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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)

TITLE: My Sweet Childhood Memories
By Nancy Wood


I was born and raised in a traditional Italian Catholic home. All of my grandparents came over from Italy when they were young adults and made a new life in Oakland, CA. When my parents were married in October of 1952 they purchased a home that was within a mile away from each of their parents. My parents still live in that house and have raised three daughters. The house is filled with wonderful memories that I will cherish forever.

My parents have attended the same Catholic church all of their married life. We attended mass every Sunday. I was baptized, made my first Holy Communion, and confirmation in that church. I went to twelve years of Catholic school, eight of which was connected to this church. The high school was up a short walking path and I had some of the same nuns teach me as taught my mother and aunt several decades earlier. I feel I received an excellent education and foundation that carried me through my life. A more recent memory connected to this church was watching my parents renew their wedding vows on their 45th anniversary with family members celebrating the occasion with us.

The area of Oakland I grew up in is known as Temescal, and we, Italians, affectionately called it “little Italy. The streets of Temescal were lined with Italian restaurants and delicatessens with the aroma filling the atmosphere. Also, a locally owned hardware store filled with everything for your home from kitchen gadgets, lumber, and hand held tools. Everyone from proprietors to customers knew each other and filled the atmosphere with the pleasant sound of the Italian language.

Our weekdays were filled with school and homework. Our mother was a stay at home mom and she taxied us to and from school daily. As soon as we arrived home our first item of business was taking off our uniform. Next we would do our homework at the kitchen table a few feet away from where our mom was preparing dinner. We interacted with her as we needed assistance with our homework. She would go over the homework before she would allow us to play. We would then have a couple of hours before our dad came home and we had dinner together around the same kitchen table.

Some of my most cherished memories come on the weekends and are those of family – both immediate and extended. Saturdays were special for me. Saturday afternoons my mother would wash my sisters and my hair. This was always a big deal as all three of us had thick waist length hair and would always take quite awhile to wash and dry. My grandparents would come over to visit. We would have coffee and homemade biscotti as we sat around the kitchen table. My mother and grandmothers would have their coffee in demitasse cups. My sisters and I had our coffee in very miniature demitasse cups as they fit our hands perfectly.

My father worked six days a week so Sundays were especially special to us. We would get up early and go to church as a family and then spend the remainder of the day either at our grandparent’s home meeting up there with aunts, uncles and cousins enjoying the day filled with laughter and always ended by a great four to five course meal that was prepared by my grandmother. The Sundays we did not go to our grandparents homes were spent taking day trips. The five of us would pile into the car and with great anticipation we would drive to destinations that would always geared for us girls. Sometimes we would arrive at the coast and spend the day in the water, splashing and building sand castles. Other days we would end up at an amusement park filled with rides that would be just as exciting for my dad to ride as for us girls. My mother would usually sit on a nearby bench waiting intently for us to return with our commentaries on our experiences.

Even as we grew up and some of us have moved out to the suburbs and started our own families, we remain friends and know each others families. We reminiscence the good old days in “little Italy” where our parents and grandparents knew each other and gave us the foundation of religion, tradition and family that we can share with our children and those we come in contact with in our daily lives.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sunny Loomis 09/16/09
Sweet family memories. Good job.
Sara Harricharan 09/16/09
An interesting read! Thanks for sharing this. They certainly sound like sweet memories to reflect upon.