Walking around Rockland Lake recently, I thought I’d taken a detour to the Galapagos.

Several mature and magnificent herons and egrets were escorting a huge flock of young birds across the southern end of the lake, a few short flaps at a time. It appeared to be a flying lesson. The young aviators took off and lifted themselves, just a foot or so, above the lake. Then, after being airborne for mere seconds, they’d skid across the lake’s surface, like shaky Cessnas trying to land in a storm.

Again and again it went. I, along with other walkers and runners and cyclists, stopped in my tracks to watch this bit of Animal Planet in a New York suburb.

It’s been like that all summer long. Abundantly abundant and then some.

Animal sightings, for me, never get old. Give me the chance to watch a chipmunk wriggle in and out from under a rock, and I’m warm on the inside. Even the squirrel that scampers along the railing on my deck is a treat.

But this year’s wildlife sightings are proving to be something akin to marriage vows — a “for better or for worse” scenario.

First, it was the turkey vulture (a bird only a mother turkey vulture could love). The slick black-and-brown bird with the hooked red head showed up one day at the invitation of my neighbor’s uncontained refuse.

Swooping in, he headed for a collection of plastic garbage bags. From my window, I watched the bird furiously tear away at the plastic. Once it scored, it flew upward with a thick heaviness and, thunk, landed on my roof. All the while, my nearby chickens screamed like hyenas.

That was nothing compared to the cat-and-mouse game we have been playing with a brazen raccoon. Every morning, we noticed he had been trying to burrow under and into our chicken run overnight. So determined was this animal that he kept moving large rocks that we’d tightly packed along the rim of the run.

One night, we heard a loud crash. There we were, face to face with the dark-eyed raccoon that, unable to feast on our plump poultry, was trying to lift the lid of a large cedar box on our deck where we store their feed.

“Git the gun, Pa,” I said to my husband.

Well, we don’t have a gun, and throwing rocks didn’t scare the raccoon away. So, every night, as darkness falls, Rocky returns, like a killer with bodies to bury.

But last week was a whole different animal. As I opened the door to leave my house, I did a double take.

“What the hell is that?” I said.

I called my husband at work. “We’ve got a bear.”

“Are you sure it’s not a hedgehog, or Sasquatch?” he said.

“Very funny,” I replied. “That is a definitely a bear.”

“Take pictures,” he said.

By the time I grabbed my camera, the bear had ambled closer, onto my lower patio. He was enormous. The furniture looked small next to him. Bored, he made his way up a set of stone steps and stood less than 5 feet from my front door.

I could see him through the glass, the only barrier between us. He looked at me. I looked at him. He was cute — well, kind of, in that way that a bear can look if you temporarily forget that his claws are as sharp as your best kitchen knife.

I was torn between fascination and fear. I wanted to observe him, like a wildlife photographer on assignment. But I had chickens to protect. I wasn’t buying that “Oh, bears are herbivores” stuff. I rapped at the glass until he eventually skulked off into the woods.

The next day, my local paper and every regional media outlet reported on a bear sighting in the Village of Nyack, about a mile away. The critter looked frightened, clinging to a branch up in a tree. If I were the bear, I’d definitely come back to my expansive wooded property. Though I’m hoping there are enough garbage cans in the village to keep him sated until next winter’s hibernation.

Read more about Tina Traster’s move from the city to a rural suburb in “Burb Appeal: The Collection,” available on Amazon.com.

E-mail: [email protected]

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/realestate/residential/living_where_the_wild_things_are_RtYJOMLlAPUCwfjwjvECRL#ixzz1UAJ98MEt

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Hey everybody,

My new nonfiction collection, Burb Appeal, is now available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99.

Note: You do not need a Kindle or e-reader to download an e-book. You can download ebooks directly to a PC.

Click for Burb Appeal: The Collection

And here’s a quick excerpt…

When I bought my house five years ago, there was a little green shed with the whimsical inscription “Fresh Eggs Sold Here.” It was not entirely a gratuitous flourish because the former owner kept a flock of free-range hens. These birds, like roving cats, were known by everyone along the road.

Scene: March, 2009. Winter is officially over but the sky is still leaden and heavy with rain. The nascent plants and flowers are peeking though the soil tender and bright, offering a hint of the fullness of our summer ahead. Seed catalogs fill the house. The first chicks come into the feed stores, a sure sign of the growing season to come.

I will go get some, because I’m insane.

I had recently ended one chicken experiment but was ready to begin another on its heels. I had just sold three enormous hens who had torn up our garden (an expensive experiment), but I wasn’t quite ready to give up the chicken-dream yet, so I decided rather foolishly and hastily to go get bantam chicks to stick under our fourth and final hen.

Gigi, all glossy black feathers and disco boots, had no other thought in this world than sitting on non-existent eggs fertilized by an invisible rooster. She had been sitting on her empty nest stubbornly and stupidly for five weeks; that chicks hatch from eggs in just three weeks made clear that this girl, our big fat dumb bird, was determined–biology and lack of eggs be damned. I admire this sort of tilting at windmills.

I felt I could both fulfill her biological drive and further my pathological need to have chickens by making her a foster parent. So when I heard that spring chicks were at the nurseries, especially the banties which only grow about a quarter of the size of big farm hens, I decided the iron was hot.

I bought a half-dozen day-old chicks, hedging my bets that a few would be roosters when they grew up. I kept them warm under a heat lamp until evening when chickens become even dopier than usual; relying on Gigi’s biological desperation and the fact that chickens can’t see well in the dark, I took one lone chick out with a flashlight to meet Mom.

Gigi glared at me as though a predator, and when she saw this defenseless critter moving towards her she struck out with her beak, all feathers and fury. Tiny chick shrieks mingled with my throbbing heart–Good grief! She was savage!–and Gigi’s beady night-blind eyes searched wildly in the dark for shapes she could peck to death.

This wasn’t going well.

I took the poor traumatized chick inside, having the sinking sense that I might need to raise the six chicks myself. I watched them sadly as they peeped their way around their cardboard box. Peep. Peep.

To hell with it, I thought. I carried the whole damned box with me outside into the dark of the coop, and one by one shoved chicks unceremoniously under Gigi, who was flittering nervously and starting to cluck. She was going to have to take on six defenseless chicks, dammit! Sure, she would win the contest, but maybe in the confusion a chick would find its way into her avian heart.

Actually, a chick found its way under her avian breast, which is exactly what is supposed to happen. All the sudden the clucking harpy of doom became a purring hen gathering up chicks and shoving them under her breast feathers as fast as she could. Soon all six chicks were invisible. Gigi’s breast had swallowed them up and she was cooing gently.

