By Charles J. Napoli
One winter day, I was on my way to deliver The Brooklyn Eagle. It was the early 1950s, when I lived in Brooklyn.
I was riding my homemade bike. It was only a green frame and tires. It had no chain guard, no fenders, no kickstand and no rubber hand grips. It had only one pedal. It was all that I could afford. I remember my grandmother gave me a shot of homemade dandelion wine to keep me warm.
When I reached the corner of my block with my canvas bag tied to my handlebars, I saw Zeke with his friends. He was the chief of the Indian motorcycle gang. They were headed my way.
So I yelled out, “Hi, Zeke,” and his friends burst out laughing. Zeke then came over to me, put his arm around me and said, “This is my good friend, and anyone who messes with him messes with me.” I was in my glory.
Zeke was my idol. He was a born leader, a philosopher-king, a warrior-poet and chose his battles wisely. He always wore jeans, a jean jacket, a garrison belt and motorcycle boots. Zeke was bold, wise, honest, kind and humble. He had the right swagger and governed with humility.
When I was a bit older — in the late 1950s — I was able to buy myself a Benelli motorcycle with money I had saved up. I wore jeans, a jean jacket, a garrison belt and motorcycle boots.
I don’t know what happened to Zeke, but he was special. I bet he was one of the best Ringolevio players in all of Brooklyn (“The game of life you play for keeps.”).
Whenever I’m in a jam and don’t know what to do, I ask myself: “What would Zeke have done?” He was my true friend and mentor.
The writer is a resident of Stony Brook.