I couldn’t skip school because my Mama would find out. How? I don’t know. But I couldn’t even skip school. When you’re followed all the time, you get rebellious. I skipped school to go see Frank Sinatra.
Frank Sinatra had come to the Metropolitan and a whole bunch of photographers were there with the newspaper. And I was telling my friends, “Don’t go near the newspapers.” I skipped school. So naturally, she went near the newspapers, and we were all in the paper the next day. My mother found out and so did a whole bunch of nuns from my high school that I have never forgotten.
I drove to my job at Prince Macaroni in my own car – a small Volvo that I actually won in a contest in the late 1950s.
My friends and I went to the theater and found out that there was a contest. In the first round, you had to guess “Who do you think would win the Academy Awards?” And you’d have to pick, I forgot how many. I won the first prize! I answered 14 out of 15 questions correctly. The first prize was a diamond ring.
And then you had to go onto the next round where you had to write a statement too – 25 words or less on why I go to the movies.
“I still remember what I wrote: ‘The only place where you could get a million dollars worth of entertainment for the price of a ticket.‘”
The prize in the second round was a Volvo automobile. I didn’t know what a Volvo was. I thought it was a motorcycle but came to find out it was a car, which was right up my alley.
Gene Brown, the dealer of Volvo and I were the only two in Massachusetts that owned a Volvo. I won the first Volvo that was registered in Massachusetts.
Well, my husband worked on Saturdays. He was actually the only one that was able to bring tulips in from Holland. He went to work one Saturday morning, and he totaled it. The car was totaled. Someone ran a light and ran right through the car.
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I didn’t know Gerald when he was in the war, but later, around 1958, both Gerald and I were in an Italian-American club at the International Institute in Boston. I had gone out to a picnic with my girlfriends the night before and I was tired, so I fell asleep in the car… And it happened to be his car! I went and took a nap in someone’s car, and it happened to be his.
We all knew each other, though we weren’t dating. But we were dating after that.
On our first date, we were at his house, and they were talking about someone named Gedo. They called him Gedo or Gerry. I thought it was another brother that I never met! Gerald’s family weren’t as religious as mine were, but that was never an issue between our families. That was good, too. They were religious up to doing what they had to do, but not as religious as we were brought up.
I was living with my mother at the time I met Gerald. We’d lost my father a long time ago, and my siblings were married (I was the youngest). My mother liked him.
When I was a child, we used to have big family dinners. In the summertime, we had the cookouts, and we used to have the cousins from Portland, Maine. Well, everybody knew we loved eggplant.
Trays and trays of stuffed eggplant.
And we’d have an eggplant festival with the cousins coming down from Maine. My Auntie Mary would make trays and trays of stuffed eggplant, and all the cousins would come down. They had a big backyard. Auntie Mary had a big backyard. It was really fun. Yeah, we did have a lot of fun.
My mother never spoke English. She knew how to speak English, but spitefully she wouldn’t. I got to tell you, she was very spiteful. It was her will or no will. Growing up, where my mother had a lot to say and a lot to do with us. And we obeyed her. No saying no to Nana. She didn’t know that word. Her word or no word. She lived to be a hundred. Her name was Assunta, which means “risen”. When Nana was born, everyone had a religious name. All my siblings too.
My two aunties – Little Aunt, and big Aunt, one was Matilda and one was Clementina. Even though they had different names, we would always distinguish them as Little Aunt and Big Aunt. Big Aunt didn’t have too much to say. Little Aunt had a lot to say. They would talk about something and Little Aunt would say, “Well, this is this!” – and that would be the end of the sentence… But, remember, my mother was boss! My mom, the last word. My mother was the oldest. Then Clementina, then Matilda, and then Uncle Joe.
We would see them at family events. The family would come over to the apartment. We had a very small apartment, we didn’t have a lot of money. That was definite, we didn’t. And the playground was the street. That’s where we learned how to ride a bike. And oh my God, it was loaded with Italians.