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Friday, October 09, 2015

THE STAIN NEVER GOES AWAY


Many years ago while sitting at his kitchen table on a visit, Dad told me a story. It seems that the mob was in the newspaper that day and Dad put down his coffee and pushed the newspaper away looking up in disgust. “The stain never goes away!”

It seems during the depression Grandma was running a successful restaurant. It wasn’t your peas and carrots type, but all the Neapolitan dishes that were so ingrained in Grandma’s makeup. It thrived in spite of the depression and she had a steady clientele.  Pizza orders were taken on the phone, and Dad would deliver them. He lived off the tips and did well.

One day a man came to see Grandma and asked about an empty apartment she had for rent upstairs over the restaurant. A deal was worked out and Grandma started to receive rent every month in cash. There was a steady flow of traffic up and down the steps and Grandma didn’t pay much attention to it.

According to Dad, one afternoon the phone rang and someone ordered a pizza, the address was directly upstairs, an easy tip for Dad. Taking the pizza order upstairs Dad arrived in the midst of an argument between two men, one sitting in a chair and one standing over him. There were other men apparently standing around watching the discussion, when suddenly, the standing man picked up a glass ketchup bottle and came down hard with it on the man sittings head! The bottle broke!

Dad being young got scared and left the pizza on the table without collecting any money and ran downstairs and told Grandma. “Il Mafioso!” Grandma exclaimed.

Within days, Grandma had closed the business and put the building up for sale.

It is taking years for the stain to go away. Unfairly people call Italians gangsters because of a few rotten apples. But if you look at the total picture, you see the wonderful strides these people have made, to cleanse the fabric of prejudice and prove the greatness of our race.

Every time I see an Italian American do something wonderful, be it a doctor, nurse teacher or even politician, my chest swells with pride. They by their dedication dispel the myth of the label forced on us because of our own kind.

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