You know sometimes life throws you a slow pitch and when we see it, it just doesn't seem real.
It was 1961 and there was a strike of the milk drivers. As it turns out it lasted two weeks and by then all supplies had dried out. At our store in Chelsea our customers with new borns were becoming concerned they wouldn't be able to give their babies what they needed. Formula wasn't in common use then and breast feeding also was shunned by most, since religious organizations didn't approve of it at the time. My mom had made a decision; she was going to take the chance and go out to Bordentown, NJ and fill our van with milk. This after having my father's murdered just that February. Compassion and angst filled her with rage that these strikers would let young mothers and their babies go without.
So she left our head employee in charge loaded the van with gas and me and my brother and hit the road. Once through the Lincoln Tunnel there was no turning back. We paid our .50 toll turned on the radio and we tuned in 10 10 Wins news. Just a few miles on the road I was watching the sites swish by when a story came on the radio of a woman and her two children having been shot to death for doing exactly what we were about to do. On hearing this me and my brother looked at each other and then at mom. She slowed down looked at us and with renewed resolved said she wasn't about to let her clients newborns down and continued on our way south on the NJ Turnpike in our Chevy Greenbrier. At that time Boardentown was chuck full of Dairy farms and a safe distance from New York City so, she reasoned, a good chance to succeed in our mission.
Seeing her determination we all said a prayer and continued on our journey. It took about 2 hours of driving before we reached our destination. My brother and I were taking in the beautifully magnificent country side as we reached our targeted dairy farm. While mom negotiated the the proprietor who warned her of the dangers and related the story we had heard earlier mom wouldn't be dissuaded. Meantime me and my brother roamed around the farm looking and playing with the accessible animals. We came upon a golden tabby kitten that simply melted our hearts and of course me an my brother couldn't keep our hands off of him. Surrounded by hills and green pastures the like we'd never seen, boy this was just heaven; and the kitten made it perfect.
Monies paid we loaded up our van with as much milk as possible and secreting the kitten we were off to Chelsea. Between the views and the kitten the trip back seemed like it took minutes. Of course we covered our cargo so no one could tell what it was. Once at our bodega, mom sent out the word through the neighborhood and just about every mother came or sent son's and daughters to get their much needed milk. Mom new that some of the mothers couldn't afford to pay the hefty price she had paid but this didn't deter her. In fact this pushed her to giving the milk either at her cost or free to all who needed it.
Yes, my moms love for her people and her devotion to these young children new no limits. She not only risked her life but that of me and my brother but the very existence of our business which could have been fire bombed or inundated with violence from the angry teamsters.
I guess our prayers were answered and the Blessed Virgin clothed us with her grace and protections and the young mothers, Latina, White, Brown and Yellow lived to see their children lives benefit from the caring heart of my mom. Amen.