One of the greatest aspects of my family is that no matter what has happened to us in our lives, we have been able to laugh. This is a priceless gift and I consider myself blessed to receive it. We’ve never really been either rich or poor. It has been (at least for as long as I can remember) a typical middle-class life, with its occasional ups and downs. My brother and three sisters, however, have been around a lot longer than I have, so they are more likely to tell you the stories of hand-me-downs and sharing one bedroom. For myself, I sometimes see my part in the family like a role in a television show. We have quite a cast of characters, many of whom I will introduce to you as we move along, haphazardly, through the retelling of some of the more entertaining moments in our family history.
Growing up in Westchester County, New York in the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s was an experience that I didn’t really appreciate until I got a little older and was thrown into a whole new world called Tucson, Arizona. We left New York in 1983, but the memories of the days growing up on the East Coast have not faded.
While we still lived in NY, my mom would take us us to a place called “The Bazaar Mall” in Mount Kisco to window shop and get us out of the house for a few hours. We would hardly ever buy anything while we were there as my mom would explain in her strong, New York accent,
“Ooo, I nevah buy nuthin’ in them mall staws, dey raise awll dere prices to covah deyah ovah-head.”
So, mostly we would browse. Besides, if we needed to get clothes or anything like that, my mother knew of about a hundred different places where we could get what we needed for a lot less:
“Heeah, try this on. For three dollahs ya can’t go wrong.”
So, we were in the Bazaar one chilly afternoon in late October because they had one of these miniature circus exhibits going on. It was one of those deals where there were all these little figures carved out of wood to about the size of an average pinkie finger and some of them were rigged up to move around a little. There was a guy in the lion’s cage with a chair and bull-whip, and there were a couple of elephants that would rear up on their hind legs. It was basically your typical circus scene, carved out of wood, and very small.
Anyway, we went and looked at this thing for awhile and then we did some window shopping and were on our way out of the mall when we passed by a TV and electronics store. As we walked past the display window, one of the television sets caught my mother’s attention:
“Ooo, look! Deyah showin’ some kind of movie deyah.”, she said as she stopped in front of the store’s window. “Look, dohse people ah goin’ through a dawah way deyah. But I can’t see wheyah deyah goin’”, as she squinted at the screen. “What an odd movie dis is. Oh, look deyah’s a man in deyah!”, and as she said this she pointed and waved at the screen, at which time the man on the television pointed and waved back to her. “Ooo, he waved at me, didyas see dat? Who is dat strange man? He must want us to come in deyah and buy sometin’.”
By this point my sister Annie and I could not control our laughter anymore, and we both exclaimed in unison,
“Mom, that’s you!”
My mother had been watching herself and the action around us on a TV that was hooked up to a video-camera pointed directly out of the window we were standing in front of. That “strange man” she saw waving and pointing at us was her! After a few more minutes of hysterics, my mother, true to form, replied,
“Ooo, it must be this jacket. It makes me look like a man. I’m throwin’ it out as soon as we get home!”
And she did.