By Richard Valeriote
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Extra info for Alice Street: A Memoir
I was proud of my ingenuity. The pile sat there undisturbed while the wind whipped beyond the corner of the garage. 20 / The Ward The next challenge was to get rid of the grass. Everyone burned their leaves in the fall so that seemed like the grownup thing to do. I got some kitchen matches, ran back to the garage, and set the grass on ﬁre. A few wisps of smoke curled up at ﬁrst and everything seemed to going just ﬁne until the smoldering suddenly burst into a pillar of ﬂames. The gravity of the situation sank in slowly until the tarpaper nailed to the bare-wood walls ignited.
We altar boys sang in the choir at Manny’s funeral at Sacred Heart before an overﬂow crowd. His death evoked the sympathy of many mothers and fathers who harbored unspoken terrors of ﬁnding themselves in the same situation as Manny’s parents. I’m sure every one thought, There but for the grace of God … The cofﬁn was smothered in ﬂowers whose perfume mingled with the candle smoke and permeated the church. Sitting there quietly waiting for the service to begin, I watched large waxen tears slide slowly down the candle into the receptacle below.
The father of one of these families worked at a local foundry and when I came to pick up the order, the bicycle he rode to and from the plant would be leaning on the railing of the front porch. He worked around blast furnaces and always returned home covered from head to toe with soot.
Alice Street: A Memoir by Richard Valeriote