As Long As You Can See the Clock, You're Okay
by Grace Zolla Protano
South Brooklyn in the '50s
5.5 x 8.5 paperback cream
5.5 x 8.5 casebound
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BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs
Jun 20, 2009
Books by Grace Zolla Protano
In Grace Zolla Protano's memoir we meet the people who most impacted her life: her brothers Jack and Sal, who gave her strength and laughter; her father Anthony, who showed her gentleness and character. We see her mother Fiorentina, who taught her kindness and wonder, but whose emotionally crippling illness stole half a childhood.
Set mainly in Brooklyn in the 1950s, As Long As You Can See the Clock, You're Okay is a recollection of growing up with a unique love embodying joy and sadness; pride and shame; tenderness and cruelty.
We sing along with the doo-woppers; we drool over the teen idols as we cheer throughout Alan Freed's Rock and Roll Revue at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater. We play Ringo Levio, Kick the Can and Iron Tag until our moms look out their windows and call us in.
The author longs for her absent mother and we cry with her; she feels a safety just by seeing Downtown Brooklyn's 512 foot icon, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank clock tower, and we understand fully why As Long As You Can See the Clock, You're Okay.
EXCERPTS FROM AS LONG AS YOU CAN SEE THE CLOCK, YOU'RE OKAY
"There he is, there he is," we shrieked as one piercing voice.
Alan Freed walked out onto the stage and stood in front of the sixty-foot curtain decorated with satin-embroidered pheasants. The audience of wild teens, crazed with expectation, stood in unison and exploded. He smiled and waited for the ovation to settle down. Though our seats were near the back, we could still see the distinct features that so distinguished the man--short-cropped curly hair, full-nostrilled nose that stretched even wider when he smiled. His small dark eyes and thin build transformed into a statuesque Greek god who could mesmerize.
* * * *
We had no television in the early Fifties, so our wooden Philco floor radio was our entertainment.
"Hurry up, Gracie, set the table," Mom said. "Luigi is coming on in ten minutes."
Dinnertime on Tuesday nights meant Life with Luigi. And nobody talked at dinner unless it was during a commercial break. Dad sat at the head of the table, I at the foot--I liked to think he was at the foot and I was at the head, my brothers Jack and Sal along the left side of the table, Mom opposite them.
* * * *
It was an ivory-colored village. The houses were made of polished pearlized marble, the curtains a snowy velvet, the carpeting cream plush. The lawn looked like white angora strips of yarn with swan-feathered bushes.
"It's so white and so quiet here, Mom. Aren't you afraid?"
* * * *
There was a sorrow to this structure. In each section of damaged stucco, there was a longing to be replaced or at least repaired. In my mind, on one level there was a curious strength to the crumbling outer wall, as though it wanted to prolong its total disintegration. On another level, it was just a house with a broken heart.
As Long As You Can See the Clock, You're Okay may be ordered at a 40% trade discount price in quantities of ten or more from Outskirts Press wholesale online bookstore at:
A Kindle edition is available for $7.95.
About Grace Zolla Protano
Grace Zolla Protano is a retired English teacher who lives in Massapequa, New York, with her husband Nick. Born and raised in Brooklyn, she incorporates into many of her short stories and poetry the nuances privy to a native of that great borough.
Long Island has been Grace's home for thirty-five years. Her experiences with teaching teenagers for most of that time, raising three teenage daughters, and being a teenager herself in Brooklyn, provide a look into the heart of a kid with its conflicts, its sadness, and its unbridled silliness.
Grace's newest novel,Absent from Class, is available at PropressBooks.net.