Saturday, April 28, 2012

My mom's dirty secret

My mom has deep dark secret.

Now I am a certified born and raised Californian, as are my siblings, my cousins, and my mom's two younger brothers. My mother, however, is not. She is from...

New Jersey.

From an Italian immigrant family living in Jersey City. So basically I am one stroke of luck from being straight out of the Jersey Shore. My grandfather moved to California for his job when my Uncle Frank was three and my mother was two. She did spend her formative years in the Bay Area, so I guess you could call her Californian by proxy. But seeing as the rest of her ginormous Italian family lived in Jersey City, she spent much of her vacation time there. And until we moved to Colorado and started spending all our vacation time in California, we also spent many summers in New Jersey. Actually, that stopped when Moremama* got sick. I must have been 10 or so the last time I went. So one of things I looked forward to on this trip was reconciling my childhood memories with my experiences as an adult (spoiler alert - things have changed). .

We are going to visit the building that my great-grandparents owned. Very American Dream - my grandfather, Francesco, came to this country one hundred years ago with his older brothers. They worked various odd jobs and once WWI broke out, he joined up. He earned his citizenship by fighting for America, came back to New Jersey, established himself, and then went to Italy to find a bride. He met and married Theresina and brought her back to New Jersey in the late 20s. The had three children, two girls and a boy. Their middle daughter is my grandmother. My great-grandmother came from a family of seamstresses so to help with the war effort during WWII, she sewed uniforms for soldiers. After the war, she opened her very own wedding dress shop in a building that she and my great-grandfather bought. That building remained in our family until now. It's been sold, and so we decided to fly to NJ to visit it once last time, to help clean up, and take back little mementos of a chapter of our family and of American history, really. I'm so glad that Nora got to go there once, even though I know she won't remember it later.

More detail on the trip, traveling with an infant, and pictures to come!

*Moremama: When I was one or so, I was introduced to my great grandmother. I called my mom "Mommy" and my grandmother "Mama" so when they introduced me to my mom's grandma, I asked "more Mama?" The name stuck and from that day on, she was Moremama to our whole family.

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