Photographs & Memories

A newspaper from 1995 and an old Flip digital camera were some of the treasures recently unearthed.

We replaced our bedroom set recently and that prompted a long-delayed dive into my dresser’s junk drawer.

You know, the drawer where you throw change, store greeting cards and keep things that don’t quite fit anywhere else.

The exercise was hard for me. I’m sort of… kind of… borderline-ish…. a hoarder. There, I said it.

I think it’s my sentimentality and my desire to someday revisit these treasures although I hardly ever do. So, opening that drawer and confronting what to do with its contents was a challenge for me.

What to keep?
What to toss?

I found a 27-year-old Delray Times newspaper featuring a front-page story I wrote entitled “The Delray Decade.” The subhead read: “In the past 10 years, the city has gone from pauper to prince.”

That was interesting, but more on that in a later column.

I found a keychain with a picture of Diane and I after one of our memorable outings—a visit to “Capone’s Dinner Show” in Orlando where we dined on spaghetti with a ketchup like sauce while watching actors and actresses dressed as 30s era Chicago gangsters ham it up.

I loved it!

Diane? Not so much.

Granted, the show wasn’t “Hamilton”, but Hamilton didn’t have an Italian buffet either. Regardless, they must be doing something right.  I looked up the show and it’s still running 30 years after its debut. Maybe it the music or the period dress.  Or, maybe it’s the Italian buffet. (I kept the keychain).

I also found an old “Flip” digital camcorder. Remember those? They were hot for about 10 minutes in 2006. They were discontinued in 2011. But I have one. According to eBay it’s worth about $24.99. I’m going to hold onto it a little longer. Someday it could be worth $30.

Besides when I looked at the digital videos I found one of my late cockatiel Butters singing the tarantella. I also found a slew of material that captured the day we filmed a commercial for Celsius featuring Mario Lopez. Heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko showed up that day—as a surprise. We quickly wrote him into the commercial. Today, Mr. Klitschko is in Ukraine fighting the Russians. I find myself thinking about him from time to time. He was a very nice man. I’m going to hold on to my Flip.

There were more treasures, an old business card from Gov. Charlie Crist (no comment), an All America City pin from 2001 and a photo marking Plastridge Insurance’s 100th birthday—all keepers for sure.

But the best treasure was an autograph book I found dated June 1975.

We were moving from South Setauket N.Y. to Stony Brook, and I would be leaving my elementary school for 6th grade at William Sydney Mount.

Apparently, I had my 5th grade friends sign the book so I would remember them forever. I’m not sure kids do that these days, but autograph books were all the rage back in the 70s. I signed a bunch, and I kept this book for the past 47 years. It’s in great shape.

Unfortunately, most kids signed the book with bad poetry—the roses are red, violets are blue style prose that usually ended in some sort of insult. The nicer kids said they were only kidding. I think all of them were, but it was interesting to see a book of sophomoric insults written in ’75 that referenced Nixon and Kennedy, divorces, horses and The Fonz.

Here’s an example:

“The Nixon’s had their Richard. The Kennedy’s had their Jack. The Perlman’s had their Jeff and want their money back.”

That gem came from a girl named Pam, who happened to be the heartthrob not only in the class, but the whole school. Knowing me, I probably was thrilled that she took the time to sign my book—the actual content wouldn’t have mattered. I’m shocked I had the nerve to ask her to sign.

Apparently, I took the autograph book to my new school. Because there were a few 6th grade classmates who signed as well.

The most poignant signature was from Mike Boyle, a friend of mine who would later join the FDNY and perish in 9/11.

“Roses are reddish, violets are bluish,” Mike wrote.

“In school you are newish.” In parentheses, he said to stick with him, and I did.

I was the new kid in school andMike was popular and athletic. He welcomed me into his circle of guys who had been together since kindergarten and all was well, even though our 6th grade teacher was a dead ringer for Nurse Ratchet, only meaner.

The book was also signed by two of my oldest friends—Scott Savodnik and Howie Cohn. We didn’t go to elementary school together, but we did spend summers at the “pool club” in Stony Brook. Both signed the book and said we would always be the best of friends and 47 years later—we are.

In many ways, the book was prescient.

In the front of the book, I was asked to fill out a questionnaire:
Favorite authors: C.S. Lewis and Jack London (Not bad, young Jeff).

Favorite Saying: “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” (Odd choice)

In the future I will be a: Journalist (Bingo!)

Favorite Song: “Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” by BJ Thomas (very odd for an 11-year-old) and “Philadelphia Freedom” – by Elton John (good choice, big hit during those patriotic bicentennial days).

I’m keeping that autograph book, bad poetry, and all.

Roses are red, violets are blue.

Let’s give old memories—and junk— their due.