Sunday, December 6, 2015

Relatives, in HOME IS WHERE...


         Grandma Inky lived with her daughter, Aunt Jo, and her husband, Uncle Connie.  Aunt Jo worked for a cosmetics company, and she brought us many samples, which we loved.  Uncle Connie worked for Edo, a factory where they made airplane parts.

         Uncle Connie always had a movie camera and took many films. I was able to get only three from their son. They are great to watch; I wish there were more.

         Other exciting days at home were when Aunt Jo (Mom’s sister), Uncle Connie, and Grandma Inky came from College Point for the week-end. We would get up at dawn and start to do various chores. They would arrive about 3 p.m. on Saturday and stay until Sunday afternoon. In summer, there would be a picnic, and in other seasons there would be big Sunday dinners.

         The house they lived in at College Point, NY, was a two-family home; Aunt Jo and Uncle Connie and their son, Conrad, lived downstairs. Grandma Inky and Grandpa lived upstairs.

         Uncle Connie built a summer home out on Sound Beach, Long Island. We went there a few times. We would go swimming in the Sound and sometimes use his boat. Once, we went clamming. I remember that the bathroom was outside, and we would often stub our toes. Silly, the things we remember. I remember not only stubbing my toes, but also the long stairs down to the beach and the blueberry bushes by the house in Sound Beach.


         Mom’s brother, our Uncle Eddie, and Aunt Lorraine lived in Brownsville, TX. He worked at a shrimp factory. She was a former model, a Lauren Bacall look-alike, and became a housewife. She was great at sewing, and she made clothes for us and also clothes for our dolls. They regretted that they were never able to have children.

         Uncle Eddie only came to visit us once, in the late 1960s, but in 1955, when I was seven and Doreen was nine, we went, alone, on our own, to Texas from June to August. It was our first time on a plane, and it took eight hours. While there, we went to Mexico, the beach, and to an amusement park. We loved it but were glad to get home. I'm sure sister Nancy was very lonely without us and happy to see us return. Doreen went back there the next year, but I backed out. Doreen made that second trip in 1956, but they could not get me to go on the plane. I'm certain that was okay with Doreen. Now Doreen was the Queen.

         After we had left Texas for home, I never saw Uncle Eddie until 1982, when he came to New York for a visit. Aunt Lorraine didn't come with him, so I never saw her again. After returning home from his visit in 1982, he soon passed away from kidney disease.

              Aunt Lorraine would make us doll clothes and send them to us for Christmas. We loved getting the clothes for our new dolls. Aunt Lorraine was a great seamstress and made us a few outfits to wear when we were in Texas.

              Every Christmas, Uncle Eddie would send Mommy an alligator pocketbook with the gator’s small head in the front; it was creepy.

              Recall that Grandma Inky went to Texas when we were there. Well, this nephew was her baby boy, and she wanted to do everything for him, and she didn't get along with Aunt Lorraine. One Sunday before church, Aunt Lorraine started a Sunday dinner pot roast. We left for church, Doreen, Aunt Lorraine, and I, and when we came home, the pot roast was gone and something else was on the stove.

              Aunt Lorraine asked, “Where’s my pot roast?”

              Grandma Inky replied, “Oh, Eddie didn’t want that. He wanted me to cook something special.”

              Oh, boy, a big fight took place that day, but that was what Grandma Inky loved to do, cause trouble of any kind. I have told you of the dislike she had towards me. Later on as we got older, we learned that Mom was treated the same way by her while growing up. Mom told us she wasn't planned for, wasn’t wanted, and she was always told this. I believe this is why Mommy wasn't warm and cuddly with us. I don't think she knew how.                            ### 
            We are serializing Kathleen Blake Shields's recently published book, Home is Where the Story Begins: Memoir of a Happy Childhood, published by Outskirts Press and available from OP,, and other on-line booksellers. I am proud to have coached Kathy and edited this uplifting story of her young life in the 1950s and 1960s in tiny Maybook, NY.
             My web site is You are invited.

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