We’ve been through thick and thin together going on13 years strong (reminds me of one of his favorite childhood songs, “you got a friend in me, we stick together and see it through, cuz you got a friend in me.”) From marathon sessions creating Play-Doh Godzilla to endless hours on the playgrounds at Amerige and Devir Park to countless hours spent shooting basketballs in the driveway – each moment recalled fondly, to say the least. My amazing grandson Christian turns 13 in March. Hard to imagine the concept “teenager.” I am beyond blessed to have had a key role during his childhood and to have shared that wonderfully imaginative world that he inhabits.
Peter, Paul and Mary sang “a dragon lives forever, but not so little boys.” So, much like the protagonist in Puff the Magic Dragon, “one gray night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more.” Replaced by NBA2K23, a Fender Electric Guitar (extra distortion please), AAU hoop, and (good grief) – girls. I tell myself that it is, okay, cycle of life and all that jazz. I’d have it no other way. But ya know what? I wouldn’t mind one bit spending another night (or ten) with three-year-old Christian – sitting on my lap, watching episode after episode of Chip ’n’ Dale, Donald Duck, the Wiggles, and Baby Godzilla v Mothra.
Lately Christian has turned to prose. An assignment in English Class piqued his interest. I’m hoping the creative writing bug has stung him good and hard. Proud beyond words of his first offering, he’s a natural (and far more talented than Papa was at his age!). Here he channels his inner Dr. Seuss using a “simile” as part of the assignment – not knowing what a simile was until I Googled it. Insert smiley face.
“It’s Raining” by Christian J. Falzarano: “Today is a very nice day. I think I’ll go outside to play. Oh no, no way, today there is rain. That makes me glum. I’m sad, I wanted to have some fun. It’s okay, I’ll just find something else to do. I’ve looked and searched the halls of the house, boo hoo. I just can’t find anything that will not make me a grouch. I have an idea. It’s silly, but fun. Why don’t we go outside to run and run? Oh no, there’s a problem, it’s still raining. It’s okay, just do it! Let’s run in the rain today. It will be fun, and you’ll have a good day.”
Christian has grown into a wonderful young man. Caring, loving, with a great sense of humor (and head of hair!), and if he sets his mind to it (and works on his mid-range-game), capable of setting the world on fire – destined for greatness. “Kvelling” beyond words, he could do no wrong in my eyes. My only disappointment: that the first 13 went too damn fast. Here’s to the next 13, bestie. Love ya, dude!
It is said in “Malden Musings” …
One more time with feeling: Malden, 1995. Twenty-eight years ago, Malden was on the cusp of greatness. A few pieces of the puzzle were still missing, but the foundation was being laid and it would be just a couple of short years away before we reached our full potential – Malden 2023. Granted, we’re still a “work in progress” but darn it – you’ve come a long way, baby (goodbye, “Beast That Ate Pleasant Street!).
Susan Lucey’s dad, Ed, was mayor in 1995. He was the first of the “enlightened” corner office holders we elected and in ’95 was being challenged by a young whippersnapper named Riche “Ace” Howard. Real Estate maven Kristin Gennetti’s father Henry was running a reelection campaign for Councilor-At-Large. And the guy who I predict will come in first in his age category at the next Irish American Labor Day Road Race, Marty Gately, was topping the ticket year after year by 1995. Future Atlanta Brave ace set-up guy Kevin McGlinchy announced he will let the pros wait and will opt for Central Florida Community College.
Meanwhile, the Malden Observer had their proverbial finger on the pulse of Maldonians, featuring a weekly column called “Speak Out” – a weekly forum for Malden’s most engaged citizens (think SeeClickFix but in print media). Maldonians were encouraged to anonymously leave voicemail messages on a recorded line which the paper would print, verbatim! It is laugh out loud funny! Here you go, Malden 2023, I bring to you five of the more coherent “Speak Out” diatribes from 1995, unedited, for your reading pleasure. My note: Maldonians liked to speak anonymously but when they did, they were very polite. Insert smiley face. Enjoy:
- Leash Up
“Whatever happened to that leash law?! I was walking down the street and was nearly attacked by a dog! Thank you.”
- Let the Buyer Beware
“I’m calling about the caller in today’s Malden Observer (‘Why couldn’t the Glenwood residents cross the road,’ Speak Out, Aug. 31) I don’t understand why she would write about the traffic on Glenwood St. Didn’t she know what the traffic was like when she bought the house? Wake up! Look at the street before you buy it!” Thank you.”
- Keep up Saint Rocco’s
“This is in regard to the letter concerning Saint Rocco’s (‘Caller should know better than to rap Saint Rocco’s Festival,’ Aug 31). I think it is one of the best churches in the city and I think the Saint Rocco’s Festival was great. Let’s keep up the good work. Thank you.”
- Some Thoughts on St. Rocco’s
“I am writing about the ‘Put an End to St. Rocco’s Speak Out,’ Aug 24). First of all, every year that I have been to this festival there were no kids drinking and this year was no different. Second, according to the people I know, the festival was a success. Third, the putting money on the statue thing has been going on for years. It is not sacrilegious. The people like doing it. If they didn’t it wouldn’t be done. Lastly, if you do not like St. Rocco’s, stay the hell away! Thank you.”
- Rude Police Officer
“On Wednesday, Aug 30, I was driving down Salem Street in heavy traffic and I noticed one police officer who swore at me and gave me the finger while he was conducting traffic. Now they wonder why people have attitudes towards the police officers in Malden, especially when small children are involved. Something should be done! Thank you.”
- Leash your Dogs
“I just want to say dog owners should keep their dogs on a leash. One time a dog was chasing me, and the owner called its name, and it didn’t even listen. Please, keep your dogs on the leash! Thank you.”
As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character ‘Columbo’ would say, “Just one more thing, sir” – in 1986 I took public transportation into Harvard Square and purchased, at the Harvard Book Store, a first edition hardcover copy of “A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.” It’s been devoured cover to cover over the years and is somewhat dog-eared at this point, but is still on the top shelf of my bookcase. I revisit it from time to time but always on that special day in January, MLK’s birthday. I go directly to page 289 on that date and have another go at his epic 1963 essay “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” His “open letter” to eight “liberal” clergymen from Alabama who disagreed with his methods is a wonder (pleasure) to behold. Inspiring, breathtaking prose culminating in this dagger of a closing paragraph: “Let us hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will pass away, and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty. Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood, Martin Luther King Jr.”
Postscript 1: All hail the greatest actress/entertainer of her time, the late, great Raquel Welch! From “One Million Years B.C.” to “Kansas City Bomber” to “Mother, Jugs & Speed” – Raquel could do it all! From her 1965 album, “I’m Ready to Groove” to her 1978 “Muppet Show” appearance – she proved time and again her versatility as an entertainer – like nobody before her (or after)!
Postscript 2: My father, Solomon, aka Zulick, wore his Star of David proudly right up until his last day on mother earth. A voracious reader, he had a saying after scanning the obituaries; noting the passing of yet another landsman, he’d say to nobody in particular, “We lost another friend today.”
Zulick, we lost another friend today…. rest in peace, “Adolfo Kaminsky, 97, forger who saved thousands of Jews in France.”
—Peter is a longtime Malden resident and a regular contributor to The Malden Advocate. He can be reached at PeteL39@aol.com for comments, compliments or criticisms.