J: Were you born here in Greenwich?
P: No. I was born in New Jersey. I’m a Jersey Girl, ha ha. But when I was little, I lived in Riverdale in The Bronx.
J: Cool, what brought you to Greenwich?
P: My daughters moved here. I followed them.
J: What did you do growing up, do you have siblings?
P: What did I do? When I was a child? I had a sister and brother, they were twins. They were 15 months younger than me and they always used to fight. I always used to break them up! So my mother threw us out, “Go play outside!” So we did. We used to play ... all these fun games in the street. It was safe then because the cars were slow. Don’t put my age!
J: I won’t.
P: And I graduated high school. A lot of people dropped out and got married and had babies. But me, I graduated high school because for me that was like graduating college. I was so proud. I went to Theodore Roosevelt (High School) in the Bronx on Fordham Road.
J: What was your favorite thing to study there?
P: Art. I love art now still.
J: What kinds do you like to do?
P: Acrylics. I signed up already and have three classes (at the Senior Center) ... I also learned how to knit.
J: Do you do that here as well?
P: Oh yes. And I dance a little but but I can’t dance too much. I like what they do here, the Zumba. It’s a fun one! I can do a little bit of it. Sometimes I sit in a chair and do it, just the legs. And I come here for the lunch because it’s like dinner. At night I’ll have cereal then, or something.
J: And you said you have daughters.
P: When I got out of high school, when I was 19, I married my boyfriend.
J: How did you meet him?
P: In the street. He was playing softball so I bent down and picked up the ball. I threw it at him and (gasps) he was gorgeous ... hair, green eyes, he was gorgeous. He would come talk with me on the stoop outside the building. We got married but didn’t have children because he had a sperm problem. And I didn’t know, but his father was an alcoholic and he became an alcoholic. When he drank he was violent, but otherwise he was a buttercup. So I had to leave him, it was hard. After him I met a guy who owned a variety store where I lived at the time on Tremont Ave. I met him and got married and have two beautiful daughters.
J: How old were you when you met him?
P: I’d like to say I was 25 or 26 ... his name is Nicholas and we had two daughters.
J: What are your daughters’ names?
P: The younger one is Lori the older one is Gina.
J: What brought them here?
P: They are both school teachers. The older one now became a librarian. ... She decided to be a librarian so five years ago she went back to college for that. I have five grandchildren. Four boys.
J: And when you got here five years ago, what did you think of the town?
P: I’ll tell you, I like Port Chester. It’s more my style. I love Greenwich — only for the beauty of it — but I miss Port Chester.Read Full Article
J: Port Chester has a nice cultural thing going on.
P: Yes, and my daughter Lori, they lived in Port Chester because (her husband’s family) is from Port Chester. Lori has two children. A beautiful precious granddaughter. She just turned 16, Victoria. And also, my little grandson, 9, he’s gorgeous. Oh, and he’s my heart.
J: What is his name?
J: Nicholas, after his grandfather.
P: Yes, and my older daughter Gina has three sons. One is 28 and lives in Manhattan with his beautiful schoolteacher girlfriend. ... I’m happy she’s a school teacher. She’s beautiful and she’s sweet. I’m so happy ... and the other one Joey — actually it’s his birthday this month; he’s going to be 24 — and then my precious Christian. He just turned 15. He’s like a string bean. He’s skinny! I don’t know where he puts the food.
J: That’s so wonderful. Things are so wonderful when they’re good.
P: And so horrible when they’re not.
J: That’s right. So you said that you lived in Riverdale when you were younger. Were your parents born there?
P; My parents were born in Italy, and then they went to New Jersey and they had me. A year and a half later they had my sister and brother, the twins. It was nice, my childhood. I loved my childhood. My parents were so loving and giving and caring. And we were poor and my mother used to make our clothes and do our hair with banana curls, me and my sister, and we were voted the best-dressed children in the elementary school even though we were so poor.
J: Wow, she’s talented! And you don’t need money to have style.
P: Yes, she had a gift. My mother could make clothes that were like Lord and Taylor. She used to go to the department stores, look at the window, look at the styles, come home and cut patterns out of the newspaper and make clothes. I took after her because when I was pregnant and came home from work, I’d get my patterns and make my own maternity clothes. I loved it ... I do mostly art now.
J: So you really do have an artistic gene in you.
P: So does my granddaughter. When we went to the restaurants, diners — she used to take pads there and she used to draw; she is so talented. I keep them all.
J: Something I like to ask everyone: What advice would you give your grandchildren or anyone from the newer generations based on your experiences?
P: To me, I believe, to believe in your religion and always have religion — because I do. In my bedroom I built a shelf with ... Jesus, candles, flowers, my little sanctuary. And at night before I go to bed ... (and) a lot of times when I feel depressed, I go over and say my prayers and ask for certain things like — let my grandchildren be healthy and happy and meet spouses. That’s very important. Besides health, that’s happiness if you meet a person, a spouse.