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One Of The Boys

My grandfather Thomas was a serious man
he worked every day of his life
first as a lawyer then as a judge
my grandmother Charlotte was his darling wife
they had 7 children
and 42 grandkids
who looked up to him as the great patriarch
he lived his whole life here in New York City
quietly making his mark

Grandpa was a type A workaholic
before we all knew what those terms meant
he'd bring briefcases filled with work papers
to every family event
he didn't drink
he didn't smoke
he was quite formal whenever he spoke
and though we loved him
we never felt close
he was a serious man

SPOKEN: We always remember him working. And we heard stories about Grandpa's work ethic. He had a subscription to the Metropolitan Opera back when it was on 43rd Street -- he had seats on the aisle in the orchestra section, but had this habit of leaning over, using the tiny lights along the floor to illuminate his papers so that he could work and listen to the opera at the same time. I don't think ushers at this Met would tolerate that kind of behavior, but he got away with it back then.

The six men brave enough to marry Grandpa's six daughters never called him "Dad" or "Father" or "Thomas." It was always "Judge." That's how he liked it.

Grandma and Grandpa never took exotic trips. My theory is that with so many grandchildren their dance card was filled -- seems like every weekend they'd be attending a christening, or a confirmation or a graduation or a wedding. You can see Grandpa in all the old photo albums -- in his pinstripe suit, bowtie, and fedora. Proud and stately. He took his grandparenting duties very seriously.

One shining Sunday in the mid 1960s
grandma and grandpa were visiting our family
we lived up in Peekskill
on the banks of the Hudson
my parents, 5 brothers, 3 sisters and me

As I recall we girls were with grandma
having tea and cookies in the living room
in the field next to our house were the boys
playing baseball that afternoon

The field next to our house was really a long sloping hill. Home plate was at the bottom of that hill. The outfield was up and the outer edge of the outfield butted up against our house -- like our house was where they'd be the warning track. Outfielders never played that deep, 'cause nobody ever hit that far, what with the angle and all. At some point that afternoon I looked out the living room window, watching the boys at play, then went back to listening to grandma tell us stories. I didn't know where Grandpa was, but I figured he was off in a corner somewhere, working.

But he wasn't.

Never before and never after that
something big happened that day
grandpa put his work papers aside
he asked my brothers if he could play

He took off his jacket
undid his bow tie
my brother Greg was the pitcher
wound up, let it fly
grandpa connected
hit the ball high . . . high . . . high . . . high . . .

Grandma was telling us another story
about New York in the olden days
before there was a George Washington Bridge
Empire State Building, or subways
when all of a sudden the window was shattered
we all jumped up to see what could the matter be
to the floor cups and saucers clattered
landing next to the baseball wondered who could the batter be . . .

We ran to the window
looked through the broken glass
there at the bottom of the hill
stood our dear grandpa
leaning on his bat
smiling so guts out
enjoying the thrill

40 years later we can still picture him
proud as a peacock
puffed up with joy
the only time we ever witnessed grandpa
just being one of the boys

Grandpa was one of the boys

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