Plenty of Jungle and not a Rain Forest in Sight

On a fall Saturday morning dad announced that he was taking me on errands and leaving my younger brothers home with a list of chores. At twelve I was the oldest he reminded them as they howled at the unfairness of it all. Mom just shook her head at being left behind as the enforcer.

Dad’s Saturday ventures often meant a trip to one of his brothers, my grandparents or the West Side market. My dad was always pumped up around his brothers. They talked loudly, even shouting in a friendly way over the next delicious meal their families were planning, or a house or a car they were looking to buy, confident of a good deal.

Years earlier my father and I had a memorable Saturday outing searching Cleveland stores for the materials needed to build a racer. He finished it the same weekend and it worked beautifully: a coasting thing with ball bearing wheels, handle brake, steering wheel and a small storage box behind the driver’s seat for tools and spare parts. Shortly after it was finished I sold it to the kid across the street for a dime. That broke my dad’s heart. But he never tried to get the racer back. I made the deal and had to live with it he had said.

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