A little backstory before I continue with Part Two.
My mother, Germaine, and her two sisters (the ones who were not nuns) Margie and Tessie, loved to gamble. I use this term somewhat loosely. Their gambling consisted of Bingo games at local Parish and Knights of Columbus Halls. And my Uncle Genie’s home.
The arrows are pointing to my mother, Germaine, my Aunt Margie and my Aunt Tessie. Aunt Tessie is the only surviver of the siblings. From top left to right: Uncle Tommy, Uncle Francis, Uncle Joey, Uncle Genie. Bottom left to right, My mom, Germaine, Sr. Josephine, Sr. Thomas (yes. we respectfully referred to my Ursuline Sr. Aunt’s as their nun names–very old-school Catholic), Aunt Margie and Aunt Tessie.
Uncle Genie, one of my mother’s brothers, acquired a One-Armed Bandit. Aka Slot Machine. Nobody really knows how this machine was acquired or where he got it from. In my family, “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell” has a different meaning.
This was the main activity between my mother and her sisters when we visited Uncle Genie and Aunt Eileen’s house. In the end, my uncle was the winner!
The three Gorman Sisters, as we were prone to call them, also loved going to Atlantic City. To the Casinos, if you will. It remains a mystery to me as to how these women loved those little penny gambling jaunts—but they did.
Who knew these sweet little angels, Tessie and Germaine would grow up to be penny-ante gambers who loved their Bingo games and Atlantic City!
In addition, my dad loved to play poker on his Friday evenings off from the NYC Police Department. I guess playing cards alleviated the stress of being a cop. And somewhere down the line, my sister, Germaine, and my other sister, Theresa took on the spirits of my mother and Aunt Tessie and their propensity for gambling. As the self-appointed black-sheep of the family, gambling is not my jam. I’m the one who would rather spend an afternoon at a museum or buried in a book.
And so, on Friday morning the three “Wynne” sisters woke up and headed down to breakfast at the hotel. Germaine and Theresa were to head to the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa while I awaited Oona’s arrival.
But plans changed a bit. Oona was delayed and would be arriving later in the morning. Adding to the change, she would be staying at my brother’s house to help my Sister-In-Law, Yanela, with the wedding cake as she offered to bake the dessert. This was a good thing because she is the wife of my brother, Pete, who passed away, and Oona and Yanela are extremely close.
Alas, this meant I would not have my daughter-as-chauffer to drive me around. And without a whip of my own, I was at the disposal of my sister, Theresa.
Guess who went to the Hard Rock Casino?
Yes Siree! The Florida weather was freezing but I knew I would soon be in the warmth of the cigarette smoke at the Hard Rock Casino!
In my lifetime, I have not gambled much. As a teen, I did accompany my mother to a Bingo game and nearly exited with a case of Bronchitis due to the heavy cloud of cigarette smoke.
And as a hypochondriac, even from an early age, I’m not good in smoke-filled rooms
And other than the occasional Lottery card, I had only been to a casino once before. When the local Valley Forge Casino opened. Bonaparte, me and my sons, Jake and Roman went. It was such a harrowing experience for me that I never returned.
Why? You might wonder? I find the casino depressing. Filled with patrons who need to visit a dentist and have their eyeglasses bound together with medical tape. They will gamble away their pay and it’s very uncomfortable for me to watch.
I’m just not comfortable in a Casino. And even more frightening when the signage resembles those found on a major highway!
So off we went to the casino with my bright spot being the fact we would be stopping by my Aunt Terry’s house to pick her up. Then, back at the hotel, my sisters would share a room, whilst Aunt Terry and I shared another.
We arrived a little after ten in the morning. This was a Friday. A weekday, if you will. And the place was mobbed. Mobbed. Thoughts of “Why aren’t these people at work” ran through my numb skull. Then I realized most of them were either not working, were retired or were tourists and visitors—just like us.
Wild Card my ass. This was going to be a traumatic experience for me!
The magnificence of the building was astounding. Rather than a curved staircase on each side of the entrance, were curved escalators. We passed a store that stated it was a Paris shoppe. From the looks of the clothing, I would guess it was not a Parisian import. Across from the shop was a liquor shoppe and next to that a bakery with incredibly delicious looking delights. Cash machines scattered throughout so those who won could cash out their tickets. Blackjack tables. All sorts of gambling machines. The one-armed bandits have all been replaced with one-finger bandits. It was glitzy, tacky and trashy. And I felt sick to my stomach from the stench of stale cigarette smoke and booze.
Yes. The curved escalators were the high point of this casino visit. I could have spent all day going up and down on this contraption!
And suffice it to say, I’ve never seen a shop like this in Paris, France. Perhaps it’s an import from Paris, Texas!
It was impressive, though, at how adept both my sisters were in their cautious and careful choice of machinery. Both like the “Penny” machines. Both had particular preferences. And both were having a ton of fun—which was nice to see. As for me, I played ten dollars and won ten dollars.
It was impressive to note how focused my sisters were on these machines. I’m still chuckling over my sister, Theresa’s (in the back) astute concentration. WTF was she pondering?
Ohh. Looks like somebody won!
Buying a pair of shoes from Poshmark and not knowing what kind of shape they will really be in upon arrival is how I gamble!
