The Old Clubhouse

The Old Clubhouse

By Richard James Mabey Jr.

O’ if the clock could just go back in time,

when Mad magazine was but a quarter,

and comic books were just a dime,

and Kool-Aid packets read “just add water.”

 

To return once more to the old backyard,

to see the glory of the old clubhouse.

Against its wall, we flipped baseball card,

and chased out that old field mouse.

 

Its walls were made of old wooden planks,

the flat roof was of plywood square.

Taking the change from our piggy banks,

we bought a lock, so no thief would dare.

 

To break in and steal our stuff,

for on the door read “KEEP OUT!”

We really thought that’d be enough,

to keep bullies from sneaking about.

 

With a tears in my eyes,

I realize, it can never be again.

With solemn heart and heavy sighs,

to have one day, to once more be ten.

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Posted in Boyhood Days, Comic Books, Early Childhood, Encouragement, Faith, From boyhood to manhood, Journey to Truth, Lincoln Park, Mabey Homestead, Mad Magazine, Memory, My Old New Jersey Home, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, Small Town America, Spiritual Lesson, The Old Clubhouse, Wisdom | 2 Comments

To Find Reedie

Reedie and I from a photo taken on August 8th of 1959. Reedie and I were both five years old at the time. I am on the left hand side. Reedie is on the right hand side.

To Find Reedie

By Richard James Mabey Jr.

My family moved to Madeline Avenue in Clifton on April 26th of 1956. I was two years old when we moved there. We moved to the old Mabey Homestead in Lincoln Park when I was six years old. During those four years, I had two very dear and wonderful friends. My next door neighbor, Brenda, was a sweet, kind, caring little girl who was the same age as I was. And, there was Reedie, the boy who lived a few houses down the street, who was also my age.

I remember Reedie as being a kind boy, a tried and true pal. Brenda, Reedie and I were like the Three Musketeers. We were all bestest best friends. Sadly, I don’t know what ever happened to Reedie. I don’t even know if he is still alive. I pray that Reedie is alive and well. For some reason, it hit me like a brick wall today, I will probably go to my grave not knowing what ever happened to Reedie. This thought left me with a deep sadness.

An old photo from the summer of 1959, of Reedie (left hand side) and myself (right hand side) playing in my old backyard at Madeline Avenue.

When it came time for Reedie, Brenda and I to go to Kindergarten, the three of us walked to and from school every single day. We were the Terrific Trio. We looked out for each other. We were truly, “one for all and all for one.” We were bestest best friends.

My old Kindergarten class picture. Brenda is standing in the back row, third from the left hand side. I am standing in the back row, seventh from the left hand side. Reedie is standing, tenth from the left hand side.

Most recently, I was blessed to find Brenda on social media. I think that one of the first things that I asked Brenda is if she knew what ever happened to Reedie. Brenda told me that she had lost touch with Reedie and did not know what happened to him. I confess my heart sank a bit.

I count my blessings. I know that Brenda is safe and happily married. Brenda is a successful businesswoman and presently works as an accountant in a medical firm. I am grateful, my heart is filled with gratitude to know that Brenda is alive and well.

But still, I can’t help wonder if Reedie is still alive and well. The thought haunts me. Reedie was the best friend a little kid could ever want.

Why do we remember the things we do? I don’t pretend to know the answer to that question. I remember this little moment like it was yesterday. Both, Reedie and I each had these little balsam wood airplanes. We had bought them at the little store that was up the street on Madeline Avenue. I think they were only ten cents each.

Well, one summer’s day, Reedie and I were playing with our little balsam airplanes. I remember my little airplane looped the loop and crashed into the side of my backyard garage. It crashed so hard, it was beyond repair. Well, I remember this so very well.

Little Reedie said to me, “Dicky Jim, don’t be upset. We can share my airplane.” And we did! Reedie and I took turns, all that afternoon, sailing Reedie’s balsam airplane high into the air. And, when our mothers called us in for supper, Reedie’s plane was unharmed. It had survived the entire afternoon.

