Hi, I'm Frank.
I'm a software engineer within the aerospace industry as well as a father of four (mostly) grown children, one of which served in Iraq (OIF2) as a combat medic.
In 1954, the first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus was lunched, and five US congressmen were shot on the floor of the House of Representatives by Puerto Rican Nationalists.
In 1954, Senator Joe McCarthy, scourge of the American landscape was deposed from power. In 1954 Dr. Jonas Salk began innoculating children with polio vaccine, and I was born on February 9th, at Brooklyn Doctor’s Hospital in Brooklyn New York at 8:55 am.
My mother was a housewife, a noble profession at one time, and certainly not one to be trifled with. My father was a buyer for Republic Aviation, maker of the F-105 Thunderchief which was to be used quite extensively in the Viet Nam conflict. My brother, Robert, was born two years later and would complete the family with which I would spend the next 18 years of my life.
Bay Shore, Long Island was quintessential suburbia, and the living was easy. My father went to work in the morning and my mother stayed home with us kids. The street was tree-lined, the neighbors were good, and the lemonade was refreshing. In the days before rock’n’roll, my mother played canasta once a week with her friends, sometimes at our house. My father bowled and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. We were Catholic and everyone we knew was also. My mother’s sister lived next door and my best friend in the world lived in the house behind ours. I would climb a big oak tree to get there. On the corner by the dead-end, was a big Willow tree that I was confidant was haunted and I avoided it.
We had bar-b-ques in the backyard on warm summer nights. The outdoor furniture that dotted the back yard were big wooden chairs that reminded me that I had a lot of growing to do before my feet could reach the ground or my arms would fit comfortably on the arm rests. My grandfather would help my dad cook the steaks, and my grandmother would sometimes allow my mother to prepare the macaroni salad.
I was maybe five when my dad got laid off from the ‘plant’. It didn’t mean much to me at the time. My life continued on as it had before. But now my father went down the street to work at the local soda shop in a primitive strip mall on Sunrise Highway, of which he was now half-owner. This was pretty cool ‘cause me an my brother would go there and help with the chores around the shop. In between ‘working’, we would read the comic books (then put them back on the shelf for someone to buy), and eat hamburgers, and listen to the Juke Box for free. The Beach Boys, and Ricky Nelson (who we would watch on TV every week along with Beaver Cleaver, and Donna Reed) would sing from it. And we would watch the big kids come in the afternoon after school. It was 1961 and the guys sported duck-tail haircuts and sat at the counter drinking Cokes and playing the box. The girls looked gorgeous, huddled together at tables, stealing glances at the guys they would never in a lifetime talk to first.
I didn’t know at the time, because my bedtime was 8:00, but these very same kids would come into my Dad’s Soda Shop after dances, and on weekend nights in general. To me and my brother, their lives were big, and mysterious. Like Cookie on ‘77 Sunset Strip’, they drove fast cars (well they looked fast) and wore leather jackets, and talked cool. They were what we aspired to in that year, but would never become.
My father sold his half of the business to his partner in 1962, and bought his own restaurant. Life would never be the same again, because we moved from the quiet suburban confines of Bay Shore, and before the dust settled, I would move 5 more times and attend 8 different schools.
We moved from Bay Shore to Ronkonkoma which was also on Long Island. I lived in a big brick house in a rural area but we didnt stay there very long. Maybe a year. We moved to Brooklyn, NY. It was here that I first went to Catholic school. I started the 3rd grade at the anonymously named P.S. 222 then moved to Our Lady Help of Christians. I would remain in Catholic school until 11th grade.
I used to love going to church, especially when we lived in Brooklyn, because there I attended Mass in a gothic style cathedral. At that time the Mass was spoken in Latin and the fact that I understood not a word only added to the deep sense of mystery and the divine. God was present, I had no doubt.
Later of course, they would begin to say the mass in "the vernacular" and worship would be held in places that were essentially indistinguishable architecturally from a school or a bank. In fact I remember thinking much later that banks and shopping malls have more architectural innovation and impressiveness than did the houses of God. I began to falter and fall away from the faith of my fathers. As I would age, my belief in God would never leave me, but I would never again join a specific religion. Later on I would articulate this with the fact that almost all religious sects would claim to be the bearer to The Truth. And I found this impossible to believe. I am a firm monotheist and therefore there was obviously only one God. However, I found no problem in believing that all religions worshipped this very same God and their squabbling and bickering was simply evidence of a mental malfunction.
Brooklyn, with its bustling streets and crowded sidewalks was also a place of community. Unlike the suburbia of my past, where neighbors and friends visited each others houses, bringing a cake or some other confection, life here was lived in the street. Or more correctly, on the stoop. Every home had one, a stoop that is. It was the grand stairway that led from the sidewalk to the front door. Often these were row houses with a front door for each family. Ours was on the right. The left door gave entrance to our neighbor and landlord. You would march up the stoop and ring the bell by the door and wait to be buzzed in. Warm summer nights were spent on the stoop. You could sit on it and watch the parade of people go by on the sidewalks a few steps down. Often people you knew passed that way, and you could call out a greeting and sometimes engage them in conversation across the steps of the stoop. Whole families could gather there, or just the kids, or just the adults, if it really got late. But in any case there was no doubt that it was the center of human interaction when the weather was nice and evenings lazy.
The stoop was not merely for conversation. No it was also the place where all manner of physical contests were carried out. After school in the afternoon, Stoop Ball was a popular game. A strange type of handball that could be played alone or with another person. I also remember that we would play a form of hop-scotch on the steps as well as red-light green-light where the caller would perch at the very top of the steps and call his or her lights.
But it is mostly the conversations we had on the stoop that I remember. As the evening sun went down, and the faces of the people you talked to became obscured by darkness, until their voices became disembodied, you talked about everything and anything. And someone would pass by and call up to you and you would invite them to join you. And they did. And you talked some more. There, out by the street, where anyone could hear you.
I'm interested in music, reading, writing, politics and living.