I believe that we are truly our brother’s keeper. The predominently elderly population in the newyork city tenement I grew up in provided me with many opportunities to live, love and care about many more people than myself. My childhood was a childhood of duty. Many a day was spend delivering groceries and running errands for my neighbors. In the winter we shoveled our friends homes and took down the garbage. There were many occasions where I had to rescue my neighbors from falls after the merciless snow and ice storms of the the 1970’s. I can remember the sense of purpose I had when everyone would tell my mother what a good son she had. God knows mom didnt have much more than my siblings and me and it was nice to hear that “money didnt buy class” cause we didnt have much money at all. In reward for my caring service I had the honor of hearing about a world that existed before I did and I was fascinated with it. Tony would sit me down in the amid the puff’s of his cigar smoke and tell me about playing against the great Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson in semi-pro ball games and throwing the great Whitey Ford off his newspaper truck as a kid for breaking up the paper bundles! Sarah and Fanny actually lifted the Giglio saint at the Italian feast much to the dismay of their parents who deemed this unlady like! Grace told me about how disciplined kids were and that if you got in after dark her mom would beat her with a wooden hair brush. I thought this was tough love way before the term was coined. My mom was only allowed to go to the movies to watch the war news reels and the singing cowboys that she loved so much. My grandfather spied on her to find my aunt Stella hanging out with the boys and gigling too much! My mom got a warning about eating too much candy and aunt stella got the wood brush of mercyand reform! There was a hurt in these people when they spoke about the depression and seeing the poorest people they have ever seen migrate from the south in the 20’s and 30’s. They made me try and realize the horrible losses of family and friends they endured in the second world war. Now post September 11th I can understand a little better having lost loved ones en mass very quickly. All the funerals and young lives that will never be. I feel protective of these kind peoples souls and I am happy that after leading good lives full of hard work and deprivations that they did not live to see such a merciless day like 9/11 but they lived through worse with dignity always looking out for the young and less fortunate. These wonderful people I grew up around taught me compassion and hard work, dignity and about a world that came before me and affects me to this day. It was with great pain that I had to lead ambulance crews to their apartments when they passed and our last goodbyes were separated by a plastic bag and a silent farewell.
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