Tag Archives: New York

Throwback Thursday: “The Lone Ranger” (1949 -1957)!

No, I obviously don’t remember “The Lone Ranger” during its initial run between 1949 and 1957.  (At least I hope that’s obvious — I’m a couple of full decades younger than that.)  But I absolutely do remember this show’s reruns from when I was a baby … maybe around 1976, if I had to guess?  I would have been about four years old.   (I was five when my family moved out of that house in Queens, New York, to rural Long Island.)

I know that people who claim early childhood memories are often viewed with skepticism — I get it.  (And I think many of us are more prone to confabulation than we’d like to admit.)  But I’ve actually got a few memories from when I was a toddler — and this is one of them.

I can remember my Dad putting “The Lone Ranger” on in the tiny … den or living room or whatever, to the left of our house’s front door and hallway.  You see the part in the intro below where the horse rears up at the .31 mark — and again at the 1:53 mark?  That was a verrrrrry big deal to me as a tot.

Go ahead, tell me I’m nuts.  I can take it.  You and I live in an age in which conspiracy theories have gone completely mainstream.  If I share something online that seems implausible to others, I figure I’m in a lot of company.

Anyway, I pretty much forgot about The Lone Ranger after that.  There was a 1981 television movie, “The Legend of the Lone Ranger,” that was remarkably well done — especially for a TV movie at the time.  I remember being pretty impressed with that — its plot-driving scene where the good guys get fatally ambushed was unexpectedly dour.

But I never bothered with the infamous 2013 film.  I occasionally enjoy movies that everybody else hates — something that earns me a lot of ribbing on Facebook — so maybe I should give it a shot.  Hell, the trailer makes it look decent.  And HBO’s “Westworld” has really whetted my appetite for westerns … which is weird, because “Westworld” is decidedly NOT a western — that’s sort of the point of its central plot device.  But still.

 

Throwback Thursday: 1980’s urban legends on Long Island!

I mentioned last week when I wrote about “Mazes and Monsters” (1982) that the pre-Internet age still had its share of urban legends.  They were definitely a part of 1980’s kid culture in my little stretch of New York suburbia.  (Would they be suburban legends, then?  Borderline-rural legends?)  They were bandied about most often during the summertime — maybe because there were long, idle days when grade-school boys had little to do beyond swap the scary stories they’d heard.

A lot of it was predictable horror-movie fare — we’d all compared tales about prowlers who killed babysitters, or babysitters who killed their charges, or about a friend’s cousin’s neighbor’s classmate who’d discovered a razor blade in the their Halloween candy.

Some of the legends stemmed from our geographic area.  There were the giant turtles, for example, that emerged from the Long Island’s waterways to stalk our neighborhoods — that one I actually believed (and still do).  A fellow Cub Scout and his Scoutmaster father had both seen one, and if there’s one person you trust when you’re a Cub Scout, it’s another Scout and his Scoutmaster dad who backs up his story.  And every kid had heard about the Amityville Horror house.

Another local myth was the “gangs” who tore through our imaginations as nefariously as we thought they tore through the region’s woods and marshes.  (In addition to farmlands, Long Island has plenty of protected woodlands and wetlands.)  There were definitely adults who went into the woods to break the law — I think it was primarily drug users and underage drinkers, and people who dumped cars illegally and then stripped them for parts.  There were a few deep-woods graveyards, for example, of rusting white Volkswagen “Bugs.”

But in our fecund imaginations, the petty criminals who’d left them there were gangs of bikers and hippies and devil-worshippers and ruthless car thieves, who just might kill a few young kids if they found them playing army or going on a hike.  (All of us occasionally ventured miles into the woods for such avocations, while we told our mothers that we were only going to the next block.  If you were a boy in my neighborhood who didn’t lie to his mother to leave the area, you were considered a wimp.)

When you’re in the second or third grade, bikers and hippies and devil worshipers and car thieves all blended together in your mind into one single nebulous group.  (As an adult today, if I ever met someone who was a biker, a hippy, a devil worshipper, and a car thief, I would be thrilled to interview them for this blog.)  We’d found evidence.  There were frequently peace signs spray-painted on or around the junked cars we liked to play on; it was just a motif of the prior decade that was still a popular graffito.   One of our number gravely explained to the rest of us that it was actually a coded symbol for Satan — if you turned it upside down, the lines in the circle represented the head of a goat.

Continue reading Throwback Thursday: 1980’s urban legends on Long Island!

Longwood High School’s Mr. Anderson has left us. 

