My Aunt Took Me to the Automat
Our aunt died on Easter Sunday, at 96.
When she was in her early 80’s, Angela would take a couple of buses through Queens, all kinds of weather, to visit my mom at home, in the hospital, in the nursing home.
Technically, she was not our aunt but a vibrant young woman from central Pennsylvania who married into the clan which is like family to us.
“She and Mom called each other ‘forever friends,’” my sister Janet said the other day.
Angela came into our lives right after the war, when she and Joe McGuinness were courting. For a time, she stayed at our house, going to work every weekday at the home base of Horn & Hardart – the Automat, where patrons dropped nickels into a slot to buy lunch. She worked in the office, and escorted me into the kitchen to watch the workers fill the shelves with sandwiches and pies.
One time she and Joe took me to Radio City Music Hall for a Doris Day movie and the stage show. I still remember the Rockettes dancing to the song, “Red Silk Stockings and Green Perfume,” which came out in 1947. They were young, and handsome, and in love, and it was very cool to be with them.
She and Joe settled in Queens, raising three children of their own, but always had time for the five of us. Each of us has stories about their kindness, their advice, how they were there for us.
In the past decade, Angela went to live with her daughter, Kathleen, in Oklahoma. My brothers and sisters who visited her in the nursing home out there described her tootling down the hall in a powered wheelchair, about to run a meeting on current events, still the life of the party, almost until the end. I can hear my siblings asking, “Whom can we call now?”
4/22/2014 07:01:41 am
4/22/2014 07:42:55 am
obrigado, meu amigo
4/22/2014 08:35:28 am
People like Angela are what life is all about. Families with the relationships you described are indeed very rich.
4/22/2014 11:27:32 am
What a beautiful post, George. Thanks.
Craig N. Oren
4/22/2014 12:57:46 pm
Very fine tribute. My mother took my sister and me to Radio City Music Hall in the early 1960s. The first time we saw That Touch of Mink, a Doris Day movie. Could that have been the movie you and your aunt saw?
4/22/2014 04:01:10 pm
Craig, thanks for the note. I doubt it because I am older than you, I gather. This would have been 1947 or 48....the song I remember from the stage show pretty much confirms that.
4/23/2014 01:15:23 am
Absolutely love this photo of Ann and Joe. Taken at our house, right? You are right - they were a great looking couple. And a real love match. Thanks for this tribute.
4/23/2014 01:40:21 am
Janet, sure, that's the house next door. Kind of an odd angle. I wonder who took the picture. Maybe it was Pop, in between yelling at the cars on 188 St. to slow down. G
4/23/2014 07:31:40 am
I will also miss Ann, and have many memories of our talks in my car, as I drove her from our house to Gram's, many Sunday afternoons. I loved her spirt, and when I heard she was running a current events group in her nursing home, I was not at all surprised.
4/24/2014 10:56:21 am
Ann was a wonderful women. She had a very sharp memory. I remember when Janet was away, Anne called me to find out how I was feeling. She was very warm and caring, but most of all had a tremendous big heart, I also liked her humor. Rest in Peace dear friend. You will be missed
4/24/2014 01:21:44 pm
I thank our southern wing of the family for your lovely comments. G
4/24/2014 02:14:23 pm
I've got a happy 25¢ for mac and cheese remembrance as a kid down in Times Square. That's what I call a real pre-theater meal. No one in our family ever complained about a portion of anything that came out of those little doors. The kitchen cared about their own, who were the customers.
4/25/2014 08:07:00 am
4/29/2014 09:33:56 am
George, we're getting to the age where they're starting to drop off--us too, I reckon. just turned 64. my aunt mamie died in December three months shy of 100; her sister Irene has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. 98 in june. my still active mother is 85 and down in nova scotia looking after her. their mother existed in three centuries and lived to be 108y3m. Irene was 90 and mamie 92 when she died. surreal to hear a 92 year woman--who looked older than her mother--saying 'mummy' to somebody.
4/30/2014 12:12:09 pm
Bruce, you have good genes. Sounds like you are making good use of them, all the walking you do in Ontario and Japan and elsewhere.
4/30/2014 12:47:52 pm
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From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.