My brother, Mark T. Hoops, died on February 21 of this year (2015) after a six month sentence of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. I miss him. Everyone who knew him misses him, but most of all, his wife, his son, and his daughter feel the loss. And, in a much different way, my brother Brian and I feel somewhat like we have been cut loose in deep space.
Since this website exists solely to provide me with a space to write what I want, when I want, and for whom I want, this entry needs no other definition than this: it has something to do with brotherhood.
The breezeway, remember the brown tiles? In the door, the 558 on the right side, a few steps and then left into the kitchen where yellow predominated. Or maybe it didn’t; I was 4 or 5 when I started developing the memories I have. Mark, you were 8 or 9. 9 is when many of us begin to remember things in a big way, so you know more of the details. Remember Flip? The toad that Brian brought back from — was it Tennessee? And Tyanne. One week and poof!
I loved that two-headed white tree. Was it you who told me it was an oak? Somehow calling it an oak made it like any other tree, so I insisted on calling it the Two Headed White Tree, as if it were the only such member of its species.
The Savoy in the background.
You liked the Oldsmobile, but I like the Plymouth, the Plymouth Savoy. 8 miles to the gallon. Always wanted to get Sky Chief, but we only got Fire Chief, and never knew why; at least, I didn’t. Maybe you and Brian did. Loved that smell, didn’t you? And remember the way the ’59 Saab smelled, that blue smoke? And the sound its engine made, like a big lawnmower, and that tiny exhaust pipe. The curtain in the front! And Kronowicz! Man, those were the days before seatbelts. I thought we were being arrested for having been hit, because the police were taking us away. Did you have to get stitches, or was it just Dad? I remember the big lump I had on my head.
I remember when you and Brian asked me how old I was. It was May 24, 1963. I put up three fingers. You both laughed and pulled up another finger and said, “Now you’re FOUR!” I hated the way four fingers looked. Three was perfect. Of course, it was only three if I held up my pinky, ring finger, and middle finger: any other three fingers was simply not Three. The Lussiers, for instance, held up the index finger, the middle, and the ring fingers to show three, imagine that!
The woods. I wonder when they got “developed.” Smoking Viceroys and Tiparillos stolen from the kitchen. Some sort of hut was in there, or an old ice cream stand, or something. Some kind of structure’s remnants, I remember that. Rolly Manila. Gregory Seff. The Merkels. The Lowery family.
The pebbles that ran off the road when they repaved or resurfaced or repebbled or whatever they did back then. White roads. Remember that smell? The tar. And when the trees were sprayed with DDT. Smelled like summer. I thought all roads had to have pebbles along their sides. That’s why the streets in Brooklyn looked so foreign when we moved there: they were black. Asphalt. City. And mercury vapor lights that made everything look like a crime scene or a public toilet. Al Collura getting his head smashed under the bus wheel, the blood still on the snow hours later along Prospect Park SW. Must have been ’68 or ’69, the snowy winters that made sledding so memorable.
Remember waiting for Dad to come home in the Saab? I wonder how many times he was drinking on the ride home. Must have been some times, because, well, it’s the nature of the alcoholic. I will never forget the time I saw him leaning over you, punching you in the face, screaming, “Damn you, Mark!” You must have been all of 8 years old. The four knuckles were imprinted above your left eye. Jimmy Merkel came over asking for you, and I was at the foot of the driveway. I told him you had been bad, so Dad punched you. Mom pulled my hair: she had been racing down the driveway, apparently, to intercept me blabbing out “family secrets.” She was big on family secrets, remember?
Woseepie Park. That clubhouse that was off-limits, the green one, we thought all kinds of wonderful things must be in there. You were the big brother, so you knew. You had all the wisdom of the ages at 8 years old, you know.
What the hell did you wake me up in the middle of the night and put a hot lamp on my forehead, by the way? I think I was 4 at the time. “Here, I want to try an experiment…” you said, holding the light up as I moved toward it. I had a burn on my forehead for weeks. Wtf.
One day, I must have been five, you and Brian cornered me in the living room. I can still see that Brightwaters house from the inside: facing the front windows of the living room from inside, we were in the corner at the upper right of this memory. There was a chair there, too. Anyway, the question you both put to me was this: “What do you like, the American League or the National League?” I knew that I lived in America, so I naturally gave the wrong answer: American. You both quickly corrected me. Of course I love the National League! The Mets are in the National League, and Joe Christopher, who hit the first home run I ever saw, was on the Mets and he was the best player on the planet, with a .300 average that year.
There’s so much I want to say, not all of it coherent. I’ll stop here, though. To be added to and updated in the near future.