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 Michael 1 day old
1 day old
Grandma holding Michael April 18, 1954
My grandmother Anna
April 1954
July 1955 Cool!
Was I Cool or What!
July 1955 Cool!
My grandmother Mary
Easter 1960


Michael George Smigelsky
(July 21, 1953 - )

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
So here are some pictures and what has become
many words.

Mike, Rosella & Michael
Easter Sunday April 18, 1954

First Birthday
My First Birthday Party - July 1954

My earliest memory is from when I was about 4 years old. I was in the hospital twice. First for bronchitis and shortly thereafter to have my tonsils removed. My memory of it is merged into one very traumatic experience.
I remember my bed being by a window and looking out, seeing my parents leaving the hospital. It was the first time I had been separated from them overnight and felt abandoned.
I also remember the mask being placed over my nose in the operating room, the smell of the ether and a feeling of suffocation.
On the other hand, once I got home it was great! I could have all the ice cream, jello and ginger ale that I wanted.

I went to first grade in Beaverdale.
I don't have many memories of my first year of school. But one thing I do remember is going to Aunt Irene’s for lunch with Sharon and Angie.
We were allowed to have whatever we wanted, usually Lebanon bologna sandwiches, but occasionally we'd have potato chip and mustard sandwiches.

And we kids will always remember Uncle Rabi coming by what seemed like every Saturday afternoon to take us to a matinee movie and buy us soda pop and popcorn.

For 1 year, 4 months and 17 days, I was an only child.

On December 8, 1954 my brother John was born.

Michael holding John
April 1955 Holding my baby brother John


1961 School Picture
Graduation Picture

In the summer of 1960, dad took me and John to New York to stay with our maternal grandparents who had moved there in 1958. Dad then went back to Beaverdale to be with mom who was about 8 months pregnant.

After our sister Roseann was born on August 13th, the three of them came to New York and we moved into an apartment in Great Neck.

For the next ten years we would spend part of every summer back in Beaverdale visting Baba and Aunt Helen.

From 1960 until 1964 we lived in two different apartments in Great Neck. During this time, my second sister Denise was born on November 3, 1963.

In 1964 my parents bought a house in Old Bridge, New Jersey and the family moved for the last time.
It was also during the summer of 1964 that we drove cross-country to California to visit dad’s sister Ann and her family. I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time, we went to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm and went to Tijuana, Mexico. But oddly, the thing that struck me the most was that no matter where you went in Las Vegas, there were slot machines!

Living in Old Bridge can only be described as “culture shock”. Beaverdale and Great Neck had been towns. There were stores, places to go, things to do; and all within walking distance.

Old Bridge was like living in a wasteland. You had to go to and from school on a bus; most school friends lived nowhere near you; nothing was within walking distance; to go anywhere, you needed someone to drive you. I hated it!

So after the school year ended, I spent the summer of 1965 campaigning for permission to live with my grandparents in Great Neck and go to school there.
Dad was easy, “It’s up to your mother”.
Mom was a tough cookie; it took almost the entire summer coaxing, cajoling, begging and whining before she finally caved in and said yes. In September I was back in civilization enrolled in Great Neck North Junior High School.

It was while I was living with my grandparents in Great Neck that my third sister Deborah was born on February 14, 1968.

Throughout high school I was a straight A honors student. I ran varsity cross-country, winter in-door track and spring track. I frequently took the train into New York City with friends. In my junior year I took several Advanced Placement courses and was accepted, early admission, to New York University for the 1970 Fall Semester.

College was very different from High School. All of a sudden, I had to study and do much more work to maintain my grades. But the biggest surprise was that college professors had egos; and I learned it the hard way.

When I got my first semester transcript, there was a glaring error in the grade for one of my courses.
To my knowledge, my grade should have been an A- but the transcript showed an F. When I went to the professor to point out the mistake, she replied:
“That’s not an error. You scored very high on all my tests and your class participation was exceptional, when you were there. The problem is that most of the time you weren’t there. You skipped too many of my classes so I failed you for non-attendance.”

