7.31.2014

Scouts hike in search of nudist camp

After breakfast our troop packed up
and followed Hiney, our Explorer,
past the swamp end of Wildcat Lake,
over the mountain in search of the nudist camp.

Hiney knew from other scouts that if we went over the mountain we'd find a road and from that road it was a short walk to the nudist camp somewhere near Blairstown, where anything could happen to pubescent boys.

This was the second week of our stay. We were bored.


First week of summer camp was typical scout stuff. The nature trail had several different kinds of pine trees you could determine by the number of needles in a bud. You followed a colored plate on the tree and that kept you on a trail. A counselor would explain what you were looking at. "It's much more than a tree, it's an evergreen pine tree," and such.


Jersey Shore Envy

This whole beach thing, changing, badges, outside shower,
was alien to me. I might as well have been from Wisconsin
for all the time this Jersey boy had spent down the shore.


When my childhood friend regaled me with tempting tales of sun, sand and surf at the Jersey Shore, and all the good times I missed, he planted the seed for a chronic case of Jersey Shore envy.

Joey, another childhood buddy, had told me of his family taking bus trips to Seaside Heights, and all the grown-ups from his old Montclair home were singing, "Hail, hail, the gang's all here, what the hell do we care now!"

So, there we were, two very white guys about to fry on the beach, or die of windburn from the sand showers that washed over us. The water was way too cold to go in. The penguins were tussling with polar bears for the last blocks of ice. Lou and I could take a hint. 

The two of us North Jersey kids just stretched out on a towel in the late spring sun and enjoyed the privacy of having the entire Seaside Heights beach to ourselves.


Continue reading Jersey Shore Envy

7.24.2014

Chasing the mosquito man

For all the DDT -- Drop Dead Twice -- sprayed
on hot summer evenings, the killer fog never seemed
to eradicate mosquitoes (or lightning bugs). One always managed
to squirm through a tiny hole in the metal screen
and spend most of the night buzzing your ear.


I saw the greatest minds of my dead end street running into the blue mist of the sweet-smelling cloud behind the Essex County Mosquito Man's Jeep.


Summer in the 1960s, and the living was good.

Sticky fly paper hung over the Maytag wringer washing machine next to the kitchen sink. Melmac cups were neatly stored on the yellow contact paper on the shelves behind the glass doors. Sometimes, you'd bug Ma while she was cooking and get to eat a raw hot dog. It was just like rolled baloney from Prosperi's around the corner store.

Continue reading Chasing the mosquito man

7.17.2014

Alas, Wildcat Lake Is Now Catfish Pond

One ingredient in the summer camp bug juice
was water from Wildcat Lake,
another was genuine bugs from under genuine
Appalachian Trail rocks, and the last was lots
and lots of sugar to help keep all those little campers
excited about being away from home for two weeks.


My first overnight camping trip was at the scout camp at Wildcat Lake. It was a cold Friday night in January and we lugged our equipment up the trail to the rustic open-air cabins.

Our troop leader and the older boys draped the tents across the front and sides.

Shining our green handled right-angle flashlights into the dark woods we scampered through the cold evening prying frozen logs from the crusty ground.

A wet-boot detail disappeared with the Jerry jugs and returned with the water we would need for the night.

A coffee pot and some large sauce pans were set on the open fire to boil the lake water.


7.10.2014

Summer Peaches and Tomato Gardens

Watering the garden was a chore best completed before sunset.
After sunset, starving squadrons of Jersey mosquitoes
searched ravenously for the warm-blooded.


Sucking on a peach pit is the perfect way to while away a steamy summer afternoon.

Roll it around carefully and use the pointed end of the pit to pick out the strands of peach fuzz and pulp between teeth.

All this while the taste of fresh peach tingles through your cheeks.

One of the first things Dad did when we moved into the big house in Belleville was to chop down the black walnut trees and plant a half-dozen peach trees in their stead.

It wasn't long before the low growing peach trees bore fruit and we filled baskets while we decided what to do with the bounty.

7.03.2014

The fountain of youth under the pipeline

The fountain of youth under the pipeline
Four decades later, I return to the pipeline. The dragon's
tail is less pronounced, and full-grown trees
hide the view of homes on Sycamore.


