A Precious Gathering in New York—June 2016
My recent trip to New York City was an adventure and a precious rite of passage. I came to be with family and friends and to experience a reunion; we had all gathered to lovingly scatter my mother’s and Michael’s ashes. Also, present were my cousins John, Anne, Lisa, and Bill and my Aunt Anne. With my brother’s family were Laird and Reina; Reina Erin and Chris Collier with their two little kids; John and Clare Lacey with their two kids, and Laird who is already a Grandfather.
The weekend’s purpose was to acknowledge my mother’s wish to have her ashes, and Michael’s ashes spread out on the beautiful Long Island Sound where they were always happiest—sailing, winning a few races, losing a few.
Our family, grandparents, parents, and cousins who are still hardcore members of the Seawanhaka Yacht Club, have raced many yachts, winning a few and losing a few and always loving their time on the glorious sea. This is where Mom met my father at the Junior Club and where they fell in love.
Another treasured aspect of this family get together was going for a wonderful sail on Cousin Bill’s yacht. His boat was loaded with cooler chests filled to the brim with fruit juice, beers, artisan water and great pizza. It was so fun to spend time with him and to reminisce about days gone by.
Michael and my mother;
The ceremony was quite special, brief but elegant; I hired a bagpiper to play at the dock before we sailed off. We know that my mother is in a far better place, now. She wasn’t in a healthy place for a long while. They both suffered from depression, which can be a lifelong health complication. My mother was a determined woman. She had a strong heart and was always ready to sail a yacht and with such joy!
Michael’s and mom’s health became complicated due to the doctors… well…. let just says…. I know better…and we all know better at this point. They both needed a better prescription than legal drugs a page long could provide.
My anxiety from taking care of my mother for almost every day for the last five to ten years—with both the good and bad—nurses and hospices—consequences, considerations and codependency is now over. Now, there is this felling of now what? Where do I go from here? The past few years, caring for my mother and Michael, well it affected my psyche a great deal. I am slowly coming to terms with it and gaining more peace. The ceremony was symbolic of a greater process of letting go. A time to cherish, recognizing her she was a wise person and saying a painful but happy goodbye.
Altogether, with my brother’s family, and my cousins, and Aunt Anne (so good to see her in good spirits!) I enjoyed and missed being with the jolly, upbeat laughter, the insights, the knowledge, kindness, Irish spirit, and the friendliness that was always such a great part of these wonderful people, who make up my family. There was a feeling of separation at the same time, which felt lonely, but one that I am very grateful for.
On the boat after their ashes were sprinkled out on the Long Island Sound each of us had a few words to share. Laird said a few words; I can only remember him saying that she was a “Grand Dame.” Reina Erin read a poem; Clare prepared and shared a lengthy letter to cherish, recognizing her wishes and her remembrances of mom.
I was a bit struck and felt regretful not to have written something up, and come more prepared to share what I will miss about mom and Michael. I wish I had written something to detail how beautiful they both were and are now in their spirits which have moved on. I only said I was so grateful for her—for her discipline and dedication to me as my mother, for the speech therapy she provided me with, recognizing that we are all capable and can grow and develop into better people. I am thankful for all the speech therapy and language skills, and the tutors that she provided me with and arranged. Without which I would not be here to understand the world as I do and/or speak much with that world.
I mentioned “Africa!” and then was quiet for a few moments. I realized Chip Loomis, my mother’s half-brother, who was invited, was also on the boat with us. I had totally forgotten to say—and wanted to say that mom was always so grateful for the Loomis’s and Debbie Farnsworth Loomis for the upbringing and the wonderful educational upbringing: the culture and society and the upper-class ambiance they always observed. They provided for her the opportunities of sailing, and her step-father Alfred Loomis Jr. joined the Seawanhaka Yacht club!
This is where she met my dad at the Junior Club of the Seawanhaka Club, so many years before. The faith and spirit of yachting continues to this day, and the joy and beauty that it gives us, also continues. I wanted to mention her music, and mention that she received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts the opportunity to attend an artist in residency program, to be able to write Chamber music scores, which were finally written to have been played at Carnegie Hall!
