Friday, November 11, 2011

Castles (and Decades) of Remembrance -OR- Spiritual Armistice (11-11-11)

Updated 5/19/2013: Adjusted photograph file names and slight content change.

OK, this entry features scanned images of pictures taken between 1969 and 2005 that are important to me. I've posted some before and others I have not (including some I just scanned just yesterday). It also includes other pictures.

Looking down upon the seaside village of Castle Bruce on the island of Dominica (not to be confused with the much larger Dominican Republic). This village is on the Atlantic side of the island.

I went to Dominica and (a few days earlier) Guadeloupe (where I had gone in 1993) with my dad. The trip was centered around seeing a total solar eclipse from Guadeloupe on Feb. 26, 1998. I had a non-stop panic attack the entire time I was in Dominica from the time the taxi cab driver picked us up at the remote airport at Melville Hall to start the hour-long drive across the lush, mountainous interior of the island to get to the capital (Roseau) on the opposite side. I remember he said upon picking us up, "Welcome to paradise."


As it is, my dad ruined the trip with his antics (and habits, one in particular). But it was pretty down in the French West Indies. And I love that name: Castle Bruce

Speaking of interesting names, the 4,747' volcanic peak on the island is named Morne Diablotins ("little devils"), but the islanders in that French-Creole patois say (or at least it sounded to me like), "M'ahwn Jabla-tahn."


Speaking of my dad ...

Here he is holding me when I was about 1 month old. I think this picture was taken in December 1969 at my maternal grandmother's house in South Amboy, New Jersey (at the same time as the picture below). 

The old hard copy photo has the date "Jan. 1970" on the side in tiny letters and numbers, but it was my experience that these dates referred to when the picture was developed, not taken. 


Here my (late) maternal grandmother holds me as a one-month old baby while my uncle -- then about 13 years old -- looks on in their house in South Amboy, N.J. 

He very much liked the old Star Trek (Original Series) at the time and the resemblance to Mr. Spock is not coincidental. I think this picture was taken at the same time as the one with my dad.


My mom at the boardwalk in Asbury Park, N.J., circa 1970. Bruce Springsteen used to perform here regularly at the time.

The story of the agonies of Asbury Park is much too long to write here. I grew up in Long Branch, N.J., located about 4 miles north of there.


Here I am as a baby in my mom's apartment in Ocean Township, New Jersey, early 1970. We lived in a place called Middlebrook (now "Middlebrook at Monmouth") which is still around and even has a website.


Here my dad is holding me at the Middlebrook Apartments, Ocean Township, N.J., Jan. 1971.


A wet, autumn day somewhere in northern New Jersey (maybe near Montclair State), early 1970s (perhaps 1972).


My dad (looking quite wild) and (paternal) grandparents (Lewis and Florence Todaro) and myself in (or near) Long Branch, N.J., at some event, July 2, 1972 (yes, the photo was actually dated). 

This is the Eye-talian side of my family.


Here I am with my mom and (maternal) grandmother at her house in South Amboy, N.J., circa 1973. She looked (and acted) a bit like Joan Crawford.

This is the Polish side of my family.


This picture shows my dad -- then 17 years old and looking like James Dean -- and grandparents and uncle at their house on Cleveland Avenue in Long Branch, N.J. This was probably taken Christmas time 1957 or 1958.

As you may know, I was actually named for my late uncle -- my dad's younger brother -- who died at age 19 from an infection following some experimental medical procedure intended to treat his severe cerebral palsy. He died in March 1963, 6-1/2 years before I was born.


Yours truly next to the lovely hydrangea bush that grew on the west side of the house I spent most of the first 10 years of my life at 368 Kirby Avenue, Long Branch, N.J. This was in July 1974 or thereabouts, so I was 4 years old.


Here I am that same summer (maybe August 1974) running around in the sprinkler in our (large) backyard. It must have been a hot, dry summer looking at the grass. 

This picture must have been taken within a few weeks of the resignation of President Richard Nixon. I recall hearing the term "Watergate" over and over but I didn't know what it meant.


My mom and I in Sept. 1974 in Ocean Township, N.J. I'm wearing my over-sized baseball cap that said "Seashore Day Camp," the place I went for a number of years. The place still exists. My dad took this picture (my parents had already separated and my mom was soon to marry Ray, my stepfather of now nearly 38 years), and I remember that morning vaguely -- I didn't like having to go to that day camp, although in the end it was probably a good thing.

The car was my dad's blue Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. We were in a shopping area off Rt. 35 in Ocean Township, N.J.  He later completely stripped the car down to nothing. He would drive me to (Elberon) school in a car with no doors and people would laugh. Oh, yes, note the old-style inspection stickers on the car windshield. It was month and year. I'm assuming the expiration here was 4/75.


My dad and I and our big bull mastiff dog, Borky, in the house in Long Branch, N.J., circa 1977.

I lived there with my dad and grandparents during the four years my mom and Ray were overseas in Belgium, though I visited for two summers.


