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[personal profile] trystinn
Mike Russo is one of my favorite customers and not just because he's from NYC originally. He comes in nearly every Monday and a few days in between, to chat and pickup books. He's a great reader and you just know anything we special order for him is bound to be fantastic. I can't wait to see his new book come in "Frank: The Voice".

Mostly I adore Mike's stories: Mike fought in WWII for the 87th Infantry, stationed in Germany at the end of the war and was part of that whole mess. The stories from that time period are shocking if you don't know how Russia, America and Great Britain conducted themselves (poorly and with much corruption), but funny when you do. Mike met Frank Sinatra at a family reunion. Not his own, but his gf's and was convinced Frank was trying to steal his girl away. He seems to have dated half the startlets of the era, I love listening to who he thought was the best of the pinups of that time.

He also saw the Hindenberg on its last trip, as it circled Manhattan for 4 hours trying to wait out the storm that may have killed it. He wasn't present at the crash/immolation, but he did live through its aftermath. I'd mentioned that I had a gorgeous coffee table-photo book on the Hindenberg and its place in the history of airships, which he asked to borrow. Mike is the kind of customer you'd happily loan a $75 coffee table book to, because you know its coming back in perfect condition and I look forward to more stories from him after he'd read it.

I narrowly avoided the Union 76 crash, as I was supposed to be on it and refused at the last moment when my roommate couldn't come with us. I'd only been dating the pilot for a few weeks and back in my twenties, I felt more comfortable dating in couples, so I declined. Good thing. The more folks you put on a plane, the lower the odds for anyone surviving. Same with airships, though our records of their crashing aren't as intense as the FAA/NTSB investigation on the Union 76.

He's also about the only local with whom I can swap off-color Jewish jokes. He has a ton of them and I'm memorizing them as fast as I can. We share a few new Yiddish words with each other and have a marvelous time, talking and laughing. One of these days, I'm going to invite him out to dinner with us.

Mike's the last of a dying breed, really. The gentle, talkative guys from WWII are growing rarer and rarer these days. He's in good health, very social and quite the flirt. We rarely discuss anything personal, though he has met my husband and asked him about the Navy "these days". I'm not sure what Mike does with his days, but I have a feeling I've seen him at the Seaplane Museum up on the base. Whether he works or volunteers or just visits, I do not know. But I like thinking of Mike out and around, all that wealth of experience and perception, chatting up bored retail clerks like me.


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