Thursday, March 25, 2010

Joe, the Shoemaker and Salvatore

It is the perception...that as one becomes older, the brain loses the capacity to retain the visions of the Present. Somehow, I think it is false and I may be completely off base. But at this moment, I care to believe it. I know almost nothing about computer technology or its language, but did I read or comprehend correctly, that one can retrieve anything you have discarded into the 'trash-bin' of the computer? Goodness gracious! If that is so, then why can't you retrieve from the tired brain, the thoughts that the Present environment deemed unimportant, and quickly discarded them into its trash-bin. I think that all the tired brain needs is stimulation,,,,a trigger of something similarly long past, to bring it back to the present. Let me try to explain what I mean......

On intermittent Wednesdays, the alumni class of Life-Bio meets. And on several occasions of late, one of the members, if she thinks she's late, has rushed into the room, apologizes, and Mary assures her that she is not late. Somehow, on these occasions, I would feel a slight breeze flow past me, but the sensation quickly disappears. It never happened when the other "young ladies' entered the room and calmly sat down with a 'good morning'.

Then just a few days ago, as I was sitting quietly in my chair reading the local newspaper, I dozed off and dreamed. Into my day-dream appears Danita (yep, that's her name), rushes into the kitchen, and exclaims 'Oh, am I late, am I late?' Father gently says 'slow down, slow down. No, you,re not late for dinner.'......and suddenly I awakened by the noise of a para-transit bus backing up.

That was it for me! I really believe that on the few occasions when it seemed I felt the slight breeze at the time of Danita's 'rushed' entrance, that it was the Present trying to connect to a similar 'rushing' pattern in the Past....and when the Present was unable to trigger my memory in the waking state, it endeavored to reach me in the imaginative the day-dream.

To those who have been reading my posts:: Remember when I posted excerpts from Wayne Dyer's IMAGINATION, wherein he mentions that YOU are all the characters in your dreams, whomever or whatever it may be. I believe this to be true. The Danita in the dream was ME...and my Father's 'slow down, slow down' was a way of of reminding me of his conversation with Joe, the Shoemaker.

And here is the reason that I place so much emphasis 'on the slight breeze I felt and caused by Danita's rushed entrance': It is a very fond memory of my dear Father in 1949, a year before he passed away.............

One day my Father came home for dinner after spending a few hours in the afternoon chi-chatting with Joe, the Shoemaker. In those times, to be a shoemaker was considered quite a meaningful profession. Shoes were not easily discarded after the soles were worn out. They were usually half-soled once or twice before the upper leather of the shoe became useless. Joe's store was at the corner of our long block, St. Johns Place, just two doors in from the corner, before it intersected with Nostrand Avenue, which became one of the great shopping avenues in Brooklyn.

Ernie, who never married, lived with my parents in the six-family apartment house they owned. They lived in one of the apartments on the second floor, and I rented from them the apartment directly underneath. I heard three bangs from the pipe in the dumbwaiter shaft; it was the signal that someone upstairs was trying to contact me. I responded, and my Father said: "Elvira, if you have not had your dinner as yet, come up and join us. Ernesto is home too, I have something funny to tell you."

Although many years had passed, we still abided by some of the old traditions. One of them was Mange e Cheto (Eat and Be Quiet) and the other was consuming the usual Thursday dinner which consisted of freshly cooked pasta and last-Sunday's leftovers, including the meatballs and bracioli. Ernie and I were like small children, waiting patiently, and then Ernie: "Come on Pa, what's funny?" Sitting back in his chair and grinning broadly, he said: "Joe asked me a pecular question today. He wanted to know, Elvira, if you had a physical ailment." He stopped because I had a look on my face, my mouth wide open. Still grinning, he continued: "Joe said, you know, Salvatore, your daughter does not walk properly; she runs. She goes past my store , waves to me, and before I can wave back, she's gone. Is there something wrong with her?" At this point, we just could not stop laughing. "And what did you say", Mom asked....and Ernie and I followed with the same question. I said to Joe: "Elvira has been like that since her very young days when she was her Mother's assistant in a grocery store. At about four o'clock each day, the customers would line up in the store to buy food for the evening meal, and it seemed like every customer was in a hurry." And I told Joe: "In order to serve each customer quickly, she hurried from one shelf to another, from bin to bin, from one area of the store to another, to fill the orders and keep the customers satisfied. She's in the same fix today; she goes from one job to another. We are so used to her pace, we don't notice it as different from the norm....and I guess its a habit she will not outgrow until she is an old lady." Turning to me, my Father said: "Joe was greatly impressed today...but we here, Elvira, want you to know that we have been impressed by you since you were a little girl. Haven't we, Arcangela? Now give me a hug and go home." Filled with this display of love and affection from my family, what more could anyone want!

For the young who read this, you may wonder why the customers waited until late in the afternoon to buy food for the evening meal. You are lucky to be born during the last fifty or sixty years. Because, in my time, to buy food in advance presented a major problem. To preserve food for future use, refrigeration is required, and the only accommodation in the 1920's and 1930's was an ice-box, which did not have the capacity to store much food. Several times a week (perhaps it was more frequently; I do not remember) ice man, with a block of ice held together with a pincer and slung over his protected shoulder, would patiently climb two, three and four flights of stairs, to deliver ice for only ten or fifteen cents, depending on the size of the block. He would place the ice in the upper part of the box, In the inside rear was a pipe which fed the water from the melting ice into a pan under the ice box. Every evening before bedtime and every morning, it was necessary to empty the pan under the ice-box to avoid the spillage of water on to the floor.

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I would like to post a tribute to my friend Danita, whose mere 'rush' into a room, triggered a fond memory of my dear Father, as noted above. I'm a bit tired now, but I'll be back after a few restful days. Until then......Goodnight.


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