Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chapter 56

Everyone was excited and running around with last minute preparations, phone calls back and forth, exuberant voices, so close to adult timbres, suddenly becoming those of children once again.

They were going.  They were finally going.  They were all going!  It had taken months of planning and saving, the kids using their earnings from the summer before,  as well as Christmas and birthday money to fund their trips.

Amadeo was glad now that his father had convinced him to only donate half the money he'd earned last summer to the Veteran's Home.  So now between holiday and birthday money, plus what he'd saved, he was on his way to the July 4th celebrations at the New York World Fair.

Angelo was especially excited not only to be going back to his old stomping grounds, but his new friends were finally going to see where he came from, and meet his old friends whom he'd kept in touch with as best as he could through letters and occasional phone calls.

Fifteen teenagers and eight adults, minus Mr. Di Marco who stayed behind to see to the animals and farm, were going.  At Angelo's suggestion, Mr. Di Marco had hired interested members of the wrestling team to work the farm over the summer so he wouldn't be overwhelmed with the work.

Paul and John, who couldn't say no to the chance of getting back to New York even for a few days with the prospect of seeing the fireworks, went as well.  New York, in their opinion, had yet to be outdone by anyone, anywhere, in their displays.

It had been a close call with Ethel's parents who took an extreme interest in their oldest daughter going on a long trip with a bunch of boys, only a few of whom they actually knew in person.  The only reason she was allowed to 'hang out' with the other boys, they explained, was because her older brother was with her at all times.  They were very concerned when they were told that Jim, her mother said in an exaggeratedly dreamy voice, would be going as well.

Mrs. Di Marco, Carmie and Terri met with them in person and assured them that they would all be there, so their daughter would be well chaperoned and sharing a room with Mrs. Di Marco who, with six boys, had hearing like a fox.

They left on July first, boarded the train that morning and headed out, excited and happy, giggling and chatting among themselves about the wonder that was New York, which Angelo and his mother and brothers had promised to introduce them to.

New York was everything that Angelo had promised and more.  They finally, after several train changes, disembarked in the Grand Central Station, tired but awed at the size and noise.  The other teenagers, who had grown up in a small town all of their lives, thought about their own little home town train station and grinned sheepishly at each other.

Once outside, Jim nearly toppled over trying to see the top of one of the buildings.  Everyone had a good laugh.  Jim blushed and smiled.  He knew he looked exactly like what he was, a hayseed in the big city, but right now he didn't care.  He just wanted to take everything in.

Ethel and several of the others were snapping pictures left and right.  Mrs. Di Marco had to remind them to save some film for the fireworks on the fourth, or be prepared to spend some of their money on more film.  They tried very hard to take fewer pictures, but the city was fascinating.  There seemed to be something new and exciting around every corner.

Mrs. Di Marco, John, Paul, and Angelo, acted as tour guides, organizing taxi rides or walking expeditions to various places.  That Saturday, the Georgia natives finally met Matthew, Mark and Luke, Angelo's older brothers, who had happily agreed to act as taxi drivers and extra tour guides.

Matt and Martina's children, Joshua and Dominic were adorable.  Their skin a light coffee color and their hazel, mostly green eyes, fringed with dark lashes inherited from their mother.  Angelo had explained in advance about his Moroccan heritage and his brother's brown skin so they were prepared, and no one said anything awkward, though to them he only looked deeply tanned, rather than brown.

Most evenings were spent at Matt's or Mark's houses, enjoying the hospitality of their homes and the antics of their children.  The boys agreed that Matt's wife, Martina, was a goddess, making the woman blush and Ethel's eyes to turn a little green with envy.

Angelo's brother Marco, who preferred to be called by the diminutive of his middle name, Iggy; and is wife Natalia and their kids Peter and Matthew, treated them to a day at the beach.

The kids got into a sand sculpture competition among themselves and all agreed that Peter and Matthew's little house with pine trees in front was the winner, hands down.

The teens asked the  Misters Di Marco to drive back and forth over the Brooklyn Bridge,  'Just once please?!'  just so that they could go home and say they'd done it, snapping pictures out of the car windows as they did so.

When they visited the Di Marco's friends in Little Italy, Milo swore he'd never tasted food as good as what he experienced there.  They'd not only visited a few of the restaurants but had also been fed by overzealous Italian mamas who thought the children were all too skinny.

"I'm not telling Mrs. Witt about this though,"  he said quietly to 'Deo.  "If I tell her anything was as good as her chicken she might stop making it and then where will I be?"

Old friends and new got along as though they'd known each other all of their lives, and everyone laughed when Mrs. Rosetti, enamored by Milo's dimples, kept pinching his cheeks.  Milo endured it stoically and good naturedly, theatrically rubbing his cheeks after they left and asking his friends if there was anything left of his face.

After a trip to Central Park, Jim complained that he'd never look at their little park in their little town in Georgia the same way.  Angelo laughed and admitted that he much preferred their little park, earning mock gasps.

The kids from Georgia, until now, had never traveled far from their homes and had never been to a large museum before.  The town about twenty miles away had a small one that mostly dealt with local history, and they'd been there on field trips for school, or day trips with their parents, but they'd never seen so many museums.

At the first mention of the word 'museum' the boys had been convinced that they were going to be bored stiff until they got to the Museum of Natural History.  The adults actually had to start issuing ultimatums to get them to leave.

It was just as bad at the Guggenheim. The teens had giggled at the name at first, but when they went in the artworks fascinated them.  They spent a lot of time admiring the sculptures and would have stood there staring at them, but the guards began to announce that the museum was closing and everyone had to leave.

Ethel decided to be cremated and scattered in the botanical gardens when she died.  Until then she thought she'd be perfectly happy lying under the flowers and breathing in their scent.  She'd been crushed when Mrs. Di Marco had told her that that wasn't allowed.  She did wonder however, if weddings were allowed on the grounds.

They'd ridden the Staten Island Ferry, and gone to Ellis Island to see The Statue of Liberty close up.

As with the museums, the boys had not wanted to go, and apologized profusely for being so rude once they were there and had seen the New York Skyline and the massive statue. At first they were a little reticent about going to the zoos, their attitude being, if you've seen one animal you've seen them all.  But once they'd seen them they once again didn't want to leave.  Animals they'd only read about lived there.  Animals they hadn't believed really existed were there in flesh and blood.  The platypus habitat fascinated them no end.

