Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pearl Harbor Day

As I approached my computer today to blog about the Publics abysmal (not quite) lack of memory of Pearl Horbor Day, December 7, 1941, I thought of my son Floyd whose birth at that time was imminent. Floyd, as you know, lives in San Diego and is the one who started me on the BLOG road. I was thinking: Gosh, Floyd has been blogging and not once have I read any of his postings....and then I said to myself: As soon as I complete this posting, I will look for my son on the Internet. Now, I'll go back to Pearl Harbor.

Each morning, usually, I is such-and such-a-day. The day before yesterday was Monday, December 7, 2009......and I immediately remembered it was Pearl Harbor Day. I searched for the small stick-on flag someone had sent to me in the mail...found it...and stuck it on the front window. It was not visible to the pedestrians on the sidewalk, but I knew it was there...and it was in memory of all those Heroes who lost their lives in Pearl Harbor in 1941. Memories of that day quickly came to mind. I was expecting another child; I had already washed nearly everything in sight, walls included; placed everything in its proper place; and even darned some of my husbands socks....just in case! (I was living, once more, in the old house on Atlantic Avenue where coal was used for heating. My parents lived on St. Johns a white-stone three-story six-family apartment building, which they purchased in 1923, but we did not move into one of the large apartments until 1933 when I was still unwed. At the time of purchase, the apartments had beautiful marble fireplaces in which were installed small half-rounded black stoves with little isin-glass windows. They probably took the place of wood-burning fireplaces. When? I do not know. However, sometime between 1928 and 1929, another change took place which saddened me enormously....these beautiful isin-glass stoves were replaced with radiators, set up against walls under windows, and emitted steam heat.)

There I go again! How did I get from Pearl Harbor Day to rambling about houses? Let's get back to Pearl Harbor.....go up to "just in case!"..................

Mom had come from St Johns Place on the trolley car to spend some time with me before my time to go to the hospital. She was in the kitchen watching Tommy play with his toys...and I was in the next room (the bedroom) placing the 'darned' socks in the drawer of the bureau, when a voice from the radio on a shelf above the kitchen table blasted Pearl Harbor has been attacked by the Japanese. I dropped the socks, hurried into the kitchen, to explain to Mother what that meant. Shortly afterwards, we all heard President Roosevelt's speech..."The Day of Infamy".

That was my memory of Sunday, Decemer 7, 1941 as I was waiting several days ago for Angela to take me shopping. Off we went: to the supermarket, to the post office, and to Comcast to see if my building was wired up for Fios installation (whatever that is?). On the way home, I said to Angela: I can't believe that no one knew what today was. Reading the newspaper later that evening, the story of Pearl Harbor was covered sparingly.

However, the next day (Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009), I read a rather lengthy article by a columnist for the same newspaper, Phil Reisman, entitled " 'In Infamy' but fading with time". It was a lovely article, but sad. I don't know if you can reach him on the Internet. I did! Just Google
search: Its The Journal article of December 8, 2009.

My metabolism is still strong; I think I'll do some searching for Floyd's postings. If I find any,
look for me in a day or two.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Brooklyn Public Library


Now where did those words come from? I don't recall my parents saying them. Sometimes these words haunt me, especially at times when my spirit is low. It seems like these words splash across an invisible screen....and suddenly, I'm revived. I know songs have been written using these exact words, but they have been lodged in my memory since I was a young child. So, let me go back to my early childhood to search for the answer:

When I began school at the age of seven in first grade (and spoke only the Italian language), my teacher was fascinated by the speed I learned English, and it compelled her to devote more time to me than was advocated. She was not aware that my parents, now that I was also a student, insisted that my brothers speak only English when addressing me. By the time I was nine years old, I could read as well as my brother Alfred, who was two years older.

It was near the end of my two and one-half year stint in grade school in June 1919, with Summer vacation fast approaching, when Miss Frazier (our 3-A grade teacher) advised us to continue to read as much as possible, and she went on to extol the magnificence of an institution referred to as The Library. "Many, many different categories of books lined the shelves, and you could gather a tremendous amount of information....and best of all, it was all free". And my eyes must have bulged completely out of my head. I wanted to get home quickly to tell my Mother about The Library and was agonizing about how to convince her about the importance of belonging to one. On that day, I found my brothers playful mood with their friends (on the way home after school) rather frustating. See....up to that particular day and during school-hours, I was not allowed to walk home alone. You will have to understand....that I was not quite nine-years old....and just a little GIRL. As we approached Atlantic Avenue and St. James Place, my brothers' reflexes switched from their buddies to me. Each groped one of my hands as we crossed Atlantic Avenue...just in case Mom was watching from the store window.

After entering the Store, I quickly engaged my Mother in conversation about The Library...speaking in spurts of Italian and English, trying to make her understand what I was talking about. She finally quieted me down, and said: "Of course, of course you can start to-morrow". There was absolutely no challenge....and if there was any dissent from Papa, she would take care of that , too . At that moment, no one could ever tell me , that there was a greater Mother than mine; she was the smartest person on Earth. I marvel to this day, how (although illiterate) she could add a column of ten or fifteen figures and arrive at a correct total. Even she could not explain it; sometimes she would say "buono senso" (common sense) or say "cervello buono" (good brain).

