Be Careful What You Ask For

images I moseyed into a little saloon on Lexington in the 60s needing a drink to steady myself.  I had just come from an appointment leaving me flattened as though I were run over by a bus.

One of the reasons I chose this place even though there were three top hotels in the near vicinity, was I assumed it was cheap, and after my latest sojourn to the Carlyle, my budget was already bleeding.

I sat at the far end of the bar that was empty, the other side filled with men smelling like OTB, smoke clinging to their sleeves and whiskers, shots of whiskey warming their callused hands.  A rather large bartender in his early 70s I’ll say…a lifer…been bartending since infancy…ambles over in a yellowish permanent-press button-down popped open at the bottom.

“What’il be?” he says, leaning in, a rag tossed over his shoulder.

“Vodka and tonic please.  Extra lime.”  He nods, without asking, did I want a specific brand.  Red flag folks.  Unless you do want Stoli or something similar, make sure he’s not making that decision for you.  It ups your check like it was given Miracle Gro.

As I take my first sip, I realize, it’s all tonic.  Blow, I mean Joe, the bartender didn’t give me a full shot.  I’m just a girl in a wrinkled raincoat after all, he’s never seen before nor, more than likely, will again, so lets cheat her why don’t we.  A cynical theory, but it’s all I have.

Of course, I needed that buzz too badly not to address it.

“Excuse me, there’s hardly any vodka in here.  I’d like another one please.”

This was one place doing your best Jackie O held no weight.  If looks could kill, I would have been in cement shoes rather than Manolos since in seconds, he returns with a scowl and two glasses.  One empty, just with ice, the other filled to the brim with vodka he plunks down never taking his icy eyes off of me.

I say nothing, mixing the drink myself that in moments, puts me on my ass.  Suddenly I’m seeing two of him, which was more than a little alarming, while the room spun around like a dreidel.


“Check please.”

He sidles over with it already made out watching as I read it.

“Are you kidding me?  You are charging me for two drinks at 14 bucks apiece?  The Carlyle doesn’t charge this, plus the first one had no vodka.”

We then see two other goons glide in from the kitchen area awaiting my final reaction.  Now all I can say is, if I wasn’t so inebriated I would have held my own.  Would have argued and called for help if I had to, however…I knew, in more ways than one, I hadn’t a leg to stand on.

Well that’ill teach you Susannah to one, assume a place is inexpensive because the facade needs painting, and perhaps drinking in the shank of the afternoon when you’re already not at your best may not be such a great idea.  And who are you anyway, Lionel Barrymore who needs a stiffer drink than the one she’s given?

Yeah, lessons all around that second round, she thought, climbing headfirst into a cab thirty bucks poorer.


Posted in New York City, Women and men | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Text Direct

images As I was crossing Fifth Avenue early in the morning, I almost collided with a Fresh Direct man and his massive cart of deliveries while he was obliviously texting.  If I hadn’t jumped out of the way, I would have been up to my ass, not to mention on it, in groceries.

“Hey, you almost hit me you know,” I said, my nostrils flaring like an irate bull.

“Oh lady, I’m sorry.  I didn’t see ya.”

“Well how could you with your nose buried in your phone?”  He was a nice looking, clean-cut Latino fellow no more than 25 wearing a very spiffy sports watch ( Hey, she misses nothing).

“What could be that important at 6:30 in the morning?”

“It’s my girl.  If I don’t answer right away, she thinks I’m not workin.”

“Well maybe it’s time you switch to someone who trusts you.”

For those of you who don’t know, Fresh Direct is like the A&P online.  You open an account, shop and they deliver.  Very big business on the Upper East Side where I live.  Of course, all these people have live-in help that can be there at that hour, or any for that matter, to put it all away.  It was never a convenient service for me since I hate waiting for anything, plus it’s gotten very expensive…the Tiffany of produce.

“Here’s something you should think about,” I said, suddenly becoming motherly.

“It’s still not totally light out.  Someone could run you over as you’re crossing the street.”

He nodded with his head down like a naughty puppy.

“Okay lady, I mean, ma’am, I’m sorry again.”  (could have done without the ma’am since now I felt like Aunt Bee).

