On this day in 1925, my father Vincent Patrick Preziotti was born.
I visit This Day in History and discover that Katherine Hepburn, most noted for her performances in The Philadelphia Story and On Golden Pond, was also born today, in 1907. I remember Dad’s nightly AMC movie marathons filled with spaghetti westerns and comic dramas, many of which starred Katherine and her long-term on again/off-again love interest, Spencer Tracy.
Dad was a die-hard Brooklynite. He loved baseball until the Brooklyn Dodgers left for California. His favorite pastime was strolling the boardwalks in Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay, and even the Rockaways.
He loved to dance, a common interest he shared with my mom. I have the fondest memories of mom washing dishes in the kitchen, of dad pulling her away from the sink, suds and all. Charlie Parker on saxophone, Louis Armstrong on trumpet, Ella on vocals, mom and dad waltzing from the linoleum to the parquet floors in the dining room. On days like today, I truly miss the house on 81st street.
When Dad was a young boy his uncle Joe managed the Thunderbolt and Tornado, sister rollercoasters to the Cyclone. Dad often reminisced about being a ticket taker and people watching. He was a quiet man, with a gruff exterior. He was reserved at first, but once he felt comfortable in your presence he would blossom. A voracious reader of the newspaper, he would often engage in conversation about current events, mostly politics. And some of those discussions would be heated and full of fire; he was Italian after all.
In my early years, we would fight something awful. My mom unwittingly influenced me toward liberal leanings (she was registered as an Independent) and it took me a long time to find a middle ground where Dad and I could speak to one another without raising our voices. Over time I gradually learned to mindfully pick my battles with my right-wing Republican housemate. These days I wonder what he would think about our current administration, and as I find myself alone with my thoughts, occasionally talking to Finn, I wish I could talk to Dad and hear his voice.
I have two voicemail recordings of my dad. One is about a dentist appointment. He needs me to come with him. I can hear the hesitation in his voice, of wanting my help but not wanting to interfere in my life. It makes me cringe, the thought of him thinking of himself as a burden.
The second recording is of him wishing me a happy birthday.