SJ2 copyForty-five years ago I met Don Scioli (’71) at a party at Barry Hall. Thirty-five years ago I started a film and video production company with him and a year later I married him. He told our three children quizzing him in How I Met Your Mother mode that there was a cotton candy sky glowing behind me when I walked in the door. (Do note he was an English major, with a penchant for fiction.) The years between constituted random acts of rebellion and adventure for both of us that look a lot better in replay. Luckily the fates interceded. Or the saints – or some combination of both.
Though we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area thirty-two years ago, last month Don and I found ourselves outside Barry Hall, in the rain, waiting for Vonetta Jones who had become our saint of the moment, apparently in cahoots with St. Anthony.
We had traveled back to Philly to attend to Don’s ninety-eight year old mother. An uneventful flight and drive to our hotel in Malvern became disruptive when Don realized he had lost his wallet somewhere post rental car check in. We managed to buy two bottles of beer and rotisserie chicken minutes before the 10 o’clock deadline at Wegmans and nursed them both room temperature, as we began cancelling credit cards until way past our bedtime. Another big problem: without his license, Don couldn’t get back on the plane in just two days time.
In the morning, our daughter back on the left coast was enlisted to find and send his passport as identification backup, and we set off to visit his mom, buy her clothes, and clean out her closet and drawers, at her assisted living facility.
In transit, Don stopped at the gas station where we tanked up the evening before, inquiring if a wallet was turned in. When he returned to the car he told me the attendant said no go on the wallet, but that he must pray to St. Anthony three times. I remembered the rhyme from my childhood and said: “Dear St. Anthony please come around, something is lost and can’t be found” the requisite three times and promptly forgot about it.
Later that day, cleaning out mom’s drawers, I found two St. Anthony medals, one silver toned and one gold. Odd coincidence I thought. I left one for her and took one with me to bring back home, which sits here in my office as I write this recollection.
Back at the hotel after a long day, another rotisserie chicken and this time a cold bottle of conciliatory California chardonnay and a plate of game day veggies with ranch dip, we caught up with our daughter who reported the passport was in transit for a two-day delivery. We thought that was cutting it mighty close but her tracking info bode well.
Next day, more of the same in visiting and cleaning, but nothing in the mail to ensure a place on US Air flight # 434 for hubs the next day. We called back to the hotel front desk again and again – no passport.
Then, a phone call from our daughter: American Express had received a call from one St. Vonetta Jones of Philadelphia, PA, who had found Don’s wallet somewhere on Delaware Ave. and left her phone number with them and they promptly called us with said info. (Yes, DO NOT leave home without your American Express card!) Don called St. Anthony’s female counterpart circa 2014, she answered, and we arranged to meet her somewhere midway, near St. Joes, late in the day when she got off work.
And so we found ourselves hanging in front of Barry Hall, in the rain, remembering the meet cute, while we waited. Finally, St.”V” showed up in her old blue pickup truck and the pass off was completed. Don leaned in and gave her solid frame an intense hug. Everything was intact except the cash. At that point, we would have given A LOT of cash, more than the meager finder’s fee we gave her, for that California license.
Back at the hotel, many hours later, we decided to check out in advance of an early drive to the airport the next morning. Coincidentally, with the room bill, the front desk clerk noticed a late delivery package for us from California. The now unneeded passport had indeed arrived.
Apparently, St. Tony was working overtime!

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