Going Bananas!

Well, one day when I was about 12, my Uncle Tony asked me to come with him on his next run. Naturally I was excited just knowing I was going to be a helper and so proud. Into the truck we went and he drove across town to the lower Hudson River where there were and still are piers that boats could dock to load and unload. Into the gigantically long pear we went and as we did so, it became darker and darker, so much so, he had to put on his lights, as did the fifty or so trucks already waiting in line. We stopped behind the last truck in line and he immediately jumped out and told me to do the same. Up to a desk we went and he registered there, but in doing so he knew who the men behind the desk were as he had done this run many times. With a big smile he began to talk, but in double-talk, which he was amazingly great at. All the guys around would look at him thinking him speaking in another language, but after a while, they all would begin to laugh knowing he was fooling them. He really was good and the best part was that he would speak as though he was asking a question. The men behind the desk would ask him to repeat it and again he would double-talk but maybe add even more gibberish. After a while everybody would laugh and laugh. Eventually when back in our truck, we moved along the line until our turn came and he backed the truck onto a platform where many other drucks were already loading. He said to me “Come on, lets load the truck”. Well talk about a new experience! We walked up a railed platform that led onto a mid sized ship, not a liner, or big cargo carrier, but rather one that threaded between the islands of the south to here in New York Harbor, just to deliver bananas. Onto, and into the boat I went behind my uncle, as we passed, men were carrying stalks of bananas on their shoulders laughing as they did so. Seeing me, a young kid, they laughingly yelled to my uncle, “Hey, Watch out for the big black spiders, they are much bigger this trip than the last one. “Wow”! “What” I exclaimed? Well, now I really had a problem, I had to watch out for spiders, and it was getting darker and darker as we went down and down, with only dim lights flickering, here and there. Uncle Tony turned to me and said don’t listen to those guys, they’re just fooling to make you scared. Yeh, well, they did a good job! As we went down, I notice men who were very, very dark, who spoke in a way that sounded like a song in different language, but it wasn’t, after I listened hard. They were laughing and laughing as they sang, and sweating so much so that their skin shined, even in the dark. I had seen a “colored” man only once before, and that was when my friends and I ran down Mulberry St to Houston St. because we heard loud yelling from people crowding around, cheering, as they moved down Houston St., but never so close as to be involved. When we got there, panting, we saw two guys fighting with long knives, they were very, very dark almost black, swinging their knives at each other with blood running from their bodies as they passed our street along with the loud crowd cheering them on. I say this was the first time because we lived on a street that was closed to anybody not living on it, including “The cops”. At that time they didn’t put “colored people” in books for children to see, at least not in any that I saw. So, I was not too shocked now to see these 2 guys. My uncle’s turn came and he walked up to a stalk of bananas and swung it on his shoulder as one of the Black men pulled the bow out of the knot on the cord that was holding it to the roof of the deck above us. Uncle Tony said to come follow him, and this time if you see any hands of bananas on the floor pick them up and bring them with us. Up we went and sure enough there was a hand that had fallen off, or “accidently” cut off one on the stalks that someone was carrying. I picked it up and was it heavy, with at least fifteen bananas on it, and crawling around one of them, came a spider that had to be as big as my hand with black fur on it. I didn’t hold onto that hand of bananas very long and certainly didn’t pick up another. Down to our truck we went and as we passed another desk that was directly along side of the ramp, they recorded our name so as to be able to tally and charge to Bianco Bros. When inside the truck, my uncle told me to now tie the top of the thick stem of the stalk onto the roof railing of our truck with the same rope that had been left on the stalk. So onto a box that Uncle Tony had set up for me I jumped, and tie it, I did. We continued this procedure time after time, till the truck was fully loaded with about 100 stalks hanging there. We then drove to our customer’s warehouse that was also dark and dreary; to do just the opposite, unload each stalk onto hooks on their ceiling. It took four hours from start to load. till unloading. So, back for another load, but this time Uncle Tony said that I had better pick up the hands that fell, as they were our tip, that we would then share with all my uncles, as well as the mounted policemen that hung around our office to have coffee and sandwiches. This too, is a story for another time, or you might read my story about Uncle Joey, that explains our Policeman friends.

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Sal Bianco Jr

Born in a fifth floor cold water apartment on Mulberry Street in Manhattan, NY, Have 3 very successful sons, Created a business called White Knight Ad Ventures LLC that had offices in Hong Kong, Manila, Seoul, Bangkok, Canton, China. Formed a Company called "Made in America" traveled 300,000 miles in a RV I made myself on a Peterbilt truck. Fly a powered parachute,and planning reaching 100. .

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