“Alright then, ” I said, heading towards the park.  Don’t you know when I looked back, he was texting again.

Ay yi yi yi yi




Posted in animals, food, Home, humor, New York City, shopping, Women and men | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Snoogums Oh Ma Huna

hattie-mcdaniel-gonewiththewind-6 There’s a woman who works at a Starbucks I frequent who has a cartload of names for her customers…doesn’t matter how many times you tell her the right one she’s supposed to jot on your cup like a dog tag.

This morning though, she really outdid herself since I was, precious girl, angel ahs, idda bidda thin, bay-ba-doll and snoogums-oh ma huna.  I stood there like I should have been in peddle-pushers and a stroller while she cheerfully took my money.

The size of a bank with mammy tendencies, and I mean that well since she’s warm and welcoming, and despite almost forgetting what I’m really called, always happy to see her.

Waiting patiently, not my strong suit especially at 5 in the morning, for my Venti Latte 2% to be brewed standing behind a good dozen others, I hear, snoogums oh ma huna, and say.

“That’s me,” without blinking an eye.

New York.

If you can’t beat it, you may as well hop on board.    th


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I’m 92 How Old Are You?

I was on my way home when I see an elderly lady in a seersucker dress coming towards me with her eyes closed.  Red hair framing her face, she looked like a big sunflower that had yet to open.

“Excuse me, are you okay?”  It would have been irresponsible of me not to ask.

“Well, I just came from the eye doctor and he put drops in my eyes.”  They make someone pick you up for things far less dangerous than this.  How could they let anyone, especially this woman, leave in this condition?

“Ma’am, if you don’t mind me asking, how could they allow you to go home this way?.”

“Well, I told them I was perfectly fine.”

“But you’re not.”

“I fibbed.”

“I see.  Where do you have to go?”

“That way.”


“No, east?”

“But you’re pointing west.”

“Oh…I want to go to Lexington.” We were on Park, and Lex is one avenue over, so I  offered to walk her there.  Clutching my hand, we turtled across the street while I tried making small talk.”

“I love your dress.”

“You do?”

“It reminds me of where I’m from…Connecticut.”

“Oh, I love it there.  Had a beau in New London years ago.  He was so divine. Looked just like Robert Taylor.  You know, the actor?  But then I met my Herbert and never thought of Edwardo again.”

“Why didn’t Herbert come with you today?”

“Oh he died 10 years ago.”

“I’m sorry. He must have been young.”


“So you married an older man.”

“No, we were exactly the same age.  I’m 92.”

“92?  You don’t look 92.”

“Why thank you.  I sure don’t feel it.”  How old are you?”


“You’re just a baby.”  That sure made my day.

“What advice do you have for me…you know, being my elder and all.”

“Well, there’s not much you can do body wise, that has a mind of its own, but you can keep your own mind young.”


“By doing what you love, whatever that is.”

“What do you love to do?”

“Me? Cook…I lavvve to cook, and go to museums and art openings, and read.”

“Reading is my favorite thing…and writing.”

“Then don’t give that up…ever.” Boy did I like her, even though her nails were making substantial grooves in my wrist.

“We’re at Lex.  Do you live nearby?

“The village.”

“The village?  How are you planning on getting there.  A cab I hope.”

“Well, I guess that would be the wisest thing.”  She reached for her wallet inside an open satchel, not a smart bag to be carrying with your eyes closed.  She pulled out a five and five ones.

“That won’t take you there…not at this hour.”  Shit, if I had cash, in a heartbeat, would have given it to her.

“I have a credit card,” she said brightly. “They take them now you know.”

“But you can’t see.”

“Yes, you have a point.  I was planning on taking the subway.”  Even though I had just gotten off, if I hadn’t a doctor’s appointment I would have gladly taken her home, the dilemma tying my heart in knots.

“Okay, I’ll walk you to the train, get you through the turnstile, and then you’re on your own.  And please, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance.”  So we walked to 77th, made it down the steps when I noticed her shoe was untied.  That’s all she needed to do was trip.  I then spotted a Filipino lady I knew, so I called to her.  Turned out she was getting off at Astor Place too.  When God wants to be heroic he doesn’t fool around.  So this woman whose name I never knew, went off with Maria who also happened to be a nurse (there he goes again showing off), and that was that.

