Wine Alley

Hi readers…

You’ll be happy to know that it was just my internet connection and not my computer. I told the Time Warner technician that he should go home and feel good about himself because he saved another human being’s life today. He responded with one of those uncomfortable smiles that say “I’m not sure if you’re serious or kidding, but I think it’s time to leave.” Now on with the story…..

this is our street...on the next block in the alley is where it all happened

With winter just about here, not that it ever really gets here in LA, but I always recall fond memories of winter when we were growing up. And by fond memories, I don’t mean shoveling, scraping ice off the windshield or watching asshole teenage boys hurl snowballs at cars. I’m talking about sledding!

The best place to go was the golf course, especially because there were great hills, no cars to deal with and there was plenty of room. But that meant a parent had to drive us there and that was rare. So, we usually went sledding in the alley on the next block of our street. The alley on our block was flat, but the next block’s alley was a big hill that led down to a back wall of a supermarket. I think it was a supermarket. So we would sled down to the bottom of the hill and usually crash into the wall, unless something stopped us.

There was one thing I remember that would stop us before we hit the wall.  Close to the end of that block was where the DiGiuseppantonio family lived. Isn’t that a great last name? There’s so many words within that name, not to mention quite a challenge to spell. I always wondered if kids with long names have a harder time learning to spell their own name. Is that a dumb question?

Anyway, one of the kids went to school with my oldest sister, and another one went to school with my sister, Kris. One great thing about my neighborhood was that everyone knew each other and a lot of us played together no matter what the age difference was, and we always played in groups. Our neighborhood was riddled with kids.

Mr. DiGiuseppantonio had a special skill. He knew how to make wine and made it in his basement! Are you jealous? I was, considering what we had in our basement. When my dad was collecting money for the church, and he would go door-to-door, he would always make the DiGiuseppantonio’s house last on his stop because Mr. “D”, which is what a lot of kids called him to save time, would give my dad some of his homemade wine and he would get all buzzed up before he came home.

Back to the sledding

The hill on this alley was pretty steep and at the top of the alley, it broke off onto another alley with an even steeper hill (I crashed on my bike on that hill, that story later.)

Tons of neighborhood kids would have their sleds at the very top of the alley and fly as fast as we could down the hill, right past the DiGiuseppantonio’s house.

Well, Mr. D would dump his “unused” wine in the alley. I have a memory of him dragging (what I remember to be) a big barrel outside, tipping it over and all the red wine just spilling all over and running down the alley and collecting at the bottom. Well, why should some snow and a bunch of kids sledding keep him from getting rid of his wine? It didn’t. The wine would run into the snow, and keep in mind, it must have been a good amount of wine because it created a huge amount of red slush right at the bottom of the alley. So, when we would be flying down at crazy speeds, before we hit the wall, we’d sled right into the slush and it stopped us cold. Ride over! And none of us cared…neither did Mr. D.  It was kind of gross because it was wet, red slush, but it’s funny how stuff like that doesn’t stop kids who are determined to have fun sledding. Just tons of kids sledding right into the slush, getting soaked with it, and going back up to the top and doing it again and again. Maybe he did it as a safety precaution since it kept us from hitting the wall. I mean, he could’ve waited a couple of days until it wasn’t good for sledding, right? But if that were me now, I’d be lapping up that slush like a cat drinking milk. It would be like a wine slurpee. Yum! But slush or no slush, everybody had fun.

Where's the red slush?

I’m sure there are a lot of funny things about this that I’m leaving out, or not funny things like someone cracking their head on that wall. (If anyone remembers more, leave a comment)

Back to the wine in the basement. How lucky that is.  I wonder if they referred to their basement as the “wine cellar” like we referred to our basement as “the morgue.” If you had to choose, which one would you want your basement to be?

their basement


our basement



I just realized I haven’t been sledding in years…what I would do to sled right into some red slush right now.

Have a great weekend !!



