Wringing memories out of a decades old mind will be challenging enough, putting those memories chronologically nearly impossible, so I will start with what I recall to be my earliest memory of being a nephew to one of my fathers six brothers.
Sitting on the stoop at the entrance to my fathers maternal grandparents home was a weekend pastime. We were entering a historical time of innocence; the 1950s. The United States had soundly defeated imperialistic Japan, and Nazi Germany and Korea was nothing more than a nuisance. Under the watchful eye my uncle Mikie and the tutelage of “Tatootch,” my great-grand father, I was, as a six-year-old, first introduced to the art of snapping the neck of a live chicken, loping off its head and defeathering this future meal very unceremoniously. Good times for me, not so for the chicken.
The ice man coming to the house was another cherished moment. As he approached the house with the huge block if ice lofted on his shoulder, he – at the urging of uncle – would lower the block to the stoop and chip off a sliver for me to lick and suck on. God, that ice was cold.
Those were great times on the stoop. Moments when an inquisitive boy could get answers to some of life’s questions. Uncle Mikie was, and is, a tender and generous man. He had a way of spoiling me, too. The two of us would walk to the bus stop, a nickel squeezed tightly in my hand, climb three steps into the carrier and I would deposit the nickel into a glass box and listen for the coin to drop. That noise was special. It meant we were off to downtown Cleveland for an afternoon at the movie theater. The Ohio, State, or Palace, which one would it be today? Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas, Cinemascope, wide screen. What a thrill. I was a big boy, too. “Be a big boy, don’t talk to strangers.”
Being a big boy for him is the reinforcement rod in the foundation of the life that has made me the man I am today.
By Carlo Orlando©
Photos provided by Georgeann Orlando Butler©