Monthly Archives: August 2012

I was There the Night Don Rickles said….

Gil and Nikki were about to introduce me to Don Rickles, backstage, behind the Lounge at the Sahara.

I had a quick thought, I’d better be sure of myself. Firm. He’s a nightmare ! Nikki was saying 

“Don, we want you to meet John, who will replace Dave Scott. We know you heard about his passing”

Rickles: “God rest his soul. Hope you are getting through it”.  My hand was in his, now. 

“Nice to meet you, John.” “What’s with the Superman grip?”  “What are you 5’2?”

“I’m 5 seven, Mr Rickles”  “Shutup, I said you’re 5 two” “You’re not foolin’ anyone with that manly grip.”

“Get out there and have a great show.” And he was gone !

“Man, he was like a frickin Winter storm, with no letup.” You just did not know what to do.

Gil put his arm around me. “You’ve just become part of a special group. That happens to include Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., etc. People insulted by Don Rickles. 

He was heartless…Took no prisoners.

Some months later, I was at Caesar’s visiting my friend Dave at the front desk. Suddenly through the entrance came Rickles. Alone and talking to the casino like he just entered his kitchen.

Casino play almost came to a halt as Rickles moved among everyone letting loose torrents of comments from how bad they were playing, to “Does your wife know about this girl?”  “What? She is your wife. Sure” Then a wink and ok sign !

Amazing ! No fear. No fear of being rebuked. So self-assured knowing there is no one to ‘best’ you. And even when someone does come up with a good line, and he is the butt of the joke…he has a way of making it part of the act.

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Posted by on August 4, 2012 in Memoir


Frances and the Unforgettable Fudge

Some of those experiences on Cramer St. were life-changing, certainly memorable…unforgettable. 

Like the girl who visited the Rheels’, in the middle of the block, across the street – Jeannie Farquar. She was a big, overweight girl with pink eyes that constantly dashed back and forth…the first Albino we had ever seen.

My mother befriended her, and in the course of conversation, discovered she was an unusual blood-type, and for that reason, would not have children.

My first thoughts and reaction to this were unkind. I quickly chose to adjust my first impression.

She could get married just like anyone. People found other people attractive for many reasons.

Helene was a trim redhead, like Jeannie, older than me. She would occasionally join us for games. Street touch-football, and others.

She was pretty rough. A Tom-boy…until she got a little older and got a ‘crush’ on Ray Evans – another older person, who sometimes joined us.

My pal from across the street was Jackie Kane. We were inseparable on most days after school and all Summer long.

He and his family were different than mine. They were all a little overweight. Every member of my family was thin. Thinnish.  Except, well…I was 10.  Bob was 8. Ron was 7. Bonnie was one, and Mer wasn’t born yet. Mother and Dad were thin.

I attributed the main difference to how they chewed their food.  Jackie would answer the door endlessly chewing and swishing his food. I figured – if it was me, I would have been done with it on the trip from the table to the front door !

Jean Betts lived next to the Rheels’ with her mom and dad. She had a job and went steady – maybe she was engaged, to Harry in the Army.

Trainee May and Dickie were little kids who lived next to the Betts’…Some of the boys would be forever grateful to Trainee…When she became a ‘big’ girl, she graciously solved a few mysteries regarding the differences between us boys and her.

At one point, we wanted to create a permanent plaque to be placed near the corner of her house to commemorate her contribution to many pleasant Summer evenings.

Of course we had only stupid ideas and did not know how to do anything !

Dottie Murtaugh lived next to Trainee. Dottie was a beautiful little girl with Black hair and eyes. She treated us as though she did not approve. We think this came from her mother. Not from her.

As the years passed on Cramer St., she would become a beautiful teenager attending Woodrow Wilson HS. I often thought of her at the time she should be approaching 30 !

Two of the young girls were only children, and Jean Betts was also an only child.

Frances Smith was the second young girl, although older than Dottie. Frances was about 12 or 13 at the time of the fudge recollection.

She was hurrying down the street toward where I was standing, in front of my house. As she got closer, she started calling my name.

“Johnny, I’ve got something for you.”

Recently, I began to notice subtle changes in Frances. She was starting to wear tighter and shorter shorts. Or, the same shorts, straining to contain more stuff.

Today, she was also wearing a sailor-styled, striped blouse, purposely low-cut she knew would show her new ‘assets.’

I really enjoyed watching her approach. She always had a beautiful smile and seemed genuinely glad to see the person.

I could see she was carrying a tray or serving plate. There was some jiggling, so my focus was all over the place.

Finally, she was standing in front of me. She was taller, so she had to bend a little to show what she was carrying.

As she was bending, she was saying

“How do you like this?”

I was astonished to get an incredible view of the mounds under her blouse – while, at the same eye-level of the mounds, view the tray of the original recipe Hershey’s chocolate fudge.

I had never seen anything like this…before or since.

I have seen separate beautiful sights, but nothing like that.

We were friends for a few years, yet. It was something to watch everyone becoming what they would physically become.

Oddly, some years later, I saw Frances on a bus going to downtown Camden. We greeted each other warmly – Standing in the aisle, as all the seats were taken.

I was a full 10 inches taller than she !

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Posted by on August 4, 2012 in Memoir