I was very fortunate at the age of nine to have a Mother who trusted me to venture through five blocks of paved streets to the Brooklyn Public Library on Franklin Avenue. Other Italian mothers (usually store customers) began questioning my Mom's approval of this flagrant pursuit of Elvira (El-vee-rra); but my Mother would silence them by saying: "If she is old enough to assist me here in the Store, she certainly is old enough to get books from the library".

I began to assist Mother in her Grocery Store when I was about eight years old. It occupied the ground-floor of a town-house type building and had living quarters on the upper two floors. My Father made a stool, especially for me, so that I could reach the countertop. This same stool also became a sitting stool, placed behind the counter, where I could study and read. It was placed close to the store window so that the daylight could reach the face of my open book. I managed to read many, many books here in my sanctuary. During my pre-teen years, I am sure every Grimm and every Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales were read more than once. I loved the children's poems by Robert Louis Stevenson and I can still recite some of them to this day.

It was probably during these early days of my life that I first read of the words: Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall. To me, these particular words signify, that in our Lifetime we must experience 'despair' and 'happiness' to understand the difference between 'right and wrong' and 'good and evil'.

LIBRARIES.........Yes, I still continue to believe that they are magnificent institutions!

...............Elvira Oliver

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Alfred's Torn Shirt

One of my Memories:

My brother Alfred was just two years older than I. He was truly a kind, compassionate and loving. These attributes, he carried with him throughout his lifetime.

One day in 1920, when he was twelve and I was ten, I heard Alfred dashing through the hall vestibule door (instead of coming in through the store-door), hurriedly up to the bedroom floor where I was performing my after school chores (making up beds), before I proceeded to the store area to relieve my Mother. "Oh, El, El....look at my new shirt....Mom will kill me". What happened? "I was playing with Johnny and he grabbed me....and look El, my shirt is torn". I helped him to remove the shirt, and after examining it, quieted Alfred by informing him to stop crying....that I thought I could mend it. It was the custom in our household to change into play-clothes immediately after school. I scolded him: "If you did what you were supposed to, this would not have happened". The shirt was not torn, but ripped out of a shoulder seam. I instructed him to tip-toe downstairs to the kitchen, collect some matches, and thread and needles from the sewing machine. "Sh! Sh! Let's go down to the cellar and I'll try to mend it for you. " (Luckily for us, Mom was busy in the store; it was the busy time of the day.) I sat on a box placed against the wall of the coal-bin and Alfred sat on one of the stone steps that led up to the side-walk. With Alfred holding the candle, and sobbing softly, and I desperately trying to sew by the dim light, the mission was accomplished. Several wash and ironing days went by and never a harsh word from Mom. Al and I were convinced we put one over on Mom.

Many years later, during one of Mother's visits to see the grandchildren, I decided to do some ironing of my own children's clothing. My baby Angela was playing with the buttons on my Mother's beautifully embroidered, pleated white blouse , when suddenly Mom giggled and then laughed. I thought she was amused with the baby's antics until she said: "You know, as I am watching you ironing, I just remembered somethng that happened one day, many years ago. When you were a little girl, I was ironing one of the new shirts I had made for Alfred, when I noticed hand-sewn stitches in the shoulder seam...almost like embroidery. I knew then that Alfred, when in trouble, had gone to 'his little mother' for help." I laughed and laughed...and then asked Mom why she never said anything. I can still see my Mother, with Angela in her lap, seriously saying: "Why? I was so proud of the good job you had done, and I was so proud of myself...that you learned from me to sew so well, I had no intention of spoiling a deed well-done.

Can you beat that! What a wonderful Mother I had!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sarah Palin - Inspiration

Earlier today, I attended the 25th Annual Thanksgiving Luncheon Celebration at the Matthew Paterson Elementary School hosted by the Carmel Teachers' Association....and I want to thank all those teachers, and especially those beautiful, talented children who made it a very eventful day....and who pulled me out of the sea of doldrums that had inhabited me for the past several weeks.

As the days go flying by, and as we here in the United States say 'The Holiday Season' is fast approaching, some of us who have lived past ninety, tend to wonder if this will be our last one. At least, these are the thoughts that rattle through my brain sometimes. Particularly , I wonder if I have resolved satisfactorily every adverse obstacle strewn in the paths of my journey on this Earth. And, truly, my answer is No! It is said 'Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely'....and I have allowed the most powerful organization in the world (bar none) force me to retreat. Money talks...and I have very little of it.

ADD to the above, the words of a marvelous young woman, the former Governor of Alaska, who appeared last night on Sean Hannity's TV Show. She referred to an incident when her Father cautioned her "not to RETREAT, just RE-LOAD". She further stated that her agenda is to tell the truth, even though she knows she will be "clobbered" by some elements of the media, and probably called a "radical".

All of the above inspired me late this afternoon, after a short nap, to resurrect the battle I retreated from during the seiges of 1994 through revive the impetus to win the battle (with full-speed ahead) by re-loading all the ammunition I have available in my files, plus additional information I accumulated since 1996. I feel exactly like Sarah Palin. I'm going to re-load (just tell the truth)....and I don't care if I'm clobbered, called a radical, or even a silly-old- crazy fool by some. I've already left my mark on this Earth....and all that know me say it's a good one.

