One snowy Sunday in 1960, after attending the 9:00 Mass with my father, I walked to the parochial school next door for Sunday school and he went home. Sunday school was canceled due to the snow, but my parents didn’t know that. I decided to walk home. Our house was roughly 10 miles away, and I was 7 years old.
In my dress coat and patent leather shoes, I walked a long way with another little girl who had just emigrated with her family from Italy to New York. We couldn’t communicate very well, but I felt that I wasn’t alone. She left me when we got to her house in the Italian neighborhood in my town, which was actually only about a tenth of a mile from the church. I was already tired, shivering and wet. I remember my white lace anklet socks were so soaked that they looked gray. And my bare legs were going numb. I started to realize that home was a lot farther away than it seemed when we were driving.
While my father was driving back to pick me up from Sunday school, I was walking and crying while the wind swirled the snow around me. I made it about a mile and a half and then, thank God, a neighbor of ours who was driving home from the Lutheran church saw me and drove me home. I was dropped off at home while my father was driving all over looking for me. To my little 7 year old mind, it never occurred to me that my family would be out of their minds with worry. When my father arrived at the church and found out that Sunday school had been canceled and no phone calls were made home, he was frantic. And enraged at the priests.
While my mother hugged me and started taking off my wet clothes and putting me into my pajamas, my older brother got a roaring fire going in our fireplace. This brother, by then a teenager who teased me unmercifully yet put up with me following him around constantly, pulled a chair close to the fireplace, wrapped me in a blanket and held me on his lap with tears in his eyes. And with a promise that for the first and only time in my life, I could eat all the bacon for breakfast.
The Sunday it snowed in 1960.