By Richard Valeriote
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Additional resources for Alice Street: A Memoir
The medics stopped by Uncle Vincent’s shop with a sobbing Yvette to report what we suspected: Mrs Piquette had passed away. Uncle Vincent, who often sang hymns while he worked, immediately genuﬂected and mouthed a silent prayer. A hearse came and carried Mrs Piquette away, accompanied by Yvette. Uncle Vincent was subdued as he rethreaded all the belts back onto the pulleys. Then he closed shop and I went with him to his house next door. He sat down at the kitchen table, poured himself a glass of wine, and mumbled a few prayers.
With enthusiasm and pride, I blurted, “Yes! ” It would be sixty years before I learned from Paciﬁco that he never received the money. He assured me that he had been well taken care of by the Veteran’s Education Bill. Where the money went I can only speculate. Donating to light candles at church was one of my mother’s favorite pastimes, along with money to baptize pagan babies in far off lands. And when any of my many siblings came to visit, she’d always send them home with a little money she’d surreptitiously tucked into their palms.
I told her the sad story. She listened, stroking the curls on my head. Then she sighed. ” °°°°° I was an eager worker as a child, always willing to do chores at home or at the store. Inspired by my observations of everyone else’s sweeping techniques, I enjoyed experimenting with ways to do my chores better. My sister-in-law Lola, Dominic’s wife, once asked me to rake up the cut grass from the yard behind the store. I was seven years old. I went right to work and in no time had a nice tidy pile of dry grass cuttings.