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In January 31 1941, Cousin Domenic and his friend Frankie began sled riding piggyback on a homemade sled down the sidewalk of first street in the city of Campbell,Ohio where I grew up as a young boy. The sled was made of  old orange crates. The rungs of the sled had curtain rods nailed to the bottom to give it speed as it glided over the snow. The sled had handle grips that enabled the rider to shift his weight to help glide the sled. It had no moving parts and could not make sharp turns to the left or right such as one made in a factory.


Making your own sled was a common practice, it, was a simple task and easy to do.  Many children unable to afford store bought sleds made their own.  I followed behind Domenic & Frankie on my new sled as we rode down the hill, however before I reached the bottom; I turned off the sidewalk and stopped on First Street, which had been cleared of snow; I knew the sharp turn at the corner of the wall was difficult and dangerous. even with a store bought sled.

As Domenic’s sled approached the bottom of the hill, his friend Frankie rolled off on to the sidewalk when he realized they could not make the sharp turn around the corner.  Domenic, traveling too fast and unable to turn the corner, continued straight into the highway. I couldn’t believe my eyes when my sled came to a stop and I stood up. Domenic was lying in the middle of the highway; his body crushed beyond recognition. I began to cry and scream as I ran toward the corner where this horrifying sight remains with me to this day.  

Cousin Domenic died under the wheels of a Semi-trailer truck loaded with steel. I recall that day very well as I stood there with him and watched as he gave his toy handcuffs to a friend in exchange for the homemade sled that would take him to his death a few minutes later.

The poor truck driver was in shock as he sat in his truck covering his face with his hands. When he finally  got out of the truck, he fell to his knees and began crying. The children began screaming when they watched this tragic event take place.

We would never see or play with Domenic again. It was a day we would all remember for the rest of our lives. The teacher knowing we were cousins asked if I would walk Domenic’s younger brother Frankie, home. Frankie was a year older than I  and we attended school together; he had also watched this terrible accident  happen  

The teachers ushered us into the classrooms and asked to bow our heads in prayer.  Religion was a very important part of the American culture and the right thing to do. I could see the sadness on their little faces, as silence covered the classroom.

Frankie’s dad Bruno and my father Anthony were brothers; I knew how his dad would react when hearing about Domenic’s death.. He was a firm old-fashioned Italian as was my dad, and would show frustration and use profanity rather than cry and show weakness. Later when alone, he world pour his heart out. I knew how upset he would be and was afraid to go inside the house when Frankie told him of the accident. 

My mother was horrified when she heard of Domenic’s death. She was grocery shopping just a few blocks from our home when she heard the news that one of the lentini boys had died in an accident, She began screaming and dropped her groceries’ as she ran from the store.  My brother’s name is also Domenic and our last name is the same. We were often mistaken for brothers.

Each time I visited my cousin’s home, I saw Domenic’s picture hanging on the wall and it reminded me of that grief-stricken winter day.     The site of the accident being visible from our front porch caused much sadness for our family. We moved away from the school shortly after.

      Winter had passed and school closed  for summer vacation. The death of Domenic,  although not forgotten became something of the past. The great depression continued, as families struggled to survive with the little income they could earn




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