Saturday, January 23, 2010

Conversation with Sal

I wrote the following in my Life-Bio Class at the Kent Library about a conversation I had with Sal on August 30, 2006....and I think its appropiate to remember it today with all the commentary about Port-au-Prince, Haiti....and the fact that I just remembered Sal had a birthday several days ago; he's now 68....and as soon as I post this, I will place a call to him.

"Sal called me this afternoon....and its still raining. Sal is my nephew, the son of Alfred, the youngest of my four brothers....and I am the only surviving aunt. Sal lives on Long Island and some time has passed since I last spoke to him. You just can't imagine how happy I was to hear his voice. 'Hello, Aunt Elvira, this is Sal.' After a few pleasantries, he asked: 'What mischief have you been up to?' 'Sal, how much time do you have.' "As much time as you want....and , guess what! I was the one that requested 'we call it a day', after we talked (or rather, I talked) for two hours and twenty-five minutes. Sal wanted to keep going, but 'Okay, Aunt Elvira, I will talk to you again real soon."

You may ask: Why did Sal want to continue talking after being on the phone so long. Well, we happened to be talking about the weather, and about the hurricane over Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and Haiti....and we were wondering what ever possessed Seeley (my granddaughter) to buy a Condo and some waterside property in the Dominican Republic, where it was so close to Haiti: such an impoverished and chaotic country. And, then, I very casually said: 'I wonder how our relatives are faring in Port-au-Prince.' And Sal, believing I was jesting: 'Ha! ha! Its a good thing we don't have any there.' 'What do you mean, Sal; maybe my generation of cousins is gone, but all their children are there.' I could sense the disbelief, but still laughing: 'Are you saying, Aunt Elvira, that there are Sperduto's in Haiti, lots of them.' 'Yes, the children of my male-cousins...Nick is one of them...and Gerardo, a doctor, would be Sperduto's, but the children of my female-cousins would probably have french names.

I won't go into that phase of my story here; it is rather a lenthy chapter in my biography. Sal, who is now 64 years old, knew absolutely nothing about the family in Haiti...about my Father's younger brother, Michaela-Arcangelo, a maker of shoes, who with his Italian blonde bride, left Italy in 1902 to migrate to Port-au-Prince Haiti. He was the first man to manufacture low-cost shoes in Haiti and made them available to the poor inhabitants. When his oldest daughter Concetta (pronounced con-che-ta) was seventeen, she was sent to live with my family in Brooklyn, New York in order to seek a husband of similar ethnicity, as there were very few available in Haiti.

Sal was so fascinated and intrigued by the facts I revealed. And it was the mere mention of the weather over Cuba and its neighbors that triggered my brain with memories long forgotten."

Just a reminder......The above was written by me on August 30, 2006. And now I shall call Sal and belatedly extend my best wishes for a happy and healthy 68th birthday and many more years.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Neighbor Milton Madans

I have just returned from the Cargain Funeral Home where I went to say Goodbye to my dear neighbor Milton Madans, who passed away last Tuesday morning, January 19th. 2010...and to offer my condolences to his family.

Although today is a sad day, it's also a beautiful day, with lots of sunshine...and nary a cloud in the sky to obscure seven years of vivid memories of a lovely man.

Milton....a tall, quiet, unassuming gentleman...a very quiet intellectual man...a man who loved his family, his friends and neighbors, and his home. And he loved Nature: I never saw such gorgeous spider-plants, growing magnificently in the inner sunshine of his apartment window. He loved working with wood as was remarkably noticeable by some of his objects and furniture. I wonder what has happened to the rocking horses he made some years ago! I hope they are in the hands of someone who will appreciate and treasure the skills of a talented ancestor...and perhaps sometime in the future reveal that he or she may have inherited the same skills.

(To Milton: I'm "mad at you" Milton. Not once did you refer to your military service. I am so proud of my two sons, Thomas and Floyd, that I unabashedly sing their praises for serving in the Air Force and Army. For me, and for a just cause, there is nothing greater than to lay down your life for your fellowman. I was so surprised and very happy to see that our Government, present to your family, the Flag of the United States of America in gratitude for the services you performed many years ago.

