Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me for the 55th consecutive year!

Hi.  I'm sitting in the Saratoga Barnes and Noble treating myself to lunch and a mocha before heading down for water therapy.  The sandwhich is quite good.  Had a chance to walk around and check out some new releases (books, not sandwiches). I see J K Rowling's new novel is out.  What? No Harry? No Hermoine? No thanks.  Bill O'Reilly's Killing Kennedy is on the shelves, and I'll save you the money, it follows various possibilities for that tragedy in Dallas, but then defaults to the Warren Commission. I might recommend that we work toward the better world JFK envisioned than just rehash the tawdry events that lead up to Dealey Plaza.  The other books are by TV stars I do not know, monster book writers (books about monsters of all types, and monster sized books) and diet books that always end up selling in the dollar store bins

I walk among the printed words and knick knacks that B and N holds and wonder if the novels I'm working on will ever appear here. Probably not, but I don't care, I am really enjoying the creative process.  Like this. And thanks to a large amount of drugs in my system I can go on and on.  Lucky for you I know when to shut up.

Such is life at age 56.  I was born on October 9 1956 in Troy New York.  Here is the story of my birth.  For those of you not familiar with the Albany Troy Schenectady area, you may still find this interesting if  just for the sitcom value. 

First, the cast of characters:  Marge Martin (mom), Lou Martin (dad [and a tip of the cap to Lou on his 92nd birthday]), Teresa and Jimmy Norton (neighbors), a nurse, and a Freihofer's Bread Company delivery truck, like this one...
It may have been red in color, but the size and shape was like that.  Oh, one more person. Me.
It starts late on October eighth.  My sister and brother are in bed and my mother is resting with my father before he begins the morning shift at the Freihofer plant, getting his orders for bread, cookies, cakes and placing them on his truck and making deliveries to homes.  Yes, that actually did happen, Gen X and Millenials.  Lou goes to work, taking the only car in the house, leaving my mother and kids alone.  On the first floor rest the Norton's, friends of Marge and Lou, and we are grateful for that.
My mother wakes up around two o'clock in the morning.  My father is gone, and she knows the baby (me) is on its way.  Her mother (Grandma Frances) is working at Samaritan hospital back when nurses lived at the hospital. She's not available.  Marge gets out of bed, checks on my soon to be brother and sister, and then creeps downstairs to knock on the door of the Norton's.  The Nortons, alerted earlier they may be needed, are ready.  There's only one problem.  They don't have a car.
"But I do thave the truck!," Mr. Norton said as he grabbed his hat.  He indicated the vehicle to my  mother.  A Freihofer's truck (like the one in the picture).  It has one seat for the driver/delivery guy and places to stand and hold on as it hit bumps and swung the curves of old roads for anyone else who was riding.
Like my nine month pregnant Mom.  She looked at Mrs. Norton. 
"Margie, it'll be fine.  I'll go up with your kids.  Mine are snoring like logs."
Mrs. Norton scooted up the stairs, and my mother, for lack of options (no money for a cab), follows along and tries as delicately as possible to find to squeeze in the truck door and then find a spot to sit amongst the coffee cakes, cookies, breads and pies. 
"Make yourself ta home," said Mr. Norton as he got the truck started.  Marge chose a spot near the oatmeal raisin boxes and squatted there, holding on to a shelf for balance.  The truck, which never went much more than 30 mph, chugged along to Samaritan hospital up the hill (known to folks in my neck of the woods as Oil Mill Hill) and staggering along the road, a road my father now up in the boondocks for early deliveries, passed hours ago.  He would not know anything until he came home. No phones in vehicles then.
So Lou didn't know about the following conversation between my mother, Mr. Norton, and the night nurse as paperwork was completed at Samaritan.
Nurse: Name?
Mom: Marge Martin
Nurse: This is Mr. Martin?

Mom: No, we're not married.
Mr. Norton: No, we're married but not to each other.
Nurse: I see.
Mom: Look, he's just a neighbor.
Nurse: So where is your husband?
Mom shrugged.  "I don't know.  Brusnwick maybe"
Mr. Norton: Yeah.  Brunswick is about right.
The nurse put her pen down.
Nurse: "Where is the father of the child?"
Mom and Mr. Norton: "Brunswick."
Fortunately, around this time my grandmother arrived to sort things out and get my mother ready to deliver.  I swear this where I picked up my comic timing.  And I also think the first smell I ever smelled was not the sterility of the delivery room, but oatmeal raisin cookies.
Years later, at my father in law's funeral at the veteran's cemetery in Saratoga, my mother was walking among the graves and noticed a familiar name.  She called me over, and pointed to Jimmy Norton's grave. 
"They lived downstairs from us." my mother said.  My mother in law came over and said "I know his wife."  It seemed that when our families moved from our original house, the Martin's stayed in Lansingburgh and the Norton's moved to Clifton Park where my wife grew up.  Mrs. Norton met my wife's mom and they became friends.  And so it was that some 45 years after the original event my mom and Mrs. Norton were reunited and relived that amazing day with lots of laughter.
I'm the only survivor of that day 56 years ago, so I get to tell the story.  They have been amazing years inbetween with highs and lows, and now the battles are raging within my body.  But I came in with a good story, and I hope I go out with a lot of better ones shared.
By the way, the sports fans in the readership may have seen that had I been born on 10/8/56, I would have been born on the day of Don Larsen's perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.  But I held out for the ninth, the day the Dodgers won 13-0.  I've been a National League fan ever since. Imagine if I'd been in a rush? Born on a Yankee day? Wow, things might have been very different. But I know somewhere in a box in the garage is a Yankee cap.  Residual effect. That and oatmeal cookies.
More soon.  Thanks for reading.

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