Emilio’s is Gone

Posted on January 12, 2012


It’s been a long time since I posted, too long.  I had 5 jobs in 2011, 3 of them in the last month of the year, and have been working on starting my own company, plus wrapping up editing a book on fly fishing in the Russian Far East and numerous other personal and professional projects. As one of the goals of the blog was to get some current writing samples to find work,  I guess that worked. As a vehicle to refine my thoughts on photography and teach a little of what I am discovering, I’m a little behind.

And so, I took a few pictures. This isn’t so much like many of my other, more technical B&W articles. In fact, I’ve lately been in the medium-format blues, with my Mamiya biting the dust, along with my favorite 140mm macro lens. The replacement camera and lens I bought on eBay were broken and so I have not shot much film. I did bring both my DSLR and 35mm camera home for Christmas. However, I didn’t figure I would have much time to shoot as I planned to split the trip between helping my sister edit her brilliant series of children’s books, working on the site for my new business, and playing cribbage with my folks.

I did go to Portsmouth, my “home” town for New Years (I’m really from Rye), and wandered around with my cameras.  One place that was always near and dear to my heart was Emilio’s. This was a little market, run by a retired Boston school teacher. It carried mostly imported Italian foods, and he had a little Kitchen in the back.

I first met Emilio when he taught a Chinese cooking continuing education class at the local high school. My dad and I took this class, and my dad actually ended up taking it over and teaching it for years after that. The meal I most remember though, was one night he made spaghetti and tuna. That became a staple in college.

Anyway, at the store everyday there would be slices of pizza, little meat and cheese wraps with spicy mustard, whatever suited Emilio, always served with significant doses of humor, philosophy, and a side of politics. I don’t think I ever saw him without his beret.  There were always two or four people in there and I’m not sure he ever sold any of the canned goods off the shelves, except he did have the world’s best cream soda, now that I think about it. I imagine in the North End or in New York there are dozens of places like this, but in Portsmouth we had just the one and were thankful for it.

I remember one time I was working the fishing boats, and had been working round the clock in rough weather. We finally got into port and it was one of those things: eat, or crash? You don’t know what your body needs more. I went to Emilio’s for a quick bite and he took one look at my bedraggled appearance, took me into the kitchen in the back and made me the best egg sandwich I ever had.  That kind of simple, homemade food that will always beat any fancy restaurant meal.

So, Emilio’s is one place I always go back to (Donny’s dive shop is the other even though I haven’t dived since college). Last few trips the shop was closed, and this time it was apparently emptied out, right down to the incongruous barber pole that always decorated it, probably from a previous owner. I’ll probably never see Emilio again, and I regret that terribly. I took a few moments to take some photos of his door, thinking “Hey, next time I’m home maybe I’ll do a ‘doors of  Portsmouth thing’ and spent the rest of the day looking for suitable targets. The lighting was terrible so I didn’t bother shooting any more shots, but if you send me some addresses, I’ll consider it.

Here’s to you Emilio, as the new year starts, thank you for so many memories of the old.

As this is more of a study, I’m inserting it as a gallery. The only other images are of Moe’s subs, which any Portsmouth native will tell you they yet crave, and the iconic Market Square church which I’ve yet to get a satisfactory shot of, despite stalking it one night in a storm at 3AM. The day was a little dark, and I should’ve used some fill flash. I hope the door is still there and next time I can get it right. Click on any image to open a slide show.

P.S. Who Are You and Where are You From?

Who is visiting me from the Ukraine?

WordPress gives me these awesome reports and I can see how people find me, where they live, how they found the blog, what pages they visited. I see people from Europe, Asia, South America, and I always wonder who they are. I would love to get comments from  you!

Posted in: Outings, Photography