We lived at 107. My grandmother and her second husband lived a
few houses down. Summers in their yard are among my most cherished
memories. A grape arbor - loved to chew on the little curly-ques
that would have turned into grape clusters. Tart, tangy, earthy
- the arbor was at once warm from the summer yet cooler because
of the shade from the canopy. Wine was made in the basement. Visited
wineries on my honeymoon in California's Nappa Valley which brought
back memories of Joe's casks in the basement. Tastes of wine not
yet ready for prime time. Strawberries grew in their yard. Zucchini
blossoms which were cooked in all sorts of ways. Corn stalks in
Newark - and we ate the corn! Tomatoes, of course, along with basil,
St. Lucy's Church and School:
1956 - First grade at St. Lucy's. Nuns in impossible headgear.
First grade. Mother Superior was the principal. First Holy Communion
May 3rd, 1957. Can still smell the flowers from my bouquet. Remember
assembling in the court yard and processing into the church. Sister
Angelina was my first grade teacher. I won a prize in Catechism
for something - a pink plastic cross that meant the world to me
which I unfortunately gave to my "former" husband and haven't seen
since. I also remember a procession I was in after receiving first
communion. I and my female classmates were dressed in our First
Communion finery once again and carried wax "feet". Cannot for the
life of me remember what the procession or the "feet" were about...St.
Lucy's Church is still one of my favorites and we return every October
for St. Gerard. I revel in the smell of the real burning candles,
the statues, marble. To me St. Lucy's will forever be the epitome
of a Catholic (Italian!) church. Priests in the tri-cornered hats
and lacy white overlays on the black cassocks.
St. Gerard's Feast:
Gathering at my grandmother's house on Summer Avenue in the 70's.
Going to the feast, following the procession, enjoying the entertainment,
then the entire family gathering for dinner (pasta, sausage, meatballs,
braciole, etc.) My brother, Gerald, spent the first few years of
his life dressed as St. Gerard for Halloween. Everyone gathered
on Summer Avenue - from Brooklyn and Bloomfield and wherever we
might have scattered. We still go back every October 16 for the
procession and the feast and relive all of those wonderful memories.
I hear the dialect I grew up with, see familiar faces even though
I don't know their names. My heart swells and my eyes tear for the
good old days.
Alex's Market on Summer Avenue:
Going on an errand for my mother (on my own!) to pick up some
pasta or whatever, and watching him use the tongs to get something
off a high shelf. Also going for fresh ricotta, doled out in a tin
with waxed paper over it, and returning that tin the next day.
I always thought my mother was special in some way. During the day
when we walked the Avenue and