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A Christmas Memory

17 Einstein Place - Home of my Childhood, Smithtown NY

Growing up in Smithtown, Long Island back in the 60’s was really like living out in the country. There were lots of woods, lakes and expansive empty fields to explore and play in for hours on end. I spent my first 7 years in Brooklyn NY, but Dad decided to move to the suburbs in 1959 like so many WWII veterans in search of a little piece of the American dream. He bought a barn style two story house on the corner of Einstein and Brook lane for his family of four where I was blessed with a “Leave it to Beaver” type of of childhood.

I would not have traded my childhood for anything. Things were very VERY different growing up on Long Island back in the 60’s. I mean…how did we survive without cell phones, computers, internet, Youtube and facebook? My neighborhood friends and I played non-stop when we weren’t in school. Parents didn’t have to worry when their kids went out to play after breakfast and didn’t come home until dinner time covered in dirt I might add.

Since it’s Christmas morning and I woke to an empty “cold” house and my kids are spending Christmas elsewhere, I got to thinking about my most memorable Christmas. The following little memory popped into my head.

Whamo sling shots, bow and arrows and BB Guns were all the rage on my block. My two best friends Johnny Bosco and Mike Smith (both deceased) would bring their weapons to the woods on the edge of our development (Spooks Pond) and shoot at cans, makeshift targets and any small animal that had the misfortune to come across their path.

I wanted a Daisy “Red Rider” BB Gun more than anything when I was around 9 or 10 years old. I can remember dropping hints to my parents and downright begging them for a BB Gun for Christmas just like the kid in the iconic Christmas Story Movie. They both played their cards close and didn’t let on that they were going to get me one. In fact…I can remember Dad telling me they were too dangerous and I wasn’t old enough to handle the responsibility of a gun. Heck…Mom even said I could shoot someones eye out. Talk about cliche.

Needless to say. I woke up before dawn that Christmas of 1962 and quietly tip toed into the living room where the multicolored lights from the tinsel covered Christmas tree glowed and blinked casting little flickering shadows across the floor and walls. It was a magical little moment and memory for me because I spotted a long thin box wrapped in red and green wrapping paper with a bow stuck to the middle of it under the tree. I knew at that split instant it was a BB Gun and the anticipation of owning my very own rifle swelled through me and I couldn’t wait for the rest of the family to get up and open presents. I woke my brother Dennis and within 5 minutes all the kids were up and rummaging around the tree desperately hoping Mom and Dad would get up and let us tear open our presents. It took us all going to their bedroom to wake them and drag them to the living room that very early Christmas morning, but after some pleading they rolled out of bed with little smiles on their faces grumbling about how early it was and couldn’t we wait a little longer.

I would have loved to see the expression on my face when I opened that long thin box and pulled out my Daisy Winchester BB Gun. That Christmas in 1962 was definitely one of my most memorable and vivid memories of a very special Christmas.

Dad built us a shooting range in the basement out of an old wardrobe closet and hung big plastic checkers from the top with string for us to shoot at. He’d insist that anyone getting ready to shoot the BB gun say “ready on the right – ready on the left” before shooting at the dangling red and blue checkers. We spent many hours in that cement basement shooting at those red and blue plastic checkers.

Merry Christmas everyone! Do you have any special childhood Christmas memories? Feel free to post them here. Remember this……


7 comments on “A Christmas Memory

  1. Shannon
    December 25, 2010

    Like you I woke up to an empty house as well. It’s a bit different this year I suppose. Went to church this morning and was thinking of you. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas & a Wonderful New Year. Thank you for everything. God Bless.

  2. keoughp
    December 25, 2010

    I went to mass this morning as well Shannon. Yes…it’s a bit strange waking up to an empty house on Christmas morning, but there are worse things in life. By the looks of your blog it seems you have been able to spend some quality time with family in the past few weeks. I got to see my folks in NY and Adam flew in from El Salvador as well. He is with his Mom in Durham this weekend. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! This too shall pass.

  3. Shawn
    December 25, 2010

    Hello Patrick… I stumbled across your blog and would like to introduce myself. I’m Patrick Coyle’s “X”. After being married to Pat for 25 years I feel as if I know you and if I’m not mistaken meet you years and years ago. Ok maybe only years ago. When I read the article of your school days and growing up it put a smile on my face. Pat talked many many times of all of you and I felt like I knew each of you. I find your writings enjoyable to read. I wish you a Happy New Year and look forward to reading more.

  4. mary flanagan
    December 29, 2010

    Happy New Year Patrick,
    It was wonderful talking to you this morning. Thank You so much for your strength and understanding. I am blessed to have you as my Big Brother…..Love Maryann

  5. terry keo
    January 3, 2011

    yes i think it was about 1973 all i wanted was a mini bike like my friend phil carney and richie rey…when xmas morning came i could see a large item under a bed sheet i was sure the mini bike had come…dad told pat and denny had to carry it up from the basement…wow the excitement of getting the mini bike overwelmed me …then my brothers un-covered the item and low-and behold a brand new wooden student study desk…complete with pencil drawers and writting area….wow…i was crushed…but thank God i had my brothers to lean on that year when they reinforced the fact of how cool i was going to look riding my study desk around the neighborhood with my friends phil and richie….they even made engine noises as my mom made me sit at the desk that xmas morn….love ya pat…!!!

  6. keoughp
    January 4, 2011

    that break my heart bro!!! Really it does! I hope we didn’t mess you up for life. 🙂

  7. terry keo
    January 4, 2011

    well the desk came in handy one day when danny rourke and denny wanted to roll a couple of fat ones on top of a rolling stone album home work smelled great the next day….another true desk memory…

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This entry was posted on December 25, 2010 by in Keough Journal and tagged , , .
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