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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I just couldn’t make up my mind when it came to where I scavenged for food. My grade school brain was constantly in turmoil. Don’t think the nuns at the Catholic school I attended didn’t see the bruises on my arms or the holes in my shoes. They would occasionally allow me to join them in the convent and offer me something to eat. My school blouse was yellow and my skirt was not ironed, there was no time to look good. I did the laundry for all of us. I dragged the bags to the laundromat. I never knew you could buy bleach to clean up my blouses. We were lucky just to have laundry detergent. In school, my knuckles would be bruised from the nuns, only because I was a troublemaker. You got the hard ruler stick on your knuckles if they didn’t like what you were doing. I was a Tomboy so I guess they thought they would teach me a thing or two. I didn’t care just another person beating on me. Also, it became a habit to knock on the convent door, this was when they didn’t ask me. The nuns would just make a bag of food for me. I always shared it with my siblings. The nuns were kind and nuts, then acted like they were the soup kitchen, giving to the poor. With their sweet faces they wanted me to always be so grateful and I was, and in my head, I kept saying just give me the food. God forbid the “Witch Superior “ got a load of that! I did entertain the thought of being a nun, only because it was so quiet and peaceful in the convent. Boy! I don’t think I would have ever fit in. Then the Witch would shove me toward the door in the direction of the neighborhood bar in search of my father’s dollar filled pockets. Heaven knows, us kids had to eat!!! This was the best on a Sunday when the witch sent me on this mission.
I would take a few of my siblings with me for security to get what I needed. That was a plus looking at four hungry children always got to my father. Sunday’s were baseball in the summer. Bar patrons of different bars would play each. I knew exactly where to go. This particular place had big drums they cut in half. They got the drums from the 39th street pier. Everything came off of that pier. God knows if it fell off a truck on the pier my father had it. The drums that were cut in half were filled with charcoal and racks that came from somewhere were on top. I also made money sometimes if I had a loose tooth one of the patrons loved to pull the tooth out with his handkerchief. He would have us sit on the bench outside the bar and do this. Then he would give me or one of my sibling’s money for the tooth. God knows the tooth fairy passed over our house. Boy, I knew this was a feast hot dogs and hamburgers and buns too! We would watch the game and eat to our heart’s content. Naturally, there was unlimited soda and chips too. This was a great day for our Sunday at the bar with the baseball and BBQ!!!
People sometimes married into the family and no one saw their true colors until later after they make everyone love them beside the person they choose. Well, I not only saw through this relative but I experienced terrible sex abuse again and again for many years. When I was very young, I went to the Witch to tell her of this abuse, and she would beat me saying to me that I was making it up and to shut up. Well, that didn’t surprise me, the Witch just beat me for looking like my father so what else was new. There were many others in the neighborhood that did the same thing because they must have seen I was abused and had now where to turn. I waited until I was old enough to deal with it myself. I would wish and pray they would stay away. Sometimes things did happen to them and boy I did feel very much there is a God. It’s true God don’t like ugly. The only real fun in my life through it was short, it was seeing my father. Knowing very young how he said that he was dying young my heart was so sad. The Witch was constantly badgering him, chasing him for money and having me going to all the bars looking for him. It was a nightmare, she was right all these children and she didn’t know what to do by herself. I felt I should be the only happiness he looked forward to seeing. He was funny, always telling stories and always locked up in jail. I was in grammar school and knew the next corner from the school where the Jail was. That is the place to go first to look for my dad. They really liked my dad and I think they kept him safe. He would get so drunk sometimes they took him off the street and let him sleep it off in Jail. The desk officer knew me well. After school, I would run in look at the desk officer and he would point to the back and tell me the cell he was in. He was happy to see me and I knew he never wanted to come home. I then would go to him no matter where he was. I did try to tell him how my mom beat me many times but he just said it was his fault for not being there. I don’t blame him for not coming home because I knew the Witch was crazy as a child you really don’t understand but you try to. When you are young you just believe what your told is true and except it. You never questioned anyone older than you especially your father. He couldn’t help me and he was in a bad situation, just the thought of knowing he was dying was hard to comprehend. I thought he needed all the fun and crazy happiness he sort. I felt I would just handle and someday it will get better. Well, aren’t I glad I am here today and no one can ever abuse me again! Yes, it was crazy and I know my dad was very wrong (looking back now). I did have some sense of happiness just being around him. He lighted up a room and my heart. Maybe that small piece of love, though it was dysfunctional it was the best piece in my youth. He was the only one that hugged me and I felt the love and sadness. That was enough to get me through the tuff times in my life. I am grateful to be here and to tell it all, it’s like healing you get, let it go and feel better.
