Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Our “L’il Marco” at the Bocce Restaurant, 1959

The picture above was taken around 1968 at the Bocce Court of the “il Vagabondo” Restaurant on E. 62nd St. in New York City. I was excited when I came across it and this is why:

Dick and I were married in 1958 and living in the city. We used to go to a favorite Italian restaurant and I’m pretty sure it was this one. You entered through a neighborhood-type bar and then into the back room which featured an indoor bocce court. It was so much fun to enjoy a magnificent Italian dinner while watching the men compete.

In July of 1959 our first son was born. We named him Mark and he was an exceptionally good baby. We felt confident that he would behave so we took him with us when we treated ourselves to a night out at “il Vagabondo”. He was about 2 months old.

The bar was very crowded that night and we knew many of the locals by sight, if not by name. Many of them were elderly Italian men and their eyes lit up when they saw Mark and they wanted to know what we had named him. Of course he became “L’il Marco” to them and they insisted that we leave him with them and go in and enjoy our dinner.

I suppose that sounds a bit shocking in today’s world, but we felt very secure leaving Mark with them. Even when we were seated at a table in the next room we could hear them “ooing” and “ahhing” over “L’il Marco” as they passed him gently around the bar.

When it was time to leave I remember that our usually good baby started to cry and I was amazed. In a very short time he had come to love those rough old men and he hated to leave. I felt the same way.

When I was in Italy, many years later, I would watch and listen as the Italians laughed and gestured their way through a conversation. It would remind me of that magical night when Mark, (who will be 49 this July) became “L’il Marco” and was held in the loving arms of those old men.

I wrote to the “il Vagabondo” restaurant when I was researching for this blog entry and they actually answered me. It makes me feel sure that it is still the same warm and friendly spot that we loved. If you are ever in New York City I would highly recommend that you pay them a visit.


Blogger KGMom said...

Aww--Ginnie--such a sweet memory. I can just hear these men saying "Marco"--a slight roll of the R and the A a long soft sound.
It doesn't sound shocking at all to trust your babe to men who were no doubt fathers or grandfathers. What is shocking is that we can't do that today.

4:44 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

That is a great story. Too bad that things have changed so much that babies can't be left alone except with trusted friends. It's a great remembrance of how things were.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Mary Christine said...

Thank you for sharing such a touching story. The world sure has changed.

9:02 PM  
Blogger ellen said...

What a lovely, warm memory. I will repeat what has already been said, in that it's a shame that so much has changed in our world.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm playing catch-up in the blog world.
Great post, Ginnie. I have to agree....unfortunately, you'd not find a restaurant like that today, willing to watch the baby while mom and dad had a quiet dinner.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Crayons said...

This is a classic post. Great story, great photo, great telling. I remember that your son and I are almost the same age. I was born in March of 1959.

That closeness and trust is gone from today's society. It's terrible. I'm even afraid to admire a child in public.

You are lucky to have lived in that time.

2:05 PM  

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