Tenor Banjo

In Fun

This banjo is the only non-book possession I have from a family member. It belonged to my grandfather Nicky, and I can hardly play a single chord. He died when I was quite young, I have only a faint memory of him hefting a sack of ripe peaches into the house, though this could be entirely fabricated. Nicky was, from all accounts, a kind, funny, and generous man. It shattered my father when he died. Nicky’s father, Mariano Capodici, came to the US from Sicily in the 1890s and was first listed on a census as a 'fruit dealer.' Decades later, Capodice and Sons was a successful produce wholesaler that sent trucks all across the Midwest, emblazoned with the family crest (a rebus of our name) of a hat, the letter ‘o’, and a pair of dice. My father used to battle snakes and tarantulas in the banana bunches, and he’d hoist me on his shoulders and onto musty sacks of potatoes and onions on a Sunday afternoon. Eventually, my grandfather was able to semi-retire and start Nicky’s Banjo Band. It is said that while he was magnetic on stage, he was not a great banjo player, men in the chairs next to him hissing “C7, Nicky, C7!” I don’t know what it was like for Mariano, the fruit business is hard. Nicky had an early heart attack, my father had four knee replacements from a lifetime of jumping off of trucks, and he almost died getting locked in a walk-in freezer. I’m a bit ashamed of my sound knees and uncalloused hands, but I hoist my son on my shoulders and try to play C7 on Sundays.

Year: 1960

– Nick Capodice

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more