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This is a previous post (2011) that I am re posting for new readers.
MY FAMILY history was brought to life in an unpublished memoir. The stories lived on during a long arduous journey of research and trying to get published. Sometimes I read pages to get close to my parents. I squeeze in between them like a ghost, hear their voices, and see their expressions. If I remove the outside world, the hum of the hotel air-condoning , the delivery trucks, and speeding motorcycles, I can remember swimming in the pool with my mother. I see her bathing cap strap pulled down across her chin, her red lipstick, and her one-piece strapless bathing suit. I can see her freckles, and her long slender arms backstroking as she swam.
Early in 1960 my father decided to build a swimming pool in the backyard of our house on Thurston Circle. I had just completed swimming lessons and asked my father for a pool. Years later he told the story: “My little girl asked for a pool, and I built her one.” I think he built the pool for my mother. He was under investigation with the FBI and Department of Justice, and spent most days in court defending himself against a deportation order to Russia. Subpoenas, arrests, and trials were routine events that tied my parents together against a world of misunderstanding. After eleven years of nail biting suspense, my mother just wore out. The pool was built with the intention of removing my mother’s anxiety and sadness. My father designed the shape of the pool around the original pool at the Garden of Allah, a highly scandalous Hollywood hotel apartment that attracted starlets and gangsters in the early 30’s. I know this tiny detail from photographs I’ve seen of the Garden pool. More obscure details surrounding the building of our pool were found reading his FBI files.
My father accused the pool contractor of being an informant for the government. One sunny afternoon he marched him out of the house. I was hiding behind a drape when the confrontation broke out. I recall the big shouldered contractor running from my father’s threats. Most likely an FBI agent was parked outside and followed the man after he scampered out.
The pool was finally completed in mid 1961. There are photographs of my mother and I in the pool; her smile is radiant and naturally composed. She and I swam everyday. My father loved to swim too, but he was busy with court proceedings and meetings. Before the year ended my mother filed for divorce, the house burnt down, and I was released from childhood. I don’t regret those events any longer. They were steps that shaped my character, and what brings me back to the topic of growing up with gangsters.
The best memories of my childhood are in swimming pools and restaurants with gangsters and gamblers. They were part of the family, and when they were around my father was on very good behavior, and my mother defenseless against their irresistible humor, pranks, and generosity. She just sort of glided in and out of activities, and helped me ride the vibrations. She didn’t laugh out of herself like I do, and she rarely yelled. The older I get, the less I seem to be like her. Maybe the passage of life experiences determines which parent you will take after. Had I married and had children, maybe I’d be more like her. Since I get into all kinds of tricky situations, and throw the dice, I need my father’s strength more.
Over the years, I have forgotten some of the dead reckoning discoveries I made about our family history. Still nothing compares to reading about my Aunt Gertie. She was my father’s sister. Until I read about her in the FBI file, I didn’t know she existed. I haven’t figured out why my father left her out of our life. According to the FBI files she was a remarkably loyal sister. Gertie was the one who confronted the federal agents when they arrived at the family home in Winnipeg, Canada. She pushed my grandmother out of the interview, and spoke for the family. The agents showed her a recent photograph of my father. She told them that her brother left home when he was twelve and they had not seen him since. She could not verify the identity of the photograph because almost twenty years had passed. The agents left without any evidence and continued to search for the birthplace of my father. Every time he was arrested, he entered a different birthplace. He named Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Los Angeles. His origins were discovered through a letter that his mother had written when he was fifteen and confined to a boys reformatory. The letter was turned over to the FBI, and that is how they discovered his parents lived in Winnipeg. The government could not deport my father to Russia without verification from his family. Eventually my father won the battle. He was granted citizenship in 1966, two weeks after my mother died.
Gertie died after my father. I don’t know if they corresponded over the years. I have learned enough about my father to know he was protecting her from further harassment. Maybe if my father lived longer they would be coming after me.
After I published this last story, I spoke with White Zen, my palgal in Santa Fe. She said the last paragraph of the story made her cry. Juxtaposed between writers Zen of exporting such feeling, and the sadness we both shared. White Zen had a Thinker too. I guess there are more of them than I knew.
