If you lived in Bellmore in the '80s then you must've seen Don – the semi-retarded redhead – riding around on his supped-up Schwinn bicycle. Don took pride in his bike, which he customized himself to look like a chopper – with the front wheel smaller than the rear. It was complete with banana seat, raccoon tail hanging from a tall sissy bar, and high rise handle bars with air horns, speedometer and tassels hanging from the hand grips.
I always saw Don at Friendly's on Newbridge Road. Didn't matter when I'd go – with my family or my friends – Don was always sitting up front near the cash register drinking coffee...bike out front.
Here's what other people from the "unscene" remember about Don...
"Don! I forgot about Don. One time Don rode up to me on his bike and asked me to tell my brother Andy about a rumble (his word not mine) that was going to happen that night. I told my brother, "Don the Retard wants you to go to a rumble." and he juts said, "Why would I fight anybody because of a retard?" – Joe Kollar
"Don invited me to a rumble, too." – Dave Jemmott
"Joe introduced me to him. The story goes that he witnessed a drug deal and was hit by a car in a hit and run. Before he was hit, he was known as Don 'the not too smart guy with two noses', but after the incident that is when he got his last name. I believe Daveman probably still has the clipping from the Bellmore Life." – Dave S
It's true... Don was born with mental problems which was amplified after the hit and run incident (not sure about the drug deal part). The accident also affected Don's leg.
"Somewhere in your new movie can you tell the story of when Collette said to him, "I took a shit behind Dominos and it's your brother's fault." – Dave S
"Don the Retard stopped me on the street to ask me if I had a bike for him (he only liked Schwinn) so I told him I had a 10speed for him and he cocked his finger back and shot me. On Halloween he said he sprays people with WD40. He was friends with the Baglio family and he would hang out for hours at the house. Paul has a million Don the Retard stories." – Tom Oneil
I took Tom's advice and gave Paul a call (he doesn't do the Facebook thing). Paul and I have a one phone call a year relationship so this was going to be...different. "Hey Paul...How's it going?...How's the family?...Great...So tell me about Don?"...
My phone call did throw Paul for a loop and he had to think about it for a while. Out of his stories I'd like to share a positive one. When Paul was a kid his bicycle was stolen and somehow Don found out who it was and tipped him off. (Don't mess with a man's bike.) Paul's dad went over to the boy's house and questioned him about the bike – assessing the situation – then left. Later on there was a knock at the Baglio's door. It was the theif-in-question's father – a real white trash type of guy. He berated Paul's dad about "how dare you accuse my son", and so on, and left. That night Paul found a hefty bag in his yard, inside was his bike...in parts. Add Don "The Informer" to his list of last names.
According to Paul, Don moved from his foster mother's home in Bellmore to A Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility in Uniondale, then to a group home in Bayshore.
Don...we salute you.