Inspiration has arrived – unannounced – on the wings of a book, Sonia Sotomayor’s autobiography. Although I am not a Supreme Court justice, nor a person of any repute, the parallels in our lives struck me so much that I have decided to record another story – mine – of growing up in the NYC borough we call “the Bronx.”
To start at the very beginning, I was born in French Hospital, a hospital (deservedly) no longer in existence. I suspect the choice was my maternal grandfather’s who had immigrated to France from Eastern Europe (and where he started family #1 – but that’s another story) before coming to the U.S. He loved all things French and was quite a strong personality. I was a very big baby – nearly 10 pounds. My mother used to claim that I grew little subsequently (blaming it on the doctor who advised her to feed me skim milk).
We lived in a basement flat, the “ground floor” of a six story apartment building, teaming with adoptive “aunts” and playmates. My brother and I shared the only bedroom …. and lots of adventures. Although money was scarce, our childhood was rich in experiences and in love. There was little my father could not make for us nor was there any limit to my parents’ love of learning, education and their children.
Sometimes our education was of the unexpected variety. My grandfather rued the fact that we, his grandchildren, lacked first-hand knowledge of nature “in the raw.” So one day my grandmother appeared and asked us to fill the bath tub with water. Having done as instructed, my grandfather entered, one squirming, very large fish (undoubtedly a carp) inside newspaper in his arms. After triumphant placement of the fish in the tub, Grandfather turned to my disbelieving mother and said, “Bebe (her nickname), now the children have really seen a fish.”
More non-fishy stories to follow!