THE LANDAU & HUTT FAMILIES
I am pretty sure the very first e mail I ever got from a kid from back in William Floyd School concerning my web site came from Dorothy "Cookie'" Landau back around 2000 or early 2001 and like many that would follow it , started out something like this ..... "I don't think I knew you at Floyd, but I want to thank you for the trip down memory lane." With me changing my last name, I would not expect anyone to know me, and as it turned out I didn't know Cookie at school either, but certainly knew the Landau name. I went to school from day one in kindergarten with Peggy Landau and a few years later with her big brother Steve from 5th grade on. As Cookie and I corrosponded a bit , I soon learned she was Steve's wife of many years. When she told me her maiden name was Hutt, I of course remembered her big brother Larry Hutt (Class of '62) who was in my big brother Butchie's class....It was a small town, small school etc. I now know a young couple who are married, that went all through the same years at Floyd together and never knew each other in school.
It also turned out that Cookie was a big user of "the internets" and soon passed her discovery of my then pretty much nostalgic web site onto other kids from school and I started to get e mail from them too. I believe one of the first "kids" I heard from because of Cookie spreading the word that some kid from Floyd was "writing about our town and all of us" was Lynn Mansfield Allen, who was from my class of '64. And a new technology of the internet started to re connect people who were probably for the most part out of sight and mind and for many out of state for three or four decades. When Cookie discovered a much earlier newspaper article published about me here in Nashville , regarding my music career that got interupted somewhat by my dealing with a serious illness, she wrote to express her honest concern. I never forgot it. She also would occasionally share photos and news on her large extended family of the Landaus who are all over the world these days. Nice stuff, Nice Pics, Nice Folks.... all very real and down to earth. She said her husband Steve, who was just about to retire then from a long career at the Shirley Post Office ( the one where his Dad Francis , was the first postmaster of ) was not a big computer user and that probably anything we had to say to each other would pass through her keyboard. That too proved to be true. I first saw Steve face to face again since our school days, back in 2002 when introduced by mutual friend, classmate and neighbor Kenny Vitellaro, during one of my early research trips. Steve was honest in saying my face looked familiar, but he was was having trouble remembering me ( but again it's hard sometimes to get people to focus on the fact that it's only your last name that has changed (other than our hair and waistlines etc).....
I got to meet Cookie for the first time and Steve again face to face and a bunch more of kids from Floyd like both Lynn Mansfield and Alicia Patera (who I now stay connected with via e mail sharing news, tid bits , jokes etc) at a pre 40th Class reunion party at Marty Van Lith and Anita Cohen's hacienda in Brookhaven in August 2004. I believe a splendid time was had by all that entire weekend with a after reunion party get together at Lynn's and it too wound up chronicled on my ever expanding website. When I appeared at the Shirley Library in 2005 and 06 both Cookie and Steve attended (with Steve showing up last time right after work from his part time retirement job) Cookie took the photo last November that I call Mini Class Of '64 Reunion.
Last Saturday evening (Jan 20th, 2007) my wife and I watched the film Fried Green Tomatoes on TV probably for the first time in a decade or more even though we have it on video tape. We were both amazed at the number of faces in that film like Mary Louise Parker the actress who played Ruth we didn't know then but do now thanks to films and shows that would come down the pike later on, like The West Wing. As the credits rolled though a real flashback for me happened . The song " I Remember You" as rendered by Grayson Hugh, a very soulful singer from the northeast, who I have since learned had an all too brief "major" recording career judging by how damn good he is. The first time I had ever heard the song back in 1991 I thought it might be Dylan's because of the way with words and sure enough as the credits rolled on ....it was. More importantly however was the inspiration it gave me to write a song, which I did the very next day. The song turned out to be one I called "Revival" and for a songwriter whatever spark it is that inspires us to write is never taken for granted.
Well I wasn't writing another song Sunday morning (yesterday) when my e mail light lit up, I was just doing routine stuff. The message was one from Lynn Mansfield Allen. In the subject heading were the names Steve and Cookie Landau and I somehow knew right away it was no joke being forwarded. The message from Lynn, mass mailed to most everyone I know, was brief , to the point....and just awful
THIS MORNING, STEVE AND COOKIE LANDAU'S HOUSE BURNED DOWN. THAT IS NOT THE WORST PART, COOKIES SISTER DOLORES HUTT, WAS KILLED. PEGGY MC CLUSCKEY IS STEVE'S SISTER. IF YOU REMEMBER LARRY HUTT, HE WAS COOKIE AND DOLORES BROTHER . SAY A PRAYER.
