Saturday, February 19, 2011


Yesterday I was in front of the Castle San Angelo, at the Bridge of Angles. I had to lean over to look down to the water’s edge. A few hours earlier that morning, Nico showed me a sharp, large black and white photo, about eleven by seventeen inches, that was taken there in the sand below the end of the bridge. I had recognized part of the bridge and the castle in the background. The date hand written in old style script on the photo - 1930. The photo features a line of ten or so pals, caught happily during a break in their reverie - eighty-one years ago. Third from the left in the front row is the neat young sport Nico, age seventeen.

He had a career as a dancer. I have an old Paris publicity photo of him holding his then dance partner/wife high over his head with one hand, arm fully stretched.

Now, though old, he remains bright. His wit is apparent from the thoughts he speaks and his energy. Yes, I attribute his energy to his wit. He knows better than to be a drag or a drain. He is alive, nearly blind, yet amazing.

On any particular day he’ll be facing the other way talking to Marina, a ceramic artist shop keeper on our street. I’ll come up behind him and say suddenly in a disguised voice something unexpected like, “Ce vino qui?” (is there wino here?).

Nico will stop cold, hop around and say laughing, “Jack!”

He has the size and energy of a five foot tall high school freshman. What joy. I’ve had many older friends, but none like ninety-eight year old Nico. A man who exudes life and kindness. I’ve never known another like him.


Annie said...

Hi Jack,
Thank you for sharing about your friend, Nico. I'm wondering if you've thought about doing his painting. But, in some ways, a relationship can be so special, a memory is more important than memorializing, and your admiration for him may be the best portrait of all. It's wonderful he shares his photographs and his history with you.

jack sender said...

Annie, i've painted Nico a few times. I'll see if I can find one to put on this site.

TomC said...

Great story thanks Jack. We will never know another like you either...taking a small story from life each day, spinning it into a poem a thousand times over, making us appreciate what you see and appreciate you.

TomC said...

Addendum on reread: I once knew a man like Nico... Tommy Tomasi and Italian settled in the Black Hills. Tommy used to love exploring the mountains. He always had a twinkle in his eye and liked everyone instantly until, and if they proved otherwise. RIP Tommy - hopefully you and Nico will meet one day.