Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Another reason why I miss New York

My mother is from Brooklyn and grew up there, living at home with her parents and four siblings in a tiny brownstone apartment until she married my father. I haven't written much about her side of the family, as I've always identified more with those southern Italian genes passed to me by my father, but it's not for lack of interest. My mother's mother, my grandmother Ida Mae Ross, was born on a cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta. She was working in a general store in Memphis, Tennessee one summer when she was eighteen years old, when my grandfather, Charlie Haddad, an immigrant from Syria, walked in as a traveling salesman. Grandpa Haddad was tall, dark and handsome and my grandmother landed up marrying him. He took her back to Brooklyn where she learned to speak Arabic and to cook Arabic dishes for him and his mother and sister. While I never met my great-grandmother, I did meet some of the sisters and remember them for their wet, sloppy kisses, plastic-covered furniture in their parlors and fuzzy hard candy that they pulled from their pockets and offered when we visited. That's all I'll share for now, and the inspiration for this tidbit is below, a video that I watched over at secondsistersuaviloquy that not only made me smile and feel happy but also reminded me of my grandmother, who was the kindest, most gentle lady you'd ever know and who I remember could whistle like a sweet bird.

(I so miss a brownstone stoop.)


  1. Tennessee is good stock. I have some of it in me too. And so does Mr. Moon.
    Do people still whistle?

  2. my favorite people whistle :)

  3. I'm reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn now, set in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn. I have respect for Brooklynites of your great-grandmother's time. For the women of all of our families of that time.

    There's a strengthening power to seeing ourselves as the braided strands of those who came before us. In that view, you're a vivid rope.

  4. Elizabeth, I never cease to be amazed at your heritage. Iralian, Syrian, Irish(?). Wonderful vignette.



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