The Virgin Mother was beaming with pride. “Hallelujah!” she thought, “It’s a miracle! I knew that if I sat on an empty nest long enough, the gods would provide!” I moved the happy family into the roosting house where Gigi could safely keep her growing chicks warm and dry. She was a fabulous mother. And I was glad I didn’t have to sit on them myself.


We’re not a phobic lot around these parts. Calm, mostly unmotivated by irrational fears, but one phobia my husband and I shared from the moment we met was an all-encompassing fear of puking.

“Sure,” you think, “who likes to puke?” and I know what you mean. There’s nothing, NOTHING enjoyable about it, except the part when it ends. But unlike you, we’ve made our life goals to never, ever ralph again in this lifetime. My husband spent a great deal of his teenage years not drinking booze with friends to avoid throwing up–not, like some would believe, because he was a “nice boy.” I also spent my teen years assiduously not yacking, though in retrospect I should have, so pickled at moments I was probably a short trip away from the emergency room.

We really, really understood each other on this point. We also understood the pitfalls of having a child, too: there would be ralphing involved and there was very little we could do about it. We were just going to have to man-up. The tot was going to puke, and we were going to have to soothe him during the awful illness, neuroses be damned.

“The cats broke me in,” my husband tells people when we talk about the terror. I suppose that’s true. One of them used to “hoover and horf” back in the day, sucking in food at high velocity and then yucking it back up because she’d eaten too much; she was the only cat I knew who actually had an eating disorder. The other one would just puke. Not fur-balls, not because he ate too much. Just to test our resolve, I think. He was that kind of cat.

So the cats warmed us up for the norovirus, which came around at last. We’ve dealt with all the parental woes children offer their completely naïve parents, including inscrutable behavior and poop in such quantities it’s hard to fathom where it all fits in such a tiny package. But most importantly we’ve learned that we can survive the puking.

Early in the spring, our son picked up a nice bug and brought it home with him. And, being our son, puking for him is also a horror; unlike other kids who just sort of yawn and yack and move on, he’ll do just about anything to avoid it. How can one be genetically predisposed to fear puking? I have no idea, but it seems to move through our family like mitochondrial paranoia. And yet, being in a position of responsibility, neither my husband nor I can cave in to our own better instincts to flee the scene of the ralphing–we must stay and help our poor, terrified son by being the rocks of strength neither of us feel we are.

We’re better at it now. Both of us have faced the beast head-on and we’re able to stomach it. So this particular spring night, so sloppy with rain and now a puking child, was for us just another part of the joys of parenting.

Except in my case, I too had come to feel a bit less-than-awesome.

After the early flurry of stomach misery, both my husband and I taking turns soothing and cleaning our unhappy kid, sleep seemed as though it might visit our house at last. We stayed up watching television until sleep became irresistible. Because my husband was feeling better than me (though I didn’t tell him that–I figured he had enough to deal with) I went to bed while he stayed downstairs with the tot.

Sleep enveloped them around three a.m., Papa curled protectively around his boy.

At about quarter to four, an unholy cry woke my husband and he sat upright to find the source of the noise. Grasping for his glasses he spied a chicken streaking across the yard. Gigi was cackling wildly, raising the alarm, and my husband leaped up from the sofa in his boxer shorts and jumped into his shoes.

Cold, miserable, raining and dark, a chicken shrieking into the void: my husband raced outside and grabbed a two-by-four just as he glimpsed an enormous possum loping lumpily down the chicken ladder in the coop. The front door of the roosting house was hanging off of its hinges, Gigi having broken it when she wrestled with the scavenging marsupial looking for a delicious meal deal. The nest box was empty, the chicks nowhere to be seen. Gigi screaming in the yard, my husband deciding whether or not he had the wherewithal to brain a possum with a board in his boxer shorts at four in the morning. In the rain.

Deciding between rescuing Gigi or bludgeoning a possum proved easy once he realized his primordial blood lust took him about as far as his laptop and his love of fine wine; he picked up the crazed Gigi and shut her back in the coop again, propping wood against the sagging door. Then he chased the possum away, choosing (wisely I feel) that he wasn’t ready to snuff out a possum just yet.

But where were the chicks? Gigi having taken to her fostering responsibilities with the seriousness of a zealot was keening inside the coop, desperate. My husband, now drenched, white legs glowing between sockless shoes and boxer shorts, and jacked full of adrenalin, worried that he was too late and the chicks had become a little possum snack.


Two chicks were sitting on the ground in dumb terror, refusing, thankfully for my husband, to run away. He put them in the nest box and Gigi crammed them under her with relief, immediately beginning to purr and croon to her adopted kids.  More chicks appeared like tiny sprites which he chased through the yard, knobby knees flying after startlingly agile chicks which eluded him through wet plants and shrubs. One by one he tracked them down, each one a relief to him: he was not going to have to tell me about six Possum McNuggets. Maybe just three. Now two.

Now one.

One chick was missing. He had chased and rescued five chicks. Gigi, missing a couple of chunks of feathers and a few years off her life was busily fussing over the five and settling in for the morning which was just now peeking iron grey through the heavy morning clouds. He looked all over the yard, trying to figure how best to break the news to me. “‘A funny thing happened last night while you were sleeping…’ That’s terrible. ‘So, it seems there’s a possum in the neighborhood…’ Ugh.” Finally he gave up and went inside, dried himself off and crawled back to sleep around his sweaty son, still green with sickness but sleeping heavily.

He drifted off to sleep…


With joy in his heart and a spring in his step, my husband leaped up, threw on his shoes and ran out to find the last chick, peeping frantically under the dining room window. And though it was about as large as his fist, that final chick ran him around the yard, a man almost naked save for his underwear and shoes, bald head steaming in the chilly pre-dawn as they darted in and out between leaves. From the jaws of a Chickensian tragedy my husband had snatched six chicks and been thrust into an episode of Green Acres. Had there been a laugh track the episode would have played out with all the dramatic depth of Eva Gabor chasing livestock around in her petticoats; a Benny Hill soundtrack running behind my husband running behind a chicken running through the rain at five in the morning.


He crawled into bed next to me at about eight. I was feeling pretty rough, but hadn’t shared my woe yet. I thought he would be impressed with me weathering our darkest fears all by myself, being so grown up as to not whine even a little.

“Let me preface this by saying that the chickens are all right,” he said.

