Back in ’64 when cigarette smoking remained a virtuous activity for an aspiring up and coming young man San Jose was a place where one of the largest stone fruit crops in the world was still grown. Apricots, peaches, and nectarine orchards were still a defining feature. The Jesuits were still growing wine at the Novitiate up in Los Gatos. They didn’t just turn grapes into wine they were busy forming men into priests. Our current Governor Jerry Brown was making grapes into wine there back in the day. But as it turned out the Jesuits were unable to turn an unwilling Jerry Brown into a priest.
Albert Gonsalves, my grandfather was in the last years of owning his saloon. Sinatra in 1964 was recording Fly Me to the Moon, The Best is Yet to Come and My Kind of Town. It would be a few years before we all would come to understand the meaning of all of this.
In the end it all became crystal clear. My grandfather would end up buying up most of the Novitiates Vintage 1964 Ruby Port.He kept the cases at Tambo’s the saloon he owned down at the corner of East 14th Street and 98th Avenue right there in the heart of Elmhurst- a neighborhood on the south side of Oakland.
At home in his closet was stacked a good five cases of the deep red port wine. I’d come by now and again. My grandfather enjoyed a good one way conversation. This was one of those can’t get a word in edgewise type of conversations. In point of fact you couldn’t find a detectable gap in his speech where it seemed it might be alright to butt in and form a dialogue. No, this was impossible. Grandpa was a monologist, a man who pondered conundrums, scolded the morally weak, and waxed eloquently on the beauty of the steam engine and its close second cousin the whiskey still of which he had first hand experience and was something of an expert in how to use one of these devices.
What I came to understand about my grandfathers speechifying was that he had found in that Novitiate Vintage 1964 Ruby Port the perfect elixir to serve as a way of softening up any guest so that he might turn that visitor into his audience where he could demonstrate his most amazing oratorical talent of telling stories in such a manner that the only way to get out of such a fix was when my grandmother would come into the room and by way of mercy save grandpa’s now Port soaked victim from her husbands singular talent of holding a person speechless against their will.
My grandfather and I played a game of cat and mouse as those years rolled by. I’d show up for one thing or another and he’d walk out of the closet with a bottle of the vintage ruby port. All I had to do was agree to have a glass of wine and next thing you know there I’d be right back at the dining room table right back in the same fix all over again.
About all you need to know now is that I loved my grandfather, even though I can’t remember a thing he said I still seem to have a vivid memory of that wine, you could say it was almost a religious experience.
BANKRUPT HEART THE SECOND NOVEL
“Look at me, why, why do I always pick the biggest dreamer in the crowd.”
“I guess you like big dreams…”
“They’re always these tough guys, cooking up adventures to go on, nobodies making plans to stick around,”
“You wouldn’t be attracted to that guy…”
“Guys like that see me coming a million miles away…”
“Jackie, the dull guy who’s buying hooks at the Western Bait and Tackle knows better than to try and take a bite of your apple. Man who’s got the courage to feast in your garden, that’s a different beast, whole different critter, this a feral animal, mercurial, master marksman, he devours weaker creatures, those are one night stands, women like that don’t stand a chance, but when that man spars with the likes of you, look out, sparks fly, man like that goes to the edge of the known world, you take him, force him to walk up to the cliff, and its like you take his hand and say come on let’s jump, mister tough guy, lets fly, I’ll take you to places you’ve only heard of…”