Wednesday, August 20, 2014

That White Boy and Puerto Rican Girl

To Sophia

Sophia was in St. Clair's Thimble donating clothing to the thrift store on Girard Avenue. It's next to Rosa's (pretzels and water ice to live for) and just three doors away from 5th Street. It became St. Benedict's Thrift Shop. (now closed)
St. Clair's Thimble use to be on Girard Ave. near Shackmaxon years ago. My family donated our clothing there too and also supported St Francis's Inn.
Sophia spoke softly and presented a bag full of clothing. She pulled some tops out onto the table to show the store keeper that words really do have smiles. She was a joy to watch.
I wanted to get in and out of the shop before I figured out that I was getting stupid. You know, girl stupid.
She was pretty and I was, how you say, skazzy. Oh! Scuzzy looking. My face had a good day. No pimples on the battlefield. My long hair was nowhere near a mirror before and during when I was noticed. I just had to meet that girl.
"You should grab 'em before someone else does", put a stunned smile on the shop keepers alerted face. She replied and said something and something else and something while looking at both Sophia and me. I wasn't listening.
Sophia's skin was a soft flawless brown with hair that just barely brushed her shoulder. She stood with her head not too high or lower than the calm. She looked at me and the shopkeeper with a smile and even when she spoke her closing words, "Good-bye."
I, my mind, my total existence screaming, "WHAT!" She's walking to the door. I got a bag of clothing. The door is closing and she's on the pavement. The smiling shopkeeper is talking to me. Sophia's walking down the street. I don't know. I left the bag on the table and opened that door. I'm not stupid.
Gone With The Wind, I said, "May I walk with you?" She said, "Yes." She told me her name was Sophia.
Her eyes, my eyes became the eyes we all want to look into. It happened that fast. We were trying so hard not to be giggling. I was the lucky one because I couldn't see how my hair was shape shifting around in the breeze. She did and still we walked together. It was fun conversation. She was easy to be with.
I asked if I could walk her home. Sophia saw what was not allowed. Her father. Her Mother. Her family. It was the late 1960's. "No." she said. I couldn't hear what else she was saying. I was listening to something else.
"I want to see you again." "You're nice." She looked at me. Her eyes, my eyes became the eyes we all want to gaze into. The silence was a billion years a second of each of it's passing.
We started laughing. We would meet at Front and Master St tomorrow around 6:30 after diner.

We met and spontaneously found Elvis.

Kiss my quick, while we still have this feeling.
Hold me close and never let me go.
'Cause tomorrows can be so uncertain
Love can fly and leave just hurting
Kiss me quick because I love you so.

What a night. The moon was bright. The night was alive with stars. I reminisce and fill with desire. Just the thought of her lips. She could kiss.* We had all of this even before we really spoke to each other. "Hi."
We walked under the El and she let me hold her hand. Sophia started to giggle and laugh and then we kissed some more. This kiss was slower, slowly into a long embrace. We both knew who we are. We didn't need any help to understand any of this. Her eyes, my eyes became the eyes we all want to find a way too. We started smiling and talking as we continued our walk. 
We were hidden. We had to be hidden to find what other's wouldn't or couldn't see. I tend to think people weren't looking at all.  What a night. We both knew who we are.
We would meet in two days. I didn't care if we couldn't phones each other. We would meet in two days.
Two days to betrayal. Sophia's father over-heard her girlfriend tease her about her boyfriend. A white boy! Two days passed and I waited for her. 
Sophia couldn't stay. Her father keeps hollering at her. He's mad as hell because it's spreading around the family. A white boy! "You better not!" "Where are you going?" He said he'd go looking for her. She lingers for a kiss slowly into an embrace. We hold this moment to say good-night.
We will meet four days from now.
I couldn't wait so I just started walking where I thought she might be. I didn't need any help understanding any of this. Maybe I would walk down her street. This sucks but why do I have a smile on my face? Talk about getting stupid, you want my autograph?
We were meeting on New Market St around eleven. It was a nothing kind of Saturday morning oblivious to chicanery, safe passage, forbearance of the heart. Even the way I say things is changing. She's running. "They saw me." "They're coming." "They'll beat you up." My God, we kissed. We held each other in a kiss. I saw a tear.
We had company and I started to think I'd come up with something. Two four door cars and out pops eight guys. You didn't have to count to know it. Sophia goes right to her father hoping to protect me. He grabs her by her arm, her bicep, upward. "Don't you hurt her." I pointed my finger at the father as two guys slammed me against the wall and held me there. The father let her go and motioned to get in the car. I never saw her again. Got off with a warning, me and Elvis.