“Hey, Ant! You got a third eye!” Gary yells but it doesn’t help me see much better.

Fumbling, I pick up my twenty-six-inch Schwinn, but I drop it just as quickly. Then pick it up again. Holding it up, it’s holding me up.

Gary is staring at me. I sense this more than I see it. Can’t see much of anything really. Gary looks like a tree, the bike in my hand, a tangled red bush. The world isn’t spinning but it’s coming in cloudy.  I sense something tremendous has transformed my eight-year-old body.

“That’s what happens when your bike hits a rock on the pipeline,” Gary explains.


6.26.2014

Waiting for Jerry the Ice Cream Man

Hot summer nights on our dead end street 

were full of mosquitoes, fireflies, kids playing Sputnik, 

and an interminable wait for Jerry the ice cream man.



Back in the day, our refrigerator's freezer was the size that fit two ice trays and a pound of chop meat. Then that small cool space froze over and there was never room for ice cream except at your birthday!

Back in the day, our refrigerator's freezer was the size that fit two ice trays and a pound of chop meat. Then that small cool space froze over and there was never room for ice cream except at your birthday!

It was the same way up and down the block on Gless Avenue in Belleville, N.J. Anybody who got rid of their ice box and got an electric refrigerator had about the same amount of freezer space.

Unlike an actual ice box, think: the kitchen on The Honeymooners, where you put in a block of ice and it melted water into a pail underneath, these new-fangled refrigerators used electricity to take heat and make cold.

6.01.2014

Patch Drops Buccino's Blog Archives

Hey, folks, I looked at the Belleville-Nutley Patch for my blog posts that everybody liked so much and they seem to be gone.

Maybe you can find them, but I can't. Perhaps they needed the storage space for less local stories. I don't know. But I can tell you what that means. That means that you won't be able to find my blog posts about growing up in Belleville in the 1960s on Patch.

You'll either have to look on Anthony's World to see if any are archived there, or you'll need to read them in Greetings From Belleville, N.J. -Collected Writings.

Anthony Buccino, Belleville Patch columns, “Don the TV Man,” “Penny Candy from the Corner Store,” and “Gary’s English Racer vs. My Schwinn” earned the 2011 Society of Professional Journalists award for media affiliated blog..

UPDATE: We found the link to Anthony Buccino's archives.

5.22.2014

Ghosts of Birthdays Past

"...The year I turned 19 my birthday drew the Selective Service Draft lottery number 319. Had I been born on June 6, my lottery number would have been 127. And I'm so glad that our family doctor gave my mom the wrong date. 
Had I been born on Memorial Day that year, my lottery number would have been 19, like my age. I would have found myself working in the service of Uncle Sam and likely sweating the last of my teen years in a foreign jungle instead of a coffee warehouse in Moonachie, N.J....   
I grew up with my Army men. They pounced on each other, shot each other, blew up on our living room rug, were bombed by all sorts of toy planes, attacked enemy convoys – all while my father, nearby, watched our black and white TV or slept in his recliner. He never said anything when I had my armies lined up to face off for battle...."
Continue reading The Longest Day for a Birthday

5.19.2014

Taking Your Labrador Retriever Fishing

The first year I had my johnboat, I took Libby, my black Labrador retriever, fishing with me at Lake Musconetcong. 
Fortunately, I was not too serious about fishing that day because Libby took to the lake like she had canvasback in her A.K.C. lineage. 
All Labrador retrievers, Libby included, have webbed feet and what is described as an otter tail that acts like a rudder to help them swim. 
I should have realized Libby would enjoy the water and mud, after all, Labradors are used to retrieve ducks from half frozen marshes in winter. 
Libby was having the time of her young life. 
I regretted showing her, or, I admit, throwing her, out of the boat and into the water. 
I tried to row away from her but she swam faster than I rowed. 
When she climbed into the boat, she got even with me for trying to leave her behind. 
I remember seeing a doggy boat ramp in a catalog, but I hadn’t ordered it. 
Libby got her monstrous front paws on the side of the boat and looked at me to help get the rest of her seventy pounds of fat, smelly, wet dog into the boat. 
How could I resist that look? It was the same look she used on me at the puppy store to make me pick her out above all the other pups.
Continue reading

5.15.2014

Anything I want - original

I'm thinking of that film with Robert Redford in it, where they tell him he's running for office and they write on a matchbook how the race will turn out before he enters "YOU LOSE".

