Well, when we last left off, I had given up on Sears; and I had decided to go to Home Depot. I went in, guy there pointed to a lawnmower, said it was the best deal in the store in my price range, all assembled, got me a dolly to push it out to the cash register and to load it into my car.
By now it was too late to mow the lawn, so I just took it out of the box, put in the oil, and gassed it up, started it up, mowed one diagonal row and back, shut it off and put it in the garage. (So what do you call the plastic gas can anyway, does anyone know? A gas can?)
Woke up nice and early the next day (well not that early), and mowed the lawn with my new lawn mower. Did a nice job, if I do say so myself, didn’t take that long, and I was able to get right into my day.
I was able to go to my doctor’s appointment. I mentioned in an earlier email that I had met a foot doctor (Podiatrist) at the SIEDC thing at the Hilton, right after I met the person who gave me the free haircut voucher for the Barber College on New Dorp Lane. I still carry my lap top in the Northfield Bank bag.
I have arthritis in my big toes. It’s a family trait. Big Brains, Bald heads, bad skin, bad hearing, and arthritic big toes.
Dr. Rouder told me that he could clean up my arthritic toes and I would then be able to walk and run pain free, so long as I get a physical, blood work, and a chest x-ray, then I can have surgery any Wednesday or Thursday morning.. He wanted to schedule it for the 2nd of July, but we were celebrating 5 years Cancer Free for Angela on the 4th, and I would have to mow the lawn.
A few days later, I had a meeting at the municipal building (City Hall). It was a beautiful day; so I parked at the ferry, “took the ocean voyage”, and walked up (north) to Nassau Street; and after the meeting at DOF, I walked down (south) on Broadway, back to the ferry. I enjoyed seeing all of the local advertisements at the Whitehall Station and on the ferry. Tired and hot, I sat outside and completed my New York Times crossword puzzle thinking not a bad ride if you don’t have to do it every day.
Not a bad walk. When I was a criminal defense attorney with the Legal Aid Society in Manhattan in the 70’s, I did it every day (except in the rain). Some days I even ran it.
But that’s before my arthritis set in, and let me tell you, after walking back and forth that day, any doubts that I had about having the surgery were gone. On this particular day I was lucky. I got off the ferry, caught the shuttle to the parking lot, got into my car, and just as I closed my door, all hell broke loose as it started to rain, torrential downpours (remember June was record rain).
Anyway, so I went and got my chest x-rayed, drew blood to be analyzed, and went to my PCP (primary care physician) who signed a paper that said that I am healthy enough to have my toes cut open.
So now it’s nearing the 4th of July and time for me to “mow the lawn” again. And mow the lawn I did, and I did a great job. I am getting so good at it, arthritic big toes and all.
On the 4th, I set up the place, went out and bought ice cubes, fruity wine, beer, soda, grilled the corn (and I don’t cover the corn in tin foil like we did when I was a kid- rip off the husks and right onto the grill- spray oleo on it), grilled the hot dogs, the hamburgers, sausages, & steak. I am actually a pretty organized cook, getting things done so people are always eating hot food, and bringing it out in stages.
But I didn’t buy enough ice the first time I went, so I went back to Pathmark and bought a couple more bags of ice cubes (they are still in the freezer in the garage refrigerator); and while I was there, I decided that since I was having surgery a few days later, I would buy some of those Pathmark store made square oatmeal raisin cookies.
Everyone commented on how nice the lawn looked, especially after drinking the beer and fruity wine and eating my cooking.
Fast forward to July 8th, Englewood NJ where a Staten Island surgeon performs his surgery- why not on Staten Island? Well that’s another story- a good story for Bob Cutrona to write about in his column in Business Trends perhaps.
Anyway, they knock me out (although not a general anesthesia), and they worked on my toe. Right foot first, because it wasn’t as bad. Cut open my toe, took out their trusty old buzz saw, and went bzzzz along one side of the toe, and then bzzzzz along the other side. Then he changed the blade in the saw, and put in a bigger one, and did it again, so that now there would be space between the two bones. Then he inserted a screw to set the toe back into place. Sewed it up, turned off the sleepy stuff, and I woke up.
I had a bagel and a glass of orange juice and went home spending the next few days with my foot elevated and iced.
That Sunday, we had an open house at our home, so we had to leave the house. I went to work, and sent out emails to y’all from my office computer.
