Poems and Short Stories

I have noted that loads of folks here get pretty creative in their biographies. In particular my guess is there are a few hundred people who write short stories and poems. I write stories but I also have seen many poems so I will start this topic off with a poem I just read and like. It is about a Japanese artist:

Hokusai Says
Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.
He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself
as long as it’s interesting.
He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child,
every one of us is ancient,
every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.
He says everything is alive –
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.
He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.
Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
are life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.
He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.
– Roger Keyes

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Excellent, Scratch. Give us more.
In the same vein, this haiku from the Anhaga’s works:

Spring has two small hands.
Using both to hold flowers,
She lets Winter go.

Be well.

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Segments written to my friends daughter soon after he died:

Over the almost fifty years I knew your mom and dad, and knowing your grandfather ten years earlier, along with reading many books, I will here try to reconstruct what I know about the relationship of my father with your grandfather. Part of this is due in fact because your grandfather and I had wanted to at least get down on paper his memoirs of an exciting life. To that end, and because we both shot pool very well, we would from time to time drive over to Riverhead and spend the afternoon at the pool room. We were very competitive and we enjoyed that time shooting pool. As an aside, years earlier, I had spent all my waking time in the pool room and also traveled throughout NYC to different rooms to gamble. It may not have been to Kane Billiard Academy that your grandfather had played much earlier, maybe 1958-59, it could just as easily have been Ames Pool Hall, on Broadway in Manhattan, where I spent much time myself. I was precocious so I could have been as young as 14 when this occurred. Even though we were years apart, the bond I had with your grandfather was more about pool and street hustling than anything else. He was always quick, like your dad, with a story. He did tell me about being shot, and I don’t regularly bring that up and only once brought it up to your dad, who immediately denied it, so was not spoken of again.

Your grandfather and my father were not close friends, as your dad and I were/are; they were trusted friends, typical of people who ran into each other so often because of similar interests and professions. They were in the fast lane for their times. This meant that for your dad and me, the sons of these men, they could have been enchanting times, sparked with glamor. Hugo and Mary Podell were close friends with both my father and your grandfather. I have vivid memories of first meeting your dad in the company of the Podells and my parents I may have been 6 or 7 at the time). It was before your dad took over the Post House, during the days when Pat Ogden owned it. Now, rather than continuing to refer to our older generation, from now on I will use “Eddie Kane” and “Herm Stanchfield”. They were born around the same time and they died around the same time.

Eddie Kane and Herm Stanchfield met, at the earliest around 1926 but no later than 1930. At that time Eddie and Herm, both in their mid twenties, were a part of the Atlantic City, New York City and Saratoga night life. Also at that time, Prohibition was fully engaged so in those days they would meet at the speakeasies and hotels in all three cities. Sometimes Stanchfield was in the band and sometimes he was not.

In 1928, a gangster named Joey Noe opened the Hub Social Club, a speakeasy, and hired Dutch Schultz to work as a bouncer. Schultz earned a reputation for brutality when he lost his temper. Impressed by his ruthlessness, Noe made him a partner. Noe and Schultz soon opened more operations. Schultz rode shotgun to protect the beer trucks from hijackers.

On October 16, 1928, Noe was gunned down outside of the Chateau Madrid by Legs Diamond. Noe’s wounds led to an infection, which he died from on November 21. Schultz was crushed by the loss of his friend and mentor.

Schultz, was now operating on his own, and gang members received a flat salary instead of the customary percentage of the take from any operations in which they were involved. One of the gang members, Vincent “Mad Dog” Cole didn’t like that arrangement and beefed about it regularly. He began to do his own jobs.

In February 1932, the Schultz gang lured Coll into a trap. While Coll was talking in a drugstore phone booth, gunmen burst into the store and machine-gunned him to death.

Prohibition ended and Dutch Schultz needed to find a new source of income. Otto “Abbadabba” Berman provided the answer. Shultz was introduced by Berman to the Harlem numbers racket. Berman was a middle-aged accountant and math whiz who showed Schultz how to fix the racket. In a matter of seconds, Berman could mentally calculate the minimum amount of money Schultz needed to bet at the track at the last minute in order to alter the odds. This strategy ensured that Schultz always controlled which numbers won, guaranteeing a larger number of losers in Harlem and a multimillion-dollar-a-month tax-free income for Schultz.

