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Frizzi: Ain't It a Small, Small World?

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Like the Disney song says, "It's a small world after all." The mere mention of that song will have it play over and over in your head just as if you've spent a whole day at Disneyland.

But, it's true, especially in a time where people move from town to town and state to state. So, it's somewhat of an unexpected shock to see a person from your distant past show up in a place where you would least expect them to be.

Let's face it, before the wonder of Facebook people simply lost track of each other. Sure, there are some pals from childhood that you'll still keep in touch with. You may also keep in contact with some school chums and you may occasionally see them at that odd wedding, funeral or that seventh circle of Hell known as the class reunion.

I've lived in five different states. I moved to Peoria from Dallas in 1992. Peoria is my wife's hometown. My wife and I are both alums of Indiana State University in Terre Haute, where I could afford to attend because I lived in Indiana and attended high school in Vincennes. We moved to Vincennes from Pittsburgh, Pa, where I was born. We also lived in Huntington, WVA in 1962. I assume it was to keep us safe during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

As I say, it's a small world. Two of my Vincennes high school classmates have ended up living near Pittsburgh — Butler and Waynesburg, respectively.

Not only that, but Clint Barmes, currently the shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, grew up in Vincennes, just three doors down from my mom.

When I moved to Peoria, my wife, Heddy, was active in the local community theater. In fact, when I moved here, she was appearing in the Peoria Players' presentation of "Man of La Mancha". Heddy also performed in several plays at Corn Stock Theater.

Also performing at Corn Stock was Paul Gordon, who was the business editor of the Peoria Journal Star and is an entertaining actor. Coincidentally, I knew a Paul Gordon in High School in Vincennes. He was on the staff of the school newspaper and was also involved with the school's theater class.

The Peoria version of Paul Gordon is quite active with Corn Stock and I heard that he had portrayed a very good President Nixon in the play, "Frost-Nixon". I was sorry to have missed it, but I'll catch his next performance as "Nixon's head in a jar" should Corn Stock Theater perform "Futurama – The Musical".

The Vincennes version of Paul Gordon was a year behind me and his sister, Rosemarie in high school. She was a lot better looking than Paul, who looked nothing like the Peoria version. Besides, Paul and Gordon are pretty common names.

Frizzi, however, is not that common of a name in the Midwest. It is pretty common in the Northeast, California or wherever Italian-Americans congregate. To my knowledge, I'm the only Donn Frizzi in Central Illinois.

I was born in Bloomfield, which is the Italian section of Pittsburgh. In Vincennes, our house was the Italian section. There, as in Peoria, the locals didn't believe that Frizzi was my legal last name. As my friends and even my wife call me "Frizzi", people thought it was a nickname until I showed them some form of ID.

In Vincennes, being quite the young high school wiseacre, I would tease people by telling them that Frizzi was not our real name because my Dad was in the witness protection program and we were relocated to Vincennes by the Feds. Vincennes being a small town, this story eventually made its back to my Dad, who failed to see the humor in it.

So, after a couple years of showing up at the same events, Paul finally came up to me and asked if I was the same Donn Frizzi that lived in Vincennes. I laughed and asked, "You mean to tell me that the business editor of the Journal Star is Rosemarie Gordon's kid brother? So, what took you so long to say anything to me?" Paul replied, "I didn't think you were the same Donn Frizzi." As I told him, Donn Frizzis are as rare as the dodo.

Incidentally, Peoria Paul looked nothing like the Vincennes Paul and had aged like a fine keg of bourbon. On the other hand, I looked like Father Time had beaten me with the business end of a clock pendulum.

So, this is how I reconnected with Paul Gordon, who is now the editor of The Peorian. I'm honored that he has invited me to contribute articles from time to time and I look forward to shooting the proverbial breeze with you in future editions.

About the Author
Donn Frizzi is a well-traveled man, if you consider Pennsylvania to southern Indiana to Texas and finally Peoria to be the definition of well traveled. But in each of his stops he gained certain insights that make him who he is — including a Pirates and Rangers fan who must travel to St. Louis to watch quality baseball without buying a plane ticket. Poetic justice, perhaps? A talented writer, Donn also can make a good point by putting pencil to paper and drawing with satirical splendor. We’re hoping to persuade him to grace our website with an occasional toon, as well.