Bestowed Opulence……….. .#66 (50’s)

Apotheosis of the Industry

A telephone call from Gary’s  Aunt Loretta,  Uncle Dino was in the hospital,  Gary having questions,  but realized that reciprocation wouldn’t be forthcoming from his family as the circumstances were still unknown.   Accompanying his Father and Mother to join his Aunt at the San Francisco hospital,  his two sister’s opting to remain home.   The three arriving, his uncle alert and cantankerous,  the teen having never visited an individual in a hospital with the exception of his Uncle Barney, a patient  in a Sacramento hospital years earlier.  Barney in the logging business,  sustained an injury when falling a tree,  a large branch pinning him for most of the day before being found, the branch  pushing all his intestines up into his rib cage.  Gary standing somewhat aloof  behind his parents in the hospital ward,  noticing the various IV’s and tubes connected to Dino, the physicians listing his condition as critical  cirrhosis of the liver with major internal hemorrhaging.  Gary understood the seriousness, but his world was still that of a youth, not having to dwell on the complications that life enthralled and in addition his Uncle Dino’s burly physical exterior and personality brought to mind a toughness and a movie script conclusion  that all would end well.   The visit was drawing to a conclusion in the bed occupied hospital ward, the teen observing as the commotion began.  Apparently Dino was upset with something Loretta had said, because he began shouting in Italian , attempting to get out of bed pulling his tubing loose and with the arrival of the staff the  family retreated,  the weekend visit coming to a conclusion.

Uncle Dino and Aunt Loretta

Uncle Dino and Aunt Loretta

Italian Cemetery - Colma

Italian Cemetery – Colma

Notification coming on Tuesday October 7, 1958, Gary coming home from school being informed that his Uncle Dino  had died.  Dino’s 35-year-old son Sylvio  from a previous marriage  whom Gary had meant only once,  stepping-in administering the final arrangements.   Gary reflecting on  the inference of Dino’s passing having been in attendance for only one other funeral, that being his Uncle Charlie O’Toole on his mother’s side on April 18, 1956 in Santa Ana.  There was  no notice of a funeral that Gary was aware of but later discovering that Dino Togozzi was interned at the Italian Cemetery in the small town of Colma south of San Francisco in San Mateo Country.  The small two square mile town noted as the City of Souls because of the large number of cemeteries fulfilling the townships area.    On March 26,  1900 the State of California passed a law prohibiting the burial of person on residential and farm property,  no more family members buried on the Home Place.  In 1912 the City of San Francisco made known its intent to prohibit all burials in the city.  In 1914 the City  took the ordinance a step further issuing an order that every  interned body would have to be removed and interned outside the San Francisco city limits.  The removal and transfer of the hundreds of thousands wasn’t completed until 1937, the small town of Colma accepting San Francisco’s departed.   Gary realized that although married to his Aunt,  Dino Tognozzi was an Uncle in name only,  a self-made man arriving in Detroit from Italy, his first wife Marchella Durchi who passed,  then marrying his Aunt Loretta in San Francisco.  Sylvio his only son born  in 1923,  enlisting in the war effort in 1942, later married a younger Jacqueline Grey.  Gary having  meant Jackie, her daughter and her new-born son Dino Mario before her unexpected death in a suspicious car accident in 1955.    With Dino’s passing, Aunt Loretta continued her residency on Steiner St.,  Gary’s Dad providing assistance in maintaining some semblance to a disorganize situation.   The closing of the 813 Van Ness Ave.  Dino’s  # 13 Club was on the agenda,  Gary was aware of the chaotic realm that evolved with his uncles passing.   It was somewhat bewildering to see a lack of orderly progression,  having the impression  adults ascend to a higher facet when addressing grievous and important events such as this, but apparently not in every circumstance.   His Aunt Loretta remaining above the grievous condition, the truth being discerned as expected,  her relationship with Dino was more of a convenience than of a marriage.

