stopping at McDonald’s in Carle Place, had our
Our Last Meal after 31 years
last meal in our old house.It was very strange to walk around a now totally empty house, that in just a few hours wouldn’t be ours anymore.After eating, we cleaned up, threw our camp chairs in the car, and drove to the lawyer’s office on Mineola Blvd.Within an hour, we no longer owned 40 Fairfield Avenue, and walked out with a handful of checks, which we quickly deposited in the TD Bank in Garden City, before returning to Ocean City and our one and only home!
A couple of days later, we went to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission office in Egg Harbor Township.We turned in our NY Driver’s Licenses and got NJ Driver’s Licenses, we got NJ License Plates for the Sonata (the Mustang already had them), and even registered to vote! In every way we could think of, we were now New Jersey Residents, and 854 Pennlyn Place was our one and only home!
We’ve been back to Long Island a number of times, since that November day when we sold the house, and of course, there’s no way we can go without driving down Fairfield Avenue.We’re happy to report that the new owners are well on their way to turning our old house, into their new house.We are excited to see what they are doing, and looking forward to the tour we’ve been promised when the work is completed.
Early work to the latest progress..so happy to see it live on!
Since that fateful day in November, Susie and I have survived our first winter at the shore.Sure, we’d been here before, but for just brief glimpses of what winter in Ocean City is like.What we’ve discovered is that we love the small town Ocean City turns into in the winter.We love the ability to go across town on any street you like, rather than our summer MO of only crossing town on streets with traffic lights.We love going to places like Ready’s or the Varsity for breakfast, and having staff know the customers.We love the quiet of our street, but also seeing the many folks who call Pennlyn Place their full time home.We did discover that it did snow a lot more this winter than it seemed to in the past, and that even though we gave away our gas snow blower, we might need something here, so we got a battery powered snow blower to supplement our shovels.
We celebrated our first Thanksgiving at the house, and had Susie’s sister and her family join us.Although we’d always done Christmas decorating at the house, we did an extensive D’Elia Family Christmas this year, with our family tree and ornaments, and white lights all around the outside of the house, as we’d done in Mineola.We were joined by Krissi and Mike and even Kenny and Chris came from the West Coast!All the D’Elia Family traditions were in force, from the kids putting their special ornaments on the tree while decorating, to Lobsters,Italian sandwiches and Cold Duck on Christmas Eve, to stockings Christmas morning! It was a very successful transition of the holidays from Long Island to Ocean City!
As we had done the two years before, late January found us heading south to Florida, for what is fast becoming a Susie and Frank in retirement tradition! We love car trips and we traveled down the west coast, came across the Tamiami Trail, went down to Key West, spent 5 great days with my cousins Jeanne and Walt, and ended our stay at DisneyWorld. It was wonderful to have a 3 plus week visit to summer, but when it was over, it was also great to get back to our home!
As spring came to the Mid Atlantic States, we enjoyed the longer days and the increasing temperatures.There was work to be done in and around the house, but knowing that we’d be the only ones to enjoy it, and not renters, made it fun to do!Summer came, and so did friends and family, and the activity level in Ocean City ramped up.While we do enjoy the quiet of the off season, there is a lot more energy in the town during the summer, and although we could do without a few of the summer renters, it is wonderful to see all the happy families that love our now hometown!
So that’s our tale. We now call a place that I first went to when I was 5 in 1955, took Susie to in 1980, a place we both loved, and a house in a location we dearly love, our home. It’s a story about family and friends that are like family, about making choices for your future, and about making decisions that pay off in the end.It’s also the story of a house that we’d lived in for 31 years, that was a great place to raise our three kids, go on to another life.It wasn’t demolished, but rather a new family is making it their own, and it’s life, and memories of happy times will continue!Yes, we could have sold it a lot sooner, could have spent less money carrying it for a year plus, could have realized our grand Tag Sale plan wasn’t going to fly, but in the end, we got what we needed, left a little on the table for the new owners, and started life in our “new” home that we loved.
Our dream was to have a house in Ocean City, and to not only have that dream come true, but to have it come true as successfully as we now have, well, we figure we must have done something right along the way!It’s a story with a very happy ending about living out your life, living your dream!What could be better!
