Somehow she always knew the big ones.
The ritual would begin. Me,my brother Joe and younger brother Umberto would be dressed in our finest. Of course the “finest”was always the only real shirt with a collar and our navy blue corduroys. The ones I hated cause they made stupid swishing noises.
Mamma would comb our hair and slick our thick black mops with Vaseline giving the appearance of a new haircut I suppose.
It became difficult to keep Joey neat and clean, pushing and shoving and starting fights with Umberto. Mamma kept the thoughts of eating at the reception in our mind.
Almost a week of fried peppers and potatoes, and finally just fried potatoes created a hunger with a headache. There were days we would have eaten a fried shoe.
The Cosentino wedding was held at St. Michaels church on Broadway.The reception was provided by the Italian Sons and Daughters hall, next door to the church. We prayed for a huge turnout as it made our presence less obvious. Knowing the people would gather and walk after the wedding ceremony we timed it to casually join the parade of invitees. We left the house with mixed emotions. The fear of being discovered as uninvited street urchins was overcome by not eating anything with a taste for a week.
Slowly we interjected into the procession ,up the stairs filing in a large decorated lively room filled with the aroma of Italian sausage, Sunday gravy and cheeses. Nose openings that brought sweet and exciting moisture to our entire mouth.
Mamma drilled us to be patient and wait for the children to assemble at the dedicated table.
We sat and looked at some kids who had no idea what it was to suffer hunger pains. Laughing and teasing one another they barely noticed us.We tried to pretend we were not anxious for the buffet tables to open…
Mamma always waited down the street at Filko’s drug store nursing a 10 cent coke, for hours waiting for the sign of us coming out of the festivity .Our goal being to gorge ourselves and stuff our pockets with as much food as possible. Some for Mamma and maybe next day eats.
Slowly we padded our way out of the hall as music bellowed and cheering we made for our exit.
Running to the drug store we laughed and joked about some kids dressed in men’s clothing, suits and ties. Girls in fluffy pink and white lace ,everyone with new shoes.
Mamma hugged us and we ran home. That was a time when we knew we didn’t fit in. We didn’t fit in anywhere. Later we were mad about it, but not that night. It was fun not to fit in.