Robert McNally

Robert McNally
I Had Jelly on My nose and A hole in My Breeches
This is the memoir of a modern day Huckleberry Finn who delighted in youthful romances and wild adventures. My earliest memories are about living on top of a hill next to a crematory and across the street from a cemetery during the Great Depression. The only people I saw in the immediate area were the members of my family and Mrs. Wagner, who lived in the only other house on the hill. A few times a day I saw and spoke with the crematory workers, as well as the bereaved who attended their loved ones’ funerals. Occasionally I witnessed the wanderings of Gypsies, beggars and hobos. Down from the hill was my only playmate, Rosemary.
For a two and three year old, the hill was a fun-filled place to explore during the daylight hours, but the evenings were different. When my father went out to bar hop, it became so quiet that all we could hear were automobiles driving by. Some cars slowed to a stop. My mother would say, “Someone is out there snooping around.” It was a time when the cemetery held its dead while we held each other. Although the nights were often frightening, I loved the place and my girlfriend, Mary. However, in the spring of 1936 we had to leave our home so the crematory could replace it with a chapel.
After moving I still longed to live on the hill. We soon relocated again, but farther away. In January 1938 at the age of six, I heard the good news that we were going home. It wasn’t that we were moving back to the hill, but to a place I loved even more, Bridgeport, Connecticut. Here is where I was born, my Grandmother lived and what my family called home. I thought the town and our living space were in the country, not the city, and best of all, we were situated across the street from the county jail. The well behaved inmates were made trustees on Sunday mornings and given chores to do on our side of the wall. I always went out to greet them and for the sixteen months we lived there, they were among my best friends.
When my grandmother died, we moved to Ridgewood, New York. I wanted to live in the country, but at the age of six I was not given a say in the matter so it was city life for me. However, by age ten my wish to live in the country became something of a reality when I discovered a nearby railroad and a field of rugged terrain. We kids hopped moving freight cars for short and long distances. In the field we captured garter snakes. Before long we discovered another attractive nuisance, a fenced in trolley yard. The barbed wire fence could not keep us out. We hooked up the trolley cars to the overhead electrical wires and with that power we drove them back and forth in the yard to our hearts content.
Before I reached eleven I had fallen in love with four girls. Before thirteen I had dated two others, but something was lacking. Kisses. It turns out that’s pretty much all I was seeking in this life. School was not a good substitute for this desire, especially because of the beatings the teachers gave me. The bullies didn’t bother me since I could see right through these weaklings and they knew it. They stayed clear of me. On the other hand, I had to watch out for knife wielding and hatchet throwing “crazies.”
World War II put fear into most everyone, but it also brought us kids some fun. Air raid drills and blackouts were exciting, as was tracking down Nazi spies. My sister Judy and I discovered one living in our apartment building. Before long spies were popping up all over Ridgewood.
I believe I have many interesting stories to tell about the 1930’s and 40’s. This first of three memoirs will take the reader on a journey that for me was dangerous, exciting, humorous and worthwhile. For instance, one evening when I had just turned thirteen we built a fire. The next day we returned to it, and came upon a terrible and startling find.
Let me take you on my dangerous journey.
Sister Superior’s Thumb, the Pope’s Ring and the End of Childhood
This is the second book.
Robert McNally was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, during the height of the Great Depression. He is noted for having captured the first deadly black widow spider in the northeastern states. He also had the distinction of cremating Sergius M. Trufanoff, Mad Monk of Russia, who was a bosom buddy of another mad monk, Rasputin. As a child the few people he saw in his surroundings were Gypsies, beggars and hobos.

The author lived an extraordinary life. He had a wonderful childhood and was cheerful even when beaten up in school and running into characters who threw hatchets at his head and attempted to drive knives into his neck. He was always in pursuit of what he loved best, youthful romances and wild adventures. When the three o’clock bell rang at school he was off to the railroad, hopping rides on freight cars.

He pretty much led a modern Huckleberry Finn existence and with his great memory put it all down in his memoirs. Volumes one and two of a trilogy have been self-published. Reviews have been great, especially in their consistency explaining that his books read like novels and, as you read them, you have a strong sense of being right there with him.

Mr. McNally did have a life after growing up. He spent 39 years as an Insurance Auditor despite never having seen the inside of a college or taking accounting or bookkeeping courses. Happily married for almost 60 years, he and his wife have two children, four grandchildren and live quietly in Floral Park, New York.

The deepest and most profitable lesson is this, the true knowledge and contempt of ourselves.
Thomas a Kempis