Rest easy, Charles Bassett Anderson.   Even nearly three decades later, his students in New York remember him fondly and are saddened by his loss.

Mr. Anderson passed away on January 16.  You can find his obituary at The Long Island Advance, where he was a contributor.  (He retired from Longwood High School in 1991, according to the Advance, just a year after I and my friends were fortunate to have him as a teacher. He then became a professor, first at Suffolk Community College and later at Hofstra University).

Mr. Anderson was a superlative educator, and was responsible for some of my best memories of high school.  He was a good, kind, temperate man who was easy to interact with, despite teaching a demanding course of study.  (His 1989-90 Advanced Placement English class was rigorous, and was designed to fully prepare public high school students for the far greater demands of college.)  Mr. Anderson taught me, among other things, that academia could be both challenging and (sometimes bizarrely) fun — and that we could demand a lot from ourselves and enjoy ourselves at the same time.

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: The ABC 4:30 movie in New York!

Here’s another very obscure Throwback Thursday post about broadcast television in the New York metropolitan area — this was the intro the ABC 4:30 movie.  People commenting here at its Youtube entry remember it from the 1970’s … I thought I remembered it from the very early 1980’s as well.  But I could be mistaken.

One commenter said that, as a young child, he thought that the image of the spinning camera-man looked like “a mechanical frog monster.”  I thought that as a kid too!

 

Amateur footage of Woodhaven, Queens, 1965 — 1967

I found these videos on Youtube.  They were taken between 1965 and 1967 in the neighborhood of Woodhaven in Queens, NY — where my family lived when I was a baby.  I wasn’t around in the 1960’s, but this is how the community looked around the time my siblings were born.

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: More of the WOR-9 Thanksgiving Monster Movie Marathon!!!

As I explained last year, monster movies were simply a part of Thanksgiving if you lived in the Tri-State region around New York City between 1976 and 1985.  This was due to WOR-9’s “Holiday Film Festival” broadcast, which actually also extended to the day following the holiday after the lineup’s first year.  (People just called it the “Monster Movie Marathon.”)

As a kid, I was a hell of a lot more thrilled with the monster movies than anything being served for dinner.  (Remember, video stores only began arriving the early 1980’s.  Before that, you usually had to catch a movie on television if you wanted to see it at all.  It’s why every house had a “TV Guide.”)

“King Kong vs. Godzilla” (1962) was one gem in the marathon.  (Or, at least, it seemed like an amazing film to a gradeschool boy.)  I was raised with the enduring myth that this Japanese film had two endings — an American version where King Kong prevailed, and a Japanese version where its native Godzilla was the victor.)  My Dad told me that, and I remember being fascinated that a movie could have two different endings.  I actually only learned just now, writing this blog entry, that it was a particularly widespread urban legend — stemming from an erroneous report in “Spacemen” magazine.  The American version of the film had tons of alterations, but the outcome was essentially the same — King Kong won.

There were always a few more Godzilla movies on the day after Thanksgiving, too.  “Son of Godzilla” (1967) was one of them; that was always hit with the kids.  (I could swear at some point there was a cartoon adaptation in the early 80’s.)  It was weird how 80’s kids apparently loved that ostensibly “cute” character; the adult in me today swears that “Son of Godzilla” looks like an upright, reptile-shaped poop.  (Seriously, check out the second clip below.)

“Godzilla vs. Megalon” (1973) was another one I seem to remember being pretty thrilled with.  I was even occasionally scared of the giant monsters in flicks like these.  (Hey, I was a little kid.)  Even as a first- or second-grader, though, I was smart enough to question why these movies were weirdly inconsistent.  (Why was Godzilla a bad guy who destroyed Tokyo in one movie, but the “good monster” that the Japanese rooted for in another?)

I’m learning now that “Godzilla vs. Megalon” was the target of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode.  I’m going to have to hunt that one down.

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: skipping church!

Here’s a vivid summer memory — and it comes to me courtesy of my dear old friend Sarah in New York, who posted this picture on Facebook not too long ago.  Below is the very beach on Long Island where my older brother and I would park in the early 1980’s when we were supposed to be at church on Sunday morning.

We would eat Entenmann’s donuts and we would listen to WBLI on the radio.  (If you are from Suffolk County, you can’t not hear the chipper WBLI jingle every time you read those four letters.)  If memory serves, the station played Casey Kasem’s countdown on Sunday mornings.