And then there's that
movie with Russell Crowe in it, (it was partly shot in Belleville across the street from where I lived) and you finally go into his garage where he's been working on his top secret projects and the walls are full of scribbles.

Also, there's the fact that there are more than 50 million blogs and the odds of any significant number of surfers stopping here and reading this is totally insignificant. Three or four hundred visitors compared to the billions of surfers out there and, well, you see what I mean. If I mention naked pictures of Britney Spears or Madonna naked, or Paris Hilton without her pants, that will get a lot of perverts to visit but how many will actually read anything?

Well, I can write anything for the same reasons, you see, nobody reads this, for one, and when they finally enter the archives of my poetry and prose, here's what they'll find in file after file on page after page:


Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum Et harumd und lookum like Greek to me, dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. Nam liber te conscient to factor tum poen legum odioque civiuda. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum Et harumd und lookum like Greek to me dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. Nam liber te conscient to factor tum poen legum odioque civiuda. Et tam neque pecun modut est neque nonor et imper ned libidig met, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed ut labore et dolore magna aliquam makes one wonder who would ever read this stuff? Bis nostrud exercitation ullam mmodo consequet. Duis aute in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. At vver eos et accusam dignissum qui blandit est praesent luptatum delenit aigue excepteur sint occae. Et harumd dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. Rambling round inside and outside at the same time Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jlo and Madonna walk into a bar. Ouch, says the tallest one. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum Et harumd und lookum like Greek to me, dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. Nam liber te conscient to factor tum poen legum odioque civiuda. Et tam neque pecun modut est neque nonor et imper ned libidig met, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed ut labore et dolore magna aliquam makes one wonder who would ever read this stuff? Bis nostrud exercitation ullam mmodo consequet. Extreme nudity is a weird thing. Duis aute in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. At vver eos et accusam dignissum qui blandit est praesent luptatum delenit aigue excepteur sint occae. Et harumd dereud facilis est er expedit distinct.

Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ask for a pay cut. Et tam neque pecun modut est neque nonor et imper ned libidig met, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed ut labore et dolore magna aliquam makes one wonder who would ever read this stuff? Bis nostrud exercitation ullam mmodo consequet. Duis aute in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. At vver eos et accusam dignissum qui blandit est praesent luptatum delenit aigue excepteur sint occae. Et harumd dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum Et harumd und lookum like Greek to me, dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. Nam liber te conscient to factor tum poen legum odioque civiuda. Et tam neque pecun modut est neque nonor et imper ned libidig met, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed ut labore et dolore magna aliquam makes one wonder who would ever read this stuff? Bis nostrud exercitation ullam mmodo consequet. Duis aute in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. At vver eos et accusam dignissum qui blandit est praesent luptatum delenit aigue excepteur sint occae. Et harumd dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. Where is Waldo? Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Scooby doo, where are you? Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Sister dressed me funny. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum Et harumd und lookum like Greek to me, dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. Nam liber te conscient to factor tum poen legum odioque civiuda. Et tam neque pecun modut est neque nonor et imper ned libidig met, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed ut labore et dolore magna aliquam makes one wonder who would ever read this stuff? Bis nostrud exercitation ullam mmodo consequet. Funny or serious, who knows. Duis aute in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. At vver eos et accusam dignissum qui blandit est praesent luptatum delenit aigue excepteur sint occae. Et harumd dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. Drink coca-cola! All because you didn't buy my books when you had the chance. Ha ha.
Buy popcorn, Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Laugh at your boss's jokes. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.


5.12.2014

I Work From Home and You Don't

There are always too many people milling around the station. They have time to sit around, read a newspaper, have coffee or breakfast, or wait in line to buy a magazine or a winning lottery ticket out of this rat race. Well, that is what it's all about. I mean we all want to get out of this rat race. 
We know the rats are winning. Remember that ugly blue-striped building? We go to work every day so we can some day stay home and not go to work. There are plenty of good jobs in the city, plenty for us to leave when we get tired of the crowds, the endless walks, the broken sidewalks, tripping potholes, sudden-stopping tourists, Bible spouting commuters. 
If we look long enough we'll see Murray the groundhog frolicking in the safe zone under the catenary wires. Murray is fat, dumb and happy. He doesn't have to commute to work in the city. Neither these days does Proud Mary, nor I. I write from home.... 

