Jackie was the “coolest cat” on the street. All one had to do was ask him. Slicked back hair, a pack of Luckies folded neatly in the sleeve of the white tee shirt, and he drove a 1941 Ford Coupe, pronounced coo-pay. I would sit on the curb both feet firmly planted in the gutter, (today referred to as a rain channel) elbows on my bended knees and my chin resting in my cupped hands. Only with my eyes would I follow traffic. Counting cars as they passed. One, two, three, sometimes reaching the twenties. Then it would happen. Jackies car would appear directly in front of me slowly travelling down fourth street. He”d look both ways, make a rolling stop and pull into the driveway, which was shared by the adjacent building, then stop. By now I’d be on my feet awaiting the daily question, ” Carlootch, you wanna drive?” Jumping and with a broad grin I would run around the front of the “coo-pay” to the open door where Jack would hoist me to his lap and close the door. “Okay, cuz, you steer and I’ll work the pedals.” Nervously I would firmly grab the steering wheel and with clenched teeth follow Jackies instructions. “To the right, no the other right, Lootch.” Slowly we crept down the concrete path, “a little left, cuz” as I spotted our destination. “Okay, turn, turn, turn hard that way,” he ordered pointing to the right. I grunted and winced as my right hand crossed over my left, when the car and its cargo finally reached a point behind the apartment. “Great job bro, as usual, now I’ll take over.” I scrambled to the passenger side of the seat as he backed the car into the open garage. He exited the car and waited for me. We walked together, two pilots. “You’ll be a great driver someday,” he said as he rubbed the top of my head. ” Hey, tomorrow I’m going to the gas station to get some fuelation for the spark pluegs, you wanna go?” “Oh, yeah, Jack, can I drive.” “No license Lootch, sorry.”
I always thought I was pretty big for six years old. Oh, well, maybe when I grow up he’ll come in my car for a ride.
As you can tell Jackie was my cousin and spoke the language of the day. Daddio, cool cat, neat-oh. How impressed I must have been “steering” the car. My nephew “drove” my car. He’s thirty now. “Hey, Joe, unc needs a lift. Can you pick me up?”
By Carlo Orlando©