I had no words ....to reply to Lynn with, but within minutes, more e mail started coming in. One from Marty Van Lith who had just celebrated his 60th Birthday the night before. Marty was asking me what I more knew ... "only what you do", was all I replied ....although he had to take his visiting sister Helen back to the airport, he drove right over to Shirley to see if he could be any help. I found a short news item from CBS Radio already online and made a few phone calls to folks I know are not regular daily internet users. But still I had no words. My wife was at church when I got the news , but apparantley I didn't need any words either when she got home. She took one look and stopped in her tracks saying "What's Wrong?" The rest of the my day was mainly spent in thought. Marty returned from going over there and talking with Steve who was naturally still in shock. They were spending the day at the neighbors house across the street. A house that once was the home of two more kids from Floyd , Joe and Elyse Fernandez. That afternoon I heard from Alicia Patera Norwick, who drove over with some clothes for them. She told me they lost everything in the house. The photos Marty took yesterday told me that too. But the thought that Cookie had lost her little sister made things very pale next to that ..... As one who has been dwelling in history and his past for the last decade, I don't know how I could ever deal with a fire wiping out my personal things like photos, much less a family member. But yesterday I had no words.
My phone rang last evening and it was Kenny Vitellaro who lives just a few streets away from the Landaus. Steve and Peggy Landau were the first childhood friends Kenny had in the neighborhood since about 1950 when the Landaus moved to Shirley. Both Kenny and Steve held the distinction of still living in their childhood homes up till yesterday. Kenny had worked all day and was not aware of what had happened. He was making his dinner when he glanced up at the news on the TV in his kitchen and saw the remains of his friends house on the screen. Kenny was in shock when he called me. Later that evening I got an e mail from Elyse Fernandez in Miami. Who once lived across the street from the Landaus.
I didn't sleep too well last night and woke up this morning around 5:30 AM still thinking about Cookie and Steve and their family. I still really have no words other than hoping somehow my thoughts and those of all who know what happened and those who will come to know what has happened, will just pause a second and think about Steve, Cookie and their surviving family .... Thoughts can be mighty powerful things sometimes ......
The songwriter in me will leave those with a fast enough connection with two songs this time out. Not any new ones, just one of Bob Dylan's from the night before for Aunt Delores who I never met, but knowing her big brother Larry and now big sis Cookie think I would of certainley enjoyed knowing her too. (This is the original song direct from the writer Mister Dylan) and one of mine from the morning after for Steve and Cookie and all the rest of us.
I'll remember you
When I've forgotten all the rest,
You to me were true,
You to me were the best.
When there is no more,
You cut to the core
Quicker than anyone I knew.
When I'm all alone
In the great unknown,
I'll remember you.
I'll remember you
At the end of the trail,
I had so much left to do,
I had so little time to fail.
There's some people that
You don't forget,
Even though you've only seen'm
One time or two.
When the roses fade
And I'm in the shade,
I'll remember you.
Didn't I, didn't I try to love you?
Didn't I, didn't I try to care?
Didn't I sleep, didn't I weep beside you
With the rain blowing in your hair?
I'll remember you
When the wind blows through the piney wood.
It was you who came right through,
It was you who understood.
Though I'd never say
That I done it the way
That you'd have liked me to.
In the end,
My dear sweet friend,
I'll remember you.
Copyright © 1985 Special Rider Music
Christmas Eve 2006
for Cookie & Steve & the Rest of Us
The son of a shipwrecked sailor
And the daughter of a doomed affair
Found love at the bottom of a wishing well
And brought her up for air
She was blue in the face soaked to the skin
Should of been dead on arrival
They just held on from dark till dawn
Brought on a Revival
So Come On Down To The Riverside
Gonna Wade In Her Waters
Down To The Riverside
Bring Your Sons Bring Your Daughters
The Sisters And Brothers And All Of The Others Find Love
The Weak And Strong All Get Along
Down At The Revival
The Witness Judge And The Jury
Were guilty all along
The prisoner was bound for glory
The hangman sang his song
The padre spoke the damn rope broke
Padre clutched his bible
It was meant to be they all go free
Down at The Revival
So Come On Down To Riverside .......
copyright 1991 Spoonytunes