When Grandma would say to us, “Take this up to the attic,” she was asking us to visit a treasure house of memories. The attic at the big house on the water had large leather trunks, all carefully labeled with the names of each of her children. There was also a trunk labeled “Pa and Ma” that contained mementos ranging from First Communion prayer books to wedding invitations.
As with her own mother, our Mother was a “saver.” In addition to the trunk that Grandma kept with her children’s names, our Mother started a trunk of her own labeled with her married name. We were amazed that some 40 years later we found this trunk, nearly intact, full of memories.
Even when our parents moved to their own apartment, Mother continued collecting photos and postcards, which now live in my sister’s attic. In addition to photos of children, birthdays, family outings and days at the beach, these became filled with photos from our parents’ travels. One of our favorites is an anniversary photo of them taken during their stay at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, where our dad, Vincent, was sound consultant to Frank Sinatra.
He became well-known in engineering circles for creating the concept of “sound without a shell,” which made it possible for celebrity musicians to perform at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut. Although he and our Mother always had front-row guest seats for these concerts, Grandma would not leave the house to be in a crowd. However, she did love to hear the behind-the-scenes stories and collect concert programs.
Oftentimes, the following day, a neighbor or two would stop by and say, “Tell us about the concert.” Then, speaking as if she had been there herself, Grandma would place a program on the table and begin: “Wait till I tell you the inside story of what really happened last night.”
—Rita Esposito Watson, a longtime Journal columnist, has returned to Boston’s Beacon Hill, to complete “Italian Kisses: Gram’s Wisdom” and teach English to incoming Suffolk University freshman.