Thursday, July 7, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

My father, Joe, age 9
There was a time when  I was a go-between between the aunt and her brothers. I used to visit my aunt regularly as I grew up and in fact my father would send me to her with instructions. "Go visit my sister. If they are eating don't give them this message. Wait until they are through eating and then tell her that so and so died and that the family came to her husband's funeral."

I delivered that message long enough, so that when I was walking down the corridor she was at the door and would ask me, "Joe, who died?" I would at times answer no one, I'm visiting. She would say are you sure?

I loved her and I felt bad that she looked upon me as bad news. I stopped going. Not as I had done. In fact she told me that I should go to her house every Saturday. "And I will see that you go to the movies." She had four children working and after lunch she would address the four, "The children must go to the movies, how much change do you have?" Hands would quickly go into pockets or pocketbooks with change. She would pick what was needed from each son and daughter. And give the money to Cousin Joe and say this is for the movie and this amount is for candy. Cousins Joe, Fred, and I would take off. Her children were wonderful. They supported their mother and kept her off the welfare list  [ed: after her husband passed away]. Later when they were all working, they bought her a home in Revere.

Margaret made a very good marriage and her husband owned a restaurant with a bar and also with an attachment that was for weddings, banquets, etc.

Every Friday night before the movies were over there was a theater across the street, they would ask their customers that if they wanted drinks they should go into the bar because the movies would be over and the teenagers would be coming in for pizzas as this was their night and no liquor was allowed in the restaurant. The police were very much in favor of this. They knew where all the teenagers where and there would be no trouble on the streets.

My aunt died at 92 from a fall on the stairs at her house.

She must have had an extra sensory perception as it seemed that I went to visit and she would say "Joe, just the one I wanted to see. Tell your father to call his brothers and tell them that they were to come to dinner next Sunday. Your father is to come after dinner. He has a family and will eat with you. His brothers don't have a family."

This was a request that I was given on a rather red flag situation. Her brothers were in for a lecture. I would pass this along to my cousins and they would show up. It was one of those must attend to see what the two uncles had done.

I would get there after dinner and while her daugters cleared the table she would say Joe, you sit there, Fred, you there and you, Archie (nickname for my father) and then start her talk.

I remember one where she said I went to Mass at the North End on our saint day's Mass. And I met our relation who told me that you, Joe, were going with a 35 year old girl and that is not nice. [ed: the young woman was als a divorcee] You're degrading your family name. What would your father think? He was a wonderful man. He had a very good reputation, etc.

Then she turned to Uncle Fred and said you live close to him. You must have known what he was doing and you didn't do anything? She said you Archie live too far. Again to Uncle Fred. And at this point Uncle Joe began to get Uncle Fred out of this affair and he addressed her. She stopped. Turned to Uncle Joe "Parli?" Translation "Who gave your permission to talk?" My father was wise enough to keep quiet. Anyway she ordered Uncle Joe to dump her. She was not for him.

I also remembered I went to see Uncle Fred and Tootsie [ of Uncle Fred's sons] Uncle said, Tootsie, just the one I wanted to see. If you see your brother, Charlie, tell him that I need some electric work done upstairs and down in the cellar. I have etc.

Tootsie turned to me and said, "See, Joe? Here he is the big padrone [ed: master] but at his sister's house, he gets in the corner and cringes." Uncle said, She's the only sister we have here."

I went out with Tootsie when he left and I said to him, "When they run to their sister when she clls and she gives them a lecture for their short comings they have aquired a physical change. They came to America at 16 years old she brought them up into manhood. They do not see her as a sister. It's their mother talking to them. So to tell their sister to jump in the lake is unthinkable." [ed: Auntie Angelina was born in 1882. She was 5 years older than Uncle Joe, 7 years older than Dad's father, Archie, and 9 years older than Uncle Fred.]

Today they are gone except Manuel who stood up for me [ed: best man]. I haven't gone to visit him in years. I stopped. Revere seemed to get farther and farther for me. And I seemed to lose my way home at times. [ed: Manny passed away in 2015]


  1. I'm enjoying reading your father's notebooks. (I cringed when I read 'And I seemed to lose my way home at times.') :(

    1. I didn't have the notebooks until Dad passed away. I cringe, too, because I had totally missed signals that he was having issues with dementia/Alzheimer's. In familiar settings, he was good at masking problems he was having. We just chalked the forgetfulness up to "old age"