Thread: New studio
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Old 06-19-2018, 04:18 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sarzana,Italy
Posts: 661
Default Re: New studio

One day an engraver named Mimo asked me if I would like to meet a woman
that spoke English, he said. “She’s not married and she’s very intelligent.”
I agreed that I would like to meet her, he promised to come by my hotel at
8 p.m. on Thursday. At 8 p.m. I was dressed in clean jeans, maroon turtleneck sweater, freshly laundered jacket, bathed, shaved, and wearing the recently polished Justin boots.
Mimo arrived in his Alf a Romero; he was meticulously dressed, looking more
or less like a short Cary Grant. He had been engraving for twelve years and it was
against him that I mentally competed at school. My goal was to become a better
engraver than Mimo.
He took my continuous examinations of his work with a magnifying lens as a
I would study the cuts made by his chisel, looking for mistakes or
rough cuts, memorize his work, go to my vise, then practice the cuts he
made, trying to duplicate them. One day I finished cutting a very small English
scroll, about the size of my fingernail. Every cut was perfect. The spirals
in the scroll were so smooth and well cut that I could not resist taking the
plate out of the vise.
I took it over to Mimo for him to examine. Handing him my loupe, I offered the plate for his examination. After studying the work, he took the plate, put it in his vise .Then without magnification proceeded to cut a perfect scroll half the size of the one I had finished.
He handed my loop and the plate back to me. I looked through the ten-power lens; every cut he had made was perfect, nothing else needed said.
Mimo had put me in my place.

The place Mimo was taking me that night was a pizzeria called The Corral.
It was the owner’s imaginative creation of a western bar .Mimo parked down the street in the first empty space he could find, locked the car, and then led the way to the entrance of the pizzeria. I walked behind, trying to control the limp of my right foot.
Man, I sure looked good in those boots I had written that bad check for in Lynchburg and with every painful step I vowed one day to make it right.
Mimo opened the door and I followed him into the bar.
Bang! I was suddenly in some western bar!
Paintings of mustangs racing across the prairie covered one wall.
There were long plank tables with benches. A neon jukebox from the fifties occupied center stage.
The air was laden with the aroma of expensive perfume and cigarette smoke.
People at the tables were all eating, drinking, laughing, and having a great time.
“Hey everybody, here is the guy I was telling you about. He’s here to learn to
engrave , but he’s too old, and I think he’s crazy.”
That was his introduction.
I was shocked to find out what he had said several years later.
The whole bar suddenly became dead quiet.
Everyone there was dressed equally as well as Mimo. Beautiful women , handsome men, all in their twenties and early thirties. I think I was older than the bar owner.
At one of the tables sat five beautiful women. They made space for me. I took the seat opposite from a lovely golden haired, blue eyed woman, who had the complexion of polished alabaster and her English speaking companion with luxurious black hair and the most beautiful dark brown eyes I had ever seen:
“Hello,” she said. “My name is Franca.”
It was so good to hear someone speaking English. I had so much bottled up
Inside me and no one to express myself to. I shook her hand and sat down.
Franca’s first question took me by surprise.
“Do you have identification?” she asked.
“Yes,” I had my passport and answered by digging it out of my jeans pocket and gave it to her. We talked for only a few minutes but during that time, I studied
her carefully. She was elegantly dressed in a dark brown silk frock decorated
in yellow and orange flowers. She wore a simple gold chain around her finely
arched neck, matching earrings hung from her delicate earlobes. Tossed carelessly
over the back of her chair was a luxurious beaver coat.
“She is definitely a city girl.” I thought and smiled …
I had recently received a letter from Marshal Williams, the Virginia lawyer who did the legal work in becoming just Joseph. He wished me success, saying how much he admired the determination it took to learn engraving.
Enclosed in the letter was a ten-dollar bill. The letter ended by saying,
“Have a pizza or something on me. Your friend, Marshall.”
I offered to buy Franca and her friend Fiorella a beer, and ordered one for me and Mimo.
“ No thank you,” Franca replied politely. “I’m leaving early tomorrow morning
for the Canary Islands for two weeks. Then I shall be going on to Dubai, and
after that to Hong Kong. I will be back in about two month’s time.
It was nice to meet you; perhaps we shall meet again, Goodnight.” And with that, Franca and her good friend Fiorella left.
“Put her out of your mind, pal,” that inner voice said to me, “She’s definitely way
out of your league.”
Mimo was having a good time with his friends so I retired off to the corner,
finished the beer, listened to music for a while, and then went back to the hotel
that was just a short distance away. The pain in my foot was becoming too intense to ignore any longer.
From my journal:
Last night, nightmares again, not much progress in my engraving. Today will be a
better day. The boots have become a real problem for me but I have no alternative.
Even a country boy finds it difficult to walk barefoot in cold and snow.