I listened as his tale of adventure unfolded. There were highs and lows, all the twists and turns of The Odyssey and all of the comedy of Catch-22. We laughed in relief and sheer disbelief. I even forgot how crappy I felt.

“You didn’t hear anything?” he asked. Not a peep, no pun intended.

“Stomach flu saved our chickens,” he said. He was right. We would have never heard the kerfuffle outside unless one of us was, as he was, downstairs. My hero, the dark knight of poultry, wielding the two-by-four of justice.

Stomach flu has it’s place, but I suppose we can’t rely on it as a security measure in the future. We’ll just have to make sure the door is locked. It has been ever since.

Please explain what just happened.

Weren’t you just there, asking me?

When my family moved to The Free Territory of Trieste, it was a time when people did not fly across the ocean. Flying was prohibitively expensive and rare. No one really believed that airplanes made with all that heavy metal could actually fly safely when they were full of people. It was counterintuitive. I personally still have trouble believing that those enormous things get off the ground at all. (And don’t even get me started on those helicopters from the mosquito family!)  Back then, everyone had the same reservations. We sailed across the ocean to FTT on the Saturnia. I suppose that if I had thought about it, I also would have questioned how a ship made out of metal that should obviously sink, could float. I’m glad I didn’t think about that at the time, or I would have worried my way all across the ocean.

We rented the bottom floor of a fabulous villa belonging to General and Mrs. Santi. My dad was a gifted Marine Engineer. He knew everything about ships and ports. With the benefit of hindsight, it is pretty clear that my dad was a spy. Dad knew all kinds of sketchy military types and nebulous characters you couldn’t really figure out. They were in and out of the house all the time. My dad was unavailable behind The Iron Curtain most of the time. I rarely saw him during those years.

While I lived there, I went to a Convent school about a mile away from the villa. I loved it there. I believed myself to be a typical little Italian girl. My father later told me that I won all sorts of awards for being super cool and the smartest of all, (and why would he lie?) Plus the class was full of kids I could play with after school.

I’m the second girl from the Nun in this photo.

In the picture below, my dad wrote I.M. next to my head. (Irene Marie.)

A stone pedestal stood in the garden. It was the ideal launching place for me to practice my flying. I was very light and had no metal on me. It made perfect sense. I was certain that I would be able to fly if I only practiced often enough and hard enough. It was simply a matter of stick-to-itiveness. I would climb up on the pedestal and leap off flapping my arms wildly, over and over and over, every day. I was convinced that I was getting incrementally better. I had so thoroughly persuaded myself in my abilities that I convinced all my friends to come over after school for flying lessons. My flying lessons were well attended. I never even considered charging for them. I thought anyone who worked that hard to fly should just have a right to it. It was a public service.

I had my first dog there. Her name was Trixie. She wasn’t allowed in the house, but then, neither was I most of the time. My mother liked her house to herself. My brother didn’t live there during the school year, since he went to school in Switzerland. My mom cleaned all the time. Nothing was ever clean enough for her. Therefore, neither my dog nor I were welcome in the house. We made things messy. I was invited in for meals and to go to bed. This was okay with me, since I was committed to polishing my flying and I had my green wooden swing hanging from ropes on our enormous horse chestnut tree and I could read outside and I had my totally fabulous dog. Why would I want to go inside?

We sailed back home on the Andrea Doria in 1955, a year before it collided with The Stockholm, and sank off the coast of Massachusetts. (And we thought airplanes were dangerous!) My dad was somewhere secret and wasn’t with us. My mom and my brother were really seasick and stayed in the cabin a lot, so I sort of had the run of the ship. I remember having a blast playing with all the kids. Michael Douglas was one of the kids with us on the Andrea Doria. He was older than I, my brother’s age. To this day it sticks in my craw that I can’t remember which boy Michael Douglas was. You probably all think of him as an old guy, and I guess he sort of is now.  To me, he’s still a great actor and a handsome man, but I’m about his age. If you saw him back in the 1970s, he was acting in a TV show with Carl Malden called: The Streets of San Francisco, and even you young people would think he was hot!

This picture was taken on the Andrea Doria. Michael Douglas is one of these little boys.  If you think you know which one, I’d love to know. I’m the first kid on the right holding what looks like a stuffed Tazmanian Devil. My mom is standing behind me and my brother is the second kid on the left.  It is apparent from our somber faces that the photographer did not tell us to say “cheese.”

Zara just found this photo to me.  I think it’s clear now which boy is little Michael Douglas.

When we sailed home to Brooklyn, my mother would not allow me to bring my dog. In retaliation, I refused to speak anything but Italian for quite awhile. My family totally ignored my plan to get sent back to Italy. Things were weird at Public School 102, what with my pretending I could only speak Italian. The teachers just assumed I was an immigrant and expected that eventually I would learn English. After about six months I realized my tactic wasn’t working, so I reverted to English. The day I switched over, it probably surprised them. Although, I remember answering English questions on tests and school work with the correct answer in Italian. When it came my turn to read aloud, I would simply translate what I was reading into Italian. I suppose that would have given them a clue, had they any knowledge of Italian.

A few years ago, in our travels, Victor and I went to Trieste to see if any place was still standing that I might remember. My brother remembered the address of the villa. He told me it was a pipe dream to expect it to be still there. He said I was going all the way to Northeastern Italy and there was probably an apartment building or a shopping mall where the villa used to be. I guess he was trying to keep me from being disappointed.

We traveled there anyway and my unwarranted optimism paid off. The villa was still there. We rang the bell at the gate at the bottom of five flights of stairs. A woman, older than I, came out. I no longer spoke Italian, but luckily this woman spoke English. She was actually the daughter of General and Mrs. Santi and remembered me. How’s that for weird?  She lived in the villa alone now. It was too immense a building to live in alone. That became obvious when we went inside.

The villa was dilapidated. The walls were crumbling and damp.

The gorgeous mosaic marble was piled high with junk.

She showed us all the rooms I had recalled. She served us wine. We walked into the yard and my flying pedestal was still there. It was just a bit crooked.

I asked General Santi’s daughter what had happened to Trixie.

She told me that Trixie became their dog after we left; that she was the best dog they ever had. For decades I had assumed that my mother had arranged to have my dog killed. After all, my Easter Chicks had gone to live at the farm at “The Old Sailors’ Home” when they grew into actual chickens. My Easter Bunny, Eliot Ness, also went to live on the same farm, when he grew up to be a full-fledged rabbit. It was years before I picked up on that scam. I was already in college before my father finally owned up to the truth. My Easter Chickens and Easter Bunny became dinner for those old sailors. My dad was feeling guilty that I still believed in the deception after all those years.

