Gus, one of the owners, came over and said, “Wow what a turn-out, I didn’t realize you knew so many people.” I replied, “If you had given me a better price I could have filled the room.”
We took over half the room and stayed until 9:30 pm. The stars of the evening were: me, adorned in a black shirt, black pants, sword and black Zorro hat on my trusty steed — my handicapped scooter; Sharon; and my six grandchildren: Jake, 9, Michael, 8, and Dean, 3, and my beautiful grand-daughters Alexa, 11, Cassandra, 6, and Vanessa, 5.
My son, Carl, ranks third in my Zorro legacy. “Third?” you might wonder? Well the First Zorro — and my idol — was Tyrone Power, who appeared in the remake of the Douglas Fairbanks’ the “Mark of Zorro.” I am the second Zorro; Jake, Carl’s son is the fourth; Dana’s son, Michael Sgroi, is the fifth; and Dean is the sixth.
As they arrived, each guest received a Zorro foldable bag, with a welcome menu on the front page. The menu and a personalized thank you message because there would be no speeches that night, just happy birthday, sung to Zorro’s 75th. Most of my dear friends know my forte is writing and not speaking! Whada he say?
Since there were only 50 guests invited by my wife, we had two long tables with 10 guests on each side, and the kids sat on a long booth in the corner, with a couple of booths reserved for two couples with their kids. There were no balloons, but plenty of Zorro photos all over, my favorite being the one of the Carvel ice cream cake with a rendering of Zorro that artist Derek Ostrander had drawn for me two years ago. As a matter of fact, the cake was ordered from the Carvel on Bath Avenue off Bay Parkway on the telephone, where I e-mailed the photo and paid by credit card. It was a big, big hit.
Five generations of family were there, from my oldest sister, Susie, 90, to my great, great nephew Anthony Vento, who’s 1. My daughter Dana came with her three, her hubby Michael Sgroi suffering from tooth problems, Carl and my daughter-in-law Lori with their three. My sister Jennie and brother-in-law Leo Vento were with their two kids. Anthony and his wife, Donna, were with their daughter, Christina, and her boyfriend, Mat; along with Barbara and Billy Castellano and their daughter Jenna. Anthony and Barbara were brought into this world by our family doctor, Carl Straus. At 90 he was accompanied by his beautiful wife Shirley, who sat next to my mother-in-law Irene Holden and Leo’s sister Bessie who went to PS130 with me.
My cousin Sonny and his wife Caroline Costantino were there. It was Sonny’s mother, Aunt Christina, who made my first Zorro cape in 1959 to take with me to a Halloween Party in Newport News, Virginia where I taught dancing for the Fred Astaire Dance Studio after duty hours from my Army base. My family was with me on one table and Sharon headed the table with four of our lifetime friends, Paulie and Camille, Carmelo and Sexy Susie Sox, our graphic colleagues Eileen LaRuffa and Lou Powsner and lovely lady Ruby. Sharon’s brother Peter was there with his wife, Barbara, Anita Sapirman and Alan Gorelick of Saparn Realty, Inc. and their manager Janise Ostrander,
Neighbors Sid Schatzman and Irene Abend were there for me, as was Wendy Levit Karlin, who didn’t know where to sit because she had so many friends there.
Steve and Rose Dimino and their two kids held court in their booth as the younger set was delighted in Steve’s antics, making them laugh. The next booth had two generations of Anthony Vento and Nicole with their two sons Joseph and Anthony. My good friends from the BWECC, Michael Rizzotto and Joe and Angela Di Santo, also came.
The historic moment for all was when Zorro cut the first slice of his ice cream birthday cake with — what else? — his authentic Zorro sword. All the Caballeros and Senorita’s had a great time, eating great food, with old and new friends of Zorro and his family in an ambience of fun, fantasy and frolic.
Screech at you next week!