I read Where I’m From, by Sharla Lovelace before I read her debut novel, The Reason is You. Sharla used many these images in her story, a must read. A week ago she published the post on her blog for a second time.
You can also read the original link by Fred First and the template used for this post, as well as Laura Drake and Orly Konig Lopez … who posted Where I’m From on the RWA-Women’s Fiction Facebook page.
Time is getting short and my moving date is in exactly eighteen days. Sadly, all my family’s old black and white photographs, and the early color shots of me and my siblings are packed.
Come with me to the time of my life … to where I’m from:
Picture of sunset park
Where I’m From:
I’m from Italian-American blue-collar, cold flats with coal-burning stoves and slick linoleum. I’m from the wrong side of the trolley tracks, from factory workers who had precious little time for playgroups or little league.
I’m from the wail of freight trains and foghorns in the bay, from the giant white factories of Bush, from the long lines of women, backs bent, heads bowed sewing piecework. From the longshoremen loading and unloading the countless ships arriving at the docks of New York, from the machine and metal shops, and cobblestone roads and train yards.
I’m from the Greek diner, the Jewish deli, from the Italian bakery and Joey’s Grocery who my dad paid once a week from small brown envelopes. I am from the Chinese laundry, starched collars and cuffs, and Mrs. Applebaum’s corner candy store where all the neighbors made and received phone calls for a dime. I’m from nickel rides on trolleys and subways, from old cars and new dreams.
I’m from seven men who sailed the ocean to find a dream in the Mid Hudson Valley, from the seven women they married, from three dialects in Italian to Poughkeepsie twang and Brooklyn-ese spoken with a lisp.
I’m from an Italian merchant seaman who loved cowboys and baseball and cried when he listened to opera. From the daughter of a dirt farmer, a woman who “put up” peaches every summer, smoked unfiltered Pall Mall, loved musicals and played canasta with the girls.
I am from long legs and tall tales, from sawdust and wood stains, from harmonicas and car models scattered on tables, and guitars always in the corner of the kitchen. From pasta fagioli and cannolis, from tomato sauce made from scratch every Thursday and Sunday.
I’m from a bark with no bite, and from hands that wielded a wooden spoon like a Samaria warrior. From cool hands on fevered brows, from soft hands on sleepy heads.
I’m from the wrong side of Sunset Park in a strange place called Brooklyn, from strong men and stronger women, from rowdy boys and scraped knees. I’m from the last age of innocence, from stand up Philco radios and board games, from hop scotch and jump rope and a cigar box of marbles.
I’m from a musician and a mathematician, from an artist and a linguist, from a handsome devil, and a dark beauty. I am from Old Spice and lilac toilet water, from dusting powder that tickled my nose, rough sand soap and unforgiving wash boards, from backyard clothes lines and pigeon coops, from airy ways and tenement houses.
I’m from solid steel skates and orange crate scooters, from stickball in vacant lots and stoop ball, from street games, and leap-frog over hydrants, from pole climbing, rock-throwing urchins, and from women who shouted from windows in two languages.
I’m from Mary Janes and penny candies, Orange Crush and Grape Nehigh in a coffin-sized soda box. From Double Bubble and two older brothers who were double trouble. From Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren, from Fellini and Pavarotti, from Sinatra to boys singing a cappella under streetlights. I am from Coney Island, and Nathan’s finest, from the Cyclone to the carousel, from walking the streets late at night with no fear.
I’m from crooners and swivel hipped rockers, from braids and pony tails, blue jeans and swishy skirts, “Skippy” sneakers and flat shoes, from rock’n roll shows at the Brooklyn Paramount to Saturday movies downtown, from dollar pizzas and nickel cokes.
I’m from chaos and love blended with garlic and noisy dinner tables. From loud passionate men and impossible, crazy women, from three generations and two continents.
I’m from Maria Carmela Fieore and Salvatore Augustine Fois, and from Dominick, the middle one we lost too soon. From Bob, the big guy, the only one left, from a legacy of those who molded me like a mound of clay, and taught me how to think, to work, and to play.
Tell me … where are you from?
What are the touchstones that define who you are,
the sign posts along the highway that have guided you?