It probably will be several weeks before I return to this subject. I will endeavor to communicate again with my adversary, to see if we can reach a suitable and amicable conclusion. More than anything else in this world, that I looked forward to, was (eventually) to be with my loving family for eternity in a sacred garden, not in one that has been descrated.

To Our Creator: Thank you for all those great scientists who gave us the power to search for righteousness. It must be hidden somewhere in the Computer. Let's find it and let's keep it free from absolute power,


Monday, November 9, 2009

Michael S. Dell - Miss Shuvha

Today (Monday, 11/9/09 at 3:00pm EDT), I received a promised follow-up call , from Mr. Michael Dell's representative Miss Shuvha , to inform me that the dispute regarding the validity of the $50.00 coupon conferred upon me when I purchased my new Dell computer, has been completely resolved, and that my account finally shows a zero balance. Thank you Mr. Michael Dell and Miss Shuvha for cooperating with me to see that justice prevails. Again , thank you very much.

I just want to tell all out-there in the Universe: If you believe you are Right and you can prove it, and you cannot resolve it through the usual corresponding methods, then by all means use the computer; because, it reaches millions of people almost instantaneously... not just an unconcerned few. But remember....always be truthful and gracious.

And to all those youngsters under the age of sixty-five, if you are wondering what to get your parents for Christmas, why not get them a computer (if you can afford it) instead of a sweater or blanket!

What a wonderful day!

Till next time.....Goodnight. Elvira

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mr. Michael Dell, CEO Dell Corp

When an old young-lady can rise on a beautiful sunny day and smell the roses, what more can she ask for! But I received a wonderful telephone call just a little more than an hour ago (Tuesday, November 2, 2009 at 12:22 EDST) from Mr. Michael Dell, via his representative (Miss Shuvha), that my account with The Dell Corporation will very soon show a ZERO balance. Miss Shuva will call me again on November 7th to confirm it.

Yes! Mr. Michael Dell DID HEAR the frustrated voice of the oldest blogger on earth,,,.and decided to resolve the 'misunderstanding'. Thank you Mr.Michael Dell.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Dell Corporation

To: Mr. Michael Dell, CEO
From: Elvira S. Oliver

Gee whiz, Mr. Dell! Did you find it necessary to go all the way to India to respond to my letter to you of September 21st? Since I cannot reach you directly, I am taking the opportunity of using the very instrument you sold to me, to confirm my response to you, by blogging, via the United States air-waves.

Mr. Dell, I never asked for a REFUND (to return 'money' in restitution); all I asked you to do was to HONOR (one's word given as a guarantee of performance) the $50.00 coupon which you so graciously conferred upon me at the time I purchased the new computer-----and with which I purchased a supply of ink in August-----and on which I promptly paid the difference.

And, I certainly do not NOW want the new offer (via Ms Shuva in India) of a $50.00 coupon to be used towards a future order. Really, how naive or stupid do you think I am! If you do not honor the first one used with the purchase of ink in August, how can I possibly believe you would honor a second offer.

I do not want to be harrassed or hounded with the usual monthly statement requesting pay-ment of $50.00 plus additional interest charges each month.

Please...just HONOR the original offer. Thank you."
My friends must be wondering why Elvira posted the above. Well, I may be old...but all my life (being a single Mom), I have had to fight for my rights, and I'm not about to stop now. I know for a fact that CEOs' seldom know the practices of their employees, but they are held responsible for the employee's lack of integrity. I'm willing to bet that he has not even seen the letters I sent to him.

Yesterday, October 31st, (Halloween), I received a 2-page unsigned letter from Dell Financial Services dated October 23rd (which in all probability was their reply to my letter to them of October 8th with a copy to Mr. Michael Dell). Quite frankly, I did not understand the financial-language, but phrases such as: "your account is past due" and "you are hereby notified that a negative credit report reflecting on your credit record may be submitted to a credit reporting agency" language I understand clearly. Here is my letter of October 8th:

"Dear Dell Services:
About 6:45 this evening until 7:05 EST, I had a conversation with your Ms Shuvha in response to my letter to Mr. Michael Dell dated September 21st. She advised me that Dell was willing to give me a coupon in the amount of $50.00 towards the purchase of any future order; but that Dell cannot give me a REFUND. Well, needless to say, that made me very angry.

I NEVER REQUESTED A REFUND. I have been requesting that you HONOR the coupon offered to me by (salesman) Mike at the time I purchased my new computer on March 16th, and confirmed by your Brooke on June 3rd. I purchased a quantity of ink on August 10th and immediately paid the difference of $19.35 between the cost of the "future" ink purchase of $69.35 and the $50.00 coupon offered to me. Now I suggest you read carefully Brooke's comments to me on June 3rd. I do not expect to make a future ink purchase or any other item for some time. For goodness sake....I'm living on borrowed time!

I do not know who is to blame in your company for not doing their job properly, but don't blame me. And remember what I said: I never asked for a REFUND. And please, do not blame Ms Shuvha; I believe she was saying what she was told to say.

And yes (until some one replaces me)...I am The Oldest Blogger on Earth.