All of them admitted that Coney Island was more fun than any of them had ever had in their lives to that point.  They went back to the hotel, sweaty, sticky with cotton candy, sunburned, mildly sick to their stomachs from eating so many hot dogs, and happier than they could ever remember being.

Every evening they returned, loaded down with souvenirs, and all of them had already had to buy more film for their cameras. Especially after a night time trip to Times Square where the sheer number of brightly colored lights and signs dazzled them.

Many of them wondered if they could go back home to their dinky little town after seeing the wonders that existed outside of it, but most admitted after a couple of days that they missed home and that New York, while definitely beautiful, was also overwhelming and they missed their little town and their families.

"One thing for sure, I'm never goin' to Texas."  Jim said.

"Why not?"  was the group's question.

"Man, they say that everything is bigger in Texas.  I don't think I can handle bigger than this."  he'd said, to his friend's laughter.

The last day at the New York World Fair was hot, crowded, and amazing.  Throughout the day Mrs. Di Marco would buy a little of every food available and split it among the children so that they could save some of their money.

The teens smiled and exclaimed over the Unisphere, an open sculpture of the world, surrounded by fountains which cooled off the air immediately next to them.  The antique car ride was a huge success, and the boys loved the Ford Pavilion.  Ethel was fascinated by the airplane exhibit, and they took picture after picture of the replicas of dinosaurs in Dinoland.

They went on the Swiss Sky Ride and the monorail, they watched the blacksmiths and tinkers create amazing pieces.  They visited 'Korean', 'Chinese' and 'African' market places, buying lovely pieces of jewelry or scarves for their mothers and sculptures for their fathers.  Brothers and sisters even got a few toys or souvenirs.

Evening came too soon.  The fireworks and fountain display began at nine.  They were astounding, and the teens watched, their expressions of wonder and amazement once again making them look more like children of five than teenagers. Mrs. Di Marco took pictures of their faces by the light of the display.

Ethel had also slyly taken pictures of the teen's reactions to various things and places which no one knew about until they got back home.  She put together an album showing the animals, buildings, or artwork and their response to it.  They'd all asked her for the negatives so that they could make albums of their own.  She agreed, but only after removing the bulk of the pictures which appeared to be of Jim.

Amadeo had gone with Jim to pick up his pictures of New York the following Tuesday, and found that more than three rolls were pictures of Ethel alone. Ethel looking at the tigers.  Ethel in the gardens, an expression of rapture on her face as she inhaled the scent of the flowers.  Ethel looking out over the harbor with her hair blowing in the wind and the skyline behind her.

Jim had tried to hide them, blushing furiously.  Amadeo just smiled and patted his friend on the shoulder.  They'd been an item for quite some time now, and 'Deo was sure something good was on the horizon for the two of them. 

" 'Dae? I think... I really think... no, I know... I'm crazy about her and I want to marry her." the other boy said with a look of earnestness combined with concern that his friend would object.


"I've got a job," Jim continued as though pleading his case in court, "I can sell my bike and get a decent car, I think. Do... d'ya think she'd say yes?" he asked nervously.


"D'ya think her parents would object?" the boy continued nervously, "d'ya think they'd refuse to let her marry me? How do I convince them that we're supposed to be together?"

"Jimbo, you're both only 17..."

"I'll be eighteen soon! And..."

"And you still have to finish senior year, then you'll go to college..."

"But I'm not, 'Dae. I decided that right after I got my last report card and got Cs and Ds. I'm just not cut out for school. I've always known it. My parents are just happy that I'm passing and don't have to repeat my senior year. I can always get another job," he said nervously.

Amadeo thought for a few moments and finally said, "What about her? Is she going to college?"

Jim shook his head, "Nah, she said she's just gonna keep her waitress job at the diner. Her boss said she could be promoted to assistant manager soon if she keeps up the great job she's been doin'."

'Deo bit his lower lip and replied quietly, "Jim, I don't want to rain on your parade, but there's a lot to being married. Your own place. Bills..."

"Well I ain't gonna marry her tomorrow, 'Dae!" Jim replied with a slight frown, "well, I mean, I'd like to but I have to be realistic, we'd have to save up some money and all that... I have a couple hundred dollars saved already that I put aside just for this, and like I said, if I sell my bike... man I hate to do that but..."

Amadeo grinned in relief, "I'm really happy that you understand that, Jim... that's what I was getting worried about."

"Well, like my dad says, I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed but I learned enough watchin' my own folks, and I think me and Eth could make it." He looked at his friend with a silent plea.

"Just ask her."  he said, patting his friend on the shoulder. "It's like you said, you won't be getting married tomorrow, and I think her folks'd respect you for your honesty."

"But what if they say no?" Jim asked worriedly. 

"Only one way to find out, Jimmy Boy." 'Deo said bracingly, putting a reassuring hand on his friend's shoulder.

"What about you and Ange?"

Amadeo was briefly caught off guard, "What?"

"Are you guys goin' to college?"

Amadeo managed a smile and replied, "Yeah, he's going to a school for the culinary arts, and I'm going to a business school." He didn't mention that he and Angelo had already arranged for an apartment and were going to room together.

Jim grinned and clapped Amadeo on the back, "Good for you. I'm happy for you. I always knew there was more for you than this little town."

Amadeo laughed, "I happen to love this little town, and I'm going to miss it when I'm gone."

"Are you gonna come back?"

'Deo looked thoughtful for a few moments, "Well," he finally replied, "as much as I love it here, there's not much call for what I'll be going to school for, so, probably not for good."

Jim looked downcast. "You ain't the only one, y'know. A lot of the others've decided to move after they graduate college too. A few of them talked about movin' to New York or California. Some of the others can't afford college either but they're talkin' movin' too. It might just be me and Eth left here."

Amadeo smiled and put a friendly arm around his buddy. "You don't have to stay here, you know. There are a lot of jobs for auto mechanics, and if Eth really decides that she likes being a waitress, there are plenty of those kinds of jobs all over the place."

"Let me ask you a question... if you and Ethel do decide to move somewhere, where would you like to go?"

Jim smiled sadly, "We talked about movin' to Colorado at some point, but between my salary and what she makes at the restaurant... I'm not sure when or if we'd ever really be able to go."

