Walkin’ My Baby Back Home

By Clarence George on February 20, 2014
Walkin’ My Baby Back Home
Princess Sahloo danced at Hubert's Museum, a Times Square fixture from 1925 to 1969.

We get to the restaurant and I flash my membership card. “The lady,” jerking my thumb at Tempest, “is okay. Tony says…”

Walkin’ my baby
Talkin’ my baby
Lovin’ my baby
I don’t mean maybe
Walkin’ my baby back home
– Roy Turk (lyrics) and Fred E. Ahlert (music)

Ring 8 is a New York-based veteran boxers association that has done much since its formation in 1954 to help fighters down on their financial or medical luck. “Boxers Helping Boxers” is the association’s motto, and it has done just that for guys like Sandy Saddler, Tami Mauriello, and Emile Griffith.

The largest association of its kind, with more than 350 members, Ring 8 hosts a meeting the third Tuesday of every month, except July and August, at Tony Mazzarella’s Waterfront Crabhouse, “The Fishhouse Known for its Meat,” in Long Island City, New York.

Lazy bastard that I am, I keep putting off putting in an appearance, but decide to attend the February meeting. I want the love of my life to accompany me, and call the restaurant to find out what that would entail financially.

A woman answers, but when I tell her I’m calling about Ring 8 a guy with marbles in his mouth gets on the phone. “Do I know you? I know you. Look at me. Do I know you?” Who’s he all of a sudden, Robert De Niro? “You a membuh? Yeah? Then she’s your guest. You know what I’m sayin’ over here? No chahge, no chahge. She can jern later. We ain’t gonna beat her up. You been to one of our meetings? Naw? It’s cajule, cajule. We gonna talk about a coupla three things. Just ask for Tony.” I was hoping he’d say “Vinny,” but one can’t have everything. “And there’s gonna be a small buffet for ya, okay? SMALL BUFFET!” What’s with the random yelling? Now he’s channeling Al Pacino over here.

I give the good news to Tempest—the alias milady insists on using for the evening, after I put the kibosh on “Candy” and “Bubbles”—and she says, “What if they beat you up? Who’s going to protect me?” I assure her that they’re not going to beat me up. These guys are boxers and former boxers, I tell her, not disgruntled longshoremen, let alone torpedoes for Murder, Inc. “Besides,” I say, “didn’t your father used to be in ‘waste management’?” She gets all Italian on me, making a fuss about his being a “banker.” Known as “The Banker” is more like it, but I keep that to myself.

We get to the restaurant and I flash my membership card. “You’re good,” I’m told. “The lady,” jerking my thumb at Tempest, “is okay. Tony says.” I get the nod. We go over to the buffet. The ziti’s pretty good, but I don’t get much of it and don’t care for the rest. “Let’s head downstairs, and get ourselves a proper dinner,” I say. “No,” she says. “Why the hell not?” I want to know. “You’re too fat as it is,” she says. “You can barely fit into that black leather jacket, which I hate. You look like a goombah thug, you balena salsiccia!” Spicy little thing. Just the other day, she tells me about a friend of hers who goes by Soeurette. “You mean like the syndrome?” I say, which gets me on the receiving end of, “That’s Tourette! Grande imbecille!

We shake hands with 1960s welterweight Lenny Mangiapane before heading over to an empty table. An elderly gentleman joins us. He tells us about his one pro fight, but wants to talk about old New York, and I’m happy to oblige. He’s particularly pleased to be reminded of Hubert’s Museum, a Times Square fixture from 1925 to 1969, famous for Professor Heckler’s Flea Circus, as well as snake-dancer Princess Sahloo, and Susie who had skin like an elephant. Admission? Twenty-five cents. Them were the days, let me tell ya.

I’m delighted when the former pugilist brings up the name of my favorite boxer, “Two Ton” Tony Galento, but he remembers him as a wrestler. I remind him that Galento had been a contender for the heavyweight crown, and that he’d left-hooked Joe Louis into the canvas.

The speeches start, and I remember that I’m hungry. “Can’t we please go downstairs to get something to eat?” No. “A bowl of Manhattan clam chowder?” No. “A cup of New England clam chowder?” No.

First up, Dr. David Levine, a chiropractor who works with boxers, including Zab Judah.

“You should ask him about your knee,” says Tempest.

“No, I like my chiropractor,” I say.

“Then why don’t you ever go see him?”

“I will.”

“You say that, but then you don’t do it.”

“How about you trotting downstairs and getting me a pack or six of oyster crackers?”

The doctor is followed to the podium by welterweight Luis Collazo (35-5, 18 KOs), former WBA champ, who stopped former WBC titleholder Victor Ortiz by second-round KO at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on January 30. My guess is the southpaw is giving us the 411 on why covering one’s body in tattoos isn’t just for guys on death row, but I can’t hear for the rumbling of my tummy.

I fall hard soon after leaving the restaurant. “See?” says Tempest, implying that it was somehow my fault that I slipped on a bit of sidewalk the equivalent of a skating rink.

“The whole evening you don’t say you love me,” she says. Huh? “You say you love me right now or I throw myself from the bridge.” What bridge? We’re on the subway.

“You know perfectly well that you’re the very dawn of my existence, you delectable if difficult bit of deliciousness,” chortling to myself at how good that sounds. “Now, how about a kiss?” Up in the air goes that petite nose. “No?” I say, moving closer. Down comes the nose a bit…and that’s as good as a wink and a nod.

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  1. Clarence George 01:50pm, 02/21/2014

    I share your fascination, Nicolas, but I know very little about her.  She was married to the establishment’s manager, Charlie Lucas, who sometimes appeared on stage with her in some sort of love dance.  There’s a book you may find of interest, “Hubert’s Freaks” by Gregory Gibson.  I haven’t read it myself yet, but it’s on my list.

  2. nicolas 01:07pm, 02/21/2014

    Clarence, who was this Princess Sahloo. I’d like to know more about her. Would make it appears a rather interesting movie that has not been done yet.

  3. Clarence George 08:25am, 02/21/2014

    Ha!  What’s with all this talk of “coitus”?  Is everyone here turning into Sheldon Cooper?

  4. Ted 08:08am, 02/21/2014

    coitus-OMG. That’s what the reason is. And here I thought it might be arthritis.

  5. Clarence George 03:48am, 02/21/2014

    My pleasure, Irish, and are you just such a lawyer?

    That was the third time I’ve slipped and fallen this winter.  No serious harm done, thank God, but the condition of the streets is an absolute disgrace.  Ever since Lindsay screwed up lo these many decades, every New York mayor has known to keep the streets clear of snow and ice…but not de Blasio.  A one-termer in the making…praise the Lord.

  6. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:04pm, 02/20/2014

    Clarence George-Thanks for taking us along for the ride….which reminds me…sorry to hear about your tumble on that icey sidewalk….are you sure you’re not feeling some twinges/spasms in your lower back…...these maladies don’t always show up right away and oftentimes come out of the blue for example when one is engaging in coitus…..you just might need the number of a really good slip and fall attorney.

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