The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed my grandfather over the phone. He was a big Mohammad Ali fan and meeting him in person was a big moment for him. It showed him that the man he watched on tv and read in the papers was also the same man on and off the screen.

John Bragoli was on his way to lunch, at 2:00am. The night shift at the Equitable Life Society as an Input/Output clerk was tough and thoughts of deli meat had flooded his mind. Katrina’s Deli was a few blocks away and a club sandwich sounded like an amazing idea. But his arrival to the deli, almost immediately, had to be delayed. In front of the Americana Hotel on 7th avenue was a brand new, shiny, white Rolls Royce. Naturally he had to stare at a luxury car like that. As he started moving closer to the car, he felt like he recognized the dark figure in the driver’s seat. He couldn’t make out the face, but the outline looked like someone he knew. Then as John got about 5 feet from the car the figure stepped out.

            Standing six foot three inches, weighing two hundred twelve pounds, Muhammad Ali stepped out of the car. In a silk grey suit jacket, with a light blue shirt under a grey vest Muhammad Ali who has a fight against Oscar Bonavena in a few days, is staying just a street away from where John works. Almost like he was approaching an old friend John walked right up to Muhammad Ali and went to shake his hand. Surprised by the speed John was approaching Muhammad struck a fighting stance. John flinched.

 “Muhammad you’re the greatest fighter of all time! How’s your night been so far? My name is John by the way.” John held his hand out. He was almost completely star struck. Ali took John’s hand and shook.

“It’s been pretty well so far how about you?”

 “I’ve been working all night and I’m on my lunch break now.” John answered.

 “At 2 in the mornin’?” Ali says snickering.

 “You’ve gotta eat eventually.”

Ali and John talked for about ten to fifteen minutes about family and the fight Ali had coming up.

“Man the way you took out Zora Folley was one of the craziest things I have ever seen! I felt like I could feel that final punch through my Tv!” John said, while acting out the punches thrown.

            John looked at his watch, he knew Ali was a busy man so he though it best to try to get to the deli and back to work. John started reaching around his pockets scrambling to find a piece of paper or something, anything Ali could sign. In his back left pocked sat a ten-dollar bill.

            “Muhammad could you please sign this for me?” John asked almost in a begging tone.

 “So all I’m worth to you is ten-dollars? Not even a twenty?” Ali said on the verge of laughing. John hands Ali the dollar and a pen.

“Ali I wish you the best. Good luck in your fight.” Ali shook John’s hand and he went on his way.

10 dollar Bill

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1970
New York, NY

I interviewed my grandfather over the phone. He was a big Mohammad Ali fan and meeting him in person was a big moment for him. It showed him that the man he watched on tv and read in the papers was also the same man on and off the screen.

Decade: 1970s
Rating:
Recorded by Joey Gomes on December 5, 2018
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