Tuesday, December 6, 2011

And Her Name Is Gloria!

And her name is Glor-ia!
And her name is Glor-ia!
And her name is Glor-ia!
Lyrics by
Van Morrison

Gloria is the name of my
Now deceased sister
She was always my older sister
And the oldest of four children

Everything that I have become today
I owe to her
She was always my big sister
Some twenty years my senior
(It’s a long story
Details to follow)
She was my protector
My nanny and
My role model of
What the
The ideal woman
Should be like

We all called her Goldie
And that is what she was
Pure gold!
She was always
The gold standard
By which we measured
Our own lives
And she always expected
The rest of us slackers
To reach for the gold ring
At all times
No excuses
No backsliding
No quitting allowed!

And there was
Never any quit
In her
She was smart
And eminently
At all times

She was our Betty Crocker
And our very own
Our Miss Brooks
All rolled up into one

Had she been born
Into a wealthier family
She could have been
A doctor or
A lawyer or
Secretary of State
But fate had dealt her a
Cruel hand
And she was born
Into the same poverty stricken family
That made getting ahead
An uphill climb
Of Mount Everest proportions
For all of us

When Goldie married
She married for love

She was a war time bride
Her husband
(Let’s just call him Larry for now)
Was an expat from England
Who had just gone AWOL
From the English navy
The very night that
He and my sister
First met

Larry had impulsively jumped ship
After his Frigate had
Pulled into the
Brooklyn Navy Yard
For emergency repairs
(After having been
Torpedoed by Nazi u-boats
While escorting convoys
Across the Atlantic)

Prior to his dangerous escapade
Larry had made a solemn vow
That if he were ever lucky enough
To make it to land again
(After all the narrow escapes
That he had been through)
That he would jump ship
And quit the goddamn war
Once and for all

He was very well aware
That he was breaking the law
But he figured
That it was better for him
To live the life of a fugitive
Constantly on the run
And forced to keep
Looking over his shoulder
For the long arm of the law and
The British admiralty
Than to become a dead hero
Sent to a watery grave
Like so many of
His erstwhile comrades
Who were buried at sea
At the ripe old age of twenty one

Larry figured that
He had already done his share
For the allied war effort

He figured
That he had already
Paid his dues
For God and Country
Hadn’t he been torpedoed
On three different ships and
Only narrowly escaped drowning
After each attack
By the skin of his teeth?

After being fished out of the sea
For the third time
He had decided that
Enough is enough!
Come hell or high water
He was determined
To make a new life for himself
In the USA
Rather than shipping back
To England
To once again have to
Run the gauntlet
Of  Nazi u-boats
Who were always
Laying in wait
Prowling the Atlantic
In so-called wolf packs
In search of convoys to sink

And they were succeeding too
Locked in a deadly race
To sink as many of the so-called
Allied Liberty ships as they could
Faster than the American ship yards
Could build them

Larry was determined
That one way or another
He was going to find a way
To survive the war

When he finally
Got his chance
He was as good as his word
Jumping ship as soon
As his wounded boat
Had limped into port

Not knowing
Where else to go
He ended up at a USO club
For service men on shore leave
In Coney Island
And there he met my sister Goldie
Who was working as a volunteer

After a few dances
And a few more beers
Larry confessed to her his plight
Recounting his now legendary tale
Of how he had jumped overboard
The first chance he got
And how he
Was now facing a court martial
Or worse
If he ever returned
To his ship

Theirs was a romance
Right out of war time Hollywood

The upshot of this
Whirlwind drama was that
Gloria ended up bringing
Her new found beau home
To meet her
Suitably stunned
Mom and dad
Who evidently
Were suckers
For a hard luck case
Because they allowed
AWOL Larry
To stay with them
In their six room
Tenement flat

They could see that Gloria
Was ga ga for her new friend
And it didn’t hurt that
Larry was a handsome devil
Who looked like he came
Right out of Hollywood’s
Central casting
With wavy blond hair and
Sparkling baby blue eyes
(And did I mention that he also
Happened to be Jewish?)

I suppose
That mom and dad figured
Que sera sera
(A favorite family motto)
What was one more mouth to feed
Under such war time circumstances?

After all
Life was hard everywhere
Especially in shanty towns like
Coney Island
Like I said
They must have been suckers for a
Hard luck case
(Not surprising since
They were hard luck cases themselves
I suppose it takes one
To know one)

To make a long story short
Larry and Goldie got married
And had two bouncing
Baby girls
(My younger and older nieces)

The law
Never did catch up with Larry
(Though not for lack of trying)
Many was the time
The family had to quickly
Pull up stakes
And head for places unknown
To keep one step ahead of the
Various law enforcement agencies
That were more or less
Always hot on our heels

But as luck would have it
Larry and Goldie always managed
To get away
Just in the nick of time

And that
As we Feldman’s
Like to say
Is our family’s
Very own version
Of the story of
Bonnie and Clyde

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

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