THANK YOU Fran Lewis for the Wonderful Review of SIMPLE THINGS!





March 22, 2019

Simple Things: J.D. Holiday
Review by Fran Lewis

Imagine what would happen if there was a world where young teens or middle school children got along. Imagine what would happen if kindness, understanding and true friendship weighed heavily above greed, material gain and bullying. Author J. D. Holiday introduces us to the Cameron children and their friend Carlos. Meeting them will endear you to the entire family, including a special dog named Mitch. What happens when a young girl named Trisha comes into their lives? Magic, love, helpfulness and the true meaning of Christmas just might win out when presents take a backstage to helping someone in need.
When a Trisha Johnson finds herself all alone when the only person caring for her dies, the events that follow will warm your heart to a group of teens that show kindness, understanding and true friendship an orphan named Trisha. Taking all the money that her Uncle John had before he died, learning about his death from the nurses in the hospital, Trisha is on the street with her dog, Mitch. Tying him to a pole to go into the mission, she comes out to learn he was stolen. Trisha is now all alone in this world, but miracles can happen in many ways as she becomes friends with the Cameron children and events might change it all. Hoping to find Mitch, her dog by going back into the mission and asking for help leaves her nowhere.
While this is happening Kirby. Phoebe, Tucker, and their friend Carlo are watching for a delivery van hoping it will bring them their Christmas gifts. But someone hits the driver and hijacks the van and the gifts or whatever was in the van is gone. Vic is cruel, hurts his dog and does not care about anything or anyone. Daring anyone to try and stop his reign of terror little does he know he is about to come up against this feisty girl. Watching him pull and tug at his dog, somehow, they manage to get Bates and bring him safely to their home.
But their Gram seems to think that Vic can do no wrong so what will happen if they ask her for help with Trisha, to find her dog or should they call the police? But Trisha pleads with them not to phone the police because she realizes that she might be in trouble with child services and be placed in a foster home. Hoping to find her real father and with a note from her mother that arms her with what she needs, she meets Phoebe and her brothers and immediately they bond, but daring, zealous and highly intelligent as each one comes up a plan or part of a plan to help Trisha find Mitch and have a haven in their home.
Gram learns about Mitch as her grandchildren tell her about Vic and something happens where they learn more about other missing dogs and the possibility of illegal dog fights as Trisha spots Mitch and other dogs in the back of a truck but she’s too late to rescue him.
What is important to most children at holiday time is receiving gifts and namely the ones that they want. Some people in Santa while others become jaded and think he does not really exist. However, believing in something is what makes the holidays come alive and special for kids and even adults.
Vic is dangerous and as the reader and the kids get to know him and watch him with Bates and his actions with others, you come to realize that Gram has been blindsided and does not want to face the truth about him. But, will this ever change, and will she come to terms with who he really is and help Trisha find her dog and act against him for his other deeds?
Gram did not want to believe that Vic was as dangerous as they were saying and then Trisha saw a sidebar on the news on the net stating that there was a dogfighting ring the police suspected operation in their city, leading her to believe that somehow her dog might be in danger and that Bates the dog really meant BATE.
Things spiral out of control, but first the author introduces us to Tom Frankel and something about him sends a flare in Trisha’s mind and could this man be someone she needs to know if so why?
When the truth behind why Tom is interested in her comes out things take on a different and dangerous turn for all the children as they are determined to stop what someone has put in place. Presents are important to everyone during the holidays and things spiraled out of control when the children asked to go shopping with their mother and the truth behind their reasons might have costed them more than they ever would expect.
Betrayals, deceptions and a family and several friends that ban together to help one young girl, find the clues and reason for the dog’s being taken and hopefully restore their faith in friendship, hope, understanding and family as the Cameron children teach everyone the true meaning of friendship and the spirit of the holiday season. But, what about Gran and her faith in someone? The intelligence and ingenuity of the Cameron children and the faith they have in each other this book could lead to a series having them solve other mysteries and adding in Trisha and more about her and Tom. Characters that are well developed and realistic and a plot that will keep younger teens and middle school children wanting to learn more about these children and even deciding in discussion groups how they would have handled helping Trisha and taking down the dog fighting ring, this book teaches lessons in understanding, forgiveness, friendship, loyalty and love.
The future of many are at stake, but the one thing that I really loved is how author J.D. Holiday makes us all realize that it’s not riches, jewels, expensive cars and items that are important it is just plain and SIMPLE THINGS.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, textReview FRAN LEWIS can be found at: 

