Selling Programs – 1936


Your bike must have been built
like our Studebaker, and it
was a 1936 –
The car you bought for campaigns
when you ran for Mayor –
plastered with your name.

You and your friends rode
twenty eight miles through
woods and twisting roads –
a bike without lights, to camp out
around Saratoga Lake.
You and your friends sold
programs at the race track.

You told me – men stood on
stools behind a box and yelled
out odds – before each race.
You told me – you made ten
cents on every program.

You told me you slept in a
forest beneath tall pines to

on a humid – Saratoga night
near the big shots, Riely’s –
an old casino where gangsters

It was raining hard one night,
when a policeman asked,
“Do you want a place to sleep
for tonight?”

So you loaded up those heavy
bikes – went down to
Broadway. . . riding in a police
car –

You and your friends were
housed inside a jail, on beds
where criminals stayed.
You and your friends were
safe that night while a storm

pounded a city where the rich
play inside of a Casino in a

August storm.

In the morning you
smell eggs, bacon, and watched
as guards passed by your
cell; you thought it was a cool

place to sleep – you thought
they’d bring you food, too. . .
But when you asked, “Do we
get breakfast here?” your face

smiled like your eyes, I know

your eyes always smiled –

nudging your

“No,” a policeman said,
“You were only overnight

So they let you out, and
gave you back those old
bikes built like our old
Studebaker – and you tied
them to a pine tree  –
began to yell, “Programs,
get your programs here.”

You told me many things –
but I wonder –
did grandmother know what
you and your friends were
doing back in 1936?

Nancy Duci Denofio – all rights reserved @2011

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