"Nothing is impossible, Jimbo." 'Deo said with a smile, "You and she might be here for a little bit while you save up some money, but it's a nice town, you grew up here, you're familiar with everyone and everything around you. I'd say all things considered that it's not such a bad place to live for a little while longer."

"Ya think?" Jim asked doubtfully, looking up at his friend.

"I think." 'Deo assured his friend.

Jim thought about that for a few moments before breaking into a wide smile. "You're right. It really ain't such a bad little place. I can always find another part time job somewhere so that we can save up that money a little faster.  Thanks, 'Dae."

"You're welcome, Jim." Amadeo grinned, clapping his friend on the shoulder.



Information about the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair can be found at:

Reference to The American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History was founded in 1869. It's mission is to discover, interpret, and share information about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education, and exhibition.

The museum is known for its exhibitions and scientific collections.

Information by:

Reference to the Guggenheim Museum

Solomon Robert Guggenheim (February 2, 1861 – November 3, 1949) was an American businessman, art collector and philanthropist.

In his later years he discovered an interest for abstract, contemporary art.

In the 1940s it became apparent that a larger building would be needed to house Guggenheim's art collection, and in 1943 architect Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design a museum in New York City. 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum opened on October 21, 1959.

Information by:

Chapter 55

March twentieth, the day of Amadeo's first party, was a success.  The family had spent the week prior to it clearing space in the basement and buying children's 'bouncy' balls which they planned to bestow on the the triplets and the little ones in the neighborhood, once they were done with them, and threw them down into the 'play area'. 

Comfortable chairs and a couch or two had been set up around an old coffee table so that the kids would have places to sit and relax while they snacked and drank Coca Cola.

The kids had worn themselves out kicking the balls all over the room, ducking and laughing as they narrowly avoided, or didn't move fast enough, to prevent themselves from being conked on the head with mad balls bouncing off of walls and ceiling. Mr. Rossi had thoughtfully covered the windows with boards to avoid accidents.

Ethel, having admitted that she would feel strange being the only girl in a party full of boys had been happy to find that Amadeo had also invited several girls from school, including Sharon. 

Whatever her problems socializing at her own school, she had none with the girls from 'Deo's school and she was soon one of the group of giggling, laughing girls who had taken residence in the much quieter and genteel living room.

Beth Ann and Dante had gotten their days mixed up and had come on the twentieth.  Beth Ann blushed bright red and apologized over and over while Dante smirked, 'I told you so.' written all over his face until his mother gave him a swat across the backside, turning the smirk into a scowl.

"Don't worry, sweetie, we love to see you any time, so we get to see you twice this week instead of once.  What's so bad about that?"  Natie had said with a smile for her daughter in law and a stern look for her oldest son.

The girls, seeing the triplets, converged on them, ooohing and aahhhing and tickling, causing the babies to giggle and wiggle, which the girls all thought was the cutest thing they'd ever seen.  Beth Ann and Dante were actually able to sit at the kitchen table and have coffee, as they had more than enough willing baby sitters.

The babies, who had reached the stage of pulling themselves up into a standing position, never had a chance of hitting the floor when their little legs gave out since there were eleven pairs of hands ready and willing to catch them if they started to fall.  The little ones were perfectly happy sitting on the floor or on the laps of the teenagers. 

Nathan however, seemed to have explorer blood in his veins and first started by crawling all over the floor, occasionally bumping into things and bouncing right back until one of the girls began to follow him around and use her hand as a bumper shield so he didn't keep hitting his head.

They were amazed by the little boy, who not only pulled himself up into a standing position but also managed to pull himself onto the couch, and then once again into a standing position by pulling himself up again with the help of willing girls.  The girls thought it was such a great stunt that they immediately began to try to teach the girls how to do it.

A couple of the girls decided to have baby races and put toys on the opposite side of the room for the girls to race to.  They crawled rapidly, their little bottoms swaying back and forth causing the teens to laugh, and cheer as one or the other of the girls would reach their toy first. 

The babies would test the toy out, feeling it, looking at it, and tasting it before crawling back over to present it to their brother, who while growing at an admirable rate, was still a little smaller than they were. 

He would put the toy through the same tests, put it down, give his sisters a wide, wet kiss and continue with his exploring.

Amadeo came up from the basement and went into the kitchen to get more drinks, kissing Beth Ann heartily on the cheek and clapping his older brother on the shoulder in greeting.

"Get over here, brat!"  Dante bellowed, pulling 'Deo into a hug and then tugging him over his knee.

"Daaaaannnnnnnnn!"  'Deo protested, trying to twist away

"One!  Two!  Three!  Oh now wait, where was I?  Oh yeah, one!  Two!  Three!  Four!"

"Le'go you big ape!"  'Deo complained, kicking his legs and trying to pull himself off of his brother's lap.

"Oh now look what you did!  I lost count!  I'll have to start again!"

"Don't you dare!"  Deo said, slapping at his brother's legs, half laughing, half exasperated, and very worried that his friends were going to hear his brother's booming voice and walk in and see him getting birthday spanks, because sure as the sun rose his friends would want to get in on the action.

"Put that child down before I get the spoon."  His mother said with a smile that did not bode well for Dante's backside.

"I was just having some fun with him, mamma."  Dante grumbled, setting his little brother, who had gotten more than the seventeen and one to grow on than the occasion called for.

"Forget the spoon, mamma, get the ore from the canoe for his birthday."   Amadeo groused, rubbing his backside.

"That can be arranged."  Natie said with a grin.  "Did you boys need anything?  And aren't you missing something?"

"Missing something?  Like what?"  'Deo asked, confused.

"The girls?!  They're all in the living room having their own party with the babies."

"Oh!  The babies!  I gotta go see them!"  Amadeo said, rushing out to see his nieces and nephew, the fact that half of his party wasn't in the basement with him eluding him.

Mara and Olivia both saw 'Deo and yelled "Unday!"  Nathan stopped his explorations to look around to ask, "Day?"

Amadeo went to each little girl and gave them hugs and 'a hundred' kisses ending with a zerbert on their necks, which the girls, teen and infant, loved.  'Deo then went to his nephew who had apparently been waiting patiently for his turn.

'Deo announced himself to Nathan before picking him up, waiting for Nathan to put his arms up to indicate that he wanted to be picked up.  He was delighted when the little arms came up, accompanied by the wide smile with the few pearly white teeth peeping between little pink lips.