My mother was married and divorced twice, like so many women in the world. She raised three boys, I’m the third and youngest child. She was loving and caring and always so concerned to care for others. My mother’s background was in music. She played the piano, was a piano teacher, she composed chamber music, and even received two grants from the National Endowment from the Arts to attend an artist in residency twice at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. What an honor and a privilege! She finally composed a score, a chamber music and orchestral piece. Her musical score was played at Carnegie Hall. It was a full house on that night and all received a long standing ovation.
My mother’s parents Virginia Davis Loomis and her dad were originally Sydney Barnes Hosmer. Her step dad Alfred L. Loomis; were three generations of the Loomis family. They were Wall street investors and scientists who invented one of the first radar devices for the air force and Navy to navigate in the clouds off the Pacific during the WWII. The device was also part of The Manhattan Project: it was a research and development project that produced the first nuclear weapons during World War II. The project was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. What a huge achievement for all involved!
Mom was quite a bold person (the 1970s thing). She traveled and decided to reside in Kenya for five years emulating the British lifestyle—the Karen Blixen lifestyle, or Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa, and Elspeth Huxley’s The Mottled Lizard and The Flame of Thika; Memories of an African Childhood. We lived in the neighborhood of Karen, Nairobi and it was a beautiful landscape. My mother brought her piano along! She shipped it, can you believe it? So, we would always have her music. She played extensively there; teaching piano to the children in the international school and a few of the British school children there, too. She also brought along an Auto Harp and a couple of books of classic campfire songs to play with when Laird, Chip and I all were in safari for the first month we arrived there. Laird and Chip went back to the states: Mom in general, kept me to herself and away from other peers in New York and I was very fortunate in that regard, as she really was my first teacher.
Metrics, liters, centigrade, and Shillings; it sure was different. Kenya was alright though, and we got used to the malaria pills we had to take once a week. We got used to driving with the right hand drive, and on the left side of the road. Once I saw all of the game, even the Big Five animals, I really didn’t care much about them, beautiful as they were. The geography of Africa—especially the terrain is absolutely out of this world! It really is like being on another planet, it’s so very different. The landscape, and the geological evolution of the Rift Valley is also amazingly beautiful and an awesome part of the African landscape. After a while, it didn’t feel like I was in Africa, though I knew I was. Primarily, it was all high elevation, then the rainy seasons and the sunny seasons, areas of heavily forested sections and the other parts which were extremely arid. But I have so many fond memories of my life there and of my mother.
Some of the regions of Africa were for the most part relatively safe at the time, (the 1970s) in spite of the fact that Kenya was a one party parliamentary government. At the time Jomo Kenyatta was the first President and we know what that means: it was a brutal dictatorship. Diplomatic relations with the British and the various well-educated and well-suited Sikhs from India (their version of the FBI or CIA and the Scotland Yard) I’m not sure what it was called, well, they could be stressful. It was in the air—they had their own concerns and their own resources to protect, safety, and the best interests in tourism, diplomacy, banking, jobs, farming, and so on, to consider. The government was run by a tribe, the military was operated by another tribe, and the police by yet another tribe. Tribal issues could arise occasionally, and they could be divisive and sometimes dicey. There was once a close call of a military coup, but thankfully, it was resolved: It was a scary moment. Shit could really happen, there.
Anything and everything about Idi Amin in Uganda, was in the local daily newspapers. Just about every day there were articles about their problems and rampant corruption. Although, life was fun during the time—tourism in the 1970s was still an only for the rich trend. A lot was going on with the missionaries, UNICEF, Peace Corps. And the classic first class British hunting safaris, diplomats and bankers with their fancy cars and chauffeurs driving Mercedes, or Citroens, were very much part of the landscape, at that time.
I purchased a used Yamaha 100 trail bike from a guy who traveled in the Peace Corps. I went to high school attending the International School; a classmate friend, Jim Adams, also had a Yamaha. We were the motorcycle buddies of our campus. One time we went to see an old Bruce Lee movie at one of those old fashioned British movie theaters in downtown Nairobi. It was a full house, the Africans there loved Bruce Lee, it’s hysterical, when I think back on it.
