I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but I belong to a 2,696 member strong Facebook group, You know you lived in Paterson, NJ in the 50’s & 60’s. It brings back lots of memories.

936479_1403556853190927_1461719401_nOne was particularly relevant. Miguel Lopez, who frequently posts pictures of Paterson then and now, posted the photo shown here. I recognized it in an instant. It used to be Chappy’s at East Railway and Gould Avenues. I know it well because Chappy was my father’s uncle.

Well, a fellow Patersonian, Robert Mchone, commented, “My wife and her sister worked there back in 60’s. Bought our wedding rings from a guy who hung out there, great discount!”

Well, I know who “that guy” was, too. It was Chappy’s brother, Tony.

Uncle Tony was a bachelor who lived with my grandmother. I’m not sure what he did for a real job, although I’m pretty sure it had something to do with pin ball machines, a staple in the bars of Paterson at the time. He didn’t drive but he seemed to know all the businessmen in People’s Park and South Paterson. It wasn’t unusual for him to flash a wad of bills — not $1s and $5s — and if you needed anything like flowers, jewelry or even a good bottle of Scotch, just ask Uncle Tony. He would set you up {Insert your imagination here}.

Back to the story. Karen and I stopped at Grandma’s — something we did often — to tell her we were getting married. As we were drinking coffee, Uncle Tony came out to the kitchen and joined the conversation. A little while later, he went to his room and came back with a blue velvet bag. He opened it to reveal diamonds.

Karen’s jaw literally dropped and I have to be honest, I never saw so many loose diamonds in one place at the same time. It was straight out of a movie. “Pick one out,” he said. “Which one do you like?”

Both of us were stunned at the glittering diamonds of various shapes and sizes. In the pile was everything from little chips to one that if it was on Karen’s finger, she wouldn’t have been able to lift her hand. “Go ahead! Pick out what you want!”

Karen looked at me. “Pick one out,” I told her with a shrug. After all, you don’t argue with family.

Well, she poked around looking for the chips, but Uncle Tony would have none of it. He pulled out some of the one to two caret stones, put them up to the light and looked at them through his jeweler’s loupe. “No, this one has a flaw. No, this isn’t cut clean, too shallow.”

She spotted a pear shaped stone with lots of sparkle. Uncle Tony took it from her and shook his head. “That’s not very big.” But she said it was “dainty.” It ended up being just under a caret and I had that “how am I going to afford this” look on my face. Uncle Tony looked at me. “We’ll find a nice setting and work it into your budget.” Of course, he didn’t have a clue what my budget was.

ringHe disappeared again and came back with a catalogue for Karen to look at. She picked a white gold solitaire setting for her pear shaped stone. It was set off the band to give it the allusion of being bigger. Nothing else. No complementary stones. It actually went with a chip-studded wedding band that wrapped around the side of the engagement stone. Karen had the idea of dual wedding bands so they completely enveloped the diamond. Uncle Tony approved as I saw dollar signs multiplying faster than my $80 a week salary.

Uncle Tony took care of me. He kept the cost under budget. And when I paid him, he said it was too much and trimmed a little more. Ah, famiglia!

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: A person cannot truly love another until he learns to love himself.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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3 Responses to Famiglia

  1. Deanna says:

    One of my favorite stories!


  2. Pingback: In the Blink of an Eye … Getting To Know You 1 | Father Says…

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