A Friend's Tribute To Les Cohen
To Les Cohen Dear Editor,
A great citizen of the Rock has recently passed.
This letter is to my fellow Rockaway residents, especially, Dr. Robert "Little Rob" Goldman, Dr. Michael "Mike" Crohn, Robert H. "Bobby" Bram, Martin "Marty" Silverberg and Perris Calderone, who were the closest and best friends to Leslie "The Les" Cohen.
"The LES" was more than the average guy. He was a complex human who danced to the beat of a different drummer and a free spirit, in free flight.
"The Les" was always so happy and comfortable to attend the FRHS Class of '72 reunions and always appreciative of being invited. His best friends would be there and he wouldn't miss out on an opportunity to hang out with and party with them along with the rest of us. I know a little how he must have felt about being among you, as I wasn't a '72 grad either, but always feel comforted by being with our Rockaway friends because of our unique conditions of where we grew up…The Rockaway Peninsula, no better place to have grown up in our era.
We may not have gotten to know him well enough to understand his mindset and methods of survival, but when it comes to individualism, "The LES" had his own style and nobody could duplicate him.
As the Yankees' most outstanding fan, we Rockawanians, and all the millions of fans enjoyed his freedom of movement dancing in the stands at Yankee Stadium, and admittedly the first time I saw his performance on T.V., I cracked up.
He brought a lot of joy and laughter during many episodes with his close buddies. He was a dear friend to those buddies and he was their older friend who was first to drive and so he drove them around when it was time to go out somewhere. He did it gladly, too. Always spoke highly of his friends and wanted the best for them.
I must admit I only saw the cameras focus in on him a few times during the Yankee games I caught in passing, as I started to watch less and less baseball after Thurman Munson died back around the 78/79/80 seasons and then the baseball strike turned me off and the clincher was the rapid rise in tickets for a game, and now I only watch a few games of the playoffs and then the World Series; forgive me LES for I have fallen behind on knowing of your Yankee dancing career and don't know if you have been dancing there lately; But there were quite a number of nights I went to Sarge's Deli on 3rd Avenue between 36 Street and 37 Street in Manhattan at 1 or 2 a.m., and there was "The LES" after a Yankee game, with enough food on the table to feed several people, and he'd sit for a couple of hours working on some lawsuit insurance claims and bills, for the damaged health of his X wife or X girlfriend (not sure); he always invited me to eat with him, offer to pay for my meal - of course I sat down with him for awhile, but couldn't let him pay my way. However, the celebrity of sorts that he was attracted the deli workers and the Yankee fans that went through the deli and he always received recognition.
He attended just about every reunion I attended and I always took the time to catch up with him, dance a bit with him, as it seemed like he was open to all of us dancing with him even though he was a solo act, and I always had a laugh with him as we complimented each other on our dance steps - well of course his were way more than steps, they were moves that nobody will soon forget. I think even our friends didn't quite know how or what to do to dance with him, but he thoroughly enjoyed exhibiting his style of dance.
He was a fun-loving fellow and always would be there for his very close friends, "Little Rob," Michael, Bobby, Marty and Perris and if I am missing someone, please forgive me, but they had their own groove going on and their immediate group will never quite be the same without "The LES," though they will be able to tell some wild and funny stories.
I only hope he did not suffer in his sudden downward spiral, and that if he was troubled at all, that he is at total peace on his new energetic plateau in our universe.
I am putting out the energy that something must be tried to have the Yankees memorialize him, possibly a short video clip that could be put up on the jumbo screen and say a few special words about his dedication as a fan and his dancing entertainment seen by millions of fans of baseball, or a plaque, or a fund for under-privileged kids to attend games every summer in honor of the fun memories he provided the fans, without an ounce of expectation of anything in return.
Maybe David Letterman would have a short tribute on The Late Show with clips of his dancing and his appearance on Letterman's show.
We do have the resources to make this happen in honor of our beloved "The LES." Let's try to make something like this happen folks: put on your thinking caps and call your connections, as we will only be able to visualize his dancing at the future reunions, but his flair should not just fade away, as there are enough archives in the Yankees' possession, that they could put together a nice video of his best moves and title the short: "The Les" Is More...and not to be forgotten!
Leslie Cohen has left the building… Holy Cow, he's outta here.
A Rockaway Star in his own right. Farewell Leslie Cohen and dance lightly in the spiritual realm, as we'll always remember you, "THE LES"...
Keep Dancing LES and keep the music playing, so we'll all know where to find you when we get there...
MITCHELL E. LEVINE