a few months ago, i expressed to my mother my puzzlement that in the annals of ocean city history, my great-grandfather's name is conspicuously absent. his name certainly isn't absent from ocean city - even today, you can walk down almost any of the main streets and find his name (JOHN CASTALDI & CO) engraved on the sidewalks. so does the fountain in front of city hall - indeed, the very foundations of city hall, as well as the catholic churches - all three of them - the rectories and the convents all bear his name, resting on the concrete and pilings he and his men placed, as do countless houses and jetties up and down our small stretch of coast.
oh, said my mother with a sniff and shrug, there's a strong anti-italian bias in ocean city. always has been, always will be, probably.
and suddenly, so many pieces - tiny pieces - fell into place, small instances where i suddenly felt somehow less - in some mysterious, inexplicable way - by the citizens of what is supposedly my hometown.
we lived on one side of ninth street, said my mother, and the black people lived on the other. and somehow i knew without her telling me that west avenue, running perpendicular to the numbered streets, the street where my great-grandfather's house continues to perch, is another kind of dividing line - between those who get mentioned in the histories of ocean city, and those who get left out.
and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.