Chapter 11 (Friendship)A Chapter by Allen Smuckler
“And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures, for in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”
- Kahlil Gibran
It was a lonely life the first few months at Toll House Lane. We were in the middle of a building spree. Foundations were being dug and poured with cement, while homes were in different stages of completeness. However, there were only seven actually completed and occupied when we moved in. Piles of dirt and stones speckled the landscape like a bomb had exploded in space. It was desolate but alive with activity and hope. Jimmy Dembrowski lived in the first house built coincidentally at the beginning of the block as you turned in from Park Avenue. If you continued another hundred yards or so, Park Avenue crossed the Mill River into Easton. Marty Lyons lived in the first house on the left hand side and was the first house you came to when leaving Fairfield. He would be the only person I knew, or would ever know, on the other side of the river. I knew Mark from Hebrew School and the Jewish Community Center but he would walk up to our bus stop in Fairfield and attend our schools. I never was quite sure why he did that, but he did. Perhaps Easton still did not have schools or they weren’t as good as Fairfield schools. He was the closest thing to being rich, in my mind anyway. His father owned the clothing store, Lyon’s, where we did all our clothes shopping.
Jimmy lived in a cape and we lived in a ranch. That was really the only difference between his family and mine. Hard working parents striving to make a better life for their children. It turned out, that all the adults who moved into our development, whether on Toll House Lane or Stevenson Road possessed the same goals and aspirations; to attain the American dream. To strive and work hard to succeed at whatever they chose to do. Club Drive was a small road connecting Toll house lane and Stevenson Road, but no one lived on this connective road. It was the conjunction of roads. It connected two “thoughts” but other than that, served really no significant purpose. Interestingly, the Toll House gang socialized among themselves and the Stevenson families, tended to gravitate toward each other. There was neither rhyme nor reason for this as far as I could tell other than proximity to each other, but we were all in this together and shared a common bond...The Development.
I would eventually, however, have several friends from Stevenson Road like Peter Norlan, Vinny Noriega and of course Donald Wakens. My best friends from Toll House Lane were Anthony Paninni, The Oriannos (Daffy A.K.A. Dominick and his older brother Patrick), and of course Craig, Jimmy, and Larry. Larry wasn’t a great friend though my sister, Arlene was friend’s with his sister. He did however teach me a life lesson, years later involving Daffy.
They were as a diverse group of people you could find anywhere in the world. J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur (you remember him), wrote in Letters From an American Farmer in 1782, that the American is one who was ‘leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners...Here individuals of all nations were melted into a new race of men, who labors and posterity would one day cause great changes in the world.’ 1 A true “melting pot” as defined and written about by Israel Zanwill in the early 1900’s. Zanwill explained that the “melting pot” was an analogy for the way in which heterogeneous societies become more homogeneous in which the ingredients of the pot (people of different cultures, races, and religion) were combined so as to develop a multiethnic society.2
It was sort of like beef stew. Add a few peas, and carrots, with potatoes and meat and voila, beef stew. Not quite as tasty but nutritious never the less. The whole was often times greater than and/or equal to the sum of the parts. It was as though both men had seen the future...and the future was now.
Unfortunately, prejudice and discrimination reigned their ugly faces through our country during the fifties and sixties and no more so than toward the blacks and the Jews. There was certainly a melting pot, but not everyone was invited to the party.... not everyone was welcomed. Our development, smack dab in the middle of Fairfield county, was no different; just a little more subtle and a bit more discrete. This bigotry raised its ugly scepter on many occasions and in many different forms, but more than not it came out through the children; my “friends”, which was the worst place to originate and fester. It wasn’t the south by any stretch of the imagination, but it was as apparent as the wart on Mrs. Pannino’s nose. You could cover it up and hide it with makeup, but you always knew it was there. The sums of the parts were not always greater than or equal to the whole. Only if you were the right part, the right slice, the right ingredient, and we apparently were not. I found this out soon enough.
© 2012 Allen Smuckler
Added on April 1, 2012
Last Updated on April 27, 2012
My Life (A Child's View)
AboutI'm a poet, a singer, a peaceful gunslinger.. looking to share my poetry..and a little bit of me...if I dare I 've been writing since I was 18.... am slightly older now, and still trying to fin.. more..
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