Sincerely, Elvira S. Oliver"

I will be very happy to come back soon to tell you that Mr. Michael Dell has finally heard me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


By this time you know that I enjoy reading. One of the authors that mesmerized me is Wayne W. Dyer, and I took the liberty of copying a chapter from his book "Wisdom of the Ages" entitled IMAGINATION. I would like to share it with you by posting snippets of it for you, but for the full text, I am leaving it up to you to follow through. Mr. Dyer quotes a poem and then renders his thoughts: "What if you slept? And what if, in your sleep you dreamed? And what if, in your dream, You went to Heaven ....And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower? And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand? By Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)."

Mr. Dyer then says:

"The first step in creation, this unifying principle, is imagination. This poignantly simple poem invites you to delve into your imagination and reconsider your agreement with reality. What we know as real has its limits, but imagination is boundless in the dream state. Our agreement with reality invalidates the idea of being able to bring an object from the dream world into the waking world.

Reconsider what you are capable of in your dream state. Sleeping for eight hours each day means you will be in this dream state for thirty years if you live to the age of ninety. That is one-third of your life that you enter a state of awareness in which your agreement with reality is breached and you manifest everything that you need for the dream simply by the power of your thoughts. You have no concept of time, in fact you can go forward or backward in time at will. You talk to and see the dead, fly if you choose, walk through trees and buildings, change your shape instantaneously, become an animal if you so desire, breathe under water, and be in more than one place at the same time.

The most amazing part about all this dream activity is that for the length of the dream you are one hundred percent convinced that all of it is real. Your unlimited imagination is so convincingly powerful that for one-third of your life, you lose your agreement with reality.

When you wake, you say to yourself, this part is real and all that activity in my dream state is unreal. Go back to your dream state. Every character in your dream is YOU assuming those roles with your mind. When you are having a conversation with people in your dream, you are yourself, then at the same instant you are whomever you are talking to as well. You actually do not have conversations with someone else in your dream, you are those characters and yourself all at the same time. Similarly, the flower in your dream is not a flower in the same sense that you experience it while awake. In fact, you are the flower in your dream, and because your imagination shuts down to almost zero when you awaken, you lose the ability to create without limitation as soon as you leave your dream.

It is not absurd to think that it is possible to bring a flower from the imaginary dream state into the level that we agree is waking awareness. Everything you are capable of accomplishing, experiencing, and knowing in one-third of life spent in pure imagination, you can accomplish, experience, and know in the remaining two-thirds. The key is to banish doubts and allow yourself the privilege of flying directly into that ecstatic state while awake. Work at being a waking dreamer by allowing the same kinds of privileges, freedoms, and, yes, powers, that are taken for granted in a dream state.

To me it seems silly to think of being awake and being in the dream state as two distinct experiences of reality. I know that my dreams are not predictors of what is going to happen in my waking life, nor are they symbols that provide clues to the real me. For me this dream state is like an open invitation into the mystical world of imagination. It is my opportunity to explore limitlessness, to know it firsthand, and to become totally convinced beyond all doubt of the realm of imagination. Then while awake I can go into my imagination and use it to travel miles beyond ordinary waking awareness. Then this waking world becomes but a canvas to my imagination.

When you rewrite your agreement with reality, you can use your experience of that one-third of your life while ensconced securely in your imagination to accomplish all that you desire without going to sleep. Imagine yourself able to manifest into your material world whatever you are capable of conceiving in your mind, and let go of any doubts that you may have allowed to creep in.

To apply the power of your creative imagination in your life today, begin by:

* Always keeping in mind that you become what you think about, be very careful about any thoughts you harbor that involve doubt.

* Keep track of your dreams in the sense of remembering those 'unreal' experiences that you were absolutely convinced of while they were occurring. Then work at eliminating your conditioned benefits about their impossibility. You want to eradicate the word 'impossible' from your consciousness. Truly, if you can conceive it, you can create it.

* Literally rewrite your agreement with reality so that it reads, 'Anything I am capable of one-third of my life I can add to the other two-thirds if I so choose'.

* Live more in your imagination. Give yourself the freedom to wander into unfamiliar territory in your mind and to explore new possibilities in your fantasies, excluding nothing. These imaginative meanderings will ultimately become the catalysts for living an unlimited life.

Your imagination, just like your body, grows through exercise. Wake up and hold that flower in your hand."

I hope you enjoyed reading the above taken from Mr. Wayne W. Dyer's book. Goodnight..Elvira

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Cake is still warm

Several days ago,on my TV, I watched intently the saga of a home-made helium balloon flying through space with the assumption that aboard was a six-year old boy. Happily, he was found safe and sound in his own home. It reminded me of an incident that happened to me on Thursday, October 8th, when a group of people joined together to find "Elvira". Angels are not illusionary images; they are real people who give their efforts and sometimes their lives to help and care for their fellowman.

I voluntarily gave up driving my car on April 30th of this year, and since then have been using the wonderful transport services offered to the elderly in Putnam County, N.Y.; namely, The Para Transit, for a minimum fee. The users must call the previous day by 5:00 pm to schedule an appointment. One of my constant appointments is to attend the Golden Age Senior meetings in Patterson, N.Y. on Thursdays. The driver usually picks me up first at 9:00 am, and then travels about 6 miles to pick up Yolanda and her husband Lenny. However, mistakes will happen......and on the morning of October 8th, when the bus arrived to pick up Yolanda, she noticed I was not on board.