Continue reading

5.07.2014

What's Going to Happen to My Stuff?

Whatever happened to George Carlin's stuff? 
Actually, I don't care what happened to the entertainer's stuff. His stuff was crap. My crap is stuff. He would say so himself, except he's gone, and as an atheist, probably not far. But as for me I've been thinking about my stuff as I sit here in my man cave/bunker/warehouse with about sixty of those white storage boxes full of my stuff. 
I'm not a pack rat. I've been writing for more than forty years and I don't have any notes from before 1971, more or less. So, I've got a lot of notes about stuff I wrote about, and probably a lot more notes about stuff I wanted to write about but haven't done so yet. And boxes of books that I used in my research. And more boxes of books I intend to read when I get some time. I can't bear to part with any of them.
Continue reading

5.05.2014

Spring: Time to Move the Air Conditioners

Every year here in New Jersey when we change our clocks to save time, there's another chore around our house. About the last week of April when we spring ahead, it's time to break out the window air conditioners from their closet hibernations. 
In October, it's time to rip off the sealing tape and bring in the units without dropping them on an innocent foot or to the pavement below. The two bedroom air conditioners need only cross from the closet to the window. 
It's the monster dining room air conditioner that has been stored in the basement that elicits the most grunts and groans as it travels up a flight of stairs, through the kitchen to rest and catch its breath in front of the window.
Continue Reading

4.13.2014

Milk Carton Bird Houses

When I was in the Boy Scouts -- about 1964 to 1968 -- we took what were then new, the cardboard cartons that milk came in ... instead of the class bottles with cream at the top and a cardboard seal ... and converted them into bird houses for our feathered friends.

I don't remember how mine turned out. We never took a picture of that -- not with Mom's Kodak Instamatic or the yet-to-be-invented smartphone.

It was a long time ago. Now that I think of it, it may have been when I was a Cub Scout. We made those kinds of projects all the time. I remember asking mom for a bar of smelly girl soap and a fine handkerchief that she took out from her hope chest. I then got pretty girly pins stuck the handkerchief into the bar of soap and gave it to her for Mother's Day. Boy, was she surprised.

But probably not as surprised as the first birds who moved into my milk carton bird house. I wonder if they could tell it was built by a carpenter's son?

© 2014 Anthony Buccino

Want to help your kids make milk carton bird houses? Try these directions at About.com 

12.18.2013

Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life

Did you know that the screenplay for this film was written by Frances Goodrich and her husband Albert Hackett. She was born in Belleville, N.J. and moved at an early age to Nutley, N.J. The two were top screenwriters from the 1930s to the 1950s when they won the Pulitzer Prize for their play The Diary of Anne Frank.
And the pair worked on Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" but it wasn't a pleasant experience for even the seasoned Hollywood screenwriters.
Check out The Real Nick and Nora

11.27.2013

My 14-Year-Old Self Came in the Mail

Should I Open It, Or Not?

A large brown envelope arrived recently in snail mail from Ashtabula, Ohio. It contained copies of letters I wrote to a young woman named Mary when we were 14. We met in the northeastern Ohio township, and decided to keep in touch when my summer vacation ended.

I found her on Facebook, and we got in touch after four decades. When she realized I’d become a writer, she mentioned my letters in a box in her attic. Would I like copies? What could I have possible said in those letters to a relative stranger 300 miles away? And why would she save them into this millennium?
“They’re about what you’d expect a 14 year old to write about,” she said.

Would I like to meet myself at 14? Not that I could go back and talk some sense into my head, but what I think about those times now and what I was actually saying at the time, well, they’re mountains apart..

Continue Reading

11.05.2013

Jersey Shore Envy

One of the great things about my union job in the early 1970s was that I got my birthday off as a paid holiday. That first week in June when I turned 19, my high school buddy Lou and I headed down the shore.