I was so grateful for my mom, for the discipline, the tutors, speech therapists, the guided homework by them. Human beings are capable of being greater and of achieving much than we think they are. Recently, I read a book by Wallace Waddles “The Science of Being Great, Well, and Rich” it proves the point the same principles similar to Napoléon Hill “Think and Grow Rich” kick oneself in the ass.
Desire and discipline! Now, I understand. And I thank my mother for her gifts and her knowledge to share what she offered, and her loving faith in me. “Read the paper every day and you’ll see history is always repeating again and again.”
I was born with a serious hearing disability. She never lost faith in me. She bought the best hearing aids for me. I was taught to speak and was able to speak at the earliest possible. The age of three! That is normal for any child. I learned “Ga-ga” and a swear word or two until words were taught and I was able to properly speak them.
One day we were on safari and we picked up a hitch-hiker. She was an American woman hitch-hiking all alone, could you imagine all by her-self? Anything could have happened to this American girl from Wisconsin, alone and vulnerable. She happened to have graduated with a degree in speech therapy, we mentioned the International school, and suggested she apply for the job. Later, she got the job and I finished my speech therapy throughout the remaining years before graduating from high school. Learning to properly pronounce the letter “R” so it didn’t sound like a “W” was a challenge but I nailed it.
Mom was a Grand Dame: Her motto was entertainment; she made a lot of friends joining groups of all sorts. She organized and invited countless people to her wonderful cocktail parties, or fun and fabulous dinner parties, frequently inviting large groups of people. Not necessarily vain or pretentious, she was resourceful and engaged while sharing and listening to others stories and insights. she craved and enjoyed a good and lively debate. Good natured self-righteousness was her nature and her demeanor. It came not just from her but others as well; it seems that was the nature of debates, they sure could get lively and it was wonderful for me to watch and learn from them. And men simply swooned for her.
She joined numerous groups like the Geology Society, the Lamu Society, and a couple of others I don’t remember anymore. Meeting people was what she did best, it was exciting, and came naturally to her. She once met the grandson of the Austrian- Hungarian Empire Franz Josef. I’m not sure of the name and lineage, he had fled to Kenya from Austria after WW1 and had lived in the area for many years with a Belgian count.
Speaks beautiful English with a French accent—Josephine, who spoke French beautifully and participated in the French Cultural Center in Nairobi always drove a blue Mercedes convertible. It was probably the only one that was a convertible in that region. Franz always carried a gun in a holster under his vest. He once put his arm around my shoulder and said “Now you can tell all your friends in America that we’ve been friends, always!” They provided sumptuous dinners and teas in the grand dining room of their huge house where they occasionally invited European noblemen.
One evening she was invited alone and was all dressed up.
“Where you going mom?”
Mom told me later, after she had arrived for cocktails and then dinner, that she realized she was one of only two women seated with Josephine. They had prepared for her a selection of men, also present, who were available and primarily Noblemen. She looked across the long table. Franz Joseph smiled and nodded. She laughed. “Gee! that could have been a hell of a “The Bachelorette Party!”
One day, she let me tag along to a bird watching safari and later to have tea at one of the noblemen’s residence; where we had been invited. Chatting over tea with a book of birds she saw a rare bird and quietly said “Look!” The man said, “I don’t see,” and he would get closer to her. She would continue to point and yet still he didn’t see. He saw it all right; the man got a chance to nibble her arm. I said “Mom? Why is he biting your arm?”
I wish I would have taken a bunch more photos of that area in Africa. It's funny, I didn’t care much to take more pictures at the time, but looking back, I wish I had.
Today, I'm sure one can Google it though and gain access to lots of great images. It was a half hour drive outside Nairobi at the time, back when I lived there and as I recall it was a nice neighborhood of sturdy houses built during the British Colony years which was sometime between the 1930s through the 1970s.
It was also the area where Karen Blixen had a coffee plantation. She left to return to Denmark in the1930s. She was also known by the pen name "Isak Dinesen" who wrote the book Out of Africa. Thus the name of the neighborhood bring named after her. It was her large coffee plantation before a developer acquired it. She requested to have the district named after her. Especially after twenty five years.
