It is blistering hot today in New York and so I guess a lot of us are sitting by our air conditioners and computers and obviously walking down memory lane. Perhaps it is hot and humid where Donny and Joe live also. I would feel left out if I did not join in this conversation. Like Gen and Joe I also lived on the Brownsville side of town. I also walked home via East New York Ave. and down Powell Street to reach my home on Liberty(corner of Sackman). I chose that route because like Gen and Carolyn I also spent many hours at the convent on Powell. My sister and I volunteered to help the nuns. I also recall polishing and cleaning, altho I do not know what or why we were cleaning because the place was immaculate. It always had a distinct, sweet,nutmeg smell, which til this date I still can conjure up that pleasurable odor. One day the school principal asked me and Michael Carrano, a friend and fellow classmate (presently a Monsignor in the Bklyn. Queens diocese) to assist her in washing down the stoop of the convent. Since she was thin, frail and old, we asked her to stay inside and offered to do the job ourselves. We eagerly carried out pails of soapy water, and brooms and began to get down to business. Mother Philomena(that was her name)insisted on doing this job with us. She slipped on the soapy water and landed on her head. Michael and I at first laughed hysterically as her black veil was flying all over the place, but then soon realized the seriousness of the problem, as she did hurt herself. I don't recall going back there again to help out. And poor Michael suffered guilt for quite sometime thinking it was his fault. I could go on and on but this note is way too long. It is great to walk down memory lane with you, and yes the fun, warmth, love we all experienced gave us a good basis for our adult life. And while we were all predominantly Italian, I think, for me, growing up in the Brownsville section of "our old neighborhood" and shopping with my mom on Pitkin and Belmont gave me an appreciation for cultural diversity which I welcome and cherish today.
Thank you Donny, Genevieve and Grace for your most interesting replies.
I'm always amazed how "out of the loop" I was growing up in Brownsville.
I was not aware of any unwelcoming attitudes towards the Italian community on the part of the Presentation parishioners. We had no problems of the sort when we moved to the Bushwick section and attended Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. They had Italian, Irish, German, Polish and a few Blacks attending Mass and School. Maybe I was just naive, but we all got along quite well. By that time I was in High School. As teenagers, almost all of us got along very well. The only point of contention that I remember was our allegiance to the Dodgers, Giants or Yankees. We had a mixed bunch in that respect.
Thanks again everyone.
Joe Di Mento, OLL, Jan. 46
I lived on Powell St on the block of the old church but I didn't know the original one was on Wyona and Liberty. When I met my husband his grandmother told me that she was married in OLL but I wondered if this was possible. They came here in the late 1800's from Sicily and married at he age of 15 and 16. They lived on Jerome and Glenmore and I wondered how they could have gotten married at OLL which without cars was quite some distance back then. There had to be a closer church. I thought I hadn't heard correctly with the language difference but now Wyona and Liberty explains a lot. Thanks
Jerome and Glenmore is only 7 blocks for Wyona St. and 19 blocks from Powell. St. Not much of a walk.
Joe Di Mento
Jul 30, 2011 - 6:18PM
Re: OLL Convent
Mary Ann, I can't tell you how grateful I am to be living in the San Diego area during the heat and humidity you are experiencing in the East. Right now, the temperature is 84 degrees with a most delicious breeze coming from the Pacific Ocean.
Going back in time to my eighth grade, I remember helping Sr.M. Virgilius and Sr.M. Donat carry some books to the old convent. My reward, both times was a gigantic navel orange which I brought home. My mother gave me a lecture about taking rewards for helping the Sisters. She would tell me I should help whenever asked because it was the thing to do. I know that some people had bad experiences in later years, but my generation had the highest regard and respect for the Nuns and Priests of that era.
Just thought you would like to know that Sr.Virgilius is still with us and living at the sisters n.h. here in tenafly....Sr.Donnitt did pass away at least i would say about 10 years ago.i now live in englewood n.j. and a couple of minuites from the sisters........when the the convent closed in 1990's there were 10 sisters and of course all were transfered because of the closing of the school...it was a beautiful building and well deserved for them.
My thanks for your response and the news that Sr. Virgilius is still with us.
I can't imagine how old she must be, since I have just had my 80th birthday in June. Since I was 14 when I graduated OLL and she was my 8-B teacher. She must have been in her 20s, then, when she was my last teacher there.
Do you have the Tenafly address? I have good memories of that lady. Of course with all the students that passed through her classes, I doubt that she remembers me. Still I'd like to send a card. How is her health?
Victor, we all have memories of the wonderful nuns at OLL. Since you are fortunate to live so close to the retirement home, it would be great to take pictures of the sisters who taught at OLL. All of us who visit this site I am sure would welcome it.