Friday, November 06, 2015


Grandma Mary raised 3 girls alone during the depression, Mom, my Aunt Tessie, and my Aunt Marie. Being the youngest Aunt Marie was the fun gal. In her marriage, as a mother and sister, she was fun, but to a little 6 year old, she was a pain. She would tease me to no end.

Living near by, just a few blocks from each other, the oldest and youngest sisters would take turns visiting each other and then going shopping. They each had a baby carriage that carried my younger sister and my cousin Nick, and off to Pitkin Avenue they went.

Living on the third floor, in the morning around 9:00 am, Mom would have Arthur Godfrey on the radio that sat on top of the refrigerator, a Westinghouse with a small freezer on top. When Aunt Marie came she would immediately turn off the radio, making me mad.

Whenever Aunt Marie saw me, she would corner me and ask to see behind my ears. So she would grab one ear, then the other and go: tsk, tsk tsk! You have to wash behind the ears! Every morning, every day I saw her. Behind my ears were so clean that I was bleeding from scrubbing them, yet they were not clean to her. Years later I found out that she did that to tease me.

But revenge is sweet! One day after I married and had a few kids, I was talking to Mom about our family history, and she let the fact slip that Aunt Marie was really Aunt Marietta, something Aunt Marietta did not want anyone to know. Indeed.

Christmas came and I was writing out the Christmas cards, and one had a new name to the old list, ‘Aunt Marietta’.

I would call her every few weeks to see how she was as a matter of routine, as she was a widow and living alone in Florida. My first call for Christmas went like this:

Aunt Marietta: “Hello?”
Me: “Hi Aunt Marie! It’s me, Joseph”.
Aunt Marietta: “YOU! I got your card, and said wait until I get my hands on that stinking nephew of mine!”

So every year until she died, I addressed her Christmas card: Aunt Marietta!

Revenge is sweet, but so was she.


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