 Dino and Loretta's Steiner St. residence

Dino and Loretta’s Steiner St. residence

Gary didn’t think it obtainable,  but he was to accord his best effort,  parked in the basement garage of his Aunts  Steiner Street residence was the Tognozzi’s 1949 Cadillac Fleetwood,  picture perfect,  odometer stating  21,000 miles.  The teen having never witnessed his Aunt Loretta behind the wheel of a car and like his mother,  he appraised her as a non-driver.   The young driver was ready to approach and ask the consenting question about the Cadillac,  presenting a the straight forward inquiry  about using the Fleetwood for his school transportation.  Giving thought and ready for a comeback if given a negative response, to his surprise the answer was a positive but with the stipulation of his Dads approval.   Hesitantly the teen forward his Aunts affirmation about the car to his Dad and again to his astonishment he concurred, but with the same two instances’ that prevailed with the use of the families car, first,  providing a ride for his sister to and from school when asked and the most difficult one to comply with, come directly home after  school and park it.

The monumental time had arrived,  his sister Kay asking to accompany Gary and his dad to Aunts Loretta’s Steiner Street residence across from the Almo Square Park.   Gary could feel the titillation as they opened the garage door.  Inside,  resting like an animate gargoyle decked in chrome,  displaying its distinctive tailfin’s,  the longest Cadillac in production, the four door exuberant mobile Fleetwood.   The teen having experienced luxury before when  his Aunt Grace purchased a new 55′  Buick Century,  but this was a Cadillac, the apotheosis of the automobile industry.   Before leaving Gary’s father giving a word of caution about ferrying the car across the Bay Bridge as Gary had never piloted a car across the bridge before.  The two siblings, brother and sister seated in opulence,  implementing the Cadillac transport onto the lit-up iridescent glowing  Bay  Bridge in  the early twilight of evening,  entertaining not a trip, but the voyage home.  Gary could hardly wait, the morrow would augment the inauguration of a new status in school transportation.

Gary's two FIRST - driving a Cadillac Fleetwood and driving across the Bay Bridge.

Gary’s two FIRST – driving a Cadillac Fleetwood and driving across the Bay Bridge.

A Wiper emberassment

A Wiper embarrassment

The Teen was solitary in his first morning venture to Castlemont in the new-found transport, seated alone,  beginning to sense some reluctance about displaying such a capacious conveyance, choosing to park the car in the same place as the family car,  in front of the apartments on Alvingroom Ct., just before you get to Castlemont on MacArthur Blvd.  It was common knowledge, after school it was a given,  the automotive pretentious students would cruise MacArthur Blvd, their motorized display passing several time in front of the school.   Gary delivering the Fleetwood from its parked area taking residence with the cruising  after-school traffic of MacArthur, inline, voyaging past the high school citadel with an expression of certainty.  Making a U-turn at 90th,  he circled back towards the school,  once more to entice the bastion with his presence.  Approaching the school engaging  a control he had never used before,  automatic windshield washers,  the blades of the wipers dispersing  the cleansing spraying water.   The traffic halted in front of the school, Gary reaching down to turn the washer off not sure of the controls,  a panic,  he’s unable to stop the flow,  a  spray of aqueous water continuing  with the wipers still activated.   It was apparent, the onlookers  having noticed his dilemma, and it was also  apparent they thought the moment humorous.   The slight teenager in the large Fleetwood continued in his attempt to challenge the apparatus, but to no avail.  After exhausting the supply of washer fluid,  the disconcerted embarrassment  came to a halt.   Eyes focused straight ahead,  the reticent youth retired  to the journey home.
Gary wasn’t trouble with the news,  the explanation was plausible.  His Aunt having called propagating the  advice from her attorney,  the Cadillac Fleetwood was deemed property of the estate and would have to remain in storage until settlement.  The use of the Fleetwood was apropos to its name as it was fleeting, Gary drawing a conclusion from his experience,   opulence is earned,  not bestowed.


One Response to “Bestowed Opulence……….. .#66 (50’s)”

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