It was November in New York City, and the sky
was tainted by only one cloud.
People were a bustle of makeup and
costumes, some unfamiliar with an event this size.
My grandfather,16 at the time, was something
my mother would later come to fear: a clown.
It was the Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, back
after a four–year hiatus due to the war.
My grandfather had volunteered to dress
up and carry that big balloon along the route:
Central Park, Times Square, 34th St.
Big shoes, checkered jumpsuit, a tangle of strings: this
was unlike him. But there he was, in that
photograph I have, sitting at a cafeteria table with four
other men, all as young as he, shoving his face
with a turkey sandwich.
The sixth man at their table, 30 years their senior,
wore a pinstripe suit, his hand delicately wrapped around a teacup.
When the day was over, my grandfather’s pockets were
full of extra rolls.
This is a story I have never heard
from him, only my mother.
But I know it was not the first time he
did something out of desperation and
hunger, and it certainly wasn’t the last.