I have a few train stories you might enjoy. Here is one of them.
First of all, let me remind you that I was a free range child.
My life was like that of Tom Sawyer perhaps, in that I was not under the adult surveillance of my parents very often.
They had little time for such fool hardy exploits. I was quick on my feet and they were not too interested in what I was up to in the first place, or so it seems.
I was the middle child after all. I look exactly like my father so that question has been answered satisfactorily. I was wanted but didn’t change the family routine very much.
My parents worked most of the time at our restaurant and were seldom around to watch over us. My older brother was my parent, in reality.
We did get Christmas presents like most children, but often the money was tight and the household was in different levels of turmoil for a few reasons. My father’s drinking was one of them.
His family has a long and illustrious history of drinking too much and behaving badly.
One Christmas my brother or I received an electric train for Christmas. It was simple affair with a circular track, a locomotive and three cars.
My brother was and still is very crafty and creative. It is his nature.
On one of our forays around the house long before Christmas, we found the large flat box wrapped under our parents bed and brought it out for inspection. We found many other interesting things around the house, but that is another story.
My brother cut the wrapping at one end of the card board box carefully and managed to open it in a way that was undetectable to anyone not looking extremely closely at it.
The end was fastened closed with large copper colored staples but somehow he managed to get the end open and slide the train set out.
This was sometime in early December, I suppose. I’m not sure when. Those dates are a little fuzzy sixty five years later.
Anyway, most nights as our parents were hard at work in our bar and selling rivers of beer to the fools that enjoy drinking that amber fluid, my brother and I were happily watching that train going around the track over and over again.
There were no fancy buildings or other things there to distract us.
I’m sure we set up blockades on the track and crashed through them and did anything possible one can do with a small electric train.
Thankfully we didn’t have a cat or it would have surely gone on some amazing and interesting rides.
If there was a warranty on that train it was nearly over by Christmas day. We had that train out every night and slipped it back into the box carefully each night before our parents arrived home.
And yes, we pretended to be completely surprised on Christmas morning.
I can’t help but wonder if we became “normal” functioning citizens because we were left alone or in spite of it. We aren’t perfect, but neither of us have not been locked up or had more than a couple of wives.
My guess is that it is better to let boys be boys than to watch over them too closely and try to turn them into something they are not.
This is the first Christmas without our son and only child Ryan. He passed at 43 from a stroke on April 1st of this year.
He was born with several small and one large physical abnormality. His skull was fused at birth and at five weeks he had to have surgery on his skull to correct that issue. It was obviously a dangerous and necessary surgery.
The surgery came out fine and he grew to become a handsome and wonderful man.
He moved out on his own at an early age.
He was a good employee and did his best to support himself.
He worked for me off and on but as is often the case, fathers and sons are so much alike that working together can be difficult.
To say that this year has been difficult for my wife and I would be a gigantic understatement. You all have suffered a loss in the family and know what I am speaking about.
I only bring this up to remind you that those you love will someday, be gone. If you are estranged, pick up the phone. If you don’t know where your loved one is, try to find them.
Always remind those that you love that in fact, no matter what they might do, you will and do love them.
Thankfully, my son and I spoke almost everyday and we talked the day he died. We knew we loved each other and said it often and on that day.
We were clear on how we felt about each other. We said it then. There was nothing held back.
We weren’t prefect but we had a wonderful relationship that I will always cherish.
I hope he is at peace now.
I am left here with my wife to mourn his passing and to miss him forever.
Some say humor comes from tragedy and hurt.
Sadly perhaps, I have a lot of funny stories to tell.
I will be back on stage Feb.5, 2024 at The Long Beach Searches for the Greatest
Storyteller event at Malainey’s Grill in Long Beach, Ca.