Funny how like the working of the tides is controlled by the movement of the moon how our thoughts and memories are
controlled and stirred by outside influences. A song, a faded photograph, even a smell can send your thoughts on a
trip down memory lane. A waft of perfume materializes into a sweetheart from long ago. Kitchen smells propel you back
to your Grandmother’s table for a special meal. Music ah there is the real catalyst there is always that one certain
song we tag as our song and when you hear it, it brings on joy or sadness according to the memory.
I was driving to a meeting yesterday when Johnnie Mathis song “Misty” came on. Like a brain tsunami, I was driven back to the cobbled dirty streets of Naples. I had a friend in Barcelona that asks me for a recording of ‘Misty‘.
I caught a cab and went to the BX at the air base and could not find the record. Disappointed I returned to fleet landing that’s when I met this young skinny Italian guy who looked like a button man for the mob. He was dressed in a black suit with white shirt and black tie. He spoke in broken English as he stuck out his hand “Ello I am Tony Economico, what can get you: You want girl, the best meal in Napoli, wine, tailor made suit, I get you any thing you want. “I want a record” I said. “You want what?” he said. “A recording of Johnny Mathis Misty” I pulled out ten dollars American and Tony said “I get for you, you come with me.” With that he turned and walked into five lanes of traffic brakes squealed as a multitude of vehicles came to a stop. Tony paused in mid street and motioned for me to follow pointing at the street and saying “ yu walka da white lines you no getta hit’ “but what if they do hit you?” Tony rubbed his thumbs and fore fingers together on both hands and said “they pay, they pay big”. I asked” What if you die?” “Then why you worry they pay for funeral“ he said.
We spent the entire afternoon looking in every shop in Naples to no avail. It was about five PM when Tony apologized for his lack of success. I pulled out the ten spot and he tried to refuse it. I told him he had done his best and to take it. I went to the Blue Bird club a sort of USO for the Navy and had a few. It was after dark not a good time to be walking the streets but I had had enough booze to burn the nerve in me so I was bullet proof.
I had walked a few blocks and from a well lit small family restaurant I heard a “Pst sailor see what I got for you” There in the doorway stood Tony Economico waving a 45 rpm record of Misty. It was a used copy that belonged to one of Tony’s relatives. Tony explained that he had gone to fleet landing to try and catch me as I returned to the ship. I gave him another five and sat down to a meal with his family. After, I was escorted to the ship by Tony and several family members.
That was the same night Wild Bill bit the horse’s ear and sent the horse and carriage flying on to the pier driving a group of inebriated sailors into the bay.