Bloganuary – Day 8 – How Far Back in Your Family Tree Can You Go?

Published January 8, 2023 by Maryanne

From left to right, my Aunt “Tommy” Thomasina, and the little girl is my mom, Charlotte, next to her my Uncle Kenny as a little boy, and on the right is my Grandma Mary.

A few years ago I digged into my family tree with Heritage and learned some interesting things. All my life I thought I was mainly Italian/Polish, but Polish is a smaller part. I am mostly Italian/Greek, with a splash of Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Iranian. I have distant cousins all over the world.

However, from the family I knew, the furthest back was Grandma Gus. She was born in 1898 in Brooklyn, New York. She ended up in Pennsylvania and had my Grandma Mary in 1918, and she had my mother in 1943. Around this time, everyone was in New Jersey.

Grandma Gus lived until 1983. She was 86 when she died. She cooked for me and my sister in the 1960s/1970s because everyone else in my family worked, including my grandmother who was a short-order cook at a tavern.

Unfortunately we were too young to ask her many questions about “the olden days.” I was only 19 when she died, and she was very ill in her final years so I didn’t get a chance to know her too well. She was a bit of a hard-ass, a real tough lady who smoked and put whisky on our teeth when we had toothaches as kids. But she had a soft side too. She loved animals. I remember a photo of her with a puppy on her lap. She looked so happy. Perhaps I got my animal-loving gene from her. She also liked cute guys. I remember, being around 12 or 13 and having the Bay City Rollers album, “Dedication.” She thought my favorite, Ian Mitchell, was cute. She saw the album cover and called him a “doll baby” which back then meant really cute!

Around the house Grandma Gus usually wore a mu-mu, as Grandma Mary did, but when she went out, she dressed to the nines in a coat with a mink collar (As an animal person, I now cringe about mink!) Grandma Gus and Grandma Mary often fought, and Grandma Gus would “leave home.” It was very dramatic. My mother and grandmother let her go, but 20 minutes later we’d all pile in the car to get her to come back. It was hilarious seeing this little old lady, all dressed up with a black coat and mink collar, walking down the street with a suitcase.

Another great memory about Grandma Gus was a dish she made called pizza frit. It was simply fried dough topped with sugar. I can’t believe this was one of the go-to meals my sister and I had as kids. We also lived with second hand smoke because both grandmothers smoked non-stop — and often while cooking!

Times were different back then, but we survived. Rest in paradise, Grandma Gus and Grandma Mary.

If you liked this blog, feel free to buy me a kombucha:

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at:

She is the author of the following books:

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You

Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here:

Maryanne is also available for book editing and coaching. Rates are competitive.

And for positive messages, visit Be YOUnique, the Anti-Bullying You Tube Channel:

Visit my business page, Pear Tree Enterprises, at:

12 comments on “Bloganuary – Day 8 – How Far Back in Your Family Tree Can You Go?

    • Yes, she was a real hoot. All the women in my family are like that, super fun with a tough edge (myself included, though not nearly as tough as Grandma Gus; maybe “strong” is a better word!) 🙂

    • Yes, that sounds about right. My Grandma Gus would meet every Sunday with other relatives and play this card game called Pokeno. It went on for hours. I had a cousin who called them, “The Over The Hill Gang.” … It was so different back then; nowadays grandmothers are so stylish, they fit right in with their daughters!

      • My family played a card game called Liverpool. Just recently, I brought it back and we play one Sunday a month to get my mom and Aunt Honey together with some of my family. But the players are aged 15-80 so I cannot call it the over the hill gang.

      • It’s wonderful that all ages participate. A few days ago one of the blog prompts was about a “lost treasure” and I wrote about no longer doing certain dances at weddings that all ages can participate in, like The Alley Cat or The Hokey Pokey. It seems like the modern dances are only known to a group in the early 20s. It doesn’t give that sense of family at weddings and it’s disappointing.

    • Oh my goodness, how times have changed! I remember those fox stoles with the head and paws. I won’t tell PETA 😉
      And I’m a vegan with a sense of humor! Interesting side story, I once met a model I idolized as a young girl. We got along super and exchanged coats to take pictures. I had a faux cow print, and she had her grandmother’s fur. It felt awkward wearing it, but it was her grandmother’s, so all was forgiven. 🙂

      • Yes, times certainly have changed. I used to feel so sorry for that poor fox. Seeing all the old ladies wearing their furs made me want to pet them when I was a child. 😂

        Wow, that’s such a cool story about the model. I’m glad she was up-cycling her granny’s coat! 😊

      • Yeah, as children we didn’t make the connection that animals suffered for the coat. Hell, I was such a dumb kid I thought eating lamb would make me cute like a lamb. I tried it and never again!!

      • Aw that’s so sweet! Fortunately it doesn’t work that way, as you might have been tempted to eat more lamb! I think there’s a story seed in this. Thank you! 😁

  • What do you think?

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s

    %d bloggers like this: