Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Not Just Another Twenty-Four Hours...

The Missus and I made landfall in Lower Manhattan at or about 3:00 pm on Saturday afternoon.  By the time we had crossed the river back over to the Jersey side at or about 3:00 pm on Sunday afternoon, we had had ourselves one hell of a time in the big City.  Among the things we did - of which you shall see no photographic evidence (while many others did, it simply struck me as a place the solemnity of which overrode the desire to take pictures) was visit the National September 11 Museum.  It was, for me, as heart-wrenching, as poignant, as sad and as starkly beautiful as I had anticipated it would be.  

Here's a quick glimpse at how we spent our 2014 Tunnel to Towers Weekend in New York City.  Enjoy.  We most assuredly did...

World Trade Center - 09/27/14

FF John Michael Collins - Ladder 25
Immaculata High School '76

FF John Michael Collins - Ladder 25
Immaculata High School '76

World Trade Center - Dusk 

National September 11 Memorial and Museum

World Trade Center - Night

T2T Sunday - Pre-Race
Red Hook, Brooklyn 

T2T Sunday - Pre-Race
Red Hook, Brooklyn

Engine 202/Ladder 101 
Red Hook, Brooklyn

New London CT meets London England
Red Hook, Brooklyn 

FF running out of Brooklyn Battery Tunnel 
Full Gear - 09/28/14

Members of FDNY greeting runners on Manhattan
side of Brooklyn Battery Tunnel - 09/28/14

FDNY Fire Boat in Hudson River as seen 
from Battery Park Esplanade - 09/28/14

2014 T2T Sand Sculpture

2014 T2T Sand Sculpture 

Never Forget.  Not Today.  Not Tomorrow.  Not Ever.  


Monday, September 29, 2014

The Perils of Tugging on Superman's Cape

I know better.  First of all, I am Irish.  The Irish are a people so steeped in - and occasionally paralyzed by - our belief in superstition, luck and fate that we keep an eye out for leprechauns, pots of gold and shamrocks while contorting ourselves like pretzels in order to kiss an effing rock.  These actions are wedded not in logic.  

Second of all, I am my mother's son.  Joanie K. is an ardent believer in not poking Fate in the face.  By way of example, Mom has never embraced the notion of the "pre-arrival of the baby" baby shower.  To Mom's way of thinking, the shower should await the birth of the baby and the declaration that mother and child are both healthy and happy.   

I know better.  Yet, I put the metaphorical cart before the horse anyway.  Margaret and I have spent the past several months looking for a home down the Shore.  The short-term plan is that it shall be a nice play to spend summer weekends.  The long-term plan is that it shall be where we spend every weekend...as well as the weekdays in between.  I will be forty-eight in February.  My plan is to be living at the beach full-time by the time I turn fifty.  There is a peace inherent in the ocean that I have yet to find anywhere else.  

We reasonably believed that we had found our little piece of seashore paradise.  Both of us were very, very excited about it and allowed our excitement to color how we viewed the process, which was as if was complete when it fact it was not.  For reasons far too aggravating to discuss in detail here, the deal fell apart several days ago.  

To borrow a phrase from the Moody Blues, "we all begin anew once more, we all begin anew".  Lesson learned.  There shall be no celebrating, no discussing, no posting of photographs and no mention of the process until a closing occurs and we take possession of whatever home we shall purchase.  

Being my mother's son has been helpful to my psyche these past several days.  I have said often to myself over and over the words that Mom has said - not only to me but to all of us - repeatedly throughout her life, "Everything happens for a reason."  Right now, what that reason is eludes me.  But it matters not.  The one door has closed.  Now, we must await the opening of another. 

And we shall do so in silence.  

Lesson learned.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Every Step We Take

It is Tunnel to Towers Sunday in New York City.  The 13th Annual New York City Tunnel to Towers Run shall begin this morning shortly after 9:30 am with thousands of runners, walkers and Wounded Warriors making the journey from the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel into Lower Manhattan and, ultimately, finishing in the shadow of the World Trade Center.  