Berman was supposedly paid $10,000 a week to run the money end of the business. Eddie Kane also became an important part of that action. At that time Eddie Kane, a brilliant and natural mathematician, was working as a bookmaker/gambler at local New York City race tracks. Bookmaking was legal and the only way a gambler could make a bet. At that time there were no parimutuel boards. Each day Eddie learned the racing cards, determined and hawked the odds and then took bets. I am unsure whether Eddie knew Berman or Shultz first but all three were well-versed in the NYC speakeasy scene. And Eddie Kane was as fast with numbers as was Berman. He became a natural for a position with Shultz.

Eddie was hired by Shultz and remained with close with Berman. Eddie Kane’s son, reported to me that Eddie Kane was sent to Ohio, I believe, to purchase a race track. Eddie was also sent to meet with a banker in Chicago. The reason for the trip was because the players started to seriously doubt the honesty of the game. The goal of each negotiation was to insure that by featuring an out of town source for the number that made it appear that nobody could control Shultz would indeed get the last three numbers of certain transactions by the bank each night (the racetrack deal never was completed). Eddie did his job and convinced the banker, presumably for a fee, to call NYC once a day with the number. Later, Eddie was to do time for his involvement with the banker.

(Note: Some people confuse Otto Berman with Arnold Rothstein and the reason for this is that Berman was aka Otto Dutch, aka Harry Roth - Harry Roth was a character in the Godfather, but that Harry Roth was supposed to be the real life Arnold Rothstein. Both men were brilliant with numbers, as was Eddie Kane.)

Aside from the players who demanded a new source for the number, there was a lot of resistance in Harlem by Stephanie St. Clair, who was also running the numbers game. Saint-Clair and her chief enforcer Elsworth “Bumpy” Johnson refused to pay protection to Schultz despite the amount of violence and intimidation by police they faced. St. Clair’s revenge was to attack the storefronts of businesses that ran Dutch Schultz’s betting operations, and to tip off the police about him.

Just prior to this time Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano had been working together under the tutelage of Arnold Rothstein on other deals besides numbers. There wasn’t a formal relationship, it is just that Rothstein had managed to become the financial advisor to a number of criminals during prohibition. He was particularly close to Lansky and Luciano. (See the Atlantic City Convention/Conference, which was the precursor to the forming of the Five Families - Italian, which was organized by Eddie Kane’s next employer, Longy Zwillman. Supposedly a number of people claim authorship. This includes Long Zwillman who basically took a lot of the Jersey and Staten Island numbers business after Shultz and Otto Berman were gunned down in a Chop House - see much literature about this shooting and also see - The Last Words of Dutch Shutz.)

It is my impression that Eddie Kane was much happier working for and with Long Zwillman. As I understand it Eddie and Zwillman’s son (first name unknown) ran the numbers in Staten Island and also over into that part of New Jersey. A piece of the action was filtered up to Longy. This would be around 1936 and forward.

All during this period, the gamblers and gangsters socialized a lot in the night clubs after prohibition. Many of the gangsters and gamblers dated the actresses and singers of the bands. As a result, Herm Stanchfield knew many of the people precisely because he was in the NYC, Atlantic City, Saratoga circuit. As a result friendships were drawn and favors made. (Note: I never knew what my father did beyond playing in the bands. All I can say for sure is he did for a period keep a gun in the house. Would he have helped a friend if asked, and especially if involved money, my guess is he would have. But I cannot say he did a thing. I knew that he considered Eddie Kane a “trusted” friend, meaning that something at some time did take place and Eddie likely did something to curry favor. My father always spoke highly of Eddie and was proud to introduce me to him telling Eddie, “my kid can shoot pool.” This of course led to our kinship, prior to me knowing the whole Kane family,

Though there were a number of night clubs that Herm Stanchfield played at and Eddie Kane had business, the most likely candidate for where they renewed the friendship would be at the Copacabana, likely around 1940. They both played at and attended the Latin Quarter as well.

