My story starts with my parents story, both lower middle class, came from hard working families, went to school and got married real young as people did in those days (1957). Both my parents had issues they inherited from their families, none the less they ambitiously tried starting a life together. They did accomplish a lot in the first few years of their life I must say. When they were married my Mother was 18 and my Dad was 23.
My Dad was conservative, Italian American second generation, he worked as a NYC firefighter for 35 years. My father was from a traditional European patriarch, his father called the shots in the family, and you did not defy him.
My Mother came from a more modern perspective, my grandmother did a lot of decision making while my Grandfather was in World War II. She moved her children from Brooklyn to Staten Island, into an apartment, and eventually bought a home. That was rare in the 40ís for a women to get a mortgage and buy a home. My grandmother did divorce my Grandfather in the 50ís so my mother was raised thinking she was an equal.
That kind of sets the stage for their relationship. My mother did not find out till she was married to my Father that he spent all his time with his friends. My Dad liked to gamble and carouse, Mom had a big problem with it, but thought my Father would change if they had children, so they had my older sister Lisa. Mom says Dad did change for a short while but before the year was up he was staying out all night with his friends, not coming home and pulling shit like that. I remember a big fight my parents had when I was about 5 or so, it centered around my Dad talking to some lady in a bar, my Mom had gotten word from a friend, and man she went ape shit, I am talking dish braking, lamp throwing, on your back pounding shit fit! And it lasted for hours, the scars last to this day. Anyways they had me to keep my sister company, I was born after my Mother had a miscarriage, so I am about 3 years younger than my sister. Mom and dad fought regularly bout Dads night life, but Dad always managed to do his thing, it was clear that he was not committed to my mother and the family they started, he really was not mature enough from what I could tell. He expected to have to provide but did not know how to, and did not want to parent. So thatís makes me the hassle, that is what they should have named me Hassle!
My Mom really had to step up to the plate in a lot of areas, I had learning problems in school so it required special attention which was unheard of in those days both my Father and my Teachers thought I was a disciplinary problem, no one had ever heard of or knew about dyslexia, and I had it along with a major focus problem, I was constantly ridiculed in school and at home for my performance, my sisters pet name for me was Retard, and Fagggot, which I had repeatedly pounded into my head as my sister physically beat me every day of my lie.
My relationship with my sister is a unique one, Mom says she loved me when I was born but the day I started to walk that sentiment ended. It was like I invaded her territory, my sister was a bit street if you know what I mean. She liked being the tough one, and she went through this hole Tom Boy phase, it was all about getting attention from my Father because he was never around and my father was like a God to my sister, she is very much like him and his side of the family, I take more after my Mom. In any event this prevented a bond between me and my father because I could not compete with my sister and there was not enough of my Father to go around.
Before I got to grade school, I remember two instances where my parents went away and I stayed at my Aunts house. My fatherís sister was an alcoholic and her older son was 6 years older than me, still a boy at this stage but a very promiscuous boy, who was always punished, and being brought home by the police. My Aunt had two sons, Johnny and Louis, John was the older. I have images, and memories that are still quite clear. I remember sleeping in the basement, and my cousin told me that when I got up I should go into their room. So as kids do I got up real early and snuck upstairs into their room. Within minutes they had me on the bed and the PJís started to come off, I had no idea what was going on, and then suddenly my cousin got real nervous and told me to hide next to the dresser near their closet, naturally I thought this was all fun until my Grandfathers girlfriend, who I was told was the maid, came into the room, picked me up by one arm like a wet chicken and said ďDonít you ever, and I mean ever, stay in this room with these boys alone againĒ ďDo you hear meĒ! And she meant it! Boy was she mean I thought, little did I realize she was trying to save my life. I have to point out at this juncture that my Grandmother had died before I was born, I believe this is a major twist of fate, against my favor, had she lived I do not think any of this would have happened, she would have saw to it I was protected. I do not know if she made mention of it to my Grandfather I assume he knew what was going on, all I can tell you is that was the last I remember of her, she was gone by the next time I slept over their house and this time it was for a weekend my parents went skiing with their friends, my Mother dates this around 1965, 1966 which would have made me 4 or 5. In this instance I slept in their room in the same bed, I remember their step sisters were also saying over that week end, my older cousin started to talk to me about playing, he said it required that we take our cloths off, he also said that the girls do this from time to time as well (meaning his step sisters) I liked them a lot so I thought we would all play together ,no such luck though because John wanted some private time with me, so in his room we went. This was the beginning of a long bout of abuses that would occur over the next 5 years until my cousinís arrest in 1974.
(To Be Continued)