|Essay of the Month:
| THE TOTTENVILLE TRAIN
Submitted by John on July 14, 2003
There was a time, years ago, when one could travel from Tottenville to St. George by bus or train.
The bus, faster, more modern, a mind-numbing trip. Whiz! Bang! Your're there!
Sad choice of the impatient; those who would treasure time over people.
I traveled only on the train. Slower, more deliberate, haven for young mothers with babes in arms, refuge
for the aged, the halt, and dreamers - Dreameres just like me nestled amidst them. Sustained by their
presence: Warm swaying bodies afford comfort; sweet lilting souls, solace.
As the train makes its slow, peaceful way, I strain to catch the bable of newborn babies, soft chant of
loving mothers, and muffled mubbling of frail "mea culpas"; deeply feeling all here yearn for life's quieter,
more tranquil journey.
A stir, quickly all heads turn to watch swift flight of sea swallow, brilliant glint of sunlight off soft silvery
wings, diving, deeply, burying itself into frigid gray-green waters, 'fore rising, majestically, to soar into the
Sitting there by shimmering window, eyes fixed dreamily on Raritan Bay, watching wispy white clouds and
ugly gray steamers float by, all to be devoured, suddenly by far distant horizon.
I marvel at the many journeys, and allow my troubled mind to travel on with them all.
|My Experience(s) at MIV - Mount Loretto
| MY FIRST DAY AT MOUNT LORETTO
Submitted by Sechie on July 27, 2003
September, early eveining, gray out, yellow-orange leaves, dreary day. Ripped from mama's arms as she
screamed out. He has my hand. Who is he?...where is he taking me?...was I a bad girl?...where's my
sisters?...where are my brothers?...mama, where are you?
What am I do do? Five years old...what am I to do? Don't cry...what am I to do? No, I won't cry, but
what am I to do?
Down the long hall, offices, nuns with habits, man holding my hand. Where are you taking me?...Is mama
there?...are my sisters and brothers there? Can't understand what's going on; can't understand what's
being said. Can anyone speak my words? Little spanish girl, alone, no mama, no sisters, no brothers, no,
no, no. What are you saying? I don't understand...you're not speaking spanish. What can they be saying?
Taken to another floor, same building...the infirmary. Disrobed, poked, checked....so scared. Little
nightgown, but too big, hanging off. Don't know what to do. Tray of food near, not hungry. What am I
To another floor, big room, lots of beds, lots of little girls, not alone, never alone again. No mama, no
brothers,......sister, yes big sister, hugs, kisses, will never let go; no, will never let go. Not alone, never
alone again. Lots of little girls, big sister nearby, friends, yes friends for life. Ten years of friends.
Yes, I still remember my first day............in my heart, it feels like only yesterday.
|Interactive Story from July
|I packed a blanket, snacks, Johnny Black, and my radio, and went to the park to lay out and relax.
Along came a spider and fell on my navel. The spider traveled down my leg, landed on my blanket, and
decided to join in and started sipping my Johnny Black. When along came the union rep who wanted to
know if the spider had any diseases so the HE (the union rep) could partake in the sweet nectar of the
Johnny Black. The spider hearing all of this said, "Hey buddy, Scram! Two's company, three's a crowd.
You union reps are all the same-always tryin' to start trouble!"
"I'm not here to start trouble; I'm just here to have some fun!" The spider said: "Oh okay, sit here next to
me, have some Johnny Black, and let's party. Pump up the music!!"
All of a sudden, who crawls up from nowhere, Mrs. Spider!!! From the corner of her eye, she spots
spiderman messing with another woman, a human at that! So, as any red blooded female spider would
do, she spins a web all around the union rep completely imobilizing him like a cacoon.
"Hey, what's the big idea? I can't move-get me outta here!" The female spider yells to Mr. Spider, "20
years of marriage and this is how you treat me? Well my dear, two can play that game." Mrs. Spider
proceeded to spin a web on Mr.Spider until he too could not move.
