Saturday, July 15, 2017

Nana Mary

             During the very hot summer of 1953, My mother was worried about the treatment I was getting from my father and my sister. I was 6 years old and they both were abusive and mean to me. My mother was worried about me and she did all that she could do to protect me from them, and finally she took drastic action. She decided on a hot summer morning during that summer of 1953 to send me to Connecticut to Nana Mary’s. Now Nana Mary was not my nana. When I was really young even younger than my precious 6 years that I was that hot summer of 1953, I could not pronounce Nana’s name which was Anna Mary. It came out as Nana Mary and that’s what I called her.
             She was beautiful. Italian with dark hair like my mom’s and with a sad smile that was sexy to all the men who were attracted to her and came to adore her. I adored her and my mother also adored her best friend. Nana had 3 sons Tony the oldest, Richard the middle boy and Joey who was her youngest and was severely mentally retarded as it was known back in those days.
              So on a hot Saturday of 93 degrees we took the subway from Brooklyn to The Grand Central Station and took a train to Moodus Conneticut where Nana Mary lived on a small farm with her 3 sons and no husband. Nana had been married three times and had her sons with each husband before they either died or left. I vaguely remember the third husband a stapling red headed Irish man who was a fireman and worked out of our local firehouse not far from our small apartment.
                  I can still smell the oil and grease of the place, and always stick my head in any firehouse that I might pass on my walks in the city, where I’m hit with the coolness and smells of the place, and the memories of my childhood. There was no air conditioning on the subways back then, so everyone tried to sit under or close to the old slow moving fans that hung from the low ceilings of the cars, and we barely moved much.
                I had my little suitcase that was packed with my summer clothes along with a big pad and a big box of Crayola Crayons but no swim suit even though there was a small lake near the farm. My mother made a point of telling Nana that I was not to go near the lake or to go swimming. I didn’t know how to swim and never would learn. My mother had a fear of water because an uncle had drowned in the ocean when she was young, and this caused her to be loud, vocal and fearful about my water activities  which didn’t exist.  I had never been to Grand Central Station and I was in awe of it, what 6 year old wouldn’t be. The size of it was overwhelming for this child and all those people rushing about made me dizzy and excited.  I held my mother’s hand and didn’t stop looking up and around me ,and ah the coolness of the space. I wanted to move there, but instead we got on a sleek early 50’s train and were gone from the city. My mother left my father a note “Gone for a while.” And that was it, and that was that.

To be continued.


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