Tuesday, May 20, 2014

REMEMBERING CHAUNCEY STREET 10.Groceries and Cars by Pat Aronica

Billy c. 1947
Our grocery store was an old A&P located on the corner of Howard Ave. and Chauncey St. The owner was a Mr. Horan, and his helper was named Percy. (Thus, the name of my current dog.) Mr. Horan and Percy were both from Ireland, and Mr. Horan was married with a family. I don’t remember much about Percy. My mother shopped daily at the market and had a running account. She paid the bill weekly, when my father got paid. Charges were written in pencil by Mr. Horan on an old beer advertisement cardboard. Each week he manually added the amounts. No one ever questioned the accuracy of the tallies. We just assumed everything was correct. Once a week, on Saturdays, my mother would place a large order which my brother, Billy, would deliver to our apartment. Billy was the delivery boy for the store. He worked for tips and for a storage space for his current “hot rod.” Billy always had some sort of motor vehicle. I don’t remember if, or when, he got a driver’s license.  

Billy had a storage bin in our cellar. It was an old coal bin that measured about 6 feet by 8 feet. He had a locked on the door of the bin, and he had a skull and cross bones painted on the door. Contained in this bin were all kids of old car parts that Billy had accumulated over time. It must have taken him months before my parents moved to sort thru the contents. By that time, Billy had served in the army and was well married to Anna.

When Billy became a sheet metal apprentice, he offered to drive my father to work in some early 1920s touring car that he had acquired. It had no windows, and Billy drove too fast for my father’s comfort. My father told Billy in no uncertain terms to let him out. He would walk to work rather than taking his life in his hands with Billy. One time, we were all coming home from Bergen Beach in one of Billy’s famous cars. We looked like a band of gypsies, and it started to rain. Of course the car didn’t have a window defroster. We had to hold our breaths so the windows would clear up.

© 2013, Patricia Aronica

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