The Rememberer

If you don’t know anything about Pedro Fernandez de Unamuno, and most of the world doesn’t, look at his hat. He’s wearing it so you’ll ask him about it. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Ask Pedro about his Boina. It’s a black Boina, a Basque-style beret that he sets rakishly atop of what’s left of his wispy white hair. It, and the Spanish flag unfurled across the living room bookcase like a banquet banner, remind him of the homeland he was forced to flee. Pedro, an Old World charmer who kisses visitors on each …

Continue Reading →

The Cat Guy

The cats didn’t do it. Paul Santell wants that to be perfectly clear before he bares his left arm. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling The cat didn’t scratch Paul. It is covered in a river of red ruts. He got them when he gouged it against a trap while trying to stop one of his rescues from bolting. It was, he says, a small price to pay to contain the cat. There’s a pause …

Continue Reading →

The Woman Who’s Counting on 90

Minnie Daddario places a plate of pizzelle on the table. There aren’t many people who make the Italian snowflake-shaped cookies any more. Minnie thinks that’s a shame. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Minnie is a very young 89. Because it’s so easy. All you do is mix the ingredients — flour, eggs, sugar, baking powder, butter and anise — and spoon the pancake-like batter into an electric press that is similar to a waffle iron. Close the lid, count to 30 and, presto, you have a pair of pizzelle. With this process, Minnie can produce 50 of the crispy potato-chip-thin…

Continue Reading →

The Senior Stunt Man

It’s not as easy as it looks. Tony Loupakis, who stands a mere 5 feet 4, grabs the bar of the parallel baam, spreads his legs in a V and hooks his feet, like eagle talons, onto the smooth, bare wood. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Tony bets you can’t do this. From this unlikely perch, he zips his legs and shoots his trim torso straight into the air like a torpedo. He and his 126 pounds of muscle could stay like this, if not forever, then at least for a very long time. But he comes down because he…

Continue Reading →

The Costume Designer

“My house is like a zoo on Saturday mornings,” says Erin Black. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Erin is an Emmy-winning costume designer. So consider yourself warned and enter at your own risk to meet her husband, Eric, who is trying to feed Emmett, the nearly 12-month-old baby, who thinks food is something that should not go into his mouth today or ever. Introduce yourself to Tessa (3), Quinn (6) and Lyla (she says she’s 113, but Quinn declares that she’s actually 8) who are playing at putting on their hats, coats and boots. They’re off to services at the…

Continue Reading →