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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is For Dad

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Photo Courtesy of R. Koble

My dad was a superintendent of a six floor walk-up apartment building. It was was 1954, and I was 6 years old.

"Linda Lou Poopie Doo," is what Dad sang out when it was time to mop the halls, pull trash on a dumbwaiter, shovel coal into a mighty furnace, or repair a leaky faucet in 3J. And, I came running. At a young age, I learned how to swing a hammer, hammer a nail and what a Yankee screw driver was.

Each evening after supper, Dad would button my red sweater, knot a woolen scarf around my neck and watch me tenderly as I tagged him out our apartment door, into the dark of night, through an alley, and round a bend to the front entrance of 46 Park Place, him toting a wooden handled push broom, me carrying a large metal dust shovel, feeling very proud, very special, and very important. I’d follow his direction to park the shovel behind the entrance door, and wait for him to hoist me on his shoulders and carry me, along with that push broom, to the top floor. I can still feel his thick curls clasped tight tighter tightest in my fingers and hear his merry laughter with every step.

At the top landing, Dad would deposit me softly to the floor, and I’d wait anxiously for the fun to begin. Slipping that broom as an artist painting a landscape, Dad would work his way far left corner to far right corner, cutting under door frames and hall moldings, back to center stairs, pushing and pulling the ever growing pile of dust, dirt and paper scraps trekked in on soles of tenants' feet, down a staircase to next landing, repeating the practice, again and again, while I listened attentively to golden stories.

I wanted to be an actor he says, and sharing that story with his wide-eyed little helper, me, was what opened the flood gates to more stories--fond memories--of days gone by locked deep in his heart.

He says I went down the city for an audition. It was after high school. Then the war broke out. He says I joined the Marine Corps. After that I married your mother.

By 5th floor, I learned about my Italian grandparents, his mother and father. Grandma and Grandpa arrived in this country with a little girl, he says. Her name was Esther. She died at age 17 from kidney failure. I didn’t know what died meant. I didn’t know what a kidney failure was. But the tears in my dad’s eyes told me it was sad, and that it hurt.

By 4th floor, I learned the reason my grandparents arrived Ellis Island by way of Brazil, instead of Italy, their homeland. It was because they were so ignorant, and so excited to leave Italy, they heard the word America and boarded a boat to south America by mistake. Dad says they didn’t know there was a difference, and by the time they realized what they had done, it was too late.

By 3rd floor, I learned the trip from Abruzzi to Sao Paolo was traumatic for my grandmother. There had been a fire on the boat Dad says and her hair caught fire. He says that when they landed, they set up housekeeping, and that it took his father six long years to persuade your grandma to get back on another boat bound for this country. He says your Aunt Esther was born in Brazil and Grandma wouldn’t travel with a baby. He says it is the reason he speaks a muddied Italian. Grandpa and Grandma learned Portuguese while living in south America, and when they arrived Ellis Island, nobody could understand them except each other.

By first floor, it's Mrs. Schuman, or Mr. Abramson, or Mr. Schwartz arriving home. Every tenant in that building had a cheerful greeting for my dad. They'd each take a turn saying hello Mr. D, I’d get a pat on my head, and they'd call me daddy's little helper. Dad would always smile proudly, and give same answer. Yes. Linda is daddy's little girl.

When all floors, and stairs were swept clean and shovel emptied, Dad would tap the brush of his broom one last time, the signal our chore was completed. He'd hold out his hand, I'd clasp it tightly, and together we'd walk back to our apartment, just in time for me to get ready for bed.

There was a one word sign hanging on our door when I was a kid growing up. If I close my eyes, I can see it plain as paper. It said “Super.”

And, that’s exactly what my dad was.


Writing Tip:

"Editors and agents are turned off by letters chock-full of misspellings (including the recipient's name), or those that assume a relationship where none exists. Query letters that sound as if they were penned by Crazy Eddie instead of a thoughtful writer tend to get deep-sixed."--Betsy Lerner, from her book, "The Forest For the Trees"

Writing Quote:

"But, you've heard enough. Now, it's time for you to listen. Go and find your songs."--Cactus Fraggle


Until this time next time.

See you in print,

Linda Della Donna
"Come journal with me, your book is yet to be."


I write memoir. I support individuals going through the grief process and promote ways to turn an upside smile right side up again. Feel free to visit Griefcase to Opt-in for a copy of my free e-book and monthly newsletter and learn about the writing services I offer.



3 comments:

Word Crafter said...

Great post Linda I enjoyed reading about your dad brought up memories of my Grand pa - I spent more time with him than my dad...the times you know.
Thanks for the look at you and your dad.
Billie

Another Writer said...

You're a true writer. Loved this post. Felt like I was right there with you, observing the whole thing.

Jill Robbins said...

What a heartfelt tribute. I can feel your love for your dad. If only we all had memories such as those...