Thursday, November 30, 2006

Letting The Past Out

And now, through the modern miracle of digital scanning, I present a few more old pics from the battered red suitcase I keep the past in. November has really been the month of old photos, has it not? I'm just asking...

The first two are of my grandfather, my Papou, George Eleftheriou. I don't know what he was thinking there in the first one, fixin' to be the first Greek gaucho, I reckon. I would guess both of these were taken during at Coney Island but at different times; perhaps one in the mid-1930s and the other in the early to mid-1940s. He became a big New York Mets fan later on, would get me and my brother tickets to the games, including free passes to the Shea Stadium's hallowed Diamond Club. I know He worked in a restaurant in Newark, New Jersey, so I guess he had some kind of connection. I remember him sitting in the kitchen of his small apartment in Astoria drinking Rheingold beer and listening to the Mets games on the radio. Once he owned a big house with a yard on 37th street where the entire extended family lived -- aunts, uncles -- then just sold it for the incredibly low amount of $15,000, according to family legend.

The second two photos are of my dad, Don. That first shot with the tiny little shamrock taped to the photo is from 1951. A southpaw and probably a middleweight at that time, he was a boxer in the Navy & Golden Gloves & had a few professional fights. He liked to tell us he was on the mob payroll by age 15 & used to spar with Jack Dempsey, who he did know by the way and who we met a few times at his restaurant off Times Square. My dad was always giving us boxing lessons, even my sister, telling us we needed to know how to defend ourselves. My mother would cringe and hope nobody got hurt.

The picture of my father at the cash register dates from when he worked at a supermarket in Spanish Harlem in the late 1950s. That's what he always called it: Spanish Harlem. Later on he would work at the Coca-Cola factory on 34th Street in Manhattan and suffer two pretty bad accidents on the shop floor. I remember him taking me to visit the plant a few times, and while I was always happy for the free soda, I still can remember how deafeningly loud the place was.

The Internet Cafe here at the Ditmars Boulevard train station charges a mere 2 bucks to scan any 4 items, so look for more kodachromatic blasts of nostalgia coming to WardensWorld in December.

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