It was my first day at a new job… at headquarters for The Asbury Park Press.  I had made it almost until lunch when I heard my boss’s thunderous yell from the cubicle next to mine:  “Hey, Witkowski, got any plans for lunch?”

I was totally embarrassed, but everyone else seemed to be so used to him yelling that they just kept on working.  Was he kidding?  Who has plans on their first day at work?  He must’ve known I didn’t, because I had no chance to answer before he thundered again, “Well, be ready at noon; you’re coming with me”. 

I got in his car as he sang out loud to the radio (and what a voice!!!) and told me that some relatives were visiting his mom’s house.  We drove off to Asbury Park, and went into a little house crammed with people and the smell of garlic.

The kitchen was packed with food – and we ate and talked (well, I mostly listened) from the moment we arrived until we left.  There were older women in dresses talking loudly, their hair tied up in scarves, kids yelling, a dog or two running from room to room, and pots of sauce(gravy if you’re really Italian) and pasta steaming on the stove. In fact, it was hard to find an empty spot anywhere.

I felt instantly welcomed and comfortable.  Maybe growing up with a lot of relatives all crammed into my mom’s small kitchen helped – even if her food was Polish and this was oh, so Italian.

One Christmas we traded recipes, along with the finished products – our family pierogies for his family’s white sauce.  Good eating, indeed.

That was my boss and friend, Sam Siciliano.  There were never any strangers in his presence.
For those that may have known him, here is a nice article:
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