Go ahead and tell me a lie. I believe everything. Ask my kids.

After leaving my old home, we walked to the Convent School with only memory as my guide. I hadn’t remembered the name of the school. When we found it, we were startled and laughed at its prophetic name.

(Do you hear the music from “The Twilight Zone” too?)



Comment by Ben |Edit This
2009-10-17 08:21:03

Everything you write about your youth makes Kate envious. I, on the other hand, thank God every day that I grew up in modern America.

Being born any time before 1970 and being raised anywhere but here just seems like life giving you a really terrible consolation prize.

Better you than me, I always say.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-17 11:17:18

Kate is just romantic about far-away places. It’s sweet! It’s what girls do. Fantasy doesn’t always play out the way you think it might, though. Better to stay with the fantasy and not test it out too much.

I agree with you, Ben. Growing up here is best. Growing up now is best, unless you can figure out how to grow up later when things are even more modern.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2009-10-17 10:30:30

you are a true kunte kinte….

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-17 11:18:24

Yeah, telling my family history here.
(Victor thought kunte kinte was kaiser sose. HA! That would change things, eh?)

Comment by Stephanie |Edit This
2009-10-17 10:31:13

I am so jealous. You have by far the most interest life, Irene. It’s incredible.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-17 11:19:58

I think everyone has an interesting life. Some people notice it and some don’t. Ask your mom some questions and don’t let her wriggle out of the answers. You’ll see.

Comment by Lisa |Edit This
2009-10-17 11:00:25

Excuse me, but you have both flipper people AND spies in your not-too-distant family history? That is by far the coolest thing ever.

The baby still isn’t here so now I need another story to read, please.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-17 11:21:30

I am REALLY trying to forget about the flipper people swimming next to the Mayflower on the way to the new land.
Only Lenore thinks that’s cool. I’m totally weirded out.

Comment by cecile lebenson |Edit This
2009-10-17 11:17:23

Your early years never seemed so interesting when you told it in Champaign. Maybe you were still angry then because your mother never let you in. But it is a great story with the visuals as well. There is a lot more than meets the eye when one meets Irene Zion. Just finished viewing the you tube bit from Chicago. You are by far my most intersting and unpredictable friend.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-17 11:29:16

I was carrying my certifiable mom on my back for ten years in Champaign.
Things just weren’t funny.
Driving with only my mom in the car were the only times in my life when I actually had to fight speeding headlong into the side of the viaduct or a bridge abutment simply to shut her up.
As the opportunity to end her endless bitching arose, I had to have some serious self-control to continue driving on the road instead.
Oh but it was so tempting….

Comment by Zara Potts |Edit This
2009-10-17 11:34:18

You tell a delightful story, Irene.
I could almost see you flying.
I love the lines that are almost throwaway, like you were ‘invited in for dinner and to go to bed.’ Perfectly rendered!
I’m glad Trixie made it. We had a dog that was sent to live on ‘The Rabbit Farm.’ We really believed there was such a thing.
Molto bene, bella signora!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-17 11:39:59

I BELIEVED I could fly. I felt very happy about it. It made all my friends happy too, since I was so positive we were all getting better every day.
I miss flying.
The Old Sailors really did have lots of land. They just ate my pets instead of letting them run free as I thought. I guess the old sailors have to eat.
Were there really old sailors?
Was there really an “Old Sailors Home?”
Now I don’t know what to believe.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2009-10-17 12:19:18

I really enjoyed Michael Douglas in Falling Down. Or maybe I just really enjoyed Falling Down. Probably both.

I’m reasonably convinced that he is the child nearest you in the photo.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-17 12:43:02

That’s what I think. He’s older and he has that Kirk Douglas chin thing going on. (But I can’t be sure.)
I like him in just about every acting role he’s had. Of course, I always thought he was great.

Comment by Frank |Edit This
2009-10-17 12:29:41

Sion, Zion, What’s In a Name…?

Careless moi, I see The Gator playing the Razorbacks in The Swamp, and figured Urban’s Legends would do in Bobby’s Boys toot sweet so deserted the wide screen in the living room to retire to the 27″ “regular” TV (remember when those were pretty big stuff a few scant years ago…???) in the back room, turning the game on to act as background for me to read your latest, which Sally announced after spending some time online before coming back into the living room where I’m madly flipping among the NCAA offerings on an increasingly pleasant Saturday afternoon in The Grove. (1)

I read and thoroughly enjoyed your most recent Nervous contribution, Irene. I was particularly intrigued by many aspects of the story as they coincided with some still starkly etched memories of that era I carry around in my head. In particular, while chuckling at your attempts at flying, and moreso at your sequential incomprehension of Bernoulli’s and Archimedes’ Principles, I was struck that you’d actually not only been ON BOARD the Andrea Doria, but that you’d actually booked -and most surprisingly -MADE! -passage on the ship. I remember vividly the front page headlines and stark black-and-white photos of the collision of the ill-fated bloody-nosed Stockholm and iller-fated Andrea Doria and the riveting story of not only the crash, and the gashed bow section of the Scandanavian ship, and the sorrowful smoking list, roll, and drop of the Italian ship over the course of the next day or so into the grey, cold watersv of the Atlantic off the east coast those many years ago.

What a memory…

And then as I read about you and Victor doing the Trieste trudge, I was intrigued by the sign over the school, especially because you noted that after leaving your old home, you walked to the Convent School with only your memory as your guide, and that while you hadn’t remembered the name of the school, per se, that when you had indeed found it, you were startled and laughed at its prophetic name.

So what was this prophetic name? Not having had the benefit of being raised Italian, or even IN Italy (tho’ I -like you and Victor, weren’t all THAT far from LITTLE Italy) I was obliged to visit several freebie online translation services to derive a logical meaning for those inscribed words upon the old plaque…

“Our Lady of Sion Nursery School”

So why is this startling, amusing, or prophetic? I wasn’t really at all sure, save that you raised a passel of kids, whose sole purpose seems to have given you much interesting/startling/shocking/funny/hilarious/etc. grist for your most creative and interesting mill, and perhaps one could imagine you riding herd on a nursery school of sorts. Buit I rather think not.

So I did a little research… on, as paul Harvey might say, “the REST of the story…!”.

The Sion connection.

