Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nana, from Christopher

 My grandmother is named Edna, known as Nana to me. She lives in a perpetual dual with my grandfather, and holds court every day beginning at 4:30, cocktail hour. She read every day during her afternoon nap, and before she went to bed. Now she listens to books because of her failing eyesight, courtesy the US government, through a program like Netflix, but for books on tapes. She grew up on a Masonic farm in Wisconsin, with a monkey. Her father and mother moved to Racine, her mother became a short-order cook, and so did Nana. Nana is partly Danish, identifies as Danish; she fed us herring, traditional Danish pastries like evascures and kringle, pumpernickel.  We called her closest elder sister Tootie, though she was christened Florence. Until Tootie’s death, they played bridge together with old friends every week. Nana married Emil, my grandfather, the beginning is shrouded in mystery. Edna and Emil have five children, twelve grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. She helped to take care of me for some weeks after I was born on an air force base in Illinois, and she gave me my first book, well before I could read, I still have it, it is called “Christopher for President.”

Terry Ross, from Susanne

Terry Ross is a charismatic woman, mother, grandmother, entertainer, and friend.  She lives in Miami and turned 85-years old on November 11th, 2009.  Terry often shares fascinating stories when she plays (and usually beats) opponents in Scrabble.  Further, she still entertains family, friends, and community members with her songs and stories.  Terry recently mentioned the following story: 
“My Russian grandmother from the city of Omsk would dress up her two teenage boys (my uncle and father) in girl outfits in order to deter the Russian Army from recruiting her boys as soldiers for the war.  Further, the two teenage boys would travel incognito to Riga, Latvia to stay with relatives until the army recruiters left their hometown of Omsk.  My father met my mother in Riga, Latvia.  And so the story of my life was written…” 

Eliza, from Ilene

Eliza was a very tinny woman, she lived to be 94 or 96 years old.
She came from Canada, her husband was 40 years old when he died.
Eliza had 12 children; she was a powerhouse, the champion of bowling, league one.
She gave you big bear hugs.

Mattie Carolle, from Matthew

Mattie Carolle, my mother has advanced Alzheimer, I do not know where she is.
She is hidden away form me, I am so angry.
She had 7 children, no one tell me how to find her, I can’t go where she is. I consider myself a man without family.
My grand mother had 11 children, 10 girls and a boy.
My mother was the youngest…There is an inexpressible rage within me.

From Juan

 "Little Man" was a name given to my by the counselors who looked at me ( due to my silence and obedience). 
Marie Christine, when you shared with me, during your performance,  the story of the wife assisting her husband (drinking problem) and then asked me about my family - my thoughts and feelings were caught in a black hole.  Because there were so many spaces or paragraphs left out of my development as it relates to family experiences.  The main stream stuff anyway. 
A great period of my life has been spent away from my biological family.  The Orphanage, group home, college, university and job relations.  But family and one to one engaging was pretty much mute.  The family was a ratio of one to 45 or something like that.  One adult for every fifty children.  Total children of boys and girls was over, i guess, fifteen hundred or so.  Not sure but knew that there were a lot of kids being taken care of by wonderful nuns and a few counselors not of the cloth. 
Anyway, will not go further due to time and excitement in sharing this with you.  But by the time i was nineteen years old - i already died a thousand time and afraid of what was to come. 
Hope to continue -
Little Man...

Beatrice, from Maeda

Beatrice was from Poland, she came with 12 siblings. When she arrive in America her mother was hiding her youngest kids under her skirt.
Later on Beatrice stole money out of a cash register and bought IBM shares.

Meme, from Denise

lMy grandparents died when I was very young. They were from Canada.
New Years day was for us as important as Christmas. My grandmother use to make
Pets de Soeurs Pastry. All the family would join in, it was a big, humongous festival.
It was so special to go to Meme. To see recipe and history of Pets de Soeurs go to


Friday, November 13, 2009

Rose, from Ana

my grandma rose
my grandma rose and i shared the same grief.
she... lost her son and misty july morning, to a
boating accident, on the hudson river.
and i... lost my father and my brother.

for 23 years, i'd silently watch her wake and beat her chest.
when she was done... she would take me into the nook of her bosom...
and i would feel safe.

when she was laid to rest, it was a snowy december day.
without words, i watched as they laid her body beside her beloved son
and grandson.

she had found, home -- and i had lost one.

but sometimes...
even now...
if i close my eyes and inhale really deeply...

i can still smell her milky breast.

and i feel safe.

From David

My grandparents lived in Middle Village, our entire family would gather at their place for various celebrations. While all the grand kids were outside playing, my grandmother would prepare the meal or so we thought. When we were finally called in to eat, my grandfather always asked with a big smile in his eyes.“who make the best chicken in the world? and all the children would shout "grandma".Only years later did we discover that grandma's home baked chicken was really faithfully delivered By Chicken Delight.

Audrey,from Lisa

My grand mother Audrey owned a candy store in a flea market. When I was 5 or 6 years old my mum let me work with her. I was so excited to be with my grandmother.Sweets and candies surrounded me; there were so many varieties.My duties were to move boxes, arrange the candies and help the customers.
One day my grand mother took me to her upstairs neighbor to help 
her bake cookies.I ate so much cookie dough that I could not eat 
anything else for the entire day. 

Many years later, I am now a holistic health counselor
helping people find healthy alternatives to sweets and candies.

Jessy & Essy, from Leena

I grew up in Texas and never knew about my grandparents, they had died before I was born. However I had my aunts and uncles. My favorite aunts Jessie and Essy would prepare all the food for the family gathering, they took over the role of the grandparents.Jessy had the eggs and flour ready for baking; she would let me taste the dough.Later I would tell my mum that aunt Jessie could make a cake without using a box.Unlike my mum who always baked using premade cookie mix.My aunts gave me a perspective for the wisdom of women.

Raffaella Darelli (Ya Ya), from Michael

I spent most of my weekends as a child with my grandparents; we are of Irish-Norwegian and Italian descent.
My cousins and I would be playing and laughing always. Our great Aunt Raffaella Darelli told me endless stories about Lassie the dog. Raffaella (Ya Ya) and I would play using props and a box, recreating the TV show.
Raffaella was my favorite person in the whole world.
She passed away in the later 1970’s. Her husband Michael Darelli was an Italian born Downtown NYC bootlegger who died in the 1930’s. Michael Darelli had a gold and diamond ring with the initials MD that was gifted to me by Raffaella before her death, as I was her very dear pet nephew. Coincidentally Michael Darelli and I had the same initials.
In the very early eighties I lost the ring and then moved to a different state and residence. In the early 90’s
a woman called me to ask if I had lost a ring and that I please describe it to her. This angel of a person also happened to have the initials of MD as well!
She was living in my former house and was in the midst of having work done there.
While workmen were digging around the front entrance patio they found the ring that I had lost buried in 6 inches of soil for more than twenty years and gave it to her. She then tracked me down through former neighbors of ours from this old neighborhood. As they say, the rest is now history.
I have been wearing this ring ever since and will never ever remove it again. 

I’ll love you forever “Ya Ya”...


Thursday, November 12, 2009


My favorite grandmother passed away 15 years ago.
She used to bath me, as she knew I hated being in the water.
The tub was a metal basin perched on a tabletop outside in
the garden. One day during the bath ritual my grandmother was
bitten by a scorpion, she screamed but kept attending me so as to make sure I would not fall out of the tub.

From Michele

I never had any grandparents, so I think that's why I love listening to old people talk about their lives.

Rufus, from Marcelo

He was named Rufus because he liked being on a roof.Going up the stairs, the steps synchronized with the clock.
There was a boy who spent time in that house, he heard the sounds of the money jingling in the old man pocket with each steps.
One night their was no sound, simply because the old man had no money to go out any longer. So the boy sang a click clack song.
Much later he understood that sometimes the stupidest things could be the nicest.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Olive, Anonymous

Olive was a dressmaker, she lived to be 102.
Her mother would send her out to work from the time
she was 13 years old,earning $5 a week making disposable glass needles for the army using a glass blowing technique.