Posts Tagged ‘tie stories’

“Pete, what happened to your tie?”

“Bull Dog cut it.”

“Bull Dog cut your tie?”

“Yeah, he cut it with a knife.”

“Why did he do that?”

“I don’t know, Violet, he just cut it”.

“Didn’t he offer to pay for it?”

“No. He just stood there and cut my tie. I told him it was my favorite tie, too”.

A story told, many-a-time around the table as we were growing up, my aunt and uncles laughing, my mom being a little miffed but smiling sweetly. The story of Bull Dog cutting Pete’s tie, with a knife, and Violet incredulous that a friend could possibly do such a thing. Only, Bull Dog never did cut my father’s tie, a very nice tie that my mother bought him for some holiday or birthday.

I miss those days of neighborhood stories about the guys on the block who stood on street corners; gangs when it was okay to be in a gang of guys and the worst offense was maybe having your tie sliced in half.

I loved to hear this story, usually rendered at the family table, my dad cutting a loaf of bread, holding it close to his chest, slicing the knife through, just so. “Hey, Pete” my Aunt Christina would say, “remember the time you had Violet thinking Bull Dog cut your tie?” and on it would go, laughter begetting  more laughter, we kids begging for more.

The story took place in our house on Congress Street on the west side of Chicago. My dad, Pete, was cutting a loaf of bread in our large kitchen. My grandmother was stirring a pot of something on the stove. My mom was setting the table and my aunt was tending to some other mealtime chore.

We all lived in the same house, though this story came before we children did. No matter. I can still see the table, the stove, the “fridgidaire”, the pantry and the familiar faces around the table. I can imagine my dad, just home from work, slicing the bread.

Bull Dog was nowhere to be seen.

All the guys in the neighborhood had a nickname. My dad was Spud (as were his brothers before him and a nickname that managed to follow me as well). There was Blindy, whose name I believe came from his love of the drink, and Bull Dog, who was really a very handsome fellow. Ralphie was, well, Ralphie, and Romeo was really Vincent. I would have loved to have heard how he got his nickname. These are just a few of the characters who met on the corner like clockwork. They were the men who went off to war, some coming home, to marry and have children. They were like a secret club to me . They all came to my father’s funeral, some carrying his casket, all telling stories of their times on the corner. I will never forget one fellow, who I had never seen before, shake my hand, offer his condolences, and say “she looks just like Petey”. Little gifts at large moments.

As the tie story goes, my dad was slicing the bread, telling some story or other, perhaps talking baseball, not paying attention, when he suddenly cut through his tie, which he was still wearing. Aunt Christina saw him do it, as did Uncles George, John and Joe, and probably my grandmother as well. Daddy kept cutting, his expression never changing, as my mother looked up and saw the tie dangling there, almost in half, a mangled cloth, swiped like a slice of bologna about to be put on a piece of bread.  A tie sandwich! Hold the mayo!

Oh, the laughter and merriment that a simple slice of tie can bring.

I don’t think my mother ever bought my dad another tie, though.


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