When Angela got home she had a panic attack because the garage door was open, and she thought to herself that someone had stolen the lawn mower. Do you believe this?
He repeated this procedure on the big toe on the other foot on July 22nd. After the second surgery I decided to allow myself a final binge before I start my training for the marathon, now that my toes are going to be better. Pathmark Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I also stopped taking my B5 Pantothenic Acid. After a month of cookies and no B5, I lost my hearing.
And then the grass began to grow.
A few weeks ago I was able to get one of the landscapers who was working a couple of blocks away to mow the lawn.
But the grass has started to grow again…
So the other day I get a text message from Stuart Garber, a lifelong friend, “Alan you should write about Woodstock this weekend.” Previously Stu had asked me to write a story about the fact that his family’s lumber yard is the last family owned lumber yard on Staten Island, after Farrell Lumber closed their doors. Started in the 50’s by Stu’s father and grandfather, on Greenleaf Avenue near the home port, they also now have a second store, Garber’s Do It Best Hardware at 4890 Amboy Road near the Outerbridge.
In August 1969, 40 years ago, (oh man 40 years – some of you weren’t even born yet), I was 18 years old, thin, my hair was getting long, I was about to enter my junior year at St. John’s University, which was still on Schermerhorn Street in downtown Brooklyn, before it moved to Staten Island. I worked full time on the staff of the Howard J Samuels for Governor Campaign. Howard never got the nomination, lost in the primary; the day after he lost, I was with him when Mayor John Lindsay called and asked him to start up Off Track Betting. Howard became Howie the Horse. Couple of years later I became assistant to the President of OTB (eventually I quit to build houses on Staten Island but that’s another story).
So there was a guy who worked in the campaign also named Howard, but this one was Howard Hirsch. He had curly hair and a curly mustache (maybe he had a perm). His claim to fame up until that moment was that he had started something called the Psychedelicatessen (psychedelic delicatessen) an early 60’s hip venue.
Howard Hirsch was asked by the guys running Woodstock to put on an art show to showcase work of some aspiring young hippie artists of the day.
An Aquarian Expedition-
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair.
Howard asked me to bring some friends to Woodstock to help him run the Art Fair.
So I brought my good friend Bobby Garber (that’s why Stuart texted me in the first place), and a few others; and you know, its 40 years later, and I just don’t remember. (I haven’t seen any of these people, except Stuart and Bobby Garber, in years).
We got free tickets, a place to stay, and free meals.
Friday morning I left for Woodstock from Kingston NY, where I had picked up one of our friends. The NY Thruway was still fine, but after we got off of the main highway and started on some of the secondary roads, we began to crawl in the Woodstock traffic.
Eventually, as we approached Bethel, I realized that it made sense to park the car. I pulled into a deli (general store?) and asked the owner if I could leave my car there, which started something, because the owner filled up his lot, side yard, and rear yard, in no time at all after I left. (I can’t remember what kind of a car I drove that day- I remember it was white).
So we started to walk, and caught a ride “on” someone else’s car (people were riding on the trunk and on the roof and on the hood. The communal spirit had begun.
We got to the hotel, which was actually like a 3 or 4 room Inn, and there was a room that was wall to wall mattresses- all next to each other. Not dormitory style, like a room of mattresses. Catch as catch can. No air conditioning.
Then we walked to the fair, to find the Art Show.
The hotel was in “town” (such as it was), and it was a schlep to “Yasgar’s Farm” where the concert (and art show) were being held. Plus there were a lot of people, (hundreds of thousands) so the walk was a journey.
I got to the Art Fair, and this was about the time that they were deciding to make it a free concert. The reason they made it a free concert was that people kept knocking down the fences. During my walk to the art fair I watched (and participated) in fences coming down.
Howard gave me staff passes for everyone (mine is framed on the wall in the kitchen). Remember this was 1969, things were mimeographed. The logo in black print on a green card (construction paper?) that said STAFF, my name, and ART.
