A Dollar's Worth

Paul Morrone |

By Thomas Morrone CFP®, CPA

Everything costs more now than it did years ago, including pizza. Growing up in East Haven, pizza was common for a family meal, a meal with friends, date night or snack just about any time. There were also plenty of options where to get the “pie” of your choice. I seem to write often about when I was younger. I do this for several reasons. One of those reasons is that those years were so incredible and full of so many wonderful memories that many others can also relate to. Many of those memories have to do with food and specifically pizza. The neighborhood I grew up in was close enough to the center of town that you could walk to several pizza parlors (this is what we called them back in the day). If you were on your bicycle, the options expanded even further.

Saturday mornings back in the 1960’s during biddy basketball season were very special for so many reasons. It was a time when all the neighborhood boys went to the local grade school and gathered in the cafagymatorium (cafeteria, gymnasium and auditorium combination). Teams were made up in age brackets and we all had uniforms thanks to the support of local businesses. There were games all morning and it did not matter what time your game was because you arrived to watch the first game and stayed to the last game was finished. We all cheered on our friends and it was a real community event. After the last game was finished, groups went their own ways to do whatever, but my group seemed to always go to get pizza. One year I played on the team sponsored by Tolli’s Apizza, an iconic landmark on Main Street in East Haven so we tended to go there still wearing our uniforms. The owner, Carmine Paluso, was always so happy to see “his team” and would be generous with us as well. Like so many things in life, this became a Saturday tradition, biddy basketball in the morning and pizza in the afternoon.

What about pizza costing more? On those Saturday mornings before I would leave for the day, my mother would give me a dollar bill. I would put that dollar in my sneaker to keep it safe. After basketball when we got to the pizza parlor, I would order a small mozzarella for $.95 and a Foxon Park White Birch Beer soda for $.05. This was before sales tax and who knew about tipping when you were 10 years old. So, my sweat soaked dollar from inside my sneaker would cover the tab. It is hard to believe now but a small pizza and a soda for a buck! Those pizza parties were not just about the food but more about getting together and being boys. Straw papers were flying everywhere and of course there were the spit balls. An occasional piece of crust would get airborne and hit someone in the head. We would stay for hours and eventually we would have to leave because we had to go home to eat dinner. After all we were young growing boys and we needed our food.

Those times are from an era gone by. I would leave the house early in the morning and not return home until dinner time. There were no cell phones. I could not imagine now letting a 10 year-old child be gone for the entire day without having any way to be in touch. It was certainly a different time, a safer time.

I think my mom was brilliant. She got rid of me for the whole day for just a buck!

Until the Next Tom’s Take…

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