Saturday, December 21, 2019

50 Years Ago, Seems Like Yesterday

50 Years Ago, Seems Like Yesterday

Mike Pellecchia

When I went to college I packed everything I needed in 2 suitcases

because that was the limit on the plane

4 months later, end of semester, went home for Christmas.

I planned on opening the closet in my bedroom and seeing all the stuff I had carefully packed and and stacked in my side of the closet in me and my brother’s bedroom. Years of MAD Magazines, baseball cards, record collection, gizmos and gadgets of a kid growing up.

When I got to my old bed room, after taking the bus in the snow from the jail in Knoxville where I was put for hitch hiking from Texas

my stuff was gone from my side of the closet.

I asked my younger brother, who was in high school, where my stuff was.

“Mom threw it out,” he said rather matter of factly and in a defeated tone. “She needed space for her clothes.”

He was right. Mom had been on a serious clothing binge since that summer when I went away to college in Texas.

Fashion had been changing, pant suits had been coming out, and she was trying out all the different colors fabrics were coming in.

Christmas eve, she had visions of seeing or being the Virgin Mary, and they were not pleasant. My father and three brothers encircled her while she acted like a demon possessed.

It would be her first Christmas like this.

My friend Joe was gonna pick me up. We’d be working Christmas Eve in his dad’s bakery, so that when his dad opened at 7 a.m. there would be no chance of running out of donuts, cakes, cookies at Richard’s Bake Shop on Christmas Day.

Joe and me set a cake over to the side and I iced it with the words “Happy Birthday Jesus.”

We went over to the part of town where the Christmas lighting spectacular was. It brought people from all over the state. We brought a folding card table and offered free slices of Happy Birthday Jesus Cake.

We stood out there in the rather bitter cold for awhile doing this.

We could hardly believe it. No one wanted any Happy Birthday Jesus Cake.

We felt like bearers of bad news. We felt like thieves. It was just a white frosted cake, but Abe back at the bakery could have sold it, and we couldn’t give it away.

On the way back to the bakery I sat in the passenger side with the cake on my lap.

There wasn’t much to say.

Mark Twain had already said all there was to say about stuff like this.

I rolled down the passenger window as we crossed the river bridge. A gust of cold wind made me reach for the zipper on my windbreaker but it was already pulled all the way up because we were in a Rambler American with a dodgy heater fan. I mentally gauged the space the between the rails on the bridge vis a vis how fast we were going on this icy Christmas Eve road mess in Connecticut. I didn’t want pieces of cake to catch on the bridge and freeze. I wanted the whole thing to go into the river.

It did.