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Saturday, October 10, 2015

GRANDPA-LEARNING ENGLISH

Grandpa was amazing: he didn’t care what people thought of him, except for his Francesca. She could make or break the man, but that was his limit. Grandma was a fiery redhead: who had oomph and drive. But Grandpa had his ways, some of them a little not ordinary.

While Grandma worried about the business, the apartments and her trips to Italy and upstate for pilgrimages to the Blessed Mother, Grandpa’s worries were more mundane: the window sill that needed repair, the grape vines in the yard, the furnace and the little things that needed fixing. His tool set was nothing fancy, no power drills or electrical screwdrivers, no reciprocal saws, only old-fashioned tools, hand tools that had lived probably since the 1930’s. Like Grandpa, they were old, tired, maybe not so sharp, but still in good enough working order to do the job.

Grandpa didn’t dress like a dandy, no, he had grey or black work pants that he probably wore three times a week, heavy shoes that were scoffed and unpolished, and a shirt that said: ‘old flannel’ and to top it all off, a grey fedora, that he wore cocked on his head.

But in spite of all this, Grandpa was a man of determination, and he would make his goals no matter how silly it might seem, but like I said, he didn’t care what people thought. For instance…Grandpa wanted to learn English. The rule for his children was no speaking in Italian, not to each other, not to their mother and most of all, not to him. So how did he learn English? His children helped, but someone more reliable was used.

Every afternoon after school, I would put on the TV towards suppertime and there was Howdy Doody. I wasn't the only one watching Howdy, no, Grandpa was too! Howdy Doody! Yes that’s right, Howdy Doody, that puppet with the freckles, you were probably a fan if you are over 65.

Why? Because Howdy spoke to children uncomplicated and directly, what anyone needs to learn a language.

One day I asked Dad when I was about 7 years of age, why Grandpa didn’t speak much English.

Dad: “Well, we will go over there around 4:00 tomorrow afternoon, and you will meet his teacher.”
The next day off we went to visit Grandpa and his teacher. There sat Grandpa on his kitchen chair, legs crossed and arms folded to the sounds of: It’s Howdy Doody time, it’s Howdy Doody time, its time to start to show, so kids let’s go!





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