That was one heck of fun movie .... What got me the first time I saw it in the theatre, was how the screenwriters used the knowledge of what had happened in 1955 and wrote Marty McFly's knowledge of it, to guide and move the entire story... The " SPACE TIME CONTINUEM " is what they called their time warp premise. Or as Marty's dad, young George McFly would say " MY DENSITY " ( sounds more like another George )
When we got a copy of the movie on VHS, it soon became Erik's favorite, who at three certainly held no nostalgia cells in his brain yet......Suffice to say, Back To The Future encored many times in the Spooner living room in Clearwater, Florida circa 1986. I remember not long afterward writing a song called "Slap City " (my term for Memphis and SUN Records) and included this tip of the hat to Back To The Future with the words "Come On Doctor Brown , Help Me Blow This Town and Get Back To The Nitty Gritty...... May I Have The Keys To Your DeLorean Please....To Take Me Back Ol Slap City
Some years later in 1988 when I demoed the song in Nashville, it was being considered for use in the TV series "Elvis" that Priscilla & old Elvis boyhood pal Jerry Schilling were the producers of....so unfortunately the Doctor Brown and Back To The Future references had to go.... but I always thought of it as one of my better lines in that song.
Ahhh but 1955 ..... WHADDA YEAR ... Among the memories are, that this summer it will be 50 years since that then 8 year old kid Kenny set foot in Knapp's mansion for the very first time....Of course that wouldn't of happened had I not had a few pals with me that bright summer day ; Butch, Donald, Patty, Spike, Mary Ann, Sally Ann and Anthony were all for one and one for all to bolster our courage .... That day left a bit of a impression I guess buried somewhere in my flux-capacitor of a brain.... The first story about Knapps mansion in print would have to wait though until December of 2000 and that story was triggered by one titled "You Better Watch Out" which is what triggered or led to EVERYTHING THAT'S ON THIS WEBSITE......
Early readers may recall this website was originally some short stories called "Buzz & Pee Wee, Butchie & Me"...... But it was my Christmas story " You Better Watch Out" that triggered the whole fountain of memories and one of the chief parts of that story was a certain toy my big brother Butch got for Christmas of 1952 ..... a Dick Tracy Police Car ...... There are photos of one that illustrate it on that page. Bill Nagle a website reader who I went to Floyd with asked me back in 2001, if I still had the car as he once had one too.... " I wish I did Bill...wish I did... almost had one again in April 1987 when I moved to Nashville.... but.....
The BUT part of the story was,,,,On our move here from Florida,we had stopped at an antique store just near the Georgia Tennessee border mainly to stretch our legs. Well there it was in a showcase and in mint condition. A Louis Marx Toy Company Dick Tracy Patrol Car.....with both windup & battery action! First time I had seen one since when I was in kindergarten....it was $45.00 and I was tempted to get it, but had to think of reality... I was moving my entire family to a town far away from everything and everyone we knew. The checkbook balance was pretty low....I had no job, just a dream of becoming a songwriter, a wife and three and a half year old son and all our possessions crammed into a U Haul trailer....so $45.00 may of as well of been the asking price of another Knapp Mansion currently for sale in Southhampton, LI. Twelve and half million.......but obviously by seeing the Tracy car again after 35 years, the image and memory implanted it self in my "Flux-Capacitor"
Moving right along fast forward to the summer of 2004... My 40th High School Reunion
Or actually right after it... I had just returned from my Class of '64 High School reunion,with lots of memories from going through life for 12 years with a whole bunch of those kids when an email arrived that went something like:
Hi : I am enjoyng your website about Mastic Beach and William Floyd school. I was in the first graduating class and have a few items to contribute you may be interested in. Phil Van Tassel
Well I knew Phil sort of, but I knew he didn't know me from Adam or have any reason too. Actually I first recalled Phil back in 2001 when Dorothy Vignali another Knappster and "kid from Floyd " graciously loaned me her 1960 Yearbook and I saw his graduation picture again. It was probably the first time I saw him since he left Mastic Beach in 1961. Two things that immediately came to mind was One : Even though it was just a headshot I remember him being one of the GIANTS in the hallways in 1956 when I was in the 5th grade. Two : that I tried to imitate his hairstyle (a Detroit) which was a flat top with long sides most likely culminating into a DA in the rear. I actually succeeded one day in 1959 by having Vinny Orlando our town barber, style it that way only to have my mother march me back into Vinny's and have him re-do the do! Last time I saw Phil was most likely in Jean's lunchonette which was a teen age hangout with a great jukebox next to Schulte's Stable.
Phil Van Tassel 1960
He looks like Disney Actor Tim Consodine (Shaggy Dog, Spin & Marty and My Three Sons)
Well Phil's e mail in August besides opening a supply of stories and photos "of interest" was the start of a friendship and discovery that initally took both of us by surprise and today hardly a day goes by that we don't at least e mail each other once a day. We both agree completely that had we known each other back in Mastic Beach, we would of been great friends and probably as tight as brothers should be. Funny thing is both of us would come to know heartbreak over our own brothers ......." life is what happens to you while your making other plans" but we also discovered that we had a ton of stuff incommon with each other and some of it was almost spooky....eg .Phils nickname though hardly used was Butch....and of course that is my brothers nickname. Cool Cars was another.... We both went to Auto Shop at Floyd.... and even Stock Car Racing. Though I was involved with it when Phil was still Street Rodding, he would get involved with it much deeper than I was in the mid west which was where he settled ...
Back in Floyd... Phil had a cool Olds and Merc the last years he was there. My first street rod a yellow '33 Ford, similar to the coupe in American Graffitti, would not turn up in my driveway until after Floyd when I moved to Patchogue in 1965. It was very sharp and with its souped up Caddy engine very fast. Phil's finer rides he too would build after high school in his adopted home town of Minneapolis (Mastic Beach will always be home) like these two that are pictured here. The Merc is incredible but his "Shoebox" Ford which I have seen and heard on video is one my favorites. He has also built some real unique one of a kind rods....Both of us are partial to flames....
Can you imagine if we had cars this cool at Floyd?
Phil is now retired from a long and colorful career with Minneapolis P D. He has told me some police stories that are absolute hair raisers and if I ever finish this Knapp caper and am not senile, would enjoy helping him put the ones he cares to retell into print. Funny thing is when he sent me a today pic he reminded me of Gene Hackman when he played Popeye Doyle in the French Connection.......He was sitting in a lawn chair in shorts having a beer on his deck and its snowing...you got to either be from MINN E SODA or have an appreciation for that kind of humour which I certainly do ...... U BETCHA ....
Someday we are going to meet in person and have a cup of coffee and a donut or two.... or perhaps even a Rheingold in the snow !
THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE
Rememember that movie? It was re made in the 1980's with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange, but it first came out in 1946 with John Garfield and Lana Turner. My Mom tried to go see it I say tried because she brought along Butchie who was just about three and when the Mickey Mouse cartoon ended he had a fit and kept yelling ALL GONE MICKEY MOUSE so much and running up and down the aisles looking for Mickey, that she had to leave before John & Lana steamed up the screen. I don't know if she ever got to re see it before Garfield kicked the bucket at the early age of 39 in 1952, but that story was often told at our house when we were young.... and this web glob segement is titled Back To The Future and is about the movies sort of so......
Well the postman er woman didn't ring twice at my house this week of June 6th 2005 or I would of answered the door as I was home... but instead left a note about a package that I could pick up at the post office the next day..... and so I did ....and it was a box from Phil but I had no earthly idea what was in it.... Well I opened it and lifted the note out and could sort of see something greenish under the styrofoam peanuts in bubble wrap.... but like a good boy read the note first before removing the contents.......even though no one was around to watch....It started with "Please accept this gift as a token of our friendship" ..... It closed with " We once said we would of been friends in another time or place, I don't think the time or distance has made a difference for I feel we are friends"
I couldn't agree more Phil we certainly are ....
Same color as Sgt. Burkhardt's and Officer Ratigan's ....... Brookhaven Town Police Car Green
"Calling All Cars.... Calling All Cars....be on the lookout for suspicious activity at the Knapp Mansion"
It's probably just those pesky kids again
Sam how about a little traveling music while we shoot over to Dogwood & Monroe?
UPDATE : FEB 2011 TREASURE ISLAND, FLORIDA
MARY & PHIL VAN TASSEL & YOURS TRULY MEET FOR THE FRST TIME