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 one day.

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 time 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, Jack Smith"....


© 2004 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights Reserved

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