I also remain friends with Jules Podell’s daughter, Mickey, and do want to at least have you talk with her. I would have no idea who she would know and remember as her book is more about the Copa and all the famous acts that came through there… I knew Mickey in college and reconnected with her a number of years ago. Here is a piece I found on her dad’s passing. She is my age.

THE NEW YORK TIMES - SEPT. 28, 1973
Jules Podell, owner of the Copacabana, the last of the big New York nightclubs, died [yesterday afternoon at his home, 900 Fifth Avenue. He was 74 years old.
Mr. Podell, who was preparing to reopen the Copacabana following a summer closing, attended Rosh ha‐shanah serv ices yesterday morning and went home for a nap. He suf fered a heart attack in his sleep and died shortly afterward.
One of the city’s more colorful showmen, Mr. Podell had a night‐club career that went back to the early days of Prohibition and included several brushes with the law. He was reputedly a close associate, at various times, of several lead ing gamblers and other under world figures, and he experienced intermittent difficulty in qualifying for cabaret licenses and other permits.
Since 1940 he had operated the Copacabana at 10 East 60th Street and had seen it survive the demise of a score or more of similar showplaces that once livened the New York entertainment scene.
The Copa Girls, a modest sized chorus line that staged nightly revues, flashed their last smiles and sequins at a Copacabana audience nearly five years ago. But the club continued to present shows, usually headlining a singer and a stand‐up comic, in substantially the same format that had been used from the outset.
Mr. Podell, who customarily spent 12 to 16 hours a day at the nightclub, seven days a week when it was open, developed a knack for spotting un known entertainers who later became famous. Among the stars who started at the Copa or played there in their early years were Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, Bobby Darin and Joey Bishop, who was on a show that featured Frank Sinatra at the peak of his popularity.
A short, rotund man, Mr. Podell was known to a large proportion of the nightclub’s patrons, for he was almost always on hand. Unlike most nightclub entrepreneurs, he ran the entire operation himself, supervising the kitchen, picking talent for the shows and involving himself minutely in every detail.
Once a waiter himself, he never snapped his fingers or whistled to get a waiter’s attention. Instead, he wore an onyx ring on a pinky finger and he would rap it sharply on the table when he wanted service.
Mr. Podell began working in nightclubs in the early days of Prohibition, and he was in trouble with the authorities more than once. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $1,500 in 1929 after a raid by Government agents on a West 49th Street nightclub. Later that year he was shot in the leg at a 50th Street club under circumstances that were never explained.
When he opened the Copa cabana he came under frequent police scrutiny because what soon came to be known as “the Cope crowd” contained several underworld figures— Frank Ericson, Frank Costello, Joe Adonis and others prominent in gambling and other rackets. Costello was for a time a part‐owner of the Copa cabana, selling his interest so that the club could retain its cabaret license.
Mr. Podell is survived by his widow, Claudia; a daughter, Malda, three sisters and two grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held Sunday morning at the Riverside, 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

Podell came out of the Jewish gangsters; I believe Costello was Jewish. My dad played there a lot, as well as the Latin Quarter, Sherry Netherlands, etc. and was always in the social scene. You may remember Hugo and Mary Podell who were good friends of Eddie’s. Hugo was a band leader, from Cuba, presumably part of the Luciano/Lansky influence in Havana. He was a dear friend of my dad’s and he taught me how to water ski behind his boat he kept on Mecox Bay.

Finally there is one other part of both your grandfather’s life and your dad’s life as well. The Napoli family. Tony “Nap” Napoli, one of your Dad’s earliest friends, was the son of Gentleman “Jimmy Nap” Napoli. He was, among other things, a Caporegime in the Genovese crime family and his charge was to run all of gambling in the greater NYC area. When Eddie was in Sing Sing and Danamora, it was Jimmy Nap who cared for your dad. He kept Tony out of family business to a great degree, but as you may know Tony wrote a book called My Father My Don, and in it is a great photo of your dad and Tony on the beach in Miami, likely taken around the time your mom and dad met.

