Today’s children ask for candy, sugary cereals, toys, and/ or video games but not my children. That’s due in large part to the times, it was the 1960s and because we didn’t have a lot of extra money, they were happy with very little. What they did ask for however, and couldn’t get enough of, were my stories.
“Tell me a story!” They’d shout after dinner every night. And so that’s what I did.
One of their favorite questions was, “Where did I come from.” I just took a page from the mother’s handbook of the 1960s. “You came from the cabbage patch, you were delivered by the stork, and you came in a basket that floated up onto the beach at Edgewater.”
They were, as my grandson likes to say, “gob smacked” as they listened to stories about about family and friends..
But their favorite story was how I met their father.
I’d start by saying that Jimmy (their dad) was actually a friend of my brother Tony. That was one strike. And my children would giggle as I counted off his defects on my fingers.
He was also Irish. That was another strike. My children knew they were Irish but growing up in Italian neighborhood, the other side of their heritage was a foreign concept to them.
And finally, he was kinda, sorta cute. But he wasn’t one of the dark Italian boys that I was used to and that I preferred. Strike three! He had blue eyes, brown hair and pale skin.
On the other hand, I thought he was perfect for my best friend Kay, who also happened to be Irish. But Kay had the good sense to have a crush on my darkly handsome cousin Gino. So that was the end of that.
One day, I walked into the living room to find this Jimmy sitting on our couch. I took one look at him, turned on my heel and walked out. Not my type.
A few days later he was back, on the pretext of looking for my brother. Actually he was there to ask me out.
Kay bet me $5.00 that I wouldn’t go out with him and last five minutes. And as I am a gambling girl, I took that bet. That was going to be the easiest five dollars I ever made – or so I thought.
Jimmy asked me to go to the “show” downtown. The show is what you now call the movies. I looked at my brother who just shrugged. Good, I thought, Tony wasn’t going to kill him. And I accepted his offer. I smiled at Kay.
We went to see Blackboard Jungle. It was a group date. I figured if this guy turned out to be a dud, I could at least talk to some friends.
The movie barely got started when someone jumped on stage and started dancing to Rock Around the Clock. People were yelling for him to get off of the stage, and before you knew it the lights came up, they stopped the show and we left. From there we went out to Diney’s for cokes. It was the most exciting and expensive first date I ever had. After all, it cost me five dollars.