Tag Archives: dancing

On this day, 92 years ago

On this day in 1925, my father Vincent Patrick Preziotti was born.

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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.


weekend warrior

People who know me will tell you stories of high energy, streamed together activities: art shows, dancing, walking tours, pub crawls, and road trips. In recent months I’ve played it low key; this weekend? Not so much.

Friday night

Claudia and I went to the New York City Center to see Diana Ross perform. Smooth as syrup, her energy electric, a true, iconic songstress. The audience, a mirror filled with love. Five costume changes, each more glamorous and sparkly than the next.

Every song a tribute, a trigger to a moment in time, a disco dance down memory lane.

 

Saturday night

Jayne, Colleen, Jon Mark and I attend the NY Sailors’ Ball–a charity event on my calendar every year.  It’s held at the Down Town Association, a 19th c. townhouse and clubhouse. I go for the music and the dancing, but every year the Commodore asks my plans for the sailing season.

Sunday

Apparently, my age is catching up with me. I hardly drank but after dancing for 2 hours straight my body is screaming for mercy. I sleep in, Finn is more than happy to oblige. Later in the day, I have plans with Lulu for supper, so I slowly make my way to Soho where she is dying her hair, under Chester’s guidance. Last year I had a sapphire sheen and orchid stripes, and now Lulu is getting a unicorn color of her own.

We have dinner at Soccarat, a paella bar in Little Italy and order our meal in a sing-song fashion like a scene out of RENT.


distanced by a decade, memories breathe still

Three years apart in age, my mom (b.1928) and dad (b.1925) were born at the beginning of the Great Depression. Their early childhood stories are family-focused, tales of sacrifice and tragedy, of making do with all that they had. Their joy sprung from the little things: trips to Coney Island, walking along the boardwalk, hand-me down bicycles, the surprise of roller skates for Christmas, card games, family-style Sunday dinners, visiting aunts, uncles and cousins just a short walk away, church on Sunday, Knights of Columbus dances, and movies.

Almost all of my childhood memories include my mom and dad dancing. Old photos show them sharply dressed, swirling across the dance floor. The most vivid images live in my memory bank: from weddings and garden parties to BBQs and beach days. An open melody, the crooning of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and others in the background, the tap-tap-tap of the shoe on the hardwood floor. It wasn’t long before my father would stand and ask my mom to dance. Even right there in the living room.

When not dancing, my parents would watch the classic movies popular during their youth. Snuggled together on the moss green sofa a montage of the greats moving across the television screen: Gregory Peck, Lauren Bacall, Barbara Stanwyck, Laurence Olivier et al. Sometimes they would share stories of movie releases, the double features, saving their pennies to see the latest film, waiting for autographs to be signed. Sometimes they would each be lost in their own reverie of shared moments with friends and family, way before they thought to start their own.

I remember my mom and dad dancing, early fall 1999. A few weeks before my brother’s wedding. They are in the living room watching a program, the autumnal sun is fading. There is music playing and Dad asks Mom to dance. Her eyes light up and with all the energy she can muster, she stands. I clear the furniture from the rug and Dad holds her hand, quick-quick-slow-slow as if they are on pause. Dad is smiling and she is laughing, happy.

Three months later she is gone.

I will forever in my dreams see them dancing, a perpetual couple waltzing atop a music box.

Lucy Romano Preziotti
b. 9/19/28 – d. 1/23/00

Movies from the ’40s ||  Classic Movies || Love Songs of the 40s & 50s ||