August 3rd, 2013
One side of my family went on a road/plane/bus trip that lasted a month. I saw them today at the Peets on Geary. I love to keep up with the Torchios because they’re all keen students of the Wickhams. We have a gossip-swap each year after these trips which I find hugely entertaining. For my part, I always manage to get the armadillo story* in. For theirs, it’s the complicated doings of family members from 1 to 100. Yes, Grandma Wolf turned 100 last November. Her great, great grandchild (name unknown to me) is, obviously, the one year-old.
A few days ago Grandma Wolf fell. It was after midnight. She was naked, tip-toeing through the dark, carrying her pajamas and toothbrush. They rushed her to the hospital despite protests from her that “she was fine.” Thousands of insurance dollars later it was determined that “she was fine.”
Let me map out the Torchio family. I do not have arrows and things to make the map truly graphic. Just hang in — with any luck on your part, or skill on mine, the geometry will click in place. I chose to use the name Torchio because my son’s mother, Katie, who is now married to a McDonald, uses that last name. Katie’s dad was the drinker and brawler, Nick Torchio. Because Katie is one of five kids, there are quite a few more Italianate children in age from 17 to 51. Katie and I were never married, so our son, Max, became a Wickham. Another important fact is that Katie’s Mom, Renee, after dumping the drunk, became a Calvin. No, not the Protestant sect. Michael Calvin, is a black detective, now 70, who married her 45 years (approx) ago. Michael and his first wife had 5 girls. So, racially the generation of Michael and Renee’s issue, is mixed. Genderly, it’s 8 to 2. From this point on I will clarify relations only if absolutely necessary. Accuracy on this point will have no bearing on the quality of the gossip.
Dean, who is Katie’s husband and father of their girl, Renee — and I, father of Max — often took the kids to events (school, picnics, etc) which Katie could not attend because she was busy at work or at her own schooling (she is a Rabbi now). Get the picture? Brother and sister, two dads? I believe even the appearance of gayeity is still illegal in more than half the states.
I haven’t run into Katie’s cousin, Sebastian, in 24 years. This makes me happy. Every year I hear another story about this racist fool, but this year nothing. Which means I will have to make something up. Here goes: To celebrate George Zimmerman’s win in court last month, Sebastian dressed up in blackface and minstrel show garb and danced a jig. I’ll leave it at that, although there is a story about another racist fool, his mother, which is not made up: She kept her son out of public school in Brooklyn because of the coloreds.
Renee the Elder. is Katie’s mom. A wonderful person. She found a book about a murdered couple on Long Island called “Murder on Long Island.” A disgruntled Irish immigrant took out his dissatisfaction on the Wickhams. Because all Wickham’s are related, I read it with relish (I just wanted to use that word!) A conspiracy theorist would make something of this. Although bombs were not planted on the corners of the Wickham house, they might have been. And no airplane’s were used, either. Dr Wickham and his wife were killed with a sledgehammer. The killer received the death penalty, and it was carried out. Renee asked me to pass this book along to my genealogist sister, Ruth Rosenberg. Ruthie is the president of the Detroit chapter of the Jewish Genealogical Society. Strangely, she is not Jewish.
I love my talks with Ruthie. From her I learned my father was a virgin when he married our mom. He was 28, she was 19. Yes, he was very religious. Christian Science. How I dreaded weekday mornings. We had to sit at the breakfast table and read the lesson. Mary Baker Eddy, in a tome called “Science and Health, with Keys to to Scriptures,” killed any goodness in the Kellogg’s Corn Soya with wise sayings such as, “There is no Life, Truth, Intelligence, nor Substance in Matter.” There is no Wit, Wisdom, Erudition, nor Enjoyment in Christian Science.
*I never met my paternal grandparents. In 1911, when my dad’s father was 45, he and his brother left wintry Chicago for Texas. The idea was for them to buy some of the fabled land, set up a homestead, and come back and pick up their families, including my, then, 2 year-old dad. After a month, exploring and living in their rattletrap vehicle, they found themselves without prospects or chow. My grandpa’s brother came upon a nice piece of roadkill — an armadillo — which they made into a stew with, I guess, roadkill vegetables. There is no documentation as to how tasty it was, but it made my grandpa’s brother very sick. It killed my grandfather. My grandmother lived only a few years beyond that. There should be a song about this. It’s time for me to write one.