HER Books and MJ Magazine:
 https://www.amazon.com/Fran-Lewis/e/B002F8Z87U

Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Life In Riverside

-->
Image result for 1960s pictures of paterson nj
The Great Falls of Paterson, NJ
Riverside is a larger neighborhood in Paterson, New Jersey. Its boarded on three sides by the Passaic River, hence its name. My husband Angelo grew up in Riverside on Fifth Avenue. Everyone in the neighborhood was familiar with the mob's management style learned from fearful whispers. From the 60s through the 70s the mob was in control of this Italian neighborhood. Like other ‘families’ in other places, in Riverside the mob owned most everything. They owned many types of businesses. Among them oil and textile, dozens of factories that had seen better days, the local lumberyard, a couple of bars and a few restaurants. Even the local laundromat and a whole lot of real estate - many run down houses which crammed the city streets. It was far from an upscale area.
Random crime was not done in Riverside without the perpetrator facing retaliation to set an example. And the only killings, shootings and stabbings, handled the 'family.'
Between the police presence and the mob it was safe to walk the streets. Joseph D. Pistone aka FBi undercover agent ‘Donnie Brasco,’ said that growing up in Paterson he learned how local mobsters acted as he saw them hanging around, gambling, doing ''the basic things that wise guys do.”
The street rules were, don’t meet their eyes if you could help it, or if you did, look away as 
quick as you can. And if spoken to, be polite. You could see them at their local hangout
in the back booth and a nearby table in the pizzeria on River Street talking, smoking and reading newspapers or the daily racing forms.
During the race riots that followed the death of a great uniter Martin Luther King (1968) whose words and deeds would be later hijacked for political gain, the Riverside area stayed untouched for this very reason.
Image result for 196 5th ave paterson nj
This is what the house Angelo grew
us it looks like today.
While Riverside escaped the turmoil, my part of town near Madison Avenue and Market Street wasn't so luck. The riots brought nightly looting and fires to the businesses. We kept our doors locked and shades down through the curfewed nights. Each morning we'd wake and feeling jittery head out for school once the seven AM road barricades lifted.
National Guard lined the streets and manned the barriers while their military tanks (this was my first time I’d ever seen a tank) and jeeps parked nearby. My dad drove me to St. Joseph’s High School through these narrow cobblestone back roads. We meandered along those street to avoid any lingering problem passed an unkempt park.
This whole area was hundreds of years old. I asked my dad how he knew about these street. They were new to me. He smiled. In his college days, he said he attended William Paterson college then located on twenty-third Ave and worked for a beer distributor. He would deliver beer weekly to the St. Joe’s rectory for the priest’s Friday night deliver on these very roads.
Any murders in Riverside were not gangland killings, those between mob families over turf. But of anyone who betrayed or inform on the mob. Their bodies left in the open over night as an example to others. A few major cases were of a guy knifed on Fifth Avenue and left at the bus stop for the morning commute. Another was a man shoot threw the windshield and his car backed into a parking space in the A&P lot, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company-an extinct grocery stores chain. The third happened at 1:30 AM on October of 1966. A neighbor of Gabriel ‘Johnny the Walk’ DeFranco, (known for a limp when he walked), looked out and saw three men assail DeFranco on his apartment porch at the corner of Madison and 5th Avenues. DeFranco answered his doorbell to his killers. They beat DeFranco before slashing his throat. His killing would be later connected to an earlier murder of a young married woman shot twice in the head in February of that year. Her body dumped in a Garden State Parkway gully not far from her home. Her car was found in Newark doused with gas and on fire. Both murders were later connected to a wife-swapping club, amateur porno shoots, and counterfeiting.
