Saturday, September 05, 2009

ENOCH'S DECISION: THE FOG

THE FOG

The fog, somehow Enoch felt secure in its midst. He always seemed to himself a little distant, out of place. Still he played with others, stickball in the schoolyard, punchball, stoopball, roller hockey on the streets. But there was a space between all this and himself that he knew but couldn't fathom.

“Maybe it’s my name,” he thought, walking down narrow 208th Street to a corner candy store. “Enoch Jubal.” The Irish and Italian young people would call him “Jewboy” while the neighboring Jewish community ignored him - he didn’t go to temple. Actually, his Hungarian-born grandfather was a Catholic and his grandmother a Lutheran and Enoch was a communicant in the Catholic church. His grandfather had an Austrian name, Rothauer, but his drinking buddies called him “Rummy.” “Rummy Jewboy,” the young people would say, teasing maliciously, when Enoch let on about his grandfather’s nickname.

In the fog along the street, a pungent mist rose from the manhole covers in the road, sewer smell. “Enoch!,” a boy’s voice called. It was Barry, a Jewish friend he sometimes played with, though Barry's mother didn’t approve. Barry was up in a maple tree. “Where ya goin’?” “Down to Dinks.” Barry couldn’t go so he said, “OK.”

This was well before the Long Island Expressway cut a channel through his neighborhood and just a little later than World War II, which Enoch followed somewhat in the news from third grade on, remembering Franklin D. Roosevelt's Day of Infamy speech on the radio after Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor. He also remembered the atomic bomb's first tests at Alamagordo, New Mexico and Bikini Atoll and the question about whether a chain reaction would uncontrollably erupt throughout the world. He recalled too the brown B-47 bombers flying low overhead in Queens en route to the war, the blackouts, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, V-E day when the Allies finally defeated Hitler's armies and neighborhood people ran out into the night to celebrate with shouts, banging pots and pans, and V-J Day, when Japan surrendered. It was also before the so-called Korean conflict and President Harry Truman's decision to deny World War Ii hero General Douglas MacArthur's trenchant desire to pursue retreating North Korea invaders across the 38th Parallel.

Though by now beginning to fail in school, Enoch knew all this and more in his young years. Homework was out of tbe question for him in the three-rooms he shared with his mother, brother and grandparents, especially the times when his grandfather came home drunk. These times became worse after the war when his grandfather was out of work when his job ended as foreman at the Farmingdale plant that built P-47 fighter planes. It would be a couple of humiliating years before he'd find work again, this time as a machinist in the Lilly Tulip cup factory in Queens. Enoch's mother Stephany, was the mainstay support with her cartoon job at Paramount during that difficult time.

So Enoch felt separate in the fog on his walk to Dinks. When challenged by other boys to fight, he wouldn't, to the hoots of "chicken!" He wouldn't steal candy bars at Dinks either, though he liked to look at woman's bodies in magazine and comic pictures, feeling a surge between his legs. "You gonna buy one of those?" Jim Dinks would ask. "No, I want a candy bar," Enoch replied. He first felt that surge in the park when he was shinnying on the angled bars that held the swings upright. "Don't you dare ever do that again" his mother said when he told her about the feeling. He thought, "You should talk," knowing how she'd be propped up reading in a sheer nightgown in her chair bed while he and his brother went to bed on a fold-down sofa in the same room.

Coming out of Dinks, Enoch saw the fog was dissipating. If he could only disappear with it, he thought.

© 2009 Wes Rehberg

Friday, August 28, 2009

ENOCH'S DECISION

ENOCH’S DECISION:

Enoch wondered why he never ran away. Sitting on the city park swing, he knew he had to go home soon, a couple of blocks away, a small house near his high school, where he and four others lived in a three-room flat on the second floor.

His brother would probably be home already. They rarely spent time together. His mother would be arriving shortly after a subway and bus ride from Manhattan, where she worked on animated cartoons. His grandmother would be making supper, maybe roll-em-ups from flank steak, bacon and parsley, with egg noodles, after a day of playing solitaire, drinking beer and reading romance stories. It was payday, so his grandfather would be at a tavern in the poorest part of Bayside, downing shots with beer chasers.

On payday, sometimes Enoch would have to ride his ancient bicycle to the tavern to tell his grandfather that dinner was ready. Drunk, his grandfather was unpredictably violent, so it was a daunting task. Enoch, isolated but maturing at age 12, would use the bike so he wouldn’t have to ride home in his grandfather’s old Dodge. “Gramps, it’s time to come home,” he’d say softly, to the still powerful and bulky figure seated at the bar. The answer would be a cackling laugh, sarcastic and angry at the interruption.

