Wednesday, July 18, 2007

101 State Street

We are celebrating Joshua's wedding this weekend.

I married his father on a sunny May day in 1966 in a church that was not mine, or his. I was pregnant and wore a yellow dress with a white bibbed front that hung loose around the small round of my middle. I never did get very heavy with that pregnancy. I was hardly any bigger when my daughter was born at the end of August.

My friend Dolly was my maid of honor and her boyfriend Gary stood up with David, who looked like a mile of bad road. Three parents and all our sisters were there. My one sister was a chubby little 12-year-old with knock-knees and the seven-year-old pale and skinny and waiflike. The few photos that survived show us all looking hesitant and and a little confused. I was not yet nineteen and David was 21.

It was pretty much of a gamble. I probably married the wrong guy, but then, my other choices were not much better and I thought, of course, that I loved him. We "honeymooned" at the Villa Capri on Central Avenue, and I escorted the drunken groom a few blocks to our apartment on State Street. A railroad flat, three rooms one behind the other with two tall front windows looking on a row of un-rehabbed brownstones on the old Albany street not far from Washington Park.

What a country girl I was, frightened out of my skin by the appearance of a monstrous bug on the bedroom floor the first week we lived there. I spent the whole night in my Aunt Ethel's platform rocker in the living room with my feet in my lap to keep them off the floor. When David got home from his night shift at the Watervliet Arsenal, he introduced it to me as a cockroach. They were also in the bathtub. I insisted we pack up and move by the next weekend.

We moved in with his mother on Homestead Street and my dear Aunt Ethel bought us a car. What a car it was. A 1961 white Thunderbird convertible with red interior. When the baby was only a few weeks old, David racked up the beautiful car on the train tracks underneath the Dunn Memorial Bridge. He arrived home walking, reeking of alcohol, with a ragged hole in his elbow.

He almost missed the baby being born. We were in the old Hopper's Bar on the end of Johnston Road with his mother and a transient boyfriend. I was not feeling well -with good reason as it turned out- and not up to the regular Friday night bar hopping he refused to miss, so he left with his friend Wayne Barden. The baby was not due for almost another month. The transient boyfriend drove me back to Homestead Street finally and left me in the care of David's sister Linda.
As was usually the case, Vi's phone had been turned off, so when my pains got bad, Linda got nervous and walked about a mile to a pay phone, called her mother at the bar, and the transient boyfriend had the privilege of driving me to the hospital. They located my husband just in time for the birth.

I had a perfect tiny girl that David wanted to name after my sister. She weighed six pounds and had a head full of curls.

Josh has married a soulmate I think. She has a child of her own and he and Egan seem to adore each other. He is a good dad. He didn't invite his father to the wedding.

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