Michael with John and Roseann
Me, Roseann and John
December 1960
Me and Denise
Me and Denise
September 1976

Michael holding Deborah
Me and Deborah
Summer 1970

During the late 60’s and early 70’s I was active in the anti-war movement. I spent many weekends in Washington demonstrating and protesting at the Capitol and White House. I would ultimately register for the draft as a conscientious objector.

Stella Patsalides
Stella Patsalides

The next semester of college was by far the best and an experience that had a great influence on the rest of my life!
I received permission from Margaret Sander, chairman of the German Department, to study abroad during the second semester of my freshman year. I would attend the Göethe Institut in Prien am Chiemsee, Germany.

I left New York on January 23rd, 1971 and returned on June 15th. During my time in Europe I was in Iceland, Luxembourg, West Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland and England.

My 4 months at the Göethe Institut were an incredible learning experience, but it is the fun that we had that remains most in my memory.

Prien is located in southern Germany in the state of Bavaria, about half way between Munich and Salzburg, Austria. It lies on the southern shore of the Chiemsee (the largest lake in Germany) in the shadow of the Alps.

The majority of the students were from Third World Countries and there were only a handful of English speakers. So we were forced to speak German since that was the only language we all had in common.

Although we all lived with a German family, all of our meals were taken together. Breakfast was at the Institut but we were given vouchers for the prix fixe lunch and dinner menus at a local restaurant. However, we soon discovered that if we skipped a meal we could combine 2 vouchers and order things à la carte. Our favorite was grilled trout.

The school day was 8 AM to 6 PM (with 3 hours for lunch) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; Tuesday and Thursday 8 AM to noon with the afternoon free.
In class we were taught High German, but outside of school the locals all spoke the Bavarian dialect of German. So as students, we became proficient in both.

One of our free afternoons each week was laundry day. A group of us would take the train to Salzburg, drop-off our dirty clothes at a laundromat, explore the city, pick-up our clean clothes and get the train back to Prien.

The second free afternoon was always a toss-up. If the weather was good, we would go sailing on the Chiemsee. Other frequent options were taking the train to Munich, hiking or picnicing in the Alps or visiting local historical sites.

My best friends at the Institut were Stella Patsalides from Cyprus and John Bloch, a fellow NYU student. For our very first picnic, a few of the guys got together to decide who would bring what - salami, cheese, bread, beer, wine, etc. When we got to the picnic site and began unpacking what we each had brought, everyone stopped in amazement as Stella unpacked her bag. She had brought steamed shrimp, lemons and champagne; we learned this was everything she would have taken on a picnic in Cyprus.

For Easter weekend, some of us travelled to Vienna.
During intra-semester break, 3 of us hitch-hiked to Spain. It was on this trip that I first saw the Mediterranean from Sète, France.
One weekend I travelled to Brussels alone to visit a friend from High School who was studying there.

April 1971 - Prien am Chiemsee
April 1971 - Prien am Chiemsee

After the semester was over, I travelled through Germany for a few weeks before returning to New York.
By this time, my german was so good that if I spoke Hochdeutsch (high german) in the south or Bayerische (the bavarian dialect) in the north, even Germans thought that I was German.

My sadness over this wonderful experience and adventure coming to an end was severely compounded 2 days before my return to New York.
It was a dreary, rainy day and I was at the home of friends, Margaret and Volkmar Sander, in Wald Amorbach. I called New York to provide details for my return flight when I was told that my grandmother Mary Smigelsky had died. It was the worst news I have ever received; I was devastated and cried more than I ever have in my life.
Not knowing what happened, but sensing the depth of my grief, Margaret put her coat on and left the house. When she returned, soaking wet from the rain, she presented me a bouquet of roses she had cut in the garden.
I will never forget Margaret for all the kindness, understanding and guidance she has given me. It has lasted a lifetime!


In the fall of 1971, I resumed my studies at NYU at the Washington Square Campus.

