They had nicknames like Fritzie, Lefty & Cookie which was my mom’s nickname. (full disclosure, my dad was Lefty!) I often wonder what it must have been like growing up in the 1940’s & 50’s, essentially walking in her shoes. My mom came from a poor immigrant family. I don’t mean poor like they were inconvenienced at times with lacking the finer things, I mean so poor that this family of six, my grandparents, my mother, her sister and two brothers, lived half the year as caretakers of a Catskill Mountain hotel and the other half of the year (winter) on the top floor of a barn structure with no plumbing and a woodstove for heat. My grandparents were tough, they were survivalist and worked so hard to make it here in the United States. My grandfather was able to read and write English. Not exactly sure how he learned but it seemed to serve the family well. He was the bread winner, the negotiator, the communicator, so that his family could survive . My grandmother could neither read nor write English or for that matter, her native language. She spoke with a very heavy accent and kept alive the traditions of her heritage while learning how to embrace a new culture. She was one heck of gardener, seamstress and most memorably, a terrific cook.
I am not sure of the date when my grandfather, along with his two sons built their home. From all accounts, he saved and saved every penny he earned for this one goal in his life. The American dream ~ to have his own home. They built it entirely on their own and never had a mortgage. It would have to have been sometime in the early 1950’s. I am certain of that fact as tragedy struck twice in that determined family as both my uncles where tragically killed, one year apart late in the 50's.
When I look at my mom as a child, especially in this picture, I see an impish young girl, so full of hopes and dreams, so ready to take on the world and give it a what for! My mom did not look forlorn about her poverty, nor did she wear it on her sleeve. She looks happy, confident and might I say a little sassy for a young teen.
My mom loved adventure. I remember growing up as a child taking road trips everywhere throughout New England because my mom loved to see and experience life. She relished the moments when she was not working to pack me up in the car and go driving. We would venture to every garden, historic house, small town, old cemetery and back road she could find - resolute to make the most out of the little free time she had. My mom too worked tirelessly to survive. We also were profoundly poor. And yes, like my grandparents, so poor that we had no food at times, begged the oil company to extend us credit for our tank so that we would not freeze. It is hard to break some family traditions.
I imagine that sometime in the 1950’s my mom was given the nickname of Cookie. Her birth name was Natalie, but everyone knew her as Cookie. I am certain it had something to do with her sass, love of a good adventure and a little bit of a wild streak. No solid proof on how she got that nickname but it stuck with her forever. As did her love of seeing new things through travel.
A few years after she passed away I started working in a law firm in my hometown as a clerk and the eldest attorney (he was probably in his late 70’s at that time) had not met me yet. When he came into the office, he stared straight at me and with almost a gasp and a hint of glee said out loud – Cookie! I had never realized how much I had looked like my mom. My mom never met a stranger, made you feel like you were the only one in the room and was always up for an adventure. I never did find out how she knew that attorney, but I am positive it must be a good story.
Today would have been my mom’s 86th birthday.
Cheers to adventurers around the world celebrating her life by living theirs to the fullest.
Share the knowledge
Welcome ~ My name is Cindy, founder of Red Dog Travel & I am so happy you stopped by. On this journey you might learn a little about me, slow travel, my red dog Bella and a whole bunch more! Thank you for stopping by!