Mamma was always in a hurry loaded down like a pack mule,

both arms laden with heavy bags filled at Mr. Hoffman”s

vegetable store more than a dozen blocks from home.

He’d wet a pencil stub with his tongue, reckoning up the amount

on the side of a paper bag, adding up the sum in lightening speed.

Huffing and puffing with determined alacrity she’s rush alongside

the trolley cars, past Davega’s hardware, Hilldebrande’s Ice Cream

Parlor and the Maspeth Movie Theatre. For ten cents I’d get lost every

Saturday matinee watching double feature films and serialized “cliffhangers”

like “Captain Marvel,” “Buck Rogers” and “Tom Mix.”

It was always a shock returning to reality in bright sunlight, green around

the gills from stuffing myself with rancid popcorn and dazed from glimpsing

the dark mystery hidden between Rita Hayworth’s gleaming thighs.

More than Mamma loved eating, she loved feeding others.

Arriving home, she’s unload on the kitchen table a veritable cornucopia

of macintosh apples, blood red oranges, purple eggplants, rutabaga, kohlrabi

and a mountain of huge potatoes.

Each school day at noon I’d run home for my favorite lunch: a “BOAT”.

It was scooped out insides of a rotund plinth of an Idaho potato metamorphosed

into a succulent vessel of melted Velveeta, milk-soaked, buttered mashed potato

sprinkled with salt and paprika, replaced and encased in a crisp, crusty skin.

She’d always hoist a tiny white sail mounted on a mast of

one of my Pick-Up-Sticks.

Oh, mamma, mamma, make me more “BOATS.” I’d sail around the world

in one of your “BOATS” if only I could.


Milton P. Ehrlich