“Thank you so much for helping me.  God bless you dear.  And keep reading…and writing,” she called over her shoulder.

If I make it to 92, I want to be exactly like her…just with a zippered bag and my eyes opened.






Posted in Books, comedy, food, friendship, Health, humor, New York City, readng, women, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 29 Comments

Susannah’s Fall, Winter Reading List

I’m not boasting, but so far I’ve read 73 books this year not including a good 20 I didn’t finish.  There are just too many great reads to feel compelled to complete one that’s not all that compelling.  Chalk it up to hearing loss since you don’t need ears to see.

I’m always sending books as gifts, in the hopes it will ignite the gene gestating in all of us.  So many people don’t read in this cyber world we live in.  Facebook, Twitter, the E Channel take up so much time, who has any left to kick back with a good book.  Me, that’s who.  I’d rather spend it with David McCullough or Christopher Anderson than even the most esteemed Tweeter.  Hey, that’s just me, but maybe I can encourage you to switch channels.

To paraphrase John Adams…when you have a book, you always have a friend.

1) My Life In France, Julia Child.  For someone who doesn’t eat much, I love reading about food and let’s face it, it all starts and ends with Julia.  Chefs intrigue me in general, at least in print.  I dated one once who instead of roses brought me bouquets of thyme and dill I can still smell…sigh.

2) Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain.  I’ve read it three times, and like his pal Gabrielle Hamilton said in the New York Times Book Review’s, By The Book, ‘it’s both the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem of all line cooks throughout the world.’  He’s uncomfortably candid with so much humor diced in you can’t help but be dazzled.  This book, though he apologizes for it, put this handsome chef who now has his own show (No Reservations), on the map (also on my summer reading list, a book for all seasons).

3) Blood Bones and Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton.  Bourdain urged her to write a memoir and thank goodness she did.  The owner of the popular restaurant Prune in New York’s East Village (54 East 1st Street), who very deservedly came into her own, writes with such heart and honesty you’ll want to go sit at one of her tables.

4) Killing Kennedy, Bill O’Reilly.  I loathe the man (sorry O’Reilly fans), when I see him on TV, vomiting venom toward anyone and everyone, but I have to say, this book written with Martin Dugard had me by the short hair.  I give all the credit to Dugard however because it’s hard to believe O’Reilly is that engaging a writer.

5) Jack and Jackie, Christopher Anderson.  I never tire reading about the Kennedys, especially if the writer is Mr. Anderson.  He’s Truman Capote if he were working for the National Inquirer.  In other words, it’s gossip and sordid detail written well.  Also check out, The Day John Died about JFK Jrriveting, and here comes one more of his…

6) Citizen Jane…If you have any curiosity pertaining to Jane Fonda, this is the book for you.  I was amazed how much I didn’t know…the Vietnam years especially.  I came away feeling differently about the famous actress/exercise guru, not in a bad way, but more versed in her many layers.  Again, Anderson lets you peek, in a way, where you don’t feel as if you’re snooping.

7) The Diana Chronicles, Tina Brown.  Ms Brown, former editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair and the New Yorker is no slouch writer.  I couldn’t put this book down, neither could my pal Ed, not only about Diana, but all The Royals who, with the exception of her sons, William and Harry, don’t come off smelling like an English garden.  Diana however, will glean your sympathies having to endure such a family that has done everything to erase her from the public’s memory.

8) Final Days, Barbara Olson.  Her recap of the end of the Clinton presidency is more than fascinating.  But what tails you as you read her final book with its prescient title planned for publication September 12, 2001, is she was killed on 9/11, a passenger on the plane crashing into the Pentagon.

9) The Heart, Cross and Flag, Peggy Noonan.  Before I picked this up, another throng of September 11 stories, I knew she was a consultant on The West Wing, my favorite series to date.  An avid George Bush lover, she still comes across somewhat Democratic making you like her, respecting the candor she presents as a true patriot on the page.

