Our friend FILIPPO...the “mad” Scientist/Inventor
“Rumors of my demise were grossly exaggerated”, the young man stated as he caught me in an effusive bear hug. This was my introduction to Filippo, my husband-to-be’s eccentric best friend and ex-roommate
The year was 1958 and we were all living in New York City but Filippo had been “missing in action” for the past four months. He was a scientist/inventor and spent a lot of time out of town researching his projects. I was glad to finally meet him. Now I could put a face to the name that my husband spoke of so frequently.
Filippo was small in stature but his dramatic flair made him a daunting personage. He had been born and bred in NY City and was the prototype of the Italian male with sparkling eyes, a thin pencil mustache and a small, pointed goatee. His voice was his most memorable feature… the feverish cadence being interspersed with his unique giggle. He was (and is) a most delightful person.
One of his passions was the stock market and, shortly after we were married, we received a frantic call from him. He was “out in the hinterlands” and couldn’t get his hands on a “NY Times”. He asked Dick if he could read off the NYSE results for the day.
I started to hand the paper to Dick but he shook his head at me and went on to give Fillipo a list of the reasons why this would be extremely inconvenient...not the least being the fact that he would have to get dressed and go downtown to get the paper! After some further haggling Filippo agreed to buy us each a steak dinner upon his next trip home in return for Dick getting the paper and reading the results to him. He said he’d call back within the hour.
After he hung up the phone I reminded Dick that we had the paper but he just laughed and said, “Oh, I know that...it’s just something we do”, and he sat back to wait for Filippo to call. It was more like 3 hours by the time that he was able to ring us back and when he did I was amazed to hear Dick say; “Well, Chappie, I have bad news. You know that our dog is paper trained and it took you so long to get back to us that I had no choice but to use that paper for Tiger. She’s sitting on it right now, as a matter of fact.” Then he sat back with a big grin and held the phone away from his ear. I could hear Filippo fuming and fussing on the other end and every once in awhile Dick would throw in a sympathetic “Uh, huh” until I finally heard an exasperated sigh and Filippo caved in. “O.k., o.k….I give up“ he said, “ Get your d__n dog off the paper and I’ll buy her a steak dinner too !”
“Score one for us”, said Dick when he got off the phone, and he was right. Filippo was as good as his word, buying steak dinners for all 3 of us. However, this was just the start of a lifetime filled with good-natured bantering between Dick and Filippo. They out-did each other whenever possible but I dare say it was a tie when the final score was tallied.