Angelo was paperboy in the early 60s in the neighborhood and DeFranco was his best tipping customer. Angelo rode his bike to do his paper route after school. One time a couple of mob guys stopped him. They ask him to take a bag and ride down a block and throw it into the open window of a black sedan. Angelo murmured, “I got to get home,” and rode off. He knew not to do anything of that source.
Angelo and I married in 1970 and for a time we lived with my in-laws. (More on that in a future post.) Shortly we moved next door with our baby to the first-floor apartment of the corner house. Both my parents had died sixteen months apart and the rest of my family imploded in the squabbling aftermath. For me, my father was the glue. When he died my mother slipped away from the rest of the cracking paste which crumbled after her.
Image result for 200 5th ave paterson nj
THIS is the house we rented in the 1970s.
This is what it looks like today.
The mob boss drove himself around in a Cadillac. He would stop by for the rent money from my mother-in-law first of every month and have coffee with her. My husband’s family paid sixty-five dollars a month for as long as they lived there while most renters paid one hundred-fifty dollars and had to go to the lumber yard to pay it. If my father-in-law had a few drinks he would say the landlord was sweet on her. She got us the apartment next door.
I only met the mob boss twice and remembered all the rules of engagement barely looking at him while greeting him with smiling. I couldn't have described him if someone paid me.
Both meetings were in my mother-in-law’s unattractive aqua colored kitchen. All the rooms were the same color. That included the walls, woodwork and ceilings of this early nineteen hundreds house remodeled for the 1960s.
Near the end of the four years we lived in Riverside Angelo begun interning as a nuclear medical tech . He was now lived near that Pennsylvania hospital. So it was up to me to walk around to the lumber yard where renters paid there rent on the first of the month. Lumber of all sizes laid around in neat stacks lining the driveway you had to walk down. I don’t think lumber in the yard or at else from those stacks ever moved. I would write the check out at home to be able to get in and out of the office fast. You didn’t know who would be in the office. Usually a few men hung around a water cooler off to the side of the front counter giving you the eye. But it you were luck it would just be the one nice guy there was working the office. He wasn't much older than me and he was always respectful. Only once did one of the wise guys try to chat me up as I nervously looked away. But Mr. Nice Guy told him, “She’s married and a young mother,” to him and a smile for me.
Soon a new reason to leave arose. By this time muggings and worse began devastating the area. The neighborhood schools continued the downhill spiral they’d been on for years. My daughter was now a four year old and this was on our minds heading into the future. On weekday mornings I would feed my daughter, get ready for work and then get her dressed for another day with her grandmother. This one day, she couldn’t find her pink bow headband. It was a favorite for the moment, so I joined in her search. Earlier, she was playing on the couch in front of the TV. Thinking that was the best place to start, I moved a cushion and put my hand around it feeling to the beloved headband but pulled out a warm died baby rat. I knew mice from rats. I dropped it and drew my daughter away from the couch, leashed the puppy we took in after someone had dumped it in our backyard and ran to my in-laws. The lumber yard sent a couple of men right over in answer to my frantic phone call where I was told, "Yeah, we are have that problem in the area right now." They gave me the all clear the next day, but that was it for us. While we packed to move we found huge lifeless relatives of the baby rat in the yard. We saw our future elsewhere now. The old Riverside mob was beginning to lose its grip and the younger guys, now heavily into the drug trade and the crimes that it brought with it. No more ‘safety’ from the horrors of life.
~JD Holiday
© 2019 BY J.D. HOLIDAY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Simple Things Book Trailer and Excerpt

