Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008 | 6 p.m.
Norman Kaye sat in his wheelchair waving a fist full of dollars, surrounded by friends at the Italian American Club at 2333 E. Sahara Ave.
It was the 82-year-old former entertainer’s first public outing since suffering a stroke earlier this year, and he was clearly enjoying himself, though he said little.
Kaye was among 50 or so members of the social club “F.I.O.R.E.” attending a monthly luncheon, which winds up with an auction and a drawing to raise money for the group’s annual Christmas party.
“When you join, you automatically become a president,” says entertainer Nelson Sardelli, a Brazilian by birth, Italian by heritage and American by choice. “We are very democratic. The mike is open to each and every one of you to make a fool of yourselves. We are a club about nothing, just a bunch of guys that have nothing to do.”
Members bid on donated items, and if no one buys them they are given away in a drawing, sometimes whether the winner wants them or not.
The auction/drawing turns into a stand-up comedy venue for Sardelli, one of the club’s presidents.
“Some of the good stuff we have here today we will attempt to auction, but knowing how cheap you SOBs are, we might give it away – but the most important thing of this meeting today is that we are extremely happy we have with us once again President Emeritus Norman Kaye.”
Videos (“Fight Club,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Make Room for Daddy”) are among the things Kaye and others bid on, or won or had forced upon them. Books (“A Soldier of the Great War,” “Secrets of the Tomb”) were in great supply. Russian glasses (went for $5). Sunglasses (one pair broke after purchased). Lots of T-shirts. Some good stuff – a foot massager ($10), a sandwich grill ($11).
Composer/arranger/musician Artie Schroeck (“Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” for the Four Seasons) won $140. He donated $40 to Club F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events) and promised to invest $100 in a slot machine and give the club half of whatever he won. No word yet on how much that was.