Solar Eclipse, 1970 – A True Story

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Saturday, March 7, 1970 – Leisure Lanes, Camp Road, Hamburg, New York. I’ll never forget that day. It was the first time I remember having to make a very difficult choice. It was a wrenching choice. It was an agonizing choice. It was the kind of choice no one ever expects a nine-year old boy to have to face.

Yet I did. And I can blame no one for it except for myself, the expectations I had placed on myself, and the subsequent expectations I had encouraged others to, well, expect of me. Nonetheless, the way I approached the decision appears, in retrospect, to have become the template I have since used for all such future conundrums.

By that point in the latter half of fourth grade, I had become the de facto astronomer of the class. Yes, there was actually a competition of this exalted position, and I was determined Continue Reading “Solar Eclipse, 1970 – A True Story”

A Lament for All the Nobody’s Out There

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I showed up unannounced (and a day early) at Chris Collins’ office at 1117 Longworth. Actually, I was under the mistaken impression the “11” of “1117” represented the floor. There is no 11th floor in the Longworth building, which I discovered only after the elevator doors closed. Fortunately, a kind lady told me the first “1” represented the building and the second “1” represented the floor.

When I arrived at his office, Collins wasn’t there. He was on the House floor voting on, as near as I can tell from the daily record of July 18, 2017, a series of otherwise mundane amendments. Somebody probably thinks they are important. Maybe even Collins. I didn’t bother to ask. Ironically, I didn’t think it was any of my business.

I say it’s “ironic” because everything Congress does is, quite literally, “the people’s business.” It’s just that I’m so accustomed to thinking of myself as a nobody that Continue Reading “A Lament for All the Nobody’s Out There”

Breadcrumbs of Unfinished Symphonies

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This is the fourth and final part of an older brother’s eulogy to a beloved younger brother.

LEGACY [leg-uh-see]

Merriam-Webster: 1: “a gift by will especially of money or other personal property” 2: “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”

The gift seemed rather small for the usual Christmas gift. Still, my brother tended towards the creative in his gift giving, so I unwrapped the present in anticipation of experiencing one of those “big things come in small packages” moments. As I tore and crumpled the colored paper, I could only guess what was inside. Opening the tiny box revealed… a generic Christmas tree ornament.

I could see Kenny smiling broadly, as if this was the gift I had always wanted. My somewhat tentative “thank you” only made his grin grow larger. As I looked at him, something struck me about his beaming face. It seemed more of a “I know something you don’t” kind of smirk. Or rather, a “But, don’t you get it?” smile of self-satisfaction.

This was confirmed when he plaintively said, “But, don’t you get it?”

I didn’t. But now I suspected I should have gotten it. I looked again at the ornament and couldn’t figure it out. I failed to come up with anything in our shared life that the sled referenced.

Seeing my consternation, Kenny’s face returned to the “I know something you don’t” smirk. “Read it,” he said.

I looked once more at the sled. Though a standard-issue mass-produced Christmas decoration, I suddenly noticed a carefully handwritten addition printed on the faux wood Continue Reading “Breadcrumbs of Unfinished Symphonies”

Kenny Discovers the Birds & the Bees… and the Mice (Content for Family and Friends Only)

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This is the third of four parts of an older brother’s eulogy to a beloved younger brother.

Kenny used football to teach a lot of things, even how to deal with celebrities with respect. Whether it was about when to get excited (like the moment he and Pat saw Al Davis riding in the next car over on the Thruway while driving home after a Raiders game) or when to contain excitement (which was pretty much every time Sam saw Marv Levy at Ilio’s).

But don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t as if Kenny wasn’t into fun. He was very good at doing fun. And when he found a gag that worked, you could be sure he’d use it – over and over again. For instance, at every baptism, without fail, when the time came for the godfather to hold the baby, Uncle Kenny would lean into Cesidia and whisper, “This is when I dropped you on your head.” Of course, sometimes he forgot his audience. One year – a different year from our opening story – his Christmas tree nearly fell on young Catarina. He caught the tree before it hit her, but he could tell she was scared. So he tried to make light of the situation by saying, “Catarina, you knocked down the tree!” Well, that was too much and Catarina started crying. He did his best to comfort her, but, well, you know, girls.

