As the fog
rolled in over the docks, a lone figure stood on the pier, dragging on a cigarette and gazing at the Palisades of New Jersey
across the river. It was a long time ago that he and his family would picnic over there at Alpine, NJ, and stare at the
ferries, tugboats, and garbage barges that floated up and down the majestic Hudson River. He thought about his
parents, and tried to figure out how they could have supported and raised ten children - he was still baffled by this, though
he now had his father's notebooks.
His father had been a small-time nightclub singer and supplemented his income by "inventing things". He went by the stage name of
Johnny Stella D'Oro and worked small clubs around, but never in, New York City. He often proclaimed himself
the "Rudy Vallee of New Jersey". It was during one excursion to Whippany, that "Johnny" met a man who would forever change
..."Doctor" Edward Raff was a failed veterinary school student who maintained a struggling "pet shop" (in which
he spent more time doing taxidermy) in town. He had formed theories about the local fauna and had somehow connected rodents,
fish and birds in terms of evolution, concluding that not only were there fish which could live out of water and fly, but
that there were also flying rabbits and swimming pigeons, living far below the oceans' surfaces. Through a convoluted series
of delusional observations and bizarre conclusions, he arrived at a notion that rodents would soon "rule the solar
The "doctor" was sitting at the bar, reading a copy of Weird Tales during the show, and Johnny, after performing what he thought was, a "particularly
stirring and haunting rendition" of The Whiffenpoof
Song, sat beside Raff, who had applauded and was sipping a glass of Ballantine©. Johnny commented about
the cover artwork of the magazine and soon the two were in a deep conversation about inventions, the universe, the
time/space continuum, the theory of relativity, and mostly, the provocative artwork on the cover of the magazine.
Johnny wrote detailed records of this momentous evening in his notebook:
"...Raft (sic) is surely a strange man, yet his ideas make sense. If I am to survive the future, I have to adapt
and ready myself for the new ruling species...is the rabbit the key?...perhaps it is time for a new line of work...does he
smell funny or did someone spill something behind the bar?"
It was more than this chance meeting that prompted Johnny to look for a new line of work. The one-time,
Stella D'Oro©, had grown and
expanded and did not want their biscuits, cookies, and breadsticks associated with this dubious nightclub performer. He had
been advised several times to drop the "D'Oro" ending from his stage name and to simply use his actual name -
"Stella". He decided that he'd rather not sing at all than have to change his stage name because of the
grumblings of one Bronx bakery. Johnny and Raff eventually decided that they would both nibble into the entertainment
industry as rabbits; they could perform at parties, grocery stores and other functions. By wearing the "noble" costume of
the bunny, they would ensure their good standing with their eventual rulers.