What the Siller family has done, creating something wonderful out of something horrific, remains beyond my limited ability to comprehend.  I do know that what they have done and what they continue to do to positively influence the lives of those who truly need assistance is nothing short of remarkable.  In doing so, they honor the memory of their brother Stephen and his 342 brothers of the FDNY who died in Lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 so that others would not. 

Today is the fifth consecutive time that Margaret, Gidg and I have experienced Tunnel to Towers Sunday.  It has been written that a picture's value is equal to that of one thousand words.  I presume that when the words are those of an idiot, the exchange rate is ratcheted up even higher in favor of the visual image.  

In the words of the great, under-appreciated Joe Jackson, "Here goes your proof"...

2010 Tunnel to Towers Run

Engine 202/Ladder 101 
Red Hook, Brooklyn

Starting Area 
Brooklyn Battery Tunnel

2010 Sand Sculpture

2011 Tunnel to Towers Run

FDNY Memorial Wall 
Ten House

FDNY Members honoring the 343
View coming out of Battery Tunnel

Best Vanity License Plate Ever

2011 Sand Sculpture

2012 Tunnel to Towers Run 

Antoinette Duger, 
Cousin of my friend Gerard Gonnella

FDNY Fire Riders Motorcycle Club

2012 Sand Sculpture

2013 Tunnel To Towers Run

Full gear running through
Brooklyn Battery Tunnel

FDNY Receiving Line 
Manhattan side of Tunnel

2013 Sand Sculpture


Saturday, September 27, 2014

At September's End

While it is an event for which I wish its reason for being did not exist - a sentiment echoed by each person who is responsible for putting it on every year - this weekend the Missus and I shall be in Lower Manhattan for one of the most meaningful events, annually, on our calendar.  It is Tunnel to Towers Weekend.  Tomorrow morning, shortly after 9:30 or so, Jeff, Gidg, 2014 Rookie Brooke  and I, having ridden the ferry across the East River from Manhattan to Red Hook, Brooklyn, will join 15,000 or so other runners and walkers for the 2014 NYC Tunnel to Towers Run.  As she did last September, Margaret shall find a spot in the Battery Park Esplanade from which she can seamlessly join me on the course and shall run the final 3/4 of a mile or so with me.   As I understand it, the plan calls for Brooke's husband, Mike, to do likewise.  

We are this year - as we did last year - making a weekend of it in New York City.  While I have lived within an hour's drive of Manhattan for my entire life (save for the four years I spent shuffling as a Buffalo), I rarely go into the City.  I am not licensed to practice law in New York and can think of only two occasions - in twenty-plus years - on which I have crossed the river from the Jersey side for work.  This weekend's trip is likely the first one I have made into Manhattan since mid-December.  Margaret and I ventured in one Sunday a week or so before Christmas to see the tree in Rockefeller Center and to see the Rangers play (she had never been to a Rangers game at the Garden).  

I use this annual pilgrimage to mark not only time but also the progress being made at the site of the new World Trade Center.  Hopefully, at some point either today or tomorrow I shall remember to take my annual "Tommy Tourist" shot of the building so that I can, thereafter, compare how the building looks now against how it has looked in years past.  To date, the transformation from one year to the next has been nothing short of extraordinary - and inspiring...

New World Trade Center
T2T Weekend 2010

New World Trade Center 
T2T Weekend 2011

New World Trade Center 
T2T Weekend 2012

New World Trade Center
T2T Weekend 2013

I wish I could say that photographs of Yours truly taken annually on this occasion over each of the past four years would mirror the same graceful, beautiful growth as these photos.  I cannot.  Well, I could but no one, including Yours truly, would believe such an obvious lie.  

This afternoon, we shall spend a considerable amount of time on the hallowed ground of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.   While the Memorial has been open to the public for several years now - and is among one of the most starkly beautiful places I have ever been - the Museum has been open only since this past Spring.  Today shall be the first time that any of the six of us have been inside of its four walls.  I reasonably anticipate that the time spent there shall reduce most - if not all - of us to levels of almost inconsolable sadness.  I know, however, that it shall be time well spent.  It is a trip that I am very much looking forward to - again with the caveat that my preference would be that a need had never come into fruition to construct it.  