We found a non-smoking area of the casino which was secluded well within the bowels of the compound. My sisters didn’t really like the choice of non-smoking gambling machines so back to the smoking area we went. By this time, I was very worried, not so much for my lungs, but for my wig. I don’t wash my wigs often but after this little journey, my Soft & Subtle wig from Gabor wigs would need more than shampoo to get this stink out!
2020 version of the gambling Gorman Sisters! Cathe, Theresa and Germaine!
Happy to leave after a two-hour visit, we headed to Aunt Terry’s house. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know how important a part of my life Aunt Terry has been. Because of her, I have acquired a great love of art and have a rich cultural background. I love and admire her and it was just like old times to be together again.
A surprise was had at her home too. She went into a closet and took down old family photographs to give to us. Luckily, we were hotel roommates and I was able to get great photos of my family’s history! And I’m sharing some of the pics now!
My grandfather, Thomas Wynne in his WWI Batallion photo. He is why the movie 1917 was so important to me.
My dad, Thomas Wynne as a toddler.
My grandmother, Margaret Crowley, when she arrived in America. 1920. The resemblance to my brother Pete is incredible.
I LOVE this pic. This was taken a year after my grandmother arrived in America and shortly before she married my grandfather to become a Wynne. She’s on the right and is photographed with one of her friends. Look how much she changed since arriving here. Her hair is bobbed, the clothing is more modern and she’s wearing makeup. I love this photo so much! It’s priceless and precious!
My Great-Grandmother Crowley as a young girl. She never immigrated to the States. Wasn’t she pretty?
And Great Grandma into her nineties. I swear I am the freak of the family. Look at that head of hair. She never needed a wig!
My Uncle Patrick (Pat) Crowley when shortly after leaving Ireland for America. I love this photo because I only remember him as an older man. He was incredibly handsome!
Here’s Uncle Pat on his horse in Central Park. He was a NYC Cop and yes–my family is the stereotypical Irish-American family. There’s a lot of Cops and Firemen in the family!
My dad’s Confirmation photo. I love this pic because of the outfit AND the fact his face has that impish smile. This validates all the stories I heard about him as a boy. He was delightfully naughty in a fun way! Hmmmmm…sounds familiar!
Dad’s HS Graduation photo. Brooklyn Automotives. I don’t even know if the school is still there.
Graduation from Grammar School. St. Francis of Assisi in Brooklyn-kids looked more mature in those days–don’t you think?
I had to sneak this one in. It was a Christmas gift to my dad from his favorite teacher when he was in 8th grade! This is getting framed. I have no idea where it’ll be hanged but it is just awesome in the artwork! Jesus always had such great hair!
I think this was my dad’s National Guard photo. What a head of hair! My son Roman looks so much like him!
My dad, when he became a NYC Police Officer and my Aunt Terry. These studio photographs are amazing. Why don’t we do this anymore?
My dad’s First Holy Communion. And please allow me to tell you that I’m tearing up posting these pics. I never saw them until last week and it’s just making me want my dad and my mom and grandparents back. The knickers tho!
Oh. Look what we have here! It’s MY Communion pic. Kudos to Cambridge Studios in Ozone Park, Queens for disguising my crossed eye so well! Could those bangs be any shorter?
I have a framed copy of this but now–I have an original photo of my grandparent’s wedding day. That headpiece is everything! And my son, Jake, is a deadringer for my grandfather Wynne!
This is a pic of a pic. My Aunt Anne on her Communion day. This will go to my cousin AnnMarie. My Aunt Anne was one of the sweetest women on earth. When she and my dad were kids, my dad convinced her to play “barber” with him and he cut all her hair off. Guess who got into serious trouble. But. I was told Anne just shrugged it off!
Another photo of a photo. This is my Aunt Catherine on her Communion day. She was the eldest child. My cousin, Cathy, looks just like her mom and this is one of my favorite pics. The outfit is so stunningly beautiful. The bow. The veil. And those flowers! This is such a beautiful photograph.
Lastly, this pic of me with Aunt Terry. Why do I love this photo so much? I was about 14 and in my very “awkward” phase. I got chubby. I wanted to emmulate my favorite aunt down to the hair style. But, I had a neanderthal hairline which made me look like I was wearing a wig (hmmmm….prolific perhaps?) I had no idea how to wear makeup, but I was just so happy! And I love this photo!
We went back to the hotel, rested a bit then headed out to the Tropical Tundra for a family and friends get together before the big event the next day.
I WAS planning on wearing THIS dress. Unfortunately, due to the freezing weather, I opted for the dress I traveled in and my denim jacket. I should have packed jeans! But I didn’t!
The get together was in the outdoor section of a local restaurant. I felt bad because the weather was definitely not on our side. It was so upsetting that the Florida weather was more akin to the weather in the Northeast.
But not allowing the weather to ruin an evening, the restaurant was equipped with outdoor heating and frankly, after a few glasses of Sangria, the innards were nice and warm.
The sangria proved twofold. It warmed me up and I ate some healthy fruit!
A few hours later back in our hotel room, Aunt Terry and I shared long conversation and happy memories before it was time to enter into a phase of slumber.
Stay tuned for Part III, where I’ll cover the wedding and my hanger over not eating!
Stay tuned for Part Three…