Growing up in the Depression Years
My early childhood was unusual at best. I can remember my two sisters and my mother and living in a large house with Grandparents. My Father deserted us soon after I was born. I was told the story when I had grown to an age of understanding the facts of life. My mother worked constantly and I was left in the care of my sisters who were six and seven years older than I. They supervised my schooling and made sure I ate my lunch each day. We grew up poor but all my friends were poor, therefore we never knew we were poor. My Grandmother spoke only Italaina.Through hand gestures and words I usually knew what she wanted me to do. For example she would put up two fingers and say " andare compare due oova" Translated she wanted me to go to the store and buy her two eggs and she gave me four pennies. Each egg was two cents.
I reached eight grade in school and my Mother explained to me that we were moving into her mother's house in South Philadelphia on 12th Street. Living in the house where my sisters had their own room, and I shared a room with my Uncle John. It was the most enjoyable time of my life. My two Uncles treated me like a son they never had. John never married and Mike's wife had died. My Grandfather loved to play checkers and at times we would play for hours. Because of the hostile neighborhood in South Philadelphia, my Uncles monitored my activities. I played High School Football and I would see one of them on the side lines. If I played basketball at the local boys club, somewhere during the game one would show up. They never stayed long. Just a brief check.
I learned to play an Accordion and my Uncles would come into the room where I practiced. and ask me to play some Italian songs. I loved the house and my Mother's family.The high ceilings, the Grand Piano in the living room, and a glass chandelier dominating the living room. Some of my close friends played musical instruments and on occasions we tried playing together. A piano,clarinet ,two guitars and trumpet never blended well. We really needed a musical director. The Mothers in South Philadelphia had the idea that if you practice after school you would be off the streets during the hostile hours of school dismissal. Each year a group of the Souh Philadelphia boyhood friends would meet for lunch, Unfortinatly ,there are only three of us left. We still meet each year..We often talked about the New Year eves party that we would celebrate .Each of us had to have date..The last party we had my date was Catherine the girl I married..That was the year trhat Wedding Bells hit most of the group and the parties ended..
But all good things end quickly in my life. My mother notified me that we would be movng to a house of our own, because my sister Mary was getting married and we would be living together in the house. I began feeling sorry for myself because I knew that I would miss my Uncles and my Grandparents, but times were changing rapidly. I was notified that I was being drafted into the armed services...
About the author
I neglected to talk with my grandparents before they passed and would love to hear more from someone who was there.
One thing you did not lack, it appears, is love and caring from your family. I liked reading about your uncles showing up at games to make sure you were doing okay. Thank you for sharing your story.
Thanks for the glimpse into your childhood. It provides the lessons of the day and that when adversity strikes, the family leans on one another even to the point of sharing the household. Great snippet of your life. I look forward to reading more from you soon.