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My Mom and the Motorcycle Man

May is Moms’ month, as well as the time when over 20,000 bikers ride through our area. That seems reason enough to tell you in this May issue about my Mom and how she met the Motorcycle Man (my Dad!).
Mom’s first instinct about my father was curiosity. Later it turned to anger. And that was before she ever laid eyes on him.


My mother Anna, even at 16, was a beauty. Just like in the song that was popular in the 1920s, she was five foot two with eyes of blue. Eyes so intensely blue they looked like melted cornflowers.


Her Cousin Annie was her best friend and she’s the one who brought Anna news on that one day in 1928. “Anna, Anna! There’s a new, good-looking, single guy in the neighborhood. He just opened a shoe repair shop right down the street. His name is Nicholas Bilansky, he’s Slovak like us, and he drives a motorcycle!”


Excited by this news, Anna grabbed a worn-out pair of shoes from under her bed and handed them to her cousin Annie. “Give these to him to fix and tell him I was asking about him.”


That evening and over the next few days, Anna envisioned the possibility of her first romance and she could hardly wait to hear what Nicholas had to say.


At the end of the work week, Anna and Annie got together and Anna, even though she was bursting with anticipation of good news, allowed herself just a coy smile when she asked about the shoemaker.


Annie wasn’t smiling. “He said,” Annie began sheepishly, “ ‘I no want no crrrrooked-footed woman asking ‘bout me.’ ” As Anna took in her cousin’s shocking words, tears began to form and she felt angry and ashamed for picturing a happy ending that couldn’t be.


A less resourceful young woman might have exploded with fury, walked into that shop and given Nick Bilansky a strong piece of her mind. But that wasn’t my mother’s way. Instead, on Saturday afternoon, she put on her best dress and applied just the right amount of makeup. Too much would have made her look like a harlot. Not enough and her sapphire eyes wouldn’t be able to do their magic.


She checked herself out in the mirror while smoothing her waistless dress and then walked down the street to Nicholas Bilansky’s shop. Anna opened the door, walked into the shop and waited for the man behind the counter to turn around. He did. He saw her. He was conquered.
“Are my shoes ready?” she asked him rather haughtily.
“Which you shoes?” he asked in his broken English, while he excitedly wiped his hands on his shoemaker’s apron.
He was obviously caught in Anna’s spell.
“Those,” and she pointed to her shoes near the top of a pile of repaired shoes ready for pick up.
“They no rrready. I deliver.” Fast thinking for a man who had my future in his hands. Lucky for me, he did deliver.


On August 3, 1980, my Mom and the Motorcycle Man celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.


¡Vive rápido—muere viejo!

Por ELLEN WOOD

Mayo es el mes de las Mamás, además del tiempo en que más de veinte mil ciclistas recorren el área donde vivimos. Esta me parece una razón suficiente para contarles en este número de mayo sobre mi Mamá y cómo conoció al Hombre de la Moto (¡mi Papá!)


Lo primero que Mamá sintió por mi padre fue curiosidad. Más tarde esta se convirtió en enojo. Y todo eso pasó antes de que ella lo viera por primera vez.


Mi madre Anna, incluso a los 16 años, era una belleza. Como dice una canción que fue popular en los años veinte del siglo pasado, medía cinco pies y dos pulgadas y tenía unos hermosos ojos azules. Tan intensamente azules que parecían nomeolvides derretidos.


Su prima Annie era su mejor amiga y fue la que le dio la noticia a Anna ese día de 1928. “¡Anna, Anna! Hay un chico nuevo, guapo y soltero en el vecindario. Acaba de abrir un taller de reparación de zapatos al final de la calle. Se llama Nicholas Bilansky, es eslovaco como nosotras y maneja una motocicleta.”


Emocionada con la noticia, Anna tomó un par de zapatos viejos de abajo de su cama y se los entregó a su prima Annie. “Dáselos para que los arregle y dile que pregunté por él.”


Esa noche y durante los días siguientes, Anna se imaginó cómo sería su primer romance y esperaba ansiosamente para saber qué había dicho Nicholas.


Al terminar el trabajo de la semana, Anna y Annie se juntaron y Anna, aunque esperaba con ansiedad las buenas noticias, solo se permitió una sonrisita tímida cuando preguntó por el zapatero.


Annie no sonrió. “Él dijo:”, comenzó tímidamente, “No quiero que ninguna mujer de pies torrrcidos ande preguntando por mí’”. Mientras Anna analizaba las mortificantes palabras de su prima, empezó a lloriquear y se sintió enojada y avergonzada por haberse imaginado un final feliz que no sucedería.


Una joven con menos recursos habría estallado de furia, entrado a la zapatería y dicho un montón de impertinencias a Nick Bilansky. Pero mi madre no era así. En lugar de eso, el sábado por la tarde se puso su mejor vestido y la cantidad justa de maquillaje. Demasiado la habría hecho parecer una ramera. Menos de lo apropiado y sus ojos de zafiro no podrían ejercer su magia.


Se miró en el espejo mientras se alisaba el vestido con una cintura estrechita y luego caminó por la calle hasta la tienda de Nicholas Bilansky. Anna abrió la puerta, entró en la tienda y esperó a que el hombre que se hallaba detrás del mostrador se diera la vuelta.


El hombre se volvió. La vio. Y quedó conquistado.
“¿Están listos mis zapatos?” le preguntó ella con cierta altivez.
“¿Qué zapatos suyos?” preguntó él en su inglés no muy bueno, mientras se limpiaba las manos, emocionado, en el delantal de zapatero. Obviamente estaba atrapado por el encanto de Anna.
“Esos,” y ella señaló para sus zapatos que estaban sobre una pila de zapatos reparados listos para recoger.
“No están listos. Yo los entrego.” Un pensamiento rápido para el hombre que tenía mi futuro en sus manos. Por suerte para mí, fue y los entregó.


El 3 de agosto de 1980, mi Mamá y el Hombre de la Moto celebraron su aniversario de bodas número cincuenta.


Traducción de Teresa Dovalpage

Authors

  • Ellen Wood, born in 1936, is a prizewinning author, columnist and former management executive. After her youngest child began school, Ellen started an in-house ad agency and won 16 awards for annual report and advertising excellence, including 4 national awards. Five years after her mother died of Alzheimer’s, Ellen experienced early symptoms (she has the gene, APO-e4). At 68 she developed a program of mind/body/spirit techniques that proved so successful, she wrote and published “Think and Grow Young,” followed by “Joy! Joy! Joy!” (now retitled “The Secret Method for Growing Younger,” Volumes 1 and 2) and gave inspirational speeches. Since 2018 Ellen has been the ad agency for NorthStar Tire and Auto in Questa, NM. Ellen started painting in November of 2020, having dabbled at it in her 20s, and gave herself a new name: Maruška, her father’s middle name. She is overjoyed to be part of a big, loving, kindhearted family. You can find her paintings at www.northernnewmexicoartists.com/ellen-wood

  • Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana, Cuba. She has a PhD in Hispanic Literature from the University of New Mexico and is currently a Spanish professor at New Mexico Junior College. She is the author of twelve novels, three collections of short stories and three theater plays. Her Havana Mystery series, published by Soho Crime, debuted with the culinary mystery Death Comes in through the Kitchen (2018). The second novel, Queen of Bones (2019) was chosen by NBC News as one of the top “10 books from 2019 by and about Latinos.” The third is Death of a Telenovela Star (2020), set on a Caribbean cruise. Upcoming is Death under the Perseids (December 2021). 2. Links to websites and twitter https://teredovalpage.com http://teresadovalpage.com https://twitter.com/Dovalpage 3. Personal email: dovalpage@aol.com Teresa Dovalpage, Ph.D. Professor of Spanish and ESL New Mexico Junior College http://teredovalpage.com http://teresadovalpage.com

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