Kat’s Book: January to May 1968

After New Years Eve Kat and I continued to go out every weekend. We would see each other at work fairly often and occasionally get together at her apartment after work.  Kathy had become good friends with Terry Graham but Terry would join Jeff Coles at the University of Arizona in January.  Kat was also friends with Lydia Resnanski, a young girl about Kat’s age who worked in her unit at DSS.  Lydia  was Kat’s work buddy; they would  gossip together, occasionally have lunch  or dinner together and would share the mindset of girl’s with Catholic school educations in the late 1960’s.  Kat continued to visit her parents and sisters monthly at the Jersey Shore and occasionally would visit her favorite aunt, Eileen, in North Arlington, New Jersey.  Eileen was a real character as I was to find out in later years.

My best buddies were my cousins Bill Orzen and Steve Jacobs.  Kat and I would go out with them fairly often in the winter and spring of 1968.  Bill lived just a few blocks from where I lived with his mom, my aunt Ida.  Bill had an engaging personality, one that appealed to women. Kat liked him a lot.  She always saw him as being fun to be with and she looked forward to our time with him.   The three of us would go to Jahn’s ice cream parlor on Church avenue  and indulge ourselves with their famous ice cream sodas.  We would have a great time together; always a lot of laughs.  Bill worked with us at DSS.  I think he was going out with someone and we sometimes double-dated but at that time there were no serious relationships for Bill.  Very few people thought of DSS as a career so  Bill was planning to leave DSS eventually. As you will shortly find out, in a few months I pushed him to leave;  an event that had a great influence on the remainder of his life  and started  with Bill and Bob’s great adventure.  More about that later. 

Steve lived on Long Island so Kat and I didn’t see as much of him during the first half of 1968 as we did Bill.  Steve was more cerebral than Bill.  He generally had a unique way of looking at things.  He reminded me of myself in that, fairly often, I would think something was funny or interesting but I couldn’t get many  people to agree with me.   Steve played a very big part in our wedding.  He gave me incredible support and never asked for anything in return.  I will be forever grateful to him for that and I should have told him so long ago. 

Kat and I would spend the spring and summer walking around Brooklyn,  going into Prospect Park, and exploring Greenwich Village.   In Prospect  Park we would rent a rowboat or a paddle boat.  There were summer music concerts we attended in the park.  We often visited the beautiful Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.  We saw Judy Collins and Richard Pryor perform at Brooklyn College.  Sometimes we would go into one of the music clubs in Greenwich Village in Manhattan.  We saw Tom Paxton, the folk singer perform at the Bitter End. I think Bill and Steve were with us.  I have vague recollections of seeing John Sebastian, the founder of The Lovin’ Spoonful, as a solo act. We saw other live performances at other clubs but I don’t remember who they were. 

Kathy and I had tickets for Ringling Brothers circus at Madison Square Garden on April 5, 1968. On April 4 Martin Luther King was assassinated.  I had mixed feelings about going to the circus.  There had already been rioting in other cities by April 5. The mood in the city was very somber.  People didn’t know what to expect.  It was especially noticeable during our work day at the welfare center where we saw many black co-workers and welfare clients.  Because the performance wasn’t cancelled, we decided to attend.  Madison Square Garden was only half full.  The mood inside the garden didn’t lend itself to festivities, it was somber even at the circus.  Kat and I left after about one hour.  It was poor judgment on my part to go to the circus under such circumstances. 

Armand DeRosa was a case supervisor at the welfare center where we worked. A case supervisor was responsible for managing at least 5 units of caseworkers with 5 workers in each unit.  Mr. DeRosa was the case supervisor for both mine and Kat’s units.  In fact he was our bosses boss.  DeRosa liked Kat and I.  Every few weeks he would have a large party at his house.  He had a large colonial house near Brooklyn college.  DeRosa would give us money to buy the supplies for the party and we would help him host the party.   We would invite people from the welfare center where we worked and Mr. DeRosa would also people invite people from Brooklyn College.    He was an alumni and was very active in the alumni association.  There was anywhere’s from 15-30 people at these parties.  Bruce Carrithers, a fellow caseworker was always invited by DeRosa.   Bruce, we would learn, was bi-sexual.  At the first party he attended  he tried to pick me up, then pick Kat up.  He failed on both counts.  He ignored Kat and I at future parties.  I don’t know how successful he was with other people.  Other than my sister Sheila, I don’t remember one other female at the parties although I know females were present. I have always enjoyed looking at females,  but I only had eyes for Kat.

One night I was driving home in my dad’s car from Kat’s apartment on Ninth St at 2am. I was making the turn from 8th avenue and Union Street onto Flatbush avenue, entering Grand Army Plaza heading south to Flatbush Avenue.  Another car was coming from another direction also making the turn onto Grand Army Plaza. We didn’t see each other and their vehicle’s passengers side touched my driver’s side. There were no other cars on the road. That could happen in 1968. We both stopped our cars and got out to assess the damage. There were 2 young men in the other car, about my age. I looked at both cars and I didn’t see any damage. The driver of the other car said to me, “You’re going to have to pay for the damage to my car, it was your fault. That’ll cost you a hundred bucks.” I looked at him and said “No fuckin’ way. It was both our faults and, anyways, I don’t see any damage”. I think the guy recognized that he was talking to a fellow Brooklynite and he wasn’t going to get away with that shit. He drove off and end of incident.

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