Jillian-the-Fox keeps inspiring my posts, (which is strange, because I know she doesn’t like writing prompts), and her post this week about her mother in NYC reminded me of my mother’s New York tales. This one involves my mother and her mother.
My grandmother was from a sleepy little village north of Rome. She was knowledgeable in many areas concerning life. She was a fantastic housekeeper and from everyone’s perspective, a magical cook, but until she married my teacher grandfather, she could not read or write. He promptly taught her well, but in Italian; she never truly learned English. When they immigrated to America, my grandfather chose to settle in a sleepy little town in northeastern Pennsylvania.(Despite my title it is not Pennsylvania Dutch Country.)
My grandfather was in his mid-forties and my grandmother was a widow in her thirties with 3 sons when they married. My grandparents had five children of their own in quick succession with my mother as the youngest, or so they thought. When their mother was 47 and their father was 61, they had a set of the most beautiful identical twin daughters you have ever seen.
The Kids,(as they were referred to all of their lives by the other siblings), were not yet out of high school when their father died. When they had graduated they moved to New York City to be with my mother and an older sister, who were there working as secretaries, and they took their mother along.(Every one of the daughters became executive secretaries; their high school ‘Business Course’ for women was rigid and equivalent to a secretarial college.)
One morning my grandmother ran in to the room where the girls were sleeping, all excited, shaking them and saying, (in Italian):“Get up! The alarm didn’t go off! You’re late for work!” The four young women hustled about, vying for the one bathroom and scurrying around until one of them noticed that it was still dark outside. My mother looked at the clock; it was 3AM. Before she, the older sister and The Kids went back to bed, one asked their asked their mother,(in Italian), why she thought they were late, and she answered,(in Italian),”I heard the train.” My grandmother was surprised to learn at that moment that the trains in New York run all night.
It’s still amazing to me that not one of them thought to check a clock upon being awakened, as I think that would have been my first action. But I guess most of the time, about time, you just don’t question your mother.