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My mother Mary Anne is the oldest child of Philip Nicholas Glennon and Margaret Sullivan Glennon. Phil, a federal bank examiner from Jersey City, NJ married Margaret (Peggy), a dietician from Wilkes Barre, PA. He was eight years her senior. Soon after the wedding, Phil volunteered for the Army (he was too old to be drafted) and fought in WWII. Mary Anne was born on August 21st 1943 on the day my grandfather’s ship sailed for Europe. After the War, Phil decided that being a bank examiner involved too much travel, and time away from his family. The couple and their toddler daughter moved to Hasbrouck Heights, NJ where Phil purchased a restaurant on Route 17, naming it Glennon’s. Several years later he opened a cafeteria, the Glen Air, at Teterboro Airport. In the Irish Catholic tradition, the Glennons were a big family; my mother grew up as the oldest of five. There was a sixth child, a little boy, who was born after Mary Anne but died in his crib at 6 months of age.
Around 1960 my grandfather Phil was diagnosed with leukemia; he kept working and tried different meds for six years before dying at the age of 56. He once told my Mom that he wasn't bitter over having a incurable disease; he had seen so many terrible things in the war that he didn’t consider himself unlucky. Upon his death, the restaurant was sold and is now (quite redecorated) operated as the Mt. Fujii Japanese Steak House.
Growing up, I remember the cardboard boxes of Kodachrome slides that got shuffled from basement to garage to front hall closet. They traveled with us from house to house, a sacred mystery containing pictures of the grandparents I never met, as well as miniature versions of my mother's three sisters and brother -- the Aunts and Uncle I saw every year at Thanksgiving and 4th of July. A few years ago at Christmas my Mom rented a slide projector and we all sat around, mesmerized by the past. I offered to have the slides digitized as a birthday gift, and last year, finally made good on my promise.
I spent three days over Thanksgiving going through just under 2000 slides with a loop, sorting them in piles of 20 and wrapping them in tin foil for shipping. Every time I came to a badly damaged slide, I threw it in the 'trash' pile, but couldn't bring myself to throw the rejects away. They reminded me of my friend Cynthia, or rather, her work with bleached images. If anyone could do something with these crumbling pieces of film, it was Karalla, my old neighbor who coincidentally, lived in the same building as my Great, Great Aunt Kathleen. Kathleen was my grandfather Phil’s Aunt who also lived on the same street a half a century earlier (born in 1878). I will never forget the day when my Mom helped me move into my railroad apartment and sucked in her breath, remembering visiting that block as a young girl.