He didn’t limit his repartee to one-liners, either. He could out-slapstick the Three Stooges, but only when it came to the birds and the bees… and the occasional mouse. Yes, it’s true he and Betsy would pay their young innocent daughter Teresa a dollar every time she Continue Reading “Kenny Discovers the Birds & the Bees… and the Mice (Content for Family and Friends Only)”

Twins Never Part

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This is the second of four parts of an older brother’s eulogy to a beloved younger brother.

I was barely a year old when I first met Kenny. My parents brought this bundle home from the hospital. I saw a small foot poking through the blanket. Elated, I tugged the tiny toes. Still grasping the diminutive digits, I smiled broadly and looked up at my parents. “Goggie!” I said.

Yes, I had thought my parents got me a new puppy. Instead, I got something better – a baby brother. Had I been more eloquent then and as versed in classic cinema as I am today, I might have more aptly said, “Kenny, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

You may know him as “Ken,” “Kenny,” or even, as he signed every greeting card he ever signed beginning at age – I don’t know, 7? – Kenneth P. Carosa. To me, he’ll always be Continue Reading “Twins Never Part”

Strawberry Fields Forever – An Ode to Kenny

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Kenneth P. Carosa
11/2/1961 – 6/18/2017

This is the first of four parts of an older brother’s eulogy to a beloved younger brother.

I remember a bright summer day in late June. The sweet smell of acres upon acres of Queen Anne’s Lace, daisies, and the occasional black-eyed Susan surrounded us as we ventured into the bountiful fields of wild strawberries. The broad undeveloped lots just to the south of Highland Parkway rolled as far as the eye could see.

And with the weed trees then mere young saplings, the eye could see pretty far. We often tested our vision on clear August days. Me, Kenny, Angelo and Markie would hike deep into these virgin woods, being careful to remain within sight of civilization as we knew it. We walked just far enough so we could see the Hamburg Fair’s Double Ferris Wheel spin silently just on the edge of the horizon.

But while those late summer days were for friends, the first days of summer meant the strawberries were ripening. No one cared more about this abundant fruit except for my mother, me, and Kenny… and perhaps a few small animals. Each summer my mother would Continue Reading “Strawberry Fields Forever – An Ode to Kenny”

You Can’t Have Rainbows without a Little Rain

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photo by Marvin Palmore ’82

It’s raining, so it must be New Haven.

I approached the Elm City from the east along the shore hugging I-95. I had just spent a rare evening in Providence following a lengthy interview with a primary source. This was a much less travelled route for me as I usually visited my Alma Mater via New York City or Hartford. In a sense, then, the intensifying rain was reassuring.

It doesn’t always rain in New Haven, but girl you know it oughta. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday it rained. Think all that rain might have put a damper on things? It rained so hard on Thursday my pants didn’t dry until Sunday. Fortunately, years of Boy Scout leader training did not go to waste. I had packed a spare pair.

I hadn’t planned on going to my 35th reunion by way of Rhode Island, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity when it presented itself. The additional one hour and forty four minutes of travel time seemed like a small cost. Because it came up at the last minute, however, I failed to account for other costs. For example, whenever I visit New Haven I try to Continue Reading “You Can’t Have Rainbows without a Little Rain”

TWTWTWID* (RAW & UNCUT!)

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* These Were The Weeks That Were In Davenport (RAW & UNCUT!)

Seth insisted no one want to read TWID. He said this 35 years ago and he said this again 35 year later. That’s why he only copied half the original pages (“the ones involving the class of ’82,” he insisted). Well, it turned out he was wrong… on both counts.