Sion, Zion, what’s in a name…? I’ll tell you, and I quote:

“Our Lady of Sion

Founded 1843 at Paris, France, by Reverend Alphonse Ratisbonne
(1814-1884) and his brother Reverend Marie Theodore Ratisbonne
(1802-1884) to promote understanding between Christians and Jews
and to bring about the conversion of the Jews. Ratisbonne experienced
a miraculous conversion (20 January 1842) after a vision of the Blessed
Virgin Mary in the church of Saint Andrea delle Fratte (Rome, italy),
and was baptized two weeks later.26o Alphonse became a Jesuit and
remained in the Society for eleven years until released by a papal brief
allowing him to leave and work with his brother Theodore for the
conversion of Jews through the communities they had founded.

Pax Nostra, a lay group has also developed from this institute. (See
6.1-FRA.852.0.)261 (Generalate: via Garibaldi, 28; 00153 Rome, Italy.)”

So, is this the conclusion and completion of the circle of your Trieste journey & story?

A warm, strange one, Irene, but most entertaining in a nice comfortable way.


(1) Translation: The University of Florida, head coach Urban Meyer (sp?) is contesting an American football game against the University of Arkansas, head coach Bobby Petrino, at the University of Florida stadium and field. Florida is heavily favored -by 13-1/2 points. It’s about the equivalent of giving someone a 60-yard head start in a 100-yard dash. Florida is playing poorly and losing at the half to Arkansas. I scoffed at the idea of Florida folding, Arkansas triumphing. Maybe not so much, now…

Comment by Greg Olear |Edit This
2009-10-17 14:09:20

What a great story! You continue to be fascinating. Spies? Trieste? Italian? The Andrea Doria? Michael Douglas? Sheesh.

The junk piled in the old building reminded me of “Grey Gardens,” which we just watched. I’m glad that your dog lived a happy life.


Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-17 15:49:25

Oh Greg,
I was so happy when I found that out! I burst into tears and probably scared the poor lady to death. I really thought my mom had had her killed. Why my parents didn’t tell me she was going to stay living there, I will never understand. My dad was still always gone in the beginning in Brooklyn, but my mom was there. She knew that I could speak English if I wanted to, but she just ignored me. I really thought they would give in and let me go back to Trieste and my dog. Kids. I guess you never know what they are really thinking.
You remember the Andrea Doria? I didn’t think anyone on TNB would know about it. It wasn’t as big a tragedy as the Titanic and, I guess, they also didn’t make a movie about it. That’s why I hyperlinked it. I hoped people would read the history.
Yeah. My pal Michael Douglas. I don’t even know if his dad was on the trip. I was too young to be impressed by it, or even understand it. He was just one of the kids to play with on the ship. (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t remember me….)

Comment by Don Mitchell |Edit This
2009-10-17 14:56:12

Irene – this is great stuff. Did your Dad eventually say anything about his spying?

I’m amazed at your finding the pedestal still there. You could see yourself on it, I’m sure.

I remember the Andrea Doria sinking.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-17 15:52:57

My dad never said anything about anything.
On my dad’s side everything was a secret. Even stuff that isn’t remotely secret material.
I think my brother found out at some point.
We’re almost positive that he was also a spy for many years before his stroke.
Yet another story….
I’m glad you remember the Andrea Doria. That makes two from TNB. It was really dramatic and many people died and more people were saved. They should make a movie about it.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-17 15:55:11

Sorry, Don, I forgot to mention that I also burst out crying when I saw my flying pedestal. It did get a bit tipped in close to 50 years, but it was still there.
A lot of kids learned to fly on that pedestal!
What’s true is what you believe is true.

Comment by Mary |Edit This
2009-10-17 16:32:18

Irene, pretty much everything you write makes me want to hug you, but in this sortof odd way that you also want to hug your favorite musicians, and yet you know in the back of your mind that they would find it creepy and uncomfortable. Because they probably have strangers wanting to hug them all the time. Do you have that happen? Like at the grocery store and stuff?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 04:05:22

Oh Mary,
You have it all wrong. I’m always hugging people inappropriately. I virtually want to hug everyone who says anything remotely upsetting. People tell me things that they are no longer upset about, and I start crying. Really, I’m a mess.
Actually I want to hug people who tell me happy things too.
I frequently get the weird “where did you get the idea you could touch me?” look.
My kids are always trying to head me off if they see it coming.
I’m the greatest humiliation to them.
I’m married to the king of the “Hug and Shove” too.

Comment by Becky |Edit This
2009-10-17 16:39:47

I’m too bowled over to know what to say, so I’m just going to guess on the game.

I say first boy in on the right. Next to you.

Mostly because of the similarity in profile to the 19 year-old Mike Douglas at the link below (scroll down, it’s there) but also because he’s the only one who looks the same age as you–which in boy/girl growing-up patterns means he was probably older.


Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 04:07:15

WOW! I see what you mean, Becky!
How did you find so many young pictures of Michael Douglas? Obviously you are more adept at the internet than I.
I always thought that was MD, but never knew.

Comment by Becky |Edit This
2009-10-18 05:53:45

I googled “michael douglas young.”

It was harrowing. ;D

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Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 06:35:24

I really should have thought of that!
I tried to make the picture bigger so we could see the kids better, but it didn’t work.

Comment by Becky |Edit This
2009-10-17 16:53:41

Consensus continues to pile up: Called the husband in here to make a guess; without seeing the 19 year-old Douglas picture and with no prompting from me, he guessed the kid next to you, for the same reasons as everyone else: Chin, nose, age.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 04:09:39

HA! This is great.
I’ll have to take out the slanderous part of my description of him and try to send him this story. He’d probably like to see the picture of himself on the Andrea Doria.
I don’t think you can actually get a story to a real star though. They probably get thousands of letters a day.

Comment by Becky |Edit This
2009-10-18 05:51:04

No harm in trying.

Shouldn’t be too difficult to get his agent and/or publicist’s address, which I suspect would be the appropriate, non-crazy-fan way of doing things. I guess I don’t know. The last famous person I wrote a letter to was God, and I buried that in the back yard. I was also 8 years old.

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Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 06:37:08

I wrote a letter to God at the Wailing Wall.
I also wrote to him in a Croatian church carved out of a rock mountain.
I’ll write to God anywhere.
I’m not proud.

2009-10-17 17:31:13

That’s a great story and some adorable pictures, Irene. Really beautiful. I’m jealous that you have a memory capable of recalling these things.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 04:17:48

It’s funny that you say that, David. Actually I have a really selective memory. Most of the stuff I should remember I don’t.
Someone says have you seen this or that movie and I say no, but I have just lost it.
We are in a group and a state or city comes up and I say I’d love to go there and then Victor tells me we have been there.
I remember things in pictures in my head, but I don’t know how my brain selects the pictures it wants to save and those it ejects.
What I do remember I remember completely. I see everything there. I can feel the breeze I make pumping on my swing in the yard in Trieste.
I can smell the horse chestnut blooms.
It’s as though I’m there again.
Am I making sense?

