What was Life Like Rustie?

A Memory

By Judy Tomaini Rock


The closest I could come to describe in a few words or less, which I usually end up with more, was the old "Father knows Best" TV show.


Daddy went to work at the Bait House and Mother stayed home and did the things that housewives and Mothers do. Clean the house, cook the meals, make clothes for my sister and I, and my Dad's shirts. She even did the laundry for the cottages. Including ironing the sheets and pillow cases. At the time, in the late 40's and 50's we had 25 cottages and they were rented nightly, meaning the linens had to be done every day. She even made the drapes and bedspreads for them. Oh, almost forgot, and helped clean them. I think now they would refer to her as a "Super Mom". On top of this, she was there too take care of my sister and I, and all the other kids that almost lived at my home.


My Dad was always somewhere in the Camp, working on something. Many things were just too cramped for him to do, like the plumbing and repairs that require him to crawl under anything. He had a TV shop. That was when you actually had them repaired instead of throwing it out and getting another one. He even did house calls.


When I was about 12 my Mother got into Shetland ponies, and started raising them. Yep, she even cleaned the stalls. I was a little faster and started racing trotters. I trained the reserve Grand Champion one year. Apache, I will never forget him. We had about 30 of them at one time. Daddy had a man to look after them and harness them up for Mother, that is until one got startled and started to run, throwing Mother out of her cart and dislocating her shoulder. That pony was long gone at the next auction. That was back before she drove her car, so she would take a pony and cart up to the store to shop. Daddy rigged a boat anchor on a rope. When she would get out, she would drop anchor and the pony would wait for her, thinking it was secure. She always had a way around the things that made her life a little difficult.


I really think that I truly thought my Parents were the normal ones, and the other kids got ripped off.


We were a Family, and every member of our family, had a say in where we went and what we did. About the only traveling we did was go for a Sunday drive. Or off to a pony race somewhere in the State.

Usually within a couple hours of home. I can remember going to visit family up north when I was 5 and to Alaska when I was 15 the year before Daddy died.


My sister grew up with "roaches in her shoes", always on the go, I grew up with roots, real deep ones. Planted firmly right here where I was raised, and my children and now Alexzander my grandson, who, the only boy in the family, has decided to carry on the Tomaini tradition, and go into show business. I think the rumbling you just heard was my Dad turning over in his grave. He would have expected Boogie to be a show owner, not a working act. But all it took was finding the sword ladder swords in the attic, and him asking what he had so many just alike for, and he was hooked.


Now he walks on glass, has a nail bed, and a sword ladder made out of the swords his great grandfather had in his sideshow. So we have come full circle. Once that sawdust gets in your blood, you can't filter it out no matter what you do. And it travels from one generation to another. I don't think just because you are tall or short, fat or thin, if you were sitting in a dark room with my parents and yours, discussing the news of the day, you would never know there was anything different about them. Except maybe you could see inside of them and not focus on what was missing, but the fact that they were and are very special people, they were and are my parents.

R.I.P. HRH  January 12, 1999

2005 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights Reserved

Published with the permission of Judy Tomaini Rock


Photographs courtesy 2005 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights Reserved

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     Jeanie on horse    

     Alex and his Great Grandmother Jeanie Tomaini    


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