Segarini – I Hear It’s My Birthday

R: 126 G: 255 B: 198 X:42164 Y: 0 S: 27 Z: 271 F: 368

I can’t thank you enough, Dear Readers. For your continued support, your visits to check out our wonderful writers (and Me) and for making my 69th year on this mudball a joy from start to finish (with a lot of Not Joy mixed in there, but that wasn’t your fault, so don’t worry about it). Today is the beginning of my 70th year, not as much fun as 69, but then, what is? My regular column will be up late next week, but this 2 parter is for you today and will conclude on Monday. most of this column is from my Facebook Timeline, but the biggest piece is brand new exclusive to this column. Now then, I have to get ready to go to my Birthday Party, so…without further ado….

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A Series of Pictures In Honor Of My Birthday 

Number One….

00. Mom and Dad February 1958

This is Mr. and Mrs. John and Mercedes Segarini. They adopted me 6 months after I was born and made me the luckiest abandoned baby in the history of Lucky Abandoned Babies. They were self made, hard working people, and always took the high road, looked after their friends and family, and always presented themselves as compassionate, friendly, and mannerly, no matter where they were or what they were doing. They had an inherent sense and style and always dressed beautifully for every occasion. Here they are in 1956, dressed for a day that started with duck hunting in the morning, and ended fishing for smelts in the Delta from dad’s rowboat, “The Leaky Pine”.

Number Two….

01. Bob at 18 months cropped

My 1st Birthday. It was a different time. Truman was president, the biggest TV screen was 8 inches across, pantyhose didn’t exist, and a prime rib dinner cost 1.55 and came with soup, salad, dinner rolls, coffee, dessert, a bottle of Old Hobo Bourbon, a Pontiac Chieftain convertible, and a whore for Him and a poolboy for Her.
Here, I am celebrating with my Grandma Kay, waiting for my parents to come home from a dinner/dance at the Moose Lodge. Grandma is lighting my first Lucky Strike Kiddie Filtered Cigarette with my Zippo brand “Baby’s First Little Lighter”, and I am about to have my second Toddler Ale from Babymeister – Brewers of Fine Toddler Lagers and Ales.
Like I said…it was a different time.

Number Three….

02. Segarini My Dad in 1932 with the Segarini Brothers 1st truck

My Dad was an avid sportsman. He hunted, he bowled, he chased down robbers, and he fished.
One of the most difficult fishing tournaments that was ever held, was the Here Fishy Fishy Fishy Pavement Fishing World Championships, which ran from 1930 as a diversion from the Great Depression, until 1941, when it was discontinued because the event at Pearl Harbour kind of made everyone sad.
My Dad won the event in 1938. Here Fishy Fishy Fishy Pavement Fishing was a matter of patience and timing. Standing on the running board of a truck on a paved parking lot, you yelled “Here, fishy, fishy, fishy!” at the top of your lungs. If you yelled in such a way that a fish would NOT be able to resist, it would break through the pavement and leap into your outstretched arms. Here, my Dad displays his winning fish, a 45 lb. Asphalt Grouper, standing next to the Family delivery truck whose running boards held true during Dad’s epic 5 hour struggle with his catch. The Asphalt Grouper was delicious, the Trophy still stands in a corner of the family basement, and it took two weeks for Pop to regain his voice. Sometimes…late at night…I can still hear his hoarse, winning, shout…”Here Fishy Fishy Fishy, Here Fishy Fishy Fishy”, and the tears come warm and salty. Miss you, Pop.

Number Four….