Look, before we go on, I need to clarify yesterday’s post. It wasn’t a miserable day, and we did enjoy it. It’s just that there were some disappointments, and some issues that had nothing to do with Disney, and some that did, that played a role!
Let’s be honest…there seems to be more and more of the “It’s all about Me” folks wherever you go these days. You know, the ones that stop dead as you go through a door, or have to be first to everything, or just don’t follow the rules. The folks with no situational awareness are everywhere! Get crowds like we saw yesterday, and there are way too many of these kinds of families to count. That’s a societal issue and OUR ISSUE, not Disney’s.
I had a friend comment on the blog this morning, and he agreed with me, but raised the point that we may have outgrown theme parks. I know we’ve probably outgrown concerts, so that was a very valid point to us. He pointed out that lately they’ve enjoyed visits to historical places that are much less crowded, and easier for those of us who are older.
Then last night at the Bellevue bar, Tim the bartender pointed out that in many ways, it’s like flying. Folks who are a lot younger than us, don’t remember the days when you were served real food, had room to cross your legs, and were traveling in style. Today’s generation has no idea it was ever like that, and expect a style of traveling, that today has become more like riding a bus. Same thing with theme parks.
So really, it’s more about us, than anything else. That said, we still love it, but like the favorite book you’ve read over and over and over (mine is Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie), at some point, you have even had enough of that, and are better living with your memories. So, we may be done with the Magic Kingdom, but there’s a whole world of Disney to explore!!
And what did we do today, you may ask. Well, we went to the Innkeepers Club for breakfast, then we spent the day at the pool, which is outside the door of our cottage. Look at the pictures, and tell me this isn’t the way you’d love to spend a day February, in winter, in Walt Disney World!
The “Quiet” pool right outside our door..we’re the cottage with the 3 window dormer
We were supposed to go to Epcot and eat at the United Kingdom Pavilion tonite, but the day was so glorious, and we were so enjoying having our GDDs outside our cottage, that we canceled.
For dinner, we went back to the Innkeepers Club and had a great meal for free. Then we headed to the boardwalk with our coffee cups of Prosecco, watched the passing parade of folks, and then we had ice cream!
We ended the night at the Bellevue Bar with bartender Allen, and lots of good talk from him and the patrons. Unlike many other folks we’ve seen here, Allen’s has Disney’s 35 year pin on his name tag. Suddenly, I don’t feel so lonely!
A couple of Titos on ice at our cottage’s front porch, and it’s July in Ocean City. A perfect day for us! Maybe not in other people’s eyes, but definitely in ours! Doing what we want, when we want, where we want! Life is VERY good!!!
The blogger at work!
The gate of our cottage…Mickey above, and Doves down below!!
This whole weekend carries many memories for me, as it was always one that seemed to make the D’Elias a typical American Family. In the early days of being a family, the weekend always started with a great fireworks display on the beach Friday night at Bar Harbor, on the Long Island Sound side of the Town of North Hempstead. We attended this event for many many years, and over the years, our group of friends changed and grew. It started out being folks from ABC, then church friends were added, eventually the kids’ school friends’ families, and then neighbors and our Boy Scout friends joined. Whatever the make up of the group, it always was centered around sitting in a beach chair, surrounded by our kids and friends, watching a wonderful Gucci fireworks show. What could be more American than a local fireworks display on the beach to start your Memorial Day Weekend?
Then, Saturday morning, bright and early, it was time to pile everybody in the van and hit the highway. To be specific, to head to the Garden State Parkway, and even then, our spiritual home, Ocean City. We’d stay in a motel, we’d walk the boardwalk, we’d eat pizza and french fries, we’d play ski ball and mini golf, and join with hundreds of our Shoobies in the traditional first week of the summer season in whatever year it happened to be. That was our usual Saturday and Sunday routine, and then Sunday night. we’d pile into the van again, and start the northbound trek up the Garden State Parkway home to Long Island.
While Memorial Day’s date would change year to year, one special event that was also usually centered around this weekend was Susie’s May 28th birthday. Some years it happened before the actual weekend, and some years after, but the many years that it landed on the weekend, it was a huge part of the D’Elia Family’s Memorial Day weekend. Some years it was celebrated with a candle in a Hostess Cupcake in a motel room, some years there was a fireworks display on her birthday to mark the special day, and some years, the Village of Mineola even threw a huge parade to celebrate…Susie never knew exactly what form that year’s celebration would take!
