Sunday, April 09, 2017


Carmela Orlando Galizia, a Facebook friend of mine posted the photo shown here and it really rang true for me! Way back in the 1960’s when I was still young, my folks bought a new house with a basement the length and breath of the footprint.

The act of business for poor Dad was an executive or wifely order to finish the basement.

“Anthony, finish the basement!”

Dad looked at me and said: “Come with me.”

When the dust settled and the last of the Italian swear words were said, Mom had her wish, Dad had some momentary peace and I had some blisters on my hands from the help I rendered. We had created a secondary life for the upstairs, Mom was building a nest downstairs! Her dream house would be preserved for all eternity or when the company showed up.

Upstairs, just like the picture shows by Carmela, was a state of the art kitchen, dining room and bathroom, a living room with a color TV console, and brand new furnishings with plastic covers, all spacious enough and brand new. Downstairs was a kitchen and sewing room for Mom, a large section devoted to Dad’s pool table and bar. Dad never drank, but the bar well stocked with every kind of wine, liquor, and bottles of beer one could imagine.

In the basement with its sheetrock walls was a toilet. No, not a bathroom, a toilet. The toilet was the usual blue and pink tiles and floors with Dad’s famous home-made look of cabinets and shelves. There was no reading material allowed unless you took it in and took it out when you were done conversing with Mother Nature.

The pool room with a bar was again a Tony Carpentry dream, shelves and bottles, the mandatory lamp with the drunk holding onto a lamppost and glasses for all the drinking we didn’t do.

But the kitchen… Mom’s laboratory was complete. On the shelves sat all kinds of Italian and American cookbooks, books Mom never consulted, yet she felt that she had to have them. In her drawers and cabinets were all kinds of gadgets for baking, knives so specialized for cutting precisely the same thickness of beef or turkey or even ham.

At the center of her universe in that basement, kitchen stood one item that was absolutely essential, the $300 mixer with all the attachments used to make pasta and baking cakes and cookies. Most women dream of special gifts from their husbands in the line of diamonds or furs, Mom wanted the blender.

And we shift to the small space left devoted to TV. In this area, we had a cheap leather like couch and recliner. Mom would do her reading in the recliner and watch a little black and white TV, while upstairs was this brand-new state of the art console, that not only had a color TV with remote, a record player and a radio! Yes, we were right up there with NASA and the Vanderbilts! It is here that the story gets ugly.

It was a Saturday afternoon in the early summer. I returned home from some event and there was Dad sitting in the upstairs living room watching the Mets in color on his new TV. (He never used the remote because he didn’t realize you needed batteries to operate it. I wasn’t going to be the one to tell him!)

Well, one of my four witchy sisters come in and changes the channel on him while he is watching. I get involved and change it back, all of a sudden, the other three witches descend on their brooms and there is a fight going on, me against them! After it was over my shirt pocket was ripped, my eyeglasses broken and a large scratch down my neck. And Dad? Dad was downstairs watching the old black and white TV.


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