When Memoir Meets Savile Row


On my sister’s birthday this week, she and I ate lunch together, discussing, over humus and pita, my recent posts about our dad and additional memories she has that can, hopefully, augment my own.

That conversation confirmed what I’ve suspected all along—that Lynn remembers lots more than I do and with significant specifics.  If I, too, recalled the dress I wore the second day of third grade, this memoir would be a breeze–sartorial or otherwise.

I filled her in on some of the reading I’ve been doing recently—my efforts to understand the historical context surrounding our dad’s close encounters with the FBI and the Nixon administration’s crack down on organized crime.  These facts intrigued her as much as her more fleshed out and dressed up memories of our childhood amazed me.

She shared, for example, details about a door I described here more than a week ago—a door whose top our dad had hollowed out and lined with tin so he could conveniently hide gambling papers from raiding FBI agents.  Lynn remembers in particular the day a carpenter named “Cheech” (who owed my dad money and was apparently unable to pay) came to the house, removed the door from its hinges, took it out on the front porch and went to work, creating the cubby hole.  Sporting a beard and leather tool belt, he set the door on saw horses, while my sister watched, fascinated by the process.

She reminded me that a number of strange things happened when men “owed daddy money.”  Sometimes he came home with surprising items, often in huge quantity, once a massive sack of pistachios, as in 50 pounds worth, another time a trunk load of men’s suits—Brooks Brothers wrapped in plastic, piled high—armfuls of Armani, “fallen from the back of a truck.” 

Funny how that happens. 

I remember how obsessed we were with wanting a literal translation—what did that mean, we wanted to know?  “Fell off the back of a truck?”  I imagined a loose lock, doors flying open, mountains of men’s wear dumped in the street—Pittsburgh’s own Savile Row.

image via iamstaggered.com

It’s amazing how Lynn’s mentioning these things brings back memories—like sartorial spillage, the dumping of Dior.

Funny how that happens.

36 thoughts on “When Memoir Meets Savile Row

  1. lol “Fell off the back of a truck.” I’ve heard that expression before in conversation. I was a little confused at first, but then I got it.

    It’s so great that you and your sister can discuss this situation. Some family dynamics don’t allow this type of interaction. Kudos to you both.

    Like

    • I never did manage to figure out what that meant as a child. Isn’t it funny how kids take things so literally?

      Yes, my sister is great. I don’t know what I’d do without her–my readers would love her. Thanks so much——————

      Like

  2. Two heads are better than one! Glad talks with your sister are helping put some pieces together. Also, if you see the suit dumping truck, please do send it my way. Tom needs a tux and I wouldn’t mind it being “free” 🙂

    Like

  3. I too am glad you and your sister can talk about this and love that you can fill in some blanks for each other. Admittedly though, I love the tension of you not remembering things in your writing. I love the humour in that sack of pistachios.

    Like

    • I know–the pistachios are kind of a hoot, aren’t they? I too like the tension created by the blanks, but if you have too many blanks, you don’t have enough detail to tell the story–at least that’s my fear. I think I will need to have some of the empty spaces where memory would be, or it wouldn’t accurately be my memoir, I guess.

      Like

  4. With my two siblings how we remember family history is a bit like the film Rashomon i.e., we all have our own version of events, but we also fill in the blanks for one another. Gladto hear that you and Lynn are close. It sounds like you guys are a great team.

    Like

    • I wish I knew that film, but I don’t. I’m sure there are things that we remember differently, as well. That’s inevitable, I guess–the nature of memory. But, yes, Lynn is a great companion to have on this journey.

      Like

    • Yes, so true! Though it’s not a new experience for us, exactly. I think we have always talked about things having to do with our dad, as he was such a character. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Like

    • Oh, Charlie, I’m so glad you are enjoying the series. I’m actually enjoying it myself. It’s healing to begin putting these peices of memory back together and forming a more cohesive picture of what things were like.

      Like

    • Sounds a bit like my sister and I in terms of birth order. I’m the oldes of 3 girls; Lynn is the youngest–and then we had a brother come along about 6 years after Lynn. I think it’s common for siblings to remember things differently, actually. Thanks for reading, Deb!

      Like

  5. I’m intrigued about the pistachios (yum!) and the suits! A strange but funny tidbit of memory, this.
    Fascinated by the door story though…..I’ve always loved the idea of cubby holes 🙂
    And I think many more lunches with Lynn are in order….

    Like

  6. It’s wonderful that you have your sister to lean on as you try to draw all of those memories out of the past. I know that often when my siblings and I talk about the past, a memory that I didn’t even know was there will come to the forefront of my mind. A meeting of the minds is probably the best way for you to create the most accurate picture of those days for your memoir.

    Like

  7. I love spending time with my sister too, and discussing our childhood and my mum. It really amazes me how differently she saw things and also the things that stuck in my head about that time which I thought were so significant are so very different to the ones she has remembered.

    Like

  8. The only thing that ever fell off the back of a truck I was behind was…well, the back of the truck! And boy, did I have to swerve to avoid that.

    Nice to have a sister with a really good memory to help fill in some of those blanks!

    Like

  9. I’m 15 months older than my sister Rache, but it’s to her I look when there’s a fault in my memory (which is often). Sometimes when she speaks I’m able to recapture little pieces of a past we share, and I consider that a gift–even if I do wish I could remember some of this myself!

    Like

    • Yes, this sounds very similar to my relationship with my sister–though Lynn is more than 5 years younger than me. I’m even finding that my brother, who is 11 years younger than me, remembers details that I don’t. My siblings are a huge gift. I’m so glad to know you’re close to your sister, as well. Thanks for reading!

      Like

    • It was an interesting way to grow up–for sure. Over the weekend I had the chance to talk with my brother about some of these things, and even though he was so much younger than me, he, too, remembers a lot more than I do about some events. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! Great hearing from you!

      Like

  10. “…Pittsburgh’s own Savile Row.” lol! Love it.

    It’s great that you have your sister to help you fill in the blanks. That should help flesh things out considerably for you.

    Like

  11. I’m happy you were able to connect with your sister and discover a more detailed perspective on your own memories! Very interesting– now I just need to find my own Chanel truck dumped all over the street somewhere. 😉 (Not that I wear Chanel, but I sure would if it “fell off a truck”.)

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s