Sitting at my desk I knocked some old movies from a shelf behind me. Picking them up, I came across one that sent me back to a memory that happen quite a few years ago.
On the cover of the folder was the face of a man wearing a huge sombrero and dressed in Spanish-style clothes. A spotted pony stood beside him. On his face was a smile that I would never forget. The smile was on the face of a man who could stand among a group of men and be a head taller than all of them.
When I came out of the Army I drifted from job to job, trying to find one that I liked. I found what I was looking for in the Rome Police Department. When I went there, most of the police walked a beat on Broad Street.
There were more police walking on Broad Street than there were covering the rest of the city. It gave you a chance to move around and get acquainted with people.
I came to know a boy in a wheelchair and the two ladies who looked after him. I call this memory “Cisco.”
I am sure that there are still some people who remember Eddy, the little boy who lived in Fourth Ward and was taken care of by his mother and aunt. Eddy could not speak, but he could make a noise that let you know when he was happy. When I would see them coming down the street I would make sure that I was on that side so I could talk to Eddy. I walked the street for a few years and I would always have time to stop and talk to him.
On this day we were told to stay in the street because we were going to have a parade. I was between Fourth and Fifth avenues, about where the crosswalk is now. I had my back to the sidewalk when I heard a noise. The two ladies and Eddy were on the sidewalk. Eddy was making a noise so I would hear him. I went over and began to talk to him. I watched his face light up as I talked.
The sound of drums drew my attention to the fact that the parade had begun. I explained to his mother and aunt that we were having a parade and for them to move Eddy to the street where he could get a good view as they passed. With Eddy in place, I moved to the middle of the street.
The high school band came though the light at Fifth Avenue and Eddy was having himself a time. Then a shout went up from the crowd watching. I turned to see why they were shouting. There, behind the band, was a man on a horse.
He rode tall and proud. He waved at the people and he was having the horse do a few fancy steps. I turned and looked at Eddy. He was jumping so hard that the ladies had to hold onto the chair.
The band passed by Eddy, and the man on horseback passed, too. Then I watched Eddy as the horse rode up alongside him. He was shouting and making his noise as loud as he could. The horseback rider passed by Eddy and then whirled the horse and came back, got down off the horse and shook hands with him. I could hear him call Eddy “Little Amigo.”
I had seen a lot of happy people in my life but none as happy as that little boy. As I remember, there was pure joy on his face as the man spoke to him. The band moved on, but the man was in no hurry. He talked to Eddy for a few more minutes before getting on his horse and touching his hat, then catching up with the rest of the parade.
He rode straight and tall, this man they called “the Cisco Kid.”