Posts Tagged ‘Les Green’

March 12, 1950: Bride Trudy between Les (left, behind her) and Gert (to the right, dark hat); Deana is to Gert’s right

My working theory about relationships among three adult is that, when there’s one person who has a relationship with the other two but that the other two don’t have a natural relationship with each other, it spells trouble.

I’ve been there, getting along with two guys at the coffeehouse we lived at c. 1975, but they inexplicably hated each other. I mean throwing chairs at one another. I was the hinge in the middle, trying to make peace, generally unsuccesfully.

A better example is when I lived with my sister Leslie and her then-husband Eric in the summer of 1977 in Jamaica, Queens, NYC. Leslie was the hinge, trying to keep peace between her spouse and her sibling.

Unfortunately, I know my mother, Trudy, spent years being the hinge in the relationship between her mother Gert and her husband Les, probably since Les and Trudy got married in 1950.

It was fairly clear that Les did not particularly like Gert. One time when we were having Sunday dinner at our house, someone asked Gert if she wanted any peas. She said, “A couple.” Les spooned exactly two peas onto her plate.

Even now, decades later, I experience a mix of mortified embarrassment, amazement at his passive aggression, and a mild amusement over his literalism.

I have to think a lot of that animosity came from Les’ male ego. He was living in a house, 5 Gaines Street in Binghamton, owned by his mother-in-law, where he was paying, as far as I know, no rent, just the utilities, since the house was paid off. His mother and stepfather lived upstairs and paid minimal amount of rent to cover the taxes.

To be fair to my father, though, Gert’s tales, some designed to scare her grandchildren into submission, could be irritating. Her sister Deana, who unfortunately died in 1966, was often my ally, and at least one one occasion said to Gert, “Leave the boy alone!”

My dad was SO thrilled when he and my mother bought a house at 29 Ackley Avenue in nearby Johnson City in 1972, when I was off at New Paltz. I even lent them some money for the down payment from the money I had been saving for college, since my Regents scholarship covered my first-year tuition.

Les and Trudy and baby sister Marcia moved to Charlotte, NC in 1974. As Gert was alone and aging in Binghamton, it was clear she could no longer live on her own. Leslie and I “kidnapped” her and took her down to Charlotte by train in January 1975, where she had a room in Trudy and LES’ house until she died on Super Bowl Sunday 1982.

My sisters and I are on this Binghamton-specific group on Facebook. This woman that I do not know, in response to my sister posting a photo of our father, asked, “Is that Les Green the musician? If it is he worked with us Read the rest of this entry »

LesGreen.sweaterThis is unprofound: one’s age is frozen in time when one dies. Dad was 26 when I was born, so he was mostly in his 30s and 40s when I was growing up, in his 50s and 60s,when I visited him when he and mom and the “baby” sister moved to Charlotte, NC from Binghamton, NY.

But he was never young, a boy or in his teens or early twenties, at least not in my self-centered reckoning. This picture I don’t remember, and I don’t know how old he was. But I think I remember the sweater. It was a forest green sweater, and it was cream-colored, rather than white. Or so I recall.

He used to paint trees, but they were almost always barren, often in wintertime.

He was a month and a half shy of 74 Read the rest of this entry »

My sister Marcia posted a picture on Facebook. It was all pinkish, and I couldn’t even see her in the photo. So I asked Arthur the AmeriNZ guy, who must be related to Annie Sullivan, because he’s a miracle worker, if he might have a go at it.

He noted, “The original photo appears to be a low-resolution scan of the photo, and that means there’s not much to work with. If it was a higher-resolution version, I’d have more to work with.

“The pinkish cast to the photo is because of natural deterioration in photos from the 1940s through the 1960s and 70s. The dyes used turned out not to be stable, and photos taking on a reddish hue is common.” Yes, I do have a few of those in photo albums.

I suspect the original negative from 1958 is long gone, and a higher-resolution scan seems to be beyond the capacity of my sister’s machine.

He actually did three versions, one “with the colours lightly corrected”, another with “a little more intense colour correction, with the focus on making the skin tones a little more natural (which makes the background even worse)”, and the one I chose, “a black and white version, with some of the dust and defects caused by the low-resolution cleaned up. This version, because the colours in the background aren’t weird, is a little less distracting.”

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. As Paul Simon, in his corrected lyrics, once said, “Everything looks better in black-and-white.”

I have only a vague recollection of this photo. I’m sure I saw it at the time, but that was long ago. I assume my mother took the picture, and based on the baby’s size, probably on June 15, 1958. This is the only one I recall with just these four people, Dad, Roger, Leslie and Marcia.

Happy Father’s Day to you, and to me.

Marcia, the younger sister, in very many ways, has become the keeper of the flame, not only for the history of the nuclear family in which we grew up back in Binghamton, NY in the 1950s and ’60s, but for the extended tribe as well.

It’s logical. She was the only one who moved to Charlotte, NC with the parents. Leslie and I were already ensconced in college, though of us lived down there for brief periods in the late 1970s.

After my father died in 2000, Mom and Marcia took care of Marcia’s daughter Alex and each other, though as time marched on, Marcia and her daughter were tending more to Mom until she died in 2011.

She still is tending to our parents’ memory, as she has access to decades worth of photos and other material.

As all three of her kids knew, my mom LOVED Nat King Cole. She had a whole bunch of 78s of his, but I have no idea whatever became of them. There were some items in my maternal grandmother’s house, the house my grandma and mom grew up in, and where my sisters and I spent a lot of time. The stuff went into storage and ultimately disappeared long ago, including some photographs of mine.

Marcia was musing about my mother back in November, just before Mom’s birthday. Our mother particularly loved Nature Boy and other familiar tunes by Cole. But neither Marcia nor I had heard him perform There Will Never Be Another You. It’s become one of Marcia’s favorite Nat King Cole songs. And I can hear why.

BTW, neither she nor I ever really learned to play the guitar, though Dad and Leslie did. The painting in the background with the guitar was by our father.

LISTEN to There Will Never Be Another You

Arturo Sandoval

Nat Cole

Doris Day

Happy birthday, Marcia!

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