Unfortunately, it did.  Today, we shall be among those who pass through its doors to pay our respects to the lives and the memories of those who died on that terrible Tuesday morning thirteen Septembers ago and to honor the promise that each of us has made - or most certainly should make - to never forget them.  Today.  Every day.  Always. 



Friday, September 26, 2014

From Empty Bars Where Guitars Ring Out

Tonight, now I see old friends 
Caught in a game they've got no chance to win.
Gettin' beat and then playin' again,
'Til their strength gives out or their heart gives in...
- "None But The Brave" 
Bruce Springsteen

On Wednesday afternoon I made the pilgrimage to Staten Island - to the Petrides School - to pick up our bibs and race gear for Sunday morning's Tunnel To Towers Run.  The New York City Tunnel To Towers Run is, of course, the signature event of the Siller Foundation, whose Mission is as powerful as it is succinctly stated: 

The Mission of our Foundation is to honor the sacrifice of firefighter Stephen Siller who laid down his life to save others on September 11, 2001.  We also honor our military and our first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country. 

Wednesday brought a sad confluence of events.  For it was on Wednesday that the FDNY announced that on Monday, September 22, 2014, three members of the FDNY who had worked at Ground Zero in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, had all died that day as a direct result of illnesses they suffered as a result of their work there.  On one terrible day, the specter of September 11, 2001 raised its sinister head and claimed three more members of the FDNY.  

Firefighter Daniel Heglund was a member of Rescue 4 in Woodside, Queens.  Illness forced him to retire in March, 2003.  He retired as a 21-year veteran of the FDNY.  He was fifty-nine at the time of his death on September 22, 2014.  Had he lived, he would have celebrated his sixtieth birthday on Tuesday, September 23, 2014.

Firefighter Robert Leaver was a member of Engine 202 in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Illness forced him to retire in May, 2003.  At the time of his retirement, he had spent twenty years on the job.  He is survived by his wife Rosaria, his father Joseph and several siblings.

Lieutenant Howard Bischoff was a nineteen-year veteran of the FDNY when illness forced him to retire from the Department in May, 2003.  Lt. Bischoff was a member of Ladder 149 in Dyker Heights.  He was fifty-eight years old when he died on Monday, September 22, 2014, leaving behind his wife Sheri, his children Christian and Lindsey and numerous other family members and loved ones.   One loved one who he did not leave behind was his lifelong best friend, FF Robert Leaver.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C. far too many of the men and women who we the people of the United States have elected - ostensibly to do the will of the aforementioned people - spend far too much of their time dicking around with faux issues such as the mock outrage associated with President Obama, while exiting Marine One, saluting a United States Marine while holding a cup of coffee (A non-story now as it was when President G.W. Bush (#43) saluted a Marine while carrying his dog off of Marine One) and far too little time doing the important business of the people.  What important business?  I am happy you asked.

How about a little something such as authorizing the proposed twenty-five-year extension of the Zadroga Act?  Let them start with that and work their way outward from that point...

Now who's the man who thinks he can decide
Whose dreams will live and who's shall be pushed aside
Has he ever walked down these streets at night
 And looked into the eyes of  

None baby but the brave
No one baby but the brave
Those strong enough to save


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Farewell to the Captain & the Voice of God

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.
 America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. 
It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. 
But baseball has marked the time. 
This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. 
It reminds of us of all that once was good
 and it could be again.
- Terence Mann "Field of Dreams" 

Forty-six years ago today, on September 25, 1968, Mickey Mantle played his final home game as a member of the New York Yankees.  The '68 Yankees were a dreadful team and had long been eliminated from contention by the time the season's final home date, which was a 2:00 PM matinee against the Cleveland Indians, arrived on the calendar.  Perhaps had Mantle announced in Spring Training 1968 that the '68 season was going to be his last, then the stands would have been filled.  He waited until Spring Training 1969 to make that announcement.  Thus, with fewer than six thousand spectators in attendance, The Mick's final game in pinstripes featured him getting the Bombers' only hit in a 3-0 shutout loss to the Indians and their 21-year-old sensation, Luis Tiant.   

