My father came from a large family. It was very common for death to knock on our door, they had a lot of tragedies in my father’s family. This made the Witch and her in-laws go to the table more often. They would take out the cards, Ouija, and the ESP board looking for answers. They used to sit around and I would hear them say the phase “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe, who is the next one to go”.The mission was to find out how an accident happened, or just to find out where or when it happened and what or who was next. They used all avenues to find out. So that meant all hands on deck (cards, Ouija, and the ESP board). The cards would tell if other people were there or how it happened. The Ouija and ESP board would spell out the names or places they needed. Sometimes the cards would say a young man will be dying soon and the ESP board would disagree and say an older man was dying. It was no surprise to these Witches when that happened, to see two deaths, one young man and one older man would pass within weeks of each other. Naturally, if someone was very sick in their family people in the neighborhood would come and look for the same answers. The Witch predicted many deaths and they were always spot on. I remember one time they had a Seance the same week after burying one of the relatives. They all gathered at a relatives house far away and sat at the big round table holding hands. I was a young teen then and thought they were just nuts. Sitting with the cousins and siblings in the living room we could hear them very clearly. My mother and another relative were the only ones talking to the spirits on the other side, I knew this because the names they were calling were dead. They kept asking one relative who died for money. They were very sure he was going to help them. Then I saw the Witch jump up and said he told me to go into the bathroom. Now everyone at the table went there too. My mother started pulling down a dixie cup they had in a dispenser. A $20 bill came out, boy that was some trick I thought, except no one had money. She did that a few times and they were all in their glory. They got three $20 bills from doing that. I saw this with my own eyes, it happened that one time but never again. Another way the Witch would call on the other side was just sitting with a person who wanted to connect to their loved one by taking out the cards. They would start by asking questions to the person who passed. The Witch got answers and the persons who came were always glad my mother could help them get answers. There were all kinds of questions, there was no end to their mission or answers they wanted to get. There was so much death back then it was a ritual to go to a wake in a funeral home at least once a year. This made the young girls in the neighborhood getting pregnant early in life a breath of fresh air. That was common, back then young girls getting pregnant out of wedlock. There was never a dull moment !!!
I learned early how to multi-task, that was the only way to make sure you had a buck. Never mind that the Witch made hers from anything that fell off a truck. She taught me well. I would watch her read everyone’s cards and that was for free, then make sure they saw the items she put out on the couch. She knew they would buy something and the Witch made money. That went on all the time when lived on 49th st. I also networked with the customers at the custard store where I worked. I would let them know when I was on the corner shining shoes. I bought my shoe shine box from the money I made at the custard store. When someone needed a shine they would find me, they were loyal customers. On that same corner of 49th st. at Christmas time I would deliver Christmas trees for a quarter. Let us not forget babysitting on the weekend nights. The Witch was a good teacher, being on Welfare gave me the drive to get more. The food we received from Welfare was horrible. The lines were long and so not worth it, but we had many mouthes to feed. We would get powdered milk, powdered mashed potatoes and a long block of cheese that tasted as bad as it looked., plus the spam we received instead of ham. Now that we moved up to 7th ave. we wanted even more. The bigger apartment we needed items to fill this big space. The Witch started putting furniture and stuff on layaway. She still had the stuff that fell off the truck to sell to pay it off. Now people from the old neighborhood would come and new neighbors too all to have their cards read. The Witch was busy reading all the time. I now worked for the donut shop and my uncle hired me when he had odd jobs to do for people. I was his helper and worked like a dog. He gave me a miter box, I felt so important. Who knew his motive was to make me work harder than ever. He would put up wall panels and I would cut the moldings with my miter box. We painted, put up wallpaper and everything else. He taught me how to place the wallpaper on the walls. He also showed me how to make it a straight line by using a string and a heavy object like scissors on the bottom of the string to keep it from moving. Then I would place it at the top of the ceiling and let it hang to the floor. This would make a straight line and I would line up the paper to paste it on the wall. My uncle always gave me a few bucks for a hard day’s work. The Witch now was starting a new network. There was a man that offered her a job to do at home. It was piece work and for pennies, she had to do many pieces to add up to dollars. She would get a gross of pieces that would be glued, linked together with needle-nose pliers or just attach these small items to make earrings or necklaces. He paid her $15 a gross. Well, the Witch had a great idea, by giving out the work and making money on that work. The Witch then had the whole neighborhood wanting to work at home with this jewelry. She paid them $10 for every gross they did. The Witch was in the dough, she made $5 on every gross that was put together by anyone wanting to make a few extra bucks. Times were tuff so they were many moms doing this homework while caring for their children. They all still came and got their free reading while picking up their work. What a gig, she was one smart bitch of a Witch. That maneuver gave her the money to buy meat at the butcher. The piece work and items from the truck she sold, all paid off and we then had good cooked meals with meat to eat. Yipeee!!!
