By: It’s Me Louise
“Noooooooo, no” said Tata. “Noooooooo, no”. My father put me in a shoe box and placed me behind the stove to keep me warm only taking me out for Mimma to feed me and back behind the stove I would go. I guess it was like an incubator and Tata kept me alive. Mimma had lost the first Mary, first Mikie and first Tessie already and now there were just four of us – me Louise, I was the baby for now, Battista would come later.
There is quite a story about me Louise and Battista – well about our names anyway. You see for hundreds of years mother and daughter in our family name their daughters this way. My mother’s name is Battista and so is my daughter’s name and so is my grandmothers. Likewise my grandmother and her grandmother and my granddaughters and so on are all named Louisa. As I said this Battista Louisa thing goes back for hundreds of years. Of the 9 or ten my mother’s surviving children that I knew and loved we were 6 , Sammy, Mary, Mikie, Tessie, Louise called Louisa and Battista.
Sammy was the oldest but I lost my brother when I was about 7, in 1932. Sammy was tall, strong and good looking like Tata. He was the oldest boy and the apple of the family’s eye. I was too young to know the whole story but it was during the Depression we were poor and from what I can make out from the stories I overheard a young Italian man in Lodi, NJ got involved in bootlegging and somehow wound up under a train.
Mimma was never the same after that. Italian mothers put on the black and they mourn till they die – at least my mother did. Oh she was a good mother – she was a hard worker and I will tell you many stories but the heartache showed and she cried a lot. She did not let us suffer her pain but looking back I remember watching the light in her eyes go out. Tata and Mimma gave us a very good live regardless of the heartache and what I remember most I will be telling all about in my new series “Because you asked”.
In the winter we went to bed early but in the summer we sat on the porch singing Oh what a beautiful morning. I have happy memories and my daughter wants me to share them with you—after all I witnessed many firsts that many of you take for granted but for me where – Imagine that.
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