This vignette was triggered by a programme I listened to on BBC Radio 4 this past week about the movie The GodFather – a lot of which was filmed on Staten Island. I also thought it would bring a much needed lighter note to our day…..

It’s now 1969. I am a single working mother living with Jarrod in our little cottage on Harbor View Place, Staten Island commuting back and forth on the Staten Island ferry to Manhattan where I am working at White, Weld & Co. (vignette 3)

Upon arriving on Staten Island, I was introduced to Marie and her family. Marie was to become Jarrod’s babysitter. What a blessing it was to meet her. I never missed a day’s work because of Marie, and up until her death a few years ago we kept in touch. She was so kind and in every way a wonderful human being. Part of a large Sicilian family, Marie loved to cook. Whenever I entered her home…the first thing she said…was “you have to eat” and sure enough there was always a large pot of sauce cooking in the kitchen ready for pasta dishes.

Coming from the UK at that time this was completely new to me but I learned to like it a lot:)

The above photograph shows Marie along with three of her children plus Jarrod and me in the garden of the cottage celebrating Jarrod’s third birthday.

I rented the cottage from Mimi Kolff who also became a good friend until her death in the eighties. Mimi’s house was next door to the cottage. Mimi’s father helped to develop Staten Island and one of the Ferries was named after him The Cornelious Kolff.

Mimi in her garden on Harbor View Place.

In hindsight I could never have imagined on February 3rd 1966 when I sailed on the United States Liner under the newly built Verrazano Bridge that I would be living virtually next door to the bridge and Fort Wadsworth a year later. Nor could I have imagined at that time that I was carrying the seed of Jarrod in my belly!

Another indication of what a different world it was then….The Verrazano Bridge was nicknamed The Guinea Gangplank…because after it was built, many Italians who lived in Brooklyn crossed the bridge to live in what was at that time the leafier and more desirable Staten Island.

As I settled in and got to know my neighbours, sometimes I would push Jarrod in his stroller from house to house collecting for the Heart Foundation.

At the end of Harbor View Place there was a big house overlooking the Harbor directly towards the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan Island. I was aware that there were always suited men and stretch limousines on the driveway to the house but it didn’t stop me from going to the front door and asking if I could receive a donation. Ignorance is bliss….

Consequently Jarrod and I were invited in to have milk and cookies with the owner who turned out to be a Mafia Don. Every time I went there he would give me twenty dollars for my collection – a fortune back then…and he was lovely..rather like visiting a grandfather. ……who knew? It was Marie who told me who he actually was….


  1. Jet Eliot

    A fun and engaging story, Janet, I enjoyed it a lot. And the photos were also a pleasure. I especially liked the birthday party photo. Cheers, my friend, to life.

  2. davidjrogersftw

    I’m sure you’re enjoying your memories as I am sure your other readers are enjoying them. When you tell them so many memories from my life come to mind, as for example when I was offered a job in New York. I am a writer and memories are writer’s turf. You can’t be a really good writer without an exceptional memory–that’s guaranteed–a recollection comes to mind and then all the details come pouring in as who was there, what they were wearing, who said what, and how you felt…and sometimes the weather. And that’s a gift you have and are sharing with us out here. Thank you.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you David.
      You are so right that when one recollection comes to mind it triggers a thousand others.
      Speaking of which someone sent a photograph from the past this week which sparked off so much. It will be the subject of my next6 vignette……
      I hope you enjoy a productive week and that your weather is co operating:). Janet

      1. davidjrogersftw

        Just keep those vignettes coming, Janet, Of all the things–later today I’m going to have two consecutive MRIs, one after another. So I will be stuck in that tube for over an hour. What shall I think about, I wonder? Best, David.

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        I thought I sent a comment – in case I didn’t – good luck. I slept the last time I had MRIs – loving the fact that no one could get to me in the tube:)

  3. janetweightreed10 Post author

    I hope it’s just for routine check ups? Last time I had to go through a tube for an hour…I fell asleep..so maybe the thing to do is think of something as you enter tube that you love and then let your subconscious do the rest:)

  4. Ron Leaf

    I recently found some photos of Mimi Kolff from the 1940’s in my recently deceased mother’s collection. I would like to learn more about her connection to my mother’s family.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hello Ron, I would love to see some of the pictures of Mimi. I am not sure that I can help you as I am not sure that I know who your Mother is? I leave for the States on Wednesday morning and will be gone for the month of September. I will be checking e mails/messages now and then. Thank you for your comment – I look forward to hearing more. Janet 🙂

    2. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Ron,

      When I return from the States in October I will look through my albums to see if there are any pictures that might help you. I can’t say that I am familiar with any specific connections that Mimi had with your family. Mimi was a wonderful and very colourful person….she died on her 90th birthday having moved from Staten Island to be close to family in California. Her father, Cornelious Kolff, was instrumental in settling Staten Island and one of the ferries was named after him. My parents knew Mimi as well as cousins or hers in the UK – however, they are all gone now…and so I can’t ask for information from them. Best wishes. Janet


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