It was very common to put a pillow on the windowsill and lean out to watch the people in the streets. Living on 7th Ave was much more to see in this neighborhood, because we were on the corner of the avenue. You could see the 7th avenue and 52nd Street. That was what the Witch did every day. There was a day the Witch was looking out the window and noticed my sister walking down the block. Then she saw a dog following my sister to our front door. The Witch got so excited, started yelling at me to stop that dog from coming up the stairs to our apartment. I ran into the hallway and saw my sister coming up the stairs with a man behind her. He was very tall with dark eyes and dark hair and he had a serious look on his face. He said to me, I need to speak to your mother. The Witch was coming to the door yelling, get that dog out of here. She then stopped saw the man and the Witch looked like she was in shock, you could see it in her face. There was only one way into the building besides the fire escape in the kitchen. I had to guess she saw the dog go into the building and now a man is standing in front of her. The Witch confirmed that a day or two later. He looked at her and said I need to speak to you its very important. She pushed us aside and told us to go into the back rooms. The Witch let him in. We got close to the living so we could hear what they were talking about. He spoke very quietly. My mother was writing things down, and taking notes. I thought that was strange she never listened to anyone. The Witch looked memorized. I did hear some words like you need to be protected spiritually and he was telling her how to do that. My sister and I looked at each other after hearing that and said they both must be crazy. The man got up and started to go out the door. My mother ran to the window and told me to watch him in the hallway. I saw him go down the stairs. I then went to my mother and told her he went down the stairs. The Witch then said go all the way downstairs because he did not come out the front door. I went down and out to the street looked up at that Witch hanging out the window and said that man is not here. Her face went as white as a ghost. How strange he just disappeared. The next day the Witch wrote down the items she wanted me to get from the store. Items like Spanish chalk and camphor and the holy water they sold in the Spanish store on 4th Ave. I went and came back with the items. Then I watched her drawing lines above the doorway with the chalk, and put more above the windows. She took the camphor and put it in water and then put it under the beds. I thought the Witch was losing it. I never said anything to her, I just do what I was told and never asked questions . A few days later we all were sitting in the living room watching TV, and then we hear 3 knocks on the front door. I opened it and no one was there. Later that night, someone came down from the apartment upstairs and said there is a dead woman upstairs call for help. That was strange 3 knocks and then someone was dead. What a strange and bizarre week we had. This now was a pattern that seemed to form, because then it happed a few more times in that year. Till this day I believe if I hear the sound of the 3 knocks, I know from experience that death will follow.
A friend of mine from grammar school just reminded me that my mother taught her how to read the cards. She had a project for school and used a deck of witches cards to show and tell. The Witch switched from being mean to welcoming my friends into the house. My friends were able to even a sleepover my house. If anyone was in trouble now she would help them and sometimes she took them in. The Witch was in a happy place in the kitchen. She loved to cook, she was good at it. This was not the only thing she did with food or condiments. The Witches were cooking up spells too. The eggs sometimes were used to separate or remove crazy people from their lives. The recipes made on that wooden table were the best white Witch spells that really worked. When you do a spell in the right way it helps to release the negative energy and have a great sense of peace and harmony.
The last apartment building we Lived at was a hell hole. I must have run away a million times. The Witch always knew how to find me. Through her cards, Ouija board or that ESP board. One time she found me and she dragged me back by my hair through the streets. Thank God my hair was thick and long so I didn’t lose much hair when she did that. This new place on 7th Ave was surely a sign things were getting better. This apartment that was on top of the bar had such great guys in it. I would come down with my waitress uniform on and they would come out and offer me a ride to work. Naturally, the Witch was always out the window and warned me never to take that offer. This made me want to bring the donuts that were left over to them after I closed the donut shop. Everyone got donuts, the neighbors, relatives, and of course had to bring them into the bar. The owner of the donut shop did throw away the donuts that were not sold that day. My mother who was now pregnant at the new place felt out of place. She would only go out to church for the Novena and Sunday mass. Everyone in the neighborhood would call the baby to be the Novena baby. No one ever saw my father. He was in and out late at night so it made them wonder who was the father. This pregnancy did make her a lot more civil than usual. The Witch was still religious by day and at night reading someone at that old wooden table. The relatives sometimes would come and read their cards too. So the ritual of reading neighbors and friends and a few strangers went on even at the new place. She always did this for nothing. I think she just wanted to be liked since my father rejected her and went off with many women. Everyone always had a free reading. She never charged for giving spells or advice from her great vision. She was getting so nice that I was now allowed to sit with the elders, while they were doing their card readings. The Witch even offered to read a few of my school mates. I was not allowed to speak unless I was sure of what I saw in the cards. I was tested and knocked down many times for a vision I was trying to obtain. My mother did read a few of the fellows from the bar downstairs. One guy was so obsessed with the horses he wanted her to pick the trainers and the jockey. He also wanted to know if he would get a specific job too. The Witch was on target with that, he came back right away and wanted more. He couldn’t believe what he saw her say that came out. She refused him the second time, she hated gambling, that was all my father did. There was another young man that came upstairs and asked my mother to read him. He saw what happened to his friend. This young man had a few girlfriends and naturally wanted to know which one would be good for him. The Witch told him he would lose his chance with the right girl. There would be another pregnant and he would be trapped. She warned him not to have so many and that he was playing with Fire. This also came out the way she read it in his cards. The Witch again was the talk of the neighborhood. This Witch had a great gift for sure. I would watch her and the relatives when they were reading the cards very carefully. I noticed when reading sometimes their faces would change like they were in a trance. Felt like something guiding them in the way they would read. Then they would sit back and sigh with relief that it was surely going to happen whatever they read. How did these women I thought could not find the right life for themselves and tell so many how to get the right path? It was always a puzzle until this day. They all did nothing but help, comfort and guide everyone with divine guidance the right way with their vision. I was always amazed how they did all that. My friends and I would steal the Witches cards and go play like we were the kid Witches. I had fun on the run with friends doing kid witching stuff, like doing our spells and asking the cards what to do. I also loved sitting at that wooden table and learned a lot more than you can imagine. I thought there is a God after all. This was a good place!!!
I was so happy at thirteen we were moving off that block of horrors. To a much bigger apartment, finally we were going to get some space in our new apartment. No more sleeping with five of us in one bedroom. This apartment had railroad rooms and there were big. Also, the apartment was over a Bar, and only had one other tenant above us. I shared a bedroom with my sister. Wow, what a great place, and no bugs. The Bar downstairs was noisy at times, but not too bad. I slept better when it had noise. This apartment was so much better than that crazy apartment building with those nasty men and some horrible tenants. We had a bigger kitchen. There was even room for a washing machine. This place was up on 7th Ave and 52nd St. The fire escape was big and lead out to the top of a garage. Boy, it was wonderful sleeping out there in the summer then, so much room on it. I started working at a donut shop which now I made tips and my pay. My sister now got my old job at the custard store. Carl, the owner at the custard store kept that job in the family. He knew how we needed the money. She was two years younger than I. Now we both came up with a plan to buy a washing machine. We both hated taking those big bags to the laundromat. My mother was pregnant and all I thought of was more smelly diapers to clean. My sister and I went down to 5th avenue to a store that would allow us to put a washing machine on layaway. It took one year but we did it. We had our washing machine. The Witch didn’t really like that and sent mixed emotions to us. That Witch was always so confusing, still yelling and screaming and