Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Monday, July 31, 2017


On our KLM flight to Amsterdam in early July, the plane ran into some turbulence. It bumped and jumped and shook for about ten minutes. I expected the seat belt sign to come on and we’d be chased back to our seats and forced to tighten the seat belts.But no such thing, we rattled through the air. People got up, walked around, wenttothetoilets and returned to their seats unmolested by the flight attendants.

Recollecting our experience on United Airlines, the slightest hiccup in the flight we were ordered to return to our seats and buckle up.  United was taking no chances that they would be sued if a passenger got a hurt due to air bumps.

The casual Dutch attitude about safety was reflected in Amsterdam. Hundreds of bicyclers hurled themselves through the streets often careless of pedestrians. We noted that almost none of the cyclists wore helmets. They rode bare headed through busy streets jammed with cars, trolleys, busses and trucks.

It was charming to note the casual views of safety. It contrasts mightily with our American concern for safety.

Over half the U.S. budget goes to the military to secure our security and safety from the evil ones. Safety is an American passion. Youngsters here wear bike helmets when learning to ride a bike or roller skate.
Skates today are shoe skates.

Oh, I love to say, “In the 1940s, my brother and I were raised on the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y.” Roller skates were clamped to the soles of our shoes. Sometimes the skates stayed on. I never saw a bicycle helmet until I was 50.

I wonder if safety is the real concern of many. I suspect that fear of being sued is even a greater worry.


Friday, July 28, 2017


Oh, the self-righteousness of the Republicans and the Dems. They voted for sanctions against the Russians for interfering in U. S. politics. Why are U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why are El Salvador and Nicaragua still poor depleted countries? Because the arrogance of the United States interfered with the politics and governments of those countries.

So transgender human beings may not serve in the military.  The “justice” Department says U.S. laws do not protect LGBT people. These actions reflect our nation’s fear of sexual diversity. Underlying all this is the deep fear and confusion on the part Americans about human sexuality. Also there is also a deep fear of pleasure. Promiscuity and Puritanism both reflect anxiety about sex and pleasure.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Bobby walked under the green shady trees along Arlington Avenue. It was April 7, 1945, the president was dead. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been president of the United Statessince 1933. Bobby was two years old then and now he was 14. On a dark rainy day in January, Bobby’s dad had taken him to the Navy Yard in Brooklyn. They saw the president in a black cape and gray fedora hat riding in the back seat alone in an open topped limousine coming out of the Navy Yard. It was dark and drizzly.

He looked so old and sad but Bobby was thrilled to see him. What’s it like to be dead, to be president, to leading a gigantic war? A couple of the president’s sons were soldiers. Bobby wanted to be a soldier too. All day long the radio played Home on the Range, the president’s favorite song.

Public School 108, Brooklyn was three blocks away. First he walked by the East New York Pubic Library. It was set back from the street above  a green grassy terrace. He had a library card and went there sometimes to get or return a book. The librarian stamped the date to be returned on his yellow library card.

The school was a four story red brick structure. The rooms were spacious with high windows with lots of light air and sunshine when there was some. The rooms held thirty desks, a teacher’s podium and desk. Giant blackboards, yellow and blue maps loomed over the front of the room. There was an American flag, bright colored prints of flowers and scenery. The ethnic mix of kids was mostly Italian. My friends were Felix Santella, Frankie Scornienchi and Carlo Di Gennaro, all Roman Catholics. Morty Goldblatt and Judith Lorber were Jews. Hannah Hartnet was Irish. Bobby was an Episcopalian

On May 8, 1945, Bobby walked along Arlington Avenue to school. He was a bit choked up. The war was over. The Germans had surrendered. The black headlines in the Daily News shouted victory for the Americans and the Allies. Bobby wanted to skip. The president did not live to see that day of victory.

The school held an assembly. The boys wore white shirts and blue ties. The girls wore white blouses and blue neckerchiefs. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance, sang the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America. The principal gave us a talk about the importance of winning the war and that we should be proud to be Americans.  Bobby loved all that stuff and felt warmly patriotic.

Another month later Bobby walked along Arlington Avenue to P.S. 108. It was his last day at the school. He and his class graduated from the eighth grade. Most of the kids went off to public high schools. He was going to St. Paul’s School, an Episcopal school in Garden City, New York out on Long Island. The assembly was much the same as before. There were speeches and singing. No parents were there. It was a workday for the working class parents whose children were graduating.

(So different from today where parents and grandparents are expected to show up for nursery school graduations)

We marched out with the piano rendering Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March #2

After the ceremonies the graduates milled around on the sidewalk on Arlington Avenue. Tearing, hugging, kissing and saying good byes delayed scattering the kids back home. Rita Viglarolo came up to Bobby, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately, lips and then slipping tongues too. She had black wiry hair, black eyes and olive skin. . She wore a tight white sweater not hiding her large pointed mounds of breasts. Shocked at first, sweetly tumescent, Bobby tightened her body to him and kissed back all the harder.

He loved the feeling of lust in him. He felt confused. What do I do next? I want to go, I want to stay. Are people watching? I don’t care. I want more and more. Rita did too. She kept right at him.

She was in his class but he had not paid much attention to her except to stare at her lovely protruding breasts. I guess she caught me looking, he mused. Finally they broke apart. Rita said, “We are having a victory block party to celebrate the end of the war on our block. You could come.”

Bobby walked home along Arlington Avenue in the late bright afternoon. His mind and loins were full of Rita. He returned home to 53 Jerome Street, where he lived with his mother, father and younger brother. He looked forward to the summer and going to St. Paul’s in September.

He went to the block party a few days later, but Rita was dancing with another boy. He never saw her again. P.S 108 was behind him. High School and college loomed delightfully ahead.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Viking River Cruise

Yes, we got home safely. We flew from Budapest to Amsterdam, had a three-hour lay over, then flew ten hours on KLM Royal Dutch Airline to San Francisco. I took a sleeping pill and slept for four hours after a cocktail called the Flying Dutchman, hors d’oeurves of salmon tartar, delicious chicken and peas, Sauvignon Blanc and ice cream and a bit of elegant brandy. It was a great way to fly. Remember we went business class.

On July 1 we got on our boat called the Viking Ve. The Ve is named after a Viking God. I’m sure you are overjoyed to know that. Our room had a window overlooking the river so we could watch the passing castles, trains, bikes, barges, speedboats that appeared going up and down the rivers and riverbanks. Factories and building sites also were on the banks. One cannot miss the ever rolling green of the trees and vegetation lining the banks for miles. We were surprised to see green vineyards growing on steep terraces near the riverbanks.

Our stateroom was compact and efficient. Eliosa, our “servant” cleaned the room while we were at breakfast and straightened up after dinner. She was a very small and cute Philippina, friendly and polite.

On the first night the passengers gathered to get an orientation on the voyage. There were introductions of the captain by the Program Director named Sam. It felt like summer camp. Who came the furthest? How many from New Zealand etc. Then who is the youngest, the oldest? I was the eldest as I was born in 1931. I was rock and roll famous for thirty seconds.

We travelled South and Easterly, touching on Amsterdam, Holland; Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary. Major stops were at Cologne to visit the great Cathedral there; Nuremburg where the WW2 Nazi trials were held; Vienna the city of waltzes, pastries and elegant street; and Budapest, which gave us the greatest surprise, it has the most beautiful buildings, cathedrals, public buildings and they faced the Danube. In most of the cities and towns you have to take a bus from the river to the town center. In Budapest the most gorgeous buildings are on the riverbanks. We had sailed on the Rhine, Mainz and Danube rivers.

I know you are terribly anxious to read about the food on the ship. Breakfast food of every possible kind, juices, hot and cold cereals, smoked salmon. Omelets prepared for you on the spot. Bread, rolls, butter, jam, cream cheese even peanut butter. Lunch – creamy vegetable and beef, lamb and fish soups. Lavish salads and meat and fish courses, wines plus a variety of desserts and cakes as wells as fresh fruit. Three course dinners every evening. Starters of soups, salads and cold meats; main courses of chicken, fish, lamb, beef or vegetarian all with elegant and rich sauces. The portions are modest but you can get all you want. We wanted more spices and herbs. Wine and beer are free, booze, you pay for. Then for dessert, ice creams, pistachio was Ann’s favorite. Puddings, cakes sorbets and fruit and cheese plates. The waiters were attractive and helpful and efficient. I suppose you remember all that.

We had some very interesting people on board. One man invented the app at Motorola. Another invented the post-it at 3Ms. We asked another guy how many cruises he had been on? He said two; this was his first and his last.

We began the trip on June 29, 2017 flying from San Francisco non-stop to Amsterdam o KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The food service and business class accommodations were roomy and restful.  We returned to San Francisco on July 14 learning to enjoy jet lag.

The cruise was delightful in every way. It is cruising in a relaxed manner and sight seeing for easy tourism.