Thursday, November 05, 2015


When mom was a young teenager, there were rules that were obeyed, as social norms were quite different than they are today. Having no father and two sisters, she was the oldest and was expected to set the example for the other two.

Living and growing up on the streets of Brooklyn or East New York, Bushwick, maybe Bed-Sty among close knit Italian families, meant that you were watched and overseen by many, and to bring scandal to yourself would mean a lifetime of rejection, and a label that fit your social misconduct. Those cases were extreme, but they did happen. That guy doesn’t work or is a bum, she is a “putana” or she is crazy: were tags that people assigned.

As a 12-year old, one of the social engagements available at very low cost was roller-skating, and mom and her two sisters would engage in the joy of roller-skating on the street. But sometimes this innocent past time could be misconstrued if you weren’t careful. An innocent good time turned into a family scandal one day. As mom and her two sisters were skating, a boy came over to my mother and asked her to roller skate with him. Mom obliged and so they skated. My aunt Tessie, the middle child to my Grandmother Mary, immediately reported this innocent time and immediately grandma called my mother upstairs and discussed the event with mom.

Apparently skating with a boy in those days was a no-no, frowned on by decent young ladies and their parents and never to be practiced, even if you knew the boy from school. Mom resented her sister “ratting” on her and would tell the story over and over again, but laughing at the whole notion of what was acceptable back in the Great Depression, in an Italian neighborhood.

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