April 08, 2012


By John R. Greenwood
“Vinny” the butcher’s Saratoga home, The S&M Meat Market, was perched at the top of a slight rise and at the cumbersome intersection of the streets Congress, Franklin, South Franklin, and Grand Avenue. I can roll back to the end of the 1950’s and recall mom squeezing my sides and perching me atop the red leather stool with the shiny chrome legs. The stool that was parked for years at the high counter surrounding the massive butcher block. The butcher block top worn smooth and worked hard. Every blow to another pork chop or rack of ribs added character and bloody charm. 
Vinny was a child of the Depression, tight with a nickel and tougher than a mahogany knot. Time and a changing world were taking a toll on Vinny and his domain. The remaining days of the S&M Meat Market were small in number. On one of those last days I was parked in traffic at the light out front when all of a sudden the front door of the S&M swung open violently. I watched as a seventy year old butcher grasped a scrubby looking man by the seat of his pants in one hand and by the nape of the neck with the other and literally tossed him out into the street like a pail of grey mop water. Stunned I sat through another light change watching this surreal scene unfold. The mop-water man laid motionless for a moment then slowly pulled himself to his hands and knees. Gingerly he got to his feet and began to brush himself off. Vinny reversed into the market like a three hundred pound cuckoo clock. Brushing his palms as if to say, “I may be old and grey but don't mess with me.” I later learned mop-water man had made a grab for some cash sitting on top of the till. I knew that moment that all of those, “You should have seen him when he was young,” stories were less embellishment and more astonishment. 

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