The view looking west from the Washington Monument on my first-ever visit to Washington, D.C. -- I've now lived for nearly 20 years (here and in College Park and, briefly, in Silver Spring) and can't seem to leave -- on a bitterly cold morning in December 1977. My dad and I had come down the previous day and stayed at the old Ramada along New York Ave., NE.

Most of the present-day clutter of buildings in Rosslyn (Arlington) on the Virginia side was not there at the time, although I think I can just make out the chevron-shaped Prospect House with its million dollar view down the axis of the National Mall.


Here I am with my mom at a very old (and still very popular) amusement park in the Netherlands called Efteling (or "De Efteling"), August 30, 1979.

This was at the end of my second summer visit there and I was about to return to New Jersey (literally hours before Hurricane David impacted the mid-Atlantic).


OK, this picture takes a bit of time to explain. It is a picture of former long-time WFAA meteorologist Troy Dungan in Dallas, Texas. He retired finally about 4 years ago. I found his last night's broadcast on YouTube, but I'm not sure it is still posted.

This picture was on Nov. 26, 1981 -- my 12th birthday -- and my mom, Ray, and I were leaving Texas (where Ray had been stationed at Fort Hood, which followed his four years at SHAPE, Belgium) to go to Maryland, where we arrived on Nov. 29, 1981 (the day actress Natalie Wood drowned). That was the start of our Maryland period, and ultimately it is what brought me to D.C.

Anyway, my mom arranged for me to meet Troy Dungan at the station as we left Texas and spent a night in Dallas. We also had dinner in the revolving restaurant called the Antares atop Reunion Tower. I think that it was the Antares until just a few years ago and now is called Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck.


One of the last pictures I have of my grandparents together taken in Long Branch, N.J., circa 1985. My grandma died in Jan. 1988 and my grandpa died in July 1993.


Here is a picture I've always really liked: my mom in Glen Burnie, Md., under a tree in our backyard, summer 1985.

We lived in Glen Burnie for many years.


The seawall and the Atlantic Ocean -- as seen on a rough day in August 1987 -- from the old Tradewinds Beach Club in Sea Bright, N.J.

Tradewinds existed from the 1930s through the mid-2000s, with the "new" part having been constructed in 1975 or so. My grandparents went to this beach club ever summer from 1975 through about 1986. We had what was called a "cabana." I lived there for so many summers of my adolescence and teenage years.

It's all gone now -- plus the Army Corps of Engineers engineered a massive beach "renourishment" that created a 100+ foot beach on the other side of this seawall. The whole area is unrecognizable now.

The view here is to the north and on a clear day you could see the (massive) distant Manhattan skyline -- about 30 miles away as the crow flies. You could see the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building easily. And at night, you could see the lights of Brooklyn and Queens on the northern horizon. Then there was the now-gone Ambrose Light ...


Yours truly during a particularly bad time at St. Mary's College of Maryland, where I went for two years before transferring to the University of Maryland, College Park in Sept. 1992. This was taken in Nov. 1991. A Burmese fellow named Tin took this picture -- and he threw up his arm like that at the last second and I thought it came out rather well. I was just about to turn 22 years old.


Yours truly in a fedora and holding a stuffed Tigger. It was taken in one of the upstairs dorm rooms of Calvert Hall at St. Mary's College of Maryland in or about April 1992. The other person in the photo is my high school friend Aaron G. who also went to "SMC" in the early 1990s.

Updated 5/19/2013: I am no longer in touch with Aaron as I am no longer in touch with any of the married straight men with whom I was once friends. They're all married now, some with children, and you need 18 weeks advance lead time and the wife's permission just to send a text message, and even then as a gay guy with no partner, it's all suspicion and American suburban bourgeois hell. I should note, though, that Aaron is one of the smartest people I ever met in my life, and a soft-spoken fellow.

Anyway, the SMC period was a prolonged bad time, nay, nightmare. Indeed, it was because of a situation there with some SOB with whom I had a terrible infatuation (we will call him "MS") that I ended up leaving there and, after a two-week stint at the old Shady Grove Psychiatric Institute of Montgomery County ("PIMC") in Gaithersburg that summer (I was living in Rockville) that I ended up transferring to the Univ. of Md., College Park in Sept. 1992, thus starting my actual D.C. period. (In truth, I HATED my time at St. Mary's College of Maryland.)

I later found out that MS's one older brother died about 5 years ago. I suspect he committed suicide.

Of note, "MS" had a number of things in common with Mr. Sirius -- same dark hair and body type, same younger brother status, same family type (socio-economically, politically, situationally), both younger than I (4-1/2 and 7-1/2 years, respectively), same D.C. outer suburban / exurban location (one in Maryland, the other in Virginia) with Southern connections, same ego and charisma, same disastrous outcome with similar particulars.

The only difference was that MS was straight, so I guess that's progress. Updated 5/19/2013: Mr. Sirius is Matthew Wade Henry. I dropped that star name.


Seems appropriate.


Anyway, continuing with the scanned old pictures ...

My mom near Baltimore's Inner Harbor on a summer day in August 1989. I was not with her on this day.


Yours truly -- during his "rightwing yuppie Catholic" phase when I was hanging out with that kind of crowd, until a situation with an a-hole I then liked name Tim caused the whole thing to blow up. Anyway, I was out on the Potomac River (with Crystal City in the background), Oct. 1997.

I guess this is about as close to an Old Spice ad as I will ever get.


Another lush tropical Dominica image overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, early March 1998. We were on some bus tour of the island.


OK, this picture was take in late May 1999 in Yellowstone National Park. I was with my former friend Dan -- I had flown out to Seattle and was riding with him on one of periodic cross-country trips (he had driven out there from D.C. to see his family in Vancouver, Wash.).

Dan hated being with me the entire time and it was a mistake, although I'm glad I got to do the ride and see places I never had before including eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota.

In 2003, Dan and I had a fight in the car on the way to Charlottesville, Va., and he dumped me out of the car and drove off about 30 miles west of D.C. -- just beyond the Manassas battlefield. Phil rescued me. That ended my friendship with Dan.


This is the most recent picture of the bunch I wanted to post -- it is a picture of me out on the Chesapeake Bay in July 2005 with some friends current AND former. We had gone rockfishing. These are fish -- actually, the term includes several species of fish but  in this case, I think it refers to the striped bass -- that live in the nasty muck of the Chesapeake Bay, a massive and massively fouled estuary.

It was a dreadful day -- hot with no wind -- and the gasoline fumes from the boat were awful. I had also incurred a nasty neck nerve pinch of some sort the previous night and I wasn't even going to go, except for the reaction this incurred among someone who shall remain nameless.

The worst part was riding as the passenger with this person at 7AM from D.C. over to Chesapeake Beach -- this person intentionally making violent turns on the Sunday morning deserted streets of D.C., causing me yelping pain. For this and other reasons, I am no longer friends with this person.

Anyway, hours later we had a fish dinner of some sort at Phil's. Meh.

Oh, yes, as for the Chesapeake, it is a nasty, flat body of water that does nothing for me. I so prefer the ocean.

This is the kind of sailing I like:

I found this image online years ago and that I've posted over the years on my various blogs. I wish I knew where it was taken. The picture is currently my desktop background image.


OK, this ends the entry I had planned. For reference the blog entry title word "Armistice" is in reference to the fact that today, Nov. 11th, is the old Armistice Day, now Veterans Day.  I posted this entry around 9:15PM at night, but I cheated a bit and had a preliminary posting at 11:11AM this morning -- since the entry time stamp is when it is first posted.

Autumn arboreal splendor as seen from the Taft (Connecticut Avenue) Bridge looking down on a finger of Rock Creek Park and toward the Duke Ellington Bridge, Washington, D.C., 2:06PM, Nov. 11, 2011.


I'm home right now with my friend Quill visiting. She and I as well as K. went to the National Zoo earlier today. We're watching an episode of A Haunting on the Planet Green (it doesn't really seem to match the channel's theme).  I'm going to go to Nellie's later tonight.


Updated 5:37PM 11/12/2011: Speaking of castles beside the sea and on the Sun ...

The setting Sun (almost) silhouettes Castle Neuhaus in Igersheim, Germany on Nov. 7, 2011. Clearly visible is a large sunspot region in near the middle of the solar disk. These sunspots are associated with Active Region (AR) 1339 (covering an area larger than Jupiter) on the surface of the Sun and were linked to the powerful X-class flare on Nov. 3, 2011. (There was also a coronal mass ejection on the opposite side of the Sun at the same time.)

The above image is actually from the Nov. 12, 2011 APOD .


My next planned update probably will not be until Monday night or even Tuesday night.



к.нео.физ.де.му said...

loved when you psot old pictures.

the b/w photo of you - absolutely priceless. my new favorite one... :)

we got robbed last thursday. the bastards took our laptops (thankfully, i backed up all the photos in the beginning of october, so we only lost our photos from the last trip, which sucks!) and alina's jewelry. they entered through apparently unlocked deck window.

Regulus said...

Was it during the day? Where was everyone? Was Mark with one of his grandmothers? That's really terrible, but I'm glad it was just a laptop and some jewelry and nothing worse happened. I figured you lived in a pretty safe area in Ellicott City (not like in D.C.). What trip were you referring to -- the one to Honduras?

Speaking of those Roatan images, I am still planning to post them later this week on my blog.

к.нео.физ.де.му said...

it was during the morning hours - some time between 7:30 and 1 pm, but realistically probably between 9:30 am and 1 pm, because between 7:30 and 9:30 there is a lot of kids leaving for school.

no one was at home at this time.

you are right - the main thing is no one was scared/hurt, stuff is replacable.

no, the trip i am refering to is the one we just took - to madrid, malta, sevilla...