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The family block party

It was so much easier, years ago when we all lived on the same block in Brooklyn. "We" being sisters, cousins, grandparents and in-laws. Easier, because we knew everyone around and we were there for each other in sickness and in health, rain or shine, and for the holidays!

We created dependable support systems for each other. Children were always guarded and, later, the roles were reversed when the kids kept an eye on the elderly. Granted, the seniors may have been intrusive at times, but if they were not busy knitting or mending, they were peeking behind the blinds observing. They were the original Neighborhood Watch team!

Many of us can remember our mother's command: "Go bring 'this' to Grandma." We only had to ask, "Which one?" They probably both lived on the same block. "This" could be anything from the newspaper to an onion. The kids never complained because we might also get a treat. My favorites were some lemon slush in summer or cookies in winter.

Newlyweds found apartments nearby and when a house was for sale, someone in the family would buy it to anchor them on the block. With a growing young family, I reluctantly broke tradition. We moved off the block, to our own home out of the city, to Baldwin. To make peace we invited the family for Thanksgiving dinner -- in the suburbs! We scheduled dinner for 2:30 p.m. My mother-in-law suggested she make the turkey because my oven was small.

Well, we did not take into account that all of America celebrates Thanksgiving, and it is the worst traffic day of the year. Other guests arrived with pies, pastries, and wine. The cooked turkey was traveling on the parkway. We waited: 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. passed. Everyone was starving so we started on the sweet potatoes, artichokes, cranberries, and the wine. At 6 p.m., the stuffed bird arrived with fatigued relatives. It was just in time to eat it as dessert -- with the pies!

This would never have happened if we all lived on the same block. The bird would have been carried over by a strong uncle, placed on the table, and carved promptly as we wished each other a happy Thanksgiving.

b>--Florence Gatto, Bellmore

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