I charged into the doctor’s waiting room, tripped over the bogus skeleton’s limp leg and bounced into the medical charts, all the while desperately clutching my pet duck Giufa’ in my arms. The half dozen ebony clad patients scattered. Doilies and knitting needles flew. One wide-eyed woman cowered in a corner and screamed for the Blessed Mother and Jesus to intervene. Why were they acting this way? I was only seven and Dr. Rodino’s office always made me feel safe and comfortable.

     Doc Rodino stepped out of his office, “Signore, signore,” he pleaded, non c’e problema.” He smiled at me. “Now then, Anthony, let’s check out your duck.”

     He carried her into the exam room, looked her over and concluded, “Take her home; she’s having ducklings. She’ll be okay, don’t worry.”

D'Alessandro, the author, at seven years of age, poses with his pet duck (papara) Giufa'

     The doctor looked down at his patients, bent his head to get thru the door and said, “Signore, I’ll be back in a minute. I must walk Anthony home. We squeezed thru his Brooklyn backyard, opened the trellised gates between our houses, snaked thru Pop’s cluttered grape arbor and stepped into my back porch where my parents sat chatting over coffee.

     Poppa stood to greet Doc.  My mom’s long face told me she’d figured out my escapade. I knew that the usually gentle lady was about to smack me because of her embarrassment.

     “Mascanzone!” she yelled.”You wasted Doctor Rodino’s time with your duck! Per favore Dottore, scusi. We will pay you for any inconvenience.”

     At that point Doc saved my day, perhaps my life: he burst into a contagious laugh. Soon after, my mom and dad joined him. I chuckled too, since all this laughter served to delay my punishment. I heard the good doctor laughing all the way back to his office. He was the only doctor I knew who possessed the simpatico to care for the neighborhood ruffian’s sick pet- and to care for each of his patients as much as he did.

F. Anthony D’Alessandro

Reprinted from: PRIMO MAGAZINE, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2003

F. Anthony D'Alessandro
F. Anthony D'Alessandro
D'Alessandro retired from a 30 plus-year teaching career in New York State. For twenty-five years, he served as a high school newspaper advisor. For several years, he acted as an associate editor for the now defunct, Italo-American Times. A former "Educator of the Year," he recently retired from his position as Coordinator of Student Teachers for the University of Central Florida, and an adjunct professor at Valencia College.

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