John Delach

On The Outside Looking In

Month: November, 2018

Ron Johnson

When posters celebrating sports heroes became popular in the late sixty’s, the Football Giants were excluded. Y.A. Tittle, Frank Gifford and Sam Huff had retired. The Giants were a bad team and even their best player, quarterback Fran Tarkenton, had limited appeal. If you wanted a poster of a star player from New York, your choice was Joe Namath.


That changed in 1970 when the Giants traded their mercurial receiver, Homer Jones, to the Cleveland Browns for Ron Johnson. Johnson, an All-American half-back at Michigan, was their Number One pick in that 1969 draft. For reasons unknown, The Browns made the deal and the Giants prospered. With Ron Johnson running and catching the football, the Giants achieved their first winning record in seven seasons and came within one victory of making the playoffs.


Ron Johnson ran for 1,027 yards as Big Blue finished 9-5 and he was All-Pro first team. More important, he ignited a fire that made lesser players shine. This was my take on two home games I wrote about in my book: “17 Lost Seasons.”


(The Giants had won four games in a row when they met the Cowboys on November 8, 1970.) The Giants were becoming fun to watch and our joy continued Sunday as they beat the Cowboys 23-20. Bob Hayes did manage to catch two touchdown passes of 38-and 80-yards helping Dallas reach a 17-6 lead in the second quarter. But Ron Johnson ran 23 times for 136 yards and caught four passes for 59 yards.


Bill Christman and I both sat in Section 12, but I sat in Box 242C and he was in 242F. Each box had four seats. Two NYPD cops sat behind Bill, but whoever had the fourth seat sold it to different people for each game. Bill told me after the game, “An older, well-dressed man sat next to me. He was a Cowboys fan, but after we cut their lead to 20-16 in the third quarter, he looked at me and said, ‘You got this game won.’ Then he got up and left.”


Next Sunday’s game was against the Redskins. Bill and I car-pooled from Middle Village across the 59th Street Bridge, parked on Lexington Avenue outside of Bloomingdales. Parking was free, and Bloomindales was closed on Sundays back then. We caught the IRT Jerome Avenue express at Fifty-Ninth Street station for the five-stop ride to 161st Street and Yankee Stadium.


This game has remained fresh in my mind, especially the winning touchdown that Ron Johnson scored with one-minute left to play that made the final Giants 35, Redskins 33.


Sonny Jurgensen’s passing and Charlie Harraway’s rushing had boosted the Redskins to a 33-14 lead as the last period began. The Giants started the fourth quarter with the ball on their own 29-yard line and drove it the length of the field in 13 plays in five minutes. The drive culminated in a 5-yard Johnson TD run. Fran Tarkentton’s passes accounted for 60 of the 71 yards.


Leonard Koppett reported:

 It took two passes to (Tucker) Fredrickson to make it a 33-28 less than 2-minutes later, with Tucker running and dodging the last 30 yards of a 43-yard play for the touchdown. And there was 4:06 to play when the Giants put the ball in play after Bobby Duhon had run back a punt from the Giants 6 to the 27. On third down, a pass to Bob Tucker for 20 yards reached the Washington 45. One to Fredrickson reached the 32 with 2 minutes left. With fourth and 6, Tarkenton hit Johnson for a first down on the 18. He hit McNeil on the 9 and Johnson went unopposed round the left side for the rest.”


Our view of Johnson’s run was superb. The Giants were driving toward the closed end of Yankee Stadium. He took the handoff and headed away from us. As he turned the corner toward the goal line, it was obvious that he wasn’t going to be touched. He only had to go 9 yards, but he could have gone 99.


“It makes you feel proud.” Coach Alex Webster said, “It is the way they wouldn’t give up. This is what you try to get from them, to make them believe in themselves.”


Johnson ran for 106 yards and had 49 through the air. Fredrickson had 33 and 165 respectively. A happy Fredrickson welcomed the press to his locker, “It’s a pleasure to talk to you gentlemen even though I haven’t spoken with you for quite a while. Just don’t build it up too much, though. Next week, I may be a ghost again.”  


Ron Johnson spent six seasons with the Giants including 1972 when he set a new team rushing record of 1,182 yards. To my delight, his stardom produced a poster of Number 30 wearing a white away uniform with red and blue trim with the lower case “NY” on his helmet. This heroic photograph captured Ron carrying the football in his right arm at a full gallop, looking powerful, bound and determined.


The New York Times carried Ron Johnson’s obituary on November 10th. Johnson succumbed to complications from Alzheimer’s, no doubt due, at least in part, to his football career. He was 71.