04. Bobby and Spotty 1950

While practicing my homerun stance in the living room, I accidentally took out the glass front door to our tiny home on Ellis Street. After my parents met and debated what to do about it, they decided to let the Police’s Children Division handle the matter. The PCD were known to be tough, but fair, but would occasionally bring the hammer down on the worst offenders, and destroying the front door glass with a Willie Mays Jr. model baseball bat was right up there with Kitten Punching and Indoor Cap Gun Firing While Dad is Napping. I was in for it. This is a picture of me waiting on the “You Wait Here” bench outside the Family Court Room with my legal counsel and only friend, Spotty Water Spaniel.
The ruling was harsh; Damage Due to Stupid Thing Kids Do Because They Don’t Know Better, and the sentence was worse. Must Finish All Vegetables at Dinner, Must Clean Behind BOTH Ears. Must Flush the Toilet Whenever Used. Must Remember to Wear Pants. and…NO Hopalong Cassidy, NO Comic Books, NO Necco Wafers. NO Kukla, Fran, or Ollie. NO All Night Radio. NO Running to Grandma Crying and Then Watching Grandma Yell at Your Parents.
Had to live like that for a whole 2 days.
It was Horrible….

Number Five….

05. Bobby Drunk - Copy

Our next door neighbor, Mr. Biddleman took it upon himself to keep me under surveilance after I accidently sold his car to a lady for 5 dollars and a pair of nylon stockings. I didn’t know I could have gotten more for it. He decided to write about me and have the paper print an expose of how my parents were not raising me properly, and that I was out of control. I was 5. All 5 year olds are out of control.
Anyway, to make a long story short, the newspaper laughed at him and refused to print his smear campaign, but a copyboy liked it and took out of the wastepaper basket it had been thrown in, made a quick deal with Mr. Biddleman, and the pact resulted in a series of delightful children’s books of which I was the star. They were banned in the USA and Canada, but sold like hotcakes in Eastern Europe, Mexico, and Chad. There for a while, my parents and I couldn’t travel anywhere without being mobbed. Lots of people gave us liquor because they wanted to see me drunk like in the books. I ended up spending my 7th birthday at the Henry Ford Clinic to dry out. I was such a popular resident during that time, I was invited to cut the ribbon when the Betty Ford Clinic opened years later.
Betty and I got drunk at the opening ceremony and almost burned down the Children’s wing, but that is a story for another time.

Number Six….

R: 125 G: 255 B: 197 X:46256 Y:47292 S: 95 Z: 330 F: 378

One of the results of being in the Henry Ford Clinic the first time was the implementation of the Italian Rite of Passage known in psychiatric circles as “The Contino Allegro”, or “Lady of Spainapy”.
Given the choice between this and being waterboarded to the repeated play of “Elmer’s Tune”, my parents opted for the Accordianoscopy treatment because, if nothing else, I could be trotted out after dinner to play for their guests and perhaps cover my ongoing expenses for room and board at home, where I had to live until I was either 18 years of age, drafted, or sold into slavery. I knew my Mom would never allow the latter, and my Dad’s decision was to continue napping in his Laz-E-Boy chair with the newspaper over his head.
This picture was taken at our annual neighborhood street fair when I was 7 years old, playing to passerby who gathered to hear me play rousing renditions of “Celito Linda”, Oh Marie”, and the ubiquitous “Lady of Spain”, while my cousin Nunzio picked their pockets as only he could.
I am chained to the tree in our front yard to insure my cooperation and to protect me from kidnappers who were napping kids constantly back then. They were a real problem in the early ’50s.
The chain, a colourful and whimsical KiddieChain model from LockCo, is just out of sight, connected to the anklecuff on my right leg. Thanks to Mom, it was a comfortable, padded one, with my name engraved on it in stylish cursive writing.
Thanks, Mom!

Number Seven A….

07. naughty librarian - Copy

Up until the 3rd Grade, most of my reading was centered around comic books. I loved the old 4 colour comics, especially when the paper aged and yellowed, and they began to get that wonderful musky smell only newsprint can exude.
My 3rd Grade teacher, Mrs. Berry, instigated a monthly assignment which consisted of checking out a book from the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School Library and writing a book report each and every month. Seeing as how I was pretty busy with the accordion, tap dancing, macrame classes, rudimentary mischief, junior achievement arson, Cub Scouts, sneaking into my folks room and lifting money out of my Dad’s wallet when he was asleep, gigging frogs, and discovering the joys of self-pleasure, I was not looking forward to this new and intrusive homework assignment.
Miss Spindle, the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School Library Librarian changed all that.
She was an inspiration to me, and after seeing her that first time in the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School Library doing library-ing stuff, I became an avid reader, visiting the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School Library every chance I got.

