|etching by John William Winkler|
No one honked at guys trying to make a living in 1979.
Only eleven years-old, we asked for rides on the back of the cart when there weren’t many vegetables left at the end of the day. Fatigued, he nodded and gagged the mule to a patient stop. On we climbed as Tony whispered some hocus pocus into its twitching ears. Our legs dangling from the back end, Tony calmed the mule and took us on a slow tour once around the block.
We waved at the cars creeping behind us.
We didn't know better--people trying to find a place to park in a crowded city after a day at work aren't necessarily in the waving mood.
I learned as I grew older that Tony had a wife and several kids. When summer break came, I heard the clattering wheels from his shopping cart reverberate against asphalt and brick neighborhood in the morning. Loaded with cleaning supplies, he knocked with grave respect, door to door and offered to clean windows for a couple of dollars. My aunt slipped him a ten dollar bill when everyone else always gave him three dollars. As I child, I thought Tony was illiterate--I didn't realize he was just Italian.