At nine o’clock on the morning after Thanksgiving, the nonnas scurry to the homes of grandchildren, ringing front doorbells until the children appear. No child is late. The nonnas, with their charges in tow, meet on the corner near the church.
Little children holding hands with nonnas, older children holding hands with one another, they race down the avenue [...]
The groundwork for an exodus begins on a sunny springtime late Sunday afternoon when a daughter invites her mother to join her family for a ride. With the dinner dishes put away after the big meal, and the remaining crostatta back in the refrigerator, the nonna accepts. In the car, she takes her place between her bickering 12-year-old grandson and his 10-year-old sister.
Most of the nonnas sew piecework in a factory five days a week to earn a living; they sew for their family at home in the evenings and on weekends to relax. Once they lay out the pattern and pin it to the fabric, they are convinced that the work is practically finished. It does not matter that they have not [...]
The basement with its laundry room and functional kitchen becomes a ballroom on New Year’s Eve. Twisted colorful crepe-paper streamers criss-cross the space’s low ceiling. The radio is turned up loud and brings in the best music of the night from New York City’s Hotel Roosevelt.
Each year a different neighborhood nonna hosts the year-end festivities. Each [...]
It’s a morning at the end of August. Nonnas lucky enough to have a grape arbor lush with filled-to–bursting concord grapes pluck the bunches by the stem and deposit them in bushel baskets. Other nonnas wait at the fruit stand for workers to unload crates of oozing grapes from a wooden-sided truck. Unlucky grandsons carry the crates home.