When I got home from the street hockey game I put my trustee cane hockey stick and skates under my sister’s bed again. I had dinner and sat by our radio to listen to my radio programs. Suspense is one of my favorite programs because it always scares the shit out of me. Tonight they scheduled the Pit and the Pendulum by Eger Allen Poe. So I sat there in the dark with my ear next to the radio and my eyes closed. Whooo, they tell the story like the ghosts are talking to you. I feel like I’m in the story waiting for the Ghouls to pounce on me and eat me alive. Sometimes I have nightmares about these radio stories but I don’t care, I love that creepy feeling I get when I sit there in the dark by the radio being drawn deeper and deeper into the spooky story. As I sat there my sister but her hand on my shoulder and I almost jumped out of my skin. She said, “Pepino, calm down, it’s only me. Sorry I scared you I just wanted to tell you that me and my girlfriend Frances are going to Manhattan Tomorrow.
I want you to come with us to see a movie in a big theater; we plan to see the Wizard of Oz. I was told that it’s a great movie and I would like you to see it with us. Okay?” I was still shaking because she snuck up on me like one of the ghosts in the Suspense radio story. I finally was able to say, “Yeah, I would love to go to New York City, I’ve never been to a big theater before.” She smiled and said, “I’m so happy that you want to come with us. We’ll make a day out of it.” I was still shaking a little when sat back down to listened to the rest of the Suspense story. Afterwards, I pulled out my cot and started thinking about out trip tomorrow.
My friend Henry Black Face told me about this movie after he went to see it with his parents about a month ago. He told me it’s a great story about a girl named Dorothy and her dog Toto who are sucked up by a Tornado to a strange Munchkin land way up in the sky. When she gets there she does her best to find her way back home on the yellow brick road. Then she meets a Scarecrow, a Tin-Man and a Lion along the way and they all try to help Dorothy find her way home. They told Dorothy that she has to find the Wizard and that they are looking to find the Wizard of Oz too. They all need help; the Lion says that he needs courage; the Tin Man wants a Heart so he can love and the Scarecrow needs a brain so he can solve math problems. They all walked together on the yellow brick road singing songs. They did their best to help each other fight the green Wicked Witch, the flying monkeys and all sorts of other dangers. According to Henry, the movie has many wonderful songs and all sorts of action in it.
I was so tired from playing street hockey that it didn’t take long for me to fall into a deep sleep. I got up early the next morning and rushed to get dressed for my first trip to Manhattan with my sister Isabella and her best friend Frances. I put on long pants and a clean shirt and I sat in the kitchen waiting for my sister to wake up. It wasn’t a long wait, when I heard my sister say, “Pepino, come on let’s go.” We met Frances in front of our building and we all walked together to the Carroll Street subway station on Second Place and Smith Street. We got there in twenty minutes and walk downstairs to the train platform. This is a real adventure for me to go and see a movie in the big city. We arrived at the forty second street station in Manhattan in forty minutes. We walked up the stairs to the street and stood on the corner of Forty Second and Broadway. It’s Sunday and I see crowds of people, all dressed up strolling and looking up at the buildings. Last time we were here for the Columbus Day Parade it didn’t seem this crazy.
I was a little scared to be in the hustle and bustle of so many people around me so I stood as close as possible to my sister for protection. We walked a couple of blocks and I see a huge Billboard sign. The Billboard must be three stories high advertising Camel cigarettes. The Billboard has a picture of a man on it smoking a Camel cigarette and blowing rings of smoke out of a hole in his mouth. It was unbelievable to see a Billboard three stories high blowing smoke. I could not take my eyes off the Billboard. As I was walking holding my sister’s hand I twisted my neck looking at the Billboard because it was the neatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. My sister keeps on pulling me toward the big movie theater on Forty Fourth Street. I was getting hungry so I nudged my sister and asked her if we could get a snack. She said “Okay, I see a pretzel vendor on the corner. How about one of those big hot pretzels? I think all that dough and salt will hold you for a while.” I agreed and we walked over to get one. The pretzel is gigantic, hot and smelled so good. I started to eat it but I couldn’t finish it because it was too big for pee wee kid my size so I gave my sister Isabella and Frances some of it to eat.