Well, this was all too much drama for me so I decided to pick up my blanket, snacks and Johnny Walker
Black and head home when Mrs.Spider yelled out, "Not so fast,honey, I think you better leave me the
Johnny Walker Black if you know what's good for you!" "I'll decide you "HO" what is good for me. I'm
taking the JWB, leaving you this sorry a#* spider, and moving on to bigger and better things, like a daddy
long legs. You two deserve each other."
So, I kept right on walking to the other side of the park where it was more peaceful and quiet. I placed
my blanket and snacks down on the grass and enjoyed a quick swig of my JWB. I laid back and closed
my eyes to enjoy the beautiful cool summer breeze. Suddenly I opened my eyes and there standing
before me was Antonio Banderas. So I did what any self-respecting Latina would do, I pumped up
everything in sight, including the music, and Antonio and I did the horizontal mambo!!! Out of the corner
of my eye, I spotted Melanie running towards me. She grabbed my hair and one of my extensions came
off in her hand. Melanie yelled, "Hey, that's my Papi Chulo! Go out and get your own!" I picked up my
things, thanked Mr. Banderas for doing the horizontal mambo and proceeded to find another cozy spot to
I then saw a man lying in the grass listening to the radio with his back towards me. As I approached
closer to him I noticed he had a t-shirt on that said "If you want it, come and get it." So I went and got it!
He responsed by saying "Ahh, I've been waiting for a long long time for that! What took you soooooo
Then, to my surprise, he looked down and spotted the fungus on my big toenail and screamed, "Ugh." I
felt humiliated and embarrassed. So I picked up my Johnny Walker Black and went and sat under a tree,
when I was approached by a police officer. He said, "Lady, don't you know that you can't drink
alcoholic beverages in a city park?" I asked why not. His response was: "Because you can't drink
I yelled out to my brother who was doing his thing behind the bush, to come and join me and leave the
bimbo alone. He said "I too need a drink of JWB, after all, man does not live on bread alone".
As I sat there enjoying my time with my sister (the park bimbo) I looked up at the sky and noticed a huge
flying object above us. My sister said to me "if there are men aliens up there I will do them like I did
Antonio Banderas". Just then a huge piece of bird poop hit her on the forehead. She screamed
"someone help me, please. I can't see. The bird poop is dripping into my eyes." The park bimbo was in
a panic mode never before seen in the park. She frantically tried to wipe away the poop by flushing out
her eyes with the JWB. Her brother snatched the JWB from her wrench like grip. He screamed at her
"are you out of your mind". Washing your face with the JWB won't help your looks any.
All of a sudden she heard the sound of congas in the distance. She ran over to a crowd and saw a man
sitting on a bench playing congas. There was a midget dancing salsa in middle of the crowd. By this time,
the JWB was taking effect, so she tore off her top and began to dance salsa with the midget. She was
really getting into the rhythm of the beat. She started climbing the trees in the park and making weird
sounds as if her soul was transported to a long ago era that time forgot. A guy in the park yelled out
"there goes the bimbo of the jungle." Everyone noticed as she swung from tree to tree with her boom box
strapped around her naked chest. Her hair was long and silky black as it swayed in the wind as she
girated her body to the sounds coming out of her boom box. Suddenly, the boom box went dead, no
music...no sound. The sound of silence filled the park.
An old man wandered upon the scene and, adjusting his old, well-worn spectacles, he read all that has
been written above. “Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, but ain’t we in one hell of a mess!”
Getting down on his knees, he first clutched his thin, knobby hands together in prayer, and then began to
beat his chest. Looking toward the dark, ominous sky above, he called out in a sad, plaintive voice, as
heavy tears began to roll down his wrinkled cheeks. A great thundering sound came from on high. The
dark, forbidding clouds slowly parted, and…. and then I woke up. "What a crazy dream I had about
some ridiculous old man that doesn't know how to have a good time."
The music was again playing, others were dancing and laughing, and I was sipping on my Johnny Black,
and that's when I locked eyes with the finest man I had ever seen. He gave me a sexy smile and came
towards me. He said, "Father, Father, why have you forsaken us? Man does not live by bread (let alone
JWB!) alone; why can we not see this?
