My grandma and I on the occasion of my 4th birthday on November 26, 1973 in our house at 368 Kirby Avenue, Long Branch, N.J.
Today, January 11, 2013, is the 25th anniversary of the death of my paternal grandmother, Florence Marie Todaro (nee Acerra). She died January 11, 1988 at age 79. My grandma was basically my mom and when own mom was living in Belgium from Jan. 1976 - Dec. 1979 and at points thereafter. I loved her so much and miss her very much even today a quarter century later. Sometimes I imagine she is suddenly back and I am trying to explain the world of today.
As you may know (if only because I've mentioned it a number of times here), her younger sister -- my great Aunt Babe -- is having her 100th birthday later this month up in New Jersey, and I am going not only with my father but my mother also, even though my mom hasn't been married into the Todaro family since 1974.
Here is my Aunt Babe the last time I saw her in her house in West Long Branch, N.J., on September 7, 2008. It was spooky how much she reminded me of my grandma.
Here was the whole dang Acerra family -- with my grandmother, Aunt Babe, and Uncle Freddie circled -- at Newark Airport in 1939 on the occasion of having won some contest the airport held of the largest family in New Jersey.
Unfortunately, I can't find my original print copy of this picture and the only one I have is the image that I posted back in September 2008 in which I circled my grandmother (bright blue), Aunt Babe (orchid), and Uncle Freddie (lime green).
Only four of the children are left including Aunt Babe.
I've written before about how the Acerra Brothers had a all-brother baseball team (pictured above).
The birthday event -- apparently involving 200 or so people (yes, I used to have a sprawling extended family before I got plunked down in this ghastly Washington, D.C., reality of the early decades of the 21st Century removed from my past and future) -- is at the Branches in West Long Branch, New Jersey on Jan. 27th.
My father -- who is rapidly becoming a version of Jerry Stiller's character Arthur on The King of Queens -- is (foolishly) driving up (instead of flying) from Flagler Beach, Florida.
My dad and I on my last successful trip to see him -- there was the disastrous one last July -- in Daytona Beach, Fla., on a stormy day, October 7, 2011.
I am going with my mom and Ray (my stepfather) is coming along, although he isn't going to the event. He'll just stay in the hotel and watch a violent movie. Or Fox News. Or something like that.
I'm also hoping to see my childhood friends Jonathan and Chris C.
My father (left) looking like James Dean at around 16 years of age and my grandparents and my late paternal uncle Richard, who was about 14 years old in this image. This was taken in their house on Cleveland Avenue in Long Branch, N.J., circa Christmas 1957.
Friday night musical interlude to follow shortly.