Michael had been accepted to medical school at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, but this was a two edged sword.It was his first choice ,but there was the consideration of what would happen to his brother Danny? Danny was a Sphinx when it came to sharing his feelings, and Michael worried that without his support he would withdraw even more than he had in the last two months.Michael’s father was truly a fine man,, and a wonderful provider financially but he was really limited in the areas of communication and emotional support.
Danny was going into his Junior year at St.Aloysius High and would be a starting guard on the varsity basketball team. Pulling him out of school for a move to Philadelphia would mean that he would have the love and presence of Arlene,e but would probably feel uprooted and isolated. The second consideration was that Michael was worried about the cost of living in Philadelphia. Any apartment within a ten minute walk of the medical school would literally be three times their monthly rent.
Arlene’s brother offered a solution to both challenges. He and his family lived in a spacious mansion on Gifford Avenue which was only three minutes from St.Aloysius High School and the manicured Lincoln Park.The home had six bedrooms and four baths and there were only four residents. Coupled with that Arlene’s brother was an avid sports fan with two young sons. He was thrilled to have Danny standing in as a big brother.The second gift was that her brother owned a very successful produce business and had personal contacts in Philadelphia. One of his regular customers ,Stefano Pittelli owned a grocery store and had a son Joseph who was also to be a first year medical student at Jefferson.In addition the Pittelli’s owned a three story apartment near the hospital, and offered one of the apartments at way below market value to Michael and Arlene.
Joseph Pittelli was an Italian clone of Michael and they instantly became best friends. They were athletic, bright and had both been valedictorians in high school and college. Both sports nuts they argued over the Philly New York teams and Michael constantly referred to Philadelphia teams as perennial losers. Joseph retaliated by stating that if it were not for Italians like Berra,DiMaggio and Rizzuto the Yankees would be worse than the Phillies.This dynamic duo soon added another colleague Catherine Salvato to their midst when they formed a study group .Her path to becoming a doctor was not as easy as her buddies, and there was still a dearth of females in medical school. She was constantly having to prove that a woman could be as qualified as any male in the class.There were even members of the faculty who were less than thrilled with the three female candidates in the new class. Catherine was as bright as her peers and possessed a winning personality complimented by a keen sense of humor.
Joe and Catherine introduced Michael to genuine Italian cuisine, and warned him that if ever a can of Italian spaghetti was seen in his apartment he would be evicted.