Tuesday, February 19, 2013

“Damn it… another dog in a yard.”

While in college I worked for the post office at Christmas time delivering mail.
This was pre Internet and it was snail mail, especially at Christmas time, tons of it.
Two to three weeks of helping the regular mailman.

It was my first government job; my second was the Army a few years later.

Before I go any further, I have to explain something; as a kid growing up in Coney Island, dogs were not part of my life as they are now. Through my wife and kids, all dog lovers I have become pretty much a dog person.

In an immigrant neighborhood where I was raised, nobody had pets, certainly no dogs, maybe a cat for mice if you had a store. Dogs were scary; think of the expression “junk yard dogs.”

I delivered mail in Brooklyn, but a Brooklyn different from Coney Island.

I delivered mail in a neighborhood that had single and double family houses. These houses had front yards with fences around them and they had dogs; big noisy, snarling, vicious, rabid dogs, between me and the mail box, which was usually on the porch. Perhaps the regular mailman knew each dog personally…but not me, to me they were “junk yard dogs.” All dogs were supposed to be dangerous.

There was only one way to deliver the mail, after all, the mail must get through, even though it was
only Christmas cards and life magazines and ads.

I opened the gates and the dogs ran out, free and happy I guess.
I could deliver my load of mail. I have created a whole neighborhood of released happy dogs involved with each other, probably mating and making more dogs for next years Christmas help.

I am not proud of this crappy thing I did, I would like to personally apologize to my daughter Chris (she is a great dog lover, check her blog, thelifeofcaptainchip.blogspot.gr.)

I remember arriving at a house, no yard, and no dog. I start to put some mail in the brass slot at the bottom of the door and I am ambushed by a dog on the inside, he grabs my fingers and I try to pull my hand out and the mail slot closes on my fingers cutting them. Freezing weather, bleeding fingers and the dog is on the inside proudly barking away.

How do I get me revenge on this beast, it actually might have been a tiny poodle, but to me he was a snarling Ridgeback; I get a life magazine out of my bag, I have no idea if they even subscribed. I put the magazine in the slot until the dog gets a hold of it. I then pull him into the door and then ram the magazine in…hoping to skewer him; I must have missed because he continued barking and probably making fun of me, giving me the “paw.”

Aside from the cold and the dogs, delivering Christmas mail was OK, meeting for coffee and killing time so we could go out on a second run and drag it into heavy overtime.

I now know all dogs are not “junk yard dogs’” at least the ones I have in my yard aren’t.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Buying a “round” in an English pub.

When you go to a country to live, or even to visit there are things you have to get used to, some are hard, some are easy.

In the 60s in London, going to the pub was easy to get used to, after work we all ended up at the local pub…even ended up there at lunch time. Thank heavens there were pub hours or we would have been there all afternoon.

Our local was The Adams Arms, or at least I think it was. The lady that ran it was Mrs. Fitzpatrick, she cashed lots of my checks.

Pubs had some things that required getting used to. They served cheese sandwiches and also ham sandwiches…but try to get a ham and cheese sandwich. What would they do with the extra two pieces of bread?

Mixed drinks were impossible; alcohol was sold by the measure. If James Bond walked in, he would have to buy a shot of vermouth and six shots of gin to make a reasonably dry martini. Forget the shaken not stirred stuff, not in any pub I went to.

Pubs seemed very novel to me and sort of “cute”, especially the country ones. I felt that it was 1944 not 1965 and I was a “Yank”. Scotch on the rocks was one rapidly melting ice cube, and if you wanted more ice, they had to send out for it.

What drove the regulars from McCann crazy was the round of drinks thing.
You buy a round and if there are five guys each one buys a round, at least five drinks are consumed.
Sometimes the crowd is even bigger. This then starts all over again, to the abuse of your liver.

I would walk in buy a round of drinks and then leave to the complete consternation of all. They take their responsibility of buying a round very serious.

I am afraid I didn’t respect the rules of the “round” as much as I should have.

I have English friends and they tell me that pubs have changed, the food is better, they have ham and cheese sandwiches as well as great food, OK, and I will take their word for it. They even have plenty of ice and can make a Martini.

I personally like to remember them, as they were when I first was introduced to them. No ham and cheese sandwiches and five ice cubes per pub.