He used to walk up my block when I was a kid. He was a short man maybe in his 50’s. He had black hair, a moustache and thick “Buddy Holly” style glasses. Sam usually wore a brown overcoat in the winter and a sports jacket in the summer. He could always be seen wearing a brown or black derby too.
Now Sam also walked with a cane, except most of the time it was never touching the sidewalk. Instead he used it to point at people.
“Hey ya bum ya, you fuckin bum”
those words were Sams trademark as he walked up East 4th. And he usually uttered them when he was drunk.
Now, we were never mean to Sam, and actually liked him. Even when he called us “fuckin bums”, because we may have been only five or six years old at the time and actually thought he was funny. So there he would stand with a newspaper under his arm, his face flushed red and a bottle sticking out of his coat pocket. His old cane right in our faces as we played in front of our house.
“Hey you know what you are?” “A FUCKIN BUM!”.
We would all start laughing at this point because Sam always had a smile on his face when he cursed at us.
“Thats Goldfeather, Sam Goldfeather”
And then he would slowly walk up the block towards Avenue C. Just pointing his cane at anyone he saw until he vanished around the corner.
And then there was Sam’s brother Irving Goldfeather” who looked strikingly similar to Sam. Except Irving was always seen walking in the opposite direction towards Beverly Road. Usually on his way to work in the morning. Yet, Sams brother was quiet and businesslike and would always tip his hat to my Mom and say:
“Good morning Mrs. Lopez, a beautiful day isn’t it?.
“Mom, why don’t Sam and Irving ever walk together?”
My mom would usually just say that “Maybe Sam sleeps late”.
Then one day Sam told us while waving his cane in our faces that he was moving to Florida and wouldn’t be around anymore. He said his brother Irving would be staying, and for us to be nice to him. Well, I guess I was pretty naive because I must have been in High School before I figured out that they were actually the same person. And Sam did a pretty good show holding a job during the day only to drink his problems away at the bars on Church Avenue, and then from his pocket before he got home. But truth is from that day on we only saw his brother Irving walking up and down the block. And he never cursed, always wished my Mom a good day, and only walked with his cane touching the sidewalk.