There is no doubt that my Irish mom was full of blarney. We knew it growing up and all the people in my small town realized it. That is why they visited our ice cream parlor Gertrude’s named after my mom. She grew up in New York during the Depression. They moved 11 times. Her father’s jobs ranged from Labor Union Organizer on the wharf to candy store owner. Oh, he was also a bookie. Her childhood stories related to me spoke of growing up eating spinach sandwiches because that was what they could afford. By the time my grandfather passed away though he had a huge estate in the Hamptons. That was all I knew…and the pictures of him…I knew he had a bad Irish temper and my mom was one of two daughters. There were no sons.

I never wrote the stories down because I imagined that she would be around forever but the truth be told is that she went quickly and died at 75 years old. My father outlived her by 3 years. Her stories died with her. I have some beautiful memories of my mom including her time working as a writer for Seventeen Magazine, a leg model for the garment district, and a columnist for wine column. She also worked at NBC as a stylist and for a short time was an assistant to the wonderful photographer, Francesco Scuvallo, who she knew as “Frankie.” Years later, I met him while on leave from my Navy Ship in New York City. One of my shipmate’s parents managed the apartment building in the East 60s where he was a tenant. And he remembered my mom! So, that one story is proven true.

For my mom was one of those fantastic storytellers who could tell a story with details, spark, and make you gasp for more. But you always wondered if she were telling the truth. And then as you grew up, you realized that the truth is often stranger than fiction and that growing up during the Depression in New York City with a father who was part bookie and Irish….my mom ran with crowds I can only imagine. I reckon that is why I enjoyed the newspaper writing of Jimmy Breslin before and after I left New York City….and the gritty realism of Edna Buchanan writing from the bowels of Miami. Those are my type of writers because I am familiar with my mom’s types of stories. She was never at loss for words in a situation and if she couldn’t find words; she said plenty with her gestures and her body stance. I can only hope that I carry her genes well…..

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