In the days before cellphones or pagers, my dad ran Joe’s Taxi in Fort Lee. Talk about Old School: We lived only a block from the taxi stand, so he bought a huge pole and planted it out front of the house. When a fare called, Ma plugged in the light and Pop would come rushing to get the job. Of course, I had to plug in the light every once inawhile. Then I’d run like hell.
Pop would come home and say, “What?”
And Mom would say, “WHAT?”
Entrepreneur that he was, Pop turned our yard into a commuter lot. 50 cents to park your car. Even then, it was a sweet deal.
So he’d be out working and Ma would be cleaning — and dispatching — when the doorbell rang. Mom dropped me and ran out to get the keys, park the car and collect the change.
One day after she cleaned the entire kitchen, she went to park a car, leaving me crawling through the cabinets. By the time I was done, I pulled out the pasta pot and poured in flour, macs, cereal — whatever I could get my tiny hands on.
When she got back, she found me sitting on the floor, mixing up the bowl just like her.
Legend has it that she hit me and then tied me to the high chair. I think the statute of limitations has run out on that one (Can you just imagine me, an adult woman, calling DYFS now to report my elderly mom? They’d probably lock ME up).
Thankfully, my sisters kept Ma distracted, while my brother slipped in, like on “Mission Impossible,” and untied me.
Then we got CB radios.
Calls would come in, and Mom would get on the CB and dispatch my Pop or my brother or my cousins.
Dinner become a real friggin’ picnic.
Mom would put a plate of ronis on the table.
“Breaker. Breaker. 1-9″
“Hey, pass the bread will ya?”
“Lemoine and Main, goin’ to Broad”
“Ma, we got any more ricot’?”
Lights, bells, whistles, phones ringing, CB radio chatter — your typical American household.
To this day, the first thing I do when I get home is turn on the TV. Then I get work on whatever.
“How can you think with all this chatter going on?” my Honey asks.
“This is home, baby.”
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