Mom was an independent woman; a nurse who stalled her career to raise my brothers, sister and me.
On their wedding day at St, Lazarus’ Church, East Boston 1941, Dad spotted an old friend as they walked down the aisle after the ceremony. Mom had never met him. Dad stopped.
“Hey, Joe, how are you? Meet my wife, Ann. This is the woman who I’m going to take care of for the rest of our lives.” Mom dug her heels into the marble.
In a voice that was octaves above a stage whisper, she blurted, “I can take care of myself, thank you.”
Dad stiffened, Joe hung his head, and the crowd was silent. It was the beginning of Mom asserting herself. It never ended throughout their long marriage.
When I was 6 and my sister 8, we were charged with minding two-year old brother, Charlie. My sister had the brainstorm, if that’s what you call it.
“Let’s walk to grandma’s house.”
Grandma lived in East Boston. We lived in Chelsea; quite a distance away. Mom had always driven us.
“We can tie Charlie to the fence so he won’t wander. C’mon, c’mon. Let’s go! The yard is fenced in. He can’t get out anyway.”
I didn’t ask any questions. After all, she was two years older.
We started our trek. Hours later, after passing Bell circle in Revere and the Suffolk Downs race track, we arrived.
Grandma, surprised to see us, asked “Where’s your mother?”
“How did you get here?”
She called Mom. “Your daughters are here. They walked. I’ll drive them back.”
“No you won’t,” said Mom. We could hear her voice over the phone. “By the way, do not give them anything to eat!”
Grandma ushered us out the door. “Hurry along. Your Mom is waiting.”
We arrived after dark and were sent to bed… no supper of course. That was our last walk away from home for a long time. Charlie? Charlie was fine, but I don’t know how and never asked.
Brother Nick was the favorite-oldest child, a son in an Italian family.
He went to NY often to see my grandparents, and when my grandpa Gianturco (Dad’s family from Brooklyn) came to visit and took Nicky on the train, the conductor asked Nick how old he was.
He replied “Not yet five.” (At age five, there was a charge for the seat).
Grandpa was so proud that little Nicky knew how old he was… “not yet five.”
Nicky continued to use that line until he was ten!
After grandmother passed away, my grandpa came from NY to live with us. Mom and Dad went on a vacation for two weeks and left me and Nicky in charge of the meals.
We made macaroni every night… all kinds… with butter, peas, lentils, beans, gravy (tomato sauce) and then we started over again. When my parents returned, mom asked grandpa, “Pop, what would you like for dinner?”
“Anna”, he groaned, “Anything but macaroni!”
That was the first time our gentle grandfather complained. The only thing he said to me was, “Jeanne, you should be a cook at the Waldorf Astoria.”