Saga of the Missing Door

December 7, 2010 at 5:13 am (Uncategorized)

This probably happened around 1957, during the summer before I started high school at Lawrence. I was helping my father with deliveries from John Lombardo, the butcher. Dad had an old “Woody” station wagon back then that he used for work… you know, the kind with wooden planks along the sides. My father had a well-deserved reputation for salvaging old junk heaps, and the “Woody” may have been his piece-de-resistance. Anyway, he would drive and I’d jump out when we got to the customer’s house and run the bag in.

One afternoon we made a pickup, and at our first stop I hopped out with the order and slammed the car door. As I started to walk away, I heard a rattle and thump behind me. Turning to see what had caused the noise, I was shocked to find that the door I had just slammed shut had fallen completely off and now lay in the gutter!

Dad and I broke up in near-hysterical laughter. When we were finally able to control ourselves, my father said, “Throw the door in the back. We’ll take it to the dumps.” For some reason, that triggered another round of wild laughter. We drove to someplace in the back of Inwood, and I tossed the door into the weeds alongside the street. Then we resumed our route.

When we had completed our run, Dad said, “Maybe we should go back and get that door. I might be able to have it fixed.” So we drove back to where we had jettisoned the deceased door only to find that someone had already taken it! Once again we exploded into side-splitting laughter.

Dad drove that wreck around without a door for the rest of the summer. If you rode in the front seat, you had to hang on for dear life every time he made a left turn, or risk landing in the street. There were no seatbelts in those days to keep you secure. And my poor sister Sue was absolutely mortified anytime someone saw her riding in our “limo”.

In those days, we held a family picnic every year. That summer, we all piled into the “Woody” for the trip, Mom sitting in the “jump seat” up front while the rest of us kids climbed into the back with the food. We usually went to Belmont Lake State Park or Heckscher State Park, but I don’t remember which it was that particular time. I definitely do recall the incredulous look on the gate attendant’s face as we pulled up, with one door missing and a bunch of kids in the back seated on coolers and watermelons, surrounded by loaves of bread and bananas! The poor guy must have thought that the Beverly Hillbillies had just arrived!

I used to enjoy picnics back then. Not this one. The men challenged a neighboring group to a softball game at $1 per man. I remember they wouldn’t let me join in, even though I was a pretty good ballplayer in those days. I was forced to serve as a disgruntled umpire. I can still see some of our players: my Dad, Uncle Ralph, Grandpa Bevy, Uncle Jimmy, Uncle Bobby, Uncle Alfred, Uncle Albert Bevilacqua, Uncle Ernie, Uncle Syl Matland. Our team won, but that didn’t make me any happier. Then a cloudburst hit. I recall sitting on top of a picnic table under a big umbrella as the heavens opened, watching a bowl of hard-boiled eggs float by in the resulting flash-flood! Unbelievable! And you can only imagine the ride home, with water from every puddle splashing through the missing door and soaking us all!

That night I became deathly ill and couldn’t stop throwing up. The last thing I remembered eating was a veal cutlet sandwich. Somehow that affected me psychologically, and I’ve never been able to stomach that meat since. The mere mention of veal brings back unpleasant memories of violent nausea and bedraggled picnickers. And I’ve also never forgotten the doorless “Woody” that gave us so many laughs during that wacky summer a long time ago.


1 Comment

  1. cliff55 said,

    As a kid I remember taking rides with Pop to deliver baked goods to JFK International Airport. Those deliveries were made in his faded blue 1969 Mustang which only had ONE SEAT (the drivers seat) and the rest of the interior of the car was a sheet of plywood! I remember sliding all over the place in that car to and from JFK.

    He certainly had that reputation with cars that you mention. I remember as a kid my dad would always tell me that whenever Pop Pop Augie had car troubles, he would put 2 aspirin in the gas tank and hope the car would be all fixed in the morning!

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