The Wise Novelist

1 Day Out – Finding Jimmy Moran – Home Is Where The Heart Is

The above is a painting of my childhood home in Riverdale Da Bronx. That is the family home on the right and my youngest brother’s present home on the left. A couple of scenes from FJM take place in that attic of the family home, including one involving a ghost. The house has lots of ghosts. They are a lot of fun. A couple of scenes take place on those front steps, just below that flag. At the back end of that common driveway, between the two houses, sits the garage, where the garden shears beheading by Spaghetti almost occured. A car is “borrowed” by Jimmy Moran and his cousin apples from that driveway in another scene. I drove my Mini Cooper out of that driveway the night I left NYC. The Ginger escaped from the basement about 3/4 up that driveway when he ran away from home the family’s first Easter there, when we all lived in the basement. The Ginger was barely a toddler, but his wanderlust has never subsided. Another scene takes place on the roof landing just outside that small attic window, which is where my older brother Eddie, had his room.

Junkie used to drive his cart, from right to left, along Mosholu in front of those two houses.

My niece, Taylor, who lives in the house on the left, had the painting done for me by a British artist – H. James – when Lisa and I moved out to NoCo. HJ did a hell of a job. I think he painted a ghost in the second floor window. I think it’s my mother. Both she and my dad died in that house. In the very same room. That really freaks Taylor out. Love you Tales.

Anyway, that family house is my anchor to the Bronx. There’s still McCaffreys living in it, Taylor’s brother – Hi JM, Joyce and JP McCaffrey. May there always be a McCaffrey in it.

It will always own a piece of my heart.

Everyone of my friends have crashed at that house at some point or another. They have all sat around the family table either at my grandparents’ table on the first floor, my parents’ table on the second, or the backyard table during the warmer weather. Lots of great memories occured at all three tables.

My frenemy, BC, made it his regular practice to enter the house through whatever widow he could find open. Usually in the middle of the night. He refers to it as the first Riverdale Youth Hostel. He may have logged more hours there than the Ginger. But every character that appears in Finding Jimmy Moran knows that house as well as I do.

Many a hangover – mine and theirs – opened its eyes in that house.

The Hudson River – and the train tracks – are about a quarter mile west, behind the house. Van Cortlandt Park about a quarter mile east in front of the house. Coaches II is a block down Mosholu Avenue to the right of the house. Skyview is about three long blocks west at the halfway point heading to the Hudson. The Courts and the woods are just a stone throw away from the house. Aunt Violet’s Flop House is about a quarter mile north of the house to the right. Most of the schools are a few blocks in either direction.

Manhattan is a few miles south to the left of the house, and Yonkers is about a half-mile north to the right.

And while I’m not Jimmy Moran, I never could be, I loaned him all of my memories from those first two decades that I lived in that house. Along with all of the memories of growing up in that North Western tip of the Bronx. With all of my family and crazy friends.

They were great memories, mostly fun. Some tears. I did my very best to capture them in a completely fictionalized form in Finding Jimmy Moran. I changed everything just enough to provide everyone with plausible deniability. And everything about Jimmy and his freinds is complete fiction. Everything. No exceptions.

But I still think I did a decent job capturing what life was like growing up in the magical place called Riverdale way back in the last Century. I’m not sure kids today will fully appreciate the kind of world we lived in, where the entire neighborhood looked out for each other, and you were just as likely to get smacked by someone else’s parents as your own, when you screwed up. That was a daily occurrence.

But those bonds remain strong fifty years later. I’m still tight with the OFC and consider myself friends with everyone else who still lives back there. When someone from back east asks me where I’m from, I still say St. Margaret’s Parish. Old habits die hard.

So, if you want to get a fictionalized version of life in the Bronx in the 60s and 70s, pick up FJM tomorrow. But before you do, check out The Claire Trilogy. You’ll then understand and appreciate that magic has always been part of Jimmy’s life.

But I still need to get through this day before Jimmy Moran arrives tomorrow.

That means a kitty cuddle, my rounds, and then the dreadmill.

Then a day of law.

But I do appreciate all of the love and support I have received from you, my fine, five readers.

Now, let’s get over the hump and make today a great one.

Tommorow beckons.

14 Responses

    1. Tomorrow will be a great day in your literary career…don’t doubt yourself…..todays blog was great

  1. Beautifully said. I didn’t have your adventures, but the Bronx was a magical place in simpler times.
    FJM is going to do great!!!

  2. The beauty of these comments is that it supports the one truth that can be found in all of my books. My family and friends mean everything to me.

  3. Loved the painting of the two houses. Actually found myself zooming in on it and looking for a partially open window in your family house. Haha!

  4. Great jawing w you today, T. Opening Day comes a little late for you Colorado Yankees! Must be the time zone….
    Slán Agus Saol.☘️🫶🙏

  5. I love this blog. I keep thinking I can’t get anymore excited about tomorrow’s launch and then you manage to make me even more excited. That painting is so realistic. I feel as if someone took a photo standing right there in front of the house. I don’t imagine you’ll sleep much tonight but I can’t wait to see the Amazon ratings! Way to go Tommy

  6. Great blog Tom,

    Don’t sweat it, you got this. Your uniquely charming personality shines through your books and your blogs. It makes a person wish they were part of it. Just a few hours away now!

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