Amadeo picked the child up and hugged and snuggled, talking the whole time, holding the child close to that he could see his uncle's face better.  The doctor had said that while Nathan had sight it was still very limited and that things had to be held close to him for him to see them clearly enough to make out what they were.

"What do you say, munchkins?" 'Deo asked his nieces and nephew, "Want to sing to these lovely ladies and show off our incredible talent?"  he asked  "Sing?"

"'Ing!" the babies replied.

"All right then my lovelies, what are we going to sing?"  he asked, sitting down on the couch between Melissa Marcone and Ethel, settling Nathan on his lap.

"I know!"  he said,  "Here we go all right?"

"My old hen's a good old hen"  he sang slowly. 

The babies sang "Hen!"

"She lay eggs for railroad men,"  he sang. 

He paused while the babies sang "Men!"

"Sometimes eight, sometimes ten." 

"Then!" the babies echoed.

"She lay eggs for railroad men." 

"Men!" the babies sang.

"Oh, that's so cute!  Do it again!"  Michelle Warner cried happily.

"Cluck old hen, cluck and squall,  ain't laid an egg since late last fall." 

"Waasfaw!" sang the babies.

"Cluck old hen, cluck and sing,  ain't laid an egg since late last spring." 

"Ping!" sang the babies.

"Oh how cute!"  said some of the girls quietly so as not to disturb the singers.

"My old hen she's a good old hen," he sang. 

"Hen!" said the babies again.

"She lay eggs for railroad men."  Something that sounded like 'waywoemen' came from the babies which had the girls marveling.

"Sometimes one, sometimes two, she lays eggs for whole dang crew." 

"Dancoo." sang the babies.

"What are you teaching these poor little babies!" Ethel protested with a smile.

"Hush!" 'Deo smiled back, before continuing the song

"Cluck old hen cluck and squall, ain't laid an egg since late last fall." 


"Cluck old hen cluck and sing.  Ain't laid an egg since late last spring." 


The girls all applauded.  The babies grinned, giggled and clapped.  The adults in the doorway between the kitchen and living room smiled and clapped as well.  The boys, who had come up in search of their missing colas and friend stood by, grinning.

"That sounded wonderful!"  Beth Ann said, happily, a stray tear rolling down her cheek.  She never sang herself, but she had the radio playing all the time at the house, though the babies never seemed inclined to sing to it, they did 'chair dance' and wave their arms about.  They did love to sing with their uncle Amadeo.

"That hen sounded like Sunday dinner." Jim quipped, as that was his father's usual response to hens that stopped laying.

"Well, we hate to call a halt to the fun here, but the kids have got to go down for their naps so we're just gonna head home." Dante said to the moans and groans of the girls who all quickly offered babysitting services if they were ever needed and who kissed and snuggled the babies, who reveled in the attention but couldn't help the stray yawn.

Even the boys chucked the babies under their chins and tickled their bellies, causing the infants to giggle and yawn again.

Mr. and Mrs. Rossi helped Dante and Beth get all of their things into the station wagon.  Three of the girls, including Ethel, offered to hold the babies for the ride home, which was only a twenty minute drive, otherwise Beth Ann would have had to juggle the two girls who were growing at an amazing rate, on her lap,  and Nathan would have been perched on Dante's lap, causing the drive to turn into a thirty five minute trip instead.

Beth Ann promised to deliver the teens back within the hour after getting the babies down for their naps.  The girls who were left behind waved and smiled and grumbled under their breath that they hadn't been the ones chosen to hold the babies for the ride home, then went back in, determined to rejoin the boys and tell the three lucky girls about all the fun they'd missed while they'd been gone.

As expected, some of the girls and most of the boys arrived the following weekend for the family celebration, again offering to baby sit the little ones which now included the five year old twins, Kevin and Keith; Giovana and Daniel's children, Michael; Rene and Alejandro's three year old, and three month old Holly Joy Rossi, who had decided to be born on December 26th instead of waiting for January 12th, which had been her due date.

Her husband Alejandro still insisted that the little girl would have waited patiently until January 12th when she was due if it hadn't been for all of the pepperoni her mother had eaten the day before.   Rene, whose real name was Santa but who preferred to go by a version of her middle name, Renata, proudly and patiently allowed people to caress the little baby bump which held their third, while everyone took turns holding three month old Holly.

Giovana, Amadeo's oldest sister, insisted that everyone please call her Gia.  Her husband Daniel seemed happy with Danny so it was easy to distinguish between him and Dante.

The older twins had at first avoided the three new little intruders but were soon won over by the sweet little triplets. 

Little Michael sat by and thought to himself that it had taken his 'big cousins' long enough, before going back to his game of peek a boo with Mara.

The adults sat in the living room, watching the children while the teenagers once again took up residence in the basement, which had been cleaned of bouncy balls, watching reel to reel home movies, laughing at the little Rossi's as they scampered and capered across the screen.

Amadeo had put on a record which, while not in sync with the movie was in the right spirit, the Beach Boys playing, 'I Get Around'.  The teens laughed at various Rossi children skipping and tripping, swimming and sinking, they especially loved the video of a little Amadeo, apparently trying to sit on a ball in a pool of water and being astounded when it would pop back up to the surface. 

He did that for quite a while before his father gave him a new toy to play with at which time little 'Deo had had a tantrum until the ball was returned, after which, he once again tried to sink ball only to watch it pop up, with a combined look of confusion, wonder and irritation.

That clip was followed by a girl that 'Deo insisted was Gia swinging up as high as she could get before she let go of the chains and 'flew' toward the camera.

Another reel consisted of the results of Carmie and Terri getting into their mother's make up and making each other look 'beautiful', piled under thick layers of make up and wearing the most outlandish collection of clothing.

Another featured what looked like a five year old Amadeo wrestling down Con who, despite being older and all of his twisting and kicking and, though the film was silent, yelling, could not get out of 'Deo's grasp.  The event was abruptly brought to a halt when Mrs. Rossi came in, picked up 'Deo, smacked his behind, picked up Con, did the same to him, and then took a hold of whoever was running the camera to apparently give him or her a dose of the same before the camera was shut off.

"Oh, come on, that can't be it!"  protested Milo, laughing.

"Nah, that's just the end of this reel."  'Deo replied, smiling.

