by Jerry Guarino
Tony didnt believe in
angels, at least not until. He had a change of
heart after an incident that scared him to tears.
Tony was a good Catholic boy, ten years old,
growing up poor in New Jersey during the 1960s.
His neighborhood didnt have any fields,
playgrounds or even grass. His old brick
apartment house was across the street from a
factory and adjacent to a canal that ran from the
factory underneath the street to his side of the
street. It was open without any protective
fencing. Kids used to throw rocks into it for fun.
You know those television
shows where a person is deciding what to do and
there is an angel on one shoulder and a devil on
the other; it was amusingly demonstrated in the
movie Animal House and less erotically
in family sitcoms. These scenes were usually
comic choices between good and bad, not life or
Well, Tony would imagine a devil on his left
shoulder and an angel on his right when deciding
between two choices. Like when in the candy story,
whether to take one and run out or not. He always
chose to pay for the candy, but he was aware of
the devil urging him to just steal it.
Tony didnt have any friends in his
neighborhood. A three-year-old boy, David, lived
down the street and wandered near the canal. Tony
saw him. David watched as Tony threw rocks into
the canal. David did the same.
As Tony was looking for larger rocks to throw, he
heard a splash. Turning around, he saw David in
the water, just about 20 feet from where the
canal went under the street to the factory. As if
by a miracle, Tony found a long, strong branch
from a tree and rushed to the sidewalk, holding
it to intercept David floating by. He was lucky,
or was it an angel, to be able to hold David from
Hold on David he said. It seemed like
an hour waiting for someone to hear his cries for
help. There werent any cars driving by and
the apartment house where he lived was too far
away to alert anyone. But Tony continued to yell
for help. He began to cry, fearing David would
let go, float under the street and drown.
Please dont die
David Tony repeated over and over,
desperately waiting for help. Finally, a police
officer driving by saw him holding the long
branch out for the three-year-old boy clinging
for his life. The officer was able to get the boy
out of the water just in time.
From that day on, Tony believed in angels and
looked for a nudge when making difficult choices.