Tuesday, July 18, 2017


And other collectibles.

As a youngster, like all my friends my age, collecting baseball cards was a big part of growing up. You bought the Topps chewing gum packets, a slab of gum and 5 baseball players featured separately on a card. You usually threw out the gum as you eagerly searched through the cards for your favorite player. You traded away those players you hated on the other team, in my case the Yankees and Giants of New York and treasured the Brooklyn Dodger players.
It was like we were miniature General Managers.

But when it came to collections, Grandma Frances had me beat, but her collection was more of a religious experience than mine could ever be.

When you visited Grandma, the one thing you would notice was her hookup with the saints and Jesus, which was displayed like a Coke sign at a ballpark, big frequent and sometimes even flashy. Going into her bedroom, dark and mysterious as it was, was an experience with the holy, supernatural and mysterious. The bedroom has little light, and the numerous votive candles would make the walls flicker and dance, drawing attention to the sacred heart picture of Jesus looking carefully to the side as if watching some interruption that was presently occurring.
 Jesus wasn’t the only holy picture to be mounted on the walls of the semi-Vatican, there was of course Mary, standing on a small globe with clouds at her feet as she wore a crown on her head.

Grandma’s collection consisted of medals, pictures and small altars on bureau venerations to various saints. There were pictures of the old world, and in them a spire or two of the ever-present churches that populate and dominate the landscapes and Italian country sides of Italia.

But the single most thing that caught my attention was of one of her brothers who had died in Italy and someone sent a picture of him in his shiny new coffin being assisted sitting up and facing the camera. Add that to the shimmering walls and solemnity of the room, fueled by my imagination and you had a major moment of creepiness.

Grandma wore her religion on her chest, in the guise of medals with little ribbons, rosaries that rested in her hands and an occasional movement from one finger to the other. What was she praying for? Maybe one of her children, maybe a friend or family member from the other side of the pond.

Even her music was religious, with a small 45 rpm she gave my father, ‘Santa Maria dell Arco.’
The cover had a picture of a sunny day and a church with a steeple and somewhere was Saint Mary overlaid on everything.

I’ll trade you two Saint Anthony 2”x 3” for a 4”x 6” Saint Joseph and I’ll throw in a tiny St. Christopher medal.


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