Tuesday, April 05, 2016


You know you’re Italian when you have an aunt Angie, Rose, Tessie or Marie. Perhaps an Uncle Joe, John or Gaspar, Dominic or Nick. You might even have a non-Italian relative, someone who was adopted long ago by the family and he/she forgot to say goodbye.

I had an uncle called: Zio Felice. He was about 4’2” and with his long mustache stood very tall in family circles. The story about him when he came over from the other side was that there was no macaroni in America. This upset him very much since he ate it everyday of his life. He was about to grab the railing of the ship and hoist himself over to swim back to Italy.

Being as short as he was didn’t deter him from a good argument, with his bossy voice and being the older brother of Grandma Frances. He was the final say in family matters, that is if grandma were to listen. Once I caught them in a private conversation in whispering Italian, her hands were flying, his hands were flying, it looked like an audition for the Golden Gloves!

He dressed everyday for success. He had a grey fedora, grey suit, black tie and brown shoes, like he just stepped out of Meat Cutters Illustrated.

He once visited my parents house when I was still in high school and a bit of ‘oo facima’. It was a Saturday morning and mom and dad were out grocery shopping. We weren’t expecting him but my aunt Angie (noted above) called to say to expect a carload of hand wavers to arrive, one being Zio Felice and one being Grandma. I stood sentry at the front door and soon the motorcade arrived. Out stepped the notorious mind benders, and ceremoniously approached the front door. I didn’t know what protocol was since I never saw them arrive together! The visit was the official tour of our new house, fresh from “oo Brookuleena” (Brooklyn) by the powers that be.

I escorted them through the house, showing off the latest in-door plumbing, boxes of pasta and where we slept. Finally, Zio Felice wanted a tour of the grounds. Out we went into the front yard, where we walk about a dozen feet and Zio Felice stops, his hand out.

“A Whatta hew do hover here?”

Me, aspiring to go on to higher learning said in clear English: “Huh?!”

He draws a circle with the toe of his brown shoe wide enough to about a 2-foot diameter.

“Nowa here, hew digger a hole, an a hew putten inna da flagga pole, nice. Den, hew planta da flowers, nice a.”

Being a young whipper snapper with visions of Hell when Dad found out my suggestion said:

“And you put a picture of Garabaldi at the foot of the pole?”
He must have had aspirations for college too, he said: “Huh???”


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