Jam on Information Super Highway

By Michael Kaufman

When it comes to the information super highway, I drive like a little old lady. And I am going to have to keep it that way if I ever expect to finish any work. Even without Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry, phone texting, or “apps” of any sort, I always seem to get stuck in traffic.

It begins as soon as the Yahoo home page welcomes me to my computer screen with the latest news headlines. Gino Cimoli died? Damn! Wait, what do they mean, “….first Dodger batter?” I click the link to the full story. Now I see….They meant he was the first-ever batter for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I remember when he played for Brooklyn. He wasn’t great but he made the National League All-Star team one year. I was 10 and away at Camp Greylock, a summer camp in Massachusetts. We watched the game on TV there. I went to Greylock because my friend Frank Brown went there and he loved it. Frank lived in Spring Valley but we knew each other because our parents were friends. When Gino Cimoli came up to bat in the All-Star game all the Brooklyn Dodgers fans cheered.

Greylock. The head counselor was named Murray Zung. Some of the kids thought he was mean. They would jokingly say, “We want Zung hung.” A couple of decades later when I was covering a dermatology meeting for a medical newspaper I noticed one of the doctors had the name “Murray Zung” on his badge. I asked him if he’d ever worked at Camp Greylock. He looked at the name on my press badge and shouted, “Mikey Kaufman!”

I think I’ll take a quick look at my email first before I get down to work.  Maybe there will be something important regarding school or a work assignment…. What’s this….something from my brother?  Did he find cousin Lakshimi?…. No, but he found a review of a dance performance she gave in Boston in 1949. He sent a link to the review in the Harvard Crimson.  (Click) The reviewer enjoyed Lakshimi’s interpretations of traditional dances of India. He was less kind to Uncle Wana (“Maestro Singh” as he called him). Apparently Uncle Wana provided a confusing narration as he introduced the various dances.

Wana was married to our Aunt Gertie, my mother’s older sister. He was a musician and musicologist who taught Indian music and dance in New York City for many years. Among his pupils was John Coltrane, the great jazz saxophonist. My brother studied with Wana for a while and did quite well. I took a few lessons too but I wasn’t very good. Gertie and Wana have been dead for a long time and my brother and I lost touch with Lakshimi. I wonder if we’ll ever find her…..or her two daughters.

Okay, time to get to work. Wait. I better check my Zest of Orange email. I haven’t looked at it in a couple of days….There is only one but the subject line is a bombshell:  “Ever been to Ecuador?” Yes! The sender’s address includes the name Larry and I know immediately who it is from. The message says only, “1963? Just wondering.” It is unsigned. He knew I would know, even though we haven’t seen each other for 40 years.

Larry was my roommate during a summer trip arranged for U.S. high-school students by a company called Scholastic Trips Abroad. A couple of weeks before our scheduled departure there was a military coup in that country. President Carlos Arosemena was ousted after serving only 20 months in office, during which he promoted reformist causes such as low-cost housing, progressive income taxes, and yearly bonuses for workers. Perhaps most importantly he was friendly towards Cuba, which caused an ongoing conflict with the Ecuadorean military….and unease in Washington. The organizers of our trip assured our parents that everything was under control and all would be well. They were wrong.

 I reply to Larry, explaining that I’d looked for him “a gazillion times” over the last 40 years but had never been able to track him down. And he replies immediately, saying he’d looked for me a gazillion times too and now, thanks to the internet, he’d found me. “I’m living in California near San Francisco, two kids, divorced, semi -retired if I can’t find work….

“I talked to Frank Brown lately. He is in Rockland County.” I had forgotten:  Larry was from Spring Valley and we had both known Frank before we ever met. 

Larry wants to know if I have Facebook so we can share pictures or a webcam so we can talk on Skype. I have to tell him I am not that high tech. If I had stuff like that I’d never get any work done. 

Damn! Gino Cimoli was 81.

Well, I see it is about lunch time now. I’m hungry. I’ll get started on that work right after I eat some lunch.

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.


4 Responses to “Jam on Information Super Highway”

  1. Jeffrey Page Says:

    Mike, Thanks for the remembrence of Gino Cimoli.

    There we were, my buddies and I (I must have been 12 years old, more or less) in the leftfield bleachers at Ebbets Field. Gino was warming up in leftfield, and we all started cheering for him. Not sure why. I mean he wasn’t the greatest leftfielder Brooklyn ever had. But for my friends and me that day he surely was the closest leftfielder. And every time we yelled his name, he turned and waved to us. In the Post the next day, one of the scribes wrote how happy Gino was that people made a fuss over him. Nice guy.

    One of the other reasons I liked him was for his musical name. I mean after all, “Carl Furillo” was pretty Italian, but “Gino Cimoli”? “Gino Cimoli” sounded like something from the libretto to a choral piece by Vivaldi.


  2. mollyrose Says:

    as the kids would say – lol
    now i am going back to work

  3. Michael Kaufman Says:

    Thanks Jeff. Gino also played for the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates in that wonderful World Series where they beat the Yankees. I was a Pirates fan then after the Dodgers left town….used to listen to their games on WWVA, a station in Wheeling, West Virginia, that had a signal powerful enough to reach our house on Long Island. When they weren’t broadcasting the Pirates games they played country songs like, “We Need a Whole Lot More of Jesus and a Lot Less Rock and Roll.” ….And thanks, Molly. But aren’t you one of “the kids” too? Oh well, as the kids say, ha ha….and wbs.

  4. Michael Kaufman Says:

    Since this was written I have learned (via Google) of the passing of one of my cousin Lakshmi’s daughters, Nila Dury. I met her only once or twice when she was a little girl. May she rest in peace.

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