Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Scranton’

On the day my sister Kay woke from her coma and left the hospital – the same hospital still holding her mother and grandmother captive – the movie “Lost Weekend” was playing at the local Scranton movie theatre. I can see her now, in the back seat of a car, looking at the marquee and thinking to herself, “I lost a whole month.”

The Flapper’s automobile accident had been on the Fourth of July, and Kay was unconscious for a whole month. She’d “lost” the first month of summer picnics and ballgames. It’s a humbling feeling I’m sure to wake up and discover the world went on without you; dogs were fed, gardens watered and someone took care of the baby. No child at fourteen should have to care for her younger brothers, her crippled mother, and a ten month old baby sister. But that was her misfortune, her karma, our Year of Living Dangerously.

This week, the first hazy, hot and humid day of the summer, our air conditioner died and I felt like I lost a whole day.

Bob and I went out to run some errands and returned to a very hot house. The HVAC people who had installed a tankless water heater just a few months earlier, were booked solid. Temps would hover near 90, but they said they could come “tomorrow.” The Bride kindly offered us dinner in her freezing cold house, and of course we accepted. She wanted us to stay in her garage apartment overnight, but we said no thanks.

That night, we opened windows, found a fan, and attempted to sleep. After all, we are both stoic. We grew up without air conditioning, and we never needed it while we lived in the Berkshires.

The next day a young technician arrived and spent four hours troubleshooting our combo gas furnace and electric air conditioner. It was installed in 2015. Would I sound like an old codger if I complained about planned obsolescence? It does seem like major appliances used to get “fixed” when we were first married, and now more often than not, something needs to be “replaced.” Lucky for us, we only needed a new capacitor.

Still, our crooked crystal cottage could hold the heat in her walls. It took many hours for our unit to cool the whole house to a comfortable temperature. I don’t remember much of that day – trying to plant outside in the shade, refilling Ms Bean’s water bowl and checking her breathing to see if she was still alive. Animals are smart about the weather, she switched into hibernation mode immediately.

The 1945 movie Lost Weekend was about an alcoholic. Ray Milland plays a writer who goes on a “four day bender.” I’ve never experienced a blackout while drinking, I was always told I’m a lightweight. But these last few weeks of men debating a woman’s sovereignty over her own body have made me want to pop open a wine bottle again. And over this past weekend, our country experienced FOUR mass shootings…

I’m exhausted and tired of this fight, in a country where barely 1/3 of the population gets to impose their rules and religious beliefs on the rest of us . They want the freedom to carry guns, without a permit, like it’s the wild west. They want to legislate our wombs.

The problem with overdoing alcohol is the next day you pay. I heard Jane Fonda say she doesn’t have many days left in this life, and if she drank a martini tonight she would lose the next day. So I’ll pop open a Pellegrino and keep writing. I’ll try to stay grateful for all the little things in this life, like the Love Bug graduating from elementary school.

I don’t want to lose another day.

Read Full Post »

Some of you may know that I, like Joe Biden, have strong ties to Scranton, PA.

Actually, my entire family came from County Mayo, Ireland to that hard working, coal-mining, Catholic city in Lackawanna County generations ago. My paternal grandfather owned a successful butcher shop, and his parents and grandparents before him owned cattle. They were landowners, they could read and write – I know now because it’s all on the census lists over a century ago and I’m on Ancestry.com!

They are all buried in Cathedral Cemetery, at the top of a hill, in Scranton.

What does it mean to come from a particular place?

Even though I left Scranton at a young age, my foster parents, Nell and Daddy Jim, crossed the Delaware Water Gap for a visit with the Flapper, who still couldn’t walk, week after week, year after year. What, if anything, did I take away from Scranton?

I learned early not to complain, to get on with a task I didn’t like doing. It didn’t matter if I wanted to do something else, when it was time to wash my hair for instance, I did it. The Flapper told me that the most beautiful girls in the world came from Pennsylvania! Just look at Grace Kelly! Maybe that’s why she would always pull my wet hair back into “princess braids,” and if I complained she would say we had to suffer to be beautiful.

I gained a certain confidence in Scranton, a sense of self reliance. I remember my Nana telling me that Dolly Madison ice cream was the best ice cream in the world! She would give me money to walk to the store for her, all by myself, and I’d have to count out the change at the store and when I returned. I was only eight or nine, but she trusted me.

I learned that my family expected the best in me. They gave me ballet lessons and my sister Kay was my Professor Higgins; drilling my Jersey accent out of me. .Nana proudly took me to see my very first movie, Picnic in 1955. I was seven years old. She said that children don’t usually go to the movies, but she trusted me not to run up and down the aisles. I didn’t.

Self-sufficiency and fierce independence were highly prized commodities in Scranton. My elderly aunts pickled vegetables. The steps to the cellar were lined with shelves filled with chow chow and other strange sounding things. Kay would love to tell us the story of forcing Nana to give up her ice box because she bought her a new-fangled refrigerator.

Biden had to leave Scranton at the age of 10 because his father found a job in Delaware, but his Irish Catholic roots, like mine, ran deep.

“…his (Biden’s) great-great-grandfather had moved to northeastern Pennsylvania in 1851 after emigrating from Ireland. Scranton was where his grandparents, and his parents, had met, he said. After moving away in the fourth grade, he continued to spend most of his summers and holidays there, visiting his mother’s family in the same middle-class, predominantly Irish Catholic neighborhood where he had spent his early years.

“My mother would go on to live in Delaware more than 50 years, but when you asked Jean Finnegan where she was from, she’d say ‘Scranton,’” he added.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/21/trump-biden-scranton-pennsylvania-deserted-delaware/

It’s funny, but Great Grandma Ada always says she’s from Brooklyn, even though she left it 75 years ago.

I might still be living in Pennsylvania if not for The Year of Living Dangerously.

Pennsylvania carries 20 votes in the Electoral College, and is now considered a swing state. Mr T won the state in 2016 by less than one percentage point. Its residents are from the salt of the earth; descendants of coal miners and yes, small business owners like “The Office.” They are a loyal, proud bunch, not afraid of hard work. And they can smell a con from miles away.

Here is a picture of the L’il Pumpkin’s first day at Kindergarten. As Biden would say, “C’MON”!IMG_8148

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: