There was money. Commercial writing and documentary film production at Stanley Neal Productions changed our situation for the better. In a way, it was great. Bob bought an old Packard, rented Admiral Halsey's house in East Hampton for us to live in and shared an apartment his friend and co-worker Andre Freeman in Manhattan.
In another way, it was not too wise to leave two teenage boys in a four-bedroom house alone for five days and nights every week. Nena Aleman, a long time friend from the Kingswood years taught us how to drive. The Packard was a ‘tank’ by modern standards but we soon learned not to pop the clutch. we got her up to a hundred miles an hour on the road to Montauk.
Of course we had housekeepers. That was supposed to keep us in line. But Easthampton was divided right down the proverbial line, the railroad track. One side of the tracks was the ‘greasers’ and the other the Soc's. In East Hampton lots of very famous and rich people had their houses, all mansions with rolling green hills.
The trouble we got into with Mazzefaro, Fithian, the sacco brothers (19 and 17 years old and still freshmen), and Larry Brock a twenty-one year old soldier at the air base is a history in itself but it belongs in the story of s.
Bob did not believe in corporal punishment and had never raised a hand in anger as long as i could remember. But he lost his patience and Bobby got a good drubbing with the belt. I got off a little easier with ten powerful smacks on my bare bottom. It really hurt and i screamed my head off.
the funny thing was, we didn't do it. There was an old man who lived next-door, kind of crazy, who sometimes charged out of his house screaming at us for no particular reason. one day someone stuck a big knife in his door and we got blamed for it.
Of course our real shenanigans would have warranted punishment in any other house. We used to drink about half of my father's liquor adding water to keep the level up. We burglarized the local delicatessen for cases of beer. (Got caught for that one) thanks to me standing with my shoes in my hands paralyzed by the headlights of the cop car while everyone else got away on winged feet.
McGuire, one of our gang's leaders had a job at the Montauk airport. In those days the Hertz rental cars were lined up all with keys in the ignition; not that we couldn't wire the ignition in two minutes.
Our Aunt Janey was visiting with a couple of nephews who were ‘Super Square’. We borrowed her car for a joy ride to the city. we got busted and she pressed charges. that surprised us. Of course bob was tearing his hair out about our wildness. We went through about eight housekeepers in a year and a half.
Our eventual punishment was to move back to the slums of Mt. Vernon.; to the same building even, 19 Park avenue. I ran away to Florida and lived with my mother in St. Petersburg where without the devilish influence of bobby I cleaned up real nice. I was even voted best dressed boy in school.
When Bob was hired by Martin Marietta to write documentaries on the ‘bull pup’ missile and other weapons of mass destruction he wasn't very happy about it, but the pay was twice what he was getting in New York. He wasn't happy because he believed in peace the way mahatma ghandi would like it. In short, he was a pacifist ideologically.
But lo and behold he eventually transferred to writing for NASA at Cape Canaveral and that made him very happy. many years later he moved to NASA headquarters in Houston where he was the Union steward and a senior Writer-Producer.
We moved to Winter Park, in central Florida when my father married my friend’s mother. Anita Hammar, a wonderful woman who had bounced on Albert Einstein’s knee. Her father was Professor of Physics, her mother, a Professor of History. Anita graduated from College when she was in her teens. She was a Pharmacologist and an expert on antique and modern furniture. She had let me use their ‘Florida room’ (screened in porch) for a studio. Bob used to pick me up on his way home. One night the car broke down, so we slept over. They got married a few weeks later.
A Texas oil company bought Houston films and nobody liked being under their leadership. So they came to my dad and asked him if he would go with them all and form a new company and be the President. Eventually, his company won the bid for the NASA contract for two decades.
His story, of course goes on, but this was the most interesting; to show the course of his career and how it was all good in the end.
their house in friendswood, houston, texas
my grandfather sent bob to europe as college graduation present.
my mother nancy and me
brother bobby and stepbrother eric west
picture of robert bailey cumming in law school at northwestern.
nancy in clearwater, florida
this is the house i was born in in libertyville, illinois
sketch i made of my father, 1959