Well.....I was quite irritated when I was not picked up after waiting in the lobby of my building until 9:20 am. I returned to my apartment, and after fuming for some time, I decided to forget about it and bake a cake. As I was removing the cake from the oven, I looked at it and said to myself: " What am I going to do with this cake? I have no room in the freezer. I'll call Kitty."
Kitty is a friend of mine, who lives on the same floor, but at the other end of the building. "Kitty", I said, "I was not picked up for my visit to Golden Age...and I was so angry that I decided to bake a cake. Would you share it with me." Kitty said: "I'd love to, Elvira". "Okay, I'll be right over". Kitty enjoyed eating a slice of the warm cake. (By the way, it was a Carrot Cake.) We enjoyed each others company so much that we did not realize several hours had passed by.

About 3:15 pm, I left Kitty to retun to my apartment. I walked just a short distance, when I saw a group of women about 75 -feet away, waving their arms like distressed chickens and babbling "Oh, my God, she's alright"....."Where have you been?"....."We've been looking for you." ....."The bus company said you did not show-up."....."The police were looking for you."etc. etc. etc. I was flabbergasted by all this attention, and after a million hugs, Joanne (my building Manager) surrounded by the residents she had contacted related the following:

That someone from the Golden Age Center called the police and advised them that Elvira was not present that day at the Center. The police contacted Joanne.....Joanne immediately contacted several residents, and when the policeman arrived, they all proceeded to Elvira's apartment. With the door held open by Joanne and the concerned residents, the policeman entered the apartment. From the Living Room, they heard "She's not here:....then from the Bathroom "Not here".....from the Bedroom "no one here". As the policeman was approaching the door to exit from the apartment, he checked the kichen area......and lo and behold, the mystery was almost solved. The Policeman , with a smile on his face, turned to all those standing in the vicinity of the open door, and said, "She must be okay....she must be around here the building.....see---THE CAKE IS STILL WARM."

Who actually called the Police and why?

When Yolanda returned home about 2:15 pm, after the meeting at the Center, she immediately phoned me at home; and when I did not respond, she immediately contacted the bus company, She was very concerned because, she and I, both had difficulty scheduling the previous day. Later, we learned the bus company had trouble with fallen telephone lines. She asked the bus Manager why they had not picked-up Elvira. She (the bus company Manager) told Yolanda that their driver called to say that it was 9:10 and 'no Elvira'.....that she called me and received no she directed the driver to proceed, pick up Yolanda and Lenny. Yolanda continued and said: "Elvira is 99 years old and I'm very concerned." The bus Manager said: "Yes, I am too. I'll call the Police to investigate. Elvira is one of our prompt riders."

The rest is history. Mystery solved: "THE CAKE IS STILL WARM"

The Cake is still warm.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Watermelon Seed


Something a little different today. A day at the Library: Rather than sit alone in my apartment, especially on a dreary, cloudy day, I visit the Kent Library. I sit there sometimes for several hours and just read. I came across this little adage one day, written many years ago , by William Jennings Bryan....and I hope you enjoy reading it, too.

Observe the power of the watermelon seed. It has the power of drawing from the ground and through itself. 200,000 times its weight. When you can tell me how it takes this material and out of it colors an outside surface beyond the imitation of art, and then forms inside of it a white rind and within that again a red heart, thickly inlaid with black seeds, each one of which in turn is capable of drawing through itself 200,000 its weight.......when you can explain the mystery of a watermelon, you can ask me to explain the mystery of God!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Joy of growing-up Italian - 4

I can still remember my Grandfather telling me how he came to America as a young man "on a boat" which took 30 days to cross the Atlantic Ocean; how the family lived in a rented tenement, and took in boarders in order to make mends meet; how he decided he didn't want his children (four sons and three daughters) to grow up in that environment. All of this, of course, in his own version of Italian/English which I soon learned to understand quite well.

So, when my Grandfather saved enough money to buy a house, and I could never figure out how he bought it, that house served as family headquarters for the next forty years. I remember how he hated to leave it. He would rather sit on the back porch and watch the garden grow. And when he did leave it for some special occasion, he had to return as quickly as possible. After all, "nobody's watching the house". I also remember the Holidays when all the relatives would gather at my Grandfather's house and there'd be tables full of food and home-made wine and music. Women in the kitchen, men in the living room, and everywhere. I must have a half-million cousins: first, second, and some not even related, but that didn't matter. And my Grandfather...his pipe in his mouth and his fine moustache trimmed....would sit in the middle of it all, grinning his mischievous smile, his dark eyes twinkling, surveying his domain, proud of his family, and how well his children had done in life: one was a cop, one a fireman, one had his own trade, and (of course) there was always the rogue. The girls...they had all married well, had fine husbands and healthy children....and, most of all, everyone knew RESPECT. Grandfather had achieved his goal in coming to America, and to New Jersey. Now his children and their children were achieving the same goals that were available to them in this great country, because they were Americans.

When my Grandfather died years ago at the age of 76, things began to change. Slowly at first. But then Uncles and Aunts eventually began to cut down on their visits. Family gatherings were fewer and something seemed to be missing, although when we did get together, usually at my Mother' house now, I always had the feeling he was there somehow. It was understandable, of course. Everyone now had families of their own and grandchildren of their own. Today, they visit once or twice a year. Today, we meet at weddings and wakes.

