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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

My First Sibling

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 3/20/2023
Occurred: 6/18/1952
Page Views: 398
Topics: #Autobiography #Clifton #NewJersey #StyertowneApartments
I get a baby sister.
Who:Mary Joan Cilwa
Date and time:June 18, 1952
Father:Walter Sigimund Cilwa
Mother:Edna Mae (Brown) Cilwa
Age:70 years

When I was born, my parents, who hadn't been married all that long, lived in an apartment in a Clifton, New Jersey, complex called Styertowne.

Visitors included my maternal grandparents, my mother's Aunt Edna and her second-best friend, "Aunt" Norma (who had introduced her to my dad). (In my fanily, any family friend was to be called Aunt or Uncle.)

And then, on June 18, 1952, which happened to be my mom's 48th birthday, she gave birth to my first little sister, Mary Joan. In those days new mothers were kept in the hospital a few days; so I was taken to my grandparents' apartment in Bloomfield for the duration. (Dad worked on the evening shift and, obviously, couldn't leave a 1-year-old at home alone.

I could barely talk, but when my parents picked me up I said, "I wanna stay." My mom was torn. "Well," she said, lip quivering, "if that's what he wants…"

My grandmother snorted, "Edna Mae, he's a little over a year old. He doesn't get to make such decisions. That's your job." And so, I returned to Garfield with the new sister. However, my mom told me later that I stopped talking for a month after that.

And as everyone did in those days before social media, everyone came to visit and gush over the new baby. For example, our cousins Elieen and Bill McGirr (my Aunt Gene's kids).

And of course, our grandparents.

At least my cousin Rosemary played with me.

Jumping ahead to December of that year, our folks decided to do the baby-in-the-bathtub photo that all parents took in those days.