10) Rewrites, Neil Simon.  I don’t know anyone who hasn’t enjoyed a Neil Simon play or film, so the first of his two part memoir is very moving (also on summer reading list).  His first wife, Joan, mother to his two daughters bearing an uncanny resemblance to actress Ali MacGraw, dies very young of breast cancer.  A candid testimony from a man admitting his faults facing life without a woman who did everything but tie his shoes.

11) The Play Goes On, Neil Simon.  The sequel to Rewrites, what his life was like after widowhood, jumping into a marriage with actress Marsha Mason, a woman who loved him madly, but also had a career.  A stirring account honestly told by one of the finest playwrights of our time.

 12) Wasted…The Preppie Murder, Linda Wolfe.   It was summer, 1986, when Robert Chambers, 20, during what appeared to be a late night round of rough sex, killed 18 year-old Jennifer Levin behind the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan’s Central Park.  I actually went to the sight beneath the tree where her body, exposed and left by a cold-hearted Chambers, was discovered by a runner early the next morning.  Time travel is truly a phenomenon transporting me back 29 years.  A great, though grisly read I’m a bit ashamed to say I inhaled.  Chambers by the way, served 15 years for Levin’s murder only to be released then arrested on a drug charge putting him back where he belongs.

13) Double Lives, Linda Wolfe.  Yes, I was on a macabre mission alright, murder as a true enticement.  My library has three packed shelves of crimes I knew nothing about.  This one, about a married public figure tangled with a sexy socialite he begins to stalk, will scare the shit out of you.  Another mystery that had its way with me escorted by Wolfe, a stellar storyteller.

14) Mrs. Astor Regrets, Meryl Gordon.  The disturbing facts about Brooke Astor’s only son, and his 20 years his junior money hungry wife who, in the grand lady’s final days sinking into dementia, treated her as if she were already dead.  He was sentenced to a lengthy prison term, but was let out due to illness, dying soon after.  But the mean, merry widow inherited her mother-in-law’s great wealth still living like a queen to this day.  A read that will piss you off beyond all understanding.

15) Unbroken, Laura Hildenbrand.  The author of Seabiscuit, another great read, will educate and enlighten while slamming your heart with what it was like to be in a Japanese Internment camp during World War II.  A biography of the late war hero, Louis Zamperini, is not an easy read but give it a whirl anyway, Hildenbrand’s writing is positively jaw-dropping.

16) The Great Bridge, David McCullough.  When the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883, it was often called the Eighth Wonder of the World.  I can attest, its graceful majesty when viewed, can still drop you to your very knees.  Mr. McCullough, the John Lennon of historians, brings you back watching from the shoreline as its towers rise resplendently over New York harbor.

17) Posterity, Dorie McCullough Lawson.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…Lawson compiled letters famous individuals wrote to their children that are so moving, you don’t need to be a parent to appreciate them.  I was lucky enough to hear some of them read at the New York Historical Society by her dad, the late Frank McCourt and actress Blair Brown.  I highly recommend them, a gift I often give on Father’s and Mother’s Day.

18) Nicole Brown Simpson…The Private Diary of a Life, Faye A. Resnick.  A short but interesting assessment on whether OJ killed his wife or not from one of her best friends.  I came away thinking, yes…he must have, considering how many times he beat her, while showing what slick lawyers can do twisting our legal system into knots, or slippery gloves if you will.  Resnick is no Doris Kearns, but she definitely has her say.

19) The Alienist, Caleb Carr.  I’m always stunned how many people have never read this quintessential, noir, New York novel starting in 1919 with Theodore Roosevelt’s funeral in Oyster Bay, Long Island.  Teddy, as Carr recaps his story, is pivotal as Manhattan’s most famous Police Commissioner, if you don’t count Tom Selleck on Blue Bloods that is.  I’ve read it three times and am about to go for my fourth.

20) Can I Go Now? The Life of Sue Mengers, Hollywood’s First Superagent, Brian Kellow.  My present read and a true spellbinder.  Mengers was a real character holding no prisoners, punches or truths about herself that endears you to her twenty pages in.  As I devour each word, feeling as if I know her, all set to sit down to one of her legendary dinner parties on Dawnridge Drive, I might find myself next to a famous director who will give me that big break…or Warren Beatty I could very well go home with.  Names like Nicholson, Streisand and Hoffman wink from the page amid bowls of cocaine actor Michael Caine, at one point, thought was sugar for his coffee. 

