Friends loaned her money and helped anyway they could. Susanna had to find work…. fast.
We stayed in one or two hotels after the Colonial and after a couple of months landed on W. 74th between Broadway and
Ah yes, ‘The Garden Apartment’, Philip and I had the best of both worlds; trees, flowers and “dirt to dig” at our back door....the side- walked city at our front. What a gas having grass, a tree, sun (a little) in our very own space. We’d play for hours out there in winter and summer. Our first and only winter there we built snowmen and snow forts and snow mounds to slide our sled as fast as we could, tobagon-like down four feet of piled-high muddy snow.
One afternoon while sculpting and digging in our snowy paradise I came across a buried coffee can. In it; glassine bags of white powder, a hypodermic needle, and an odd bullet-shaped plastic ‘banana’ with photos of naked men in peculiar positions. Not knowing what we had found but sensing the warp-ness of it all, we showed it to our mom. She threw the can and contents out. Nothing was ever said about it again. But little did I know at the time how the contents of this can held a large ingredient to our future on Eighty Deuce. And to the stunted growth that would beset us all.
Susanna didn’t have too many 'marketable' (?) job skills, but what she did have she made the most of. She worked many, many hours, secretarial in Wall Street’s Merrill- Lynch, Laventhal-Kreckstein etc. advancing her typing and switchboard skills. Answering service on weekends at
One afternoon Philip came home with three kittens, they’re mother had been killed by a car. We were instantly engulfed in kitten-love, believing our new garden apartment was a perfect ‘temporary’ holding point for kitty nurture. Susanna was terribly allergic to cats but, “Oh Mommy please, they won’t be any problem,” Philip said. “We’ll build a little card board house for ‘em and keep ‘em in the garden and as soon as they’re big enough we’ll give them away. Oh Mommy please, they won’t be any problem, please….please!” “Oh my, they are so cute.” Mommy said. ……..remember the three kittens.
One summer morning Philip and I had the idea of making a dummy out of his clothes... We took our Neo-Philip to the roof of The Orleans Hotel on 80th and
There they were! A man and woman approached the stop and settled at its southern point. Philip and friends scanned the sidewalk for pre-determined impact and I gave the sign. The dummy quickly fell and landed with a thud about twenty feet from the couple. Much to our dismay, they turned, looked over their shoulders at this four foot life-less bag of clothes and seemingly unfazed, without a blink, resumed their bus waiting. Not to be deterred, we quickly gathered our dummy and disappeared down towards
The Ansonia Hotel (74th and Bway)
As we approached 74th and Broadway, Philip turned to me and said, “I know, The Ansonia Hotel....”... The Grand Stairwell. Stuffing it into a large shopping bag, we went to work.
Philip’s dummy barely survived
Someone had the idea of hiding between two parked cars and throwing it in front of a bus.
That’s just what we did, hid between two parked cars and threw our one-armed havoc maker in front of a loaded Broadway bus. The bus screeched and people went flying, we ran like hell was on fire (minus neo-Phil).
The Westside was fertile ground for 'twelve year old artists" on a summer day.
Philip was blonde, blued eyed and popular with the girls, with everybody in fact. A natural charm that genuinely came easy. He loved Civil War stuff, loved Al Jolson...chasing my mother around the house on one knee...in that throaty Jolie..”You made me love you. I didn’t wanna do it..I didn’t wanna do it”. He loved the Beatles and could do a mean ‘Rocky Raccoon’.
In 1965, I suddenly found myself with my mom and brother living in a hotel at 72nd St. and Columbus with the three cats, who were now fondly named “Santutso,” he was the boy and “Mariya,” (as in the wind) and “Poco,” the two girls. They couldn’t stay at the hotel, no animals allowed. “Santutso,” Mariya,” and “Poco” lived briefly with one of mom’s office girlfriends in
In 3H, Mom worked extraordinarily hard to give us a home…one that we, as of yet, never seemed to really settle on. Her efforts to make us a home came to a head (or is it fruition?) here, getting creditors to finance an ‘apartment improvement’; painting, staining, sanding…
“I saw in a magazine how they used burlap to cover a living room wall, like wallpaper, I loved the way it looked,” Susanna remembers. “It was difficult to find but one day on my lunch hour, I found roles of it in a little store in
There is so much to write about here. I cannot possibly ‘get’ the determination, the simmering fear, chaos and angst-ridden deforming love. Maybe one day a real writer can take this and help me tell it like it was.
