There's nothing like a good story—well told—with a point that lingers and beckons you into the waters of a deeper, richer life. I've known that since I was a kid staying up long past my bedtime listening to my father or one of my uncles elaborating some adventure they'd had. Even after I was driven to bed I'd sneak out of my room and lurk in the shadows of the living room, all ears to the voices recounting tales of characters and situations that gripped my interest and set my imagination racing.

They were usually simple stories that had transpired in the Brooklyn that I knew, stories connected to their jobs and the people they rubbed elbows with, often spiced and sparked by some unusual twist that events had taken. They were genuine, real life adventures that had taken place that day or the day before, and they were told with a verve and immediacy that made them unforgettable.

Not all the narrators were equally adept, but they all had their own personalized flair. My Uncle Vito was the one with the most stories and the most exciting ones, too. He was always on the go, always up to something, and he got himself into the most thrilling situations. Like when he and Joey-next-door went off to California or when he had to weave through the fallen hot wires along hurricane-devastated streets to help a lady in distress. A lot of his stories, now that I think of it, had ladies in them. All in all they were tales that came alive in my imagination; they held me, a delighted captive, and they stuck with me.

Through the years I've worked at telling a good story, letting it unfold moment by moment, watching the light click on in people's eyes, knowing they're getting something to take home.

Here are some to take home.

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