Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Once A Kid" Excerpt - Ralph & Red Cross the Country

It started early as Red and I headed to the Zerega Ave subway station a few blocks from my house on Parker Street. We had to change in midtown to catch the tubes to Jersey City. It was there at a truck stop that our hitchhiking fantasy began. Traveling was tougher than I thought, but we did manage to get some rides with individuals and truckers alike. When we arrived on the outskirts of Terre Haute, Indiana, it became tougher and tougher and colder and colder -- after all it was January in the Midwest and the weather was unforgiving. After a while a truck driver with his huge rig stopped and offered us a ride. We accepted, but there was a simple catch. We couldn't ride in the same cab. Red would have to ride with the next truck's driver, who was a buddy of my driver. So what! We had a ride. My driver told me they we would all meet up at Bud's Truck Stop in Dayton, Ohio. Okay! However Red's driver told him they they always met up at Bud's Truck Stop in Indianapolis, Indiana. Not surprisingly, I ended up on the outer edge of Dayton while Red waited on the outer edge of Indianapolis. I thought the adventure was over as the ordeal of finding each other took almost twenty-four hours. Only by the grace of god were we ever able to get together. Our situation was so bad that Red actually made an emergency call to an FBI office. He was quickly told that they could not intervene unless the missing person was kidnapped. So Red being Red told them that this was INDEED A POSSIBILITY! Talk about rattled nerves! Our eventually making contact was remarkable. My driver finally left me saying that they might be in Indianapolis. Thanks a lot! This was quite a bit after the fact. So I urgently called information on a pay phone and asked the number for Bud's Truck in Indianapolis. The response to me was which one? Wow -- I got numbers for the different locations and as luck would have it Red was near the counter when a phone call came in and somehow he knew the person on the other end of the phone was me. He asked for the phone and said, "Ralphie Boy!"

The next thing I knew was we were making plans to meet-up once again. It would probably take at least eight-hours to get there. Right! Not the case. It was like no one would give me a ride. Hours went by accompanied by the frustrations that come along with it. I tried and tried and tried some more. Finally a young driver wanted company. He was reporting for military duty at Fort Carson in Colorado. I jumped at the chance and knew we were at least headed in the right direction. I made it to hopefully the right truck stop in just under twenty-four hours, and as I started walking toward the entry way I spotted the old red head still wearing his beat-up, heavy brown coat along with his black cowboy hat sitting near the window. Oh my gosh, what a relief! We embraced and went on to the next round.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

He's Been Everywhere, Man!

Earlier this week, I was back in Portland, visiting family and friends. As Big Pops is both, we got together. And of course, there was food. My mother and brother joined me for breakfast at Bob's Red Mill where Ralph regaled us with selections from his upcoming memoir (When's it coming? Hurry it up!), Once a Kid.

Ralph read from a chapter-in-progress called "Fun Cities", briefly detailing his adventures in various cities throughout the world! Have a listen to these wild excerpts below!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

You BETTER Watch Out!

Years ago, Ralph and I discovered we both owned that bound behemoth (nearly the same weight and dimensions as the stone tablet onto which the covenant had been hewn), the photo book, "Christmas in America." Further delight ensued when we flipped to the double-truck of an elderly couple displaying their collection of Santa Claus dolls. The santas ranged in size from elfin to milk can (all within the suspected parameters of creepy). And there, amongst those frozen rosy faces, stared a close relative of Ralph's beloved Satanic Santa.

You remember the Satanic Santa? We wrote about him here. Here is the original iconic photo (before he went to the dogs):

My wife and I moved to California this year (that's what potential editors of iconic biographies of great New Yorkers do), so two yuletide issues arose.

First, I did not bring "Christmas in America" with me. What would I do when Ralph calls? I couldn't lie to the fella. So I trolled Google Images in what I assumed to be a vain attempt to find that image. I mean, it's a big book -- the chances of that particular page being scanned seemed slim. Alas, there it was! A Christmas miracle! So, when Big Pops called me yesterday, I was all ready for him.

Secondly, I would get no visit from Satanic Santa this year. But some Christmas elves took pity on me and put these long-lost brothers of ol' SS in my path:


These fellas are so creepy they make me pine for the familiar leer of the original Satanic Santa (seen here with his old friend the Phackelope).

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all you OaKers! Great strides will be made (and many quite wild stories will be told) this year by that kid from the Bronx, Big Pops himself, Ralph Fuccillo!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Santa's Advance Man

Shh! What's that? Is it up on the roof? A little rustling? A faint scurrying? No, it's not the roof. Maybe by the fireplace, a flash of red, a wink of green... CRASH! That came from the kitchen!

Yes, there he is at the counter with a mouthful of bocconotti (those sweet Calabresi tartlets) and powdered sugar on his dark top: THE ITALIAN ELF He's back!

The Italian Elf -- that voice in the tundra, that precursor with the thick Bronx accent, heralding the approach of Santa Nicola!

Only instead of giving gifts, like Babbo Natale, he pops into your cubicle looking for treats for himself (preferably Jordan almonds or Almonda Rocha). So have a bowl at hand, kids and coworkers -- the Italian Elf is here!

Merry Christmas, all you OaKers (that's Once-a-Kid-ers)!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"Get Your Own Cake," Says Birthday Boy!

Has it been a year already? Yep, it's the Kid's birthday again! He's been writing up a storm lately (Ralph does his best work while on vacation, and in the last year he's been to Tokyo and Kansas, banging out memories by the mile). The wild stories, from the past and present, keep coming. Wait'll you hear his personal history of the Yankees! As amateur editor of this Italian-American opus, I can attest to Ralph's bottomless well of wonders. Happy birthday, Big Fella! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Kid Endorses a Presidential Candidate

Once again Ralph endorses the late Pat Paulsen for President. Although Paulsen died fifteen years ago, his chances are still pretty good up against this year's gems. Here's the Kid meeting Mr. Paulsen in Hollywood in  1968 or '69. A woman with a head like a Jai alai basket patiently waits for a hug.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Big Pops Meets Big Beard (Updated)

I don't have much info about this photo except that it's from 1968 when Ralph visited California with his parents. I guess I can put a call in to the Kid for the info, but I'll just wait for the update. I'm pretty sure this is Hollywood and that is not Gabby Hayes (this gentleman's posture is too good).

But I'll tell you what I THINK Ralph's saying to himself: "35 cents for a half an hour? Forget it. Too much!"

UPDATE: Ralph responds: "That happens to be none other than Wild Bill Tucker, who can make any bird call at will." Of course, the Kid never forgets. Wild Bill Tucker was a real Hollywood character ("unofficial greeter at Grauman's Chinese Theatre"), often seen on the Boulevard. In an article in the Portsmouth Times, August 13, 1964, Wild Bill says, "I can make any sound you name; here's a hurricane." There's not much info about him online. Last reference I can find is in article from '72. He's most likely passed away by now, as he'd be well over 100. He's probably in that great mustache wax factory in the sky!

Leave it to Ralph to get us (well, me) talking about Wild Bill Tucker again!