Sunday, February 21, 2010


When I was a tot, our family had a canary named Cheap. The bird was named by my mother when my father, who wanted to buy a canary for himself, gave dear Momma a canary for her birthday. The bird never sang and Momma, who had to clean the birdcage and feed this hungry if quiet pet, named the bird Cheap in honor of the old man's parsimony. Sadly, one day poor old Cheap passed away.

People who have children know that a dead pet can never be replaced by the no pet option, however well that may serve the furniture and the family budget. Naturally the kids wanted a replacement for dear old Cheap. By this time my big brother was preoccupied with baseball and I, an eight year old, was left with the task of keeping up the inquiries concerning when we were going to get a new canary. I was weepy about losing our beloved Cheap, and the folks, perhaps realizing how lucky they were that we didn't want a dog, promised us a new canary.

Why a new bird didn't just materialize in the family I don't know, but it was decided that the bird would be my birthday gift. Being a December baby, dear Momma was relieved to have a fall where she didn't have to deal with bird baths and Hartz Mountain bird seed and gravel. Come November, my father and I started making expeditions to visit old Henry, who raised canaries in Bogota New Jersey. He had a huge labyrinth of bird houses beyond his driveway and he posed quite an interesting figure, always wearing a golf hat. My father asked him how old he was. He said he was ninety-eight years old.

One problem, though, is that he didn't have any canaries for sale for the first three visits. Whether this was caused by the weather in the Caribbean or because he wanted to make sure my father and myself would make good parents I don't know.

Finally, one Sunday after mass, my father drove us to the house and Henry greeted us with good news. He had canaries for sale. I looked through the birds and picked out one I liked. It had a cute hat like structure on the top of his head. Henry said I had good taste. My father turned ashen for a moment, seeing that I had picked out an expensive specimen of the species.

Nevertheless, we brought the bird home and my mother seemed happy to see the new addition. I got naming rights and I named the bird Henry, after the wizened old bird dealer. Henry was a fine member of the family and it sang and kept my mother company in the house when the rest of the family was away and Arthur Godfrey was not on television.

A few years later my brother had a New Year's eve party and the bird caught a draft and died on New Year's day. That was the last bird the family ever had. The next year we got a cat.

Editor's note: I have a new blog on Brigitte Bardot on the Sixties blog.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We have an excuse

People who graduated into a lousy economy (like my age group, class of 74) are doomed to make less money and have periods of unemployment throughout their lives. This according to a column by David Brooks in the New York Times. It wasn't our fault after all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another solution to the economic malaise

One of the problems with being over fifty is that you are too old to be marketable but too young to retire. I propose to change that. I would lower the age at which you would receive Social Security to fifty. And for those of us who have aches and pains in the morning I would decree that all you would have to do is send in a post card checking off your ailments (aches and pains, cholesterol, high blood pressure) and you would be immediately eligible for Social Security Disability.

America would become like France. The coffee houses would be full during the morning. The bars would be filled from noon onto the evening. We would all be happy and fulfilled in our lives. Doctors and rehab in the morning. Whiskey and beer in the afternoon. Hotels would be at capacity. Casinos and racetracks would be full of business. Restaurants would be busy. There would be a ready pool for volunteer positions. Unemployment would be below 5 per cent.

What this country needs in new ideas. To heck with the deficit.

Happy Valentines Day

Here is an old blog that you might enjoy. Keeping in the spirit, the picture is of St. Valentines Catholic Church in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I've discovered Facebook

After a little coaxing, I've joined Facebook. So far it has been interesting. I am now "friends" with people I haven't thought about in decades. I've seen pictures of the neighborhood kids I grew up with. As tykes and as granparents. It's sort of like a high school reunion. You get to see who got married. What kinds of jobs people ended up with. What people's kids look like.

So far no great surprises. Everyone is successful it seems. Still, like high school reunions, the people who ended up in jail or in the French Foreign Legion are less likely to turn up on Facebook.

So far no one has turned up from my past and asked to borrow money. Of course I have only been on for two weeks.

Facebook is also fun in that you can put up movies and links to neat stuff. Your favorite tv shows and bands also have Facebook pages. I'm waiting for someone to tell me I missed out on the golden age. There are always people on anything who remember when it was better than it is now. Like when you had to understand Unix to go on the Internet.