Comment by Mitchell |Edit This
2009-10-17 17:41:37

What a gem, I need to get the updates to check out the latest.

You should REALLY consider making a podcast out of one of these. Better carbon cost than schlepping to Chicago, etc., NOT that you can’t do that…it would just be more exciting ) I could most certainly provide some assist…I hear it now, with a bit of piano, maybe a touch of some ambient scene sounds…think of the ultimate, This American Life-style…you should listen to a bit of my friend Lesley…she is actually featured on NPR quite a bit.

http://lesleyspencer.com/CDs.html#moments <PS, you can sample her stuff right on the page

I really enjoyed the windows you open about yourself, I feel inspired -) And the fact you reference Keyser Soze, you’re alright by me ;) Good evening…

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 04:26:05

The video came out from Chicago.
My dry mouth makes it look like I have Tourettes with the contortions I go through trying to open my mouth to speak.
It’s cool that you have a friend whose music is featured on NPR. I’ll listen to it when Victor isn’t sitting right here. It’s his birthday and we’re only doing things he wants today.

(I wish I had googled Keyser Soze so I could’ve spelled his name correctly. Lesson learned.)

You know, Mitchell, you have stories. You should tell them. Your kids will be happy to have them one day.

Comment by jmb |Edit This
2009-10-17 17:49:40

I love your pictures
I love your story
I love you

all dogs wait
on the shores of Jordan
where the daughters of Zion

come let us dance
let us feast
by the River
let us make a joyful

Comment by Mary |Edit This
2009-10-17 18:08:32

What a lovely comment. -D You people give me such joy sometimes… I swear.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 04:29:49

jmb is both a poet and a muse.
No one doesn’t love him.

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Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 06:55:59


by virtue
of your
link with

there is
perception of

almost touch

there is
the smell of

there is
hope for

Comment by jmb |Edit This
2009-10-19 04:38:38

hope for bliss
hope for bliss
…hope for bliss

t’will be my theme in Glory.

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Comment by Lenore |Edit This
2009-10-17 22:10:44

uh…michael douglas is fucking cool and very sophisticated and he’s a fine looking older gentleman. i would totally marry him and let him take me on vacation. you have terrible taste in men, with the exception of dad.

seriously, i really like michael douglas.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 04:32:41

Le no ore!
I like him too. I just thought that all you young people would think of him as too old and maybe a bit creepy for marrying a younger woman. I guess I was wrong. My generation still thinks he’s hot.
You’d go with anyone who would take you on a great vacation, anyhow. That’s no test.

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2009-10-18 00:47:40

Irene, your mother was crazy and I’m astonished at your mental fortitude that you managed to come through your childhood with her and be a smart functional person.

You’re a survivor!

And I love that you tried to get sent back to be with your dog.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 04:38:29

Everyone has things that aren’t perfect in his life.
You learn to deal and overcome.
I’m dyslectic, but it’s never held me back for a minute.
You choose who you want to be with your actions.
No one can choose for you by his actions.
Only if you let him.

I REALLY wanted to go back to FTT to be with Trixie again. I really tried. Finding out 50 years later that she had a good life, even if it was without me in it, removed a long-standing and deep pain in my chest.

Comment by Ben Loory |Edit This
2009-10-18 03:59:00

“I’m the second girl from the Nun in this photo.”

i didn’t even see the nun until i read that. nuns are scary! it looks like the grim reaper! why don’t religious people wear flowery berets or something? lollipop dresses, big red rubber shoes? the world’s spiritual life would be greatly uplifted.

Comment by Becky |Edit This
2009-10-18 04:06:44

But people with clown phobias wouldn’t even have God to save them.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 04:59:23

AHA! Becky,
I feel the same way.
Now two of us have explained why nuns can’t wear red rubber shoes to Ben.

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Comment by Ben Loory |Edit This
2009-10-18 12:49:26

what about light blue jumpsuits and orange wizard hats? anyone got a fear of those?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 13:15:01

Ben, that would totally work.
The color is just as important as the outfit.
Who wouldn’t believe the advice of a nice woman wearing such clothes?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 04:58:05

Well, Ben, at least in this country, Nuns dress like regular people.
They work regular jobs and things are different from how they were.
It may be that in the hyper-Roman Catholic countries they still dress in a habit. I kind of think they do, but I don’t know that.
When I was growing up the Catholic schools all had Nuns dressed in habits.
I like your ideas of flowery berets or lollipop dresses, though.
You’d want to talk to a person dressed like that.
(At least I would.)
Clowns really scare me though, so the big red rubber shoes are out.
We have a lot of prison art that Victor bought that mostly consists of skulls and clowns.
That alone tells me that clowns are not safe if prisoners have them on their minds.

Comment by Ben Loory |Edit This
2009-10-18 12:51:02

why is victor buying prison art? is i think the next logical question.

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Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 13:17:12

Oh Lordy, Ben, you would never believe the art in our house.
Every square inch is covered on the walls.
We have to warn people who go into the library not to look up unless they have strong hearts.
We have to explain that there is something in the corner of the family room, but it is NOT real.
We have unusual taste.
You should come to see.

2009-10-18 05:21:41

I love how you refused to speak anything but Italian when you returned to Brooklyn! What an amazing piece of your life!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 05:53:34

I really thought that it would get me sent back to my dog!
It was very disappointing.
My mom didn’t even notice!
God knows what my teachers thought.

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2009-10-18 06:46:00

When is the hardcover book of your short stories coming out?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 10:24:32

As if!
I think someone that represents writers has to notice you first.
Still waiting….

(Nice of you to say that, though.)

Comment by Christine W. |Edit This
2009-10-18 08:13:13

Irene, this is my favorite story OF ALL TIME. I retell it, albeit without your magical and vision-inducing descriptions, but it never fails to bring smiles. I’m going to print this! ) Love you!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 10:26:24

Hi Christine I and Christine II,

Did you decide on which little boy was Michael Douglas?

Comment by George |Edit This
2009-10-18 11:15:32

You should collect your stories and publish them in a book. Perhaps our Lady of Zion will work in the background to help you get them published. They are delightful.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 11:50:34

I didn’t think of that, George,
Our Lady of Zion was my first teacher, after all.
If I were, in fact, really good as my dad said, she might give me a hand….

