Sunday, October 31, 2010

Uncle Buddy

My Mother's Uncle Buddy passed away this week. His name wasn't really Buddy since I don't think anyone has "Buddy" for a given name, but for Uncle Buddy, it fit. Uncle Buddy was real "hows yous doing" South Philly guy.

The funeral followed the time honored South Philly pattern of a viewing at Nunzio Carter's, a Mass at a neighborhood church, a burial at either Holy Cross (if the deceased could get in there) or Saints Peter and Paul and finally a luncheon at Popi's at 20th and Oregon.

So typical is this pattern that I had a friend from work following a parallel funeral along a similar path the same day.

I was a little late to the viewing and ended up at the back of the funeral procession. I would come to regret this later.

The Mass was held at Saint Monica's and Saint Monica's is one of those South Philadelphia gems that no one outside of the parish even knows is there. The interior of the church is just beautiful with it's paintings, statues and stained glass. It had been a long time since I had been in there and honestly forgotten how beautiful it was.

After the Mass came the procession from the South Philly church to suburban Burial plot. We had a line of 20 or so cars which wound it's way through the streets of South Philly, past Uncle Buddy's house and onto the Platt bridge. Once our little procession got outside of the tiny streets of South Philly, things got dicey. It was at the intersection of Penrose and Pattison that we had our first incident. We were crossing against red in the right  lane and a truck with out of state plates made the turn into Penrose and merged right on into the procession to honking and flashing lights.

He eventually merged out, but that was only the beginning of the fun. The higher expressway speeds meant that our little procession tried to keep up with one another. And keeping up at the back of the line meant rushing to catch up only to nearly run into the back of Cousin Terry.

It went like that from the Platt bridge, across I-95 by the airport and then north on the Blue Route.In the back of the line we speed up and then jammed on the brakes. Sped up, jam the brakes. Sped up, jam the brakes. We accordioned like that for nearly 8 miles.

Riding the right lane also meant that we cut off the exits of the expressways we traveled. At one point a older lady merged on to the highway right into the middle of the procession and stayed there. Cousin Terry and I frantically passed her with flashing lights and beeping horns because she clearly didn't have the same fanaticism about staying with the hearse as we did.

We broke the cardinal about "leave no man behind" when we left those three cars with the old lady between us but we didn't care because we knew that without that hearse we clearly lost our right to pass through red traffic lights and would end up being late or lost.

When we arrived at the plot, we clearly had lost some composure with all the frantic driving.

The ride back to Popi's in South Philly was less exciting with only excitement happening when cousin Joni cut across three planes of traffic to make the exit for US 1. Only know this because she did it right in front of me. At first I was a little miffed until I realized it was her.

I'm thinking that I want to be buried in Wildwood just to have last laugh about everyone making that crazy trip for two hours.

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