And as a bonus read….

Stuart Little, E.B. White.  Sometimes a kid’s story is just what the doctor ordered.  Mr. White was a genius.  Need I say more?  For a chaser, pick up Charlotte’s Web, but be prepared for a weepy finish no matter what age you happen to be.

ti01082470 cuddly sofa

Reading verses Tweeting…sigh


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Notes From The Carlyle – September, 2015

k7905334  So here I sit on a mission, at least that’s my excuse for being here.  My friend Alex is working on a cover for my collection of Carlyle pieces I hope to assemble into a book.  He wants an authentic cocktail napkin to photograph.  It’s good to be working on something whether it actually comes to fruition or not.

That said.

I was supposed to meet my friend Jacques here, but he unexpectedly left town.  A pity, since I hadn’t seen him in so long and was looking forward to a catch-up conversation and a handsome man to stare at across the table.  Sometimes all a girl needs is a little eye-candy and a chat to hoist her spirits.  Jacques, who could rent himself out being so easy on the eye, looks great even in his casual work clothes…khakis, soft, crisp button-downs, a blazer never buttoned.  He’s J. Crew with a shot of Brooks Brothers thrown in, to remind you where he comes from.

Bemelmans is pretty empty except for a couple of chic men having a deep discussion practically on top of one another.  I can’t help but to admire their suits, one beige the other a light gray.  They clearly haven’t switched over their closets as yet still in late summer mode.  Poloesque with a shot of Tom Ford tossed in.  Now that’s a look worth staring at along with dueling martinis, their olives glistening in the overhead light.

As I sip my Merlot, a well-kept woman in her forties glides in the side door with a diamond the size of a searchlight.  She looks around sharply combing the room not finding what she seeks.  But then, an imposing looking man walks in from the Madison Avenue entrance lingering just long enough to take all of her in.  It could have been a French deodorant commercial as they approached one another like choreographed deer.  He took her hands in his, kissing her on both cheeks…hmm…maybe they are French, but then again my exterminator is from the Bronx and greets me the same way, so who knows.

Let’s write a screenplay, shall we?  He just got off a plane rushing to her side.  She has already secured a room she’ll slip away to in an hour or so, after they have a drink concealed on a corner banquette, their legs commingling beneath it.

You know at least one of them is married since it’s all too Louis Malle for it to be remotely legitimate, and lets face it, legitimacy is just not nearly as exciting.

The barmaid brings them what looks like shots of scotch over ice in heavy beaded glasses.  I can easily see bright red nails encircling hers waiting politely for him to raise his.  Oh, to be that hot for someone is like a resurrection of ones vital signs.  He kisses her hair the shade of wheat that keeps falling over her face she coyly buries in the crook of his shoulder oh so broad.  OOH…previews of coming attractions, and just like in our screenplay, she collects her things after a long parting gaze, and takes leave.

He sits, checks his phone, calls for the bill he pays in cash then embarks from the opposite door.  Guaranteed, all he did was circle to the elevator the other way right passed JFK’s picture who would more than approve, as if he were going to his own room, and I suppose he is, where the wheat awaits.




Posted in Beauty, Cinema, Fashion, Love, men, money, New York City, sex, women, Women and men | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Leaving Port

Once again I am losing a friend.  Since my hearing loss three years ago this is nothing new.  Those I thought cared deeply for me, jumped ship.  And now it’s happened again.  images

I would never expose who it is though if this person reads what I’m about to pen they will know without question, since they’ve done it twice before.

The last two times we were reunited, my joy was that great, I forgot how painful the rejection was.

I should be used to this conduct by now having lost so many friends who cannot deal with my compromised state though always politely, passionately denied.  The last important one being Jed, and I don’t care that I’m using his real name since he hurt me that much.

Before I go on, you do know who your friends are when you’re crumbling where you stand.  They hold a vigil offering their hand letting you know, despite how it may feel, you are not alone…feelings after all, aren’t facts.

