Sunday, August 31, 2014

June 2, 1999 - A Poem To My Nephew

A week or so ago, I posted a poem my dad wrote to his first grandson, Drew.  Here's a poem written a few years later for his second, my nephew Chris:
June, 2, 1999

Christopher David's 2nd Birthday

Well! Well! Christopher look at you!

While we weren't looking, you turned TWO!

You turned TWO before our eyes!

What a marvelous surprise

You learned the sound a tugboat makes

And how to eat those tasty-cakes

You learned to YEAH! When all else fails

No matter if its heads or tails

We knew as soon as you could walk

Not far behind you'd learn to talk

And talk you did for us to hear

And be so proud that we will cheer

"To Christopher David who is now TWO

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to You!"

Albert Andrew DeAngelo I

[All formatting, punctuation and capitalization in original]

I held Chris for the first time when he was about a week old.  There's a picture of it somewhere and it shows me, in round glasses and a white button down, my head just beginning to clear itself of that pesky wavy hair that helmeted me in my youth, holding a new born boy who slept, made some odd crackling noises (a mystery to me still) and then unceremoniously pooped.  I'm pretty sure I handed Chris back to his mother at that point.

Some context on the poem is needed.  In lines 7-8, Dad is referencing a guessing game he played with Chris.  This is what I remember: Dad would take a coin and spin it on a table top and ask Chris to guess, before the coin stopped spinning, whether it would come up heads or tails.  If Chris guessed correctly he got a point.  If not, he didn't.  After 4 or 5 points, Chris always won the game and did a little celebratory dance each time he won.  It was very cute every time it happened.  About as cute as Drews "Lord of the Dance" dance.  But that's another story.

The line just before (line 6) needs some explanation as well.  My dad was born in Trenton and thus grew up in the culinary shadow of the mighty Tastykake.  Dad loved Tastykakes and was obviously overjoyed that his grandson (even at TWO) was taking to them kindly as well.  Growing up in Southern New England, we discovered that while they weren't exactly unknown, Tastykakes were certainly not a major player in the local snack kake cake market.  There was Hostess and Entenmann's and Drakes to be sure, but my memory is that a Tastykake find was indeed a rare one.  Mom wasn't a big fan of the Tastykake - which is a huge mystery to me as I am, like my father before me, among the Tastykake addicted.

One Christmas I surprised Dad with some Tastykakes:

Yea, they were probably gone by the middle of January.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

November 2, 1996 - A Poem to My Nephew

My father had two sons, a half-dozen siblings, many in-laws and many many nieces and nephews and finally two grandchildren.

Both boys, Drew and Chris and both my older brother's.

When birthdays came around, at least when the boys were little, Dad would plink out some rhymes to commemorate the event - as he did for me and my cousins when we were that  little.

Like this one:


NOVEMBER 2, 1996

A miracle happened to us this year
It brought us love & light & cheer
A child was born to us that day
To Steal our hears & show the way
Who is this tiny ball of glee
With wrinkled nose & dimpled knee
His name is Drew

This little boy who came with love & hope & joy
I can't believe what you have done
You've joined our Clans
Now we are all one

You came from no where overnight
A part of all, a beautiful sight
You brought with you a brand new way
A whole new path, a happier day

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, your first one DREW
With all my love
From me to you


[Formatting, Punctuation and Capitalization in original]

Drew, by the way, was born November 26, 1995.  SO either the title's a typo (and he left out the "6") or Dad wrote this a few weeks short of Drew's first birthday.  Could go either way, I guess.  His poem for Drew's second birthday has the correct date on it.

The original poem I have was obviously produced on a word processor and printer.  I recall Dad had a heavy Smith Corona that looked like this:

So I am left wondering: how did he print it out?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

March 27, 1959 - A Poem To My Mother

This is a short one, written to my mom while they were still dating.
A voice of the sweetest of rhymes
An image of Beauty & Grace
A laughter the music of chimes
A portrait of your smiling face
These things I see tho I'm alone
With the aid of my telephone.
The post script on the poem includes a time: 11:25 P.M.  And according to this page, March 27, 1959 was a Friday.  So, presumably, dad wrote this late one Friday night possibly after a late night phone call with my mom.

I think I may know the circumstance of this poem.  Mom told me that when they were courting Dad would see mom home at the end of their date and then get on a subway to go back to his apartment.  She said it was a rather long commute. Once he was home, he'd call her to let her know he got home safely.

Perhaps this was one of those nights.

Dad was very traditional when it came to such matters.  Mom told me that even after they got engaged (and, of course, dad dutifully asked her father for his OK before he proposed) whenever they were at his apartment before getting married he made sure the front door was always open.