Life in Words
My earliest memory is of my brother's birth. He is a little over 2 years younger than me. He was born just 3 days before Christmas. The family story is about how my father was on his way to a company Christmas party when my mother went into labor. When the baby was born, the hospital left a message at the restaurant, as my Dad had no yet arrived, but several of my Dad's friends got the message first and headed to the hospital to see the new baby, the first boy. As the story goes, they all claimed parentage to have a chance to see the baby first.
In my memory, I am walking with my father, bundled up in a winter coat, up a very long set of stairs to the doors of the hospital. It's cold and there is snow on the edges of the stairs. Then there was a nurse, handing me a tiny sled with candy and a popcorn ball (which I had never see the likes of before). She said "This is a Christmas present from your new baby brother." And so ends the memory.
Things my Mother used to say
Since this blog is where I record whatever strikes my fancy, I thought it would be interesting to have a list of the "things my mother said." These are sayings and phrases that I remember her saying along with those of which my siblings reminded me. So here they are, in no particular order:
Rev. Charles Alexander Ross
Reverend Charles Alexander Ross is the great-grandfather of a good friend of mine. He was born on 12 Nov 1883 in Newburgh, New York, USA as the fifth child of George Monroe Ross and Carolyn Lawson. When he was 24, he married Nanny (Annie) Maclennan Merritt, daughter of John Merritt and Annie MacDonald, on 18 Sep 1908 in New York, New York, USA. He died in Aug 1973 in Pleasant Valley, Dutchess, New York, USA. He was a minister in Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian churches throughout his career.
At the time of the 1940 Census he was living at 580 Westminster Avenue in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He rented his home for $85/month (about $1700 in 2022 dollars). His wife, Nanny M answered the census questions. Their daughters Elizabeth and Antoinette were still at home. He was 56 years old and Nanny, his wife was 51. Both Charles and Nanny had high school educations. Charles was born in New York while Nanny was born in Scotland. In 1935, the family was living in Rutherford, New Jersey. Charles' occupation was listed as Clergyman and Nanny reported that he worked 50 hours in the previous week. According to the 1930 Census, Charles served in a World War I. Below are a service record and draft registration card for Charles Ross.
This short summary is, obviously just a tiny bit about who he was. I found a great deal more information about him at Newspapers.com. He was apparently a very charismatic preacher. He showed up in Newspapers.com almost once a decade for his sermons. He had the entire text of one his farewell sermon in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on September 15, 1919.
He preached for many years and ended up in the newspaper again in 1962, in the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Charles Ross and Annie (Nanny) Maclennan Merritt had 4 children: Jean, Ruth, Elizabeth and Antoinette. Ruth Ross is the grandmother of my friend. She married Merle Alden Reed and with him had 3 children: David Merle, Peter Charles and Carol Ann Reed.
Just saw a cute Facebook post that mentions contrapposto, a word I had never heard before. It's an Italian word that means "counterpoise." According to Wikipedia, it is used in the visual arts to describe a human figure standing with most of it's weight on one foot so that its shoulders and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs in the axial plane.
Based on these old photos of my Dad, he learned the visual value of the contrapposto and used it to his advantage. Of course I am biased, but what a good looking guy he was.
My Noni, Pauline (Palmira) Savio Osto was an immigrant to the United States from Borgoricco, Padua, Venice, Italy. She arrived in March of 1928, having just turned 16 years old. She came alone because her parents, who had had 2 sons in the United States since their own immigration, sent for her. The ship she arrived on was called the Conte Grande and it departed from the port of Genoa, Italy. She could not read or write (never did learn) and she arrived with $25. Which, I guess, back then was a fairly large sum (my guess is based on the rent that she and Primo paid for the house they were renting in 1940.)
I think it's interesting that the column next to nationality (Italian) is for "race or people" the Italians were divided into Northern and Southern Italian. As a child I didn't recognize what an important difference this was; I have Italian grandparents on both sides. However, on my mother's side, they are all Southern Italians from the Naples area and on my father's side, they are all Northern Italians from the Venice area.
A story I didn't know until I was nearly married was that Noni grew up thinking that her Aunt Virginia Borlini, was her mother. When they told her that her parents were sending for her to go to the United States, she hid in the barn for three days to try to avoid having to go. I wonder too about her parents.... Noni was born in March of 1913. Caterina Borlin Savio and her husband Riccardo Savio arrived in the United States in December 1913. This means that they abandoned their first-born at the age of 9 months. My Noni lived her early life thinking her aunt was her mother. Why would a couple leave their so very young child behind?
By the time of the 1930 Census, Noni was living with her parents, two brothers and a boarder in their home named Primo Osto. She was 17 years old and working as an operator in an asbestos plant. She could not read or write, nor did she speak much English.
I found another interesting story about her in Newspapers.com. Apparently, when she was 18 years old she had been sent to live with her Uncle Luigi Borlin. Unhappy with this, she convinced her cousin Lena Borlin to run away with her. Here are two newspaper articles that talk about the runaways. I love the line in the longer one that had these gems:
Pauline stated to the officer that she had been punished at home and it was because of resentment that she decided to leave.
She was rather handicapped however.... knows but little English, but is quite proficient in the Italian.
For those who knew her, can't you just imagine the flood of indignant Italian that must have flowed forth following being "caught" by the police.
Spirited and unconventional Noni's story gets more interesting when it comes to her children, but that's a story for another day. Noni married Primo Osto, the boarder in her family's home in New Jersey; he was also working as a dye operator in a local factory. He was 15 years older than she was.