That said…this last defection shouldn’t surprise me yet it hurts right down to my socks.  I’ve learned though, someone’s bizarre, unpredictable behavior has little to do with you even if you are hemorrhaging because of it.

I can only compare it to watching a ship sail out of port.  It lifts anchor at the dock slowly taking leave.  You watch as it gets smaller and smaller disappearing over the horizon wondering if you’ll ever see it again.

I have the utmost respect and admiration for this person who I know struggles in their day to day existence.  My heart opens willing to do whatever it takes it help and assist.

Naturally in true Susannah fashion I blame myself and my multitude of problems people no longer wish to hear.  A shrink I had called this a Grandiosity Complex, always making it about you.  But when you’re hurt, it is about you, so shame takes center stage while friendship, a final bow.  But thank God, I’ve honed the skill of rallying.

Yet it doesn’t matter how I spin it…I still feel abandoned, but wisely see being the third time this dance was done, despite the pain, it has nothing to do with me…therefore…

I will quietly and sadly, bind my wounds.

And as always, wish her well.


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Words That Lift And Carry

images-1 I don’t know about you, but I need all the help I can get encouragement wise.  Whenever a word keeps coming up I feel it’s speaking to me.

Emboldened is the latest : a verb…the courage or confidence to do something or behave in a certain way.  To fortify, hearten, strengthen or cheer…brace, raise, rouse and stir.  Stimulate, rally, invigorate, buck-up.  Goad, inflame, provoke, electrify.

Doesn’t its mere sound increase your heart rate?

To put it in simple layman’s terms, it means to light a fire beneath you.

For example, if someone praises my prose, it makes me want to pen more.  I’m emboldened by the compliment, galvanized to sit and write.

I’m not a very good preener, very hard for me to take a bow, but I do know how good it feels when someone says, well done.  Like sun suddenly shining upon your shoulders.

We all need support in whatever it is we do.  To be emboldened means to sparkle without apology.  To bask in the knowledge we’re relevant in our efforts especially if it’s something we love.  I think writers have to love what they do it being such a solitary effort, same as painting or practicing an instrument.  Acknowledgement becomes like a knock on the door flooding your space with light.

When someone writes a positive response I am more than a little emboldened.  I gleam in its glow.

Such a lovely word bolstering ones creativity like a verbal transfusion hoisting, brightening and buoying your being.

Words, they take your breath, don’t they?





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Smug And Snooty

I live in the snottiest neighborhood in the world.  Parisians on the Left Bank have nicer manners, and we know how rude the French can be.

Park, Madison and Fifth Avenue from 60th Street to 95th are crammed with the entitled. People that, somewhere along the line decided, they were the better breed of New Yorkers  simply because they have money.

Why is it, grace rarely accompanies the very rich?

Just now I watched a woman while her tweedy husband egged her on (pun intended), humiliate a waiter because her eggs were a tad runny.  Now, if my oeuefs needed tightening (or anything else for that matter) I’d politely send them back.

You would have thought they were her own eggs, though from the looks of her face, make-up settling in its cracks, her over lights expired long ago.

I know this waiter.  He’s sweet, and often when he sees me in Starbucks early in the morning buys my coffee.  But that’s not why I like him.  He’s a young Latino fellow who began years ago as a cleaner in the restaurant below where I live.  He was then made a busboy after a decade of sweeping and mopping till he worked his way up to server.  And believe me, it wasn’t easy working for the troll who owns the place.  In other words, he earned it.  All of 30, to see him dressed down like that pained me, and no, I did not step in. Knowing him as I do, it would have humiliated him more if Sue, what he calls me, got involved.  He apologized and brought her a fresh order without even receiving a thank you.

Boy, did I want to smack her and her arrogant husband whose stomach splayed through his Brooks Brothers button-down.

It’s only one example of what it’s like living on the Upper East Side.

When I told Tony the grocer who too loves the waiter, he said.  “Did you recanize the bitch?  Maybe she’s a customa, cause I’ll fix her wagon.”

“What ever do you mean Tony?”

He winked at me slyly as he, with little mercy, hacked up a Cornish hen.

Hmm, hope I see her again, to get a better look.



