#5 – My Mothers Family

April 18, 2016


While I am the oldest cousin of eleven cousins  in my father’s family , I’m third from the bottom of seven cousins  in my mother’s family. Even though my father’s family was half the size of the Tenetys, there were far fewer Tenety  children.. There are tragic reasons for this…as you will see.

I’ll give you a brief run down of my mother’s ten  brothers and sisters, she being the baby.

ROSE CORDES.. Aunty Rose- The oldest and helper to her mother  and,   no doubt,  didn’t want the responsibility of her own children when the children of brothers and sisters can be enjoyed without responsibility. Self appointed surrogate mother / nurse to me and all my cousins, each of us having the loving focus of her undivided attention until the next baby arrived.  She focused on the youngest.  And, this process would continue for 5o years to grand nieces and nephews each of us feeling special in her care.

JOSEPH TENETY- Uncle Joe  was a binge drinker like my grandfather…convenient for a construction worker loosely connected to a hiring hall. He was married with two children, my older cousins Booshie ( died at seventeen – kidneys ) and Dot,  but in reality he preferred the pub life of a confirmed Irish batchelor and lived that way. His wife, Margey, died at 27 and she could best be described as Mia Farrow in ” Purple Rose of Cairo ” except Joe wasn’t a bully. He was just irresponsible.

But,  as he got into his sixties, and moved to Ft Lauderdale to be close to his sisters, . he gave up drink altogether and became very family focused. My children loved him for his warmth and I can remember well his insistence and persistence in accompanying me on my quarterly sales calls to textile screen printers in Little Havana. I’d rent a convertible, pick him up at 7 am and he’d spend the day waiting outside factories for me and having lunch with me . These sales trips would last three days and would go on non-stop, except for lunch, factory after factory.

LILLIAN KINGSTON , Aunty Lilly,  life long  companion to Aunt Rose ( into their eighties ). Very industrious…, a spitfire,  As a child worked in a ” Hells Hundred Acres ” sweatshop  factory with Aunt Rose . Experienced full force all the disappointment my grandmother suffered due to the binge drinking of my grandfather ( who delivered coal in any weather in an uncovered horse drawn wagon ) was engaged to a NY State Senator, but gave back the ring when she became wild about my Uncle, Harry Kingston who owned his own construction company and whose family had a house directly on the Saugatuck River, Westport, Ct. They had one child, my cousin Matt, twelve years older than me.  Aunt Lilly is the one who got me to stop sucking my thumb and stop bed wetting. She had such confidence in my honesty, ” Richard would never lie ” and latent ability, ” Nobody can tell me he isn’t  a wonderful boy “, that there is no way I could ever, ever  let her down ….ever !.  Amazing how people can respond to praise positively and blame negatively.  Always worked with me…in either direction !

VINCENT TENETY..my uncle was the most successful of my grandmothers children.  He falsified enlistment papers, at fourteen to join the Navy  during World  War I and served undetected on a destroyer in the North Atlantic at fourteen !  for two years. He became an electrical engineer by studying at night while he simultaneously held down the job of House Electrician at the famous Ritz Hotel at the corner of 57th Street and Park Avenue.  He almost single handedly brought electricity to the Van Ness section of  the Bronx with my mother accompanying him and riding shotgun in his truck.

He was Superintendent of the Bayonne Shipyard famous for producing the Victory ships which ran Hitler’s North Atlantic submarine gauntlet during Worl War II. He was a 33rd degree Mason,  and a golf buddy of New Jersey Governor Moore.

He married Helen Tomkins and produced my cousin Cynthia who would smash champagne bottles against the bows of  new  launching with the whole family in attendence.  He had the power to get you a full draft exemption by hiring you as a welder.  He did this for my Uncle John and Aunt Mae ( see below ) but he refused to do this for my cousin Matt telling him to join the Navy as he had at fourteen. ” It will make a man out of you ” My father never bothered to ask.  But, my Uncle Vince would ask my dad ” which rung of the ladder are you on now ?  Curly “.  I was only eight, but I could sense he respected my dad and this was confirmed later when he came to my father for a loan ( granted ) for his new business.

Alas, the screen printing business he established to print on glass started to fail about  the time he got his cancer diagnosis ( age 46 )and he died almost broke except for the Masons.  Cynthia died at 32 with three kids. My father’s loan was never repaid.

MATTHEW TENETY .wasn’t with the family long, 3 years, as both legs were taken by a trolley car while  the conductor was settling a dispute between two women and Matty’s shoe was getting wedged into a trolley  track and my Aunt Lilly was momentarily distracted by a friend.  He was carried to Westchester Square Hospital where he died, but not before  finishing a pint of ice cream.

MAE PISANO Aunt Mae, just before my mom and,  unfortunately being carried to term by my grandmother while my Nana was grieving for Matty I have been told that Mae was an unhappy baby and child because of this.  She was pretty plain, but wholesome, and ambitious compared to my Aunt Lilly and my mom.My mom always felt Mae was a little bit out for her hide, threatening to tell momma this and that to get her in trouble.  Anyway, Aunt Mae married a barber / hair stylist,who had a salon in Whiter Plains, NY ( where I live now )  John Pisano and Mae saved every penny he earned They  had my cousin Robert ( five years my junior ) who was probably born with a smile on his face. Robert died before he needed to, in his sixties,  but he is rememberedfor his personality and his advice to his high school students and he received many tributes from them when he died. He left one daughter, Robyn and she has his smile. He and I owned a race horse who won at Hialeah, Zelous Dancer, and he wanted to retire to a horse farm in north Florida.  He got my attention on that one and I could have been very interested because Robert was honest. But somehow he got off that path and it never materialized for us.

THE ADOPTEES.( 3 ) ..They were all up and out before my time, but I remember Willy Vance. He grew up to be a carpenter, then a builder and , in fact, was foreman of the house my father had built in Eastchester, NY near Bronxville ( 1946 ) and our house at 40 McCollum Place, Yonkers, 1950. Solid guy and well liked and respected by everyone in the family.

RUTH MARGARET GORE , my mother.. Boy did she love me ! and my sister and my father.  She could be tough.  I can remember her trying to get at me with a belt as I scrambled under one bed to another, but only because I crossed the line. But, she could sit there at my elbow helping me do my homework, erasing every mistake I made. ” I’ll erase it “.   If I came home with a 96 , they wanted to know who got a 98. If I came home with a 98, they wanted to know who got 100  Who got 100 ? Robert McGuire the future Police Commissioner of New York…that’s who,  and if I had older brothers and sisters to help me, as he did, maybe I could have had 100 too !

I can’t talk about my mother without talking about me.  I had her for seven years before Beth was born and they actually had me believing I was little Prince Richard. “Quiet everyone, Richard wants to say something “. Richard wants to recite The Night Before Christmas ” I got used to being important and actually thought I had a vote in family decisions such as what brand of car to buy after the war.  My sister Beth,  found by my parents in a garbage can ” can we bring her home ? ”  changed all that in a hurry !!

April 18, 2016





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