Lots of other things have changed, too. The old house my Grandfather bought is now covered with aluminum siding, although my Uncle still lives there....and, of course, my Grandfather'sgarden is gone. The last of the home-made wine has long been drunk and, in the Fall, nobody covers the fig tree anymore. For a while, we would make the rounds on the holidays, visiting family. Now, we occasionally visit the cemetery. A lot of them are there: grandfathers, uncles, aunts, even my own Father and Mother.

The Holidays have changed, too. The great quantity of food we once consumed without ill-effects is no good for us anymore....too much starch, too much cholesterol, too much calories. And nobody bothers to bake anymore....too busy, and it's easier to buy it now, and anyway too much is not good for you. We meet at my hose now, at least my family does; but it's not the same.

The differences between US and THEM aren't as easily defined anymore, and I guess that's good. My Grandparents were Italian-Italians, my parents were Italian-Americans, my wife and I are American -Italians, and my children are American-Americans. Oh, I'm an American alright and proud of it, just as my Grandfather would want me to be. We are all Americans now: the Irish, German, Polish, and the Jews....U.S. citizens all. But, somehow, I still feel a little bit Italian. Call it culture, call it tradition, call it roots. I'm really not sure what it is! All I know is that my children have been cheated out of a wonderful piece of heritage. They never knew my GRANDFATHER. (The end)

I hope you enjoy reading this. I'll try posting my last version (2005) soon. Goodnight.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Joy of Growing-up Italian - 3

As I promised you yesterday, the following is the 1978 version (and along with the very similar 1980 version); it was widely distributed throughout the United States by me and my friends. One of the words I changed frequently was finally MERICONS.
The Joy of Growing-up Italian
1978 Version
By Elvira S. Oliver

I was well into adulthood before I realized I was an American. Of course I had been born in America and had lived here all of my life, but somehow it never occurred to me that just being a citizen of the United States meant I was an American. Americans are people who ate peanut butter and jelly on mushy white bread that came in plastic packages. But I was ITALIAN.

For me, as I am sure for most second generation Italian-American children who grew up in the 40's or 50's, there was a definite distinction drawn between US and THEM. We were Italians. Everybody else....the Irish, German, Polish, Jews, they were the "MED-E-GONES". There was no animosity involved in that distinction, no prejudice, no hard-feelings....just, well, we were sure ours was the better way, For instance, we had a bread-man, a coal-man, and ice-man, a fruit and vegetable man, a watermelon man, and a fish-man; we even had a man who sharpened knives and scissors, who came to our homes or at least outside our homes. They were the many peddlers who plied their wares in the Italian neighborhoods. We would wait for their call, their yell, their individual distinctive sound. We knew them all and they knew us. Americans went to the stores for most of their foods. What a waste! Truly I pitied their loss. They never knew the pleasure of waking up every morning to find a hot crispy loaf of bread waiting behind the screen door. And instead of being able to climb up on the back of a peddler's truck a couple of times a week just to hitch a ride, most of the "MED-E-GONE" friend had to be satisfied going to the A&P.

When it came to food, it always amazed me that my American friends and classmates only ate turkey on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Or, rather. that they ONLY ate turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. Now, we Italians....we also had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, but...ONLY after we had finished the antipasto, soup, lasagna, meatballs, salad, and whatever else Mama thought might be appropriate

for that particular holiday. The turkey was usually accompanied by a roast of some kind (just in case somebody walked in who didn't like turkey) and was followed by an assortment of fruits, nuts, pastries, cakes and, of course, homemade cookies and expresso with a bit of lemon or anisette. No holiday was complete without some home baking. None of that store-bought stuff for us. This is where you learned to eat a seven-course meal between noon and four in the afternoon; how to handle hot chestnuts, and put peach wedges in homemade red wine. I truly believe Italians live a romance with food.

Speaking of food. Sunday was truly the big day of the week. That was the day you'd wake up to the smell of garlic and onions frying in olive oil. As you lay in bed, you could hear the hiss as tomatoes were dropped into a pan. On Sunday, we always had gravy. The Medegones called it sauce....and pasta, they called it macaroni. Sunday woud not be Sunday without going to Mass. Of course, you couldn't eat before Mass, because you had to fast before receiving Communion. But the good part was....we knew when we got home, we'd find hot meatballs frying, and nothing tastes better than newly fried meatballs and crisp Italian bread dipped into a pot of gravy.

There was another difference between US and THEM. We had gardens. Not just flower gardens, but huge gardens where we grew tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes. We ate them, cooked them, and jarred them, Of course, we also grew peppers (hot and sweet), basil, parsly, lettuce and zucchini. Everybody had a grapevine and a fig tree....and in the Fall, everyone covered the fig-tree and made home-made wine, lots of it. Of course, those gardens thrived so, because we also had something else our American friends didn't seem to have. We had a GRANDFATHER!! It's not that they didn't have a Grandfather; its just that they didn't live in the same house or on the same block. They VISITED their Grandfathers. We ate with ours...and God forbid, if we did not see them once a day.

To be continued. I'm tired. Goodnight.

The Joy of Growing-up Italian - 3

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Joy of Growing-up Italian - 2

I am not happy to keep harping about my essay, but I find it has created a bombshell among some who claim authorship, that I find it necessary to be assertive and defend what is mine.

