Friendships On Nostrand Avenue
next day, early in the afternoon, Mama, Tony and I walked to the twins’
house. According to their
and Tootsie were sitting on their front stoop, waiting
for us to arrive.
approached them, Tootsie opened the front door and loudly called into
the hallway, “Aunt Annie, come
They’re here.” We
heard heavy footsteps coming down the stairway and then a short stocky
appeared at the doorway.
shook Mama’s hand and said, “I’m so glad to meet you and your lovely
children. I’m the twins’
Tootsie are very happy to have Rosie as a new playmate.”
said, “I am Giovanna, buta nowa thata I am Americana you cana calla me
Jennie. Pleasa excusa my
it isa not so gooda.”
said, “You are doing just fine, and now please come upstairs and have a
cup of tea with me.” Mama
and said that she did not want to impose, but finally
Annie led us upstairs and while we sat around the large oval
room table, she started the water boiling for tea and then poured milk
for Tony and me and for Sally and Tootsie.
the twins’ older brother came out of his room and after introductions
were made he politely said, “May I join
you?” and as he sat down at
the table he asked, “Are there any chocolate donuts left?”
he had gulped down his milk and eaten his donut he said pompously, “I
must get back to my stamp collection,”
and with a cute boyish grin
he turned to his sisters and said, “I hope you babies have fun with your
made a funny face at her brother, but Tootsie giggled and threw a crayon
at him just as he escaped into his room.
reminded me of someone. “Oh yes,” I thought, “He has the same mannerisms
as my Uncle Pat.” I
clearly the way he and his younger sisters, Lena and
Margaret, enjoyed teasing each other.
and Annie had a nonstop conversation while the children played our games
on the floor. That afternoon
the beginning of many enjoyable times spent with these new
was one sad note that stayed on my mind for days.
I was greatly saddened when I learned that the twins’ mother
had died shortly after they were born.
Being left with a four year old son and two newborn infants was a
experience for the children’s father, Mr. Mirelli.
However, Aunt Annie, upon her sister’s death took over the care of the
three children. She and her
Paul, raised their nephew and nieces as their own.
Mirelli, after becoming widowed, gave up his job in a garment factory in
New York City in order to share with
Annie and Paul, more time in
the supervision of his children.
owned the building they lived in and decided to turn the storefront and
the space behind it into a small dress
He had eight factory type sewing machines installed and hired
eight lady operators.
Whenever one of the ladies had to take leave, Annie could be relied upon
to take the missing operator’s place.
assured Mr. Mirelli that he would have the required
amount of dresses to be delivered on his weekly trips to the
district in New York City.
Weekends were a special time for the three children and their father.
They looked forward to the times they spent
together and very
often I was invited to join them.
I won’t soon forget the times I sat with the twins in the rumble
seat of Mr. Mirelli’s car as he drove us to one of our favorite
outings. The rumble seat
resembled an open trunk of a
car with seats.
We three girls could not help rollicking and frolicking all the
way to the beach in Coney Island.
was almost over and Sally and Tootise looked forward to August 16th, the
day of their eighth birthday.
It had become a ritual for them to have two birthday
celebrations. Their Aunt
Annie gave them the first party and of
course it was fun, but the
twins had not revealed to me the when or where their second party was to
take place. They
was a secret and wanted to surprise me.
afternoon Sally, Tootsie and I walked towards the “revelation.”
We entered the bakery shop and were greeted
by Mr. and Mrs.
Moesner, the owners of the shop.
They fussed over us and gave us cookies that were almost as good
as Grandma Lucia’s.
and Mrs. Moesner had a special fondness and compassion for Sally and
Tootsie. The childless
couple never forgot
the sad day they were told by the neighbors that
Mr. Mirelli’s wife had died after giving birth to twin girls.
couple had seen the twins’ four-year-old brother, Louie,
grow up into a handsome twelve-year-old boy.
twins had grown into two pretty eight year old
girls and would soon celebrate their birthday for the second time at the
home of Mr. and Mrs. Moesner.
the “Big Day” arrived, Sally, Tootsie and Louie, and my little brother
and I marched into the bakery shop.
Mrs. Moesner was beaming and looked just as excited as we
children were. Taking little
Tony’s hand she led us
outside, then across the street and into her
apartment building. We rode
up in the elevator and got off at one of
the highest floors.
I was pleasantly surprised as I looked around the spacious
apartment. It was tastefully
with beautiful lamps, draperies and luxurious rugs.
I had never been in such an elegant looking home before, and
couldn’t help admiring my comfortable and pretty surroundings,
especially the lovely paintings on the wall.
short while two teenagers arrived.
They were Jean and her older brother Bert.
Their mother, Kitty, a widow, was
employed at the bakery
shop. Mrs. Moesner
introduced them to us and then sat her seven guests at her beautifully
set dining room table.
After we had snacked on little sandwiches and fruit, the lights were
turned off. Bert went to
the baby grand piano and played “Happy Birthday To You.”
Mrs. Moesner came out of her kitchen carrying a large
luscious looking birthday cake, baked by Mr. Moesner.
She set the cake before Sally and Tootsie and as the glow of
the candles shone on their happy faces they took a deep breath and with
one big puff they blew out every single candle.
was more hand clapping and another chorus of “Happy Birthday To You” to
Sally and Tootsie as Mrs. Moesner
served the cake, ice cream and
little chocolate baskets filled with candy.
we finally had our fill at the table Mrs. Moesner brought out a shopping
bag filled with presents.
did the twins receive presents, but the rest of the
children did too. It seemed
like Christmas morning.
oohs and ahs as we opened our presents we played “Pin The
Tail On The Donkey.”
I wasn’t aware on that day that Sally and Tootsie’s eighth birthday
celebration at Mrs. Moesner’s beautiful apartment
would become one
of my “forever memories.” I
truly believe that it became one of theirs’ too.