Mostly Racin' Stuff
By Tom Avenengo
Volume # 242
This week's special photo:
A wedding day photo. It's a day I'll never forget - September 11, 1960. May God bless my beautiful bride!
Special from me:
Yes the first few parts of this week's column will be mostly about my late wife, Joan, and me, and some about our immediate family. It's funny how one gets hooked up with a member of the opposite sex, especially when one has his eye on another one! That's what happened to me - thank God! Yes Delores Corridini (could be miss-spelled) was quite an attractive young lady when I first saw/met her, while working with the Grand Union in their Suffern, NY store after I had graduated from High School, back in 1956. But, maybe lucky for me, per her family, she was "spoken for". Then Delores got a friend of hers (Joan) a job at the store, too. Joan worked there for a while, then she left. Later on, we met up again.
From "Back in the Day":
Note: This is basically a continuation from the above, and is quite lengthy. After all, it's a quick review of my life with Joanie and our five children.
Joan and I met up again a short time later - this time at the Grand Union in Monsey, NY. I was the "Second man" in the Produce department and she was a meat wrapper. One Friday, my boss, Ralph Palumbo, who had been giving Joan rides to and from work, asked if I might be able to take her home after work. No problem on my end! Joan lived with her parents, and a couple of other brothers and a sister in Sloatsburg, NY. So, after work, we got into my MG, and off we went to where she lived. We parked in the driveway, and talked. And talked. And talked, some more. Finally it was time for me to leave. On my way back to Pearl River, NY, where I was still living with my mother and stepfather. I believe I got home a little after 3:00 AM. I remember it being 3:00 AM as I passed the store we worked in, and noticed the produce truck was there, dropping of our load for the next day. After that, I was the steady ride for Joan, both to and from work.
Our real first date was to a big midget race at the one mile track in Trenton, NJ. It had been rained out the previous week when Ronny Colombo and I went. With me having my MG, and Ron having his Corvette, there was a slight problem. Luckily, Ron had someone else to go with him, so that little problem was solved. When Joan and I got to the track, we parked behind the bleachers on the front straight. Ron & his friend were already there. Ron gave his friend his rain check, and his friend brought it down to us. So for that race (250 or 300 miles) I got her in free.
Joanie and I attended quite a few races, either together or with other friends. She loved the indoor TQ races that were held in the armory in Teaneck, NJ. And, she didn't mind getting dirty at Langhorne, either!
The above photo was taken on our wedding day, September 11, 1960. Left to right: My step father John F.X. Clynes, Sr., my mother Kathryn Clynes, my father-in-law, Harry Rose, my mother-in-law Kathleen Rose, My loving wife, Joan, and me.
Eventually, I did pop the question, and without hesitation, she agreed to marry me, even knowing that I would be getting drafted into the US Army at any time. September 11, 1960 was the day we married. December 2nd was the day the government needed my service in the Army. Yes, it did kinda suck. After basic training, I stayed at Ft Dix and got into my advanced training, which was the Basic Army Administration Course. I did have some typing in high school, and it came right back to me. After a few days I was informed by our WAC instructor that I really didn't need the typing course - I was up to about 50 WPM. After completion of the course, I was sent to Ft. Bliss, Texas, in May of 1961. I was interviewed by a Sergeant Harold Redfern. Guess he kinda liked me, because I ended up working for him in his section. We handled all the class assignments for those that were there for the guided missile school, then once completed, we would re-assign them to various places in the world. Our section also handled promotions in rank for the enlisted personnel, too. Gradually, I did get up to the rank of E-5.
Meanwhile, my wife, who was in the "family way" was able to get down to El Paso in August of 1961. Our first child, Judith Ann, was born on November 22nd, 1961. While in Texas, we had our second child - another daughter. Sandra Lucienne, on March 9th, in 1963. In a way, Judy really spoiled us. She loved to sleep. Sandy was a complete opposite. I was honorably discharged in February 1964. After a trip across the lower 48, we stopped off in Florida to see my brother, "Jim", and his wife, Henrietta. Then after a few days, it was time to head north.
I did go back to work with the Grand Union, but they could not find an opening for me that was fairly close to home, so after a couple of weeks, I left. I started working for a trailer park in Harriman, NY. After that it was a door to door delivery man for Dugan Brother Bakeries. Our son, Tom Jr. was born on July 7, 1965. Once they closed up, I landed a job at the Arrow Shirt Company, in Chester, NY. Worked myself up to running the night shift. Eventually, Arrow decided to make a move to Atlanta. I decided not to go with them. On May 31, 1968, our second son, Eric, was born. On January 13, 1969, I returned to work with the Grand Union, going into the Greenwood Lake, NY store as a Produce Manager. Our last child, another daughter, Sarah, was born on March 9, 1973.
