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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

And Then I Was Born…

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 7/4/2022
Occurred: 4/8/1951 7:05:00 PM
Topics/Keywords: #StyertowneApartments #Clifton #NewJersey #Autobiography
Milestone: #Birth
Page Views: 185
My babyhood in Clifton, New Jersey.
Milestone:Birth
Who:Paul Sigmund Cilwa
Date and time:April 8, 1951 7:05 PM
Where:Mountainside Hospital, Glen Ridge, New Jersey
Father:Walter Sigimund Cilwa
Mother:Edna Mae (Brown) Cilwa

This lifetime began, for me, on April 8, 1951, at 7:05 pm in Mountainside Hospital in Glen Ridge, New Jersey.

My mother, Edna Mae Brown Cilwa, and my father, Walter Sigimund Cilwa, lived at the time in a small but airy apartment in a complex called Styertowne, in Clifton, NJ.

I was named after my grandfather (Vernon Paul Brown) and my father (Walter Sigimund Cilwa), although under the heavy sedation then used in childbirth, my mother wasn't quite able to spell my father's middle name correctly. So my middle name wound up not really being from anyone in particular, other than the well-known father of modern psychotherapy.

I had a "perambulator" (stroller) and apparently mom would take me riding around the complex.

My dad worked an evening shift at Bendix Corporation. So, when Bendix came out with a line of television sets, he of course brought one home. It was an upright console model, and when it was later replaced by a set with a larger screen, my sisters and I were allowed to play with the old one.

Pinky Lee

Pinky Lee, 1950s TV personality.

My memory begins somewhere around 6 months old. I can describe the layout of the apartment itself, and I distinctly remember sitting in my high chair, watching Pinky Lee on my parent's brand-new, black-and-white television with a 16-inch screen.. (And I was gay even then; even in my high chair, I knew that striped pants and a polka dot shirt did not go together.)

I could walk by the time I was 1 year old, and in later years my mom never let me forget the time I "locked [her] out of the apartment. Apparently she had stepped outside the door to get the milk and newspaper, and the moment the door closed behind her, I ran to it and turned the lock. When she couldn't get back in, she pleaded with me to open the door, but apparently my physical prowess was advancing faster than my vocabulary. Mom was in her bathrobe and therefore mortified by having to go to the apartment complex' office to get them to let her in.

Looking back, I'm not so sure I was guilty of this crime. Having now had four kids of my own, and paying attention to each one at the age of one…well, none of them could have run to a door, much less worked the lock. It seems more likely that the door was already locked, and she simply let it slam shut behind her while picking up the milk bottles and newspaper.

Me on my first birthday hobby horse.

Although my dad's name was Walter, everyone in his family called him "Bill". When his son, little Walter, was born, everyone called him "Billy". No one knows how this odd name substitution began, but when Betty Ann and her husband had their first boy, the aunts pressured them to name him Walter, but call him Bill! Betty Ann's husband, John Dow, responded that instead, he would name the boy "Edward" but call him "Otto." (The kid was actually named, and called, Craig.)

Back Row: Aunt Lou, Grandmother Cilwa, Aunt Gene, Cousin Rosemary Ryan McGraw, Aunt Rose, Aunt Al
Front Row: Cousin Phyllis Ryan, Me, Mom

One morning, when I was about one and had just started walking, my mom stepped outside for the newspaper and the wind blew the door shut—and locked—behind her. She began banging on the door, calling me to open it. Since I couldn't reach the doorknob, there wasn't much chance of this happening. She finally had to run to the office to get a duplicate key (in her nightgown, which totally humiliated her).

Another time, after midnight, a fire alarm woke up the family and I was carried outside, wrapped in blankets. The apartment above us had caught fire. The building was saved, but water damage from the hoses soaked into our apartment and destroyed many of our things, particularly a valued bedspread. I remember looking at the apartment at night, surrounded by people in pajamas and coats and blankets, but do not recall seeing any flames. We eventually spent the rest of the night in a friend's apartment.

My Astrological Chart

By: Paul S. Cilwa Topics: #Astrology Page Views: 147
My stars!

Very attractive and popular, your charm helps you to get your own way and prevents others from getting angry with you. "Peace and harmony at all costs" is your battle cry. You always try to ameliorate or to cosmetically hide any physical ugliness or any angry feelings between people. Flashy, but not gaudy, you prefer to dress elegantly. You generally have good taste in music, art and literature. Beware of the tendency to compromise yourself in your attempt to be agreeable at all times. A bit of a social butterfly, at times you can be vain and lazy. For the most part, however, you are gracious and affectionate, and your refined and aristocratic demeanor serves as a role model to others.

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