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Already having laid the cement fortress-like foundation and erecting the 14 foot walls all by himself, Lito asked me to squeeze in to a little space that he could not fit into, between his new workshop and the back neighbor's fence.

Excited to do something that Lito could not, I immediately agreed to hammer in the nail while he held it. Wham!

I missed, really smashed his thumb and then a horribly angry Lito chased me from behind the ladder, through the backyard and garage and on the street all around the double city block, to try to give me a good spanking.

We were quite the attraction ~ Lito wearing his Tony Soprano wife beater undershirt and menacing me with a big stick, while I ran ahead of him screaming “I’m sorry ~ I didn’t mean it”.

My friends on a rare sunny Saturday morning already playing on their front yards, saw the 2 of us approaching and thought it would be great fun to witness the final outcome.

Rounding the 3d street corner, we had a mob of about 15 kids following us.

Racing into the house I hid behind Lita who was feeding Tappy, and she shooed Lito away saying that “I was only a child trying to help”.

Thank God, Lito listened and went back home absolutely steaming.

Our neighborhood in the Upper Mission was a middle working class melting pot community with Italians, Irish, Swedes, and us Costa Ricans intermingling.

Called the Upper Mission due to our 1 mile proximity to Daly City ~ the fog capital of the world, I will never forget the time that Ralphie ~ our resident black leather jacketed “Fonzie” walked past me bleeding all over the sidewalk.

A member of the then #1 “White Shoes” gang, he and his mates had gotten into a brawl with “The Warlords” and Ralphie ended up getting stabbed.

His parents extremely loving and strict Italians both at work, Lita thank God called an ambulance for a true ~ yet very kind hoodlum.

Sewed-up, he brought Lita roses and would always talk to me on our home's stoop and share his chain flinging, ass-kicking and knife-wielding battles.

Ralphie was my 1st Tony Soprano role model...............