I’m madder than Baby New Year when he finds out he’s got to give up the reigns when he turns shrivelled and decrepit at the ripe old age of one over that fact that times flies and there’s nothing I can do to slow it down.
Look, you all know the ol’Screecher is far from being a spring chicken, and the road behind me is getting longer and longer, and the road ahead — well, let’s just leave it with the road behind me stuff.
I bring this up because I got a call from my friend and colleague Joanna DelBuono. You know her. Not for nuthin’, but she writes the column on the other page about national affairs and prime-time soap operas and is one of the five members of the Courier’s all-star stable of columnists that includes yours truly, Stan Gershbein, Shavana Abruzzo, and of course, America’s Columnist, Lou Powsner. Oh, and she also compiles my favorite section in your local weekly Courier, Standing O, which highlights all the great things that’s happening in this great borough of ours. Now, I don’t know what a “Standing O” is, but it looks kinda like a doughnut, which makes me hungry.
But I digress.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation on the phone, which I’ve copied down after re-listening to it thanks to the many wire taps I’ve installed around my home.
Me: Carmine here.
Someone on the other end: Carmine, It’s Joanna.
Me: Who? And make it snappy, because time is flying by and there is nothing I can do to slow it down.
Someone on the other end: Joanna, from the newspaper.
Me: Who? Come on, I ain’t got all day. Sharon! Someone is on the phone. I think it’s one of those robots that call every day.
Sharon: So hang up, Carmine!
Someone on the other end: Carmine, it’s not a robot. It’s me, Joanna. You know, a fellow member of the Courier’s stable of all-star columnists.
Me: Oh, Joanna! I’m sure glad you’re not a robot. You know, I sit here with my hand on the receiver of the phone just waiting for it to ring and half the time — no, make that more than half the time — it’s one of those robots. Or, there’s like this little pause, and nobody says anything, and there’s this awkward silence, and then someone finally comes on and mispronounces my name. I tell ya, Jo, It’s a living hell. There oughta be a law.
Joanna: Your telling me. The other day I got a call from … what’s that beeping noise. Carmine? You still there?
Me: Yeah, I’m here. Where would I go?
Joanna: You keep going in and out. Wait a second! My daughter’s beeping in. I gotta go!
Me: Okay, talk to you later.
Joanna: Brianna! Is everything all right?
Me: Joanna, it’s still me.
Joanna: (Expletive) I can’t stand these phones. How does this thing work?
Me: Ya gotta hit the number sign or something! You know, that little tic-tac-toe board.
So Joanna ended up sending me a free-mail explaining why she called.
Turns out that Rosemarie Digiovanni, who worked as a teacher and reading specialist for 30 years before her retirement in 2008, and spent most of her career at PS 95 in Brooklyn, had passed away.
Now, I should have remembered her because when I was on Community School Board 21 we were stationed in PS 95. I gotta admit that my instant recall is a little slow. But once Joanna reminded me Rosemarie making international headlines when she brought her class on a trip to the World Trade Center Observatory on Feb. 26, 1993 — the day it was bombed by terrorists — I remembered her. She and her kindergarten class were trapped on the roof of the building for hours. How could I forget that day, even though it happened 19 years ago?
Everybody in the district was frantic as teachers, principals, staff and personnel from other schools rushed over to PS 95 to offer help for Rosemary and her kindergarten kids.
We all stayed for hours in the school’s auditorium, where Principal Jimmy Filatro set up a big Zenith to follow the news. Guidance counselors were ready to receive the kids when they got back to the school, where their frantic parents waited impatiently. Those unfortunate kindergarten kids learned first-hand of the evils of fanatical hate, but they were lucky to have Rosemary, and the devoted parent chaperones to calm them and guide them to safety.
She and her class received a citation from President Clinton for their bravery during the ordeal, which was also featured in the NBC-TV movie “Terror in the Towers.” She was played by the nanny herself, Fran Dreschner! And the producers also considered yours truly for the part of Jimmy Filatro, but he was too short. When I’m lying down, I’m taller than Jimmy! (Actually, the real reason I didn’t get the part was because back then they didn’t have these fancy widescreen televisions required to fit my substantial girth in frame. If you want all of Carmine, you need Cinemascope or better!).
But I digress.
Rosemarie had a personality and a smile that everyone will remember when they read about her journey to heaven. We all offer Anthony Russo, his family and grandchildren our sincerest condolences; it was our honor to have known her, and she will be missed.
Screech at you next week!