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He remembers the first night he started his gig a L & B Spumoni Gardens. Since his childhood he had always gone there for the best square pizza AKA Sicilian Pizza. Many a Friday night his Dad, Mom and his older brother would climb into the family car ( in those days of the 50s and 60s most  working stiff families only had but one car) and head out to L & B. Whenever they would arrive the place was packed. If it was anytime but dead winter all of the tables outside were taken, and you had to either double park or go way around the corner for a spot. HIs parents only wanted to eat their ‘ La Pizza’ there, and not do take out. He would follow his Dad inside, bypassing the long line waiting at the window outside for slices. The order for the whole pie was given and they would go to an outside table that his Mom had by now secured from people who were leaving. When the pie finally was ready, he remembers his mouth just watering in anticipation of that light Sicilian slice. This was the only place anywhere that put the sauce on top of the cheese. Plus, they always sliced their mozzarella paper thin , so that it merged with the dough. Then Bobo, the owner, would personally sprinkle freshly grated parmesan cheese all over. This was a feast from heaven!

It was late October, and his first night on the job. Bobo, having known him for the many years he patronized the place, hired him on the spot. ” I need a guy, reliable, with a good drivers license for my busy nights, Fridays and Saturdays. You start at 4 PM and go to about 10, depending on the orders we get. We have 2 Mazda pickups with ovens in the back, holding 9 pies at a time. ” Bobo said he would do his best to route each driver, saving time. When he arrived that first Friday at 4 PM he just inhaled the aroma of the pizzas coming out of the oven. Bobo had about 3 or 4 guys back there to help him, with another in the kitchen doing prep. He remembered standing by the counter as Bobo was making a pie. He was hungry. He did not know if he should just order a slice or ask for one. He decided to ask Willie, a kid a few years younger than his 23 years, someone who he knew from the place, for a slice. He whispered to Willie if he could get a square when Bobo interrupted. ” Hey kid, listen, you don’t have to ask around for a slice. You can have as many slices as you want. I’ll tell you what, after a week or two you won’t want to even look at pizza! We all order Chinese all the time.!” The guys all cracked up, but Bobo would be proven wrong this time. He knew he would never get tired of their pizza… and he never did!

He had just come off of a terrible relationship with a Coed from college. It seemed like ‘ Love at first sight’ when he laid eyes on her in the lobby of Boylan Hall. She was two years younger than him, was Jewish and lived in Canarsie, a few miles from his neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay. It was a hot and heavy romance, but she always seemed kind of ‘ Out of it’. She complained that she was getting over Mononucleosis and that seemed cogent to her behavior. She had this ex boyfriend who still came around her apartment, and that really pissed him to no end. He once was over when the ex showed up, and they had words. Since the guy was maybe a half foot shorter and not in such great shape, nothing occurred… except her Mom shouting at him in Yiddish. The woman just did not like him at all, and wanted her daughter to go back with the other guy. Why? Well, the guy was Jewish and he wasn’t. The girl just yelled back in Yiddish to her Mom and that was that. Well, after a few months of this, he finally found out, from the girl’s best friend, that the ‘ Mono’ was really a Quaalude addiction. Soon after, the  girl did go back with her ex and he was devastated. He even had planned to marry her. Oh boy!

He just loved working at L & B on weekends. Bobo kept the two drivers busy as heck, especially as Thanksgiving approached. He would go out, do his 9 deliveries, and by the time he got back another 9 were ready to go out. He made really good money in tips, and had lots of free slices all night. The best part of the job was each time he rang that bell, the customers would be so grateful to get the food, nice and hot from the oven on the truck. Many times, especially on Saturday nights, he would go into an apartment building, ring the bell, yell out ‘ Pizza delivery’, and literally inhale the pot smoke flying out as the door opened. He found that when customers were stoned he either got a great tip, or, the customer forgot to tip at all. So, it all evened out. Plus, being the born salesman that he was, he had a little side business going. When the customer would order a pie with extra add- ons, like pepperoni or extra cheese or mushrooms, whatever, Bobo would charge 25 cents for each add on. Well, he figured that he too should make extra so he just added 50 cents for each one. The people were happier than a pig in **** so no one noticed or cared.

By new year he decided to take a leave of absence from college and maybe save for a trip to California. He always dreamed of going there for a long time. He needed to make more money, so he went back to driving a cab full time. The pay was much better than delivering pizzas. Then, his brother’s friend told of this gig he had as a cold call telemarketer. ” Mike is making around three bills a week, and only works five hours a day on the phone selling office supplies… strictly commission.” He jumped at the chance and the rest is history. Telemarketing became his livelihood, on and off, for the next 48 years. L & B would be something he never could forget… especially those square slices!

PA Farruggio
August 2021