Comment by Megan DiLullo |Edit This
2009-10-18 11:53:34

I love your stories, Mama Z.

It’s magical to get a glimpse of your world as a child. And I love that you have all these pictures.

Your life has been so adventurous, I feel like you need wear pirate gear or something.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 13:06:01

You know, Megan, if I had been given the opportunity, I would have been a pirate.
But not the kind that hurt people or steal things.
The fantasy kind that is sailing the seas for adventure, finding riches buried under an X on a secret map.
That would’ve been me.

Comment by Jeremy Resnick |Edit This
2009-10-18 12:15:28

Irene, I loved reading this. What an adventure…. And I can totally see the ways in which Lenore takes after you. Super-smart, full of imagination, and stubborn as hell. I can imagine how heartbreaking it was to leave Trixie behind. At least now you know she lived a good life after you left.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 13:09:42

Yeah, Lenore.
She hates me, but she loves me.
You know how it is.
We’re too much alike, although she would violently disagree.
She’s glorious, eh?
I hate time.
I wish we could have been young together.

Murdered and then risen from the dead.
What joy!

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2009-10-18 12:22:42

Ah, what great reading for my Sunday afternoon. Spies and nuns and sinking ships and Cold War Europe; it’s like a Graham Greene novel featuring the mother of someone I know!

Seriously, though, this is a great piece. Really enjoyed it. Like you, I had a flying pedestal. Ecept instead of “pedestal” you would say “roof of our house” and instead of holding out my arms I was wearing a my homemade Superman cape and leaping off. A lot.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 13:12:09

Holy mackerel, Matt,
How high was your roof?
Did you get hurt?
Did you have followers?
Did it work?
I never thought of a cape.
I had never read a comic book, so I didn’t know about super heroes.
I’ll bet a lot of kids tried to fly.
We should take a poll.

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2009-10-18 13:36:43

I’m pretty sure I never *thought* I could fly, I just liked the leaping off of stuff. Our house at the time was only a single-storey, so it wasn’t that high up, but I seem to remember that moment of being suspended in the air before the drop as just a little bit of magic. My school friends and I used to get our swings up as high as they’d go and then launch ourselves into the air, landing in all sorts of positions. And this was when schoolyards were covered in actual asphalt blacktop, not that namby-pamby rubbery stuff they have now. Somehow, despite doing things like this, I have made it 30 years on the planet without ever breaking a bone.

And alas, I remain without my well-deserved cult of followers.

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Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 13:48:23

I was a swing aficionado myself, but I never, ever thought of jumping off.
My goal was to stand and swing so hard that I would swing around the pole 360 degrees.
I tried forever, but, alas, was never able to do it.
We had asphalt too.
Wasn’t so bad.
Only broke my arm once as a kid and that wasn’t at the park.
It was skating in the street and avoiding getting hit by a car.
It WAS Brooklyn.
Drivers didn’t much like kids skating in the street.
But there was nowhere else to skate or ride your bike then.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2009-10-18 13:32:36

am not sure which is the clearer picture when you paint or write! Thank you for sharing the BV (before Victor) time. I never attempted to fly but did talk my brother into it.( however fearing trouble from my grandmother I did tie a rope around him first love you caw P.S. Michael Douglas was the boy staring at the camera DUH!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-18 13:52:22

With the checkered shirt? No one has guessed him yet.
The other one staring at the camera on the left is my brother.
He was never a Hollywood star.

I can’t believe you did that to your brother! It’s not like you at all!
Where did you have him try to fly?
What good would a rope do, with little you holding onto the end?

There was a good deal of BV time.
A lot of stories.

Comment by Amy |Edit This
2009-10-18 17:04:59

I also thought the boy sitting next to you is Michael Douglas before I even read what everyone else wrote. It’s amazing to see how we each interpret our childhood, good or bad, it’s all fascinating! Each story I read reveals more about you that surprises me, flying, what were you thinking!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-19 01:51:05

Well, Amy, I was thinking I would be able to fly if I practiced hard enough.
(I never said I was rational.)

2009-10-18 18:56:01

Irene, was your dad Ian Fleming?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-19 01:56:44

Well, Simon,
I think Ian Fleming was a tall guy. My dad was just as dapper, but short. My dad was from a poor family and didn’t have the nutrition to grow tall when he was growing up.
I’ve been wondering about my grandfather now. He was in the same marine engineer line of work. I wonder if he started the spying thing and passed his contacts down to my dad, who then passed them down to my brother.

Comment by Aaron Dietz |Edit This
2009-10-18 21:31:23

I hate to fixate on the first part of this story when the rest of the story is captivating, but…sometimes I think that the only reason those gigantic jets take off is because most or all of the people in the plane BELIEVE they will take off. Belief is powerful. Excellent post!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-19 01:59:02

I completely agree with you.
I actually think that when I’m on a plane taking off.
What if not enough people believe in this plane’s ability to fly?
What if it is a plane full of doubters like me?

Comment by Marni Grossman |Edit This
2009-10-18 22:35:56

I think that Michael Douglas is the first boy on the left. I’d be willing to swear to it.

But you! You are too adorable for words! And Stephanie’s right. You have had- thus far- the most incredible life. And you tell it so well. Matter-of-factly. As though everyone lived at a villa in Trieste for a while while their father engaged in espionage.

I think I see a hint of Lenore in that story about flying…

Oh, Irene. You’re the best!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-19 02:04:29

Oh, now Marni, now I’m blushing!
You are too sweet.

You are the first to guess the first boy on the left. The only problem is that that kid is my brother.
So he, and the girls, are the only ones excluded from the game.

I wish we could get the real MD to chime in and just tell us which kid he was.

Everyone’s life is matter-of-fact because it is what is normal to him.

Yeah, we’re related, Lenore and I.

2009-10-19 04:19:50

Sorry I’m so late in weighing in here, Irene. Such a wonderful life you have, and as always, such amazing photos to document the experience.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-19 05:48:51

Thanks, Rich,
If you could only put it to rhyme….

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2009-10-19 04:38:53

What a story, Irene! I love the flying pedestal and I love this line:
She wasn’t allowed in the house, but then, neither was I most of the time.
It made me laugh and want to cry.
Your pictures make me almost smell the vegetation in them. What vivid memories you must have.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-19 05:52:36

Yeah, Erika Rae,
Things were a bit off at my house, but I still had a great childhood that I made for myself.
Victor and I have that in common. We are both the creators of what we are. No parents involved.
As I said above, although I have seriously vivid memories of some things, other things are gone from my brain. I don’t know how my brain decides what to keep and what to flush.

