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This is a picture of my mom, Clementine Madden, whose 11 brothers and sisters nicknamed Lena growing up on North Georgia Avenue in Atlantic City, NJ.  Her picture had been tucked away in a closet atop a chest of drawers in our oceanfront condo apartment in South Florida. 

My dad, William J. Madden, was a concert violinist and orchestra conductor in “The World’s Playground” as Atlantic City was known in its pre-casino heyday, which is where they raised me, not far from Monopoly’s most expensive blue properties, Boardwalk and Park Place.

His picture was on a night table in a spare bedroom for years until one day I decided to move my dad and the quintet he led at the now demolished Traymore Hotel in Atlantic City more center stage . . . into our sun-filled living room at The Chalfonte in Boca Raton.

And why not, he was accustomed to being in the limelight as a virtuoso violinist who studied at Juilliard School of Music in Manhattan.  He rose from the first violin section in The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra to performances at Carnegie Hall in New York to conducting his own orchestra in weekly summer concerts for jam packed open houses on Garden Pier,  in that magical resort Dick Haymes sang about . . . romantic enchantic Atlantic City. Down on the old New Jersey shore! 

When not conducting, dad was leading his ensemble at the Traymore where he met and fell in love with my mom, which was the beginning of me, their only, very spoiled child. 

When I was still in junior high school, they separated and remained apart until my dad came down with Parkinson’s Disease and my mom took him back to where we were then living in Ventnor, NJ., near another place that became the name of a Monopoly property, Marvin Gardens. 

Dad finally succumbed to Parkinson’s that had destroyed his violin playing and undoubtedly his will to live. He was only 68 when he passed, considered only middle aged, bordering on almost youthful to many condo dwellers in Florida.  

Sometime after that, I brought my mom down to where I was living in Palm Beach, FL. where she lived out her final years.

Why had it taken so long to unite their pictures? 

I don’t really know. I loved them both.  Fittingly, her picture was now in a larger frame than his as he had enough attention showing off his talent everywhere we lived, from Mexico City, to Galveston, Texas, to Atlantic City where he was musical director of the stately Traymore on the famous boardwalk.

While he took bows, my poor mom did the grunt work making sure his tuxedos were pressed to the max and seeing there was ample Dr. Ellis Wave Lotion to paste his black hair back with that sheen he liked each night before trotting off to perform for the wealthy set.

Each night, he’d do his four-hour gig at the Traymore first in the prestigious lobby, then the quintet would adjourn and reassemble in the elegant dining room where for a while I was a busboy, stressing out his vibrato out of fear I would drop a tray atop a guest’s head.

So now, once again, they’re side by side atop a long cabinet in our living room as they should have been long ago had their son come sooner to his senses. 

Welcome home, mom and dad. You look so great there. 

I owe you both this wonderfully rewarding, exciting time we call


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