Maria and Concetta Gossip


It was mid-afternoon on an extremely hot, steamy, August day. I had spent the early afternoon with some the other boys at the Eagle Elementary School playground on Eagle Avenue, about four blocks away from the Ginney Block. As I recall the events of that day, I had overheard the playground instructor say that it was at least 100 degrees in the shade, that it was the kind of weather not fit for man or beast, that he was closing the playground early, before he had any sunstroke or heat exhaustion cases on his hands. Hearing this, I decided to head for home before he blew the whistle. When I reached the Ginney Block, and approached the entrance to the stairway that led to our flat, I found Maria Di Maria and Concetta Cottone seated on the stoop, blocking the doorway. They were engaged in animated conversation, and chose to ignore my arrival and apparent desire to get by them to go upstairs. By this time, I was so hot that the perspiration was rolling down my face and dropping like beads to the sizzling sidewalk. I could feel the sweat running down my legs under my sticky trousers. All I could think about was, why don't they move and let me by? By this point, I had to get upstairs for two urgent reasons. One, to get to the commode to unburden myself of what felt like a gallon of urine, and two, to refill with some cold lemonade that I knew that my mother usually kept in the ice box on hot summer days.




With playground friends circa 1922. The author and the author's youngest brother Art are seated in front at the right side.


Oldest brother Nick as playground instructor circa 1922 at Eagle School. The author is in front row at extreme right.




Maria and Concetta continued to ignore me because they were involved in a hot bit of gossip about Philomena Tronti's 18-year old daughter, Giuseppina, who, Concetta was saying, had been brought home at 2:00 a.m. that morning by two men in a black touring car, and unceremoniously pushed out of the car, stark naked. Concetta, at the moment was describing what had happened, how Giuseppina looked. Concetta was using her hands and body to show how Giuseppina's large derriere gleamed in the moonlight. All the tenants in the Ginney Block knew that Concetta was a night owl and often sat in her darkened front room at her ground floor windows, just to see what she could on hot summer nights, to gossip about later.

As Concetta related her juicy tid-bit, with devilish glee, Maria's, short, squat, fat frame began to convulse and shake with paroxysms of laughter. I could stand it no longer, so I ran down to the end of the street, behind the block's service shed, where I finally was able to answer nature's call.