"Ladies and Gents!" came the klaxon, also known as the voice of Rene, "Lunch!"  Raucous laughter and loud voices could be heard behind her.

"Let's see if we can sneak back down here with our food,"  'Deo said, "With all that noise we'll never get a word in."  he laughed.

The noise level rose abruptly as soon as they were upstairs.  Johnny Rossi was, as always, the life of the party, telling jokes and anecdotes which had his guests roaring with laughter.

Felix said something.

"What?!" shouted 'Deo to be heard over the din.

"I said your dad is a hoot!  Mine just sits there!"  he shouted back.

Amadeo went over to his mother and leaned down to talk to her, but everyone could tell that he had to raise his voice to be heard.   She shook her head and pointed to the floor.  Amadeo looked petulant for a moment until she said something else at which his face brightened up.

"We're gonna do lunch, then cake, then presents."  'Deo told his friends.  "I have to stay up here and talk to the guests since it's my party."

"And I'll cry if I want to."  Milo sang.

"Speaking of crying, when're the birthday whacks?  We didn't get to do them last time."  Jim said, grinning.

"You didn't and no one does!"  Amadeo protested, grinning.

"We can if we can catch you!"  Milo threatened.

"Ah, ah, ah!  Etiquette now, gentlemen.  Etiquette.  Can't be caught running around the house like sixteen years olds now, can we?  Maturity and decorum, at all times."

"That's for eighteen years old.  Get 'im guys!"  Jim yelled as they gave chase.


Eighth Month Baby Milestones: Web MD

When safety seats hit the market in the mid-1960s, they bombed. The only people who bought them were a strict minority of only the most safety-conscious parents. The problem was that people just didn’t know enough about them, and it seemed like a useless expense.  (Wikipedia)

Amadeo's Family:


Gianbattista/Johnny/Pazzo - February 29, 1904  (Pazzo - Crazy)
Fortunata/Natie (Panettiere) Rossi  - May 22, 1908  (Natie - Nay-tee)
Married May 21, 1926


Name       : Giovana (Gia, Gigi, Vani) Michele Rossi Campbell   
Birthdate  : February 19,1930   
Husband  : Daniel
Children   : Keith and Kevin

Name:      : Santa (Rene) Renata Rossi Martinez                       
Birthdate  : June 3, 1932
Husband  : Alejandro
Children   : Michael and ?

Name       : Dante (Dan, Seb) Sebastiano Rossi                        
Birth date  : May 14, 1934
Wife         : Beth Ann Taylor-Rossi   
Children   : Mara, Olivia, Nathan

Name       : Teresa (Terri) Maria Rossi                                       
Birth date  : June 18, 1938
Fiance      : Connor Hutchison        
Children   : (no children)

Name       :  Carmela (Carmie, El) Elena Rossi                        
Birth date  :  August 26, 1940
Fiance      :  Edward Benjamin Keller
Children   :  (no children)

Name       : Gabriele (Gabe) Ambrosi Rossi                            
Birth date  : January 21, 1944
Girlfriend  : Theodora 'Teddi' Platt
Children   : (no children)

Name       : Constantin (Con) Patrizio Rossi                           
Birth date  : November 24, 1946  
Girlfriend  : Maritza Alves           
Children   : (no children)

Name       : Amadeo ('Deo, Dae) Christoforo Rossi               

Birth date  : March 24th, 1948  

Chapter 54

Amadeo's eighteenth birthday came up that March, and as always Mrs. Rossi arranged two parties.  

One party, for his friends, would be held on the day of, and one for family and neighborhood friends, at which, no doubt, several of his friends would attend, for the Saturday after, giving Mrs. Rossi a week to relax and refresh after having a house filled with teenagers, since the weatherman had said that the temperature would probably be down in the 30s and the kids would most likely not want to go outside much.

"Birthdays during the week are the kind of days I wish it would snow. Then I could have my birthday off from school," Amadeo complained to his friends between classes. "Sometimes I wish we lived in a place where we had snow all the time in the winter."

"Alaska?" Jim asked, grinning

"Don't go nuts now."  He smiled.  "I don't know what I'd do in a place where there's no sun half the year. I mean seasonal snow... white Christmas and all that sort of stuff, you know?"

"It sounds romantic but it ain't that great."  Angelo said. "It's real pretty when it's first coming down, but then you get the plows, and people throwing sand, and trucks and cars driving over it.  It gets dirty real quick and it stops being so pretty."  Angelo said with a grimace.

"Stop throwing a wrench in my works."  Amadeo said jokingly.

"Sorry, Dae.  Believe it or not I actually do miss snow.  Georgia is a tease.  It feels like it's getting close to snowing sometimes but then it doesn't, and when it does it doesn't last long.  I kind of miss sledding and skating.  I have to get you guys to New York, take you skating at Rockefeller Center, see the city all decked out in lights, the square."

"The tree... it's massive.  The city searches all year for one big enough and then it's shipped in.  That's a major event right there.  I kinda wish though, that they'd just plant a tree and let it grow over the years instead of cutting down a tree in a different state and propping it up in New York.  It just seems a waste of a good tree."  he said thoughtfully.

"Someday we'll go to New York with you."  said Jim.  "I've heard stories about there but I've never been.  Do you really have gangsters that go around shooting each other down on the street, like in the movies?"

"Not as often as the movies would like you to believe." Angelo said, rolling his eyes.  "I don't think anyone would want to live there if that happened all the time, do you?"

"Nah, I guess not."  Jim admitted with a guilty expression. "Look, we gotta get to Garcia's class right now if not a minute ago before we get into trouble.  C'mon." he said, sprinting off.  The sounds of Cobrane's voice reminding him to walk, not run in the hallways, followed him.

Angelo and Amadeo trotted along behind at a brisk walk, to avoid Cobrane's attention and possible detention.

The next day, while the boys were eating lunch they discussed their art teacher's latest madcap idea for a project.  Sculpture using toothpicks as a medium.
The boys and girls sat around discussing ideas and laughing at some of the suggestions.

"I wish we'd go back to working with that stone again." Dennis said, "I think I could do a better job now that I know more about it. I got a B+ but I'd like another chance to try. Plus, it was a lot of fun. I'm not too sure about this one."                                                                                                                                                                                   Angelo's stone project had gotten an A++ for it's perfectly round form and the fact that it seemed to be different things in different positions had earned him the highest grade in the class.

