Monday, December 27, 2010

In Honor of My Mother's Birthday

This post was first published on The Zees Go West on December 27, 2008.

My mother, Elva, was born on December 27, 1914, and died in 1997, although we would have sworn that she was immortal. In honor of her birthday, I'd like to share one of my favorite photos of her, which was taken in 1978.

I would like to pretend that she was an intrepid explorer who discovered a great many antiquities in Egypt, but I'm afraid that this photo is a little too revealing. Note the old gentleman in the background wearing a vacation outfit--a sure tip-off that this photo was staged as part of a retired teachers' tour of Egyptian sightseeing highlights. And, for heaven's sake, check out the purse (always referred to as a pocket book by my mother) she is carrying. It's a rare explorer who carries a purse when riding off toward adventure in the desert.

Still, she was a brave woman who had planned to see the world together with my dad when he retired. Sadly, he died before they could travel, so she just went ahead on her own.

Happy Birthday, Mother. I'll bet you are riding around Heaven, exploring on a camel. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa and Me, Part 4

When Mason's Auntie Dee saw his terrified "Santa and Me" photo, she remembered a little Santa terror of her own and sent along this photo from her childhood.

This is certainly one of the more sinister Santas that I've seen!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa and Me, Part 3

Well, you've seen Santa terrorizing my tiny little brother-in-law-to-be (see Santa and Me, Part 1 and Part 2). Now it's my turn. Here I am, in one of my mom's spectacular home-sewn coat and hat sets. I might not have been screaming my head off but, believe me, the fear is there under the surface. I am pointing out my parents, in the hope that they will remember to come and get me off. this. man's. lap.

A year or two later, I am still calling out to my parents, with hope and fear and thoughts of abandonment. 

However, I continued to believe in Santa, as this corny staged photo shows. My dad got me to explain to my dog, Pete, how Santa was going to bring the presents to our house--right down the chimney, of course!

Generation after generation, we continue the Santa tradition, and I'll bet you do, too. Here are grandchildren Isabella, Mason, and little Chris. Mason does what all frightened children do--he grabs onto his ears, just in case Santa has thoughts of stealing them away.

Santa terrorizing Mason

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa and Me, Part 2

In the previous post, we last saw poor baby Ronnie looking at the bearded guy in fear and disbelief. This first photo shows his older brother, Billy (who became my husband much later), looking as though he is willing to give this business a try. He's not sure how the whole thing will work out, though. 

Here we are, the following year. Although Santa is really trying--note the present little Ronnie is holding and the bells the Santa is jingling--the youngest brother is still showing the good sense to be very afraid of the red-suited guy. 

Billy, who discovered that the presents he listed for Santa actually showed up under his tree the previous Christmas, is anxiously waiting to get a word in edgewise. 

The same attitudes prevail a year or two later. Billy is starry-eyed, possibly thinking of a Red Ryder BB gun; while Ronnie looks like he is hoping that he doesn't get another darned bow tie in his stocking this time!

The last of the Santa pictures will appear next Tuesday. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa and Me

It's a firmly established tradition, the photo of the kids with Santa. It's also a given that the children in the photos will be scared to death, having been passed from loving arms into the lap of a stranger who looks like no one ever seen in a little kid's life.

I've been gathering up our family Santa photos from the 1940s and 1950s. Some are of Bill and his little brother, Ron; and some are of me. I'll show them here over the next couple of weeks.

The photo covers from Bill and Ron's Santa experiences were very retro. One was even done by Leonard Weisgard, who became familiar to me as a children's book illustrator when, much later, I became a children's librarian. Here are three of those covers:

And here is the first in a series of photos of the frightened children in our family, learning about this most peculiar of Christmas traditions. We start with poor little baby Ronnie, who can't believe his eyes:

I will show you more photos in a couple of days.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Family Nicknames

I don't ever remember any of my grandparents; three of them were already dead by the time I was born. Although I might have met my maternal grandmother when I was an infant, my parents and I moved across the country when I was only three months old and she died before I saw her again. So, even though I don't really know what I might have called my grandmothers or grandfathers, I always felt a little jealous of friends and relatives who referred to their Mimi, or Grampy, or Memere, etc. 

Recently, one of Bill's cousins sent some photos of a branch of the Mallozzi family to her daughter, along with the nicknames for her aunts, uncles, and grandparents. She was kind enough to send us a set, too. I was charmed by the names, and hope you might be, too. Here they are. 

Aunt Annie, Noni, Meema, and Beebop

Beebop, Uncle Eddie, [Phil], Meema, Aunt Annie, Boompa and Uncle Jimmy

Boompa, his brother Jimmy, Jimmy's wife Kaye, Mooma, Donnasue

Meema, Beebop, Boompa, Uncle Jimmy, Mooma, Donnasue
Noni & Meema
Uncle Eddie, Aunt Annie and Noni

Uncle Eddie, Aunt Annie and Noni
What do you call your grandparents?

Key to the family shown:

Noni: Allesandra Mallozzi, who was Bill's grandmother (her husband, Vincenzo, is not shown). Bill's mother was a Mallozzi and was another daughter of Allesandra and Vincenzo; and sister to Frances.

Meema: Frances Mallozzi Tucciarone (Allesandra and Vincenzo's daughter)
Beebop: John Tucciarone (Frances' husband)

Aunt Annie: Anna Tucciarone Abazia (daughter of Frances and John)
Uncle Eddie: Ed Abazia (Anna's husband-to-be)

Boompa: Phil Tucciarone (Frances and John's son; brother of Anna)
Mooma: Lydia Tucciarone (husband of Phil)

Uncle Jimmy: Jimmy Tucciarone (Frances and John's son; Phil and Anna's brother)

Donnasue Tucciarone (daughter of Phil and Lydia)