Kew Gardens’ Own Bob Dylan

In Memory of Al MayoAlMayo

There is an official obituary about our friend Al Mayo that was written in the *New York Daily News and it was very accurate. However, I just don’t want people to remember him that way alone. It feels wrong to me.

The person who died, from my childhood neighborhood, was a lovely man, an old friend that passed away in January. A friend of mine called to tell me the horrible news of Al’s suicide. This was no ordinary death, it was a violent, brutal, grisly death. I don’t want this kind soul, the friend of everybody to be known by his suicide, or his obituary instead of his life, his cheery personality, his effusive grin, his loving and peaceful self.

I refuse to think of him in any other way than the newspaper’s photo that was published. It was a wonderful photo (above) where he is grinning, a twinkle in his eye, kind and sweet.  Al was all about peace and love, not violence, not to anyone. In his last years his body was ravaged by cancer, he couldn’t eat, talk, swallow; he had no life, he took his life, violently.

He said hello to everyone and he was like a fixture in our neighborhood, you knew that if you walked around the block you would most probably see Al Mayo smiling, leaning against a store, grinning widely, resting on his cane.

He didn’t have an easy life, he lost part of his leg in a motorcycle accident when I was young so he was probably in his late teens but nothing stopped him. He accepted what happened and moved on. He would be smiling and talking and spreading good cheer to all the neighbors in our little town. His lifelong friends stayed his lifelong friends.

Everyone was utterly shocked by the news but my friends M. and H. and I were shaken at the news, not as much that he had committed suicide but how. For a very peaceful man, he committed death in a very violent way, making sure that no one else would be hurt. Al, only wanted to end his life, never anybody else’s life. He wouldn’t harm a soul.

Al had cancer for a few years, unbearable, painful cancer that left him unable to eat, to swallow, to lead a normal life. If Al couldn’t lead a life that was close to normal, there wasn’t any Al left, he tried so hard and went through so much.

Now this sweet soul, friend to everyone is gone forever. We will all miss you Al and we will always remember your bright, warm smile.  We will miss our own elected “mayor.” You were Kew Gardens’ own, Bob Dylan, that’s how important you were to us, will always be.

Al Mayo, Rest In Peace.

Special thanks to Harry Klein, my friend and best friend of Al Mayo.

*Click on photo for NY Daily News Article

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Welcome To St. Croix, As If

Old Danish Customs House, Christiansted

Old Danish Customs House, Christiansted (Photo credit:

Dear VERY KIND, RICH PERSON,

Is it May yet? I know, I’m daydreaming. I know it isn’t May, its dull, depressing, December and I know pretty much everyone is on vacation except for me and my family. I am grateful for what I have, truly. However, I am a tiny bit envious of all who are vacationing in warm climates while my chronic, painful bones tighten up. In my mind I am trying to conjure up some images that A) might torture me for months or B) give me the impetus to get through the ugly, soggy mushy yet cold winter. Either way, it’s something to do.

I just want to talk. I don’t believe in miracles, trust me, like I didn’t really believe I would win the lottery but it’s fun to think about so here we go: It’s only December and just because we had one day, sorry, two days with 20 more seconds of light it doesn’t mean it’s time to celebrate and dance barefoot in the grass with flowers entwined in our hair. It’s twenty bogus seconds, that’s it. But, we take what we are given, no, there are no hot dogs on the grill or s’mores from the barbecue just quite yet. Get inside, it’s freezing.

We eat tomatoes that look and taste like wax, they are not even orange-red but some pale combination of yellow and green and plastic, utterly tasteless. The fresh fruit that we long for in the summer has whittled down to apples, oranges, a few mangy grapes, drooping from their spines as if they were just begging to be put out of their misery. Do these grapes really look like they have the will to live? No, poor things, just put them in the back and don’t let us witness their slow, disintegrating death, it’s just too sad.

The sky, again, is white and black, sometimes blended into gray. I’m staring into my yellow pillow that I bought to conjure up what I remember as sun but it doesn’t do the trick. “Surround yourselves with things you love” is not always easy. I love the ocean and sand and seashells but even my globe filled with delightful seashells and sand does not make me feel like I am on vacation in St. Croix, or any of The Virgin Islands, Mexico, or anyplace warm. I’m woefully stuck in reality.

Most people are away for this long holiday break to places I’ve never heard of much less been to. Families with a lot of money book places far in advance so they have vacations to look forward to, I envy them. I rationalize my thinking: if this was my norm, flying somewhere every break, would I take it for granted? I admit, I wouldn’t mind finding out.

In my mind, I’m vacationing in St. Croix, or Jamaica, Hawaii or Australia. These old weary bones that ache constantly would just have to settle in for the long flight and suffer, knowing that in the end, I would see skies a beautiful shade of blue, silky, soft sand and walking on the water’s edge. My only goal is to worship and enjoy the natural elements of life. Given the chance, my family and I can be packed in ten minutes and we thank you so very much.

English: St Croix

English: St Croix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plinky: Who Was Your Favorite Teacher?

  • Best Teacher
  • Apple For The Teacher
    Timken Roller Bearing Co., calendar, September 1950, teacher at desk Her name was Mrs. Diner and she was a teacher in Kew Gardens, Queens at PS 99. She was my sixth grade teacher and I remember her kindness and her warmth. I remember how she looked based on a very old photograph of us that someone took. I don’t think she did anything extraordinary but being a teacher was important to her; she made her students FEEL important and loved. Mrs. Diner was a teacher to remember, she inspired us all. Thank you, Mrs. Diner.
    P.S. 30 years later my mom met her on an airplane and Mrs. Diner remembered me. I was absolutely thrilled!

My Pet

Eye of a Border collie puppy

Image via Wikipedia

I ❤ My Dog Callie

Her name is Callie and I rescued her from an animal shelter nine years ago. She and her sister, 6 week old puppies were returned from a mean old man who took both of them for ONE WEEK and then returned them to the shelter because “they were too much trouble.” I guess I should be grateful to this guy because after all, that’s how Callie, my dog and I, met.

I was seated on the floor of the animal shelter when the woman in charge of the shelter put two puppies down on the floor with me. One was off eating electrical wires, the other one climbed into my lap and never left. I wanted to bring both the dogs home but my husband put his foot down on that idea. I couldn’t help myself, the little puppy that sighed after she snuggled into my lap was my dog forever. I’m sure her sister was a much braver dog, she probably goes for rides in cars and likes to explore things. My dog is happiest curled up next to me on the bed. She’s sensitive and intuitive. The other night I was sad and I was crying. Callie came on the bed and stood in front of me, licking my tears, kissing my face. I put my arms around her now gray and white neck and gave her a hug and we stayed like that for what seemed to be a long time. When I felt better, it looked as if she was smiling at me as she hopped down from the bed to happily lap up some water and go downstairs.

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