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My Brief Biography

My Brief Biography

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Published by Anthony V. Toscano
A brief biography of the author
A brief biography of the author

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Published by: Anthony V. Toscano on Feb 13, 2011
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My Brief Biography by Anthony V. ToscanoI was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. My father, my mother, my three brothers, my six aunts and sixuncles on my father's side, and my two aunts and two uncles on my mother's side were all born in thatsame town. And when each of us slipped or struggled out of the womb, the place on Earth that all of uscalled home was indeed a town, in spite of its name.I left my hometown before the strongest storm of the twentieth century blew through her streets andavenues and left her earliest monuments behind as a mountain of rubble. I went to university inPhiladelphia, PA. There I learned how to trim my beard neat and don the disguise of a professional. Ifell in love with love, married too young, divorced too late, rode the trolleys through Germantown inthe year of a blizzard, made love with a young Italian maid inside a colonial-style tenement apartmentin South Philly, ate pizza at Leonardo's on Ninth and Christian, drank syrupy Chianti at a favorite bar on Two Street, attended graduate school at Temple University, snapped sunset photographs of autumntrees in Fairmont Park, and departed that coast for a distant one when my sense of adventure called meto say, "Come here to a different home."And all the while, as I played magic tricks with my life, the power brokers in AC cleared away therubble they'd made and built new monuments to scrape the sky and steal the tourist's buck. High-rise,high-price houses of prostitution. Jing-a-ling coin machines. Painted cafe crooners from times gone by.Maybe twenty years ago, before my dad died, I flew back to Atlantic City for a visit. By that time myfather had retired and taken a part-time job at one of the major casinos in town, a town that no longer looked like a town. Dad insisted on driving me to the casino. I didn't want to go. I've always felt bored by the idea of gambling money by laying tokens on a table or sliding quarters into a slot machine.But Dad loved the place. After a lifetime's worth of wearing paint-splattered work boots or grease-stained railroad overalls, he now put on a uniform that sported brass buttons. So I joined him inside hisancient Chevy Impala, the model with flared rear wings and three tail lights blinking underneath eachwing, and he drove us at fifteen-miles-per-hour to a parking lot that used to be a highway. From therewe hopped a jitney that swept us fast through a tunnel that in turn led to the underground garage of aconcrete and steel casino shaped like a cruise ship. From the garage we boarded an elevator that liftedus upward and released us onto the casino floor. Lights blinked, machines jangled, an ersatz Sinatrawailed out a slippery version of "My Way," and fat old ladies swooned to the tune of distant memoriesand swayed to the rhythm of too much alcohol.I watched my father's face. False teeth, crooked and in places banded together with wire braces, madefor him after the War at the VA Hospital. Only a wisp of white hair lay across his shiny scalp. But his brass buttons shined, his smile spoke of happiness, and his colleagues called him friend.I wanted, though, to recall the days when I was a boy and my dad and I strolled the famous boardwalk.Cotton candy on sticks, like large soft lollipops, the sticky syrup leaving bright-colored stains on our lips. The heartwarming aroma floating from the home of the original Belgian waffle, gooey fruit between two checkered tiles, powdered sugar sprinkled on the top. Caramel-covered popcorn. Wicker chairs rolled along the boards, black men pushing laborers pretending to be aristocrats. The DivingHorse shoved down a long metal sliding board, the audience applauding the horse's ability to fly. Lime-flavored snow cones. Crowding our bodies into cabinets shaped like telephone booths, there to printour voices onto pliable plastic records.At end of day, my dad and I sat on a dark-green wooden bench, waiting for the bus to take us home,

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