But that was the type of boy that I remember Reedie as being. Just a good hearted friend. Now at 64, I can still hear the echo of Reedie’s boyish voice, “Dicky Jim, don’t be upset. We can share my airplane.”

I pray, oh dear Lord do I ever pray, that some day I’ll find my bestest best friend, Reedie. I don’t know if I ever will. But you just never know. If by any chance, if your name is Reedie and your 64 years old and you grew up on Madeline Avenue in Clifton, please do leave a comment on this blog post. Please do.

Posted in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, Acts of Kindness, Boyhood Days, Brenda, Childhood Friend, Clifton, Compassion, Destiny, Determination, Dicky Jim, Divine Protection, Dreams, Early Childhood, Encouragement, Faith, Friendship, Giving, Journey to Truth, Kindness, Life's Dreams, Lincoln Park, Madeline Avenue, Memory, My Old New Jersey Home, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, Reedie, Small Town America, The Unexplained, Wisdom | Leave a comment

The Gentle Call of Home

My old home on Madeline Avenue shown on the right hand side of this picture.

The Gentle Call of Home

By Richard James Mabey Jr.

The gentle call of home has been whispering unto my heart this past week or so. For the last month or so, I had been focusing on writing about what it must have been like for my dad, serving in the Seventh Army Air Corps at Hickam Air Field in Hawaii. But, I was stuck. It was as if I was walking through quicksand.

Then, as if my guardian angel spoke to me in my dreams at night, I began dreaming more and more about my old home in Clifton on Madeline Avenue. I spent my early childhood, growing up on Madeline Avenue, from the time I was three years old till I was six. A short time to some people. But for a young child, it is a significant time of life, of growing in self realization.

In February of 2004, on a Saturday morning, my dad asked me if I wanted to take a ride to see our old home, to see the old neighborhood. My dad was fighting cancer at the time. So, we drove down Route 46, from Lincoln Park to Clifton. When we got to our old home on Madeline Avenue, it was rather emotional for both of us. I took some photos of our home. I am so glad that I did.

As we both leaned against the side of my car, Dad and I played the old game of “remember when?” Amazingly, a flood of memories came back to me. And, yes, I did think of my old neighbor Brenda. Brenda and I were practically the same age. I’m just a month older than Brenda. As I looked at the driveway between Brenda’s old home and my old home, I could almost see the ghosts, the shadows, of Brenda and I as little children playing in the back area, in back of that long driveway.

I was a sensitive child. I would often stand by front door, of my old home on Madeline Avenue, as if I had to protect my family from any mean people who might be walking by. The good Lord had given me the gift of a creative imagination.

Dad and I both got a little teary eyed that Dad. After a good hour of walking up and down Madeline Avenue, we leaned against my car one more time and took a good, long look at our old home. Then Dad something very profound “I can almost see Dicky Jim standing in front of that front door.” And I remember looking at that old front door and then looking Dad in the eye.

“I can see little Dicky Jim there too, Dad,” I replied to my beloved father.

Dad then put his hand on my shoulder and said to me, “come on, Dicky Jim, let’s go home.” It would be the last time my Dad would ever call me Dicky Jim.

Posted in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, Acts of Kindness, Believe in yourself!, Boyhood Days, Brenda, Clifton, Compassion, Creative Writing, Dad, Destiny, Dicky Jim, Divine Protection, Dreams, Early Childhood, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Friendship, From boyhood to manhood, Hickam Air Field, Kindness, Lincoln Park, Love of Family, Love one another, Madeline Avenue, Memory, My Old New Jersey Home, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, Route 46, Spiritual Lesson, Stand Tall, The Front Porch, The Unexplained, Time Travel, To thine own self be true., Wisdom | Leave a comment

The Miracle of Finding My Childhood Best Friend

My Kindergarten class picture. Brenda is standing, third from the left in the back row. I am standing, seventh from the left in the back row.

The Miracle of Finding My Childhood Best Friend

By Richard Mabey Jr.

Imagine if you will, you move away from your childhood home when you are six years old. You wave farewell to your best friend, your dear classmate, your next door neighbor. And then at 64, by nothing less than a miracle, you’re able to be in touch with her again. Truly a miracle.

Brenda was my best friend, my next door neighbor, my fellow classmate, when we lived on Madeline Avenue in Clifton, New Jersey. Our families, more or less shared a common driveway. The homes were very close together on Madeline Avenue.

Before we began Kindergarten, Brenda and I would play for hours and hours together, just about every single day. We would play on the swings in my backyard. We would build sandcastles in the sandbox. And, yes, I would agree to play house with Brenda.

Brenda was a kind, sweet, gentle little girl. Even though Brenda had older siblings, I thought it was my duty and responsibility to protect Brenda from the mean kids in the neighborhood, when we walked to and from school. Not that there were a lot of mean kids in our old neighborhood. Well, there was one bully who was a little older than me. He lived up the street from us.

I remember that I had this set of Tonka toy trucks. Brenda and I would play in the sand with them for hours. I think Brenda liked playing with my Tonka trucks about as much as I liked playing house. But I don’t think either one of us ever complained about the sacrifice we made for each other.

When I was in First Grade, we moved from Clifton to the old Mabey Homestead in Lincoln Park. I was six years old at the time. The ride from Clifton to Lincoln Park seemed like a long, long, long ride. I remember that I cried the whole time. I had just said goodbye to my best friend, Brenda.

Brenda and her mom came to visit us in Lincoln Park in the summer of 1960. Brenda and I had just completed the First Grade in our respective grade schools. I remember I was so happy to see Brenda again. It was a joyous, happy day for me.

It’s totally my fault that Brenda and I lost touch. Totally my fault. Many, many, many times, when I was in those early years of grade school, Mom would tell me to write a letter to my dear friend Brenda. I would start out and write a paragraph or two. Then, one of my neighborhood buddies would ring the doorbell and ask me to come out and play catch or play guns.

Sadly, I lost touch with Brenda. I always prayed that she was safe and happy. That was my prayer to the good Lord for my dear friend Brenda, that she was safe and happy. I never stopped praying for Brenda.

It was just last week, by an incredible miracle, I was able to get in touch with Brenda again on social media. It was truly a miracle.

Today, Brenda is happily married and living in a beautiful home in the South. I was so incredibly happy to learn that Brenda is safe and happy.

If truth be told, Brenda holds a place in my heart that no other woman has ever been able to reach. I hold her in the highest regard. My respect for Brenda is immense.

As you know, I often write about my old girlfriend Penny, whom I dated from my senior year of high school through my two years of attending County College of Morris. As many of you know, Penny encouraged me to become a writer.

Well, I often would tell Penny about my dear childhood friend, Brenda. Penny would get so mad at me, she would get so enraged with jealousy over my childhood friendship with Brenda. But one day, Penny and I were talking in my old 1961 Ford Falcon. I will never forget this moment.

Out of the blue Penny said to me, “Richard this Brenda you talk about. I know she holds a place in your heart, I’ll never reach. I talked to my mom about it. Mom told me to just accept it.” And that was that.

There are no words to convey what it means to me to be reacquainted with my childhood best friend, Brenda. There are no words. Truly, there are no words.

Posted in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, Acts of Kindness, Boyhood Days, Brenda, Childhood Friend, Clifton, Compassion, Destiny, Determination, Dicky Jim, Divine Protection, Early Childhood, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Ford Falcon, Friendship, Giving, Journey to Truth, Kindness, Life's Dreams, Lincoln Park, Madeline Avenue, Memory, Never give up!, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, The Unexplained, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Thank You, Mom

One of my favorite blogs…..

Journey to Truth

#1 Mom

My beloved mother has always been a dear, sweet mom to me.

Thank You, Mom

By Richard Mabey Jr.

My mom, Janet (Kemmerer) Mabey recently celebrated her birthday. Mom, my sister Patti and I went out for dinner at one of the Italian restaurants in our gated community in Central Florida. It was a nice little time.

My dear mom played a monumental role in my own personal development as a young child. During my days of very early childhood, Mom would read a story to me each and every night before I dreamt off to sleep. I think that the time Mom invested in reading to me, helped me in a great way to develop my creativity and imaginative thinking. I am so dearly grateful to my mom for reading me a story, each and every bedtime, in my early childhood.

#2 Mom

My mom was, and still is, a devoted…

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A Cherished Moment at the 1985 Boy Scout Jamboree

Journey to Truth

# Richard Scouts

A rare photo of myself during my “bearded period,” with three scouts of Boy Scout Troop 170, at the 1985 Boy Scout National Jamboree. I found this photo in my dad’s collection of scout pictures.

A Cherished Moment at the 1985 Boy Scout Jamboree

By Richard Mabey Jr.

In 1985, at the age of 31, one of the dearest dreams that my dad and I shared came to pass. That dream was to attend a National Boy Scout Jamboree. There really is not any one scouting event that is more grand and glorious than a National Boy Scout Jamboree. For myself, I made an important discovery in the week that Boy Scout Troop 170 attended this incredible scouting event.

It was at the National Boy Scout Jamboree that I discovered my purpose and place setting in Troop 170. I was the youngest of the Assistant Scoutmasters. My dad, the other…

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The Wonderful, Incredible, Life Changing Issue

The famous October 1967 issue.

The Wonderful, Incredible, Life Changing Issue

By Richard Mabey Jr.

Growing up in the small town of Lincoln Park, New Jersey, life was actually a bit boring at times. There was the steadfast feeling, the comfort, that down home feeling of knowing just about everyone in town. But, on the other hand there swelled in my heart and mind, a calling for excitement. A gentle breeze, the sound of a train going by, the roar of an 18-wheeler speeding by my old farmhouse on Route 202. All of it called me. It was as if it was calling me to another time, another place. A place where life might not be as stifled, as conservative, as rigid, as the lifestyle that was afforded me in my little hometown of Lincoln Park.

In October of 1967, I had just turned 13 and was adjusting to my freshman year of high school. I was painfully shy.

In the dawn of October 1967, amidst the changing of the colors of the leaves of the maples, the elms, the oaks and they sycamores, I was to come to a crossroad that would forever change my life. As the leaves of the trees were going through a metamorphosis from various shades of green to lemon yellow, bright orange and burnt red; I too was to go through a metamorphosis that would forever change my life. From which, I would never be the same. This was to be a giant step in my journey from boyhood to manhood.

The old Moe’s Sweet Shop, where we would go to buy comic books, Mad magazines and candy bars.

For it was in the dawn of October 1967 that I had just recently turned 13. I was getting acclimated to high school life. And one day, after school, what began as a simple thought to buy the latest Mad magazine, turned out to be a life changing event. Still now, 50 years later, it brings a certain joy, a kind of firecracker excitement to my heart, mind and inner being. For this is a story of one boy’s monumental step from boyhood to manhood. From which, he would never be the same again.

The newspaper and magazine rack at Moe’s Sweet Shop was truly a magical little corner.

It was in the back of Moe’s Sweet Shop, where the comic book rack was located. On the wooden platform beneath the big display of comic books and magazines was an incredible array of newspapers. There were the big daily New York papers: The Daily News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Tribune. Then there were the big New Jersey dailies: The Star-Ledger, The Herald News, The Daily Record, The Bergen Record, The Trends and three or four other daily papers. Then there was my all time favorite, which at the age of 13 I wrote for, The Lincoln Park Herald, our town’s weekly paper.

Comic books, magazines and newspapers were cleverly displayed in the back of Moe’s Sweet Shop.

There are moments in our lives, from which we will never be the same. There is the strange and almost unexplainable moment in time when two people, so very different, cross paths for just a few minutes. And, from that few minutes, there is a most illuminating, amazing and incredible result. As if the odds were 10 million to one, of these two people meeting, crossing paths, and sharing a monumental, unforgettable moment. Such was a moment in time, for me, there at the comic book and magazine rack at dear old Moe’s Sweet Shop. Standing there, overwhelmed with the decision to buy a Mad magazine or two 12-cent comic books with the one quarter in my pocket.

And, then it happened. Big Lou came into the sweet shop. He wore a white T-shirt and blue denims. He kept a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of his T-shirt, above his left shoulder. Big Lou looked as though he has a quart of motor oil in his hair. Lou had dropped out of high school to become a mechanic at the corner gas station, just down the street from Moe’s Sweet Shop. Big Lou was cooler than cool. He was a living legend to all of us kids living in Lincoln Park.

Well, Big Lou entered the sweet shop and said “hey Moe,” to Moe. Moe returned the greeting. Big Lou was smoking a cigarette. He walked up to the magazine rack, took a puff of his cigarette and flipped a few ashes unto the tile floor. With no hesitation, no shame, Big Lou brazenly grabbed the latest issue of Playboy and began flipping through the pages as he clenched his lit cigarette with his lips, in the corner of his mouth. He purposely held the magazine waist level, to give me the opportunity to see the photos in the magazine, as he checked out each page.

I knew Big Lou fairly well. He had been my Patrol Leader when I first joined scouts. He taught me how to swim, how to cook and how to tie all the scout knots. Still, there was a certain fear factor that went into high gear in Big Lou’s presence. Big Lou took the cigarette from his mouth, let out a big puff of smoke and then said something like, “I’d like to have just one night with her. Hey kid, wouldn’t cha? Just one night with her, huh kid?” Then Big Lou let out a wise guy laugh that came from somewhere in the inner fibers of his diaphragm.

Well, I grabbed my Mad magazine. Big Lou clasped the Playboy magazine his right hand. We both walked to the front of the luncheonette, to pay Moe for our respective magazines. I paid for my Mad magazine and turned to the front door. As Big Lou reached into his denim pockets for his money, he called out, “hey kid, hold on, I need to talk to ya.”

Yikes, Big Lou wanted to talk to me! I shuttered. I replied with a sheepish, “okay Big Lou.” As a kid, you knew never to call Big Lou by anything else but Big Lou. It was simply understood.

Moe put Big Lou’s Playboy magazine in a brown paper bag. Big Lou and Moe exchanged friendly “take cares.” Then Big Lou and I exited out the front door. Just outside the front door, Big Lou threw his cigarette butt onto the sidewalk and crushed it. He took out another cigarette from the pack rolled up on his right shoulder. He lit his cigarette. Then he simply said to me, “here kid! Don’t say I never gave you nothing!” And then he handed me the brown paper bag with the Playboy magazine in it.

“I gotta get back to work,” was all that Big Lou said as he let go of the brown paper bag and walked on down the street, back to the gas station. I grasped that Playboy magazine with a death grip. I was in total amazement. Total amazement. The October 1967 of Playboy magazine was mine! All mine! It wasn’t some Playboy magazine that one of my older cousins had hidden in their clubhouse. It wasn’t some Playboy magazine that one of the older scouts had hidden in his knapsack, bringing it to a campout. This was my Playboy magazine. All mine! Totally all mine!

The October 1967 issue of Playboy featured the lovely Reagan Wilson. At 13, I fell off the Empire State Building, in love with her.

Well, the featured model of that issue was a wonderful lady by the name of Reagan Wilson. I kept that issue of Playboy magazine hidden in a wooden box in my tree fort. At 13, I fell off the Grand Canyon, in love with Reagan Wilson. I thought that Reagan Wilson was even more beautiful than Julie Newmar, Batman’s Catwoman. I was never to be the same!

Posted in 1967, Acts of Kindness, Advice to the younger set, Big Lou, Boyhood Days, Compassion, Destiny, Encouragement, Giving, Journey to Truth, Kindness, Lincoln Park, Mad Magazine, Memory, Moe's Sweet Shop, Old Lincoln Park, Reagan Wilson, Small Town America, The Old Maple Tree, The Old Tree Fort, Tree Fort, Wisdom | 1 Comment