A Visit with Vinnie Russo
Years ago, before Vinnie Russo died, I stopped by Russo Realty to show the owner this photograph that I had taken and to leave it as a gift. I was overwhelmed when I first went in because every surface was covered with photos, mementos and news clippings. Even the walls and furniture were covered.
Sitting in the middle of everything was an old man bundled in layers of flannel shirts. I gave him the picture and he went wild, he loved it. He showed it to the woman who was there who turned out to be a friend named Susan who cared for the aging Real Estate king. I sat down and she made me a plate of delicious pasta with clam sauce.
During dinner, Vinnie’s nephew joined us. He is a body builder in his 50s who looks like Elvis, hair sunglasses and all.
Vinnie told me that when he returned from Pearl Harbor in 1947, he went into real estate purchasing buildings all over Cobble Hill. Over the years he’s had a lot of trials and tribulations, which he couldn’t wait to tell me about.
I took a break to go to the bathroom, which is another work of art. It was a good-sized room with a tiny cot and walls covered with nude pictures. I realized this was Vinnie’s bedroom. When I came out, there were more visitors crammed into the tiny office including a huge, handsome, bearded man wearing a hairdresser’s outfit and makeup.
The small group talked and laughed and told me they were trying to make a museum out of the place. There was a great deal of warmth in the room and his friends seem to make him happy. I felt very privileged to have been there and shared the moment and was saddened by his passing.
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