beating us still. You do something great like saving money by not going to the laundromat and have your machine, I thought this was a good thing. I didn’t realize with us going to school and working longer hours the Witch had to do her wash, Ha! I loved it and enjoyed doing my wash when I wanted. My room was the last and off to the side of the other bedrooms. I also had a back door through the closet that would bring you to the hallway. My father would come home sometimes drunk as a skunk and come through the back door. He would dance on my bed and sing until I got up. He would take two pillows and take me downstairs to his car. I knew the car had to be one of his girlfriend’s car, but he told us it was his. I then was put in the driver’s seat with the pillows to fit just right when driving. My father would say he was teaching me early so he can just come in and go to bed and I would park the car. This area where we lived people had money so there were more cars on the street. That made it hard to find a parking spot. He would always make me drive down 7th Ave. Not much traffic there at four in the morning. One day I was directed to drive down a one-way street and I said I couldn’t do it. My dad was yelling saying just go down here, I said it’s a one way the opposite way. My dad was so mad and said I am only telling you to go one way and just do it. I guess luck was on my side that there was no traffic back then. Sometimes he did that so often and I wished a car would come up from the other way just to shut him up. Like the Witch, they had there crazy moments that you could not answer back and just do what they said. I do take a positive outlook and felt I was lucky to be driving so early in life. A couple of years later I would steel my aunt’s car when she came down from upstate. She also got drunk and told me to park the car, just like her brother did. My dad had passed away at the age of 37 years old. This made my aunt to want to come a stay with us. I would just take her car for a joy ride or go down to the store. I had one hell of a ride
It was so cold in the house that it made you want to go out and play to keep warm. We never had heat in that apartment building. Naturally in my early teens couldn’t wait to run out and get doing something exciting. I first had to make sure the kids were fed and the dishes were washed. I would tell the Witch I was going to shovel steps for the homeowners on the block. That was a sure thing to get out fast. She knew I would bring home money. We lived in a big apartment building. The Witch would inspect the kitchen before letting me out of that crazy house. I always had a gang of friends waiting on the landing for me. We had an apartment on the second floor. I was last to meet the gang because I had to do all the chores first. My friends and I would run up to 5th Ave, grab onto the back bumper of the bus and take the ride to Sunset Park. The snow was fresh and felt great gliding on the street. There weren’t many cars in the neighborhood back then. It was wonderful just cruising down the Avenue about 7 blocks to the park on the back of the bus. Who had money to go on the bus, not us? We all would jump off at the same time and roll in the snow. What a great feeling that was. Then it was time to go and steal some garbage can covers. These were used to slid down the hills in the park. Just hop onto the top of the can cover hold on tight and they flew down on the snow. Boy, they made the best sleds ever. The metal was such a good base underneath your body, you went down the hill like lighting. We couldn’t wait to race up the hill again and again and fly down the hill of snow. I had to stop after a few hours and go shovel snow. I always took the shovel that was in the cellar in the building, but I always brought it back. People couldn’t wait for us to come around to do their dirty work shoveling the snow. I made a whole buck doing each home. That was a lot of money then. The summer was so much better because Sunset Park had three pools. The baby pool was just sprinklers. Anyone could just walk into that pool. The other two pools were very big, one was so deep it had diving boards. You had to pay a quarter to get into them. At this time in my early teens, I only had 4 sibling’s to drag around with me. The Witch thought if I had them I would do nothing but stay downstairs in front of the building. I wasn’t allowed to go out without them. So my friends and I would come up with a plan. We only needed one friend to get a quarter and go into the big pools. They were gated. I then took my four siblings and walked into the baby pool, which was right next to the big pools. One by one I would pass each kid over the fence. My friend would be on the other side of that fence and catch them. Well, that was a sure way to enjoy the pool on a hot summer day, and that was done many times. The other great thing to do in the summer was to go to a matinee. The gang and I would come up with a brilliant plan to get us all in for free. Let’s not forget the tag-along sibling’s, and try to keep four kids quiet at the same time. This wasn’t easy, so we had to act fast on this one. It was hard to sneak them in without making a sound, but I did it. I would have my friend who had the money go in the movies and open the side door. We never missed a good matinee. I made sure my sibling’s enjoyed simple things, just like everyone else did in the neighborhood. That is why I acquired great determination at an early age. That old saying comes to mind now that I think about it ‘where there’s a will there is a way” I guess I learned that early
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