Goodby, Milton! May you Rest in Peace.

P.S. Come back once-in-a-while....and say "hello"}.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

World War-I Parody

Happy New Year!

If you have been wondering why I have not blogged for almost a month, the answer is simply that I have been preparing for the holidays and the new year. What used to take me a few minutes to accomplish, now takes me an hour. My Mother used to say that whatever was the appearance of your house on the last day of the year, THAT would be it for the next year. So true to tradition, I have been clearing out drawers, closets, cabinets and my files. The job is not complete, but it will have to do for the time being.

Several weeks ago, I awoke in the middle of the night from a dream, in which..............

I was sitting on a bench in front of our grocery store with my sister Rose, when we saw our cousin Connie strolling down the street towards us, and happily singing a song. Connie was about 17 years old and I about 13. In those far off days (about 1923), the Facts of Life were grnerally acquired outside of the home, and Connie usually prided herself on being the informant of carnal knowledge to the innocent adoloscent girls on Atlantic Avenue. In the dream, Connie joined us and proceeded to teach us the words of the song, although Rose and I had no idea what the words meant. We kept singing the song over and over again, when suddenly....I awoke from the dream. I turned on the light and immediately started to jot down the words on a note pad. But just to show you how the mind works.....awake, I could recall only a few scattered words and lines. Back to sleep....and miraculously, I flowed into the same dream....Connie was still there...and we continued to sing. Fully awake in the morning, I kept humming the melody....and every once-in-a while, several words or lines would be revealed. After several days of humming, I was able to recall all of the words to the song. For the past 75 years, I don't ever recall hearing those words before. Why! I do not know and I have been pondering ever since. Perhaps its because the news today dwells on war topics and the endurance of our brave soldiers, I am completely ignorant of the mechanics of The Brain, but somehow I believe the news I read today has triggered the memories of previous wars. For instance, for many years after World War-I, the Government maintained the Brooklyn Navy Yard ....and on any day, you would see many sailors walk the streets of Brooklyn , with their bell-bottom pants flouncing in the breeze. It was a beautiful sight to see!

Christmas was celebrated at my daughter"s house...and after a sumptuous dinner, we sat around and talked. I recanted all of the above facts, and all those present (including my three adult grandchildren with impeccable reputations) insisted I sing the song, even though I thought it was risque. After my rather raspy melody, there was lots of chuckling and laughter; the comments were "BLOG it, Grandma; it shows how life was lived in your morality was viewed in those days....what a difference from today". So here it is:

When I was young and foolish, it was my heart's delight
To go to balls and dances, and stay out late at night
It was at a ball I met him, and he asked me for a dance
I knew he was a sailor by looking down at his pants
His shoes were brightly polished, his hair was neatly combed
I danced with him all evening, and then he begged me home
It was in my Father's hallway where I was led astray
It was in my Father's hallway where I was forced to lay
Now girls, now girls, take warning
Now girls take warning from me
Never let a sailor get an inch above your knees
For he will say he loves you
And he'll swear that it is true
But when he gets just what he wants
He'll say...To hell with you.

Then I was asked if I remembered other songs or parodies depicting morality during the 1920's and 1930's.....and here is one:

You're the kind of a girl that men forget,
Just a toy to enjoy for a while
For when men settle down, they always get
An old-fashion girl, with an old-fashion smile
And you'll soon realize, you're not so wise
When the years will bring you tears of regret
And when they play...Here Comes the Bride
You'll stand outside
Just a girl that men forget.

Yes, things have changed!......and I think it all began, when women who worked in War Plants during World War-II, were required to wear pants for protective purposes. However, when the war ended and the heroes returned home, the women forgot to take the pants off. Which reminds me of an incident, just a short time ago, at a social gathering of local women; soneone turned to me and said: "Elvira, I dont recall ever seeing you in a pant-suit. How come?" I was taken by surprise, and since I didn't want to offend anyone, I replied: "Well, let's put it this way! See that door! If a beautiful woman, dressed in a very stylish pant-suit came through it, I'm sure you would all look and say Georgeous! Wonderful!. But, if a handsome man wearing a lovely dress entered, what would be your re-action?" No one offered a response.

Until next time......Good Night.