And, once again, the dark clouds above parted and suddenly there appeared the most beautiful creature
anyone had ever seen. A light reflected from her and shone so brightly that it blinded anyone who gazed
upon her and as she was about to speak, everyone in the park genuflected before her. She soon said:
"Why must God always be a man? Have any of you any idea...that God was a woman all along?
Whew!!! Another stupid dream. I'm here relaxing, surrounded by a fun group of people, listening to
great music, yet every time I take a nap, I dream about very strange and/or grandiosed individuals. I
hope I don't encounter these boring individuals again. I'd rather be in the company of people that know
how to lighten up, loosen up, and drink up!
So, my new friends and I decided to go and buy another bottle of JWB. On our way to the store, we
encountered a couple of religious fanatics. We just ignored them because we could tell they had a few
screws loose. We continued back to the park where some men in white suits and big butterfly nets came
and took them away to a place where they could cut out little cute paper dolls and other real fun stuff like
that. They dont want them out here in the real world, so the rest of the us can get on with life and the
Meanwhile, what DID happen after those ugly old clouds opened and that beautiful lady said her thing?
Well, we did what anyone with any sense would do to get away from annoying people. We moved our
party to the other side of the park, away from those that are too high on themselves or too ignorant to
understand that this is ONLY for fun. So, the party continued with our new friends. The music was again
playing. We were dancing, eating, drinking, and just having a nice day.
To my surprise, an old couple walked toward us and started dancing to the music. Then a group of kids
gathered around and they started to break dance to the music. Pretty soon a crowd gathered and
everyone who was near the music got this incredible urge to dance. People from all nationalities and
walks of life were all dancing to the music. Even the police that arrived to break up the commotion
started dancing and couldn't stop.
All of a sudden the radio went dead-no music. The batteries had worn down. At that moment a man
came walking up the path. He was, in both dress and appearance, neat. He spotted his wife and
daughter, sitting on a bench under the shade of a large tree whose thick breach's provided shelter from the
heavy rain that occasionally would come cascading down from the ugly, dark clouds overhead. Sitting
down next to them.
His name was Charles, his wife was Charlene, and their daughter was Carrie. The couple, to each other,
had always been “Chas” and “Sharl.” They’d met at Mount Loretto, years ago, and soon became
virtually inseparable. They dated all through high school and married soon after both had graduated,
found steady jobs, and got off on the right foot for their future. They’d had a good life, raised five healthy
children, and were both blessed and somewhat lucky. All of their children grew up to be responsible
adults; all had worked hard to get good educations, were fortunate to get good, secure jobs, and were
wise enough to find good mates with whom to go through life with. None of their children—or the
children of their children, etc.-- would ever wind up in a place like Mount Loretto.
Not far from where they sat, was a small group of people. Chas could hear just brief patches of their
conversations, but it was obvious they were recounting tales of the days they’d spent at Mount Loretto; it
was easy to see all were enjoying each other’s company, took genuine pleasure in once again sharing
something that held a special place in their lives. Laughter came freely, and was not at all forced or “put
on”; the people in this group obviously liked and respected each other. They seemed to take abundant
pride in the fact that they had gone through some rather tough times and were, for the most part, better for
it. It was clear that all seemed to like the person they’d become, and took more than a bit of pride in the
fact that they’d had to deal with adversity at a very early age.
Off in the distance was another group. Those in this group were, for the most part, loud, if not raucous;
their laughter seemed to be not at all genuine. It sounded, in fact, almost forced and, most certainly, not
genuine. They were romping wildly about, shouting loudly, and pushing each other. Often, they would
stumble and fall to the ground, often laying there, flat on their backs, while giggling childishly (if not
foolishly). From time to time, they’d be loud shouts of offensive (if not foul) language. Chas noted with
dismay that most passersby directed stern, disapproving scowls at this other group. Their need to “have
fun’ to have a party,” obviously did not take into consideration the rights of others. He noted, with further
dismay, that those in this group seemed to be passing a large bottle of liquor back and forth, and that,
from time to time, one or the other would rush off to the woods to vomit (or otherwise relieve
themselves). He grimaced, a look of obvious disgust now crossing what had once been a smiling face.
