Tony Mazza – Part Two
My dad was Tony’s favorite kid and it was no secret. So it was not too much of a surprise when he knocked on our door up in South Dakota one summer day. He came to stay a couple of months with us. He bought me my very first billfold. That was a big thing for me; it was a birthday gift.
So why did I bring up discrimination and prejudice in part one? Well, Tony, you see, had only a numbered amount of strands of hair on top of his head, though plenty in the back and above his ears. But since he never wore a hat, (he’d wear a fedora at funerals), he had a very dark complexion that seemed to go well with his no teeth, big cigar and dusty brown suit.
Tony had no car, either, and walked everywhere he went….he didn’t even know how to drive. Everyday, he would walk to town or around the area. This one particular day, he decided to walk to Ft.Pierre, a smaller community on the other side of the Missouri River, about three miles away. Now Tony’s in his 50s by then and not probably the best of health. But he treks across the trestle bridge that spans the Missouri River, that happens to have a pedestrian walk path, and gets over to Ft. Pierre.
When he gets there, he, of course, is exhausted and, above all, very, very thirsty. His primary stop becomes a bar, where he can quench his thirst with….yes, you guessed it….a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Enter….the problem.
Tony is promptly refused service because he is believed to be an Indian. It didn’t help that he carried no identification. He became unruly in his attempts to convince the proprietors that he was Italian, not Indian. But his ‘convincing’ was to no avail. He was ejected from the premises and walked to a gas station and called my dad, who had to drive over and pick him up.
In summation, Tony’s stay in Dakota, after that, was predictable. He left in a few days on a bus back home to Iowa where he, once again, assumed the role of an old Italian.
Not a true uncle, but my favorite one.