I wrote 230 Book Reports in the 3rd Grade.

Number Seven B….

08. Bob - The Search

At the end of the school year, Miss Spindle gave a few of us 3rd grade boys a special party at her apartment, which 5 of us rented for her with our allowances and a few monthly B&Es with our downtown friends, The Main Street Robbers on Ripple. We just wanted to thank her for encouraging us to read, but also for the anatomy lessons, and after-school activities and tutoring, which gave us all special skills that would come in handy over the years. She also made sure we could hold our breath longer than the untutored boys, and, thanks to Miss Spindle’s focus on health and exercise, we entered the 4th grade with incredibly strong tongues and jaws.
I still have the wonderful textbook she handed out to us when we first helped her move into her apartment. Oh sure, it’s dog-eared and faded from all the studying I did with it, but I will always treasure it not only for the happy, educational moments it provided, but in addition to being informative, it was a fine mystery…one that some boys, apparently, never solved.
Thank you, Miss Spindle, for saving us so much investigative work…and for making us so popular in high school.

Number Eight….

Segarini's Number 2 exterior

I wasn’t always interested in music or radio. There was a time when my dream was to open a chain of Grocery Stores across America called “Bob’s Eat-y Things” and become the Elvis Presley of Properly Filled Shopping Bags. When I mentioned this to my Father one day while we were plucking ducks, he chuckled that “Boy, are you stupid” chuckle of his, put down his duck, put his arm around me (it smelled like duck) and told me a story. This is that story. Well…not this…but the words in quotation marks and italics just below the end of this sentence…actually below the title of the story, which I thought I should name. So I named it. Go down one line and you’ll see the name. It’s a cool name….

My Dad’s Story

“Well, son…may I call you son?…let me tell you a story. A story I shouldn’t have to tell you because if you had an attention span longer than that of a goldfish, you would already know what I am about to tell you and I wouldn’t be having to tell you now…but, because you have the attention span of a goldfish, we have had to stop the duck plucking so I can tell you a story, even though that means the plucked ducks are going to be late. Again. Your Mother will be furious. Again. She just hates late plucked ducks…and I don’t blame her. That said, here’s the story I’m going to tell you as soon as I finish saying this sentence.

The Segarini Brothers and Al Figone

Years ago, your uncles…my brothers…decided to start a business. At first we didn’t know what we wanted to do, so we sat around your Grandmother’s kitchen table while she fed us and fed us and fed us, and shared some ideas.

George thought a good business would be selling apples on busy street corners. Sure, the Great Depression was winding down, but two things were true. A. People have gotten really used to apples, and B. You don’t have to rent space on the sidewalk. You can just stand there and sell apples. So…low overhead, and the Great Depression had created a huge demand for apples…well…apples and watery soup, but standing on a corner selling hot watery soup sounded like too much work.

Vic suggested we do Robbing. Now robbing sounded pretty good. We all liked the striped shirts, dungarees, heavy shoes and little black masks, and there for a while Segarini Brother’s Robbing was number one on our list. Lots of work outdoors, no set times, plenty of exercise looting and running and hopping over fences and being chased by angry dogs. pretty much a dream job back in those days. 

Eddie suggested that we learn to dance, sing harmony, and do comedy skits and hit the theatre circuit as Ma Segarini’s Knee Slapping, Hand Clapping, Toe Tapping Little Boy Brothers Revue. After we thought about it for a little while, we decided it seemed like too much work, although it would have made a great front for Segarini Brothers Robbing if we decided to choose that. 

