Housewife Tuesday – Birth, South Troy Style


In honor of me living so long (as I will be 45 next week), my sister will be telling the story:

May 23rd, 1968 (the feast of the Assenection) was a beautiful morning.  It was spring. There was sunshine.  My mother didn’t have much of a garden that year considering she was as big as the Chrysler building and nine months pregnant for my sister. I get up around 6 AM and my mother came in my bedroom and told me to pretend they didn’t feel well because I wasn’t going to school that day. The evil King left for work.  Joey (our brother), Mom and I would play chess sometimes before we went to school.  That morning we had coffee (the three of us) and played a quick game.  Joey went to get ready.  Mom and I hung around the kitchen for a minute so I could ask her why she didn’t want me to go to school.   Thinking that it was odd that she was just wearing a slip but when I look back on it is because you didn’t have anything she could fit into accept the gigantic yellow dress. She told me she was in labor but it was going to be quite a while so just hang around and that’s what we did all morning. She looked sort of uncomfortable but I didn’t really understand labor so I wasn’t really sure what she was feeling.

Around noon time she asked me to call the evil King and have him come home because it was time to go to the hospital. She tried to take a bath in the bathtub but could not quite get in so she did the best she could then put on her gigantic yellow dress. I looked at that dress and I was so happy that that would finally go away because it was the most heinous color yellow but she was still working and didn’t have anything else to wear. She had had the yellow dress on the night before when she went out to dinner with my uncles from Long Island. She went up to Verdiles with them and ordered the right side of the menu. Our mom was all class.   She drank some wine because it was 1968 and the doctors told pregnant women to drink to relax themselves and my mother was happy to comply.

So back to May 23, she headed out to the hospital and told me to wait by the phone soon as the baby was born the evil King would call me. I felt so excited we didn’t know whether the baby was a boy or girl but I knew there was  a baby in the house and I really felt like that was can be a wonderful thing. My grandmother came over to help me but I am not sure to help me with what. I cleaned house because I love to clean and fussed around and Joey came home from school change his clothes and went out the door immediately yelling on his way out that he’d be in the market playing stickball.

The phone call came around five o’clock it was a baby girl. I couldn’t believe I had a baby sister. I was 16 going on 17 years old and the idea of having a little girl around just made me happy. I was never really around little kids much.   My friends didn’t really have little brothers and sisters.  I never babysat, so the only kids I was around with the kids that lived in the house where Nana Panza lived.  We were close to them but we really didn’t have anything to do with the little ones except maybe torture them once in a while. I started out the door to going get my brother and let them know. The market was five blocks from the house and it was pretty much the center of our universe.  We were there all the time. It wasn’t really a market it was an open area that used to be an open market many years ago. It was all concrete so it was perfect play stickball. When I got to the market Joey was up to bat for the broomstick in his hand had a stance and he was ready to hit the ball. I called him across the market “Joey mommy had a baby girl.” He told me that he wasn’t quitting the game for a baby girl. If it was a boy he’d stop playing. I don’t remember much about the rest of that day. I couldn’t see my mother in the hospital.

I remember six days later the tiniest baby I ever saw came home in a really beautiful yellow hat and sweater that Aunt Julia had knitted for my mother. My boyfriend came over and we took her out of the blanket to take a look at her. She had webbed toes. My boyfriend was so excited because he in fact had webbed toes to and we thought that was just the neatest thing ever. I have been in love with my sister ever since.  Even though she is a giant pain in my ass, she is mine.

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