Our “L’il Marco” at the Bocce Restaurant, 1959
I found this photo on the Web and it is reminiscent of those days but not the same place. This picture was taken in 1968 at the “il Vagabondo” restaurant on E. 62nd Street. It is still in existence today.
Sadly, “our” little restaurant is long gone but this memory will be with me forever: In July of 1959 our first child was born, a son we named Mark. When he was about a month old we decided that the three of us needed a night out on the town and we headed to the Village.
The bar was very crowded and we knew many of the locals by sight if not by name. Many of them were elderly Italian men from the neighborhood and their eyes lit up when they saw our baby.
“Whatsa ees name?” they asked and of course our Mark became “L’il Marco” to them and they insisted that we leave him with them. “Go…Go”, they said, “…you eat, we play!”
So that’s what we did. We felt very secure leaving Mark with these men since we’d often seen them lovingly care for other children ... and, even sitting a room away we could hear them “oohing” and “ahhing” over “L’il Marco” as they passed him gently around the bar.
When it was time to leave I remember that he started to cry. I was surprised and then I realized that in a very short time our "L'il Marco" had come to love those rough old men and he hated to leave. I felt the same way.