It was suppose to be the best day of my mother’s life. Having lost her mother in her early teens, and a father that took off like the wind, the Witch was wishing for a great life. She was the oldest of five and had a very sad life. The Witch met my father in Horn and Hardart. He worked the restaurant and she was in retail. They were both 18 years old and decided to get married. It was November 26, 1950, my mother woke up with a very bad feeling after looking out the window that day. She said she shrugged it off, like most times when she had bad feelings. My father had a poor life too, being the oldest of ten children, back then you went to work early to help. He did have a mother and a father more than what that Witch had. The Witch was getting ready to get married on this day of November 26, 1950. My father was coming by bus to pick her up and go back to Brooklyn where they were going to get married in his church. On this day it was The Great Appalachian Storm and Blizzard moving through the Eastern States. The Witch felt the power inside her that she was going to make this wedding day work no matter what the weather was. My mother was sitting with her grandmother who was from Italy and spoke very little English. My mother’s aunts whom she lived with were there too. All waiting for Eddie my father. My mother was Irish and Italian. She was beautiful and had dark eyes and olive shin, she looked like a Sophia Loren. My father was all Irish and had eyes as blue as the sky that would light up a room. Celtic I thought with high cheekbones, good bone structure and curly black hair. They both had no idea how bad it was. My father kept stopping and calling from a pay phone every ten minutes trying to get over to Staten Island. The ferry was closed so he went through NJ by bus over the bridge. The weather was so bad it hit records in the books. He picked her up and then they hitched hiked for such a long time. Finally someone picked them up and drove them to the bus stop. They did get lucky and got the last bus going out to NYC. Then they took the subway to Brooklyn. All day this went on. All of my fathers family was there when they went to the church. It was 9 pm when they got into the church and the priest did marry them. They left the church and the sky cleared up. Father Mac said after he married them “don’t ever let this happen again” they all laughed. My father and mother got a two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. They were so happy. It was beyond words, my mother wrote in her memoir. For 9 months they were just going to work and back home. My father told her that his dream was to join the service for life and my mother agreed. He went and joined the Air Force. My mother waited till he graduated from basic training. They couldn’t wait to start their new life in the military. My father got a job in the base nursery. He watched the officers children. Being the oldest of 10 he knew what to do. He then sent for my mom, and told her he got an apartment off base for them. She was so excited. Left on the Greyhound bus to Cheyenne, Wyoming right away. This took her 3 days to get there. Only to find no one there to pick her up. Late at night at the bus station all alone, she was only 19. She found the western union and wrote his mom. Mom Tierney sent money back and told her to come home Pop Tierney died. That was in the message. My father was there already. There at the NYC bus terminal was my father and one of his sisters to greet my mother .
Mom Tierney only 38 years old and a widow with 10 children. She worked as a nurses aid in the hospital at night. Not much to make when feeding all these children. My father got a hardship discharge from the service to help his mother and siblings. So my mother had an instant family at the age of 19. I understand that was why when it came to having her own she was burnt. Children were all close in age, diapers galore. His mother started drinking a lot and was very mean. She would embarrass my father telling him they were his excuse to leave the service. She called him a coward. My father got mad and rejoined, now the army. Left my mother with his mother and the children. Now my mother had a terrible time trying to keep everyone in order. Cooking cleaning and changing many diapers. If that wasn’t bad enough they had a fire, one of the little ones was playing with matches. They lost everything. It was in the papers. People did collect a lot of money to help them. Now was more tragedy, one of the youngest was killed when the 69st pier exploded. Then after that his mother died and again he had to leave the armed forces. My mother and father really were the best people ever back then. They were sweet and kind and giving to all. All they ever did was help everyone but themselves. They could have been the best parents ever if they didn’t have all these tragedies. It got worse, my father lost a sister in a car accident and another sister in a fire. Then he was hospitalized and had a collapsed lung before he was 30 years old. By this time my mother and and my 4 siblings lived in our own apartment. She was the janitor there so the rent was cheap. My father lost his job and now he was drinking all the time. The Witch got mean and hated us children because we looked just like him. He asked me around the time I believe I was 8 years old to promise him that I would take care of my mother and my siblings because he was dying young. He knew it. He said you have to understand that I have to have fun before I die. I answered, oh yes daddy I promise. My father died at the age of 37 years old leaving 6 children and a crazy Witch. The day my father died the Witch stopped cursing and fighting with everyone. This was because finally she knew where he was. Her cards the 52 people did tell her ahead of time that he was going any day. The Witch became a good Witch to the last 3 children and the best Nana my son could ever ask for. I was happy for my siblings and my son who got to enjoy the person my mother was underneath all that hatred. It was her vision that made it worse, because she knew all the time what my father was up too with his girlfriends and friends in the bars. My mother and I never spoke about the horrible life she caused me. I never thought of bringing it up. A promise is a promise and I kept mine. Of course I hated the thought of taking care of that witch but I did till the day she died at 55 years old.
