Mary Panza

This year there is no birth story.  Instead my brother Joey will tell the second story always told on or near my brithday.  Keep in mind we lived in a close knit Italian neighborhood and it was 1968.  In South Troy the lines were clearly drawn from ethnic neighborhood to ethnic neighborhood.  Everyone looked out for everyone.  It was truly the best of times for those that lived it.  I love my big brother very much and have never picked up a check.  That tradition will still carry on.  Sorry Joe.

Mary-BirthWell here is the background on this story. I was a 13 -14 year old boy growing up in South Troy and hanging out in the Market. I was a very much into sports of all kinds. My Baby sister was barely 6 to 8 weeks old at the time. What does a 13 – 14 year old boy know about having a baby sister other than the fact that I was probably going to get even for everything my older sister did to me. My older sister was one of the toughest girls in South Troy at the time. She could throw a clog by your head at 70 mph with pinpoint accuracy.

Ok, now the scene is set. It was a very hot day late in June or early July. I was grounded (probably for life once again) because my older sister set me up, again, as usual. The only good thing about being grounded is that my old sister always had pajama parties with some very hot girl friends. I wanted to get out in the worse way to go play basketball at the CYO in South Troy. I pleaded with my mom to let me out, which usually worked if I was a pain in the ass. Nothing was working that day. So I got desperate and looked at my baby sister as my ticket out. I was a brilliant plan. I would take her out for a walk and then straight to the CYO to play hoop. So I went to my mom and said, Ok I know I’m grounded but Let me help you by taking Mary for a nice long walk. Well the look in my mom’s eye was a credit card moment, Priceless. Here finally I’m coming around and wanting to help out with my baby sister. Nothing could have been further from the truth. It was all about getting out of the house to play hoop. My mom fixed up the baby carriage, which was very fancy for the times. It was dark green and had the small wheels in front and the high wheels in the back. She put a baby sheet down and then put Mary in the carriage and covered it with a net. The plan had worked beautifully. The last thing she said to me was how proud she was that I wanted to take my baby sister for a long walk. Yes the guilt thing was in my mind for a very brief moment. Then I was off walking down towards the CYO. Always looking back to make sure my mom wasn’t following me.

When I reached the CYO, about a 4 block walk which that day took no time at all, I put the brake on the carriage and inside I went. Well we lived in an Italian neighborhood where all of the ladies looked out for everything going on in the street they lived. It was like having the FBI around you all the time. You would do something wrong and before you got home your parents knew. There was no way to lie when you got home. So, I was inside for about 2 to 3 hours my plan didn’t go unnoticed by Mrs Cavallo, who lived right across the street from the CYO. She had it wired, She watched me go in and never come out for about a half hour. At that point she took the baby home to my mom and told her what I did. My mistake was not coming out now and then to check on the baby. So after the 2 to 3 hours were up I came out and there was no carriage to be found. I thought my friends were playing a trick on me and hid the carriage. So I looked for about a half hour and decided to go home. It was a very slow walk home. The thought at that point was ok how am I going to tell my mom I lost the baby. Was it a mugging and they took the baby?  Was it a stick up and they took the baby? Was it aliens from a spaceship and they took the baby? I just didn’t know but I four blocks to come up with a story.

Well I reached home and my mom was waiting for me at the front door. The carriage was hidden in the backyard so I couldn’t see it. The baby was in her crib all peaceful and quiet. Well I reached the top step and my mom said how was you walk. Before I got G (as in good) she came through the screen with a broom upside my head. Then she proceeded to hit me with everything she could get her hands on. Her next thing was to threaten me with telling my dad. That would’ve been the end of life as I knew it. I think she just didn’t want to listen to him about how stupid it was to think that I wanted to walk the baby. I got saved from that death by Italian hand of my father. Once again, I was grounded for life. At least this time it had some meat on the bone. I deserved it.

So in closing and being the smart man I am today. When I look back at what could have been a tragedy, I’m glad that Mrs Cavallo had the grace of God with her that day and took Mary home. I would not of known how much of a loss it would have been to lose the best baby sister in the world. Mary from your big brother, I love you and Happy Birthday.