Aunt Sarah had celebrated her 80th birthday, when she wrote to me 1998.
These are stories about her mother, Sperenza Mazza Colchamiro and father, Elias Colchamiro.
My Favorite Story About My Mother
by Sarah (Colchamiro) Burakoff - August, 1998
My mother came to this country from Janina, Greece when she was about 14 years of age and immediately went to work in a factory. She had never gone to school in Greece (as most girls at that time.) She was taught the necessities of life by her mother which consisted most of catering to her future husband and raising a family. She did all these chores well when she married Elia Colchamiro.
She raised her five daughters and three sons in a clean healthy, happy environment and saw them all married and raising families of their own.
She was known to all her 19 grandchildren as NONA. She was proud that some of her children went to college and that most of them were good students.
When Nona was in her fifties, her daughter Rae and Jean were married. Ray was pregnant. At this point in her life Nona announced to her family that she intended to go to a local school to learn how to read and write English.
Her daughters were very proud of her and encouraged her to go. However, Elia, her husband did not see any sense to her starting school at this time in life. "Why do you have to go to school at this late date? After all, you have managed very nicely to get along without reading and writing all these years. It's foolish to start learning now." Her reply was, "I must learn to read and write. When my little grandchildren go to school, they might ask me to help them with their homework! How will I feel when I have to tell them I don't know how to read or write? Oh No. I must go to school." And so she went faithfully every day -- through all kinds of weather.
I can still see her carrying her books to and from school. Sometimes she complained about all the homework her teacher gave her.
After eight years, she earned her public school diploma but refused to accept it because it meant she would have to take a subway to the high school and she didn't want to travel an hour each way to and from high school.
She solved the problem by continuing her eight grade schooling until the end of her life.
She wrote the most beautiful compositions. Her handwriting was a work of art. She wrote -- and re-wrote each page until she was satisfied that the spelling and the writing was perfect. She had a beautiful handwriting.
How she enjoyed reading the newspaper everyday! She took bus trips with her classmates to places of interest. She was especially enthused about her trip to Washington, D.C.
Her late education stood her in good stead when she got old and sick. She spent her days reading and writing letters to her family. It gave her great pleasure and made us all very proud of her.
A Story About My Father
by Sarah (Colchamiro) Burakoff - August, 1998
My father Elias was the youngest boy in his family. To the outside world he was a great story teller making his audience laugh. He was respected and loved by all his nieces, nephews and friends.
When my cousins came to visit in the summer, they ran to my father for their hugs and kisses.
At home with his children, he was very different. Mama used PAPA as the disciplinarian. Whenever she wanted to keep us in line she would warn with a wagging finger...."Wait till papa come home." Consequently most of my siblings were afraid of my father. We were always on our best behavior when Papa was home.
My father was a great pinochle player and almost every weekend some of his friends and relatives would come to our house to play pinochle. My mother would stay in the kitchen -- on call, in case the men needed Turkish coffee -- fruit -- or whatever refreshment was wanted. Sperenza was always on call in the kitchen. That is, until Sperenza went to school to study reading and writing English.
She also learned about American freedom. One day my father was playing Pinochle in the living room, when he called for refreshments. "Sperenza -- Café." Papa waited for Mama to bring in the refreshments. Some time passed and Mama did not appear. Papa went into the kitchen to see what was holding up his order. Much to his surprise, Mama was not there.... nor was she anywhere in the apartment!
It seems Mama had learned more than just reading and writing in school. She learned about American Freedom (for all). Mama had gone to the movies! that was the beginning of Mama's liberation.
Aunt Sarah was a prolific writer in her later years. Her poetry was something she did for the majority of her life. Here is a poem she wrote about her family. She published several books which are available on Amazon.com under Sarah Burakoff, which the link will take you to. Her list of books are:
Brighton Third Street 2004
Joshua Is Missing 2005
Search for Identity 2005
The Secret Cave of Janina 2005
Where is Jack? 2006
The Urge to Kill 2007
Dates & Nuts 2007
Smiles and Tears Poetry 2008
One of her books, Joshua Is Missing, was greenlit by Universal Studios, more details when they become available.