I Could Hardly Fathom, the Fact
that I was A Married Woman
Part 8 of the Judy Tomaini Rock Series
The trip to Long Branch, NJ was long
and uneventful. Jeanie could hardly fathom the fact that she was
actually a married woman now. And what a handsome husband she had.
It all happened so fast, she didn't have time to contact her
family to let them know. So she would just have to surprise them
Jeanie was from a big family herself,
but she could at least understand them. Al's family was right off
the boat from Italy. And like the Spanish people, they spoke in
their native tongue. Jeanie had studied French and German in
school but not a word of Italian. So she was extremely nervous
when they went into the very ornate home of one of the Aunts. They
spoke some English, but very little.
So instead of speaking to Jeanie they would speak to Al and he
would translate. The whole family arrived by that afternoon and
Jeanie was thankful that some of the wives spoke very good
English, and right away, could see that Jeanie was quite
uncomfortable. So they just went out to another room and left the
older ones with Al to answer all the questions. Jeanie had several
of the sisters-in-laws around her same age. Peggy was married to
Al's brother Joseph, and Sylvia, her favorite was married to
Ernest. Peggy and Sylvia had already started their families and
Sylvia was expecting again.
The winter was brutal. But Jeanie loved the change of seasons. She
had been quite cold in Indiana where her original home was. There
were the good memories of her time with her Mother and the
nightmares of the
when she was abandoned by her Father and put into the orphanage.
But now she had her protector, the wonderful man that was her
husband. They would have quit the Sideshow business, but would
never be able to support themselves on what Al took in at his pool
hall. At first everything was fine. They visited the never-ending
family. Was everyone in New Jersey related??? It seemed as such.
Then when the newness of the family faded, Al was spending more
and more time with his brothers. The Italians think the man is the
provider and head of the house and the women are to stay out of
the way, clean, cook, and have babies. Since Jeanie had supported
her whole family for years, she had a hard time dealing with her
new husband’s habits. They were from two different cultures and it
was a real shock for them both. One day after Al came back from
the horse track where the brothers spent the day, he was getting
ready to go out again with them to the pool hall. She didn't have
much to say to him and just had a quiet dinner. He finally got
around to asking her if something was wrong. All she said was, “Do
you want to be married to me or your brothers???” He laughed and
said, “You win!!!” They finished the winter there and had booked
on the Ringling Bros. Circus for the following year, 1937. The
world’s strangest married couple was born.
They worked very hard and saved all the money they could. And
there were times they lived in a walk up apt. with no heat and air
was unheard of then. Jeanie would make a pot of coffee and then
cut up some potatoes, and boil them in the coffee pot to make
potato soup. No stove, just a hot plate. That was a staple for
much of the season. They wanted to be able to save enough money to
find a place of their own. But they still hadn't decided on where
that would be.
Their good friends the Ponticos had a place in Florida. Ruth was a
fat lady they had met when on the road. So since Al liked to fish
and the weather was good, they planned to go for the off-season.
Ruth lived in Tampa and that is where they stayed for the winter.
While out searching for a good fishing spot, they would ride in
all different directions and spend the time seeing central
Florida. One day they ventured south, on US41. They could see on
the map the road followed the water, skirting Tampa bay. They came
to a big wooden bridge and noticed a little trailer park on the
North bank of the river. The little park was being run by a fellow
carny. And this is where a few of his friends came to fish.
The Tomainis decided right then, this
was the place for them to stay the following winter. They had
gotten a little trailer that was so small, Al's head and top of
his body slept in the bedroom and the rest of him was in the
living room, with a couple of chairs to hold up his legs. Jeanie
called it the little cross-eyed trailer. It had been home built
and came to a point in the front. On each side in front were two
little windows. The way it looked from the front was like a
cross-eyed person. It was tiny but it was their first home. They
had left it in Long Branch, in storage, for the winter and had
driven down to Tampa. Since they were staying with Ruth, they
didn't need the trailer. It would be parked beside the Alafia
River the following year. They stayed around the little trailer
park till dark. After watching the sunset. That was for sure, the
most beautiful sunset, they had ever seen.
On the way back to New Jersey, to pick up the trailer, they were
going to stop in Indiana, to visit Jeanie's family for a few days.
She had written to all of them and let them know when they would
be there. After making jumps over the road, they were good judges
of time and distance. So if they said they would be there at noon,
they would be there at noon. When they were just getting into Fort
Wayne, they saw red lights and heard a motorcycle cop behind them.
So, Al pulled over, as soon as there was a safe place to do it. Al
was shaken, because in all the traveling he had done, he had never
been stopped. Jeanie had a hard time containing herself. And as
the cop was chewing Al out for going over the speed limit, Jeanie
burst out laughing. The look on his face was worth a million
dollars. And the more scared he looked, the more she laughed. The
look he was giving her was one of promised death, if she didn't
shut up soon. He was still being chewed out by the cop, who was
writing something on his note pad. The cop said he needed to have
his license and for him to sign the ticket. Al fished out his
driver’s license and handed it to the cop. The cop looked at the
license and said, “Yep, you are the one.” Now after that remark,
Al was really getting nervous. The cop handed him the notebook to
sign and when Al looked at it, Jeanie started laughing again. The
note said, "Welcome to Fort Wayne, I am your new brother in law,
© 2004 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights
Published with the permission of Judy
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Sideshow World & their respective authors. Any republication in
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