MILK AND COOKIES WITH THE MAFIA DON.
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….