How it is today forty years later I’m not sure but it probably has not changed much. The town, at the time when I was there, had everything at one intersection with a "round-about" and no traffic lights.
It had a gas station with an auto repair shop. I was surprised that it was pretty good and honest. There was also a police station, post office, two types of grocery stores and a red London style phone booth. And there was even a hair salon there I used to get a boys haircut. The person who cut my hair was a well-educated attractive lady who had a beautiful English accent. She could‘ve been a mix of exotic mixed blood lines from India.
The town also had a butcher; and believe it or not an excellent upholstery / furniture repair place. There are other little things I don’t remember.
British East Africa architecture, all over Nairobi and Karen, their sidewalks had those concrete tropical climate shelters, protection under the elements and some with ceiling fans and outdoor tea shops. Outside the hair place and the post office was a man with a sewing machine and a watch repair all in one table. He would repair my non-water proof watch if I had forgotten to take it off before going for a swim. He also would stitch up my old jeans. 1 Shilling = .40 cents to our Dollar. LOL, a great service.
Next to the hair place was a dive bar for drinks. The walls there were painted green and pink, with little three inch speakers mounted high up blasting echoing 70s music like Lady Bump sung by Penny McLean all through the place.
My brother Michael; he was a brilliant being who graduated from Portsmouth Abby, in Rhode Island. He graduated of course, with honors, and as a Catholic when he came out; as he said he was not a Christian. The monks there basically had taken him to a much higher plane of the spirituality quest. Something that is indescribable as something higher; a pure life, a pure energy, that was not anthromorphic and was almost identical with the highest form or practice of Buddhism. He said once, “You must not anthropomorphize the deity.” (Must not put god in the form of a man). Anthropo-Man. Morphe- Form in the form of a man. Deity (God) Latin words. I’m very proud of my brother.
He played the guitar and the saxophone, and had a wide range of knowledge in music, jazz and blues, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, and John Coltrane. The diversity of music played quietly with a regular guitar; sometimes really loud with an electric guitar and speakers as big as five feet tall. Music totally abstract, he was sometimes out of his mind, could almost be chamber music, eh, distortion beyond belief was essentially the tone.
The cat he had, when we lived in the house on 87 Cove Road, she would sit on his bed listening with her ears curled back. She would be lost in the woods when Mike was gone, when he came back to play, the house would start shaking like the dickens and the cat, she would come back out of the woods and sit content on the bed with her ears curled back. It was funny.
Mike began attending Harvard in the late 1960s and was kicked out during the Timothy Leary bullshit political thing. He was merely caught in the wrong place and at the wrong time. He was trying to finish his homework while they were camping out in the hallways at the fraternity; they were all stoned to be ridiculous and not considerate of others. They were trying to sleep, and lying around on other people’s beds and the students would try throw them out.
Michael was a brilliant person, knowledgeable, and educated. He spoke Latin and Greek languages, he was muscular and excellent in Football and Hockey, he knew team work in a good game. No trouble at all with women, he was attractive, confident, and capable. When he was picked on, smitten, and teased he became hurt and confused. He was my hero; I think back today. I understand now after so many years to reflect on it how important it is to know what a good connection with a woman is.
“It’s about the girl” thing; relationships good or bad. I didn’t know how to ask for more about girls because I didn’t know or think what to ask yet at the same time his demeanor was off and got in the way of my psyche. I had to learn the hard way and the long way. I couldn’t reach out to say to him stop messing around with the drugs, druggy friends, and give him a hamburger: GYST prep talk and work. He was truly my brother side by side considerate of each other and being a brother. We sailed several times. We would hang out or go eat, have a beer, go to a night club, dance, people watch and of course the girls. Life in New York was simply grand and less expensive in the late 70s and early 1980s than it is now.
Mike wouldn’t bat a fly, he was so gentle, yet he could be vulnerable, angry, mad, and paranoid, it was the mind, and he hallucinated sometimes. Too brilliant and angry mad was he at the results and consequences of how our parents were divorced. Schizophrenia; the mind addiction on drugs and alcohol, and he was a chain smoker, he was so co-dependent on our mother. She was also mental and had a control, overly causing consequences, Michael sometimes lost his grip.
