Tampa: The Perfect City For Me

This particular memory of Tampa involves a gentleman that is now 100 years young. His name is Sal, and he was my first barber. About a year ago, I ran into him in a rather serendipitous manner. While working my part time job at the Home Depot in West Tampa, I noticed a man with a distressed look on his face wandering back and forth in front of my table. I asked what the matter was, and he told me that he was looking for his father, whom he’d lost track of while shopping. Come to find out, his father was Sal. I hadn’t seen him in over 40 years…I didn’t even know that he was still alive. It was such a pleasure meeting up with him again and knowing that he still remembered me. He talked about my father, who passed away in 1987, and reminded me of what a well loved man he was. Coincidentally, Sal and my father bore a striking resemblance to each other when they were younger. Even more coincindental was the fact that my father’s birthday was the following day, and with this chance meeting, I had an opportunity to remember things about him that I hadn’t thought of in years. I remembered him taking me to Sal’s barbershop, where I’d be propped up in a booster seat to get my haircut. I remembered the horseracing themed pinball machine that I’d play whenever I went to Sal’s barbershop. I also remembered the “bodega” next door, where I’d go to buy an ice cold coke while my father was getting his haircut. And lastly, I remembered Sal speaking about his son, who was a musician. I never really saw him because he was always travelling with his band. That band, which was called Mercy, would later rise to legendary heights when their song, “Love Can Make You Happy” went to #2 on the pop charts. That son, James Marvell, whom I would meet for the first time on that fateful day in May, would unknowingly strike up a converstation with someone who knew and admired his father. As we stood there, sharing stories about music along with memories about Tampa, I thought to myself, this was a meeting that was destined to take place. It was fate. And I felt blessed to be a part of it. Now, well over a year after it happened, I am happy to report that Sal is still alive and well, and I feel priviledged to be introducing this tribute to Tampa, which James Marvell wrote and recorded in honor of his parents. And the best part about it…Sal’s helping him out in the song. These are the kind of I Remember Tampa moments that are priceless…I love it!!!

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