It reminds me of the time that JFK came to Staten Island while he was running for President, in 1959. Well he didn’t really come to Staten Island, he took the ferry to Staten Island, where he addressed the crowd at the end of one of the ramps (the old pick up ramp). My father was a big Democrat in those days, but the local Staten Island Democratic Organization was run by the Irish. We went to someone’s office in St George so we could get close to JFK. That person (I can’t remember his name) took a blank card in clear plastic that you pin on your clothes (Hello my name is- w/o the hello my name is), and took out a green magic marker and wrote OFFICIAL on it. He said, we use green because they’re all Irish. It worked. I got right up to JFK on the platform, and did get to shake JFK’s hand. I always remembered while he was shaking 10 hands at a time, I had a whole hand to myself (hey I was 8 or 9 years old).
So back to the Art Show, we are putting up “fences” to hang the art on. As soon as we put up a fence, someone comes and knocks it down, and says- hey it’s a free concert. So up with the fences, down with the fences. Even with art work on them, the hippies insisted upon knocking them down.
There was a van or something parked not far from the art show, and they had an 8 track player in the van, but they only had one tape: Sly and the Family Stone. Sly and Family Stone would start and I thought- great the concert is starting. This happened several times over the next day or so until the concert actually did start.
Then it started to rain.
So much for the art show, we had to protect the art from the rain, so we put it away.
Since it was raining, the smart move was to go back to the hotel and get some sleep. It was hot and muggy in there, but I slept. I can sleep standing up, sleep is never a problem for me. But I remember a couple of my friends couldn’t sleep and wound up outside the hotel all night.
Saturday was the muddy day. It stopped raining. It got nice out.
I walked to the fair, and there was a truck (like a U-Haul) with cases and cases of #10 cans of juices (like the big spaghetti sauce cans), that they were selling for $1 a can. I bought a can.
10 feet away was a hippie, telling people to leave their unfinished cans with him so he could give them to others to take a sip. “Don’t buy from the capitalist pigs, drink for free, or buy and share.” I left the rest of the can with him.
So it is pretty calm- muddy, but calm.
I walked to the art fair, nothing happening there. Hung around with Howard and others. The van played Sly and the Family Stone, and every time it did, I thought the concert had starting.
I walked around. Saw the information booth. The medical tent. The freak outs. Saw the hog farm. They had this really neat vehicle. Like a little jeep, but small, like a four seater, jet ski size. Really neat.
Bobby Garber (unbeknownst to me) took his staff pass and went back stage. He and a couple of our other friends watched much of the concert from the stage.
All this past weekend on the History Channel they ran a Woodstock show, interviewing some of the people from then, now. I read it on my closed captioned TV.
They said that at the beginning of Woodstock, the press was reporting false information about Woodstock. They were reporting that there were fights, and illness, and chaos.
They also showed the pay phones at Woodstock. They said that so many people called home and told their parents how wonderful it was, who then called their local TV stations, that is how the real story got out that it was a love festival and not chaos.
Being a good son, I called my mother. I didn’t call my father. I didn't not call my father. Wow- what a revelation!!! sorry Zack and Jake.
On the TV, they also showed Woodstock memorabilia, but no staff passes. Wonder what mine is worth? Anyone interested? I’m taking offers. Not!
Back to the concert. All of a sudden I heard Richie Havens. And it wasn’t on the 8 track. The concert had started.
Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom.
But I wasn’t dug in for music. I listened to Richie Havens set (6 songs), and started to walk around some more. Couldn’t find my friends. (There were hundreds of thousands of people there). (They were on the stage). Didn’t run into anyone else that I knew there either.
I listened to Santana do Soul Sacrifice, although I had never heard of Santana before, but thought that they were great.
There were a lot of announcements about don’t take this acid or that acid. I didn’t take any drugs at Woodstock.
Sometime later Saturday I met a girl who was with a bunch of people whose car was parked somewhat near the art show. And she had a bottle of Chianti. I can’t remember her name, or where she was from, and I never saw her again. I also didn’t really listen to any more of the concert, and really don’t remember anything else about the fair until it was time to leave.
So we all sort of ran into each other back at the hotel, and leaving Woodstock, we caught a ride on the back of someone’s car, to my car, and came home “the conquering heroes”.
Woodstock’s anniversary is now over, my hearing has returned, the ringing has stopped. (Was it stress? Was it lack of vitamins? Was it too much sugar? Who knows.
I have now decided that I am going to start to get into the best shape of my life. No more oatmeal raisin cookies from Pathmark.
But before I run the marathon, I first have to be able to get my sneakers on my feet. However, as soon as I do, the first thing on my agenda, before Labor Day weekend, is that I am going to mow the lawn.