Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Photographer ~ Part 1


The Marino Family was happily preparing the Trattoria for a big party honoring Rosa's baby brother, Luigi Rossi. Luigi graduated that morning from college and was arriving in Camden Corners on the 4:15 that very afternoon. Rosa was bursting with pride. Her baby brother a college graduate.
Luigi came to the United States just as he was about to enter high school. Luigi showed no interest in the family business. For generations the Rossi families had produced high quality wines. As heartbroken as Mama and Papa Rossi were to watch the ship carry another child to the United States of America, they knew Luigi would be well taken care of by his older sister, Rosa.
Rosa and Eduardo Marino opened the Marino Trattoria in Camden Corners three weeks after they arrived in the United States. Eduardo was a master chef and Rosa was just a very good cook. Eduardo's great aunt Antonia didn't want someone else to reap the benefits of Eduardo's excellent cooking skills and sent him along with enough money to buy his own restaurant.
Eduardo and Rosa arrived in New York and found an advertisement in the paper for a quaint sounding restaurant in a village called Camden Corners. They bought the restaurant sight unseen and were off to Camden Corners the next morning. The restaurant had possibilities but it was nothing like what they had read in the advertisement. They were newlyweds and maybe just too naive to realize they had been duped.
They started scrubbing and fixing and decorating and before too long the Trattoria looked just like they dreamed it would. The people of Camden Corners had never tasted Italian cooking before and were a bit hesitant to try it but after having a meal prepared by Eduardo and served by Rosa, they came back again and again. The restaurant was a success and in just a few short years they were able to expand their establishment along with their family. Eduardo, Jr. was the oldest followed by Antonio, Giorgio, Daniella and Maria. Eduardo began helping his father when he was just a young boy and it was a foregone conclusion that he was a natural in the kitchen. Antonio tried but he had to settle for clearing tables and washing dishes.
The 4:15 arrived right on time and the whole town came out to welcome their friend and neighbor. The party was in full swing when Luigi announced he had a meeting with Mr. George Weston of the Weston Camera Company in Wilmington. Mr. Weston was interested in graduates with degrees in engineering and his professor recommended Luigi. Antonio, who liked to be called Tony, wasn't sure what a camera was. His uncle saw the look of confusion on Tony's face and explained that a camera was used to take photographs and promised he would bring one home the next time he came for a visit.
Mrs. Granville who lived on the corner of Phillip Avenue was very concerned about Luigi going to Wilmington. She had heard it was very close to Niagara Falls and maybe he would have too much of the devil's brew and try to go over the falls in a barrel. Maybe he should just stay here in Camden Corners where it is safe. He could be an engineer on the train. Luigi laughed and gave Mrs. Granville a hug. He loved this little town and all the people who lived here.
Tears were shed as Luigi boarded the train again, this time to take him to Wilmington. He was sad but also anticipating the opportunities waiting for him there. He met with Mr. Weston and was hired on the spot.
Several days later, Jackson Parker received a special delivery package at the post office for Master Antonio Marino from the Weston Camera Company. It wasn't often the folks of Camden Corners received special delivery packages and Jackson rushed out the door to personally deliver the package. Tony was sweeping the floor getting ready for the lunch crowd when Jackson came in with the package. The entire Marino family came out to see what the commotion was. Tony opened the package. There was a note from Luigi.
My Dear Nephew Tony, I spoke to Mr. Weston regarding your curiosity involving cameras. He was glad you showed interest in photography and wanted you to have your very own camera. Instructions are enclosed along with film for picture taking. When you have completed a roll of film, mail it to me and I will develop and print your pictures. Mr. Weston and I hope this will be the beginning of a lifetime of photographic pleasure. Fondest regards, Your Uncle Luigi.
Everyone was excited for Tony and Papa Marino told him to take the rest of the day off to try out his new camera. Tony had no trouble loading his camera. He began immediately using one roll of film and then another. Before Jackson had closed the Post Office for the day, Tony was there with three packages of film ready to be mailed to Uncle Luigi. Jackson was as excited as Tony wondering what the photographs would look like and he put in a rush order and delivered the package to the mail car at the train station himself.
In no time, Luigi received the film and developed it. He was astonished at the quality of the photographs. He expected some silly pictures of the brothers with goofy faces or the sisters with exaggerated smiles but these weren't anything like that. One was of his nieces standing on footstools glancing down with wonder at a mother robin feeding her baby birds. Another of Giorgio holding Mrs. Penrose's arm as he guided her down the front stairs of the restaurant. Another of Eduardo nuzzling Rosa's neck as he helped her tie her apron. Mr. Crowley and Miss Dawson sitting on a park bench feeding the pigeons and looking into each others eyes. Every photograph seemed to tell a story. Luigi knew Mr. Weston would be pleased that his gift had been so well received. Mr. Weston was indeed pleased and insisted Luigi take all the equipment and products necessary to Camden Corners and help young Antonio set up a darkroom of his own. Luigi was concerned that this would be a monumental task but wasn't about to argue with his new boss.
Luigi arrived with all the equipment necessary for the darkroom. The restaurant had a large closet with a sink that would be perfect for Tony to use. With the help of Eduardo and Ted Evans from the hardware store, the room was completed in record time. Tony was a quick learner and it didn't take long before he was developing his own photographs.
Rosa proudly displayed his work in the entry of the restaurant. Before long people were offering to buy the photos. Tony enjoyed his new hobby too much to take money for them and gladly gave the photos to whoever wanted them.
At the edge of town that summer Mr. Rufus Melville was setting up camp. He was chuckling as he hid his stash of gold nuggets. Rufus' motto was there's a sucker born every minute and he knew there were a lot of minutes in a day. His plan was foolproof. Maybe not foolproof but the fools were certain to fall for his scheme. He followed the river to a small town called Camden Corners. He had a few of his precious gold nuggets and carefully dropped them into low points of the river.

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