Bigando's Market -- 12/14/06

Okay, so I finally missed an entry -- but I did get almost two weeks into the month (and, since I had an entry for November 30th, that actually did make two full weeks without missing an entry). No, 'twas not triskaidekaphobia, we had a Christmas dinner party to go to last night that I had forgotten about (well, Nancy had it on her calendar but it wasn't on the kitchen calendar) and which lasted past the announced time of from six until nine, and then we had to stop at a supermarket on the way home and, faced with a choice between going to bed and reading a few pages before falling asleep and sitting bleary-eyed at my computer typing up a journal entry, going to bed won out. (And I think I only read about three pages before putting the book down, taking off my glasses, and turning out the light.)

In my previous entry I had been rambling on about old telephones and had inserted a parenthetical question to my brother about the name of a neighborhood market. [Hey Charlie, yes, it was Suskind's that I was thinking about, thank you -- but I thought Peppie's was spelled Peppe's] Of course, being three years older than my little brother, I can remember when Bigando's Market was Rienzo's Market. Chris Rienzo was a big heavy Italian with a big friendly loud personality and when I was very little I was conflicted about going there with my mother when she bought groceries -- I would frequently be given some kind of treat. Bananas were not divided into small bunches of three or four bananas; a full huge bunch containing dozens of bananas hung from the ceiling of the store and Mr. Rienzo would sometimes pull off a tiny banana from the tip of the bunch and give it to me. I viewed this huge mass of bananas with a mixture of fascination and fear, having heard stories about tarantulas coming to the U.S.on bunches of bananas. I remember at some point one of the bakeries was running a promotion where they had made miniature loaves of bread (I presume as samples?) and I was so totally excited when given one of those mini-loaves.

Receiving special treats was the good part of going there. The downside was having my cheek pinched as he shouted "Ey! How's the bambino today?" (So there I would be, three or four years old, pondering whether adults realized how annoying they could be. I think I half-feared that someday he would forget himself and lift me into the air by my face, leaving me dangling by my cheek pinched between his massive thumb and forefinger while calling me a "bambino.")

Then one day there was a different man behind the counter and he introduced himself as Dominic Bigando and laughingly told me that it was probably too hard a name for a little kid like me to remember. (And I wondered if I could say Mr. Rienzo's name, why would I have trouble saying Mr. Bigando's name? Annoying adults. And yes, I really do remember dumb stuff like this.)

The Bigando family had two boys -- Don, who was two or three years older than me, and Larry, who was a year or so younger than me -- and we were all members of the pack of boys who roamed the neighborhood together.

As my brother mentioned in the comments section of my previous entry, we might be sent to the store without money and our purchase would be noted in a big ledger book to be taken care of later. This credit was extended to kids -- or, at least to teenagers -- and I can remember many times picking up a pack of cigarettes on credit, paying back the 22 cents a few days later. Yes, younger readers, that is what a pack of smokes cost at a neighborhood grocery back when I acquired the vile habit. Actually, Bigando's Market was involved in my beginning to smoke because back when we were around eleven or so (I didn't become a real smoker until I was 12, almost 13) sometimes Larry Bigando would snatch a pack of cigarettes (usually Lucky Strikes, if I recall correctly) from his dad's store and he and Louie Nacarato, Mike Amato, and I would sneak off somewhere out of sight, perhaps off in the woods or maybe down by the abandoned Day Line docks.

Bigando's Market was sort of a social center for us -- oh, not inside the store -- but in the vacant lot on the right side of the store. That was the site of many impromptu touch football games -- played by kids of all ages and sizes -- one of the popular plays when we got close to the defending teams goal was to slip the ball to one of the smaller kids right at the line of scrimmage and then toss him (tightly clutching the ball) right over the opposing team. (And sometimes the "touch" in touch football was closer to a two-handed slam.) And we would hang out in front of the store in the evenings after it was closed -- if it was a rainy night we could get out of the rain by standing in the entranceway. Only in retrospect did it occur to me that we were actually not as unsupervised as we felt we were because the Bigando's house was next to the store on the left side... not to mention that this was back in the days when any adult in the neighborhood would have felt perfectly free to give us a good talking to if they thought we were being too wild -- and to call our parents if they didn't think we were suitably chastised.

A few years ago I drove through the old neighborhood, noticing how much smaller everything was... and I saw that Bigando's Market was still there. I stopped and walked up to the door and saw an older woman working behind the cash register and I swear it looked like Don and Larry's aunt (who used to work at the store)... I was tempted to go in and say hello but she was busy with customers and I figured she had never really known me that well (now if it had been Dominic Bigando himself that would have been a different story)... so I just got back into my car and hit the road to return to Rhode Island.

Blasts from the past -- entries for this date from previous years:

This is my Holidailies entry for December 14
A brief introduction....
A brief introduction to anyone who wanders in here for the first time from the Holidailies site -- I'm a middle-aged (*cough* okay, 63, but I don't look a day over 62 ) guy who lives in Rhode Island with my wife Nancy (a middle-school math teacher), daughter Gillian ("Jill" -- 24 yr old college student), son Jeremy (21 yr old college student), and Tiger (senior citizen cat). Eldest child Adam lives in New York City with his wife Leah and our grandson Sam. I'm a former programmer/systems analyst who got into doing software training and currently works from home doing quality assurance and editing on course material for both classroom courses and Web-based training courses. I've been writing this online journal since 1996. (If you read some of the archived entries, until a couple of years ago I used fake names for the kids -- "Sean" = Jeremy and "Jennifer" = Gillian)

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