Without knowing why, my family was shore aversive. I had stumbled upon some black-and-white photos of my parents showing them in their youth enjoying benefits of sea bathing. I hardly remember any trips down that way.

When my childhood friend regaled me with tempting tales of sun, sand and surf at the Jersey Shore, and all the good times I missed, he planted the seed for a chronic case of Jersey Shore envy.
Walnut Beach boardwalk, Ashtabula, Ohio, 2013
Joey, another childhood buddy, had told me of his family taking bus trips to Seaside Heights, and all the grown-ups from his old Montclair home were singing, "Hail, hail, the gang's all here, what the hell do we care now!"

So, there we were, two very white guys about to fry on the beach, or die of windburn from the sand showers that washed over us. The water was way too cold to go in. The penguins were tussling with polar bears for the last blocks of ice. Lou and I could take a hint. The two of us North Jersey kids just stretched out on a towel in the late spring sun and enjoyed the privacy of having the entire Seaside Heights beach to ourselves.

New to the beach, Lou was my tour guide. He'd stayed here with his family and friends. On our walk from the parking lot to the beach, he showed me the house where he stayed on the second floor. And the outside shower. I'd never known anyone who showered outside. Then we walked the vast, deserted boardwalk as he told me of his older cousins who'd won what at which stand and which stands to avoid if I ever decided to return on my own.

We snuck into the restroom to change into swimsuits. Lou told me to ignore the sign that says "No Changing In Restrooms". The place was desolate, but if anybody asked if we changed into our swim trunks in the restroom, Lou said we'd just tell them we wore them under our clothes. He explained as if he were versed in the law that since there were no lifeguards, we wouldn't need badges to get on the beach. Badges? We don't need no stinking badges?

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11.02.2013

Time to Change the Air Conditioner

Every year here in New Jersey when we change our clocks to save time, there's another chore around our house. About the last week of April when we spring ahead, it's time to break out the window air conditioners from their closet hibernation.

In late October, it's time to rip off the sealing tape and bring in the units without dropping them on an innocent foot or to the pavement below.

The two bedroom air conditioners need only cross from the closet to the window. It's the monster dining room air conditioner that has been stored in the basement that elicits the most grunts and groans as it travels up a flight of stairs, through the kitchen to rest and catch its breath in front of the window.
Buccino-ColgateClock.jpgA Cool Clock

It wasn't always like this. When I grew up in the second floor cold water flat upstairs from grandma, we didn't even have screens outside our windows. We had these sliding screens that adjusted to the width of the window and let in a hot summer breeze through about ten inches of metal panels. 

When I was nine, Dad surprised us all with a Lasko electric oscillating window fan. On sweltering summer days I'd sway to the left and right to stay in the modest breeze.

When we moved to our house across town, Dad brought home fans that filled the windows. His concern was whether to face the fan to draw the inside air to the outside, or to face it in so that it stirred the room with a fresh breeze of outside hot air.

 Dad worked outside as a carpenter all year. He'd spent a few years in the Fijis, so he was just fine most of the time without air conditioning. After I got married and moved out, my folks put an air conditioner in the living room. By that time my new family was living in a second floor attic apartment. My new wife picked out a cooling unit that served our three rooms well.

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11.01.2013

Riding Under the PATH Train

We are gliding under the Witt Penn Bridge in Jersey City. There on the north side naked trestles await the next generation bridge. The thunder we hear riding under the PATH train bridge! We are clear soon enough to see the commuter train exit the bridge heading west to Harrison and Newark.
Buccino_Path_trainDistance.jpgPATH commuter train travels parallel to the Passaic River in northern New Jersey. 
How many times have I been on that PATH train while we stopped as the bridges were drawn to let some tall masted ship pass by? From where we stood, sardine-like, in the tin can railcar, we could only ever guess at the holdup outside. How many times have riders looked north from those trains and guessed at the real name of Fraternity Rock rising from the swamps.
Our Hackensack Riverkeeper boat tour is heading south on the Hackensack River. We'll cross Newark Bay and head up the Passaic River to the Route 3 bridge north of our group's Nutley hometown.

Capt. Hugh Carola, just call him Captain Hughie, explains what we pass on the shores: a power plant here, a peak-power plant there, a jet-engine power plant there, an abandoned power plant yonder.

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