Mike Tomato and me were still flying high from the Tarzan movie when we got to his grandmother’s grocery store on Hicks Street, sitting out front of the store is Pecker, Nunzio Superman, Reno the Greek and Jimmy Pizza. We sat next to them and told them all about the new Clinton Theater the cool air conditioning and the Tarzan movie. We talked about how Tarzan lived in the Jungle and how his was lost and how the wolves found and raised him as part of their family. Tarzan made friends with a lot of different animals in the Jungle, Mogador the Lion, Juba the Elephant, Wolves and his close friend Cheetah the Chimp.
When the natives tried to hunt the animals Tarzan did his best to save them by yelling and swinging from one tree to another. Mike Tomato stood up and said. “Hey, why don’t we put together our own native hunting party tonight? We can make some spears, and use garbage can lids as shields and paint our faces like the natives do in Africa. We can then build a fire in the lot across the street so we can do a war dance around the fire before our war party takes off to hunt the animals.” Everybody started yelling and jumping up and down like they thought the African natives would.
I said to Mikey “what are hunting? I don’t see any jungle animals hanging around Luqure Street.” Jimmy yelled “I see lots of jungle animals. Look at the Tigers, Lions, Leopards and Wolves that live here.” It finally dawned on me that he was pointing to all the alley cats and stray dogs that are always knocking down the garbage cans looking for food. I turned to him and said. “You mean like Simba the Tiger cat who can kick your ass.” “Yeah; I think that the Red Hook Jungle animals will start running when we chase them yelling like African Natives banging our spears against our garbage can shields.”
So that’s what we did. We collected a bunch of small trees that were growing in the vacant lot like weeds to make spears. Got six garbage can lids that were in front of the apartment buildings and we borrowed old lip stick and make-up from our sisters and mothers junk draw for war paint. We built a fire and started to do a war dance all around the fire. We looked like a crazy bunch of kids. After the war dance we formed a line and walked side by side towards Columbia Street, yelling banging our shields and screaming our heads off. And you know what; Sumba the cat and his gang and all the other stray cats and dogs were running for their lives. It was so funny to see them scatter like real Jungle animals. We got to Luqure and Columbia Streets and there wasn’t a Jungle animal to be seen. Our war party sat on the curb of the street laughing our heads off. Every time we tried to say something we could not stop laughing to get the words out.
Joanie came out of her house to walk her dog, Joy and she just stood there staring at us and said. “What are you guys nuts, screaming and yelling with all that paint on your face?” She didn’t stop walking to wait for an answer because we were still laughing like crazy people. I know that this giddy feeling will not go away. Now, every time the guys look at each other we will not be able to talk because we will start to laugh for no reason. It will take some time for this giddy feeling to go away.
Roger came over and wanted to know what the commotion was all about. I told him the whole story about the Clinton Theater, the Tarzan movie, our war party and how we chased the neighborhood jungle animals up and down the block. Roger couldn’t control himself either. He started laughing too and said. “You guys are something else. How do you come up with these crazy games?” None of us could give him an answer because we were still laughing so hard.
Roger told me that he was looking to find me a used bike. He thinks that his friend Joey Hook Nose has an old bike down his cellar that hasn’t been used in years. I told Roger that I was still interested in finding one and to let me know how much Joey Hook Nose wants for it and when I can see his old bike. Roger didn’t say it, but I know he will do what he can to separate me from my money.
I told the guys that I was going home to wash my face and take off all this war paint. We all left the corner and agreed to meet again tomorrow to play a game of One and Over, or if we can buy a pimple ball we can play Fist Ball. The summer was almost over and we will have to go back to school in a couple of weeks. The good news is that when the summer is about to end our neighborhood church celebrates the feast of the Madonna a Saint and tradition that came to Brooklyn, New York when my parents and their friend moved to the U.S. from a small town in Italy called Mola DeBari.
It’s really a fun time of year. It’s a big deal to go to church and parade with the saint on your shoulders all-around the neighborhood. We all get dressed up for the parade and march with all the Italian American Molesee people. We walk what seems like a hundred blocks with a band playing Italian music and then the parade stops in front of houses where families have made large money donations to the church to shoot off fireworks. When the Saint stops people will come up and pin money donations directly on the Saint clothing. It’s quite a sight, the marching with thousands of people, the music, the fireworks and the street festival that goes on for three days and nights. As I walked up the steps to our apartment I’m also thinking that I have stop by Defonte’s to ask Mr. Nick if he needs me to work for him again. I can really use the money.