As much as we love the traditions that have become such a huge part of our family’s life, as time goes on, things change. Eventually the fireworks display on Friday night at Bar Harbor ended, and we no longer had that anchor for our weekend. The kids got older, and they had their own life, and were no longer interested in Dad’s version of the typical American Memorial Day Weekend. For the past 13 Memorial Days, we’ve owned our house in Ocean City, and so that has led us to create new traditions. For many of those 13 years, we have had the kids join us at the house, we’d spend the weekend on the beach, on our front porch (when the weather has been better than it’s been this weekend), surrounded by our family and their friends, and our Ocean City friends who have become more like family than friends. We’ve celebrated Susie’s special day with the kids, at the Ocean City Yacht Club, at a surprise party at a friend’s house, or just sitting around having friends drop in to have a drink, and share her special day with her. If you ask me, great new traditions that will last forever!
But if you remember earlier, I said we’d pile into the van on Sunday night and head home, and that’s because of the longest standing tradition in the D’Elia Family’s life. This was one tradition that transcended the many changes in our lives, that took different forms in some years, and was enjoyed by different people, but was a constant part of this weekend for us for close to 30 years, The Mineola, New York Memorial Day Parade.
From Billy’s first year in Cub Scout Pack 246, through the years when younger brother Kenny joined him, the years when Billy transitioned to Boy Scout Troop 45, to the years when Kenny and Dad joined Billy in Troop 45, to the years when Billy went off to college, and even long after Kenny stopped being a Boy Scout, marching in the parade was a constant part of this weekend. Some years my Mom would drive in from Bayside, and she, Susie, and Krissi would stand on the side of the road and cheer us on. Some years Susie’s Dad would join us in the parade, and we’d end up after the parade at a party at her Dad’s VFW Post in Albertson. Some years we’d sit on a neighbors porch and reflect on the day and the parade, and for many years, the day would end at our good friends Pat and Steve Grosskopf’s house, as Scoutmaster Steve would throw a huge post parade party for the Troop 45 Family!
For most of the last 13 Memorial Days, no matter what has been going on at the Ocean City house, and no matter who was with us for the weekend, and no matter how late Sunday night went, our routine has been to set the alarm for 5 AM on Monday morning, quietly get up and get dressed, sometimes climb over sleeping people, get out of the house and into the car, and head for an empty Garden State Parkway and the Village of Mineola, arriving in plenty of time to change clothes, and get over to the start of the parade. We might have been somewhat sleepy, but remembering those who had given their lives for our freedom, and reminding the boys of Troop 45 why we were doing what we were doing, had become a very important part of our Memorial Day Weekend.
Because both Susie and I were retired last year, and there was no reason for me to be in NYC on Tuesday morning, we made the hard decision to change our routine and not head back for the parade. Mother Nature must have felt bad for us, because she opened the heavens in Mineola, and the parade was canceled because of torrential rains, so we didn’t miss a parade. As I write this on Memorial Day, 2017, I’m sitting at the table in our Ocean City house, reading a weather forecast for heavy rain the Mineola, and wondering if the parade will happen, or if it will have to be replaced with a smaller indoor ceremony to commemorate the day. Either way, we won’t be there, ending yet another tradition in our life.
But no matter where we are, and no matter what we are doing today, on Memorial Day Monday, my heart will always be walking the streets of Mineola, following a large group of young men, holding many American flags, being proceeded and followed by many other organizations, seeing friends and neighbors on the side of the road cheering on the marchers, and remembering the sacrifices that so many made so that we can have the lives we now enjoy. I’ll remember our long standing Memorial Day Weekend traditions, and always be thankful that it was because of the sacrifices of others, I am blessed with these wonderful memories, our wonderful family and friends, and the ability to live the life we now live. Our family was lucky that all those from our circle that served, returned home safe and sound, but for the thousands of families who were not as fortunate, today has even more meaning. Please remember them today, and their heroes who may have died at Pearl Harbor, or a trench in the First World War, or over the South Pacific or wherever they were standing up for what they believed.