Nona Amelia liked to tell me how she was born in that very room the night McKinley was shot. “My father said they came after anyone they considered to be an anarchist. His own brother was arrested. My father said it is because our name sounded foreign.”

I remember her piano cluttered with framed pictures of family members, most of the photos taken in the house or just outside it. She would hold up a frame and say “This is your Uncle Julius. He was killed at Salerno, before you were born” or “This is my cousin Frieda. Mack Sennett once proposed to her.”

I remember how she would take my hands in hers and say “Johnny, this house. To our family, it is everything. Promise me you will never sell it.”  And how every time I would promise her.

But there are only so many promises a man can keep.


What Pegman Saw


Add Yours
  1. Iain Kelly

    Great tale weaving history through the family story. Is the reason for selling the decline of the area around the house? That’s the theme I ran with from the prompt on seeing the Street View. Good one.

    • J Hardy Carroll

      Buffalo was a victim of the decline of American manufacturing in the 1970s and the devastating social and economic policies of the Reagan and Clinton eras. Once a shining jewel of American cities, it has fallen on hard times.

      • Iain Kelly

        Researching the stats for my story I saw it really has fallen hard. Noticed it voted Clinton not Trump in the election too – maybe there is hope for the people there yet!

  2. Thalia Graves

    Can’t help but think of the xenophobia in the early twentieth century and how it’s making a resurgence now. My surname is English, from my father’s paternal side. However, on his mother’s side, it was mostly Slavs, and on my mother’s side, a lot of Ukranian Jews. I always felt that those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. I hope I’m being paranoid when I say I’m afraid I see history repeating.
    I love hearing about old times and old places. I enjoyed your story.

  3. jellico84

    Great tale, and ohhh so very true. My real first name is 69 characters long and is Native American, so I understand the difficulty and the prejudice that people unfortunately place on a name. I have face much persecution and violence at the hands of non-natives in my lifetime. It is a sad testiment to our society. Worry how bad it’s going to get now.

  4. prior..

    really moving piece – and fits the image you chose from Buffalo…
    well I really felt the vibe for this family in such a short piece – well done.
    and side note – in this part of town – some homes get torn down because they are not worth that much….

  5. Lynn Love

    Wonderful voice here, J. I’d love to listen to more of Nona Amelia’s stories – she sounds like a fascinating person to know. So well written, a slice of history and a real poignancy at the end

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