Memories are those rare photographs of people, places, sights, sounds and smells stored within the recesses of our mind. One of those collections of memories is of my step-father Joseph.
He was passionate about three things that I recall: his poodles, checkers and pie. He was a master checkers player whom I could not beat.
Joseph was the son of Polish immigrants who came to this country around the turn of the twentieth century seeking a better life. His life story was one of adventure, joy and sadness—in essence, the human experiment.
Going back to his passion for pie, this was not apple, cherry, pumpkin or pecan. He enjoyed these pies, but his pie passion was pizza. He loved pizza.
When visiting him and my mother in my mountain hamlet, we would go out for pie. Before I left this birthplace for university, I had the opportunity of going with friends across the river to a small ristorante on the lake which had opened recently.
This place was run by an Italian woman who had her own brand of pizza. She was very gracious, jovial and could she cook!
Years later I introduced Joseph and Mary, my mother, to this place on the lake. My mother preferred to eat at home and did not like eateries, even though she had worked in one when she was younger. However, Joseph relished eating out.
What I tend to remember about this pizza on the lake was the fresh tomato slices the cook added to the pizza when it came out of the wood-fire oven. Joseph found this a great delight.
It has been many years since my mother and step-father passed. Unfortunately, it has been many years since our last visit to the small ristorante on the lake.
I have eaten many pizzas since then from various places—some good, some so-so and some very excellent. One of the first things that I tend to remember after leaving home for the university is going to my future wife’s (unknown to me at the time) apartment with friends where she baked the most delicious rectangle-shaped pizza with whole wheat crust. Par Excellence!!!
However, the small ristorante on the lake holds a special place. It was the first place I had pizza made by an Italian and the friends around the table before we went on our separate journeys of life. For some of them their journey has ended.
It was a place where Joseph enjoyed his pie topped with tomato slices with the blue waters and the cerulean sky above with patches of clouds. The smells would drift out the doors and fill the environs after their enhancement by the lake breezes.
One day I will return to this place on the lake to enhance my memories and visit the many places where family and friends have their final resting place on this planet traversing the cosmos. Perhaps, I will see the joy on another person’s face as they bite into their pie, perhaps for the very first time.
And hopefully outside by the lake I will hear the cosmic string of voices of the past carried by the night winds as star light breaks the sable canopy. For it is in the cosmic ocean above where our memories coalesce with those who have found their song to sing of places they have known and moments of life precious to recall.
There Are Places I Remember (In My Life)
1965 THE BEATLES
There are places I remember all my life
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
Of lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I loved them all
G. D. Williams © 2016
In My life — Judy Collins — Live 1966