Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy birthday, Mr. Piletti

You know how long ago I graduated high school? June 1937. Holy cow! June 1937? What is that, fifteen, seventeen years ago. Holy cow! Sev — let’s see, is that right? Seventeen, that’s right. Where’d it all go? I’m gettin’ old; I’m gonna be thirty-five years old November the eighth. Thirty-five! Wow, time goes on, boy.

[From Marty (1955), directed by Delbert Mann, screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky.]
Marty Piletti celebrates his ninetieth birthday today. If you’ve wondered what’s happened since 1954:

Marty and Clara Snyder married in 1955, after a nine-month courtship. They bought a house in the Bronx. Marty’s mother Theresa and Aunt Catherine stayed on in the old place.

Marty bought his boss’s butcher shop, which is still in business on Arthur Avenue, now Piletti’s Fine Meats. It was Clara who convinced Marty in 1962 to change the name: “You’re a good butcher,” she told him. “People like coming to your shop.” Today, Piletti’s serves both the Arthur Avenue Italian community and faintly bohemian customers from Manhattan.

Clara went on teaching chemistry in the New York City schools. She passed up the job in Portchester, but she did become the first female head of a science department in the New York City school system, at Theodore Roosevelt High School, Marty’s alma mater.

Marty and Clara have a daughter, Diane (b. 1956), and a son, George (b. 1958). Diane graduated from New York University (as did Clara), went to the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, and became a surgeon. She lives and works in Englewood, New Jersey. George went to Fordham University. He studied briefly for the priesthood (like his father’s cousin in Chicago) but then became a history teacher at the Bronx High School of Science. In 1988, he left teaching to take over the butcher shop and has never looked back. He still makes his home in the Bronx.

Clara retired in 1990; Marty, in 1991. A year later, they moved to Englewood to be closer to Diane, her husband Ranesh Singh (a pediatrician), and their two daughters, Linda and Stephanie, now in college. Remembering his mother’s disapproval of Clara, Marty used to joke with Diane, asking her why she couldn’t bring home “a nice Italian boy.” Mrs. Piletti and Clara, by the way, became very close. “You picked such a fine girl,” Marty’s mother once told him.

Both Marty and Clara (now eighty-five) are active and alert. They enjoy reading, shopping, and watching the Food Network, the History Channel, and Turner Classic Movies. They have no interest in DVDs. When they’re out walking, they still get stopped by people who ask if they’re that nice couple from the movies.

comments: 1

Matt Thomas said...

Very clever. Makes me want to do a Paddy Chayefsky marathon.