Saturday, October 03, 2015



Finding interesting people in life is a great gift from the Almighty. I don’t always find them within the family but sometimes outside that realm.

There was Uncle Zio Felice, Zia Madelena, my grandmother and the list can go on. Characters each one with a loveable Italian accent when they spoke English or at least tried.

If you went into the Italian neighborhoods, you would meet them standing and sitting outside their apartment buildings, shouting greetings in both Italian and broken English, with a smile on their eyes.

There was Pop who sat on his chair in his small front yard in a sleeveless undershirt and brown slippers, watching the world go by, there was Sloppy John the vegetable stand owner who hated little kids, with me on the top of the list.

A couple lived across the street from my family on the top floor, three stories up. All day long they sat by the window in the summer, arms folded leaning on the windowsill. The kids on the block called them the ‘Lamp Shades’ because they were a pair and seemed somewhat nosey.

It was decided that we kids would play a trick on the Lampshades, and staged a fight that must have convinced the two to come down and break it up. That being the idea, once ran down to stop this bogus fight, we would all be gone by the time they hit the streets.

A pizzeria nearby my home employs an interesting character that comes to mind, straight off the boat. Born in Calabria, when you enter the shop, there he is behind the counter taking and giving orders of food, taking payments and lending a wonderful air of happiness to the process, arrayed in his T-shirt and white apron.  Customers stand in line and unlike the ‘Soap Nazi’ on the Jerry Seinfeld show of the 90’s: Carlo is affable and gregarious. A smile brightens his mischievous face, his voice loud and yet he is graceful in demeanor.

One day I entered after phoning in my order, which was somewhat complicated. I told him who I was and he put out about three brown paper bags. Concerned that everything was correct, I started to ask quick short questions of the order. He looked at me from behind the counter and said:

“EH! Don’ta worry, be ahappy!”

He could have given me Chinese food by mistake, and I would be happy!

And so my friends: “EH! Don’ta worry, be ahappy!”


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