Old Stories. That’s what I titled my unfinished collection of vignettes about elderly people, a project I’ve worked on intermittently over maybe ten years, but which, as I say, remains unfinished. They’re meant as little tributes, as interesting little glimpses into an old person’s life. And hopefully they illuminate something beautiful about life. The stories are all drawn from my work 20 and 30 years ago as a social worker with elderly clients. I also figure my little account could be of interest to psychologists, geriatricians, social workers, doctors etc. as a demonstration of a certain therapeutic approach.
Anyway, I was just looking at some typed manuscripts and then I found some of the stories on the old HD. So I’d like to attach a story to this post, and see if anyone likes it, i.e. should I bother with finishing up the collection?
This one is called The Prince of New York
The Prince of New York
“I tell ya. I had it made back in New York. I don’t know how I ever let Sadie talk me inta comin’ out here to LA. You see, it was because of her asthma that she didn’t wanna move to Florida. All of our friends were moving to Florida. But really, I shoulda stayed in New York. Ya see, I had it made there. At woik we had the union, the ILGWU, and we could call our own shots. All the boss had to do was to tell us what he needed, and then it was up to us to divide the woik up. So, we could take toins. Like, say for instance I was doin’ the cuttin’, then my partner he could take off. Go to da track, da pacers, whatever was in season. We had it all figured out, nice and easy. And we got the woik done.
After woik, say it was a Thursday, I could go to Ratner’s fer supper. Or Dubrow’s, or maybe Chinese. Yeah, every Friday I would meet with Billy and we would go out for Chinese. Like he would just wait fer me at the bar. Have a drink. Or, if I wez foist, then I could have a drink.”
“You lived like a prince,” I commented.
“Yeah, really. I wez like a prince. And even here, when we got out here, I had it made too. Like in the mornins’ I would get up and have myself a bowl ‘a cereal and ‘den I would get a newspaper, and get in the car and go to McDonald’s for a coffee. I still had the car, the Pontiac, then. That’s before they took the car away from me. Sadie and the doctors, they did that to me. I could drive then. I still could drive if you get me to the car. Anywaze, I would have a coffee at McDonald’s and then I would get a refill to take wit me. Then I would buy me a danish on the way to da park. We had a regular game.”
“Gin. Gin Rummy. That’s my game. Me and three other guys. We would play like from ten o’clock til’ lunch. And then I would have my coffee with the danish. And then we would play till five. When I come home we would go out fer dinner. At Coco’s. Or the Chinese. I always ate in good restaurants. Sadie was never too hot in the kitchen. So we used to go out a lot.”
“So you had it made in LA too.”
“Yeah, I guess I did.”
“Like a prince.”
“Yeah. Yeah, but now look at me! I’m all laid up here in the hospital. I tell ya, it’s a conspiracy. There weren’t nuttin’ wrong wit me. It wuz Sadie and the people at the home sez I gotta come to the hospital. And den they put me in this rehab soz’ I can walk again. It’s all a bust-out. I can walk! They din have ta learn me ta walk. I can walk wit da walker. Not too far, but I kin walk. I mean I wuz doon all right until they brought me here. I mean I just stayed in my room. I din bother nobody. I jes watched TV. I mean, I had it made…..”
“You weren’t bored just sitting in the room all day?’
“Naah. You got all the channels. I tell ya I had it made…”
“Ya know, Phil? We’re gonna set it up so we’ll have a woman come see you every day. And Billy said he’ll arrange for some extra help. And that way you can go home again.”
“Yeah, that’s OK.”
“And you still have your TV.”
“Yeah. That’ll be all right. But I tell ya. I used ta have it made. I mean, I never shoulda left New York.”