Perhaps surprisingly, to the rest of the world, my parents were very social animals. They did not mingle with the well heeled of Palm Beach. Instead, they preferred the company of others whose beginnings were humble, like their own. Still, their friends included artists, musicians, lawyers, educators, athletes and intellectuals- all arriving for the fun.
There were the nights my father had men friends over to play Pinochle, smoking cigars and drinking Rye whiskey into the night amid much noisy banter. My mother had corresponding Canasta nights with her girlfriends as well, with tea sandwiches, drinks and the obligatory ashtray at every chair.
As my father and mother enjoyed Jai Alai at the local fronton, my father took Jai Alai lessons from one of the players on off days. The entire Boca Raton Jai Alai team would come to our house once a year for a huge barbecue. The traditional Basque dish Paella was prepared, guitars brought with and Spanish ballads were sung into the evening while the red wine flowed and no one went home without a bellyful. Polly and Tasio were our favorites. Tasio was a star player at the fronton. Even though he spoke no english, Tasio’s face always lit up when he spotted us. No words were necessary. With the incredible upper body strength of the athlete he was, he was fond of grabbing us children and tossing us up in the air, catching us just before we would land. We loved it too, and we loved him. Polly, his wife, and an American, was always at his side smiling, translating and adding to the warmth of the scene. My parents loved them as well, and they became lifelong friends to the family.
And so, there were two worlds; the one where others came to visit, and the one we lived in when no one was watching.