The kerchief war we had with the girls was really something. It was fun for most of us but it wasn’t that much fun for Mike Tomato when Donna caught up to him. Donna was crazy mad when she grabbed Mike’s hair and pulled it as hard as she could. She was trying to get Mike to let go of her kerchief. But the idiot kept holding on to it as Donna dragged him in the street. It was funny to look at but painful for Mike. I think Mike learned his lesson. If you steal a kerchief from a teenage girl run like hell but don’t get caught. If she does catch up to you and grabs your hair throw the kerchief as far as you can as fast as you can, because, if you don’t let it go, she will beat the crap out of you. I went home and left the guys sitting on the curb giving Mike Tomato all kinds of shit. On the way home I see little Diane, Roger the Professor’s, sister playing Hopscotch with her friend Judy. Diane is a cute kid and sometimes I play Tea time with her and her dolls.
There is no way my friends could find out that I play Tea time with a little girl, because if they do, they will never let me forget that I play a sissy Tea games with little girls and they will laugh me off the block. But I like Diane and I play with her when she gives me a cute smile and a pretty please. When Roger sees me play Diane’s little fantasy game in their apartment he laughs at me too. But, he likes his baby sister so he doesn’t give me too much grief. As I passed Diane and her friend Judy she yells out at me, “Hey Pepino, can you play Tea time with me and Judy today?” I just put my head down and made believe that I didn’t hear her as I walked away as fast as I could. I walked up to my apartment and thought about having lunch. I would like to have a Spam sandwich but we didn’t have any Spam and I don’t think that my mother will ever buy spiced ham in a can. So I made myself a tomato and olive oil sandwich for lunch and sat out on our fire escape to eat it. It’s a nice cool day and it felt good to sit out here looking at all the people doing stuff down on the street below. I finished lunch and went out again thinking that I would buy myself a treat in the candy store down the block.
I’m kinda thirsty, it would be great to buy a soda so I could wash down the sandwich I had for lunch. When I walked into the candy store, Mr. Giuseppe said, “Pepino, I haven’t seen you for a while. Where have you been?” I didn’t want to give him a long story so I said, “around”. “What kind of candy are you looking for?” “I don’t know yet, but I would like to buy a soda first.” “Okay, you can get a Coke out our new soda machine at the end of the candy counter.” I said to myself, what the hell is a soda machine? So I walk to the end of the counter and I see a huge red metal box that looks like a refrigerator with big painted letters that say “Coke a Cola.” It has a window so you can see the bottles of Coke in it. I take a close look at the machine and I find a coin slot that looks like a public telephone with printing on it that say “insert coin here.” So I put a quarter in the slot and press a button and I hear all kinds loud rumbling and banging sounds. All of a sudden there’s a big boom in the opening where it says “take your soda out.” I take my ice cold soda out of the machine and use the cap opener attached to the machine to open my bottle of Coke. Wow! What will they think of next?
I went back to the counter and said “Mr. Giuseppe, when did you get the new Coke machine?” “We got it three or four months ago. I like the new machine because I don’t have to do a thing. The Coke Company installed it, and then the Coke truck comes by every week to collect the money in the machine. Then the truck driver replaces the bottles missing and locks it. Then the driver gives me my share of the money he took out of the change box and leaves. Isn’t that neat? You should come by more often, who knows what’s next.” I said “big deal” and I went outside and sat on the stoop next door to eat my candy and finish my Coke. Then I see my sister’s girl friend, Frances walking by with Mary Jane. Frances calls out to me, “Hey Pepino, we came around to find your sister, Isabella, do you know where she is? I want to show her my new Brownie Camera.” I say “no, not really, but tell me, what’s a Brownie Camera?” Frances holds her hand out and says, “See this black box I’m holding? You look through this little hole here and when you see a person you press this button and snap a picture of that person.” “Really? You can take my picture with that black box?”
“Yeah, come over here and stand next to me. I’ll give the camera to Mary Jane so she can take our picture.” I jumped off the stoop and stood next to Frances. Mary Jane held the black box in front of her face and said “smile” then I heard a click sound. I walked over to Mary Jane and said “let me see the camera.” Then I put the black box in front of my face the way she did and looked through the little hole and said, “Where’s the picture you took? I don’t see it.” Well, both Frances and Mary Jane cracked up laughing. It took them a couple of minutes to stop laughing as I stood there waiting for an answer. Frances rubbed the tears off her cheeks and said, “Silly, you have to wait for me to develop the film inside the camera before you can see your picture. It takes about a week for the Drug Store to develop the film and that’s when you will see the pictures.” I didn’t understand a thing she said, but I didn’t want to look stupid so I said, “That’s great, I can’t wait to see the pictures.” As I walked away I could still hear them laughing at me. When I got to our corner on Hicks Street I see Pecker and Jimmy Pizza buying a couple of Ice Cones from the Ice Cone man’s little push cart.
I like to watch the Ice cone man making his treats. He buys a big block of ice; the he scrapes the ice with a special hand held thingamajig. After the thingamajig collects the ice chips he tilts the scraper and put the ice chips into a paper cup. Then you have to choose the flavor syrup you would like on your ice chips. That the hardest part for me, do I want cherry or orange, or peach, or coconut, vanilla, or any of the twelve other flavors lined up next to his block of ice. My mouth was watering for an ice cone but I ran out of money buying a soda and treats in the Candy Store. I walked up to them and we all sat on the curb together. As they were eating their Ice Cones I told the all about the Brownie camera and the new soda machine at the Candy Store. Then I asked them if they were all ready for Halloween, because it’s only two days away. I think that Halloween is the best holiday of the season. There are a bunch of games we play with the girls before it gets dark. We get treats to eat but the best part about Halloween is the sock wars and pranks after dark. Jimmy Pizza told me that Mike Tomato put aside a load of rotten tomatoes, bananas, oranges he collected from his grandfather’s wagon. Yesterday Mr. Pauli gave Mike a Bunch of potato sacks for us to make spooky Halloween costumes. We laughed as we thought about the pranks we pulled last year and we’re hoping that we can top them this year. We’ll just have to wait and see.