They were the best of friends since the old country, and ultimately settled near each other in the new world.
The families remained close. Frank eventually fathering five children, one of whom died in infancy. Joe became the patriarch of his four-sibling clan, with only one daughter counted among them.
Frank operated a shoe repair shop in the Bronx while Joe engaged in two different trades – as a tailor doing piece work and as a barber whenever the need arose.
The families grew even closer when one of Frank’s two sons married Joe’s only daughter. Frank later left for the suburbs just north of the City, while Joe settled to the east – even for a time living with us.
They remained close even though the times they saw each other grew ever scarcer. But I well remember one such meeting when they were quite old. Seated on a porch, strong espresso in hand, and enough cigarette smoke to make the humid summer air feel even thicker.
They are both long gone now, as are four of their children and one grandchild. But their memories remain strong.
The thick Neapolitan accent that was never lost, banter about the old country and the love of the new one, the huge Sunday afternoon pasta and meat dinners (including a little wine mixed with soda for the young ones), the love they passed on to my own mom and dad.
Two buddies reunited decades ago and likely still friends – Giuseppe and Francesco.
Joe and Frank.
Copyright (TZampino) 2021
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