The 70’s defined my generation. Sex, drugs and rock ’n roll was how we lived. Our music ran from psychedelic and metal to glam rock. Many close friendships that began during this period continue until today. I won’t mention any names; you all know who you are!

On February 2, 1972, the draft lottery drawing was held to determined the order in which men born in 1953 were called to report for induction into the military. My birthday, July 21st was number 5 in the lottery.
However, before I was drafted (in which case I would have sought asylum in Canada) my draft board, rather than processing my conscientious objector status, gave me a student deferment; a status Congress had eliminated in 1971.

In 1974 I got my first apartment on St. Mark’s Place in the heart of the East Village. I would live in various apartments in this neighborhood for the next 24 years

In 1974 I also got a dog. A beautiful Irish Setter who I named Christopher.

In June 1975 I received my Bachelor of Arts from the University College of Arts and Sciences at New York University. My major was Germanic Languages and Literature with minors in Psychology and Secondary Education.

After graduation, I decided to spend the summer of 1975 in Europe.
First, I stopped in Munich to see Margaret and Volkmar Sander. Then to Salzburg to visit Stella who was continuing her studies there. Next, back to Munich before flying to Athens.
From Athens I took the ferry to the island of Mykonos. After 2 weeks of beach, sun and fun it was back to Athens for a few days and then to the island of Corfu.
After the weeks on arid, barren Mykonos, Corfu was a lush green paradise. I rented a motorcycle and set off to explore the whole island.
From Corfu, I took a hydrofoil across the Strait of Otranto (between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas) to Brindisi, Italy. Next a train up the entire lenght of Italy, through Austria back to Munich.
I spent several weeks at a friend’s apartment in Munich and then some time touring Germany before returning to New York in August.


Christopher September 1974

Travel would always remain a passion of mine.
Over the years I have been at least once to Iceland, Luxembourg, Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland, England & Wales, Greece, Italy, Vatican City, the Netherlands, San Marino, Denmark, Sweden, Mexico, Lichtenstein, German Democratic Republic, Canada, Czechoslovakia, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Ireland, Andorra, Portugal and Morocco.

Vatican City - 0.2 square miles - The world's smallest state, the Vatican has a population of 770, none of whom are permanent residents. The tiny country which surrounds St. Peter's Basilica is the spiritual center for the world's Roman Catholics (over 1 billion strong). Also known as the Holy See, Vatican City is surrounded by Rome, Italy.
San Marino - 24 square miles - 5th smallest independent country - Located on Mt. Titano in north central Italy, San Marino has 29,000 residents. The country claims to be the oldest state in Europe, having been founded in the fourth century.
Liechtenstein - 62 square miles - 6th smallest independent country - This microstate of 34,000 is located on the Rhine River between Switzerland and Austria in the Alps.
Andorra - 180 square miles - 16th smallest independent country - The independent Principality of Andorra is co-governed by the President of France and Spain's Bishop of Urgel. With just over 70,000 people, this mountainous tourist destination tucked in the Pyrenees between France and Spain has been independent since 1278.
Cuba - 40,543 square miles - slightly smaller than the state of Pennsylvania, Cuba is the 17th largest island in the world and the 105th largest country in the world by land area.
Established on 7 October 1949, the German Democratic Republic (DDR) was reunified with the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October 1990. During its existence, it was approximately the 123rd largest country in the world by land area.
On 28 October, 1918 Czechoslovakia declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. During its existence, it was approximately the 90th largest country in the world by land area.


Back in New York I also met Robert in August of 1974.
He would be my partner for the next 21 years.

Robert is a native New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx. He still doesn't know how to drive a car.

He shared my love for travel, so we were away a minimum of 2-3 times a year. Our most frequent European destinations were Italy, London and Berlin and every October we were in Key West, Florida.

The most significant thing to impact our lives during our 2 decades together was the AIDS crisis. By the late 1990’s, all of our close friends from the 70’s were dead. In 10 years we had visited more friends in the hospital and been to more funerals than most people in their entire lives.



After being on a waiting list for several years, I was hired by New York Telephone in August 1978. I would work for them through divestiture and several mergers for the next 25 years before retiring in November 2003.

