When me and Roger got home from flattening pennies on the railroad tracks with Moon Face Charlie it was getting close to dinner time. We agreed to call it a day so we got the painted bike frame from the back yard and we put it in the cellar for storage with the other unassembled bike parts. Roger said if it doesn’t rain we can try to put the bike together tomorrow. I said okay and went upstairs to my apartment. It was a weird day; I couldn’t get Crazy Moon Face Charlie’s ugly face out of my mind. To top it off he has a girlfriend and I wonder what the hell does she look like? What kind of a girl would go out with this crazy guy who throws “Fire Bombs” in a gang fight?
When I walked into our apartment I was surprised to see my father all cleaned up and sitting at the kitchen table. He sat there reading El Progresso an Italian news paper. My Mom sees me and tells me to wash up for dinner. This can’t be a good thing. I haven’t seen my father home when it’s a work day in months. Our family sits at the kitchen table ready to eat when my mom tells me and my sister that my father’s job ended at noon today and that if he doesn’t get another job soon he may have to collect unemployment insurance. We all sat there without saying much, when mom tells me that Pop wants to take you for a ride on the Staten Island Ferry tomorrow. Wow, that sounds great; I never went on a ferry before. Even though I liked the idea of going with my dad on this ferry ride I was not happy about him being out of work. I could see why my mom looked so upset, even with unemployment money she will have a hard time paying the rent and putting food on the table. She wanted to buy my sister and me some new clothes when school starts next month. Then there’s the festival of our Madonna coming up just before school starts.
My parents also planed to make a money contribution to St. Stephens Church and to the Mola Di Bari parade association that they belong to. If My Father is out of work, that is going to be very hard for them to do. After we finished our dinner, my father went back to reading his Italian newspaper. My sister went out to meet her girl friends at the ice cream parlor and I sat by the radio to listen to the adventures of the Green Hornet.
The next day my Dad was up early. He had his breakfast and he was waiting for me to wake up and eat my breakfast. We left our apartment about 9AM and started walking to Van Brunt Street to catch a bus to Bay Ridge where the Staten Island Ferry comes in to a dock at 69th street pier. It seemed like a long bus ride, my dad didn’t say much to me except for a “yes” or “no” to my questions. When we got off the bus we walked to the ferry landing. It was a cool sunny day and the sea water smelled so good. My dad bought two tickets and we got on the ferry. I ask my dad if I could sit on the top deck so I could see all the sights. He agreed as long as I was sitting next to him. The ferry made a large roar and water was bubbling all around the bow and stern of the boat as we departed from the dock. As the boat moved forward a strong wind started blowing in our face.
The smell of the sea water got even stronger as the Captain steered the ferry towards Staten Island. I asked one of the ferry workmen how long would the trip take and said a little over a half hour. Wow, I wanted the trip to take longer, because I loved the vibrations, the sound of the engines, the wind, the smell of the salt water and the sun beating down on us, on this cool day as the ship roared forward.
I was so happy that my father took me on this trip. We got to the next landing and after we docked we had to wait for the cars to be unloaded before we could walk off the boat. As we get off the boat I see another ferry docked close by. The other ferry is much bigger than the one we just rode on. So I asked my dad about it and he said that that’s the ferry to Manhattan and we will take a ride on that one too.
Wow, this is unbelievable; I can’t wait to ride that big ferry to Manhattan. So we got on the second ferry and rode almost forty five minutes, passed the Statue of Liberty, heading to Manhattan. I wanted to do this all day long. When we got to Manhattan we stayed on the ferry and returned to Staten Island. We passed the Statue of Liberty again; it is such a beautiful sight. I don’t know why I almost started to cry. When we returned to Staten Island we got on the ferry to go back to Brooklyn.
When we got on the bus my father started talking about the days he was a sailor in the Italian Navy fighting with the Allies against Germany during World War One. He was assigned to a Battle Ship and saw lots of action in the Mediterranean. I never knew that my Dad was in the First World War fighting with the Americans. I guess being on the water on such a beautiful day with his son brought back some memories he wanted to share.
It was late afternoon when we got home. I ran out of our apartment to find my friends to tell them all about my trip on the ferries to Staten Island and Manhattan and back again. When I got to Jimmy Pizza, Mike Tomato and Nunzio Superman apartments their mothers told me that the gang went to cool off at the Red Hook Swimming Pool near the new Projects. They should be home in a couple of hours. So there I am all pumped up about my trip with no one to tell them about it. That’s when I noticed Joanie and her sisters jumping rope in front of their home on Luquer Street. I walked across the street and sat there watching the girls jumping “Double Dutch”.
Okay, my friends are away at the pool, so I thought that the next best thing is to tell Joanie and her sisters all about my Staten Island Ferry adventure. The girls are very good jumping Double Dutch.
The so fast and they have a good rhythm keeping time while the jumper sings “my name is Joan-a, I come home-a for some Bologn-a, but nobody is home-a to give me the Bologn-a….” And so on, it’s such fun to watch them do their thing. I remember that I once asked my sister about who started jumping rope and she said that she once looked it up at the Library. She told me that the Encyclopedia said that this game started way back when with the Egyptian and Chinese rope makers. She doesn’t think that anyone knows for sure when jumping rope turned into a kid’s game. Rumor has it that the Dutch brought the game with them when they settled the town of New Amsterdam. I guess that’s why they call it “Double Dutch” because there are two ropes spinning at the same time while you’re jumping. I could never tell the guys that I did jump a single rope with the girl’s months ago. It was a lot of fun, but there’s no way I could do this Double Dutch thing. When the girls stopped jumping rope I sat on the stoop with Joanie and told her all about my adventure trip to Staten Island.