First, as soon as the abridged version was published (you can read it here if you don’t believe me), word spread. Staying up well past their bed-time, normally non-nocturnal D’Port 82ers found themselves captivated with the rare literature. (It is believed, but uncomfirmed, the same holds true for the abnormally non-nocturnal D’Port 82ers, too. For the nocturnal crowd – both the normal and the abnormal – well, let’s just say the party never stopped with the arbitrary event of graduation.)

Second, the masses yearned for a copy of the complete, unabridged edition of the “granddaddy of all college newsletters” (Yale Daily News, April 13, 2001). Not satisfied with merely contacting the lowly compiler, they went straight to the source. When Seth began seeing and hearing a level of interest he’d never before seen in TWID… he still wasn’t convinced the unabridged decision made sense. So, he asked me to name “one thing” the abridged edition omitted. I one-upped him. Actually, I eleven-upped him. The RAW & UNCUT! edition of the TWID compilation contains at least these eleven fun memories not found in the Abridged edition:

  1. The start of the mural competition (I want to write about this but I need to see who has the picture of the finished product. I do somewhere… somewhere…).
  2. Seth’s take on the 1982 Superbowl (if only for the later career irony).
  3. Mike Morris Valentine’s Day reference.
  4. Ed’s Vacation.
  5. Computer terminals installed in the Cottage Basement (a.k.a. “Seminar Room” a.k.a. “1321 Davenport”).
  6. Yet another shameless plug for “The Don” and WYBC.
  7. Info on the D-port Intramural Hockey team – now I’ve got to update The Rink of Dreams!
  8. The Breakfast Club Lecture Series! (Featuring 3 out of the 5 CTO members as lecturers.) (This is just too funny to leave on the cutting room floor!)
  9. An error on the dates (this was a deductive failure on my part – I failed to consider you did an April Fools edition of TWID).
  10. The (original) Mural tea bag announcement.
  11. Throughout it all, Seth’s witty humor and Ed’s witty illustrations.

In addition, we’ve added a new “Aftoreword” from Seth, a new “Ultimate Useless Drivel from the Compiler,” and we even found a way to sneak in a cameo appearance from a fellow D’Porter from the class of 1983 we all have fond memories of.

Without further adieu, then, kick off your shoes, pour yourself a glass of your favorite adult beverage, and prepare to go back to an age when girls were girls, men were men, and – mister – we could use a guy like Herbert Hoover  again! No. Wait. That’s too far back. Rewind the rewind to just after we did the Time Warp… and… your there!

Click here (not there) to enter a place when today was the future you could only dream of.

A Career vs. A Calling

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Every college graduate faces this same unknown upon graduating: How can I begin my career?

The last few weeks of college produce a rush of events. With long-term deadlines expiring in rat-a-tat-tat fashion, students push themselves at the end of their final term as if on autopilot. Their Spartan goal is to just survive from one deadline to another. Decision making becomes autonomous. They focus on “the quickest way to get from Point A to Point B” (with “Point B” almost always being walking across the stage to receive the coveted diploma).

In all this confusion, there comes a moment when the student thinks “did I fire six shots or only five?” In other words, and in a translation those not acquainted with the Eastwood canon might recognize: “Did I forget to unplug the iron?” With everything complete, there’s a few days respite before graduation when the student has a chance to breathe. That’s when there’s finally time for the student to assess things. That’s when the gnawing feeling that they forget something important takes hold.

Immediately after the celebration of graduation ends, there’s a temptation to view the Continue Reading “A Career vs. A Calling”

A New Beginning

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There’s nothing like strolling out to the pitcher’s mound for the first game of the season. A new season ushers in a new beginning, and with a new beginning comes new hope. For someone like me, the games may be of the past, but the smells aren’t: the sweet fragrance of the freshly mowed outfield; the gritty dryness of the dusty infield; the melts-in-your-mouth aroma of broken-in leather. With these smells, of course, bubble up the feelings of old: the promise of a clean slate; the dreams of achievements yet to be; the comradery of brothers only shared experience can forge.

Admit it. If you’ve ever played Little League Baseball, then you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever coached, then no doubt you’re amazed how a new generation of kids Continue Reading “A New Beginning”