Friday, October 10, 2014

A little flashback...

I suppose I am a nostalgia buff harboring a not-so-secret fondness for things I grew up with as a kid... old toys, puppets, the TV shows and cartoons which filled my afternoons, and lots of little childhood memories - all of which continue to reside in a seemingly bottomless pit of my brain that surprises me every now and then with an impromptu flashback...

I have no idea what prompted this one - perhaps because it's almost Halloween, and Halloween reminds me of monsters and ghosts? Anyway, something took me back to my old bedroom on Vanderveer Street in Queens Village, NY. There was my brother Vinny and I as two little nine year old kids... sitting up in our beds, playing in the dark as we often did - trying not to make too much noise as we were both supposed to be sleeping. Upon hearing approaching footsteps we'd flop down and try our best to look like we've been sleeping for hours - usually successfully, sometimes not.

We were caught playing with toys so often (which subsequently meant us getting in trouble) that after a while we devised a way we could play WITHOUT them - simply by using our own HANDS as puppets! I called it the "Duck and Bee Show". What was hilarious about that, was that while it remedied us from being caught holding up TOYS - we were STILL caught laying on our backs, holding up our arms in these peculiar hand formations - like we were two deaf kids conversing in sign language! My mother probably thought, what's this sudden obsession with their hands? But she would just whisper "go to sleep" and close the door. She was well accustomed to our odd behavior - perhaps even a bit thrilled, that in spite of our usual preferences to do things apart from each other, we were at least doing something which appeared collaborative.

What the Duck and Bee Show might look like today.

Well, anyway - back to the flashback... this one time we heard the steps approaching but before we could dive into sleep mode the door swung upon and in stepped my older brother Jeffrey. Normally when someone came into the room all we'd see was their silhouette with the bright hallway light beaming in from behind them - but THIS time was oddly different - there were two glowing objects in Jeffrey's hands, approximately a foot in height each, that were illuminating him from the front! It was a little spooky seeing Jeffrey come in that way holding two glowing objects in his hands. Both Vinny and I sat up and tried to determine what these two glowing objects were.

As it turned out Jeffrey had surprised us both with buying us two glow in the dark Casper The Friendly Ghost coin banks! Today, a hard to find collectible - made by the Transogram Company in the USA. These stood approximately 12" tall, so one could imagine after filling them with coins you probably couldn't lift them off the ground without rupturing your spleen.

Picture two of these
glowing at once!
We probably thought
we were hallucinating!

Coincidentally, Jeffrey had also bought me my very first ventriloquist dummy - which was both a source of delight and horror to my brother Vinny and I. Because he reminded us of Jerry Mahoney from the Paul Winchell Show, that's what we named him. It wasn't until years later as an avid eBay buyer and seller that I discovered he was more or less a Jerry Mahoney knock-off, referenced simply as the "ventriloquist's friend" (probably due to copyright issues)...

Me, Jerry and Vinny.
Funny though, how these little flashbacks pop into your head again... Vinny and I playing in the dark, those Casper The Ghost Banks, and my brother Jeffrey - who had a real knack for surprising us with the coolest things!