Monday, August 16, 2010

Immigrant Fathers and their Sons

From Johnny Otis' (born John Veliotes, 1921–) newly reprinted autobiography (2009), Listen to the Lambs (University of Minnesota Press):

"'Please, Pa, please Pa ... Mr. Williams says I can have 'hem if you say okay!' Something about Mr. Williams' health demanded that he moves to Arizona. The pigeons were mine, fantails, satinettes, homers; all I needed was my father's permission. Papa grumbled and fused. 'In the middle of a Depression he wants to feed pigeons,' but even as he grumbled he was building the coop on top of our garage.

'You gonna pay for the feed from your paper route,' Papa declared in a loud voice. Then he added almost under his breath, "I sell it to you wholesale from the store.' I went through the motions of paying for the feed but Papa wouldn't take the money. He loved to holler and admonish but he was all bark. 'No, dolling, you don't have to pay ... what kind father am I to make my son pay for chicken feed?'" (108)

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