Similar to moms’ schizophrenia, depression, and addicted to legal drugs that listed a page long. My dad and I would talk up and came up with a conclusion about mom and Michael; they were schizophrenics, and both with drugs legal and illegal so to speak. Doctors suggested shock treatments for both of them: Michael in the 70s and mom in 2004 and 2005. Did it really work? I don’t think so; I think it made them worse. It was so maddening.
Michael was a handsome dude he had potential with beautiful women and a long term relationship. Women had given him a chance, but he was in another frame of mind, delirious, and it was played out as dysfunctional. I’m sorry to say but brother Michael’s heart was broken. Some people say it was his choice. Yes, it was his choice, but…it was mom, too.
Codependency and depression can be generational thing and it can be inherited from generations and can lead to an addictive personality and can become quite serious. Like addiction to a hangover, that somehow never goes away, or seems to stop. But with valid emotions, so we do need to give them and all of us some credit.
Family dynamics can get in the way of practical thoughts and feelings. They could have been better managed to carry on rather than bend it all up by the consequences of so many of their actions. Science is working on this mental tragedy. Many of them believe it’s an allergy but what’s the allergy from? Where does it originate? They are working on the genetic and DNA angles to track down the pattern, historically. Yes, I know, I can only imagine in general when family dynamics gets all bent up and dysfunctional we get angry, mad and depressed about it. It impacts all of us, and differently, too. But, only if we can find the cause—the origin. When that happens at the same time, it could be a life saver.
Since Facebook was invented I was able to re-connect with family and old friends and neighbors where I grew up in Centre Island and Oyster Bay since I was a little boy. An old family friend, Karin Olsen, said she had lunch with Michael a few times in NYC in the early 80's and was shocked at his demeanor and how he had changed. She tried to talk about the times when they were kids but he was very nervous and distracted and only wanted to go back to his room and smoke pot. She was so sorry to learn that he died. “We were good friends as kids and I have fond memories of crewing for him on his green Blue Jay. Actually, some hilarious stories that I will tell you some time.” I think she cared for him and had given him a chance to continue the relationship.
Alice Bolloci, his last girlfriend, some people would say she allowed him to carry on with the drugs. But…..I think she did care for him…She thinks about him today.
Back in the 1980s, Alice called one day and mom answered the call, mom lied about where he was at. Mom’s thought and desire was to keep him safe and separate from Alice. She felt Alice was influencing him on the drugs all over again…Dam you mom—you broke Michael’s heart. Alice was reaching out! I’ll bet forgiveness’ love. I felt so missed out, on. With many health complications my brother passed away at the tragically young age of only 43. His ashes were spread out on the Long Island Sound the same day we spread moms, and for that I will always be so grateful.
In the early 1980s, when I was attending Parson’s School of Design in New York City, Michael was also attending some classes at Columbia University. He invited me to some of their fraternity parties on campus. He had me tag along, I was introduced to Kathlyn Hufnagel; she had visited to have tea, where I lived with mom in Chelsea. Kathlyn had been a close friend with Mike around the campus. It is such a small world that she moved to Portland so many years ago that we didn’t even know. Fifteen years ago, she happened to see my name and a few of my paintings of the bridges at the Rental and Sales Gallery in the Portland Art Museum; she then acquired to contact me. She was un-happy to find out that Michael had passed away. Occasionally we do keep in touch over the holidays and some of her house parties and occasionally attending my parties too; beer in hand chit chatting discussing debates and philosophical discussions and it is always a pleasure to hear from her.
The frat houses at the Columbia University are so beautiful with architectural heritage of New York City which is ancient old buildings. They have large doors, high ceilings with huge ornate medallions, and echoing hardwood floors and mosaic hallways with creepy creaky squeaky elevators. At the fraternity parties the students were very civilized well-educated well-mannered mingling with beer in hand chit chatting discussing debates and philosophical discussions. Some very nice looking women there, Michael was thoughtful to invite me and tag me along, and oh boy I was so tongue tied.