That poster is framed and hangs proudly in my personal Giants gallery. Thank you, Mr. Johnson for the light you shined on us during that dismal era


R.I.P. Ron Johnson

Election Day Reflections

(I could explain that this blog was delayed by a trip to NH through snow squalls, or that I was hacked last Wednesday, but the truth is I forgot to publish it…and so dear reader😊


Congressman Peter King wrote this piece following his recent re-election. I believe it offers an insider’s view of our voting process. I am re-printing it for this week’s blog with Peter’s permission.


I wish all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving


John Delach

Election morning was wet and overcast. Not ideal weather but not as bad as predicted. First stop that morning for Rosemary and me was voting at Seaford Manor School at about 7:20. Print and TV cameras were there for the ritualistic “candidate votes” photo.

Then it was on to GOP breakfasts to thank all the Committeemen, Committeewomen and Leaders whose job was to man the polls and get out our vote. The breakfast spots I hit were Massapequa South GOP at the Nautilus Diner on Merrick Road in Massapequa; Seaford GOP at the Waffle House on Merrick Road in Seaford; and Massapequa GOP at Paddy’s Loft on Hicksville Road in Massapequa. The mood was positive and upbeat. At each stop I thanked them for their efforts, said all looked good but we had to make sure we got out every possible vote.

I take no Election for granted but I was confident of victory — barring the unexpected. My polling (done by John McLaughlin, a great friend with first rate skills and instincts) had me in the mid-50s. Based on what John was seeing in his polling across the country, he told me my maximum would be 55% and that could be a reach. He said there was the real possibility of a Democratic surge in the suburbs and among minority voters. I had the daily double: a 34% GOP registration and a suburban district with 35% minority voters.

The first turnout report I received at noon was cause for some concern — Democrats were turning out much greater than in 2014 (the last off year Election) while the Republican vote – though up – was increasing at a lower rate.

In late afternoon I joined with State Senate candidate Jeff Pravato for campaign stops at Stop and Shops in Massapequa and Seaford (covered by Channel 12) and then the Seaford LIRR Station (covered by FIOS) where my daughter, Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, gathered about a dozen volunteers to hand out palm cards as I was asking the returning commuters to make it to the polls on their way home. The response seemed friendly and supportive. Also, I received the 5:00 turnout report that Republicans were coming out at a much-improved rate.

I made a few radio interviews, then went home to take a shower, put on a suit and get ready for the biennial trauma of the Election Night vote count — knowing that once the polls closed at 9:00 PM, there was nothing to do but wait and count.

Rosemary and I arrived at my Campaign Headquarters on Broadway in Massapequa about 8:30. It was already packed tight with supporters — and with media on a death watch to see if a 26-year Republican incumbent would be swept out in a Democratic Blue Wave. Ghoulish, but part of the business. Nothing personal they always say. (Or at least most of them say that!)

To add to the inherent Election Night confusion, the vote tally would be bifurcated. The Board of Elections in Suffolk County — which is 75% of the district — reports votes on-line as they come in and they would be displayed on a large screen on the side wall of the Campaign Headquarters. Since Nassau’s Board of Elections doesn’t report on-line, I must rely on local GOP leaders either hand delivering or calling in their vote totals to me. Roughly I knew that if I stayed within 4000-5000 votes in Suffolk and gathered my normal 60+% in Nassau, I would be fine. Suffolk hadn’t begun to report yet when I received the first votes in from Nassau at about 10:00 PM.– Seaford (69.5%) and Massapequa (71%). Suffolk started to report soon thereafter putting me about 51% for a while before finishing at about 47.6%, about 4,500 behind.

Each Nassau community — Massapequa Park, North Massapequa, Farmingdale, and Levittown — reported a solid majority. Our quick tabulation showed me at about a 64% total in Nassau with a winning margin of approximately 20,000 votes. (The official district wide vote would have me winning by a 15,000+ vote margin: 122,103 (53.3%) – 106,996 (46.7%). John McLaughlin had come within 1.7% of hitting it on the head!)

To play it safe, I waited until almost 95% of the Suffolk vote was in before deciding to declare victory at about 10:45. My outstanding Campaign Manager Anne Rosenfeld went to the podium at the rear of the Headquarters, faced the anxious media and announced that I had won. She then introduced my daughter Erin, who introduced me. With Erin, Rosemary and my son Sean standing with me, I thanked all my volunteers and said this was a victory for the heart and soul of the people of the 2nd District — pro-Police, pro-Military and pro-the hardworking middle-income families who have made and keep Long Island and America great.

(What I didn’t realize was that the media still didn’t have the Nassau County numbers and until almost midnight was reporting the race as too close to call.)

