Nick Cianci had so many experiences growing up at 18th and Wharton, he could write a book about it.
In fact, he did.
Cianci recently published Street Kid, an autobiography he describes as "a book reminiscing about growing up in South Philly."
And since Cianci is 72 years old, much has changed since he was a kid living in the heart of St. Rita’s Parish.
He initially wanted to write a personal memoir, but then realized his material could be of interest to others.
"I wanted something that I could leave to my family," Cianci said. "Instead, when I realized I had something worthwhile, I chose to write a book."
A graduate of Childs Elementary, Barratt Middle School and South Philadelphia High School, he served for 16 months in the Army during the Korean War. Through the G.I. Bill, Cianci received a bachelor’s degree in English/education from La Salle College. Shortly thereafter, he became a teacher in the Salem, N.J., School District, and later an administrator in the Interborough, Pa., School District.
Cianci chronicles all of the personal milestones in his life, from his grade-school years to his first kiss to the births of his children in Street Kid. He said he wrote the book as a tribute to his birthplace. "I have never forgotten my roots — the streets of South Philly."
The author doesn’t get overly nostalgic when describing his youth. He recounts his disappointments with basketball, encounters with bullies and romantic rejection, all with a good dose of salty language. But plenty of humorous anecdotes provide balance.
In one, Cianci describes the nickname he picked up because he wore glasses: "Being Italian, I had the distinct honor of being called ‘Cicad,’ which means blind. I was stuck with this moniker until a conflict arose. One of the older guys who ‘hung around the corner’ was also nicknamed ‘Cicad.’ An ingenious solution was found: I was called ‘Cicad Junior.’"
Cianci, an avid golfer, is retired and lives in Southport, N.C., with his wife, Susan. He believes anyone who lived in the old neighborhood — and even those who did not — will find something familiar in his autobiography.
"I hope readers are able to relate the events described in my book to similar experiences in their own childhood, as we were all young once," he said.
Cianci’s cousin, Mariella Esposito, is president of Fante’s Kitchen Wares Shop near Ninth and Washington in the Italian Market,.
Esposito said she is proud of her cousin’s yearlong endeavor.
"It is great that Nick wrote the book," she said. "It is a recollection of facts about his life that people can enjoy."
Cianci will sign copies of his book at Fante’s, 1006 S. Ninth St. in the Italian Market, on Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information about Street Kid or to purchase a copy, visit www.xlibris.com.