About Death To Hollywood

My name is Celeste Donohue and I am a writer/comedian who started this blog to tell stories about my life growing up in a funeral home and my adult life which I have spent in Hollywood, California – hence the name, “Death To Hollywood”. Hopefully, you like to read those kinds of stories. If not, go read something serious and boring.....
This entry was posted in family, funeral home, weird and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Wine Alley

  1. Julie Herring (Joe) says:

    Hi Celeste,
    Your story brings me back to my sledding days…long ago. I grew up right across the street from the Philadelphia Electric Company Golf Course which provided us with huge hills to sled down. At the bottom of one of the hills was a creek with a narrow bridge and we would sled all the way down the hill, cross the bridge, up an incline and finally to a stop. Of course some kids missed the bridge which provided us with lots of entertainment. What fun, what memories!
    Julie Herring

  2. Josephine says:

    Sledding! And skating! Snow Forts!

    When we lived in the suburbs in Teaneck, we went to hilly streets but when we lived in the city we used the “hill” created at the T intersection by the snow plows. Of course, when we went down that, we ended up right in the street in the middle of traffic. Kids sledding in our neighborhood meant car horns, insane laughing and mothers screaming from the windows of apartment buildings for us to stop. I actually don’t remember anyone ever getting hurt. Dumb luck? Bad memory?

    Somehow sledding in the ‘burbs was never quite as compelling!

  3. The elder sister says:

    Sledding in U.D.! That hill was crazy dangerous and always seemed so icy!
    I loved when Dad would take us to the golf course! He took us a few times when there was decent snow and one time I remember it was evening and there was a bonfire and it was so cool of him to take us when he could have chosen to stay home on his one night off! I remember riding down the sled with him! What a cool Dad, even though we didn’t have wine in our basement! Boy I really miss him! Thanks for sparking that great memory!

  4. Kris says:

    Cee….what a great memory! Perhaps that is what made us all fond of our red wine now:) Sadly, Mr. D passed away this year and i told Linda D. Of all of the fond memories i had of sledding into red wine at the end of our run!!! I believe there are 2 s’s in their last name, as i would challenge myself as a kid to spell it correctly…..oh, how about sledding on car joods at the golf course……great memories:) thanks, Cee!

  5. Kris says:

    I meant car hoods!

  6. mdonohue says:

    Great story,Celeste. It’s so much fun to remember those fun things from when you were kids.Love,Mom

  7. Mr Maryknoll says:

    Another good one, C. We didn’t have a hill like that in East Lansdown. . We used to wait for the red arrow bus (Lansdowne/Oakview) to stop to let passenders on. We would sneak around to the back, stoop down and grab the back bumper and let the bus take us away. The risk was hitting a dry spot or wet spot with no snow or ice on it. It all stopped when some crabby old lady called the convent and told them who we were and what we were doing. Big trouble.

  8. John Donohue says:

    The alley would get icy because some of the older guys would turn on the fire plug at the top of copley and locust and it would run down the alley. It would freeze, then it would be a much faster ride!!! And all you needed was a piece of cardbaord to ride down on!!! I used to eat some of that snow to see what it would do! I remember Ralph Badolatta crashed into the A&P wall at the bottom of the hill. I always thought it was funny because he didn’t even try to turn or jump off, he just went head straight into it!! The golf course was the best though!! It was the 18th fairway, that’s what we sledded on!! Car hoods were the best toboggans!!! Dad would take us there in the winter to sled and i would golf with him in the summer there!! I really miss Dad!! I think you and Kris have a story involving a cart and rolling down that hill backwards in that cart?

  9. you have a good memory Johnny! I remember the older guys going down on cardboard or trash can lids. I never ate the snow but I would now. The golf course was great!

  10. Alec James says:

    Hi Death To Hollywood! Beneficial post and ideal subject material. There should be little question that good quality, genuine information according to perception and also discernment of the topic is the thing that many people are interested in nevertheless, online, is usually the most difficult thing to discover. Bless you for your own engagement and angle.

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