Quiet at Night
It was a warm evening in September when Don and I wandered down from the Admiral Hotel past the old bathhouses. I noticed a man dressed in a dapper, white suit and hat seated outside the Plaza Hotel. He might have been an interesting character.
"Uncle Harold was a big name chef in Chicago!" He'd moved from Italy to Chicago in the sixties, where he worked as a chef until the 1980's. I was eager to get the details of his career in the food world. I wanted to picture the restaurants where he worked and to know what his favorite dishes were and who taught him to cook. But Uncle Harold spoke fast and his accent made communication tricky. He got a little impatient when politely repeated his words for confirmation... "So you said you worked as a chef since the 1960's?" "Yes. That's what I just told you."
memories of visiting the magical village as a child. I told him I was 11, but I remember it well from my diaries and the postcards I bought there. He asked if I remembered old wall the surrounded town.
Uncle Harold seemed about the same age as my dad. In fact he laughed and joked in a way that reminded me of my father. So I shared the memory of my dad in that very garden, being tossed into the fountain by the students we were traveling with from Florida State. I had seen him climb out laughing and dripping, but I worried to my mother. "Why!" "Your dad is one of their favorite teachers." My mom tried to assure me.
So Thanks, Uncle Harold!
It was fun to meet you and learn about you. But mostly you brought up forgotten memories of a place that seems like a vague dream. I've never met anyone from Lucca and you made me realize there really was such a magical place. I didn't make it up!
To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers