Mike Prontera Italy You know, a priest came into my shop for a haircut the other day, and we discovered we both were in Africa during World War II. I was a captain in the Italian army, head of a tank unit, and he was flying missions for the American air force. I told him I remembered seeing American planes overhead; he was pretty sure he had been flying one of them. We talked about how lucky we were to have had such long lives when so many did not survive. On May 13, 1943, the Italian troops surrendered to the British in Tunisia. We hugged the British, and they hugged us. The war was over, and we thought we’d all go home, but as it turned out, I was about to take my first trip to the United States. The American trucks rolled in, and we were all taken prisoners of war. They loaded us onto a ship in Casablanca. After many days at sea, we landed in Virginia—the United States of America! We traveled by train to Ogden, Utah, where we were given a choice. We could remain in a prison camp or else sign up for duty in the American army. This included the possibility of going to fight in Japan. We talked it over. We decided it would be bad either way, but if we agreed, chances were that the food was going to be much better. Most of us signed. We were given uniforms, equal pay, and we were right about the food! We were stationed in Seattle and had our own barracks down on Marginal Way. I was the barber there and cut hair from morning until night. We all did our work, and everyone treated us well. We had an architect who drew up plans and built a dance floor. Every Friday and Saturday night we had dances that became very popular in Seattle. I met my Mary at one of those dances, Mary Vacca. Her family owned a truck farm right next to Sick’s Stadium in the Rainier Valley. There was a big Italian community here at that time. She brought me home to meet her family, and before long she and I were engaged. After I went back to Italy she traveled all the way to my little town of Lecce, in the boot-heel. The day she arrived, I went down to meet the wrong train! My brother had to go get her. We were married there in our little church, and then we traveled together back to Seattle. I opened my barbershop, our children were born, and we were together fifty-five years. I have three or four priests that come in here, and I never take their money. I just tell them to go home and say a prayer for my wife, who passed away three years ago next month. Then I ask them to “God bless” my water on the way out. After all these years in Seattle I’m still here. I’m still working. The devil doesn’t want me, and the FBI is still looking for me. . . . God has been good to me, but I don’t know how he let me get so old! The years have gone by much too fast.