, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Slice 88 of 365

I watched The Red Balloon yesterday with the kids. I haven’t seen it in probably 35 plus years. It was pretty much the way I remembered it but with more dialog, I remembered it having none at all. We used to watch it in school every year, it was a big assembly and everybody loved seeing it. Well I loved seeing it at least, maybe everybody else just liked the free period.

It’s the only short film to ever win an Oscar for anything outside of the short film category, it won for best screen play.

Becca’s biggest concern was that this little boy (who, FYI, was the director’s son) was running all over Paris by himself. Joey and I both said to her it was a different time. Funny to hear Joey say that when he hadn’t experienced that time. 

I, on the other hand, went on to tell her that when I was a child, still in the Bronx, that I used to take my younger brother down to the playground behind our apartment building alone.  I was fourish and we would go down the two floors in the elevator by ourselves and out the back entrance.

The playground was all blacktop and surrounded by a ten-foot wrought iron fence. around the fence on both sides were benches at about ten foot intervals.  The seat support was made of concrete and the slats were 2x4s painted green.  Inevitably there were elderly people (elderly from the viewpoint of a four-year old that is) siting there talking and feeding the pigeons.

Nobody looked at us funny or wondered where our parents were because they were all our parents. If we were out of line in some way it would get back to your parental unit before the night was through and we knew it.

To me the park looked huge and I do think it was pretty large. I haven’t been back to the neighborhood for quite a while but even when my grandparents were still alive and we used to visit it never occurred to me to check out the playground.  Now I’m kind of curious. I still have relatives there, I’ll have to see if somebody can snap some pictures or there may even already be some online if I google it. Here’s the front of the building, boy I haven’t seen that in many, many moons.

My mother would tell us be home by 5:00 because my dad was home at 5:30 and that’s when dinner was. I didn’t have a watch, my mom said, “Just ask somebody.” So every once in a while I’d look for an adult with a watch and ask the time. Crazy right? I’d never have advised my kids to talk to strangers for any reason but on my mom’s orders here I was talking to multiple strangers

Once I finally got the right time I’d haul my brother off the playground and we’d head upstairs.  

If there were any issues before then we’d go to the building outside our window and scream our lungs out up two floors until my mother opened the window to scream back, “What do you want?”

Part of this memory was spawned from the movie but part is pulled out by a man I met today who bought one of my Craigslist items. He left me a voice mail and before he got to the second word I knew he was from the Bronx or Brooklyn which he confirmed was Brooklyn. He called me kiddo and reminded me of both my uncle Sal and uncle Tony.

Those two have been gone quite a long time but boy did this old timer (need to be careful with that phrase as I quickly approach it) bring them back to life. A little of my grandfather too. I wondered if perhaps he was in witness protection.

Uncle Tony and my grandfather were not exactly on the straight and narrow in that manner and that is definitely NOT the topic for another day.

His name was Claude, not exactly Italian but you could just tell, he was oozing Tony Soprano. He gets me on the phone and asks where I’m from, I tell him Jersey and he says he thought so. He says, “I’m a dago from New York and you’re a dago from Jersey!”

He made me laugh. He was a nice man, talkative, not surprising for an old Italian man.

He didn’t make me miss home but he did make me miss the relatives of my youth whom I wish I had the chance to know now as my adult self. I think there may be only two left now, aunt Helen and her husband Lenny. My cousin’s parents.  Actually they’re my dad’s cousins.

So many holidays and family get togethers with singing, lots of food and broken Italian thrown around.

Good days.

Until tomorrow…