Enoch knew his grandfather’s violence well, having been punched hard enough to slam into a refrigerator so it would rock, and picked up and thrown against a wall. He also knew the man, now in his late 50s, had a sweetness to him, a contradiction Enoch tried hard to reconcile. But over and over he wanted to escape, to flee, sometimes taking the same route into Manhattan his mother used, riding subways into the Bronx, into Brooklyn, uptown and downtown, walking streets in “the city,” or pedaling his decade-old second-hand bike to Crocheron Park, to walk along the Little Neck Bay waterfront.

Another occasional escape was early morning bus rides to a city golf course, where he would take his small bag of clubs, a gift from Jared, his deadbeat father, and find some duffers to play with at a dime a hole. Enoch usually left the links with a dollar more than he arrived with, the other golfers surprised. He could break a hundred and probably should have stayed with the game but didn’t. The little bit of money he got from this, from shagging golf balls at a private course, and from schoolyard knock-rummy helped fund his forays, including his special solitary trips to a midtown Horn & Hardart’s Automat in “the city” to buy a pot of beans, a hotdog, a piece of pie and coffee, most all enclosed in compartments behind little glass doors that opened when you inserted coins. Enoch was a frequent truant from school.

On the park swing, Enoch said to himself, “Time to go home.” The swing, rocking slightly, stopped and he stood up and walked past Joe, the parkman, closing up shop, past the crabtrees he had climbed while younger, down the slope to the sidewalk where he learned to ride a bicycle, across the street where the Q28 bus was parked so he knew his mother was home, and down the working-class street of closely clustered houses, some two-family like his. Running away would be put off for another day.

His grandfather’s old Dodge was not parked on the street, so he hadn’t arrived yet. Sometimes Enoch, out after dinner, would return to see the sedan there and feel the radiator to detect whether it was still warm, which would mean his grandfather, drunk, would still be up and seated at the kitchen table, ranting. Enoch probably wouldn’t be doing the same thing this particular evening.

“Enoch,” his grandmother said as he climbed the stairs to the second floor. “Go get your grandfather.” He looked at his mother, at the kitchen table in a pastel blue knit dress, drinking tea, and heard his brother in the living room where all three slept, and said “OK.”

© 2009 Wes Rehberg


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

WIDOW OF POISONED NUCLEAR WORKER WANTS JUSTICE

Interview with Jan Lovelace, widow of poisoned nuclear complex worker Harry Lovelace, details the trials both have gone through to try get help through the Energy Employee Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA) administered by the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Jan also describes the extreme personal difficulties of Harry's illness, attributed to his work as a fireman at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Ten-minutes, filmed by Wes Rehberg, music by Paul Page, ©2009 Wild Clearing

Widow of Poisoned Nuclear Worker Wants Justice from Wes Rehberg on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cherokee Forest Sketch: The Bald River Wilderness Area

This video sketch is from a few hours filming with Jeff Hunter, wildlifer from Tennessee Wild and the Southeast Appalachian Forest Coalition, for a documentary he's fostering on wilderness preservation throughout the Appalachian region. 5-minutes -Wes Rehberg, Wild Clearing ...

Janine Anderson Dies After Championing Sick Nuclear Worker Cause

Janine Anderson died four days after launching hers and other sick-nuclear fuel plant workers campaign on April 28, 2009 for a National Day of Remembrance of those still ill from contaminants and those who passed on. She worked at the nuclear fuel gas diffusion K-25 plant in Oak Ridge TN. She was among several sickened workers I've interviewed in the past year - to view their stories and events, visit theexposed.net - This is a draft video © 2009 Wes Rehberg, Wild Clearing

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"I Want His Justice" - Jan Lovelace - 18 seconds

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Draft introductory segment of interview with Jan Lovelace regarding her husband Harry's death after working at the Oak Ridge TN nuclear complex, where thousands have won claims for toxic and radiological poisoning - 18 seconds


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Ex-Prisoner's Predicament: No Job, No Home



A 10-minute video sketch of an interview with Terriun Harris, who talks about the difficulty of finding a job and housing with a felony conviction on his record. Brother Ron Fender speaks about CHANGER, an intervention economic human rights program for Terriun and others in his predicament. Filmed by Wes Rehberg, Wild Clearing.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

TVA Coal Ash Spill: Video Sketch of River Damage

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A video sketch of coal ash spill damage to the Emory River in Tennessee, result of a coal ash slurry pond dam break from the Kingston Coal Power Plant that spilled into the river and surrounding community ... also an encounter with a local deputy who tried to stop filming -- filmed by Wes Rehberg, Wild Clearing