Oral Histories



Oral History 2

I learned his name when he pointed to his upper arm and I read his tattooed script. It said “Mark.” Mark had to take a wizz. He gave me a fist bump and embarked for the porta potty.

Later he saw me drawing labyrinths. “Psssst, Julie,” he said. He held out a brown paper-mache skill the size of a newborn’s head. It was hard and had the bumps in all the right places. The interior of the skull held what looked like matches.

Mark was a craftsman since his youth. Now he’s 87, and every day he absorbs the heat with the mosaic artists at the beach. Today one of those artists is me.

Mark shows me how the back of the skull opens like a door, how he learned paper mache technique when he started making piñatas for a living, after the war.

At first he thought he might paint the skull white or black. A man offered him $20 for the standard. But he tells me now he wants to paint it like the sky.

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