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The Banana Man

The Banana Man

Back then we called him The Banana Man. He was a creepy guy who never revealed his name. I had broken the cardinal rule that my mother repeated day after day while I was a kid growing up in 1970’s New York City.

“Don’t talk to strangers,” she’d say, “unless you want to get raped or kidnapped or killed.” Anytime there was a news story about a missing child my mother would nod knowingly. “See! The kid probably went with a stranger. Probably raped and dead by now! Those poor parents, what they must be going through!” Then would come her tirade. “You better not talk to strangers. You better not put me through that! If I find out you talked to a stranger, I’ll kill you myself!”

So, I am sure you can appreciate why I never told my mother about The Banana Man during the two-year period he stalked me. 

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I learned the proper way to set a table at Angelina’s Restaurant before I knew my ABCs.

I learned the proper way to set a table at Angelina’s Restaurant before I knew my ABCs.

The restaurant was established at 41 Greenwich Avenue between Perry and Charles Streets in NYC in 1936, where  it remained, owned and operated by my mother’s family for more than fifty years.

Angelina Morra, the namesake, was my great grandmother. She was an orphan and illiterate who came to America fromPiedmont, Italy in the early 1900’s, like so many other European immigrants in search of a better life. According to family folklore, she worked fourteen-hour days first as a scrubwoman,

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