Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sisters and Brothers

I've written here about my parents, my block in Brooklyn, my schools, some neighborhood characters and places, even holidays and how we celebrated them in our family. One topic I haven't reminisced about is my younger siblings, Cathy, my sister and Anthony, my brother.

Cathy is about two years younger than i. We share a lot of childhood memories since we are fairly close in age. We got along reasonably well for sister and brother; I'm sure there were times I teased her, but she is too good-natured to hold it against me. Cathy attended the same school as I, Our Lady of Lourdes, only we didn't see each other that much since she sat on the girls' side of the building while I sat with the boys. Back then she pal'd around with three other girls her age who all lived within a few houses of each other. There was Pamela (see"Neighborhood Characters: The Gildersleeves" View), Loretta, and Phyllis (see "Neighborhood Character: Sal Bordenga" View) and when you saw one, the others were usually nearby. I remember her jumping rope with her friends and chanting the ditties girls used to keep time while jumping: " 'A' my name is Anna and my husband's name is Al, we come from Alabama and we sell apples".

Cathy was a pretty, popular kid, and also an excellent student. She loved to laugh and to this day has a smile that can make your day. She graduated from William Maxwell Vocational High School and went on to a successful career as an executive secretary with J.P. Morgan. In those days secretaries took dictation in shorthand and typed on manual typewriters as big as Buicks. When Cathy started her career, secretaries were invaluable to key executives ; there are very few secretaries around today since everyone types their own e-mails and answers their own phones. My sister is a thoughtful, caring person who always sends exactly the right greeting card for every occasion. Now retired, Cathy lives in Brooklyn with her pets, a couple of dogs and an ever-changing parade of cats.

My brother Anthony came along later. He is 11 years younger than I, and the baby of the family. Being so much older, I didn't spend much time with my brother growing up. By the time he was only seven years old, I was already in the Army. Around then my parents moved from East New York to the wilds of Richmond Hill in Queens, so his childhood in the suburbs was different from mine. Anthony is the musician in the family, playing guitar to this day. He is a devoted Beatles fan and still attends the annual vigil of John Lennon's birthday held on October 9th every year in the area of Central Park designated as Strawberry Fields. Married to Doctor Michele Seitz in St. Patrick's Cathedral, they live in Lynbrook, NY with their three beautiful daughters, Elizabeth, Margaret and Kaitlyn.

Tony graduated from my old High School, Brooklyn Tech, but by this time it had become co-ed, again, a very different experience from mine. He graduated from Queens College, got a Masters in School Psychology from Pace University, and a Doctorate in the same discipline from Fordham University. He is the resident school psychologist at John Glenn High School in East Northport, N.Y. and has a private practice specializing in helping troubled teens. Dr. Anthony Pantaleno - Psychologist - Home Dr. Pantaleno was named 2007 NYS School Psychologist of the Year by the New York State Association of School Psychologists and the 2008 Psychologist of the Year by the Suffolk County Psychological Association. I am very proud of my brother's professional accomplishments, but prouder still of his being a good husband, father and brother.

I'm glad I wasn't an only child. Having a sister and a brother was good in a lot of ways, not the least of which was having other kids in the house to distract my parents' attention. It's hard to believe so many years have passed since we were kids. I don't see my sister and brother as much as I'd like, but we still love and care about each other, and when we do get together it's always fun.


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Joseph Del Broccolo said...

Your brother, isn't that far from me!

Jim Pantaleno said...

He lives in Lynbrook but works further out. I guess his work address is close to you.