Sunday, July 10, 2016

Theresa, 84

The listening ear project Theresa

Theresa, 84, born to parents of Sicilian immigrants in Brooklyn, New York. 

We lived in a tenement house in Brooklyn and my Aunt Millie lived on the top floor with her husband, Andrew. We all had the same entrance on the street, but each floor had a front door that went into the apartment. My grandparents lived on the middle floor and we lived on the bottom. My grandparents spoke Italian at home, but they knew enough English to speak to us. 

We would get together for Sunday dinners at Grandma's house and she would go to church early and then come back and make the meal. Usually, we would have spaghetti or something Italian, like Braciole. We had a dumbwaiter and my mother would send the food up from the bottom floor. 

For our big Sunday dinner, my brother and I used to go to the pub down the street and buy the beer for the adults. They let us kids do that. I drew pictures of each floor and room —I can remember them perfectly. 

I was 6 when my mom passed away. She had a heart infection that could have been treated today with penicillin. In Brooklyn, we went to what must have been a Catholic school, because we wore black pleated skirts and white blouse with white hose and black shoes. It was a uniform that we had to wear to school. I was always scared of the nuns, they were strict and wore black head-to-toe and were kind of spooky.

Submitted by: Heather Colby, Boise, ID

Old photo of little girl wearing white clothing

I wasn't 10 yet when the war broke out. My girlfriend, Betty, had the farm [in Annandale, Virginia] and I'd go over to her house and play with her, and we'd go out to the little creek behind and go skinny dipping. We felt like there was somebody watching us, so one day we went in the woods and we found an Indian tent. It was a teepee that looked like Indians were living in it. Some Indian boys lived in there and were spying on us while we were skinny dipping. 

When I went back in the '50s, the freeway had gone through those woods and everything had changed by that time. When we lived in Virginia, everyone called me “Yankee” because I was from New York. I was a Yankee Doodle!  

Submitted by: Heather Colby, Boise, ID

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