We all stayed at the Glen Cove Mansion, North Shore Gold Coast mansion with history, a glimpse into a dazzling bygone era that is impossible to forget. The Mansion was originally known as “The Manor” as the country house of John and Ruth Baker Pratt. It had many of the original architectural adornments, as well as the lovely sweeping views of Long Island Sound.
I don’t know about it and never had been to it, Laird picked a nice choice for all of us to stay with a short drive to Seawanhaka. As we drove around we viewed Greenvale, where Laird attended elementary and middle school before he went off to Taft. We drove through Locust Valley, down Duck Pond Road and around Portledge School where I attended elementary and middle school before leaving for Kenya, where I attended the International School of Kenya.
Recently, I was able to meet Grace Holland who lives in the Portland area. Her maiden name was Grace Hattersley, her dad Robert Hattersley of Locust Valley. I am tickled to have met a wonderful and beautiful person; we discovered she was in first grade when I was in 4 or 5 grade in Portledge, small world, eh? I still keep in touch with Will Balliett, as we have been friends since nursery 4. Will visited with me at Seawanhaka back when I was there the summer of 2015—the original plan when moms and Michael’s ashes were to be spread then; we had fun driving around in his Mercedes convertible; he’s a really classy guy.
The weekend in New York; one day we all decided to go to the city by train, on the Long Island Rail Road. Going into the city on that train riding and reminiscing the past was meaningful. We talked about the times when Michael, Laird and I were teenagers and we used to ride the train from Oyster Bay to New York City to visit my dad. The trains in the 1960s and 1970s were those old 1920 style black coaches. They had beautiful high arched ceilings, pull up open windows, window shades, and ceiling fans, $1.20 cents. Near bankruptcy, the tracks were rough causing the train to rock and roll creating a ping pong effect. The windows jammed and some of the shades were broken.
The W.C. had no toilettes and lights except a hole in the floor to aim at the wheels, we nodded that the ride was a little bit faster but has certainly has made a lot of improvements since then: Today $12, quite a change, huh?
After arriving at Penn Station it was a long afternoon walking around. An exciting and exhausting experience to see the highlights of that vast city. Twelve of us all walked to see the Empire State Building and Grand Central Station. Laird’s kids have never seen or been to either of them. I always find it so romantic to go up to the 100th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building and well…..the view all around New York City is…speechless…. I found Donald Trump’s black building, but who cares, right?
Walking through the fast, dense and impersonal crowds on 5th Avenue heading for Grand Central Station, we all noticed a Sabrett hot dog food cart, and later a Good Humor Ice Cream. No visit to New York City is complete, without these treats, so we had to indulge. It was fun.
Grand Central Station is the world’s largest, a gorgeous Beaux-Arts train station, the main concourse is the true show-stopper: Stand next to the iconic Grand Central Terminal Clock and look up to the Cathedral-like ceiling to admire the constellations, which, according to the original owners, the Vanderbilt family, were painted in reverse order as if to see the stars from a divine perspective. How clever.
The station has 44 platforms, the most platforms of any train station in the world. I still can’t imagine the many gates and tracks all those many levels below the various floors down, well it has to be pretty impressive! I gotta see it again, someday when I go back and ask for a tour of the station, by a professional tour guide. The famous Oyster Bar is known for many famous people who frequent there; we skipped that but stood briefly in midst of the rush and crowds of people in the grand main concourse to observe it once more. Then we went to a vendor in the lower concourse and found some tables to rest and got some iced tea.
Roosevelt’s private railroad couch and platform is 10 levels down. It rests down there, neglected and rusting deep below Grand Central station. It was where his armored train helped the heroic Roosevelt kept his secret of having polio. His limo would go up a dark tunnel and roll into an elevator up to the parking lot of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Fascinating!
