It's not your imagination. Moonitude is all duded up in summer white. The dark color is still a favorite, so it's coming back in another season. Evolution never hurt anything, right? Eh.
The photo in this post was taken after we performed in a skit Dad wrote for the Good Shepherd prayer group in Brooklyn back in the early 80s. It's not a far stretch to imagine our own life's journey in relation to each of the characters in the Wizard of Oz. They embarked on the yellow brick road in search of qualities or abilities. What each of them didn't know is that they'd already been given what they sought. Didn't the Tin Man exhibit a heart? Hadn't the Lion demonstrated courage? Wasn't the Scarecrow producing common sense solutions? And, come on, Dorothy wore the ruby slippers that the witch wanted to possess.
When we were kids, my brother, Tom, a mere year and a half older than me, presided over a club called the Midnight Raiders. Meetings were held in the musty back room of our basement with the door closed. Nothing an ear to the door couldn't resolve. I eavesdropped as Tom and his friends planned their missions, which was basically sneaking out of the house at midnight to meet at an agreed upon place to skulk around Avenue N, all mysterious like. I tore through the door... oh, yeah... I'm in! Except Tom said I couldn't join. You're a girl, he said. And girls can't be in this club.
There it was. This was no longer a friendly request to join, but an opportunity to prove my worth, my moxie, my leverage.
I'll tell Mom and Dad what you're up to if you don't let me in, I said.
I was instantly installed as a proud member of The Midnight Raiders Club. (This is a reasonable description of my acceptance procedure into most clubs.) I attended the meetings, but decided getting out of bed in the middle of the night to hang around Avenue N like spiders in the middle of the night was overrated. (Hopping fences during reasonable hours was more interesting.)
In our early teens, while I spent my time writing in my diary, Tom purchased a used Jawa, a motorcycle manufactured in Czechoslovakia. In those days, I thought motorcycles were invented to pose as mechanical monuments of possibility, a compilation of disassembled parts, sitting on grease stained concrete in our backyard. We could have jumped fences all the way to Czech in the time it took to get it running. But, heck, he was in school. So he tinkered with it in his spare time until one day he got it running.
He walked it down to a track set within in the tall reeds of Gerritsen Beach, and after he rode around the figure eight track several times, he offered me a try. This was an advanced variation of the Midnight Raiders honor, minus the snitch threats. A few quickie instructions that I couldn't possibly retain and coordinate, and I was off. It was a blast... until I went too fast to make the turn and drove straight through some sky high beach reeds. I managed to stop before I hit the water. Tom ran, arms outstretched, and hugged his bike.
Tom followed Dad's footsteps and joined the New York City Fire Department. I heard some of the stories of the precarious situations, of the victims. He would pray for them then, and he'd pray for them later.
After September 11, 2001, his journey led to his being part of a team that trained nearly 3,000 new recruits (probies). He saw that even in the more controlled environment of the Fire Academy, the most strenuous and dangerous exercise, with or without heat and fire, was the fire attack drills. A properly charged New York City two and-a-half inch fire hose can swell to three inches, he says, as four gallons of water per second propels forward and an equal amount of energy rushes in reverse towards the nozzle team firefighters. If it escapes their grip, the hose and its nozzle is an out-of-control, flesh-lacerating weapon. So the firefighters "bear hug" the line to keep it steady as they move it forward. In his notes, he wrote: it seemed readily apparent why so many nozzle team firefighters sustain exertion-induced injuries that often result in career-ending cardiac injury or death.
After he retired, Tom tinkered with a solution to the strenuous hose maneuverability, and in his research, he discovered the startling statistics: Forty percent of all fire ground injuries occurred as a result of grappling with the hose. Because of the energy that's propelled through the hose, as the attack line is "bear hugged", the already fatigued nozzle team firefighters experience compression to the heart and lung muscles, putting them at great risk.
Tom entered the proverbial musty back room and, after ten years of thought and fourteen months of experimentation, he emerged with a product that not only reduces the risk of cardiac injury, but also has the capacity to bandage a breached fire hose. I couldn't be more excited about the ingenuity and integrity of this invention, or to bust my way through the door to support it.
Legion Hose Grip was chosen to join Start-Up NY. He also received phone calls from Shark Tank. Hey, you never know! Doors keep opening. And the product he invented is just the start of his vision. He wants to use part of the proceeds from product sales to fund a holistic treatment camp and respite for families whose children suffer from mental health conditions.