Simple Things Book Trailer and Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 1:
              A tied-up Christmas tree leaned against the wall on the back porch where Uncle John left it. The two of them were going to put it up last night. But things have changed for Trisha Frankel.
               With Mitch, her black Labrador Retriever, on his leash behind her, Trisha closed and locked the door of the apartment. She lived here with her uncle for the past nine years in the mainly African-American neighborhood. People would soon be looking for her if they were not already. Before Trisha talked to anybody else she needed to do something.
               She stuck a note under her upstairs neighbor Nell Galock’s door saying, “she needed to see someone, and would come back later.” Last night she was surprised Nell let her sleep alone with just Mitch for company in her own apartment. During the waking hours of the night, she made her plans. She knew she couldn’t stay long with Nell, who was scheduled to move to a nursing home soon. Everyone worried about her failing health. Nell’s daughter came around to bring food and take her to appointments since the elderly woman fell last summer. Trisha saw Nell like a frail bird with a broken wing hopping along the ground out of its comfort zone.
              Wearing her backpack stuffed with food and carrying a duffle bag in case she didn’t return Trisha and Mitch kept a steady pace. They walked the long route along the snowy streets over the Seventh Street bridge passing many factories to River Street. Here and there someone shoveled a path on their long trek to the city. Stores were busy on Main Street and they jostled with holiday shoppers while avoiding mounds of dirty snow piles here and there. Trisha and Mitch waited to cross through the narrow path at a red light.
               After almost an hour in the warm sun, Trisha took off her hat and scarf. The storm yesterday dropped ten inches of snow. Though the wind driven air felt cold, the ice and snow on the sidewalks and streets started melting. Snow began slipping off slanted rooftops with a thud.
               Trisha realized they were almost there. After all, she knew the area a little. She and Uncle John would take a bus to Twentieth Avenue on weekends and then go to the Mart walking many blocks to get there. A schoolhouse at one time, someone converted the Mart into a sort of mini-mall or small department store. It was not far from there to her father’s neighborhood, she believed. A long time ago her mother, Anne, wrote the address down on the envelope Trisha kept with her.
On those trips with her Uncle John, she bought books at the Bookstand Bookstore. Uncle John would get a newspaper or crossword book and they would read at the cafe drinking cocoa.
              She and Mitch finally got to the street. Trisha glanced at the torn and smudged envelope. Her name was written on the front, along with the address and inside a letter from her mother. The other contents of the envelope were photos. Trisha treasured them. They were all that was left of her family. Pictures of her parents together, some of herself and a few of Uncle John.
              Mitch sat on the sidewalk, his tongue hanging out while Trisha sorted through some of the pictures. She came to one of her parents together. In it they were young. It was taken about fifteen years earlier. Trisha had no memory of her mother. In the picture, Anne was in a pink summer dress and sandals, her hair combed back off her face. Trying not to cry Trisha studied the boy in jeans and a T-shirt with short dark hair his arm around Anne. He was her father.
              Putting the envelope back in her coat pocket, Trisha sighed. “Come on, Mitch. If nothing else we’ll see what his house looks like,” she said heading down the block.
 At the address, she was looking for they stopped. No one was around so Trisha turned back and stood in front. The slender two-story home appeared to have an apartment on both floors and looked recently painted a light green. Sandwiched between its neighbors with narrow alleys, a closed metal gate on one side led down a cracked sidewalk. She stared at it trying to decide what she should do.
              She heard people talking and turned. In the middle of the block stood a large red brick building that looked like a restaurant with large front windows. On the shoveled sidewalk in front three men talked.
 Trisha decided to walk by them. One of them might be him, she thought. But then two of the men went inside the building and the third, a white man, walked past her. At the doorway, Trisha read the sign over the double doors, Day Mission.
              The doors opened and a woman walked out and passed her. Trisha glanced inside the door. Making her mind up, Trisha put down her duffle bag and tied Mitch to the drainpipe at the corner of the building. A beat-up orange truck pulled up and parked in front of the house next to the mission. A lean-built man with spiky short brown hair got out.               
              Turning to go inside she stopped when the man came over and stared down at Mitch. “That’s a nice dog,” he said.