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2009-10-20 05:52:28

I like that immensely. You are the creators of what you are.

I posted you to Face Stories today:


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Comment by Tim |Edit This
2009-10-19 05:06:49

Did your mother put the I.M.? Seems like something she’d do.

And I’m with Ben: Other countries suck.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-19 06:06:11

No, my mom would only be interested in recording my brother.
That was my dad who wrote that.
You know, there’s a funny thing about that.
My dad only printed and only in capital letters.

He never, ever wrote anything in cursive or used lower case printed letters.
Neat as a pin, his writing was.

You two are just comfortable being where you are. there’s a whole world of wonderous things to see and experience out there. When you get more “mature,” you’ll get the wanderlust. I guarantee.

Comment by Ed |Edit This
2009-10-19 17:09:01

Another great story. So much for growing up in middle America.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-20 01:58:05

Thanks for reading, Ed.

My kids grew up in middle America.
When I got back from FTT, I was a Brooklyn girl through and through.

Comment by Ben Loory |Edit This
2009-10-20 02:51:45

where do i get a couch like kirk douglas’s????

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-20 08:25:03

Ben, I KNOW! It’s like a huge red teddy bear just ready to hug you!

Comment by D.R. Haney |Edit This
2009-10-20 05:09:56

Speaking of the streets of San Francisco, I just returned from the very same — sick. That’s why it’s taken me a while to comment, and after I do, I’m going to lie on the sofa and die, thanks very much.

At any rate:

Like you, as a child, I had a dog named Trixie. There was never any guessing as to what became of her, however; she died in my arms. I also owned two rabbits, but neither was eaten by sailors; they expired of natural causes and were buried in my yard. I trust that someone will do something similar for me after I die on the sofa.

Didn’t Lenore also have designs of flight as a child? Or did she simply propose to grow wings? No matter; it’s a lovely post, Irene, and I’m glad to have read it as I prepare to die on the sofa.

Why does the cold virus love me so? Ah, well. I suppose it’s nice to be loved by something.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-20 08:29:09

Oh poor Duke!
I’m so sorry you’re so sick. You need to drink lots of liquids and get lots of sleep.
Tell Lenore to buy some home-made chicken soup and bring it over.
I’d tell you to have her make it, but she refuses to learn how to cook.
I’d make it for you, but I’m 3,000 miles away.
Wow. You had a dog named Trixie too. That’s cool.
Is your sofa as comfy as Kirk Douglas’?
I hope so.

Comment by Marcia (former next-door neighbor in Illinois and frequent visitor to Florida) |Edit This
2009-10-20 05:21:53

I’m so happy about your dog. I’m thinking your dad maybe didn’t know what happened to her and was afraid to bring up the subject just in case it was bad. I think it’s creepy that you sailed on the Andrea Doria, even with Michael Douglas. You ought to take an Italian class and see what comes back to you. I bet it’s a lot!

Comment by Marcia (former next-door neighbor in Illinois and frequent visitor to Florida) |Edit This
2009-10-20 05:24:30

Forgot to say– the printing is an old (pre-computer for you younger folks) engineering/drafting thing. My dad did it, too, except when he wrote checks. How many of you know what a slide rule is? How many of you can actually use one?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-20 08:35:11

I didn’t know that was an engineering thing. I never knew why before. It is so great to finally learn that. Thanks!
I can answer the last couple of questions.
Probably no one under 40 knows what a slide rule is and probably no one under 65 knows how to use one.
(I have a collection here of my dad’s and Victor’s dad’s.)

As to the first comment: I remember being really scared when the Andrea Doria sank. It didn’t ever occur to me that they could sink. I think over 400 people died in that tragedy. On the other hand, many hundreds were saved, which was a pretty big difference from the Titanic.
I do wish I had realized how cool it was to have Michael Douglas as a playmate. I don’t even know if his dad was on board.

Comment by keiko |Edit This
2009-10-20 10:16:44

I don’t think that thing you are holding looks like a stuffed tazmanian devil, just a cat, but not a very cute one.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-20 16:46:03

I don’t actually remember it, Keiko. I would rather it were a Tazmanian Devil, though.

Comment by Ursula |Edit This
2009-10-20 13:06:42

Hi my famous friend! We watched you on youtube, you were great, a natural comedic actress reading your own material, congratulations.
As to your story, what is so amazing is that it is based on your real experiences. I wonder if Michael Douglas might have the same photograph of the children around the table on the Andrea Doria. Your knowledge of Italian might be stored somewhere in the crevices of your brain and a refresher course might bring it all back to you. Also going back to the villa were you lived, what memories must have come back to you and how sad to see the deterioration of the place. Did you try to fly off the “pedestal” again?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-20 16:48:12

I look like I have Tourettes in that video! I couldn’t open my mouth to speak, it was so dry from anxiety!

I didn’t try to fly when I went back. I was crying too hard. I tend to be kind of emotional.

Comment by mary shideler |Edit This
2009-10-20 16:28:43

beautiful story! i love to go back to such places, and to hear about others who have had success going back to old childhood memory spots.

do you still give flying lessons? i’m game for a lesson. i have had no real success on my own. but i keep trying. lately i have tried using my bike like the old wright brothers did. there were two of them and just one of me…..i remain on terra firma.


Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-20 16:49:11

Don’t give up.
It just takes stick-to-itiveness!

Comment by Laurie |Edit This
2009-10-21 04:26:44


Loved the photos –glad you found Michael!


Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-22 05:54:19

Hi Laurie,
Thanks for reading.
Yeah, after all these years I finally found out which one he was!

Comment by Kathy Powell |Edit This
2009-10-21 05:19:40

Irene, I love your stories……it’s so weird how they help me remember things about my childhood because I don’t remember much!!
I can’t believe you were sitting next to MD and didn’t know it. His dad was hot too…..any memories of Kirk running around without a shirt on? I saw him (Kirk) at a book signing in Chicago
25 years ago and he was HOT. But we all know I like old men…..ha…..
Thanks for sharing!!!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-10-22 05:57:52

I find the same thing happens to me, Kathy. I read something about someone else and it sparks a memory in me.

I KNEW I played with him on the Andrea Doria, I just didn’t remember which one he was.

Unfortunately, his father just would have been any ordinary father to me. I didn’t have the knowledge I needed to be impressed at the time. I don’t even know if his parents were on board, although I assume at least on of them was there.

Yeah, old men. I have one of my own!

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