It would likely be Jimmy Nap, who would visit your dad at the Post House from time to time thus allowing the locals to buzz about and drive your dad crazy as your grandfather, who was a gambler and not a gangster, would confuse the two and thus rumors flew about the Post House. Jimmy was indicted for conspiracy regarding putting a hit on John Gotti… just so you know of the five families, the traditionally most powerful family was the Genovese family, and Gotti was not liked by the other families. He was from Queens and stayed in his section of Queens, Rego Park, Woodhaven blvd. and Rockaway.

Finally, your dad and I talked about this stuff a lot over the close to fifty years we have been friends. Much of it dovetailed with my dad’s telling stories, and other things I learned from other sources, friends, etc. When I started listening to Eddie, I was taking notes and think I may have even taped him at the time. My entry into your family was by agreement the end, until now, of me speaking about these things. There is no tape; it was destroyed. Eddie did tell me about the Shultz shooting but I learned more about it from various books over the years.

I do not doubt for one moment that Eddie Kane was a true Damon Runyon character, much in the same way that your father forged his own character, day by day, word by word, and deed by deed. I loved your dad dearly, more and more I am learning even now. I didn’t love Eddie, but I did respect him if for the only reason that he was kind to me and respectful of me. He was about forty years older than be and as a teenager, befriending a man that old, was a great privilege and I was proud of that friendship. I got the best of the deal.

I suppose my memories may give up some more stories, and certainly I have always been interested in the period of history that my folks came of age. So I will always be available to offer up my impressions of that period, what it was like to be a boy in the fast lane of the early 1950s in NYC and the Hamptons.

One last thought for Nancy. Carl Yastremski’s cousin is on the Face Book “I remember Southampton” pages. It is so much fun and I speak a lot about many impressions and facts I know about in old Southampton. I tell you this not for anything other than the fact that the Yastremski who subscribed and speaks from time to time was the Chief of police in the fifties. I am sure he is a groundswell of facts and information including who is who who attended the Post House. This comes with the suggestion f being gentle with him. My sense is he is giving of information, but I also believe that if he senses you are “taking” it he could clam up. If you want and you decide to use the source, let’s talk and figure a way to approach him. He is likely 95 years old so…

That’s all for now.

Couldn’t find this on Facebook. Visiting in October and wanted to look at photos and thoughts…
?
Jan

The groups owner changed the name a few months ago. I don’t like the change nor did many of the folks. People who lived year round in Southampton never referred to the area as “The Hamptons;” that change was created by marketers. Here is the new link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/181409268592322/

Let me know if you need any more help.

Scratch

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Thanks so much.

Beautiful there !!! 92 miles west from me :+1:t2: I’ll plan on spending Columbus Day Weekend there with some friends.

Hey, Scratch, don’t I get at least a “Hello”? Really appreciated your work here.

Guess not.

My dear friend Anhaga, when I wrote, “I have noted that loads of folks here get pretty creative in their biographies. In particular my guess is there are a few hundred people who write short stories and poems,” you were one of the first people I thought about. Please make sure you participate here. I know many will enjoy. Scratch

The expression “get pretty creative in their biographies” implies that untruths and exaggerations are used. You need to know that there are no exaggerations or falsehoods in my bio and I was offended by your words.
I have spent a lifetime dedicated to helping others and working to present quality literary novels, short stories and poems for my audience.
Most recently, I have retired after twenty-five years, from writing Christmas stories for the local newspaper without remuneration. The newspaper has asked permission to keep printing my stories from the past.
My work in the North for education of immigrant miners while I worked below with them and native people has been fully documented with many awards of recognition.
Maybe, tomorrow I will feel better. But, for now, you are off my list.

Okay. Reinstated.

Email

Fascinating! Relay does not allow email addresses.

No, I was wrong and I apologize.
rogerharrington@execulink.com Give it a shot, Scratch.

I was about eleven or twelve when I first saw the movie “The Third Man”, which intrigued me to no end. To this day I can watch the movie and not become bored.