We got to the theater, bought our tickets and walked in. Wow, the theater is so big and fancy with plush carpets and shiny polished brass all over the place. It looked so much better than our dinky little Happy Hour Theater back in the neighborhood. The snack stand is huge and don’t ask me why, their popcorn smelled better too. We sat in the clean soft seats to watch the Wizard of Oz movie. The seats are so comfortable, I could sleep in them. What a great movie. Henry was right it has everything; it’s a great adventure story, with good guys, bad guys, songs and a big surprise when Dorothy finds the Wizard of Oz. I love the action and the color of the movie is so much better than any theater I’ve been to in Brooklyn. At the end of the movie Dorothy, the Tin-Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion got what they wanted. It was such a happy ending. When we left the theater I had such a happy and positive feeling going through my body. I kept humming the songs I was acting like the flying monkeys, dancing and jumping up and down. I must look funny because my sister and Frances could not stop laughing at me.
We walked up Broadway and found a Horn and Hardart to eat a late lunch. I got a Chicken Pot Pie to eat out of one of their little windows. It was so good; I never had a Chicken Pot Pie before. My sister Isabella and her girlfriend Frances ate Pork and Beans and I didn’t think that their lunch smelled as good as mine. After lunch we walked out to do some window shopping. I could not understand how my sister could shop through a store’s window when all the stores are closed on Sunday. I found out later that window shopping meant that you don’t need any money to look at all the fancy stuff on display in the store windows. I guess that makes sense to some girls. I thought it was just a big waste of time. I am board out of my mind with all this window shopping. I snapped out of it when I see a couple of young guys walking around all dressed up with bright color suits, chains two tone shoes wide brim hat with a feather they looked like a Peacock. I looked up at my sister and say, “Who are these clowns? Why are the dressed up that way? Where are they going?” My sister Isabella and Frances cracked up laughing and when they stopped laughing she says,
“Those guys are wearing Zoot Suits and they’re probably going to the Latin Quarter to hang out, listen to the music and if they get lucky they may meet some pretty girls. “ I look at her with this squished face, like what in the hell are you talking about? My sister got the message and said “The Zoot Fashion started in California during the war when a lot of people from South America and Mexico came to the U.S. to help us in the war effort. They replaced many of our young men who enlisted to fight the war. Many of the Latin men who came here to work dressed up in Zoot Suits when they got off from work to party and have some fun. The Americans thought that the Zoot Suits made them look funny. So when the Navy ships were in port and the sailors got R and R leave they would bump into these Latin party goers it was like oil and water because the Navy soldiers got drunk, made fun of the Zoot suit guys and all hell would break loose. It was so bad that riots broke out and the police had their hands full in trying to keep them apart. After the war things calmed down. Many American young men started wearing the Zoot Suits themselves.
To tell you the truth it was many young Italian men who liked the Zoot Suits. I sure that there is more to the story but that’s all I know.” So I asked my sister, “Do any of the young guys in our neighborhood wear Zoot Suits?” She looked at me and said, “I don’t think so. First the Bullies in our neighborhood would make fun of them and then kick their Ass. A young guy in Red Hook Brooklyn doesn’t have the balls to walk around looking like a Peacock.” Hum, thinking to myself, I got to say one thing, these Zoot Suit guys really stand out dressed like that. Maybe it’s to get the girls to notice them. If the girls like them to dress up like a Peacock well, that’s all that matters. We went to the subway station and took the train back to Brooklyn.
To be continued……………….. Plan to complete the Brooklyn Storybook at 80 chapters. Story subjects to come in the last 10 chapters include, Halloween Pranks and Games, Ouija Board, Thanksgiving, Yatzee, Old Made, Home made pasta, Brownie Camera, Girls Kerchief Game, Trolley Rides, Canning Tomato Sauce and much more………..