MOM, COUNTRY, APPLE PIE And Leather Boots . . .
Hello, and thank you for picking up our second issue of The Metropolitan d’Etroit. I just love this time of year. The leaves are beautiful, the air is crisp and everyone looks fabulous in fall fashion (I have a thing for a women in high heeled leather boots), plus Thanksgiving is on its way.
Remember those lunch menus in elementary school? I was fixated on the turkey that was prominently stamped on the menu of the month and would count the days to the long weekend. As a kid, Thanksgiving meant playing football with friends and eating lots of turkey and pie, and, of course, there was something about Indians and pilgrims.
Our family didn’t have a lot of money but they made up for it with love served straight from the kitchen. My grandma – whom we called ‘Nan’ – spent all morning preparing the meal, and the aroma of her cooking would greet us as we headed up the walk and entered her modest home. Nan came from an era when women proudly ruled the kitchen and men were not ‘allowed’ to help, though she didn’t mind if I stole a bite here and there.
Nothing quite equaled the feeling of excitement and . . . security – I think is the word – I felt sitting round the table with family, as we told stories, laughed out loud, and gave thanks to our creator for all the gifts we shared together. We’re of Italian and Polish, Greek and Scottish decent – American – and each of those ethnicities was reflected in the food that surrounded our majestic stuffed turkey; homemade chicken soup, Polish sausage, pasta, grape leaves, pastry, wine, pumpkin, custard and apple pies.
On one or two occasions, Nan would introduce a guest that she brought to dinner from church or a shelter, or a neighbor who had no one to celebrate with. My grandpa enjoyed making us kids laugh by taking his false teeth out and quietly dropping them in my aunt’s water glass – very strange but extremely funny. We’d clap when Nan brought out the food, and our entire family talked at the same time, about everything, throughout dinner.
Of course, we always had the game on in the background.
Often, the adults would speak of their childhood, their parents and grandparents, and I would listen to their stories and try as hard as I could to imagine who those people were, until I transported myself into a world of black and white images. A lineage of poor immigrants passing through Ellis Island, living in Brooklyn, NY before finding their way to Detroit.
Much of my family is gone now. Grandpa passed away, then my aunt, my mother’s father, and then Nan. Such is life. But, they live on in memory, and conversation, whenever I have the need to recall them, and always throughout the holiday season. I believe it’s our duty, in that way, to keep our ancestors spirit alive.
This year, once again, gives all of us an opportunity to remember those who are no longer with us and, perhaps, even more importantly -due to our poor economy – a reason to give thanks to those who are still very much with us, enriching our lives with good humour, friendship, wisdom and love.
Fortunately, my mother, Pamela Brancaleone (I use her name so she may read it in print) and father are healthy, and I enjoy spending as much time with them as I am able. My mom gave me a wonderful childhood and I am thankful for all of her efforts. She represents, for me, all mothers who have done the best job they could in raising their families. As we all know, a mother’s work is never done . . .
I’m thankful for my brother and sister, my gorgeous girlfriend (and, her leather boots), my 85-year young grandma and grandpa – who are currently tearing them up on the bowling lanes – the rest of my family and good friends, and to the co-publisher and staff of the Metropolitan, for the opportunity to provide information and, hopefully, a little entertainment, to those readers who are interested in discovering more about this city.
Whether you are traveling on business, or en route visiting loved ones, take time to consider how fortunate we all are to be living in a country that offers so much to so many. Sit at the counter and strike up a conversation with the bartender. Say ‘hello’ to people you don’t know. Give a quarter to a street musician. Hold the door open for others and say ‘thank you’ if someone holds it open for you. Have a sense of humour and don’t take everything so personally. Be patient, we’re all in these tough times together and we’ll all get through em’ together.
Then we can finally get back to properly pissing one another off…
~ Anthony Brancaleone