Today is my husband's birthday - an event grandly feted at the reunion we've just labored through. Of course telephonic and mailed best wishes poured in all day along with the occasional wry and touching Irish Blessing. I was among the wishers and 'blessers', to be sure but it occurred to me that
1) You already know the 'shaman'
2) I've done 'imortant birthdays' (p/s see august 2011) and
3) I've never written about my DAD!
We'll not be able to say that tomorrow. Joe's birthday was September 1. Our fourth child, Declan, was born August 31 and I really think Daddy felt slighted that I had dared go into labor on what was most surely HIS appointed day. No matter. He brought the 'big broyjher and sisters' to the hospital and joined in the festivities - all the while referring to the infant as "Joey". (Dad was a quiet kind of fellow but subtlety was a LONG suit.) Might as well begin at the beginning with 'Joe-the-suiter'.
Greenpoint, our Brooklyn 'hood, was not the haven of the recherche that I'm told it has become today. Rather, it was on the 'wrong side' of the "Lake". A 'point', yes; green, no. more of a smoky, slate gray. Riverside, yes; Manhattan loomed like a Lego cityscape in clear view from OUR side. In fact, waterway access defined Greenpoint's existence and provided adventure-on-the-docks for athletic little shavers like Joe - tall, lean, fast - a super athlete. "Leap-Pile" was a favorite. the game involved jumping from one tarred, pigeon=flecked sunken piling to the next. The winner was the guy with the best time. Joe held the record, finally besting good friend Benny-the-Bat one fine day. That he broke a front tooth, did a lousy job of attempting to glue it back on and didn't get it past his Mom, caused a 'luster loss' for the activity but you could always get a bunch of bored fellas together for a run or two.
Joe was the eldest of four - only one sister - so his was a 'birthright' pace-setter role. A devil on skates, metal roller AND ice - his rep was most firmly established an d widely-known in stick ball. The family (as well as the family of the gal he would woo/pursue) lived on Diamond Street. Honest. The big games were played on the last segment of the street which terminated - unfortunately for the diocese - in the huge Gothic, gargoyled magnificence of St. Stanislaus Kostka roman Catholic Church. (Some might have called it the far center field wall but it was definitely a church. Stained-glass windows, twenty to thirty feet by roughly fifteen feet indented the sand castle-like mammoth cathedral walls at intervals, beautifully depicting biblical business or stellar, haloed luminaries. So when Joe hit a homer, which would be the distance of a city block (four sewers; thirty row houses; as many vehicular chrome and white-walled hunks of metal - pick your metaphor), "Holy S___!" was NOT an unusual vocal response/shout of athletic prowess, it SOMEtimes acknowledged yet another 'stained-glass' fatality.
He had a vegetable cart business before and after school. I don't recall whether it had a name but it certainly provided the opportunity for the "Joe and Julie romance story of the times" to begin, flourish and culminate. Mom was SO impressed with Dad's looks, athleticism and dancing prowess, that ere long, much to Grandma's disapproval, they were an 'item'.