Girl from a Town


When my mother was in her late 70s I sat her down with a video camera and asked her what was the very first thing she could remember. We went from there forward as she told me her life story. I am extremely glad I did that, and would recommed it to others. And do something I didn't do: put the old family photos in front of her and have her talk about them.

Download Girl from a Town MP3

I‘m a girl from a town,
That was sometimes in Russia,
Sometimes in Poland,
Sometimes the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

There were women washing clothes,
On the rocks by the river,
Wringing out bedding,
One holding and twisting each end of the sheet.

But when airplanes flew over,
Momma hides me and my sister,
In case there were bombs,
In a war that we now call just World War I.

Now I am hiding since I,
Don’t want to go,
Not to America,
Though I know my Grandmother’s there.

Grandmother sent money,
For second class tickets,
But a man stole some money,
And bought his own ticket,
So we sailed in filth down in steerage.

We see a woman,
Up on the dock,
Momma says that’s your Grandma,
I say Momma she looks younger than you.

Grandma so stylish,
Her American dress,
Momma still wears her,
Her ragged bubushka from the old country village.

We take a taxi,
Through New York City to,
To Grandma’s candy store,
But we are not welcome in the upstairs apartment.

So Momma finds a job,
Where she cooks in a restaurant,
With a little back room,
Where me and sister and Momma can stay.

Aunt Julie takes us,
To museums and to the opera,
Buys us white shoes,
Sailor hats and striped sailer outfits.

In summer rich uncle has a,
Catskill hotel,
I dress like a gypsy,
And tell everyone’s fortune till but then summer ends.

Then Momma met Harry,
So happy they marry,
With Harry’s has 5 sons,
A house full of music,
There is singing and dancing,
But just six months later,
Harry dies from cancer and it all falls apart

I am then sent away,
To a home for young girls,
I am 13 years old,
My roommate is pregnant it is 1924.

I‘m a girl from a town,
Sometimes in Russia,
Six months in America,
I learned to speak English,
But mostly I learned that things fall apart
But mostly I learned that things fall apart
But mostly….