“Amusement Marks”

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“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYEEEEEEEEEEE!”

“Amusement Marks”

This past weekend, my wife and I took the kids on a pilgrimage to Storyland. Storyland for those outside of New England, is a very scaled down version of Disney World and the like. Scaled in acreage, but not price mind you. It is a theme park that subscribes to bringing the stories of childhood to life. Mainly Grimm’s Fairy Tales, with a few others peppered in there. It is nestled within the White Mountains of New Hampshire, just north of North Conway, and you can find many a weary parent trudging the toddler troops through the entrance gates to capture all sorts of moments. Although, there was a fair amount of crying (mostly us adults on the inside), we were able to create a few great memories, that will allow us to practice some selective amnesia, and bring the brood to bear on these environs once more at a future date.

The fan-favorite, yet again, was the Bamboo Chutes Ride. This is your prototypical water flume/chute ride composed of winding turns, a hill or two, and a final ascent with a plunge into the waters below. I don’t know why we didn’t just spend the entire day going on this ride over and over and over. Our first son, Atticus, had previously been on this ride a few years ago, so he was an easy sell.

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But, our daughter, Lenore, needed a bit more convincing. She had previously been on the raft ride, and didn’t like it very much.

Somehow, We were able to convince her to participate. I like that she is willing to try almost anything, and doesn’t want to be left out . I’d also credit the burgeoning sibling rivalry that has been developing between our kids as a factor in her not being upstaged in the ride tally at the end of the day.

So the three of us went into the waiting lines/stalls and moved along. My wife and toddler son, Paul, were able to view us from a shady bench nearby.

The anticipation was brutal for Atticus, and Lenore’s anxiety was palpable. She kept saying “Daddy, I scared, I scared!”  I convinced her that it would be okay, and started talking about other things to take her mind off of the unknown.

In that moment, it occurred to me that this same conversation had occurred some 32-34 years ago at Canobie Lake, Whalom Park, Paragon Park, Lincoln Park, etc.

My father, Paul Hickey, and Uncle, Mike Hickey, were all-pros at convincing us kids that it was cool to go on the rides, no matter how scared we were. And, the funny thing, was after the elation that ensued upon the ride completing, we were eager to go back on. But, that trust, that trust right there, that was the foundation upon which we knew things would be okay. Simply, because they said they would be. Surely, it stuck, and allowed for us to belly up to anything that carnivals and theme parks could throw at us over the years.

A lightning bolt came out of the sky on Saturday, and hit me in my heart. It reminded me that sometimes the best amusements when at the amusement park, are the ones that are shared with the loves of our lives while waiting to face the certain uncertainty of the unknown.

The secret to life just might be in the conversational subterfuge between family and friends while waiting to get on rides. Those were the times, man. Those are the times, man.

Eventually, we got on the Log, and Atty was having a blast, and Lenore tucked herself into me to be sure that she was shielded from any danger. We made it through the first turn, then onward, and finally up the climbing hill. White Mountains all around us, blue skies, shudders, squeals, and then the final turn putting us into that moment of potential energy before gravity pulled us into the new discoveries of our hearts and joy. The screams were genuine, and full of life, and as we slowed upon our descent into the water below, it gushed all over us and mixed with our laughter and expressions. I felt the ease as the unfamiliar left my daughter, and she gained a bit of confidence that perhaps things aren’t so scary when shared with others.

It was a great day.

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Hard to see Lenore, but she is there between Atty and I
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“New England Giant”

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“Loyalties” © C.P. Hickey 2012

“New England Giant”

Sometimes you’re deep into the living of life, and it hits you: something isn’t quite right. It isn’t easily known at first, but as you meander through a day, the ambiguity clears and you find yourself looking down the barrel of an incontrovertible truth:

We are impermanent.

A hefty idea to roll around the noggin, considering how pre-disposed we all are to avoiding this impending reality at all times.

Yesterday, was that day for me. As spring rites roll out and signs of the season’s progression appear.

One way in which I measure the change from winter to spring is in the celebration of the annual NFL Entry Draft. Oddly, it never became a big deal to me until I became an adult. Ever more so as I realized how much it mattered to many people I love and care about.

The state of affairs of The New England Patriots is of great concern for many New Englanders. There has been great pride in our hometown team all along, but the last 18 years have been pretty special.

Yesterday was the first day of the 2018 NFL Entry Draft, and it was the first draft that my Uncle Kevin Patrick Connolly did not celebrate in some 58 years.

Kevin died in December of 2017. His streak of consecutive Draft Day Bunkering Down and Viewing ended on a December evening as he flung a desperate Hail Mary Pass.

When I sat down to watch the excessive pageantry and intrigue of this year’s draft, I was overcome with emotion. I recognized that it was the first time I concretely felt Kev’s absence.

For me, Kev had been a person who was ever-present in my life. Without exception, continually in the background, always ready to devote his time. It saddens me to admit it, but it was such a regular thing that it ended up being a bit taken for granted. He was an unassuming, quiet man. Oh, but would he glow when called upon to wax poetic on sports.

Mid to late spring was an auspicious time for him, as the NFL Draft was neatly nestled within baseball season warming up, hockey playoffs, basketball playoffs, and the Kentucky Derby. He would wage a viewing war on all fronts. A veritable bacchanalia of sports fan revelry.

Kev didn’t travel much, if at all. His extravagances came through improving the quality of his sports binge banquet by taking a room at the Holiday Inn in Somerville.

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With precision, he would request the days off of work, rent the room, and arrive for early check-in at the hotel. Everything had to be just so. Three to four days of living on the lam, while taking respite in a cigar-smoke filled double suite, bucket upon bucket of as much ice as he could coax from the ice machine down the hall.

He would stop at a neighborhood smoke shop, likely up the street in Union Square, Somerville. There he would take a peek at the day’s racing forms at Wonderland or Suffolk Downs, and then lay claim his weapons of choice. Not a man for the Garcia Vegas, or the El Productos, Kev worshipped at the altar of the Dutch Masters.

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He would procure a box of 50 Presidents. Wrapped clean, full of puff potential. He would leave the smoke shop, racing forms neatly folded against the cigar box he’d tuck up under his arm. Every once in a while he would bring the box down from his armpit to take a look at it. He’d marvel at the muffled sound he would get as he rapped the pin-nailed lid with the tips of his pudgy fingers with nails bitten down to the quick. It was oddly satisfying to him. Echoes would grow within the box after each cigar was enjoyed.

A man divided by loyalty, he adored both the New England Patriots and New York Giants. Or as he called them “da Gints.”

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The 2007 and the 2011 Superbowl were tough for him. Boy did we bust his balls about it. He had more fun knowing that we were having fun giving him a hard time, and played along.

Regardless of the outcome each previous year, like clockwork he continued to make pilgrimage to his “Lost Weekends”.

It was always neat to check in with him shortly after one of these weekends, and get the “report”.

I learned that every year he would transcribe the draft round results of the NFL Draft into a spiral notebook, even though the draft results were neatly ordered in the next day’s paper. He found great satisfaction in making his own notes and observations, and had some type of short hand system that looked comparable to a baseball scoring sheet. He smiled at me when I’d ask him teasingly about the notebooks. Secrets forever guarded and forever unknown. I’d have given anything to see him meet Bill Belichick. Two very guarded men. Full of secrets and strategies. Or as Kev called it in his Boston Brogue, “stradgedy”.

I question if he could have subsisted solely on cigars and Diet Mountain Dew, but if there was ever an opportunity to gorge on his favorite sub sandwich, that would likely be a Chicken Cutlet Parmesan Sub Sandwich.This would have been procured for him at the nearby Royal Pizza Restaurant.

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For those of us that knew Kev, he contained a multitude of peccadilloes, and the way he would work a sandwich when he ate it was a thing of beauty. It wasn’t gross, but very involved. He would hold the “Chicken Pahm” in his palms and make an assessment for the best point to bite. This happened after each and every bite, until the sandwich was gone. He also left no evidence behind on the wax paper and foil that the sub would come in. One of his techniques involved sopping up any excess sauce with the sub, and then consuming it. Like I said, it was an art of expression. Some might not appreciate it, but I certainly did. It was a relief to see someone in this world enjoy eating something without any self-awareness.

It’s the little things that creep up on you, and remind you of the details that comprise a person.

As I continue to watch the NFL Draft coverage over the weekend, I’ll recall those details and my heart will grow full. I’m fortunate to have been drafted to the team I got drafted to, and to have played the game of life with such New England Giants as my late Uncle Kev and my late Father Paul Hickey. The formations have changed, but we still have a team, and we’ve had some success drafting new players in 2008, 2011, 2014, and 2016 respectively. We’re just going to have to wait to see if those picks pan out. We’re under the salary cap, barely, and I don’t think we can trade them until they are all 18.

Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge – Day 3

I like catching quotes when I need them the most. There is a certain magic in how they find me. I appreciate being nominated for this challenge, and send much thanks to Robin LeeAnn. She has a pretty nifty blog, that also always seems to find me when I need it. Click here to travel down the rabbit hole of writing about all things writing:  ROBIN LEEANN

Today’s quote is from the irascible scoundrel Mark Twain. Someone who I believe was likely very hard to deal with in a social capacity. I just get a hunch on that. No real reason, just a hunch.

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The Rulebook:
1, Thank the person who nominated you.
2, Post a quote for three consecutive days (one quote each day).
3, Nominate three bloggers each day.

 

THE BLOGS I NOMINATE:

  1. COCINAITALY
  2. ISCRIBLR
  3. SCRIBBLED VERSE

Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge – Day 2

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I like catching quotes when I need them the most. There is a certain magic in how they find me. I appreciate being nominated for this challenge, and send much thanks to Robin LeeAnn. She has a pretty nifty blog, that also always seems to find me when I need it. Click here to travel down the rabbit hole of writing about all things writing:  ROBIN LEEANN

The Rulebook:
1, Thank the person who nominated you.
2, Post a quote for three consecutive days (one quote each day).
3, Nominate three bloggers each day.

 

The quote today is from my favorite writer. He’s a blue chipper. There is something in his lines that touches my soul. I give you Ernesto

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HERE ARE MY NOMINEES FOR TODAY:

  1. Kelsey Schmitt at KELSEY SCHMITT-TRAVEL-FASHION-LIFESTYLE
  2. Zoolon at ZOOLONHUB.COM
  3. Aditi at THEPSYCHOGROK

Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge – Day 1

I like catching quotes when I need them the most. There is a certain magic in how they find me. I appreciate being nominated for this challenge, and send much thanks to Robin LeeAnn. She has a pretty nifty blog, that also always seems to find me when I need it. Click here to travel down the rabbit hole of writing about all things writing:  ROBIN LEEANN

The Rulebook:
1, Thank the person who nominated you.
2, Post a quote for three consecutive days (one quote each day).
3, Nominate three bloggers each day.

 

The quote today is from my favorite poet. I’ve stopped putting disclaimers before anything I post of his, because I recognize his humanity and admit that no one is perfect. If you delve deep enough into his work and history you will find some empathy for the pathologies that tormented his soul and caused him to behave the way he did. His gift for capturing a reflection of life in the shards of glass from a broken mirror, is unmatched in my estimation. I give you Charles Bukowski:

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HERE ARE MY NOMINEES FOR TODAY:

  1. Jared Nownes from SUSTANTIVOS
  2. Tony Burgess from THE TONY BURGESS BLOG
  3. Momentary Reverie from Momentary Reverie