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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Photo Project


So yesterday I started the photo-interview project with my mom. I took out this one, that says "Mas and Kiku, Central Park, 1946?" on the back. She immediately said, "My favorite jacket!" and then she pounded the table. "It got ruined by acid."

"What?"

She said it had been her favorite red jacket, with white piping down it, and it had gotten ruined when she accidentally leaned on a table during a chemistry lab. "Oh, so this was high school?"

She looked at me as if I was crazy. "No, it was night school! College!"
"What college?"
"NYU."
I blinked. "You went to NYU??"

The things you learn. I had no idea my mother ever went to college. I know she didn't graduate from college, but didn't know she ever took classes.

"Those classes were a pain," she went on. "They let out at 11:30 at night, and I'd be on the subway, only two or three people in a car, and people looking at me funny. I'd run down the platform and look to see where the conductor was, and make sure I got on the same car. Then when I got out at my stop, way up at 165th St., I'd have to walk really fast and make sure nobody was following me. There was a garage, where Uncle Ki (her older brother) parked his car, and I knew the fellas that worked there, so if I got nervous, I could always stop off there and maybe one of them would walk me home. It was a safe place I could stop."

Wow. This was a lot to absorb. My mother, taking chemistry at NYU, at night, and then commuting from lower to upper Manhattan by herself on the train.

"And what was this about the jacket and the ... acid?"

Large harrumph. "Yah, we were doing some experiment with sulfuric acid, and I was leaning on the desk to see what was going on, and when I stood up there was a big hole in the arm of my jacket. There had been a puddle on the table, and it just ate right threw. (sound of disgust) That was my favorite jacket. I had to throw it in the garbage."

A picture tells a thousand words. Was that a thousand?

6 Comments:

Anonymous Jennifer said...

This is brilliant. I seem to conduct these sort of impromptu interviews with my folks on a regular basis, almost accidentally. It's astounding what you can learn through a visual memory jogger/conversation starter.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 10:48:00 AM

 
Blogger C(h)ristine said...

Oh Susan! What a WONDERFUL idea!

I love old pictures.
My mom said she was going throw my mom and dad's out so "I won't have to deal with them when they die," but I told her that's the ONE thing i want from them.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 11:01:00 AM

 
Anonymous bloglily said...

This picture is terribly evocative -- and your mother's anecdote about the acid and night school very interesting. I hope you keep posting these! I so enjoy them. Best, BL

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 9:07:00 PM

 
Blogger melanie said...

That Kiku...it's always the quiet ones. ;)

What a great story!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 9:55:00 PM

 
Blogger Bustopher Jones said...

Yes, what a great story!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 10:32:00 PM

 
Blogger melanie said...

btw, I love this photo, check out your dad, playing it cool and suave, and your mom is so very lovely!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 11:08:00 AM

 

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