I remember when I was about thirteen and Phillip eleven, we had just moved back to Eighty Deuce (139 West 82) and the local kids in the neighborhood were unmercifully territorial. We were the skinny, hesitant new (white) kids on the block, making easy targets. One night Philip and I were coming back home with a pizza pie, Dimitri (bully of the moment)...a bigger than life Haitian fellow about sixteen with his cohort Dennis Sullivan came running up to us (several other Deucettes trailed along for the promised show) Dimitri comes up in my face and blusters.... “...yo man what you got in the box?”. At that point I had had it. I quickly and (and if I must say so myself) coolly decided that this would be the last time they would pull their territorial bullshit on Phillip and I. I handed Philip the pizza and punched Dimitri in the nose. He stepped back holding his face, turned, looked at his stunned co-horts, looked at me and said.... “....yo man, I’m just fuckin’ ‘round wit you”. From that night on we all became fast friends, and later on, many of us (including Philip and I) would become junkies, sharing a fast love of heroin. In due course,.... Dimitri was stabbed in the eye and to death in a drug deal gone bad.
Not too long after the ‘pizza punch’ when I began to sense my neighborhood claim, someone gave me a 8mm camera and I proceeded to 'create'..... making Eighty Deuce my movie set, making several 'shorts', my friends were the cast and I was the producer, director and my favorite- The Special Effects Man.
We had monsters, spies, and watercolor paint blood, talcum powder stuffed into a toy gun barrel to simulate a silent bang. I remember one 'effect' I was particularly proud of was the spear gun arrow wedged in a paperback that was taped to my friend’s stomach underneath his shirt covered with water color paint blood. This was a gruesome scene to simulate being shot with a spear gun. These films were lost.
'Lost in Space' episode 'The Keeper' with Michael Rennie. Circa 1966
An 82nd St hero and my first job-
Growing up on W. 82st there was a supermarket on the Westside of Columbus Ave between 82 and 83rd Associated a couple of doors down from the old Spangenberg’s Pharmacy which is now an Espanola Pentecostal church I think. Associated was owned by two brothers, Stuie and Arnie Schneider. They were the heroes of the block; they were young and tough and us kids looked up to them. I delivered groceries for them. One afternoon I was making a delivery in one of those three wheeled bikes with the big metal box in the front, sort of like a backward tricycle. The destination was an apartment around the corner on 83rd. As I approached, a kid for no reason except maybe that I was on his turf, walked up to me, didn’t say a word and cold-cocked me. With a bloody nose I ran back to the store crying meeting Arnie in the front of the store displaying the carnage. He took off with me in tow, found the kid ( who could not have been more than fourteen), dragged him back to the store and into the meat room, hung him up by his pants on one of the meat hooks, pulled out his gun, put it up against the kid's neck and told him that if he ever messed with any of his boys..... he would pay. Now I know this sounds a bit radical. But these were some of the “heroic” impressions Stuie and Arnie left on this young teen of Eighty Deuce.
Stuie and Arnie took us out to a dude ranch (God knows where?) we rode horses through woodsy trails, had beans and dogs on a grill, and stayed in an overnight cabin. What a thrill and memory this was for hard up fatherless city boys.
Ah yes, Arnie’s up and down passes through Eighty Deuce with his shiny black Pontiac GTO, the scooped and cowled engine hood and that soft wolfy growl. Pride and more than a tinge of envy beat in this young teenage heart.
By the end of the summer of 1969 the Sugar Blues Band moved back from
1967: In the midst of the ascending Sugar Blues Band, Philip noticed in the paper that our dad was appearing in ‘Man of La Mancha’ with Jose Ferrer. We hadn’t seen our dad in five years, he owed child support and with my mom working two, sometimes three jobs, this was a welcome find.