In 1968, the 25th of September was a Wednesday.  Three days later, on Saturday September 28 at Fenway Park in Boston, Mantle played his final game.  He popped out to shallow left field in the top of the first inning - against Jim Lonborg.  Mantle manned his post at first base in the bottom of the inning but both he and Yankees manager Ralph Houk knew he was not planning on staying there.  Once the Fenway Park P.A. announcer called the name of the first Red Sox hitter, Houk called time.  Andy Kosco emerged from the Yankees dugout to replace Mantle, who limped off of the field to a nice ovation from the Boston crowd, down the steps into the clubhouse and, immediately thereafter, to Logan Airport and a flight home to Dallas.  

This evening, Thursday, September 25, 2014, one fraught with quite a lot more fanfare and emotion for those in attendance, this generation's Mickey Mantle shall wear Yankees pinstripes one final time.  Derek Jeter plays his final home game as a member of the Yankees.  Well, he does so as long as Mother Nature, who sometimes wears the scowl of a cantankerous old broad, permits him to do so (The sight of three llamas at the Bronx Zoo playing "Rock Paper Scissors" for the two spots on Russell Crowe's luxury liner is less than encouraging).  Three days from now - in Fenway Park - his remarkable career comes to its conclusion.  The symmetry between the final acts of Mantle's career and Jeter's is eerily appropriate.  The starkly different manner in which each approached his final season, including of course his final days, cannot be overstated.  

Whenever Derek Jeter's final at-bat occurs tonight, those lucky enough to be in the Stadium, listening on radio or watching on television shall hear "the Voice of God" announce Jeter's arrival into the batter's box for the last time.  The late, great Bob Sheppard recorded an introduction for Jeter - at Jeter's behest - shortly after illness deprived him of his ability to come to the Stadium on a daily basis.  Sheppard's voice is the only voice that has ever introduced Jeter at the Stadium.   In view of the fact that Bob Sheppard arrived at Yankee Stadium the same year as Joe DiMaggio, it strikes me as eerily appropriate that his exit from the Stadium shall coincide with Jeter's.  He arrived in the company of another all-time great.  He shall depart in the same manner. 

It was thirteen Autumns ago that Jeter and the Yankees lost the greatest World Series I have been alive to watch when Arizona bested them in seven games, winning Game Seven with a one-out hit in the bottom of the ninth inning.  That year, the people of these United States - and in particular those of us who lived in the New York Metropolitan area - endured the longest Autumn of our lives.  September 11, 2001 was a day that lasted far longer than its allotted twenty-four hours.  

One of the things that kept me going - and kept us going in our house - was the post-season run of the Yankees.  They rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the Best-of-Five ALDS to the Oakland A's to win the American League pennant and earn the right to compete in their fourth consecutive World Series. And in the middle of it all was Jeter, from "the flip" in Game Three of the ALDS in Oakland...

...to the extra-inning, game-winning home run in Game Four of the World Series that earned him the sobriquet "Mr. November".

If one needs reminding that among the things that makes sports compelling is that it is real-life, unscripted drama, then one needs to look no further than this final season of Derek Jeter's "Made-for-Hollywood" career.   In the hands of Spielberg or Disney, the retiring superstar leads his rag-tag team to victory in his final World Series.  Here in the real world, no such happy ending awaits.  At day's end - at a career's end - perhaps it matters not at all.   For it is the way in which Jeter's race has been run that shall be remembered long after tonight's game ends.  

And long after this season ends as well.  Farewell #2.  Thank you for the memories you created for me.  More importantly, thank you for the memories you have created for my son, which memories Rob shall be able to one day share with his son should he be so fortunate as to have a son.

It is, as the song says, time for the final curtain.  Take a decadently long bow.  You have most assuredly earned it...


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

All Aboard!

Well, I will provide for you
And I'll stand by your side.
You'll need a good companion now 
For this part of the ride.
Leave behind your sorrows
Let this day be the last
Tomorrow there'll be sunshine
And all this darkness past...
- Bruce Springsteen 

On this very day, twenty-six years ago my sister Kara and my brother-in-law Russ made that very promise to one another.  It is a promise they honor daily through twenty-six years and three sons.  

