I was born in East Hampton, Long Island, New York. The only time I got to go to New York City was when I was sick. Mom and Dad would drive to the city so I could go t a bigger and better hospital.
When I was 5 or 6, my mom was going to take me on a train to Brooklyn, just me and Mom – my first time on a train. Mom and I saw miles and miles of potato farms. Thrilling, huh? It was only about 100 miles from East Hampton to New York City, but it seemed to take forever. We were met at the station by Mom’s sister, Mert, “Aunt Mert” to me. We went to lunch, then to the stores.
They looked at dresses and shoes. I was checking out the store when I noticed a fat man in a red suit with a white beard. He sat in a huge chair. He looked bored out of his mind. Kids came up and sat on his lap, some yelling, some crying, some staring off into space. Moms were snapping pictures. You could hear “Hi Honey,” “Smile,” “Don’t cry,” Tell him what you want.”
Just by a stroke of luck Mom said, “We are leaving.” “Boy am I glad,” I thought. When we got to street level it was almost dark. On the corner was another Santa. “What?” After a while there were Santas all over the place, so I asked Mom. She said, “He has a lot of helpers.” I was thinking, “Why do they all look alike?” But I didn’t dare ask.
The next day, back on the train, hours of potato fields. When we got home the first thing I did was check out the fireplace, then the chimney. No way that “dude” is fitting in there.
The days went by. Soon it was Christmas Eve. Dad got out the table, a glass of mild, and two cookies. I looked at him and said, “Really Dad??”