"Such a Night"

"But before that dawn, Yes before that dawn...Such a night."

true story by roman blazic_all rights reserved



Monday, August 4, 2014

Learning Curse Words

A Childhood Memory

My father's 100th birthday is August 9th. He passed away in January 2000. I always find myself with a flood of memories of the time we spent together. I went just about everywhere with him as a child right up to his final days. Something sparked this memory from back in the late 1950's when I was still holding his hand to cross the streets.
My father was able to barter for most anything that was needed for the family. It was during the weekend that dad would make his rounds if he wasn't working over time.
Dad had his car repair work done at a garage on Westmoreland St in the Port Richmond section of the city. (Philadelphia) The owner of the garage and the other mechanic were grumbling so loud that you could hear them a few doors away from the shop. They were working on something. It might have been the breaks on one of the wheels. Something either wouldn't come off or wouldn't fit back on the wheel. The owner didn't want to be bothered with anything or anyone but he had to stop. Dad had something he needed. The owner thanked him and I remember him saying, "How the hel..heck did you find this?" He caught his words because I was there. He asked dad to hang around for a few minutes and went back to his task.
An older black man worked in the shop to sweep and clean up what ever was needed. Dad rummaged through the work bench and an assortment of tool. Dad also started a conversation with the black man. It was about baseball and they saw eye to eye about them late 1950's Phillies.
The owner and other mechanic were now having a conniption because they weren't any closer to fixing the problem. The owner slammed his tool to the floor in frenzy moment and told dad he can't stop now and wanted dad to come back this evening. I clearly remember what he said next. "I'm paying that nigger." There was a long silence. Dad just looked at him. The owner lowered his head, shrugged his shoulders with a short arm gesture, and softly said to come back a little later. They understood each other and shook hands as we were leaving.
Dad and I started walking back to the car. Dad was steamed in his thoughts and slowly shaking his head no, back and forth. Dad took my hand as we crossed the street but stopped in the middle and looked me in the eye and said in a firm voice, "You can't argue with a bigot."
It wasn't a curse word but maybe it is.

memories of roman sr and roman jr_all rights reserved      

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fishtown: A Special Report

The Fish News Network

Welcome to the Fish News Special Report. I'm Connie Fuss. Today we take a look at the effects of gentrification in Fishtown through the eyes of one long time resident, Sonny. You will hear the candid thoughts of Sonny as he reflects on the continuing changes in his neighborhood.
We simply posed one question to Sonny. How has gentrification effected you? We then let the camera roll without interruption. Here's Sonny from Fishtown.

"lawdy, lawdy it aint rite." "you'unt think it happen here..but it come heer." "I...I kin heer it ..I can see Tom Hanks, you know dat baseball movie, Tom Hanks standin at the dugout tellin dem baseball players, "Aah come onnn." "White people don't get jentrefried."
"we did." "we all got gentrefried." "what a funy word." "dey call it dat!" "but dey aint railly knowin wut dat word mean." "wut it do to people."
"dem folks, a lot of dem, a lot of dem dount have no family, no kids, dey aint go no church, no friends dat dey grow up wit, call heer home an dey cant live heer no more." "lawdy, dey dount think about dem thangs, dem thangs wen dey have kids." "dem kids, if dey hav any, dey hav to move too, dey wont be affordin to live heer eeder." "dats what make fishtown solid, the genration." "we'in look out for each udher rich or poor."  "we look out fore each utder makes fishtown solid."  "dey aint a looking out fo no one but dem selfs."
"dey make fun of us cause we pass our home to our chil'ren for little or nothin." "they meen people puttin us down, " "dey make the naiborhood better...dey say dat...why dey move heer because we make it nice, we made it safe to bring up a family." "lawdy, dey hav der head up der backsides." "dey don't wanna heer dat." "dey only heer dem selfs braging." "deyn't listen, deyn't talk a to no body but dem selfs."
"dem conmitey people and all der conmiteys and not a thang for poor peole to hang on to." "dey just happy dey got thears and not a peep 'bout dose who strugel cause of home taxses." "dem taxses are crazy now." "dey aint thinkin bout dat." "I hope dey do'nt loose a job." "dey be movin to."
"new house, they ugly paper plate house an wo'nt las 20, 30 yeers." "trow away houses like a, like a ciggeret ligter" "my new naibor show me his compuder and da web of dem conmitey type people." "it look good, lots of nice thangs dey sayed." I say to ken, he nice, who dees people on da conmiteys?" "we look, and look, and a look sumore." "aint no body deer." "dey muss be goast." "no names, aint no body deer." "but dey suren hav lot to say." "dey hiding?" "look you self youn't find dem eeder"
"dey find out if dey live long like me." "jentrefried!" deyn't no wat dat word mean." (camera fades out)

A changing neighborhood doesn't always change for the good of everyone who lives there. It's about what Sonny was saying of the less financially fortunate having to pull up their roots of the generations that helped make this neighborhood so attractive to others. Now they are left out, as Sonny would say "gentrefried", because progress tends not to know the lives it effects regardless of the results.

I'm Connie Fuss, Fish News Network Special Report.

lampoonery by roman blazic