“Which of these two is the Mount Loretto group?” Chas asked. When told by his daughter that both,
apparently, were people (along with relatives and friends) who had once been at Mount Loretto, Chas
said, “What in hell’s going on? Why do we have some folks over here, and the rest of them—those
yahoos (pointing to the other group that was off in the distance, prancing around--away over there?”
Look at them, will you? They’re all just bouncing and jouncing all over the place.”
“Bouncing and jouncing is too polite a term, Mom,” Carrie said. She shook her head from side to side
sadly, as her parents’ embarrassment and sense of disappointment were now obvious.
“Well, I’ve seen enough,” Chas said. “I’m going to go over and ask those in this group here if they want
to join us at a nice quiet place I know of down by the lake. As much as I try, I just can’t stomach the
mind set of those so-called ‘fun seekers’ over there.”
They picked up their things from the bench and headed toward the small group just a few feet away. Off
in the distance, they could hear the shriek police sirens, and could see the flashing lights of the lead vehicle
pull up to the area where the “fun seekers” cavorted. Judging by the grim visages on the officers as they
approached the group, it was obvious that too many complaints had been phoned into the precinct, and
that some of the more unruly ones in the group (including the one with bird poop on his head, and more
than likely "the bimbo" and the one with that strange looking fungus) would probably spend the night in
"the slammer." Up above, especially over the area where “the prancers” were, those dark, ugly skies
once more began to roil.
To our surprise, the police officers did not come to arrest the "fun seekers" but instead joined in on the
fun, saying that he had never met a nicer, more fun-loving group. To our joy, the Police Officers instead
arrested the group of judgmental, boring people on the other side of the park, because it was obvious that
they were ones who were distubing the peace. What PEACE, you ask? Our Peace OF MIND to be
able to do and say whatever we like. Why, you ask? Because the FREEDOM to do so is still our right in
this wonderful land, our beloved USA! So, enough breaching. I sure don't want to get like those boring
people that were just arrested for being PARTY-POOPERS.
Now, the crowd grew larger, the music again began playing, food was cooking on the grill, and we were
drinking the JWB (from plastic cups, of course).
Do you know what happened then? The party continued, yes, we drank our JWB, we jammed our music
and found this poor "Disappointed" jerk trying to join our party. I noticed that Tainoman had told him that
"we are not snobs and that he could join our gang of merry people if he would just lightn up." To our
dismay he just stood there looking pitiful. We ignored the fool and partied on. Tainoman said "let's run
down to the lake and take a swim or go fishing. Our happy group (of over 50 people) skipped over to
the lake. Some took a dip, a few threw in their fishing line, while others just relaxed by the lake.
You just would not believe what happened next! Tainoman jumped into the lake wearing his ta-ra-ta ra's
and he didn't even realize that upon getting out of the water he had left his woman alone with the other
party people and they were all having a great time. The party grew so large that we had to divide the
crowd into several groups. What a nice group of people gathered, from different races, colors,
backgrounds, classes,etc. Each party had their own music playing and all were dancing, talking, laughing,
and just having FUN. Yes, I said FUN, FUN, FUN, FUN!!!! That's what this was all about....FUN!!!
Anyway, while "SALSA" and "CONGAS" are great, our group decided to listen to Soft Jazz, so we
could just relax, talk, and get to know each other better.
As we were talking about our families and friends, we past the JWB around. Someone yelled out, "hey
paco, check out the girl with the braided her, she looks baaaaad man. I'm going to see if I can get her
numero, dude!" Wanting to know this girl, he walked over to her and said: "Hey nena linda, wasup girl?
They just passed this JWB to me and I was wondering if you would like a shot." She said "What kind of
muchacha do you think I am? I don't even know you tipo, get lost." Broken hearted, he returned to his
homie and said "I wonder why she rejected me." His friends gave him the following advise:
"You have to treat women with respect, especially if you want to meet them. You should've introduced
yourself properly. Don't you know that women find that approach insulting? Better luck next time!"
After partying all day, it started getting dark, so we decided to get the whole group together. We lowered
the music, sat in a large cirle, and talked quietly for hours, until it was time to say goodnight and goodbye.
Many of us exchanged numbers and contact information and promised to meet again every month...same
(PS: Some sentences were deleted and others were edited.)
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