Long before Aunt Bobbi made an honest man out of him, Uncle Joey, a retired meat cutter, has been our Italian clan's biggest trickster.
When a pair of his nieces clamored for a pony, he slipped one into their yard--unbeknowst to their amused-yet-irritated parents.
At the biggest family gatherings, he always offered the boys an escape. Let's hit a local watering hole, he'd suggest, and " go pinch the girls."
Perhaps his best gag? Wrapping a dead cat in fresh, white butcher's paper and subsituting it for the roast a difficult customer had ordered. (She probably had it comin').
All the while, his love and generosity towards generations of our families' kids is unmatched.
I got a shiny silver dollar every Sunday that I "took him" to Catholic Mass.
He secretly paid in the '60s for a mind-blowing set of hardcover Time/Life books on everything from the mysteries of the human body to deep space for me and my brothers.
And as you see here, his favor is much sought by our family's fourth generation.
When asked in his late 70's what he might have done differently as a younger man, he smiled and said: "I wish I'd had twice as much money--and twice as much fun."
Thanks, Uncle Joey, for all the fun you've given us. Happy Birthday. :-)
Photo: Courtesy of Uncle Harry