Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Life with Fred & Lucy, Part 25: Uncle Ralph Meets King Kong


                                       Grandpop Enrico on left...Uncle Ralph on right

When I was around eleven, Uncle Ralph, who is my maternal grandmother’s brother traveled from Naples Italy to the States. Since Uncle Ralph was only able to visit for a month, my Aunt Ann, Uncle Mario and my mother planned all sorts of activities for him. Most of the time was spent visiting family, but once in a while my mother would hand over Uncle Ralph to her spawn. Leaving that poor elderly man with us wasn’t a good idea.

Uncle Ralph understood and spoke very little English, so right now I’m guessing you have some idea where this episode is going. My siblings and I understood some Italian, but not enough to help Uncle Ralph survive a trip to the neighborhood movie theatre for the weekly Saturday Double Creature Feature. Why my mother thought that sending Uncle Ralph to a kiddie matinée with four out of control kids would be a pleasant experience for him is something I’ve never understood.
Lunch bags packed with boloney sandwiches, TastyKake chocolate cupcakes and of course a bruised apple (read earlier blog # 21) we took hold of Uncle Ralph’s hand and walked to Broad and McKean. After we purchase our tickets, we tried to get Uncle Ralph to sit in the back of the theatre, but his eyesight wasn’t that good and he wanted to sit up front.

We tried to explain to Uncle Ralph that the seats he had picked were dangerous. We were sitting right under the balcony, but he was adamant about his choice and since he was the adult; we did as we were told. Uncle Ralph, unprepared for what was about to happen, opened his lunch bag and took out his sandwich. We four kids warily looked over our shoulders and up to the balcony. We knew from experience what would happen next.
As soon as the lights went down and the first cartoon came on, the food fight began. The balcony brigade began the battle with the tossing of buttered popcorn. The kids right under the balcony retaliated by pitching ‘Sugar Babies’ caramel candy and Jujubes candy back at the enemy. My Uncle Ralph, who was now covered in sticky popcorn, had dropped his lunch during this ruckus.
The movie ushers, accustomed to this weekly event, swiftly appeared on the scene with their flashlights, which they used to identify and intimidate the culprits. After the ushers gained some control of the theatre, the first movie began. It was the 1933 King Kong film. Uncle Ralph had never seen King Kong. I don’t know if Uncle Ralph had children of his own, I think he did, but I’m pretty sure they behaved better than we did.

Lucy sat on the right side of Uncle Ralph, so she had no choice but to behave. I can’t say the same for Jane, Mike or me. We were squirmy kids and didn’t sit still the entire time. When both features had ended, Uncle Ralph stood and brushed off the remains of the early bombardment of buttered popcorn. He didn't smile or speak to us the entire walk home.
 After we arrived home, he asked my mother for a shot glass of whiskey and then he went to bed. I don’t know if Uncle Ralph ever squealed on us to Fred and Lucy, but my mother never left him alone with us again.

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