The GOOD Old Days
This morning at the breakfast table my mother and I were commenting on how the year is coming to a close and all the things to be done before the end of the year. Yesterday we had to choose a new insurance company for her which took up half the morning. Sometimes I believe that the more electronic stuff we have the more our lives become complex. SIMPLE, a word that says so much, I am for the simple things in life, just for a moment stop and reflect on years gone by and remember what little simple thing made you happy.
My mother was born in 1929 and named after her father’s mother Leonarda but for some reason when she went to school the teachers thought her name in English was Eleanor and hence she is known as Eleanor to most people.
So to continue our conversation at the breakfast table mom reflected on the first American tradition of Thanksgiving that she remembered as a young girl. Her parents were of Italian decent and came from a little mountain town of Orsara di Puglia provincial di Foggia and she said any holidays that they celebrated were all surrounded by the church .
Mom said her father at the time was not working and there was a community garden where her father planted his vegetables for the family so at the end of the season before Thanksgiving he took his wagon and took the short cut along the tracks and walked from Worley down to Canal Road where the garden was. They lived at 7808 Worley and there was a small house up front and a small house in the back which is where they lived and a polish American family lived up front, so upon her father’s return he gave the polish lady pumpkins from the garden. Mom said the lady was so grateful that she made 3 or 4 pumpkins pies and gave them to her mother for the family. The first experience of pumpkin pie.
|Michael, Julius, Benita and Leonarda, mom.|
Then mom talked about how under the bridge on Harvard they set up a place for people who were on relief and my mother would send me with a wagon to pick up produce, canned milk and this one time they gave her a large bag of corn with other produce and the bag a small hole in it and all the way home a corn fell out. And the only reason she knew was that her Aunt would come to the house and happened to walk the same route and asked who had corn because she had left a trail all the way home.
One day my mother was talking about the pumpkin pie and how she liked it but did not know how to make the pie so our neighbor Mrs. Monteleone said she could show her how to make pumpkin pie with a touch of hot pepper.
I guess the valuable lesson for this holiday season is to not only enjoy the decorations, the music, and the church services but the idea that no matter what is on your Thanksgiving table that the gift of faith as children and adults is the renewed respect for the sacrifices that our parents and grandparents made in order to provide those simple gifts, the gift of love and family togetherness, and the memories the experiences she wouldn’t trade for all the presents in the world. The special gift was always that her parents scrimped and saved, then presented their family with much love and humor mixed in, and gratitude to all those who helped make their thanksgiving truly something to be thankful for.