I sat with Jimmy Pizza in the back yard looking at the big pile of empty grape crates. We are so tired from working all weekend. The wine making season is fun but it’s a lot of hard work. We looked pretty bad sitting there with our grape stained tee shirt, shorts and sneakers. Our faces, arms and legs were covered with dirt and grape stains too. The high we got from all the wine was starting to wear off. We didn’t talk much until Jimmy said. “Wow! Look at this shit load of wood here. All this wood will make a great bonfire when we pile it up on the street corner for Election Day. I turned to look at him and said. “You’re right. All these empty grape grates are a good start for us this year. We have to get together with Reno the Greek, Pecker and the rest of our gang to collect more wood from the condemned houses at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel construction site. With all the wine making in the neighborhood and all the construction going on for the tunnel, there will be gigantic fires on every block.”
Jimmy just kept on shaking his head up and down as I was talking to him and then he said. “Hey, do you know what our parents are gone-a do with all that old flat looking grapes left over from the wine press? Do you think that they will let us burn that stuff in the bonfire?” I put my hand under my chin and said. “Well, my father and his cousin John plan to make Grappa from the leftover crushed and pressed grape skin, seeds and stems.” Jimmy looked at me and said. “What in the hell is Grappa?” I started to laugh because of the funny look on Jimmy’s face and I said. “Grappa is called homemade Italian white lightning. People tell me that it’s like American Moon Shine. My Dad let me taste it once. All I could remember is that it tastes like medicine and it made my face turn beet red. It’s powerful shit. You should ask your Dad to give you a little taste.” Jimmy stuck his tongue out and said. “No friggin way. I hate the taste of medicine.” I got up, waved my hand and walked into my apartment building. I didn’t have anymore energy left even to say goodbye to Jimmy.
I walked into our apartment and started to wash all the grape stains off my face arms and legs. As I was changing my clothes I see that my sister started shadow dancing to some big band music. She has a collection of records she calls seventy eights. She never lets me go near her record collection because she thinks I may drop one. If I make a mistake and I happen to drop one of her precious records it will shatter into a million pieces. I can’t blame her, these records scratch and break so easy. Some of the records she like to play are Begin the Begin, I’ll be Seeing You, Dance music of Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. She likes to listen to songs from the Ink Spots and she is really in love with a new young singer Frank Sinatra.
She sees me walk in and says. “Come on, come on; dance with me. I’ll teach you how to Foxtrot and how to Lindy.” She pulls my arm and before I realize it she is holding my hands while I face her saying “This is how you Foxtrot. One two feet together, one two feet together.” As we listen to the music. She shows me how to lead my partner. I’m too tired to fight with her so I do my best to learn this thing. But it’s hard to lead your girl partner when she’s much taller than you are. Now we’re dancing all around the room and I start to really get into it. I like this dance thing. My sister keeps telling me that I have a good ear for the music and rhythm too.
Any way we did this dance thing for about twenty minutes. That’s when I begged her to let go of me so that I can take a rest from all the wine making. She said. “Okay, you spoil sport. You will thank me when you’re older and a pretty girl asks you to dance with her.” She let go of my hands and I walked into the kitchen for a glass of water. I guess my sister was getting tired because the dance music stopped playing. I rushed into the next room and sat next to the radio to listen to some radio programs.
I always like to listen to stories from the old west like the Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers. I remember that my friend Mike Tomato told me about a new program called Gunsmoke that just started playing on the radio. He told me that the stories are about a U.S. Marshal called Matt Dillon who has to tame the outlaws around Dodge City, Kansas right after the Civil War. Mike told me that it’s the best radio western ever. So I dialed the radio and tuned in on my first episode of Gunsmoke.
Mike was right, I was glued to the radio listening how Marshal Matt Dillon and his side kick Chester fought the outlaws in Dodge City. Matt Dillon’s best friend Doc Adams is a big help in patching him up when he’s wounded in a gun fight and Doc always seems to give Matt Dillon good advice on how to get the outlaws out of town. The best part of the radio story is when there’s a fight in the Long Branch Saloon and pretty Kitty Russell runs to find the Marshal for help. Kitty is the owner of the Long Branch Saloon and I think Matt Dillon is sweet on her. When I listen to these stories I feel that I’m part of the action. I can’t wait to tune in on the next episode. But it would really be great if they made a movie about Marshal Matt Dillon fighting the outlaws in Dodge City who are trying to take over the town. I would like to see all the action on a big screen. I think that all my friends would love to see it too. Good thing Gunsmoke is over, I can’t keep my eyes open so I went to bed.