Posted in Beauty, food, humor, money, New York City, women | Tagged , , , , | 32 Comments

Curiosities…Freaks on Parade

I came upon this term while thumbing through a book on P.T. Barnum, the infamous showman and circus owner  images (1810-1891).

Why infamous as opposed to just famous?  He made his vast fortune on the misfortunes of others.

He was the owner of Barnum’s American Live Museum (located on Broadway and Ann Street in downtown Manhattan),  300px-Barnum's_American_Museum-photo_1858 a mere covert cover for a circus sideshow.  Inside were...CURIOSITIES.  Those born with some abnormality piquing the public’s interest, or curiosity if you will, at a price.

Siamese Twins, The Bearded Lady, images-3  Jo-Jo the Dog faced Boy.images-4 But his most renowned discovery were two dwarves he named, General Tom Thumb (Charles Sherwood Stratton 1838-1883), 110px-Charles_Sherwood_Stratton_-_dagurreotype_circa_1848 and his wife, Lavinia Warren (Lavinia Warren Bump  220px-Lavinia_Warren_-_Brady-Handy 1841-1919).

Back then it was permissible to call them midgets, where now they’d respectfully be referred to as Little People.  In their case, Mr. Mrs. Thumb along with Barnum, made a small fortune, no pun intended, but that wasn’t the case for most of his employees.

Imagine sitting in a little cubicle while you were stared at like a freak, hence the term freak show, images-1 your job description being to withstand humiliation all day long.

It’s no wonder, karmically, Barnum’s American Museum burnt down twice, last time in 1868, along with two of his early circus sights, one on Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport, Connecticut, another in Brooklyn.  Even his beloved palatial home called Iranistan, burned to the ground in 1857.  240px-Iranistan,_Residence_of_P.T._Barnum,_1848

The gods were clearly not happy with Phineas Taylor Barnum.

Originally from Bridgeport before migrating to Fairfield, I as a kid, knew lots about him, buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery in a tomb he designed himself.   barnum-grave Modest, wasn’t he.

I remember a school trip visiting his grave along with his little star, Tom Thumb interred nearby. images-8  Of course no one intimated Barnum was a creep making us all think how grand he was for siring such a well-known circus, a place, to this day, I can’t go to because of all the animals trained to entertain.  You have to ask yourself, what did they have to do to that elephant who can elegantly cross his legs and sit on a stool?  Frankly, I don’t want to know.

Which brings me to Barnum at his cruelest.  Topsy the elephant, in 1903, the star of Coney Island’s Luna Park until she was so abused, began retaliating.  After a drunk man fed her a lit cigarette, she killed him.  The decision was made, Topsy needed to be put down.  Didn’t matter it was in self-defense and though back then, there was some type of ASPCA, it was nothing like today where we’d fight like hell for her rights, like any mistreated female.

Barnum suggested to Topsy’s owners, why not a public hanging?

Thomas Edition weighed in by saying, hey, I have a better idea…let’s electrocute her instead, to show just how great my electricity truly is, a suggestion appealing to all who figured, hey we’ll sell tickets, which they did to a packed house of a hundred or so spectators.  As her trainer wept, Topsy inhumanly lost her life.

I can’t, for all our sake, post pictures.

Makes you wish you were the one lighting the torch on Barnum’s treasured home that now reverently has a street named after it not far from The Barnum Museum, its star bequeathing an endowment towards its birth.

Despite detesting Barnum’s heartlessness, dollars meaning more than humanity, I find him fascinating to read about.  He makes Donald Trump look like loose change.

I will leave you with one story that, despite everything, always makes me smile.  In 1883, soon after The Brooklyn Bridge was completed, images-1 people were afraid to walk across due to a rumor it wouldn’t hold.  So Barnum, once again seizing an opportunity, assembled all his elephants, trunks linked, walking them across the bridge to show its strength.  Jumbo, Barnum’s biggest star in the lead, responded to the crowd’s applause by festively flapping his ears…so as the story goes, after that day, no one was afraid to walk across the bridge ever again.

History, for better or worse, has to grab you, even if it’s only by your heartstrings.

“Every crowd has a silver lining”  P.T. Barnum   images-6


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