lots of pix and family memories here - a tribute page from a daughter to a mother
the Bronx in the 1930's and 1940's - schools, theatres ...
By the time I was born, my mother's sister had married and had gotten an apartment on the ground floor of the same building. She had two sons. My father's brother had also married. He lived around the corner. And my father's nephew married and lived a half-mile away.
I eventually came to think that my grandfather had two wives, one live-in and one down the hall (one grandpa, two grandmas).
I came to learn that my mother, my father, and my father's brother were best friends. I also came to learn that my father was like a big brother to my mother's brother. I also came to learn that my mother's brother and my father's nephew were good pals.
They all lived in this building and formed these relationships long before my parents were married. Their friendship ultimately turned to love.
It took me a looooong time to figure out and understand sides of the family. It also took me a long time to figure out who was related to whom, who was friends with whom, and who didn't like whom.
So when I was born there was an aunt, uncle, and two cousins on the ground floor and an aunt, uncle, one grandfather, and two grandmothers on the second floor.
Was it possible to visit just one person/apartment in this building? Not always.
My mother's side of the family would go "up to the country" together every summer. Up to the country was the Catskill Mountains. The first thing my grandfather would do is find the perfect branch--he would ultimately use it as a staff. Next he carved intricate patterns in that staff. Then he began his daily hikes and wanderings in the mountains. No one ever went with him--even my boy cousins. They all felt that where Grandpa hiked was too wild and the walk to rigorous for kids. I loved to see him emerge from the woods.
My mother was after me. I was gonna get a beating. I ran and I hid. This of course made her even madder. There was only one person on the planet who could save me.
Finally Grandpa emerged from the woods. I ran to him screaming, "Save me, Grandpa. Save me." My mother came charging up. My Grandpa simply said to my mother, "Leave the goil alone." Then he went home to get some of my grandmother's cooking. My mother didn't touch me.
There was a rift in the two sides of the family as time went on.
....It is for this reason that I never met my grandfather's brother. Never laid eyes on the man. I knew he existed. I heard talk of him. My older boy cousins met him, but not delicate flower moi. Why? He was a mobster. Yes. And he was a bit meshuga. In this family, how'd they notice? Well, the mobster part, yes. ...
Remember, this is the same side of the family my mother's sister was on. My beloved aunt. A nutcase. ....Another time on the train I ran into her when she was knitting/crocheting an evening gown. Sixteen bobbins were dangling off the damned thing. It toined out gawgeous. She wore it to her son's wedding. The son she was complaining about.
...I wasn't just frequently threatened with beatings. I was the recipient of many. It was rarely for what I did. It was almost always for something I said. Quelle surprise. I had a big mouth. I don't doubt that I was a difficult child. Very smart. Stubborn. Independent-minded. Fresh. And disinclined to listen to my elders if I had something else in mind. However, I don't think that any of this warranted beatings.
.. the person most dear to me was my father.