Working for such a large company had many advantages and benefits. Through promotions, intra- and inter-departmental transfers I never had the same job for more that 3 or 4 years. You interacted daily with an incredibly diverse work force. The company provided a wide spectrum of training and educational opportunities. And many of my positions involved extensive domestic traveling.

But there were also significant disadvantages. After each merger or whenever cost-cutting was annnounced, it invariably meant downsizing the management workforce which included me in it’s ranks. The worst for me personally was in 2001. Upon arriving at work one day, I was notified that my job was being eliminated. If I did not find another position within Verizon, my employment would be terminated at the end of 30 days.

I sent my resumé to everyone I knew, but thousands of other managers were doing the same. On the 30th day, not having found a job, I said good bye to friends, turned in my Id badge and left the office for what I thought was the last time.
That evening, however, I got a call at home offering me a job working on a huge data warehousing and reporting project. My employment would be guaranteed for at least another year.

I continued working for Verizon for a little more than 2 years. I accepted an early retirement package after working for Verizon for more than 25 years and retired on November 21, 2003.

During my many years at Verizon I kept work and my personal life very separate. I rarely socialized with people from work. There were exceptions, of course, and I remain close to a handful of people, some of whom you can see to the right.


Me and Debbie

Me and Adele

Andrea and Colin
Andrea with her husband Colin


Paris December 1997

I met Louis Philippe in February 1997.
Born in Havana, Cuba, he and his immediate family immigrated to the U.S. in 1969.

As well as a love of travel, we share interests in architecture, art, music, theater, opera and much more.

In 1998 after 29 years in the U.S., Louis and his mother returned to Cuba for 2 weeks to visit their large family still living there.

Joining them for the second week, I met most of his family in San Nicolás de Bari in Habana Province where Louis grew up.

Cuba is by far the most beautiful island in the Carribean with a popluation that is warm, friendly and incredibly ingenious; I’ve never seen a people make so much out of so little!
I just wish the U.S. Government would lift its failed embargo policy which is hurting the people of Cuba more than it is hurting Fidel.

Other memorable vacations have included Holy Week in Sevilla followed by a week in Morocco; Carnival in Venice; Feria in Sevilla; a Memorial Day weekend in Portugal and a Thanksgiving weekend in Berlin.

Click here to view pictures of some of our travels.


Fallingwater July 1997

LA June 2005

Noguchi’s Momo Taro at Storm King Art Center


To the right are Calabaza and Remolino our 2 Mini-Dachshunds.

Calabaza is a Blue & Tan Dapple short-hair. He was born July 29, 2000 in Kansas and came home with us on October 1, 2000.

Remolino is a Black & Tan Dapple long-hair. He was born May 30, 2001 in Oklahoma and was added to the family on August 22, 2001.

In 2005, Calabaza and Remolino appeared in Dachshunds Short and Long: Photographs by Amanda Jones published by Berkley Books, New York. Click here to see some of the proofs from the photo shoot.

Click here to see more pictures of the dogs.
  Remolino & Calabaza
Remolino & Calabaza
  to be continued. . .      

Education Employment
1959-60 1st grade Beaverdale Elementary School
1960-64 St. Aloysius, Great Neck, NY grades 2-5 1962-1965 Like many boys of my generation, I was a newspaper boy
1964-65 6th grade Alan B. Shepard, Old Bridge, NJ
1965-70 Great Neck North Junior and Senior High Schools 1967-1970 Waldbaum’s Grocery Store
1970-75 New York University (University Heights & Washington Square) 1972-1975 Gino’s Restaurants
Triangle Wire & Cable
New York City taxi cab driver
1975-1978 American Nursing Home, NYC
1986-89 NYU Tisch Graduate School of the Arts 1978-2003 New York Telephone
Bell Atlantic
After more than 25 years working for Verizon, I accepted an early retirement package. I retired on November 21, 2003 and have never looked back.
2010 2010 Decennial Census
I currently occupy some of my time as a freelance web designer.

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