By the 1940 Census they were renting a house of their own and had two children; my aunt Gloria and my Dad (Felio) He's listed on the Census as being named Lawrence. My Dad had many names, but that's also a story for another day. They lived in the house next door to Noni's parents.
Noni raised her three children primarily on her own; since Primo was much older than she was and was at some point injured at work. He left his family here in the US and returned to Italy and died in the mid 1970's.
Noni was an avid gardener and her gardens were everywhere around her house on Finderne Avenue in Bridgewater, New Jersey. One of the stories she told was that when she was pregnant with my Dad she helped her husband bring in stone for the foundations of the house. My uncle Leon still lives in that house.
Whenever we would go to visit, we always set up a table outdoors. In fact the only time I can remember eating indoors at my Noni's house was when we went there for Thanksgiving Dinner.
Growing up, I heard two "main" story-lines about my grandmother, Rose (Rosa) Cornelia Matthews Marotto. The first was about her having sold her cow to move north.
The story goes that she wanted to move north to become a nurse, but her grandfather wouldn't give her the money, so she sold her cow to afford to move from North Carolina to New York.
The other story was about the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). My mother attended a DAR tea with a friend of hers and was sooo impressed with how lovely it all was (white gloves and all). My grandmother, Rose, told my Mom "You could belong to the DAR too. We have ancestors who fought in the revolution." More on this later... I will write on how I finally found the connection that allowed us to become members of the DAR. But on with the story of Rose's Cow....
I headed to my favorite resource, Ancestry.com, and started digging. According to the 1930 Census, Rosa was living at home at the age of 18 (her younger sister, Hettibelle had already, at the age of 16 years, married and moved out.) That was another story....
that Hettie Belle had married the man Rose wanted, Claudie Rose. But then her name would have been Rose Rose. At any rate, at the time of the 1930 Census, Rose was still living with her parents in Roanoke Township, North Carolina (street address: Jackson and Gum Fork Road). Our next touchpoint is the 1940 Census where Rose shows up as married with 2 children.
The story gets a little more interesting when we add in my DNA results. Turns out I found two people, who I had never heard of before. They each showed up as a "close relative" of mine. Not understanding how such a thing was possible, I started to dig a little deeper into the tree of this "close relative." I looked at the tree that was posted online to try to find some family connection, but there was nothing.
Finding no connection except that Robert Sandman was born in New Jersey, I took a leap and reached out via email to Robert's daughter to ask if her father was adopted and she said Yes! That her father found out after his mother's funeral that he was not her biological son. So, he lived his whole life not knowing, and when he did find out, the one person who could have given him information, had passed away. Robyn and Robert searched all over New Jersey to find a birth certificate, but there wasn't one. They only found his birth recorded in a registration book. So, we don't have any "paper proof" that would stand up to scrutiny, but we have the DNA results, the interesting timing of Rose's move north and the timing of Robert's birth.
So, Is that why her grandfather wouldn't give her money to come North, because she was already pregnant with Robert? We don't have any way of knowing the truth, but what an interesting story DNA can tell us!
I was visited by both my parents the other day, which wouldn't be the least bit strange, except they are both deceased. One of the unfortunate consequences of parenting is that the things we say get embedded into the internal voices of our children and those voices persist.
I am heading toward my wise-woman years and some of the parental voices are just as loud as ever. Unlike some who have one harsh or negative voice and one kind and loving, I unfortunately have both my parents voices as negative and judgmental. With the result that I have been cursed with voices that shame me and drag me down. I always know that I am headed for emotional trouble when I can hear in my head, practically in their exact intonations, "What's WRONG with you?" How can this be overcome? I am not entirely sure, but I feel it has to do with naming the voices and even perhaps dialoging with them to find out why in the name of all that's holy they are still plaguing you decades after the actual words were spoken.
Maybe next time my parents visit, they will have something nicer to say.
I have been keeping a journal (off and on) since I was 10 years old (that's a long time!) I had them in boxes in the attic and they've been through several moves with us. I decided to take them out and put them in my "writing cave" to see if they can inspire me or offer me any wisdom from my past self. Here's something I found that I wrote in 1984.
If I only knew how to give power to the words.
If I only could utter some magic and make the words become real. They would stir your emotions. The words could make you cry in despair, laugh in joy. They would make your heart pound in anticipation, your palms moisten with fear. Words are lifeless without a creator. They are lines of symbols pressed together randomly on a page.
If I only knew how to make the words speak to your soul. Make them fit together and blend as the threads of fine linen.
If I only knew how to give the words substance, I would no longer be powerless. My words would shake your soul, move your heart, inspire your actions. My words would live.
If I only knew how to make my words speak.
So, that's what I wished for.
Row, Row, Row your Boat
Growing up, Mr. Rogers was a staple in our house. We not only watched him on TV but my mother also had some vinyl records (now I'm really dating myself) of his songs. This one always made my mother laugh, so I remember it well.
When my children were growing up, we also listened to Mr. Roger's songs on audio tapes, especially when they were at Grandma's house. When my daughter was very young (3 probably) she had her own words, which make me smile:
Roly, Roly Bump
Gently down a tree
Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary
Laugh about a dream
So, what really is the meaning of this poem/song particularly because King Friday's version contains the very Zen statement "Existence is but an Illusion." I found this great possible meaning online at InspireMore.com
Price Ea, a socail media personality known for his inspiring messages, took to facebook with an explanation for the life changing meaning behind the song.
Welcome! I’m Joanne and this is my little corner of the internet. Thanks for stopping by!
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