You can tell I love riding the railroads! I feel I should’ve signed up for a job to work for the railroads like driving the engine. I would have loved it. Oyster Bay is at the end of the line where they used to have a turntable so that the engine can be moved back in the direction from which they came to reconnect the train ready for New York: These roundtables are no longer in use today. When I was about ten years old, one day, mom decided to take me to the Oyster Bay train station to take some pictures of me. She was always doing sweet things like that. She asked the engineer if Chris could go for a ride in the engine. The engineer was so friendly to allow me to sit in the engine to enjoy the ride; I climbed up on a LIRR Alco RS1-3 World’s Fair Scheme: Built in 1949. Here is a video worth watching the 1960s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZNpVWMj08w s
The video may be a bit long but you’ll get the idea of the time I grew up and of the atmosphere of the years I grew up, there. How the trains were and what they used to look like in all their glory. I’ll never forget how the track got so bad, and the rocking coaches, with the ping pong effects. No toilets and light switches but a hole in the dark to aim at the wheels. It’s funny to think about it now, so many years later.
After the Second World War, the railroad industry's downturn and dwindling profits caused the PRR to stop subsidizing the LIRR, and the LIRR went into receivership in 1949. The State of New York, realizing how important the railroad was to Long Island's future, began to subsidize the railroad in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966, New York State bought the railroad's controlling stock from the PRR and put it under the newly formed Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority (renamed Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1968). With MTA subsidies the LIRR modernized further, continuing to be the busiest commuter railroad in the United States. The LIRR is one of the few railroads that have survived as an intact company from its original charter to the present.
Back to Oyster Bay
A short subway ride back to Penn Station was hard on the little ones and exhausting for all, especially during the hectic rush hour. At Penn Station while waiting for our train for Oyster Bay the impressive experience I recall most was observing the people when a gate announced a train was coming. Suddenly there were crowds of people. Hundreds of people thumping and bumping and women with high heels coming from all over the station in droves and swarms, all heading for the gate. The trains are ten cars long and can fully carry a thousand people. High speed “people watching” for sure. You could say “watching people” going high speed. Laird was so funny to play-walk slowly through the crowd to see how they swam around him but never clobbered, him.
New York City
I arrived to NYC a day early before the family reunion, an important part of my trip; I arranged an appointment to see the people in Art Solutions and afterwards took a walk over to SOHO to see art at the Louis K Meisel Gallery. Art Solutions is a full service art consulting firm, collaborating with architects, designers and facility managers. This was the agency which bought two of my bridge paintings for the Morgan Stanley office located only two miles from where I live.
The funny story is Art Solutions had arranged Carol to be here in Portland to hang the pieces at Morgan Stanley in Lake Oswego. Carol at Forever Art Gallery in Portland does picture framing services. We laughed that she could have done it locally not having to ship the paintings all the way to NYC to have them framed there and shipped back. I didn’t get mad at them, but rather, I thought it was funny, I didn’t even mention it, life is interesting in that way, isn’t it?
Debbie and Nicole at Art Solutions are very nice people. We had a nice chat and they suggested to do more of paintings of the bridges. Maybe they might find a client who would buy; but no guarantees. I started to dig deeper getting acquainted with them their interests and they mentioned photography. Oh! That got them talking quite a bit. They shared abstracts of various skyscrapers with window reflections clustered with angles of other buildings composed in different perspectives and juxtapositions.
They shared an opportunity to go to the top of the George Washington Bridge. Huh, how did they get permission? They have a friend who works for the Port Authority—maintenances crew of the bridges of NYC. I ask if I could use their images for references. Sure! Yes, they said! A painting or two of the George Washington Bridge will come soon. Mostly, a close up and abstract view from the staircase inside the structure. Stay tuned, it will be interesting.
Louis K Meisel Gallery, link, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_K._Meisel) is in the SoHo neighborhood in New York City. It is a particularly good gallery I always enjoy going to see, especially I like seeing John Kacere’s work. He is known for his realistic paintings of the midsection of the female body. I enjoy his work very much; it’s pretty daring and has an amazing photorealistic quality, photorealistic images of torsos and beautiful hips with corsets, garters and lingerie and they are oh so beautiful -- sigh!
Louis K. Meisel Gallery specializing in selling art of Photorealism and Fine Contemporary Realist Art, coined the word PHOTOREALISM in 1969. He has written many of the books on the movement and the artists of the movement. Many of you have probably heard of Chuck Close, Mel Ramos, Richard Estes, and Ralph Goings.
