It was my first night of work at The Brass Rail, which was on the corner of 49th Street and 7th Avenue just north of the Palace Theatre, and the manager called a waiter over, told him to train me and then introduced me to Ronnie. We immediately hit it off and it was only an hour later that he told the manager that I was ready to have my own station though I wasn’t quite sure of the menu, that I handled the front of the house as the pro I obviously was. I’m not exactly sure of the date I started there but it was probably right after the World’s Fair which would make it 1965. Over the next 4 years Ronnie and I were like brothers doing everything together except having sex. We got drunk, ate out in the best restaurants in New York, went cruising up to a point at which we would separate.

After work a group of us servers would go around the corner to a Chinese restaurant, have a few drinks and some appetizers up until about 11 PM when Mary would leave to go back to her family in Queens, Durinka would leave, Joe, who was in the closet would some times go cruising with us and the rest would do whatever they did after work. Most times Ronnie and I would go over to Downey’s put $5 each on the bar and Frank, the bartender, an ‘old’ Irishman with throat cancer, would serve us drinks, not charging us and then taking our 5 dollar bills and thanking us for the tips.

Ronnie and I were both theatre geeks and we saw so many shows–back then previews cost $5-7 and we went to those on our days off–that unless I google them I can’t tell you the year I saw them or with Pepe or Ronnie but I think the majority were with the latter . Some of the shows we saw were: Fiddler on the Roof, How To Succeed in Business, Man of La Mancha, Hair, Funny Girl, Cabaret, I Do, I Do, Sweet Charity, Stop The World I want to Get Off, Mame, Hello Dolly, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf and, remember this title, Persecution and Prosecution of Marat as performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under The Direction of the Marat De Sade–more about the shows we saw in a future blog about 1967!

Ronnie lived in an old apartment building in the 50s off 8th avenue, where Paul Newman and Piper Laurie filmed scenes for The Hustler, that was called The House Of Pansies–bet you can figure out why!! There was one New Year’s Eve that he threw a party for a motorcycle club that would make you blush if I went into details–it still makes me blush!

One night walking home from work to where I lived on West 75th Street off Central Park so I could change before we went out Ronnie and I heard what we thought were Barbra Streisand records. We knew she was doing a concert the next night there and we figured it was fans getting there early to get up close to the stage and we decided to walk in. There was Streisand rehearsing, making sure everything was just right including the flow of her dress, exactly where she was on stage and every step she took. It was amazing and though we weren’t thinking of fighting the crowd to see her we were there the next day!

We were both working the night of the first big blackout in New York in 1965. The Brass Rail closed early as they sold out all their food very quickly. Ronnie and I left, stopping at a few bars which were just pouring free drinks for all the customers. It was a fun, calm night in the city nothing like what happened almost a decade later when there was city wide looting and crimes

I have so many memories Of Ronnie sharing moments like that with me but since he was also involved, very much so, in the beginning of my 4th decade I’ll leave some of the rest for the next chapter.


(To be continued)


“Wake at dawn

with a winged heart

and give thanks

for another day of loving.”


(Maria’s cards)

Posted May 30, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

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