Amadeo had gotten points for turning his block of stone into a replica of a head from Easter Island.  Another girl named Shelly, who had carved a bas relief of a very detailed butterfly, had gotten the only other highest grade in the class.

Angelo's painting of the class at work had gotten an equally high grade when she'd given them an assignment to work with paint as a medium.

Following that she'd had them work with clay. The clay sculpture assignment had Angelo's friends excited since they'd been creating things in his basement ever since the previous Halloween and they had experience and imagination.  The little group 'blew' Mrs. Christoff away with their sculptures.  

Angelo's three foot long cloth 'sculpture' of a hot dog and bun complete with streams of 'ketchup and mustard' had earned him a high grade and a lot of laughter from the class who had for the most part settled on making teddy bears, draw string pouches or other easy projects.

The only project that had gotten a better grade than Angelo was their classmate Melissa Marcone, who had made a doll as large as a three year old complete with yarn hair and embroidered eyes and mouth.  She'd gone out and bought a dress with a pinafore and 'pantaloons', and little socks and shoes to dress the doll up in.  Angelo didn't in the least begrudge her the higher grade.  The doll really was clever and well done, and though he wouldn't say it out loud, very cute with it's black hair, big blue eyes and cupid bow mouth. 

"So what are you making in Mrs. Christoff's class this time?"  Eddie asked Angelo as they walked home.

"The Golden Gate Bridge."  Angelo replied.  "I'm gonna use string for the suspension cables.  What are you making?"

"Dascha." Eddie replied.  He'd gotten the terrier puppy for Christmas when he'd been seven years old and hadn't been able to pronounce Dasher with two missing front teeth, so she'd been called Dasha and wouldn't answer to anything else. She was getting old and while he had more pictures of her than he could count, he wanted to make the sculpture of her before as what might be a final remembrance of her.

"If you can pull that off that's going to be really nice.  Do you plan to paint it to look like her?"  Angelo asked

"I hadn't thought of that!"  Eddie said, delighted.  "Do toothpicks warp though?" he asked.  I mean, if I paint 'Little Dascha' is she gonna sag in the middle?"

"They do when my dad uses them.  He can get them into a nearly perfect spiral by the time he's done with them." Jim joked.

Angelo shrugged,  “Go light on the spray paint?  Or paint her by hand?"

"What are you making, 'Deo?"  Milo asked.

"Big Ben.  I'm not as creative as you guys."  he smiled. 

"That's creative."  Angelo argued.  "Not like Martha who's making train tracks to put her toy train on.  I mean, come on, train tracks?"  he laughed.

"I felt kind of bad for Gary and his attempt at building Notre Dame."  Dennis said.

"The Notre Dame Cathedral?  Is that what that was supposed to be?"

At Dennis' nod all Aiden could say was "Holy crow!" 

"Yeah, but he told me he's going to turn it into the Leaning Tower of Pisa."  Dennis said.

"They don't look anything alike!"  Felix said, stating the obvious.

"We're just gonna have to wait and see I guess. I really do want to see how he pulls it off."  Amadeo laughed.

Angelo looked in the direction of his house and then the park.  "You guys wanna go hang at the park for a little while?"  he asked.

"Nah, man.  I gotta get my homework done, and then I got chores.  Dad'll skin me alive if I don't show up on time."  Jim replied.  "Later, maybe?  If there's time?  Call me, 'k?"

"Yeah, 'k."  Angelo replied, disappointed when the others said basically the same thing and scattered to get to their houses.
"What's the matter, Ange?  Are you in trouble again?  I can guarantee you that if you're supposed to be home and don't show up you're not gonna like the consequences." Amadeo said in an understanding tone.

"No” he replied reluctantly, "It's not that really, I’m just tired of being the only one home and having to do everything.  I mean, I don't mind helping mama and pop but it's the same thing every day.  I go home, check the animals, get dinner started, set the table, gather up anything that needs to go in the wash, see if the floors need sweeping, do my homework, and without fail I end up burning or singeing the dinner unless mama gets home time to save it.  It's worse in the summer cause then there's the gardening to see to. At least during the winter, I get a little break there.  I feel like... jeez Dae, I feel like Cinderella."

"Ange, just keep in mind that you're helping.  You're the only one left."  He hesitated a moment and then asked tentatively, "Out of curiosity, where's your mom been running off to every day?  I mean, it doesn't matter I'm just curious.  And I know your brothers get out of their college classes and go to work or to see their girlfriends."

"Yeah, and that's another thing, they can come home and help instead of smooching with their girlfriends."  Angelo said, obviously avoiding the question.

Amadeo tilted his head and looked at his boy more closely. "Ange, where's your mom disappearing to?  Is she all right?"

"Don't tell anyone OK? But she's going to college.  She's working toward her nursing degree."

"That's great!  Why are you keeping that a secret? What made her decide to do that?"

"It's like you said, she's home alone pretty much all the time now.  We take care of the animals first thing in the morning and I see to them in the afternoons when I get home, making sure they have feed and water and their pens aren't too bad.  But when the morning chores are done and she studies for a bit she heads out to the university and takes classes, then comes home and studies all night."

"It's not like Cinderella then, because you're helping, not being forced to work."

"I know, I just feel like I'm the only one working, you know?"

"I have a couple of suggestions for you then, ready?"


"First, feel free to ask me to help. I don't have many chores during the week and I'm sure mom'd understand. She still has a houseful and one less won't make a difference."

"I really appreciate that Dae, plus I'd like the company. What's the second thing?"

"Do something special for your folks for dinner.  Mom's got recipe books coming out of her ears, we'll go through them tonight if you can get permission to come over after dinner.  If not we'll do it this weekend." 

"So first, you make something you've never made before.  Second, you set the table like it's a fancy restaurant complete with candles on the table, get it all set up so all you have to do is put the bowls with the food down, wrap up the silverware like they do at the Drover, tie it with a ribbon or something,"  he continued with a laugh. 

"I can't do that every night."  Angelo protested.  "It would stop being special if I did." 

"Not every night, nimrod,” Amadeo said, shouldering his friend, "Pick one night randomly once a month.  Choose a recipe from one of the books and make it.  Make a list of what you want to make a week ahead of time.  Ask your folks for money to buy them, just tell them it's for ingredients you don't have.  It's the truth, right?"

"What about my brothers?" 

"Remember how we practiced talking to your talk to your folks?" 


"Well, your brothers are technically adults too.  Try talking to them the way you spoke to your parents.  They might be more reasonable than you expect." 

"And if they aren't?" 

"Tell on them."  Deo said matter-of-factly, with a smirk which got Angelo laughing.

"You know," Deo added thoughtfully, "talking about your brothers and college made me wonder... have you made any decisions yet about what you want to major in when we head out ourselves?"

Angelo raised his eyebrows and rolled his eyes slightly. "Mama and pop keep asking me the same thing. Mama thinks I have a future in the culinary arts. I told them I was thinking of going for plain old art classes, but pop kinda vetoed that idea. He said my stuff was really good but that it was really hard to get into the art world."

"Why don't you do both?" Amadeo suggested. "You really are a great cook, when you remember that you're cooking," he joked. "in a professional setting I know you'd be more aware if the food was right or not. I think in time you could even have your own restaurant."

Angelo's eyes widened slightly at the idea. "You really think so?"

"Wouldn't say if if I didn't believe it," the other boy replied sincerely, "and that doesn't mean you'd have to give up your art. Your paintings and sculptures are amazing. You could do that as a side thing, you know? So even if you don't get your artworks into a gallery showing you could still sell them on the side. I think they'd sell."

Angelo sat quietly and thought about it. Finally he looked up and asked, "What are you going to college for? And... where will you go? I mean... what are we going to do for four years if we can't see each other every day? What'll happen to us?"

Amadeo put an arm around his boy and replied, "I thought I'd go into business management, which means I can go to school just about anywhere. Which means, if you go to school in Outer Mongolia, I'm sure I can find a school there as well. We wouldn't be far apart. And even if we were," he continued seeing Angelo's dubious expression, "we can still see each other on holidays, talk on the phone, spend weekends together. It's not like we'd never see each other again."

"And," he said, "I believe that what we have can withstand distance."

Angelo looked down at his hands with a sad expression. "I don't want to be anywhere that you're not. I know we won't go to the same school, can't if I actually go to school for cooking or art. I... I know I don't have any idea of how to run a business and I'd do terrible if I tried to go the same school as you. I kinda imagined us as roommates wherever we go."

"Here's an idea," Amadeo said, a light going off in his head, "if we find schools in the same area, then we can rent an apartment together and commute to our respective schools. Then we wouldn't have to be apart except during classes."

"And," he continued with a smile, "if I major in business, I can be your business partner when you open your own place. Oh, I know it's not going to happen immediately," he said when he saw the expression on Angelo's face, "but it can happen."

Angelo's expression brightened and he looked up at his man with a look of hope on his features. "Do you really think we can do that?"

"There are business schools all over the place, Ange. If you look to see where the culinary schools are, without a doubt I can find a business school in that same area."

Angelo fairly threw himself into Deo's arms. "That's a fantastic idea! 'Dae! Do you really think we can do it?"

"I'm sure we can.  I've been looking at a school in Atlanta. It's still in state, but not so close that a commute from home and back would make financial or time sense, but not so far away that we can't visit on weekends or holidays."

Angelo's excited expression changed from one, of excitement to one of deep thought, and by the look of it, they weren't great thoughts.

"What's the matter, il mio angelo?" 'Dae asked, concerned.

"What would mama and pop do without me though? Mom's not done with school yet. Pop has work during the day. There's all the animals to look after..."

Amadeo thought long and hard for several moments. "The only alternatives are to sell the livestock and let the garden go..."

Angelo looked up, stricken.

"You can take a year before you head to college, which I don't think is a good idea, and I think your folks'll agree, or they'll have to hire someone."

"I think it'll be hard on them," Angelo hedged, "It's already a lot for just me and dad to work on. How much'll he have to pay for help? And he'll need two or more guys at least. Two people just can't run this place. Not efficiently, and the extra money from the farmer's market is a big help."

"Well, if we find a place in Savannah, it's not too far. Commuting will still be a bit of a problem if we try to make it a daily event, but you'd still be available on weekends and holidays."

"I may be working then." Angelo said pensively, "if I'm lucky I'll get an internship somewhere, once I've learned enough, or even a real job at a real restaurant somewhere. I don't think I'd make enough to give to my folks to help pay for the extra help."

"Angelo," 'Deo said quietly, putting a gentle hand on his boy's cheek, "we can help figure all of that out once we apply and have been accepted into our schools. We'll have to get a move on though. I know with your grades you'll have a choice of schools and you... we... can find the one's best for us."

When Angelo's father arrived from work that day, his son had dinner ready, and un-singed, a fresh hot pot full of coffee, and a big smile on his face.

"Ok, ragazino," what do you want?" Joshua had asked with a wry smile on his face.

"Papa," Angelo said hesitantly, "You know I want to go to college in September, right?"

"Yep," Joshua replied proudly, puffing out his chest. "I'm so proud of you guys."

"Papa,what'll happen to the farm once I'm gone? What if I can't find a place close by? I won't be able to help anymore."

Joshua clapped his youngest son on the shoulder, "Don't you worry about it." he replied with a smile. "We've already decided to get rid of the hogs..."

"But dad...!"

"Not because you're going to school." his father assured him.  "They cost more to feed than what we get for them at market, plus their pen stinks the place up. Admit it," he smiled," none of us like going in there to clean the place up, or to wash down the pigs when the time came."

Angelo smiled guiltily, he'd found excuses to get in and out as fast as possible whenever he'd had to wash them.

"The chickens?"

"The chickens pretty much take care of themselves. Mama and I would only need to feed them and gather the eggs a couple of times a day. And I'm rebuilding the coop a little so that the top will be closed off. This way they can range outside and we won't have to worry about chicken hawks or other predators flying in and carrying them off."

"That's a lot of work, pop." Angelo said uncertainly.

"Well, I still have you here with me, and I'm sure I can get your brothers back long enough to help out."

"With what?" Julia asked with a smile as she came through the kitchen door, bringing a draft of cool air in with her.

"We're just talking about remodeling the chicken coop." Joshua replied, getting up from his chair to help his wife get her coat off.

Angelo put her satchel to the side and pulled out a chair for her.

"Ok, mio angelo, what do you want?" his mother asked with a smile."

"Why does everyone keep asking me that?" Angelo huffed.

"He's just worried about what we'll do with the farm once he leaves for college." Joshua explained as he sat down at the table once again.

"Ah," Julia said with an understanding look, "don't worry about a thing, Angelo. We'll be fine. Papa and I have already thought about that. You don't need to worry."

"But pop said you're going to be selling the hogs..."

"All for the better, in my opinion," his mother replied, "some things are more important than whether we have livestock or not."

"But I don't want you to give up everything just because of me." Angelo began worriedly.

"Angelo," his mother interrupted gently, "it's not because of you. Papa and I know we can't take care of everything by ourselves, and we're looking into hiring a few more people."

"But the cost..."

"Is negligible," Joshua said with a smile. "All the money it was taking us to feed and clothe all of you can now go into paying for some extra help."

Angelo looked upset for a moment before his father added, "Angelo, mama and I wouldn't have given up any of you for any amount of money, understand? Having you boys was the biggest blessing in our lives. You still are."


"I'll be graduating soon, Angelo," Julia reassured her son, "and I already have a job lined up. Between the money we'll get for the hogs, what papa makes and what I'll be making, we're going to be fine."

Seeing their son's distracted expression, Joshua asked what was wrong.

"I was just wondering how you're managing to put the three of us through college. I don't have to go, you know. I can stay here..."

"And waste all this talent?" Joshua asked, taking a bite of the dinner that his son had prepared. "You're an amazing cook, Angelo," he continued, "and while we'll miss you, you will be coming back on holidays to visit, right?"

Angelo nodded although he still looked doubtful. 

"Sweetheart," Julia said softly, "we'll be alright, I promise you that. We've been saving since the day you boys were born to make sure you go to college. Paul only has one year left and he's helping defray the cost by working part time and buying his own books and supplies. If you're that worried, you can do the same. But you are going to college. Understand?"

Angelo breathed a little easier and smiled at his parents. "Understood." he replied, finally feeling able to breathe without feeling guilty. "Mama, papa, thank you." he said quietly, lifting his glass of milk to toast them.

The elder Di Marco's saluted back and proceeded to have their dinner, chatting between mouthfuls about their day and their plans for the future.

Chapter 53

January first fell on a Wednesday in the year 1964, and as it was Milo's eighteenth birthday.  His parents needed to recover from the New Year's celebrations so his party was held the following weekend.  

Mrs. Jablonski didn't cut any corners for her son's birthday and had rented one of the smaller rooms at the Elks Hall to accommodate not only his fourteen closest friends, but various neighbors, aunts, uncles and cousins as well.

She had put up streamers and balloons, much to his chagrin.  However, his party guests were delighted and immediately started batting loose balloons around, giggling and completely comfortable being kids for the day.

At first it was a little snug in the room, but outside the temperature was in the high 70's that day, so many of the young children were outside enjoying the sunshine under the supervision of some of their older brothers or sisters who had been bribed or coerced (threatened was such an ugly word) into watching their younger siblings.  

Most of them, the ones who had been bribed, decided that being outside in the fresh air was more fun than being cooped up with the adults anyway and smiled at their good fortune.

The latter group soon forgot their gripes as they became involved in the younger children's games and were running and laughing, playing freeze tag or jump rope along with them.

As 'Man Of The Day', Milo had to remain inside and greet and entertain his guests which he did flawlessly.  

Dennis, who had been watching nearby, admired his friend's skill.  Even with his own family he always felt awkward and uncomfortable and preferred to speak only if he had something to say. In point of fact, given his druthers he'd be left alone completely to read or write, or even watch TV. 

Amadeo and Angelo were under no such restrictions and came and went as they pleased.  Earlier, Bruce and Ethel had showed them a clearing behind the building, but when they arrived the brother and sister were already there.

"Oh, sorry."  'Deo said, "We'll find somewhere else to talk."

"Hey, no!  Actually, I can use your advice.  Bruce just keeps saying 'Do whatever feels right.' but I don't know what feels right which is why I asked him in the first place."  she said, emphasizing the word by backhanding him on the bicep.  

Bruce winced and grinned but didn't say anything else.

"All right, what's the problem?"  'Deo asked.


"Did he hurt you?  Offend you?"  Amadeo asked, becoming worried.

"No!  Nothing like that, it's just... for a long time I was mostly only ever attracted to other girls and now... after meeting Jim and spending time with him... I think I like him, and I'm confused.  I mean, I've seen men I thought were attractive too...but... I never really thought about any kind of relationship with one before.  What do you think I should do?"

He thought for a while and then said, "I agree with Bruce.  If it feels right then try it.  I mean, when you knew you were attracted to a girl, what did you do?"

"I shut my mouth,"  she said as though the answer should have been obvious.  "I look but I don't touch, and I certainly never ask.  I'm already an outsider but at least I'm the kind they leave alone rather than pick on 'cause they know I'd deck 'em.  If they found out about me..."   she let the thought trail.

"Do you want me to ask Jim for you?"  'Deo asked.

"No.  He already asked me, that's why I'm out here asking you numb skulls your opinions." she said, a little acid tinging her voice.

"The worst that can happen is that you and Jim don't hit it off.  Go out with him a few times and see how it goes." Angelo said reasonably.

"But what if he decides he doesn't like me?  What if I decide I don't like him that way?  It'll be uncomfortable when we all hang around together.  It means either him or me would have to stop hanging with the group."

Amadeo mentally patted himself on the back when he succeeded in not correcting her grammar.  

"I can't guarantee what'll happen, Eth." Amadeo said.  "All I can ask is how do you feel right now?  I know you've been attracted to other people.  Do you feel toward Jim, the way you felt when you were attracted to them?  It could just be affection, one friend for another."

Ethel sighed.  "It's more than affection, I think.  Sometimes I think about him and I can't wait to see him.  I haven't really loved anyone like that to know what it feels like.  I just get this weird... feeling in my stomach when I'm around him.  Sort of like what I feel when I know I'm going to ace an exam.  Oh!" she sighed in exasperation,  "That's not it exactly either but it's the closest I can come to explaining it."

"Do you feel like you're on a roller coaster on the downward drop?"  Angelo asked quietly.

"Yeah!  That's it!"  Ethel said excitedly, brown eyes flashing.

"Give it a shot," he said just as quietly with a shy smile as he looked at Amadeo.