We waited for 3 days for our other brothers to make their suggestions, but Salvatore, Geppetto, and Kevin remained silent. Later, our Mother explained that they were just imaginary brothers she had told us we had because all the other Italian Mothers had somewhere between 16 and 108 children, and she was embarrassed that she had only four…or…five…we had a sister, but…you know…a sister.  It was a big shock to us at first, because we loved Salvatore, Geppetto, and Kevin, and hoped someday to be able to all get married to wonderful girls and have 16 to 108 children of our own, and to think that Sal, Geppetto, and Kevin would never have ANY children of their own made us angry, then sad, then angry, then sad, then we did the chores, because with them gone, there would be much more to do around the little 7×8 apartment we all lived in…which was just a kitchen with a toilet and cots in it. We did have a door and a window which really opened the place up, and it made us appreciate what we had and drew our family together in a tight little unit. Really tight…like sooo tight. We were tight.

Finally, I shared my suggestion. Everyone leaned toward me over the kitchen table like they do in moving pictures. I knew right away that my brothers were paying attention, so I figured I better come up with a reallly good suggestion. I decided to just say it and see how they reacted.

“I think we should rent the shed next to the apartment and open up a store and sell things to people who come to the store”, I said, hoping they liked the idea. There was a long pause. No one said anything. Your Grandmother took that as a sign that we were still hungry and brought more food to the table. Pasta Marinara, stuffed zucchini, rice torta, a ham, potatoes, asparagus, a beef shank, a plate of cannoli, and a whole Genoa salami. George suggested I say something really fast, before she brought the turkey she just took out of the oven. Vic asked for some bread, the butter dish, and a small salad, and when he shut up, I looked across the table, they leaned toward me, and I said “Well”?

Eddie took the ball, “Hmmm…maybe. What would we sell to people who come into the store”? And the suggestions started to fly like a flock of birds fly…or mosquitos, of flies fly…just a lot  of suggestions. Suggestions like; Dirt. Shovels. Shovels and Dirt. Shovels and Dirt and Seeds. Hens. Cows. Feed. …and then someone (I don’t remember who) leapt to his feet and shouted “Shovels and Dirt and Seeds. Hens. Cows. Feed, and fertilizer. Everything you need to grow and raise food”! He yelled it really loud. So loud, that Mother hit him in the back of the head with the wooden spoon she always kept at the ready. (Four Italian boys and their sister can be a handful at times, and a wooden spoon is essential in a family of the Italian persuasion to keep civility and manners in evidence. There has never been anything to match the Threat of the Wooden Spoon. The Spoon of Justice; swift and sure, and a great peacemaker in the hands of an Italian woman. Regular sized Italian families had multiple, sometimes, dozens of wooden spoons. As powerful as they are, just one is no match for 16 to 108 Italian children, most of whom are boys or else.The shouting fell to a wooden spoon fueled discussion in hushed tones, hand written notes, and sign language. Because we were not making any noise, Mother plopped the turkey down in the center of the table, followed by a big wooden bowl of stuffing, a half gallon jug of gravy, and another pile of mashed potatoes in the existing mashed potatoes bowl. We fell back to our task between mouthfuls. Mother rolled a cask of homemade wine up to the table, and while Eddie and I put our heads together to come up with details, George and Vic tapped the cask and filled four clean jelly jars with the first of many glasses of vino de table. We would sleep here this night, and resume our discussion in the morning”.

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And I will resume my Dad’s Story next week…because right now, I have to take a shower, brush my tooth, put on the clean shirt and the smells-clean pants, find my shoes, find my sock(s), and go downstairs and stand outside when the GF comes by and slows down enough for me to jump in her car.

See some of you at my birthday party tonight.

I’ll deal with the rest of you later.

…and thanks to each and every one of you, Dear Readers, for making 69 a great year for me as well as my continuing favourite number.

Have a GREAT Day.

John Segarini and all the Cousins Sepia

My 8th Birthday Party…62 Years ago. I didn’t have any friends…this is just me, my Dad, and a few cousins who were available at the time. They were, and always will be, the best friends a boy can have.

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Segarini’s regular column appears here every Friday or so

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted 47. Bob 2015“Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, osts The Bobcast every Monday night at Cherry Cola’s, and continues to write music, make music, and record.

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