Talk about a bad hair day !!! Okay I am letting my mother’s black cat out of the bag on this one. The women in my mother’s so called ‘circle of friends ‘ weren’t looking for some meat to cook for their kids. They were out whoring, since their husbands were out doing the same in reverse. Which left my mother to doll them up a bit before they went out. Which , in turn, left me, the smuck, to watch their kids, change dirty diapers, clean the filth off the walls, and find food scraps in empty cabinets to feed their starving screaming mouths. Go figure!!! These women were on a witch hunt for a man and very determined. If I was lucky and a guy came back home with them to the apartment, I got paid (by him). They felt lucky just bringing someone home. I would keep my 5 bucks, unless they told my mother. When I did a great job cleaning up after the kids and them, I had a good chance they didn’t tell that witch of a mother I got paid. Everyone in the neighborhood knew I gave that crazy witch any money I made. That was more than what my dad did. My dad was so good at flirting he had his girlfriends cloth, feed, and give him money. When my dad worked the bar he would give them free drinks and a dance or two. He was a good dancer, he would twirled them around. Boy he was not just good looking he was a shaker and a mover. Back then a bartender would stop go to the dance floor spin one of them on the dance floor and run back and work. He did that all for his own satisfaction and happiness for the moment. His logic was nothing lasts forever. Funny back then getting lucky meant , you hit the number, or a date for the night. The best was after the bars closed everyone went to the diner together and the numbers guy in the neighborhood picked up the tab for everyone’s breakfast. Then all felt very lucky. The wise guy knew he would make the money back next week from all when they played their numbers. This was called a lucky weekend, all the dolls , got dolled up for free, meet their mate for the night and they danced, drank and stayed out till the ‘cows came home’. I never understood that expression, living in a concrete jungle, we never saw a cow !!! If I didn’t get paid by their date, I went home filthy, hungry, disgruntled and disgusted. All thanks to my mother !!! What else was new.
My mother couldn’t cool down her Witches temper or heat up the curling iron quick enough when her lady friends came a calling. They were excited for a night of hair, makeup and reading cards. The heads were on the table, the Witch was great at fixing their hair pieces before they came. Everyone back then added a piece of hair to the top of their heads. How funny time changes and gives great styles for women these days to just add all the way down matching so well you can’t tell if the hair is real or not. The night started with my mother so prepared ahead of time she did her own cards first by herself. You could always tell I would be summoned to do something when she jumped up staring at the cards screaming for me to get in here ( which would be in the kitchen) as she slapped the hand down on the table at her cards. I would just look at her, in those days you were not allowed to speak unless spoken to. You knew you would get smacked without a doubt. She couldn’t send me out of the house quick enough when her cards were telling her my father hit the number, yes he was a gambler. My Witch of a mother was basically saying if you want to eat…. hit the street. My mother would do the cards all the time just to see if he received money in large sums. He didn’t have a job and he was a bartender now and then so he had none. She called the bars and knew after awhile if he was in one they wouldn’t give him up. Bartenders took care of each other even covering up for one another. Now it was up to me to go find him and shake him down. I would go from corner to corner other times when things like this happen but this day I got lucky and went around the corner to the Elbow room on fifth avenue. Yep he was there, so happy, boy he looked guilty. Then I saw the money in front on the bar and when he offered me chips and soda then I knew the cards were telling the truth. I always got yelled at to get out of the bar because he was in a bad mood. I then knew I had to shake him down. Not easy being eleven years old and trying to be sweet when diner was on the line and it was up to me to get it. But yes I spoke loud and said Ma knows you hit the number and needs money now. He hated to give me money but was embarrassed in front of everyone not too. This was a successful mission this time. He knew that Witch was at it again, her and her cards. You see my mother never left the apartment and only went to mass. So my dad knew they only ones telling her was the cards. I really hated the cards too because I never knew what they were telling my mother or making her more crazy then she was, a ragging lunatic. Back then, I just thought another day in my life living with the Witch and her cards (the 52 people).
I did wish many times back then for an ice cream Sunday, but that was not in our budget. I did try to break a balloon now and then in Woolworth’s on fifth avenue in Brooklyn, at the food counter. Then you could get an ice cream Sunday for a penny. I do have to say my mother was the Queen and cold as ice. Sunday was a special day, the pot of sauce with meatballs was the first thing she did. Everyone came for her meatballs and spaghetti. We all had to go to mass, my mother went to the early mass everyday. I was in charge of taken the gang to mass on Sunday. The oldest of six, back then you did everything, cooking, cleaning and babysitting the little ones. Let’s not forget I had to scrub the diapers on the wash board, that was horrible. We didn’t have throw always in them days. Sunday night was no different then the other nights, the Queen and her cards came alive on the kitchen table. My mother called them her 52 friends. Children were dismissed and family and friends all came in the see what the Queen was going to say. They did always challenge my mother. Other family members had their own different decks. They would read theirs first and my mother’s readings were always last, which they knew were the best. The Queen and her cards were wise and had great vision for everyone but herself. After reading the cards everyone had their mission to get someone or something done. Let’s know there was always a spell or two to help with this. I myself learned from other family members how to read their cards but always went back to the cards my mother read. I am now the master of my mother’s cards. Her 52 people speak loud and clear to me. Now my table is full of stories and missions that people pursue after I read them.