March 29, 2023
Bruna, Mario, Anita
June 24, 1968
Gonna buy me a long white robe
I’m gonna find me a smilin’ angel
This second image fragment is also from that long-ago. We’re at the Sault Ste Marie airport and I’m leaving for Toronto. My final destination is the Christian Brothers Novitiate in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Talk about a leap into the unknown.
My friends drove me to the airport; Bruna was ‘going with Rainer’; Anita was dating Ron. I’m holding my Slazenger tennis racket with its wooden press – OMG. In a weird twist of fate, it became my ticket into the upper echelon of the Brothers – OMG squared.
The way I feel is like a robinWhose babes have flown to come no moreLike a tall oak tree alone and cryin’When the birds have flown and the nest is bare
Living in Northern Ontario, in that long-ago, life was about assimilation into the ‘English’ culture. The Slazenger racket was a symbol of having left behind my immigrant roots. Brandishing the talisman let slip from memory my very Italian name. And the long-ā, Canadian pronunciation, of my very Italian name, disguised its foreign origins.
We lived in a town with a French name, but looked down on our French-Canadian neighbors; we bought Slazenger equipment – it was the racket of Wimbledon; we had names like Bruna, Mario, Anita, but we weren’t Italian; I was going to a monastery, but we’re posed like a vacation picture.
In Sault Ste Marie, in the 1960s there were tennis courts at every municipal playground. My friends and I, played tennis as often as possible. Taking my racket with me, was the equivalent of today’s kid taking a basketball with him to college.
However, walking onto the ocean-front campus of the Christian Brothers Novitiate with a tennis racket sent a message; a message I was oblivious of. But that summer, I played tennis with all the mucky-mucks vacationing in the mansion and cottages on the property; I even played tennis with a New York Mafia don.
In May of 57, my family left Calabria for Canada. In June of 68, I left Sault Ste Marie for Rhode Island – never to live in Canada again.
The featured image for this post is the 1966 cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s first solo album. Imagine, I took it with me to a monastery. Also, the two quotes – Gonna buy me and The way I feel – are from songs on that album.