About a year ago I wrote a story about Ascension, and the memories of my mother.  I thought it might be time to share another story.  Hope you all enjoy it. 

An Ascension Tale #2

Patrick Flaraty’s Summer Vacation

By jpc


Summer break in the 1950’s was magical. Enchanted warm days filled with New York humid sunshine. The evenings usually brought dark, black clouds rolling in from the New Jersey skyline from Riverside Drive, promising to cool off the upper west side, just for a few hours.


Saturday mornings had the 10 am kiddie shows at the Nemo Theater. In the afternoons, maybe someone might just turn on the fire hydrant. This would bring most of the kids out with their swimming trunks, or just the blue jeans they were wearing, and cool off from the water spraying in the street, like a burst of joy.


Autumn would then bring her golden veil which would turn the leaves fiery shades of red, signaling the coming of cooler days and nights. It also meant that it was time to return to Ascension, usually the first Tuesday after labor day.


So our story st arts one late September day during the reign of King20James..sorry, I mean Brother James. This particular Wednesday morning, my classmates were being called upon to read last nights composition assignment - “What I Did on my Summer Vacation”. Now the subject was simple. We did not have to write about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity or suggestions in balancing the federal budget. Brother James was saving those topics for future assignments. 


I just finished reading my literary masterpiece, when Patrick Flaterity was call upon to read his exciting summer adventure. Patrick rose from his desk slowly. This was the first sign that something was wrong. “I don’t have my assignment” Patrick said nervously.

Brother James was standing at his desk, in the front of the class room, staring at Patrick. He steal blue eyes, could pierced through a persons soul.


“Why”, was the only response Patrick received. “My dog ate it.” responded the forlorn Patrick. This last statement caused an explosion of laughter from the class. Brother James turned his gaze towards us. He was not laughing. That was our signal to cease.


Patrick’s opening statement began. “I sat down to eat my breakfast this morning. I got up to get some milk from the refrigerator. When I sat down at the table, I saw my assignment was gone. Then I heard a chompin g noise, looked at my dog, and he was eating my composition.” Thus was Patrick’s opening remarks.


What followed next was a series of intense negotiations. After several minutes, a decision was agreed upon. Patrick would bring in his assignment tomorrow, and Brother James would whip him at the back of his legs, with the blackboard pointer, 10 times today and 10 times tomorrow.


Patrick walked up to Brother James’s desk, leaned over, and a portion of the agreement was delivered. Patrick, tearfully, walked back to his desk, sat down slowly, and probably wished that he was back on his summer vacation.


Now. I did not own a dog. I tried my best to believe Patrick’s homework eating pooch story, but I had a hard time swallowing his tale, not the dogs, but Patrick’s story.


Time, as we all know, moves rapidly and doesn’t stop for a second. Not unless you have the change the battery in your watch.


 It is now 2005, Christmas day at my home. My two grandsons are with me. So are my two sons and daughter. My daughter is in the kitchen with my wife, making Christmas dinner. Jordon, my best pal is laying at my feet. Jordon is a 89 pound golden retriever.


Since Jordan is a big dog, it means that his droppings should be collected every day. Or else you will need=2 0a small crane to clean up the yard.

When it comes time to clean up Jordan’s area, my wife will say, “John why don’t you go out and clean up Jordan’s business.” I am the only one who takes care of that. I would like to know when Jordan’s business became my business.


Jordan is a smart dog, but he will eat anything. His latest thing is to go into my daughter’s handbag and eat her cigarettes. Here I am trying to get my daughter to quit smoking, now I have a dog that likes them. Luckily, they’re down to a pack a day.


So, I put down my 2nd bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale, got a plastic bag, go outside, get the shovel and walk over to Jordan’s business district.


As I am about to make the first scoop, I noticed something sparkling. There are four quarters mixed in his piece of business. I scoop it up and place it in the bag and leave the bag by the back door. I go in the house, get everyone’s attention, and say “I found four quarters in Jordan’s poop. This wonderful dog is paying me to clean up his area.”


Well, my kids are all laughing, my daughter is laughing so hard that she has tears. My Scottish wife of 39 years, opens the refrigerator, gets out the remaining 4 bottles of brown ale and hides t hem somewhere in the house.

When she returns, she says, “John, sit down, relax and I’ll make you a cup of tea, and we will talk about this.”


Tea is her answer to everything.

1st example: “Angie, I have to go to Auto Zone and get a car battery.” “Ok, sit down, I’ll make a cup of tea, then I’ll go with you to get the battery.”


2nd Example: “Angie, you know that light fixture I put up yesterday? Well it fell down and landed on Penny Boo-Boo’s”  “Oh my God, is the cat alright?”

"Yes, but every time you turn on the switch, his eyes light up.”  My wife picks up the cat, who starts to lick her arm, and face. My wife turns to mush.


She looks at the cat and says “My poor little sausage, did he hurt you?” I respond “It was an accident.”  “If you installed that light fixture correctly, it would not have fell. Do you think he is in pain?”  I step closer to my wife, the cat snarls at me. “To be on the safe side, let’s take him to the vet and have him put to sleep.”  “John, that is a terrible thing to say. He is one of Gods creatures and we should take care of him”


“That cat hat es me”, I said. “Ever since you made me take him to the vet to get fixed, he snarls and tries to bit me.” My wife sits down by the kitchen table, with the cat from the lower regions of hell, and says “ John, animals know when they are not liked”

“Well, your mother does not like me and I have never bit her.”   “John, that’s silly, sit down, and I’ll make some tea, and I‘ll help you put up that light fixture.”


Back to Christmas 2005. I’m sitting down, drinking my tea and thinking about Jordan’s four quarter gift. Suddenly my mind flashes backward to that faithful day in Brother James’s class.

Maybe, after class was over, and Patrick was cleaning up his dogs business, he might have found what he did on his summer vacation. It’s possible.


John P. Ciresi, USAF (Ret,)

Graduating Class of 1959