Rosemary, Erin, Anne and I then went to Nassau GOP Headquarters in Westbury where the enormity of the results hit me. Every Republican State Senator in Nassau County had lost and three of the four GOP Senate candidates in the 2nd Congressional District had lost.

Getting home to Seaford shortly after 1:00 AM, I watched the television reports, caught up on my emails and text messages and saw the full extent of the electoral carnage. Not only did Republicans lose the House, they got decimated in the suburbs nationwide — New Jersey, Philadelphia, Chicago, California, Minnesota, Dallas and Houston. Even my good friend Dan Donovan lost his Staten Island-Brooklyn District. Fortunately, Lee Zeldin and I kept the national wave from overtaking Long Island. It was time to get to sleep.

Democracy is a contact sport and was never intended to be easy. Principles and ideals and good people are worth fighting for. I’m proud to have once again fought the fight and am deeply grateful to the people of the 2nd Congressional District for having stood by me. I won’t let you down. The fight continues. God Bless America!!

Mega Lotteries vs. Old Values

The estimated first prize payout for Mega-Millions on October 23rd was $1.6 billion (cash payout, $913 million before taxes.) A single winning ticket for Mega-Millions was sold in South Carolina.


Power Ball payout for October 27th was $750 million (cash payout, $454.3 million before taxes.) Two winners, one down south and one in New York.


The payouts for these two lotteries are deliberately obscene. The actuaries who control the odds of hitting the grand prizes have intentionally rigged the system so that winning the prize has become harder and harder. The fewer $ 40 million winners, $60 million winners or $80 million winners allows the jackpot to climb into an atmosphere where main-stream media begins to pay attention. Tightening the odds, offering jackpot that reach nine figures produces a shout out to the population at large: “Big money, suckers.”


At $500 million, we reach a magical payout threshold it awakens the greed in our very souls, the opportunity for a potential life changing fortune, the quick fix, the ultimate gold ring or the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. At this level almost every red-blooded American will begin to sign on to the dream apart from some fundamental Calvinistic sect hidden in the backwoods of Indiana, Kentucky or West Virginia.


The siren’s call commands: “You have to be in it to win it.”


Five hundred million is the tipping point. Beyond that threshold, all players, already in, stay in. “Why should I get out now? Sure, I didn’t win but neither did anyone else. Roll it over; no, hold on, instead double-down giving you two chances for each lottery instead of one.”


Each time another $100 million is added to the prize, additional holdouts sign on. Even those accolades in West Virginia surreptitiously dispatch fellow travelers to rural smoke shops so they too can join the frenzy.


Greed at this level produces strange suggestions. Experts come out of the woodwork to appear on talk-radio, and TV stations. They provide a forum to explain to us the hopeful masses what to do to prepare for this sudden wealth and how to manage it: Establish a family trust, form an LLC, form a family foundation, hire great lawyers and financial advisers.


Trusts, overseas holdings, financial consultants, CPA’s, actuaries, psychologists, body guards, intelligence and security forces, surveillance operatives, Swiss Banks and on and on…


Did I fail to mention Bitcoins?


Take away taxes and the single winner of Mega-Millions would receive a cash payout of about: $550 million, Power Ball: $210 million.


Believe it or not, there are things that even this kind of money won’t buy like a major league sports franchise, but most other things can be on your radar. If you are of sound mind and judgement, winning such obscene amounts of money should scare the shit out of you so rejoice in your so-called bad luck.


Once upon a time quick buck fever did not always prevail. There was a family owned and run restaurant in Manhattan on 54th Street between Fifth and Madison called Reidy’s. They served Irish cuisine but in the proper atmosphere of a restaurant. Tishman Speyer’s assembled all the property on Madison Avenue between 53rd and 54th and along these two streets to build a 42-floor office building that became known as 520 Madison Avenue.


The Reidy family owned the bottom two floors of the building that housed their restaurant. However, the people who owned the upper floors sold these air rights to Tishman who demolished everything above these two floors.


Maurice Reidy family patriarch and owner refused to sell forcing Tishman to build the skyscraper around his restaurant. To ensure that customers and the public knew his position he draped a sign on his building that read: “Reidy’s Restaurant will stay at this location and will remain OPEN while the men play with their erector set. Thank you.”


Tishman finally conceded and reached a compromise with Mr. Reidy. In return for vacating the old second floor room, Tishman would incorporate a larger second floor dining room into the new structure while preserving the ambiance of the main room and bar.


One night a group of us found ourselves upstairs at Reidy’s enjoying a lengthy and happy dinner filled with much laughter and cheer. Most other customers had left when Mr. Reidy decided to join us. He sat next to me and I decided to ask him: “Mr. Reidy, I’m curious about one thing. Before the Tishman people realized that there was no way that you would close this restaurant and vacate this space, they must have become desperate. How did you resist accepting the large amount of the money they must have offered you?”


