Thursday, September 24, 2015


"It is always possible to be grateful for what is received rather than resentful over what is withhold. One or the other becomes a way of life."
- Elisabeth Elliot. 

Growing up in Brooklyn during the 1950’s, life could be hard if you let it. We were a poor family; we didn’t have much since Dad didn’t make much, about what everybody else made in the neighborhood.

But Mom did an amazing job of using Dad’s earning frugally, and with the best of intentions, to feed us, cloth us and made us as happy as could be. Like most Italian-American families of that era, we didn’t know we were poor, we knew we were happy, but not poor. Mom and Dad had carried over the thriftiness of the Great Depression and so we made do. Mom could sew, cook and clean the house herself, polish old shoes everyday and made sure we were clean. We were extremely rich in the joy of our families, the simple dishes that were prepared for a conversation around the kitchen table. The rule was NOT ‘try to be home in time for supper’, no it was BE HOME IN TIME FOR SUPPER. If we weren’t, we didn’t eat. If we didn’t like what we were getting for dinner, we ate it anyway because there was nothing else allowed. Mom cooked, so you better be prepared to eat it or nothing. Good rules.

Mother and wooden spoon owner
We hardly bought new shoes, taking them instead to an Italian shoemaker to fix the old to look like new. Our clothes were not threadbare but well mended. Mom like all Italian-American moms where we live, was home for their children after school.

Mom was a great cook, but would on occasion cook something I didn’t like, like pig’s feet and knuckles, or stew and beans and macaroni (pasta fagiola: something I would die for today, and make my own, or even pay a hefty price for in a restaurant).

I remember when in college, coming home after school or after working as a designer in the city, the winter night cold, but a warm glow calling me to Mom’s kitchen, my dinner gently warming in her magical oven, the smell saying: “Joseph, I’m glad you’re home.”

Tomorrow: WHAT DID WE EAT?


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