May today be yet another sunshine-filled day.  May any darkness that stalks their life recede further and further into their rear-view mirror...

...and may big wheels continue to roll through fields where sunlight streams.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Prayer For Our Fallen Brothers & Sisters

Today is Bruce Springsteen's birthday.  The Poet Laureate of Freehold is sixty-five.  

Slightly more than thirteen years ago, on September 14, 2001, in the immediate aftermath all that had happened seventy-two hours earlier, he led off the nationally-televised "America:  A Tribute to Heroes" concert by dedicating to those killed on United Flight 93, at the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center a lyrical prayer that he had originally written for his adopted hometown of Asbury Park, New Jersey.

The following summer Springsteen released his first album in almost two decades with the E Street Band.   Almost a decade and a half later, there are songs from The Rising that resonate with me as deeply as they did when I first heard, if not deeper.  Yet, none of them has ever packed - for me - the same emotional wallop as the stark, sparsely arranged version of "My City of Ruins" that he played on that Friday night in September slightly more than thirteen years ago...  


Monday, September 22, 2014

And Then There Was Six...

We mark the end of Summer today.  Autumn's arrival is upon us with tomorrow being the first full, twenty-four hour day of the season.  

I shall not clutter Summer's final hours with unnecessary words.  Instead, I shall say simply this.  On Summer's final Saturday, Sue's Crew VI celebrated the life - and honored the memory - of our namesake, Suzy B., with the largest turnout we have had in our six-year history.  In a year in which we also celebrated the life - and honored the memory - of the recently departed Diana "Hazel" Kizis, it seemed damn appropriate that our Crew was bigger than it had ever been.  

"Thank you" seems hopelessly and obviously inadequate to convey the appreciation that Margaret and I have to one and all who gave up a portion of their Saturday to be there for Suzy B., for Hazel and for us.  Regardless, "Thank you".  Very, very much...

Rosalita - Team Mascot

Connie, Jess and Zoe

Sue Kizis ("Gidg")



Kara ("Stella")


Maggie and Tammy


Jess and Zoe

My Gals:  Margaret and Suz


Margaret and Gidg showing off 
the Hazel "H"

The Crew


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bandanna Man

When my niece, Bo, and nephew, Kelly, who are the first two-thirds of the Kelly/Linda branch of the family tree were both small children they used to watch a cartoon on Nickelodeon, Danger Mouse.  Occasionally "DM" used to be coupled with an animated short entitled Banana Man.  More than a quarter-century later, I still recall the narrator's declaration at the beginning of every episode:  Eric is Banana Man!  

Only within the jurisdictional limits of his animated world was young Eric actually a super hero.  In the concrete and mortar world, there was no Banana Man. 

Fortunately, in the real world there was a young man named Welles Remy Crowther.  Young Mr. Crowther was slightly more than two years removed from having graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in Economics and four letters as a member of the Eagles' lacrosse team when he reported for work on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 at Sandler, O'Neill and Partners, LP.  Sandler O'Neill was located in the South Tower of the World Trade Center - on the 104th floor.  An incredible athlete and a bright young man, Mr. Crowther had a big future.  He also had a well-developed sense of community and selflessness.  Born and raised in Nyack, N.Y., he became a junior member of Empire Hook & Ladder, Company No. 1 in Upper Nyack, New York at age sixteen and a full-fledged member of the Company at age eighteen.  

Welles Remy Crowther, slightly less than four months past his twenty-fourth birthday, died on September 11, 2001.  He was one of sixty-six victims from Sandler O'Neill.  It took a little more than six months after that awful day for his body to be recovered from the rubble that had once been the South Tower.  And it took approximately two months thereafter for his family, who grieved him then and grieves him still, to come to learn that Welles Crowther lived the final minutes of his life with same generous spirit and the same drive and determination as he had lived every other one of them. 