I had fun talking briefly with the ladies there and I mentioned John Kacere. They shared with me two small original pieces hanging in the storage area. I asked if they had any prints or post cards of his work. One of the ladies thought for a minute and stood up to go to the back. She was gone for a while and I wandered for a bit, getting worried. John C. Kacere was an American artist, from Iowa, originally an Abstract-Expressionist; Kacere adopted a photorealist style in 1963. Nearly all of his photorealist paintings depict the midsection of the female body.
Suddenly, the sales lady came walking back with a poster OMG! An old poster, protected in excellent condition, from when it was the OK Harris Gallery, now closed. It was a poster of a John Kacere painting, of a midsection of the female body, lacy thong lingerie, corset, garters, and stockings. I asked how much? She shrugged $10 with shipping included. It is framed now hanging in my dining room. That was my lucky day and I thanked the ladies, there who had been so courteous and helpful. So, stay tuned. I’ll be doing a midsection titanic style, (big) maybe one of couples, cuddling.
A Louis K Meisel Gallery is like a living art museum of art collections from living and dead artists and current artists. Here, in this link is an example of a piece I remember noticing. It was pin-up art from the 1950s from a themed show they had displayed last year called “The Great American Pin-Up Returns.” A piece caught my eye because I love the chair in it, a black one, which was similar to one we used to have. Low Down Feelings by Gil Elvgren, ca. 1955, Oil on canvas, 30 × 24, $195,000!!!!!!!!!!!
I love this piece and I hope to get a poster of it someday, too. http://www.greatamericanpinup.com/artist/detail/index.php?aid=59&wid=1694
Now that’s just one piece of the many shows they’ve had, and sold countless objects of art, and have been selling art since 1969. I stopped looking at the price labels; I can see now how and why they can afford to pay the rent or own the space and how the two or three nice ladies get their pay checks. Please keep it alive, thank you!
They are still around after all those years.
My mother passed away Valentine’s Day of 2015. It was originally planned to do mom’s and Michael’s ashes August of 2015. It was postponed the last minute before the trip. I went to Long Island anyway and it was nice to visit with my cousins Anne and John. I would hang around and have a beer out in the veranda of the Seawanhaka and enjoy the view of Oyster Bay and the boats peacefully anchored there. There was a wedding prepared over the weekend and some people were coming and going. An older couple came out of the dining room and saw me “Oh, you look like a Mooney!?” they said to me.
“Yes, Chris Mooney.”
I mentioned Michael Mooney and Nancy Loomis. It was Peter Roosevelt and his wife. They were old friends of my parents who lived on Centre Island, and they remembered them well. I told them of the passing of mom, and they didn’t know that dad had also passed. He thought dad was still working in Washington DC. Another couple was there, Robert and Margaret Shiels. They were a relative, there for the wedding that weekend, and they came to visit from Texas. We chatted briefly over a continental breakfast out on the porch, and he remembered my parents too.
While I was hanging out with my cousins I was introduced to an older short man, Woody Glenn. He was an old friend of my dad when they were teen-agers. Woody remembered when dad was in the junior club when Woody was too young to join. Woody happened to be hanging out being friendly and my dad invited him to join let’s go for a sail. Woody never forgot that experience that was so much fun for them both. He knew my dad became an Olympic gold medalist, with the sailing team that won in the 1948 Olympics.
The whole point of this long memoir essay is that being there, while visiting the Seawanhaka Club and getting to see so many family members, and friends, I truly enjoyed the pristine, beautiful place and the memories that it brings back and that it represents. The prestigious, classical architecture with model boats and yacht wall trophies everywhere—the Oyster Bay—the hazy sky, the humidity and the waves lapping the rocks—it was lovely and unforgettable.
It was like a second home to me; I basically licked the floor there when I was a baby, having visited on and off since childhood. I love it and would go back to sit there any day of the week! Either to have a drink on the relaxing verandah or to enjoy a continental breakfast out on the porch—Eggs benedicts too. Coincidently, it was so nice to be there at the same time to see these people—all old friends of my parents and they are still alive, only older now.
And yet, they are still coming and still going to the yacht club. They are still around after all these years!