I was cleaning out my closet a few days ago and found an old photo of myself lying about on the floor by my wife’s shoe rack. It was a photo that I have searched for months, and there it was resting on top of my safe that holds all our take returns, over thirty-five years worth, all this time.
It was one of only about five photos of me as a little boy between the age seven or eight. I might have posted it on my blog a couple of years back, but I would have to go back to see if I even did to begin with.
The photo is of me, wearing a brown corduroy coat standing next to a little girl, who my oldest sister told me that is was my mother’s friend’s daughter standing by trees on the grounds of St. Michael’s Orphanage home.
What I found so weird about the timing finding this particular photo in the first place, we were just visiting friends on Staten Island just last weekend, and I decided to take my wife to where St. Michael’s Home, what’s left of it, before we headed home, to take a few photos of me standing on the actual sidewalk path I once walked countless times as a little boy when I lived there.
What’s left of the broken up concrete sidewalk today, is now covered with grass and weeds. The pruned bushes that once lined the walkway are now overgrown trees hovering over the pathway just like those same trees lined up along the yellow brick road in the movie The Wizard of Oz.
What a haunting feeling I felt looking at them. I shared some stories with Donna the memories I had living there so many years ago. The memories were still fresh in my head as if I was telling stories that happened just days ago.
But those days were actually over 48 years ago. Now your probably wondering where I am going with this story. So let me tell you before I lose you. When I was standing there looking around the where St. Michael’s Home once stood, I came to realize that I never had one bad memory to share with Donna my time living in the orphanage ….not one story.
I stood there next to my Donna, thinking, that I was actually better off not being placed in a foster home to begin with. I think I was happy little six year old boy sharing a big massive red brick building with my other brothers and sister, not to mention the many other little boys and girls who parents didn’t want either.
It was better than the projects where we lived our short time in a small apartment on the second floor apartment 2D on 17th street in Manhattan, and plenty to do as well. For starters, there were no sounds of honking horns in the middle of the night, no cops walking around all the time telling us to go home when we wondered off.
But most of all, no crying nor screaming coming from any of my brothers and sisters being disciplined by my mother with punishment that was so extreme that in today’s world, she be placed under arrest for Child Abuse and Neglect as well as my father.
Looking over that one photo that I found in my closet only reminded me that the place I once called St. Michael’s Home was just that…a home. It was a place where we were safe and had nuns and other people taking care of us…..more than I can say about my parents.