On May 26, 2002 the New York Times ran a story in which survivors from the South Tower credited their survival to a young mystery man.  He was "the man in the red bandanna" who appeared out of nowhere in the Sky Lobby on the 78th floor of the South Tower at or about the time that the South Tower was struck by the second plane.  According to eyewitnesses, nothing identified him as a "Wolf of Wall Street".  He was not wearing a jacket and tie.  Rather, he had on a t-shirt and he had a red bandanna over his mouth and nose, which permitted him to function amid the smoke and the swirling debris.  

People who bore witness to what transpired on that terrible morning described what he did:  

This man organized a rescue effort on the floors high above where the official rescue workers were able to reach. He called for fire extinguishers, he found and directed dazed and confused victims to the only stairwell that was open for escape, and he carried a woman down to the 61st floor, then returned to the 78th floor to rescue more people. He turned back up once again after bringing the second group of survivors down.  Eyewitnesses report that the man spoke calmly, with authority, and was obviously well trained. He is reported to have saved many lives that day.

Not everyone has a "thing", a habit or trait with which he is readily identified.  Welles Crowther did. When his mother read and/or learned of the New York Times piece, she thought immediately of her son, giving consideration to where his body had been found, which was alongside FDNY firefighters and paramedics near a Command Center on the ground floor of the South Tower, and the fact that he always carried a red bandanna in his back pocket.  He had done so since he was six years old. Photographs of Welles Crowther were shown to those who had benefited from his help on the final morning of his life and they confirmed what Mrs. Crowther knew:  Welles was Red Bandanna Man

His family, in 2001, established the Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust, the mission of which is "to honor and keep their beloved son's memory alive through good works benefiting young people."  In the thirteen-plus years since his death, the Trust has funded a wide array of gifts and annual awards.   It has repeatedly and continuously achieved its mission.  

On Saturday, September 13, 2014, the #9 USC Trojans traveled from West Coast to East Coast to play Welles Crowther's Alma mater, Boston College, in a college football game in which the Trojans, having defeated the Stanford Cardinal one week earlier, were established as the clear favorite.  In honor of Welles Crowther, the Eagles took the field wearing special-edition Red Bandanna uniforms

I know not whether the clothes do in fact make the man but one week ago Saturday they sure as hell did not hurt.  Boston College defeated USC 37-31.   In their locker room after the game, Head Coach Steve Addazio presented a game ball to Alison and Jefferson Crowther, the heartbroken yet proud parents of the heroic Red Bandanna Man.  

One hell of a young man... 

...but I suspect you did not need me to tell you that. 


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Do The Crew

Something that was borne of out the despair visited upon Margaret's family in the wee small hours of the morning of June 2, 2009 shall enjoy its sixth iteration this morning.  The rag-tag, happy-go-lucky ensemble known as "Sue's Crew" shall run, walk and/or a bit of both today in Roosevelt Park in Edison Township, New Jersey at a breast cancer fundraising event known as the Janice Garbolino 5K.  This year's Crew is Sue's Crew VI.  

I think - although I went to law school in significant part because I possess no actual aptitude to do anything and, also, to avoid math - that this year's Crew is our largest one ever.  We are forty strong. An assemblage of family, friends and all-around good folks who are willing and able to give up a piece of a Saturday morning to join the Missus and me in something that is very important and dear to us.

Margaret is very happy that the Texas Tornado shall be with us this morning.  The past two years, Suzanne was living in the land where the stars at night are big and bright and while she was with us in spirit - and she and Ryan ran each year resplendent in their Sue's Crew attire in breast cancer races in Houston - this is the first time since 2011 that she will be with Margaret on race day.  Suz has taken on the role of Margaret's personal trainer since she moved back to the State of Concrete Gardens and, as I understand it, the two of them are going to run together today.  

I am beyond pleased that in addition to my sister Kara and her youngest son Jordan, both of whom participate on our Crew every year, my oldest niece Jessica (Evan's oldest daughter) and Jess's daughter, Zoe, are both taking part this year as well.  I have never met Zoe and am really looking forward to doing so.  The indomitable Joanie K. is a 30+ year breast cancer survivor.  Mom and Suzy B always got along famously but after the latter was diagnosed with breast cancer in the Spring of 2004, they became almost soul sisters.  Mom used to send cards with little inspirational messages on them north from Florida on a regular basis.  They also spoke frequently on the phone.  Given the strength of their bond, it gladdens my little briquette of a heart that Mom is represented on this year's Crew by three generations:  Kara and I (children), Jess and Jordan (grandchildren) and Zoe (great-grandchild).  