I was pretty young, and I was awed that my brother deemed me cool enough and trustworthy enough to conspire with him in playing hooky from the service.  I was fully complicit, too.  It was my job to run in and out of the church quickly before the service started, in order to grab the Sunday bulletin, with which my mother had instructed us to return every week.

The first time I colluded with my brother this way, I overdid it a little.  Upon our return and gave my mom a lot of unrequested detail about the priest’s sermon, and what it had meant to be.  My brother later pulled me aside in the room we shared, and gave me some sage coaching: “You don’t need to make up a whole big story.”  That was the first time in my life that I learned not to over-embellish a lie.

You see that?  You can learn a lot from a religious upbringing.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Peter Benchley’s “The Deep” and “The Island”

I mentioned these late-1970’s seafaring novels last week — they could be considered the “other” Peter Benchley classics.  Neither “The Deep” nor “The Island” had nearly the broad-based cultural impact of “Jaws,” of course.  But they were still pretty damned good.

I got my hands on the paperbacks in the 1980’s, after my Dad left them lying around the house.  (It’s funny how much of my reading material I inherited from my father or older brother during my formative years.  I wonder how many kids grew up like that and were thus influenced.)  Both books leaned toward being horror-thrillers, as “Jaws” did.

I saw the the 1980 film adaptation of “The Island” on broadcast television when I was in early gradeschool, and it freaked me the hell out.  It’s actually a pretty bizarre tale about a colony of throwbacks who murder modern boatgoers in the manner of 18th Century pirates.  (Check out the trailer below.)  It stars none other than Michael Caine, and also an Australian actress Angela Punch MacGregor.  (If that isn’t a badass Australian name for a lady, I don’t know what is.)

I read the original book when I was older — in some ways, it was even freakier.  There were some weird sexual undercurrents and potty humor that weren’t even necessary for the plot; Benchley was a little more out there than you might gather from the more traditional thriller that “Jaws” was.

“The Deep” was a scuba diving thriller; the book and the 1977 movie filled my adolescent head with ambitions of becoming a professional treasure-hunter.  I remember devoting a lot of thought around age 13 or so to trying to figure out if that was a realistic career aspiration.  (I supposed it all depended on what I found.)  There is a moray eel in the movie, and it is unpleasant.  It prompted me to adopt the neurotic habit of bringing a knife along on the summer snorkeling expeditions behind my friend Brian’s house.

Interestingly enough, Wikipedia informs me that Benchley returned to writing books in the late 1980’s; his last two novels in the early 1990’s sound pretty damn cool.  They’re both seafaring monster stories — “The Beast” and “White Shark.”  The latter even selects its victims from my native Long Island, New York.  Maybe I’ll pick those up this summer.

 

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Mary Washington’s grave and the Gordon Family Cemetery, Fredericksburg, VA, June 2017

The entrance to Kenmore Park/Memorial Park on Washington Avenue.  The obelisk itself is the grave of Mary Washington, George Washington’s mother; right behind it is the Gordon Family Cemetery.  Although George’s father died when he was just 11 years old, his mother saw him ascend the presidency.  She died in 1789.

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Looking east from the park’s entrance, you can see First Christian Church, on the intersection of Washington Avenue and Pitt Street.

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Washington Avenue looking south.

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Gordon Family Cemetery.  The Gordons lived at Kenmore; the gravestones date from 1826 to 1872.

If you were a Mary Washington College student returning from a party downtown in the 1990’s, you could pass the cemetery on your way back to campus at night.  I saw a group of high school kids inside the cemetery one night; they scattered in a panic when they realized I’d noticed them.  (To my knowledge, no Mary Wash kids were involved in shenanigans like that here.)  I believe it is illegal to enter a cemetery like this at night … and I have it on good authority that Southern cops take such an offense very, very seriously.

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Behind the cemetery is Meditation Rock.  This was an occasional destination for college students out for a walk.  Shortly after I arrived at Mary Washington in 1990 from New York, a patient group of upperclassmen “adopted” me and kindly resolved to keep me out of trouble.  (One of them is still my “big brother” today.)  This is one of the first places they showed me when they gave me a tour of the town.

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Am I a weird guy if I suggest that images of Meditation Rock can have Freudian undercurrents?  Is that wrong?  There is a whole “Picnic at Hanging Rock” vibe here.  (The sad thing is, I was actually studying Freud at about the time I first saw it, and it never occurred to me then.)  The juxtaposition with the nearby images associated with death and godliness is aesthetically striking.

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The Kenmore Apartments are still across Kenmore Avenue on the other side of the park.

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