A place for Quattrones, Betteridges, and Praticos to share our family stories, history, and heritage.
1. the closet in the front bedroom had a door in the back of it leading to the middle room; was it a shared closet by design, or was something else behind it?
2. my uncle, Joe Betteridge, would share the memory of my grandfather, John Brancato, inviting him downstairs to have a drink at his bar; the “bar” was actually the heating oil tank in the unfinished basement.
3. at the front of the house, the basement window was secured by an iron gate on a hinge and a padlock; the key to the padlock hung on a bit of wire from a pipe near the window; whenever I forgot my key to the house I would shimmy the unlocked sliding glass window open, stretch my arm in to nab the key with my fingertips, unlock the gate, and slide/ leap down into the basement and into the house–easy peasy.
4. the alley behind our house frightened me for the longest time; it was cinderblock and mud and dark and narrow and smelled of pungent piss; sometimes strange men would used it to walk through and I remember seeing the tops of their heads–sometimes they would be standing still just over our wall– and that always privately upset me when I was little; not to mention that our neighbor was an alcoholic and would toss his empty bottles of bourbon over the roof of the parking garage; sometimes they didn’t make it and would smash back into one of our concrete yards and it would wake me from my sleep (in the back room or the middle room; didn’t matter, I would hear his bottles shatter night after night. Sometimes I heard their wicked fights–he and his wife).
5. the blue and green carpet in the living room; I can still remember (feel) its texture…and it, along with the iron rail, white with gold flecks, leading upstairs, are often repeated images in my mind when I think of my Nanny–probably because most of my favorite photographs from that era with Nanny, Aunt Connie, or my mom include the railing or the carpet.
6. decorating for the holidays meant more than decorating a tree or the interior of the house; we decorated the front windows–which was just as enjoyable and rooted in me as a tradition as a tree; I love thinking back about decorating the window, not only for the holidays, but for big moments in Philadelphia sports (the Phillies in the World Series, the Eagles in the Superbowl, etc); our front windows in the city were transformed into billboards of support during those moments; to a certain degree, our front windows were our lawns…without the maintenance. Mom and Aunt Connie paid Tony the Window-Washer a couple of dollars to clean them.