The zither music, the odd angles of the camera that created distorted views, the shadows that grow large and small on building walls, the echoes in the sewer scenes; the otherworldliness of the story, all made me mesmerized. I saw the movie a few years after I had my close encounter with the end, when I was pulled out of the lake’s water after falling from the dockside at six in the morning by an angel, a chorus girl who had still been up from the night; she was walking the lake’s edge. The harrowing event was during those intermediate years, from the time I was four or five until the time just before puberty when I began to form my sense of what life was about and, indeed, life’s very close proximity to death.

It wasn’t as if life is here and now and death is some far off distant abstract reality years away. I understood early that life and death were of each other and very close in space and time. Harry Lime made this idea very clear to me when he was talking with Holly Martins about life and death in what has been referred to as the Cuckoo Clock speech. It started high up in Vienna’s twenty story Giant Ferris Wheel and the dialogue has haunted my entire life:

“Look down there. Would you feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you 20,000 pounds for every dot that stopped would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money? Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man… free of income tax.”

As the ride ended Harry completed his thought: “I believe in God and Mercy and all that. The dead are happier dead. They don’t miss much.

“Remember what the fellow said… in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci, and the Renaissance… In Switzerland, they had brotherly love. They had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

I didn’t want to believe the life death jaded concept Harry Lime offered. Yet, it’s fair to say that I have spent most of my life fighting the lurid notion. But as the moments and days, weeks, months, years and decades were spent, and I became increasingly honest with myself, I saw the depth of the cuckoo clock speech as it played out over and over, by the way we live, the way we see things and the way we acted toward each other.

We are all dots, as Harry Lime said, and we exchange with each other as dots.

And from a distance nobody but nobody can tell us apart, not from the good, from the bad, or from the ugly. More, in tens of thousands of years even the ideas of good, bad and ugly will fade into a tiny dot.

Looking back, I see the people from my past as dots. My old and dear friends who either moved far away, or stopped talking to me for one reason or another, or died, are now dots of my past, yes, bigger dots than most, but nevertheless dots.

I’d like not to think this way, but as time passed over the years the dots disintegrated in front of my eyes. The person who once was front and center in my face is now a small or large dot with no more meaning to me other than the presence of a dot and on occasion an associated memory.

Those who were the closest to me, my mother, my father and my brother, all dying decades ago, slowly but surely have become dots of greater, or more correctly, lesser degrees in my mind. I fight this action desperately, trying hard to recapture the endearing moments between us and with them. But as time goes by one encounter or event after another disappears from my memory and their physical beings as well as their spiritual beings all lose form and implode toward a center becoming a small mass on my memory, a dot.

As the years roll on family photographs are lost or become weathered by the years or moved from one storage space to another only briefly interrupted from this routine by periodic viewing that usually comes to an abrupt end when a phone call comes in or the television show starts. The blacks and whites in these pictures fade to gray and are blurred where there was once clear and distinct lines of facial appearance, lines of personality and lines of character.

Now I find myself looking at sepia colored prints that are naturally ruined by time and temperature with eyes that also see less and less, even with the help of glasses. That which was is fading, steadily and quickly.

Taking it a step further and offering that the dots of existence are much like black holes that scientists describe as masses with such great gravitational pull that even light can’t escape. In a sense we are all black holes, or I should say, becoming black holes getting ready and prepared to pull everything around us into the inevitable invisibility that we face to, our absolute fate.

So in one sense it makes absolutely no sense to write a book about my existence. After all, in a few decades, in a few hundred years, or for sure in a few thousand years, anything about me real or surreal will be as if I never even existed. If there is an earth there will be no form of life able or desiring to know about humans, much less me.

Remember what Harry Lime said, “for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed… In Switzerland… the cuckoo clock.” And as civilization fades to becoming its own dot with not a remnant around why even consider writing about my simple non consequential existence?

Nevertheless, there is an undying hope I have, that the world will change, that people will understand that as they have had the hubris to arrogantly steal and mishandle the earth and its peoples for selfish pride, they also have demonstrated great compassion and though it seems impossible, there is the hope and clear path that compassion will rule and Mother Earth will hear the tones of passion and allow people to repair their misdeeds against humanity and the beasts and the forests, to be here when we return from the dark.

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Muhammad Ali

“Me? Whee!!”

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