The lilacs are finally in bloom and the tulip garden I planted last fall has done even better than I had hoped. My low expectations were due to the fact that after I managed to chop through the perma frost to plant the bulbs, the squirrels found it endlessly amusing to keep digging them up and leaving them on the front stoop where I would trip over them in the morning as The Sprite and I raced for the school bus.
So I was at a cocktail party in St Louis and I overheard someone say, "When I was in the Brooklyn DA's Office under Liz Holtzman..." Needless to say, it caught my attention and we started to play the "Do you know __?" game. Not five minutes had gone by before someone else overheard us and joined in too. Seems he was in the office under Gold. By the end of the night, we had found another half dozen people who were from or had lived in the City of Homes and Churches. Like any old movie with its obligatory Brooklyn reference, this party was fun.
At times this project takes on the aspect of my garden, or my friends or..well, you get the picture. Guilt. Unlike my cat who of course literally throws herself in front of me to get my attention. this blog thing tends to be an out of sight out of mind relationship. No matter. Before I toodle off to St Louis, in the fond hope of not being blown to kingdom come, or Oz either for that matter, here goes.
I had the distinct advantage of growing up in a family with strong ethnic roots and strong ethnic identity. Actually, it was two ethnics and two identities. In classic rust-belt style, I am of Polish-Sicilian heritage. Only in America! My father’s father came to America with his family from Sicily when he was an adolescent. My father’s mother was born in Canada, as her father, who stowed away from Palermo with a few of his huckleberry friends [not exactly Biff, Timmy and Chip] could not gain entry into the US. My mother’s parents both came from Poland, arriving separately and unknown to each other as teenagers. As different as the language and culture of these countries was and is, there have always been some strong similarities and common values, some of which I have taken firm root in my psyche. No, I am not just talking about a fondness for accordian music. It goes deeper than that but my theory is that the peasant gene figures prominently.
My role in this large and rambling family is that of "Secret Keeper." People tell me things because they know I will never repeat them. I say this with great pride for it is an office I hold based on merit and long service. I was born with the gene that values...shall we say...circumspection. My training, at the knees of my immigrant grandparents, reinforced and nurtured this. People outside of the family don’t need to know your business. Always present a united front to the outside world. Never criticize your siblings in front of strangers [read: non-family members]. These were the lessons that were repeated endlessly and lived out on a daily basis. I am trying to instill these values in my children but, we'll see. And don't ask me if it is working because I won't tell. My husband still has no idea what I really did from 1986-89.