Philip took it upon himself to go down to the theatre, knocked on the stage door and demanded to see Wilbur Evans.....to make a long story short, Wib paid the back support (some of it….$2800) to my mother and handed several hundred dollars to Philip and I, he had his estranged family appeased while in town. We saw “
By the time I ‘graduated’ from the eighth grade at JHS 44 (William J O‘Shea Junior High School 44 on W. 77th and Columbus), I had a pretty good reputation as a fistacuffer, a confident street brawler, with a reputation of going just a little more crazy on the poor fuck, than he could on me. Picking my opponents wisely didn’t hurt either. In other words, I could kick some chosen ass.
The following semester I was to start ninth grade at
By the end of my first week at Charles Evans Hughes, I was scared. It was badder than I had pictured it, big, black, brown, yellow, white tough kids all over the place…I felt unpleasantly shrimpy. But, I was determined to make my mark.
There was a sleek looking Puerto Rican kid who sat near me in home room. I decided to show the class how cool I was and for some unknown God forsaken reason, I put a tack on his chair. He came in and sat on my tack…the whole room pointed to me. He turned and wagged his finger saying, “After school, I’m going to kick your fuckin’ ass!” I nodded and said something like “You bet your ass, I’ll be there!” As I uttered those words, to be sure, I knew I was in deep shit, this kid could and would kick my ass. To make matters more dreadful…the whole class would be there and then some………salivating.
The whole day I was shitting my pants, this kid meant business. At one point, in mid-day, I stopped him and his friends on the stairs, saying I would have to “go home and change my clothes first…..” All I got was, “HA!, you better be there slick….”
Man, did I want outta this mess… What was I thinkin’? There was no other way, I had to face him.
Three ‘o clock came and the sleek kid, the whole class and then some, were waiting for me in front of the school…and yes these kids were salivating. A fight that everybody was waiting for all day, gained more power with every bell. So by the time I got there it was quite the mob.
We began to circle each other, crouching with fists held high and low, undulating in that street punk way.
Sleek Kid drew up a hocker and spit it unerringly in my face, momentarily blinding me. Following it up flash-like with a club-like right to my nose. I was immediately knocked to the sidewalk, dazed and bloodied. The fight was over. My classmates collectively chuckled and faded as I thought I saw sleek kid riding atop their shoulders in collective salivate-satisfaction.
A gloomy ominous launch at my new big, bad high school (now even further away from Eighty Deuce).
While launching into making a home she blasts the landlords:
NOTE STATING WHAT I WILL SETTLE FOR. PERIOD. At this moment. If this aggravation continues, I want triple for myself, and I want to see the city’s coffer filled with $5,000.
David B.S. Cohen, Esq.
Floors must be cleaned, which means removal of old wax, varnish etc.
Kitchen floor has linoleum, which was put down by the girls who were in the apartment previously, and is in pieces. Landlord says he does not put vinyl on floors, or scrape them.
Whatever his practice has been, the RRA says he must clean and shellac floors. You can’t shellac over old varnish and felt which adheres to the kitchen floor beneath the linoleum.
The law states that if whatever he does is not done in a workman-like manner, I can file papers to have the rent reduced further, which I will not hesitate to do.
There is wallpaper under the paint. This should have been removed before the last painting. The law states a landlord has the choice of painting or re-papering if he papered before, but if he chooses to paint he must remove the paper first, properly, and “size” and prepare the walls for painting. That is one of the reason’s that the walls are in such need of repair, because painting was done right over the wallpaper.
I want the apartment painted with my paint, two coats.
The overcharge is $322. 65 (this includes the security)—27 months.
The apartment was registered with the RRA before; therefore the landlord is liable for the entire refund.
I want attorney’s fees paid.
There is no question in my mind that these people are crooks, and just the thing to do would be to prosecute them to the full extent of the law. The above settlement is getting off easy—Susanna Foster.