Well, another birthday to be grateful for. On this day, more than 60 years ago, my 19-year-old mother zoomed along in the backseat of a taxicab to a Providence hospital about 12 miles from home. My grandmother, a nurse, rode along with her. I think my grandpa, the town's much loved doctor, was on call at the hospital and already there waiting for us to arrive.
As the story goes, my dad didn't hear about my impending birth until after I arrived at 3:45 am. No cell phones or other social media back then, right? Actually, most people had a "party line" and shared a phone with neighbors. Kind of like cans and string. Very few people enjoyed the luxury of their own phone line. If you picked up the phone and you heard talking, you just hung up and tried back later. Emergencies, like the birth of me, allowed an interruption and a special call to the hospital.
Because my mom had moved back home for her last months of pregnancy, my dad agreed to stay at his URI frat house until my arrival. After than we moved to "DiChristofaro's" on Anthony Green into an apartment I remember having huge furniture. My first memory is standing in my crib looking at a bright light under the door of the bedroom I shared with my parents. I could hear laughing and happiness, but I was alone in the dark.
When I learned to walk, I couldn't reach the doorknobs or climb on the couch.
Folktales about my life threaded through the neighborhood with stories of my mom dropping me on my head on the cement floor at the Boy's Club where my dad lifeguarded, leaving the brakes off my carriage so it careened into the river and floated Moses-style along the shoreline, and forgetting me in the bathtub with the water running.
As a toddler, one of my favorite things to do (according to my mother) included waving my training pants at the cars as they drove by my playpen set in the sunshine out on the Green near our fence. So, I can honestly say that I've spent a lifetime with my bottom exposed . . . in one way or another.
We lived at DiChristofaro's until my sister arrived on the scene in the spring of 1953. My grandmother gave the ancestral home, called affectionately 751, to my mother, and we all moved in with the ghosts of my great-grandmother (Nellie) and great-grandfather (Armand) and the spiritualists who lived there in the ell many years before them.
Flat-out spooky, this house still stored Nellie's floor-length gowns and my great uncle Rollo's WWII medals and uniforms up in the attic. The old garage in front of my grandpa's and grandmere's garden had wagon wheels and rusty tools for tending to horses' hooves.
I loved that house. My childhood memories live there still . . . but in a fictional way. I'm working on the stories for you right now.