Thursday, July 25, 2013

Papa's Bedtime Stories

My father and grandmother
This weekend, at our family reunion, I got to see my parents, sister, and niece, Julia. Julia is going to be 6 in August! It was so fun to have some quality time with her.

We explored my aunt’s and uncle’s house, acted silly, played ping pong. My skills match hers in the table-tennis arena, so ping pong balls were flying everywhere. When I got too tired to play anymore, I told her that we would have 2 more volleys then be done.

She said, “But what if it’s a rip-off!?” (meaning one of us, probably me, entirely misses the ball)
“Then, we’ll have to do a repeat, but only if it’s a rip-off,” I explained.
She thought carefully about this, then added, “And if it’s not a rip-off, we’ll just keep playing.”
“Ok,” I said, then, “Wait a minute! That means we just keep playing no matter what…”
She got a big, goofy smile on her face. “That’s right.”

Uh oh, she’s a clever one.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel for a quick swim in the pool, then we got E ready for bed. Once she was asleep, Mark offered to stay with her, so I could go next door and visit with my family. Julia was lying in bed while we chatted, and she piped up when she noticed my father had settled into a chair.

“Papa! Tell me one of your stories!”

My dad used to tell us stories almost every night before bed. Better than any story out of a book, he would tell us about the adventures and troubles he used to get into as a kid. If I told them all here, it’d be a long post, so I’ll post a few, and I’ll add more to the blog as I can (Papa Stories label added at left). These are the stories that I grew up with, and listening to him tell them again for my niece was so special.

Keep in mind that these are geared toward kids aged 6-10, but that as a big kid of 30, I still laughed like I was hearing them for the first time. I’ll try to tell them as close to the original as I can remember them. Try to imagine them being told by a deep-voiced Italian man with a long forehead, animated eyes, and a huge mustache.

Papa Tony: When I was a little boy (early 1960s), I was best friends with Bruce Burke. Every morning, at about 5am, before everyone else was awake, I would walk over to Bruce’s house. Bruce was still sleeping, so I would throw rocks at his window to wake him up. One morning, bright and early, I went over, found some good rocks to throw, and began chucking them at the window. Tink! Tink! Tink! No answer, so I threw some more. Tink! Tink! Tink! Finally, the window flew open and Bruce’s dad, Mr. Burke, poked his head out.

“Tony!! What are you doing!?” he yelled.
“Uh… I was just looking for Bruce.”
“Well, he stayed at his grandmother’s last night!”
“Oh, sorry.”

Papa laughs at how he went home, feeling embarrassed, and Julia giggles. Then Papa continues about what happened on the mornings Bruce did answer.

Papa Tony: One morning, Bruce and I went outside to climb trees. We loved climbing, and we looked for the tallest trees we could find. We finally found one perfect for climbing, not far from the sidewalk. The bottom branches were hard to reach, but once you pulled yourself up, they were closely bunched for quick climbing. We climbed as high as we could. Almost at the top, we sat side by side, the houses below, the tree gently swaying.

After awhile, we saw a man walking down the sidewalk below, in our direction. I don’t know what possessed me to do this, but as he passed below us, I yelled out, “Hey you!!”

The man didn’t know where the voice was coming from. He looked left, then looked right. He looked confused, then started walking again.

“Hey you!!!” I yelled.

Again, the man stopped. He looked left, looked right. He kept walking.

“Hey you with the hair on your head!!”

Julia cracks up laughing, as I always did, as I still do just watching her laugh.

Papa continues: The man finally figured it out, and yelled, “Hey! You kids get down here right now!!”

Well, Bruce and I weren’t coming down, and we knew that man wasn’t going to climb up. So, we waited until he finally gave up and walked off. Then we climbed down the tree and went home.

I don’t know what it was about that story – the fun in hearing about the little innocent pranks kids play, my dad's animated gestures, or the fact that he actually yelled “Hey you with the hair on your head,” – but I would laugh until my sides hurt every time he told it.

We’re going home for Julia’s birthday next month, so I’ll try to get some more in writing before then to add to the collection.


Janice Gifford said...

I love this post, Gretchin!

Janice Gifford said...

Love this post, Gretchin!

AdminG said...

Thanks so much!! :-)