Hey, I'll kid you not, we did go through some rough times, on occasion. Part of life is to be successful. At times I was. At other times, not so much. Financially, it was pretty hard, what with me being the only one working. The wife? She had a full time job with the kids and keeping the house livable. Do I regret it? Hell no! Would do it all again in a heartbeat. I can tell you this though - I'm extremely proud of our five children, and the way my wife (yes, it was mostly her doing) brought them up. I always enjoyed walking into the house after a hard days work and have all five kids jump me to "beat up" on dad. Yes, there were a lot of good times.
And a photo taken some years after our wedding. I do believe it was when we lived on Farmingdale Road in Washingtonville, NY. Believe it or not, when things were right, we could hear the stock car races from the Orange County Fairgrounds, in Middletown, NY. Yes, you can see how much my wife loved me in this photo. I have to consider myself to be one lucky SOB to have asked her to marry me and she agreed to. Such a wonderful woman!
Eventually we got a couple of "Fun" karts, and had a blast with them. Then Tom had a street stock he ran a few times. Eric started racing karts. Most of the kids always looked forward to going to the races at Middletown on Saturday nights - as long as Eric wasn't racing the kart at Accord. Tom got married and moved up-state, in New York. While there he raced a kart on occasion, too. Eric, who remained fairly close to us, eventually got himself a modified stock car. He had a lot of help from the Jashembowski brothers, as far as getting a new body for it and an excellent deal on an engine from them, too. Brett Hearn was our source of getting used tires. There's no telling how good Eric would have been in that modified, since he had some family issues of his own, and sold the car. I can still recall at an Eastern States Weekend when Eric went onto the track with Danny Johnson for a warm up session, and Danny couldn't get passed him. A fouled plug while waiting to go out for his time trial really did him in for that weekend. Hey, at times, sh*t happens, ya know?
On October 31, 2003, Joanie and I purchased a house in Port Jervis, NY. We managed to survive, even with me not being employed, but on disability, then retirement. Joanie also stated getting Social Security a while before we bought the house. Yes, things were a little rough, but we survived. Thank God the house needed no major repairs while we lived there.
Health wise, we were both doing pretty good - so I thought. Joanie started having some "stomach" problems. It was found that she had a cancerous growth in her lower intestine. Surgery was performed, and, according to the doctor, they had gotten it all. Meanwhile, we had taken a couple of trips down to Cape Coral, Florida, to visit our daughter Sandy, and her kids that had also moved down there. Joanie loved it there, as did I. When we returned back north to Port Jervis in early 2014, one of the first things I did was have a "For Sale" sign put up in front of our house. Yes, we were going to move down to Florida. Sadly, we didn't have one single "bite" on the house. Then, out of nowhere, Joanie started feeling sick again. Basically the same thing as when she had her first surgery. So, it was back into the hospital, again. The doctor was fairly certain it was a blockage, like the first time. So she was scheduled for more surgery on the afternoon of July 1, 2014. I arrived at the hospital at around 11:00 AM, and attempted to get a visitors pass for her room, to see her before the surgery. Sad to say, she was already in surgery. You have no idea as to how that hurt. Technically, she never pulled out of that surgery. She had many tumors inside. I was told her heart had stopped beating for about 20 minutes, but they got it going again. Sadly, that didn't help, and whatever damage was done with her "out" for those 20 minutes, was a major problem. Our two sons, Tom & Eric were in the room with me, with her, when she passed away. God, but I miss her so much, as do all the other members of our family. They say time heals all wounds. I kinda don't believe that. Joanie was the love of my life and will always be the love of my life! I miss her like hell, that's for sure. She was so much looking forward to living down here in Florida, where it's been a year now (almost) for me being here.
Joan, Hun, Mom, Mommy, Nanny fought extremely hard to stay on this earth. However, God had other plans and called her back on July 3, 2014, at 75 years of age. Her whole family told her she had been so brave, fought so hard, but it was time to go be with her sisters, family, enjoy the beach, and be at peace with no more pain
So this September 11th would have been our 55th wedding anniversary. I have to figure I'll be thinking of her all day long - thinking back to the day we became husband and wife - two people in love - forever. Thank you Joanie for accepting me to be your husband! It's a day I will never, ever forget, the day you left us. And, I'll never forget the love you had for me! Until we meet again, my love!
Kenny Sands (light blue shirt) and crew at work on Labor day, removing the old seats in the covered grand stand.
Yup! New seating will be being put in the covered grandstands. Even though I'm down in Florida now, I'm glad to see some major improvements being made to the OCFS. I first started going there way back in 1946 to watch the midgets on the smaller paved track that was in the infield of today's track. My first stock car race had to be in 1964 or 1965. All I can recall is Russ Delp won the feature in the "Mushroom Special". My kids and I spent many a Saturday at OCFS. In the beginning it was in the drive-in section. Later on, we went into the half covered stands. My son, Eric, continues to sit in those half covered stands, today.
Note: I do believe the photo above was taken by Ralph Corwin.
NASCAR's thorny throwback problem: the Confederate flag
Note: Quite an interesting read!