Pete Sr. was a dock worker at Todd's shipyard downtown Brooklyn in an area between Redhook - Brooklyn Heights - Williamsburg. He could walk to work from the small-town neighborhood of Redhook, and he would bring home fascinating (to us) items from the ship yard, and told stories of the ships built at the yard and the ships that came into the marina. Nettie had barnacles that were scrapped off a ship, sitting in the dining area. I used to love to touch them and ask Pete Sr. how they grew on the ship.
Even though Pete Sr. worked at the docks, he was a fantastic carpenter who would and could make anything from these gorgeous wooden sliding doors to the deck on the back of their house to furniture and toys. Every Summer, Pete and his father would redo the deck together or strengthen the existing structure. If you drew something for him or explained what you wanted in detail, he could make it for you. The best part is if you spent enough time with him, he would teach you who to use his tools and how to make and fix furniture. When I was 10 yo, I proudly fixed Nettie's livingroom table leg by using Pete Sr.'s tools.
Peter 1976 sitting on deck railing
When we cleaned out the last of Pete's items last weekend, we found hundreds of tools that Peter saved from his father's workshop. Rusted and dirty, with a little love they could be brought back to life again. If you had to descibe Pete Sr., you'd say craftsman. Peter kept his father's image alive with him by saving every tool his father owned.
I remember when Peter and I would go swimming for a long time in the beach water, he would pinch at my legs and tell me that the little sea creatures that make barnacles on ships were going to plant themselves on my legs. Then I'd have to spend the rest of my life with ugly hard barnacles growing from my legs. Every summer I believed him and would thoroughly inspect my legs for barnacles after the beach. Peter loved to tell us girls gross things like that to make us freak.
I really miss that about him ...