This is a true story about my father Sal A. Bianco
Well, first off my father never really spoke to me, we drove cross-country together and I don’t think he said 10 words to me. Well, I didn’t care as I loved him more than you can imagine! If you think that unusual, he was loved by everyone who met him. He was a gentle-man as well as a gentleman, and I’ve seen friends who would destroy anyone who would abuse with words or any other way. Before he was gentle however, he was a true Gay-Blade. Going to Broadway shows nightly and driving a Duesenberg car. His friends loved his true friendliness and all wanted to be with him as he spent money like water. His father thought he was everything you could imagine in a son, and he proved it many times. In other stories that I wrote about my father, all this was brought out, so I’ll not go in that direction. Instead, I want to talk about my experiences with him. While he was getting older 63, he had 5 businesses to run that he had started over the years. First running the family trucking business, then at Easter, he went to the south and bought Spring lambs from farmers to fulfill all local Italians’ desire for it at Easter. From the time his father brought a cousin over from Italy, and sent him to California to handle grapes so Italians in the New York area could make wine, and have his son selling them here. So, my father had to fulfill that wish of his father and began selling grapes in a railroad yard in Jersey City, New Jersey, just across the Hudson river from Manhattan, and he also had to make wine thereafter from the grapes he could not sell, after thanksgiving day! The other railroad yards were in Manhattan on 37th street, where our families trucking business went to pick up meat sent from Chicago, which they delivered to all wholesalers locally. So the yards in New Jersey were where my father, solely, sold and shipped the grapes that arrived from Fresno, California.., and what this story is all about.
I was young, maybe 14, it was my turn to go with him in the summer to those same yards, as now my Brother Al had done in his tour before me. Loving every second, starting early every morning we headed to Jersey City, opened the three railroad cars and prepared for the day ahead. He may have said by then maybe 5 words! Oh! Oh! I forgot one of the most important events!!! When we were ready to leave our house, my father would go into the kitchen and get his 4 Italian cigars (Stogies) that had been soaking overnight in scotch whiskey. (The last bottle he used, I still have and have kept to remember these days)
Then we were off to work, actually not work, but fun and excitement, at least what a young 14 year old boy thought. So as the light of the day got brighter, finally a small truck, (in those days there were no “pickups” they came 40 years later.) would back into the opening where we stood, a Italian man would got out and yell “Ahllow Sally, I need 40 boxes of “zinfandel” today, but I no got the money yetta!”, so my father would smile the most wonderful smile, as I looked at him and then would say “It’s ok Benny, you can pay me later”, and then another little truck would arrive as Benny was pulling away. I’d here a shout from the new driver to him. “Hey Bennuchio is no come on my street I kick your “aasse”!! Benny would look out his window and laugh and say “They comma to me, I no go them!” laughing, laughing as he pulled away. The new driver would then look up to my Father and say “Bon Jouno SAlly” laughing as he said it. Again, he said “50 boxes today as I gotta some of Bennie’s costume”, Laughing and laughing. OH! Oh! Sally, you give me trusto, I pay you next time, as my File yoe (BOY) needs a tooth fixed, and as usual my father would say with his slight smile “That’s OK Juonne! And the day would go on all always in fun and laughter, but my father never laughed, but rather, with a smile that could “kill” just watching him! He wasn’t just my father, he was a man who everyone around him knew, and truly loved. And he was my father, and I’d do anything to make him love me.
Well, here comes the sad part, as time went on with so many beautiful other stories about him I’ve written. It was 1964 and he was 63, and because of all the juices from his cigars that he swallowed all his life,, his body became cancerous from his throat down into his stomach, and he had a very short time to live, maybe 6 months!! I was told all this separately by his doctor, as he kept it from my mother and father, as in those days doctors were your friends for dinner, as well as doctors coming to your home to advise. I now had to make a decision, and decided that telling them would only ruin the rest of his life, so instead, I told them that it was best for them to drive to Fresno California, where the rest of their children lived as it was time anyway for him to retire at 64. So, we bought a new station wagon with wooden side panels, and put all their possessions into it, and I told them I would sell our home of 20 years and thereafter, send them the money. I wasn’t sure if I would ever see my father alive again, but it truly was the best for them to spend their time there with all their family. Goodbye Mom! Goodbye Dad !!!????
Sal Bianco Jr, March 29, 1964
My father died 6 months later and I attended the funeral in Fresno California with all my siblings and their children! My mother came to me while there and was both sad and mad saying why did you send us here? I said: ”Mom it was so you would be with your children and grandchildren!!!” She looked at me as she did all my life when I was bad and said “We belonged where we lived all our lives with his siblings and the hundreds of friends we have there! Look around you, there is only his children, where are all the people who we lived with??” She turned and left and I was broken-hearted, and actually she was right!!
She lived until she was 97 and just said she wanted to be with my father and laid down and never woke again! A winner right to the end!!!
I think I’ll stick my two cents into this conversation and mention my experiences in relation to what’s been said here. My father and mother went to Italy to be the best man for Aniello’s grandfather. I was very young but I know it was a time when our families were getting back together. Later a man came and stayed at our house who also was a cousin. I can’t remember his name but know he was an Italian customs official. He spoke in a little broken English but he was a strong minded person who spoke his ways. He is the one who told me that I had been chosen to wear the scarf of a great Bianco who fought in a war. Before that he was a man who was a bandit who held upstages and always wore a big scarf over his face as he did so! He shared his earning with the village and was respected and feared by all. He had a small band of men and they would enjoy the local women, as he was a lover of sorts. (That was all I was told at this time), The relative was insistent that this was an honor and I believed him, as my father had also agreed that it was what I should do. I took this on and have worn a scarf for all the years that have followed. If for some reason a would leave my home without it, I would go back no matter how far I had to go to get it, till I realized that a spare was acceptable, but if I was out without it I felt and still do feel I have no cloths on…TRUE! In all the years that followed, I never thought anything about it till I and my wife Claire went to Italy to visit my family there because Aniello showed up in America and I then wanted to visit and meet all there. While there I was treated like I was always there and my cousin, Aniello,s grandfather took me under his wing and his grandmother would prepare meals for killing. You can’t imagine how wonderful I felt being there and accepted by all. A women cousin who stopped doing her normal routine of being a pediatrician while we were there and took us everywhere and treated me like her brother. Her name is Marieantoinette and I will never forget how wonderful she was. Aniello showed up and it was complete. His grandfather and he brought me along with them into the history of what and where the Bianco family fit together. It was wonderful to watch them both tell me of our history as they both glowed, making me glow as well. Years later, when Aniello told me of his death, I was unbelievably sad… more like my father’s death! Actually it was because my father was suffering so bad from cancer that you could not watch him suffer. Aniello is now like my son, as when he came into my life it was with a jump into my arms and hugging me like we had met before and he missed me terrible as we hugged each other. In a sense, I feel like I’m like our bandit ancestor in many ways. In my life I travelled to Asia and took from all the manufacturers there, by paying pennies for things they made and selling then selling them for 10 times the amount. They actually thought they were cheating me as all they ever got for their products was rice, and they couldn’t sell it for more than the government’s established prices, as anyone charging more were hung on the spot… I’ve seen it happen! However, doing this in the Philippines, I gave work to thousands of people who were Living in grass huts in little villages and had nothing but their religion for comfort. Well, I’m babbling on now, so THE END!
The other day I wrote something to a neighbor who thanked me for sharing my life adventures! I in turn wrote back to her this, but didn’t realize how true it is, take a look!!!
You sound like you’re on the same road as me! No traffic lights to stop us, and all down hill, cause we’re taking the right road,to heaven!!!