He looked me in the eye, smiled and said: “Because for my family to have that much money would be sinful.”


And that was that except nothing is forever. The restaurant business is a tough business. When Maurice Reidy passed on, the family closed the restaurant not long after. An Irish curio shop replaced it but not for long. Today it is a modern restaurant, but the bare brick walls testify to its previous life. I hope the Reidy family retained ownership and now collect a handsome rent.



Interment at Arlington

He died on December 12, 2002 six-days after celebrating his eighty-third birthday. Cancer of multiple organs was the cause a diagnosis rendered less than a month before his death. He died at home, in his sleep, under hospice care free of pain. Shortly before dying, he decided that his ashes should be interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Marilyn, his second wife, followed his instructions after cremating his remains without the presence of family or friends.


The administrators at Arlington processes twenty to thirty services each day, Monday to Friday. With so many World War II veterans dying, our family was told in March that Dad’s service would take place on Thursday, June 19, 2003.


We are a small family, but we all attended the service. Mary Ann and I drove down from New York as did our son, Michael, and his wife, Jodie. Our daughter, Beth, and her husband, Tom, used Amtrak. My two half-brothers and sister were there. Steven, flew to Florida from Oregon with his wife, Cathy, son and daughter, Jeffrey and Kelsey. They stayed with Marilyn then flew to Norfolk and drove to brother Mark and his wife, Nancy’s house outside of Richmond. They convoyed north to Arlington that morning as did Nancy’s mom and dad. Two of Marilyn’s cousins also attended. Our sister, Diana rounded out the group at sixteen when she arrived that morning from Maine.


The Catholic chaplain, a “full-bird” colonel, insisted that my Dad have a service in the Fort Myers chapel adjacent to the cemetery rather than in the administration building. I found this a curious ceremony for a man who freely and publicly proclaimed being an atheist. But it was not my call.


Fortunately, the chaplain kept the service simple and almost non-denominational. My daughter and son read from the old and new testament, Kelsey, read the petitions and the priest led us in the Lord’s Prayer. Unfortunately, he did not keep his homily simple but waxed poetically. He showered Dad and our family with qualities and attributes that never existed. As I listened to him, I wondered how he’d react if I limited my eulogy to:

“The sons of bitches of this world have lost their leader!”


But I didn’t. (Mary Ann wouldn’t allow it.) Instead, I said:


Dad led a remarkable life. He demonstrated fortitude, courage, honor, loquaciousness and grit for as long as I can remember. He had an unending thirst for knowledge that took him both figuratively and literally to all parts of the world.

His zest for life never diminished. He needed to know things, to understand them.

He was combative, and the Lord knows the confrontations we each had with him. But he did love and care for his family.

When his body deserted him, when he knew he had terminal cancer, he accepted this with dignity, honor and humor.

It is time to take joy in his life, in his memory. It is time to celebrate his life. That is why we are here.


This was true enough and made for a proper eulogy. Good thing too, in view of the size of the interment detachment that waited outside the chapel.


Dad’s rank, years of service, war record, citations and medals qualified him to receive a high military ceremony. A horseman with drawn sword led the formation. Behind him six horses stood hitched to the burial caisson. Three horses carried mounted riders. A band and an honor guard stood at attention as six pallbearers followed two others who inserted the urn into a compartment at the end of the coffin mounted on the caisson.


A four-man color guard led the procession away from the chapel. A twenty-piece band and an honor guard followed, proceeding the flag draped caisson and its eight pallbearers. We followed in our cars as part of the procession. Slowly, we proceeded through Arlington to the Columbarium where his remains were to be interred following the military service. I was humbled as the workers along our path ceased their activity and stood at attention as we passed.


Because it had rained earlier that morning and the forecast predicted afternoon showers, the airmen all wore blue raincoats. The humidity was not kind to them though they did not display their discomfort.


The pallbearers carried the urn to the central square where they set it down on a catafalque. They unfurled the American flag that had draped the coffin with great ceremony and held it taut as if covering a coffin. The band played. The chaplain spoke. We stood while the honor guard now positioned on a grass field two hundred yards away fired a twenty-one-gun salute. Taps followed.


The flag was re-folded, handed to the chaplain who handed it to Marilyn. Mark carried the urn to its assigned vault. The chaplain made a few more remarks and the service ended.


We walked back to our cars crossing the central square one last time. I calculated that about sixty Air Force personnel had participated in the ceremony. “Well, Dad,” I thought, “You got your due. Too bad you weren’t here for it. You would have loved it and I would bought you today’s first Scotch whiskey.”