Florida. The Casino. A Wedding. Family Photos. And Countess Pomegranate Martinis.Part Two__The Casino and Family Pics!

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.

Bitmoji Image

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.

wine cooler sangria GIF

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…

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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20 Responses to Florida. The Casino. A Wedding. Family Photos. And Countess Pomegranate Martinis.Part Two__The Casino and Family Pics!

  1. Maryellen Reardon says:

    I am really enjoying these family posts. May we all be reunited with our loved ones one day. And, so nice for your family to have a happy gathering.

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Maryellen. I’m glad you are liking them. There’s something fascinating about old family photos–no matter who’s family it is. The quality of the photos, the clothing, it’s all like a visual history lesson! Thanks again! XOXOXOXO

  2. Kathleen Amato says:

    Thanks for sharing the photos! Beautiful memories

  3. Kathy says:

    Love these photos and the stories of your family.

  4. Jacqui Gauld says:

    Truly fabulous photos. My daughter is the current ‘keeper’ of all our old photos. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of them that we are clueless about, no names, dates, etc. on the back of them. And now, there’s nobody older than me to ask about them. It’s wonderful that you know exactly who everyone is.
    I thought, like here in the UK, smoking had been banned in public areas in the USA, or is that just in certain states?
    Looking forward to part three.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Jacqui. Oh. My aunt is great at archiving and labeling the photos. In fact, there was only one that wasn’t labeled. It was a photo of a family gathering at a restaurant in the Bronx and it was driving us all crazy!
      Unfortunately smoking hasn’t been banned in those casinos. I am pretty sure it’s been banned everywhere else though! XOXOXO

  5. Molly says:

    Catherine I just love your travel posts! And the family photos–priceless. You are a such a great story-teller–love your sense of humor. Thanks for taking us along with you.

  6. Lise says:

    Thanks for sharing your family photos. I have the same feelings as you about casinos – such depressing places filled with desperate people.

  7. Momcat says:

    So nice to see those family photos. My Mom bequeathed me a TON over the years which I need to organize. One very special collection of photos of my late older brother I am going to put into an album for his little grandson’s first birthday. It will be nice for baby to see his Canadian Poppa who never met him as a little guy. They were photos I found in our personal family edition of ‘Hoarders International’ aka my parent’s basement when mucking it out last summer….But also some super duper photos of my Grandparents and other family elders. Important to have names on these photos, sit down with a family ‘history keeper’ and identify everything. I did that with Ma just before dementia robbed her memory completely.
    I hear you about Casinos but gambling is an addiction, like drinking, smoking etc. no smoking allowed in Canada but man the people in some…it’s so sad. The casinos run by First Nations are for the most part very nice, clean with great restaurants and hotels attached. The smaller provincial casinos are near the race tracks and attract a different clientele mostly they are slots…do you know some people wear adult diapers so they won’t have to leave ‘their’ machine? We have gone just for fun to the big casino but limit ourselves to 20.00, when it’s gone we leave. My husband thinks he’s a winner if he walks out with his 20.00 in his pocket!, can’t wait to read the rest of your Florida saga! You look great in that LP dress!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Momcat! Oh I’m sure the high-stakes casinos such as Vegas and even Monaco and other fancy places definitely cater to a “different” clientele. I’m so grossed out by the fact some wear adult diapers so they don’t have to leave the slots but it doesn’t surprise me. Those gambling addicts will gamble their homes away. It’s so sad.
      Twenty bucks is more like it for me too.
      You’re very fortunate to have had your mom explain everyone to you before dementia. I never had that with my mom. Her dementia took over rapidly. But we do have our photos of better days! XOXOXOXO

  8. J says:

    Your photos are priceless and I think you look like your Aunt, Sr. Josephine!
    You can see where your love of beautiful clothing comes from by looking at these pictures. Impressive family!

  9. Miss Bougie says:

    Love these photos! Thanks for sharing. I have a lot of these as well, from my grand parents and even one from my great grand father on my father’s side from around 1870/1880, probably by a travelling photographer, as it was taken at the forge (my great grandfather was a blacksmith). There even is a photo from my grandmother on my mother’s side with her siblings, taken around 1900 where I see myself staring back at me. I very strongly resemble my grandmother’s sister! Amazing, right?
    One family member emigrated to the US (probably before 1900) and I have pictures of him in Coney Island. I have no idea if there are relatives on that side. I need to investigate one of these days, although I don’t really know where to start.
    Most of these photos were taken at a studio. I have some studio photos with my Mum from the beginning of the 60’s. They are very cherished. You are right, people don’t go to studios any more. It’s all by iPhone now. What a shame.

  10. Julie F. says:

    Love your photos – those are real family treasures!

  11. ratnamurti says:

    Some years ago, one day, and I do stress the day part, I went to see a couple of my sisters. The hell raisers and party girls of my siblings. They were dressed up really weirdly, and informed me we were going out. To the local drinking hole (I don’t drink), dark, ugly and smokey. With sad degenerate looking people. They threw ten dollars at me. Then sat at the pokies for hours, with great intent, and smoking and drinking furiously. I didn’t know what to do, because yep, I’m not a gambler either. But I did have an epiphany that day: my two sisters were definitely NOT hellraisers. And party girls? (ha! not)

  12. Juliet says:

    Oh my goodness you family are the cutest gene pool going – I can particularly imagine one of those wholesome 1950s/1960s/1970s sitcoms that used to have glued to the tv screen when I was young – probably filmed in black and white but every character so funny and loving and colourful. I have to say the sight of the casino and the description gives me the absolute heebie jeebies – cigarette smoke? gambling? just everything basically – gahhhhhh. Show me a book shop, a museum, an art gallery, or a park/botanical garden and I’m there. My sister and I are polar opposites – she might enjoy a casino (I dont know) but she likes a smoke and a drink and possibly even a wee bit of dancing on tables when it all gets a bit wild, me not so much

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