NY Writer Denis Hamill Congratulates Firm & Attorney Stephen Murphy

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

By Denis Hamill of the New York Daily News

A belated holiday card (no stamp req'd)
Tuesday, January 15th 2008, 4:00 AM

Illustration by Isaac Lopez

Don't blame the letter carrier.

The day after New Year's all my holiday cards came back marked "INSUFFICIENT POSTAGE." Sorry. I realized I'd used 37-cent stamps. (At least that's the B.S. story I'm floating this year.)

I'm a fight fan so I love to start a New Year by sending cards to brawlers. There's one here for John Duddy, the tough-as-nails middleweight boxer from Derry, Northern Ireland, who lives in Queens Village and does his morning road work in Juniper Park.

Speaking of fighters, here's one for Jack Moran, of West Islip, a tough old Marine who fought in the Pacific theater in WWII and is still marching after triple bypass, prostate and lung cancer operations, going deaf from an aneurysm, and recently breaking his shoulder in a fall.

And for another fighter named Janet Fash, chief lifeguard at Rockaway Beach, who fights the brave whistle-blower's fight against the entrenched mummies of the permanent government of the city's patronage-riddled lifeguard service operation.

And another for Siobhan Byrne O'Connor of Bayside, who walks the Writers' Guild picket lines with co-workers from "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." Before the strike O'Connor penned a powerful, gut-wrenching episode that deserves an Emmy, based on those kids who were gunned down in a schoolyard in Newark.

One here for Lenny Sessa, who throws the best holiday party for underprivileged kids in Queens at Leonard's of Great Neck every year. Another for Mary Upton, who should see a bench memorial in her husband's honor by this spring on the Cross Island where he was senselessly murdered in 2006.

For Betsy Seidman, who told me about York College's Male Initiative Program that helps inner-city guys fulfill college dreams. Another card for Jonathan Quash, who runs this terrific program.

Here's another holiday greeting for the Mets. Maybe this card came back because it wasn't gold-embossed now that they've raised ticket prices 20% and named the new ballpark after a damned bank!

Here's one for Joan Wettingfeld, the Bayside historian who still writes a terrific column for the Bayside Times. And another for Al Gaudelli, a terrific criminal and civil lawyer, a patron of the arts who has broadened the cultural horizons of fellow barrister Steve G. Murphy and made him a full-blown opera fan. Speaking of Murphy, here's another card for his son Stephen J. Murphy, a terrific lawyer in his own right for Block & O'Toole, who just won $32.7 million for a car-accident victim, the largest nonmedical jury award in Long Island history.

And one for John (Crazy Scondo) Scondo, who runs a terrific comic book/candy store on Francis Lewis Blvd. And one for Jennifer, the bubbly counter lady at Charlie's Grocery on 39th Ave., and for her boss, Sonny; they give FREE coffee to seniors every morning. And for Dr. Ari Goldsmith, who gave a kid I love back his hearing. And for Frank Skala, who keeps fighting, even after he says he hung up the gloves. And a card for Colm and Jackie Freehill, Patty Anne and Pete McGuirk, and Mike and Karen Pender. And a card for Eileen Taylor, principal of Aviation High, who literally tells her kids that the sky is the limit. And another for Nick and Massimo at Il Vesuvio on Bell Blvd., the best trattoria in Queens.

Here's one for Robert Knightly, who published "Queens Noir," a terrific collection of crime short stories set in Queens. (Full disclosure: I wrote one of 'em.)

Here's a special card for Mike O'Malley and all the gang at Shenanigans Irish pub, who threw a fund-raiser for the widow and kids of Derrick Creegan, who died so suddenly from cancer.

There was another card for Clare Reeves of Sacred Heart parochial school in Bayside, who "adopted" a less fortunate Catholic school in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, sending it sorely needed school supplies.

Here was a card I sent to Harvey, the statue of a 6-foot rabbit in Harvey Park, modeled after the one in the Jimmy Stewart film of the same name. Harvey is now my newly adopted imaginary friend, to whom I turned for consolation when the Mets collapsed last year. And whenever human beings let me down in the future, I will return to Harvey Park to talk to Harvey for some much-needed hare-brained advice.

Here's one for Billy Donnelly, who runs Regal Pharmacy in Flushing like an old-fashioned mom-and-pop shop instead of like a bloodless megastore.

I sent another card to the good people of Astoria Park who sent me so many nice notes about the story I wrote in this space about the fall foliage in this little emerald in our midst.

Another card for Kevin Walsh, who opened my eyes to places in Queens in his wonderful book "Forgotten New York."

But my warmest greetings are always reserved for my Daily News readers. Here's wishing you all a great '08.