Having had six true loves in my life, who impregnated me with knowledge generosity, and loyalty is what made me so unprepared for the Thinker. He does resemble Macedonio; the first man to peel off the woman in me. They both have charisma, mystery and good dark looks, Macedonio is dead now, and the memories of him still glisten; like the day in Golden Gate park under the cherry blossom tree.
What I miss most, is the giggling, dancing, folly-maker that the Thinker pulled out of me as If I were a puppet. He called me Puppet because that’s how he saw me. I’ve got to get my Jojo by tomorrow. I live Thanksgiving as a day with admissions of selfishness and greed. I need to be washed away into thanks that I am here with a mouthful full of food, and a napkin.
Our society has led us to the path of non-involvement. FB did that,
Email did that, cell phones did that. Yea, I love em’ for the
thing they knew we’d love them for; a delete button.
We, I mean most of us that don’t control millions of political decisions, cannot handle much more. But we could save ourselves from a real famine, a civil war , or war on our country. Who would come to our aid? I really wonder. I bet on us; the ones who’ve always struggled.
We are not involved with each other anymore; it’s like having a manicure to break out of a relationship, and if you lose your job you won’t have enough money for a manicure. So you don’t lose your job; you work eighteen hours a day and get paid less than your staff. But nobody cares; not unless you go viral or if you have a million Blog stats. Social media. Then you will go somewhere; you will have a job. Artists, are digital: writers, photographers; musicians. Who knows whose who anymore. I think Theater is the only venue left of our physical involvement. Theater is life; and no one walks out without having something to say. I also include: dance, concerts, opera, poetry readings, performance artist, and comedians. I prefer to see it live!
IT WASN’T MY GENERATION. I UNFURNISHED MY LIFE. FIRST I GAVE AWAY THE UNWORN, THE UNUSED, UNWANTED, THE
BROKEN, AND UNREPAIRABLE, ANTIQUES, AND PC PROGRAMS,
STEREOS, TABLES, CHAIRS AND CLOCKS.THEN IT WAS MY DRESSING ROOM COLLECTION: JEANS AND JACKETS, SUNGLASSES, AND SHOES, PURSES AND GLOVES, BELTS AND HATS. I DON’T WANT TO SEE WHO I WAS; I WANT TO SEE WHO I AM NOW.
I LOVE TO GIVEAWAY – TO LOSE WEIGHT =I LOVE TO SEE THE SMILES WHEN I OFFER A GIFT.
The throw of the dice this week lands on new adventures in selfless livingness.
There is assurance that most of all, above the tasks, aspirations, dreams and commitments; we are dead beats without love. The feeling has to pass through our veins and arteries, as often as possible, from one suitor or another. You can love a moon in a black sky, as much as a man or woman. I believe the feeling it gives us is medicinal. It gives us something no other prescription can. That is why when sickness comes, all the love pours out from friends and family.
This comes at a time when a beautiful woman who is more saintly and then anyone I’ve met, except my mother, is suffering. You wouldn’t recognize the heaviness she is carrying; she remains light and sprite. Her doe birch brown eyes flatter her high forehead, and her silky mane of brown hair that moves like a Clairol commercial, do not interfere with her life. She devotes much of her time to the Good Samaritan manifesto. She regularly offers her time to the various shelters, serves food, and provides loving comfort to the sick with her registered lap poodle. She told me that the residents of the hospice all wait for her to show up.
“It’s amazing; they are all standing there waiting for me to come in. No one visits them. Can you imagine living like that??”
“You should come with me sometime; it’ll give you a whole new perspective.”
I agreed; and thought about what she said. We all have our way of disposing of selfish acts. Some pray, some donate money, and what I’ve found that works for me is to spread my kookiness and follies without prejudgment. If someone looks sour and glib; that’s the person who needs me. It is a branch of love that will keep on blooming.
5 BDR/3 BATHS. FORMAL DINING ROOM. PRIVATE GATED. GARDEN MOVIE THEATER
ACROSS THE STREET FROM LA POSADA RESORT & SPA.
HISTORIC EAST-SIDE OF SANTA FE, NM
2 BLOCKS TO DOWNTOWN PLAZA
LIFESTYLES, GANGSTERS, LOVE
LIFESTYLES, GANGSTERS, LOVE