When I wrote The Joy of Growing-up Italian in 1968, with some revisions in 1978, it was my memories. But there was , a part of my life, I tried very hard to keep it a secret. I was a divorcee....and it was treated very scandallously and sometimes with dire circumstances; for instance, you could not get employment. Therefore, in order to avoid mention of an ex-husband, I wrote it as if my son wrote it. However, in 2005 (when it seemed as if nothing was considered shameless anymore), I revised it and made it totally my story. The facts, words and phrases are exactly the same, except it is written in the first gender.... and it contains, positively all my experiences. I am going to blog (if blog is the proper expression) both versions: first the 1978 version , which appears many, many times as Author Anonymous with slight variations by the contributors, and, of course, by others who actually claim they are the authors. How could that be?

I am 99 years old. I have no agenda...except to show those who are interested, how a first-generation Italian-American viewed the World in the 20th century....and most importantly, to keep my brain creating for as long as I can.

I'm getting tired now......will catch-up with you tomorrow, or the following day with the 1978 version.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Joy of Growing-up Italian

Hi! Everyone:

For several weeks , I've been very busy surfing the internet, seeking those who have placed the essay "The Joy of Growing-up Italian" on the Internet as Author Anonymous. I want to thank each and everyone for doing so. What a great show of appreciation! Several of you have also expressed a desire to know the author and John Pirelli is one of them. I believe he is the proprietor of The John Pirelli Lodge in Dayton, Ohio. Thank you , John, for your kind words.

YES! I am 99 years old.....and YES I am the author of "THE Joy of Growing-up Italian, which I wrote on an old manual typewriter in 1968.....and yes, I am The Oldest Blogger on Earth until someone else older than me claims the title. . The validator is Eric Shackle....the renowned World Newsman, Journalist, Internet Investigator and Publisher - to whom I shall eternally be grateful. It was my first blog that resulted in my being named as the oldest blogger....and it was my first blog, unwittingly, caused reaction to my essay The Joy of Growing-up Italian.

My essay gave me much pleasure over the years, especially in the seventies and eighties. Many paesan-friends, who had experienced all that I had were so delighted when they read my essay. When I lived in Toms River, N.J., I know for a fact, that my friends in Silver Ridge Park, as well as those in Holiday City, Crestwood Village, and several nearby communities, took my essay and made copies for their respective friends throughout the United States. I nearly fell-off of my chair, when Claire in 2006 told me it was on the Internet. When I was 95-years old, I wrote my last version after a Thanksgiving celebration in my apartment, and I marked it as the last version. It is very similar to the 1978-1980 to facts, words and phrases (except that I moved them around a little) and added a new paragraph. ....bringing it to the 'first person'.

To those who took my words, thoughts and phrases (which MY BRAIN created) and used them to be their words, I hold no animosity. Years ago someone coined these words: "Imitation is the greatest form of Flattery" I only ask them to read my future blogs and then to return to me the RIGHT to my essay.

See you later.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Never to Late to Learn -9/3/2009

Here I am again. I received several comments on my first blog which gave me the incentive to go on blogging. In fact, I have found out that I do not know much about it and have spoken to Vivian, a representative of SeniorNet, to see if the new learning sessions at Kent Library (which will be starting in several weeks) will include a workshop. She promised to look into it. I hope it will become a reality, because I really hate to call on my daughter for solutions to computer technical problems.

I became a single Mom in 1948. I re-entered the business-world in 1949 until I retired at the age of 80 in 1990. During most of this time, I kept it a secret that I was a divorcee; it was considered very scandalous to be one. You must remember this: I had to make a living for me and my children. My parents were aging; there was no monetary support for the children and no alimony; and I worked at two different jobs, daily, for about ten years...until I reached the status of Executive Secretary. My children (then only 5, 7 and 9) attended boarding school in Dutchess County (Greer School in Verbank, New York) with only holiday visits and summer vacations at home with me and grandparents.. They lived with me just a few years. Tom, in college, came home one day: "Mom, I must fly." Off to Texas, to eventually serve two missions in Vietnam, and retire as an Air Force Major. Floyd found an interest in Horses, spent lots of his time in libraries, even as a very young boy, reading about horses, and accomplishments of world leaders in the early centuries. In his late teens, he dropped out of college and enlisted in the Army with duties in the States and in France. He came back home to work as an Agent for Eastern Airlines,; then retired from American Eagle as Manager of the Washington, D.C. Office Angela attended New York University and then worked and retired from Social Services.
Angela went back to work to be able to send her son, Christopher, to Berlee College in Boston. She retired once more, but she is now in the throes of a more difficult job: at my beck and call when I get into a computer-technical problem I have a lot to learn. As far as Christopher
is concerned: he is one of the lucky graduates, in this very bad economy; he has become a wonderful muscian and works as a sound designer for video games.

