Sunday, September 2, 2007


If nothing is going well, call your grandmother~Italian Proverb

South Buffalo is an enclave of Catholic clans in which aged matriarchs reign. It makes sense since the older the matriarch the wider her family tree and the wider a net she can cast over the branches (add to that a Catholic prolictivity for reproduction). Plus she has longer, stronger associations with those in other clans.

I don't mean that these matriarchs are queen bees, sitting on their stingers, enjoying the honey. S. Buffalo is in America. Most women especially of my grandmother’s generation endured the oppressive economics of men making the money and woman being dependant. Husbands’ bad habits, their withholding or generosity of paychecks determined much—the quality of their hive and the street where it was located. But it wasn’t the men that determined what was truly important to the continuation of the clan—it’s identity.

This is a community that boasts its nationalities (and I use the term nationality rather than race, ethnicity or descent as none of those can be claimed) even if we are so many generations into America that mutt is more the truth. One nationality remains alpha in South Buffalo: Irish. I’m a mutt but my grandmother makes me Irish: my grandmother makes her whole motley clan Irish even her German mother.

Required South Buffalo reading: Angela’s Ashes and Mists of Avalon. As both books outline, men are rogue and woman rule. There are inherent problems with this system as rogue males resent rulers and how possible is it for a ruler to rule a rogue?

Gram is the matriarch of my clan even when my grandfather was alive and he liked it that way. It left him free to bowl, golf, and gamble. No matter how often he knocked about or how long he was gone, he belonged to us. Gram was home making him dinner along with various uncles, aunts, mother, nieces/nephew, sister, brother, children, grandchildren. And there was always an extra pork chop on the kitchen counter in case one of those rogues happened by.

She threatened my grandfather that when she turned 50, he could sit on his rocker but she was going to go. She bought a white Cadillac convertible and a set of golf clubs. She went. But she still cooked pork chops.

No comments: