Tag Archives: Indian

Tepee On The Hill

In 1948, my father was transferred from Iowa to Pierre, South Dakota to manage the Gambles Store and in that day, even though Native Americans, still called Indians back then, were largely on reservations, there were three large white tepees on the east edge of town, not far from the Mighty Mo’ (Missouri River).

One windy, hot summer day, I was at the store and I got to go with my Dad and his helper to the edge of town and up to one of the tepees.  We delivered a ‘freezer’ to the old Indian and his wife, living in one of the tepees.  The Indian gave my Dad 5 geese, which he took home and put in our storm shelter in the backyard.  I can still smell the mess I had to clean up on occasion…..haha  Memories….that’s what lives are made of.

I present this poem as ‘my record’ more than anything.  Feel free to read it.

Tepee On the Hill

On the side of a hill at the edge of town
a stone’s throw away….. from ‘Mighty Mo,’
the tepees sat in grass all around
on the side of a hill at the edge of town.
I remember the dogs running up and down
the hill,  ‘round the tepees….white as snow,
on the side of a hill at the edge of town,
a stone’s throw away….. from ‘Mighty Mo.’

Back in the early fifties, when my father ran that store
in Pierre, South Dakota, back then,
I remember all the places, I use to explore
back in the early fifties, when my father ran that store.
I’d stay with him and do things like sweeping up the floor
and help out with deliveries….. like all the other men…
back in the early fifties, when my father ran that store
in Pierre, South Dakota…… back then.

Between the tepees, where sat the old black car,
and where the wind was blowing a scary high pitched tone,
the grass was laying down, as were the dogs, not far,
between the tepees, where sat the old black car.
Then the tepee opened up and an old Indian with cigar
waved at Dad and suddenly I felt alone
between the tepees, where sat the old black car,
and where the wind was blowing a scary high pitched tone.

The freezer that we brought, that was bought from dad,
we hooked up in his tent
and I still can see him dancing and, in a way, it’s sort of sad,
the freezer that we brought, that was bought from dad.
Cause it makes me miss my dad even though I’m really glad
to have had that moment – with the Indian, now shared ; now spent
the freezer that we brought, that was bought from dad,
we hooked up in his tent.

copyright © 2012 T.J. Gargano

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Tony Mazza – Part I

Mr. Tony Mazza

Although my father’s huge family lived in an Iowa town, my father was transferred with his company to Pierre, South Dakota in the early ‘50s, where I spent ten years of my life, growing up.

In the 50s, discrimination and prejudice had not yet been held accountable and the local Indians were not allowed to drink or buy alcohol in Pierre.  This fact will become more relevant, later.

My grandfather, for reasons I won’t discuss now, settled in Iowa, changed his name, and he and grandmother had a large truck-farm, a bakery and a grocery store.  With all the kids they had, they had plenty of help to run their businesses.  They had come from Pennsylvania, where they had settled after coming over from Italy.

Due to a situation that developed in Pennsylvania, it was necessary for my grandfather to relocate faraway and Iowa was chosen to become his new home.  From that time forward, my grandfather had three bodyguards who protected him and his family.  And of course, they became “family” also, present in all the pictures, etc.  One of the bodyguards was Tony Mazza.

Now as bodyguards go, Tony didn’t fit the description; at least not as we think of bodyguards today – burly, tall, robust, serious, tough and tough-looking.  I’ll give you burly and serious and probably, tough, but he certainly wasn’t tall and robust.  But, in all fairness, that was through my eyes as a kid.

He was not much taller than me, sporting no…absolutely no teeth, always chomping down on a huge cigar, while holding a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer that he always got from the grocery store my dad and two of my uncles co-owned there in town.  He always wore a brown suit, white shirt and black tie and he wore it in the dead of winter and in the heat of the summer…..I never saw him dressed any other way and was always told that he owned no other accessories.  I had to believe that.  He never was unclean however, if you know what I mean.  He was a dapper zapper.

The grocery store was down from where my Uncle Bill lived on 3rd Avenue in an Italian neighborhood and quite often our family would be at Uncle Bill’s house where we had four cousins to play with.  I, however, liked being down at the grocery store, in the backroom where the meat was cut and the guys would sit on wooden stools and chairs, sloshing their shiny black shoes in the sawdust, that heavily covered the cement floor, telling countless stories of who knows what, always cussing, laughing, joking and sometimes, crying.  It was a good life.  It’s all gone now………it’s all gone now.

The thing about it was that no one cared that I was around;  I was sort of respected and ‘part of’ the group….well, that’s the feeling I had, anyway.  Please understand, I didn’t talk….I just sat on a little stool and listened and played in the sawdust, that did draw some reprimanding remarks from ‘all my fathers,’ at times.

copyright © 2012 T.J. Gargano

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