I'm a "saver" and a "clipper" and among my papers are My Memories. When I was 96 years old, on one of my frequent trips to Kent Library to see about signing-up for a computer course, a SeniorNet representative, Adrian Baker, suggested that I write my biiography, so I signed-up for the SeniorNet Life-Bio course, as well as the computer course. Since I am now a blogger, what better way is there to tell the world "NEVER GIVE UP". I survived by never feeling sorry for myself, doing the best that I could. I was working all the time; I never had time to be depressed. Work doing something - anything, but do something. Keep your brain working: Use it or lose it. I'm writing my biography to inform all those that I love: ....How I overcame adversities.....How I enjoyed the many amenities life offered.....My reaction to the new inventions of the past century (the airplane, private-indoor cleanliness facilities, the telephone, the automobile, the radio, the television, the lost art of stenography 'shorthand', and now the computer).....How and why thoughts rattled through my brain.....How ideas which popped into my head became creative tools.....How I frequently used the attitudes of "I CAN DO" and "I WANT TO" to become positive attitudes, instead of embracing negative attitudes, such as, I CAN'T DO" and "I DON'T WANT TO".....and most of all,, How and why I loved and showed compassion to those who passed in front of me.

These are the reasons for my interest in Life-Bio: to show how I survived, and to help them avoid the mistakes I made. I have found during my long tenure on this Earth that gifts of money and material things are insignificant compared to the gift of knowing WHERE YOU CAME FROM and WHO YOU ARE.

With the World changing so rapidly, my advice to all retirees is to scan your brain for all those MEMORIES, and start writing your biograph.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Before I begin blogging, I want to pose a question to the Bloggers of the World: Am I now the oldest blogger on Earth? Even though a famous department store (which shall remain unnamed for the time being) declared my birth-datei invalid when I applied for a credit card recently, I was able to convince them, that it is still valid even thopugh I am 99 years old. And when my son Floyd who lives in San Diego, California visited me recently to celebrate my birthday, he convinced me to become a blogger...and that I now would be the oldest blogger on Earth. He came to this conclusion after scrolling through the Internet and read that the two oldest bloggers, at the age of 109, had recently passed away....Olive Riley on July 12 in Australia; and Ruth Hamilton on January 18 in Florida.

I was born in Brooklyn, New York, USA in 1910 to Italian immigrants, and I grew up so deeply ingrained in the Italian culture that I didn't realize until I was in my very early teens, that I was an American.

Many years slowly passed by, and after my beloved parents left this Earth for greener pastures, it became the custom for my family to gather at my house for special occasions. They came from Long Island: Centereach, Baldwin, and West Hempstead; from Brooklyn, N.Y.; from Sherburne, N.Y.; from Alexandria, Va. and even Burlington, Vt. All participated in the festivities, enjoyed the comraderie, and filled their bellies with real Italian food with all the trimmings. Then after three or four days, and sometimes a week, all departed.

One day in 1968, after a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration...and coming home from a rather hectic and busy day at the office, I entered an empty house. Alone and feeling somewhat nostalgic for the good old-times, I sat down at my kitchen table, and on an old manual typewriter typed "The Joys of Growing-up

Italian", jottting down random thoughts, regardless of gender or tense (past, present or future). Then after only a few friends and family members received a copy, I just placed it in a drawer and forgot about it. I did not come across it again until the Year 1976, when I moved to a beautiful house on the top of a small mountain in South Otselic, New York. Surrounded by forests, cornfields, dairy farms and down-to-earth country folk, I thought I was in Heaven. That particular area generated only a few paesans (Italians). As soon as I became acquainted with them, I eagerly presented them with a copy of my newly found essay.

The Winter of 1977-1978 found St. Otselic's roads rather impassable for a city-bred girl. Over 10-feet of snow was piled up in my driveway., and I would have been confined in my home all winter, if it wasn't for the generosity of the farmers, who came to pick-me-up with their tractors for special appointments I had to keep. My daughter Angela's concern for my well-being guided me into a new direction. Once more I packed my belongings and dropped the baggage in a small lovely house in a senior development known as Silver Ridge Park in Toms River, New Jersey. There, I suddenly found myself , once again, engulfed in the Italian culture. Without saying too much more, many copies were made of "The Joys of Growing-up Italian, and I gladly distributed it throughout the Village.

I refined the essay in 1980, and again several more times...correcting grammer, genders, tenses and punctuation, etc. As I became older, all one had to mention is that he/she was of Italian descent, and off went a copy of my essay. This happened quite frequently, no matter where I wandered: on trains, buses, and even on airplanes. Addresses were exchanged and new friends were borne.

Several year's ago, at a meeting of the Golden Age Seniors in Patterson, New York, next to me sat Claire. (Oh, let me shy away from my story and let me tell you something funny about Claire. She and her sister Connie live in a lovely estate in Connecticut, whose grounds are beautifully manicured and embellished with exotic plants and bushes. One day, she discovered that an unknown stranger had taken up residency on her and lodging free. The stranger roams freely and frequently visits others in the neighborhood Each time he returns, he makes his presence known by tapping on Claire's back-porch. As soon as Claire or Connie glance through the plate-glass door, he strolls into a slow-dance, he spreads his tail into the shape of a fan, and shimmers magnificently with rainbow colors. What a show-off! But really, how can a Peacock say "I'm home!".) Now let's get back to my story. As Claire and I were engaged in a pleasant conversation, I learned she is a "paesan". Immediately I made known to her that I was the author of the essay "The Joys of Growing-up Italian" on which I had received many compliments over the years. A startled look crossed her face, and in a subdued tone said: "Elvira, its on the Internet". All Hell broke loose! I'm being plagarized!

I wll continue with this diatribe the next time I blog, if you find it interesting.