One spring evening after school I was hobbling along the street headed
to the hotel when a car pulled up alongside. I paid no attention to it or its
driver. Suddenly a feminine voice says to me,
“Hey honey, where are you going?”
I thought, “Who in the hell could be calling me honey?”
I looked up to see Franca in her little white Fiat Panda pulled over to the
curb. I recognized her but didn’t recall her name.
“Hey, nice to see you, when did you come back?” I asked.
Instead of answering my question, she asked me, “Why are you walking so
I answered, “These boots hurt my feet.”
“Why are you wearing them if they hurt your feet?”
“Lady, it’s the only pair I have to wear.”
“Oh, I see,” she answered, then said “Would you like to go somewhere with
me this Saturday afternoon?”
“Sure, I’d like that,” I answered.
“I’ll pick you up in front of the hotel at four.”
Smiling, she put the car in gear and roared off up the hill, leaving me standing with my mouth agape in wonderment.
Saturday, I was standing in front of the hotel. Just as the church bells began to ring the hour, Franca flew into the square and the Fiat squealed to a stop. I was truly surprised. The woman had actually shown up on time.
I was impressed. I walked over to the car as she rolled down the window. “Get in,” she said. “I want to take you somewhere.”
I barely seated myself when we were off with a squeak and a lurch. Franca
chatting on about my school and how was I doing. She seemed oblivious to
the traffic, pedestrians, bicycles, and the very narrow and winding streets.
She kept that beautiful foot of hers pressing on the accelerator while she continued
chatting away.
I was holding on, expecting a head-on collision any second. I was
positively sure she was going to kill someone.
I kept thinking, “I made it all the way to Italy, and this crazy woman is going to kill me in her car. This is not funny, God, not funny at all.”
Finally, to my relief she stopped the car.
I had no clue where I was. I had been so very busy watching the traffic, expecting a crash, that I had lost my sense of direction.
I know we were several miles from the hotel. Still I was seriously considering walking back.
“Come into the house,” Franca said.
We got out and walked into someone’s home. I expected to meet a relative or
a friend. “Sit down in that chair please,” Franca, said to me. “I’ll be right back.”
She disappeared through the curtains of a doorway, soon reappearing with a
man carrying boxes of tennis shoes.
“Now please take those boots off.”
I was flustered. “What?” I asked.
“Please take those boots off. I want you to try on these tennis shoes.”
“Me, take off these boots? No ma’am, I’m not going to do that.”
“I want to buy these shoes for you,” she insisted.
“No ma’am, I don’t take charity.”
“I want to buy them for you as a present,” Franca insisted.
Presents I could handle, I began pulling off the boots. My sock was an embarrassment. It was bloody and smelled not that nice. She insisted that I put on new socks before trying on the shoes.
With much professionalism, the clerk measured my feet, selected a pair of white tennis shoes, and slipped them on.
“Stand up and walk around,” said Franca. Numbly I followed her instructions.
“Walk over here. Walk over there. Turn around. Are they comfortable?”
Comfortable was not an apt description. My feet had left my body and ascended
to heaven.

April 22 1982
Today my engraving took a large step forward. I received many encouraging words from some of the other engravers. I am in fine and good spirits. Thank you for loving me.
Although I was grateful for the tennis shoes, I had no intention of
becoming involved with Signorina Franca Facchetti. She was pert, sexy, independent, and free spirited. Exactly what I was looking for in a mate, but neither of us was looking for permanency.
I considered the gift of those shoes kind-hearted, but I was deep into my engraving career and that took all priorities.
Franca lived three blocks from the Piazza Gardone and the hotel .We
occasionally met, She returning from work, and I from school.
I clearly recall our first so-called date. She took me for pizza, ribs, and wine at a restaurant called Oasis, owned by one of her ex-lovers. Each meeting between us would become a little more sexual than the last, holding hands, laughing, looking into one another’s eyes.
The end of each encounter would find me alone, in the room in the attic, lying naked on the cot, masturbating. Some old habits never die, they say.
I may not have been in love but I was certainly in lust.
One very wet and cold evening the mountain town of Gardone shone white with soft falling drizzle of snow. Franca and I had been invited to a mutual friend’s house for dinner. Our friend’s names were Anna and her husband Evaristo; He had lived in Morocco, Amsterdam and various other places. He spoke some English, loved to drink, shoot pool, and play soccer. He wore his hair in a long ponytail.
Evaristo and I would shoot pool together before I had even met Franca.
They lived in the same apartment building. Getting to know Franca, I learned that she had lived in that very same apartment for the better part of her life. She, her two sisters, her mother and gunsmith father had shared the small four-room apartment for twenty-six years. She had a fine job, traveled all over the world first class, had her own car and recently acquired in the same building an apartment of her own, she spoke three other languages and had no addictive habits.
She, like me, had no interest in a permanent relationship. That was about the
only thing we had in common. I was so unstable, so naked in my emotions. I was
still sleeping half-awake. Having horrible nightmares, and had not slept with a
woman in months.
After dinner, Franca decided to walk with me back to the Albergo Gardone Hotel. We walked slowly down the street slippery with the new-fallen snow.
Franca was bundled up in her fur coat, dressed in a comfortable pair of warm
boots and a brown wool skirt. She held tightly to my arm as we slipped and slid
over the wet cobblestones down to the hotel. I can still visualize her
standing in the swirl of sparkling snowflakes, the dim lighting from the shops
made the setting postcard perfect. We stopped at the iron gate of the hotel.
“Well,” she said squeezing my arm. “Goodnight.” She released my arm and
started to turn around.
“You’re not getting away that easily,” I said.
I put my arms around her waist pulled her close to me and kissed her fully on those beautiful lips. I held her gently, our lips pressed together, tasting each other until I felt the resistance leave her body.
“Goodnight,” I said, released her, and then entered the hotel.
On the following Saturday, we went out for dinner with more friends and the
evening passed quickly. After walking Franca to her apartment, I turned downhill
to the hotel. When I got there, the shutters were down and the huge iron gates to
the courtyard, locked. I hurried back up the hill to Franca’s apartment. I got to
the gate and rang the buzzer. In a moment, Franca appeared at the door. I
explained my circumstances. The gate clicked open.
From my journal 1982: Sunday
Today I was supposed to paint the large iron gates at the rear of the hotel but it is raining. I’m glad of that, for I feel tired and I’m going to stay in bed all day.
I now have $40 left but my room is secure for another month, as is my food. Therefore, I am very rich. I have met a wonderful person here in Gardone. Her name is Franca and she seems nice. She is good to me and has asked nothing from me, for the first time in my life, I feel at peace with myself.
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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