Fifty years ago today my mother gave birth to a baby girl. Although she was very young by today’s standards, she was married and already had a three-year-old son. The young family resided on the lower east side of New York City. “The Village” as it’s known was a different place 50 years ago. The streets were packed with people, it was a hot spot for eclectic people — beatniks and hippies — the population was interwoven with immigrant Italians and those people, back then, were neighbors, in a community. Outside of the beatniks, much of the Village back then was family, largely of Italian descent and it was not uncommon to have several generations of one family residing in the same building, on the same block, up the street, around the corner. There were Italian clubs, folding chairs and little old ladies dressed in black — perpetually in mourning.
The baby was due the third week of March. So as my mother walked through the streets with her grocery parcels and 3-year-old son, the old ladies in their folding chairs, her husbands buddies hanging around outside “the club,” the guys playing stickball in the street, all started to comment on her growing appendage — any day now, that baby is coming soon. Then as even more days passed and March starting leaning toward April the jokes started — that baby is coming on April Fool’s Day, that’s an April Fool’s baby. My mother would reply, oh no, it’s not.
Well, lo and behold, shortly after feeding her son breakfast on Saturday April 1, 1967 — April Fool’s Day — the contractions started, the Village was right! Her baby was coming on April Fools Day. Well, she wasn’t going to have it, not only was she not going to have a baby born on April Fool’s Day — a stigma that could define it’s life for it’s entire life, but all of those people — the village — were not going to be right! So she carried on with her day and her contractions. As the morning passed she phoned her doctor — he told her to start heading to the hospital as the contractions got closer together. But she was in no hurry — she was not having this baby on April Fools Day.
Lunchtime came and she fed her son lunch. Although her doctor had advised against it, when she fed her son, she ate, knowing that they would not be able to give her any drugs to speed her contractions if she had food in her system. She made her way to the hospital much later that evening and needed to wait out the contractions without any assistance. Her baby was born one hour past midnight on April 2nd, Happy Birthday to me!
Despite all of her calculation and hard work, I always hear from people, “so close, you could have been an April Fools baby” to which I respond — “I was an April Fools baby, but my mom wasn’t having any part of that! She is so controlling that she even influenced my birthday!!!”