Johnny’s and Mount Vernon Memories
Richard J. Garfunkel
July 29, 2010
It was a hot sunny day this past Wednesday. Every Wednesday is a bit special because I broadcast my show, The Advocates from the WVOX studios in New Rochelle. On this day, I had, as my guest, Amy Bach, the award-winning author of Ordinary Injustice, a powerful expose of the fouled up nature of our legal-jurisprudence system. She had been on my show seven months ago, but it was the right time to re-visit with her and her book. Last December, I had as my guest panelist my good buddy and tennis rival Michael Shapiro, a top-notch criminal defense lawyer, out of City College and NYU School of Law, who now hangs his shingle with the prestigious law firm, Carter, Ledyard, & Milburn, where the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt first practiced law. Michael originally started out as a prosecutor in NYC DA Robert Morgenthau’s office and cut his teeth on nursing home abuse and Bernard Barker.
This time around, my guest panelist was my old Mount Vernon buddy, Guy Fairstein, who after Williams College and the University of Virginia Law School, spent forty years in high end civil litigation. Now he does volunteer (pro bono) work for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley. Guy and I used to traipse the public links of Westchester back in the early 1960’s, and he grew up on a leafy street off Devonia Avenue, on the other end of our home town.
As usual, the show commenced at 12:07 PM and the next 53 minutes flew by in its typical fashion. Amy Bach fulfilled her role, Guy Fairstein asked her the right questions and the show passed into the broadcasting past. Each show takes a bit of planning and preparation, along with the cooperation of all who join me in the broadcast, but it ends as suddenly as it begins, and once it is over, all of us go right back to the normality of life.
Guy and I headed out into the bright sunlight of a late July hot afternoon. We had decided to make a pilgrimage to Johnny’s, the famous pizzeria on West Lincoln Avenue in Mount Vernon. We drove down Fifth Avenue to North Avenue in New Rochelle, made a left turn and a right at Lincoln Avenue and headed into Mount Vernon. We reached Johnny’s, found a space nearby to park, made our way to a table on the wall, which like all the others is festooned with NY Yankee memorabilia, sat down and ordered a large half-sausage and half plain pie. What can I say? Johnny’s always makes the best pizza and we were not disappointed. Its thin crust is unique and the taste is great. One thing for sure is that Johnny’s pizza is never filling and always gastronomically rewarding.
Before we headed back up to White Plains, where Guy lives, we took a nostalgic tour around Mount Vernon. There are still some beautiful neighborhoods around what was once called the “City of Homes.” We made our way down Gramatan Avenue towards Bronxville and turned right up Edgewood into the hills of Douglas and circled around back to Gramatan and then we made our way over to Locust Lane and Hunt Woods Park. I hadn’t been around there in a number of years. It was great fun talking about all the ghosts, from our time, who are all that is left in those old homes. Many of those houses were built in the 1920s and they still look quite well put together today. So we finally had worn ourselves out. Who knows when we’ll be able to do this again? As Thomas Wolfe wrote, in his novel, You Can’t Go Home Again, and he wasn’t far off the mark in its meaning.