              “Thanks,” Trisha said. Without glancing at her the man went down the alley between the mission and the house.
              “I’ll go in and get some water. If I get up the nerve I’ll ask if anyone knows him. After all, he lives on this street. When I come out we’ll have a snack. You be a good boy,” Trisha said to Mitch as she went into the building.
              Mixed smells permeated the large room. She recognized coffee and some kind of cleaner. People were waiting in lines getting food or eating at long tables that filled the sizable room. She roamed around until she saw a table along the wall where a large coffee pot, bottles of water and stacks of cups were organized. She took one bottle and a cup while looking around the room. No one resembled the young man plus fifteen years in the photo. She was about to leave when an older, stocky woman with puffed up cherry colored hair came up to her. The deep wrinkles around the woman’s mouth and eyes were more noticeable as she smiled. She asked Trisha, “Can I help you?”
              Trisha busied herself with slipping the bottled water and cup into her coat pockets. “I was looking for somebody but they’re not here,” She mumbled.
              “Who are you looking for? Maybe I know them,” the woman asked.
               Trisha met her eyes for a moment. She seemed kind, but Trisha just wanted to leave. “No, I see he’s not here,” Trisha said again a little sharper.
              She nearly ran from the building only to stop when she saw that Mitch was no longer tied where she left him.
               Her legs shook and her voice grew shrill as she called his name thinking that Mitch might have run out into the traffic. Trisha looked down the street, but she saw no trace of him. She rushed to the busy intersection. At the corner, Trisha strained to see him. But Mitch was nowhere in sight. Mitch never ran away and he always stayed where she told him to. Many times she tied him outside the food market on Seventh street.
              Horrible thoughts raced through her mind. The traffic on the street rushed past her. Not used to streets quite this busy, the noise and traffic might have frightened him enough for him to run.
              People stared, but she did not care. Trisha asked a few of them if they saw him. Those that answered said no.
               She ran back to the mission to look again. She almost expected him to be wagging his tail there waiting for her. But he wasn’t. Her duffle bag sat on the sidewalk by itself. A couple of people passed by going into the mission. She noticed that the orange truck was out front double-parked. Trisha went down the snowy side alley between the mission and a square three-story house next to it. She called Mitch’s name and whistling for him even though his paw prints were not in the snow. In the back, there were seven cars in the parking area behind the building. The doors to the garage behind the house stood ajar and the snow in front of it was ice encrusted. Mitch would come if he heard her, but Trisha picked her way over the ice to look inside the garage anyway.
              A man came down the alley. He was the same one who got out of the orange truck and spoke to her about Mitch earlier. Then she remembered. When she came out of the mission his truck was gone.
Seeing her in the yard he stopped. “What do you want?” he sneered. “This is my yard.”
              “You remember my dog earlier?” Trisha asked, pointing toward the street. “I tied him outside the mission. He’s missing now.”
               From the street, car horns began blasting. The man smirked at her. She noticed him closely now, with his rumpled clothes, and unshaven face, but his sarcastic demeanor gave Trisha the creeps.
              “No,” he murmured, turning to go into the house. “Your dog isn’t here.”
              “Well, my dog was tied out front. You and your truck were there when I went in. Did you see what happened to him?” Trisha said slowly, trying to sound calm.
              “No,” he snarled and went into the house.
              Trisha looked around at the cars in the parking lot. Then the man came out again nearly dragging a dirty looking beige dog struggling on a leash.
              He stopped and glared at her, laughing, “Does this dog look like yours?”
              He continued going down the alley toward the street all the while the small dog struggled, it’s head twisting, tail down. A sick feeling engulfed Trisha. Some tears ran down her face. Trisha wiped at them and hurried after the man. Thoughts were beginning to make a picture in her mind. That man’s truck had been moved when she found Mitch missing. Mitch was small for his breed and did not bite. This guy could pick Mitch up and throw him in that truck, she reasoned.
               At the truck, the man turned and noticed Trisha following him. She met his stare and waited for him to open the back of the truck. She wanted to see inside it.
              He gave the leash several hard pulls then grabbed the small dog’s collar and through clenched teeth, he said to the dog, “Get over here.
   “Leave that dog alone,” Trisha shouted.

Animal Lovers here!

JD's Artwork!

www.flickr.com
Jd (Jan) Holiday's itemsGo to Jd (Jan) Holiday's photostream

MY SITE!