by Susan Marie Davniero.
Those were the good old New Year’s Eve days growing up and celebrating New Year’s Eve at my grandparents’ house, Joseph and Bridget Cioffi. My parents and sisters would travel from Massapequa LI to Brooklyn to my grandparent’s home nestled between apartment buildings on a busy Brooklyn street.
Their house seemed enormous to me as a child looking up at this towering brick grand house. Growing up in Long Island I wasn’t accustomed to the aged grandiose Brooklyn houses. They just don’t make houses like that in LI developments. The house fit as it seemed to be as old as my grandparents.
The car ride felt like forever to a child’s impatience. We finally arrived and Dad began to search for a parking space on a busy borough street. Sometimes Grandpa tried to save Dad a parking space by placing his garbage pail in the street parking space.
Grandma would warmly greet us at the door as Grandpa stood outside directing Dad parking. Dad was an excellent driver but followed Grandpa’s direction just the same. Running into the house my sisters and I ran upstairs claiming our bedroom for we came to sleep over.
The aroma of Grandma’s authentic Italian Sicilian homemade pizza pervaded the air. No one made pizza like my Grandma Bridget – dripping with mozzarella, in an icing layer of homemade tomatoes sauce, sitting on a bed of thick Italian crust comparable to the any NYC pizzeria. Pizza came to be our family’s New Year’s Eve tradition.
My grandparents’ vast empty house was soon filled with love and laughter that New Year’s Eve. My favorite cousins, Elaine and Paulie joined our family arriving with Aunt Renee and Uncle Paulie driving from Elmont in his family car – an infamous Edsel. I knew than it will surely be another Happy New Year’s Eves at Grandma and Grandpa’s as we ring in the New Year together for another year!
Dad announces its time to get the cards out..and we all claim our places in the elegant dining room converted now for the family poker game. Even grandma played poker. I remember when grandma won with 4 deuces. The adults sat at the dining table and the cousins held our own kiddies penny poker at a bridge table set up alongside. Our New Year’s Eve was all in the cards for this family.
We were allowed to stay up all night to Midnight. Aunt Renee often took nap so she could stay awake but staying awake for me was no problem. I was so excited to be staying up all night. Suddenly it’s Midnight and we take captive of Grandma’s pots, pans and wooden spoons running into the dark of night onto the streets banging away on the pots/pans broadcast Happy New Year’s to the world. In those days it was safe outside on the street.
After the New Year’s Eve Midnight excitement I was tired ready to be tucked into bed in upstairs bedroom. Grandma’s bed sheets seemed like new crisp with linen freshness giving me a peaceful sleep.
We awoke to Grandma’s breakfast of homemade Italian bread French toast (Grandma only kept Italian bread in her home no slice Wonder was found in her panty) accompany with a glass of “Tang” the orange sugary drink astronauts drank (this was a time during the 60’s ad campaign ads for Tang) with a side plate of real buttered toast. Even Grandma’s simple plate of toast was the best toast I ever had. I suppose you just can’t bottle a Grandma’s love.
Turn the calendar page as years past and New Year’s Eve at Grandma and Grandpa is only a memory. Turn Since those days I’ve had many exciting New Year’s Eve shared with loved ones and my loving husband, Bob. Yet, alas, New Year’s Eve will never be the same like my good old New Year’s Eve Days.