We run this year - as we do every year - to celebrate the life of Suzy B and to honor her memory.  This year we run as well to celebrate the life and honor the memory of Diana Kizis, the matriarch of the Family Kizis.  It was slightly more than three months ago that she lost her spirited, valiant battle against cancer.  The Kizises have been like family to Margaret for practically her entire life and it has been among my greatest of privileges to have had them treatment me in like fashion for the past quarter-century or so.  Her daughters lovingly called their mom, "Hazel", which is why this year's team shirts include a handwritten "H" on the left sleeve.  A handwritten "H" written by Hazel's hand. 

I hope that this morning the weather in which we shall run matches the spirit with which we shall do so.  Any time one gets to spend quality time in the company of quality people, one is having a good day. 

Today, I shall have one hell of a day...

Sue's Crew VI Team Shirt (Front)

Sue's Crew VI Shirt (Back)
w/the "Hazel H" on the left sleeve


Friday, September 19, 2014

The Bonds of Brotherhood

I am an abysmal raconteur of the Kenny family's family history.  I could try to foist my lack of knowledge off on the fact that as the tail-gunner in a family of six children, a lot of what comprised said history occurred long before I came upon the scene and the tradition of passing down an oral history petered out in our house before I made my appearance.  Truth be told, it has far more to do with my own inability to focus and to pay attention to things that are not chiefly about me than it does anything else.  I have been a shallow asshole for close to a half-century now.  No sense trying to run from it. 

If I knew our own history better, then I would have a better understanding of my maternal grandfather's role in Local 3 of the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers).  I have a vague recollection of having heard Mom tell the story when I was a much younger man but nothing upon which I can place a finger.  Mom's father - identified by his grandchildren as "Grampy" - is a man of whom I have zero recollection.  All four of my grandparents were dead and buried by the time I was ten years old.  To this day, I have no memory of ever having met Grampy although I suppose that it is likely that I did.  

While I know not what his connection was to Local 3 of the IBEW, I know that whatever it was it is alive and well through the good efforts of the middle Kenny son, Kelly.  With no disrespect directed towards either Bill or me, there is but one Kenny brother to whom you would entrust the responsibility of building or constructing anything...and it is not Bill and it is most certainly not me.  My brother Kelly is our generation's iteration of Mom's brother, our Uncle Jim, who could build, fix and/or repair anything, which gift presumably he inherited from Grampy. 

Seventeen members of Local 3 of the IBEW were killed on September 11, 2001, while working at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.   Here is the list of the men who died that day: 

Lest we Forget
We mourn the loss of our Brothers:

Thomas Ashton
James M. Cartier
Robert J. Caufield
Joseph DiPilato
Salvatore A. Fiumefreddo
Harvey R. Hermer
Ralph M. Licciardi
Michael W. Lowe
Charles P. Lucania
Lester V. Marino
Jose A.  Martinez, Jr.
Joseph M. Romagnolo
Anthony Seggara
Jeffrey J. Shaw
Steven R. Strauss
Glenn J. Travers, Sr.
Kenneth W. White

In honor of those seventeen men, all of whom were killed while doing nothing less than trying to earn the daily bread necessary to support their families and themselves, on Friday, September 11, 2009 a Permanent Memorial was attached to the Electric Industry Center in Flushing, Queens, which is located at the junction of Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. Avenue and Parsons Boulevard. 


Based upon my admittedly sketchy understanding of my grandfather's role, several lifetimes ago, in Local 3, I suspect that wherever he is hanging his hat these days he is nodding approvingly over all that his grandson, Kelly, and the members of Local 3 have done in the thirteen-plus years since that terrible Tuesday morning to ensure that those who were killed shall not be forgotten.  Even more so, however, at all they have done to ensure that the families directly impacted by the deaths of those unfortunate seventeen have not been forgotten either.